Wednesday, May 31, 2006

HENNING PAULY - Last Chance To See : The Song

While surfing around on the Towel Day message board, I came across this entry from musician Henning Pauly. He heard about Towel Day (back on May 25th) and bought a towel especially to take part. Nice one!

As Henning revealed in his message, it turns out he'd written a Douglas Adams/Last Chance To See tribute song called "Last Chance To See" for the 2004 album Chain.exe by Chain. The album is described as somewhere between progressive rock and progressive metal, and I think the "Last Chance To See" song is marvellous.

Henning has kindly allowed me to link to the MP3 audio of "Last Chance To See", which features some very familiar bars from "Journey of the Sorcerer", the Hitchhiker's Guide theme. I ask that you respect his copyright note that this music should be downloaded purely for your own enjoyment.

Here's a paragraph from Henning's website about the song and the album.
Victoria Trevithick gave her beautiful voice for "Last Chance to See" where she sings together with Matt and Mike Keneally. Many reviews for the first Chain album classified the band as somewhere between progressive rock and progressive metal, but this should not happen with EXE which is definitely far in the prog-metal territory.
The rest of the "Chain.exe" tracks can be downloaded from his site, or for those who prefer nice shiny CDs and DVDs, the album can be purchased direct from his label's website at ProgRock Records.

In addition, Henning also told me about another song inspired by DNA.
On "Unweeaving the Rainbow", an album dedicated to the writings of Richard Dawkins, I have a song called "Above the Grass" which is all about a different way to perceive the world around you and challenge your assumptions which is what Adams always tried to do...
I was quite delighted to discover Henning's work today. Something of a surprise to find a special "Last Chance To See" song after nearly two years working on this site.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Please remember when downloading tracks from Henning's website that they are posted there with permission from the artists, that they own the copyrights and that therefore this music should not be used for anything other than your enjoyment.

DOUGLAS ADAMS - Apple vs Apple: Trade mark turf wars

The BBC with a recent commentary on the Trademark Turf wars between Apple Computers and The Beatles' Apple Records. Humourous speculation that Douglas Adams loyalty would have been torn.
Brands which shared the same names used to rub along happily enough together, but, as the Apple v Apple case shows, technology is pushing companies into trade mark turf wars.

Forty years ago, John Lennon infamously told a journalist from the Evening Standard that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus" (not, as history has recorded, "bigger than").
One of the Apple Macintosh's most enthusiastic fans, who famously never saw The Beatles live, had three of the group's songs, and John Lennon's Imagine, played at his funeral in 2001.

I wonder what Douglas Adams would have had to say about all this? Something much more amusing than I can manage, for certain.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Uganda Guarantees Gorilla Sightings or Permit Fees Refunded

Here's a press release on a new policy from the Ugandan Wildlife Authority that gurantees Mountain Gorilla tourists a view of these endangered animals, or their money back... Hmm...Uganda Guarantees Gorilla Sightings or Permit Fees Refunded
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has established a guarantee governing permits for tracking its precious mountain gorilla population -- see them or it's free.

In announcing the new policy, the UWA said that if trackers fail to encounter the habituated gorilla family, each individual fee of US$360 will be refunded, or a permit for another day will be issued.

'Although non-sightings rarely occur, UWA wanted to provide an extra incentive to prospective visitors to further encourage their interaction with the world's most endangered ape,' noted James Bahinguza, Director of Tourism Uganda. 'These magnificent primates are only found in forests of Southwest Uganda, Northwestern Rwanda and Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and number about 700, of which approximately 350 are in Uganda,' he added.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

EDWARD O. WILSON - Talks about NatureServe

The NatureServe Homepage is currently hosting a message from Dr. Edward O. Wilson on how it makes a difference in connecting science with conservation. Dr. Wilson recently received the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International Global Conservation Award.

TOWEL DAY - Remember, always know where your towel is...

Today is Douglas Adams Towel Day 2006!
Towel Day :: A tribute to Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
To particpate in simply carry your towel with you throughout the day to show your participation and mourning.

KOMODO DRAGONS - TV Animal Planet - Kingdom of the Dragon

Animal Planet is airing the Komodo Dragon special, "Kingdom of the Dragon" this weekend.
Go face-to-face with the largest lizard in the world and its island habitat, the Komodo dragon. As the island struggles to preserve this unusual treasure, wildlife poachers and population growth contribute to the dragon's declining numbers.
MAY 27 2006 @ 09:00 PM
MAY 28 2006 @ 12:00 AM
MAY 28 2006 @ 04:00 AM

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

NORTHERN WHITE RHINOS - Special forces on mission to save the rhino

The Times Online has news of a former member of the who has authority to shoot to kill in order to stop poachers from killing the last few Northern White Rhino.
TWO years ago Conrad Thorpe was combing the mountains of Afghanistan for terrorists as an officer in the British special forces.

