Sunday, July 30, 2006

2ND BIRTHDAY FUNDRAISER - Save The Rhino

As we celebrate the 2nd birthday of this site I have established an "Another Chance To See Fundraiser" page through the Justgiving/Firstgiving network. Please help us towards our target with any amount you can spare. Anyone can donate, from anywhere in the world, and you can contribute as much or as little as you can afford. This year, in memory of Douglas Adams, we will attempt to raise £500.00 for Save The Rhino International. Douglas Adams was a great supporter and patron of the charity. Many thanks in advance for your anticipated generosity!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

GOOGLE EARTH - Another Chance To See

To help you better visualize where in the world Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine went on their travels for Last Chance To See, I have prepared a small Google Earth file that you can download below. As you'll see, Douglas and Mark visited endangered animals all over the world and must have racked up some serious Air Miles. If you don't already have the application installed, you can download if from here: Google Earth, and if you can, pick up "3Dconnexion SpaceNavigator", the 3D navigation device that makes flying round the Earth an absolute breeze!

Once Google Earth is installed, download the Another Chance To See KMZ (Version 1) which should open naturally in the application. Once there, click the PLAY button to "Play Tour". This will send Google Earth on a trip around the world from South America, Africa, through Asia, New Zealand, and back across the Pacific. NOTE: Click the PLAY button in the PLACES section rather than the SEARCH section, otherwise it will report an error.

You can preview a slightly abbreviated Google Maps version of our Another Chance To See file in your browser.

In both Google Earth and Google Maps I would draw your particular attention to Selkirk Island in the South Pacific. If you zoom in really close, the level of detail is tremendous. You can almost see the Juan Fernandez Fur Seals frolicking in the surf. Selkirk Island is named after Alexander Selkirk of course, the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe".

The small Madagascar island of Nosy Mangabe (where many of the Aye-Aye Lemurs live) is also available in pretty good definition. Note the ship on the western side of the island. I wonder if this is a wreck?

Technorati Tags:

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Video of Wild Encounter


Here's a home-video of an encounter with a wild mountain gorilla which comes a little too close for absolute comfort. Hairy indeed (no pun intended), but a memorable encounter for all involved I'm sure.
First gorilla siting of the day in Parc National Des Volcans, Rwanda: a young male spends some time ignoring us and finally pushes our guide out of his way.

Friday, July 28, 2006

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - TWO left?

Northern White Rhino
Northern White Rhino
A BBC News report on the DR Congo elections mentions that Congolese Vice-President Azarias Ruberwa says that there are only TWO Northern White Rhino left in the country.
Michael Allison, from Preston in the UK, who asked our panel of Lubumbashi voters whether the environment had been mentioned in the election campaign, will be pleased to know that Mr Ruberwa did indeed cite the virtual extinction of the white rhino - he said there were just two left - as one of the many examples of how Congo has been misgoverned since independence.
This news comes less than a month since we reported that there were only FOUR Northern White Rhinos left.

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Tourists brave jungle to visit endangered species

Another reporter records his visit with the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda, this one being Sagal Ali for the TorontoSun.
The youngest male gorilla gets a running start as he tackles his sister. Their mother, not bothered by her children's antics, slowly eats the leaves from a nearby tree as she watches her offspring play. When the match becomes too rough, she intervenes and pulls the two toddlers apart. Their father, the largest silverback gorilla in the country, lazily leans against another tree and grunts.

Watching the Sabyinyo family of mountain gorillas interact in their natural habitat has easily been the highlight of my trip to this country.
Apparently and both visited the gorillas earlier this month.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

DOUGLAS ADAMS - BBC Mastermind video

Laura Campbell appeared as a contestant on the BBC's "Mastermind" quiz show recently. Her chosen Specialist Subject was "The Life and Works of Douglas Adams". There's a couple of Last Chance To See related questions in there. Can you beat Laura's score?

