Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kakapo Parrots: A Visit to Codfish Island

An historical blog post has been republished at thinkoholic.com about the writer's visit to Whenua Hou or Codfish Island in December 2005. The post contains several photo gallerys including close-up shots of three different Kakapo Parrots. There's also a couple of sound-bites of a booming Kakapo, one played at a higher pitch to help you hear it.

The three Kakapos in the Kakapo Gallery are the male Ox, and females Pounamu and Poura, two chicks hatched in spring 2005.
i was already ..."in the general area" (new zealand, that is), so i seized the chance and participated in the kakapo recovery programme.

the other passengers on the little airplane were phil (kakapo officer) and matthias&emilie, an incredible couple from france.
as soon as we landed, we got to meet the other biologists on the island: malcolm (kakapo officer), ursula&thomas (a penguin-researcher couple living in NZ, originally from germany), xin (NZ) and eleanor (NZ).

yup, 9 biologists on an uninhabited island for 14 days. an incredible time to be had. :-)
Note: Here's our full list of all 86 Kakapo Parrots.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Extinct: ITV show reveals final two celebrities

A further press release from Endemol Productions has revealed the identities of the final two personalities taking part in their ITV endangered species show "Extinct".

Actress Sadie Frost will visit Indonesia's Orang-Utans and TV & Radio presenter Dermot O'Leary will visit the Leatherback Turtles.

The full list of endangered animals and visiting personalities is...
Viewers will play an important part in the live interactive television event, being produced by Endemol's recently launched factual arm Cheetah Television, by ringing in to pledge their support for the animals. The money raised will help fund projects on the ground dedicated to protecting the rare wildlife.

In an effort to ensure that Extinct is 'carbon neutral', ITV has committed funds towards carbon reduction schemes to offset the effects of carbon dioxide emitted during production.

ITV has also commissioned a daytime family quiz show to tie in with the series - Extinct: The Quiz.

Madagascar: Presidential election increases Slash and Burn

WildMadagascar.org reports on a disturbing increase in deforestation or Slash & Burn as the people of Madagascar prepare to go to the polls on December 3rd for a Presidential election. The destruction is devastating news for the endangered lemurs on the island.
"Hell just started here," said Eric Mathieu (www.marojejy.com), a French conservationist who has lived in Andapa in northeast Madagascar for 13 years while working to preserve Marojejy National Park and Anjanaharibe-Sud Special Reserve. "The slash-and-burn is far worse than usual this year. With presidential elections coming, there is no control. You just have to sit and watch as a useless witness as the forests burn. Large portion of primary forests outside protected areas have been destroyed on the road from Sambava-Andapa. While the politicians campaign, the forests burn. Lemurs are losing habitat"

Struan Sutherland: Snakebite victims getting wrong first aid

The Courier Mail ran a story recently on research into the effective use of first aid on snake bite victims in Australia. The research's conclusion is that 66% of victims are not getting the best treatment, despite the well publicized recommendations of the late Dr Struan Sutherland (purveyor of fairy cakes to Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine in Last Chance To See).
"This is a tragedy," said Dr Noel Eatough, a registrar who reviewed the medical records of children admitted to Perth's Princess Margaret Hospital between 1994 and 2004.

He found only 33 per cent of the 151 children had had the best treatment, a pressure immobilisation bandage wrapped around the limb with the right pressure to limit the spread of venom.
[...]
Dr Eatough said he was disappointed parents did not seem to be aware of the bandaging, developed by renowned scientist Dr Struan Sutherland in the 1970s.

"It is an Australian invention ... now used around the world," he said. "It saves lives, so it is something all parents should be aware of."
As we all know, Struan's best advice regarding snakes is "DON'T GET BITTEN"!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Baiji Dolphins: On the trail of the Yangtze's lost dolphin

Some more extensive coverage here of the current Yangtze Baiji expedition. This Guardian article by Jonathan Watts suggests that there has been a single unconfirmed sighting of a Baiji Dolphin this year (prior to the current expedition), but nothing has been seen by these scientists so far. Depressing indeed.

