Friday, June 30, 2006

BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES - Kodiak teenager returns from Galapagos

The Kodiak Daily Mirror.com asks 13 year old Gregory D’Elia about his favourite memory of a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands...
“That’s easy — it was booby day,” D’Elia said with a grin.

That might sound like a teenager’s way of getting a goofy word into print so his friends can snicker, but D’Elia is operating under the cover of science, biology in fact, ornithology to be specific.

When he describes the mating dance of the blue-footed booby, (Sula nebouxii) D’Elia spreads his fingers to imitate the bird’s webbed feet and moves his hands up and down slowly.

“You know that show, ‘So You Think You Can Dance?’ — I think they’d win that automatically,” he said, calling the dance “unworldly.”
Full article at KodiakDailyMirror.com.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

AMAZONIAN MANATEES - Óbidos at Amazon.com

Why would Amazon.com commemorate the site of manatee massacres in its website sales system? The online bookseller isn't letting on, but New Scientist may have the answer
In New Scientist Issue 2558, July 1 2006, they speculate on the use of the word "Óbidos" in online retailer Amazon's URLs all over the world.

For example, here's part of the URL for the book "Last Chance To See" at Amazon.com...
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/redirect?tag=...
Óbidos is also a town on the real-world Amazon. It can hardly be coincidence, so the folks at Amazon.com must be indulging in a clever play on words.

What's so special about this town? Situated between Manaus at the heart of the Amazon rainforest and the seaport city of Belém, Óbidos is small and sleepy today, but in the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was a big, bustling place with consulates from 16 nations, a busy port and packed warehouses. The source of its wealth was not rubber - that came later - but the Amazonian manatee, Trichechus inunguis.
Full Article (requires subscription unfortunately)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Last Chance For China's Dolphin

The BBC has an article on the plan put forward to locate any remaining Baiji Dolphins in the river Yangtze and protect them by relocating them to a lake.
Zoologists have developed a plan to save the Yangtze River dolphin, probably the world's most endangered mammal, from extinction.

They hope to take some dolphins from the Yangtze and rear them in a nearby lake, protected from fishermen.
[...]
The rescue plan speaks of conducting five dolphin capture operations in the Yangtze within the next three years "...in order to establish a viable ex-situ breeding population of baiji at Tian-e-Zhou before the Yangtze population undergoes a further decline or becomes extinct".

The long-term plan would be to re-introduce them to the Yangtze, but only when the prospects of them thriving there have risen.
Full Story at the BBC

KAKAPO PARROTS - Kids art competition

Here's New Zealand's Scoop with news of the second annual Auckland Zoo Banner Competition for New Zealand school children. This year's theme is the numerous New Zealand birds that begin with the letter "K".
K is for…kiwi, kakapo, kokako, kereru and many other threatened native birds, and is the theme Auckland Zoo has chosen for its 2006 nationwide banner competition.

Open to all primary and secondary school students throughout New Zealand, the 2006 Auckland Zoo Banner Competition aims to spark both creativity and a thirst for knowledge about this country's spectacular and unique native bird species.

Students are challenged to choose any native bird species starting with the letter 'K' and in their own unique way, recreate it for potential reproduction on a large banner.
[...]
All entries must be received by Friday 22 September. For further details and entry form, visit www.aucklandzoo.co.nz

Monday, June 26, 2006

DODOS - Mauritius find is "significant"

The BBC is reporting on a marvellous Dodo discovery made recently on the island of Mauritius...
Scientists say they have discovered part of the skeleton of a dodo, the large, flightless bird which became extinct more than 300 years ago.

One of the team in Mauritius said it was the first discovery of fully preserved bones which could give clues as to how the bird lived its life.

