Saturday, September 10, 2011

Two Kakapo Found Dead

Sad news from New Zealand. Scoop has the full details.
Two young female kakapo have been found dead – one on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, off Stewart Island, the other on Anchor Island in Fiordland.

Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said the two birds were discovered by rangers doing transmitter changes during the weekend. The first, Purity, hatched during the bumper 2009 breeding season. It was estimated she had been dead around ten days.

The other, Monoa, which hatched in 2002, was found Sunday on Anchor Island. She had been dead for quite some time, indicating the two deaths were not linked.

Kakapo overcrowding may force return to Resolution island

In this article from July, Kakapo Recovery programme scientist Dr Ron Moorhouse has concerns over possible Kakapo overcrowding, particularly on Codfish Island. Otago Daily Times has the full article.
Overcrowding may force the endangered kakapo to be returned to Resolution Island, more than 100 years after a pioneer conservationist first attempted the move.

The population of the flightless parrot stands at 131, and they are largely housed on two southern offshore islands - Codfish Island, off Stewart Island, and Anchor Island, near Dusky Sound.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Northern white rhinos set for stem cell test-tube babies

Article in the MailOnline on an interesting approach to saving the species that does not involve cloning.
The northern white rhino, one of the planet’s most endangered animals, could be saved by pioneering stem cell research.

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, also hope their work will save other animals teetering on the edge of extinction.

The team have managed to create stem cells from the majestic animals and hope they will eventually be able to produce ‘test tube babies’, too.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kakapos: Isolation Proves Dangerous On 'Rat Island'

In a new book "Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World's Greatest Wildlife Rescue", author William Stolzenburg talks about the damage done to island ecosystems by non-native species like cats, weasels and rats. The implications for the kakapo in New Zealand are well documented, and this North Country Public Radio article talks about that, and also includes an audio interview with the author.
Stolzenburg tells NPR's Renee Montagne that because its only predators were in the sky, the kakapo had no need to fly and, therefore, couldn't.

"It exuded this particular scent also that was supposed to attract other kakapos," he says. "Of course, when the invaders got to New Zealand — when the rats and the cats and the weasels came to New Zealand — this was a bird that was just set up for massacre, and that's exactly what happened."

Stolzenburg explains that in the 1800s, settlers arriving in New Zealand brought sheep and rabbits with them for game. Sheep ate much of the vegetation, and the rabbits, being rabbits, exploded in population. With their huge numbers and voracious appetites, they began eating the sheep's rangeland. So to deal with the rabbit problem, settlers introduced stoats — a member of the weasel clan and a terrific predator. But the stoats quickly found much easier prey than rabbits — kakapos.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

VIDEO: Five endangered Amazonian Manatees released in Peru

Here's some happy Amazonian Manatee news from May. Sorry for the delay. Living in Peru documents the release of five endangered Amazonian Manatees back into the wild. There's also a picture slideshow.

On April 22, 2011 after more than three years of rehabilitation, Juliana, Victoria and three other manatees were released into their natural habitat deep in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. This was the first release of the endangered species in Perú.

With the financial support of the Dallas World Aquarium the center was able to keep the young manatees alive with a lactose-free milk formulated for orphaned mammals. Previous attempts to rescue manatees with cow milk and other substitutes failed.

Friday, July 08, 2011

'Last Chance to See' star killed by poachers

Yesterday I was very sad to read Mark Carwardine and Stephen Fry's Tweets that Max, the friendly white rhino that featured on the 'Last Chance to See' TV episode, has been killed by poachers in Kenya for his horn. Here is Wanderlust's report.
Max was a television star on the BBC’s Last Chance to See programme, after Stephen Fry was tricked into believing the hand-reared animal was incredibly dangerous.
[...]
Mark tweeted, “Very sad news. Max – friendly white rhino in Last Chance to See – just killed by poachers. No rhino is safe.”

