Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - First rhino baby conceived by artificial insemination has died

Dreadful news from Budapest Zoo about Lulu, the Northern White Rhino that was successfully impregnated via artificial insemination some 16 months ago. On August 9th Lulu suffered from uterine bleedings, and unfortunately the calf she was carrying died, a mere 12 hours before birth. Very very sad day. The full report can be read at the Innovations Report website.
The first rhino ever conceived by artificial insemination has died in the womb a few hours before its birth. The death occurred on August 9 in the Budapest Zoo. The mother of the unborn rhino, Lulu (aged 25), had suffered from uterine bleedings. The reason for the complication was presumably a partial separation of the placenta 12 hours prior to birth, says scientist Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt of the Berlin-based Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW). He and his colleagues from the IZW had developed the method for artificial insemination of rhinos. Unfortunately, this type of birth-complication is quite common, says Dr. Hildebrandt. According to the scientist, the artificial insemination had nothing to do with the misscariage. Hildebrandt: "The 16 months long pregnancy was monitored by ultrasound and appeared to be normal."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

KOMODO DRAGONS - Reptile blood shows antibiotic and anti-HIV properties

Mongabay.com has an interesting story on the research taking place on the potential of crocodile blood's anti-HIV properties. Komodo Dragon's blood is also under investigation as a potent source of antibiotics.
The crocodile's immune system is much more powerful than that of humans, preventing life-threatening infections after savage territorial fights which often leave the animals with gaping wounds and missing limbs.
[...]
Komodo Dragons are also being studied by scientists as a source for antibiotics. The saliva of the Komodo Dragon, the world's largest lizard, is known to contain at least 52 kinds of bateria. Despite bites inflicted during frequent territorial battles, Komodo Dragons appear to never fall vicitm to infection. Researchers believe that the blood of these giant lizards may have potent antibacterial properties.

LAST CHANCE TO SEE - The Wu Way

RayJay in Austin Texas had a productive Sunday/Monday by all accounts. Here's his blog post recounting the hard day's work transfering his audio book of Last Chance To See from cassette to CD. A labour of love methinks....
The Wu Way: Good Coffee, GREAT Company!

Monday, August 29, 2005

AMAZONIAN MANATEES - Amazon manatee expedition enters final phase

Of all the endangered animals from Last Chance To See, the Amazonian Manatee is one we get little information on. So its a nice surprise to get a little snippet here from Portal da Cidadania.
An expedition that has been studying the situation of the Amazon manatee (Expedição Peixe-Boi Amazônico) since 2000, began the final phase of its work on August 16 when it left Santarem (PA). It will arrive in Manaus today, concluding the study. The Amazon manatee (Trichechus inungis) is the world's only river species. The expedition has gathered data on its habitat and habits, and worked with riverside inhabitants on the importance of preserving the species. The Amazon manatee has been hunted ever since colonial times and is threatened with extinction.

The expedition, sponsored by the Aquatic Mammals Center at the Environmental Protection Institute (Ibama), distributed gifts and gave talks and classes to local inhabitants. During the lifetime of the expedition, some 600 riverside communities were visited and around 18,000 people interviewed. It travelled on the Amazon, Negro, Purus, Madeira, Tapajos and Arapiuns rivers.

Translator: Allen Bennett
© Agencia Brasil

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Researchers study gorillas' social habits

Milwaukee's Journal Sentinal has an interesting article from Susanne Quick on the researchers such as Martha Robbins at Bwindi studying the endangered Mountain Gorillas and their social habits.
With vines growing up, down, sideways and diagonally, looking for mountain gorillas along the steep, blanketed slopes of the Virunga volcano foothills is no "walk in the park."

