Monday, November 29, 2010

EVENT REMINDER: Last Chance to Save the Rhino

From Save The Rhino...
Last Chance to Save the Rhino
Wednesday 12 January 2011, 7.30pm
The Royal Geographical Society, London, SW7 2AR

Kindly sponsored by Abercrombie & Kent

Join Save the Rhino Patron and BBC Zoologist Mark Carwardine for an entertaining and thought-provoking rhino evening.

Mark will describe some of his most memorable encounters with rhinos in Africa and Asia – from stalking the last surviving northern white rhinos in war-torn Zaire, nearly 25 years ago, to his most recent trip to photograph Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia. He will reveal what went on behind the scenes while filming a Last Chance to See Special called Rhino Rescue, with Stephen Fry, and will talk frankly about his hopes and fears for some of the most endearing and endangered mammals on Earth.

Tickets cost £15 and are now on sale.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Unnatural History of the Kakapo - Now Available in North America (NTSC format)

Scott Mouat's terrific documentary The Unnatural History of the Kakapo is now available to buy in NTSC format DVD at The World Parrot Trust eStore.

As previously reported, the Region 0 PAL versions are available online at ELWIN Productions DVD store.

The production's website has photos and information on the slew of awards that the film has either won or been nominated for.

Here is the trailer for the film, followed by another re-post of my short review. I was fortunate enough to see an advance copy back in January, and it truly is a splendid piece of work, and thoroughly deserving of all the plaudits it has received.

Four years in the making, the film covers the history of the Kakapo from before humans arrived in New Zealand through to the present day. It then details the conservation efforts that have brought the bird back from near extinction to the 122 birds we have today.

The conservation story begins with Richard Treacy Henry's ultimately doomed attempt to transplant Kakapo to Resolution Island in the late 1800's to keep them safe from stoats and weasels. The story then continues with Don Merton's rescue program of the early 1970's which led to the Kakapo being installed on Codfish Island. Don features in the film as he and a small team return to Fiordland to see if there is any chance any lone Kakapos are still out there.

Finally, the story moves to the present day, with Dr. Ron Moorhouse and the rest of the Kakapo Recovery Programme team, learning how to gently extract sperm from males and artificially inseminate the females in order to coax the genetic diversity of the population in the right direction - a project we now know to have been a success - see Kakapo Artificial Insemination a 2009 Success .

Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes deeply tragic, Scott's film is a wonderful record of the dedication shown by a team of passionate conservationists, who are all doing their bit to save the world's favourite fat, green, flightless parrot.

You can learn more at the production's website, and become a fan of the project at their Facebook Page : The Unnatural History of the Kakapo.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Video: Stephen Fry LIVE at Sydney Opera House

Here's a nice diversion for the weekend. Watch the full recording of Stephen Fry's recent performance at the Sydney Opera House. Enjoy. NOTE: Douglas Adams does get a mention right at the end of the performance/interview.

Stephen Fry and the Great American Oil Spill

Thanks to Dave Haddock for this top tip. "Stephen Fry and the Great American Oil Spill" will air on Sunday, 7th November 2010, 8pm on BBC Two. Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine visit Louisiana to witness the impact of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Stephen Fry loves Louisiana. Four months after the BP oil spill, dubbed the worst ecological disaster in the history of America, Fry returns to the Deep South together with the zoologist Mark Carwardine, to see what the impact has been on the people, the vast wetlands and the species that live there. What they find both surprises and divides the travelling duo.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ninth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture - Brian Cox

News from the Save the Rhino website. The Ninth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture will take place at The Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 10 March 2011, 7.30pm.

The lecture will be given by Professor Brian Cox.

For tickets (which cost £15) please contact jo@savetherhino.org, online, or call +44 020 735 7474
Professor Brian Cox began his career not as a physicist but as a rock star, most notably as part of the band D’Ream, whose song ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ was famously used by Tony Blair as the Labour Party election song in 1997. During the D’Ream years, Brian obtained a first class honours degree in physics from the University of Manchester and a PhD in High Energy Particle Physics at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg.

In 2010, Brian received an OBE for his services to Science. Brian was granted a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2005 and in 2009 became Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Manchester. He works at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider.

