Is Converting Desert into Cropland a Wise Decision?

My take on this issue is not for criticism but for the development of understanding about the deserts and starting a debate to have the technical opinion on this important topic.

Recently watched a video, Chinese colleagues are converting desert into cropland. Developing deserted lands is a very good idea but converting into croplands is rather a bad idea. I personally do not like this idea because of some reasons, given in the ensuing lines.

  1. Deserts are not zero valued or waste land. The ancestors of many staple foods’ seed and livestock species are inhibited in the desert.
  2. The deserts are historically and traditionally grazing lands. The precious and highly adapted and multipurpose native livestock evolved into the present day breeds in the desert. Such livestock is the answer to the difficult and complex challenges of the climate change.
  3. Deserts not only inhibits the precious plants and animal genetic resources but provides fascinating beauty to the landscape.
  4. Deserts have their own identity on the surface of the earth. It provides unique environments to many seasonal and migratory animals in different time periods of the year.
  5. Deserts play role in the weathering and energy flow of the planet (though not many references).
  6. A corporate and massive agric farming will destroy the overall health of the desert and the precious floral genetic resources can be vanished as well as the animal genetic resources.

Then what can be done the best with the desert?

  1. The top suggestion can be the re-vegetation of the wild species of flora which are already adapted to the specific climatic conditions of the relevant desert/s.
  2. Fixation of the dunes, minimizing the intensity of desert storms, and covering certain/specific areas with the organic layer cover can be revolution.
  3. The innovation and science loving countries can use smart and sustainable methodologies to provide organic cover to certain areas of the desert. Like in UAE, the camel manure can be use to make organic covering bricks to cover the sand. https://camel4all.blog/2016/02/02/camels-dungzfrom-waste-to-a-worthwhile-farming-agent/amp/
  4. The organic pads can be used as a ball for seeds. The seeds will grow very well in the organic pads and will sustain its growth and development in the coming years. Enveloping seeds (native to desert) into the organic pads like the farmers practice in floating agric in Bangladesh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5MKlSoubOY will bring a revolution in the desert.
  5. Plantation of native trees and bushes like Prosopis, acacia, and haloxyllon, etc. can provide very good woody cover to the desert and minimize the intensities of the storms.
  6. Such vegetation in return can support feeding to the native livestock and wildlife.

Important Note

My take on this issue is not for criticism but for the development of understanding about the deserts and starting a debate to have the technical opinion on this important topic.

Why Bactrian Camel has two Humps and Arabian has one?

The Hump is actually a gift of nature to the camels to adapt and survive in the hardiest and challenging ecosystems. The humps provide energy and water when there is no vegetation for food. As the Bactrian camels live in the ecosystem which has prolonged dry and prolonged cold weathers, they need double treasure of fats to cope such challenging weathers.

Daniel Asked a Question from Mexico


Dear Daniel, I hope you are fine and well. I’m really fascinated, hearing your very interesting and unique question which was seldom asked before. As much as I know, here is my response.
Before going in the details of the answer, I want to tell you one very interesting fact about the camels nomenclature. One hump camel is dromedary (D) camel, if you rotate D towards left side, it will make one hump. The 2 humps camel is Bactrian (B), if you rotate B to left side it will make 2 humps.
I’m sure that you know Bactrian camel lives in the region which is one of the harshest and coldest terrains on the earth, one of the coldest and driest deserts. The Hump is actually a gift of nature to the camels to adapt and survive in the hardiest and challenging ecosystems. The humps provide energy and water when there is no vegetation for food. As the Bactrian camels live in the ecosystem which has prolonged dry and prolonged cold weathers, they need double treasure of fats to cope such challenging weathers.
The dromedary has one as it is enough for the dry conditions of the year but the other hump is missing because there is not harsh cold weather in its ecosystem.

Camel has got a very special body, physiology and behaviors to not only survive in harsh climatic conditions but to provide food and accessibility to its keepers.

