For the third fun fact about nature this blog revives an old favorit quiz of mine originally from a nature tv-show for children. The show was called Myror i brallan (Ants in your pants) and the quiz was Gissa bajset? (Who’s poo?). Today I will publish four pictures and you can make your guesses in the comments! As a clue I can tell you that all the pictures have been taken in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.
The largest of the samples is nr 1
I give you a quite fresh nr 2
Next to slightly larger feet then mine is nr 3
Last and smallest in our lineup is nr 4
If you need a second clue here it comes. They are all from wild animals.
I’ll announce the answers as a new years gift on Thursday.
Till then, XOXO darlings!
The past week I visited a handfull of villages within the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve and Wild Life Sanctuary. In cooperation with the Adivasi communities in these villages Keystone has worked to develop more sustainable and profitable ways to collect honey. There are farmers groups initiated by Keystone that save together, learn and share experience in agriculture and builds local seed banks. I talked to these farmers about what of their forest collect and their agriculture harvest they sell and how it contributes to their livelihoods. Some of the villages struggle with animals raiding their field and take multiple actions to protect their crops. Practising rain fed agriculture, which all the villages do, can be a challenge and creating a local seed bank can be a way in compiling seeds that suit the conditions of the particular place. Even if none of the villages have irrigation all of them have electricity (some are connected to government electricity while some only have solar power), and some can be furrowed using a tractor (which is impossible in many fields in the Nilgiris Biosphere Reserve because of the inclination).
An elephant that is known in the area for its food preferences (millets, beans and maize) came into this field a few days back.
I had many interesting talks with farmers about the difficulties they face when cultivating but also exciting solutions to poor trading alternatives for their produce.
A intercropped field with millets and amaranthus.
Dear qt’s, this post will be devoted to the banana tree. Which is really not a tree but a herb however as plant categorisation is not my idea of fun we will leave it at that.
Tiny banana tree
I have meet several people that claim the superiorness of the banana plant when it comes to diverse area of uses. It supposedly has a great scope of use AND you can use all the parts of the plant. Being from a country that do not cultivate banans I had mostly encountered the fruit of the plant (a more correct classification is berry but let’s not wander down the path) called banan. I was not familiar with other uses of the plant bit that changed quickly when I arrived in India the first time. Let’s start with the leaf. The leafs for are used as plates in South India so at the moment I encounter them whenever I eat out. They are also used as wrapper if you parcel your food and eat at home. Before your meal is served you of course clean your leaf. If you are lucky your meal looks something like this.
A part form the fruit you can also eat banana flowers. When I first saw them in the market I thought they were some sort of maize. But after at visit downhill where banana plantations are common I realised my mistake. The stem I have never had but I hear it is has a tender core. It is also a frequent guest at the local market and in different dishes.
In Japan the fiber form the tree is used to create textiles. However the most unlikely (to me at least) use of this plant is shown in a study published a few years ago. It investigates banana peels and there ability to bind heavy metals from contaminated water. This could be a cheap way of reducing heavy metals in waters across the world. This is still only a small selection of the uses for the banana plant. Which three do you use the most? /Ida
Yesterday I visited the village of Dhalamukkai with Henrik and Eshweri. We attended a meeting of the villages savings group. A part from the monthly savings the topic for discussion was millets. At the moment there is no millet cultivation in the village but the farmers have decided to clear some land starting out next year. There are however some concerns on weather and animal impact. This year the rains came late in the season, which worries the farmers as they are taking on new types of crops. There are also many elephants around during certain times of the year; they along with monkeys can cause much harm to the cultivated land and to the crops.
We ended our visit by taking a close look at a coffee nursery. The farmers of this village grow coffee and are certified by PGS Organic. That means that they pledge to grow organic, develop locally adapted standards, peer review each other, share knowledge and spread organic products to a local market.
Baby coffee plants growing under the protection of a banana tree.
And of course we had tea before going back to office.
