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Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

Required Reading: the powerful storytelling of the natural world.

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This story has everything: Mystery, science, adventure, night-time rock climbing, a race against time, politics, shark-infested waters, desperate scientists, romance, and really humongous insects.

So. Read how a giant insect long though extinct was rediscovered, in a group of only 24, on an isolated volcanic island with only the sparsest vegetation to feed on, and about the scientists who worked to save the species. Because all life deserves to be preserved, even creepy giant walking sticks that I hope never to encounter in the night.

image credit: Rod Morris, Beyond New Zealand, from NPR's story

One can never tire of all the mysterious, delightful, crazy things that are always happening on this planet, without any concern for us showboating, camera-hogging humans.

From NPR: Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides for 80 Years, by Robert Krulwich.

Here’s the story: About 13 miles from this spindle of rock, there’s a bigger island, called Lord Howe Island.
On Howe, there used to be an insect, famous for being big. It’s a stick insect, a critter that masquerades as a piece of wood, and the Lord Howe Island version was so large — as big as a human hand — that the Europeans labeled it a “tree lobster” because of its size and hard, lobsterlike exoskeleton. It was 12 centimeters long and the heaviest flightless stick insect in the world. Local fishermen used to put them on fishing hooks and use them as bait.
Then one day in 1918, a supply ship, the S.S. Makambo from Britain, ran aground at Lord Howe Island and had to be evacuated. One passenger drowned. The rest were put ashore. It took nine days to repair the Makambo, and during that time, some black rats managed to get from the ship to the island, where they instantly discovered a delicious new rat food: giant stick insects. Two years later, the rats were everywhere and the tree lobsters were gone.
Totally gone. After 1920, there wasn’t a single sighting. By 1960, the Lord Howe stick insect, Dryococelus australis, was presumed extinct.


Written by Christopher ZF

February 29, 2012 at 13:11

Posted in wildlife

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tar-sands kill caribou, government kills wolves

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North American wildlife rarely outshines the wolf. Wolves are just, simply, awesome. I don’t know how else to put it. They’ve been on the recovery in the US, removed from protection here and there, are even being hunted in some states. All signs of a successful recovery.

TRC doesn’t have a strong opinion of these hunts (we lean towards: Probably not, but if so they should be highly managed by DNR. And no more prosecution of farmer’s protecting cattle), but we absolutely love wolves, and thus do not like to see stories like this:

Tar-sands development pushes Canada to poison wolves. Yes. It appears that the tar-sands development is causing a decrease in the caribou population. No surprise, since the habitat loss from this project is simply mind-boggling. If fewer caribou are around to prey on, then apparently the solution is to have fewer wolves. How? Poisoning, obviously.

It would seem to TRC that restoring the caribou population, to provide prey for a species makes more sense than killing wolves because we have killed too many caribou. But what do we know. We are not the NWF:

Rather than killing wolves, he should be stopping the habitat destruction and restoring habitat associated with tar sands production. Without healthy habitat, the decline of caribou is inevitable, no matter how wolves are managed.

Just one more self-evident display of why the development of the Canadian tar-sands needs to end.

Written by Christopher ZF

February 7, 2012 at 10:34