Sunday, October 30, 2005

BIRD FLU - Emergency escape plan for Kakapos?

The latest threat to Kakapos? Bird flu! Radio New Zealand has a brief snippet on the Department of Conservation's emergency plan to save the Kakapos from the deadly Bird Flu that is sweeping the globe!
DoC has revealed a birdflu emergency plan to airlift kakapo to subAntarctic Campbell Island.
**UPDATE**
Newstalk ZB has a short blurb on this bird flu story.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

AYE AYE LEMURS - Will the lemurs survive the destruction of Madagascar's forests?

Mathaba.net has this article on the plight of the lemurs of Madagascar, including the aye-aye.
The devilish-looking aye-aye is condemned to death on sight. It is said to creep up on sleeping people, insert its long, ball-and-socket-joined middle finger into an ear and pull out their brains. (In fact it does nothing more sinister with this remarkable digit than pluck insect larvae out of trees.) It is now highly endangered; only its wide distribution and nocturnal nature have kept it from disappearing altogether.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Last gasp for Yangtze dolphins doomed by industrial revolution

A rare article on the plight of Yangtze baiji dolphin. The Times Online has the coverage.
The Yangtze River dolphin enjoys a rare and unwanted distinction. The grey-white, long-beaked animal looks likely to become the world’s first cetacean — the family of whales, dolphins and porpoises — to be made extinct by man.

In the 1950s as many as 6,000 baiji, as the dolphins are known in Chinese, still swam in the Yangtze. Today fewer than 50 may survive. None has been seen since July last year when a pair were spotted in Honghu Lake, part of a huge water system that winds out across the Yangtze plain.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Weaver Heads Back Into the Mist

FilmStew.com is among a number of sources reporting on a new film from the BBC's Natural History Unit. Sigourney Weaver, star of the movies is returning to the jungles of Africa to make a film for Animal Planet on the life and work of Dian Fossey.
Sigourney Weaver, who picked up an Oscar nomination for playing Dian Fossey in Gorillas in the Mist, is going back into the jungles of Africa.

Weaver is set to travel to Rwanda for a retrospective of the life and work of Fossey, an animal conservationist who helped prevent the mountain gorilla from becoming extinct. Gorillas Revisited With Sigourney Weaver will be narrated by Weaver and produced by BBC's Natural History Unit for Animal Planet.

MARK CARWARDINE - Peregrine swoops to photo prize

BBC News reports on this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year, with Mark Carwardine being one of the judges.
A swirling image of a peregrine falcon sweeping into a flock of starlings has won Manuel Presti this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year award.

The Italian caught the action scene, titled Sky Chase, high above a city park in Rome.

'Sky chase is a powerful image and, like it or not, it's one that you will never forget,' said Mark Carwardine, one of this year's judges.

KING KONG - Gorilla scientist inspired by King Kong

Reuters AlertNet reports on the Gorilla scientist who says he was inspired by King Kong.
The upcoming movie remake of '' might outrage some serious scientists, but one expert in gorilla conservation sees the fictional ape as an inspiration.

Patrick Mehlman is a field researcher in Rwanda and a vice president of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.

He is also a King Kong fan.
The remake of King Kong by Peter Jackson (Lord Of The Rings) opens on December 14th, 2005.

MAURITIUS KESTRELS - Move to save Mauritius forest hailed

IOL reports on good news for Mauritian conservationists.
Conservationists welcome a Mauritius government decision to re-route a controversial highway project that threatened to destroy the last patch of Indian Ocean island's only remaining indigenous forest.

After a lengthy battle with developers seeking to ease tourist access to the north of the country, ecologists claimed victory when Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam announced last week the road would be routed around the Ferney forest.
Full story at IOL.co.za.

RATS - Rat Cunning May Allow For Island Colonization

Slashdot readers are busy discussing the case of Razza, "the Susie Maroney of the rodent world".
A wild rat, captured and then released on a deserted New Zealand island as part of an experiment, has amazed scientists by taking to the sea to escape.

No one knows why, but Razza swam 400 metres through treacherous open water to reach another island.
Kakapo Parrots beware!

More on Razza at SeattlePI and the BBC.

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Gap between ape, human vanishes

The Vancouver Sun has another gorilla trekking report...
After a long, arduous hike through the jungle of Uganda's Bwindi National Park, I had come to appreciate why the area was often called 'the impenetrable forest.' Dependent on our guide's machete to clear a path for our group, we had pushed our way through vines and bamboo as stinging nettles ripped at our clothing.

I had come to this part of Uganda on a gorilla-tracking tour and, looking at the surrounding terrain, I could see why Bwindi was one of the last remaining strongholds for these remarkable animals. The mountain gorilla is one of the rarest animals on Earth and of the 600 or so that remain in the wild, almost half are found here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - Congo calls in foreign group to save rare rhinos

Reuters AlertNet has some interesting news on the race to save the last of the Northern White Rhino from extinction - "less than 10 of the animals are believed to remain in the wild."
Congo has called in a group of private conservationists to try to save its endangered northern white rhinos from poachers, including Sudanese gunmen on horseback, officials said on Tuesday.