The article includes a 16 page slideshow which features a picture of Qi Qi, the Baiji Dolphin that lived at the Wuhan Aquarium for 22 years before dying of old age in 2002.
Murky water, hazy sky and dull brown riverbanks. Strained eyes peering into the mist. Ears tuned electronically into the depths. And with each hour, each day that passes, a nagging question that grows louder: is this how a species ends after 20 million years on earth?

When they write the environmental history of early 21st-century China, the freshwater dolphin expedition now plying the Yangtze river may be seen as man's farewell to an animal it once worshipped. A team of the world's leading marine biologists is making a last-gasp search for the baiji, a dolphin that was revered as the goddess of Asia's mightiest river but is now probably the planet's most endangered mammal.

Pink Pigeons: Green eco-tourist track replaces multi-lane highway plan

Barely a year after a controversial multi-lane highway project was shelved, some great news from the island about a eco-tourist track that is being set up instead. The highway would have devastated the area so this is a fabulous alternative project.
The anniversary was worth a celebration. A year after giving up the idea of cutting down thousands of trees inside Ferney valley to build the South-Eastern highway, Ciel Properties Ltd have inaugurated the first eco-tourist track. The Ferney valley – or at least part of it– has been open to the public since Saturday for everyone to measure its importance for the Mauritian natural heritage and to take advantage of its beauties.
[...]
According to this survey, a Ferney Forest Conservation area will be defined and all exotic plants destroyed within this zone to allow all endemic plants to grow properly. The company will make sure that rare birds are protected and will even re-introduce endemic species such as the pink pigeon or the "cateau verte".
Full story at lexpress.mu.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Komodo Dragons: Walking with Dragons

Regular Another Chance To See reader November Tan contacted me to tell me about a two-part Komodo Dragon Field Journal written by Charith Pelpola. Charith is a TV/Documentary writer-director whose work has appeared on Discovery's Animal Planet. These are a great couple of posts from Charith on their "Lost In The Jungle" blog, and loads of great Komodo Dragon pictures too! Good stuff.

From Part 1 - Walking With Dragons
Now I began to realize how film crews before ours had managed to capture such awesome closeups of the dragons. It could well have been just a case of, "Ok, let's just park the boat over here, set up camera on the beach over there, throw some chunks of meat around the place, have a cup of tea and a few sandwiches while the dragons plod over, shoot a few rolls, pack up and head back home."

Kind of demystifies the whole illusion of dangerous wildlife film-making doesn't it?
From Part 2 - Walking With Dragons
Its not long before the sounds of frantic scurrying and scrabbling among the rocks and boulders reveal the presence of juvenile dragons, rushing for cover. Dragons have famously earned themselves a reputation as a cannibalistic species - and rightly so, although most victims end up being the youngsters who accidently get in the way of an adult during its feeding frenzy.

Juvenile dragons have come up with a novel 'cannibal anti-deterrent'. They smear themselves in the faecal matter of fallen prey. Even catholic eaters like Komodo Dragons, with their wide-ranging menu, still draw the line when it comes to faecal matter...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Komodo Dragon Swallows Pig

Here's a couple more frightening videos of Komodo Dragons in all their voracious glory.

Komodo Dragon Swallows Pig

Komodo Dragon Swallows Goat

Komodo Dragon Swallows Goat (Part II)

For more Komodo Dragon video clips, check out last week's post - Live Deer For Lunch?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gorillas: Love-hungry apes move to island

The BBC has an interesting story about lowland gorillas that have been straying into local villages looking for a mate.
Five male gorillas in the Republic of Congo that have been straying into villages in search of love are to get their very own "bachelor island". They began roaming for mates after being squeezed out by dominant males.

