VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
Tag archives for Asia
While working on farms and learning about seed preservation this past year for the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship, I have really gotten to eat some amazing foods. If my hands weren’t in the soil or toiling with seeds, they were usually grabbing the nearest edible item. People talk about how amazing Indian cuisine is — the thalis, the street foods, the home-cooked meals — and yes, those are all pretty great, but where this creative and intricate cuisine comes from, its ingredients, its flavors, its uncooked beginnings, that’s where the real magic lives. This fertile soil (at least that which is untouched by deforestation, drought, or chemicals) breathes so much beauty into our hands. And I consider myself beyond lucky to have held such raw beauty, however briefly.
Mayur, a young Koli fisherman’s son, never learned to swim because the beaches of Mumbai are too polluted. Few Koli youth want to follow their parent’s footsteps to be fishermen in Mumbai. The consumer demand for fish though is ever on the rise. Mayur teaches me to dig for clams and offers his perspective on Koli culture among shifting tides.
“All plants are medicine,” Dr. Raghubir Singh Rawat, the herbal gardener at Navdanya, exclaims proudly with a hint of mystery to his voice. Dr. Rawat bends down to examine a seemingly mundane but prolific weed, “this is used for eye health,” he says before popping the small white diamond-shape flower in his mouth. He stretches above his…
With the sounds of gibbon song as the backing track to this picture, Clare is pensive as she admits, “I’m hopeful for the future of gibbons, now that we are bringing them the attention they deserve. But, at the same time, I’m frightened. If we can’t control the illegal trade, or the destruction of their habitat, then these reintroduction efforts become futile.”
Join me this school year on my journey to India to learn about seed saving, community food systems, and how to cultivate a future for biodiversity!
My focus in particular is the pangolin: a small, scaly, creature, rather like an armadillo, with an innocent nature, despite its resemblance to a four-footed, flightless dragon. It is also the world’s most highly-traded mammal, with more than a million being poached from the wild over the last decade, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The organization says a pangolin is taken from the wild, either to be killed or sold, every five minutes.
A swift and global conservation response is needed to prevent the world’s gorillas, lions, tigers, rhinos, and other iconic terrestrial megafauna from being lost forever, an influential group of international scientists reported today in the journal BioScience.
Their analysis, entitled Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna, covers the precipitous loss of large animal populations around the globe. The report included a 13-point declaration by 43 scientists and conservationists calling for acknowledgement that a “business as usual” mentality will result in massive species extinction. Read the declaration and study the maps showing the global decline of big land animals.
The practice of solving conservation problems for wildlife has presented more and varied challenges for researchers and practitioners in Asia, especially over the last quarter century. While human populations have grown, lands available for wildlife have steadily decreased and habitats have been degraded. Yet as conservation practice has matured, researchers are striving to make their science relevant to the issues at hand and practitioners have better tools and information available to implement solutions.
Conservationists put the number of Sumatran tigers in the wild at around 300. It’s a devastating statistic, particularly given that Indonesia has already lost the Bali and Javan tiger which were both hunted to extinction. Without a serious overhaul of its present laws on wildlife crime, Indonesia can presume that the Sumatran tiger is in its dying days. It is a heartbreaking notion, but with the right level of deterrence and education, it is one that does not have to become reality.
We arrive at the release site and head straight over to see Chocolate who has been in a holding cage for two weeks now, and is fully recovered from the arduous overland trek to get here. I couldn’t believe how confident he had become.
JAKARTA– Ibu Mawar and her family moved into Rusun Marunda four months after being evicted from their home under an elevated toll road (Tol Sedyatmoko). Rusun Marunda is one of several large government-subsidized housing projects in Jakarta and families relocated into these complexes are typically given three to six months of rent-free accommodation to help…
During my time traveling in Thailand to explore the unique relationship between humans and elephants, I had to wonder: what does it take to feed one of these giants?
JAKARTA, Indonesia–Walking along the wall that protects north Jakarta from the sea, it is impossible to ignore the enormity–and immediacy–of water-related issues that this megacity faces. The city’s current plan of action, outlined by Wendy Koch in a recent article entitled, “Could a Titanic Seawall Save this Quickly Sinking City?,” is widely criticized as being…
RUSUN MARUNDA, Jakarta–I grew up in east Tennessee where food is love and the Farmer’s Almanac is mandatory reading. A deep-rooted love for digging in the dirt and watching a seed transform to seedling to fruit is something I carry with me always. So when I came across Pak Bambang diligently tending to his garden…