Friday, December 31, 2004

WEBSITE - OBIS-SEAMAP

Couple of very detailed pages from a site new to me. OBIS-SEAMAP:
[...] the website for project OBIS-SEAMAP (Ocean Biogeographic Information System - Spatial Ecological Analysis of Megavertebrate Populations). Marine mammal, seabird and sea turtle data are being organized into a spatially referenced database.
Here's the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal and the Baiji Dolphin.

AYE-AYES - Madagascar's poor await benefits of conservation

This report from CNN.com dicusses the effect of generations of "slash-and-burn" in Madagascar.
The people of Mahatsara village do not understand why they are forbidden from burning down the wild forests of eastern Madagascar.

For centuries, the Mahatsara villagers have followed the traditions of their ancestors, chopping down trees and setting the forests ablaze to clear the land for rice cultivation.

But environmentalists say traditional 'slash-and-burn' farming -- where forests are cleared for planting subsistence crops -- has decimated the Indian Ocean island's rainforests, endangering around 200,000 plant and animal species, most of which exist nowhere else in the world.

Monday, December 27, 2004

KOMODO DRAGON Dies of Blood Vessel Rupture at National Zoo

Sad news from WTOPNEWS.com
Washington -- Some more bad news for the National Zoo. One of the Zoo's Komodo dragons died in its exhibit at the Reptile Discovery Center.

The rare female lizard died Christmas day after a blood vessel ruptured in its abdomen. A growth in an ovary apparently caused a blood vessel to rupture. The official cause of death won't be known for several weeks when all tests have been completed.

The 12-year-old lizard was one of a dozen born at the Zoo in 1992, the first litter ever born outside their native Indonesia.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

OFF TOPIC - GMail invites available

Nothing to do with endangered animals visited by Douglas Adams, but if you would like a GMail (Google eMail) account, please do send me a request through my profile's email address. I have 6 invitations available from my personal account, so first come, first served.

Monday, December 20, 2004

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Baby gorilla poachers arrested

CNN.com is one of a number of sites reporting the theft of a baby Mountain Gorilla from the Congo.
Rwandan police have arrested four suspected poachers and recovered a baby mountain gorilla that was stolen from its family in the forests of neighboring Congo, a police spokesman said Monday.

Police detained the men Saturday following a tip-off that they had smuggled a 3-year-old mountain gorilla into the border district of Mutura, in Rwanda's northwestern Gisenyi province, said Dismas Rutaganira, who led the police operation.

The baby gorilla was hidden in a sack and was being taken to buyers in Kenya, Rutaganira said. The police have not determined the identity of the buyers.

Friday, December 17, 2004

MOUNTAIN GORILLA NEWS

The Davis Enterprise
Ever since the age of 12, Amy Schilling knew that she was going to save the mountain gorillas.

'In my seventh-grade science class, we had to do a report on an endangered species,' Schilling said. 'I chose the mountain gorilla because I'd never heard of it. I went over to the library and when I saw my first picture, that was it.'

Schilling is now spearheading a move to start a West Coast chapter of Partners in Conservation, a group founded in 1991 and dedicated to education about the 'people, cultures and mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic of Congo,' according to their Web site. Originally founded by concerned members of the Columbus, Ohio Zoo, Partners in Conservation has spread to include zoos and volunteers around the country.

BAIJI DOLPHIN NEWS - Animal Planet

Quicky...

Another chance to read more about the Baiji dolphin's proposed new home.
Visit this page at Discovery Channel's Animal Planet for more information.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

KAKAPO NEWS - Paul Jansen's position axed

Tragic news for the Kakapo Recovery Programme in this article from The New Zealand Herald.
The man who led the programme to save New Zealand's native parrot, the kakapo, has been sidelined into a technical desk job in a drastic Conservation Department cost-cutting exercise that will axe 13 jobs.

The $2.1 million cuts involve disbanding the biodiversity recovery unit.
...
Kakapo recovery programme leader Paul Jansen has been assigned to writing standard operating procedures.

The scientist in the kakapo team has been shifted to a 'site management' unit and the vet in the team has been moved into other work.
Also of note this week, a Maori cloak made of Kakapo feathers is to remain in Scotland.
Preserved Maori heads and rare feather cloaks are in storage in a Scottish museum, despite the efforts of a Lower Hutt doctor to bring them home.

Stewart Reid emigrated to New Zealand from Scotland almost 30 years ago. On a visit back to Scotland in the 1980s he came across an 18th-century kakapo feather cloak on display in Perth Museum and Art Gallery. He was told by museum staff it was the only one of its kind in the world.

BAIJI DOLPHIN NEWS - New home receives preliminary approval

China View has this report about the "White-flag dolphin" or Baiji.
...[the] animal ... may soon have a secure and relatively permanent home.

China plans to resettle its fewer than 100 white-flag dolphins into an exclusive wetland nature reserve named Tian'ezhou islet inShishou, central China's Hubei Province, according to zoologists from the province.

The plan has obtained preliminary approval from the state.

The zoologists believe that relocation will protect the dolphins from water pollution and busy navigation in other sections of the Yangtze River.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

ZOO NEWS - New Gorilla statue

The Seattle Times has this article about "a new life-size bronze statue of an adult male silverback gorilla", newly installed in Woodland Park Zoo.
The newest statue and the two others are the works of Whidbey Island artist Georgia Gerber. The piece is a donation from the family of James Foster, the zoo's veterinarian from 1971 through 1987 and acting zoo director from 1974 to 1975.

Foster was instrumental in establishing the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Center in Rwanda, Africa, where he developed a health plan for mountain gorillas and remained active until his death in 1997 at age 67.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

WEBSITE - ARKive Revisited

This is a re-post of an earlier article, updated with a few more GREAT links added.

Welcome to ARKive - Images of Life On Earth - Creating a lasting audio-visual record of life on Earth.

I found pages for most of the of "Last Chance To See" animals, and, joy of joys, many of them have GREAT video clips. Seeing a Kakapo wandering through the forest is WONDERFUL! Go there NOW!

Here's some helpful links...
Kakapo Parrot
Aye-Aye Lemur
Amazonian Manatee
Komodo Dragon
Rodrigues Fruitbat
Baiji Dolphin (NEW)
Mountain Gorilla (NEW)
Pink Pigeon (NEW)
Mauritius Kestrel (NEW)

Still nothing yet for the White Rhino or the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal. If you locate anything, do let me know!

Friday, December 03, 2004

RADIO - Mountain Gorillas, Komodo Dragons and Peter Jones

See below for a few streaming audio files from BBC Radio's Listen Again. It would be remiss of me not to mention my new techno combination which brings shows like this to my car radio in the USA. I use Replay Radio to record the shows to MP3 files, and then I play them in the car on my IRiver MP3 player with my I-Rock FM transmitter.

Record Internet radio. Click here to find out how!
  

If you get that all going, first up is a programme from April 2003 - Gorillas Are My Patients
The mountain gorillas of Central Africa are some of the most famous animals in the world. They live in the remote forests where Uganda, Rwanda and Congo meet. They are few in number and constantly under threat from poaching and habitat destruction.
...
Presenter Jim Clarke joins the vets and park rangers as they patrol the forests looking for patients. How do they control the spread of infection in such a huge area? And just what does it take to vaccinate a fully grown male silverback gorilla?
Next, here's an episode of Nature featuring a visit to Indonesia and the Komodo Dragons.
Yvonne Ellis undertakes a personal quest to find an unforgettable collection of lizards. On Rinca Island in Indonesia, she comes face to face with the Komodo Dragon the world’s largest lizard, whose breath can be fatal, but whose lifestyle contains some surprisingly tender moments.
Also, until December 7th, 2004, visit this Listen Again page, go the the letter "R" section, and listen to Radio Roots, this week about the legendary Peter Jones, voice of the Book, and also narrator of the Last Chance To See radio series.

KOMODO DRAGONS - Not your usual roadside attractions

CNN Money has this article about Komodo Dragons and the effect they have on Indonesian tourism.
Ron Magill, communications director for Miami Metrozoo, is one of the few human beings ready, willing, and able to pick up and carry a seven-foot, zoo-raised Komodo dragon around, but he wouldn't advise getting too close to a wild one. 'We've raised him from an egg,' says Magill, and 'even though he's not aggressive he's still hard to control. It's difficult to comprehend how strong he is.'

