Tag Archives: antelope

Biodiversity challenge – Gerenuk

How the gerenuk found its nook

Long, long ago on the African plains
Your Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great
Granny and her mum
Were waiting vainly for the late, late
Rains to come.
Mummy gerenuk
Took one look
At the cloudless sky
And one more at the bone-dry grass,
Then shook her head and said
(In antelope):
‘Alas,
There’s little hope
Of finding greener pastures.
So, my lass,
Hang tough.
It’s time to prove
You’ve grown enough
To stand up on your own
Two hooves.
No self-respecting gerenuk believes
That we were meant
To graze with our heads bent
Like lowly cows;
We need to raise our sights,
And reach up to the highest heights
Where we can browse
On juicy leaves
To satisfy our need
For food and water,
So, take heed.’
At which, her daughter
(Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Gran)
Began to crane her neck,
Then reared up on her two hind legs until
Her tongue was close enough to pluck
The luscious foliage
And eat her fill.
And that was all it took
Your enterprising ancestor
To claim a vacant eco-nook,
Or, as we call it,
Great, Great, Great, Great, Great, Great Granny’s
Gerenuk cranny.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Biodiversity challenge – Bongo

Beware of the snare

Deepest Congo,
Distant drums;
Something bovine
This way comes.
Enigmatic antelope
Manoeuvres in the dark,
Tantalising glimpses of
The white stripes in the park;
Fleeting view of fading horns,
An ungulate caught unawares;
Retreating rarity recedes
Into the realm of fine-tuned snares.
Still time to marvel at the bongo –
Maybe not for long, though.

© 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