Tag Archives: critically endangered

Biodiversity challenge – Mangrove finch

Swamped

Darwin’s darling,
One foot
In the tomb.
The famous finch
One inch
From doom.
Oppressed by
Uninvited guests,
One hundred
Beaks unique
To Isabela’s
Salty womb
Hunker down
Inside their
Hundred hectare
Panic room.
A wing,
A prayer,
One square
Kilometre of light
Amid the gloom.
One final fling:
Bring on the
Baby boom.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2015

Biodiversity challenge – Floreana mockingbird

To save a mockingbird

Ground zero
For a scientific superhero,
Far-flung Floreana,
Former mockingbird nirvana.
Here the chosen one
Dropped anchor,
Found the inspiration
For his show and tell,
Sailed home and
Dropped his bombshell,
Blew a crater in creation’s well
Of wishful thinking.

Gone, long gone,
The great man and his Beagle,
Gone without a trace
The bird that spurred him on;
Displaced by space invaders,
Banished to a brace of
Offshore dots no bigger than
A giant tortoise carapace.

Time to pull a rabbit from the hat,
Restore the habitat,
Depose those reigning
Cats and dogs,
Deport the greedy goats,
Repair the prickly pear,
Remove the rats,
Kick out the new kids on the block,
Turn back the clock,
Return the mock.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2015

Species profile: Floreana mockingbird

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The Floreana mockingbird was once common on the island of that name and, along with two other mockingbird species on neighbouring islands, played a pivotal role in the theory of Natural Selection that Charles Darwin proposed after visiting the Galapagos archipelago. Within 50 years of Darwin’s departure, the mockingbird had disappeared from Floreana, driven out by invasive black rats and loss of habitat. The species now clings to survival on two tiny, predator-free nearby islets. It is one of the rarest and most endangered birds in the world. A ten-year rescue plan is under way to eradicate all introduced species from Floreana, restore the degraded habitat, and reintroduce the mockingbird to its former home.

Biodiversity challenge – Cat Ba langur

Bay window of opportunity

Cat Ba langur by Dao Van Hoang https://www.behance.net/daovanhoang

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
Langur
Linger
Longer?

© 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 – Trinidad piping guan

Guan tomorrow?

If less is more
We have excess of this
Declining frugivore,
Red-listed, red-legged
Blue-faced piper
At the gates of dusk.
Demi-gone denizen
Of montane slopes,
A fading grace,
Hopes shrinking
Faster than your forest,
Sinking without trace
Beneath the race
For timber, land
And pot roast.
Not yet wholly ghost,
But close.
Going, going, guan.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Trinidad piping guan

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

As its name implies, the Trinidad piping guan is endemic to that particular island. Formerly widespread, it is now restricted to a single area in the mountainous north-east. The pawi, as it is known locally, has very distinctive markings including white wing patches, red legs and blue dewlap and cere. It feeds on fruit and seeds, foraging in the cool of the evening. Although protected by law, it is in grave danger of extinction due to illegal hunting and habitat loss.

Biodiversity challenge – Northern brown howler

Vocal hero
kitty_howler

Northern brown howlers by Kitty Harvill http://www.natureartists.com/kitty_harvill.asp

He’s a big noise,
One of the boys,
Roaring success.
Reading aloud from
The gruff guide
To life.

There hangs by a tail
In his primate pomp,
Proudly proclaiming
A New World order.

Headline news
From the guttural press.
Pumps up the volume,
Pushes the throat out.

Staking his claim,
Fortissimo fashion,
Unleashing decibel hell
From the trees.

He’s out on a limb,
Hanging tough,
Uncowed.
No silencing him,
He’s brown
And he’s loud.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile:
Northern brown howler

IUCN Red List Category:
Critically Endangered

As their name suggests, brown howler monkeys are best known for their loud territorial calls, which can be heard over distances of several kilometres. One of ten species of howler, they are confined to the Atlantic coastal forest of south-east Brazil and north-east Argentina, where they live in social groups high in the canopy. The Northern brown howler subspecies is believed to number fewer than 250 individuals, restricted to an area north of the Rio Jequitinhonha in Brazil.

Biodiversity challenge – Cave squeaker

1962: Bittersweet sixteen

Amphibian freak
Playing hide and seek
On a mountain peak
In Mozambique.
Cave-dwelling clique
Oozing frog mystique,
On a losing streak
Up troglodyte creek.
Signal weak,
Prognosis bleak.
No audible squeak,
Just a silent shriek.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Cave squeaker

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The only record of the cave squeaker is from 1962, when 16 frogs were collected from caves and sinkholes high in the Chimanimani Mountains on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Virtually nothing is known about the behaviour of this mysterious and elusive species or how it has adapted to its cave habitat. Other squeaker frog species undergo a complete metamorphosis from embryo to froglet without leaving the eggs, which are laid out of water in a damp location. In over 50 years of searching, scientists have failed to find a single cave squeaker, but the frog is small, inconspicuous and clearly very rare, so some hope of relocating it still remains. As a montane species, its long-term survival could be jeopardised by climate change.

Biodiversity challenge – Woylie

Two wrongs don’t help the bettong

The bounty hunters: they came
In search of putative pests,
Pouched their reward and hopped it;
Mistaken for murine vermin,
Three million marsupials copped it.

The hungry aliens: they crashed the gate,
Unwelcome vulpine, rodent, feline guests;
They came, they saw, they ate,
Made a bee-line for the natives,
Laying waste to witless woylies.

Hope I’m wrong,
But I wouldn’t like to bet on
The brush-tailed bettong
Surviving for long.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.