Work has begun to convert 60 acres of the Lefini Reserve that is surrounded by rivers into a self-contained home. The animals were orphaned as a result of the bushmeat trade and then sold into the illegal pet market before being rescued, conservationists said.
Full story at BBC News.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Kakapo Parrots: "Code of the Kakapo" documentary film

Scott Mouat of ELWIN Productions kindly wrote to tell me about the opportunity he has had recently to follow the Kakapo Recovery Team and film their progress for a new natural history documentary feature film called "Code of the Kakapo". The trailer for the film is available at the bottom of that web page and looks GREAT! Check it out now!
Code of the Kakapo

Over the past 30 years mankind has battled to ensure the survival the world's rarest wild parrot. The kakapo, pushed to the brink of extinction by introduced predators, is down to its last breeding population, a population plagued by infertility. The kakapo recovery team must find a cure.

Cutting edge science has broken the kakapo's genetic code and uncovered the reason for their poor hatching success. Almost all the surviving birds are descended from an inbred Stewart Island population, unable to breed with kakapo from other populations their gene pool is diminishing and if left unchecked it could be disastrous for the species.
[...]
This film will follow the dramatic events that unfold as the recovery team battles to save the species.
I've asked Scott to keep us all informed on Code of the Kakapo's progress and to let us know how we can get to see it once it is complete.

I'm sure I speak for all Last Chance To See and Kakapo Parrot fans when I wish Scott the very best of luck with this very splendid and worthwhile venture.

Plus, the latest news from the Elwin Productions site is that filming is underway on Ulva Island for another film about the island, its flora and fauna. Ulva was home to Sirocco the Kakapo Parrot during this year's Kakapo Encounter.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Douglas Adams: Thanks

On this Thanksgiving Day, let me send my thanks to Douglas Adams for giving us all those crazy, hilarious stories such as "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", his hilarious "Meaning of Liff" and "Last Chance To See" of course.

Here's Douglas Adams' "Last Interview" video as posted recently on YouTube

And another video tribute to Douglas Adams

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Endangered Animals: Going, Going, Gone

I was browsing through this new book about endangered animals in the bookshop the other day. It's quite nice.
To compile this book, 100 conservation groups around the world were each asked to nominate one animal or plant that gave them cause for concern. One species under threat of extinction. One symbol of the fight to save the ever-vanishing natural world around us.

What species did they choose? And how can you help them save these animals and plants?

"Going, Going, Gone" holds the answers.

100 animals and plants. One book. One last chance.
The book features a double page spread for every animal or plant, information on current status and estimated population. Each page also contains a box-out of "What you can do" with charity and conservation organization information.

Species featured include the Bengal Tiger, Giant Panda, Water Vole, Corncockle, Polar Bear, Snow Leopard, Red-breasted Goose, Northern Right Whale and many more.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fifth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture

Details have been announced for the Fifth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture. The presentation will be made by Dr Richard Leakey and is entitled "Wildlife management in East Africa – Is there a future?".

The lecture takes place at 7.30pm on Thursday 15 March 2007 at the Royal Geographic Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7. Tickets will be £12, with a pay bar before and after the Lecture, and they are available now from www.savetherhino.org or Zoe at Save the Rhino, Email: zoe_AT_savetherhino.org.
Save the Rhino International and the Environmental Investigation Agency are co-hosting the Fifth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, a talk by Dr Richard Leakey, on Thursday 15 March at the Royal Geographic Society in London SW7. In this talk, Dr Leakey will draw on his own experiences in Kenya, as founder and Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service and as the Head of Kenya's Civil Service to reflect on the successes, current problems and future challenges.

Richard Erskine Leakey was born on 19 December 1944, the second of Louis and Mary Leakey's three sons. Quickly following in his parents’ footsteps, his first career was in the field of paleoanthropology, with many important finds including (with Alan Walker in 1984), "Turkana Boy," a Homo erectus roughly 1.6 million years old, one of the most complete skeletons ever found. In 1968, aged just 24, Richard Leakey was appointed Director of the National Museums of Kenya.

