17 December, 2010

One more time, New Year!

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE


Dear friends, colleagues, business partners, clients and collaborators of Photo in Natura:

Once again the time has come to send best wishes for the new year, so here is Photo in Natura’s card with our hopes for 2011.

We chose a small sample of everything that we saw and photographed this year at our backyard, without leaving home.

All the best and Happy New Year!

Daniel and Tietta
Photo in Natura
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28 September, 2010

New Postcards

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Photo and Artwork: © Daniel De Granville, 2006-2010

The new postcards of our exclusive collection have just arrived – now we have 20 different models printed in special, high quality paper. This time we chose to show two scenes that are icons of Bonito: the Lago Azul (“blue lake”) cave and the Monument to the Piraputangas, at the city’s main square.

Contact us and get them while they’re hot!

Photo and Artwork: © Daniel De Granville, 2008-2010
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18 September, 2010

Expedition, Part 3: Pantanal

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READ PARTS 1 and 2 OF THIS STORY
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Smile, you are being photographed!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

“What’s so special about the Pantanal?”. The question, asked when the team is deciding whether the original itinerary will be changed or not, claims for an easy – but not necessarily short – answer. So, I prefer to offer an abridged version of my lecture that I keep in my laptop. At the same time, I give a partial answer, saying that the abundance and profusion of wildlife in the Pantanal – specially at this time of the year – is something fascinating and indescribable for animal lovers. I explain that, upon crossing the gateway which indicates the beginning of the Transpantaneira Road, the landscape changes abruptly and the animals put on a show before our eyes.


While one caiman seems full of hunger...
... the other
carries its banquet, a freshly caught armored catfish.
Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2010



Franco jokes: “oh, so you are saying that, at one side everything is calm, but all of a sudden, starting at this spot that you mentioned, the animals decide to show off and make a parade in front of the cameras?!”. I reply: “ex-act-ly”. He laughs.

We left Nobres by the morning, quick stop for lunch in Cuiabá, siesta in the van on the way to Poconé and finally the Transpantaneira. Almost everyone is asleep, already tired as we enter the second half of our intense trip. I, sitting by Ismael (our driver), keep my eyes open looking for animals. I ask Ismael to stop at the gateway. “Here begins the Pantanal”, the sign says. Everyone wakes up, gets off the vehicle to take some pictures, and I suggest that they leave their cameras ready.


(E) A Brazilian Tapir is followed by a swarm of insects while crossing the river.
(D) ... Pantanal diversity: Marsh Deer, Capybara and Cattle Tyrant share
one of the diminishing pools.

Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


The van goes a few kilometers ahead and at distance we see the first bridge with some water underneath, packed with Caimans into a heap. Among them, wading birds are having a feast with the stranded fish that are dying by lack of oxygen. I turn back and see everyone’s flabbergasted gaze, fascinated with such a concentration of animals at a single spot. I look at Franco. He says nothing, but it's needless – his smile seems to say “yes, Daniel, you were right when I made that joke about the animals’ parade”... For the first time in our expedition, I was not apprehensive or tense with the possibility of not finding animals for them to photograph. The spectacle that we saw during the next two days is summarized on the pictures of this post.

Next week, Part 4 (and last) of our adventure:
Dolphins in the Amazon.



Clockwise from top: (1) Flooded field sprinkled with wading birds in search of fish; (2) A Jabiru Stork's nest; (3) A cow is butchered without ceremony at the river bank; (4) One of the last Piúva (Tabebuia) still in bloom.
Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2010
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13 September, 2010

Expedition, Part 2: Stingrays

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SEE PART 1 OF THIS STORY
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Another mission accomplished:
please welcome the freshwater stingray!

Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

Ten days and 57 meters of anaconda later, already with the feeling of "mission accomplished", it was time to leave Bonito in search of our trip’s second objective: the freshwater stingrays. After my pre-production research, the region of Nobres – in the Savannas of Mato Grosso – was chosen as the ideal spot. Even though we had found some rays in Bonito, the visibility conditions in this new region were more promising, since – according to what we had heard – they occurred in areas closer to the river springs, where the water tends to carry less sediments, which is good for photography.

Upon arrival in Cuiabá, our local support team – Hélio and Jadilson – were already waiting. We followed on to the region of Bom Jardim, a district of Nobres, where we were supposed to stay for the next four days, before heading on to the Amazon to search for Pink River Dolphins. After settling down in our lodge we met for the traditional logistics discussion and, for the following day, decided to explore a river where the chances of finding stingrays were good.

