Tag Archives: wildlife poetry

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 – Cuban solenodon

Fading star

*
Dwindle,
Dwindle,
Cuban star
Someone left
The door ajar.
Feral peril runs amok
Plundering the local stock.
Native mammals
Largely gone.
Can we save
Solenodon
?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

Species profile: Cuban solenodon

IUCN Red List Category: Endangered

The Cuban solenodon or almiqui is a small insectivorous mammal that superficially resembles a shrew on steroids. In fact, solenodons diverged from all other mammal species an incredible 76 million years ago. This is one of only two solenodon species left on the planet. Solenodons are the only mammals known to subdue their prey using toxic saliva. Formerly among the dominant native predators in the West Indies, they are now threatened with extinction as a result of falling prey to introduced predators such as mongooses, dogs and feral cats.

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 – Yeti crab

Meals on legs

he’s the hairy-pincered gent
hanging out near a hydrothermal vent

he’s the hirsute deep sea diner
grazing on a methane gas refiner

he’s the furry organic farmer
plucking micro meals from his armour

he’s a self-made cafeteria
growing his own bacteria.

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014

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.

babirusa_virginia_potter

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,
2014

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 – Yellow-cheeked gibbon

Street sorrow

Never-to-be king of the treetop swingers,
Languishing under a plastic canopy,
Sheltering from the sweltering sun
In this urban jungle.

Yellow-cheeked gibbon by Dao Van Hoang https://www.behance.net/daovanhoang

Yellow-cheeked gibbon by Dao Van Hoang
https://www.behance.net/daovanhoang

Wrenched from the mortal
Maternal embrace of
A mum who fell to earth.
Untimely plucked
From the place of my birth
By lawless long arms.

Chained by the neck to
This concrete throne.
Exiled on main street,
A long way from home,
No escape.

Ape’s inhumanity to ape:
What right do you have to dictate
Another primate’s fate;
To ordain whether I should
Fade away, or brachiate?

© Tim Knight and timknightwriter, 2014