Brian also writes for various publications including New Statesman, The Telegraph, Sun and Times. His book ‘Why Does E=mc2?’ (Da Capo USA and Perseus UK) was published in 2009. Brian’s ability to present science in an engaging manner makes him a popular television presenter & radio broadcaster. His credits include the recent series, Wonders of the Solar System (BBC2, 2010).
Photo Credit: Vincent Connare

Seven Male Kakapo to be moved

TV.nz reports that seven male kakapo are to be moved to a new predator free island.
With the population soaring, seven male New Zealand kakapo are being shifted from their present home to give the females some breathing space on Codfish Island.

The males will live together on another remote predator-free island, and it is believed that removing the excess males from Codfish Island will benefit the breeding birds there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

TV Alert: Last Chance to See - Return of the Rhino

The brand new episode of Last Chance To See featuring the translocation of Northern White Rhino will air at 8pm on Sunday 31st October on BBC2. As well as the aforementioned "Complete Collection DVD set" which includes this episode, it is also being released separately as Last Chance To See - Return of the Rhino

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TV Series - DVD with new episode

"Last Chance To See - The Complete Collection" will be released on the 15th of November, and is a special edition DVD featuring a new unseen episode called Last Chance To See - Return of The Rhino. The Return of the Rhino covers Stephen and Mark's adventure when they follow the return of Northern White Rhinos to Kenya from captivity in the Czech Republic.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

ALERT!! - TV Series on USA TV - HDNet?

Thanks to Dave Haddock for this tip. Check your cable listings, because according to this page, HDNet's InFocus is going to be showing the TV series beginning tonight, 10am ET. I'm not seeing it on my cable lineup, but you may be more lucky than I.

Also, Mark Carwardine narrated this BBC documentary this evening - When Britain Went Wild.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

EVENT: Last Chance to Save the Rhino

From Save The Rhino...
Last Chance to Save the Rhino
Wednesday 12 January 2011, 7.30pm
The Royal Geographical Society, London, SW7 2AR

Kindly sponsored by Abercrombie & Kent

Join Save the Rhino Patron and BBC Zoologist Mark Carwardine for an entertaining and thought-provoking rhino evening.

Mark will describe some of his most memorable encounters with rhinos in Africa and Asia – from stalking the last surviving northern white rhinos in war-torn Zaire, nearly 25 years ago, to his most recent trip to photograph Sumatran rhinos in Indonesia. He will reveal what went on behind the scenes while filming a Last Chance to See Special called Rhino Rescue, with Stephen Fry, and will talk frankly about his hopes and fears for some of the most endearing and endangered mammals on Earth.

Tickets cost £15 and are now on sale.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sarah the Kakapo Found Dead

The first adult female death of a Kakapo occurred a few weeks ago when Sarah was found dead on Codfish Island. The Kakapo Recovery Programme website has the details, with the story spotted by Twitterer @bekibutton.
We are unsure of the cause of death; autopsy revealed that she was in good condition and that her death had been sudden.

The bacteria Clostridia perfringens was cultured from samples collected at autopsy, but it is not known whether this bacteria was related to her cause of death, or simply a post death overgrowth (she had been dead for one or two days before discovery).
[...]
Sarah’s passing reminds us of how rare and precious the kakapo are; taking the world kakapo population to 122. Rest in peace Sarah, we will miss you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rat Bait Falls from Helicopter onto Kakapo Island

A potential disaster for the Kakapo is being dealt with swiftly to minimize any impact. Stuff.co.nz is reporting that 700 kilograms of bait laced with rat poison fell into a lake on remote Anchor Island in Fiordland.
An emergency cleanup operation is under way to protect the native parrots
[...]
Conservation Department Te Anau area manager Reg Kemper said the pellets could be fatal for kakapo if they ate about 20 of them, but he said it was unlikely the birds would do that. "It's designed so the rats take a pellet, then come back. It's not like cyanide."

Friday, June 11, 2010

More TV Specials, and Sad Kakapo News

Ever faithful reader David Haddock went to a recent talk by Mark Carwardine.
They hope to make "a few one hour Last Chance To See specials each year", and are off to Kenya soon to see how the Prague rhinos are getting on.

