Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rwanda Beekeeper Sparked Fire, Endangered Gorillas

BBC News reports that fire fighting crews in Rwanda have contained wildfires that were set off accidentally by a beekeeper, who was smoking bees out of a hive to collect honey. Reports said groups of gorillas had been seen fleeing the flames, but they don't say whether it it was Lowland (probable), or Mountain Gorillas that were affected.
Rwanda's tourism chief Rosette Rugamba said 4,000 people had taken part in the emergency response - including local officials and government ministers.

She said the fires were under control but not completely extinguished.
[...]
"He tried to put it out by himself but he failed. He is the one who broke the news about the fire," she said.

Monday, July 20, 2009

In the Land of Dragons

Here's a nice travelogue article by Lee Yu Kit on their visit to the home of the Komodo Dragons, Rinca Island.
Besides the Komodo dragons, a number of other interesting animals inhabit Rinca. One of these is the megapode, a terrestrial bird which constructs large mound nests from vegetation, in which their eggs are hatched from the heat of the decaying organic matter. Megapodes are only found to the east of the Wallace line.
[...]
The ranger, Mansur, was a soft-spoken man who was armed only with a forked wooden staff. He didn’t have any special advice, only to stay a safe distance from the animals and not to wander off the path. Since Komodo dragons can outrun a human being, I wondered what we would do if one decided to make a dash at us.
[...]
I asked Mansur if people hunted the Komodo dragon for food.

He smiled and replied, “Orang tak makan dia, dia makan orang (People don’t eat it, it eats people)”.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Kakapo Say Farewell to City Adventure

The Southland Times reported last week that all the kakapo chicks that were being hand-reared in Invercargill have now returned home to Codfish Island. Hurrah.
Kakapo recovery team leader Deidre Vercoe said the 90-day-old chicks would spend up to six weeks in temporary outdoor pens while they weaned off the hand-rearing food and on to natural vegetation.

Each would then be fitted with a tracking transmitter and slowly introduced into the wild in small groups around the island.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

David Attenborough's Life Stories: Komodo Dragon

David Attenborough's ongoing Radio 4 series A Point of View: David Attenborough's Life Stories, this week features him talking about the Komodo Dragon. The episode is available to listen online for a week, and also as a podcast.

And, in a repost of information I previously published on this blog...
Check out the David Attenborough BBC Archive page which includes all six episodes of his Zoo Quest for a Dragon TV series, first broadcast in 1956! Unfortunately its only available to UK users, due to copyright restrictions.

Program 1 synopsis...
David Attenborough and cameraman Charles Lagus begin their quest in Borneo, the first in the chain of islands they must cross in order to reach Komodo. There they trek through jungle to a village belonging to the Dayak tribe, where they are given a warm welcome. The 'Zoo Quest' team are hoping to find an orangutan and, with guidance from the Dayaks, they discover and film one in the wild. However, it is an orphaned orangutan held captive by a hunter that Attenborough falls for in the end.
Amazon.co.uk has a number of Zoo Quest products available, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, or even better (because David Attenborough reads it), get the book on CD. It's a great adventure. Zoo Quest books and tapes are also available in the US: Zoo Quest stuff at Amazon.com

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Zealand Bird Call Man Honoured by Forest and Bird

3news.co.nz reported last month that 87 year old nature sound recordist John Kendrick was presented with an "Old Blue" award by Forest and Bird, in recognition of his life's work.
He was the first person to record the elusive kakapo.

"We just simply waited and waited, and then sure enough came these amazing booms like somebody just beating on a drum, and those were the first ever recordings of the kakapo... It was just that I happened to be there first. Somebody else could have done it if they'd been lucky enough to be there."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wanderlust Interview with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine

Issue 105 of Wanderlust magazine features a long interview with Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine about their experiences filming the upcoming TV series. Fortunately the entire interview is also available online at www.wanderlust.co.uk. Enjoy.
Mark, when you revisited these places, were the original contacts still there?

MC: Yes, that was amazing – in every case the people that Douglas and I originally met are either in the field doing the same jobs, protecting the same species, or are at least still involved. They were doing it long before Douglas and I visited and have been doing it for the twenty years since. For me, that’s one of the key things in conservation that gives me any hope at all; that there are these absolutely dedicated individuals who devote their lives – and in some cases like Kes Hillman Smith in Africa, who risk their lives – to protect one species. And there are many examples around the world where conservation groups haven’t saved the species but one or two individuals have.

SF: Lke Don Merton, an amazing guy.

MC: Yes, Mr Kakapo!

SF: Yes, he’s in his 70s and absolutely fantastic. They are inspiring people. The big lesson for me was just what a difference that an individual human being who is passionate can make.