Last year, the team unearthed dodo bones in the same area, but said the current find was more "significant".
[...]
No complete skeleton has ever been found in Mauritius, and the last full set of bones was destroyed in a fire at a museum in Oxford, England, in 1755.
Full story with pictures

Thursday, June 22, 2006

RIVER DOLPHINS - Setback for Ganges River Dolphin

Here's the Daily India.com with depressing news for the Ganges River Dolphin, distant cousin of the Yangtze River Dolphin or Baiji.
In a setback to conservation efforts, a new survey has revealed that the population of the Ganges river dolphins is steadily falling in Bihar, the numbers declining by over 100 since last year.

According to the survey undertaken in early June by researchers from Patna University led by R.K. Sinha, who heads New Delhi's dolphin conservation project, 560 of the endangered mammals were sighted as compared to 664 last year.
[...]
The freshwater dolphins - locally known as 'sons of the river' - were listed as an endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 1996.

The Ganges river dolphins are among the four freshwater dolphins in the world - the other three are found in the Yangtze river in China, in the Indus in Pakistan and in the Amazon river in South America.

KAKAPO PARROTS - Panda Profiling

Here's ArsTechnica with an article on endangered pandas by Jonathan M. Gitlin entitled Panda Profiling. It containts the CUTEST picture of a baby panda I think has ever been taken, and compares pandas to Kakapo Parrots by saying how different they are.
Last year there was good news surrounding the slow recovery of the kakapo, a fat, green, musty-smelling bird native to New Zealand. Giant pandas are lots of things that kakapo are not. Large, well known, and cute looking, these mammals live in the mountains of China, where they have to compete for resources with the ever expanding pace of Chinese industrialization.
It links to this additional article called "Darwinian aesthetics" - The Science Of Cute. Interestingly, the commentors make reference to Manatees and Gorillas.
I would just like to say that I don't find babies or manatees cute, but I guess a lot of people do.
[...]
Gorilla baby's are cute because dominating males will want to kill baby's that they think are not their own. Hence cuteness is a defense mechanism in nature.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

KOMODO DRAGONS - Saint Louis Zoo

Local radio station KWMU 90.7 has a brief article on Dua the Komodo Dragon at Saint Loius Zoo.
A young male Komodo dragon named "Dua" is on display daily in his habitat.

He is almost three years old, is over four feet long and weighs about 40 pounds.

Dua, which means "two" in Indonesian, was the second to hatch from a clutch at the Toronto Zoo.

MAURITIUS - Google Earth 4

Javed Mandary of Port-Louis, Mauritius reports on his blog that Google Earth 4 now includes Street level detail of Mauritius, home of the Mauritius Kestrel and Pink Pigeon. The ability to Geo-Tag your photos with in Google's Picasa 2 is a very cool new feature too.

Rodrigues Island off to the east is in pretty high resolution too. Just a bit more and perhaps we could see Rodrigues Fruitbats in flight...? Maybe one day.

I am in the midst of preparing a special Another Chance To See Google Earth file of all these Last Chance To See related places. It should contain handy placemarks for all the locations that Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine visited on their search for endangered animals such as Mountain Gorilla, Baiji Dolphin, Kakapo Parrots and all the others. I hope to have the file ready for download soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY, Live on Stage in Philadelphia - PART TWO

The Curio Theatre Company - "Great Stories, well told" has released details of its forthcoming 2006/2007 season which includes the second part of Douglas Adams' "The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" performed live and on stage in Philadelphia, PA.

I attended the first part of Curio Theater's production (review here), and I'm very much looking forward to the second part, which should comprise episodes (or Fits) 4,5 and 6 of the original radio series.

The show runs from March 15th, 2007 to April 7th, 2007 at The Calvary Center, Philadelphia.
The return of British comedy at its best! Curio brings Part II of Douglas Adams’ modern classic radio script to life with mixed media fun and frolics. Combining original storyboard illustrations created by Nonthaporn and Ray Saunders, over 200 sound effects, and a selection of talented actors reading multiple characters, this production continues the saga begun in February 2006. Don’t worry if you missed Part I - the experience is eye-opening regardless. And if you did see Part I, look out for differences with our growing technological capacity as we enter our second season!
Google Calendar Event

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Anti-whalers cautious over Japan setback

Here's the BBC with news from the International Whaling Commission.
Japan unexpectedly lost two key votes on the opening day of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) annual meeting on the Caribbean island of St Kitts.

