Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bob and Ray video: The Komodo Dragon Expert

Being from the UK, Bob and Ray were completely unfamiliar to me, despite their long and successful comedy career. I stumbled across this Bob and Ray sketch on YouTube, and it did make me laugh, because deadpan comedy like this generally does. Enjoy! (It's quite educational too!)
Note: the video goes black at the end of the sketch, and I've checked, there's nothing else to see in the remaining few minutes

Related Link: (if you're in the vicinity of our nation's capital, Washington DC) The Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Beyond the Dragon: Komodo's natural fascinations

Here's a smashing tourist's guide to Komodo National Park by Kanis Dursin for The Jakarta Post. It covers way more than just the grisliest endangered animals of the park that we're most familiar with.
Welcome to Komodo National Park in West Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara province.

You would be forgiven to think the 1,817 square kilometer park in the heart of Wallacea has nothing more but the Komodo dragon (varanus komodoensis) to offer.
[...]
The truth is, while the unique dragon remains its main draw, the national park, established in 1980, is pregnant with fascinating natural attractions -- and watching roaring flying foxes is just one of them.

Next time you come to Komodo National Park make sure you tell your guide to drop by a mangrove islet off Rinca village so you can see thousands of flying foxes migrating in droves.

Aye-Aye Kintana Videos

Here's a couple of videos of Kintana, the Aye-Aye baby from Bristol Zoo. Cute? You be the judge...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mountain Gorilla IMAX movie

To see Mountain Gorillas up close and personal like never before, visit the Milwaukee Public Museum and watch Mountain Gorilla on IMAX. Now playing, through September 6th 2007, or get it on DVD to watch at home.
Eat, nap, travel, interact, eat: that's a typical routine for adult gorillas. But for the young ones, the routine is more like play, play, play, play, play. Filmed in the lush mountain cloud forest of Rwanda, Mountain Gorilla provides close encounters with the largest of all primates as it documents a day in the life of these extraordinary creatures.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Last Comic Standing: Mel Silverback

Nice to see endangered animals like the Mountain Gorilla making their way in the world. I see that Mel Silverback made it safely through the first round of NBC television's "Last Comic Standing" last week. Not totally sure about some of the material, but some of it was quite funny.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kakapo Chicks Video (Auckland Point School)

Below you'll find a great video by Auckland Point School of their visit to see the Kakapo chicks in 2005. It was only recently posted on the GooTube, and is part of the school's marvellous "Kakapo Kids" website. The current Kakapo Kids are Monica, Emma and Perry, and I can't believe I never came across their site before! WELL DONE GUYS, oh, and Mr Martin too ;-)

But their site also bears the sad confirmation about a distinct lack of Kakapo breeding in 2007.
There have been no new kakapo chicks this breeding season, and it looks like there won't be any more until 2008!

There hasn't been enough Rimu fruit growing to get the female kakapos to mate, and that is one of the reasons that DOC has come up with the plan for an artificial insemination programme.
So here's hoping for a better Rimu crop next year.

Here's the video...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Northern White Rhinos in danger (plus video)

Here's a nice article at the North County Times commenting on the recent death of Nadi at San Diego Zoo, and what the future holds for the Northern White Rhino. There's also a video report (poor sound quality unfortunately) where you can see the zoo's remaining Northern White Rhinos up close.
Only a handful of northern white rhinos remain, including the Wild Animal Park's elderly female, Nola, and a male named Angalifu.

"Things look incredibly dismal at this point," said Randy Rieches, curator of mammals at the Wild Animal Park. "The only hope may be to preserve as much genetic material as possible and wait until reproductive technology advances enough to bring the species back."
[...]
A 2006 news statement from the foundation says:

"Although the African Parks Foundation is reluctant to give away information on the remaining few (rhinos), they have always been living safely away from the clutches of the LRA. Rather, their main threat has been raiding parties of well-armed Sudanese poachers."
Randy Rieches' comment in the middle of the article bears repeating here... A great quote!
There's a big difference between a species that goes extinct naturally and one that goes extinct because of human greed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mountain Gorilla shot dead, execution style

In some dreadful news from the Democratic Republic of Congo, National park rangers are working to try and save a 2-month-old baby gorilla, which was found clinging to its dead mother. The adult gorilla had been shot through the back of the head, "execution style", most likely by Mai-Mai rebels. Full story at Reuters AlertNet.
"She's more or less OK. It is certainly a worrying situation, but not hopeless," Paulin Ngobobo, senior warden in eastern Congo's Virunga National Park, told Reuters from the city of Goma where he is looking after the female infant.
[...]
It was unclear who had killed the adult female or why. She had been killed "execution-style" in the back of the head and left at the scene rather than taken away to be eaten, said Emmanuel de Merode of conservation group Wildlife Direct.
[...]
"She was shot at very close range ... a second gorilla was probably shot because there was a trail of blood nearby and three gunshots were heard. The other was probably wounded and got away," he said.

Mark Carwardine Photography Workshop

The ever helpful Dave Haddock wrote to tell me about a One-Day Photography Workshop with Mark Carwardine, taking place on 28th July 2007, 11am-4pm.
North Kent Marshes (RSPB)

A great opportunity to improve your photography – inspiring talks and slide shows, tips, advice and practical fieldwork.

£30 (includes buffet lunch and entry to Mark's evening presentation, 'Travels and Tribulations of a Zoologist', 6.30-9.30pm)

To book a place, tel: 01634 222480
For more dates with your diary, visit MarkCarwardine.com.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Inbox clearout

Time to clear out a few links that have been cluttering up my Inbox and RSS feeds for a while, and I just haven't had time to post them.