Sunday, November 28, 2004

TRAVEL - Mountain Gorillas and Komodo Dragons

Couple of articles on the San Francisco Chronicle today.

Here's another account of a visit with the Mountain Gorillas to wet your appetite for making the trip yourself.
My three-hour climb up the steep and slippery slopes of 12,006-foot Visoke was marked by verdant foliage, oozing mud and the hope that my shortness of breath was due to the altitude and not a lack of fitness. Just when I thought my heart couldn't beat any faster, we cautiously descended into the midst of a dozen gorillas. A 375-pound silverback sat 20 feet away and eyed us with suspicion as a youngster and a few females approached.

And also, here's an article about the Komodo Dragons.
Hilly, hot and dry (it has less rainfall than anywhere else in Indonesia), Komodo is 130 square miles surrounded by some of the bluest, clearest, warmest waters in the Indonesian archipelago. The island is about 250 miles east of Bali. Intrepid travelers can island-hop there via the islands of Lombok and Sumbawa. (With time to spare, you can also continue to the island of Flores, where the three different-colored crater lakes of the extinct volcano Keli Mutu are truly one of the world's unknown wonders. Flores has been in the news recently after traces of hobbit-size early humans were discovered on the island.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

NEWS - Rwandan warblers benefit from Gorilla conservation

Nice to see that conservation efforts designed to help the Rwandan Mountain Gorillas can have a positive effect on other species too. In this case, the Grauer's Scrub-warbler
In Rwanda, a team of BP Conservation Award winners studying two globally threatened warbler species have been busy in the northwestern part of the country. After preliminary surveys in the Albertine Rift region, the team found that the Endangered Grauer's Scrub-warbler Bradypterus graueri has a viable population but is unevenly distributed in the Rugezi swamp, which has a high amount of human interference. Sound recordings gave a very preliminary suggestion that there were about 370 singing males in the population.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

LECTURES - 3rd Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture 2005

Just to remind you, the 2005 lecturer has been confirmed as Mark Carwardine. Visit Save the Rhino International - Lectures & Talks for more information.
7.30pm, Thursday 10 March, 2005 at the Royal Institution, London, W1.
The talk will be given by conservation's favourite zoologist Mark Carwardine. Mark co-wrote the book ‘Last Chance to See’ with Douglas, after their world tour searching for endangered species and you can expect many tall-tales to be recited on the night.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

WEBSITE - Denver Gorilla Run 2004 Photos

Here's a page with lots of photos of the Gorilla Run, recently held in Denver. Enjoy. The Jason A. Beattie Zone: Denver Gorilla Run 2004

NEWS - 'Original' great ape discovered

Startling news from the BBC News site regarding a new "missing link".
Scientists have unearthed remains of a primate that could have been ancestral not only to humans but to all great apes, including chimps and gorillas.

The partial skeleton of this 13-million-year-old 'missing link' was found by palaeontologists working at a dig site near Barcelona in Spain.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

KOMODO DRAGON NEWS - Into the dragon's lair

The Globe and Mail has this article on the lure of Komodo and their dragons.
Into the dragon's lair
A monster lizard with fearsome claws, a flickering forked tongue and a killer bite is proving an unlikely ally in Indonesia's efforts to revive a tourism industry shattered by the October, 2002, Bali bombing.

Though many travellers have been put off visiting the Southeast Asian nation in the wake of the attacks in which 202 people died, on a nearby island, the giant Komodo dragon has proved an enduring attraction to curious holidaymakers.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

AYE-AYE NEWS - Milestone for 'land of the lemur'

The BBC has this report on new developments for Madagascar's conservation efforts.
It has been called the eighth continent because of its unique wildlife which has evolved in isolation for 165 million years. But Madagascar's biodiversity - including 50 kinds of lemur - is under acute threat from slash-and-burn agriculture in what is one of the poorest countries on Earth.

The island has already lost at least 80% of its original forest cover, with over half this loss in the last 100 years.

Now, Madagascar has moved to protect its priceless wildlife (three-quarters of the estimated 200,000 plant and animal species are found nowhere else) and has identified the additional forests and wetlands that will more than treble the area of nature reserves from 1.7 million hectares to 6 million ha by 2008.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

BLOG UPDATE

Honestly, when I started this blog over 3 months ago I didn't know whether there'd be enough material to keep it going. But it's quite extraordinary how much news does pour in about the animals Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine went to visit for "Last Chance To See".

Just the last couple of weeks it has slowed up a little, giving me a bit of time to take stock, make some adjustments to the layout that I've been wanting to do for ages, and generally tidy the place up a bit.

It is very gratifying to see many of my visitors return for another quick update, and I'd like to thank you personally for dropping by from time to time. I knew when I started this project that there had to be other fans of the book out there who'd like to know what had happened to all the creatures in the intervening years.

Thanks for visiting. Please do introduce yourself in the comments and tell us a little bit about yourself, why you enjoyed the book, and why it keeps you interested after all these years. And, if there anything else you think I should be covering on the site, do let me know. Contributions are always welcome.

Gareth

Sunday, November 07, 2004

WEBSITE - PEOPLE IN AMERICA - Dian Fossey

Here's a transcript of a Voice Of America feature on Dian Fossey.
Dian Fossey returned to central Africa in nineteen sixty-six. She spent a short time observing Jane Goodall. Then she began setting up her own research camp in what was then the country of Zaire. Fossey sought help from the local native people who knew how to follow mountain gorillas in the wild.

A short time later, political unrest forced her to move to nearby Rwanda. She settled in a protected area between two mountains, Karisimbi and Visoke. There, she established the Karisoke Research Center. This would be her home for most of the next eighteen years. Much of that time, she worked alone.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

LATE NEWS - MBE for Carl Jones

Carl Jones, the man sent to close down the Mauritius Kestrel preservation project, and who failed miserably, was honoured with an MBE last year for his great work. This article at Durrell Wildlife site has more.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

KOMODO DRAGON NEWS - Did dragons cause human extinction?

The BBC are amoung large numbers of sites reporting on the discovery of a new species of human, skeletons of which have been found in Indonesia. I mention it here, because all of the reports mention that this 'hobbit' species shared its island with huge lizards, including Komodo Dragons. How ironic it would be if Komodo Dragons had caused the extinction of a species of humans....

Here's the BBC Report
The three-foot (one-metre) tall species - dubbed "the Hobbit" - lived on Flores island until at least 12,000 years ago.
...
Details of the sensational find are described in the journal Nature.

The discovery has been hailed as one of the most significant of its type in decades.
...
...shared its island with a golden retriever-sized rat, giant tortoises and huge lizards - including Komodo dragons - and a pony-sized dwarf elephant called Stegodon which the "hobbits" probably hunted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

WHITE RHINO NEWS - Rhino Fund Uganda

Some good news for the White Rhino. Wolfgang H. Thome records that the Rhino Fund Uganda...
...recently reported that the fencing of the 18,000 acres sanctuary will soon be completed and that the holding bomas for the new rhinos are also nearing completion. The first rhinos are expected by late 2004 and the official opening of the sanctuary is expected by mid 2005, when the relocated rhinos have settled in and overcome the relocation stress.
You can find out more about the Rhino Fund Uganda at Save The Rhino and their own website, Rhino Fund Uganda.
In 1968 more than 100 Northern White Rhino lived in Uganda. The last rhino was seen in 1983. Today 41 Northern White Rhinos are known to exist in the entire world. The only wild population of 30 lives in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are about 11500 Southern White Rhinos living in Africa.

Monday, October 25, 2004

EVENTS - Festival Of Wildlife 2005

Mark Carwardine will be among many appearing at the Festival of Wildlife 2005, in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador from 2nd to 10th April 2005.
Join us for a unique series of talks, presentations, masterclasses and workshops from these renowned wildlife experts in one of the world's finest wildlife locations. The Galapagos Islands, off Ecuador's Pacific Coast, originated from undersea volcanic activity, six million years ago.
...
Hear John Craven talk about wildlife journalism, and Jonathan and Angela Scott recount tales of their travels and photographic trips. Learn about underwater photography and marine wildlife from Mark Carwardine, join award winning television producer Christopher Ralling for tips on wildlife film-making and hear about the life and travels of Charles Darwin.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

KAKAPO NEWS - New Zealand DoC losing battle to save rarest species

This report from the New Zealand Herald has the Department of Conservation losing their battle to save the rarest species in New Zealand, kakapos included of course.
The Department of Conservation is failing to stop the slide to extinction of more than half of New Zealand's rare plants and wildlife.

