Archive for the ‘General Natural History’ Category

Iconic Views Of Predators

November 12, 2011

-13 years ago I watched a wolverine run up a cliff face to escape me.
-5 years ago I watched a Spotted Hyeana sit in a pool of water to avoid the heat.
-35 years ago I watched a Fischer prey on a porcupine from the rear view mirror of a truck.
Matt

Iconic Views Of the Big Cats

November 10, 2011

I have not spent a lot of time observing big cats but I do have some big cat observations.
I was on a divide of Cannon and Trickle Creek in the Bob Marshall Wilderness trapping grizzly bears 30 years ago when I looked up and saw a mountain lion running then jumping 18 feet per leap down a steep slope to an unamed lake we named Afro Lake.
I watched as a cheetah ran down than ate a Thompson’s Gazzelle. This was 5 years ago in Tanzanea, Africa.
Matt

Iconic Grey Wolf Observations

November 7, 2011

I have seen a lot of Grey Wolves in the wild. Here are some memorable sitings I recall.

I was in British Columbia when I saw a wolf swimming in the mile wide Inside Passage swimming after a mature blacktailed buck.

I found a wolf den in an abanded and old Kitasoo (Tsim Tsan indian band) council logan along the Northern British Coast.

As clouds lifted in Yellowstone’s Blacktail Platue I was comfronted at less than fifty yards
by seven wolves.
Matt

Pine Beetle Incursion Increases

September 1, 2011

Last evening KBZK CBS local news in Bozeman, Montana said, that the coldness of this past season in Montana slowed down the mountain pine beetle incursion in this area…I truly believe this.

On warm days I can literally see the pine beetle incursion on the mountains around here.

I really believe the pine forests of this area will die, pine forests or entire mountainsides, then you will see a bunch of angry persons who should of been acting 2 decades ago as our planet warms up…but anticipation and crying wolf seem to be the same thing.
Matt

The Wlldrose Prairie

August 27, 2011

I just saw my cousin and she is from a place called the Wildrose Prairie of eastern Washington; a place I have known and loved since 1967.

I first was working their on a dairy farm bucking bails and putting muscle on my skinny teen frame.
I fished every morning on a stream that ran threw the farm bottomlands and their I caught my first Brook Char, Rainbow and Brown Trout.

I had many other firsts their like first Western Tanager, first California Quail and my first coyote and badger.

It was a wonderland for a teenager with naturalist proclivities…It did not hurt that my cousin’s family was nice.
Matt

Out of control, catastrophic wildfires could be raging now

August 25, 2011

It is late in the summer, Hurricane Irene is about to rage on Eastern shores…but here in the rocky mountain west it is hot, windy and dry and because of the warming climate caused pine beetle killed trees the fires can rage out of control.

Of the ten raging now out of control seems to be a real possibilty…on now, into the future.
Matt

Serengeti Watch Again

June 23, 2011

If we cant stop this fiasco, ….
Matt

Scientists around the world agree – this ill-conceived project would destroy a priceless world heritage that has been protected by the people of Tanzania since the birth of their country. It would also cause grave danger to their entire tourist industry. See this economic impact statement.

A World Heritage Site in Danger

We sincerely believe that the road will have disastrous effects on the entire ecosystem. The northern parts of the Serengeti and the adjacent Masai Mara are critical for the wildebeest and zebra migration during the dry season, as it is the only permanent year-round water source for these herds. Recent calculations show that if wildebeest were to be cut off from these critical dry season areas, the population would likely decline from 1.3 million animals to about 200,000 (meaning a collapse to far less than a quarter of its current population and most likely the end of the great migration).

– The Frankfurt Zoological Society. Read entire article!

The planned highway (in red on the map) will cut across a pristine and remote wilderness area of the Serengeti. It carves a swath across the migration path of millions of animals, shown by the colored arrows. This is not a track or a road — it’s a high speed highway for trucks that could eventually reach hundreds a day! Traffic will inevitably grow more and more frequent, invasive, and damaging as time goes on.