DODOS - "Flock Of Dodos" movie coming to DVD and theatres

The Kansas City Star has word that the movie "Flock Of Dodos", a hit at this year's Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, is coming to movie theatres later this year. A DVD release is expected in early 2007.
"Flock Of Dodos" is a tongue-in-cheek documentary about the evolution-vs.- fight in Kansas schools.
[...]
It will also be the closing-night movie (on Sept. 21) for this year’s Kansas International Film Festival at the Glenwood Arts Theatre.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - DOC under fire for felling old Rimu tree

New Zealand's STUFF reports that the Department of Conservation is taking a bit of heat over its decision to fell a 300-year-old Rimu tree, to make way for a hut to house Kakapo researchers. Rimu fruits are Kakapos favourite foodstuff of course, and are essential to get them breeding.
The tree was cut down on Anchor Island in Dusky Sound, part of Fiordland National Park.
[...]
Department spokesman Martin Rodd said the rimu was in poor condition. "An assessment of the tree found it to be rotting in places and it was considered to be a safety hazard."

It was also on the best site for a hut that was needed to house staff taking care of 30 recently released kakapo.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

GREAT GORILLA RUN - Sponsors wanted

Jess "Darth Tigger" Bennett is taking part in the London Great Gorilla Run on 24th September 2006 dressed up in a big Gorilla suit! She's looking for sponsors, I'm about to contribute myself, and I hope some of you will be able to do likewise. Let's see if we can rush her up towards her target of £400.00. Hopefully we can blow the top off it like the Blue Peter Totalizer always did!
On 24th September this year I will be taking part in The Great Gorilla Run. Yes, I will be heading to London to run 7km dressed as a gorilla. If anyone would like to join me on the day, either to run as well or to stand and cheer me on, that would be fantastic. It would be even more fantastic if you could also sponsor me.

I should be getting my gorilla suit in a week or two, at which point I will of course be posting photos. I even plan to do some of my training wearing the suit, which may well come as a shock to the gym where I work. I'll keep everyone updated as to how it's going!
I'm looking forward to seeing your pictures Jess! Very best of luck from Another Chance To See.

Jess also links to page at LeonardoDicaprio.org which has a video of Douglas Adams talking about the Mountain Gorillas and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. There is also a video from Dr Richard Dawkins. I hadn't seen these before, so thanks to Jess for uncovering them for us!

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Rare Photos of Dian Fossey Orphan Gorillas Discovered

A press release has news of the discovery of rare photographs of Coco and Pucker, two of Dian Fossey's orphan gorillas, in captivity at Cologne zoo in Germany. The photos can be viewed here at The Legacy Of Dian Fossey.
Made famous when they appeared with the celebrated "Gorillas in the Mist" author and primatologist on the cover of National Geographic magazine in January, 1970, the young gorillas were rescued and nursed back to health by Dr. Fossey. Coco and Pucker had been captured in Rwanda by poachers who slaughtered ten adult gorillas in order to snatch the two babies to fill an order for the Cologne Zoo.

Monday, July 24, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Bird flu strategy for natives still up in the air

New Zealand's STUFF reports that officials are still working with the New Zealand Department of Conservation to decide which native birds should be vaccinated if there happens to be an outbreak of bird flu on the islands.
"Vaccination may be used in certain species or situations as a short-term measure when there is a significant and immediate threat," said biosecurity official Ron Thornton.

"Emergency vaccination may be used in New Zealand to avoid local spread, or to protect socially or culturally valuable collections or in threatened indigenous birds".
[...]
Because flightless birds such as ostriches and emus have shown susceptibility overseas to bird flu strains, kiwi are likely to be front-runners for vaccination, as are the highly inbred black robin and kakapo species.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

CHINA - China plan to protect environment

The BBC has news of China's new, five year environmental protection plan in which they intend to spend 1.4 trillion yuan ($175bn) to improve air and water quality, and reduce pollution.
China has some of the world's most polluted cities and waterways.

Beijing has often overlooked protecting the environment in the rush to develop its economy - but now it is paying the price, a BBC correspondent says.

A chemical spill in a river near the city of Harbin last year drew international attention, as water supplies to almost four million people had to be suspended for nearly a week.

Friday, July 21, 2006

ENDANGERED SPECIES - World 'needs new wildlife body'

The BBC News site has a report from Richard Black, Environment correspondent entitled World 'needs new wildlife body'.
The world needs a new global organisation dedicated to stemming the loss of plant and animal species.

That is the argument put forward by a group of eminent academics in this week's edition of the journal Nature.