Data revealed for the first time in the department's annual report to Parliament show DoC is fighting a losing battle.
...
Acutely threatened means at serious risk of imminent extinction and includes the kakapo, black stilt, takahe and orange-fronted parakeet.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

PINK PIGEON - Gerald Durrell Photo Gallery

Quick link to a gallery of Pink Pigeon photographs.

Plus here's a report about Durrell Wildlife's work with the Pink Pigeon (PDF).

KAKAPO WEBSITE - Kiwi Conservation Club

The Kiwi Conservation Club has loads of good stuff about our old friend the Kakapo Parrot
If there was a 'Guiness Book of Bird Records' the kakapo would be a star! The Kakapo is the ...
They have a FULL LIST of ALL the Kakapo Names, and it is up-to-date, because it takes into account the three deaths in July 2004.
In 2001 there were 62 kakapo.
But over the 2001/2002 summer 24 kakapo chicks were born.
Then there were 86 kakapo!
Sadly in July 2004 three kakapo girls died.
So now there are 83.
Here's their page about Kakapo Booming.

And then test yourself on what you've learnt with their Kakapo Quiz.

You can learn more about some of the individual Kakapos at the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

Friday, October 22, 2004

KOMODO DRAGONS - Komodo Dragons and Their Islands

Here's a personal webpage all about Komodo Dragons. The page is a few years old, but it is a nice personal account of a visit to Komodo along with plenty of good photographs.

Interesting to note this....
They used to bring a goat with them to feed to the dragons on the river bank where the lizards gather, but this practice has been discontinued.
The fate of the goat featured heavily in Douglas Adams' chapter on Komodo of course.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

NEWS - Scientist exudes optimism at Chicago Botanic Garden

The online Pioneer Press has this report about Pulitzer Prize winning author and world-renowned scientist Edward O. Wilson and his views on extinction rates. Report
Wilson's optimism as well as his reverence for and delight in all wild organisms from invisible bacteria to the mountain gorilla can be linked to how he grew up.

Born in Alabama, Wilson began exploring nature when he was 8 or 9 years old. He couldn't help sloshing through woods, and peering with magnifying glass at all the tiny critters on top of and inside the soil. And when he was a mere 13 years old, he discovered the fire ant in Alabama, a non-native species that has since disturbed ecosystems in his home state.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

WEBSITE - Adopt a Rodrigues Fruitbat

Last Minute.com Gifts has this unusual gift idea for adopting a Rodrigues Fruitbat at London Zoo.
The bat has to be the all-time coolest pet you could have. With a rather impressive set of choppers in their tiny little gobs and the ability to sleep upside-down, well, you’ve gotta give ‘em some respect for that. Wouldn’t you love to have your own little Batfink? C’mon, get into the Halloween spirit this year and help the Zoological Society of London in their conservation of the Rodrigues Fruit Bat population by adopting one of these cute little critters.

Of course, when you adopt the bat, it’s not advisable that you keep it hanging in your back garden, so we’ll leave the experts to look after them at London Zoo. You’ll receive a free entrance ticket to London Zoo, so you can go along and visit your furry friends.

NEWS - Baby News #2 - Mountain Gorillas

From the staff at DFGFI's Karisoke Research Center, Rwanda, The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has this report and baby gorilla pictures on the latest new addition to the wild Mountain Gorilla population.
Pablo's group, one of the three mountain gorilla groups we monitor daily from the Karisoke Research Center, welcomed its 57th member in September, when female Ginseng gave birth to her fourth infant, a boy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

NEWS - Baby News #1 - White Rhino

OK, so it's a Southern White Rhino, not a Northern, but it's cute! Check out the SlideShow of this bouncing 85-pound baby white rhino at Busch Gardens, Tampa FL... NBC5.com has this rhino story

They're also looking for a name, so pop over to www.buschgardens.com to vote! Choose from:
  • Malaika meaning "angel"
  • Naki meaning "first girl"
  • Johari meaning "jewel"
  • Uzuri meaning "beautiful"

NEWS - NZAS employees provide Kakapos a helping hand

Scoop has this article with great news for Kakapos
Support for the Kakapo steps up a gear today with the launch of an active partnership between New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) Ltd and the Kakapo Recovery Team.

NZAS employee Aaron Smith is the first of a series of volunteers who will trade in manufacturing aluminium for two weeks in the rugged bush of Codfish Island looking after kakapo.

...

Kakapo Recovery team leader Paul Jansen sees the inclusion of NZAS staff as providing many advantages for the kakapo recovery programme.

“Creating a stronger link with the Southland community, through local ownership of the programme, and having an even bigger team of dedicated supporters to assist with the birds and island equipment, is fantastic, ” Mr Jansen said.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

EVENTS - The Gorilla Experience

At The Wildlife Art & Conservation Museum, Denver, Colorado, on October 23rd 2004, Dr. Mike Granfield, top primate expert and director of Morris Animal Foundation's Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project, will discuss the mountain gorillas' habitat, diet, social structure and survival threats.
It’s a gorilla's life... at The Wildlife Experience. Get a close look at the fascinating and rare mountain gorillas.

[Dr Granfield will] also share what it's like to deliver life-saving medical care to these animals in their natural environment. No mountain gorillas live in captivity, so don't miss this glimpse into their world! The lecture will be held Saturday, October 23rd at 1:00pm at The Wildlife Experience. This is free with museum admission.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

WEBSITE - The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation

Thanks to Harold, who gave me a great list of links to explore...

The first of them is to The Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, which has pages on the Rodrigues Fruitbat, and also the Mauritius Kestrel and the Pink Pigeon which had plenty of mentions in the book of course.

I've added these "extra animals" to the side-bar list so we can keep an eye on these important supporting characters from the book.

In 2000, the IUCN classified the Mauritius Kestrel as VU - Vulnerable.
This species has been downgraded from Endangered because it has sustained population increases, owing to intensive conservation efforts. However, it still has a very small population and is thus classified as Vulnerable. With an estimated carrying capacity of only c.1,000 on Mauritius, it is always likely to have a very small population and therefore remain threatened.
In 2000, the IUCN classified the Pink Pigeon as EN - Endangered.
The population of this species has successfully been maintained at over 50 mature individuals since 1993, but over 250 only since 1996. It is therefore downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered, but not yet to Vulnerable. However, it seems doubtful that present populations could be maintained without the current intense management programme and, were management to cease, this species would stand a high risk of extinction. It still has an extremely small population, concentrated in just a few locations, and remains threatened by a continuing decline in the quality of suitable habitat.

NEWS - All hail King Congo

Here's another one of the many articles regarding the new ape reportedly found in the Congo. Herald Sun report
A close and chilling encounter with what is believed to be a new breed of giant killer ape has rocked the science world.

The massive apes live in the darkest reaches of the jungles of the African Congo.

Friday, October 15, 2004

NEWS - Yangtze to be as bad as Yellow River within ten years

Interfax has this report with more devastating consequences for the Baiji Dolphin.
Experts have said that pollution and silt in the Yangtze River are so serious that it is in danger of becoming as bad as the Yellow River within ten years. With the forest on the banks shrinking severely, and with the native species of dolphin, sturgeon and saury probably extinct, life in the river is disappearing, according to experts, and the environment is facing crisis.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

NEWS - Waco's Cameron Park Zoo

Waco's Cameron Park Zoo has received a huge financial boost....
Two Waco philanthropists, Jim and Nell Hawkins, donated $1 million to the zoo Thursday.

It's the largest single donation in the zoo's history. Zoo officials say the money will be used for the Asian forest expansion and will build [an] orangutan [and komodo dragon] exhibit. Hawkins says he did it because it was the right thing to do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

NEWS - Swazi rhino hunts to be permitted

The BBC has this report on the news that Swaziland will be allowing hunting of the Southern White Rhino. Shame!
Swaziland has 61 white rhinos - the second largest land mammal after the elephant - and space is an issue in the small developing country of one million people and rising.

"Our space is limited and our white rhino populations are reaching ecological carrying capacity for the species," Swazi delegate James Reilly said.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

ASTONISHING NEWS - 'New' giant ape found in DR Congo

Truly astonishing report from the BBC today about a 'new' giant ape, reportedly found in DR Congo, home of the Mountain Gorilla.
Scientists believe they have discovered a new group of giant apes in the jungles of central Africa.

