Posts Tagged ‘endangered species’

Nordens Ark


Photo: Nordens Ark
Nordens Ark in western Sweden is dedicated to protecting and preserving endangered species.

Two of my grandchildren had a happy time this summer at a Swedish park that is dedicated to protecting and preserving endangered species. The children’s Swedish grandmother told me that the pony rides and other attractions draw families in to Nordens Ark and then get them interested in supporting the sustainability mission.

From the paark’s website: “Nordens Ark is a private non-profit foundation that works to ensure endangered animals have a future. We are engaged in conservation, rearing, research and training, as well as doing what we can to increase public awareness of biological diversity. Much of our work is done in the field, both in Sweden and overseas.

“We strive to strengthen populations of at-risk species by releasing individuals into the wild, and by improving the habitats in which they live. In Sweden, Nordens Ark has national responsibility for breeding and releasing, among others, the peregrine falcon, white-backed woodpecker, lesser white-fronted goose, green toad and several beetle species.

“Since the turn of the millennium hundreds of mammals and birds born at Nordens Ark have been released into nature, among them otters in Holland, European wildcats in Germany and lynxes in Poland. We have reinforced the Swedish peregrine falcon population with more than 175 individuals, and Sweden’s amphibian population with some 10,000 animals.”

More at the website, here. Sweden Tips lists the park in its survey of Sweden’s best zoos. If you want to visit Nordens Park, you can also find lots of enthusiastic comments at Trip Advisor, including “a fantastic place for a photographer” and a recommendation to come at feeding time.

Someone I know, 3-1/2, took a pony ride at Nordens Ark in Bohuslän, Sweden, this summer. The park encompasses more than [900 acres] and includes pastureland, woodland and animal facilities.


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Photo: Phil Halper/visitjersey.com
Bioluminescence on the Island of Jersey is caused by Caulleriella bioculata glowworms.

Back in the day, John was the World’s Number One Fan of naturalist Gerald Durrell, who wrote hilarious books about his family and how they handled his early infatuation with animals.

Durrell left his mark on the world with entertaining books, lemur conservation efforts, the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey, and more.

In March, Lizzy Dening wrote for the Guardian about a visit to the island, and in particular, about her amazement at the bioluminescence there.

“It is only 7pm, but already it’s dark and our Jersey Walk Adventures guide points to a daisy anemone that glows brightly in the beam of a UV torch. It may be pitch black, but suddenly there’s a firework display at our feet.

“We’re here to see bioluminescence on an unassuming beach in Jersey’s La Rocque Harbour, at the south-east tip of the island. This magical effect is provided by elusive small brown worms. They are rare in most parts of Britain, but you can see them in Jersey all year round, as long as it’s dark and the moon isn’t full. The less light, the better. It helps that there are no street lights close by.

Caulleriella bioculata might not look like much in daylight, but by night, when you turn off your torch, the transformation is dazzling. …

“The worms are about 4mm long and are easy to miss when they are not emitting their strange greenish glow. When disturbed, they light up and continue to glow for up to 20 seconds before switching off to recharge. The glow is the result of chemi-luminescence, a chemical reaction in their bodies. Scientists still aren’t quite sure why the worms glow, but suspect it is for communication or defence. …

“As we walk, [our guides, Derek Hairon and Trudie Hairon-Trox,] explain about the vital work of the glowworms, which churn through the sand in the same way that earthworms work the soil, keeping it aerated and soft in texture. British beaches wouldn’t be the same without these hardworking creatures. …

“The couple were, they believe, the first people to officially identify these glowworms on Jersey. Before their discovery, the creatures were almost unknown to anyone except the local fishermen. …

“There are plenty of other attractions on the island, too. … The Durrell Wildlife Park was established by Gerald Durrell, and I’ve longed to visit ever since reading Menagerie Manor, which is all about his life on Jersey.

“Designed to act as an ark, protecting and breeding endangered species from around the world, it’s now run by Lee Durrell, Gerry’s widow, who shares his fierce passion for all creatures, no matter how strange (among other treasures, he famously gifted her four tarantulas for their 10th anniversary).” More here.