They call for the establishment of an Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity (IPB) to parallel the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Full story at BBC News site.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

MADAGASCAR - Excess Baggage, BBC Radio 4

The July 15th episode of BBC Radio 4's always interesting Excess Baggage travel show (presented by Sandi Toksvig) was about Travelling for Voluntary Work in Madagascar. The full show is available as streaming audio from the Excess Baggage site, along with a huge library of past shows.
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, just over 580 thousand square kilometres (approximately 227 thousand square miles). It lies in the Indian Ocean, just east of Africa and is a living laboratory of evolution. Isolated from the rest of the world for over 60 million years, about 75% of its animals live nowhere else on the planet, including the endangered Angonoka tortoise and the rare aye-aye.

Sandi Toksvig is joined by novelist and Guardian travel writer Nick Maes who has just returned from the island and Richard Nimmo who runs a marine conservation and research organisation.
Here's a couple of previous posts, with links to other Last Chance To See related episodes of Excess Baggage...
Tour Guides (with Mark Carwardine)
Branding and Tourism

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

AMAZON RAINFOREST - A BBC Diary

BBC science correspondent David Shukman is investigating climate change and logging in the Amazon Rainforest and recording his progress in a series of written and video reports - Diary: The Amazon rainforest
Few places present as many challenges to travellers as the Amazon.

Follow my progress as I investigate how climate change and logging are affecting a region that has more than half the planet's remaining rainforests.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - News Roundup

A few interesting items of Gorilla related news that we've not covered recently.

From LiveScience.com - Why Do Gorillas Eat Rotting Wood?
Gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda will suck on wood chips for several minutes before spitting them. Sometimes they chew on them until their gums bleed. They have also been seen licking the bases of tree stumps and the insides of decayed logs, and breaking off pieces of wood to munch on later. Gorillas will return daily to the same stump and take turns feeding.
Also from LiveScience.com - Do Gorillas Go Through Menopause Too?
"Do they have hot flashes? Do they get grouchy? We haven't been able to measure those things yet, but give us time,'' said study co-author Sue Margolis, a former Brookfield Zoo researcher and now curator of primates at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo.
From SFGate.com - Village has a gorilla economy
Jenina Tukahirwa's arts and crafts shop is about 20 yards from the entrance to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park.
[...]
It is here where increasing numbers of tourists are tracking what park wardens say is a growing population of its endangered mountain gorilla.

"Our people are benefiting," Tukahirwa said while sitting in her shop, surrounded by carved figures of gorillas, woven baskets and other locally made crafts.

Monday, July 17, 2006

SAVE THE RHINO - Rhino Shopping

Visit the Save The Rhino Shop for all your Rhino needs... Whether it be shirts, books, CDs, poster or plush toys, you can be sure that part of your purchase price will go towards saving rhinos around the world.

Also, the Victor Stationery company has announced a major new initiative in support of Save the Rhino International.
Their flagship brand, RHINO, will lead the way in a major awareness and fundraising campaign across the UK.

Victor Stationery is a long-established manufacturer and leading supplier of quality paper stationery and exercise books to the education, commercial and retail stationery markets. There’s something for everyone from student refill pads and office essentials, to the "play and learn" range Rhino Kids.

To celebrate the partnership, Victor Stationery has developed two new and exciting "Save the Rhino" ranges. A contemporary recycled range with a natural feel will be next season’s must-have stationery item, while the strikingly cheeky "Horn Star" range will appeal to those of you with a wicked sense of humour!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Kakapo Encounter with the Ulva Island Trust

Kakapo EncounterI received news of a very interesting Kakapo Encounter event being organized by the Kakapo Recovery Programme on Stewart Island and the Ulva Island Trust.

Sirocco the Kakapo will be on view for visitors to Ulva Island from 13 August to 23 October 2006, cost NZ$80 adult, NZ$40 child.
The Ulva Island Trust is thrilled to be able to offer a unique opportunity to view one of the world's rarest birds. Between late August and the end of September this year (06) we will be hosting 'Sirocco', (a hand-reared male not involved in the breeding programme), on the rat-free sanctuary of Ulva Island, situated in Patersons Inlet, Rakiura/Stewart Island. We will be taking bookings for this event on a 'first come, first served' basis.
If anyone makes it to this, we'd be very interested in pictures of course, but the website does stress NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY!

**UPDATE**
The Kakapo Encounter webpage has been updated with more details of this exciting event.

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - 2050, the Last Gorilla?

The Independent Online has an article today reporting on a new warning from Matthew Woods of the UN-run Great Apes Survival Project.
The gorilla is threatened with extinction by the mid-21st century if poaching and destruction of its habitat continue at the current rate, the United Nations has warned.

