Sunday, January 28, 2007

Amazonian Manatees: Sani Lodge adventure vacation

If you'd like to get up close and personal with an Amazonian Manatee, why not explore vacation opportunities in the region. Sani Lodge in north-eastern Ecuador looks like a wonderful place to experience the wildlife of the rainforest.
Deep within the Ecuadorian Amazon you will find a mysterious lake called Challuacocha, where floating water hyacinths and grasses obscure the shores. And if you venture out on this lagoon in a dug out canoe early in the morning when it is quiet and the light is still low, you just might see, somewhere out there, lying hidden in the vegetation a rare and wild Manatee or Anaconda. Float here for a while, scanning the horizon and you would probably notice the yellow, banded chest of an Aracari or hear the hoarse whisper of the Hoatzin. Eventually, the day would pass and you could peer out across the shimmering, black water towards the setting sun, and almost certainly see the gleaming orange eyes of the Black Caiman. Come to Challuacocha and feel the mystery. Come to Challuacocha and experience the world of Sani Lodge.

To the north of Challua lies the massive Cuyobeno Reserve and along the southern border stretches the vast Yasuni National Park. In the corridor between, located on 40,000 hectares (100,000 acres) of untouched rainforest lies Sani Lodge, a unique Ecuador eco-lodge. Here, the biodiversity will amaze you! On your adventure, you will walk through a pristine rainforest gallery that is home to 1,500 species of trees, hundreds of climbing vines, and exotic flowers, as well as 550 species of tropical birds, 13 species of monkeys and 1,000 beautiful butterflies.
Sounds marvellous, and the all-inclusive rates are pretty good.

Mountain Gorillas: Congo Rebels Vow to End Gorilla Killings

Better news from the troubled DR Congo with this article at the Dispatch Online.
Rebels in eastern Congo have agreed to stop killing mountain gorillas and allow government rangers to restart patrols, conservationists said Wednesday. Earlier this month, rebels allegedly killed and ate two silverback mountain gorillas, according to field reports collected by London-based Africa Conservation Fund.

Only about 700 mountain gorillas are left in the world, 380 of them spread across a volcanic mountain range in Central Africa that crosses the borders of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Silverbacks are the older adult males of the species.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Other Conservation: Baby Pandas Face a Hard Road Ahead

While we're on the subject of endangered animal babies, here's an interesting article at female oriented science site "Inkling Magazine" about the many recent panda births across the world's zoos - Baby Pandas Face a Hard Road Ahead
But are giant pandas really bounding their way back from the brink of extinction, or are we just losing our minds in the midst of so much prime-time cuteness? The facts hold both promise and cause for concern.
The article links to this cute video, which sadly fails to live up to its slippery potential...

Ah! Here we go.... Whhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Video: Parrots, The Universe and Everything (again)

Renee in Ohio has transcribed the conclusion of Douglas Adams' "Parrots, The Universe and Everything" video speech that we posted about way back in January 2005.

The full 87 minute video can be viewed at UCTV-University of California Television, and Renee's partly transcribed text can be found over at the ePluribus Media Community. I've always loved the bit about the puddle...
I mean, there's no other conclusion you can come to. And it's rather like a puddle waking up one morning--I know they don't normally do this, but allow me, I'm a science fiction writer (laughter). A puddle wakes up one morning and thinks "Well, this is a very interesting world I find myself in. It fits me very neatly. In fact, it fits me so neatly, I mean, really precise, isn't it? (Laughter) It must have been made to have me in it!" And the sun rises, and he's continuing to narrate the story about this hole being made to have him in it. The sun rises, and gradually the puddle is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking, and by the time the puddle ceases to exist, it's still thinking, it's still trapped in this idea, that the hole was there for it. And if we think that the world is here for us, we will continue to destroy it in the way in which we have been destroying it, because we think we can do no harm.
Also, check out Renee's new Douglas Adams Tribute Page on Squidoo.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Northern White Rhinos: Lulu gives birth in Budapest

A lot of baby news today it seems. Pass the cigars around....