Stephen Fry then replied by tweeting, “The organised scale of rhino poaching awful. Grieving at terrible news of the slaughter of Max, whom @markcarwardine and I knew and loved.”
This news comes as a double blow because in June we also lost captive Northern White Rhino Nesari from the zoo in the Czech Republic. Scientific Amercican had a lengthy article on that equally sad news.
Nesari, a 39-year-old female who had been deemed too old and weak to return to Africa in 2009, has finally passed away of old age. As zoo spokeswoman Jana Myslive ková told the Czech newspaper, Mladá fronta Dnes, "At the time of the transport, veterinarians predicted she would live for no longer than six months. It was actually a miracle that she lived until this spring."

Her death leaves the world with just seven northern white rhinoceros and a ticking clock counting down toward the species's eventual extinction. Even if a calf or two are born in Kenya, it won't be enough to save these animals. This is undoubtedly a species that will disappear within our lifetimes.
With Nesari now gone as well, it appears we are down to a mere SEVEN Northern White Rhinos in the world. And counting.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kakapos Flying Far and Wide

Here's a nice tongue-in-cheek article from the Sunday Star Times about the Kakapo superstar Sirocco.
Sirocco the kakapo shot to fame in 2009 when he was filmed by comedian Stephen Fry engaging in mating behaviour on the head of BBC presenter and environmentalist Mark Cawardine.

The clip that went viral on You Tube is just one of the many ways Sirocco is helping New Zealand conservation.

He has Twitter address ((@Spokesbird), a Facebook page (Sirocco Kakapo), a website, and an official role as spokesbird for conservation. He is the new face of the Department of Conservation which until now, it admits, appealed predominantly to the grey-haired among us, said spokesman Rory Newsam.

And in other terrific news from Stuff, seven young kakapo chicks have been returned to Codfish Island after being hand-reared on the New Zealand mainland. The hatchings this year bring the total number of Kakapo up to 131.
Kakapo Recovery Programme leader Deidre Vercoe Scott said the seven chicks had all reached a healthy weight, between 1.3kg and 1.8kg.

"They've all done fantastic. Some initially had minor illnesses which is very normal, but they got over those very quickly."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Pictures: Gorilla Mother Mourns Dead Baby

In a recent National Geographic article, the pictures of a Mountain Gorilla mother with her dead baby are quite heartbreaking.
Last month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park, ranger Innocent Mburanumwe captured pictures of the first-time mother, Ruzuzi, appearing to grieve over her less-than-two-week-old baby. Ruzuzi kept the body with her for more than a week, according to Mburanumwe.

Gorillas have long been known to exhibit care for the dead. Mburanumwe, for instance, has seen behavior similar to that of Ruzuzi's on at least three occasions.

The Comments of the article also make quite interesting reading as they debate National Geographic's choice to put "Mourn" in double-quotes. What are your thoughts on it?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Northern White Rhino Nesari Had Died

Sad Tweet from Mark Carwardine today...
Nesari - northern white rhino met while filming Last Chance to See special in Czech Rep - just died. Now 7 northern whites left.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Towel Day 2011 - Video

In celebration of Towel Day 2011, here's the Top 10 Celebrations to Get Wrapped Up In, and a strangely appropriate video...
The Encyclopaedia Galactica defines a robot as a mechanical apparatus designed to do the work of a man. The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as "Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With."

Friday, April 15, 2011

Kakapo's future may lie with ailing chick

Stuff.co.nz has an interesting article (and video) about 2011 kakapo chick "Solstice One" who has been suffering with poor health.
the chick might be suffering from "fatty liver", which can happen when rangers supplement the adult kakapo population's food sources. "It can be deadly – there was a chick a few years ago that died from it."

Kakapo have a 100 per cent herbivorous diet and rely on rimu fruit for much of their nutrition. In years when rimu trees fail to bear enough fruit, rangers give the birds pellets, but these can be too rich in protein and energy for the baby birds to tolerate.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mountain Gorilla Population Growing - 786 and counting

The number of mountain gorillas in the world has increased by more than 26% in regions in eastern Africa, according to a survey released in January. CNN has this report.
This increase brings the world population to 786 mountain gorillas, the organization said.

"The mountain gorilla population has made an absolutely remarkable recovery. We are very pleased to see yet another increase in the numbers of this critically endangered species," said Allard Blom, a director with the World Wildlife Fund.