In 1989 Richard left his post to become Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service. In this capacity, he spearheaded efforts to end rampant elephant poaching, but he made political enemies in the process. Nonetheless, the elephant population has since stabilised and continues to grow. In 1993 Leakey survived a serious plane crash and the following year he resigned as director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, though he continues to be active in political and environmental arenas.

As the former Director of Kenya's National Museums and former director of the Kenya Wildlife Service, he has used his leadership skills and considerable influence to raise money for the preservation of Kenyan culture and wildlife. Never one to back down on a challenge, in 1995 Richard Leakey took a stand against corruption in Kenya’s government by forming Safina, an opposition party. Despite being subjected to beatings, death threats, and constant government surveillance, Leakey has continued his crusade for political justice. Although no longer active in fieldwork, Dr Leakey, as one of the foremost authorities on wildlife and nature conservation, continues to educate others about the dangers of environmental degradation through his many lectures and books.

The lecture is in aid of Save the Rhino International and the Environmental Investigation Agency, two charities supported by Douglas Adams. Douglas developed his deep-seated interest in wildlife conservation during a 1985 visit to Madagascar, which eventually resulted in a book (Last Chance to See) about the plight of species facing extinction. Douglas Adams died unexpectedly in 2001 at the age of 49. These Memorial Lectures continue to explore the themes in which Douglas was so interested.


Dr Leakey’s books include: Wildlife Wars: My Battle to Save Kenya's Elephants (paperback, August 2002, PanMacmillan, RRP £7.99); The Sixth Extinction: Biodiversity and Its Survival with Roger Lewin (paperback, November 1996, Phoenix Press, RRP £7.99); and Origins Reconsidered: In Search of What Makes Us Human also with Roger Lewin (paperback, October 1993, Abacus, RRP £10.99).

Douglas Adams created all the various and contradictory manifestations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: radio, novels, TV, film, computer games, stage adaptations, comic book and bath towel. For more information about Douglas Adams and his creations, please visit www.douglasadams.com

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is an international campaigning organisation committed to investigating and exposing environmental crime. Since 1984, EIA has used pioneering investigative techniques all over the world to expose the impact of environmental crime and to seek lasting solutions. More info at www.eia-international.org

Save the Rhino International works to conserve genetically viable populations of critically endangered rhinoceros species in the wild. We do this by providing financial and in-kind support for rhino- and community-based conservation projects in Africa and Asia. More info at www.savetherhino.org

Tickets are on sale now. Simply download the form and send it in with your cheque, alternatively phone the office on 0207 357 7474 and pay over the phone.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rhinos: British soldiers kill white rhino

The BBC is among several news sites reporting that four British soldiers had no option but to shoot and kill a White Rhino that charged at them. The incident occurred in Laikipia, Kenya, just north of the capital Nairobi.
The four soldiers were confronted by the adult male after they got lost at night on an exercise in the bush.
[...]
Laikipia conservancy senior game warden Dickson Too said the soldiers had been "forced to shoot at it".

"We don't consider it a deliberate act of killing, they were just acting in self-defence," he said.
Full story at BBC News.

Other websites reporting this incident suggest that White Rhino numbers in Kenya have dwindled to about 170 animals.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

BBC Radio: Planet Earth Under Threat

Coming up on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 20th November (9:00-9:30pm) is a new series of Planet Earth Under Threat presented by Gabrielle Walker. In the first show she witnesses the melting of the Greenland icecap, sees the effects of warming on corals in the Pacific and discovers how changing rainfall is causing the lemurs of Madagascar to suffer. But the news is not all bad - the red fox and the moose are on the march.

