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Mrs. Weidman’s 2nd graders in Effingham, IL want to know about Hawaii

One of the highlights of our recent U.S. road trip was stopping at my cousin Elaine’s in Effingham, IL.  Her grandson, Keegan, a 2nd grader, is in an elementary school that has  for the past 28 years been doing a unit on Hawaii.

Keegan-

Keegan in Casey, IL – “A Small Town with a Big Heart”

Since Barry and I were going to be in town, we were invited to answer their questions about our island home.

hawaiian-islands-in-the-Pacific

1) Since it is so far away from the rest of the United States, why is Hawaii a state?

Hawaii is far away from Mainland U.S. A. – that is true.

  • From California to Hawaii is 2,471 miles.
  • From Japan to Hawaii is 4,980 miles away.

Before it was a U.S. possession, Hawaii was an independent country.   However on Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters (who wanted to make more money).  With the help of U.S. military, the business people forced Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to abdicate.  She give up her rights and kingdom although she was the rightful leader. She didn’t want her people killed.

Queen-Liliuokalani

Queen Liliuokalani

Two years later, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory and eventual admitted in 1959 as the 50th state in the union.

2) What races live in Hawaii?

  • The state’s overall racial breakdown: white, 22.7%; black or African American, 1.5%; American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.2%; Asian, 37.7%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 9.4%. The Hispanic or Latino population, of any race, was 8.9%.
Hawaiian-ohana

Ohana – family in Hawaii

3) Have you seen a volcano erupt?

  • Yes, on the Big Island of Hawaii many years ago, Barry and I saw a volcano erupting!
  • Lava and steam have been coming up in various places on the Big Island for many years. Johnny and Sigrid were just there in February and were right by extremely hot, slowly flowing lava.
  • On Maui, we have two volcanoes – one extinct (dead) and one dormant (sleeping), so we don’t have lava flows now.
  • The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes.
Types-of-lava-flows

Types of lava flows – from: <http://www.sandatlas.org/types-lava-flows/&gt;

Big Island Kilauea Volcano

Go to this link to see molten lava:

<https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/aug/28/lava-hawaiis-kilauea-volcano-video?subject=Big Island Volcano>

4) What are the black sand beaches like?

  • Black sand is hot – very hot when the noon sun shines upon it.
  • The dark color absorbs the sunlight, so if your feet are bare, you have to run really quickly to get into the water.
  • That sand is black because it is fine particles of volcanic rock.
  • Most sand in Hawaii is silicon dioxide (quartz) that is white or whitish yellow; it has been broken down from rocks and minerals by wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles into smaller grains. In a few places, the sand is red.
  • Also, sea creatures such as the parrot fish chew up minerals and leave sand behind.
green-sea-turtle

Green sea turtle – you can find them in shallow waters

5) What is the weather like?

  • Nice   – highs are around 87 degrees in June, July, and August and lows of about 64 degrees are in January and February.
  • Because temperatures drop about 3.2F (1.3C) every 1,000 feet (305m), the summit of Haleakala is roughly 32F (13C) cooler than the beaches.
  • Rainfall is low in Kihei (10 inches a year), but on the east of Maui, is Hana, a rain forest (400 inches a year).
  • Hawaii is called a “tropical paradise” because its climate makes people feel comfortable almost every day of the year.

6) Are there a lot of shark sightings?

  • No. Sharks do live in the ocean, but they aren’t often seen here in Hawaii.  One thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Palmyra Atoll, however, there are about 20 sharks every half mile.  So it depends where you are what sea life you’ll find.
  • About three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii. Few shark attacks are fatal.  Sharks do not have very good eyesight, so it is best to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at times when the water is murky.  Sharks are looking for turtles to eat – not humans.
  • The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf, and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.
  • The most frequently encountered Hawaiian reef sharks are the White Tipped Reef Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Galapagos Shark, Gray Reef Shark, and the Sandbar Shark.

7) Do people really do the hula?

huladancers

lhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xr1Wd17w-g

  • Yes, the men and women – and children – dance hula. The Hawaiians have a powerful dance, music, and chant culture!

8) How is Christmas celebrated in Hawaii?

  • Over half the people in Hawaii practice Christianity.
  • Of those, 18.74% are Catholic; 5.24% are LDS; 3.91% are another Christian faith; 0.06% in Hawaii are Jewish; 5.14% are an eastern faith; 0.05% Islam.
  • Barry and I have a Christmas tree, church services, and celebrations with our families.   Because the weather is warm, we take food and spend our Christmas Day at the beach with our friends and family.
  • Because we live in Hawaii, we get to enjoy and experience other cultures and religions that our friends and neighbors practice.

On Maui – Santa arrives by canoe

Christmas-santa

9) Are there any interesting animals on Maui?

  • Yes. Many – many – especially sea creatures.
  • My favorite one? Humpback whales that come to Hawaii from about December through February.
humpback-whale

Humpback Whale – breaching.  Scientists still have much to learn about whales.

Humpback Whale Facts:

  • Whales are mammals: breathe air, warm blooded, live birth, have hair, & mom’s produce milk.
  • Fifty-eight million years ago, whales were land animals.  But there was global warming and less land and food, so the whales evolved back into sea creatures.
  • Their trip from Alaska to Hawaii (and then back to Alaska) takes whales 5 to 7 weeks at 3 to 8 miles per hour – each way!  It’s about 3,000 miles they swim to give birth and mate in our shallow, sandy bottom, warm water.
  • A whale calf is 15 foot at birth and drinks about 120 pounds of milk per day.
  • Because their throats are about the size of a grapefruit, the Humpback whales don’t eat for about four months here because our fish are too big.  The whales have to wait until they get back to Alaska where there is krill,  small shrimp and other small cold water fish for them to eat!
  • All whales vocalize, but the males “sing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2bVbDtiX8
  • Life span: 40-80 years
  • Length: 35-45 feet
  • Weight 35-45 tons ( 1 ton = 2,000 pounds)
  • Importance of whales to microscopic beings: Scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures.
  • And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.

Come visit us to see other animals, birds, and sea life.

10) Do you have turtles in Hawaii?

  • Two kinds you’ll find in Hawaii (among others) are the Green Sea turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
  • At Ho’okipa Beach on Maui, you can sometimes see 25 or more turtles, big and small, basking – resting and warming up – on shore every afternoon.
  • Thirty years ago, basking seldom happened. But now, turtles are protected. It’s against the law to eat them.
big-turtle

Some turtles can weigh 300 pounds

 

hawksbill-2

Hawksbill

turtles-Ho'okipa

Basking turtles at Ho’okipa Beach Park

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Waiting for the excavation of a Hawksbill turtle nest. Because the Hawksbills are very endangered, volunteers guard their nests from dogs, mongoose, other people . . . If the turtles don’t hatch in a timely way, scientists come to help them get out to the ocean.

