6
Dec
2010

The WildLife: Manatee Insanity, Craig Pittman

Craig Pittman, St. Petersburg Times environmental reporter and author of Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, discusses manatees and the struggle to protect this endangered marine mammal. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme why manatees are so beloved and why these homely creatures are a flashpoint for Florida’s environmental debates. Did you know early sailors mistook manatees for mermaids? Or that the closest relative of the manatee on the evolutionary scale is the elephant?

Craig Pittman is an environment reporter for Florida’s largest newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times. Born in Pensacola, Craig graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the St. Petersburg Times, and in 2004 won the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida for revealing a secret plan by the state's business leaders to transfer water from sleepy North Florida to booming South Florida. The stories caused such an uproar that Gov. Jeb Bush scuttled the plan. In 2006, he won the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding Investigative Reporting from the Society of Environmental Journalists and also the Proffitt award (with Matthew Waite) for the series "Vanishing Wetlands," which found that federal and state wetland protection programs were a sham that enabled development to wipe out swamps and marshes. He and Waite shared a second Proffitt Award and a second Carmody Award in 2007 for a series called "When Dry is Wet" that exposed the flaws in the wetland mitigation banking industry. That led to their book, Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss. Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species, published by the University Press of Florida, is Craig's second book. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on December 6, 2010.

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28
Nov
2010

The WildLife: Orangutan Rehabilitation, Michelle Desilets, Part II

Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust, discusses the rehabilitation of rescued orangutans and new approaches to help save this species in the second of a two-part interview. She tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme how a rescued orangutan learns to be wild with mesmerizing stories of the "school" at Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project in Kalimantan, Indonesia. She also explores innvoative ways to help protect orangutans and their habitat. Michelle Desilets has been working on orangutan conservation alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen, the internationally well-known champion of these apes, for over 15 years. Together, the two women founded the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project which now has over 600 orangutans in its care, making it the largest such center in the world. Michelle also founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK (BOS) and served as its Executive Director and initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust. She also sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and spends a good deal of time at the Nyaru Menteng project. This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 12, 2010, and was repeated on November 29, 2010.

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23
Nov
2010

The WildLife: Orangutans, Michelle Desilets, Part I

Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust, divulges the interesting biology and habits of orangutans in the first of a two-part interview. She gives “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme an insider’s look at what makes these red apes fascinating, endearing, infuriating and worthy of protection. Did you know orangutans don’t like the rain? Yet they don’t complain and instead fashion roofs and umbrellas out of leaves. You’ll also gain insights into why these animals are under threat.

Michelle Desilets has been working on orangutan conservation alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen, the internationally well-known champion of these apes, for over 15 years. Together, the two women founded the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project which now has over 600 orangutans in its care, making it the largest such center in the world. Michelle also founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK (BOS) and served as its Executive Director and initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust. She also sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil and spends a good deal of time at the Nyaru Menteng project.

In this podcast, you’ll also hear Shawn Thompson, author of The Intimate Ape. Shawn is a university professor at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada as well as a writer. To write The Intimate Ape, he spent years hiking through the jungles of Borneo and Sumatra and had many adventures — from getting chased by wild pygmy elephants in Borneo, to sleeping inside the zoo in Jakarta.  This episode of “The WildLife” originally aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on April 5, 2010, and was repeated on November 22, 2010.

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25
Oct
2010

The WildLife: Ocellated Turkeys, Jon McRoberts

Jon McRoberts from Texas Tech University talks about ocellated turkeys. He tells “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme about the special characteristics of this game bird and the challenges of doing field research in the jungles of Mexico. Ocellated turkeys are one of only two species of turkeys in the world (the other is the North American wild turkey) and live in a relatively small (50,000 square mile) area in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, northern Belize and northern Guatemala. They can live in diverse habitat types, from arid brushlands to mature rain forests, but little is known about their ecology and life history. Jon McRoberts will help fill that gap with his four-year research project in Campeche, Mexico.

Jon McRoberts is a doctoral candidate in wildlife science at Texas Tech University. He was the sixth generation to grow up on the family farm in Lewis County, Missouri and moved to Columbia, Missouri in 2001 where he did his undergraduate research at the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources where he helped care for two captive river otters and spent 8 months studying wildlife management in South Africa. He graduated in 2005 with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife and was named The Outstanding Graduating Senior in the department. After college he spent time working in China with the Smithsonian Institution researching giant panda reproduction and conservation. Currently, in addition to his dissertation research, McRoberts is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Texas Tech and is involved with a variety of additional research projects ranging from wind-energy conservation efforts to developing aerial survey methodology to detect wildlife. In his free time Jon enjoys hunting, fishing, live music, wild game cooking, following Missouri Tiger sports, and spending time on the family farm. Jon’s principle research project and the focus of his dissertation is the ecology and management of the ocellated turkey on the Yucatan Peninsula. He spends half the year in the jungles and agricultural fields of Campeche, Mexico and hopes to help conserve this unique species. This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on October 25, 2010.

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20
Sep
2010

The WildLife: A Zookeeper’s Bear Adventures, Else Poulsen, Part I

Else Poulsen, bear expert and author of the book SMILING BEARS, talks about her adventures as a zookeeper and her work uncovering the emotional lives of bears in this first of two-part interview. She reveals to “The WildLife” host Laurel Neme what makes these creatures so special – something she’s learned from years of raising bears, nursing bears back to health, comforting bears, communicating with bears, teaching bears, and learning from bears. Else Poulsen has worked at the Calgary and Detroit zoos and is known internationally for her captive bear husbandry and rehabilitation. In 2000 she won the Zookeeper Research Excellence Award from the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Bear Taxon Advisory Group. She currently lives in southern Ontario, Canada and works as an animal management consultant for zoos, sanctuaries, wildlife rehabilitators, and other animal welfare groups. She’s written about her experiences in an engaging narrative non-fiction book, SMILING BEARS: A Zookeeper Explores the Behavior and Emotional Life of Bears, which has been short listed for the Edna Staebler Literary Award for Creative Non-Fiction . This episode of “The WildLife” aired on The Radiator, WOMM-LP, 105.9 FM in Burlington, Vermont on September 20, 2010. (Part II aired September 27, 2010.)

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