The show has its own blog at Planet Earth Under Threat, and each episode will be available online for 7 days following the broadcast. Episode One.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mountain Gorillas : Gorilla Baby Dies from Broken Arm

November's Field News from the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund reports sad news from Pablo's Group. The staff of the Karisoke Research Center have reported that a baby born to Maggie on October 9th 2006 has died.
One month after his birth, the infant was observed with a swollen right arm. It was later established that the upper arm was broken. The incident that led to the wound is unknown. It is possible that the infant was hurt during an aggressive interaction between Maggie and another group member. The field veterinarians from the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project monitored the situation. Frustratingly, there is little that we can do to assist in such situations in the wild. If the infant had survived the injury we do not believe that he would have had a good quality of life with no chance of using that arm for walking or manipulating food items.
Full story at DFGFI Field News page.

Baiji Dolphins : Rare Yangtze River Dolphin in Peril

The Discovery Channel's News site has more information on the Baiji river dolphin research expedition currently taking place on the Yangtze River in China.
The baiji, believed to be among the world's oldest fresh-water mammals, may already be extinct but an international team of scientists and ecologists are hoping against formidable odds that the dolphin has survived.

"We are just hoping the baiji are still here," Brent Stewart, a research biologist from Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute in San Diego, said aboard the Kekao One, one of the expedition's ships.
[...]
The objective of the six-week expedition is to find, count and observe the baiji, then capture them and put them in a safer home such as an aquatic reserve.

In a nine-day trip in March researchers failed to find a single baiji, which relies on its highly developed sonar system instead of its eyes.
Read on for the full story at the Discovery Channel.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mark Carwardine : Save The Tiger lecture report

Many thanks to David Haddock, supporter and regular contributer to Another Chance To See, who sends us this report on his evening at the Save The Tiger Illustrated Lecture. The event took place on November 7th in London to raise money for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, and Last Chance To See co-author Mark Carwardine was on hand to talk about his experiences "In Search of Endangered Mammals".

David writes...
At the Save the Tiger event at the Royal Geographical Society in London last week Lyn Hughes from the magazine Wanderlust introduced the evening. She commented that the Tiger was suffering a crisis and that the most recent poaching has been to service to Tibetan market where a growing middle class has become enamored of Tiger skins. The Dali Lama has spoken out against this fashion, but this just lead to the Chinese government ordering TV presenters to wear them.

Lyn introduced a film on the work of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, narrated by Rula Lenska (who was in the Hitchhiker's radio series, another Douglas Adams link) and included various other celebrities: Gary Lineker, Jackie Chan, Minnie Driver and Ralph Fiennes, all of whom spoke the line, "When the buying stops, the killing can too", in a plea to get people to stop the market for endangered species items.

After the short film David Shepherd the wildlife artist spoke. He initially commented that he knew little about wildlife which was why he had brought his friend and colleague Mark Carwardine. He went on to talk about his first tiger encounters, both in the wild and captivity, before ending with a story of trying to explain to an Indian tourist official who was bemoaning the state of the Taj Mahal that the building could be rebuilt, but if the tiger becomes extinct then the species cannot be brought back to life.

Mark Carwardine then spoke discussing the work of the foundation through the world as he has recently been auditing their projects. He said he was here to do the factual stuff which David was there to be inspiring. Mark began with some stark numbers on the status of mammals in the world. 1095 of the 5416 named species are considered endangered, that is 20%! This includes mice and bats as well as the more charismatic rhino and tigers.

Mark mentioned that he had recently been in Burundi and seen the Gorilla who are just about hanging on, and also been swimming with Manatee in Florida where all the animals have propeller scars, before moving onto the story of a manatee relative, Steller's Sea Cow. These twenty-five foot long animals were discovered in the Bering Straits in the mid eighteenth century by a group of shipwrecked sailor who hunted and ate them whilst building a replacement boat. Within 27 years the whole population had been exterminated, although Mark holds out a hope that somewhere in the area there may be a surviving population. The Tasmanian Tiger is another famous extinct mammal, and Mark showed the picture of one at Hobart Zoo in 1933. There used to be a government bounty for killing these animals, but now there is one for finding one alive.