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Hawksbill turtles emerging from their nest.  Each is about the size of a U.S. quarter.

We have other much more common animals:

lovebirds

Lovebirds come to our bird feeder every day.

mango-sarah

Mango is a myna bird that Johnny rescued when she fell from her nest.

11) What can you do for fun?

Windsurfing

Windsurf on Maui

H---jump

Watch what the locals do before you jump.

Ho'okipa

You can surf, kite sail, windsurf, swim, canoe, . . . in the Pacific Ocean.

waterfall

Hike to waterfalls

rainbow.gif

Watch for rainbows.  See the faint second one here?

flowers-orange

Look for beautiful plants and flowers

Maui-Sunflowers

See sunflowers growing on Maui – an experiment to see what can replace the sugar cane that has been growing here for about 140 years.

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Learn how to climb a coconut tree – and make coconut milk and coconut cookies.

And of course, you must come paddle Hawaiian outrigger canoe with me.  Kihei Canoe Club has visitor paddle every Tuesday and Thursday.  Be on the beach by 7:15 am.  You will learn the basics of paddling, hear a bit of Hawaiian culture (especially if Uncle Kimokea is there), and get to be on the ocean with experienced paddlers.  We never know what we will see.   http://www.kiheicanoeclub.com/

Kihei-Canoe-Club-copy

As for our time in Effingham, Barry and I had a very good time meeting Keegan’s classmates and teachers – and answering their excellent questions.

Mrs-W's-class

Keegan’s classmates in Effingham, IL

Mrs

Cousin Elaine brought juice and made “Hawaiian” cookies with macadamia nuts and coconuts.  We all had a good time.

Of course, there is much more to say about the Hawaiian Islands.  Come visit and see for yourself.

Aloha, Renée

NaluKai

Nalu and Kailani looking for adventure. You come too.

kbs-aloha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii for Keegan417

 

 

 

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Bali: Monkeys

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In the Monkey Forest Sanctuary – monkeys in the trees and on the ground. rr photo

Filtered sunlight makes its way through the tall canopy, the stone statues of snakes and monkeys, the ornate temples, and the calls of monkeys create an eerie, spirit-filled setting.  Visitors follow trails; a deep ravine runs through the park grounds, at the bottom flows a rocky stream. The heavily forested and hilly Ubud Monkey Forest covers about 27 acres (10 hectares) containing at least 115 different species of trees and over 600 crab-eating  macaques (Balinese long-tailed macaques).

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Crab-eating Macaque and her baby. rr photo

The monkeys roam freely – doing all their monkey business – in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud. Although these macaques are called “crab-eating,”  they often eat fruits and many other things; they are native to Southeast Asia and often used in research.  Since they  are most active during the day, visitors can observe their activities – caring for their young, mating, fighting, and grooming  – at close range.

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Monkeys hang out on the walkway railing in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. rr photo

Five groups of monkeys inhabit the park, each occupying different territories.  In recent years here, the monkey population has become larger than a natural environment could support, so conflicts between the groups are unavoidable, but it also means that visitors can see more monkeys here than in the wild.

monkeystree

Monkeys playing in the trees above. rr photo

Know that the monkeys are interested in any food you have.  So, don’t be casually walking along enjoying your fresh young coconut.  You are likely – actually guaranteed – to be jumped.  Likewise, monkeys can smell food in your backpack; don’t count on just hiding your food.

monkeycoconut

This monkey down by the stream is trying to open a coconut. rr photo

The Monkey Forest park staff feed the monkeys sweet potatoes and other vegetables three times a day, providing them with their main source of food in the park, and so, the monkeys here are usually not as super naughty as in some other places.

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Monkeys being fed corn-on-the cob. rr photo

In general, monkeys will not come up to you if you do not bring bananas or any other food.  But they are smart and curious, and they may think you have food in that bag you are carrying, and they know how to take a lid off a bottle in search of whatever delightful drink they think you might have there. We saw a female trying valiantly to crack open a coconut by hitting it repeatedly with the side of her hand.  She used a folded leaf to cushion the blow to her hand.

monkeygirl

Monkey working to unbutton this girl’s pocket. rr photo

Once as I was walking along Monkey Forest Road and not even in the sanctuary, a monkey, a  BIG monkey, climbed up my leg to check out the bottle I was carrying.  When he saw it was only a plastic bottle of water, he climbed back down.  Luckily – and surprisingly to me, I didn’t freak out.  I was very happy I was wearing pants.

monkeyonback

See the monkey on this girl’s back? It’s working on unzipping her backpack. rr photo.

Monkey Forest Sanctuary site recommendations include:

  • Leave any non-essential bags and bottles at the ticket counter.
  • Do not bring in food or drinks to the park.
  • Do not feed the monkeys peanuts, biscuits, bread, or any other human snacks because they are detrimental to monkey health.  Some of the monkeys are now obese 😦 from such feeding.  You may give the monkeys bananas that can be purchased at the entrance, but use care in giving the bananas.
  •   Never-
    • scream
    • pull at a monkey or
    • move suddenly.
  • Do hang on to, or better yet, hide –
    • caps,
    • earrings,
    • cameras,
    • phones,
    • pens,
    • glasses,
    • or whatever might be taken.  Don’t have anything shiny, money sticking out of your pocket, or your computer available in your open bag.
  • If you do feed the monkeys, always look out for the claws and teeth of the dominant male.  He should be given food first to avoid fighting or you getting bitten.
  • Don’t get close to the babies.  Especially don’t get between a mom and her baby.
  • When you smile, don’t show your teeth.  In monkey understanding, this is considered an aggressive gesture.  Monkey grimaces are indicators of inferiority while panting and open-mouthed threats are indicators of dominance.
  • If you have a child with you, be particularly careful.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary staff in the green uniforms are throughout the park in case you need assistance.

monkeyback2

Some people hold bananas above their heads to encourage monkeys to climb up to their shoulders – in order to get a “cool” photo. That is really not a good idea. rr photo

Even if you are careful, it is possible to get scratched or bitten.  The monkeys are wild animals, and they are not afraid of humans.  I haven’t heard of monkeys having rabies here, but some dogs do.  Although dogs aren’t allowed in the sanctuary, I’ve seen a monkey and a young, rambunctious dog near the park entrance scraping over a bit of food.  So don’t take chances.  A puncture wound or even a scratch in a humid, hot climate such as Bali’s can quickly become infected.  Seek immediate medical attention even if your wound seems minor.

