Tag Archives: rainforest

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 – Hairy babirusa

That’s why they call me swine

When I was young they christened me the babirusa kid,
But once I started sprouting tusks, the jokers made a bid
To change it ’round to ‘Antler Face’; I was ‘Spikehead’ for a while,
Then ‘Ugly Mug’ and ‘Tooth Medusa’ used to make ’em smile;
And then, thanks to the scientists, I learned another term
When someone shouted: ‘Fellas, hey! A porcine pachyderm!’
But I don’t give a fig. I’m an extraordinary pig:

Well, just because my teeth are curly,
And just because my frame is burly;
Just because I always keep them guessing,
Wear my genes like a pig of means
(He’s visually unprepossessing);
Just because I’m happy wrinkled,
Drink mineral water, never wine;
Just because my body’s hairy,
– Visage slightly scary,
That’s why they call me swine.

(With thanks to Cecil Mack)

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Biodiversity challenge – Sulawesi babirusa

Just because my teeth are curly
Sulawesi babirusa by Becky Richardson Senisse

Sulawesi babirusa by Becky Richardson Senisse

Curious creatures,
Ferocious features:
The two tusketeers,
Part pig, part deer.
Long in the tooth,
Last flush of youth.
Canine-clad rivals,
The early arrivals,
Eager for kicks
And a sodium fix.
First the refuelling,
Then ritual duelling.


Sulawesi babirusa, Oil on panel by Virginia Potter

Porcine posing,
It won’t be pretty;
Curly burly
In salt lick city.
Two legs good
For a stand-up fight;
Boxing babirusas,
A wondrous sight.
Hot rock hog trot,
Once round the wallow.
Swine lake ballet,
Hard to swallow.

You’re not going crazy,
Pigs dance in Sulawesi.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter,

Species profile: Sulawesi babirusa

IUCN Red List Category: Vulnerable

This remarkable pig is confined to undisturbed rainforest on Sulawesi, Indonesia’s fourth largest island. Babirusa literally means ‘pig deer’. The curly tusks sported by the males are the upper canine teeth, which grow upwards out of the snout. One of the babirusa’s last remaining strongholds is the Nantu Wildllife Sanctuary, which has a natural salt lick where these social pigs often gather to chew the sodium-rich volcanic rock and drink from the hot springs. The males fight by rearing up on their hind legs and ‘dancing’. The babirusa and its rainforest habitat are under severe threat. Forest clearance and illegal poaching for meat have reduced the population to an estimated 5,000 individuals. Logging activity is opening up areas previously inaccessible to hunters, increasing the pressure on this charismatic species.

Biodiversity challenge – Great argus

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Another pheasant valley,
Song day,
Argus calling.
Direct male,
Unveils his party piece.
Regales her with a
Tail of two sitars,
All eyes on him,
Including hers.
Makes ocelli
And hopes
His thing with feathers
Gains a purchase on her soul.
Struts his stuff upon the stage
And then is hers.
No more.
Show over,
Time to turn the page.
An empty dance floor
Let’s you know the score.
He called, she heard,
She came, she saw,
She concurred.
Wild applause.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Biodiversity challenge – Honduran white bat

Pale shelter

Honduran white bats by Carolina Bertsch Jawi http://artemandalatepui.blogspot.com.br/

Resourceful little white roosters,
Intent on survival,
Asleep and palely loitering
Beneath the mangled midrib of
Their angled heliconia hangout.
Home and dry,
Predator free,
Under a makeshift parapluie.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Biodiversity challenge – Vogelkop bowerbird

If you build it, she will come

She doesn’t care whether
You’re fancy of feather,
What a girl really digs
Is a wigwam of twigs.
Don’t waste your time posing,
Build something imposing;
A complex construction,
Designed for seduction.

Adorn your front lawn
With the fruits of your labours
Gleaned from the dark forest,
Or pilfered from neighbours.

Choose the best colour code
For your splendid abode.
A few splashes of red
May well turn her head,
Or a hint of magenta
Placed slightly off centre.
For something more mellow
There’s always pale yellow.

If she still doesn’t swoon
At your stunning erection,
Try an artfully strewn
Orange petal collection,
Or blue berried treasure,
Arranged to perfection,
Piled up for her pleasure,
Inviting inspection.

Leave no stone unturned,
Pick a lily and gild it.
Use the power of the bower,
She’ll come if you build it.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Biodiversity challenge – Harpy eagle

True harpiness

Airborne majesty – Birdy’s Flight.
Effortless soaring – Across The River.
Crested assassin – Mother Of Violence.
Capuchin troop – A Quiet Moment.
Canopy foragers – Shaking The Tree.
Out on a limb – Exposure.
Aquiline shadow – Intruder.
Vigilance needed – Big Time.
Massive attacker – Shock The Monkey.
Cranium cracker – Sledgehammer.
Crushed like an eggshell – Oh Beak, Oh Beak, Oh.
Ripped wide open – Warm And Alive.
Blood from the treetops – Red Rain.
Life draining out – It Is Accomplished.
Simian rag doll – Downside Up.
Destined for dinner – The Nest That Sailed The Sky.
Ravenous chicks – Waiting For The Big One.
Murderous mouths – Excellent Birds.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

(With apologies to Peter Gabriel)

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.