Exploring the nature in the Nilgiris is tremendously exiting for me. I have hardly been out in the forest at all but since everything from plants in the office campus to bugs and birds in my back yard are new acquaintances I have a nature experience everyday. In the Keystone campus there is always someone close by with a book on the endemic birds of the Nilgiris or stories of encounters with some of the local mammals. My knowledge of my surroundings is humble but thanks to all the knowledgeable staff of Keystone I’m learning bit by bit. Another source of information is the Newsletter of the Nilgiris Natural History Society.
In the first week in Kotagiri I read a piece written by Anita Varghese, working with the conservation programme at Keystone in the issue from June 2014. It was centred around trees and plants whose young leaves are red. In tropical climate the young leaves of plants are often red while turning green when aging. In temperate regions it is the other way around, the new leaves are green while the old ones turn red in the fall. The text described how the red colour works as a protection against animals that would want to eat the new leaves. You see, the red pigment makes the leaves less tasty for insects. Also, the insects cannot see colours in the red range of the light spectrum which would make the red leaves appear as dark or dead. After I read this article I see trees with young red leaves everywhere (and photo document every one of them naturally). I’m not sure why I find this particular little piece of the plant cycle so fascinating. Perhaps because the process is seemingly reversed from the deciduous trees of my native habitat.
Igår dömdes Tamil Nadus Chief Minister till fyra års fängelse och skadestånd för mutbrott. Det är en utredning med följande rättsprocess som pågått sedan 1996. Många av Jayalalithaas anhängare visade sitt missnöje och protesterade efter domen. Även i Kotagiri protesterades det och en grupp på ca 15 män gick runt stan, ropade slagord och uppmanade/såg till att affärer slog igen sin verksamhet för dagen. Jag hade läst om rättegången men visste inte att domen skulle komma igår så visst blev jag lite paff när jag klev ut på gatan och möttes av 15 arga män som gormade. Även om Kotagiri är ett mindre ställe är det aldrig brist på människor att fråga så jag fick snabbt nys om vad som skett.
Tidigare under dagen var jag och Henrik och besökte ett litet museum över den första britten som bosatte sig i Kotagiri. Man har byggt upp en kopia av hans hus och samlat material om ursprungsbefolkningen och området. För en historie-nörd som mig själv var det mycket spännande. Blev dock lite överraskad efter som jag inte sedan jag var i Kina stött på en så fördelaktig bild av en västerländsk gubbe i Asien. Behöver definitivt veta mer om denna snubbe som inte bara introducerade brittiska grödor utan malmbrytning samt byggde en sjö. Det var helt enkelt en lyckad utflykt som gjorde mig sugen att läsa på om mer Nilgiris historia.
Vi har haft mycket få och korta elavbrott. Inget som en pannlampa och några ljus inte kan råda bot på.
Under veckan som gått har jag och Henrik jobbat med vår registrering hos immigrationsmyndigheten. När jag har haft tid över har jag skrivit om Participatory Guarantee Systems. Det ska resultera i en …..POSTER!
Tidig söndagmorgon kom vi till Indien och har utforskat Bangalore. Sedan i måndags spenderar vi våra dagar på Svalornas Indien-kontor här i Bangalore. I tisdags gjorde vi ett besök på Human Institutional Development Forum, en NGO som arbetar med organisational capacity building. Vi diskuterade utveckling och situationen för civilsamhället och sociala rörelser i Indien. Mötet var mycket inspirerande och vi fick en inblick i de organisatoriska utmaningar CSO’s står inför.
På Human Institutional Development Forum med Director Heritha Sharma
Under dagarna berättar Anitha och Kariappa om sitt arbete och landskontorens roll i Svalornas organisation och samarbetet med partnerorganisationerna. På torsdag åker vi ut till partnerorganisatinerna där vi kommer spendera den mesta av vår tid i Indien.
Utanför Svalornas kontor i Bangalore
Håll utkik efter uppdateringar från Madurai, Dehradun och Kotagiri!