I hope you have got your answer. For further details you can contact me anytime again.
Best regards

The Ancient Trees Heritage of Borai ~ Arya Warsha

Trees are very important, that we all know. They are important because of many reasons, i.e. shade, fruits, feed for animals, fixing atmospheric carbon & producing oxygen, fixing land, purifying/halting winds, providing habitats to insects, birds, reptiles and other animals, scenic attraction, herbal value, building material and anymore.

Old Trees Heritage
Trees are very important from many angles. Fixing atmospheric carbon, producing oxygen, provision of shadow, producing fruits/fodders for human and animals both can be the few characteristics of the tree but there are many more apparent and hidden purposes of the trees.

Borai is an ancient traditional grazing and farming land, an offshoot of the historical Arya Warsha (the grazing lands). http://livestockscience.in/wp-content/uploads/2011/00_slutversion_after_revision_av_Raigi_camel_till_J_Livestock_science.pdf

The trees are a precious heritage and social treasures. We have great affection with the trees, especially the ancient trees. Our elders were used to sit under these trees making Jirga (Pashtun traditional jury) and other social event. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jirga

Trees are the fixed tents of the people to sit under and take refuge from scorching sunshine and rains. This tree is an old mulberry tree. Once, our village people were used to feed the mulberry leaves to the silkworms. I remember that golden time.

This is an ancient tree, Mulberry. The trees is almost 300 years. The elders people told that the tree is always harmed by thunder storms, which burns the trunk. The tree is hard and resilient.
An ancient mulberry tree (Thooth) in Borai. This tree is at the bank of Zingiwall Karez in Uryagi moza.

Go Home Message

Trees are the sign of life and health of mother earth. Unfortunately the human activities are adversely affecting the health of the mother earth. These trees are at the bank of the Karez (traditional water channel), which are drying because of the over exploitation/mining of the water and the overall climate change calamities. We need to save these trees. I met to the many owners/community of the trees to aware them about the importance and to think about the ways to conserve. They are earth loving people and they are ready to save each ancient tree.

Camel, Desert and the Umbrella Tree

The camels, umbrella tree (Acacia tortillas) go hand in hand in the desert. Umbrella tree is one of the most strong and resilient fauna of the extremely dry lands and desert, therefore is acting like a hope for camels during the hot weathers in the sandy deserts.

The camels are such a beautiful creatures, especially when you see them in the desert near an umbrella tree. Umbrella tree is one of the ice cream plant for the camels and goats.


Acacia tree in the desert, this picture is credited by a twitter friend.
I shot this picture in the amazing beautiful land, the Alain

I have already written certain articles with the title of ice cream plants species of camels. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/

Acacia tortillas is very important plants of the United Arab Emirates. It is found almost everywhere in the country. I have compiled one photostory of the this precious tree.http://camel4all.com/world-camel-day-22nd-june-2019-is-approaching/

One can see many beautiful pictures in the above link. All flora and fauna on the earth are important. They need to be documented, sustainably use and conserve for the next generations.

The Camels Love the Water

Camels can survive and perform without water for 2 weeks but if they find water they love it. When I was shooting the pictures, the temperature was 45.5 Celsius that time but they were absorbing the sharp sunshine while enjoying the water.

They especially love water when it is gushing from a broken water supply pipes or coming from a spring. Yesterday afternoon, I saw these 2 camels enjoying water in the desert.

Based on my desert exploration work and knowledge, all the desert creatures (flora and fauna) are highly resilient to the water scarcity but when they found it, they know how to enjoy, consume and conserve for the needy days.

You can see the Acacia tortilis tree in the driest terrain of the desert, they are happy and flourishing without water for hundreds of days but whenever they get rains, they enjoy and conserve water for the dry period.

Conclusion

The desert ecosystem is rich with unique and super genetic resources both of flora and fauna diversity. They are well design for the harsh and hardy climatic conditions and support the human being in these ecosystem. We just need to admire, respect, sustainably use and conserve for the next generation.

