Tag Archive | endangered

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


and buffalo

You live on plains

where no trees grow


You’re native to


and prone to



There are so few


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!

Photo Ark

Joel Sartore's Mahogany Glider

Mahogany Glider

Modern day digital Noah and conservationist, Joel Sartore, is documenting the astounding beauty and variety of the world of beasts. “When we save species,” he wisely observes, “we are saving ourselves.” He has worked for many years as a freelance photographer for National Geographic magazine and has a knack of capturing the vibrancy of life in each creature that he captures on film.

His beautiful animal images have been projected with light on a grand scale against famous landmarks such as the Vatican in Rome, and the Empire State Building in New York.

A Sumatran tiger is projected onto the Vatican in an effort to raise awareness for the extinction crisis.

“My goal is to photograph as many of the world’s captive species as I can before time runs out” states Joel. “I’m at about 3,500 now, and just getting started. I work mostly at zoos and aquariums, today’s keepers of the kingdom. Many species would already be gone without their heroic captive-breeding efforts.”

His beautiful and informative book, “Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species,” attempts to give a voice to the disappearing beloved beasts of our time. There is still hope, Sartore explains, but we need to act now before these animals disappear forever.


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:



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

Tuxedo Junction

Get out your tuxedoes! It’s Penguin Day. These classy little guys are in need of our protection. Take a look at this link below which highlights penguins and the challenges that they face:

Link from the Environmental Defense Fund:

Penguins in Danger of Disappearing


Photo from WorldWildlife.Gifts


Emperor Penguins

by Barry Louis Polisar

Huddled close together
Against the snow and sleet,
Penguins at the pole
Pool their body heat.
They gather in a circle,
Steadfast, disciplined,
Turning toward the center,
Fighting off the wind.
Sharing warmth and comfort
On cold and icy floes,
Balancing their future
Gently, on their toes.

The far-reaching future of the penguins is now balanced in our hands. What will we do to make sure that the incredible variety of penguin species remains secure for the future?



63 Year-Old Frequent Flyer Gives Birth!


Photographer: Greg Joder/USFWS

This sprightly 63 year-old has yet to find any wrinkles on her smooth and lovely feathered visage even though she has flown about three million miles (or about five million km) in her lifetime; that’s about six round trips from the earth to the moon! She is not only raising another chick, she has already raised at least 30 baby chicks in her lifetime.


Wisdom is a 63-year old Laysan Albatross, the world’s oldest known banded bird in existence. She winters at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific. Wisdom has survived earthquakes and tsunamis, long-line fishing threats and floating plastic litter, millions of kilometers in flight high in the air and close calls with sharks while fishing in the ocean. Wisdom has raised many healthy chicks over the years and at the age of 63, and is now incubating another egg! Her mate was patiently waiting for her just a few feet from their previous nesting site when she winged her way back to him at the end of November. Her chick is due to hatch out in early February of 2015.


Photographer: Greg Joder/USFWS


I learned about Wisdom through a wonderful children’s book, “Wisdom, the Midway Albatross,” by Darcy Pattison. This book is being read by the students in our international school in Tokyo as part of the Sakura Medal reading promotion program where students read and then vote on their favorite books from a list of newly-published children’s literature in various categories. “Wisdom” references the 2011 Japan earthquake and is a favorite among the students, many of whom remember that frightening day. Some have relatives who did not survive the tsunami. The readers identify with this intrepid flyer who has survived for so many years despite the considerable challenges and dangers.

Here is footage from December 8th of Wisdom on her nest, preening and relaxing, courtesy of Dan Clark:

Wisdom Incubates Egg on Midway Atoll (12.08.2014). Video: Dan Clark/USFWS

If the video is not visible, here is a link to go to the original source:


Feathered Sanctuary

What do you do with a wounded wild bird? Adopt it as your own pet?HawkinTree

Bird rescue is a noble and worthy endeavor, but it is best to take your feathered friend to a sanctuary where it can be healed and, if possible, re-introduced into the wild. When we lived in California, we found a juvenile red-shouldered hawk that appeared to have been shot in the wing by a neighbor. We wrapped it in a towel and took it to a bird rescue center where it was treated and released.



Wounded birds need specialized care which is often impossible for untrained tender-hearted rescuers to provide.

Sanctuaries do a good job of treating their feathered patients. Here are some lovely residents of Florida’s Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary:


Seabird Sanctuary Slideshow

This one-winged white pelican goes to school… not to learn but to teach children about wild seabirds and what we can do to protect them and keep their environment safe and healthy. This large bird is a permanent resident at the sanctuary since he would not be able to survive in the wild on his own. If he were a healthy and strong white pelican, he would collaborate with his pelican friends in shallow water to gather fish into the middle of their floating formation so that they could easily scoop up their supper.

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is the largest bird sanctuary in the United States of America and admits more than 10,000 birds each year to be rehabilitated and released back into the wild. It is open every day of the year from 9:00 am until sunset.

“A wonderful bird is the pelican, His beak will hold more than his belican.”  “The Pelican” (1910) by Dixon Lanier Merritt