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Monkeys here, monkeys there, monkeys all around. rr photo

Even with all these cautions, I recommend that you go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.  Except for that one curious, climbing-up-my-leg monkey, I haven’t had any others bother me.  They are fun to watch.  And it’s fun to watch tourists interact with the monkeys too.

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Tourists feeding monkeys at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. photo from MFS website.

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A monkey statue – and a real monkey in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. rr photo

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On a hot day, the monkeys like to cool off in their Monkey Forest Sanctuary pool. rr photo

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary  is not only a tourist attraction with about 10,000 visitors a  month but also an important site in the spiritual  life of the local community. The Monkey Forest grounds are home to three Hindu temples, all apparently constructed around 1350!

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Temple in Monkey Forest Sanctuary. rr photo

The Main Temple is used for worshiping a personification of Shiva, the transformer. The Pura Beji Temple is a “Holy Spring” bathing temple, a place of spiritual and physical cleansing and purification prior to religious ceremonies.

monkeyforest-pool

Temple pool – holy water. rr photo

The Prajapati Temple is used to pray for procreation and the protection of life. A cemetery adjacent to this temple receives the bodies of the deceased for temporary burial while they await a mass cremation ceremony (because of the extremely high costs), held approximately every five years.

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Monkeys among the graves. rr photo

The temples play an important role in the spiritual life of the local community, and the monkey and its mythology are important in the Balinese art tradition. The Monkey Forest area is sanctified by the local community, and some sacred areas of the temples are closed to everyone except those willing to pray and to wear proper Balinese praying attire.

On-going research and conservation programs also happen here with researchers from  around the world  focusing particularly on the monkey social interaction and behavior with their surrounding environment.

So go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary for the monkeys, the trees, the temples.  Especially if you are aware, you will have fun.

Selamat jalan, Renée

Information from:

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

“The Holy Monkey Forest of Sangeh” by Bill Dalton, Bali Advertiser, 26 Sept. – 12 Oct. 2016, p 26.

Text and photos from: http://monkeyforestubud.com/

What Do You See?

Especially when traveling, you see how other people do things differently.  One wonderful aspect of Bali is there are no homeless people.  I know that is a sweeping generalization, but I haven’t seen one person sleeping on the street!   I wish I could say the same for Maui, the U.S., many other places in the world.   Everyone has a home here mainly because they live in family compounds and take care of each other.  Much of Bali land is government owned or controlled by the villages, so those who live in a family compound can’t sell the land.  Even when they were colonized by the Dutch for 350 years, the Balinese kept control of their land, so they had their family home and family fields for shelter and food – for everyone.

In about 1930, Balinese began importing tin roofs (instead of using the grasses and having their neighbors help them thatch it – thus creating roof that would last 15-20 years – for free).  Then they started importing cars – and needing money.  Until that time, Bali could be considered one of the richest places on Earth.  Because this traditional society was controlled by the village and temple laws, there was not much difference between the richest and poorest people in a village.  Everyone got water for their family fields  (a real “trickle-down” theory in practice).  The system was so efficient that most people needed to work only four months a year to sustain themselves and their families; the rest of the year was dedicated to their art, temple, and family!

How’s that for a terrific idea that we could use?

(Source Hickman Powell’s The Last Paradise: An American’s Discovery of Bali in the 1920’s).  <https://www.amazon.com/LAST-PARADISE-AMERICANS-DISCOVERY-1920s/dp/B01LMJYTBI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476854387&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Last+Paradise%3A+An+American%27s+Discovery+of+Bali+in+the+1920%27s&refinements=p_72%3A1250224011>

temple

Balinese temple – the center of community life.  rr photo

Even now that they have to work year round, most Balinese are artists: dancers, musicians, painters, carvers, mask makers,  weavers . . . .  We could learn much from the Balinese.

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The carved door to the kitchen at Agus Ayu Cottages in Ubud! Beauty and art are everywhere here. rr photo

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Carved statues, wooden plank tables, embedded stones at Nick’s Restaurant on Jalan Bisma. rr photo

But since an outsider can often see what a local does not,  I’ve noticed since I was last here in 2014, the trend in Bali to keep caged birds.  Bali is tropical; birds are everywhere.  Just look out your window.  Farmers in the rice fields are chasing birds away from the ripe grain.  If you want more birds, you can just put out some bird seed.  On Jalan Bisma, sometimes a van of tourists come to bird watch.

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Birders on Jalan Bisma. rr photo

Why would you cage them?

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Caged birds at a tourist home stay.  rr photo

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Do you need a caged bird to entertain you while you eat a pizza? rr photo

While I’ve been here in Bali, I’ve read that although Balinese don’t eat dog meat, other people do. “Dog theft here is rampant, be it by agents of the dreaded . . . dog meat restaurants, or by thieves looking to sell a breed dog . . .  at the famous ‘pasar burung’ in Denpasar where many breed dogs are sold on. . . In desperation to retrieve their beloved stolen pet, owners offer a considerable financial reward on posters and flyers which sadly can encourage further theft (though the owner is left no choice really but to go down this route).  Even if dog meat thieves are caught, they are seldom punished with any severity – and as long as they keep getting away with it, they will keep doing it ” (Pet Care” Bali Advertiser, 12-26 Oct. 2016 p. 50).

Also while I’ve been here, I’ve seen the New York Times, “Big Food Photo Essay”:

09-big-food-ss-slide-l739-master1050

Calves  – a herd animal –  are kept from their mothers.

Product: Dairy calves
Facility: Calf Source
Location: Greenleaf, Wisc.
Capacity: Approximately 10,000 calves at any given time

Newborn females arrive from local dairies and spend their first 180 days at Calf Source — first in one of 4,896 hutches, like the ones seen here, and then in larger group pens. Trucks pass down each of 72 rows, dispensing water and milk. After a transfer to Heifer Source, another facility owned by the Milk Source company, the cows are inseminated and then returned — seven months pregnant, and just under 2 years old — to the dairies they came from.

turkeys

What’s life like for these turkeys? What about the worker?

Product: Turkeys
Facility: Gary’s Gobblers
Location: Northeastern Iowa
Output: 150,000 turkeys per year

During its busiest season, Gary’s Gobblers might have up to 60,000 turkeys living on five acres of its 160-acre facility. The worker seen here is spraying an antibacterial solution into the turkey pens to prevent disease.

Calf and turkey photos and text from:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/magazine/big-food-photo-essay.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

During the Bali Vegan Festival, I attended the talk, “The Plight of the Bali Dog.”  The facts about the dogs were bad – but also hopeful with information about what organizations such as BARC are doing to meet the challenges.  What surprised me the most was what a young woman from India attending the talk said in response to my question about the Balinese Hindus offering animal sacrifices to their gods.