The world camel day is approaching on 22nd June, the main theme is the awareness about the role of camel as food security animal in the challenging climatic conditions. http://camel4all.com/world-camel-day-22nd-june-2019-is-approaching/

Dipterygium glaucum الصفروی, A Plant that is Liked such as Icecream by the Camels and Goats. Part 4

The camels are highly adapted to the harsh and hostile climates of the sphere. The 3 important adaptation strategies are the tools in such climates, i.e. 1. depending for food based on plants which are hardy, dry and bitter/salty (usually avoid by other livestock. 2. Long walking ability to reach to the places where food is available. 3. Body physiology to cope with the burning temperature with the scarcity of water.

Series of Camel ice-cream plants species is continuous process, the outcome of desert walks

Being an ethnoecologist and ethnobotanist, I have started characterization, documentation and reporting about the plants species which are liked as icecream by the camels. You can read about the series as 1, 2, 3 in the links below.

  1. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  2. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/17/the-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  3. https://camel4all.blog/2017/12/21/part-2-ice-cream-species-of-plants-for-the-camel-and-goat/
  4. https://camel4all.blog/2018/06/24/plants-that-are-liked-such-as-icecream-by-the-camels-part-3/
  5. https://camel4all.blog/2019/05/05/camels-flower-%D8%B2%D9%87%D8%B1-tribulus-is-the-precious-flora-of-the-arabian-desert/

This Article is About Dipterygium glaucum الصفروی

This plant is also liked by camels very much. The plant has rich nutritional value as well as used as a herbal source of medicine. The camel love the plant especially when it is in flowering and seeding stages. I think they like it in these stages because of the aroma and the high protein contents of flowers and seeds respectively. The plants is very strong, powerful to resist the winds of the desert. The multiple branches make it stronger and a source of protection for different insects and reptiles.

I have explored the camel desirability towards this plant during my desert exploration walks. Some ethnoveterinarian suggest this plant in flowering stage as a good source of revitalizing camel body. When the seed is matured, the camel like it even more.

Ethnoherbal Role of the Plant

The tiny flowers of the plants work as a strong laxative agent. The shoots with flowers is a source of flashing the digestive system of the livestock as well as human being. It is also given to camels suffering weakness. and lower desire to food.

The Plant is a Heaven for Bees and other Fauna

The plant has very attractive flowers with yellow color and strong smell, making it very attractive for the wasps, bees and other insects. The multiple branches and dense cover, it is an attraction for the reptiles so they can hide and feel safe.

The Desert Precious Biodiversity is Depleting

Unfortunately, many precious desert plants including this one, are depleting, because of many reasons. This plant really need to be well studies, documented and identify the status and the risk factors. Such plants can ensure sustainable camel and other livestock production in the desert ecosystem.

Read something more about the plant in the link below.

The Floral Diversity of the Desert

Deserts are the rich lands on the earth treasured with the well-adapted unique floral and faunal diversity.

The strongest, resilient, and very beautiful Ghaf (Prosopis) tree deep in the desert. See how strong she stands and faces the desert storms.
See the strength of the Ghaf tree, the national tree of the United Arab Emirates.

Desert Provides Comfort and Habitat to Many Beautiful Flora and Fauna

Desert is not a hell of sand but a beautiful paradise for a wide and diverse floral and faunal biodiversity. Here, I share some pictures of the desert. I took these pictures in the different time period during my desert exploration walk.

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You can see different views of the desert in the pictures in the above slideshow.

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Here you can see different plants of the desert, some with the fruits. You can see the steps of the Gazal in one picture. I think Ghazal eats Calitropis (Akk) leaves, please correct me if someone really knows. 

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Here in the above slideshow, you can see different beautiful plants. These plants are highly palatable and the camel-like it very much.