MSNBC and other sites are reporting that Lulu, the Northern White Rhino in Budapest Zoo, has given birth to the a calf conceived by IVF. I'll be honest here, I didn't even know she was pregnant again. The first attempt resulted in failure, as we sadly reported back in August 2005.

But it would appear Lulu was successfully implanted again. It must have been very soon after the first calf died because she has been pregnant for another 16 months.
The world's first rhino conceived by artificial insemination has been born at Budapest Zoo, officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

The female baby rhino, born at 5:55 p.m. on Tuesday, weighed in at 128 lbs. "The little one seemed active and vital. An hour after being born it stood up on its own legs," the statement said.

The baby rhino has yet to be named, said zoo spokesman Zoltan Hanga, who added the zoo hoped to find a sponsor for her.
This is really terrific news.

And finally, many thanks to Mark Pritchard for his generous £50 donation to our Save The Rhino fundraiser at JustGiving. We're doing very well, and have now raised a total of £265.

Komodo Dragons: Virgin Birth produces five hatchlings!

The BBC and many other sites are reporting the remarkable hatching of five male Komodo Dragon babies from the "virgin" Flora at Chester Zoo in England. The page includes a Video report.
Flora produced a clutch of 10 eggs without mating at Chester Zoo, Cheshire, in May 2006.

Although other lizards reproduce this way, it has only recently been recognised in Komodo dragons.

The five male hatchlings are up to 18 inches (46cm) long and weigh about 4ozs (113g). Two eggs are still in incubation and three others collapsed.
More coverage at
Other reptile species reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora’s virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon earlier this year at the London Zoo, are the first time it has been documented in a Komodo dragon.

The evolutionary breakthrough could have far-reaching consequences for endangered species.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mountain Gorillas: Dian Fossey Field News and Gorilla Sounds

January's DFGFI Field News is now online with news of a HUGE gathering of Mountain Gorillas from Beetsme's and Pablo's group.
Karisoke field staff witnessed an exciting start to the New Year with an interaction between Beetsme’s and Pablo’s group – an incredible 83 gorillas all together. On Jan. 2, field staff arrived at Beetsme’s group and found silverbacks from both groups interacting together. Each silverback was in a stiff-legged strut stance – a posture used by silverbacks to display their strength.
Also, check out their Gorilla Sounds Flash application.
DFGFI brings you closer to the gorillas with our special gorilla vocalization recordings. With this fun and informative interactive flip book, you will view gorilla photos, read gorilla sound descriptions, and then hear the audio recordings of their vocalizations!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Baiji Dolphins: Wake of the Baiji - San Diego event

From the San Diego CityBEAT...
WAKE OF THE BAIJI at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, 858-534-FISH. From 6:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24, Robert Pitman, of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, discusses the extinction risks of the Baiji, the Yangtze River dolphin, and the Gulf of California porpoise. RSVP by calling 858-534-4109.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Baiji Dolphins: Scientists aim to save ‘EDGE’ species covers a new scientific initiative that was launched this week. The "EDGE" species plan aims to help save some of the world's most endangered animals from extinction. Although the Baiji Dolphin tops the initial list, I think it's probably a little too late for that particular cetacean.
With an initial list of 10 — including a venomous shrew-like creature, an egg-laying mammal and the world’s smallest bat — the program will give last ditch conservation aid where to date there has been little or none.

“We are focusing on EDGE species — that means they are Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered,” said Zoological Society of London scientist Jonathan Baillie.
Full story at

More information about the Edge Of Existence program can be found at It is an excellent site with some fabulous photographs and information.

