Observe the birds, a passion without age limit in Colombia

Binoculars in hand, Juan David Camacho walks the jungle. At 10, he is the youngest bird watcher in Colombia but dreams big. His country, a paradise for bird watchers, is the world's number one bird species, and the little boy intends to see them all.

"We leave very early with our cameras , binoculars, tripods and we watch the birds until around noon, in silence, "he said quietly. Without stopping to take a look here and there: there is no question of missing the rare specimen that would land on a branch around Lake Herons, Cali.

Soccer buff like most Colombians, Juan David discovers another passion when his father takes him one day to observe the birds. "The first outings with my dad did not please me too much, but afterwards, if!", He admits mutinous to AFP. It was three years ago.

Since then, once a month, he travels through the tropical forests around Cali, the third largest city in the country with about 2.5 million inhabitants.

Nestled in the heart of the vast expanse of the Valle del Cauca (southwest) and the Andean cordillera, this municipality, which extends from 900 to 4,100 m of altitude, counts "562 species of birds, much more than in all the "Europe", says the expert Carlos Wagner

– Zones prohibited by the war –

"I have already seen 491 and taken 200 in photo", rejoices Juan David. In February, he was at the International Bird Festival, which attracts more than 15,000 people each year to Cali, and gave a lecture on his "Three Years of Passion for Birds."

Too small to reach the lectern On the stage, he grabbed the microphone and commented on the expedition images he and his parents, computer scientist and lawyer, and sometimes other feathered creature lovers. None of them are as young as the child. Some might be his great-grandparents.

The second largest country in the world for its rich biodiversity, after Brazil eight times bigger, Colombia is the one with the most bird species: more than 1,920 19% of those on the planet.

A huge part of the territory, the red zones of the armed conflict, remains to be explored thanks to the ongoing peace process with the guerrillas.

"This is a tropical country, a point of contact between wildlife and North America and South America.In addition, in Colombia, the Andes are divided into three mountain ranges, with multiple valleys (…) so many ecosystems where evolved many species, "says Wagner , 40, director of the festival of Cali.

This other enthusiast grew up in the surrounding countryside, near the San Antonio Forest, site of the first ever great ornithological expedition to Colombia in 1910 by the New York Museum of Natural History.

– L 'avitourism, an economic alternative –

Threatened by deforestation, this 900-hectare eden has been classified as Important Area for Bird Conservation (AICA in Spanish, IBA in English) in 2004 by the great British NGO BirdLife. "But because IAISs were not legally recognized in Colombia, there was no guarantee that they would be respected," says Wagner.

With a project of end of studies in zootechnics on the avitourism, he then strikes, with other enthusiasts of ecology, to sensitize the inhabitants so that they preserve the forest and welcome, against retribution, bird watchers. "We are great romantics, but the farmers have needs: they cut down the trees to cultivate," he admits.

Although Colombia is the kingdom of birds, observation tourism is poorly developed. [19659002] But the government has become aware of this potential source of income. He expects in the future "14,978 observers per year, who would spend nearly nine million dollars", according to a projection of the Ministry of Tourism. Most currently come from the United States, Canada, Argentina and the United Kingdom.

In the forest of San Antonio, a dozen places and guides already welcome observers, at the rate of 15,000 to 20,000 pesos (about 5 to 6.5 dollars) visit.

Olga Gomez, who raises rabbits, turned his small farm of one hectare into a paradise for birds. From white arum trees to red heliconias, the flowers are there to seduce them.

"We have observed up to 25 species, including 18 hummingbirds," says this 66-year-old smiling lady, who keeps a record of visitors to his Finca La Conchita: a thousand in one year.

– Rare Species –

Higher up the mountain, at Finca Alejandria, clouds of hummingbirds of all colors also flutter around red saucers of sweet water. Other species feast on bananas placed on bamboo platforms.

A French family from Amiens marvels. "In our large northern plains, trees have disappeared because of extensive agriculture, we see fewer and fewer birds, and here it's magic!" Says father Marc Bulcourt, 62, a nurse retirement

Then comes a multicolored callist, one of the 79 endemic bird species of Colombia. "Any observer wants to see it at least once before dying!" Exclaims Mr. Wagner, pointing to an extremely rare Multicolored Chlorochrysa Nitidissima, the scientific name of this small turquoise, yellow, and lime green bird.

If Juan David has already seen, he does not intend to abandon his quest: "I have not yet seen a condor," he says. The iconic bird of the Andes is threatened, its populations increasingly reduced, so difficult to observe.

"When I visited all of Colombia, I would like to go to other countries," said the child who dreams, of course, to become an ornithologist.

American Evangelist Billy Graham Died At The Age Of 99 Years

American evangelist Billy Graham, often regarded as the most influential preacher of the 20th century, died at the age of 99.

For decades, Graham preached to over 200 million people in 185 countries and protectorate territories. [19659002] He preached in front of a large crowd, called "Billy Graham Revival Service, which was attended by thousands of people, and reached millions more through TV and satellite networks. During the seven decades of preaching, Graham declared that "believing and accepting Jesus Christ is the answer to various humanitarian problems."

Read also: US Citizen Survey: Obama, Clinton Survived as the Most Admired Man and Woman in the World

The famous evangelist became a spiritual advisor and friend of every American president, from Harry Truman in the 1940s to Barack Obama. Graham is often asked to pray or preach at national public events, such as the inauguration of a new president.

American President Donald Trump commented on Graham's death via Twitter on Wednesday that there is no other evangelical as great as Billy Graham. 19659007] Graham held a "Revival Service on every continent except Antarctica, directly and via satellite. The American preacher said that Christianity is not merely Western or white religion.

Graham, who has been ill in recent years, rarely appears in public. He died early Wednesday at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. [lt]

Hawley, Climber in Nepal, Dies in Age 94

Elizabeth Hawley, an American journalist who keeps records of the highest mountain climbers in Nepal, has died at the age of 94.

Hawley has settled in Nepal since 1960 and became an illegal recording of the country's climbing activities . Nepal has eight of the 14 highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest.

Prativha Pandey, a doctor at CIWEC Hospital and Travel Medicine Center in Kathmandu, said Hawley had been hospitalized for a week and died Friday due to complications from pneumonia. 19659002] Hawley keeps the "Himalayan Database" which is regarded as an unofficial log book of mountaineering there. Nepal does not keep a complete record of the climbing activity there. [uh]

Couple Style of the Age Now, Choose Bitcoin as a Wedding Souvenir

New Delhi
Wedding souvenirs are usually given in the form of everyday items or accessories. But unlike the case with this one couple. They chose bitcoin as a wedding souvenir. What is the story?

Is a Prashant Sharma and Niti Shree from India who has the idea. Both want their marriage to be remembered by many people in an unusual way.

Reported by the BBC on Saturday (23/12/2017), Sharma and Shree are known to be the founders of a digital start-up company in India.

 Sharma and Shree. Sharma and Shree. Photo: Doc. BBC

"We are thinking of incorporating technology as a gift that can be used in the future.We explain it to our parents and they accept it," Sharma said.

But bitcoin given as a wedding souvenir is limited. There are only 15 out of 200 invited guests who are lucky to get it. Sharma estimates the bitcoin price they receive is equivalent to 100,000 rupees or about Rp 21 million.

"We buy bitcoin because we want to see how this technology will grow," Sharma said.

(nkn / ita)