Save The Rhino! An Introduction with Mark Carwardine & Martina Navratilova

A short film describing the work of UK charity, Save the Rhino International.

Save The Rhino! An Introduction with Mark Carwardine & Martina Navratilova from Gordon Main on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Don Merton, 1939 – 2011

It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of Don Merton this weekend. Don saved the Chatham Island Robin from extinction, and was instrumental in getting the current kakapo recovery going. He was clearly quite a character and his appearance in the TV series of Last Chance To See was very inspiring. Here is the DOC media release. He will be greatly missed.
Don Merton revolutionised methods which brought the black robin back from a single female on a remote island in the Chathams to a flourishing population of more than 200 today.

He also led the team responsible for discovering the last kakapo in Fiordland and managing their recovery through an innovative breeding programme on protected islands. He worked to save South Island saddlebacks from extinction, and used his knowledge to help other species both in New Zealand and across the world.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Eleven Kakapo Chicks Hatched - 131 and counting

Here's some wonderful news from Codfish Island. Eleven fluffy Kakapo chicks have made their entrance in recent weeks, and we now have 131 Kakapos in the world. 3news.co.nz has the full story.
The arrival of 11 new kakapo chicks this breeding season has been welcomed by Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.

The new arrivals will boost the world population of the rare native parrot to 131 birds.
[...]
The chicks - including potentially two conceived through ground-breaking artificial insemination techniques - have all hatched in the past few weeks.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Don Merton terminally ill

I was very sad to learn this week that acclaimed conservationist Don Merton is very ill with pancreatic cancer and is being cared for at his home by wife Margaret. The Dominion Post has the story. My prayers are with him and his family at this difficult time.
Friends and conservationists have been paying tribute to 72-year-old Dr Merton, describing his achievements as extraordinary, world-leading and inspirational.

He has previously credited a childhood fascination with his grandmother's canary as the spur behind a career in saving some of the country's most endangered birds.

His idea to move eggs from the nests of Chatham Island black robins to tomtit nests saw the species recover from a point at which there was only one breeding pair left in the 1980s. Later, his determination to save the kakapo meant the last remaining birds from Fiordland were moved to a predator-free island.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Competition: Become the Voice of Conservation at Shamwari in South Africa

The Community Coordinator at Worldwide Experience.com sent me this information on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the "Voice of Conservation" at Shamwari in South Africa this summer.
What do you get?
We’re offering a lucky winner the chance to spend a 1 to 3 month (depending on your availability) all expenses paid stint living and working with animals at the Shamwari Game Reserve, this summer.

What do we want in return?
For you to become the voice of the animals. As the Voice of Conservation at Shamwari, you will spread the word about the conservation issues facing the animals you work with, from rhino poaching to big cat rehabilitation, as well as sharing all your amazing adventures. The possibilities are endless – it’s up to you to amaze us!

Our first Voice of Conservation, Karra Rothery, spread the word on our blog and her own blog, on Facebook communities and numerous forums, by writing thought-provoking posts, interviewing people like famous author and conservationist Lawrence Anthony, creating fun videos and taking loads of photos.


Friday, March 11, 2011

First Kakapo Chicks of 2011 Boost Numbers to 123

Great news from TVNZ...
The first kakapo chicks of the season have hatched with three new arrivals bringing the total population of the critically endangered parrot to 123.
[...]
It is hoped 11 eggs will hatch this season, this is lower than past seasons because of the low number of rimu fruit available for the birds to eat.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

FINAL REMINDER: Brian Cox to Host Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture

Look To The Stars.org has a feature on the upcoming Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, to be presented by "Rock star physicist" Professor Brian Cox.
Although Adams died unexpectedly in 2001 at the age of 49, the Memorial Lectures – held every year since 2003 – continue to explore the themes in which he was so interested, and help support both Save the Rhino International and the Environmental Investigation Agency, two charities championed by the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author.