Today he finds himself on the front line of a very different sort of war. He lives in the jungles of the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, battling to stop poachers killing the last few northern white rhino left on the planet.

Lieutenant-Colonel Thorpe, 41, who left the Royal Marines last year after more than a decade in the Special Boat Service, could now be earning at least £1,500 a day on the burgeoning private security circuit in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Full Story at TimesOnline.

In addition, a new taxidermy exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History features a White Rhino exhibit.
The new exhibit is called "Stuffed Animals: The Art and Science of Taxidermy," and it really goes beneath the surface of the mounted mammals and birds that were the institution's backbone after it opened in 1896.
Visitors can get an up-close look at the lack of detail in a massive white rhinoceros (1901) and compare it to a better-prepared black rhinoceros (circa 1920) also brought out of storage for this display in the Hall of Sculpture.

BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES - Cruisin' the Galapagos

Douglas Adams mentioned the Blue-Footed Booby in a hilarious lecture he gave on the Kakapo mating segment of "Last Chance To See". You can hear the MP3 audio of this bit of his lecture on Steffan's Fun Stuff page.

In addition, here's the Wikipedia page on Blue Footed Boobies.

Vancouver's 24 Hours website has an article on vacation cruises to the Galapagos Islands, and also includes mention of the Blue Footed Booby.
Named for the giant tortoises that are endemic to this island chain, the Galapagos were discovered quite by accident in 1535. But the islands were not really put on the world map until Charles Darwin visited them in 1835. He stayed there for five weeks, studying the wildlife and gathering evidence that proved invaluable to his theory of evolution.

Formed a mere five million years ago when underwater volcanoes erupted above the ocean's surface, the isolated terrain, altitude and sunny, warm climate have made the islands a perfect sanctuary for some 58 unique species of birds - including the rare blue-footed booby - as well as sea lions, penguins, iguanas and the gigantic tortoise, which can live up to 180 years.


Jayne Nelson, editor of Total Film magazine and contributor to SFX magazine just lurvs Kakapo Parrots...
I love kakapo.

I love them so much I know their Latin name, Strigops habroptilus, without looking it up. I love them so much I once named a canary after them. I love them so much I sometimes listen to their calls on my CD player while I'm washing up. I even have a list of all their names pinned to the wall of my kitchen. My favourite (though I've never met him, and probably never will) is a kakapo called Gumboots who was caught in the wild in 1988.

Monday, May 22, 2006

TOWEL DAY - May 25th, 2006

The 25th of May is Douglas Adams Towel Day 2006!
Towel Day :: A tribute to Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
is a tribute to Douglas Adams takes place on Thursday 25th May 2006. To participate in Towel Day, simply carry your towel with you throughout the day to show your participation and mourning.

Friday, May 19, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Three Gorges Dam In Pictures

The BBC has a "picture feature" on the controversial which is expected to reach its final height of 185m (607 feet) on Saturday. It should be fully operational in 2009.

BBC - Planet Earth Under Threat

A new BBC blog about conservation has recently started, in preparation for a BBC Radio 4 series to be broadcast in the autumn. "Planet Earth Under Threat" is definately worth keeping an eye on, and the radio series is likely to be very informative.
Planet Earth Under Threat (PEuT) is a landmark Radio 4 series to be broadcast in the Autumn of 2006, presented by Gabrielle Walker.

PEuT is a cage rattling title - So what’s the series all about?

First and foremost, it’s a series about conservation – but within that it’s about the triumph of life. Global warming is going to be an overarching theme, but we want to get global warming out of its tired box and really let you know what it is, where its impacts are, and how life is responding.
The blog contains entries from Julian Hector, Editor BBC Natural History Unit Radio, and Howard Stableford, the ex "Tomorrow's World" presenter who now lives and works in Colorado.

KAKAPO PARROTS - Cash boost for Kiwi tradition of camping

Here's New Zealand's Stuff with news of a cash boost for the Kiwi tradition of camping.
Conservation groups have been allocated $311 million in this year's Budget, including cash for camping grounds to keep the traditional Kiwi summer holiday alive.
Some of the money will be used by DOC to pilot the Natural Heritage Management System – a project monitoring trends of key species like kiwi and kakapo, and native forests.

DRAGONS - Butaan: The Lost Lizard

Check out Animal Planet, 7pm on Sunday May 21st for an episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom entitled "Butaan: The Lost Lizard".
Join the quest for the most elusive reptile on the planet. Once believed to be extinct, the rare 7-foot Butaan Lizard is the largest fruit-eating lizard on Earth. Yet its master evasive skills make it nearly impossible to film in the wild. Can this expedition uncover the secrets of the lost dragon in time to save it from certain extinction?