The top of the list currently appears as follows...
1. Yangtze River dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer)
2. Long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijni)
3. Riverine rabbit (Bunolagus monticularis)
4. Cuban solenodon (Solenodon cubanus)
5. Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus)
6. Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis)
7. Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis)
8. Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus)
9. Northern hairy-nosed wombat (Lasiorhinus krefftii)
10. Sumatran rabbit (Nesolagus netscheri)
16. Aye-aye Lemur (Daubentonia madagascariensis)
84. Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis)

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Another Chance To See: Upgrade in progress

I am in the process of upgrading Another Chance To See to the new version of Blogger. Please bear with me as I go through 700+ posts and and sort them with Blogger's new Label feature. This will replace the current hack that I have been using to categorize the posts. This process is sending the RSS feed a little screwy, but it should settle down in a day or two.

I've also used the Custom Domains option to make the new, easy to remember, address for the site. The old blogspot address will automatically forward to the new address, so any bookmarks or favourites will still work.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mountain Gorillas: Congolese rebels kill silverback gorilla

Frustratingly sad news from the Congo this week. Reuters reports that rebels loyal to renegade Congolese general Laurent Nkunda have shot a young silverback Mountain Gorilla. They then brutally butchered it for "bush meat".
Just 700 mountain gorillas survive, more than half of them in Virunga National Park in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The east of the country bore the brunt of a 1998-2003 war and humanitarian disaster that has killed some 4 million people.

"In a population this small, every individual counts -- and the loss of a trusting young silverback is tragic on many levels," Ian Redmond, chief consultant for the United Nations Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), said in a statement.
Full story at Reuters AlertNet.

Here's the opening paragraph from the Wikipedia article on the disturbing trade in "bush meat".
Bushmeat (calque from the French viande de brousse) is the term commonly used for meat of terrestrial wild animals, killed for subsistence or commercial purposes throughout the humid tropics of the Americas, Asia and Africa. However, originally the term was only used to describe the hunting of wild animals in West and Central Africa.

Last Chance To See - 50% off at is currently selling "Last Chance To See" for 50% off the retail price. Snap up another copy while you can, or buy it as a gift for someone special!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Another Chance To See: A Blog Of Note

Hurray! I was delighted to discover that Another Chance To See has been named as today's "Blog Of Note" by the Blogger team.

So, welcome to all our new visitors! I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about the endangered animals and birds that Douglas Adams wrote about in his marvellous book "Last Chance To See". Adams was best known for his "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy" series of course, but "Last Chance To See" is just as much fun, and well worth reading.

As a quick summary of important developments since the book was published, there are 86 Kakapo Parrots left, the Baiji Dolphin was recently declared "Functionally Extinct", and the Northern White Rhino may be down to as few as 2 animals left in the wild.

We sponsored an endangered Mountain Gorilla called Urwibutso in 2005 (one of about 700 left), and we're currently raising funds for "Save The Rhino" through the JustGiving network. Douglas Adams was patron to the charity before his untimely death in 2001, so I'm very proud that we've managed to raise over £160 for them. We still have a long way to go in reaching our £500 target, so any spare Dollars, Pounds, Euros or Krugerrands will help us towards our goal.

** UPDATE 1/9 ** Thank you for all the lovely comments, and a great big thanks to Mark Neale for adding £50 to our "Save The Rhino" fundraiser this morning. Very much appreciated!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Madagascar: BBC Radio 4 - Planet Earth Under Threat

Programme 5 in the BBC Radio 4 series "Planet Earth Under Threat" was called The Conundrum of Biodiversity and was presented by Gabrielle Walker.

It used Madagascar as a prime example of a biologically diverse environment, and how that is being constantly threatened by so called "Slash and Burn" (wikipedia) agriculture.

It also featured former "Tomorrow's World" presenter Howard Stableford in conversation with Dr. Edward Wilson. Wilson won the "Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International's Global Conservation Award" in 2006.

The show has its own blog at Planet Earth Under Threat, and each episode will be available online following the broadcast.

Listen to episode 5 at The Conundrum of Biodiversity. RealPlayer or RealAlternative required.

