Friday, February 29, 2008

Fertile Kakapo Eggs for 2008 - Cracking News!

Hurray! For the first time since 2005, at least two fertile Kakapo eggs have been laid for this year's breeding season. Scoop.co.nz has the exciting news. It feels like such a long time since I was able to report such news, and this blog was less than a year old at the time.
The breeding season of New Zealand’s most endangered bird, the kakapo, is off to a great start with at least two fertile eggs laid on Codfish Island and two female birds, previously thought to be too young, also laying eggs.

Conservation Minister Steve Chadwick says these are the first eggs laid by kakapo in three years, and it is hugely exciting that two six-year-old kakapo have laid eggs, because we previously thought the minimum breeding age was nine years.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Don Merton: Famous Faces 2 exhibition

Down in Gisborne, New Zealand, there is an exhibition going on called "Famous Faces 2" which features a profile of Don Merton. Don was the saviour of the Chatham Island black robin, and is a man who has done so much good work towards saving the Kakapo Parrot from extinction.
It is a joint venture between the Pride in Gisborne Trust and Tairawhiti Museum.

Following up on a successful exhibition of 29 personalities from the Gisborne and East Coast district in 2002, the latest exhibition is 21 additional -- but just as worthy -- profiles, said museum curator Dudley Meadows, who is also a Pride in Gisborne trustee.
The Gisborne Herald had the story back in January, but the exhibition continues through the end of March.

Another Virgin Birth For Flora

Chester Zoo's Komodo Dragon Flora as welcomed another baby male to the world, and once again there was no daddy to be found. It's parthenogenesis at work again. The Wirral Globe has the story.
Kevin Buley, Chester Zoo's Head of Zoo Programmes, said: "The absence of a strong male partner really doesn't seem to trouble Flora. She remains determined to do her own sweet thing with fantastic results."
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Flora's solitary existence, however, is going to be short-lived and in a few months time she will finally get to cosy up with dragon Norman who has made his home at Chester.
The story also goes on to say that visitor numbers have gone up quite sharply, which they're attributing to David Attenborough's TV series "Life In Cold Blood".
The start of the new BBC One series Life in Cold Blood has reawakened an enthusiasm for reptiles and amphibians and some of Chester Zoo's cold-blooded inhabitants have received many visitors during half term.

More than 50,000 visitors have passed through the gates already this month and February looks set to be one of the busiest in the zoo's 74-year history.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Kakapo Parrots Podcast: ABC Radio National Australia

Thanks to Paul Andinach for this tip about ABC Radio National Australia's feature on conservation efforts in New Zealand, which includes an interview with conservationist Ron Moorhouse about the Kakapo. A more complete version of the interview was also separately broadcast a few days later.

Both are available from the ABC web site as streaming audio or
podcast:

Feature:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/features/2008/balancingnature/newzealand.htm

Interview:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/inconversation/stories/2008/2166359.htm

Thanks Paul.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stephen Fry Podcast #1 - Broken Arm

MP3 players and IPods at the ready! Stephen Fry has released his first podcast (or "Podgram" as he calls it) and it is entitled "Broken Arm". In it he describes how he broke his arm filming the Last Chance To See TV series in the Amazon. It seems that boats are the problem, and he broke his arm getting INTO a boat, whereas Douglas Adams had trouble getting OUT of a boat on Round Island during recording of the original radio series. Stephen certainly came off worse though, as his x-rays show.

Subscribe and download the episode from here: Stephen Fry's Podgrams

Thanks to ZZ9's DaveH for the tip

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kakapo Encounter is BACK for 2008

Kakapo EncounterI'm delighted to find out that the Kakapo Encounter with Sirocco is back for 2008, with nightly departures running September 8-October 22 out to Ulva Island.


Wildlife Extra has more news
on this event which is bound to sell out quickly, even at $90 a pop. People came from all over the world last time, including Mosher during his world travels.
The response was phenomenal: people travelled from all over the globe to view this extraordinary bird. Prime Minister Helen Clark herself spent some ‘face time’ with the lovable parrot Sirocco, and remarked that the Kakapo Encounter was a ‘world class’ operation. Due to the success of the event, Ulva Island Charitable Trust is excited to announce that Kakapo Encounter is back! This year the Trust is making an effort to get the word out early, as many overseas bird enthusiasts expressed disappointment they didn’t have enough notice to plan a trip to New Zealand last year.
New Zealand's "One News" still has an article and video describing the previous Kakapo Encounter.

Here's the location of Ulva Island using the Google Maps API. The full Google Maps and versions links to this location are available below.

Any profits go to Trust projects which include trail maintenance on Ulva Island (a predator-free bird sanctuary), and the reintroduction and care of endangered bird and plant species.

TIANANMEN SQUARE - The Giant Mincing Machine?