Left: Survey markers already are in place. Photo: Nikki Waterhouse

According to Tanzania’s own 10-year management plan, painstakingly developed in 2005 by scientists, Park officials, and conservation organizations, the area in the northwestern part of the Park is particularly sensitive. As shown on the map below, the area of the proposed highway cuts right through areas designated by the Management Plan as “Low Use” and “Wilderness” zones. The Low Use Zone “will have a lower number and density of visitors” and “more limited road network and lower bed capacity.”

The Wilderness Zone in green “is subject to minimal disturbance. As a result, visitor access will be restricted to walking safaris, with game viewing by vehicle prohibited. The only infrastructure permitted will be a limited number of access roads that can be used by SENAPA management and support vehicles for walking safari operations.”

These areas were not determined lightly. The management plan’s authors themselves state,

“There are significant management challenges facing the Serengeti National Park and its associated wildlife and the migration that contribute to the Park’s uniqueness and global importance.

The actions we take in the next ten years to address these pressures are certain to be critical to conserving those unique aspects of the Serengeti that we all hold dear, and to our ability to fulfill the pledge made by Tanzania’s First President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, to conserve our precious heritage for the benefit of future generations.

— Serengeti 10-year General Management Plan, 2005

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A Threat to the Greatest Migration on Earth
The northern Serengeti is the most remote and pristine are in the entire ecosystem. Located near the Kenya border, it is the main route for the great wildebeest migration, and is also an important elephant migration area.

The wildebeest photo was taken on May 31, 2010, in nearly the exact place where the proposed Serengeti highway would bisect this part of Serengeti and Loliondo. Not far from this spot there are survey ribbons hanging on trees.

The Tanzanian government’s own impact study states that there will be 800 vehicles a day by the year 2015, and 3,000 a day by 2035. That would be more than a million vehicles a year! Experts say that even these figures have been understated.

In the short term, heavy truck traffic will result in: loss of wildlife and human life through accidents, fragmentation of habitat and alteration of water and soil systems, and increased introduction of animal disease and alien plant life.

The highway will be a convenient pathway for increased poaching by organized gangs. They will be especially interested in the thirty-two black rhinos being introduced by the Frankfort Zoo in the next few years.

One of the introduced rhinos recently ended up like this.

But the long term impact will be worse, as population and development grow…

Areas to the west of the Serengeti are already heavily populated. The northwestern section of the Park is a critical area for wildebeest, which use it as a refuge for much of the year. A highway will add even more human population and development.

Areas to the east of the Serengeti will be radically transformed as people migrate there and change land use from cattle grazing to farming. These areas are crucial dispersal zones for the migrating herds.

A Better Way

There is already too much commercial traffic going through the central Serengeti on its way to western Tanzania. A route is needed to link this area, to be sure. The government of Tanzania must work for development and human welfare in all areas of the country. Preserving nature is not the only task. But the answer is not to carve out a permanent commercial corridor through a World Heritage Site. The net effect will be to damage Tanzania’s vital travel industry, destroy thousands of jobs, and end a heritage of protection in place since the country’s independence.

The choice is not be between people and nature. There is no need for Tanzania to sacrifice its most precious wilderness, or income from tourism, or its heritage.

A safer alternative route to the south can bypass the Serengeti altogether and provide more economic benefit for the people of Tanzania! It would connect with paved highways to western, central, and eastern regions of the country, serving several times the number of people.

See our discussion on the southern route.

A southern route around the Serengeti can preserve Tanzania’s greatest tourism asset and spare the devastation of a priceless World Heritage Site. With the help of the world community, Tanzania can find a way to preserve its inheritance, help bring prosperity to its people, and show the world that it still leads the way in conservation.

Possible Solutions:
The solution is to stop the northern highway from going forward and encouraging the adoption and funding of the southern route.

What’s Being Done:
Education and petitioning of the Tanzanian government. Conservation organizations, the travel industry, and individuals are starting to work together to stop the highway.

Read more: http://www.savetheserengeti.org/issues/stop-the-serengeti-highway/#ixzz1Q7XFME9G

More leopards, sloth bears in Gujarat, By DNA Correspondant: Tuesday, May 31, 2011, 11:12 IST

June 1, 2011

Immediately my warning sirens to off with this survey…the surveyers deserve an A for effort but this type of survey is fraught with inconsistancies.
Matt

The number of leopards and sloth bears in the state has gone up considerably. In the latest census, conducted early this month by the state forest department, 1,160 leopards and 293 sloth bears were counted in the forests of the state.