Mark then mentioned his trip with Douglas Adams for the book and radio series, Last Chance To See. He chuckled that the two of them had bumbled round the world for eighteen months looking for nine animals, of which two were mammals. Back in 1990, he said, there were an estimated 100 Yangtze River Dolphin, but that none had been seen recently and that unfortunately the photograph he took might become as famous as the Tasmanian Tiger picture as one of the last of a lost species. The other mammal was the Northern White Rhino. Mark and Douglas saw 8 of the 22 alive when they visited in 1991 in one three hour flight, but now, he said, there are possibly just 6. The African Lion he warned could be next. Although there are 20,000 left, that represents a decline of 96% in 60 years. The warning signs are there, that is a faster decline that the tiger, the problem is that we generally leave things very late to try and save these animals.

Returning to his travels visiting David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation projects he said that recently he had been shot at, bitten, headbutted by a Rhino and more. In Mongolia the foundation is working with the nomads to stop them killing the snow leopards which sometimes attack their Yaks. To do this they have mobilised the female population by buying clothing made from the Yak wool, and paying a bonus when there are no recorded leopard killings in the area. Pressure on the elephant population has seen them move from the ear-torn Congo encroach on villages in Uganda, trampling crops and also men sent to protect the crops. Paying the people to build a 20km elephant trench has reduced the trampling problem. In Siberia, where Mark was shot at, the foundation fund anti-poaching patrols that are attempting to protect the tigers in the fairly lawless area to the north of Vladivostok.

The final project that Mark talked about was Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam in North-East India. It contains 1850 Indian Rhino, approximately three-quarters of the total population, and also a signification population of tigers. Buying basic equipment such as bicycles, radios and torches for the rangers the foundation has helped this become one of the most successful parks in terms of reduced poaching. Mark's bottom line was that it is people that make a difference, and that the foundation has a great track record of finding the right people and getting them involved.

The talks were followed by a raffle and auction of wildlife art to raise more money for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

Rhinos : Scientists Crack Rhino Horn Riddle

ScienceDaily has news of a recent study of rhino horns undertaken at Ohio University. The researchers have been examining the heads of rhinos that died of natural causes at local zoos and safari parks, and their findings are going a long way to explaining why the rhino horn gets its distinctive curve and pointed tip.
Rhinoceros horns have long been objects of mythological beliefs. Some cultures prize them for their supposed magical or medicinal qualities. Others have used them as dagger handles or good luck charms.
[...]
The horns of most animals have a bony core covered by a thin sheath of keratin, the same substance as hair and nails. Rhino horns are unique, however, because they are composed entirely of keratin. Scientists had been puzzled by the difference, but the Ohio University study now has revealed an interesting clue: dark patches running through the center of the horns.
Full story at ScienceDaily.com.

Thanks to Robert for this story.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Komodo Dragons - Live deer for lunch? (VIDEO)

Here's a few YouTube videos of Komodo Dragons eating. If you're having your breakfast, lunch or dinner I recommend you don't watch these. Yuck! Pretty horrific videos.

Eating a deer while still alive! - "Walking around on Rinca, an island next to Komodo, we heard a deer screaming. Going into the direction of the sound, we found this Komodo dragon having 'live' breakfast."

Swallowing lunch whole...

Rats for dinner?

Baiji Dolphins - International six-week study has begun

The Shanghai Daily has a brief note on a new, six-week study being undertaken by scientists from six countries, including China, USA, UK and Switzerland on the Yangtze and any endangered Chinese river dolphins that may be left in those murky, noisy waters.
The research began in Wuhan, Hubei Province and will wrap up in Shanghai. The Chinese river dolphin is an aquatic mammal found only in China's Yangtze River and is listed as an endangered species. The research is being funded by Anheuser-Busch, the brewery responsible for Budweiser, which has put up 500,000 yuan (US$62,500).
Full story at ShanghaiDaily.com.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mountain Gorillas - YouTube videos

Here's a few more Gorilla Trekking videos, as posted on the recently Google-acquired YouTube.com. The first one features some cute young gorillas frolicking on a small tree. It's a cute, funny video, and had the potential for a hilarious conclusion if the tree had sprung back with a bit more speed. Wheeeeeeeee!! Flying Gorillas!!