The animals, with characteristics of both gorillas and chimpanzees, have been sighted in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to local villagers, the apes are ferocious, and even capable of killing lions.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

NEWS - New Honolulu Zoo Komodo Dragon exhibit

The Star Bulletin has this report on the Komodo Dragon exhibit at Honolulu Zoo.
Five-year-old Tawnie Akasaki peered through a large plate glass window yesterday to get a good view of the Komodo dragons at the Honolulu Zoo.
'Look at the tongue,' said Tawnie to her grandmother Winona Arakawa of Salt Lake as she observed a dragon's forked tongue flick in and out of its mouth.
Here's the zoo's own page about Komodo Dragons which includes some FABULOUS video footage of their baby Komodo Dragons, hatched back in 2000.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

NEWS - What turns on a white rhino?

The New Zealand Herald has this report on a new Rhino dung study.
The aroma of dung could be the ultimate aphrodisiac if you're a white rhinoceros.

Canterbury University masters student Volker Grun has begun a study of white rhinoceros excrement and the effect its smell has on sexual behaviour and attraction.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

NEWS - German scientists successfully inseminate white rhinoceros for first time

TerraDaily has this fabulous report! German scientists have successfully inseminated a Northern White Rhino.
In a world first, German scientists have successfully artificially inseminated a white rhinoceros, a highly endangered species, the Berlin-based Leibniz Institute of Zoology and Research for wild animals announced Monday.

WEBSITE - Kakapo Recovery Programme

I'm pleased to say that The Kakapo Recovery Programme have given me permission to use their nice cartoon Kakapos to link to their site.

If you've not paid a visit to their site yet, I recommend popping over to see what they're up to. They have some videos of Kakapo chicks which really show the dedication involved in this programme.

NEWS - Biodiversity: The sixth great wave

BBC News has this report about current extinction rates.
As part of Planet under pressure, a BBC News Online series looking at some of the biggest environmental problems humanity faces, Alex Kirby considers the current increase in extinction rates.
Komodo Dragons are one of the answers in their tricky online quiz.

TRAVEL - Gorilla Travel Web Site

This site is recommended by the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website. It is designed to help you visit the mountain gorillas of Rwanda whether you join a scheduled safari, need help planning your own personal adventure, or wish to join a DFGFI tour. Gorilla Travel Web Site Homepage

Sunday, October 03, 2004

NEWS - New wildlife trade curbs sought

BBC NEWS has this report
An international conference on wildlife trade has opened in Thailand with calls for stronger curbs on illegal trafficking in rare animals and plants.
They also have a video version of this report, located in the right column of their report.

Friday, October 01, 2004

NEWS - CBS Anchor Seeks Refuge From Reptiles

CBS Early Show's Hannah Storm has a close run in with a Komodo Dragon, among many creatures brought in for the morning show.
The most powerful lizard in the world, the dragon can grow to 10 feet long and weigh over 200 pounds. “I’ve seen 101 pounds of this dragon eat a 90-pound pig in 20 minutes,” Magill said. They are considered an endangered species with only about 5,000 found on the small islands in Indonesia.
Includes great video footage from The Early Show.

EVENTS - The Rhino Ball - October 10, 2004 - Houston, Texas

Support the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) at a concert with Willie Nelson.

The Rhino Ball - October 10, 2004 - Houston, Texas

EVENTS - Woburn Rhino Run

Save the Rhino International has information on the Woburn Rhino Run.
Save the Rhino has once again joined forces with Woburn Safari Park to bring you two challenging events, the Woburn Rhino 10km Run and a 4km Fun Run to be held on 17 October 2004.
There's a 10km run round the Safari Park or a 4km single lap for the entire family to enjoy.

WEBSITE - Andrew's Photoblog: Great Gorilla Run

Andrew's Photoblog has a shot from the recent Great Gorilla Run. Don't forget there's another one of these events taking place in Denver on October 23rd, 2004.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

WEBSITE - MP3 Downloads

Thanks to David for this great link. Here's a site with MP3 downloads of the long Douglas Adams retrospective that aired on BBC7. It includes a full episode of the original Last Chance To See radio series, and also the first episode of the original radio series of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.

Click here to buy from Amazon.co.ukYou can hear more segments from the Last Chance To See radio series on this regular audio CD entitled "Douglas Adams at the BBC" (3 CDs). You can buy it from Amazon.co.uk.

And for "in-car" listening of the MP3 files, may I recommend...
 

WEBSITE - BBC Science & Nature Articles

Here's a page over at the BBC Science & Nature website about Komodo Dragons . Words by Tim Jessop, author of this paper.

Here's their page about Rhinos, plus pages about dolphins and primates.

More Articles

"Where Have All The Rhinos Gone?"

"Brazilian Manatees that capture the imagination"

"Primates at risk as forests disappear"

"Why your mobile could be killing gorillas"

"Filming gorillas is a matter of faith"

"Gold threatens Madagascar"

"Learning from a baby gorilla called Gerri"

Interactive Challenges For Kids

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

NEWS - Field News from the Gorilla Fund

Here's a link to the August Field News from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.
August was a busy month for the male gorillas at Karisoke. Karisoke and national park staff witnessed no less than five interactions between groups, or between groups and lone silverbacks.
If you'd like to sign up for their monthly newsletter, an email address is all they need.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

NEWS - Denver Gorilla Run - Oct 23, 2004

Another Gorilla Run! This one takes place in Denver! For entrance details, please visit the Denver Gorilla Run 2004 Homepage
The Denver Gorilla Run is a charity fun run with a difference. Everyone who takes part wears a full gorilla costume - from fluffy head to furry toe - to raise funds for the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Fund, the international charity working to save the world's last remaining mountain gorillas and keeping Dian Fossey’s dream alive for the past 19 years.

Friday, September 24, 2004

TRAVEL - Gorillas in our midst

Nice article, and good information on going "Gorilla Trekking"...

"A lucky Steve Meacham sees eye to eye with an endangered family in Uganda."
What is it that impresses most when you finally spot your first mountain gorilla, peering up from its hiding place in the dense equatorial undergrowth? Is it the gorilla's immensity? Its sheer brute strength? Its vulnerability? No, nothing makes an impact like those dark, impenetrable eyes.
Meeting that sorrowful stare you realise how little we humans know about our universe. A mountain gorilla's eyes feel like those of a long lost ancestor, silently reproachful of what we have made of their world.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

NEWS - Felis catus Hysteria!

The View has this interesting column on the feral cat problem around the world, and the impact it has on local animal populations, Kakapos included.
Cats kill millions of songbirds and small mammals annually! Is that statement (from the last Down to Earth) fact or hysterical fiction? Bryan Kortis, Executive Director of a group called Neighborhood Cats, claims it’s fiction, a wild extrapolation from small samples. Let’s see what light professionals can shed on the issue.

PAPER - Komodo Dragons

Here's an EXCELLENT paper by Tim S. Jessop and colleagues about the Komodo Dragon. Specifically, the "Distribution, use and selection of nest type by Komodo Dragons".
PDF Document
We report the abundance, patterns of distribution and physical characteristics of Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) nests
on Komodo Island in Indonesia. A total of 46 Komodo dragon nesting sites were identified, of these 26 nests were considered active
for the 2002/2003 season. The distribution of nests coincided with large coastal valleys in northern Komodo Island.

Also, here's a 2002 Progress Report on Komodo National Park.

NEWS - Howard Buffett Photography

Trojan Online has this article about the photography of Howard Buffett
Howard Buffett uses photography to communicate the harsh reality that billions face every day in the Third World.
...
Buffett is currently finishing a book titled "Threatened Kingdom" that focuses on mountain gorilla conservation in their habitat of Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo while also incorporating African human rights issues such as genocide.

Buffett plans to donate the book to the International Gorilla Conservation Programme. He will also send 15,000 multilingual translations to Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo so that children can learn about gorilla conservation and their own history while simultaneously learning English.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

**** ILLUSTRATOR/ARTIST WANTED ****

I've been thinking about adding some illustrations to the website, and what I'd ideally like is to gather some original drawings of the "Last Chance To See" animals. If you have some artistic talent yourself, or know of someone else who might be interested, drop me an email through my profile and we'll talk about it some more.