But for Martha Robbins it's all in a day's work. Robbins earned her doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and now is a researcher at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
[...]
Robbins has been studying endangered mountain gorillas for 15 years. She's been in Bwindi - home to almost half of the world's 750 remaining mountain gorillas - since 1998, where she's followed a particular group that now consists of 14.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

DIAN FOSSEY - A profile of the Mountain Gorilla researcher

On Open Sesame, "Mrittika Sen profiles Dian Fossey, an anthropologist who lived and died for her work on the Mountain Gorilla."
When Dian Fossey arrived in Africa in 1963, she met up with Dr Louis Leaky, a renowned anthropologist who was an authority on the theory of human origins. She was determined to work with him on the psychology and behaviour of Mountain Gorillas but did not have adequate funds to do so. Leaky wanted her on the project and wanted to test her grit and commitment. He joked that if she wished to study the Mountain Gorillas of Africa, she would have to work without her appendix. Dian did not get the joke. She went back to US and without any ailment of the appendix, she had it removed.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Baby News!

Marvellous news from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund who report on the birth of a new Mountain Gorilla baby.
July was a month to celebrate at Karisoke, as Pasika, a 12-year-old female in Shinda's group, gave birth to her second offspring on the fourth of the month. Pasika transferred to Shinda's group in 1999 from Beetsme's group, where she was one of five offspring of Papoose who, at 41, is the oldest observed gorilla in the Virungas. Her first child, Umutuzo, is now an active and sociable 4-year-old juvenile and a testament to her mother's natural maternal instincts. So far the new infant is doing well and Pasika's calm and gentle nature should ensure her a secure and contented future.

Friday, August 26, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Dian Fossey Fund Trips

Field News from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund on a pair of exclusive trips being offered in 2006.
If you've ever wanted to visit the mountain gorillas of Rwanda and Uganda, as well as the other incredible flora and fauna of these forests, now is the time to plan. DFGFI is offering two exclusive trips in 2006, each of which includes not only gorilla treks, but lots of other wildlife viewing and meetings with our staff and scientists. This trip will be escorted by senior DFGFI staff members.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

TELEVISION - Final Chance To Save, Sky One

I'll leave you to make you're own mind up, but, while laudable in its premise, it would appear Sky Television has taken the concept of Douglas Adams' Last Chance To See and twisted it for their own use. They're sending four celebrities (Joanna Lumley, Griff Rhys-Jones, Vic Reeves and Charlotte Uhlenbroek) out to film various endangered animals, and calling the series Final Chance To Save. Doesn't appear as though they'll be giving any nods of gratitude in the direction of Douglas Adams or Mark Carwardine, which is sad. If they had chosen a completely unrelated name for the series, I probably wouldn't have minded at all, but Final Chance To Save as a title is just cheap.

Being in the USA, I WOULD have been interested in seeing this series, but with their poor choice of series title, I'm not in so much of a hurry to track it down from my friends and familiy in the UK.

Anyway, Sky's 4 part series Final Chance To Save begins on Sky One in the UK on September 3rd, with another 6 programmes to follow.
Joanna Lumley and comedian Vic Reeves are presenting a new wildlife show focusing on some of the planet's most endangered species.

Griff Rhys Jones and presenter Charlotte Uhlenbroek will also feature in Final Chance to Save, set for broadcast on Sky One this September.

Vic looks at the tapirs of Costa Rica, Griff Kenya's black rhino, Joanna the orang-utans of Borneo and Charlotte the troubles facing sea turtles.

They work with conservationists to fight for the animals, all in danger of extinction, in the four-part series starting Saturday 3 September on Sky One.
Full details, episode guide and photographs over at Sky Showbiz.

Miranda Richardson (of Blackadder fame) is due to visit the Aye-Aye Lemurs of Madagascar in one of the future episodes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Yangtze river now even longer?

Well, if there's any Baiji Dolphins left in the river Yangtze, it appears they have a few more miles of waterway than was previously thought. MSNBC.com has news on the latest studies which have placed the source of the river Yangtze some 4 miles further west than previously thought. And...
The explorers, led by Hong Kong's Wong How Man, spent 30 days in China's remote Tanggula Mountains along the Tibetan plateau in May and June.

Using satellite imagery and state-of-the-art computer technology, the team said it had concluded that the Yangtze is actually 3883.6 miles (6,250 kilometers) long — not the 3,857 miles (6,207.2 kilometers) that a 1985 foray had suggested.
As we previously posted a few months ago, here's the delta of the mighty river courtesy of Yangtze - Google Maps.