Incidentally, "Tomorrow's World" was back in the public eye this week. While the BBC are not resurrecting the actual show, they are bringing back the "brand" - Tomorrow's World to return to BBC.
The BBC is bringing back the Tomorrow's World brand to help audiences understand new technologies.

Presenter Maggie Philbin will be offering in-depth analysis on technology stories on TV, radio and the web under the Tomorrow's World banner.

Although the programme - which ran from 1965 to 2003 - will not return, elements such as the logo and title sequence will be revived.

Philbin says using the brand "fits perfectly with technological change".
Here's a couple of musical gems from the "Tomorrow's World" archive's...

Kraftwerk - 1975

Pink Floyd - 1968

Friday, January 05, 2007

Baiji Dolphins: Attack of the Monkey

A science blog (with a monkey spin) comments on the extinction of the Baiji Dolphin in a post entitled Tales of Elusive Aquatic Creatures from December 2006.
Douglas Adams visited the polluted Yangtze River, the home of the Baiji, and discussed the species which was threatened not only by pollution, but due to hunting, fishing, collisions with boats, habitat loss, and severe depression. (Okay, I’m just guessing about that last one.) In Last Chance to See, Douglas Adams wrote, “The great thing about being the only species that makes a distinction between right and wrong, is that we can make up the rules for ourselves as we go along.”
The blogger, Sheridan MacAuley, also comments on the video of the giant squid that was captured recently, as well as the theory that the Loch Ness Monster was a plesiosaur. It's a nice blog, and I'll be adding the RSS feed to my Google Reader as well as a link to my sidebar.

For those who haven't seen the video of the giant squid, here's one of the reports as posted on YouTube...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Go Go Gorillas!

News from the European arm of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is that in December 2006 they changed their name to "The Gorilla Organization" (GO).
Supporters who remember the pioneering work of Dr Dian Fossey, who was murdered in 1985, may also recall that she called the organisation she founded to protect the mountain gorillas of Rwanda, the Digit Fund, after her favourite gorilla, named Digit, was killed by poachers in 1978.
In 1992, the Digit Fund UK, under licence from Dian Fossey's estate, changed its name to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Europe to honour Dr Fossey and promote her inspirational work.
Now, 14 years later, it has changed again. This time to better reflect our broader brief – we now work with lowland as well as mountain gorillas – and the wider audience the fund has attracted over the years.
Read the full posting at The Gorilla Organization website -

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Kakapo Parrots: Rhino sex imbalance research could help kakapos

A very interesting story at the New Zealand Herald about endangered rhino research which could help solve the sex imbalance problems that other species such as the Kakapo Parrot face.
New Zealand conservation biologist Wayne Linklater is leading an international project testing a theory that high sugar levels in female black rhinos are the reason disproportionate numbers of males are being born.

The theory has been borne out in his earlier research into Kaimanawa wild horses, and Dr Linklater said it could be applied to other species, particularly those, such as the kakapo, in which the males breed more prolifically than females.

Dr Linklater said extreme male-biased births in captivity were common in many species, including zebras, gorillas and giraffes.
Full story at the New Zealand Herald.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Baiji Dolphins: A Fellow Mammal Leaves the Planet

Dr. Robert L. Pitman, a member of the recent Chinese expedition, writes an emotional note for the New York Times in response to reporter’s question about the broader implications of the apparent extinction the Baiji Dolphin.
What we are seeing now is probably the first large animal that has ever gone extinct merely as an indirect consequence of human activity: a victim of market forces and our collective lifestyle. Nobody eats baiji and no tourists pay to see it — there were no reasons to take it deliberately, but there was no economic reason to save it, either. It is gone because too many people got too efficient at catching fish in the river and it was incidental bycatch. And it is perhaps a view of the future for much of the rest of the world and an indication that the predicted mass extinction is arriving on schedule.
Full story at The New York Times.