Tag Archive | endangered list

Snubbed and Blue

 

Don’t snub me ‘cause my face is blue

From: elelur.com

I’d rather look like me than you

I sport a golden, flowing cape

My long tail shows I’m not an ape

 

I live up high among the trees

If I could talk, I’d speak Chinese

I like tree lichen for a snack

My meals are plants; they don’t attack

 

My canines might be sharp and long

From: WildWondersofChina.com

They grow for show; don’t get me wrong

I’ll use my teeth for self defense

And show them off if I get tense

 

But mostly I just like to cuddle

To survive, we monkeys huddle

Days are short and nights are cold

It helps to have some friends to hold

 

My bluish face and lack of nose  

Is from the coldness, I suppose

And if you lived where my kind do

You’d probably have a blue face too

 

— Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

The Snub-Nosed Sichuan monkey is a unique creature that lives in the remote and mountainous regions of central and southwestern China. It is also called the “Blue-Cheeked Monkey” and the “Chinese Golden Monkey.” No other primate can survive such extreme temperatures. Scientists are not sure why this monkey’s face is blue… it’s not really because of the cold. But the adaptation of no protruding nasal bone structures resulting in its snub-nosed appearance, might prevent this little guy from getting a frost-bitten nose. There’s no nose for the frost to bite!

The Snub-Nosed Golden Monkey also has thick fur for insulation, and it has a habit of cuddling in groups when it is cold or threatened by predators with the babies in the middle of the huddle for warmth and protection. They are usually gentle creatures who eat plants, including lichen which comprise a large portion of their diet. Those long canine teeth are for expressing bravado or fear; they do not mean that it is a carnivore. They will defend their territories against other bands of monkeys and can use their teeth to fight off predators such as wolves, foxes, weasels and raptors.

These fascinating beloved beasts are in danger of disappearing altogether as their habitat disappears and, despite protections, they are hunted illegally for their meat and fur. One group of these monkeys, the Hubei golden snub-nosed monkeys, have only 1,000 to 2,000 members left.

There is an old Chinese legend about a warrior monkey named Sun Wukong who had supernatural powers. If attacked, Sun Wukong could create an army by turning each of his long guard hairs into an powerful warrior, a clone of himself. Unfortunately, these little creatures cannot actually clone themselves and their numbers continue to dwindle. They need our help and protection.

The Nature Conservancy is one group that is working to save populations of the rare snub-nosed monkeys. A determined and dedicated biologist, Long Yongcheng, worked for many long years, with help from the Nature Conservancy, to save these monkeys. He succeeded in getting areas of forest set aside for habitat reserved for the snub-nosed monkeys. One person can make a difference in saving an entire species.

The Saiga Saga

Photo by Tim Flach

How can this be?

You can’t be true!

How could a beast

turn out like you?

 

Your horns are ridged

and pointy too

Your trunk-like nose

divides in two!

 

You stand at only

two feet high

A child could look you

in the eye

 

You’re kin to cow

iflscience.com

and buffalo

You live on plains

where no trees grow

 

You’re native to

Mongolia

and prone to

melancholia

 

There are so few

saigaresourcecentre.com

dear saiga left

If you were gone

we’d be bereft

 

We all should recognize

your worth

An ancient treasure

of the earth

 

The saiga is a diminutive critter about the size of a small goat with distinctive horns and a highly unusual face. It has a nose like no other; long, inflatable nostrils that appear to be a sort of double-trunk. This nose serves a very important purpose. It filters out the dust which always seems to blow about in its western Mongolian native habitat, and when temperatures drop to below zero, the spacious nose pre-warms the air before it reaches the saiga’s lungs.

It is an herbivore and eats plants; lichens, sagebrush, grasses and bushes. They are ruminants, which means that they bring partially digested plant matter back up into their mouths to chew it again. This is called “chewing their cud” and it helps them get as many nutrients and energy as possible out of the plant matter that they eat.

This critically endangered animal has suffered a series of alarming die-offs in the past few years. In one terrible year, in 2015, over 200,000 saiga dropped dead. Scientist discovered that the cause of death was a bacteria, called “Pasturella” was the cause. With normal temperatures, this bacteria, which lives in the large noses of the saiga, is not a problem, but global warming has increased temperatures in the saiga range and that has proved deadly to the poor little animal. A hot, wet climate with the presence of this bacteria causes internal toxins to form and the saiga drown in their own internal fluids. More info at: The Atlantic  and also at: blueplanetbiomes.org

While the saiga are hunted by wolves, foxes and birds of prey, like the Golden Eagle, the biggest threat to the saiga is humans and the global warming that is caused by human activity.

Hopefully, saiga populations will be able to bounce back. These animals can reproduce from a young age and a mother saiga often gives birth to twins. They are ancient critters that roamed across the earth during the Pleistocene or Ice Age period. The saiga survived while the wooly mammoth and saber-tooted tiger died out. We hope this little wonder will be around for generations to come. It is indeed an ancient treasure of the earth.