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Different flowers with shining beauty in the sand. They provide a fascinating view of the desert. Such flowers are attraction and source of nectar to very tine creatures (see in the next slideshow).

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Beautiful small insects can be seen in the flowers and on the seed as well.

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The specialized roots of the desert flora. See the Prosopis tree is resisting to the desert conditions with the support of its strong roots.

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Strong, multi and scattered roots. Some roots have the sponge like fiber coated on the roots to absorb and retain moisture.

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The Desert explorer, this big rough and tough stick really helped me.

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And when the mother earth calls back the creatures.

Conclusion

Please love mother earth. Think positively. See the beauty and use your beautiful chamber of the brain. Do not throw rubbish in the desert, the tinny creatures suffer.

How to Chase the Camels’ Ticks?

Ticks are the blood-sucking insects and indirectly causing tick born diseases. The best way is to control through Biological means. They become very active in the night when there is dark and the weather is mild. I would like you also read the ethnoveterinary measures of the camel herders to control such troubleshooting.Ethnoveterinary treatments by dromedary camel herders in the Suleiman Mountainous Region in Pakistan: an observation and questionnaire study

Sometimes, you cannot see on the camels’ body in the daytime. You even do not notice if there are ticks near or on the camels. Here, I share some pictures (the steps and ticks’ pictures) which will help you in understanding.

Beautiful walkway of the ticks
The sign of footsteps of the ticks on the sand.

The best way is to control biologically;

  • The chickens if not provided other feed, they better eat the ticks.
  • All partridges, especially Guinea fowl also a good eater of the ticks.
  • Some wood oil application on the camels’ body
  • Some trees, like Loghone, is very good
  • Removing the unwanted waste material especially wood, hay, empty bags will also help in control.

Ticks hiding here somewhere
The ticks walkway in the sand

The Guinea Fowl
Guinea fowl with the beautiful chicks

Ticks hiding under the sand
The ticks hiding under the sand cake were chased out because of their footsteps.

The ticks sanctuary
The ticks are smart and hid somewhere under the shady place in the daytime.

Camel is an Artist

Hi camel lovers,
The people ask me, why the trees in the desert look so beautiful and straightly trimmed from the ground side? They really look very beautiful.

Prosopis tree deep in the desert
See how beautifully the tree is trimmed from the ground side.

Now see, how the camel makes it possible? This morning, I shot this picture when the camel was on its task making the tree beautiful. The camel eats from such precious plants. The roots of these plants are so deep, making them resilient in the desert and also taking micronutrients from the deep soil.

The camel Art of the Tree
The camel trims the tree from the ground side up to the level of his muzzle height.

Look! the camel is trying to reach the twigs to eat, such efforts of the camels making possible this beautiful art.

The camel effort
The camel is struggling to reach the lush twigs of the Ghaf tree.

In the above picture, you can see the camel is trying to reach the twigs (in the large circle on the left). This way camel pruning the trees up to his muzzle height. Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) is the ice cream plant for camels. They like this tree very much. Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 1

See in the circle on the ground with a bush the camel also like but near the Ghaf tree the camel ignore this bushes and moves towards the Ghaf tree. The horizontal arrow indicates the straight level the tree is trimmed.

Image result for the beautiful tree in desert camel trimming
The tree is trimmed such beautiful in the desert 

The deserts trees roots are much deeper, therefore, their products are rich with minerals and other micronutrients, ultimately making camel milk special and super.

The Farming System that Ensures Biodiversity Conservation

Small scaled family farming plays a multidimensional role, ensure not only livelihood but play a pivotal role in biodiversity conservation. Such farmers judiciously use the weeds and herbs grow along with the crops and use the crop residues as animal feed. Here are some pictures, I shot in my hometown Borai, Loralai which show us the beauty of this unique farming system. The farmer told me that he never used any pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

Orchard grass and the biodiversity
These grasses are rich in nutrients and the best feed for the sheep, goats and the cows.