**REPOST TO TEST GOOGLE MAPS API-KEY PROBLEM**

On their visit to China to see the Baiji Dolphin, Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine visited Tiananmen Square in Beijing. They joined the queue to enter the mausoleum and filed past the body of Chairman Mao...
We joined the line after some hesitation, half-expecting that we might be there all day, but we were kept constantly on the move by the barking marshals, and even found that we were accelerating as we got closer to the front. Less than three hours after we had tagged on to the end of the line we were hurried into the red-pile-carpeted inner sanctum and ran past the tiny, plump, waxy body as respectfully as we could.

The queue which had been so tightly and rigorously controlled as it was lined up to be fed into the mausoleum, disintegrated amongst the souvenir stalls as it emerged from the other side. I imagined that from the air the building must resemble a giant mincing machine.

This map from shows that Douglas was absolutely right...

Click here for a larger view

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Code of the Kakapo in HD

ELWIN productions have a press release progress report on the film "Code of the Kakapo" currently in its third year of filming.
In a world first, Otago film company ELWIN Productions is using new High Definition technology to document a remarkable story following the struggle to bring the world’s rarest wild parrot back from the brink of extinction.
[...]
Filmmaker Scott Mouat says that the 90 minute feature-length film will be the first of its kind in both content and technology used.

“Although male Kakapo have been filmed before, no one has seen or filmed the act of mating. In a first, I have been given access to one of the males during the mating process. And, I’ve been loaned the only camera in the world that can capture this in high definition.”
The trailer (which we've featured before) can be seen here...
Distribution rights for the film are with Astronought so it looks like it will be easy to purchase.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Komodo Dragon Hunt Abandoned as a Hoax

Australian news.com.au reports that the Komodo Dragon hunt in Papua New Guineahas been called off.
Reports of sightings continued over the weekend and the Army and Department of Environment and Conservation were called to retrieve the giant lizard.
[...]
But Morobe Province Disaster and Emergency officer Roy Kamen told PNG's Post Courier the search was called off because they had no new leads and the search was costing too much.

"It may be a hoax ... highly skilled soldiers have been in the bushes for four days but have not sighted the reptile," he said.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Immersive Video clips

Just thought I'd share these AMAZING "immersive" videos. Much like the spherical views you see on real-estate sites, but these are actual videos that you can swing around and view from any angle. These aren't exactly Another Chance To See related, but they were just too cool not to share. More information and videos at www.immersivemedia.com.
Humpback Whales


Coral Reef


42nd Street

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fugitive Komodo Dragon on the Loose?

The New Zealand Herald reports that a rogue Komodo Dragon has been terrorizing locals of Papua New Guinea's second largest city Lae. The dragon (or maybe two) had possibly escaped from an expatriate who was keeping it illegally at his home.
Morobe Province office has organised a hunt and believe several sighting by locals could mean two lizards are on the loose.

Dr Gae Gowae from PNG's Department of Environment and said it was an unusual case because the endangered species was found on Komodo Island in Indonesia.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

More Komodo Dragon Parthenogenesis?

Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas is celebrating the first hatchling from a clutch of seventeen Komodo Dragon eggs laid by female Gaia back in mid-May 2007. ABC affiliate KAKE.com has the story.

The only other Komodo Dragon in the zoo enclosure is ALSO female, so it looks very much like we have another case of parthenogenesis on our hands, as we did last year at Chester Zoo.
The hatchling entered the world on January 31, measuring almost 17-inches-long from nose to tail and weighing 104 grams.
[...]
Sedgwick County Zoo followed the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation to incubate and hatch two eggs. The SSP wanted to further document that Komodo dragons are capable of parthenogenesis. The second egg at Sedgwick County Zoo is in the final stages of hatching.

Friday, February 01, 2008

So, Do Kakapos SWIM Like Bricks?

Apparently NOT, as we will see...

Douglas Adams famously wrote in Last Chance To See...
It is an extremely fat bird. A good-sized adult will weigh about six or seven pounds, and its wings are just about good for waggling a bit if it thinks it's about to trip over something - but flying is completely out of the question. Sadly, however, it seems that not only has the kakapo forgotten how to fly, but it has also forgotten that it has forgotten how to fly. Apparently a seriously worried kakapo will sometimes run up a tree and jump out of it, whereupon it flies like a brick and lands in a graceless heap on the ground.
But in this article at Stuff.co.nz, reporter Cherie Howie discovers that Kakapos don't struggle quite so much in the water. Cherie recounts the experiences of DOC ranger Leigh Joyce who thought she was about to lose Sirocco in a drowning incident...
Leigh, who lives on the island with husband Richard Walle and their two young children, says she was on the jetty when she saw Sirocco running towards her.

Then, to her horror, he jumped on to the railing, looked over the edge and leapt into the water.

"I couldn't believe it. I thought I was going to have to jump off and rescue him, do CPR on a kakapo but he swam butterfly, using his wings, to the shore, shook himself off and was fine.

"Kakapo can't fly but they can swim", she adds with a laugh.
RELATED: Mosher visited Sirocco during the Kakapo Encounter event back in 2006.