He also said that there are only 123 Kakapo as one was put down recently.

The Kakapo Recovery Programme website has more information on this sad news....
Old boy Sass farewelled
Sadly we euthanised one of our Stewart Island founder kakapo, Sass, yesterday. Sass had been of relatively poor condition for the last few years and has gone down hill steadily over the last 3 months.

He was extremely light weight, had developed cataracts in both eyes recently, and in the last few days appeared to have been suffering from kidney failure.
[...]
Sass's passing takes the world kakapo population to 123. He will be greatly missed, but his legacy lives on.

Last Hope To Restore Northern White Rhino

Via the Save The Rhino monthly newsletter we have a report at ETN on the progress of the Northern White Rhinos released this year in Kenya.
The Northern White Rhinos, donated by the Czech government in December of last year, have now started to roam freely on the Ol Pejeta Conservancy after being released from their smaller "bomas" into the wider area.
[...]
Richard Vigne, CEO of the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, has made it clear that they will be breeding hybrids for a while before sufficient numbers will then permit to cross them back towards nearly pure Northern White.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Unnatural History of the Kakapo - Documentary DVD Now Available!

I just received word from film maker Scott Mouat that the DVD of The Unnatural History of the Kakapo is now available to buy online at ELWIN Productions DVD store. Right now, they are available as Region 0 PAL disks, priced NZ$26.50 +GST (if applicable) + Shipping and handling. NTSC versions for distribution within North America will be available from August. 25% of all profits from the DVD are going to the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

The production's website has been freshened up with new photos and information on the slew of awards that the film has either won or been nominated for.

Here is the trailer for the film, followed by a re-post of my short review. I was fortunate enough to see an advance copy back in January, and it truly is a splendid piece of work, and thoroughly deserving of all the plaudits it has received.

Four years in the making, the film covers the history of the Kakapo from before humans arrived in New Zealand through to the present day. It then details the conservation efforts that have brought the bird back from near extinction to the 124 birds we have today.

The conservation story begins with Richard Treacy Henry's ultimately doomed attempt to transplant Kakapo to Resolution Island in the late 1800's to keep them safe from stoats and weasels. The story then continues with Don Merton's rescue program of the early 1970's which led to the Kakapo being installed on Codfish Island. Don features in the film as he and a small team return to Fiordland to see if there is any chance any lone Kakapos are still out there.

Finally, the story moves to the present day, with Dr. Ron Moorhouse and the rest of the Kakapo Recovery Programme team, learning how to gently extract sperm from males and artificially inseminate the females in order to coax the genetic diversity of the population in the right direction - a project we now know to have been a success - see Kakapo Artificial Insemination a 2009 Success .

Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes deeply tragic, Scott's film is a wonderful record of the dedication shown by a team of passionate conservationists, who are all doing their bit to save the world's favourite fat, green, flightless parrot.

You can learn more at the production's website, and become a fan of the project at their Facebook Page : The Unnatural History of the Kakapo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gorillas Extinct in Ten Years?

National Geographic published an article recently with a details of a frightening UN report for the Gorillas of central Africa.
Among the threats are surges in human populations, the ape-meat trade, and logging and mining as well as the spread of the Ebola virus and other diseases, the report says.
[...]
"with the rate of poaching and habitat loss, gorillas in the region may disappear from most of their present range in less than 10 to 15 years from now," according to the report, co-authored by the international law enforcement agency Interpol.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sirocco Could be Banished

With the discovery of a new strain of beak and feather virus, Sirocco and the rest of the 123 Kakapo Parrots could find themselves in danger. Stuff.co.nz reports that Sirocco could end up being banished from the kakapo sanctuary as an attempt to mitigate infection.
Conservation Department kakapo programme scientist Ron Moorhouse said big decisions now needed to be made about Sirocco's future, not only to protect him from the disease, but also to protect the critically endangered kakapo population.

