Why the Internet is Both Nature’s New Blessing and Curse (Or, a Thank You)

So before the summer I gave a TED talk. It was about a lot of things. I mentioned this blog, and also Project Noah, and a lot of things that had been bothering me for some time, and some things that had been giving me hope, too.

But there’s no point repeating my speech here, because now you can just watch it. If you want.

It was, I think, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, or at least the past year – to talk to people, and maybe have them listen, which is kind of what I’ve been trying to do with this blog as well. And it showed me that I can care about these kind of things – a rainforest in my school, a really, really cool black rhinoceros, ladybugs half-way across the world, that my passion, to some extent, was justified – that maybe, just maybe, I can go somewhere with this, even if that place might just be buried in the depths of the Costa Rican jungle. (Actually, please, bury me in the depths of the Costa Rican jungle. THERE IS NO ‘JUST’ ABOUT HUMMINGBIRDS.)

So thank you, all of you readers, and browsers, and people who stop by just for a second before going past again, because you are what brought me up there, on that stage, allowed me to talk, and maybe have some people listen.

I’m going to keep doing this for sometime yet. 🙂

Contemplative Cormorants

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Two Little Cormorants sit on what appears to be a submerged light pole in a reservoir in a Coorg coffee plantation. Coffee offers much more support for biodiversity than its more homogenous counterpart, tea, largely due to its requirement of shade trees and sometimes mixing with other crops, such as pepper. Unfortunately, those self-same trees are often invasives, like silver oak, and in due course another ecological problem is introduced.

Open Wide

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When at Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, we got scarily close to this appropriately-named mugger crocodile. Believe it or not, its open mouth was not a gesture of defiance or defense but rather the position it was in the entire time. These crocodiles tend to be frighteningly still for long periods, before a sudden flash of movement signals their descent into the water or their attack. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of those teeth.

Bright-eyed and Soggy-tailed

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On a recent walk to Sungei Buloh we stumbled across this Plantain Squirrel who apparently hadn’t scurried away to shelter as fast as we had in the downpour of five minutes earlier.

White-eye Window

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An Oriental White-eye peeks out from behind branches in Kullu, India. This bird was an unexpected surprise on our last day there. I was returning from a trek on my own when I noticed movement in a bare tree ahead – and voila.

Little White

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A Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), commonly spotted in flooded paddy fields, lakes, rivers, and most bodies of fresh water, keeps watch for prey by the banks of a reservoir in Bangalore, India. Slightly larger and with black feet to its yellow is the Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia); largest of all is the Great Egret – a nice gradation in size that must have made some taxonomist’s day.

Savannah

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The African lion is perhaps the most overly romanticized and/or brutalized animal on the Masai Mara. The classically shaggy mane of hair gracing the males is instantly recognizable. While it is true that in fact female lions are the primary hunters for the pride, male lions are often relied on for sheer brute force. Infanticide is practiced by dominant males to ensure only their cubs survive.

A (Slightly Late) Hyena Halloween

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In honor of Halloween (and no, it is NOT a day old), here’s a hyena, the actual scariest predator on the African savannah. These guys will literally steal food from lions. They’re highly efficient killers, and are most definitely not scavengers – though they will take opportunities when they see them and forage on kills, they can take down wildebeest and gazelle easily with teamwork so cohesive it’s brutal.

(This one wasn’t trying to scare us, though. It was yawning.)