Saturday, July 30, 2005


Wow! Believe it or not, this site turns one year old today! In the past 12 months, I've posted nearly 340 news items about the endangered animals of Last Chance To See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine. One way or another, Mountain Gorillas, Northern White Rhino, Kakapo Parrots, Baiji Dolphins, Komodo Dragons and all the others have been crossing my thoughts nearly every day. Some of the news was good, some bad, but all have helped to bring our understanding of these endangered animals up-to-date.

We've seen four new Kakapo chicks hatched and returned to Codfish Island, bringing the total number of Kakapos up to 87. There's been plenty of other baby news among which we've heard about a baby Aye-Aye lemur at London Zoo, and baby Mountain Gorillas.

Rather more tragically, we've heard that Mark Carwardine believes the Baiji Dolphin is extinct already, and the Northern White Rhino is also teetering on the very brink of extinction.

I'd like to thank everyone who has supported, linked to, or contributed to this site, especially our regulars like Dave Haddock and Harold. I'd also like to thank our gorilla sponsors, who helped raise the $50 to adopt Urwibutso, the three year old Mountain Gorilla from The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

Thank you everyone. And thanks Douglas!

Friday, July 29, 2005

ENDANGERED ANIMALS - Food for thought

Here's a novel approach to preserving certain species of endangered animals. Eat them!

From The Capital Press...
Eating rare and endangered animal species hardly seems like a logical method of preserving their existence, but it may turn out to be the best chance of survival some have.

“The best way to save a panda bear or a komodo dragon may be to put them in a zoo, but the best way to save a red wattle pig or a standard bronze turkey is to put them on the dinner table,” said Todd Wickstrom, cofounder of Heritage Foods USA, a company that markets rare breeds of meat, fish, poultry, and other foodstuffs to restaurants and consumers.
Click here for full story.

NO SHEEP! - Last Chance to See, Revisited

Blogger NoSheep! posted in early July about Last Chance To See with a book review and updates on the perceived numbers of the endangered animals featured in the book. It's a nice blog with plenty of interesting posts.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

KOMODO DRAGONS - Reptile and amphibian conservation papers from conference in Brazil has this summary on the Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology recently held in Brazil.
Earlier this week nearly 2,000 of the world's leading environmental scientists of various disciplines met in Brasilia to present papers at the 19th Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology. The conference featured more than 750 oral presentations and 965 scientific abstracts.
One of the endangered animals discussed was the Komodo Dragon, with a paper from Tim Jessop and his team on the "Management and Conservation Requirements for Komodo Dragon Populations in Komodo National Park, Indonesia".
Our results indicate that major differences in demography and ecology exist between dragon populations on the 2 large islands of Komodo and Rinca and the 2 small islands of Motang and Kode. Specifically, island area influences prey diversity and availability which, in turn, influences the density, growth and body size of dragons.
The full summary can be found about half way down the Mongabay page.

And here's a previous Komodo Dragon research paper by Tim Jessop that we've reported on before, specifically "Distribution, use and selection of nest type by Komodo Dragons".

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Gorilla on guard

On the Ugandan news website, The New Vision online has this article on a new mountain gorilla statue which now sits proudly outside the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala.
The sculpture was unveiled by premier Apolo Nsibambi while commissioning the Kamwokya-based four-storeyed complex, named the Mt. Gorilla Nest, on Friday.

The 18"x12" bronze sculpture, is a representation of a silverbuck (a fully-grown adult male of a mountain gorilla species).

Designed by artist Bart Walter, the obelisk is a gift from the Washington-based African Wildlife Foundation to the people of Uganda "for their commitment to Mt. Gorilla Conservation and in recognition of their work of International Gorilla Conservation Programme."
In other Ugandan news, the People Daily Online has an article in the upsurge of Ugandan tourism dollars, many of it coming from eco-tourism. Endangered animals continue to be a big draw for tourists from all over the world.
The Ugandan government earned over 200 million US dollars in 2004 from the tourism sector, surpassing 113 million dollars in 2002, because of a remarkable increase of tourist arrivals in the east African country.

While commissioning the new Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters last Friday, Ugandan Prime Minister Apollo Nsibambi said that tourism now is becoming the country's top foreign exchange earner.

