Tag Archives: endangered species

Biodiversity challenge – Umbrellabird

Canopy slyness

Rainforest quiz:
Is there a way of staying dry?
How do you solve
The daily downpour problem?
Here’s a thought:
Why not evolve
To sport a built-in brolly?
Golly, well I never.
Jolly clever.
Wattle they think of next?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2015

Species profile: Umbrellabird

IUCN Red List: Endangered

Umbrellabirds live in the rainforests of Central and South America. They are among the largest passerines (perching birds) in the world. Distinctive features include their almost totally black plumage, a conspicuous, umbrella-like crest on their crown, and an inflatable wattle on their neck, which amplifies their booming calls when the males gather at ‘leks’ to attract a mate. The long-wattled umbrellabird is endemic to the Chocó rainforest along the western slopes of the Andes in Colombia and Ecuador. The bare-necked umbrellabird, which has a bright-red throat pouch and wattle, is restricted to Costa Rica and western Panama. Both these species are threatened by deforestation, habitat conversion, and hunting to supply the caged bird trade.

Biodiversity challenge – Kagu

Grey spirit 

Phantom of the forest,
Ghost of Caledonia past,
Caught yapping.
Earthbound, hapless
Headdress chicken,
Easy meat.
Not flying, but flapping.
Feral future lapping
At your coral feet.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2015

Biodiversity challenge – Mallorcan midwife toad

Midwife crisis

No strings attached,
She said.
Now see how
Sticky shackles
Cramp his style
More than a tad.
Her long-term plan
Already hatched;
Not so, his heavy load.
Her fate, the open road,
No fixed abode,
A rolling toad;
Her mate, a little flat.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2015

Species profile: Mallorcan midwife toad

IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable

Found only on the island of that name, the Mallorcan midwife toad was believed to have gone extinct 2000 years ago until several populations were discovered in remote mountain brooks in 1980. Like others in its genus, this toad has an unusual breeding strategy in that the females fight over the males, and the males carry the developing eggs, wrapped around their ankles in strings, until the tadpoles emerge. This declining species is down to around 500 breeding pairs and faces numerous threats to its survival. These include introduced predators like the viperine snake, and habitat loss resulting from pressure on water resources due to the growing numbers of tourists visiting the island.

Biodiversity challenge – White-winged parakeet

Dead parrot sketch
white_winged_parakeet_john_halbert

White-winged parakeet by John Halbert

Poisoned minds on a killing spree,
Poisonous sense of humour set free,
A tumour where your heart should be,
Offended by too much green in a tree.
Not enough grey in your concrete streets?
Was there too much life in those parakeets?
Too raucous and colourful for you here?
Need somewhere with less atmosphere?
What you deserve is a spell behind bars,
Or maybe a one-way ticket to Mars.
Then death shall have no further dominion
Outside your luxury condominium.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

(For Kitty, Carolina, John and the other artists who are painting to stop the slaughter)

Several years ago the construction of “Avenida das Torres” (Avenue of the Towers) in the Amazonian city of Manaus resulted in the removal of many of the native trees and palms where white-winged parakeets and other birds had nested and roosted. In search of new homes, the birds found a group of imperial palms in front of a luxury condominium complex. As the residents did not like the chattering, singing and socialising of the birds, they arranged to have huge plastic nets put over the trees, which trapped and killed many of the birds. More recently several hundred of the parakeets have been found dead on the street, most probably poisoned. The white-winged parakeet is not an endangered species as such, but it will be before long unless attitudes to wildlife change. Remember the passenger pigeon, anyone?

Biodiversity challenge – Shoebill

Bigmouth strikes again
Shoebill close-up

Shoebill close-up

Blast from the prehistoric past,
Ugly sister who swallowed the slipper.
Feather-clad freak with a murderous beak,
Mighty mouth munching your lungfish booty.
Monstrous beauty, tough as old boots,
Cobbled together by some clever clogger.
Top of the bill, but will it last?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Biodiversity challenge – Wattled curassow

Kill or curassow?
wattled_curassow_ellen_hobgood

Wattled curassow by Ellen Hobgood www.ellenhobgoodgallery.com

What now,
Wattled curassow?
Whither with your
Unique beacon beak?
We wonder how
You’ll find a refuge
From the human deluge
Ripping through
Your pristine pad.
Too bad there’s
No room for you
On the redrawn maps.
See cracks appearing,
Watch Crax disappearing
Through the gaps.
A once intact
Amazonian tract
Man fractured
Beyond repair.
So where now,
Curassow?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Wattled curassow

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

Wattled curassows are confined to the flooded riparian forest and overgrown shores of rivers in the Andean lowlands and Amazon basin, where they feed mainly on small fish and crustaceans. Widespread human colonisation has resulted in severe fragmentation of the curassow’s habitat and exposed it to the threat of commercial and subsistence hunting, often with shotguns. Populations have declined alarmingly in recent years.

Biodiversity challenge – White-lipped peccary

Keeper secret
White-lipped peccary by Ellen Hobgood

White-lipped peccary by Ellen Hobgood www.ellenhobgoodgallery.com

I know it was wrong
To leave the white-lipped
Peccaries in a holding pen
With the armadillo
For so long.
And it’s true
It took me ages
To clean out their cages.
But surely you
Can remain tight-lipped
About a peccadillo
Or two?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: White-lipped peccary

IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable

The white-lipped peccary occurs from southern Mexico to northern Argentina, often in herds over 100 strong, and is an important indicator of healthy forests and ecosystems. It is a key prey species for big cats, and plays a vital role in neotropical forests as a predator and disperser of seeds. White-lipped peccary numbers have fallen by almost 30% within the past two decades. Habitat loss, illegal hunting and disease pose major threats to the species, which has also suffered from sudden unexplained population crashes and local extinctions in several areas.

Biodiversity challenge – Nepenthes rajah

Pitcher postcards

Fly-on-the-wall documentary

In one fell.
Soup.

The Fly and the Pitcher

One blue bottle
Crawling on the lip.
One blue bottle
Crawling on the lip.
And if one blue bottle
Should accidentally slip,
You’ll see one blue bottle
Take an acid dip.

The Big Pitcher

I’m Nepenthes rajah,
Your gracious host.
As meat-eating plants go,
I’m larger than most.
Make yourself at home
On my peristome,
Take a dip in the cool
Of my private pool.
Come lounge with the lizard
Stuck in my gizzard,
You’ll be snug as a bug
In my one-litre jug.
Drop in and discover
The principal use
For my viscoelastic
Gastric juice.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Biodiversity challenge – Vaquita

Net loss

 

Fishermen caught in the poverty trap,
Porpoises stuck in the middle.

Vaquitas by Chloe Waterfield

Vaquitas by Chloe Waterfield http://www.facebook.com/canidaeart

Sea of Cortez,
Gill nets unfurled.
What a killer.
Lost to this world,
Like so much fishnet
Stocking filler,
One more vaquita
Vacates the Vermilion.

Action stations
For our rarest cetaceans.
No more accidental death,
Time to start saving, not drowning.
Don’t hold your breath.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Vaquita

IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered

One of seven true porpoise species, the vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean. It has striking facial markings reminiscent of dark eyeliner and black lipstick, as though it were wearing ‘goth’ make-up. This rare and elusive species was only discovered in 1958. Its one remaining population, believed to comprise fewer than 100 individuals, is confined to a tiny area in the extreme north of Mexico’s Gulf of California. Vaquitas were never abundant, but in recent decades numbers have plummeted as more and more porpoises drown after being trapped in the virtually invisible gill nets set to catch fish and shrimp. More info