The African Parks Foundation (APF), set up by South African conservationists and a Dutch businessman, will take over the management of Democratic Republic of Congo's Garamba National Park to try to preserve the rare rhino.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fourth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture

News from the Save The Rhino newsletter is that the date for the Fourth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture will be Thursday 23rd March 2006. There is a new location too at the Royal Geographical Society in London. No confirmed speaker yet but details will be posted here when that announcement is made. The annual Memorial Lectures cover subjects in which Douglas was interested: travel and exploration, science, natural history and conservation, comedy and music. Details of the previous lectures are available here.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - Back from the brink

The Deccan Herald reports on the Kakapo Parrot and the efforts being undertaken to save it from extinction by The Kakapo Recovery Programme.
The Kakapo Recovery Programme aims to establish at least one self-sustaining unmanaged population of Kakapo in a protected habitat and to establish two or more other populations, which may require ongoing management. To help save Kakapos, the team strives to maximise egg and chick survival by reducing mortality from predation, starvation, disease and poor parenting and to maintain and increase the breeding life of Kakapos. It also studies means to increase breeding frequency.

The team has left nothing to chance, being in charge of one of the world’s rarest birds and the Kakapo on Whenua Hou island are radio monitored 24/7 using specially fitted transmitters.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

GORILLAS - Wild gorillas seen to use tools

The BBC is among many sites reporting the discovery of Gorillas being observed using tools.
Gorillas have been seen for the first time using simple tools to perform tasks in the wild, researchers say.

Scientists observed gorillas in a remote Congolese forest using sticks to test the depth of muddy water and to cross swampy areas.

Wild chimps and orangutans also use tools, suggesting that the origins of tool use may predate the evolutionary split between apes and humans.
There is a video of the gorillas in action on the right side of the BBC page.

Friday, October 07, 2005

AYE-AYE LEMURS - National Geographic Kids Magazine

The fall issue of the National Geographic Kids Magazine has a cover and feature on those spectacularly odd looking creatures, the Aye-Aye lemurs of Madagascar.
The aye-aye's odd-looking fingers, pointy teeth, big eyes, and huge ears give some people the creeps. Seeing an aye-aye is considered very bad luck to many superstitious residents of Madagascar, the African island country where these animals live in the wild. In parts of the country, people kill aye-ayes on sight, hoping to prevent anything "evil" from happening. The aye-aye's bad reputation isn't helped by the fact that it's active only at night, when things can seem a lot scarier to people.

KOMODO DRAGONS - Zoofari 2005

The Brownsville Herald with an article on Zoofari 2005, the proceeds of which will benefit construction of new exhibit for Cincinnati Zoo's Komodo Dragons Jasmine and Pandora.
"[Jasmine] wants to make sure she smells everything because the keeper just put in new mulch," said Colette Adams, curator of herpetology at the zoo. "She wants to see if the keeper dropped anything behind like a guinea pig."

The zoo received Jasmine and Pandora from the Cincinnati Zoo when they were only 3 months old. Back in May 1994, when they first arrived, the reptiles were only 24 inches long, but have since grown to be nearly seven feet long.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

GOOGLE EARTH - On Safari with National Geographic

The Official Google Blog reports on Google Earth's new National Geographic Layer, allowing you to reach National Geographic content direct from Google Earth's fabulous geographic interface.
Have you ever dreamed of Africa while reading National Geographic? The exotic photographs and thoughtful articles take you there with a magical sense of place. Today we embraced that magic by releasing Google Earth data layers that index National Geographic stories, images, journals, and even a live webcam in Africa.
[...]
The Megaflyover images are stunning. Mike [Fay] spent more than a year taking 92,000 high resolution photographs of the continent. That project is described in Tracing the Human Footprint, an article in the September 2005 National Geographic. He selected 500 of his favorite scenes of people, animals, geological formations, and signs of human presence and annotated them in Google Earth. Look for the red airplane icons as you fly over Africa. Each of these marks a spot where a high resolution image awaits your own personal voyage.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

DENVER GORILLA RUN 2005

The 2nd annual Denver Gorilla Run takes place on October 22nd, 2005. There's still time to sign up if you fancy making a fun-run in a Gorilla suit, earning money for Mountain Gorilla Conservation fund.

You get to keep the Gorilla suit...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - Kakapo Call Heralds NZ Return to World Music Forum

The New Zealand Arts Calendar website has news about a musical work by New Zealand composer John Rimmer.
A work based on the haunting boom of the kakapo by one of New Zealand's leading composers, John Rimmer, has been selected from 400 world-wide to be performed in the World Music Days in Slovenia at the end of September.

Kakapo Reborn will be heard in one of 30 concerts which make up this major international music festival presented for the past 80 years by the International Society for Contemporary Music.