I'm not sure whether I'd like cartoony or realistic looking drawings, but that's all open for discussion. So, as I say, drop me a line and maybe attach sample or two of your work.

If you're a budding illustrator, looking for some free exposure, or would just like to bring your own drawings to a world-wide audience, this is the place for you. All just for fun really, but I know there's a lot of talented people out there. Please do get in touch!

WEBSITE - Sam Neill, Conan O'Brien and Kakapos

Stumbled across this site talking about a 1995 appearance by Sam Neill on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, when they ended up talking about Kakapos.

They have a transcript too.

NEWS - New Zealand a Noah's Ark for Conserving Bizarre Birds

National Geographic News has this report about New Zealand's unique bird population.
When New Zealand split away from the supercontinent Gondwana some 80 million years ago, its flora and fauna were left to develop in isolation.

The result was a virtual Noah's Ark of bizarre animals: Flightless, nocturnal parrots that hike several kilometers at a time; yellow-eyed penguins that nest in forests; and bad-tempered kiwis with skin as tough as shoe leather, poor eyesight, and a highly developed sense of smell.

NEWS - It wasn't just a gorilla in the mist

The Star has this report
Cameraman claims he had an affair with the naturalist, who was angry when he ended it.

Dian Fossey won international acclaim for her documentaries on the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, and was the first person to have been documented actively interacting with families of gorillas.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

WEBSITE - Wikipedia Entries

Here are some entries at Wikipedia that are "Last Chance To See" related.
Wikipedia's goal, for those who've never come across it before, is
to create a free encyclopedia -- indeed, the largest encyclopedia in history, both in terms of breadth and depth and also to become a reliable resource.
Douglas Adams
Last Chance To See -- Ooh, we get a mention!
Juan Fernandez Fur Seal
Komodo Dragon
Mountain Gorilla
Aye-Aye
Baiji Dolphin
White Rhino
Kakapo
Manatee

Nothing so far about the Rodrigues Fruitbat, but the beauty of Wiki is that you can start and edit pages yourself. They have a "stub" for Rodrigues which we could expand with talk of the fruitbat.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

EVENTS - Good luck to everyone in the Great Gorilla Run

I'd just like to wish everyone taking part in the Great Gorilla Run tomorrow (Sunday Sep 19th), the very best of luck. Looks like you've got a good day for it. Have fun everybody, and for anyone not taking part who's nearby, get out there and support this noble (and silly) event.

Friday, September 17, 2004

WEBSITE - GRASP : GREAT APES SURVIVAL PROJECT

GRASP : GREAT APES SURVIVAL PROJECT
The Great Apes Survival Project is an innovative and ambitious project of UNEP and UNESCO with an immediate challenge - to lift the threat of imminent extinction faced by gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos and orangutans.

NEWS - The battle for DR Congo's wildlife

The BBC has this extensive report on the recent Unesco conference
Despite the Democratic Republic of Congo's shaky peace her five World Heritage site national parks and their wildlife and unique ecosystems remain endangered.

Donors at a Unesco conference in Paris have just pledged $40m to protect DR Congo's natural heritage, but for conservationists on the ground the parks remain a battle ground.

NEWS - Great Gorilla Run - THIS SUNDAY

Here's another story about some participants in The Great Gorilla Run which is taking place this Sunday, 19th September. Go along and show your support or sponsor one of the participants.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

NEWS - Aquatic animal protection center set up in Anhui

Xinhua Online has more about the new...
Center for Protection of Aquatic Wild Animals in Yangtze River [which] has been established in Tongling City, east China's Anhui Province.

NEWS - Gorilla twins growing well

Washingtonpost.com is reporting
They're not yet 4 months old and already they've made history.
Twin mountain gorillas born at a national park in Rwanda in May are just the third set ever recorded and the first to survive more than a month. Visitors have been trekking through the dense forest to see the twins. Only 380 mountain gorillas are known to exist, none of them outside Africa.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

NEWS - More Dams Spell Further Decline of Asia's Longest River

ENN Affiliate News is reporting
Delicate habitats like those in the Yangtze basin, Rivers at Risk contends, are irreparably damaged by large dam construction. Species such as the Chinese alligator (the most threatened crocodile species in the world), the Yangtze River dolphin or baiji (the most threatened cetacean in the world), and the finless porpoise (the only freshwater-adapted porpoise in the world), will continue to see serious population declines and possibly become extinct as the Yangtze River continues to be dammed and modified.

Monday, September 13, 2004

NEWS - Great Gorilla Run - Sunday Sep 19, 2004

REPOSTED REMINDER!

Click here to GO APE, and become a gorilla for the day!
The Great Gorilla Run is a charity fun run with a difference. Everyone who takes part wears a full gorilla costume - from fluffy head to furry toe - to raise funds for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, the international charity that's working to save the world's last remaining mountain gorillas.
One of Viz magazine's staff members (Andy Tkaczyk) is competing in the run. You can make a donation or "alternatively stand at the side of the road and throw coins at him as he stumbles past".

Thanks to Iain (www.moshville.co.uk/Weblog) for this news.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

NEWS - Between 5000 and 6000 Komodo Dragons

This article at the Navhind Times makes mention of the status of the Komodo Dragon, in reference to other monitor lizards.
In Indonesia, survey of the Komodo dragon, the giant and endangered lizard, found about 5-6000 members on a few islands.

NEWS - Kakapo fit to rule the roost

TVNZ has this report on the recent Kakapo deaths
Aroha, Aurora and Vollie were just two years old when they died from an infection similar to the ebola virus.

In life, they would have played an important role in the kakapo recovery programme.

But in death, they could ultimately ensure the survival of the species.

Friday, September 10, 2004

WEBSITE - Dispatches from the Vanishing World

If you'd like a bit of a longer read, I recommend popping over to Dispatches From the Vanishing World, the "Readers web site dedicated to preserving species and culture".

Here's a couple that I enjoyed:
 A Report on the Wildlife of Eastern Congo

 Our Far Flung Correspondents (Madagascar)

NEWS - UNESCO plans event in support of Congo's threatened World Heritage

ENN is reporting that UNESCO is planning an event in support of Congo's threatened World Heritage
Conserving this heritage is the goal set by UNESCO, the Belgian Government and the United Nations Foundation in organizing the first major international event in support of Congo's World Heritage in danger.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

NEWS - Conservationists push for wildlife corridor to protect mountain ecosystems

CBC is reporting
Conservationists from around the world are gathering in Banff, Alta. to discuss how a wildlife corridor could help protect mountain ecosystems.
Endangered species on the agenda include the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

NEWS - Zoo's remaining Komodo Dragon gets new roof

The Independent is reporting that
If all goes to plan, London Zoo's remaining Komodo dragon will soon share its home with rare bumblebees and spiders. The Komodo's building is the latest to include an 'eco-roof', more commonly known as a 'green roof', which combines indoor comfort and outdoor habitat.
You may remember that the other Dragon at the zoo tragically died in an accidental fall.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

NEWS - Three Gorges dam on flood alert

The BBC is reporting that at least 100 people have died in current heavy rains and the resulting floods in China, described by local officials as the heaviest in years. The dam is of course one of the major threats to the Baiji Dolphin.
China regularly suffers storms and severe flooding in its summer rainy season, and more than 800 people have died due to severe weather this year.

More than 450,000 people have been evacuated and 127,000 homes destroyed or damaged, the China Daily reported.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

WEBSITE - Effects of sealing on genetic variation and population structure

This page has a pretty detailed study on the role of sealing in the populations of many types of seal. For the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal:
This species was thought to be the most numerically abundant species of fur seal, perhaps numbering over 3 million in the early 1600s before exploitation, and was soon after thought to be extinct. The species was ‘rediscovered’ in the mid-1900s and is now rapidly recovering.
The link leads through to this paper (pdf).
Goldsworthy, S.D., Francis, J. Boness, D. and Fleischer, R. (2000) Variation in the mitochondrial control region in the Juan Fernandez fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii). Journal of Heredity. 91:371-377

WEBSITE - History of the Crittercam

National Geographic's Animal Cameras have grown gradually smaller over the years, and are commonly known as the Crittercam. One of their first prototypes was deployed on our old friend, the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal. These cameras help us get ever closer to seeing wild animals behaving naturally, without pesky humans disturbing their routines...
National Geographic's Crittercam is a research tool designed to be worn by wild animals. It combines video and audio recording with collection of environmental data such as depth, temperature, and acceleration.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

NEWS - Annual jabs pushed to protect kakapo

New Zealand Herald reports
Kakapo might require annual vaccinations to protect them against the bacteria that killed three of their number on Chalky Island, off the Fiordland coast, in July.