Additional Resources


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

SIGOURNEY WEAVER - Gorillas Revisited TV special

Here's the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund site with news of 's return trip to Rwanda for a new Animal Planet TV special "Gorillas Revisited", 18 years since she made the "Gorillas in the Mist" movie.
For the first time since she made the movie “Gorillas in the Mist,” actress Sigourney Weaver has returned to Rwanda to visit the mountain gorillas. On this visit, Weaver, who serves as honorary chairperson of DFGFI, filmed “Gorillas Revisited,” which is scheduled to air on Animal Planet June 11 (8 p.m. EST) and June 18 (3 p.m. EST).

MOUNTAIN GORILLAS - Pablos Group hits 60 individuals!

News and baby pictures from the Dian Fossey site on yet another addition to Pablo's group.
It has been a record-breaking month for the gorillas we monitor from the Karisoke Research Center. Pablo's group, one of the three groups of mountain gorillas that we monitor and protect daily, is at last reaching an astounding 60 individuals! The size of this group has amazed researchers for many years as it just keeps growing and growing, under the leadership of dominant silverback Cantsbee and his second in command, Pablo.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Thanks to Dave for alerting me to a couple of appearances from Mark Carwardine in the coming weeks...

Sunday 28 May, 8pm

Test the Nation: Know Your Planet - 1, 8pm
This year's Test the Nation theme is Planet Earth and Anne Robinson and Phillip Schofield host the show to test the nation's knowledge of the environment, natural history and geography. The general public, 300 studio contestants and 8 celebrities take the test, and there are two experts who expand on the issues raised, one of which is Mark Carwardine.

Saturday 3 June

Festival of Nature - Bristol
Mark gives a free talk about his travel adventures (10-11am) and runs two wildlife photography workshops (12-1pm; 1.30-2.30pm) which are GBP8 per person.
Thanks for the information Dave.

Monday, May 15, 2006

BIRD FLU - Vaccination plans for Kiwi and Kakapo

Hamilton Spectator with an article on New Zealand's plans to vaccinate their native Kiwis and Kakapos if approaches.
The kiwi, a flightless bird unique to New Zealand, is much more than a curiosity in that country.
The bird's special status explains why New Zealand plans to vaccinate its kiwis against avian flu if the deadly H5N1 virus is found in or near the country. The Conservation Department also announced that it would protect the kakapo, a large flightless parrot that is nearly extinct.

Many kiwis, both captive and wild, have already been fitted with radio transmitters so that they can be located quickly, The Associated Press reports. All 86 known kakapos have been wearing transmitters for some years.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

DOUGLAS ADAMS - Five years today

Five years ago today, I was enjoying my vacation on the beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. While relaxing by the pool in our rental house, I re-read "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", a trilogy in 5 parts, for the first time in many years. Far away from internet and email, it was best part of a week before I discovered the tragic death of Douglas Adams. I still can't believe he's gone.

Oh Douglas, there was so much delightful humour and marvellous stories locked up in that head thing of yours...

Thanks for all the fish.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

FOOD AND DRINK - Gorilla Munch and Rhino's Energy Drink

Here's a couple of food and drink products where a percentage of your purchase goes towards helping endangered animals.

First up is Gorilla Munch from EnviroKidz.
1% of EnviroKidz sales are donated annually to endangered species, habitat conservation and environmental education for kids. Together, we can make a difference!
Secondly, here's Rhino's Energy drink, partnered with Save The Rhino.
Save the Rhino has formed a new partnership with Rhino's, a new generation of energy drink, based on pure spring water from the Austrian Alps. The taste is refreshing and invigorating, and what's even better, Save the Rhino receives a donation from every case sold. In February 06 Rhino's agreed a sponsorship with Midland F1 team ( for the 2006 & 2007 Formula 1 season to increase global awareness of Rhino's brand.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Three Gorges Dam finished?

News from the BBC is that construction of the Three Gorges Dam is proceeding ahead of schedule and it will probably be complete by the end of the month.
Construction of China's is likely to be finished by 20 May, nine months ahead of schedule, according to state media reports.

But several generators will still have to be installed and the dam is expected to become fully operational in 2009.

Once completed the dam, begun in 1993, will become the world's largest hydroelectric power project.
In the mid 1990s, Michael Palin sailed through the site of the Three Gorges Dam on his "Full Circle" adventure. Astonishing to think how such a massive structure has sprung up there in the intervening years.

In other dolphin news, the BBC also reports that "Dolphins Have Names". Intruiging.
Dolphins communicate like humans by calling each other by "name", scientists in Fife have found.

The mammals are able to recognise themselves and other members of the same species as individuals with separate identities, using whistles.