Dr. Mike Cranfield on Mountain Gorilla welfare
“One of the most incredible things about gorillas, I’ve found, is that they have, like, long, sustained flatulence that never ceases to amaze everybody that is there,” Cranfield explains.

“I mean, tourists are just like . . . ” he trails off, mimicking a wide-eyed, slack-jawed tourist. “Sometimes you will hear them before you see them.”
Shedd Aquarium Komodo Dragon exhibition extended through Summer 2008

Daycare for a dragon

Herald Petrol turns up on Round Island

Virgin Shark gives birth (Another example of parthenogenesis)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Field News (June 2007)

The June 2007 edition of Dian Fossey Field News is now online, with exciting news about two new groups that are beginning to form.

Lone silverback Rano is joined by two females
After he left Beetsme’s group on September 2006, Umushikirano (better known as Rano) became a lone silverback and moved to an area along the side of Mt. Visoke that is rarely covered by the Karisoke Research Center field staff. After 6 months with no sign of him, we were pleasantly surprised to see him again on March 30, not far from his natal group.

Then, on April 1, 2007, Makuba and Mawingu, two adult females from Beetsme’s group, were found in the company of Rano. It is very likely that the silverback approached the group on the last day of March, whereupon he succeeded in gaining the two females.
Bwenge's new subgroup is growing
A new subgroup of mountain gorillas began to form when we observed that Bwenge left Beetsme's group in January. It has now grown to include seven females from Pablo's group, the largest of the mountain gorilla groups that we monitor from Karisoke. The latest additions were on April 16, when Cyiza a (39-year-old female), Ruhuka (7-year-old female) and Faida (6-year-old female) transferred from the temporary subgroup lead by the blackback Musilikale (who separated from Pablo's group on April 8), to Bwenge's subgroup.

The Kakapo Farm

Conservation Magazine's Journal Watch Online reports on the latest efforts to help the last few Kakapo Parrots breed, by comparing natural nutritional supplements such as nuts with other special formulas.
A group led by Glasgow University's David Houston describe how supplementary feeding can increase clutch sizes, but only if it’s the right supplement. A mixture of nuts – which the birds like – had no effect, whereas a specially formulated, more nutritionally-balanced pellet supplement led to significantly larger numbers of eggs.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gorilla Guardians In Pictures (plus video)

Augustin Kambale, a DR Congo wildlife ranger caring for the last few mountain gorillas in the country is pictured on a BBC News: In Pictures feature.

Augustin writes for the Gorilla Protection Blog, always worth a regular look for great pictures and video.

Here's one of his recent videos.

Northern White Rhinos: Horn trade pressures some rhinos

The BBC reports on a rise in poaching for the horn trade which is pushing more and more endangered rhino populations towards the brink of extinction.
The wildlife trade organisation Traffic has documented a five-fold increase in the volume of rhino horn entering the illegal market between 2000 and 2005.

The populations most affected are in western and central Africa and Nepal, with one sub-species in Cameroon believed extinct already.
[...]
An expedition in Cameroon last year found that the one remaining tiny population of the northern black rhino sub-species Diceros bicornis longipes had probably been poached to extinction.

DRC is home to the last four northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) in existence.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Rodrigues Fruit Bats: YouTube Video

Rodrigues & Seba fruit bats (Pteropus Rodricensis & Carollia Perspicillata) filmed in their huge nocturnal enclosure at Chester Zoo, Cheshire, UK, October 2006 with a specially composed soundtrack featuring the No-Age Sounds of Sedayne.
Cool music!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Komodo Dragon kills 8 year old Indonesian boy

In very sad news, an 8 or 9 year old Indonesian boy has been killed during a vicious attack by a Komodo Dragon. There's a large amount of coverage around the web about the death, and it is reported to be the first fatal attack by one of these gigantic lizards in over thirty years!

Report at The Times Online...
Wardens in a national park in eastern Indonesia have launched a search for a Komodo dragon who attacked and killed an 8-year-old boy as he took a toilet break in a bush.
[...]
“The Komodo bit him on his waist and tossed him viciously from side to side,” said the spokesman, Heru Rudiharto. “A fishermen, who just happened to be the boy’s uncle, threw rocks at the lizard until it let the boy go and fled. The boy died from massive bleeding half an hour later.”
More coverage at ITV.com, MonstersAndCritics.com, News.com.au, and MSNBC.com.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Kakapo Parrots: Kim Griggs speaks (audio)

At the 5th World Conference for Science Journalists in Melbourne, Kim Griggs spoke during "How to make a big story bigger". Her speech focussed on the promotion of her Kakapo stories of recent years.
Kim Griggs, freelance science writer in New Zealand, has to make stories bigger “to make a living.”

The green fat nocturnal parrot — Kakapo — sold well. In one trip, Griggs sold the Kakapo story to COSMOS magazine for a feature, to the BBC by interviewing UK volunteers, and to New Scientist for artificial insemination. Though the real reason to pursue stories like the Kakapo is to hold one of the six Kakapos in her hand, Griggs says.

Griggs gave out some handy advice: develop relationships with editors and exploit resources such as list serves. Most importantly, show your credentials by creating a Web site.
You can listen to an MP3 audio of the speech, and Kim Griggs starts speaking at the 17 minute point.

We've covered Kim Griggs' work before on this site. e.g Winging It with Don Merton, and her own site is at KimGriggs.net.