In January, Prime Minister John Key gave Sirocco the title of official "spokesbird" of conservation as part of New Zealand's role in the International Year of Biodiversity.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Northern White Rhino Update

Berry White, formerly Head Rhino Keeper at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, has been looking after the four Northern White Rhinos which where transferred to Ol Pejeta in northern Kenya in December. Here's an extensive interview with Berry at goallover.org about their progress.
NB – So how are the rhinos acclimatising to Kenya after so long in Europe?

BW – The rhinos have acclimatised brilliantly in Kenya since their arrival here in Africa from the Czech Republic on 20th December 2009. It was a pretty big transition for them. The week we left their old home at Dvur Kralove Zoo the temperature was minus 9 degrees. They were only going out from their lovely warm heated house and bedroom for about an hour a day!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Zoo Welcomes 25 Baby Dragons

MSNBC.com reports that an Indonesian zoo is delighted to see the hatching of 25 Komodo dragons eggs.
Veterinarian Rahmat Suharta says the eggs, from three giant female lizards, hatched at the Surabaya Zoo in East Java over the past week.

He said Thursday that the babies, weighing between 2.8 ounces and 4.2 ounces.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

MSNBC Video: Northern White Rhino Relocation

Just seen this 5 minute video on the MSNBC.com homepage about the recent relocation of the Northern White Rhinos to Kenya from the Czech Republic.

There's some great additional footage here.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Awards for Kakapo Film

Many congratulations to Scott Mouat for winning numerous awards at the Documentary Edge Festival 2010. Scott's film "The Unnatural History of the Kakapo", will be available for purchase on DVD later this year. Scott kindly sent me an advance copy earlier in the year, and I can promise you it will be worth the wait.

Scoop reports that the film won four awards: "Best NZ Feature Documentary", "Best NZ Sound", "Best NZ Cinematography" and "Best NZ Director".

Here is the trailer for the film, and my review can be found here.
Keep up with developments at the film's Facebook group.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mark Carwardine: My Life In Travel

The Independent featured this fairly fluffy interview with Mark Carwardine last week. I'd guess the interview is actually a few months old because the trip to Nairobi to film a Last Chance To See special has already happened I believe.
Greatest travel luxury?

Music can transform an experience. I remember flying over Fiordland National Park in New Zealand with Stephen Fry last year, while filming Last Chance To See. We were in a little helicopter and the pilot played Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon loudly into our headsets. Suddenly, we were in an imaginary spacecraft, wheeling and turning over a fantasy, make-believe world.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Stephen Fry on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

On February 23rd, Stephen Fry appeared with Craig Ferguson on a special edition of the Late Late Show, one-on-one, with no studio audience. Towards the end of the interview he discusses his participation in the recent trans-location of the Northern White Rhinos from a Czech Zoo back to Africa. It was a very enjoyable show I thought.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Breaking News: Massive Earthquake Stikes Chile; Tsunami hits Juan Fernandez Islands

A huge 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit central Chile, killing at least 78 people, and triggering a tsunami which has already hit the Juan Fernandez Islands and put Easter Island and the rest of the pacific on alert. From BBC News.
President Michelle Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe"
[...]
Tsunami warnings have been issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Pacific island nations.
[...]
She said a "wave of large proportion" had affected the Juan Fernandez island group, reaching halfway into one inhabited area. Two aid ships are reported to be on their way.

Ms Bachelet said that "high tidal waves" could also reach Easter Island soon.

And from MSNBC.com
Reuters reported that a tsunami caused by the quake caused "serious damage" to Chile's sparsely populated Juan Fernández Islands. Citing local police, CNN reported that the islands had been hit by a 40-meter (131 foot) wave.

Excess Baggage: Mark Carwardine

On this week's BBC Radio 4 travel programme "Excess Baggage", John McCarthy talks to Mark Carwardine. The program is available for streaming online for 7 days, but also as an MP3 podcast.
Zoologist and conservationist Mark Carwardine talks to John McCarthy about his life travelling to film, photograph and write about creatures which inhabit the deepest oceans or the dustiest plains. In 1990 he went in search of animals nearing extinction with Douglas Adams and more recently with Stephen Fry and, as an occasional leader of wildlife expeditions, he shares his thoughts on the ethics of animal tourism, ecology and the environment.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Transferred Northern White Rhinos are Dehorned

The four Northern White Rhinos recently transferred to Kenya from the Czech Republic have been dehorned, primarily to limit their value to poachers. Radio-transmitters have been attached to the horn stumps to assist in tracking the animals as they move further afield in their new enclosure. The Times of South Africa has the news.
"With the increase of poaching in Kenya, we are simply not taking any chances," Elodie Sampere from the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which is overseeing the animals' acclimatisation told AFP.
[...]
Sampere said that sawing off the four Northern White rhinos' horns would also allow them to grow back straight.