Within a decade, three of the four sub-species of the great ape could be wiped out, it says. "Many populations are faced with imminent extinction," said Woods.

[The Mountain Gorilla is] susceptible to a number of threats, from uncontrolled hunting and war to disease, destruction of forest habitat and capture for the illegal pet trade. Considered critically endangered.

How many left: A little over 700.
Read on for full story.

And here's the link to GRASP, The Great Apes Survival Project.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Patrols destroy 1000 poaching snares

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International's Field News has an article this month on the anti-poaching patrols which found and destroyed over 1000 animal snares last year. Not necessarily intented for Gorillas, these vile traps are really aimed at catching other animals such as antelope to be consumed as "bush meat". The potential consequences of a gorilla being caught in one of these is all too obvious.
2-year-old Tayna was also found in a snare, but this time still hanging in it by her left hand. Her entire group was gathered around and silverback Titus was making attempts to free her. Unfortunately, due to the way the snares work, his efforts only succeed in making the noose tighter!
Full story at the DFGFI site.

Friday, July 14, 2006

CONSERVATION - America Going Green?

Interesting article over at Newsweek that touches on many areas of personal conservation that could have a major impact on the world if only everyone would/could do it. Wind & solar-powered homes and more fuel-efficient cars are all slowly becoming more viable options for everyone. Recycling efforts are also getting better.
In the face of the coming onslaught of pollutants from a rapidly urbanizing China and India, the task of avoiding ecological disaster may seem hopeless, and some environmental scientists have, quietly, concluded that it is.
Urban planners are also thinking actively about obesity fighting "pedestrian-friendly" communities, something sadly lacking in the US where the automobile is king. And it's not just in America. Last I heard (correct me if I'm wrong), new home construction in Spain requires the mandatory inclusion of solar-panels on the roof.
Steven F. Hayward, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "There's no problem environmentalists can't turn into an apocalyptic crisis," says Hayward.
[...]
Yet of all things, this hardheaded acolyte of the free market worries most about species extinction, among the most rarefied of ecological concerns. But, you see, Hayward has a young daughter. And she wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up.
Full article at Newsweek - Going Green In America.

As a side-note, let me complain bitterly about over-zealous city rules that prevent people doing what they want with their own home. A colleague of mine wanted desperately to join the growing number of people who are raising "pet" chickens to get their own fresh eggs. Yet a city ordinance denies her the opportunity.

She has ample backyard to accommodate the stylish, award-winning Omlet.com Eglu she wanted to get, but the city says no. What a shame. A couple of chickens pecking away harmlessly in a short chicken run seems far less offensive and dangerous to me than a great big Rottweiler dog, but I'm sure she could have one of those. It's not fair is it?

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - An Interview with Sigourney Weaver

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International website has an interview with Sigourney Weaver in which she talks about her return trip to Rwanda to film "Gorillas Revisited". The documentary aired on Animal Planet recently, some 18 years since Sigourney portrayed Dian Fossey in "Gorillas in the Mist".

Thursday, July 13, 2006

KOMODO DRAGONS - Faust at The Shedd Aquarium

Here's a video clip / slideshow of Faust the Komodo Dragon at The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

KOMODO DRAGONS - Ninki-Nanka and the Monster Detectives

An interesting story from the Independent Online about the "Ninki-Nanka", a mythical, 30 foot giant reptile that is supposed to dwell in the mangrove swamps of the Gambian jungle.
Once, the komodo dragon was thought to exist only in folklore. What other mythical beasts might we find if we look hard enough? Helen Brown meets the man on the trail of the ninki-nanka...
[...]
The "dragon" is rumoured to look rather like a game of zoological "consequences", possessing the body of a crocodile, the neck of a giraffe and the head of a horse with three horns. Less fantastically, the team's leader, Richard Freeman of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, suspects the ninki-nanka of being a species of colossal monitor lizard. "Whatever the truth," he says, "this is the first dedicated expedition to search for this animal."
Full story at the Independent Online.

GREAT GORILLA RUN 2006 - Edinburgh, July 16th

**REMINDER**

Edinburgh's Great Gorilla Run takes place on Sunday, July 16th. Here's the Scotsman Online's coverage that we posted last month. The London Great Gorilla Run takes place on 24th September.
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).