I know India is a complex country, the world’s most populous democracy, the land of Gandhi, and ahimsa (seeing the spark of the divine within each person).  India is a country where you are confronted with big questions about glittering wealth and abject poverty – and where the Hindu majority religion respects the lives of animals.  Indians  make up two thirds of the world’s population of vegetarians – and Indian food is healthy and delicious.

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Young woman originally from India at the Bali Vegan Festival

What the Indian woman told me was very surprising to me:

1) Today – vegetarian, respect for animal life – India is one of the biggest exporter of beef cattle in the world!!!    According to a 2015 CNN news report, “India was the world’s top beef exporter last year.  That’s because India exports large quantities of meat from water buffalo — a member of the bovine family classified as beef by the USDA. . . .  Meat now earns India more export dollars than basmati rice. . .

India’s buffalo meat — a chewier and cheaper alternative to beef — mostly ends up on plates in Asia and the Middle East, where rising wealth is spurring demand among diners for animal protein. . . .

The cow is revered in Hindu culture, the religion observed by roughly 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people, and restrictions on cattle slaughter apply in most states. . .

Still, the $4.8 billion annual export trade has almost developed by accident — the animals are needed to keep India’s huge domestic dairy industry going, said Rabobank analyst Pawan Kumar.

This is unique among countries with large bovine exports, Kumar said. It also means buffalo meat from India is cheaper. That helped the country generate record export earnings from the beef last year, although growth is moderating from the 30% annual rate seen between 2010 to 2013.

Here’s where it all goes: Vietnam is the top importer, with Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia other key markets.

Then there’s China, which may actually be the largest consumer of the meat, according to Rabobank’s Kumar. Some 40% of Indian buffalo is sent to Vietnam, before large quantities make their way across the Chinese border.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/05/news/economy/india-beef-exports-buffalo/

The Indian woman told me a second fact shocked me even more than the first:

2) Some Hindus offer animal sacrifice to their gods – as a gift of the best food.

According to the November 2014 Daily Mail  article, “Animals are being lined up for slaughter as Nepal embarks on a two-day religious festival where buffalo, birds and goats are sacrificed to appease a Hindu goddess.

Millions of Hindus flock to the ceremony, which is held every five years at the temple of Gadhimai, the goddess of power, in Bariyarpur, Nepal, near the Indian border. . .

In 2009, more than 250,000 animals were killed, according to animal rights organization PETA, who is campaigning to put a stop to the practice.”

The meat from the slaughtered animals is usually given to meat eaters (but how long does it take for the meat of those thousands of buffalo killed in a field to be refrigerated?).
Since 2009, activists have been working with the government to stop the sacrifices but although there were fewer animals slaughtered in 2014, the ritual still continues.
What do you see where you are?
Wherever you are in the world, there are practices that we might want to emulate.
For instance, can we ensure that everyone has shelter and food as the Balinese have done so well for hundreds of years?  Can we change our frantic pace of striving for  more and more money and more and more things to have time to develop our artistic abilities and to spend time with our family and community as the Balinese do?
And what behaviors can we help change?
Look around. Be aware.  What can you do to make the world better for others – and yourself – wherever you are?
Aloha & Salam, Renée

Bali: Rabies in 2016? – official and on-the-street views

Attenders at “The Plight of the Bali Dog,” during the Bali Vegan Festival – including a puppy up for adoption.

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Bali dogs – the one in the background is a puppy, already independent and on the streets. rr photo

In trying to answer the question about rabies now in Bali, I had first to look back several years.

Until the outbreak of rabies in 2008, Bali had been rabies free for over 10 years.

In her 2010 column, “What You Need to Know About the Rabies Epidemic in Bali”  at www.baliadvertiser.biz/articles/greenspeak/2010, Ibu Kat writes:

“The epidemic began in late 2008 in Uluwatu, probably introduced by pet dogs travelling with fishermen from other islands. A localized outbreak in such a remote area should have been easy to contain, but the World Health Organization (WHO) international protocols on rabies were not complied with. The virus soon spread to Denpasar and is now present in almost every regency on Bali.

Sanglah’s rabies clinic is treating about 1000 dog bites a month. Often there is no rabies vaccine (Verorab). Even more rarely available is immunoglobulin (SAR), the essential drug which must also be administered within one week into and around the wound if the bite or scratch has broken the skin. Two small boys were bitten last month and given the vaccine, but the immunoglobulin was not available. Both quickly died. Even when it is available, the cost of the drug is very high and depends on body weight — from Rp 6 million [U.S. $461] for a child to over Rp 20 million [U.S. $1,538] for a large adult. [Salaries here are about U.S. $1.00 an hour, so those life-saving drugs are not available to most local Balinese].

It’s not just Balinese being bitten. SOS International Clinic sees up to 300 dog bites a year, mostly tourists. The clinic always has a stock of the rabies vaccine but rarely has immunoglobulin. Because of this situation, travelers who don’t have the pre-exposure rabies vaccination often have to leave Bali urgently in order to obtain treatment elsewhere.”

Kim Patra, a Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years and now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur, notes –

Symptoms –
The first symptoms of rabies are flu-like, including fever, headache and fatigue, and then progress to involve the respiratory, gastrointestinal and/or central nervous systems. In the critical stage, signs of hyperactivity (furious rabies) or paralysis (dumb rabies) dominate. In both furious and dumb rabies, some paralysis eventually progresses to complete paralysis, followed by coma and death in all cases, usually due to breathing failure. Without intensive care, death occurs during the first seven days of illness.. .

From http://baliadvertiser.biz/rabies-2015-where-are-we-now/

***

In another column,  Ibu Kat gave more information rabies situation in 2010.  Much is still true today:

“MORE ABOUT RABIES – WHY KILLING DOGS DOESN’T STOP THE VIRUS

There is very little public information about the rabies epidemic on Bali. Although there’s now plenty of high quality dog vaccine on Bali and the government has received a million dollars from Australia to aggressively fight the epidemic, the human death toll continues to rise. The latest count is 40 deaths from rabies, 32 of them at Sanglah Hospital. The real number is probably higher, given the remoteness and poverty of many villages and the practice of burying or cremating bodies on the day of death without an autopsy.

BAWA [Bali Animal Welfare Association] staff member Dayu says, “We know that recently two families and a young Australian had to fly out. At least one American has been seriously bitten and did not receive immunoglobulin. We estimate three tourists a week report dog bites to us.”

This is not good for tourism.

