Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year Everybody

Thanks to everyone who visited the site this year. I'm sorry for the lack of updates in recent weeks, but I've just been terribly busy and tired. I hope to do better in 2010.

A special thanks to Mark Carwardine, Stephen Fry and producer Tim Green, for bringing Last Chance To See back to the BBC. It was a truly splendid and spectacular series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Kakapo Artificial Insemination a 2009 Success

Paternity tests by the Department of Conservation have confirmed that two of the 33 Kakapo chicks hatched in 2009 were conceived after artificial insemination of the females. The Southland Times has the story.
DOC kakapo recovery manager Deidre Vercoe said infertility had been a big problem and this was a significant breakthrough.
Six female kakapo were artificially inseminated using different sperm storage techniques. Sperm collected and refrigerated for two to five hours before insemination was the most successful method, resulting in two female chicks.
2009 was such a fabulous year for the Kakapo, but it looks like 2010 won't be quite as prosperous.
There was little rimu fruit ripening this year and the birds were not expected to breed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mystery of Amazon Manatee Migration Solved

There's an interesting article on the BBC News site this week about the mystery of the Amazonian Manatee's migration habits.
Only in recent years did scientists find that the secretive aquatic mammal migrates from shallow to deep water.

Now researchers can reveal that the manatees make this perilous journey to avoid being exposed to attack by predators during the low-water season.

That means the species may be at greater risk than thought, say scientists, as migration and low water levels make them vulnerable to hunters.

The international team of researchers from Brazil and the UK publish their findings in the Journal of Zoology.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Stephen Fry on Operation Rhino

On December 19th, four Northern White Rhino's were flown to Kenya. RedOrbit has one of the news items.
Dana Holeckova, director of the Dvur-Kralove zoo in central Czech Republic said, "We must offer them this last chance, in their natural environment in Africa."

There's only eight remaining Northern White rhinos in existence all living in captivity, six at Dvur-Kralove and two more at San Diego Zoo in the United States.
The four being returned, two males and two females, will be transferred by air on December 19th.
Stephen Fry has been travelling with them and has been Tweeting again...
Jambo! Just landed in Nairobi. Warm and sunny. More follows....

An hour away from rhinos arriving from Nairobi. Great excitement here at Ol Pejeta. Phone reception still dodgy tho.

Finally in land of signal. Rhino translocation went flawlessly, fantastically. So happy for Ol Pejeta, @FaunaFloraInt, Czech Rep zoo.

Landed. Despite the chill and damp of the old metrop it's good to be back. Operation Rhino fabulous success. Now let Christmas begin.
It seems Stephen has been down in Kenya following the relocation of the Czech Republic Northern White Rhinos.

Whether or not they've been filming a Last Chance To See special I haven't figured out yet. Too busy to check right now, what with all the snow we've been having. 23 inches in 24 hours this weekend...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Northern White Rhinos Returning to Africa?

Amid the belief that they are now extinct in the wild, the only Northern White Rhinos remaining are in zoos in the Czech Republic and San Diego. Now scientists are divided on whether to move forward with a plan to transfer four rhinos from the Czech Republic zoo to a wildlife reserve in Kenya. The proposal is detailed in full at the International Rhino Foundation site.
The IRF, SRI, and most parties agree:

* Wild populations of NWR are likely extinct in DRC and the Sudan
* The remaining eight individuals in captivity are not reproductively ideal
* Steps to preserve genetic material from the captive population are needed immediately
* Crossing NWR with SWR is the only remaining option

However, the IRF and SRI do not endorse the concept that the only way to succeed with this effort is to move the remaining animals to Africa.

Additional coverage at and TimesOfTheInternet. Having recently watched the related TV series episode this was interesting timing.
The hope of the NWR Conservation Project is that relocating the rhinos to a natural environment will stimulate breeding - and preserve critical genetic material by allowing NWR to breed with the far more numerous Southern white rhino. In addition, AI options are being explored.
Proponents acknowledge that while there is no way to predict whether or not moving the rhinos to Africa will result in successful breeding, they also point out that captive southern white rhinos do not have a strong record of reproduction in captivity - and require “wild supplements” from time to time.