According to a recent report issued by the Bank of Uganda, the central bank of the country, tourism arrivals in 2004 were recorded at 512,378, registering an increase of 68 percent over that in 2003. Most tourists were from Britain and the United States. There was also an increasing number of tourists from China, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, Netherlands and other countries.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Three Gorges Dam

Courtesy of Google Maps fabulous new API, here's the Satellite view of the Yangtze Three Gorges Dam. The project should be completed in 2009 and it will be the world's largest dam. The impact on the environment from this structure is almost impossible to comprehend.

**UPDATE** - Google have now added a Scale to their API, which I've duly added to this map. Again, helps to really show just how BIG this construction site is!

**UPDATE 2** - And for those who've installed Google's extraordinary Google Earth product, here's the Three Gorges Dam KMZ file which should "fly you" directly to this location in Google Earth.

Click here for a larger view

KAKAPO PARROTS - Duneland with moa bones purchased for public

New Zealand's Scoop here with archaeological news.
A huge duneland containing moa bones on D'Urville Island in the Marlborough Sounds has been purchased for the public, Conservation Minister Chris Carter announced today.

"This is a very exciting purchase for any New Zealander interested in natural history," Mr Carter said.
"These dunes tower to a height of 25 metres and extend inland for 400m. They are archaelogically significant containing bones of early kakapo, moa, tuatara, kokako and various big petrels," Mr Carter said.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

MANATEES - From armchair environmentalist to swimming with the manatees

Nice article on The Royal Gazette about a HSBC bank employee who went to Belize to help scientists study the manatees there, in this case, the West Indian Manatee.
A local bank worker left his computer behind to spend some time plugged into the plight of manatees in South America.

Geoffrey Usher, a project manager in the information technology department at HSBC Bank of Bermuda recently went to Belize to help scientists study endangered manatees, as part of HSBC’s ongoing partnership with Earthwatch. "I am one of those armchair environmentalists, but, recently, I hadn’t been getting off my backside and getting involved in it," said Mr. Usher shortly after returning from Belize. "I thought this would be an ideal opportunity and would give me the kick I needed to actually get out and do something for the environment."
Here is HSBC's page about its Investing With Nature initiative.

Friday, July 15, 2005

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - Pride & preservation

Roger Highfield reports for the Telegraph on the efforts being made to preserve endangered animals, with the help of zoos and frozen DNA.

And in reference to the Northern White Rhino, the idea of using Southern White Rhinos as surrogate mothers makes a lot of sense....
Once ranging across north-central Africa, wild populations have fallen to as few as four individuals in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

'The species is dying out as we speak, if it has not already,' said Mr Lawrence. 'But there is the means, thanks to modern science, to bring it back.'

Northern White Rhino semen has been frozen and could be used to reintroduce the species, said Mr Lawrence. 'We have their relative, the southern white rhino, and we are looking at the possibility of using them as surrogate mothers,' he added."
We've reported on the Frozen Ark previously.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - 5 to 10 left, Garamba to lose World Heritage status

Of all the Last Chance To See endangered animals, the Northern White Rhino is most definately the closest to extinction. (We're making the unofficial assumption that the Baiji Dolphin is already extinct - See Sticky Post).

Several websites are reporting on the news that...
The World Heritage Committee is considering removing Garamba National Park from the World Heritage List in 2006 if the Northern White Rhino becomes extinct by then.

"No rhino, no World Heritage site" was the echoing comment of the World Heritage Committee meeting yesterday, 12 July 2005, during a long and heated debate about the situation of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
"The Northern White Rhino is a flagship species for this site and every effort must be made to protect the remaining 5-10 individuals", commented David Sheppard, Head of the IUCN delegation in Durban.
Full story at Harold Doan, with more coverage at The Mercury.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

TELEVISION - Madagascar: Out Of This World

In the USA, on the Animal Planet channel, an episode of Buggin' With Ruud, entitled Madagascar: Out Of This World - "The island of Madagascar is nature's time capsule of species found nowhere else in the world."
July 13: 8:00PM, 11:00PM
July 14: 3:00AM
July 15: 11:00AM
July 16: 4:00PM

All times ET

Friday, July 08, 2005

RIVER DOLPHINS - Australian Scientists Discover New Species, The Snubfin

ENN is reporting on a exciting new find by Australian scientists, a previously undiscovered species of shallow water dolphin, and most likely an endangered species.
Australian researchers have identified a new species of dolphin which was once thought to have been the same as an extremely rare mammal predominantly found in Asian coastal waters and rivers.

The Australian Snubfin Dolphin has been declared a separate species to the Irrawaddy dolphins of Southeast Asia, one of the rarest sea mammals on the planet, researchers at James Cook University and the Museum of Tropical Queensland said on Tuesday.