Back in January [2010], seven international rabies specialists visited Bali at BAWA’s invitation and spent three days sharing WHO experiences and protocols with their Indonesian colleagues. Their advice was simple and clear. “Culling dogs has never been effective in controlling rabies or managing dog populations. Bali should immediately stop culling dogs and focus all its human and material resources on vaccinating all the dogs it can and ensuring vaccine is available to people who are bitten”[my emphasis].

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Adelle – the great Bali dog where we are staying makes us feel at home – and protects us from any roving dog. BK photo

Dr Darryn Knobel, who has a PhD in rabies control and works with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), gave a presentation on the ineffectiveness of culling (killing) dogs. In the past, governments in the developing world tried to control rabies in this way, but it has never been effective in either stopping the virus or reducing dog populations for long. At one point Sri Lanka and Ecuador killed a large percentage of their dogs (Ecuador 24%) without stopping rabies epidemics. When rabies arrived in Flores over a decade ago (again, with fishermen’s dogs from another island), up to 48% of the dogs were culled in some regencies. But there is still rabies in Flores; rabies can exist at dog densities as low as 5 dogs per square kilometre. Bangkok killed half a million dogs between 1997 and 2000, but there was no change in the number of human deaths and no effect on dog population growth.

Dr Knobel cited Mexico, Tanzania and Channai, India (with one of the highest rabies rates in the world) as locations that brought rabies under control with mass dog vaccinations and good medical services for humans. No culling was done in these locations.

In developing countries, between 25 – 50% of the general dog population dies every year. So if you eliminate that many, you are only replacing one type of mortality with another. The population loss is quickly offset by the rapid growth rate in the remaining population. Dr Knobel mentions that even in areas with the highest recorded rates of culling, populations swiftly recovered.

When culling takes place, the survivors no longer have to compete so hard for food or territory. Better nourished dogs have bigger litters, and more of these puppies survive. Very soon you have at least as many dogs (all unvaccinated) as you started with. And, until the dog population recovers, lots more rats. Frederick Knowlton reported in 1972 that coyotes bear an average of 4.3 pups at high population densities, but 6.9 pups when hunted down to low densities, making more food available. This proved to be the key to understanding why hunting or poisoning almost any canine is futile in controlling population.

Culling also encourages a couple of dangerous human behaviours. When a banjar’s [village] dogs are eliminated, Balinese families soon feel they want another dog. They quickly replace the culled dogs with unvaccinated puppies brought in from [possibly] infected areas. Or when culling starts, people move their dogs to a rabies-free area to prevent them being killed. Of course if these dogs are already infected, they transmit rabies to the new area. This could be why the epidemic is so widespread in Bali. (Infected dogs may not show symptoms for up to a year.)

Dogs are very territorial. Eliminating dogs from a banjar means that outside dogs can move in. A population of vaccinated dogs is the banjar’s best protection against infiltration by unvaccinated, possibly rabid dogs. Ironically, the maligned Bali street dog has an important role to play in preventing strange, unvaccinated dogs from entering their territory (providing, of course, that they have been vaccinated).

Sixteen villages in Gianyar have had confirmed rabies-positive dogs including, in the Ubud area, Peliatan, Sayan, Jukit Paku, Andong, Mas, Tegallalang, Abanagan and Gentong. Almost all of the infected dogs were owned; they were not street dogs except in the sense that most dogs in Bali wander the streets during the day and return to their compounds at night. The rabies epidemic in Bali is not being spread by packs of wild dogs. It is being carried by owned dogs. And only urgent mass vaccination can control it.

Vaccinating dogs against rabies is hard work. The four BAWA teams, in cooperation with the Dinas Perternakan, leave before six every morning in vans equipped with large catching nets and high quality vaccine. In the hot sun and the pouring rain they capture, vaccinate and mark every dog they can find in complying banjars, keeping careful records as they go. These days, they are vaccinating about 500 dogs a day in Gianyar Regency. But BAWA can only use the WSPA-provided vaccine in banjars which sign an MOU committing not to kill their dogs. Sometimes the BAWA team has to return five times to a banjar to obtain the signatures it needs. With about 50,000 dogs in the Regency, this is a daunting project.

If a dog is acting suspicious, it should be collected for observation by BAWA. Trying to kill a dog without proper training and equipment is a good way to get bitten. Even burying an infected dog without protection is dangerous. A man in Mengwi who killed his dog recently died because some of the infected dog’s saliva entered his eye. Dogs suspected of rabies should be reported to BAWA at 0811389004 and they will collect and quarantine the animal. Currently there are no other rabies quarantine facilities on the island. If a dog is still alive 10 days after it shows suspected symptoms, then it is considered rabies-free. A rabid dog (or human) will die 5 – 10 days after the first symptoms appear.

Vaccinating your dogs and keeping them off the street is the safest option these days. Since an early March directive from the Bali government ordering 10,000 dogs a month to be culled, pets have become a soft target.

Chaining dogs also creates difficulties. A dog chained in a compound can’t protect its territory, and can’t even defend itself if a rabid dog attacks it. . .

If bitten, BAWA recommends,  “Cleaning the wound immediately — right then and there, not waiting until you get home or to a clinic — is very important in preventing the virus from entering the body and reaching the central nervous system. Wash the wound for at least 10 full minutes with running water and detergent. (Detergent breaks down the wall of the virus.) Then apply iodine or alcohol to the wound and get the patient to Sanglah Hospital quickly. The contact person for the Rabies Team there is Dr. Ken Wirasandhi at 081 2395 8111. Pray that they have VARS rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin when you need it. Dog bites should not be stitched.”

From: http://baliadvertiser.biz/killing_dogs/

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Bali Animal Welfare Association

BAWA reports, “Rabies Control Now

 
Since 2011 the government has officially managed Bali’s rabies control and eradication program. BAWA continues to sterilize dogs as a population control measure and to immunize animals against diseases including rabies.

BAWA runs a 24/7 emergency hotline and education programs to raise awareness.

Unfortunately poisoning continues. BAWA lobbies for sterilization and vaccination to combat rabies. We advocate strengthened animal welfare laws to make inhumane killing and other cruelty illegal; we also argue for better law enforcement.

From: http://bawabali.com/our-programs/rabies-response-control/

What it doesn’t say on its website is that the Indonesian government has shut down BAWA’s animal shelter.

What’s the international official word on rabies in Bali?

According to the U.S. Government travel advisory: “Rabies is endemic in Indonesia, but extensive dog vaccination has reduced cases in Bali by almost 80 percent. Other islands in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and Sumatra still pose risks for rabies. Rabies is a highly fatal disease and availability of treatment is very limited. If bitten, immediately seek treatment at an international clinic. The CDC recommends rabies vaccination if you will spend time in rural areas while in Indonesia.” https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/indonesia.html

The World Health Organization (WHO) says, “In recent years, a number of rabies control and elimination pilot programmes carried out in Africa, Asia and Latin America have achieved a sustained reduction in human rabies cases through mass vaccination of dogs. In a number of urban areas, particularly in India, vaccination coupled with sterilization of dogs has resulted in local elimination of rabies in both humans and animals. . .