Our well equipped Shaowen, before the first
encounter with a ray, tries to overcome a fallen tree,
while little fish seem amused by the view.

Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


Next morning. After the detailed preparation of all necessary gear – masks, regulators, fins, tanks, weight belts, neoprene wetsuits, snacks, sandwiches, drinks, cameras, lenses, batteries, vehicle, etc, etc, etc – we left on our new adventure. The first hour, at least for me, was rather tense, since we did not see a single stingray in the river and I could catch a certain glimpse of frustration coming from the rest of our team – specially after such as blast with anacondas. That’s when our guide Jadilson suggested: “Let’s continue downstream through the part that tourists don’t go, because stingrays are shy and may be concentrated elsewhere. But it will not be an easy drift, since there are fallen branches and trees both above and below water”. Said and done: it was really a more complicated way down the river, with all the gear getting tangled on the vegetation, but our reward came soon: at the first 100 meters of this new way, stingrays started showing up. And after the first one came another, and another, and another, until we totalized eight freshwater stingrays of various sizes to appease our photographers.

Jiří photographing one of the eight stingrays
that we met on the same stretch of the river.

Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


The sudden success was so surprising that, after the first day was gone, the team considered that they had photographed stingrays in every possible way. So, a change of plans became a possibility. They asked for my suggestion and I – eternally in love with the Pantanal – recommended a two-day “pantaneira” expedition. Even though there was nothing underwater to be photographed there, they surprisingly agreed... The story goes on in the next post!

A pause on the dives to watch the flight of the macaws
before saying goodbye to Nobres.
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010
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07 September, 2010

Video: Diving with Anacondas

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.Underwater, face to face with a peaceful anaconda
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


I am back to my office after the adventures with underwater photographers Franco Banfi, Jiří Řezníček and friends through the Cerrado, Pantanal and Amazon. On the next posts I will tell more about what happened after we left Bonito, but I can already anticipate that it was a blast!

For today, I invite you to watch a video clip that I took of our team diving with anacondas. More soon, enjoy!

03 September, 2010

57 Meters of Anaconda

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Franco Banfi, in the water, up close and personal
with the second anaconda that we found.
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


I spent the last three weeks working with Franco Banfi from Switzerland and Jiří Řezníček, from Czech Republic, two renowned underwater photographers that came to Brazil with the objective of photographing anacondas, freshwater stingrays and pink river dolphins. To accomplish these tasks, we traveled for 21 days through rivers in the Cerrado, Pantanal and Amazon Forest. Joining us were Shaowen and Jana, also photo enthusiasts and lovers of nature adventures. I will tell you the stories on my next posts along September.

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It was about eight in the morning when I left home with an unusual task: to find anacondas basking in the sun on river banks. After a sequence of very cold nights, the thermometer outside was showing 12 °C (54 F) as the lowest temperature overnight, and the sun shining strongly, still near the horizon, was the sign of a warmer day. Perfect for my upcoming mission.

The first part of our trip started here in Bonito, always with the indispensable presence of Juca Ygarapé and our “henchman” Dudu, besides the long distance support of Carol from Ambiental, who was always backing our needs with impecable competence. If the challenge of finding the snakes made Juca and I remain tense during the weeks before our clients’ arrival, with the possibility of not living up with the team’s expectations, the first day in the field was enough to fascinate and tranquilize us. After all, in the first hours of our adventure – that included going down waterfalls with a boat loaded of heavy and expensive equipment, passing under fallen trees, walking through saw grass and coping with bloodthirsty black flies – we already found two huge Yellow Anacondas in perfect conditions for our job.


The anaconda’s house...
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

Relieved with the sensation of “mission accomplished” (even though our demanding photographers did not consider that they had the ideal shots, what took us to the same place five more times), we went on with our activities and the encounters with these serpents succeeded repeatedly. To such extent that, after the sixth anaconda sighting, we started reckoning our success rate in total meters of anaconda (57 meters / 187 feet in total!).


... and the house’s owner!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


It is worth remembering that, due to the difficulty of finding anacondas in the wild and the fact that they were the trip’s major objective, 70% of our time in Bonito had been reserved for us to search for them. Since we had such a high success rate in the first days, we decided to invest in the second critter of our list, the freshwater stingrays. Here, once again, success and mission (almost) accomplished, since we were able to find many of these fishes posing for Franco, Jiří and their companions at the bottom of the river.