The poster of these videos (megcronin) also has a couple more videos on his profile of rural Rwanda and a Rwandan village.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mountain Gorillas - Gorilla News Reports Roundup

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda arrived in Tokyo on November 6th for a three day official visit to Japan.
President Kagame received a courtesy call from Mr Osamu Watanabe, CEO and Chairman of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO). JETRO facilitates trade between Japan and Africa by helping Japanese companies to export and also assist foreign companies to enter the Japanese market. Mr Watanabe congratulated President Kagame for establishing stability in Rwanda and for the current efforts in economic development and reconstruction.
[...]
He also noted that tourism was a promising sector in Rwanda, with the ability to attract Japanese tourists visiting the region, to experience the mountain gorilla tracking and other eco-tourism attractions.
Visit allAfrica.com for the full story.

And on the role of Mountain Gorillas in endangered species tourism, The East African Magazine reports that...
Uganda, Rwanda , and the Democratic Republic of Congo have agreed to harmonise fees charged for gorilla tracking permits in order not to lose revenue to the migratory behaviour of the gorillas across the two countries' borders.

The countries want to review and standardise gorilla tracking permit fees to $500 for foreign non residents and $475 for foreign residents as of July 1, 2007, to back the plan to manage the migratory trans-boundary gorillas.

The three countries charge different fees, which makes it difficult to share revenue when the primates crossed borders.
Visit The East African Magazine for the full story.

National Geographic reports that a form of HIV has been found in wild gorillas in western central Africa.
This is the first time the AIDS-causing virus has been detected in primates other than chimps and humans.

It is also the "first time someone has looked at HIV infection in wild living gorillas," said Martine Peeters, a virologist at the French government's Institut de Recherche Pour le Développement and at the University of Montpellier, France.
[...]
Researchers did not survey the mountain gorilla subspecies, which lives in East Africa.
Visit National Geographic for the full story.

Finally, visit the Bronx Zoo website in New York for their Great Gorilla Forest page which includes pictures of gorillas (specifically their Western Lowland Gorillas). They also have a very short video on their Virtual Tour.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Save The Rhino - A Christmas Flab Saver?

I received a very nice email from an official at Save The Rhino last week, thanking us for our efforts on the "Another Chance To See Fundraiser". We've raised £50 so far, and with Christmas just around the corner I thought it might be a good time to ask for a small donation towards the rhinos. Just one or two pounds will be helpful!

Look, do you really need another box of Christmas chocolates? Save the Rhino and your waistline at the same time! Put the chocolates back and apply the money to our fundraiser! If you look at some of these notices from the Save The Rhino website you'll see that every little bit helps...

Douglas Adams was a great supporter and patron of Save The Rhino so please help us towards our target with any amount you can spare. Just a couple of quid will help if we pool our resources. Anyone in the world can donate, because the JustGiving website will convert your credit card donation to GB pounds automatically. Thanks everyone, and merry Christmas rhinos everywhere!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

ENDANGERED ANIMALS NEWS - A brief roundup

Here's a brief round-up of some endangered animals news stories that caught my eye recently with three articles from the BBC.

Hugh O'Shaughnessy went to Peru to visit the territory of the Spectacled Bears, the creatures that Stephen Fry visited for his Last Chance To See-esque book "Rescuing the Spectacled Bear". The bears are being threatened by aggressive economic development in the region.
For me, the exchange with Captain Sutcliffe high in the mountains perfectly encapsulated a situation which in one form or another is becoming ever more common in Peru.

This country is a genuine treasure trove of mineral riches.

It is the world's largest producer of silver and there is lead, copper, zinc, molybdenum - known as "Molly" in the trade - and much more.