"All the rhinos had horns that didn’t grow upright. This is a result of them being in the zoo and not having trees to rub against," she said.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Unnatural History of the Kakapo

I have just spent a very enjoyable afternoon engrossed in Scott Mouat's new documentary film "The Unnatural History of the Kakapo", which will be available for purchase through the Elwin Productions website in February 2010. Thanks again to Scott for sending me an advance copy. I really appreciate it, and it was a real privilege for me to see the film so early.

Here is the trailer for the film, followed by a short review from me...

Four years in the making, the film covers the history of the Kakapo from before humans arrived in New Zealand through to the present day. It then details the conservation efforts that have brought the bird back from near extinction to the 124 birds we have today.

The conservation story begins with Richard Treacy Henry's ultimately doomed attempt to transplant Kakapo to Resolution Island in the late 1800's to keep them safe from stoats and weasels. The story then continues with Don Merton's rescue program of the early 1970's which led to the Kakapo being installed on Codfish Island. Don features in the film as he and a small team return to Fiordland to see if there is any chance any lone Kakapos are still out there.

Finally, the story moves to the present day, with Dr. Ron Moorhouse and the rest of the Kakapo Recovery Programme team, learning how to gently extract sperm from males and artificially inseminate the females in order to coax the genetic diversity of the population in the right direction - a project we now know to have been a success - see Kakapo Artificial Insemination a 2009 Success .

Sometimes heartwarming, sometimes deeply tragic, Scott's film is a wonderful record of the dedication shown by a team of passionate conservationists, who are all doing their bit to save the world's favourite fat, green, flightless parrot.

I heartily recommend you buy a copy as soon as it becomes available, with 25% of all profits going to the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

You can learn more, and become a fan of the project at their Facebook Page : The Unnatural History of the Kakapo.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Last Chance To See: Special Confirmed!

BBC TV's "Last Chance To See" producer Tim Green recently left a comment on my New Year post confirming that they did indeed film Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine following the translocation of four potentially fertile Northern White Rhino from the Czech Republic to Kenya. Here's a BBC News article about the rhino move.

Stephen Fry had been tweeting during the trip, before he took a sabbatical from Twitter to write the follow up to his fabulous "Moab is My Washpot" autobiography. The tweets raised the hope that they were filming a special episode of "Last Chance To See", and I was very happy to learn that they were.

No word on an air date for the Special yet, but the previous Northern White Rhino episode does get a repeat airing this week on BBC HD, Wednesday 00:30.

Many thanks to Tim Green for the update.

The Unnatural History of the Kakapo - Film to be Released in February

Elwin Productions "The Unnatural History of the Kakapo" feature length documentary film is to be released on DVD on February 20, 2010. It will be able for purchase through their website, and other retailers may become available soon after.

You can learn more, and become a fan of the project at their Facebook Page : The Unnatural History of the Kakapo

I've embedded a PlayList of the THREE preview video clips currently released by Filmmaker Scott Mouat. All three clips will play automatically once you start viewing the video. Fans of the Last Chance To See TV series may recognize the little red hut in the the third clip...
[We] will follow the teams into Fiordland on the last great kakapo search and meet the men that rescued Richard Henry, we will follow them on a journey through the mountains as we search for any mainland survivors.

We will explore the world of genetics, led by the scientists who unravelled the kakapos genetic riddle, we will find out exactly what happens to a species on the brink of extinction and uncover a surprise among the Stewart Island males.

From the first successful attempts at extracting semen to the first artificially induced chick, we will stand beside these dedicated men and women as they do everything humanly possible to produce a new, healthy generation of kakapo.