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!