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.