The pro-whaling nation wanted to end work on conservation of small cetaceans such as dolphins and porpoises, and introduce secret ballots.
[...]
The IWC does not regulate the hunting of small cetaceans, but conducts research and gives advice on conservation, which Japan believes is not within the IWC's remit.

Environment groups believe that removing this research and advice function would have major implications for many species, such as the Yangtze river dolphin and the gulf porpoise of North America, both of which are Critically Endangered according to the internationally recognised Red List of Threatened Species.

Monday, June 19, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

The IUCN page for the most endangered animal (if not extinct already) from Last Chance To See, the Baiji Dolphin - (IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Lipotes vexillifer) has been updated fairly recently with a new Year Assessed of 2005.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - DFGFI Field News

Couple of links from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund today from their monthly Field News reports.

First up is the annual visit from second-year biology students from the National University of Rwanda.
The 34 students arrived in two groups for a four-day course intended to introduce them to the concepts of biodiversity and conservation, concentrating on the Park National des Volcans and the mountain gorillas. Especially exciting for the students is a visit to one of the tourist gorilla groups, something few Rwandans ever get to experience.
Secondly, there is more baby news from Pablo's Group of Mountain Gorillas, bringing the total in the group up to an unbelievable 61 individuals.
Umuco, in Pablo's group, gave birth to her third infant on May 12. In December 2004, Umuco's second infant died of unknown causes but Iyambere, her first infant, is now a thriving 5 1/2-year-old male.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

GREAT GORILLA RUN 2006 - Edinburgh and London

Here's the Scotsman Online with news of Edinburgh's first Great Gorilla Run, taking place in Holyrood Park on July 16th. It joins the London Great Gorilla Run, taking place on 24th September. Please show your support and be an Gorilla for the day, or go and cheer and sponsor those who do dress up like Gorillas in the heat of the day.
THEY are usually spotted in the mist-covered mountains of Africa.

But hundreds of gorillas will be seen in the unlikely setting of Holyrood Park this summer.

For around 400 runners, all clad in gorilla suits, are to take part in Edinburgh's first Great Gorilla Run.

The run was launched in memory of murdered scientist Dian Fossey, whose story was immortalised in 1980s film Gorillas in the Mist.
Here's the link to the official Great Gorilla Run website with links to application pages for the Edinburgh Great Gorilla Run (16th July 2006) and London Great Gorilla Run (24th September 2006).

Friday, June 16, 2006

GOOGLE EARTH - Website Visitors

Kudos to Scurvy Jake who came up with a rather neat hack to convert Google Analytics data into a geo file you can view in Google Earth. Here's Another Chance To See's visitors for June 2006 so far... Right-click and Save As this KML file and open it with Google Earth.

**COMMENT UPDATE** Thanks to Eric in the comments who gives me the link to view this set of points in Google Maps too - Google Maps version.

GOOGLE CALENDAR - New view available

has recently made available a new HTML view which I can share with everyone, even if you don't subscribe to the Calendar feed itself. I have modified the Google Calendar button (top right) to link to our Another Chance To See Calendar page. You can still subscribe to the Calendar from a link at the bottom right of that page.

Here's a smaller version...

AYE-AYE LEMURS - Duke Lemur Center Has New Research Focus

's Lemur Center has a new focus on research after 40 years of work, so says an extensive article on the ABC News website.
The 40-year-old center which houses the largest collection of lemurs outside their native Madagascar has a new name, a new director, $8 million in newly pledged funding from Duke and a new research focus on lemurs as evolutionary models.
[...]
Only last fall, the center celebrated the first birth of an aye-aye a nocturnal lemur that is becoming increasingly rare in Madagascar in captivity to captive-born parents.

