Saturday, August 28, 2004

WEBSITE - Zoo Quest For A Dragon

On Whirligig TV, they have a page all about David Attenborough's Zoo Quest For A Dragon.

In 1956 David travelled to Komodo to make a film about the Komodo Dragon. The site has a streaming video clip from the film. They have kindly given me permission to allow you to download the video here (364k). has Zoo Quest products available, and I STRONGLY recommend reading the book, or even better (because David Attenborough reads it), get the book on tape. It's a great adventure.
Buy Me From
Zoo Quest books and tapes are also available in the US:
Zoo Quest stuff at

Friday, August 27, 2004

WEBSITE - BBC Online "Last Chance To See"

The page at the The BBC Cult Hitchhiker's - Last Chance To See has a short audio clip from the Komodo Dragon radio episode of "Last Chance To See". Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine are talking about "the unbelievable stench" coming from the Komodo Dragons and their goat lunch. Great to hear this. I've heard Douglas Adams reading his book "Last Chance To See", but this is the first audio clip from the initial radio series I've heard in a long time. Anyone out there have any more?

The page also links to this one about zoology which features a short video clip of Douglas Adams reading from "The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe" at one of the 1992 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

NEWS - Ebola fear for Western Lowland Gorillas

For the cousins of the Mountain Gorilla, disturbing news indeed.
Scientists fear new Ebola outbreak may explain sudden disappearance of scores of Western Lowland Gorillas.
More than 20,000 Western lowland gorillas could die within months if outbreak confirmed

TRAVEL - Something to squawk about (Kakapos)

The Advertiser in Australia has this nice article about Kakapos and travel to Stewart Island.
'YOU couldn't have seen a kakapo,' accused a fellow backpacker. 'It's virtually extinct, nocturnal and can't fly to a tree. It must have been a forest pigeon.'

NEWS - Asian Dams, and their effects

Asia Times Online reports on dam projects in India and across
Asia, and their impact on people and wildlife, including the Baiji Dolphin.
The World Wide Fund (WWF) warned in June: 'China's Yangtze River faces a greater threat from dams than any other river in the world. China has 46 large dams planned or under construction on the Yangtze. The dams could destroy habitats of endangered species, including the Yangtze River dolphin, of which only a few dozen remain.'

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

EXHIBIT - Lindsay Wildlife Museum - Till August 29th

If you're in California, you still have until August 29 to visit the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and their "Gorillas in the Lens" exhibit.
Dian Fossey spent the majority of her adult life in the mountains of east central Africa studying the shy and elusive mountain gorilla, one of our closest relatives. Thirty-four photographs, taken by Fossey and the National Geographic Society, explore Dian’s adventures living with and studying these amazing animals. Be sure to see this exhibit in the museum’s lobby.
Museum is at 1931 First Avenue, Walnut Creek, CA 94597 - Tel: 925-935-1978

Monday, August 23, 2004

Friday, August 20, 2004

NEWS - Komodo Dragon plunges to death at London Zoo

The BBC is reporting the sad news about the death one of London Zoo's Komodo Dragons. Also being covered by
A rare Komodo dragon fell to her death while scaling a wall at London Zoo. Six-feet-long Nina, who weighed 44lbs, died after scrambling up an eight foot dividing wall to reach her mate in the other side of the pen.

An anxious wait to see if Britain has lost its chance of breeding Komodo dragons in captivity now looms.

There are believed to be about 5,000 left in the wild.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

NEWS - Cloning breeds hope for India's big cats

Guardian Unlimited reports
"Indian scientists have announced ambitious plans to use cloning technology to save the country's dwindling lion population from extinction and return Asiatic cheetahs's which disappeared from India half a century ago, to the wild."
By 2025 one-fifth of existing species could be extinct, the World Wildlife Fund fears.
The Northern White Rhino and the Mountain Gorilla both get a mention.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

KIDS - Kakapo Toys

Kiwi Iconz have a number of Kakapo soft toys available, with the largest standing 58cm tall. Prices are listed in NZ$ but you can do a quick conversion over at A portion of each sale is contributed to New Zealand conservation efforts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

TRAVEL - Go Chile! Juan Fernandez Islands

Would you like to go and see the fur-seals, in their fascinating, lost paradise? Visit Go Chile! for more information.
The island is situated 667 km from the continent, in front of the city of Valparaíso. Robinson Crusoe Island is part of one of the most beautiful natural reserves in the world, the wonderful Juan Fernández Islands. The fauna and flora found here are very unique. Neither time nor progress has been able to capture the magic and charm found here.

