Saturday, November 28, 2015

Friday, November 20, 2015

Keep on going... but is Nepal a failing state?


The image is one I took a couple of years ago on another part of the Terai but typifies life here for many. I haven't been out with the camera for several days now, I'm head down in my laptop finishing a report and trying to form strategy in ever changing circumstances here. Hopefully I'll be back in the jungle and mountains soon, I'm better there... but as I mentioned in a comment in the last post (on Facebook) these blogs aren't about me, they're about what's happening, an honest appraisal. With regard to projects the situation is making things increasingly difficult. I'll blog soon about a conversation several months ago about being proactive and future proofing, a conversation that motivates me.
The thing is life has become much more difficult for many than it should be in a world that actually has the resources. Here in Nepal an ugly question has unfortunately come up again in the wake of the humanitarian crisis, is the nation actually capable of ruling itself? The lack of leadership and vision and the continual blame everyone else game has worn thin and there are so many indications that India, the giant neighbour very much involved in the plight here, is losing patience. It has been pointed out to me several times now that Nepal's current plight mirrors situations where history has shown failing states being taken over. This type of talk makes for an uncomfortable backdrop when people are just trying to get by, are just trying to keep on going... and the continual problems of lack of electricity now compounded with the fuel crisis and resulting essential goods shortages just have to be dealt with.
If I am going to give a personal perspective the thing that concerns me is that the lack of good leadership has been tolerated so long by a nation used to hardship that there is little will among the very clever minds who do exist here to become leaders themselves, to really put their country first. I spend time with some of these clever young minds, I am fearful for their future and Nepal's identity. Once again, the more the situation worsens the more the environmental consequences will affect us all...

Monday, November 16, 2015

Where even poachers fear to tread...


While the world keeps finding new ways and reasons to kill its innocents, environmental protection must continue. There are still places that the wildlife is so feisty and the anti-poaching patrols so staunch that even poachers fear to tread. Keep people out of these places and we have a chance. They are not places for tourists either, even hard bitten researchers take solace on a dry river bed for moments out of thick, pristine jungle...

Sunday, November 15, 2015

LEOPARD REWILDING PROGRAM (LRP) - Five years, 420 billion trees, a place for all to roam...


Thanks to those who read "In the tiger restaurant..." yesterday. The dream? A few people wrote to me about it, I don't know, it is what it is.
Imagine some action. If seven billion trees were planted a month, one for every person on the planet, there'd be 420 billion more trees in five years. Of course it'd have to be done properly, the right trees (giant or grass) in the right places but we have the knowledge. We have the resources too, it's just that we spend them on wars and things. Environmentalists hate wars because wars fuck things up.
We could create and rejuvenate jungles. There is no flag waving in jungles, and we could change the cowards, on both sides of this philosophical divide, killing innocents in all these wars. We could educate these people, bring them back to earth with a shovel and a sapling, we could even convince people they don't need a huge house. There are many things we could do.
We could say to this burgeoning outrage culture which calls themselves activists to take some real action. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against activism, it's hugely important, it's just that it's gone too far, it's easy to read the ones who are pretenders simply hiding behind a keyboard. So many... and if they could just learn about trees and then plant some...
Action.
Then there would be places for all to roam. We owe the planet some rewilding because it is about the planet, not divisive religions, nations and extreme ideals. I changed my profile picture to our planet yesterday, no flag for me. We all live here, it is the planet that nourishes us, we owe it respect in return.
There are some of us who just not only want to get this message across, we want it to happen... so we've started. Want to swap jobs for a day Mark Zuckerberg? You'll have to bring your gumboots...
These post (and other updates) are also at Facebook if you wish to comment.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In the #tiger restaurant, avoiding wild elephants, bees attack, thinking like a leopard...