Monday, August 22, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - Chick update

Please visit The Kakapo Recovery ProgrammePlease visit The Kakapo Recovery ProgrammeNews over at the Kakapo Recovery Programme on the progress of the four Kakapo chicks from the successful 2005 breeding season, which brought the total number of Kakapos up to 87..
Our four kakapo chicks that are on Codfish Island are growing up fast! They have been living in a large pen full of natural vegetation for a few weeks now and are almost ready to venture out around the island on their own.

During the day they are often found high up in the trees roosting and are very active and lively at night when the staff go up to weigh and feed them. Its sometimes even difficult to get only one chick on the swing scales at a time, they all want to jump on! The male chick (MM2) is around the 2kg mark at this stage and the girls are close behind.

The Kakapo Hatch-a-Name competition winners will be announced on the 7th of September and our kakapo chicks will have names at last!

Update information provided by the Kakapo Team on Codfish Island (Whenua Hou).

Thursday, August 18, 2005

ENDANGERED ANIMALS - Web trade threat to rare species

The BBC has news on the threat that e-commerce poses to endangered animals. Body parts of like Gorillas, Chimps, Turtles, Tigers and Rhinos were found to be common place.
The illegal trade in wild animal products over the internet is driving the world's most endangered species to extinction, wildlife campaigners claim.

An International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) probe found 9,000 live animals or products for sale in one week on trading sites like eBay.

Ifaw claims many traders are taking advantage of the internet's anonymity.

The UK Government says it takes wildlife crime seriously, but Ifaw urged it to act urgently.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

RHINO CLIMB 2006 - Hitchhiking Kilimanjaro with The Adams Family


PRESS RELEASE - www.rhinoclimb2006.com

Some years ago Douglas Adams wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the
Galaxy, a story about the world being unexpectedly demolished by
hideous creatures from another planet. It was meant as a joke... Now,
animal by animal, tree by tree, the world is being demolished around
us; not by Vogons, or people from other planets, but by humans.

Douglas decided it was time to think about the absurdities of life on
Earth, and what we are doing to it, and so wrote “Last Chance to See,”
a book chronicling his journey around the world looking for animals on
the brink of extinction.

Then in 1994 Douglas joined Save the Rhino International on their first
Kilimanjaro Challenge to help raise money and awareness of the plight
of the worlds few remaining rhinos. A founder Patron of the charity,
Douglas continued actively supporting their work until his untimely
death in 2001.

Now, in Douglas’ memory his sister and brother, Jane and James Thrift
are preparing to take on the challenge of Africa’s highest peak, and
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, all 19,340 feet of it. The aim of the
expedition is to carry on Douglas’ work in raising money and awareness
for Save the Rhinos crucial projects in Africa.

Douglas had many interests, and like everything in his life, he never
did things by halves. His passion for music led to him owning 26 left
handed guitars, and a place on stage with Pink Floyd for his 42nd
birthday, for computers saw him become an Applemaster and inveterate
authority on ways in which technology should be integrated into our
lives, and on conservation to be described by Mark Carwardine, world
renowned zoologist and co-author of "Last Chance to See" as " the
person who has done more for wildlife conservation than anyone else I
know."

James Thrift said, "Douglas' passion for things was infectious, and I
suppose that is why I can no longer sit by and watch the wholesale
destruction of such a magnificent species as the Rhino that has been
around for 45 million years. For them to be virtually wiped out in
under a century is unforgivable, and for what, to make Yemeni dagger
handles. This isn't animal cruelty, it's animal genocide."