Monday, August 16, 2004

TRAVEL - Penetrating Bwindi

Like many of the attractions, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is no simple place to reach but like the other known destinations, is well worth the effort for the chance to see some of the only 700 mountain gorillas in existence in the world.

TV - Are Rhinos Dinos? *TONIGHT*

On Discovery Science Channel's Paleoworld, they have a show coming up called "Are Rhinos Dinos"
The rhino has existed five times longer than the average species. Trace the history of the rhino from its earliest relative, just four inches long, to a later one that stood over 33 feet high.
Air Dates
  • Aug 16 2004 @ 07:00 PM
  • Aug 17 2004 @ 03:00 AM
  • Aug 17 2004 @ 11:00 AM

NEWS - Concern over Congo logging

The BBC is reporting on the concern over Congo logging
Environmental groups have expressed concern at Congo's plans to open up its rainforest for increased commercial logging.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

NEWS - Meet the relatives (Gorillas)

Stephanie Nolen treks through the rain in search of a familiar face
Rwanda's Volcano National Park is home to some of the world's last, wild mountain gorillas, which have become a source of hope for the country's damaged tourism industry. But encountering a silverback and his troop can be quite the journey.

Friday, August 13, 2004

STUFF - Books, DVDs and other goodies

If you've not read the book yet, get it right here from

"Last Chance To See" by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine
Click here to buy this book from

For further reading, there's lots more related books, DVDs and other stuff available at Amazon. Here's some relevant searches....
Please post your own recommendations in the comments for everyone else to see.

WEBSITE - Karen Grunberg's visit to the Yangtze

Here's a very nice personal account of a visit to China, learning about the baiji dolphin.
Traveling in China, I began to find that it was the sounds I was hearing that confused and disoriented me most...

It occurred to me...that the dolphins we had come to look for must be suffering from the same kind of problem. Their sense must be completely overwhelmed and confused.

WEBSITE - NZBirds (The Kakapo)

Here's a nice page from about New Zealand's Kakapo.

It has a nice downloadable sound file called The Song of the Kakapo.

The text of the article itself comes from "Birds of South Westland" (c.1899) by Charles Edward Douglas, but it makes interesting (if not disturbing) reading, and might explain why the Kakapo is in such trouble today.
Kakapos are very good eating, whether old or young, but the old ones are too tough to roast, so the best way is to boil them over a slow fire for four or five hours, or cooking them in a Maori oven which is by far the quickest and best plan.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

NEWS - Gorilla twins attract tourists

Wonderful baby news from Rwanda.
Glancing suspiciously in our direction, an endangered mountain gorilla turned her back to protect the rare treasure in her arms - the third-ever recorded set of twins born to these rare primates.

"Every birth is crucial to the genetic viability of the mountain gorillas, and the birth of twins is an exceptional event," said Fidelle Ruzigandekwa, head of the Rwanda Wildlife Agency. "It is like a miracle because the primates are threatened with extinction."

NEWS - IFAW Moves to Curb Elephant and Rhino Poaching in Garamba Park

Press Release
IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare) announced today that it will work with ICCN to reduce poaching in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

NEWS - Life on the brink

As the human population explodes, other species are simply running out of food and space. Tim Radford reports.
There are six species of great ape: two species of chimpanzee, two of gorilla and two of orang-utan. All are now endangered. All could face extinction in the wild within a few generations. In contrast human numbers have now passed 6 billion and are growing at the rate of 212,000 souls every day.

Monday, August 09, 2004

WEBSITE - Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is the home on the web of the Trust established by Gerald Durrell, the famous author and naturalist.

Durrell's last book, published in 1992 was "The Aye Aye And I", the account of a major collecting expedition in Madagascar, with the aim of establishing breeding colonies to save some of Madagascar's unique wildlife.

This PDF document talks about the success they have had with the Aye Aye.

NEWS - Gorillas affected by Coltan mining

Are YOU affecting the lives of Gorillas as we speak?
Please read this fascinating article from CBC's Matthew Pace.
Inside our computers, and our cellular phones and pagers, is a metallic ore called coltan. It's hard, resistant to corrosion, and a good conductor of heat and electricity. Coltan is mined in only a few places in the world. The eastern Congo is one of them.

Coltan can be mined with just a shovel. So, during the technology boom a few years back, thousands of Congolese who lived nearby rushed into the park to mine the ore illegally. They had little to eat, until they started shooting the gorillas....