The hurdle was a high one because the father, Merlin, never learned the social skills of wooing and mating. It took a two-year visit with other aye-ayes at the San Francisco Zoo and another two years of coaching by handlers at Duke before Merlin figured out what to do.
Way to go Merlin!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES - In Darwin's Footsteps

A MARVELLOUS article by freelance writer Jim Duffy in the John Hopkins Magazine. Super photos and descriptions of Blue Footed Boobies behaviour abound - In Darwin's Footsteps
Charlie Stine, SPH '76 (PhD), A&S '83 (MA), dreamed for decades of making a pilgrimage to the Galápagos Islands. What does an ecologist look for when he finally gets the chance to make that dream a reality?
Read Jim Duffy's article at John Hopkins Magazine site - In Darwin's Footsteps
The blue-footed booby is famous mostly for being goofy. That's what gets the bird so many star turns in coffee- table books. It's got crazy-hued feet. It's got goggle eyes. It waddles like a weeble. Then it fuses all that goofiness together in an endearing mating dance that has the male of the species aiming his beak skyward while rocking first on one foot and then the other while offering a precious twig in tribute to the object of his carnal desire.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

STEPHEN FRY and MARK CARWARDINE TV Series in the works?

Fabulous news direct from Stephen Fry's iMac keyboard! During today's VIP Stephen Fry webchat at the Douglas Adams Continuum website, I asked him the following question...
AnotherChanceToSee: Hello Stephen. I really enjoyed your "Rescuing the Spectacled Bear" book, but being in the USA, I never got to see the TV special. Any chance that might be released on DVD someday, and do you have any more plans for similar trips?

Stephen Fry: Golly anotherchance -- not too sure. I am in discussions with Mark Carwardine about doing a TV series with your handle as its title. Using Douglas's audiobook version of ACTS as a guide for us as we investigate how the various species are doing nearly 20 years on. The Yangtse River Dolphin now officially extinct, for example....
How marvellous would that be?

And because I'm a huge fan of Hugh Laurie in Fox Channel's "House", I also asked Stephen whether they'd discussed finding him a role in the show.
AnotherChanceToSee: Has there been any talk with Hugh about getting you into an episode of "House" with some particularly virulent pox?

Stephen Fry: Yes, anotherchancetosee, Hugh and I talk about it. couldn't make it last season, but maybe the upcoming season will see me in it. I like the idea of playing either an even nastier doctor than Hugh, or possibly a cleverer one who's nicer and really pisses him off. Won't try the accent though. Can't match Hugh there ... :-)
In addition, James asked him...
James: Do you miss working with Hugh Laurie? I know there are a lot of fans who'd love to see you two together again.

Stephen Fry: Miss it very much. Saw him over the weekend, for his birthday (he's back off to the USA in a couple of weeks) and we talk constantly of trying to do something when our several particular projects allow us time. Still best friends, still deeply suspicious of anyone who isn't us, if you know what I mean. My general view is that Hugh is the only person I know who doesn't talk bollocks.
Read the full webchat transcript here.

KOMODO DRAGONS - Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

Here's WVEC.com with news of Viriginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center's celebrations of its 20 year anniversary. New exhibits will include a Komodo Dragon enclosure.
Officials were showing off a whole new global awareness on Tuesday. Four new areas are in the works. One will be on the Komodo Dragon Islands of Indonesia, with real Komodo Dragons.

Another will be Malaysian peat swamps with Tosmistoma, a type of crocodile.

“He will be here on exhibit, but people will see him in a natural type habitat," said Lynn Clements, the center’s executive director.

The third will be a Red Sea with coral displays, explained Mark Swingle with the research and conversation division.
The Aquarium's own website can be found here - www.vmsm.com.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MADAGASCAR - Douglas Concert

Isle of Man Today reports on a special concert in Douglas, Isle of Man on Saturday, 17th of June 2006 which aims to raise funds for the church, and the people, environment and lemurs of Madagascar.
The people of Madagascar, its environment and even the native lemur are set to benefit from money raised at a concert of songs from the musicals at the Abbey Church Hall in Ballasalla this Saturday.

