Monday, January 30, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Island home to treasury of wildlife

Here's New Zealand's Stuff again with an article on Maud Island and their sole Kakapo Parrot.
Each summer the Department of Conservation holds open days on Maud Island reserve in Pelorus Sound. Sonia O'Regan went along to visit this very special haven.

Despite being cleared and grazed for a century, Maud Island is free of predators.

A lot of effort - not to mention eggs - goes into ensuring that it remains a safe haven.
[...]
Another precious native on Maud Island is the kakapo. Bronwen says there's only one presently on the island and during the booming season he gets rather lonely.

'He ended up inside on our couch the other night,' she says.

Conservation workers are currently experimenting in taking sperm from the kakapo to potentially use artificial insemination as a tool to mix up the species' limited gene pool.

'You don't want to know how they do that,' Bronwen assures me.

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Japanese team to study Chilka lake dolphins

Interesting news from the Indian Business Standard on another endangered animal. A Japanese research team is to employ techniques formerly used to study the endangered Baiji Dolphin to study the . Irrawady Dolphins of Chilika Lake
A team of Japanese scientists, in collaboration with researchers in India, will undertake a study of Irrawady Dolphins, inhabiting the Chilika Lake in Orissa, using acoustic technology.

This is the first time that a study using such technology is being conducted in the country, Ajit Patnaik, chief executive of the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) said.
[...]
Specially designed hydrophones, an underwater acoustic device, caught these sounds as 'clicks' of a specified duration and bandwidth, he said.
[...]
The Indo-Japan research team would use such customised hydrophones to track these 'clicks' which were emitted in a confined beam. Such technology was used to observe the behaviour of Chinese river dolphin 'Baiji' which used its sonar pulses for finding prey, Ura said.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

KOMODO DRAGONS - 10ft dragon is searching for love

Here's the Manchester Evening News with an article on an amorous Komodo Dragon arriving at Chester Zoo, looking for some cold-blooded red-hot luvvin'...
A FEARSOME-LOOKING 10ft dragon searching for love has arrived at Chester Zoo after a cross-channel dash from France.

Kimaan, a Komodo Dragon who normally lives at Thoiry Zoo just outside Paris, has made the trip to meet potential mates Flora and .

Komodo Dragons are meat-eating lizards with poisonous fangs (sic) and they can grow to a 18 feet in length. In the wild they eat pigs, deer, fish and even buffalo, using their long tongues to sniff out their prey.

Kevin Buley, curator of reptiles, said: "Kimaan has come over to find himself a mate and we hope that he will become friendly with one of our girls and breed.

Friday, January 27, 2006

EXTINCTION - All is silent down at the pond

Here's a interesting BBC article on an alternative view on extinction.
Conservationists are mistaken, argues Professor Tim Halliday in this week's Green Room; many animals and plants cannot be saved from extinction, and the job of conservation scientists is to document them as they disappear.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Take two giggles at mealtimes and a snigger before bed, as directed

Goodness me. Lots of Kakapo Parrot news around lately. Here's another one from The Time Online talking about the Kakapo's skewed sex ratio caused by stress.
One accidental by-product of an attempt in New Zealand to conserve the kakapo, a nocturnal flightless parrot, was a skewed sex ratio. Conservationists had been plumping up the birds to keep them fit for breeding, and this calorific comfort resulted, inadvertently, in the birth of twice as many male kakapos as females. When the scientists cut back the food, they report in Biology Letters, the ratio reverted to 50:50. The so-called sex-allocation theory behind this is that generous feeding produces fit mothers who in turn produce fit sons, who proceed to reproduce with abandon. Conversely, unfit mothers may produce sons too weedy to attract a mate. Therefore, in times of hardship, if you want to perpetuate the family line, you’re better off having daughters. You may get fewer grandkids, but at least you’ll get some.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Kakapo hunt ready to begin

And so it ... The New Zealand Herald with news of the Kakapo hunt that is ready to begin.
A mission to find a critically endangered New Zealand bird in the wild is being given a one-in-five chance.

Search teams were yesterday waiting for the weather to improve before starting on a survey of 30 sites in remote and rugged South Island bush for a male kakapo that would boost efforts to save the species.

Only 86 of the flightless parrots are known to exist. They all live in protected island sanctuaries such as Codfish Island, near Stewart Island.

