Tuesday, November 29, 2005

SO LONG, AND THANKS - Billy Joel inspired tribute to Douglas Adams

A 2001 tribute to Douglas Adams by Mark A. Mandel. So Long, And Thanks is a rewording of the classic "For the Longest Time", and contains the following lines...
Deep Thought, dolphins, laboratory mice,
Slartibartfast's picture in the ice,
And random Scrabble
While battered sofas travel
Upstairs or take our heroes home through time.

You took us along for a drive,
Our Last Chance To See
These species alive.
And you taught us The Meaning Of Liff;
It's more than terrif-
Ic, it's simply Titanic.
It's track 12 on Billy Joel's Greatest Hits album, CD2. Amazon has a snippet you can listen to, which should help to get the tune into your head...

MADAGASCAR - Sand Clod in the Sea

Simon, the blogger over at Seedcast has written a very powerful post on the fate befalling the island of Madagascar, entitled "Sand Clod in the Sea".
Madagascar, now, is a sand clod in the sea, which is slowly washing away, with very little of its once famous fauna and flora remaining. The decimation of the indigenous wildlife, including the virtually complete destruction of the country’s forests has led to mass erosion and the island is, quite literally, washing away.

On the Air Seychelles flight that returned us to South Africa earlier this month I looked out of the window to see a swollen, brown river-mouth washing into the Indian Ocean. The land around it was literally smouldering with fires burning the last of the organic matter on the surface while the waters sucked all the sand (because this is all that remains of the once lush forests) into the sea.

It looks horrible.
Please do read the full article where Simon also talks fondly of the book Last Chance To See.

KOMODO DRAGONS - Star Wars creature inspired by Komodo Dragons

The website has a neat little article aimed at the kids, all about Boga the Varactyl from Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith. The article compares the Varactyls and the terrestial lizards that inspired it, including our trusty friend the Komodo Dragon.
In real life, Boga resembles a wide variety of reptiles including iguanas, geckos, Komodo Dragons, regal horned lizards, frilled lizards, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. Boga was brought to life as a computer-animated creature. To get Boga's movements as lifelike as possible, Industrial Light & Magic Animation Director Rob Coleman and his team refined Boga's run cycle by studying actual nature footage of various running lizards.
[...]
The Komodo Dragon is the largest lizard, measuring up to three meters (10 feet) long and weighing up to 80 kilograms (176 pounds)! Regal horned lizards have a set of four equally-spaced horns on the back of the head, as well as spines down its body much like those of Boga.
The full article can be found here - Star Wars: Kids | Exploring Real Life Varactyls.

Friday, November 25, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Jack Hanna Films Mountain Gorillas in Africa

ABC News has Jack Hanna's story on his visit to Rwanda to film mountain gorillas.
My trip to visit the mountain gorillas was the experience of a lifetime for me. You are used to seeing lowland gorillas in zoos all over the world, but the only place you can see the mountain gorilla is in its natural habitat in either Rwanda or parts of Uganda. Can you imagine sitting within 10 feet of a family of mountain gorillas? It humbles you. This is the third time I've seen the mountain gorillas in their habitat, and each time is better than the last.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

ANIMAL OF THE DAY

I recently stumbled across this nice blog about called Animal Of The Day.

There's a lot of care gone into the creation of this site, and I thought they deserved a plug! Give them a visit, leave a comment, and tell them Another Chance To See sent you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

BLOG OF THE WEEK - Writesville

If you have ambitions to be the next Douglas Adams, please visit our "Blog of the Week" www.writesville.com, the "online writing resource to sharpen your creative skills". Click on the thumbnail in the side-bar to get there.

Friday, November 18, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - A Brother For Urwibutso!

Marvellous update in the latest DFGFI Field News. Another Chance To See's adopted gorilla infant Urwibutso has a new brother!
Tuck, a 33-year-old female in Group Beetsme, gave birth on Oct. 8 to an, as yet, unnamed male infant.

This is especially important due to Tuck's family history. Born into a different group of gorillas known as Group 5, Tuck is part of a family that is called “Effies' clan,” so named by Dian Fossey, for Tuck's mother, Effie. This family group is the most productive of all gorilla groups in the the Virungas!

Although Tuck's life has been beset with tragedy (she has lost three infants during their first month of life and one son died at 15 years old), Tuck now has four living offspring, all of whom remain in the gorilla groups monitored by Karisoke (Umuco in Pablo's group and Vuba and Urwibutso in Beetsme's group).
Read the full story at the DFGFI Field News page.

For those who don't know, earlier this year I gathered some cash from Another Chance To See readers, and we adopted Urwibutso from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund website. Here's his picture...

Once again, many thanks to all our sponsors!

KING KONG - Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Preview!

News of an early screening in Atlanta of Peter Jackson's latest blockbuster "", with proceeds going to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Full details can be found here:
KING KONG Premiere: The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International presents a special advance screening of the much-anticipated motion picture KING KONG.

Join Atlanta’s larger-than-life personalities on December 7, 2005 as we gather for a Celebrity/VIP party, a special screening of KING KONG, and the Gorilla Gala. Sigourney Weaver and Ambassador Andrew Young are co-chairing the event which begins at 5:30 p.m. All proceeds will benefit the Fossey Fund
[...]
Sigourney Weaver and Andrew Young will address the audience before the Screening! There will also be a special message from Andy Serkis, who's portraying King Kong in the movie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

KOMODO DRAGONS - Study shows more to a lizard bite than a nasty nip

Reuters.com has an enlightening article on a new study which effectively doubles the number of potentially venomous reptile species in the world from 2,300 to 4,600! This could prove very important news to medicine developers, because many of today's drugs are derived from snake toxins.
Until now, pain and swelling from lizard bites assumed to be non-venomous were attributed to the bacteria that thrive on bits of meat left between their teeth from their scavenging diet.