The place for wild mint
This weed is locally called as Shinshobey in Pashtu. It is a wild mint. This weed is dried/powdered and uses as food with yogurt and shlombey etc.

The beauty as well as rich animal feed
This weed is called as Perwathke in Pashtu, a very rich feed for the small ruminants.

Chicken is the integral part of this farming
The chicken thrives on the insects in the orchard and provides a rich source of protein.

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Vegetables are grown at the orchard, providing rich and safe food for the family.

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The beautiful but rich herbal plant
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Apricot tree, the small piece of land is richer with different types of trees

Frog breeding is ensured here
The small canal providing a niche for the frog breeding. One can see the eggs of the frogs.

More plants and animals diversity is placed on a smaller piece of land with the highest productivity and the whole family depends on this farm in one or other way.

Cow dung is a biofertilizer
The cow dung is dried and use as a fuel. The remaining material (powdered) is used as farmyard manure

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Borai is home to delicious Anar (Pomegranate)
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Damson fruit, locally called as Aloo. The dried fruit is a source of spices with sheep meat.

Author of the manuscript with a plum tree
We can find many different types of trees, plants, vegetables, and weeds on a smaller piece of land

 

The Camel Shade is Very Beautiful

Don’t they look how strange the camel is created? It questions in Quraan. Really strange and also special. I think very deeply and so often about the camel. Today, when I shot the below picture, I just noticed that the camel shade is even more beautiful than the camel itself. You please just see once from my eyes.

Camel shade is very beautiful

Anyone can share the beautiful pictures of the camelS with me.

 

Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 3

The series of the treeography is continued…The other parts (1 and 2) can be found in the links as Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 1Plants that are Liked such as Icecream by the Camels. Part 2.

In this part of the treeography work under the title of the camel icecream species, some important trees are briefly discussed here in the ensuing lines and the links are provided as well.

Larrea

Camel eating creosote, desert plant. No other animal will eat this, no livestock and no wild animals like deer. Only the camels eat. Larrea is a genus of flowering plants in the caltrop family, Zygophyllaceae. It contains five species of evergreen shrubs that are native to the Americas.

Larrea tridentata Anza-Borrego.jpg
Larrea Plant

Celtis

Celtis, commonly known as hackberries or nettle trees, is a genus of about 60–70 species of deciduous trees.  According to Baum, the tree branches are cut from around our house, given each spring/summer. Celtis is found in warm temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, in southern Europe, southern and eastern Asia, and southern and central North America, south to central Africa, and northern and central South America.

Celtis sinensis3.jpg
Celtis plant

My friend who calls me uncle Doug Baum told me that camel like these plant very much. He is a keen camel observer and works with the camels for many years.

 

The Camel Milk Story from the Gobi Desert Mongolia

The story is hereby released at the eve of the World Camel Day 2018.

The author was invited by the newly established Mongolian Camel Milk Company. The group owns their camels in the desert as their half families live there with the precious livestock in the amazing Gobi.

img_51551-e1529573776340.jpgI started traveling from Dubai airport (2 am, 20th April) and reached Ulaanbaatar on the 21st morning 7 am (Cengiz Khaan International Airport) via Moscow by Aeroflot. The 12 hours stay in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport was an excellent experience of life as I slept in a small cabin available on rent, the first time in my life.

A Bank advertisement with camel, the first thing I saw on arrival

Sanaa and Enkhie (the trip organizers) received me at the airport and took me to the hotel (Khuvsgul Lake). Today, the program was composed of some meetings in the UB city with camel scientists/researcher, businessmen and visiting Changiz Khan Museum.