Monday, January 16, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Evolutionary theory aids species conservation

Here's New Zealand's Scoop with news on a new paper about their allocation theory.
Two University of Canterbury biologists are part of a team whose evolutionary informed approach to conservation is aiding the recovery of New Zealand’s critically endangered parrot, the kakapo.

Dr Bruce Robertson and Associate Professor Neil Gemmell (Biological Sciences) are members of a research team that has just had a paper published in the Royal Society of London’s prestigious journal Biology Letters. The manuscript outlines how the team, led by Dr Robertson, used sex allocation theory to remedy a conservation dilemma. A key prediction of sex allocation theory is that females in good condition should produce more sons.

The kakapo, which today has a population of 86 located on a handful of small island sanctuaries, is the subject of much global conservation interest. They only breed every two to five years and about 58% of eggs do not hatch.

Monday, January 09, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Rwandan guilty of tourist murders

BBC News has an update on the trial of a former Rwandan soldier, who has been found guilty of the brutal murder of eight western "mountain gorilla tourists" and a game warden in 1999.
Jean Paul Bizimana, 31, was among Rwandan rebels who abducted 14 tourists and their guide as they tracked rare mountain gorillas, the judge said.

Nine of them were brutally killed with clubs and machetes. The tourists were from the US, the UK and New Zealand.

Bizimana is to be sentenced on Friday by the Kampala court.

His lawyer said he would appeal.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

KING KONG - Peter Jackson backing work by the International Gorilla Conservation Programme

The Independent Online Edition has good news about Peter Jackson's and his efforts to promote efforts to save these endangered animals from extinction.
A remarkable spin-off from the award-winning director's movie has been a boost for efforts to save a rather more real species from extinction.

Jackson, who spent £200m on reshooting the classic girl-meets-gorilla tale, is backing attempts to save the planet's last great apes. When the DVD of King Kong is released, Jackson plans to include a documentary film about the plight of the mountain gorilla in central Africa, whose numbers have been decimated by poachers, trophy hunters and loss of natural habitat.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

BLOG OF THE WEEK - Backwoods Bob

Backwoods Bob :: grassroots news, commentary,  poetry and music for city folk
Please pay our visit to our Blog of the Week, Backwoods Bob, "grassroots news, commentary, poetry and music for city folk" (see sidebar for thumbnail). A very nicely presented blog , with photos and also a . Lots of interesting wildlife related posts. Nice job Bob!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

RIVER DOLPHINS - Pollution kills off river dolphin

According to this report in The Times, the Ganges species of river dolphin is extinct in most of the main tributaries.
Amid the impenetrable maze of tidal creeks and channels between India and Bangladesh, children shriek with delight as grey snouts emerge from the silty waters. “Susu,” they cry, mimicking the noise the freshwater dolphins make as they surface for air — but their joy may be shortlived.

Researchers say that the Gangetic dolphin, declared one of the world’s first protected species more than 2,000 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Ashoka (265-232BC), has already become extinct in the main tributaries of the Ganges river system.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

ARISTOTLE'S HISTORY OF ANIMALS

Happy New Year everybody! Let me introduce you to my new blog which can be found at Aristotle's History Of Animals. I came across this ancient document while surfing around the web the other day, and because it is broken up into numerous small chapters, it makes perfect reading in daily chunks. It's a fascinating insight into thoughts and opinions on from a perspective of some 2400 years ago. I have daily segments lined up for posting over the next few months, (most not as long as the first segment). If you'd like to subscribe to the RSS feed for Aristotle's History Of Animals, here's some options...
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Here's a short segment from Day 1...
Animals also differ from one another in regard to character in the following respects. Some are good-tempered, sluggish, and little prone to ferocity, as the ox; others are quick tempered, ferocious and unteachable, as the wild boar; some are intelligent and timid, as the stag and the hare; others are mean and treacherous, as the snake; others are noble and courageous and high-bred, as the lion; others are thorough-bred and wild and treacherous, as the wolf: for, by the way, an animal is highbred if it come from a noble stock, and an animal is thorough-bred if it does not deflect from its racial characteristics.

Further, some are crafty and mischievous, as the fox; some are spirited and affectionate and fawning, as the dog; others are easy-tempered and easily domesticated, as the elephant; others are cautious and watchful, as the goose; others are jealous and self-conceited, as the peacock. But of all animals man alone is capable of deliberation.

Many animals have memory, and are capable of instruction; but no other creature except man can recall the past at will.

With regard to the several genera of animals, particulars as to their habits of life and modes of existence will be discussed more fully by and by.