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Archive for May 2010

Matt Mendenhall uncovers the silly antics of whooping cranes, from their strange “whooping” call to their captivating mating dance. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how, as “goats” of the wetlands, whooping cranes will munch on whatever food is available. He also reveals how their large size, about 5 feet tall, lets them bully other creatures yet how one tiny creature, a common fly, annoys the bird so much that it drives these massive birds off their nests. Listen and learn what makes whooping cranes so special, how these endangered birds are making a comeback from a population of just 16 individuals in the 1940s, and what scientists are going through – from dressing up in whooping crane costumes to teaching the chicks their migration route by following ultralight planes -- to turn this story of near extinction of a species into one of hope and success. Matt Mendenhall is Associate Editor of Birder’s World magazine. He has written about all sorts of birds — from the common Northern Cardinal and Varied Thrush to the endangered Whooping Crane and California Condor to the presumably extinct Imperial Woodpecker. He grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and is a graduate of the journalism program at Marquette University. This episode of “The WildLife” was originally broadcast on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on January 4, 2010.

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Jill Robinson, founder of Animals Asia Foundation, talks about Asiatic black bears, also known as moon bears, and discusses the practice of farming them for their bile in China, Vietnam and elsewhere. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the horrific conditions on many of these bear farms and what she and others are doing to save them. In one of the most poignant moments of the interview, Robinson reveals the amazing capacity of these bears to forgive, noting “you’d have to be someone like Mandela to be able to forgive that sort of imprisonment” and also that the bears rescue people as much as people rescue the bears, saying “These bears teach us to be better people. They teach us to forgive. They teach us to overcome our problems and difficulties.” Born in the United Kingdom, Jill Robinson arrived in Hong Kong in 1985 and spent the next 12 years working in Asia as a consultant for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. In 1993, a chance visit to a bear farm in southern China changed Jill's life. Starting with this visit, she’s worked tirelessly to expose the plight of endangered Asiatic black bears cruelly farmed and milked for their bile, and learned how easily herbs and synthetics could replace bear bile. In 1995, she secured the release of the original bears she had discovered in 1993. Then, in 1998, she founded Animals Asia and in July 2000 she and the Animals Asia team signed a breakthrough agreement with the Chinese authorities to rescue 500 farmed bears and work towards promoting herbal alternatives to bile and the elimination of bear farming. Today, the Moon Bear Rescue has seen the rescue of 260 bears in China and the opening of a new rescue centre for 200 farmed bears in Vietnam. To date, 30 bears have been rescued there. Animals Asia’s Moon Bear Rescue sanctuaries are spearheading far-reaching community, education and welfare programs, which benefit both animals and people alike. Jill is a former member of the Hong Kong Government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Group and has received numerous awards in recognition of her services to animal welfare in Asia, including the Readers Digest “Hero for Today” award, an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in the Birthday Honours List, the USA Genesis Award (which is the only major media and arts award concerning animal issues), and others. In 2008, she was named “Outstanding Earth Champion” in Hong Kong and was appointed World Animal Day Ambassador for Asia. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 24, 2010.

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Siew Te Wong, a Malaysian wildlife biologist and sun bear expert, divulges some interesting characteristics of this rare Southeast Asian bear and how they fit into the ecosystem. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how he became one of the first to study sun bears, which are the smallest of the bear species and also the least known. Did you know that sun bears consider beetle larvae one of their tastiest treats? When they eat them, the animals close their eyes and savor the experience, similar to humans relishing the yummiest of chocolates. Siew Te Wong also talks about his adventures researching the species, threats to these rare bears, his rescue efforts, and what people can do to help. For the last 13 years, Wong has been studying and working on the ecological conservation of the sun bear. He is one of the few Malaysian wildlife biologists trained in a western country. He did both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at the University of Montana in Missoula, and is continuing for his doctorate degree there. His pioneering studies of sun bear ecology in the Borneo rainforest revealed the elusive life history of the sun bear in the dense jungle. Wong's research has taken him to the most threatened wildlife habitat on Earth, where field work is exceedingly difficult. While rapid habitat destruction from unsustainable logging practices, the conversion of the sun bear's habitat into palm oil plantations and uncontrolled poaching activities paint a bleak picture for the future of the sun bear, Wong is determined to help the present situation of sun bears in Southeast Asia. Wong is the CEO of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, which he founded in 2008. He was also a fellow of the Flying Elephants Foundation, which awards individuals from a broad range of disciplines in the arts and sciences who have demonstrated singular creativity, passion, integrity and leadership and whose work inspires a reverence for the natural world. Wong is also the former co-chair of the Sun Bear Expert Team, under the IUCN/Species Survival Commission’s Bear Specialist Group and a current member of three IUCN/SSC Specialist Groups. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 17, 2010.

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Rhett Butler, founder of the top environmental website Mongabay.com, reveals how he and the site have helped to raise interest in and appreciation of wild lands and wildlife. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about what prompted him to develop this site and also some of the most interesting and bizarre stories he’s pursued. Rhett Butler is a writer and conservationist who founded Mongabay.com, a top environmental website focused on tropical rainforests; Tropical Conservation Science, an academic journal that aims to provide opportunities for scientists in developing countries to publish their research; and wildmadagascar.org, a site that highlights the spectacular cultural and biological richness of Madagascar.  Apart from his web sites, Rhett's writing has appeared in The Washington Monthly, Yale Environment 360, BBC News, the Jakarta Post, Conservation Letters, GeoWorld, and Trends in Evolution & Ecology. In the course of his work Rhett has traveled widely in Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 10, 2010. Article and transcript available on Mongabay.com.

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Kristian Teleki, SeaWeb’s Vice President for Science Initiatives and former Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), reveals some of the mysteries of corals. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the biology and uses of corals and how much we still don’t know. He also discusses the threats to coral reefs and what can be done to halt their decline. Kristian Teleki joined SeaWeb as Vice President for Science Initiatives in November 2009. For the decade before that, he served as the Director of the International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN), a unique global partnership dedicated to addressing the serious decline in the health of the world's coral reefs. During his tenure there Kristian had oversight for more than 40 coral reef projects in 35 countries. Project activities ranged from livelihood diversification and resource management to the prevention and mitigation of ecological degradation of coral reefs through management, monitoring and public awareness actions. In addition to his ICRAN duties, Kristian established and led the One Ocean Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre, designed to reflect the interconnected nature of the world's seas and its coastlines, the rich and varied biodiversity they support, and human reliance on its resources and services. Kristian Teleki has a diverse background in marine science and conservation, and his field experience extends from the polar to tropical environments. He is particularly interested in the relationship that humans have with the ocean and promoting the sustainable use of its resources. He has degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Cambridge University. He also is on the Editorial Board of Aquatic Conservation, is a member of the Resource Users Group for the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA) and is a Steering Committee member of the Global Islands Partnership and the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on May 3, 2010.

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