Franco has a good time with a stingray surrounded by little fish...
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010

In short, when we reached Day 9 of our expedition, we had already found two of the three main species that our clients were looking for, which meant more time to go for even better pictures and explore other natural wonders that these regions offer, such as macaws, caimans, caves and crystal-clear rivers full of fish. What did we see afterwards? Wait for next post :-)

Besides anacondas, freshwater stingrays and caimans, the program included relaxing dives in crystal-clear rivers full of life.
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010
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07 August, 2010

Photo in Natura Made in Japan!

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.Header for the article about Brazil at Sotokoto’s website
Photo: authorship not informed
(or maybe it is somewhere in the text...)


Issue # 135 (September 2010) of Sotokoto, Japanese outdoor lifestyle magazine, has just been released. This edition’s highlight is “Brazil, The Biodiversity Wonderland” and the cover shows a picture of a pair of Hyacinth Macaws. Pantanal and Bonito got 10 pages! Of these, two bring 17 pictures and an interview about my life as a photographer and guide in the Pantanal.

The cover of Sotokoto’s issue # 135


I hope that this publication brings more visitors from this very distant country who is one of the world’s leader in number of birdwatchers, and whose tourists always show fascination and excitement for our natural beauties.

The interview deserves a chapter of its own: my friend Hiroya Hatori, an excelent tour guide in Mato Grosso do Sul, had told me about a Japanese photographer - Uruma Takezawa - who was coming to Brazil and wanted to meet me, maybe negotiate some pictures for an article. Time went by, I was on a filed trip when Hiroya e-mailed me assigning a date for our meeting.

(click on the picture to enlarge)


It was a pleasant afternoon of July when both arrived at my house, and only then I understood that the visit would include an interview. I had loads of things to do in my computer (but was not feeling like doing), so I loved the chance of leaving the office aside for some time – and without feeling guilty, after all I was going to talk about work. The conversation went on swiftly for almost two hours, as evening came and Uruma enjoyed the passion fruit juice made with the pulp of fruits picked at our backyard. The result can be seen at the pages displayed on this post – as long as you can read in Japanese, of course!

( click on the picture to enlarge)
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03 August, 2010

News in Six Acts

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.Even though I have been out most of the time, this cute opossum came to say "hello" at my backyard on the first morning after I arrived from one of my field trips.
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


Staying on the road has been the rule for me during the past months. This means that I am keeping busy, which is great, but also makes it quite difficult to update my blogs. The Portuguese version does receive more constant posts, but doing the same in English has just not been possible. However, today I decided that I should try and change this. So, what I will do is tell in brief lines what I have been up to lately, and along the next weeks I will try to tell more stories. So here we go:


1) In May I started a freelance job for Petrobras, the Brazilian oil company. This was the first time that I really got an assignment because of my postgrad course in Science Journalism. They hired Canal Azul, a production company from São Paulo who specializes in nature programs, to produce a series of 36 videos about the socio-environmental projects that Petrobras funds across the country. I was in charge of part of the field production, directing the interviews, taking still photographs and writing the texts that will come as a supplement for each video. Our team traveled across 11 Brazilian States and covered a wide range of subjects. The trips ended last week and the results will be out soon.

A type of pipewort blossoms in the Brazilian savannas, one of the areas visited during this assignment.
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010



2) Still in May, I led a trip of Brazilian students for Ambiental Expeditions to the region of Serra da Capivara, a beautiful area in the middle of the Caatinga (Brazil’s harshest shrubland environment) known as one of the world’s most important prehistoric rock art sites.

The sunset paints the rocks red at Serra da Capivara while hundreds of swifts dive into the canyon to spend the night.
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010



3) During this period I was contacted by Geo Saison, Germany’s #1 travel magazine, who wanted to publish the first picture that I ever took of a jaguar in the wild, back in 2003. Then, some weeks later, Sotokoto – an outdoor lifestyle magazine from Japan – requested an interview and some pictures of the Pantanal, 17 of which will be published in their next issue, together with stories from my life in the wetlands.

The very first jaguar that I ever saw now makes it to Germany!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2003



4) Early June, back home for a few days. Just in time to: (a) inaugurate a picture exhibition at a local Social and Environmental Fair; (b) help Tietta on setting up our gigantic "Gallery Forest" banner where kids had to find birds hidden in the trees; (c) participate in the launching of the book marker collection with some of my nature photos.

