Sunday, 27 February 2011

A good start to our 175th anniversary year

Finally, after many disappointing years, Bristol has two lion cubs. The proud parents are two (a male and a female) of the around three hundred Asiatic Lion, Panthera leo persica, in captivity. The wild population as of April 2010, comprised 411 individuals, including 150 cubs, all located in the Gir forest and a few neighbouring areas in Gujarat, India.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Society show last week

 Last weekend the cage bird society I belong to, Severn Counties Foreign and British Bird Society, held its annual members Show. The club has two shows a year, with the autumn one open to non-members which results in a higher number of entries from hobbyists from all over, especially the west of England and Wales. Unfortunately, owing to the sad loss of a couple of enthusiastic exhibitors this year, the number of entries was down, but there was still an impressive range of species kept and bred by club members on show.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

February Colloquium: Conservation in Crisis

First of all, sorry about the gruesome picture at the head of this week’s post, but it aptly illustrates the current situation in Madagascar. The research colloquia we have on a monthly basis here at Bristol (open to the public by the way – we will be holding some of them at the city museum this year to encourage attendance) cover a variety of subjects, and the first one of the year discussed the ongoing environmental disaster in Madagascar, especially over the last couple of years. The talk covered a brief history of Madagascar and then moved to the research area in North West Madagascar on the Sahamalaza peninsula, where AEECL supports a research programme. I have added the AEECL web address to the list of useful sites on this blog – please check it out.

It is a pet irritation of mine that so many people with an interest in conservation in developing countries do not know the slightest thing about the people who live with the animals and the environment they wish to protect, their history, or how they see the world and the current situation. In Madagascar that is a particular problem, because the human history of Madagascar is in many ways as unique as its wildlife.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Bristol Mantids 5: The prettiest of them all

Perhaps the most beautiful of all mantids are the various species of flower mantids belonging to the Hymenopodidae. These are among the most specialised (and tricky to keep) of all mantids, and get their name from the camouflage they use to conceal themselves in their favourite perches, the petals and flower stems of various flowers. Mostly small to very small mantids, they are specialist predators of butterflies, bees, and other pollinating insects, and require a fairly specific diet in captivity – crickets will mostly be ignored for example.