Category Archives: illegal trade

Biodiversity challenge – Yellow-cheeked gibbon

Street sorrow

Never-to-be king of the treetop swingers,
Languishing under a plastic canopy,
Sheltering from the sweltering sun
In this urban jungle.

Yellow-cheeked gibbon by Dao Van Hoang

Yellow-cheeked gibbon by Dao Van Hoang

Wrenched from the mortal
Maternal embrace of
A mum who fell to earth.
Untimely plucked
From the place of my birth
By lawless long arms.

Chained by the neck to
This concrete throne.
Exiled on main street,
A long way from home,
No escape.

Ape’s inhumanity to ape:
What right do you have to dictate
Another primate’s fate;
To ordain whether I should
Fade away, or brachiate?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Biodiversity challenge – Cat Ba langur

Bay window of opportunity

Cat Ba langur by Dao Van Hoang

Fewer than five dozen
Not-so-distant cousins.
Fifty-nine steps
Down to
Golden silence.
No relief
From loggers, poachers,
Habitat encroachers.
How to keep them all at bay?
No way.
Beyond belief
To turn a primate into paste;
It boils down to a tragic waste.
They won’t be
Safe from harm
Until the long arm
Of the monkey balm brigade
Is cut off in its prime.
So where’s the punishment
To fit the crime?
Running out of time
To stop the hunters
And their punters.
How long left
Before Ha Long’s bereft?
Can Cat Ba’s

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Cat Ba langur

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The Cat Ba or golden-headed langur is one of the world’s most endangered primates, confined to a single island in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay. This spectacular leaf-eating monkey has almost been wiped out by a combination of poaching and destruction or degradation of its forest habitat. It is hunted not for its meat, which is considered unappetising, but for use in traditional medicine, where its body is boiled down and turned into cao khi (monkey balm), which is claimed to have soothing properties. The population had crashed from several thousand to just 53 individuals before the Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project began in 2000. Since then, poaching has been almost non-existent and numbers have increased to an estimated 59, but low reproductive rates and the dangers of inbreeding mean that the future of the species remains in the balance.

Biodiversity challenge – Earless monitor lizard

Hard of hearing

Did you hear about the earless monitor?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone,
If this was an unknown unknown.
As you don’t well know,
This Borneo lizard is so
Elusive, rare and obscure
That scientists are not really sure
Whether this one in a million reptilian
Has even heard of itself.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Biodiversity challenge – Lear’s macaw

Parrot passion 

Houston, we have a situation:
The last surviving Lear’s macaws
Heading for extermination,
Adjacent to the exit doors.
A one-way ticket – Destination
Calamity – clasped in their claws.
Hunted close to extirpation,
Permanently in the wars;
Pet trade and deforestation
Probably the final straws.

Cue renewed determination
To pluck them from extinction’s jaws;
Cue increased collaboration,
Nations rally to the cause;
Cue more stringent legislation,
Tighter anti-poaching laws;
Cue licuri propagation,
Makeshift palm nut superstores;
Cue a cause for celebration:
Parrot population soars.
Cue collective wild elation,
Hear the thunderous applause.
Victory for conservation,
Harbingers of doom, up yours.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Biodiversity challenge – Chiru

Fashion victim

I’m willing to bet
You wouldn’t choose
To be in Tibet
In chiru shoes.
Unscrupulous hunters
Making a killing;
Ignorant punters
All too willing
To pay a king’s ransom
For antelope wool –
You too can look handsome,
Stylish and cool.
So vanity rules
At celebrity balls,
Where fatuous fools
Flaunt shahtoosh shawls.
Enjoy your view
From the fashion summit,
While chiru
Populations plummet.
An end to the trend
Is the only hope
For the threatened
Tibetan antelope.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Chiru

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

As its name suggests, the Tibetan antelope, or chiru, is endemic to the inhospitable high-altitude steppe of the Tibetan plateau. The vast herds that used to dominate this harsh landscape have declined dramatically in recent decades, due largely to the increasing popularity of the chiru’s wool, which is generally agreed to be the finest and warmest in the animal kingdom. Demand for this wool among the producers of shahtoosh shawls was responsible for the slaughter of up to 20,000 animals annually. Manufacture of these shawls was officially banned in 2002, but illegal trade in the wool continues to pose a threat to the chiru’s long-term survival. Further info