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

AYE-AYE LEMURS - Final Chance To Save

The second series of the TV series with the disconcertingly familiar name of "Final Chance To Save" has begun airing on the Sky TV network in the UK, Fridays at 8pm. The series features various celebrities making trips around the world to visit endangered animals.

One of the shows features talented actress Miranda Richardson (Blackadder) on a visit to Madagascar to visit the Aye-Aye Lemurs.
Madagascar, one of the world's last great wildernesses and home to 530 of the world's most endangered species, is home to the Aye-Aye, a creature that famously inspired Tolkien's Gollum from the Lord of the Ring's trilogy. Thought to be extinct in 1961, the Aye-Aye, a primate like us and a close evolutionary relative, was rediscovered and for the last four decades it has been on the world's most endangered list. If we don'’t act now, we could lose the species Miranda describes as the '‘underdog'’ of the natural world.
Dave Haddock reports that the Miranda Richardson/Aye-Aye episode show airs on:
Sky One - Friday 21st July, 8pm
Sky Two - Saturday 22nd July, 7pm

The series also features a Gorilla visit from mountaineer Joe Simpson, who experienced and wrote about his harrowing mountain adventure in "Touching the Void".

Other endangered animals visited in this series include Jaguars (Comedian Bill Bailey) and Tigers (Sanjeev Bhaskar).

No word on a US broadcast of the "Final Chance To Save" series, nor of any potential DVD release.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SIERRA CLUB INSIDERS - A warm welcome!

A very warm welcome to Sierra Club members! I'm very honoured to have been included in your Sierra Club Insider newsletter. I hope you enjoy your visit here, and please do subscribe to our RSS feed.

This website will be getting a bit of a makeover at the end of July to celebrate our second birthday, so do stay tuned! And if you haven't yet read "Last Chance To See", I heartily recommend it. A great book! See the links in the sidebar for more details.

Monday, July 10, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - 86 or 87?

I've finally put the mystery of the Kakapo numbers to bed. A contact at the Stewart Island Visitor Center sent me a lovely email which answers a question that has been bugging me for a while - Do we have 86 or 87 Kakapo Parrots?

In 2004 the number of Kakapo Parrots stood at 86. Unfortunately, 3 birds (Aroha, Vollie and Aurora) died from a bacterial infection (Erysipelas) leaving just 83 birds.

Then widespread delight in 2005 when 4 chicks were successfully hatched - F1 and F2 from Flossie, MM2 from Margaret-Maree, and S1 from Sarah. That brought us up to 87. Or so we thought.

Turns out, that in 2005, an adult bird (Gunner) died from fungal toxins, leaving the current population back at 86 (41 females, 45 males).

So there we go. 86 it is! Mystery solved. 2006 was not a successful breeding season, so let's hope for better luck in 2007.

More information (as ever) at The Kakapo Recovery Programme website.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

LEMURS - Three new lemur species discovered

MSNBC is one of many outlets that reported the discovery of three new species of mouse lemur recently. Here's one of the new primates, the Microcebus Mittermeieri...
Picture by Mark Thiessen / National Geographic Society
Famed for its lemurs, Madagascar now has three new species of the shy primates.

The three new mouse lemurs were officially named in a paper published in June by the International Journal of Primatology and announced at a conservation conference on Wednesday in the Malagasy capital.
Full article at MSNBC.com

Saturday, July 08, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Ian Redmond OBE

The Yorkshire Post has a profile of Biologist and conservationist Ian Redmond. The 52-year-old has just been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for his services to conservation.
Ian Redmond has helped safeguard the future of mountain gorillas in Africa – and even taught Sigourney Weaver how to grunt like an ape.
[...]
Redmond who, while working for the great ape expert Dian Fossey, introduced Sir David Attenborough to the mountain gorillas of Rwanda for his famous Life on Earth programme.
Read the full, fascinating interview at The Yorkshire Post.

You can view the David Attenborough and Mountain Gorilla clip at the BBC's great Attenborough Archive.


If you have a Region 2 or Region Free enabled DVD player, I can heartily recommend this DVD set of "Attenborough Specials", which includes the "Life On Air" documentary as narrated by ex-Monty Python and traveller Michael Palin. This is the programme that the above Mountain Gorilla clip was taken from.

I use this CyberHome CH-DVD 300S Progressive-Scan DVD Player in the USA to view Region 2 DVDs from Britain. Easy code to make it Region Free, very cheap, and works like a charm.

Friday, July 07, 2006

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - Four left?