Book markers were given for free to the Fair's participants
Photos: © Daniel De Granville, 2003-2010
Artwork: © Liliane Lacerda, 2010


5) Late July, as the field trips for Petrobras reach their end, I am back to my office working on the publication of the documentary “Ecos de Aruanda” – produced together with a team of colleagues in 2007 – about Umbanda, an Afro-Brazilian religion that worships nature’s elements. The Portuguese version is already available on Youtube and the English subtitles are coming soon.

The front cover of our documentary's DVD
(English subtitles coming soon!)
Artwork and Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2007



6) At the moment I am finalizing the production of my next adventure: a week from now I will be leading a team of four European underwater photographers and filmmakers specialized in aquatic images. Our task? To get the best underwater shots of Green Anacondas, Freshwater Stingrays and Pink River Dolphins. For that, we will cross parts of Brazil in three weeks searching for our subjects. Sounds fun!

The Green Anaconda is one of the trip's major objectives - as long as the pictures are taken underwater!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2008

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07 April, 2010

Cats: New Video
by Photo in Natura

Our new video clip is online! Two minutes with the cats that share Photo in Natura’s home and office with us. Enjoy : -)

(With YouTube making things way too difficult, I opted for sharing the videos on two other servers for you to choose from: Vimeo or Yahoo! Video). Personally, I found Vimeo’s quality much better.



02 April, 2010

The day I taught Indiana Jones
how to ride a horse

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.... and I had to teach HIM how to ride a horse...


This week the blog broke a boring record: the longest period without any posts... usually this happens when I’m in the middle of nowhere with no internet access, but this time is because I have been dedicated to office work. Nothing very exciting going on in front of my computer screen... So, to compensate the delay, here we go with a funny post about a story that took place 14 years ago.

We were somewhere back in 1996. I worked at the Caiman Ecological Refuge (Pantanal) when we got the news that actor Harrison Ford was coming over to spend some days with his family. It was an enormous thrill, we had to build a strategic plan to ensure comfort and peace for our honorable Indiana Jones. We knew that they had come to Bonito and were not very happy with all the harassment from the press and other curious folks, so that our responsibility became even higher.

Our honorable Indiana Jones among Caiman’s staff.
Photo of unknown authorship, 1996


With us it wasn’t any different: the phone kept on ringing all the time, including fake journalists talking in a very poor English, claiming to be a “member of the actor’s staff” and requesting permission to enter the ranch. Others gathered at the front gate hoping to make a scoop. No way...

As the field supervisor at that time, I was assigned to join Mr. Ford on his field trips. And so came the day when we were going for a horse ride!

Picture this: Indiana Jones sitting still on a pantaneiro horse, me standing on the ground adjusting his stirrups and giving the standard speech of safety and procedures. As I talked, kind of strained with such a surreal situation, the images of our #1 adventurer galloping across bridges on fire over mile-high abysses under an attack of arrows kept coming to my mind.

The scene was abruptly interrupted by one of those famous grins that he does in the movies, followed by a humorous phrase: “young man, you’re talking to a Wyoming cowboy!”. It was hilarious, everyone in the group (including me) laughed, but I had to accomplish the protocol before we left. Not galloping over burning bridges, but riding slowly across the Pantanal fields while searching for wildlife. It was a memorable moment, not only because I was leading the raider of lost arks, but due to the fact that Harrison Ford is a renowned conservationist, who had come to the Pantanal to see its beauties and help on its protection.

Leaving behind the past of intrepid adventures, it is nice to see such an influential character devoted to environmental conservation – at least one thing we share in common :-)


Watch below the video clip where the actor waxes his chest for the benefit of our forests.
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(Post dedicated to José Sabino!)
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25 February, 2010

Helping Cardoso Island

Sample of the picture sold at the auction
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2007


“ Granting image usage rights, free of charge, for non-profit socio-environmental organizations, scientists, researches done in public schools and universities, philanthropic publications aimed at environmental awareness, artistic projects with socio-environmental purposes and others”.

The sentence above is part of the section about Photo in Natura’s socio-environmental commitment. More than just publishing phrases randomly on our website, we must constantly evaluate whether we are effectively accomplishing these precepts – if we say that we do it, we’ve got to do it.

Thus, I recently received a request from Graded School – whose study trips I have joined a couple of times – to collaborate for a good cause. The school organized a charity auction to fundraise in order to build a community center at the marvelous Cardoso Island, south coast of São Paulo, and asked if I could donate one of my photographs.

I agreed without thinking twice, contributing with a 30 cm x 45 cm (12 in x 18 in) print of the picture that illustrates this post – taken at the Island in 2007 – accompanied by an Authenticity Certificate, proving its origin and the limited edition of 12 copies.