NEWS - Seabirds responsible for Kakapo infection deaths

News story on Stuff.co.nz has an update on the recent Kakapo infections.
An infection that has killed three kakapo on a Fiordland island sanctuary was brought there by migratory sea birds, researchers said today.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

STUFF - Douglas Adams At The BBC

Just released is this 3 CD audio of "Douglas Adams at the BBC", featuring all manner of interviews and clips of his work. Includes a number of "Last Chance To See" extracts. You can buy it from Amazon.co.uk

Click here to buy from Amazon.co.uk


And if you've STILL not read "Last Chance To See" yet, get it right here from
Amazon.co.uk
Click here to buy this book from Amazon.co.uk

or
Amazon.com
Click here to buy this book from Amazon.com

Saturday, August 28, 2004

WEBSITE - Zoo Quest For A Dragon

On Whirligig TV, they have a page all about David Attenborough's Zoo Quest For A Dragon.

In 1956 David travelled to Komodo to make a film about the Komodo Dragon. The site has a streaming video clip from the film. They have kindly given me permission to allow you to download the video here (364k).

Amazon.co.uk has Zoo Quest products available, and I STRONGLY recommend reading the book, or even better (because David Attenborough reads it), get the book on tape. It's a great adventure.
Buy Me From Amazon.co.uk
Zoo Quest books and tapes are also available in the US:
Zoo Quest stuff at Amazon.com

Friday, August 27, 2004

WEBSITE - BBC Online "Last Chance To See"

The page at the The BBC Cult Hitchhiker's - Last Chance To See has a short audio clip from the Komodo Dragon radio episode of "Last Chance To See". Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine are talking about "the unbelievable stench" coming from the Komodo Dragons and their goat lunch. Great to hear this. I've heard Douglas Adams reading his book "Last Chance To See", but this is the first audio clip from the initial radio series I've heard in a long time. Anyone out there have any more?

The page also links to this one about zoology which features a short video clip of Douglas Adams reading from "The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe" at one of the 1992 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

NEWS - Ebola fear for Western Lowland Gorillas

For the cousins of the Mountain Gorilla, disturbing news indeed.
Scientists fear new Ebola outbreak may explain sudden disappearance of scores of Western Lowland Gorillas.
More than 20,000 Western lowland gorillas could die within months if outbreak confirmed

TRAVEL - Something to squawk about (Kakapos)

The Advertiser in Australia has this nice article about Kakapos and travel to Stewart Island.
'YOU couldn't have seen a kakapo,' accused a fellow backpacker. 'It's virtually extinct, nocturnal and can't fly to a tree. It must have been a forest pigeon.'

NEWS - Asian Dams, and their effects

Asia Times Online reports on dam projects in India and across
Asia, and their impact on people and wildlife, including the Baiji Dolphin.
The World Wide Fund (WWF) warned in June: 'China's Yangtze River faces a greater threat from dams than any other river in the world. China has 46 large dams planned or under construction on the Yangtze. The dams could destroy habitats of endangered species, including the Yangtze River dolphin, of which only a few dozen remain.'

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

EXHIBIT - Lindsay Wildlife Museum - Till August 29th

If you're in California, you still have until August 29 to visit the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and their "Gorillas in the Lens" exhibit.
Dian Fossey spent the majority of her adult life in the mountains of east central Africa studying the shy and elusive mountain gorilla, one of our closest relatives. Thirty-four photographs, taken by Fossey and the National Geographic Society, explore Dian’s adventures living with and studying these amazing animals. Be sure to see this exhibit in the museum’s lobby.
Museum is at 1931 First Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597 - Tel: 925-935-1978

Monday, August 23, 2004

Friday, August 20, 2004

NEWS - Komodo Dragon plunges to death at London Zoo

The BBC is reporting the sad news about the death one of London Zoo's Komodo Dragons. Also being covered by Scotsman.com
A rare Komodo dragon fell to her death while scaling a wall at London Zoo. Six-feet-long Nina, who weighed 44lbs, died after scrambling up an eight foot dividing wall to reach her mate in the other side of the pen.

An anxious wait to see if Britain has lost its chance of breeding Komodo dragons in captivity now looms.

There are believed to be about 5,000 left in the wild.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

NEWS - Cloning breeds hope for India's big cats

Guardian Unlimited reports
"Indian scientists have announced ambitious plans to use cloning technology to save the country's dwindling lion population from extinction and return Asiatic cheetahs's which disappeared from India half a century ago, to the wild."
By 2025 one-fifth of existing species could be extinct, the World Wildlife Fund fears.
The Northern White Rhino and the Mountain Gorilla both get a mention.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

KIDS - Kakapo Toys

Kiwi Iconz have a number of Kakapo soft toys available, with the largest standing 58cm tall. Prices are listed in NZ$ but you can do a quick conversion over at www.xe.com. A portion of each sale is contributed to New Zealand conservation efforts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

TRAVEL - Go Chile! Juan Fernandez Islands

Would you like to go and see the fur-seals, in their fascinating, lost paradise? Visit Go Chile! for more information.
The island is situated 667 km from the continent, in front of the city of Valparaíso. Robinson Crusoe Island is part of one of the most beautiful natural reserves in the world, the wonderful Juan Fernández Islands. The fauna and flora found here are very unique. Neither time nor progress has been able to capture the magic and charm found here.

Monday, August 16, 2004

TRAVEL - Penetrating Bwindi

From allAfrica.com
Like many of the attractions, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is no simple place to reach but like the other known destinations, is well worth the effort for the chance to see some of the only 700 mountain gorillas in existence in the world.

TV - Are Rhinos Dinos? *TONIGHT*

On Discovery Science Channel's Paleoworld, they have a show coming up called "Are Rhinos Dinos"
The rhino has existed five times longer than the average species. Trace the history of the rhino from its earliest relative, just four inches long, to a later one that stood over 33 feet high.
Air Dates
  • Aug 16 2004 @ 07:00 PM
  • Aug 17 2004 @ 03:00 AM
  • Aug 17 2004 @ 11:00 AM

NEWS - Concern over Congo logging

The BBC is reporting on the concern over Congo logging
Environmental groups have expressed concern at Congo's plans to open up its rainforest for increased commercial logging.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

NEWS - Meet the relatives (Gorillas)

Stephanie Nolen treks through the rain in search of a familiar face
Rwanda's Volcano National Park is home to some of the world's last, wild mountain gorillas, which have become a source of hope for the country's damaged tourism industry. But encountering a silverback and his troop can be quite the journey.

Friday, August 13, 2004

STUFF - Books, DVDs and other goodies

If you've not read the book yet, get it right here from Amazon.com

"Last Chance To See" by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine
Click here to buy this book from Amazon.com

For further reading, there's lots more related books, DVDs and other stuff available at Amazon. Here's some relevant searches....
AUTHORS
ANIMALS
Please post your own recommendations in the comments for everyone else to see.

WEBSITE - Karen Grunberg's visit to the Yangtze

Here's a very nice personal account of a visit to China, learning about the baiji dolphin.
Traveling in China, I began to find that it was the sounds I was hearing that confused and disoriented me most...

It occurred to me...that the dolphins we had come to look for must be suffering from the same kind of problem. Their sense must be completely overwhelmed and confused.

WEBSITE - NZBirds (The Kakapo)

Here's a nice page from NZBirds.com about New Zealand's Kakapo.

It has a nice downloadable sound file called The Song of the Kakapo.

The text of the article itself comes from "Birds of South Westland" (c.1899) by Charles Edward Douglas, but it makes interesting (if not disturbing) reading, and might explain why the Kakapo is in such trouble today.
Kakapos are very good eating, whether old or young, but the old ones are too tough to roast, so the best way is to boil them over a slow fire for four or five hours, or cooking them in a Maori oven which is by far the quickest and best plan.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

NEWS - Gorilla twins attract tourists

Wonderful baby news from Rwanda.
Glancing suspiciously in our direction, an endangered mountain gorilla turned her back to protect the rare treasure in her arms - the third-ever recorded set of twins born to these rare primates.

