Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fry's Bird in the Hand

New Zealand's Dominion Post has an early report on Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine's trip to New Zealand and pictures Fry with a hihi, or stitchbird, at the Karori Sanctuary.
Their visit coincided with the release into the sanctuary of five hihi, or stitchbirds, raised at Mt Bruce in the Wairarapa, which captured the attention of both Fry and Mr Carwardine.

There are fewer than 1000 hihi in the wild, with the 33 sanctuary residents the only settlement of the bird on mainland New Zealand.

"It's got a beautiful bill, good for poking down flowers," Fry says. "It looks like a hummingbird."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

TV Series: Fry and Carwardine off to see the Kakapos

This Associated Press article and Stephen Fry's Twitter feed say that he, Mark Carwardine, and the rest of the BBC crew, are flying down to New Zealand very shortly to begin their hunt for the 90 remaining Kakapo. Very best of luck!
Kakapo numbers have almost doubled since the original series from writer Adams and naturalist Carwardine, but there are still currently thought to be only around 90 of the parrots left in the world.

In New Zealand, the protected areas of Codfish Island and Anchor Island offer the kakapo a safe haven from predators and allow ecologists to closely monitor the species and mating behaviour.

Fry and his crew are visiting five conservation sites on the mainland and on off-shore islands, those behind the show said.

Monday, December 22, 2008

War babies in the Congo

Earlier this month, gorilla park rangers were delighted to encounter five new Mountain Gorilla babies on the slopes of Mount Mikeno, all the more remarkable given the continuing armed conflict in the country.
The park director, Emmanuel de Merode, later described the discovery of five newborns at the outset of a month-long census as “quite phenomenal”, given that the endangered gorillas’ habitat has long been a war zone in the conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“They’ve had a growth of about 11 per cent in 10 years, less than two per cent a year. To get five births in a group of 30 is about 15 per cent growth. It’s quite tremendous and very unusual,” he said.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

CNN: Planet in Peril

There's another opportunity to see CNN's Planet in Peril over the holiday period. According to my listings it should appear on Thu 12/25 at 10:00 PM, then again early Fri 12/26 at 1:00 AM and 4:00 AM. The programme features host Anderson Cooper trekking with Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund staff in the Virunga mountains of Rwanda.

How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin has a review of a new book entitled "Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin" by Samuel Turvey, a research fellow at the Zoological Society of London. Mark Carwardine describes the book as follows... "At last someone is publicly mourning the tragic extinction of the Yangtze river dolphin. This is a highly authoritative, well written, thought-provoking and timely book". The review itself includes this passage...
Turvey's elegiac twilight trawl between the Yangtze's soggy mud banks heavy with wet grass and tree skeletons consumes six sorry weeks of 2006.

After covering the middle section of the great river twice, he and his peers become increasingly despondent, resentful, almost mutinous, irked by funding problems and failure.
The book is also available as a Kindle edition, and also at

Monday, December 15, 2008

Last Chance To See - The Radio Series *UPDATED*

The BBC Last Chance To See "Radio" page has been updated again to include the full radio episode "The Answer is Blowing in the Wind". This episode features Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine in their search for the Rodrigues Fruit Bat. The site indicates that the Kakapo episode will be the next to be made available, in January 2009.

The radio series episode guide in David Haddock's "The Story of Last Chance To See" has been updated with the link to all the episodes released so far.

NOTE: This material is only available to UK users due to copyright restrictions. Boo-hoo!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stephen Fry and the Giant Parrot

This week's New Zealand's Sunday Star Times has a feature about the upcoming Last Chance To See filming trip for Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine. Tourism New Zealand is helping organize the trip and reveals that in addition to the Kakapo Parrots, they will be looking for kiwis, black robins, giant weta, tuatara and kea.
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to push New Zealand's profile in the UK," Tourism New Zealand chief executive George Hickton told the Sunday Star-Times.

"Tourism New Zealand is working closely with the BBC to make sure Stephen and his crew have the opportunity to experience more of New Zealand beyond our native wildlife, so the programme gives viewers a real taste of what a New Zealand holiday has to offer."

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

TV Series: Production update from Tim Green

Head on over to the BBC's Last Chance To See site to read producer Tim Green's extensive update on the production so far, and where they'll be headed in 2009.
We have returned from six weeks of filming in Uganda, Kenya and Madagascar and that's it for filming until the start of January. The next journey will be to New Zealand in search of the Kakapo, a fat flightless parrot, which should, at the very least, prove something of a contrast to chasing rhino, stalking tree climbing lions and hacking into mountains in search of gorilla. Having said that, twenty years ago Mark and Douglas had to fly by helicopter and leap out onto a mountain ledge while one runner touched down. I have not yet mentioned this to Stephen Fry.