Saturday, July 31, 2004

WEBSITE - The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

Douglas was also patron to The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and these magnificent animals were very inspirational to him. Please stop by and learn more about their plight. It's a very nice site, and once there, you could adopt a gorilla, become a member, or contribute to their noble cause. There's lots of ways to help!

WEBSITE - Save The Rhino International

Douglas Adams was a Founder Patron of Save The Rhino International, and they have a very touching obituary on their site. This organization was very dear to Douglas, so please, consider becoming a member or making a contribution. Thank you.

WEBSITE - IWC (Baiji Dolphins)

The IWC (The International Whaling Commission) has responsibility for the welfare of the Yangtze Baiji dolphin.

According to this article

The IWC has grown from 14 member states, when it was set up in 1946, to 55, and it is the only global body formally to address all threats to the existence of cetaceans.Six species are critically endangered and at least one, the Yangtze River Basin dolphin, is in immediate danger of becoming extinct.

They have this PDF document from 2003 which explains the plight of the dolphin.
6.1 Baiji
The baiji (Lipotes vexillifer) is the most endangered cetacean. Its range is restricted to the Yangtze River and its population size is probably only a few tens of animals.

NEWS - Komodo Dragons to London Zoo

The BBC are among many that have reported that London Zoo is beginning a breeding program for the Komodo Dragons, the largest lizards in the world.
Experts estimate only around 500 breeding females remain in the dragons' natural habitat in Indonesia.
Here is the Zoo's own page on the arrival of the Dragons. Sir David Attenborough opened the exhibit on July 12th. I HEARTILY recommend getting hold of Zoo Quest For A Dragon. I have both the book and audio version and its a great story. All of Attenborough's audio books are a pleasure to listen to, and in the absence of the "Last Chance To See" radio series, it's nice to be able to enjoy such a similar trip.

NEWS - Kakapo inoculations going well

News article from New Zealand about Dobbie the kakapo and his friends.
Dobbie the kakapo was alive and well, Department of Conservation kakapo recovery team leader Paul Jansen reported last night.

Dobbie was the first Chalky Island kakapo to be inoculated against the deadly bacteria erysipelas, which has killed three of his comrades

NEWS - Northern White Rhinos down to 20 animals.

Quote from this July 4th article brings us almost up-to-date:
Many of the rhino sub-species in some parts of Africa have reached the point of no return. The northern white rhino has been reduced to a population of 20 animals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

NEWS - Poachers Threaten Last Wild Northern White Rhinos

This National Geographic article has bad news from Easter 2004. Poachers kill two of the last White Rhinos, along with a dozen elephants.

This quote from the final paragraph makes chilling reading:
"We could very well see the extinction of the nothern (sic) white rhino in the next six months"

Friday, July 30, 2004

STATUS REPORT - The Aye Aye seems to be a good up-to-date site for tracking these sorts of reports, and they have a good page on the details of the classification system for endangered animals.

As of 2003, the Aye-Aye is still classified as ENDANGERED.

The Animals - Let's take a look

OK, let's get better aquianted with the creatures Douglas visited on his travels. Let's pull out my copy of "Last Chance To See", as signed by Douglas Adams when I was at the University of Newcastle. We'll examine it one chapter at a time, and then let Google Images do the walking...

Twig Technology
The genesis of the project was a 1985 trip with Mark to visit the Aye-Aye Lemurs of Madagascar.

Here Be Chickens
A visit to a famous island in Indonesia and the Komodo Dragons.

Leopardskin Pillbox Hat
To Zaire, and the Northern White Rhinos and Mountain Gorillas.

Heartbeats in the Night
My favourites, the parrots of New Zealand which run up trees, jump out and fly like bricks. Yes, its the Kakapo Parrots!

Blind Panic
To the mighty river Yangtze, and the blind Baiji Dolphin.

Rare, or Medium Rare?
To the southern Indian Ocean of Rodrigues to look for the world's rarest bat, the Rodrigues Fruitbat!

And lest we forget, not featured in the book, but visited for the original BBC radio series, were the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal and the Amazonian Manatee.

The original radio series - Anyone?

The online version of the "Guide" is hosted by the BBC and is called H2G2. Here's one entry about the original "Last Chance To See" radio series, as broadcast on Radio 4.

As I'd discussed with MJ Simpson, it seems that the series is somewhat hard to find, because its never been released commercially. Hopefully, with all this new interest in Hitchhikers, that will change. I do recall listening to it myself, and I know I taped some episodes at the time, but they're long gone. Anyone out there with a copy?

NEWS - Three Kakapos die from blood poisoning

This BBC article has some bad news for the New Zealand Kakapos. According to numbers quoted in the article, that would put the number on the island down to 83. Sad news indeed.

Where it started

Douglas Adams will forever be remembered as the author of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, a favourite of mine since my youth, and which spawned in me a love of all things Adams.

In July of 2004 I exchanged a couple of emails with MJ Simpson*, the author of Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams, and we got to chatting about Adams' other popular, if less well known, book Last Chance To See. The book (and BBC Radio series) described his travels around the world with naturalist and broadcaster Mark Carwardine and their visits with many endangered animals, such as the Mountain Gorilla, Northern White Rhino, Komodo Dragon, Kakapo Parrot and many more.

So many of the fascinating creatures they had described were teetering on the very brink of extinction back in the late 1980s, one had to wonder how they were doing now, some 15 years later. I thought a blog might be a good way to bring the stories up-to-date, and so Another Chance To See was born.

*Simpson's own site, Planet Magrathea, was a great resource for news about everything Hitchhikers, including the two new radio series and the 2005 Hitchhikers movie. Sadly, the site is now closed - [April 18, 2005]