See also my related post on synchronous fireflies in Tennessee, here.

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I’ve been a fan of the English dormouse since performing in Alice in Wonderland at age 10. My friend Carole played the Dormouse.

Or maybe my first exposure was the A.A. Milne poem about the dormouse and the doctor. In any case, I greet news stories like this one as a matter of great interest.

Steven Morris writes, “The first black dormouse ever recorded in the UK has taken up residence in a nest box in the Blackdown Hills of Somerset. Britain has only one native species of dormouse, the hazel dormouse. The one discovered in Somerset is a hazel dormouse but instead of having the normal golden-brown fur it is black. …

“The discovery was made when staff, trainees and volunteers from the Blackdown Hills Natural Futures project were checking dormouse nest boxes as part of the national dormouse monitoring programme.

“This year, the project provided 300 nest boxes and more than 60 volunteers have installed and regularly checked them. One was found to have the black specimen inside.

“Conrad Barrowclough, the project officer, said: ‘Learning about and protecting our natural heritage is what we’re all about so finding such a rare dormouse on our doorstep is fantastic, especially at a time when Britain’s dormouse population is under threat.’

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), which collates national dormouse monitoring programme findings, confirmed the rarity of the find.

“Ian White, the PTES dormouse officer said: ‘The national monitoring programme has been running for more than 25 years, with volunteers collecting data on thousands of dormice at nearly 400 sites. Not once has anyone come across a black dormouse.’ ”

Goodness, what delightful jobs these men have! Who wouldn’t want to be a “dormouse officer”? As the New Yorker used to say, “There’ll always be an England.”

More at the Guardian, here.

Photo: Natural Futures
The first black dormouse ever recorded in the United Kingdom. What a cutie!

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Here’s a use for drones that pretty much everyone but a poacher could celebrate. I got the story from Living on Earth.

“Poaching is a threat to the survival of rhinos worldwide, and anti-poaching efforts have always been one step behind. Now, park rangers in South Africa have a leg up. John Petersen from the Air Shepherd program tells host Steve Curwood how the power of predictive analytics combined with drone technology could help to rescue the rhinos. …

“Curwood: The Air Shepherd uses military-style computer analytics to identify poaching hot spots, and then sends silent drones equipped with night vision to track down poachers, who like to work after dark, when people can’t see them. …

“Petersen: Some of these game parks are the size of Connecticut. And if you’ve got a little model airplane and you’re trying to figure out where to fly that airplane in that size of a piece of land, and you don’t have any idea about particularly where to fly, then you’re wasting your time. That’s where the experience of the University of Maryland comes into play, because they have developed a predictive analytic tool to tell us on a daily basis where the animals are likely to be and where the poachers are likely to be. …

“You build databases that have all of the topography of the land that you’re looking at. It has all the historical information about where poaching has happened in the past, so that you get patterns on where they happened. You figure out the time of the day and the time of the year, and whether it was wet and what the weather was like, and whether there were waterholes close by, and whether there was a full moon, and how close to roads they were, and other such things. And the combination of all of this allows you to say with a high degree of confidence that, tonight, you should fly your aircraft over the top — you’re going to know that this is where the poachers will come if they come tonight. …

“You can alert the rangers, because they’re positioned close by. They can get there in a hurry and they can capture the person and arrest them before they have a chance to kill the animal.”

More at Living on Earth.

This is clearly a tool in the tool box. But attacking the demand is going to be just as important. Especially since, according to Curwood,  “traditional Asian doctors believe that rhino horns have curative power, and market demand has driven some rhino species to the edge of extinction.”

Photo: Michael Romondo
Staff members of South Africa-based UAV & Drone Solutions hold one of their drones. UAV supplies the drones and the ground crew for Air Shepherd.

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What a magnificent beast is the endangered snow leopard, so rare that pretty much the only way to get a gorgeous photo like the one below is to set up a camera with a spring that takes a picture when jostled!

The radio show Living on Earth recently had a story about snow leopards and how Tibetan monks are helping to save them.

Steve Curwood interviewed Tom McCarthy of Panthera, a nonprofit that protects wild cats.