It is good to know that somehow, besides the environmental awareness that I try to foment through images, my photography is helping those who need.

Restinga vegetation at Ilha do Cardoso
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2009

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18 February, 2010

Photo in Natura on YouTube

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We have just produced a 3-minute videoclip with 40 of my favorite nature pictures. Please click below to watch it!
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03 February, 2010

Goodbye, Fotograma:
Photo in Natura is Online!

Our new logo!
Artwork: © 2007 Daniel De Granville


After several months of research, tests, exchange of experiences and a lot of work sitting in front of the computer, I am pleased to announce the release of our new website Photo in Natura!

It will replace the good old Fotograma, my first site, which was online since 2005. With a brand new layout and an image bank with hundreds of samples available, Photo in Natura shows our work in a much more practical and complete manner. However, since we are still adjusting some tools, you may experience temporary difficulties for browsing.

Be welcome, make yourself comfortable and please feel free to contact us in case of comments or suggestions. Thank you!


Farewell to Fotograma...
Artwork: © 2005 Nando Pereira | Daniel De Granville
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22 January, 2010

"Treefrog at Noon!"

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."I can hardly wait..."
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2010


A popular field tip among tour guides who lead wildlife enthusiasts is the so-called “clock technique”. Probably inspired by military orientation strategies, it aims at facilitating the location of a bird or any other animal on the surroundings by creating an imaginary clock, using its hands to point out the critter. The “clock” can be used both vertically or horizontally, on a tree or in the horizon, for example.

That way, we end up getting used to expressions that sound senseless at first, like “toucan at three o’clock”, “monkey at noon”, “macaws at five thirty”. But what does this have to do with today’s story?



Clock technique using a tree (L) or the natural landscape (R)
Photos and artwork: © Daniel De Granville, 2008


It happens that we have a Milky Treefrog (Trachycephalus venulosus) who is a frequent visitor at our house, but now decided to lodge behind the wall clock. Almost every morning, at around 10:30 AM, it shows up and just sits on top of the kitchen clock, watching our routines and inspiring photos like this... Now, take a look at the first picture and tell me: shall I say “treefrog at noon” or “treefrog at ten to eleven”? :-)

The same species, but this time in the gallery forest
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2003

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06 January, 2010

Termite Pizza?!

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.Yummy!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2009


Termites are almost unanimously considered as a pest, both in cities and in the countryside. They can cause enormous damage in urban areas by attacking wood and even concrete structures in buildings, whereas in crops and cattle ranch pastures they can proliferate to such an extent that they bring problems to landowners. For these reasons, termites are systematically eliminated in cities by specialized pest control companies, and in rural areas their mounds are sometimes poisoned and removed by tractors.

Pasture taken over by termite mounds
in the Brazilian Savannas
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2009


Here at home it is not too different. Every now and then we find a part of our entry gate being eaten by them, so we decided to make a “pact”: they eat my wood, I benefit from their home. This is how we created a pizza-baking oven inside a termite mound in our backyard. We had heard similar stories of this use from old-time Pantanal folks, but without much detail. The internet also had very few information, so that we had to do it the way we thought it should be (it is worth remembering that, together with a group of friends, we built a similar oven four years ago, but unfortunately it was taken down).

"Sorry for the inconvenience, we are
working to serve you better "
(building the first oven)
Photo: © Rakka C., 2006


Enjoy the results of this new invention, that I am prone to call “ecorecycling”.

Job done, just waiting to be officially inaugurated!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2009


Today’s lesson
: like everything in nature, these insects also have their good and useful side. Probably the first thought that came to your mind were our beloved anteaters, who feed mainly on termites, but these bugs also perform another very important task on soil nutrient cycling. As the world famous naturalist David Attenborough mentions on this documentary, “probably a forest will not miss much if every human disappeared from the surface of Earth, but would sure suffer a lot if the millions of termites were eliminated from the area”.

Ready for the pizzas!
Photo: © Daniel De Granville, 2009


And the help from termites is not limited to nature: besides this rustic oven, in the past it was common for Pantanal people to make the flooring in their houses with mud taken from termite mounds, sometimes mixed with the hard seeds of the Acrocomia Palm to replace gravel. I heard that nowadays engineers are studying the amazingly efficient airflow system in termite nests to come up with cooler buildings that are more energy-efficient by diminishing the demands for air-conditioners.
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