From: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/rabies_consultation_2012/en/

The most complete official information I found was at the BARC, Bali Dog Adoption and Rehabilitation Centre, website:

ABOUT RABIES

“Rabies is prevalent in Bali.  . .

WHAT IS THE CURRENT RABIES SITUATION IN BALI?

As of April 13, 2013, more than 130 people have died from rabies in Bali since the outbreak began. Human and animal rabies cases have been confirmed near popular tourist destinations throughout the island. Efforts, including vaccinating dogs for rabies, have been made to control the outbreak. These efforts appear to be helping to manage the outbreak on the island.(Source: The Global Alliance for Rabies Control).

WHAT IS RABIES?

Rabies is a rapidly progressing virus that causes death. It is almost always spread by an animal bite but can also be spread when a rabid animal’s saliva gets directly into the eyes, nose, mouth, or broken skin. The primary sources of human infection worldwide are dogs and certain wildlife species, such as foxes, raccoons, mongooses, and bats.

How can Travelers Protect themselves?

CONSIDER A RABIES VACCINE
• Immunization is recommended before you arrive in Bali, however, if intend to be here longer than 3 weeks you can obtain the immunization here at a cost of approximately $45. If you would like to do this please contact us and we can recommend a clinic for you to visit. The pre-exposure rabies vaccination is a three-shot series (days 0, 7, and 21 or 28) given before travel contact with the animals.
• Even if you receive pre-exposure vaccination, you will still need immediate medical treatment if you are bitten or scratched by an animal.
Avoid animal bites.
• Avoid touching wild animals and pets. Pet dogs in Bali are not always vaccinated against rabies.
• Resist the urge to rescue animals with the intent to bring them home to your country. Dogs and cats may be infected with rabies but not show signs until several days or weeks after you first encounter them.
• Supervise children closely, especially around dogs, cats, and wildlife such as monkeys. This is important since children are more likely to be bitten by animals, may not report the bite, and may have more severe injuries from animal bites.
Act quickly if an animal bites or scratches you.
• Wash the wound well with soap and water.
• See a doctor right away, even if you don’t feel sick or your wound is not serious. To prevent rabies, you may need to start a series of vaccinations immediately.”

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Independent, healthy Bali dog.  rr photo

In 2013, a rabid dog bit five people in Ubud.  In 2014, when I was last here, I saw (and jumped in front of a truck to avoid) a wild-eyed,  frothing-at-the-mouth rabid dog in Penestanan – just outside Ubud. 
At that time, I also saw lots of dogs with red strings around their necks indicating that they had been vaccinated.   Those strings are gone.  Now the owners of dogs get a booklet to verify the vaccination. 
In “RABIES 2015 – Where are we now?”  Kim Patra notes in her column, Paradise… In Sickness & In Health“News on rabies has hit the headlines again with the highest concentration of at-risk animals (dogs) reported to be in South Kuta and Renon.  Kuta alone is said to have a population of up to 55,000 dogs, many of which have not been vaccinated.It’s now almost 7 years since the first cases of rabies in Bali were documented and the Government’s target of being rabies free by 2012 has obviously not come to fruition. Massive vaccination and elimination of dogs has failed to eradicate the disease, and more programs have been planned for 2015 in an attempt to curb Rabies on the Island. There have been at least two human rabies deaths here in the past 6 months.
Now in 2016, I haven’t found  articles that I can read about rabies.  The dogs I’ve seen are healthy (except for the one old dog) and well treated.  The rescue organizations and perhaps the government are continuing immunizations. 

What’s the  on-the-street report about rabies that I’ve heard here in Bali in 2016?

A woman from Darwin, Australia, whom I met here in Ubud, has lived in Lombak,  an Indonesian island east of Bali and west of Sumbawa,  for 18 years.  She says that rabies is a big problem especially for the poor Balinese.  She has heard that one or two people die each week  because of rabies.  Part of the problem, she says,  is that the government won’t give the very expensive anti-rabies serum unless the dog is caught and has tested positive to rabies.  If the dog gets away, the bitten person will not be given the serum, and so by the time it’s obvious that rabies is the problem, it’s too late to do anything.

adelle

Adelle, the smart, friendly, healthy Bali Dog at Agus Ayu Cottages. rr photo

Remember that I’m not the best resource since I speak neither Indonesian nor Balinese, and  I’m a tourist, staying in a Balinese tourist town.  Keeping in mind that people everywhere like to complain about their government, (and this part is hear say) I’ve heard from various sources on the street that –

  • The Governor of Bali  just wants all the dogs killed as the easiest way to take care of all threats of rabies.  [But we know that would not stop rabies].
  • Government men come into villages and kill all the dogs even those that have been vaccinated.
  • The villagers who resist the government men have been educated to stand up for their vaccinated dogs.
  • There has been a eight-year killing spree of dogs.
  • About 30,000 of the unique Bali Heritage Dogs have been culled since 2009.
  • Rumor is that perhaps the government men get a bounty for each killed dog.
  • Although the Balinese do not eat dog, other groups do.  Some come into Bali and set up cheap restaurants selling meat from kidnapped and killed Bali dogs. 😦
  • Leather products here especially if they are made of strips of leather can be from the hides of dogs and cats. 😦
  • The symptoms for rabies and tetanus are very similar.  Therefore, there is confusion in diagnosing rabies and even cause of death may not be accurate and so data about rabies is not reliable.

When many, many dogs were culled in 2008 after an increase in rabies, the rat population exploded and destroyed many of the rice fields.   So the villagers know they need dogs, if for no other reason, to keep the rodent population down.

puppy

Bali Dog puppy – friendly and independent – on the street alone. rr photo

Because I’m in Ubud, a tourist town,  I’ve seen mainly well-cared-for dogs.  The saddest one is this one on Jalan Bisma.

balidogsad

Animal rescue people know this dog and have tried to help him. He is well loved by his family but is 17 years old, which is really old for a Bali dog, and the medicine they have for his skin makes him sicker 😦

Bali dogs, perhaps the oldest breed on Earth, are smart, hardy, short-haired, and independent, all wonderful traits in a humid, hot climate with owners who don’t have many material resources. The Bali dogs also have litters of about six puppies.

