Tag Archives: rat

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 – Hispaniolan hutia

Hutia love?

No, the fat tree rat
They call the zagouti
Won’t win a prize for
Conventional beauty,
Probably wouldn’t
Look good in Cerruti,
But whether or not
We think it’s a cutie,
Saving its skin should
Be everyone’s duty.
Let’s give a hoot about
Cuvier’s hutia.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

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.

Biodiversity challenge – Kha-nyou

Not squirrel kin

Eleven million years extinct,
Then resurrected
On a market stall
In Laos;
Not squirrel,
Rat or mouse,
But unconnected,
Evolutionarily distinct;
Unique,
A living fossil,
Sole surviving
Member of a clique
First founded
Two score million years ago
Or more,
Surrounded
By a sea of strangers;
Cast adrift,
A rodent race apart
Upon your running wheel
For one;
Can you imagine
How alone you’d feel?
Well, kha-nyou?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014.

Species profile: Kha-nyou

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

Discovered by scientists visiting a market in Laos in 2005, the kha-nyou, or Laotian rock rat, is an example of a living fossil. The sole surviving member of an ancient group of rodents thought to have gone extinct some 11 million years ago, the kha-nyou is like no other species of mammal, having separated from its closest living relatives 44 million years ago. Its bizarre combination of features – long snout, small ears and bushy tail – have earned it the nickname ‘rat-squirrel’. Known only from a single area of limestone karst in Laos, the kha-nyou is threatened by hunting and habitat loss.