One of the performers — Sarah Mordaunt — has organised the concert on behalf of her sister Christine, who in January 2007 will leave Ballasalla and set off on a 10-week charity exhibition in Madagascar organised by the Azafady Madagascar Pioneer project. Proceeds will also go towards church funds.

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Art of the Rainforest

An exhibition featuring a bronze Mountain Gorilla statue opened today. So reports the Shreveport Times.
"Art of the Rainforest," opening Tuesday at R.W. Norton Art Gallery, features more than 60 works of art depicting flora and fauna from different parts of the globe.
[...]
A 64-inch-long black mountain gorilla, rendered in bronze by Bart Walter, will be the centerpiece of the exhibition, according to Bloomer. "This is a subject that we've never had in past special exhibitions," he said. "I think people will find it very interesting."

THREE GORGES DAM - Three Gorges Activist Beaten Up

The BBC is one of many news sites reporting on the savage beating of an anti-Three Gorges Dam activist, shortly after he was called in by the police to discuss an interview he made on German television.
Fu Xiancai was seriously injured last week after meeting Public Security Bureau officials in Hubei province, US-based Human Rights in China said.

He is now in hospital with a broken neck and is paralysed from the shoulders down, the group said.

Mr Fu has highlighted the plight of people moved to make way for the dam.

Human Rights in China said the attack occurred shortly after Mr Fu was summoned to the Public Security Bureau to discuss an interview he gave to a German TV station about the dam.
Phillip, over at the best Google-watch blog Google Blogoscoped also picks up the story, and puts a spin on it in light of the recent censorship wranglings.
Search for the Chinese name of the Dam and you’ll find Google agreed to partly censor the results in China – the same is true searching for “Fu Xiancai”. Apparently, the Chinese government is afraid of criticism and tries to influence whoever it can in their censorship efforts. Based on government requests, sites like HRIChina.org who now report on Fu Xiancai have been completely removed by Google China.

Monday, June 12, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - How the Batwa were driven out of the forest to 'save' the gorilla

The East African Magazine has an article here on the Batwa people, evicted from the Virunga forest, about 30 Batwa families are virtual slaves of Hutu and Tutsi farmers.
On the edge of the park, in huts scattered along cultivated hills, live some of Rwanda's forgotten community, the Batwa. They once inhabited the forests of the Virunga Mountains, but by the 1970s, after legislation outlawed hunting and gathering and introduced national parks, the Batwa communities were driven off their ancestral lands.

Today, there are about 130 Batwa families living in this area. Most have become beggars or landless labourers working for their Hutu and Tutsi neighbours for less than $1 a day.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Gorillas Revisited with Sigourney Weaver


REMINDER! 's return trip to Rwanda to visit the Mountain Gorillas airs as a documentary special, beginning this weekend on the Animal Planet channel.
For the first time since she made the movie “Gorillas in the Mist,” actress Sigourney Weaver has returned to Rwanda to visit the mountain gorillas. On this visit, Weaver, who serves as honorary chairperson of DFGFI, filmed “Gorillas Revisited,” which is scheduled to air on Animal Planet:
Sunday June 11, 8:00 pm ET/PT
Sunday June 11, 11:00 pm ET/PT
Monday June 12, 3:00 am ET/PT
Sunday June 18, 8:00 pm ET/PT

Saturday, June 10, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Air New Zealand Magazine

Thanks to Becki who alerted me to the latest issue of Air Magazine and the marvellous feature article on the hi-tech race to save the Kakapo Parrot from extinction. The Air New Zealand Magazine page mentions it, but unfortunately there's no web-version of the article. Thanks for letting me see it anyway Becki. Stunning photography.

If you'd like to see it, I recommend booking a flight on Air New Zealand very soon. check out my profile for my email address...