St Andrews University researchers studying in Florida discovered bottlenose dolphins used names rather than sound to identify each other.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

JACK HANNA - Jungle Jack comes to town.

A new fall Mountain Gorilla special from Jack Hanna, as described at The Daily Advertiser.
Yesterday, Jack Hanna braved the wilds of Lafayette to teach kids about endangered species.

"Jungle Jack," the 59-year-old host of Animal Adventures with , was the keynote speaker for Our Lady of Fatima School's bi-annual academic enrichment week. This year's theme, Fatima Journeys to the Animal Kingdom, taught pre-K through eighth graders about animals, their geographical habitats and the cultures with which they coexist.
Hanna showed wide-eyed students clips from his upcoming fall TV special on Rwanda's endangered mountain gorilla population before bringing live animals onto the stage.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

KAKAPO PARROTS - Blog round-up

Milan Ilnyckyj mentions Kakapo Parrots on his blog a sibilant intake of breath.
One thing I had never noticed before: the Natural History Museum has a stuffed kakapo, of all animals. Those who don't know what I am talking about are strongly encouraged to read Douglas Adams' excellent book Last Chance to See.
Anyone got a picture of this stuffed specimen?

And David Pattemore of New Zealand has "finally done a post on Kakapo", including pictures of him and young Kakapo Te Kingi.
He also gave me a permant scar on my right hand (which I treasure) when he decided my hand was a good thing to grasp hold of. I may or may not have helped ensure a scar would remain by rubbing various irritants in...
Jay is particularly jealous...
While there’s a certain lack of integrity here, I can’t really blame him. Deep down I have to admit, I would have done exactly the same thing. And even worse, I’d tell everyone and anyone who would listen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

KOMODO DRAGONS - "Virgin Birth" still a mystery...

Here's my local NBC website with more on the recent Komodo Dragon babies that are still puzzling the experts.
A Komodo dragon from a French zoo recently had four babies, but just how the mother got pregnant is a mystery.
Experts are investigating the mysterious conception, which might have been the result of parthenogenesis, or the growth and development of an embryo without fertilization by a male.

They hope that analysis of the babies' DNA will show whether they had a father or not.
There's an accompanying slide show and video on the site.

Dave has popped up in the comments with a useful link from London Zoo.
The babies are the result of a collaboration between London Zoo and Thoiry Zoo, France, and although the eggs were laid here in London, Raja the male Komodo dragon at London Zoo is not the father!

It is believed that Sungaï, who arrived at London in early 2005 on loan from Thoiry Zoo, mated with a male there in 2003, and has since carried the sperm in her reproductive tract for over two years!

IUCN RED LIST - 2006 List released May 4th

The official 2006 IUCN Red List will be released on May 4th.
How is life on Earth doing? Are we losing even more species – or is the extinction rate slowing down? Which are the new species threatened with extinction? Are there species that are doing better – and no longer featured on the IUCN of Threatened Species?

The 2006 update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species will be launched on 4 May 2006. The most authoritative assessment of the global status of plants and animals brings to centre stage the plight of a whole suite of species, featuring animals from the humble millipede to the cumbersome hippo this year.

BAIJI DOLPHINS - Thousands of species on edge of oblivion

The New Zealand Herald is one of many sites reporting the news of IUCN's new "Red List" for endangered species.
More than 26,000 species of animals, birds, plants and fish will this week be added to the list of those in serious danger of extinction.

Thousands of species, including the common hippopotamus, are to be added or moved up the so-called "red list" drawn up by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The report contains further opinion that the Baiji Dolphin is "effectively extinct". Sad.
The new research by the IUCN is the result of two years’ work by scientists all over the world and adds to the picture revealed in the union’s last report in 2004 which said that 15,589 species faced extinction - 7266 animals and 8323 plants and lichens.

While the latest analysis confirms the plight of the polar bear - because climate change threatens its Arctic habitat - more surprising was the threat to the common hippo, sought-after by poachers for the ivory in its teeth.

One of the creatures predicted to die out is the Yangtze River dolphin or Baiji. It is thought that just 30 remain and that the chances of breeding-age pairs meeting is extremely low.

Chris Butler-Stroud of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said the animal was effectively extinct.

ROUND ISLAND - Madagascar, Mauritius and Round Island EcoTour

Bill Love of Blue Chameleon Ventures has recently returned from an ecotour trip to Madagascar, Mauritius and Round Island.

Here's his report, with lots of pictures of the flora and fauna of the islands.
PART 1 and PART 2.

Part 2 features a great picture of Round Island which Douglas Adams failed so spectacularly to land on with any style. Listen to the Rodrigues Fruitbat episode of Last Chance To See at to hear him fall in the sea. (Bill Love cheated by landing by helicopter. Good on yer Bill!)