Me with Enkhie in Chansiz Khan Museum

Travel to South Gobi Desert

Next day, we traveled for more than 10 hours by road and reached South Gobi region. We traveled another 1:30 hour to reach the nomad Ger (house). The nomad family warmly welcomed us and we stayed overnight there. I slept in the Ger first time.Nomad house decorated with many camel medals

Gobi is a vast land with rich floral biodiversityThis time period of the year, the nomads do not milk the camels but to let the calf take it and get stronger. The Bactrian camels have beautiful small teats with a strongly attached compact udder.Bactrian camel is very good riding animal

Seeing Camels and Interviewing the Herder

Next day, I woke up in the morning and went to the camels. They are still roaming near the Ger with their calves. The calves are tied. I observed the calves and the dams and found them very healthy and stronger.

Types of camel

There are 3 types of Bactrian camels in the region, i.e.

  1. Galba Gobiin Ulaan (Reddish colored camel)
  2. Khaniin Khestiin Khuren (Brown colored camel)
  3. Thukhum MTungologiin kKhos Zogdott Khuren (double line neck hair)

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Breeding Season

The breeding season starts in October and reached the peak in December and slowly decline and cease in April. Usually, one Bull is enough for up to 70 she-camels. The details of the production traits are given in the table below.

Table: The Production Traits of the Bactrian camel in the region

Months Conception Rate (%) Calving %age Avg. Milk (kg)
Jan 25 25 0.1
Feb 15 16 0.15
Mar 4 5 0.175
Apr 2 3 0.2
May 2 1 0.3
Jun 1 1 1.2
Jul 1 1 1.8
Aug 1 2 1.6
Sep 3 2 1.5
Oct 5 4 0.5
Nov 16 15 0.17
Dec 25 25 0.1

The table clearly indicates the breeding season, calving percentage, and the milk production. The Camel Milk is lower in quantity, producing from 1-3 liter/day but the milk is thick and full of energy to give special strength to the calf to survive in challenging environment. The average milk production based on my survey is 640 ml/day with lactation yield 233 kg. The lactation here calculated on the annual basis but in actual, the camel produces for up to 8 months.

Camel Milk Products

The nomads use camel milk as fresh directly. The surplus is converted into fermented product (Harmok). The Harmok is used very widely and some products are available in the market in Ulaanbaatar. For further details about Bactrian milk, you can go to the link Detailed Nutritional Composition of Bactrian Camel’s Milk

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Harmok

The surplus Harmok is converted into CM Vodka and the residues are used to make Curt. The curt and Vodka is offered to the guests as a unique product of the Gobi.

The Attachment of Nomads with camel

The nomads love their camel very much. They call it Temeh in the Mongolian language. They use camel for riding, racing, festivals, wool, and also for meat (in rare cases).

A Symbol of Resilience and Patience~The Acacia Tree of the Arabian Desert

Acacia tortilis tree is an incredible desert creature. It survives in harsh and hostile ecosystems and resist the normal weathering conditions but evolves its resistance to the changing climates. The Ice Cream Species of Plants for the Camel and Goat. Part 1

 

Acacia Tortilis
I took this picture in the city of the Alain during my morning walk on the weekend.

I always tried to learn the lessons of strength, patience, and resilience of the plants and animals. See the beautiful and special tree, the Acacia of the desert ecosystem. The botanical name is Acacia tortilis and the local names are Samr, Samur, and Salam.

Acacia tortilis (Samur)
The blossom of Acacia Tortilis

I’m talking about the Acacia Tortilis (Samr, Samur or Salam), a compound leaf, the thorny and hardy tree of the Arabian desert. Highly resistant tree of drylands and the desert. The camel and goats both like it. Such strong and resilient plants products give camels strong feelings of survival. TERRESTRIAL HABITATS

Acacia Tortilis
The beautiful pods of the resilient tree can be seen guarded by sharp spines

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The close view of the compound leaf of the Acacia tortilis
A Close View of the Compound Leaves

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A Hard and Resilient Creature

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The Tree has its own artistic structure, a heart touching beauty. I took this picture in the Alain city

Plastic and other Rubbish Thrown in the Acacia tree
We must care and respect the nature. The plastics and other rubbish is thrown in this precious creature. It is hazardous and dangerous for the tree health and the environment at large