KAKAPO PARROTS - New Zealand Cats to be microchipped in 2008

Here's New Zealand's Scoop with news that following the compulsory microchipping of dogs, other animals are going to be chipped, including cats. If one of them happens to eat a baby Kakapo, then there'll be hell to pay...
According to latest reports, cats will be microchipped by 2008, followed by rabbits, canaries, goldfish and 'other dangerous predators' by 2012.

"We are very concerned at the wanton and unregulated carnage going on in the environment, and we are determined to do something about it", said Ministry of Wildlife Affairs spokeswoman Bledin Hart.
[...]
"There is a very simple chain of logic here. The microchip will be designed to be read at a range of 2 inches. This means that, after the cat kills the baby kakapo, and if there's a DOC ranger around, and if the cat hasn't run away, and if we can catch it, then, well, provided we've got a machine, of course, then, we'll be able to see who the cat belongs to, and send the owner a very strongly worded letter indeed. A jolly good telling off, you might say." She laughs merrily, and pauses. "Unless the owner has been rather naughty, of course, and hasn't paid his registration fee".

Friday, June 09, 2006

BLUE-FOOTED BOOBIES - A trip to the Marietas Islands

Here's Carissa Wright at the University of Idaho with her vacation report which included a trip to see Blue-Footed Boobies on the Marietas Islands.
Three days after our arrival, not sunburned yet but definitely wiped out by the constant heat, we bought tickets on a catamaran heading out to the Marietas Islands, about two hours from the Puerto Vallarta marina. The Marietas, the guide aboard the ship informed us, are one of only two places on earth the blue-footed booby can be found in the wild. The Galapagos Islands of Darwinian fame are the only other home to the gull-like bird.

Reaching our destination after two hours of cruising, we circled the islands in search of a place to drop anchor. It took careful examination of the bird-covered islands to spot the boobies’ distinctive powder-blue webbed feet, but spot them we did. Satisfying one objective of the excursion, we shifted our sights to the next.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Second grand naming ceremony

Here's AllAfrica.com with news of the second annual Gorilla Naming ceremony.
Wildlife conservationists will yet again celebrate the fruits of their efforts to save the rare mountain gorilla from extinction with the second grand gorilla-naming ceremony on June 17.

The ceremony will also be an opportunity to raise sponsorship revenues from the local corporate firms and organisations under the 'Adopt a Baby Gorilla' scheme.

Ms. Rosette Rugamba, the director general of ORTPN, the national wildlife body in Rwanda, told Business Week in an interview that names will be given to 12 baby primates, born since late last year.
NOTE: This is another event entered into our Another Chance To See Google Calendar... See button top right for more details.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

THREE GORGES DAM - Demolished!

The BBC has news, and a video report, of the destruction of the "cofferdam" which has been holding back the Yangtze while the controversial Three Gorges Dam has been constructed.
Chinese engineers have demolished the temporary barrier behind the Three Gorges dam, in a spectacular explosion.

The barrier, called a cofferdam, was used to hold back the waters of the Yangtze River while the permanent structure of the dam was built.

Enough explosives to topple 400 10-storey buildings were used in the blast, China's Xinhua news agency said.
According to the Shanghai Daily, special electrical pulses were used to drive fish away from the cofferdam, prior to the massive explosion.
Professor Tan Xichang from the Water Biological Engineering Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences took charge of a fish dispelling operation three hours before the demolition that occurred at 4pm.

He said the two dispelling vessels succeeded in driving 90 percent of fish within 600 meters of the cofferdam an hour before the explosion of the protective dam, according to ultrasonic monitoring in the reservoir.

Tan said that based on fish behavior study, the startled fish will take up to three hours to recover from the explosive force.

MADAGASCAR - Why does Madagascar have so many unique animals?

