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Nature meets culture: an Indigenous climate warrior, Mother Nature’s silly side and more

© OCHA/Mayanne Munan

It can be hard to connect with nature in our daily lives. But with a little help, you can find nature everywhere. With that in mind, here are a few shows, podcasts and more that can help bring nature to life for you, wherever you are.

As Lake Chad vanishes, an Indigenous woman fights for the people it leaves behind 

A member of the Mbororo Indigenous community of southern Chad, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim saw the adverse impacts of climate breakdown from a young age. 

As semi-nomadic herders, the Mbororo people historically migrated close to Lake Chad during the dry season in search of water for their cattle. But over the past 50 years, the lake has shrunk by more than 90 percent, forcing communities in Chad and neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria to fight over this dwindling freshwater resource.

A new film follows Ibrahim from the deserts of Chad to the halls of the United Nations as she works to protect the nature that her people depend on. 

“Chad as a country is a very vulnerable place,” says Ibrahim, Conservation International’s Senior Indigenous Fellow, in the film. “We are the door of the desert. The bush is our supermarket. It’s our pharmacy, it’s our energy. It is our water point. It’s everything for us.”

One of the few women in her community to receive a formal education, Ibrahim has used her experience to develop a 3-dimensional mapping system of the region that enables people from different communities to share their knowledge of natural resources in the area. 

With these maps, communities can more readily locate and share critical resources such as fresh water. However, at the 2021 UN Climate Summit in New York, Ibrahim stresses that Indigenous peoples — who often face the brunt of climate impacts — need more support from countries around the world to adapt. 

“We need to act all together and we need to act right now,” Ibrahim says at the conference, which is highlighted in the film. “My people can’t wait. There is really no time.”

Even Mother Nature has a silly side — and this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards prove it. 

Since 2015, the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards showcase some of the most hilarious moments across the animal kingdom — from an otter toddler getting dragged back home by its mother to a gang of raccoons "whispering secrets" to each other other.

This year’s comedy king? A male golden silk monkey in a … compromising position. (see the image here)

But the purpose of these awards goes beyond offering us humans a laugh; the contest aims to "use humor as a tool to bring audiences in on the wider story about conservation,” organizers say

"The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards was born from the need for a wildlife photography competition that was light-hearted, unpretentious and importantly, could make a difference to animals and our natural world," according to their website.  

Each year, a portion of contest revenue is donated to conservation projects around the world. While biodiversity loss is no laughing matter, these awards can help show people the critical — and sometimes goofy — species that conservationists are working to protect. 

As climate change accelerates, rainfall around the world is becoming more erratic — evidenced by unusually severe storms in Greenland and enduring droughts in Brazil.

To help illustrate these changes, USA Today recently partnered with Full Sail University in Florida to compose a series of songs inspired by rainfall patterns across the United States. 

Analyzing rainfall data from 1895 to the present, musicians were tasked with using instruments and digital melodies to represent the wettest and driest ten years of rainfall in the U.S. states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas and Iowa.

For example, composer Marc Pinksy wrote a piece inspired by rainfall in Michigan by ranking the precipitation levels of each decade on a scale between one and 13, then used those numbers to correspond to notes in the C minor scale, played by a violin. In the piece, the top 10 driest years are played using low pitches, while the top 10 wettest years are embodied by a steady beat of high-pitched plucked strings. 

Other artists used actual recordings of thunder, wind and rain combined with melodies from instruments such as cellos, flutes and clarinets to create a nature-inspired symphony. 

“You see these huge spikes of heavy rainfall," Thomas Owen, who crafted a composition for rainfall in Tennessee, told USA Today. “Sonifying that it’s really easy to hear and be able to tell the difference in climate.”


Kiley Price is the staff writer and news editor at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates. Donate to Conservation International.

Cover image: Cattle on the shores of Lake Chad (© OCHA/Mayanne Munan)

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