Sign in

Freelance journalist focused on stories of both Kashmir culture and society as well as the rising tide of climate change.

The desert was lush with cactus-like Echinopsis pampana only two decades ago. But today, this desert is a skeleton of its once vibrant ecosystem, thanks in part to wealthy collectors incentivizing poachers.

Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

Haageocereus tenuis is a prostrate cactus species — prostrate, meaning it grows horizontally along the ground, which is a hard concept to imagine for those who are accustomed to saguaros and prickly pears. This cactus species inhabits only two square kilometers in a small area outside Lima. There remains only one existing population, and each cactus here is genetically identical, likely representing a single clone. Business Insider reports that this highly novel species will be extinct within the decade.

In 2018, Business Insider ran a story about a Haageocereus tenuis listed for sale by the famed Cactus Store, a business…

When conservationists focus primarily on saving popular animals, they are doing a great disservice to the world’s rich biodiversity.

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

While the Earth braces under a mass extinction due to human causes, it’s easy to be on the side of charismatic and recognizable species. When Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer shot and killed Cecil the lion outside of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, it ignited outrage and thrust trophy hunting into the national conversation. Like lions, nearly everyone agrees on the importance of protecting tigers. Below a YouTube video from a BBC tiger documentary; commenters were full of vitriol when talking about tiger poachers.

“Another reason why humanity will destroy Earth.” “Please, if anyone these days sees someone with real tiger fur…

It’s not uncommon to completely lose touch with reality, forgetting they swallowed the pills, forgetting where they are, and even forgetting who they are. Seizures. Lifelike hallucinations. Psychosis. Coma. Death.

Photo by Pavel Krugley on Unsplash

“First thing I want to say, I hate DPH. I think DPH is horrible. I took DPH because I wanted to mentally hurt myself. I will never take DPH again,” a user posted to the r/DPH subreddit as a preface to his experience taking 1200 milligrams of DPH — shortened form of diphenhydramine, or more commonly, Benadryl — during a suicide attempt. He took two entire boxes of Benadryl, which is around 50 to 100 times the therapeutic dose. …

From 1997 to 2018, the US Border Patrol reported 7,505 migrant deaths along the southwestern border. While this figure is mind-bogglingly tragic, the true number is likely much, much higher.

The border wall separating the U.S.A. and Mexico. via Shutterstock

Not many people are searching Arizona’s isolated, scorching desert for the remains of missing migrants, whose families hundreds or thousands of miles away wait with bated breath for news. Finding missing migrants or searching for corpses isn’t in the Border Patrol’s job description, so a volunteer group called the Aguilas del Desierto bears the family’s sorrow. At least once a month, the volunteer group, many of them Mexican-American, solemnly comb the wasteland for bodies. Desperate families often reach them through Facebook and inform volunteers of the path their loved ones took, along with any identifying information. On one of their…

For the second time in 2020, Indian security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen’s leader — a big setback for the militant organization.

Police and protestors clash in September 2017 via Tasnim News Agency under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

“I protected my children under my wings like a hen does her chicks. I didn’t know he would run away like this… He wanted to be a doctor. He said he would help people. He didn’t become one but went into the medical line nevertheless. Then, he suddenly picked up the gun,” said Sarwa Begum about her son, Hizbul Mujahideen chief Saifullah Mir, in an interview with Riyaz Wani for Huffington Post India.

Indian security forces killed Saifullah Mir, also known as Ghazi Haider or Dr. Saifullah, in a gunfight on November 1 in Rangreth on the outskirts of Srinagar…

The newlyweds vanished on the record-breaking expedition that would have made Bessie the first woman to raft through the Grand Canyon.

Photo by Sonaal Bangera on Unsplash

1928 was the year of adventurers. Charles Lindbergh earned a Medal of Honor for being the first solo pilot to cross the Atlantic on a non-stop flight. Amelia Earhart took off on her voyage to become the first female aviator to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Explorer Richard Byrd’s first expedition to Antarctica launched. The wonders of the world seemed more attainable than ever. For newlyweds Bessie and Glen Hyde, this was the perfect year to spark their novel lives as noteworthy adventurers.

In October 1928, the couple embarked on a rafting voyage through the vast Grand Canyon. Their honeymoon trip…

Jakarta is sinking. Fast. And they’re running out of time.

Photo by Appai on Unsplash

In 2019, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced the impending move of the country’s administrative capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan on Borneo island. While government officials leave the current capital, about 40 percent of Jakarta is below sea level and some portions of the huge metropolis are sinking at a rate of about eight inches per year.

“The potential for Jakarta to be submerged isn’t a laughing matter. …

The isle’s tribes fled here after escaping the Trail of Tears and Indian Removal Act. Now they’re fleeing climate change.

Photo by Mathieu Cheze on Unsplash

The residents of Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana’s southeastern bayous are the first trickle in the coming wave of climate change refugees. For decades, the tribes (Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw and United Houma Nations) who once called the isle home have been relocating to safer land. 98 percent of the isle’s land has sunk under the rising tide since 1955, with nothing but a thin strip of land left.

The isle’s tribes fled here after escaping the Trail of Tears and Indian Removal Act. The isolated bayou island was a safe place where the tribes could raise a family and escape persecution…

Many species of cactus grow only in the American southwest, but demand in markets from Europe and Asia has pushed thieves to steal the slow-growing plants from public lands.

Photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Arizona’s deserts are home to the world’s densest forests of towering saguaro cacti. These cactus grow up to 50 feet during their lifespan, which can last as long as two hundred years. However, these stoic giants face a pervasive threat — poachers who dig them up under the cover of darkness to resell on a growing worldwide cactus black market.

Saguaros only grow in a small area, 120,000 square miles in the Sonoran Desert spanning sections of Arizona, California, and Sonora. The column-like cactus usually grows at least a few arms and sprouts yellow and white flowers, called saguaro cactus…

86 percent of those surveyed had been exposed to crossfire and 83 percent to round-up raids.

Photo by Sidharth Singh on Unsplash

“What happens when an entire society is suffering from PTSD?” asked Beyond the Breaking Point, published in 2009 by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma when addressing the mental health situation in Kashmir.

Sandwiched between India, Pakistan, and China, India-administered Kashmir suffers from violent political instability with conflict between government forces and militants always simmering just below the surface, if not actively boiling over. In the last two decades, mental health experts in the capital city of Srinagar reported a massive increase — nearly tenfold, by some reports — in the prevalence of psychological problems among residents. …

Raisa Nastukova

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store