“In the last year we’ve appeared in the movie of Hitchhikers, walked
the red carpet at the premiere, so climbing Kilimanjaro was the logical
next step,” James said, adding “It’s going to be a tough climb, the
effects of altitude sickness at that height can be very unpleasant, but
if it helps raise awareness of the real effort going on in Africa to
save the rhinos then it will have been worth it.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Rwanda turns to tourism

South Coast Today reports on the burgeoning Rwandan tourism industry, and the difficulty in balancing the natural beauty of the country with the horrifying genocide of 1994, when some 800,000 Tutsis or moderate Hutus were brutally murdered during a bloody three months.
Rwanda would rather lure visitors by touting the country's natural beauty. But it's a task made difficult by the unrest in the Great Lakes region of Africa, where United Nations peacekeepers struggle to rein in many rebel groups that for years have menaced the area.
[...]
Last month, the country established the Rwanda Travel & Tours Association, made up of hoteliers, airlines, tour operators and travel agencies. The officials say the country's main attraction is its mountain gorilla population at the Parc National Des Volcans, part of the Virunga Conservation Area in the northwest part of the country.

Friday, August 12, 2005

KOMODO DRAGONS - A future Jurassic tragedy

Henning Borchers writes in The Jakarta Post of the problems in balancing the needs of local people within Komodo National Park, and the needs of the endangered animals therein, specifically the Komodo Dragon.
Komodo National Park is a great place to see the famous Komodo dragon but conflict in the area between locals and conservators is risking the status of this World Heritage Site. Henning Borchers, a development anthropologist, writes how a new plan involving the locals is badly needed to avoid future conflict and guarantee sustainable management of the park.
[...]
The terrestrial part of the park has more to offer than just dragons -- it is a naturalist's "Jurassic Park" for sure; another world that seems to offer little to human habitation. But appearances can be deceptive. There are humans here too: traditional residents as well as migrants who have come to the park to try and eke out a living from the area's bountiful natural resources. But for them, living in the park is fast becoming a non-sustainable option.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

MOUNTATIN GORILLAS - Mountain gorilla project moving to Maryland Zoo

News on The Baltimore Sun about the Mountain gorilla project moving to Maryland Zoo.
A veterinary project that works to ensure the health of endangered mountain gorillas has found a new home at the Maryland Zoo.

The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project is moving from the headquarters of the Morris Animal Foundation in Englewood, Colo., where it was founded in 1986 at the request of the late Dian Fossey, the famed gorilla researcher and advocate.
[...]
The project provides health-care in the field to the endangered gorillas of which researchers believe there are more than 700 remaining. Although they are endangered, mountain gorillas are currently the only species of great apes whose population is on the rise, due to efforts by a number of groups.
Links:
 Morris Animal Foundation
 Maryland Zoo

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

LEMURS - New Lemur Species Discovered

National Geographic has this Photo in the News of a newly discovered species of Lemur.
You're a good man, Microcebus lehilahytsara—quite literally. The German and Madagascan scientists who discovered the new lemur species named it for U.S. lemur expert Steve Goodman ("lehilahytsara" is Malagasy for "good man"). They announced the discovery of this and another new lemur species today.
[...]
The two new primate species are rare finds, bringing the total number of known lemur species to 49—all of which occur naturally only on Madagascar or the nearby Comoros islands.
Gotta love Lemurs. For some reason, Google News are using them as an example of their custom Google News Feeds, which of course leads us to the BBC News article associated with the Lemur photo pictured by National Geographic.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

DIAN FOSSEY - Gorilla guardian inspires opera

News from the Courier Journal about a new musical adaptation of Dian Fossey's life and career, created by teenage students.
Twenty years ago, Dian Fossey -- the primate researcher and former Louisville resident best known for writing "Gorillas in the Mist" -- was slain in a small cabin in Rwanda's Virunga Mountains.

Her story was told in a 1988 movie starring Sigourney Weaver. Now she's the stuff of opera.

Fourteen teenage students created a 45-minute musical piece based on Fossey's life and career in Kentucky Opera's third annual VISIONS! Program, which concluded Friday. They had all of two weeks to produce a work worthy of a public performance next spring.

Monday, August 01, 2005

GOOGLE EARTH - Three Gorges Dam

Just added a Google Earth direct link to the recent Three Gorges Dam post.

If you have Google Earth installed already, FLY THERE now by opening this Three Gorges Dam KMZ file with your Google Earth installation.