Now, however, on Bali it is popular for Western bred dogs to be imported.  One myth is that if your dog is Western, it won’t get rabies! Not true, of course.  Many of the imported dogs are high maintenance and expensive and have big litters.  😦

dog-furry1

This very furry dog in Ubud looks high-maintenance to me. Look at the piece of paper stuck to her fur. Bali has a hot, humid climate – not the best place for a furry dog.

dog-furry2

She’s cute, but she wouldn’t last long in the streets of Ubud.

dog-sim

Sim from the Netherlands petting a cute imported dog – not a Bali Dog.

At the “Plight of Bali Dogs” talk last weekend, (Oct. 9, 2016), Ebony from BARC (Bali Animal and Rehabilitation Centre shared many facts.  One is that it has been estimated that one un-sterilized dog over a seven year period could possibly have up to 67,000 offspring!  So sterilization is essential in keeping the dog population at a reasonable level. BARC sterilizes 20 dogs a week.

dogs-ebony

Ebony from BARC

BARC  has an animal sanctuary and an adoption center; it works to educate local people, provide vaccinations, and medical care for animals, especially dogs.  Started by an Australian woman, Linda, BARC relies on donations to continue its work.

Besides providing local families with dogs that have been vaccinated and sterilized, BARC does followup home visits and provides medical care for its adopted animals. Ebony also praised Elisabeth’s good work with cats at Villa Kitty.

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Kitty Villa – kitten waiting for adoption

http://www.villakitty.com/

A local Balinese man, Made, tells us that BARC comes in to his village each month to vaccinate any new dogs and check on the health of the animals.

puppy2

A BARC puppy waiting for a good home.

My non-expert conclusion about rabies in Bali in 2016:
From the many healthy dogs I’ve seen and the fact that the news I can read in Bali now is not mentioning rabies and that the U.S. State Department Travel Advisory (that usually gives the most conservative recommendations) says rabies is mainly contained, and that the great animal rescue organizations here continue to do good work of vaccinating dogs and educating people, I think the rabies situation is better; rabies is not gone – but at least here on Bali in the tourist areas, there is less rabies than before.

But, if you are in Bali, the best way to prevent getting rabies is to

  1. Get a vaccination
  2. Check that  the dog where you are staying and the neighbors’ dogs  are vaccinated
  3. If you are bitten, follow WHO recommendations.  Wound cleansing and immunizations, done as soon as possible after suspect contact with an animal and following WHO recommendations, can prevent the onset of rabies in virtually 100% of exposures.
  4. Stay at a place with a Bali Dog to ward off any dog that might have rabies. 🙂

Also, BARC recommends, “Before your trip, find out if your health insurance covers health care overseas and medical evacuation.”

When you come to Bali, consider bringing in items (towels, medicines . . . ) that can help the rescue organizations. BARC’s  Ebony has been able to bring in expired, but still good, animal medicine that’s much needed – donated by Australian veterinarians.  See if vets in your country will do the same.  But a word of caution.  Indonesia has draconian laws about drug dealers, so  contact the rescue organizations for specifics so you don’t get in trouble by doing a good deed.

BARC -Bali Animal Rehabilitation Centre – https://barc4balidogs.org.au/

BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – http://bawabali.com/

Villa Kitty – http://www.villakitty.com/

Be aware, be safe – and help Bali organizations that are working to help animals  – and to stop rabies.

Salam, Renée

In Panamá: The Coatímundí

Barry and I are here in Panamá and have had several experiences, including: 1) seeing the Panamá Canal – which is a huge, impressive engineering feat, 2) learning of one intriguing indigenous people, the Guna Yala, and 3) traveling with locals on a most luxurious bus, a double decker, quiet – even the infants – for the eight-hour ride between Panamá City and David (“DawVeed”), Panamá.

But what has surprised me the most so far is an animal I’ve never seen before – the coatímundí or coatí.  One is here where we are staying in David at Bambú Hostel:  http://www.bambuhostel.com

A coatímundí

A coatímundí

Image from: http://www.garlynzoo.com/coatimundi.gif

Coatís are found all over Central and South America – some even in Texas and New Mexico.  The story at Bambú Hostel is that a few years ago, someone staying here saw a coatí in the road, got a sheet, threw it over her, and brought her to the hostel.  She has been here ever since, which shows she is smart.  I’m calling her Anna, the coatí.  So far, she has taken the bread, mixed nuts (only a few), bananas, apples, hard-boiled egg,  and almond/coconut milk that I’ve given her.  It’s probably a wonder that she isn’t fat.  I’ve heard she loves raw warm chicken eggs too.

Anna the coatí

Anna or Andy, the coatí, at Bambu Hostel

Here’s what I’ve learned:

coatimundi (kōät´ēmŭn´dē, –mŏŏn´–) or coati (kōät´ē), omnivore of North and South America related to the raccoon. The coatimundi has a long snout, an elongated body, and a long bushy tail banded with dark rings. The coat color varies from yellowish brown or reddish brown to black. The males are significantly larger than the females and may be more than 50 in. (127 cm) long and may weigh up to 25 lb (11 kg). Active both day and night, the coati is a forest dweller and an agile tree climber. It eats lizards, birds, and fruit and uses its long mobile snout to grub for insects and roots. On the ground, its short forelegs give it a bearlike gait as it lumbers along with its tail erect. Females and their young travel in bands, but males are solitary (known as “coatimundis” ) and join the band only in the mating season. The young, typically four to six in number, are born following a gestation period of about seventy-seven days. The species Nasua narica is native to SW United States. N. nasua, the ring-tailed coatimundi, is a related species that ranges from Mexico to Peru. Coatis are often raised as pets in Mexico. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Procyonidae.

Information from:  “coatimundi.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. 2015. Encyclopedia.com. 6 Jan. 2016<http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

a coatímundí

a coatímundí

Image from: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/4f/2d/15/4f2d1557240bd999f0491e942aa13307.jpg

 

Another traveler at Bambú Hostel, Beth, a young U.S. marine biologist who is working in Costa Rica for turtle research and preservation, said that she thought Anna might be actually an Andy since she/he is big and  alone.  So I consulted, http://www.zoo-zoom.com/Coatimundi.htm.  That source says, “The females average between 9 to 14 pounds with the males attaining weights somewhat larger about 12 to 17 pounds.”  So although Anna could just be a bit overweight (and we can guess why), this coatí is probably a male since he seems quite happy to be by himself.

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Matt, originally from Chicago, is a social worker from North Carolina and a volunteer at Bambú Hostel with Andy, the coatí. Andy never really has to be alone.

The source, http://www.zoo, says,”Because of their intelligence they can become bored if not kept adequately occupied. Although the coati will remain lovable and friendly after reaching adult age they may have infrequent rebellious outbursts at between age 6 months to 1 year (similar to human teenage years).”