Researcher Isabel Beasley said the newly identified Australian Snubfin Dolphins, or Orcaella heinsohni, live in shallow waters off northern Australia and possibly in neighbouring Papua New Guinea.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Respiratory diseases kill mountain gorillas

Reuters AlertNet is reporting on a new study that shows 25% of mountain gorilla deaths (dating back to 1968) can be attibuted to influenze or other viruses.
Mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda, an endangered species, are dying from respiratory illnesses, according to study published on Wednesday.

Poaching is the biggest killer of the gorillas but new research shows that a quarter of 100 gorilla deaths dating back to 1968 were due to illnesses such as influenza and other viruses.

"In a bid to cut the risk of people passing these diseases on, eco-tourists who trek to see the gorillas in the wild already have to stay at least 7 metres (yards) away, and keep their visit to no more than an hour," New Scientist magazine noted on Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

KAKAPO PARROTS - Bird sanctuary set up in Fiordland

TVNZ has news on Coal Island, another island which is to be setup as a bird sanctuary for Kakapos and other endangered animals. The article includes a link to a video version of the report, which includes footage of kakapo chicks.
A new island sanctuary has been launched to protect endangered species in one of the most remote areas of New Zealand.

It is a community initiative and one thing they are not short of is volunteers.

Extreme isolation in Fiordland means Te Puka-Hereka, or Coal island, is pretty much as it was when settlers first arrived here - apart from one thing.

Kiwi and Kakapo abounded and the evening air was filled with their characteristic cries.

The Te Puka-Hereka Charitable Trust launched their bid to try to bring back what was lost all those years ago.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - A garden shed full of gorillas

Interesting tale from The Herald about a Scottish vet who wanted to create a self-sufficient back-yard hideaway for himself, but the project has turned into field laboratory for the Mountain Gorilla researchers in Bwindi.
It was intended as little more than a "nice wee place in the back garden", a hut designed by a Scottish vet in which he could relax with a cold beer after a hard day's work.

But now, the design behind an eco-cabin has been transferred from West Kilbride to a Ugandan jungle, where it is helping conservationists study an endangered species of mountain gorilla.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

MARK CARWARDINE - Excess Baggage

Broadcaster and writer Mark Carwardine, co-author of Last Chance To See also works as a marine tour leader. You can hear him talking about this side of his life, whale, shark and manatee watching on this week's episode of BBC Radio 4's Excess Baggage (Tour Guides).

The vision of a tourist being sea-sick into a whale's blowhole, just before he "blew" is utterly priceless! Those poor people.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig, this episode is avilable to Listen Again, along with many previous editions of this always interesting travel related show. Check out the Highlights section in the right-column for the previous episodes. I very much enjoyed the Michael Palin, Ewen McGregor & Charlie Boorman ones.

Record Internet radio. Click here to find out how!
Until the BBC add this show to their podcasting line up, I "self-podcast" Excess Baggage by recording it with Replay Radio. Piece of cake.

Hitchhiker vs KFC

On a tangentially related topic, peta2 reports on The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy movie star Martin Freeman's recent letter to KFC...
Martin Freeman of The Office fame and star of blockbuster film The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has fired off a letter to KFC asking the company to implement PETA's recommended basic animal welfare standards that will stop the worst abuses experienced by the nearly 850 million chickens raised and killed every year for KFC restaurants.

Friday, July 01, 2005

KOMODO DRAGONS - News round up

Here's a couple of recent Komodo Dragon related stories.

First one from the Denver Post about Castor, Denver Zoo's 11 year-old Komodo dragon stud...
[Castor] scored a little love action with the help of a small band of humans.

Beth Jo Schoeberl, the zoo's curator of primates and carnivores, joined the group just as Castor's last clutch hatched in 2003. And Schoeberl will get to help decide if he mates again.
On a somewhat more disturbing note, Washington's WTOP reports on animals deaths at the National Zoo.
Several animal deaths at the National Zoo may have been prevented. Documents obtained by WTOP Radio describe specific treatment mistakes the Zoo admits making in caring for the animals.
A lemur died from blood loss due to the hemorrhage of a blood vessel in its leg. According to a final report, the animal had pneumonia with a small infection. The memo states the animal "was probably not receiving enough medication."

A Komodo dragon died when an ovarian growth ruptured and burst a blood vessel. No ultrasound was done on the animal. The memo states the Zoo doesn't have a written protocol requiring such examinations for female Komodo dragons.