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.