Tag Archives: endemic species

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – Welwitschia

Awesome leaves

Bizarre bifoliate
Desert dweller,

Leathery-leaved
Primeval perennial,

Ancient appendaged
Coniferous conundrum,

Westerly wind-whipped
Shredded succulent,

Drought-defying
Namib native,

Sea-fog sifting
Moisture magnet,

Sunlight screening
Serpent shelter,

Money-making
Tourist trap,

Botanist baffling
Floral freak.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

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.