Challenge #15 COVID-19 STYLE ~ Lizards and Turtles

To keep our posts relevant we have updated the June theme and challenges to reflect the current situation. 
The original challenge is below.

Read the blog post on the June 2020 Theme ~ HOLIDAYS COVID-19 STYLE

Photo by John Thompson

This month our goal is to identify realistic opportunities for everyone to become consciously present; to think more, relate more and open up to the wonders of Jurassic Park in our backyards in Qatar; to create impact in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with concrete daily actions to enjoy and protect biodiversity. The second challenge is about lizards and turtles. 

The hot desert and shorelines of Qatar offer surprising encounters with prehistoric-looking species during summer that may well have come straight out of Jurassic Park. The Spiny-tailed Agama lizards emerge from hibernation and warm up in the sun. Despite its fearsome appearance, adult dhubs, as the most well-known lizard species is called in Arabic, are strict herbivores. Fun fact: these lizards never drink water. They obtain all water from their plant-food and are experts in water conservation. Dhubs have a gland near the anus which extracts all the liquids from the feces and recirculates it within the body. The dhub population is directly correlated to the amount of rainfall as the rain nourishes the plants they need for food.

The yellow-bellied geckos are common lizards found in urban areas and frequent guests in our homes. They are fascinating and harmless. In fact, who wouldn’t like to keep these little geckos around the house? They are active at night and feed on cockroaches in homes and gardens, insects and other small invertebrates. Watch a gecko snatch some prey at very high speed, such as 8 individuals in 17 seconds.

Hawksbill sea turtles travel to Qatar and come ashore to lay eggs. Hawksbills are the only sea turtle species that lay eggs in Qatar. A female Hawksbill turtle carries up to 800 eggs and lays these eggs in several clutches two weeks apart. Whether these eggs develop into male or female turtles depends on the temperature of the sand during the incubation period. The hotter the sand the more female turtles will hatch. Global warming and the rise of water and surface temperatures may further disrupt the ecologically appropriate gender balance of the hawksbill turtles. In addition, sea level rise reduces beach width for turtles to digg their nests or leads to wash out of the egg-chambers. 

The way from nest to sea is a matter of life-or-death for a little turtle hatchling, that is easily disoriented by land-based light pollution or may fall prey to the many hungry predators waiting along the way. The chance of survival for a Hawksbill turtle hatchling is smaller than 1 percent. And if that’s not bad enough, ocean pollution with plastics and toxic chemicals may lead to entanglement and a reduced life span. 

Qatar’s sea turtles feed on seagrass, sponges that grow on the reefs, and jellyfish and plankton. To protect the turtles means protecting the feeding grounds, especially the seagrass beds. 

To celebrate biodiversity and protect Qatar’s lizard and sea turtle population, get started with these tips:

  • Stay on desert paths to protect lizards and their burrows.
  • Build an insect hotel to invite geckos into backyards to feed on ants and insects.
  • Stay clear of beaches during turtle egg laying and hatching times
  • Keep beaches clean from debris and garbage for turtles to find places to dig their nests and egg chambers.
  • Minimize plastic use, especially single-use plastic as much of it ends up in the Arabian Sea and threatens all marine wildlife. 
  • Participate in public awareness campaigns to protect turtles as an essential component of marine biodiversity.


Challenge #15 ~ Agritourism

Read the blog post on the June Theme ~ HOLIDAYS

We always search for ideas to get the most out of our travel investments. Yes, travel is an investment into our health and well-being, learning and personal development, and relationship management. Adopting this mindset makes it easier to spend on meaningful ways of doing something practical and productive, learning about and contributing to local communities.

Agritourism has become a popular form of vacationing, not only for students who have little money but also for families, single travelers, and couples of all ages. In exchange for a few hours of help on a farm, for instance, you can get room and board for free. (But beware, Taiwan found that high-end vacation leisure farms produce 2.46 times the carbon emissions of natural eco-conservation farms.) Or, instead of only sightseeing, it may be more rewarding to volunteer for an organization such as the Thor Heyerdahl Climate Park in Myanmar that re-plants tropical forests and mangroves with seed-slinging drones.

Consider farmstay and homestay options around the world for a unique holiday. Tree planting and learning about composting and permaculture are ways to offset carbon emissions. Especially for children growing up in Qatar, farm stays can provide a memorable learning experience to reconnect with nature, saving our children from nature-deficit disorder.

This is such a refreshing new way to travel. Not only do you get to visit new places you are interested in, you also get to learn, meet interesting people with a similar idea of travel and fun and make new connections, possibly new lifelong friends or partners to return home fulfilled and energized after holidays.


  1. eco-business, Tourism responsible for 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, study finds, 8 May 2018
  2. capacity4dev, Linking Farmers & Tourists to Solve Development Challenges in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), 20 January 2017