NEWS - Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally

RIYAZ Kurji fought from eighth position to fourth to snatch a vital five ARC points in the Rwanda Mountain Gorilla rally yesterday. The lone flag bearer is bidding to become the second driver in Uganda to win the African title after Charles Muhangi who won it in 1999.
Full Race Report and Championship Standings

Sunday, August 08, 2004

WEBSITE - Juan Fernandez Fur Seal Revisited

January News at News at Planeta Vivo has a fairly recent update on the status of the fur seal.
At the beginning of this decade a total census made in Selkirk Island gave a number of 6385 individuals.
This 2003-2004 season a series of playback experiments will be performed with the aim to test the vocal-auditory recognition ability between mothers and pups. At the same time, a similar to previous vocal sound recordings taken in past years by the author, will be obtained for fur seal pups that live close to a freshwater stream.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

WEBSITE - Great opportunities to join real conservation projects and travel the world

Looking for a unique travel experience? Make a difference in some of the world’s most critical conservation and community projects with Global Vision International and selected partner organisations.
Global Vision International have a large number of expeditions, projects, and courses you can join, from anywhere between 2 weeks and 2 years.

This list has a number of "Another Chance To See" related projects.
If anyone is able to join one of their programs, don't forget to report back on how you got on...

Friday, August 06, 2004

NEWS - Northern White Rhinos "between 17 and 22 animals"

The article on the BBC reported earlier made the front page of their website.

Also, this Bloomberg report talks with Kes Hillman-Smith of the Garamba National Park Project.

NEWS - 50% Of Northern White Rhinos Slaughtered in Last 14 Months

Sad to report this depressing news from this Environmental
News Network article

The BBC is also reporting the same news.

Africa's Last Northern White Rhinos Decimated by Poaching Crisis in Garamba World Heritage Site: 50% Slaughtered in Last 14 Months
An intensive aerial survey of the Park, carried out 7-11 July
this year... counted a minimum population of only 17-22
, despite the birth of four calves in 2004. This represents
a loss of between 14-19 rhinos in just 14 months; over half
of the world's wild northern white rhinos have been lost in just over a year.

INTERVIEW - MJ Simpson discusses "Last Chance To See"

Douglas Adams biographer MJ Simspon recently discussed "Last Chance To See" as part of an interview with radio show "SciFi Overdrive".

Download or stream the interview here.

NEWS - Sudanese using donkey trains to transport illegal ivory and rhino horn

Organised poaching groups from Sudan are using pack animals to transport their ill-gotten gains. For more on this, visit this page at the International Rhino Foundation.
This is the first time that pack animals have been a factor in the massacre, that exploded in intensity during 2003, of the last remaining northern white rhinos and unique elephant population of this World Heritage Site. Crucial in mid 2003 was the switch from commercial meat poaching to ivory and rhino horn and a sweep through the southern sector of the park focused on elephants and rhinos. The use of pack animals now implies yet another level of organisation, back up and distance in the poaching.

FOR KIDS - BBC's Newsround Gorilla news

Good to see the children's BBC show Newsround continuing the good work started by John Craven all those years ago.

Here's their take on the latest Gorilla news about the loggers threatening their habitat.

EXTRA: History of John Craven's Newsround

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

WEBSITE - Organization for Bat Conservation

The OBC have information on the Rodrigues Project.
Rodriguans were used to their ways of farming and forestry. How were we going to persuade them to try other, less harmful ways? Enter Rodriguan, Mary Jane Raboude: Rodrigues' first environmental educator. Funded solely by grants from primarily zoo-based conservation organizations and donations, Mary Jane's job is to encourage and support positive environmental initiatives on Rodrigues to save the Rodrigues fruit bats from extinction. She works with entire villages as well as smaller groups conducting environmental education activities with adults and children.
More information on Mary Jane Raboude and the project at the Philadelphia Zoo (2003 International Conservation Award), Oregon Zoo, and also the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

FIA African Rally Championship - Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally

This weekend sees the annual Rwanda Mountain Gorilla Rally, part of the FIA's African Rally Championship.

Date 6th - 8th August - Kigali, Rwanda


Rwanda Automobile Club will organize the 2004 event which starts from Kigali, the capital city . The rally is 350km of competitive sections run on gravel roads in hilly country side with the cooperation of the Government of Rwanda and local authorities. The event is organized by Dismas Kayibanda as the Chairperson and Benoit Daubie as clerk of the course.
The weather conditions during the event are dry and dusty. Rwanda has the only remaining sanctuary in the world for the mountain gorilla

Ugandan driver Riyaz Kurji rates his chances:
"We are confident we will win the rally because unlike in Zimbabwe and Zambia where recce is done in a convoy we will recce at our own pace. With good pace-notes, I don't think we will make mistakes," said Kurji who left for Kigali yesterday ahead of foreign drivers' route recce tomorrow.

Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture - March 10th 2005

I am delighted to report that Save The Rhino International have given me permission to use their logo on the site (see sidebar), and they would also like me to bring to your attention the 3rd Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture which is to be held on March 10th, 2005 (7.30pm) at the Royal Institution, London, W1.

This annual lecture is held in support of Save the Rhino International and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Douglas was a Patron to both charities of course.

Nicky Springthorpe, the Fundraising and Communications Manager for Save The Rhino, tells me that the 2005 lecture will be given by Mark Carwardine, so "they're all very excited about that".

Please visit their Lectures And Talks page for more information on the 2005 lecture.
In celebration of the Life and Universe of Douglas Adams, late Founder Patron of Save the Rhino International. We host a lecture each year on (or as near as possible to) the day of Douglas's birthday to commemorate him and his achievements, on subjects that were of interest to him.

They also have a selection of Douglas Adams Books For Sale.

FOR KIDS - Mountain Mists (Gorillas)

This article introduces Soundprints products, books for kids with animal drawings that might be encountered in the various habitats, and map locators for children to find where in the world their favourite animal lives.

Specifically, here is the Mountain Mists Gorilla products available at Soundsprints Wild Habitats Collection, available as a book, cassette and stuffed animal.
In the Virunga's dense jungle, the call of a lone silverback male attracts a young female gorilla’s attention. But the silverback must best the dominant male of Gorilla’s group to win her. Can Gorilla’s young suitor prove himself and secure Gorilla for his mate?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


I have just updated the THE CREATURES sidebar section, and re-ordered them by their IUCN classifications.

For those in CAPS, I have added links to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Save The Rhino International and the Kakapo Recovery Programme. I will update the other animals once I find suitable links for them. For now, they remain a Google Images search.

I have also added each animal's IUCN (STATUS) and linked them through to their page on the IUCN Red List website.

(IUCN=International Union For Conservation Of Nature and Natural Resources)

WEBSITE - Kakapo Recovery Programme

Here is the website for the Kakapo Recovery Programme.

It has lots and lots of information, including all their latest press releases. They have the names of the three Kakapos who died recently (Aroha, Vollie and Aurora, all two-year-old females).

There's also information on how you can get involved with the programme, either by donating, sponsorship or further reading.


WEBSITE - Komodo Dragon links

Seattle Zoo's website has a nice Komodo Dragon section, which opens with a nice Flash animation. The Zoo now has a permanent exhibit featuring two dragons, one 7.5-foot adult male; one 3-foot juvenile female. They are are on display in Woodland Park Zoo's Trail of Adaptations building.

And Tim Spalding's Komodo Dragon Central is a nice site with links to other zoos with Komodos, webcams and photo galleries.

Monday, August 02, 2004

STATUS REPORT - Mountain Gorilla has a single page for all sub-species of Gorilla, generally classified as ENDANGERED. Full Report.

The page does include a population breakdown by sub-species and here is the snippet about the Mountain Gorilla.
Late 1950's: 400 - 500
1973: 275
1981: About 250
1984: 360 - 370
1989: 620
2000: About 600
2002: Approximately 660
2004: At least 700

All of which seems to suggest that the population is at its strongest in 50 years.

FOR KIDS - Build And Decorate Paper Animal Models

This is lovely. Yamaha Motor Company has a site where you can download kits that let you build and decorate paper models of rare animals.

For "Another Chance To See" we have the Juan Fernandez Fur Seal and the Gorilla, but there's also lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!

Oh, and did you ever wonder about Arthur Dent's brother? If you remember, he was "nibbled to death by an okapi".

If anyone has any success, don't forget to send us a photo!

STATUS REPORT - Amazonian Manatee has the Amazonian Manatee classified as VULNERABLE. Full Report.

Last assessed by IUCN in 1996, this seems to be an improvement on it's endangered status of the 60s and 70s.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

WEBSITE - Rodrigues Fruitbats at Philadelphia Zoo

Turns out Philadelphia Zoo is part of a conservation program for the Rodrigues Fruitbats. I'll try to get some pictures next time I'm there.

STATUS REPORT - Baiji Dolphin is World's Rarest Animal

Didn't spot this yesterday! On's list of World's Rarest Animals, regrettably, the Baiji Dolphin tops the list with only a few tens of individuals!

The dolphin is classified as CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. Full Report.

NEWS - Squatters threaten Mountain Gorillas.

There's been a few reports in recent weeks of illegal settlers clearing forests and further threatening the habitat of the Mountain Gorillas. Click here and here for more details.