Places like Janda Exotics sell them as pets:  http://www.jandaexotics.com/Coatimundi.html

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coati and me

I climbed onto a bench to be able to get close enough to Andy to give him an apple slice.

 

However, coatímuntí are wild animals.  It’s probably better to let one adopt you, and let it come and go as it will – as Andy, the coati, does here at the Bambú Hostel, in David, Panamá.

coatí drawing

An artist’s drawing of a coatímundí on a Casco Viejo wall in Panamá City.  The real ones aren’t this big!

Barry just came into our room to tell me that Andy knocked over the aluminum coffee urn, spilling hot liquid and coffee grinds all over the floor of the outdoor kitchen.

coati tail

Andy – look at that tail! He’s funny and entertaining. But as Greg, the owner of Bambú Hostel, says, “He is really aggravating sometimes.”

Coatís are curious, intelligent, active animals.  I’m glad I can interact with Andy here.  You may want to look for them in the wild too.

Adiós, Renée

Bali’s Very Special Dog – Perhaps the oldest dog breed on Earth: Barry’s Gleanings

“Bali’s Very Special Dog” by Ibu Kat

“Visitors to Bali often comment on the many dogs roaming the streets and guarding the gates to family compounds. Because of the wide variation in colouring they are often mistaken for mutts or mongrels, but in fact the Bali Dog is a distinct breed. Researchers at the University of California Davis believe that the Bali Dog, with its unique and valuable gene pool may be the oldest dog on earth.

The Bali Dog - comes in many colors.  It may be the oldest breed on Earth

The Bali Dog – comes in many colors. It may be the oldest breed on Earth

Between 2000 and 2003, Dr. Niels Pederson from the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at University fo California Davis led a team that tested the DNA of 3,500 indigenous dogs from all over Bali. Bali has two unique indigenous dogs, the Bali Dog and the highland Kintamani which have been living on the island virtually unaltered for at least 5,000 years. Genetic research shows that the ancestry of the Bali Dog can be traced back about 15,000 years.

According to Dr. Pederson, Bali’s dogs are the richest pool of genetic diversity of all the dogs on the world. ‘The true pure canine breed is the indigenous Bali Dog,’ said Dr. Pedersen. ‘Its lineage goes all the way back to the first proto-dogs that evolved from the wolves. Their genes are highly valuable for further research, as they are a window on the ancestral dog.’

A Bali Dog walks along the rice fields

A Bali Dog walks along the rice fields

Although expats and tourists become emotional about vanishing species such as the orangutan, Bali Starling, Java rhino and the many other creatures which are rapidly disappearing across Indonesia, the ubiquitous Bali Dog remains invisible to conservationists. There seem to be so many of them – too many, some say. Yet this precious and unique pool of DNA is quickly becoming contaminated by the introduction of imported dogs.

Because the Bali Dog is not yet a formally recognized breed, it is not being bred for purity. After thousands of years of uncontaminated DNA, the Bali Dog is now under threat from casual inbreeding with imported dogs. The so-called “breed dogs” are a status symbol here, but many are products of uncontrolled puppy mills where extreme inbreeding is the norm. Casual interbreeding with imported dogs introduces their weaker genes. The Bali Dog is so genetically diverse, it presents many different ear and tail types as well as colours.

A Bali Dog - at Kitty Villa

A Bali Dog (brown with a black muzzle and face) –  safe at Villa Kitty near Ubud, Bali

[Villa Kitty, a rescue and adoption site especially for cats and kittens, is run by the fabulous Elizabeth and her caring staff.  They rescue dogs too.

Every Sunday, Villa Kitty offers a great meal as a fundraiser to anyone interested in visiting the facility near Ubud.  <http://www.villakitty.com>]

The Bali Dog may be black or white, or white with black or brown spots or patches of various sizes. There’s a wide variety of beautiful brindles including grey and black, solid brown with caramel and black stripes, and the more common sandy brown variety with black stripes. The most unusual colours for a Bali Dog are pure golden and grey. Also rare and highly sought after for ceremonial sacrifice is the un-neutered male pure brown variety with a black muzzle and face. [Yikes, I don’t know if this is still happening. I hope not!]. Genetic testing proves that regardless of the wide range of colour and markings, all these dogs shared the same pure DNA pool.

Bali Dogs make wonderful pets. Once the owner has won its trust, it can be highly trained. This is naturally a very clean dog and many owners claim that it seems to house train itself from an early age.   The breed is extremely adaptable to many situations and climates, even growing a thicker coat when moved to colder parts of the world. Its wide genetic diversity makes it immune to the diseases and genetic disorders typical of selectively bred dogs. If well looked after, the breed can live over 16 years. There are stories of Bali Dogs traveling many miles across country to return to their original homes.

A Bali Dog

A Bali Dog

Although they like to run in packs and make a lot of noise, the breed is seldom aggressive and bites are rare if the dog is not provoked. They hate to be confined and can easily clear walls of over three meters [almost 10 feet] high, from the tops of which they also like to survey their territory. They’re commonly known as ‘street dogs’ because of their love of running free and socializing with each other, and although they many seem feral almost all Bali Dogs are in fact owned. They’re commonly seen hanging out in the doorways of their home compounds, alert to intruders. These dogs are smart and funny and often have huge personalities. They are great guard dogs, their distinctive barks alerting their owners to different kinds of intruders (‘Snake!’ ‘Stranger!’ ‘Evil Spirits!’).

Before plastic arrived in Bali, these dogs played an important part in the ecosystem by consuming the organic waste. Enthusiastic ratters, they also had a strong role in managing the rodent population on the island. When the government started culling dogs after the 2008 rabies outbreak, the rice harvest in some areas where the dogs had been eliminated was destroyed by the uncontrolled rat population. Bali Dogs also keep snakes and other unwelcome wildlife away from the house.

Because of the heat and huminity xx, many of the Bali dogs suffer with skin problems.

Because of the heat and humidity, some of the Bali dogs suffer with skin problems – even if they are owned.  This Bali Dog got all of Chris’s and Barry’s leftover rib bones.  That didn’t help his skin, but he started looking for us 🙂

So if you’re in the market for a dog, why not choose the breed with the oldest and strongest genetic heritage, best adapted to the local climate, a terrific guard dog and a smart, funny companion – the Bali Dog.

A wonderful companion - the Bali Dog

A wonderful companion – the Bali Dog

To adopt a Bali Dog or if you see an injured dog on the street, call BAWA at 081 1389004 or BARC at 0361 975 038. [These organizations are doing wonderful work in educating people and in rescuing dogs].  Remember that these are charities, so please make a donation when you take a rescued dog in for care.”

Written by Ibu Kat in UbudLife No. 21 Dec. – Feb. 2015, p. 68-69.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

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