 

From theatlantic.com

 

Humble Bee

On Bee’s Knees  

Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee

Yellow-Banded Bumble Bee

 

Oh, I’m a humble bumble bee

A yellow-banded stumble bee

Our numbers tumble down so low

That crops will crumble as we go

 

My cousins fill up comb and hive  fig03

These busy buzzers work and strive

And honey is not all bees do

We pollinate the fruit trees too

 

But when you spray your pesticides

You kill the skill a bee provides

I’m begging you on bended knee

Don’t let this be the end of me

 

Save the bees! Please.  

– by Ruth Gilmore Ingulsrud

 

 

The yellow banded bumble bee is in trouble. It used to be common in the United States and southern Canada, but now it is hard to find these busy little insects. These bees pollinate important plants like potatoes, tomatoes, alfalfa, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries and other edible crops. Because bumble bees can fly in lower temperatures than other types of bees, they are important pollinators in northern, cooler climates.

The wild lands that support the bees have been disappearing. Herbicides and pesticides (sprays that kill weeds and insects)  have been killing the bees by making them weak and susceptible to disease. People can help to reverse the disappearance of bee populations by helping to create gardens and open plots of land that provide flowers and habitat to please the bees. We can stop using harmful pesticides and petition governments and stores to ban pesticides.

Bees need us and we need bees. Let’s help each other…. Please!

Here Be Dragons

If you have read “Princess Ramona, Beloved of Beasts,” then you know that this author has a soft spot for dragons… especially for dragons who realize that with great power comes great responsibility. In celebration of APPRECIATE A DRAGON DAY, January 16, here is a poem for our beloved endangered dragons:

Here Be Dragons

Do step lightly, brave explorers  HereBeDragons

On Komodo, and on Flores

Here be dragons

 

Basking boldly on the pink sands

Of these Indonesian islands

Here be dragons

 

Do step quickly if he sees you  komodopinksand

He will hunt you down and seize you

He’s a dragon

 

Forked tongue guides its destination

Gathering tasty information

Hunter dragon

 

Strange that such a massive creature  komodotongue

From its enemies needs shelter

Threatened dragon

 

There’s a chance that this Komodo

Still might vanish like the Dodo

No more dragons

 

Brave knights armed with information komodoprofile

Fight with heart and inspiration

Save the dragons!

 

Brave Knights of Science

Scientists are the brave knights of today’s world. They venture forth armed with research-backed information to try to save the last dragons of this earth. And the Komodo Dragons of Indonesia are, indeed, worth saving.

These giant reptiles can grow up to 10 feet or more (over 3 meters) and weigh over 360 pounds (163 kilos). True, they do not breathe fire or fly through the skies attacking cattle and villagers, but they are impressive hunters. They can run fast in short bursts up to 20 mph or 13 kilometers per hour. Komodo dragons knock the legs out from under their prey or rip straight into the belly. Their saliva carries a poison or toxin that has a blood-thinning effect on its victim causing the bite wound to continue to bleed. Although the intended prey may escape after being bitten, it usually dies sometime soon after the attack.

The long, deeply-forked tongue of the Komodo Dragon is very useful in tracking down the location of an escaped lunch. The Komodo flicks out its tongue and then draws it back into its mouth and brushes it along the roof of the mouth. If more scent molecules from the prey are detected with one side of the tongue, then the lizard will turn towards that side. It swings its head back and forth while it walks, all the while flicking its tongue in and out collecting scent information.

The Komodo Dragon, also known as the Monitor Lizard, is losing its space to live. It has to compete with humans for food in the wild; deer or other large animals. They will also eat things that have been dead for a while. They are not too picky.

Komodo Dragons mate and lay eggs, but interestingly enough, female Komodo Dragons are capable of fertilizing eggs inside their own bodies and laying those eggs without any help from a male. They may be capable of selecting the sex of the baby lizards as well. One female, Flora, who lived in Chester Zoo in England and had never been in contact with a male lizard, hatched out seven eggs, all of them male lizards.

Long live the resourceful Komodo Dragons!

How to Catch a Dragon…

For a fascinating story on Komodo dragon research check out this National Geographic article: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/komodo-dragon/holland-text

Un-jinxing the Lynx

Although domesticated cats are responsible, in part, for the decimation of many songbird populations, the wild cats, the “felids” are in desperate need of help. Almost half of the 36 wild cat populations around the world are in grave danger of disappearing off of the planet earth forever.

From Wikimedia Commons

From Wikimedia Commons

The most endangered of the felids is the Iberian Lynx. The last remaining pockets of this Lynx population exist in Portugal and central and southwestern Spain. The Iberian Lynx is generally crepuscular (active at twilight) and nocturnal, and rabbits are its favorite food.

The Iberian Lynx is a beautiful cat with impressive, tufted ears, bright spotted coat, magnificent whiskers and a neat bobbed tail. For all of its beauty, however, this Lynx’s luck is running out.