Douglas was moved to take action for wildlife conservation during a 1985 visit to Madagascar. His dedication to the cause resulted in the book “Last Chance to See” highlighting the plight of species facing extinction.
The Ninth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture will take place at The Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 10 March 2011, 7.30pm.
Photo Credit: Vincent Connare

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Douglas Adams Podcast

Check out the latest edition of The Pod Delusion podcast which is a Douglas Adams special.
In association with Save The Rhino, a look back at Adams' life, work and legacy featuring Stephen Mangan, Mark Cowardine, Simon Jones, Marcus du Sautoy, Dirk Maggs and more.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

EVENT: Rhino Mayday 2011

From Save The Rhino.org...
Rhino Mayday 2011

Wednesday 4 May 2011, 10.30 - 17.00

Huxley Conference Theatre, ZSL London Zoo

Tickets: £15

We are delighted announce that Save the Rhino will once again be organising Rhino Mayday. The event is intended as information-sharing and awareness-raising event for anyone with an interest in rhino conservation. We will have experts from many different areas of rhino conservation, from project field staff and conservation charities to academics and zoo personnel.

Confirmed speakers for this year's event include:
  • Professor Mike Bruford, School of Biosciences, Cardiff University

  • Peter Carr, Editor, Sporting Rifle

  • Maggie Esson, Education Programmes Manager, Chester Zoo

  • John Gripper, Chairman, Sebakwe Black Rhino Trust

  • Jasper Humphreys, Director of External Affairs, The Marjan Centre for the Study of Conflict and Conservation, King’s College London

  • Inspector Nevin Hunter, Chief Wildlife Inspector, Wildlife Licensing and Registration Service at Animal Health

  • Mark Jones, Programmes Director, Care for the Wild International

  • Felix Patton

  • Rebecca Perry, Conservation Officer, Colchester Zoo

  • Simon Tonge, EAZA Chair & Executive Director, Paignton Zoo

  • Berry White

  • ZSL
*Speakers subject to change

The 2011 Rhino Mayday will be held on Wednesday 4 May in the Huxley Conference Theatre, ZSL London Zoo, Regent's Park, London (ZSL have, once again, kindly agreed to provide the venue free of charge).

Tickets cost £15 and can be purchased online from Save the Rhino’s website, by emailing events@savetherhino.org or by calling 020 7357 747.

For more information, visit www.savetherhino.org
Thanks to Events Manager Jo Paulson for the tip.

Monday, February 07, 2011

REMINDER: Brian Cox to Host Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture

Look To The Stars.org has a feature on the upcoming Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, to be presented by "Rock star physicist" Professor Brian Cox.
Although Adams died unexpectedly in 2001 at the age of 49, the Memorial Lectures – held every year since 2003 – continue to explore the themes in which he was so interested, and help support both Save the Rhino International and the Environmental Investigation Agency, two charities championed by the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” author.

Douglas was moved to take action for wildlife conservation during a 1985 visit to Madagascar. His dedication to the cause resulted in the book “Last Chance to See” highlighting the plight of species facing extinction.
The Ninth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture will take place at The Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 10 March 2011, 7.30pm.
Photo Credit: Vincent Connare

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

AUDIO: Mark Carwardine: Last Chance to Save the Rhino

On Wednesday 12 January 2011, Mark Carwardine provided an "entertaining and thought-provoking rhino evening" for Save the Rhino at The Royal Geographical Society. Save The Rhino have now provided downloadable audio from the event on their website.
Mark described 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 revealed what went on behind the scenes while filming a Last Chance to See Special called Rhino Rescue, with Stephen Fry, and talked frankly about his hopes and fears for some of the most endearing and endangered mammals on Earth.

Friday, January 14, 2011

RIP Richard Henry

I was very saddened to learn of the passing of legendary Kakapo "Richard Henry". TreeHugger has this report.
Richard Henry may sound like an oddly dignified name for a bird -- but its bearer deserves nothing less. Richard was a highly-endangered Kakapo, a flightless parrot from New Zealand, who is credited by many with single-wingedly saving his species. In the 1970s, researchers believed that the Kakapo had been nearly wiped out and that extinction was inevitable -- that is, until they ran across Richard. With his genetic material, conservationists were able to slowly recover the species. But today, after decades of service, Richard Henry has passed away at the ripe old age of 80 -- leaving behind a legacy that, with any luck, will be everlasting.