"Every birth is crucial to the genetic viability of the mountain gorillas, and the birth of twins is an exceptional event," said Fidelle Ruzigandekwa, head of the Rwanda Wildlife Agency. "It is like a miracle because the primates are threatened with extinction."

NEWS - IFAW Moves to Curb Elephant and Rhino Poaching in Garamba Park

Press Release
IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) announced today that it will work with ICCN to reduce poaching in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

NEWS - Life on the brink

As the human population explodes, other species are simply running out of food and space. Tim Radford reports.
There are six species of great ape: two species of chimpanzee, two of gorilla and two of orang-utan. All are now endangered. All could face extinction in the wild within a few generations. In contrast human numbers have now passed 6 billion and are growing at the rate of 212,000 souls every day.

Monday, August 09, 2004

WEBSITE - Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is the home on the web of the Trust established by Gerald Durrell, the famous author and naturalist.

Durrell's last book, published in 1992 was "The Aye Aye And I", the account of a major collecting expedition in Madagascar, with the aim of establishing breeding colonies to save some of Madagascar's unique wildlife.

This PDF document talks about the success they have had with the Aye Aye.

NEWS - Gorillas affected by Coltan mining

Are YOU affecting the lives of Gorillas as we speak?
Please read this fascinating article from CBC's Matthew Pace.
Inside our computers, and our cellular phones and pagers, is a metallic ore called coltan. It's hard, resistant to corrosion, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. Coltan is mined in only a few places in the world. The eastern Congo is one of them.

Coltan can be mined with just a shovel. So, during the technology boom a few years back, thousands of Congolese who lived nearby rushed into the park to mine the ore illegally. They had little to eat, until they started shooting the gorillas....

NEWS - Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally

RIYAZ Kurji fought from eighth position to fourth to snatch a vital five ARC points in the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla rally yesterday. The lone flag bearer is bidding to become the second driver in Uganda to win the African title after Charles Muhangi who won it in 1999.
Full Race Report and Championship Standings

Sunday, August 08, 2004

WEBSITE - Juan Fernandez Fur Seal Revisited

January News at News at Planeta Vivo has a fairly recent update on the status of the fur seal.
At the beginning of this decade a total census made in Selkirk Island gave a number of 6385 individuals.
This 2003-2004 season a series of playback experiments will be performed with the aim to test the vocal-auditory recognition ability between mothers and pups. At the same time, a similar to previous vocal sound recordings taken in past years by the author, will be obtained for fur seal pups that live close to a freshwater stream.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

WEBSITE - Great opportunities to join real conservation projects and travel the world

Looking for a unique travel experience? Make a difference in some of the world’s most critical conservation and community projects with Global Vision International and selected partner organisations.
Global Vision International have a large number of expeditions, projects, and courses you can join, from anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 years.

This list has a number of "Another Chance To See" related projects.
If anyone is able to join one of their programs, don't forget to report back on how you got on...

Friday, August 06, 2004

NEWS - Northern White Rhinos "between 17 and 22 animals"

The article on the BBC reported earlier made the front page of their website.

Also, this Bloomberg report talks with Kes Hillman-Smith of the Garamba National Park Project.

NEWS - 50% Of Northern White Rhinos Slaughtered in Last 14 Months

Sad to report this depressing news from this Environmental
News Network article


The BBC is also reporting the same news.

Africa's Last Northern White Rhinos Decimated by Poaching Crisis in Garamba World Heritage Site: 50% Slaughtered in Last 14 Months
An intensive aerial survey of the Park, carried out 7-11 July
this year... counted a minimum population of only 17-22
animals
, despite the birth of four calves in 2004. This represents
a loss of between 14-19 rhinos in just 14 months; over half
of the world's wild northern white rhinos have been lost in just over a year.

INTERVIEW - MJ Simpson discusses "Last Chance To See"

Douglas Adams biographer MJ Simspon recently discussed "Last Chance To See" as part of an interview with radio show "SciFi Overdrive".

Download or stream the interview here.

NEWS - Sudanese using donkey trains to transport illegal ivory and rhino horn

Organised poaching groups from Sudan are using pack animals to transport their ill-gotten gains. For more on this, visit this page at the International Rhino Foundation.
This is the first time that pack animals have been a factor in the massacre, that exploded in intensity during 2003, of the last remaining northern white rhinos and unique elephant population of this World Heritage Site. Crucial in mid 2003 was the switch from commercial meat poaching to ivory and rhino horn and a sweep through the southern sector of the park focused on elephants and rhinos. The use of pack animals now implies yet another level of organisation, back up and distance in the poaching.

FOR KIDS - BBC's Newsround Gorilla news

Good to see the children's BBC show Newsround continuing the good work started by John Craven all those years ago.

Here's their take on the latest Gorilla news about the loggers threatening their habitat.

EXTRA: History of John Craven's Newsround

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

WEBSITE - Organization for Bat Conservation

The OBC have information on the Rodrigues Project.
Rodriguans were used to their ways of farming and forestry. How were we going to persuade them to try other, less harmful ways? Enter Rodriguan, Mary Jane Raboude: Rodrigues' first environmental educator. Funded solely by grants from primarily zoo-based conservation organizations and donations, Mary Jane's job is to encourage and support positive environmental initiatives on Rodrigues to save the Rodrigues fruit bats from extinction. She works with entire villages as well as smaller groups conducting environmental education activities with adults and children.
More information on Mary Jane Raboude and the project at the Philadelphia Zoo (2003 International Conservation Award), Oregon Zoo, and also the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

FIA African Rally Championship - Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally

This weekend sees the annual Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally, part of the FIA's African Rally Championship.

From: www.rally-africa.com
Date 6th - 8th August - Kigali, Rwanda

RWANDA MOUNTAIN GORILLA RALLY

Rwanda Automobile Club will organize the 2004 event which starts from Kigali, the capital city . The rally is 350km of competitive sections run on gravel roads in hilly country side with the cooperation of the Government of Rwanda and local authorities. The event is organized by Dismas Kayibanda as the Chairperson and Benoit Daubie as clerk of the course.
The weather conditions during the event are dry and dusty. Rwanda has the only remaining sanctuary in the world for the mountain gorilla

Ugandan driver Riyaz Kurji rates his chances:
"We are confident we will win the rally because unlike in Zimbabwe and Zambia where recce is done in a convoy we will recce at our own pace. With good pace-notes, I don't think we will make mistakes," said Kurji who left for Kigali yesterday ahead of foreign drivers' route recce tomorrow.

Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture - March 10th 2005

I am delighted to report that Save The Rhino International have given me permission to use their logo on the site (see sidebar), and they would also like me to bring to your attention the 3rd Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture which is to be held on March 10th, 2005 (7.30pm) at the Royal Institution, London, W1.

This annual lecture is held in support of Save the Rhino International and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Douglas was a Patron to both charities of course.

Nicky Springthorpe, the Fundraising and Communications Manager for Save The Rhino, tells me that the 2005 lecture will be given by Mark Carwardine, so "they're all very excited about that".

Please visit their Lectures And Talks page for more information on the 2005 lecture.
In celebration of the Life and Universe of Douglas Adams, late Founder Patron of Save the Rhino International. We host a lecture each year on (or as near as possible to) the day of Douglas's birthday to commemorate him and his achievements, on subjects that were of interest to him.

They also have a selection of Douglas Adams Books For Sale.

FOR KIDS - Mountain Mists (Gorillas)

This article introduces Soundprints products, books for kids with animal drawings that might be encountered in the various habitats, and map locators for children to find where in the world their favourite animal lives.

Specifically, here is the Mountain Mists Gorilla products available at Soundsprints Wild Habitats Collection, available as a book, cassette and stuffed animal.
In the Virunga's dense jungle, the call of a lone silverback male attracts a young female gorilla’s attention. But the silverback must best the dominant male of Gorilla’s group to win her. Can Gorilla’s young suitor prove himself and secure Gorilla for his mate?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

BLOG UPDATE

I have just updated the THE CREATURES sidebar section, and re-ordered them by their IUCN classifications.

For those in CAPS, I have added links to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Save The Rhino International and the Kakapo Recovery Programme. I will update the other animals once I find suitable links for them. For now, they remain a Google Images search.