Here's another interesting article at Mongabay.com on a new theory which could go someway to explaining the extraordinary richness of Madagascar's flora and fauna.
Scientists have long been puzzled by Madagascar's extraordinary levels of biological diversity, but now an international team of researchers has developed an climate change-based explanation for why the island has such a richness of animal life. They say that their research will help prioritize conservation efforts in the last remaining natural habitats of Madagascar.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund Announces Latest Grant Recipients

News from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens that the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will receive a significant contribution from the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a non-profit foundation dedicated to wildlife conservation, research, education and animal rescue.
[The Fund] today announced grants totaling $770,000. More than four dozen conservation and research organizations will benefit from the 2006 grants, which bring total funding distributed by the non-profit foundation to more than $2 million since its inception in 2003.
[...]
The Diane(sic) Fossey Gorilla Fund International of Atlanta, Ga. will receive $10,000 to continue a survey of animal species of the Maiko National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Monday, June 05, 2006

YANGTZE RIVER - China's great river poisoned

With the recent completion of the Three Gorges Dam, the final nail in the coffin of the blind Yangtze River Dolphin or Baiji, the mighty Chinese river is in the news quite a lot recently.

Here's The Scotsman and The Times with frightening recent covergage.

The Scotsman...
CHINA'S most important waterway, the mighty Yangtze River, is "cancerous" with pollution, posing a threat to the hundreds of millions of people living along its banks, Chinese state media said yesterday.

In one of the starkest warnings to appear in the normally upbeat state press, which acts as the government's mouthpiece, scientists said that the river's ability to clean itself was reaching a critical level.
The Times...
Professor Lu said that contamination has reduced the number of species living in the Yangtze from 126 in the mid- 1980s, to 52 four years ago. The Yangtze dolphin may have already become the first cetacean to be made extinct by humans.

Fishermen complain that the Three Gorges Dam has blocked fish migration, leading to a catastrophic drop in catches. Officials say the change in the oxygen content of the water from the dam construction is killing fish. Large amounts of rubbish have built up in its reservoir, which will fall by about 40 metres (131ft) each summer, leaving a huge area of exposed land that experts fear will fill with pollution, and breed diseases.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

LAST CHANCE TO SEE - The Out-takes

Poor old Douglas Adams had a devil of a time when struggling to record the audio book of Last Chance To See. So, here for your listening please it's Last Chance To See - The Out-takes... (RealPlayer required)

The Duke Of Dunstable over at the Douglas Adams Continuum spotted this.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Taming the wild waters

Here's Deep K. Datta-Ray in the Telegraph of Calcutta India with an article on the west's perception of the poor's ability to manage modern technology and projects such as the Three Gorges Dam.
The criticism of the Three Gorges project is unwarranted. The poor too are capable of managing modern technology.
[...]
China’s mighty Yangtze river has been tamed. The wall that now spans the river marks the beginning of the end of the Three Gorges project. It is the largest construction mankind has undertaken since the Great Wall of China. Like its Indian counterpart, the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada, this fantastic achievement has been dogged by controversy and criticism at home and abroad. Such criticisms derive from a narrow understanding of Asian society and culture. A deeper understanding of history can correct these misperceptions.

Friday, June 02, 2006

DOUGLAS ADAMS - Create A Planet

Check out Create A Planet, a new site where you can make your own planet, inspired by Planet Magrathea from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. I'll have lemon merengue on mine please...

Planet AnotherChanceToSee is the little in the middle of the galaxy...

KOMODO DRAGONS - Leaping lizards! What a risky job

Here's the Chicago Tribune with the risks of smelling like a dead rat when you're in the cage with Faust, the Komodo Dragon at the Shedd Aquarium.
Nobody but nobody who smells of dead mice and rats is allowed to go into Faust's enclosure.

That's a hard and fast rule for keepers at the Shedd Aquarium's temporary exhibit of lizards from around the world. Faust, an 8-foot-long Komodo dragon, normally is pretty friendly with the people who clean his habitat daily. But a forgetful keeper who had fed other carnivorous lizards before visiting Faust would risk being mistaken for lunchmeat and attacked.