Here’s what you can do to help: Sign petitions that encourage the saving and reclamation of the Iberian Lynx’s habitat. Spread the word about this beautiful wild cat. Send the Lynx a care package full of rabbits. Read the poem below to your friends:

Ode to The Iberian Lynx

From Designbolts.com

From Designbolts.com

I told my friend, the Iberian Lynx

To travel to Egypt to go ask a sphinx

Why his whole family is in such a jinx

So he went, and then told me, “Here’s what the sphinx thinks:”

‘Two-leggeds push the wildcat to the brink

And then won’t acknowledge the obvious link

Between habitat loss and the humans who think

The space humans take up is not destined to shrink.”

“The solution is simple,” the savvy sphinx said,

“Work fast before every last Lynx winds up dead.”

“All these humans who think that they need so much room,

Must be packed up and sent off to live on the moon.”

Links to help the Lynx:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/335/438/593/?z00m=22956678&redirectID=1666123897

http://www.arkive.org/iberian-lynx/lynx-pardinus/

From Doñana Natl. Park, Spain

From Doñana Natl. Park, Spain

Extinction Cliff-Hanger

How do you bring an extinct creature back to life? A species of stick-bug, once thought to be completely extinct, was rediscovered on one bush clinging to the side of one cliff on one rock in the middle of the ocean. Scientists succeeded in rescuing this tiny remnant and have brought a species back to life!

From Wired Magazine

From Wired Magazine

These unique insects once were plentiful on Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia. The arrival of the British, along with the rats from the ships, resulted in the decimation of this amazing species. They were thought to have been extinct until in 2001, a group of scientists explored a small volcanic rock called Balls Pyramid located 23 kilometers away from Lord Howe Island. There, during a night exploration of the rock, they found the nocturnal insects thriving. Three years, and reams of paperwork later, they were able to begin a captive breeding program that continues to this day.

Balls Pyramid off of Lord Howe Island

Balls Pyramid off of Lord Howe Island

 

The Melbourne Zoo maintains the largest recovery program for this species and hopes to reintroduce a healthy population of Lord Howe Stick Insects to the mainland. In order for this to succeed, however, the population of invasive rats will have to be eliminated.

Here is the link to the Wired Magazine article: http://www.wired.com/2014/02/sticky-stick-insect-sticky-situation/

And the award-winning animated film, “Sticky,” is a gem that you definitely should not miss. It’s magical!

Click the link to view: http://vimeo.com/76647062

Go, Go Kakapo!

What sounds like a cell phone vibrating in “mute” mode, can call a girlfriend over from several kilometers away with no cell reception whatsoever, and is possibly our longest-lived egg-laying feathered friend? The Kakapo, of course! This flightless New Zealand bird is the heaviest parrot in the world and can live to be 120 years old. It used to have few natural predators, but when the humans moved in, along with their dogs and cats and rats, the Kakapo population went into a tail spin. Kakapo

When the population of this rare bird plummeted to about 60 birds remaining in the 1990’s, scientists flew into action. Rats and cats were not interested in helping the effort to save the Kakapo and instead continued to kill and eat the young chicks. The scientists decided that the Kakapos needed to move to a safer neighborhood and so several birds were moved to three different islands where the rats and cats were not allowed to settle, even if they managed to show valid passports.

Once the Kakapos were protected, coddled and given extra yummy food (like apples, sweet potatoes, nuts, and sunflower seeds), their numbers began to increase. Currently, there are about 140 Kakapos strutting around on their own islands.

kakapo-1

See those little whiskers next to the beaks of the Kakapoes? (Or is the plural “Kakapoo?”) Those whiskers are not just for looking handsome on a Saturday night; they are very helpful to this nocturnal bird that runs around at night. Both the male and female birds use these whiskers to help them navigate their way as they walk with their heads down close to the ground. Speaking of Saturday night, do you know how a male Kakapo manages to get himself a date? With a boom box, of course.

kakapo_in_boom_bowlThe male inflates a sac below his throat and starts to “boom” as the sac fills with air. This attractive sound brings the females who follow carefully groomed paths to the male’s “boom bowl.” Yes, the male makes a smooth bowl in the dirt so he has a stage to perform his awesome mating dance when the girl bird finally arrives. The bowl helps make the booming sounds louder; he doesn’t even need a microphone for his act.

kakapo_on_branch

The Kakapo does other amazing things too. Although it cannot fly, it can climb up to the top of trees to have a look-about. He can fall with style, using his wings to glide or parachute down from the trees to the ground. Since Kakapoes exist because of human help, each bird has a name. They are all banded and many are tracked with radio signals. Every Kakapo is special. Maybe some day, there will be enough of them around for us to let them go about their lovely Kakapo lives without being constantly coddled by scientists. For now the 124 Kakapo that do exist need our help.

kakapo_on_arm

For more information see the Kakapo Recovery Site at:

http://kakaporecovery.org.nz

Picture Book featuring the Kakapo:

http://www.amazon.com/Kakapo-Rescue-Saving-Strangest-Scientists/dp/B0052HL73U

kakapo montgomery book