Of Dogs and Nests.

P1250687                 View from Jaberkeht Nature Reserve, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India

My mountain dog, Chingoo, sheds like there is no tomorrow. His fur coats everything I own, borrow or dream of. If I needed an autopsy, they’d probably find traces of it in my stomach lining as well. Not that I care.

On the other hand, fur on my jacket seems to get some folks into a tizzy. These ‘uncontrollables’ start brushing it off without so much as pausing to ask. Hello, take your hand off my… This is me, fur et al. Restrain yourself. Shed the thought or face the consequences, I think to myself. But of course, I say the very opposite looking as obliged as someone rescued from a terrible wardrobe malfunction just in the nick of time.

Guests are pre-warned of unique conditions in my home. It’s not about so much about being unafraid of dogs as of being prepared. My dog is allergic to some people I tell them. Honestly, he sneezes. (I don’t tell them we share the same allergies.) Don’t pack blacks I say. And don’t bother to remove your shoes. Oh definitely don’t walk in socks…you’re in the doghouse now. Every time I sweep the house (I don’t vacuum), Chingoo’s fur takes on a life of its own. It swirls into individual fur devils taking flight routes of their own making. Not even our large hills spiders are spared. I often see them donning a fur-cloak as they drag themselves to safety behind the flush tank.

Unlike anything I’ve seen, Chingoo’s fur seems to have a survival instinct. It has gone forth and seems to have multiplied over the years. You only have to step onto my porch. My entire ecosystem has paled out. The deodars, the oaks the little weeds that are surfacing the hard earth, the little bugs that are on these weeds and even dung left behind by roaming cows have been consecrated by the travelling Furburys.

 

 

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Not all has gone to waste. Once in a while I see little creatures of the wood pick and collect Chingoo’s fur to line their nests. They go at it all day long collecting as much fluff as their beaks can hold before flying out to their new home-in-the-making. I love the idea of comfy fur-lined nests. It feels like giving back…through your dog. More so, if you own a down-jacket or two. I’m just saying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Know your Bycatch before your Bitcoin. And take a good look at your toothpaste.

Lost at sea? Here are ready-mined terms and facts that are easier to comprehend. They might be hard to swallow but follow these leads in the right spirit and we could possibly see some tangible long-term yields across the globe.

cormorant

Did you know that for every kg of prawn you eat this holiday season approx 6-9 kilos, [sometimes more] other fish and marine species would die in trawler nets? The extra, unintentionally fished marine life called bycatch is discarded dead or dying. Often, these are juvenile species that don’t fetch a price but they definitely pay a huge sum themselves in terms of never reaching maturity or reproducing, thereby reducing their total species population.

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Jan 2016-3

OK, so you’re a vegan. But you use plastic.

Get a taste of this. Scientists predict by 2025 the ocean will contain 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish. Plastics disintegrate very slowly into microplastics (sesame seed sized plastic bits) that move in the ocean, absorb DDT and collect in the currents. The fish, birds and turtles mistake these microplastics for food and bigger fish eat smaller ones. Their bodies can’t rid of the toxins fast enough and it ends quite tragically. This is called Bioaccumulation. It takes place within an organism when the rate of intake of a substance (in this case toxic chemicals) is greater than the rate of excretion or metabolic transformation of that substance.

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So what does your exfoliating face wash have anything to do with the price of fish?

Your favoured brand stands out in a shop shelf because it probably contains colourful microbeads (a type of microplastic) or tiny plastic pellets generously added to personal care, cosmetic and household cleaning products like your body scrubs, washing powders. And toothpaste. Teeth feel squeaky clean?birds on dead tree trunksYou’re a regular at the sea-front promenade. Ever wonder about the mangroves it replaced? Or why storms batter your city annually?

Mangroves reduce wind and high waves as they pass through mangroves, lessening damage during storms. Wide areas of mangroves have been known to reduce tsunami heights. Mangroves are carbon-rich habitats. Their dense roots build up soils, increasing soil thickness that may be crucial as sea levels rise. Mangroves and seagrasses capture carbon monoxide from the atmosphere a hundred times faster than terrestrial forests. Take a deep breath.IMG_20160715_171123

It seems appropriate to talk of human-induced Marine Death zones now. 

These are hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas in the world’s oceans and large lakes, caused by “excessive nutrient pollution from human activities”. Chemical runoff from our industrial waste, fertilizers and use of fossil fuel to our daily floor cleaners find their way into our rivers and oceans killing massive swathes of fish and marine species. There are 405 identified dead zones worldwide.

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Planning a long cruise?

I read that a one-week voyage on a cruise ship with 2, 200 passengers and 800 crewmembers generates 210,000 gallons of sewage and eight tons of garbage. Marine pollution analysts in Germany and Brussels say that such a large ship would probably burn at least 150 tones’ of fuel a day, and emit more sulphur than several million cars, more NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) gas than all the traffic passing through a medium-sized town.

Do take the kids [our future stakeholders] to see a coral reef a.s.a.p. #investintheenvironment

Be positive. Stay healthy. Be conscious. Happy holidays.

PS: And oh here’s some further reading for the beach.

Some sources and references via:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/21/the-worlds-largest-cruise-ship-and-its-supersized-pollution-problem

https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/how-do-i-tell-if-product-contains-microbeads/

https://www.marineconservation.org.au/pages/microplastics.html

https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/6-shocking-facts-about-seafood-production.html

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/oceans-plastic-fish-2050_us_569e9963e4b00f3e986327a0

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishing_down_the_food_web

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/Huge-‘dead-zone’-discovered-in-Bay-of-Bengal/article16908928.ece

https://www.nature.org/media/oceansandcoasts/mangroves-for-coastal-defence.pdf

Photo credit: Lalitha Krishnan. All photos are copyrighted.

 

Jan 2016-22