ABC News has an article today about a recent survey that suggests that the Black Rhino of West Africa appears to be extinct.

Northern White Rhino
Northern White Rhino
Northern White Rhino
Northern White Rhino
It also includes the horrible news that confirms the Northern White Rhino is also on the verge of oblivion.
Restricted in the wild to Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, recent ground and aerial surveys … have only found four animals," Brooks said. [Dr Martin Brooks, chairman of the World Conservation Union's African Rhino Specialist Group]
Full story at ABC News.



Elsewhere, New Zealand's Scoop has news of an IUCN report on the home of the Northern White Rhino - Garamba National Park - one of the 15 sites on the "List of World Heritage in Danger". The sites are under threat for a variety of reasons including dam construction, war, poaching, deforestation, and poor management.

KAKAPO PARROTS - Interesting Thing of the Day

A very nice feature on the Kakapo Parrot as the Interesting Thing of the Day.
I’ve always been a sucker for endangered species—especially cute and comical endangered species. There aren’t that many of them—at least not anymore. But you’ve got to feel for an animal that spent many happy millennia peacefully minding its own business until humans came along. In this case, we’re talking about a silly-looking bird that had the misfortune of evolving in such a safe area that it lost (or never developed) most of the traits that could have enabled it to defend itself.
continues...

The page also links to the Kakapo ARKive page which we've mentioned before. Has some very nice video clips of the Kakapo in action.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

KOMODO DRAGONS - Forked Tongues Rule

Here's the Los Angeles Times with an article on how the establishment of Komodo National Park has been good news for the Komodo Dragons (which are thriving), rather less good news for the people on the island, many of them struggling to survive - Forked Tongues Rule.
Mohammed Sidik used to sell goats to Komodo National Park to feed to the wild Komodo dragons, the world's largest lizards, in a gory display for tourists.

Park officials banned the practice a decade ago because they worried that the dragons were becoming lazy. Now the 10-foot-long predators waddle three miles to this squalid coastal village, raid Sidik's herd and eat his goats for free.

"For the last two years they have been coming to the village," said Sidik, 60, who has lost seven animals to the dragons. "When they get thirsty, they come down to our well. The park no longer feeds goats to the dragons, so now the dragons come here."
Full Story here

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

STRUAN SUTHERLAND - "That's what deadly means!"

Here's blogger Toadman with an affectionate post about Douglas Adams. He talks of his delight at getting hold of a copy of the Last Chance To See CD Rom and enjoying the audio book files on it. He includes a snippet of the hilarious Struan Sutherland segment that occured prior to Douglas and Mark's trip to Komodo. Remember, "Just don't get bitten!"

Way back in January 2005, Dave Haddock reviewed Struan Sutherland's book "A Venomous Life" which is still available.

A Venomous Life
Struan Keith Sutherland
(AO, MD DSc FRACP FRCPA FACTM)
UK Edition                       US Edition
Hyland House Publishing (1999)
ISBN: 1864470267


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

DODOS - Was extinction actually a natural event?

Interesting follow up to the recent "significant" discovery of a good set of Dodo bones. The scientists that unearthed the mass grave on Mauritius say they have found evidence that could show that the Dodos could have been wiped out by a natural disaster, long before humans arrived on the island.
Most theories about how the dodo became extinct blame early settlers who found the plump flightless bird on the Indian Ocean island in the 16th century and hunted it relentlessly.

"There are indications that the fossil-rich layer represents the result of natural disaster wiping out a significant part of the Dodo-ecotope," a statement by the researchers said.

While the latest find does not disprove the human theory, the scientists are convinced there was a mass dodo death, possibly caused by a cyclone or flood, pre-dating the arrival of humans, Christian Foo Kune, owner of the site, told Reuters.
Full story at The Australian.

Monday, July 03, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - China's Ecological Suicide

Laurence Coates with a very powerful piece for the China Worker.
China is committing ecological suicide – destroying its waterways, atmosphere and natural resources to fuel runaway industrialisation. And this process threatens the entire planet.

Just as the Chinese people are among the main victims of global warming, mainly caused by the older industrialised ‘West’, China’s latest export wave – acid rain, air pollution and even more greenhouse gases – is a major threat to the global environment. Coal dust and acid rain caused by China’s power industry have fallen as far away as California, and belated moves to protect China’s forests have driven armies of Chinese loggers to Burma and Brazil.
Full story