THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
WELCOME TO PIG ISLAND,
We take you for a visit to the home of the swimming pigs at the Bahamas. Visit a destination uninhabited by humans where pigs swim in the shallows, sea turtles and sharks rule the depths while iguanas roam the coastline
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
Photography: James Zwadlo, Jared Rice, Jakob Owens
?? March 2020
An archipelago of 365 islands remained unknown to the world for decades. It was a true gem of nature hidden away from sight until a bucket-list sensation unveiled the island of Exuma in the Bahamas. The most unlikely inhabitants of Exuma are the swimming pigs that took travellers’ social media by storm.
Arrive on the island you are struck by the feeling that you are among the very first humans to explore the surrounding nature. As you visit the coastlines, instead of footsteps you will witness trails of iguana tails leaving traces on the sand. The waters are azul as if they have never been swim in before.
Vividly coloured shells the size of coconuts are a common find along the seaside. Nothing spoils the idyllic vibe, at least not until you approach Big Major Cay. You are greeted with loud sounds coming from the most unlikely yet jolly island inhabitants. An array of snorting pigs welcomes you to spoil them with your undivided attention.
Pig Beach is an uninhabited island, taking its name from the colony of feral pigs that have created a home in the surrounding shallows of the island of Exuma. Today Bahamians ant tourists alike visit the beaches near Big Major Cay where about 20 pigs and piglets are living the easy life.
The pigs are well accustomed to human presence. In fact, they enjoy the attention of so many local and tourist visitors, they have abandoned foraging in the forest in search of food. Visitors feed them at the shore or from the boats in the shallows. Some of the friendly sunbathers have fallen ill due to swallowing sand and lack of fresh water in the dry month of January, but locals have taken care to replace them with healthy pigs that continue to bring joy to animal-loving travellers.
The solemn deaths are a reminder to think before you feed the pigs. If possible bring them fresh water, as they have limited supply on the island. Focus on giving them fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to snacks and feed them in the water to avoid sand ingestion. Note that some of the pigs are quite large and they tend to chase you, if you are carrying food. However, you can roam the beach food-free, if you scare easily.
No one knows where the pigs came from, but one story has it that they were dropped off on the island by sailors, who intended to go back and cook them. Another story suggests they swam over from a nearby shipwreck and survived on excess food dumped by passing ship. Whether you believe any of that or you are convinced that the pigs are a business scheme to attract tourists, they are here to stay, bringing joy to all visitors of Pig Island.
The island, known as Pig Beach remains uninhabited by humans and you can only get there by boat. Big Major Clay is one of 365 islands in the Exuma district of the Bahamas, about 50 miles northwest of George Town and 82 miles southeast of Nassau. You can visit the pigs at any time, but we advise you aim to rent a boat early in the morning. By afternoon the pigs have their bellies full and are likely to be less interactive, yet they will likely swim with you in the shallows. Note that hurricane season occurs June through November. At the approach of a dangerous storm, a local water sports company usually takes the pigs to shelter.
Renting a boat can be done on your own or through your accommodation since some hotels offer daily boat rentals included in the price of your stay. A full-day tour is offered by the local 4C's Adventures company. For $160 per person you are offered a visit to the pigs, meeting iguanas, swimming with nurse sharks, sandbar picnic and snorkelling in Thunderball Grotto – known for its beauty shown in two James Bond movies. You can also include a boat on your own, which will cost you only $250 for a full day and a bit extra if you wish to hire a tour guide.
Apart from pigs, on Big Major Cay you can encounter various animals, including endangered species, some stray cats and even goats. If you are daring enough, you can visit Compass Cay and swim with nurse sharks. Snorkelling amid the island seawater welcomes you to dive alongside arrays of fish. The lovers of sea turtles can not only witness them roaming free in their natural habitat, but at Little Farmer’s Cay you can also feed the sea turtles. Another popular spot for the animal-loving travellers is Bitter Guana Cay where the sandy beaches are home to the endangered Exuma Island iguanas.
Pig Island is a place like no other. Uninhabited by humans, this gem of nature meets you with jolly swimming pigs, welcomes you to snorkel among sea turtles, swim with sharks and feed rock iguanas. The unconventional spot is only reachable by boat so make sure to pack your spirit of adventure and prepare for a day of friendly encounters. This is Exuma – the one place in the Bahamas where travellers experience a purely animal-loving experience of the vacationer’s lifetime.