The Terai, the Himalaya, vital habitat which must be conserved for all our sakes. People spend so much time focused on what is inside them yet we are nothing without what is outside us...
In the first image Asis is removing bee stings from NTNC researcher Santosh who was stung 34 times in the head area and had to be hospitalized. It was a bit of a worry for a while as Santosh did suffer but he is a tough Nepali, he got through it. Santosh copped it the most at the back of the second elephant. Asis and I were on the first elephant in twelve foot elephant grass when we encountered the bees, we got through safely and then led the way quickly to the army post which was luckily only fifteen minutes away. The bees kept attacking through this time, there was too much risk in that habitat to dismount so smoke was used to drive the attackers away once we got to the post.
Asis, a former doctor, did a great job appraising the situation as the jeep was called and we took a direct line out to where we could meet it, once again with luck that it was only an hour away.
The ambiguity of Nepal's sometimes aggressive wildlife was clear the next day when as a smaller team we again traveled by elephant into a much more remote area as part of our scouting for the Leopard Rewilding Program. This time our concern was wild elephants which had been active in the area the night before. There was plenty of sign the herd was very close by as our mahouts did an excellent job avoiding them in dense jungle. This was a place away from safaris, it was a place for tigers, there was much sign of them and of their prey.
Making the right decisions at this point of the project is absolutely crucial. There are many problems we are dealing with on account of Nepal's current situation but being in a place where wildlife can roam without interference was powerful. It was deep isolated jungle, not a place for tourists. The only human footprints were of anti-poaching patrols... but we had eyes open for sign of poachers.
It's interesting but this question seems to come in waves, do I miss Asa, the Leopard of Hope? I think about him a lot when I'm in truly wild places but the answer is not a simple one as I've explained before. I had to, and still do, approach things on different level, thinking like a leopard, a different type of emotion comes into play. So no, I do not miss him in the way people ask, it is a different feeling. Perhaps my book will explain more but right now the focus is very much on Tika and Ram, the project as a whole, the future.
The night we came out I dreamed of a tiger running towards me. It was vivid, it was powerful colour and surprising because I do not usually remember my dreams. I don't know what happened, I woke suddenly but I'm hoping I thought like a leopard and climbed a tree... and then took a good look at the situation to make the right decision...

These posts are also at Facebook (along with others) if you wish to comment.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Keeping Focused...


Many thanks to those following these posts and the situation. I'm also getting many messages of support. Those who know me best are simply saying "trust your instincts" based on experience in pressure situations. I appreciate the simplicity of that because any further advice is moot as no one really has a firm grasp of what is going on here, it's simply not possible. There are incidents not being reported by media for several reasons so all I can really say is that the story here is many ways an untold one with an outcome way into the future. So it's really a matter of keeping focused on the day ahead...

This blog is also at Facebook (as well as additional posts updating the situation) if you wish to comment.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Keeping things cool by learning from wildlife...


FOLLOWING ON FROM POSTS YESTERDAY AT FACEBOOK RE THE CRISIS - Daylight is less than a couple of hours away, we're about to set off for an all day recce in the rewilding area.  Jeep and foot will take us into deep jungle.  We'll learn a lot and make decisions based on that.  A lot of the time we'll need to think like leopards.

The problems here in Nepal now are man made combined with an unrelenting landscape plus big time natural events such as the earthquakes.  Blaming governments, media, India, China, the guy selling rice down the track is pointless.  We all have a duty of care in this, a stake.  The small team today are all wildlife people with a deep respect for the jungle and its ecosystems.  There is the total awareness about the way biodiversity works together to keep things stable and moving, even if nature can be seemingly harsh sometimes.

When learning about research techniques it was always rammed home the simple principle of find the truth and tell the truth.  Don't add your own positive or negative spin, present the raw facts only. What I write about the situation here is based on that, my own feelings on it irrelevant in the wider context.  That being said it would be unnatural not to have a lot of concern and I do.  I'll keep saying it, if things go belly up here in such a crucial part of the world, the huge feeding system that is the Himalaya, then the whole world suffers.

Balance, in the way wildlife in its natural state attains is the only answer I have because I see it every day in wild places.

And a good laugh sometimes doesn't hurt either because things certainly are crazy here.  There are times to be deadly serious about it all as well.  In the main it's about keeping cool...