I was saddened to hear about the fate of 1,000 or so endangered Orang-Utans in Borneo which have perished as a result of the forest fires that have been burning there for months.
Fires on the island of Borneo may have killed up to 1,000 orangutans, say animal protection workers in Indonesia.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation says the animals are facing severe problems as their natural habitat is burnt away.

Rescue workers have found several dead orangutans in burnt-out areas, but have no way of reaching animals still trapped in the burning forests.

Prince Charles has spoken out on behalf of the beautiful Albatross.
[...]he believes the world has a duty to save the endangered albatross from extinction.

The heir to the British throne said the demise of the iconic sea-bird would be "such an appalling commentary on the way we treat the world".

Campaigners say about 100,000 birds drown each year after becoming caught on longline fishing hooks.

The Prince of Wales made his comments in TVE's Earth Report programme, to be broadcast on BBC World this weekend.

Another recent BBC News article has highlighted yet another big game poaching problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo - The Hippopotamus.

Hippos in the country are now within a few months of extinction. Zoological Society of London researchers have said that the population has dropped by 50% in just two weeks!
They say the Mai Mai militia has set up camp in Virunga National Park and catches the animals for meat and ivory.

The hippo entered the Red List of Threatened Species this year, and is declining in many parts of Africa.

ZSL says the militia killed hundreds of hippos in a two week period, and numbers now are below 400.

Its scientists warn the entire population may disappear before the end of the year without urgent action.

Finally, I came across this marvellous animal slide-show at MSNBC.com. Some of the animals are rare, some not so rare, but most of these pictures are superb. Click each animal picture to move onto the next one.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

RODRIGUES FRUIT BATS - Going batty over bats

Nancy Thompson writes a KidSpace article for the Christian Science Monitor site all about her visit to Oregon Zoo, Portland to see their Bat exhibit.
As I walked up to part of the Africa exhibit at the Oregon Zoo, in Portland, a pair of big brown eyes gazed curiously into mine. They were looking at me upside down; the sleek-furred creature with a foxlike face was hanging by its back feet. It was one of the world's most abundant mammals: bats.

The exhibit contained numerous tree branches, and green mesh spanned its ceiling. Three species of fruit bats hung from the branches and the mesh: a straw-colored bat, an Egyptian bat, and an endangered Rodrigues bat.
Read the full article at the Christian Science Monitor.

And here's the Oregon Zoo Africa Rainforest Exhibit page, including the Rodrigues Flying Fox. The page includes a video of "Adorable Baby Bats", available for download in QuickTime or Windows Media formats.
Completed in 1991, bats and a variety of tropical birds and waterfowl live in this tangle of lush vegetation.

In the Bamba du Jon Swamp building, visitors experience tropical thunder, lightening and a torrential downpour that passes over endangered slender-snouted crocodiles, lung fish and frogs.

In the Kongo Ranger Station, kids and adults get a hands-on educational experience and learn about the people of the rain forest, as well as the threats that animals face.

Monday, November 06, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Denver Gorilla Run a primal, sweaty event

Brendan Leonard took part in last Saturday's Denver Great Gorilla Run, and makes his amusing report over at YourHub.com.

Well done Brendan! (Picture by Emily Shull)
This past Saturday, I was running down Wynkoop Street in a full gorilla suit, wheezing through the nose holes of the mask, thinking I hadn't sweated that much since two-a-day football practices during the hottest week of the Iowa summer.

I was young and dumb when I played football. Now I have no excuse for my behavior -- except that I'm helping save a bunch of mountain gorillas I'll probably never see since they all live in east Africa.
[...]
The Most Creative Gorilla contest motivated many participants to go above and beyond the standard gorilla costume -- there was a Hugh Hefner gorilla (and a Playboy Bunny gorilla), a gorilla carrying a 7-foot tall beer bottle and wearing a beer can, an elaborate King Kong gorilla complete with a plane circling his head, and many others.
There's even a picture of the Britney Spears and Kevin Federline gorillas! I wonder who'll get custody of the gorilla babies?