I have also added each animal's IUCN (STATUS) and linked them through to their page on the IUCN Red List website.

(IUCN=International Union For Conservation Of Nature and Natural Resources)

WEBSITE - Kakapo Recovery Programme

Here is the website for the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

It has lots and lots of information, including all their latest press releases. They have the names of the three Kakapos who died recently (Aroha, Vollie and Aurora, all two-year-old females).

There's also information on how you can get involved with the programme, either by donating, sponsorship or further reading.

Enjoy.

WEBSITE - Komodo Dragon links

Seattle Zoo's website has a nice Komodo Dragon section, which opens with a nice Flash animation. The Zoo now has a permanent exhibit featuring two dragons, one 7.5-foot adult male; one 3-foot juvenile female. They are are on display in Woodland Park Zoo's Trail of Adaptations building.

And Tim Spalding's Komodo Dragon Central is a nice site with links to other zoos with Komodos, webcams and photo galleries.

Monday, August 02, 2004

STATUS REPORT - Mountain Gorilla

Animalinfo.org has a single page for all sub-species of Gorilla, generally classified as ENDANGERED. Full Report.

The page does include a population breakdown by sub-species and here is the snippet about the Mountain Gorilla.
Late 1950's: 400 - 500
1973: 275
1981: About 250
1984: 360 - 370
1989: 620
2000: About 600
2002: Approximately 660
2004: At least 700

All of which seems to suggest that the population is at its strongest in 50 years.

FOR KIDS - Build And Decorate Paper Animal Models

This is lovely. Yamaha Motor Company has a site where you can download kits that let you build and decorate paper models of rare animals.

For "Another Chance To See" we have the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal and the Gorilla, but there's also lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

Oh, and did you ever wonder about Arthur Dent's brother? If you remember, he was "nibbled to death by an okapi".

If anyone has any success, don't forget to send us a photo!

STATUS REPORT - Amazonian Manatee

Animalinfo.org has the Amazonian Manatee classified as VULNERABLE. Full Report.

Last assessed by IUCN in 1996, this seems to be an improvement on it's endangered status of the 60s and 70s.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

WEBSITE - Rodrigues Fruitbats at Philadelphia Zoo

Turns out Philadelphia Zoo is part of a conservation program for the Rodrigues Fruitbats. I'll try to get some pictures next time I'm there.

STATUS REPORT - Baiji Dolphin is World's Rarest Animal

Didn't spot this yesterday! On Animalinfo.org's list of World's Rarest Animals, regrettably, the Baiji Dolphin tops the list with only a few tens of individuals!

The dolphin is classified as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. Full Report.

NEWS - Squatters threaten Mountain Gorillas.

There's been a few reports in recent weeks of illegal settlers clearing forests and further threatening the habitat of the Mountain Gorillas. Click here and here for more details.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

WEBSITE - The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Douglas was also patron to The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and these magnificent animals were very inspirational to him. Please stop by and learn more about their plight. It's a very nice site, and once there, you could adopt a gorilla, become a member, or contribute to their noble cause. There's lots of ways to help!

WEBSITE - Save The Rhino International

Douglas Adams was a Founder Patron of Save The Rhino International, and they have a very touching obituary on their site. This organization was very dear to Douglas, so please, consider becoming a member or making a contribution. Thank you.

WEBSITE - IWC (Baiji Dolphins)

The IWC (The International Whaling Commission) has responsibility for the welfare of the Yangtze Baiji dolphin.

According to this article

The IWC has grown from 14 member states, when it was set up in 1946, to 55, and it is the only global body formally to address all threats to the existence of cetaceans.Six species are critically endangered and at least one, the Yangtze River Basin dolphin, is in immediate danger of becoming extinct.

They have this PDF document from 2003 which explains the plight of the dolphin.
6.1 Baiji
The baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) is the most endangered cetacean. Its range is restricted to the Yangtze River and its population size is probably only a few tens of animals.

NEWS - Komodo Dragons to London Zoo

The BBC are among many that have reported that London Zoo is beginning a breeding program for the Komodo Dragons, the largest lizards in the world.
Experts estimate only around 500 breeding females remain in the dragons' natural habitat in Indonesia.
Here is the Zoo's own page on the arrival of the Dragons. Sir David Attenborough opened the exhibit on July 12th. I HEARTILY recommend getting hold of Zoo Quest For A Dragon. I have both the book and audio version and its a great story. All of Attenborough's audio books are a pleasure to listen to, and in the absence of the "Last Chance To See" radio series, it's nice to be able to enjoy such a similar trip.

NEWS - Kakapo inoculations going well

News article from New Zealand about Dobbie the kakapo and his friends.
Dobbie the kakapo was alive and well, Department of Conservation kakapo recovery team leader Paul Jansen reported last night.

Dobbie was the first Chalky Island kakapo to be inoculated against the deadly bacteria erysipelas, which has killed three of his comrades

NEWS - Northern White Rhinos down to 20 animals.

Quote from this July 4th article brings us almost up-to-date:
Many of the rhino sub-species in some parts of Africa have reached the point of no return. The northern white rhino has been reduced to a population of 20 animals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

NEWS - Poachers Threaten Last Wild Northern White Rhinos

This National Geographic article has bad news from Easter 2004. Poachers kill two of the last White Rhinos, along with a dozen elephants.

This quote from the final paragraph makes chilling reading:
"We could very well see the extinction of the nothern (sic) white rhino in the next six months"

Friday, July 30, 2004

STATUS REPORT - The Aye Aye

AnimalInfo.org seems to be a good up-to-date site for tracking these sorts of reports, and they have a good page on the details of the classification system for endangered animals.

As of 2003, the Aye-Aye is still classified as ENDANGERED.

The Animals - Let's take a look

OK, let's get better aquianted with the creatures Douglas visited on his travels. Let's pull out my copy of "Last Chance To See", as signed by Douglas Adams when I was at the University of Newcastle. We'll examine it one chapter at a time, and then let Google Images do the walking...

Twig Technology
The genesis of the project was a 1985 trip with Mark to visit the Aye-Aye Lemurs of Madagascar.

Here Be Chickens
A visit to a famous island in Indonesia and the Komodo Dragons.

Leopardskin Pillbox Hat
To Zaire, and the Northern White Rhinos and Mountain Gorillas.

Heartbeats in the Night
My favourites, the parrots of New Zealand which run up trees, jump out and fly like bricks. Yes, its the Kakapo Parrots!

Blind Panic
To the mighty river Yangtze, and the blind Baiji Dolphin.

Rare, or Medium Rare?
To the southern Indian Ocean of Rodrigues to look for the world's rarest bat, the Rodrigues Fruitbat!

And lest we forget, not featured in the book, but visited for the original BBC radio series, were the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal and the Amazonian Manatee.

The original radio series - Anyone?

The online version of the "Guide" is hosted by the BBC and is called H2G2. Here's one entry about the original "Last Chance To See" radio series, as broadcast on Radio 4.

As I'd discussed with MJ Simpson, it seems that the series is somewhat hard to find, because its never been released commercially. Hopefully, with all this new interest in Hitchhikers, that will change. I do recall listening to it myself, and I know I taped some episodes at the time, but they're long gone. Anyone out there with a copy?

NEWS - Three Kakapos die from blood poisoning

This BBC article has some bad news for the New Zealand Kakapos. According to numbers quoted in the article, that would put the number on the island down to 83. Sad news indeed.

Where it started

Douglas Adams will forever be remembered as the author of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, a favourite of mine since my youth, and which spawned in me a love of all things Adams.

In July of 2004 I exchanged a couple of emails with MJ Simpson*, the author of Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams, and we got to chatting about Adams' other popular, if less well known, book Last Chance To See. The book (and BBC Radio series) described his travels around the world with naturalist and broadcaster Mark Carwardine and their visits with many endangered animals, such as the Mountain Gorilla, Northern White Rhino, Komodo Dragon, Kakapo Parrot and many more.

So many of the fascinating creatures they had described were teetering on the very brink of extinction back in the late 1980s, one had to wonder how they were doing now, some 15 years later. I thought a blog might be a good way to bring the stories up-to-date, and so Another Chance To See was born.

*Simpson's own site, Planet Magrathea, was a great resource for news about everything Hitchhikers, including the two new radio series and the 2005 Hitchhikers movie. Sadly, the site is now closed - [April 18, 2005]