The findings of the counting that was carried out in 26 districts of the state between May 16 and 18 were released by state forest officials on Monday. The officials said that there are 1,160 leopards in the state now as compared to 1070 in 2006 when the last census was done.

This shows an 8.41 % rise in the population of the big cat. Similarly, a total of 293 sloth bears were counted in 2011 as against 247 in 2006- a rise of 18.60%.

The census is conducted every five years and the last counting was undertaken in 2006.Junagadh district with an estimated 385 leopards tops the chart. It is followed by Dahod with 162 and Amreli with 105.

“Thanks to the Gir National Park, the leopard population is very high in Junagadh district,” explained SK Nanda, principal secretary, forest and environment.

The forest officials chose to tread carefully when asked about leopard-human conflict. “The only problem areas are Gir and Mandvi. But yes, it has always been a problem. However, a closer look will reveal that the number of attacks has not increased,” stated HS Singh, principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife).

In India, about 35% of the leopard population is in found in Protected Areas. In this year’s census in Gujarat, about one third (445) of the leopards were counted in the 14 Protected Areas (PAs) of the state and the rest were reported from other areas. The census reveals that like in the other states, more leopards are found outside the Protected Areas. Since 1984, when there were 498 leopards in the state, the population of this wild animal has gone up consistently.

The population of sloth bear was found to be highest in Dahod district (105), followed by Banaskantha (90) and Sabarkantha (23). Officials said they were delighted to find sloth bear in Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary. “Earlier, sloth bear only visited Jambughoda but now breeding has started and we may see more sloth bears in the coming years,” added SK Nanda.

Close to 4,500 people, including volunteers from 247 NGOs and several animal lovers were involved in the three-day counting drive. Majority of the counting work had to be done in the evening after sunset. “Leopards don’t move in hordes so we positioned ourselves on trees and waited near water holes for them to come out and drink. We relied on their pug marks as no two leopards have similar pug marks,” explained Singh.

Singh also indicated that India will continue to have the highest number of leopards. “Around 70% of Asia’s leopards are found in India. The counting in Gujarat has drawn a positive picture and speaks of the state’s efforts towards protection of habitat, environment and conservation of water holes,” he said.

Gardens Are Neat Places To Visit

May 25, 2011

Gardens are a large part of my life and here are some of the good ones I’ve been to and reccomend you go to. In Washington D.C. near where I grew up was Dunbarton Oaks…I remember many spring adventures there.

Brookgreene Gardens in Myrtle Beach are fantastic and also have great bird flight exclosure a zoo of local birds and mammals, and a small, but special exhibit, about South Carolina’s “Low Country” and a neat, interpretive, boat ride. This is definitely a high point in any trip to Myrtle Beach.

If you go to Santa Cruz California do not miss the local habitats display (several acres, near the University of California at Santa Cruz campus. The habitats displayed are very special, and if you like to birdwatch do not forget your binoculars.

These 3 gardens come to mind and played important roles in my development but I am sure there are more to see.

I have found that community gardes or habitats are a cheap way to see the better side of places you visit. So plan gardens in for your next trip to somewhere.
Matt

Thoughts I Had

May 14, 2011

I need to write about several things.

First of all two hikers yestrday, hiking south of Bozeman, Montana, were mauled by a grizzly bear. The thing I observed that this was the closest grizzly bear mauling to Bozeman recorded in the modern press. Their are a lot of reasons for this to happen but the recovered Yellowstone Grizzly advocates will be quick to say that this is an artifact of an expanding Yellowstone grizzly population. I can remember seeing grizzly sign in the drainaige where the mauling happened 25 years ago.

I got 2nd degree burns on my face in Yellowstone National Park the other day.

Today persons from this complex are headed down to Yellowstone National Park to beat the hoards of summer RV’s and people to tour the park.

You know I really enjoyed what Passed for an adult life for me, but the other day while sitting in the sun in Gardner, Montana I saw a flyfishing shop owned by an old friend and I could not help but think that was an awesome living for this area also.
Matt