“CURWOOD: So, Tom, your organization, Panthera, has enlisted the services of Buddhist monks to help conserve the snow leopard. Can you describe this program for us please?

“MCCARTHY: Yes. Correct. It actually came from a PhD research project of a Chinese graduate student … and one of the things in mapping [snow leopard] occurrence that she happened to notice was that snow leopard range corresponded very closely to where most Buddhist monasteries were in the region.

“Around each of the Buddhist monasteries, there’s a number of sacred mountains, sacred lakes that they routinely patrol to keep people from violating any of their regulations or for killing any animals. And so she kind of put two and two together …

“So our partners at ShanShui, the conservation organization, went out and formed a partnership initially with four different monasteries, and what Panthera and Shan Shui do is provide the monasteries with a little bit of extra training, some of the basic tools that they need to do snow leopard monitoring, so now they can go out and not only protect snow leopards, but also count snow leopards. They do an awfully good job of talking to their followers about protecting snow leopards and the value of snow leopards in the ecosystem, and the end result is we have a much stronger conservation ethic being imparted to the people across the plateau through the Tibetan monks.”


Photo: Panthera
Camera trap photo of a snow leopard on the Tibetan plateau

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I am happy that the Wall Street Journal kept its front page human-interest stories after all when Murdock took over. Today’s feature opened up a side of the U.S. Marines I knew nothing about — protecting endangered species.

Ben Kesling writes from Twentynine Palms, California, “U.S. Marines are taught to overcome obstacles with a minimum of help. But when some Marines prepared to charge a hill in a training exercise here a few months ago, they were forced to halt and radio the one man who could help them advance: Brian Henen, turtle expert.

“The troops were ‘running up the hill and firing at targets,’ Mr. Henen said. ‘Some of the tortoises like the hill also. The Marines don’t want to hurt the tortoise, so they call us and we go in and move it.’

“Mr. Henen, who has a doctorate in biology, is part of a little-known army of biologists and other scientists who manage the Mojave desert tortoise and about 420 other threatened and endangered species on about 28 million acres of federally managed military land.

” ‘There’s a lot of people who don’t recognize the amount of conservation the Marine Corps does,’ said Martin Husung, a natural-resource specialist on the base. ‘A lot of people think we’re just running over things.’ …

John Brent, base environmental manager at Fort Benning in Georgia, says, “‘It’s a well-kept secret’ that biologists are drawn to work on military bases … There’s a chance to do terrific work.’ ”


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Photograph: South End Knitters

Today I am thinking about the South End Knitters, the stealth street artists who wrap their knitting around parking meters and fire hydrants and telephone poles.

Writes Linda Matchan in the Boston Globe, “The South End Knitters’ weekly meetings at a Washington Street café seem innocuous, but don’t be fooled. Over knitting needles and yarn at the long table they’ve commandeered, they are contemplating something far more mischievous than a sweater. They’re graffiti knitters, and they’re plotting their next target. …

“As with graffiti, no two tags in the yarn-bomber subculture are alike. They range from sleeves on parking meters to tubes on tree limbs to sweaters on statues: A recent high-profile example is the neon pink sweater that the New York street knitter Olek crocheted in December for the 16-foot ‘Charging Bull’ statue on Wall Street.”

What put me in mind of the South End Knitters was an extraordinary post at the WordPress blog Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma, which describes a crochet effort that is drawing a lot of attention to the plight of vanishing corals.

Concerned about the effect of global warming on reefs, Margaret Wertheim and her twin sister got an idea that involved “crocheting corals. They used a crocheting technique invented by mathematicians in 1997 to model hyperbolic shapes called hyperbolic crocheting. … This ended up being a perfect technique for producing coral reproductions. …

“They crocheted a lot of corals,” continues Pickled Hedgehog, ” then they did something to change the world. They shared their corals with art museums. They got a community in Chicago to crochet with them. Then the crafting became a movement and groups all over the world started to crochet corals.”

Read Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma’s illustrated summary here. And if you have the time, this TED talk is super.

Pickled Hedgehog Dilemma

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