Tag Archives: poetry

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

Biodiversity challenge – Axolotl

Gills allowed (The Mexican who never grew up)

Spill the beans, amphibian Pedro Pan,
Can you resolve the mystery
Of your preternatural history?
Prince of perpetual adolescence;
Unfathomable underwater thwarter
Of senescence.
Does the essence
Of eternal youth
Come in a bottle
Labelled ‘axolotl’.
Gospel truth
Or propaganda,
Señor salamander?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Axolotl

IUCN Red List Category: Critically Endangered

The bizarre-looking axolotl, which was worshipped by the Aztecs as the physical embodiment of Xolotl, god of lightning and death, is native to the ancient system of deep-water channels and lakes around which Mexico’s capital has expanded. Axolotls are renowned for retaining juvenile characteristics into adulthood, a phenomenon known as neoteny. Unlike most other amphibians, axolotls lead entirely aquatic lives. They reproduce while still in the larval form, and never lose their external gills. Their ability to regrow limbs and organs has recently attracted a great deal of attention from the scientific community. Extinction in the wild is a very real possibility unless the last remaining water bodies to which axolotls are confined can be safeguarded against the deleterious effects of urban expansion. More info