However, the symptoms are actually from the venom, a finding which could have implications for medical research, said Dr. Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne, lead author of the research published online by the science journal Nature.
[...]
"Milking the big monitors was quite simple, just gently squeezing the glands would result in 40-50 milligrams (dry weight) of liquid venom pooling at the base of the teeth," Fry said.

"This means a big Komodo dragon could have more than 200 milligrams ready to delivery at any time", he said.

Monday, November 14, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - Taking Noah's Ark surfing

New Zealand Insight has this interesting article on the "New Zealand researcher who has just been elected to chair an international organisation working to create a free mega-database of all known living creatures."
Note to reader: this anecdote is best whispered in the tones of David Attenborough.

Here, in the urban wilds of Christchurch, it is sometimes possible to observe the nocturnal rituals of the native kiwi. The journalist and the scientist approach with caution. What are the kiwi doing? Are the kiwi fighting?

The journalist studies the scientist. 'Do you think they are having sex?'

'Yes,' he replies calmly. 'I believe they are.'
[...]
"The Department of Conservation will pour a lot of money into a single species like the kakapo, but to have effect, you've got to have the ecosystem function so the rimu trees flower. It's a whole system."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

MADAGASCAR THE MOVIE - DVD Released 15th November

the movie is released on DVD on November 15th. Amazon.com have it on sale at 47% off.

This Dreamworks computer animated movie went down a storm at the box office, and stars Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen. Central Park Zoo animals escape from the zoo and head to Madagascar, the island off the African east coast.

I believe there is a special Penguin short on the DVD, probably the same one I saw at the movies in front of Wallace and Gromit : Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Friday, November 11, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - How Cell Phones Are Killing Off Gorillas

It's something we've reported on several times before, but here's another article (from News 8 KFMB, San Diego, California) on the threat to Mountain Gorillas from our insatiable lust for cell-phones and related technology, and the coltan they use. The report also includes a video version.
You would never assume that your cell phone could be connected to gorillas in the Congo, but a shocking new report says cell phones could be partly to blame for the deaths of hundreds of gorillas. If you love animals, and can't get enough of the gorillas at the zoo, this is information you need to know. Our cell phone boom is turning into a gorilla bust.
That's something Cingular, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and Nextel (to name but a few) probably don't mention in their latest super-duper monthly plan literature.

What can you do about it? Well, most definately don't throw away your old cell-phone. Find somewhere to recycle it. The good people at Eco-Cell should be able to help.

Zoo Atlanta have partnered with Eco-Cell in order to raise funds for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

JOHN CLEESE LEMURS

The Mirror is among a number of outlets reporting on the news that John Cleese (of and Fawlty Towers fame) has been honoured with a newly discovered species of lemur being named after him.
The small woolly Avahi Cleesei lives on leaves in a remote part of Madagascar.

The name is a tribute to 66-year-old Cleese's conservation work, including a documentary about the plight of endangered woolly lemurs.

Its long legs are the only physical similarity to the actor, famous for his Silly Walks sketch.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - The delight of a Stewart Island working holiday

New Zealand's Stuff on the delights of a Stewart Island working holiday...
It was difficult to understand why a legal executive would give up her precious holiday time to be part of the annual volunteer programme that the Department of Conservation organises.

Totally intrigued, I decided the only way to found out more about the project was to join one of the projects.
[...]
We went for a walk and discovered plenty of kiwi prints on the sand dunes and down on Big Hell Fire Beach, where the view is straight out to Codfish Island, the kakapo sanctuary.

On our last night at the hut we managed to spot a Kiwi as it went about its nocturnal business.

That was the highlight of my week.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

LEMURS - Did Humans Eat Giant Lemur to Extinction?

Discovery Channel has this report on research into the life and death of giant lemurs.
The first humans that settled Madagascar around 2,000 years ago likely hunted to extinction giant lemurs and other unusual animals from the Indian Ocean island, such as eleven-foot-tall birds, suggests an upcoming study.

While the report does not rule out disease, fire and other factors that could have contributed to the giant lemurs' demise, it adds to the growing body of evidence that modern humans adversely affected the populations of prehistoric animals.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Bwindi gorillas in baby galore

New Vision Online has the story on the number of Mountain Gorilla babies born in the last year.
GORILLAS near Buhoma village around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park have given birth to 13 babies in about a year.

Park officials said the latest birth occurred about two weeks ago in one of the three habituated groups at Buhoma known as Mubare.

Habituation is a delicate process through which gorillas get used to human presence but retain their wild character.

Apart from Mubare, which has three babies, Habinyanja and rushegura, which are open to tourists, each have five babies.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - Ecosanctuary planned near Dunedin

New Zealand's Stuff.co.nz on the plans for a new ecosanctury near Dunedin.
Kakapo and kiwi will be on Dunedin's doorstep with plans to construct a $4.6 million ecosanctuary at Orokonui.

Tuatara, kaka, saddlebacks, the South Island Robin, takahe and bats are also targeted for a venture which hopes to make Dunedin the wildlife capital of the country.

At a fundraising launch at the Otago Museum last night, plans were outlined for the Orokonui ecosanctuary, to be situated in regenerating native forest, near Waitati, facing north over Blueskin Bay.

The Otago Natural History Trust plans to build a specialised pest-proof fence around the 250ha ecosanctuary.
For those who've installed Google's marvellous Google Earth product, here's Waitati on Blueskin Bay KMZ file which should "fly you" directly to this location in Google Earth (as shown here via Google Maps).

Larger Google Maps version - Google Earth version