Secretary birds can be found striding through the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa. They cut a striking and unmistakeable profile, with light grey bodies, black wing tips and shorts, a red mask, and a crest of black quills. The latter, according to one dubious-sounding hypothesis, look like the quill pens that secretaries once tucked behind their ears—hence the bird's name. A more plausible alternative is that “secretary” is a bastardization of the Arabic “saqr-et-tair” for “hunter bird.” [more inside]
The Queen of Trees is a documentary (52 minutes) on the sycomore fig tree, focusing on the intricate mutualism between a fig tree and its fig wasp. Filmmakers Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble spent two years camped out in the Kenyan bush to capture fascinating scenes of life around the sycomore, including inside the figs.
The Ecotourism Industry Is Saving Tanzania’s Animals and Threatening Its Indigenous People. "With much of the natural world in the Global North already past the point of no return, and with the effects of climate change multiplying yearly, more and more of the Global South is being cordoned off in service of a global patrimony that has little relevance to the lives of the people closest to the land. The collateral social damage of these conservationist policies presents a conundrum, a Sophie's Choice. Whose rights are preeminent—those of nature or those of the people who have always lived closest to it?"
Brutal or Amazing? - this is just one of many fine posts on the Photo Africa Blog, an excellent source of in-the-wild animal and nature photos and reports from bush field guides. Also see: Madikwe Lions.
The Young Gallery has an exceptional collection of photographs by both renowned and recently discovered photographers. The feast of visuals includes elegantly haunting images of African wildlife by Nick Brandt, Night Views of cities by Floriane de Lassée, salad vegetables by Viktor Polson, nudes and portraits by Patrick Demarchelier and images of Tibet, Mongolians and Tibetans by Richard Gere.
Are Zebras black with white stripes, or white with black stripes? Find the answer to this, plus many other fun zebra facts and many great zebra pictures and photos for your desktop at the appropriately titled Fun Zebra Pictures & Facts website. [more inside]
Giraffe mating battles can be brutal but they are generally gentle giants. Man's fascination with these exotic creatures can be tracked from 9,000 year old rock art to the quest for exotics that brought them to the courts of Medici-era Florence, Restoration Paris, and Imperial China, spawning much curiosity and fanciful illustration. Today, giraffe-o-philes can get up close and personal in Kenya's Giraffe Manor. [more inside]
As two more villages are relocated to create reserves for Project Tiger in India, each family will be offered two hectares of land, a house and 100,000 rupees or approximately $2200. But is this a sustainable solution for anti poaching measures? At Ranthambhore tiger reserve in the backward district of Sawai Madhopur, poaching has been controlled but pressure on the park remains as long as the seven relocated villages are unable to find alternate sources of long term income and other resources. When seeking food and shelter, saving the tiger is the last thing on their minds. Witness the slaughtering of the rare gorilla in Congo for food recently until the rebels were convinced to stop. Local needs versus long term ecological preservation will continue to be issues unless alternate viable solutions can be found.
On Solidarity, Community Spirit And Going Meerkat-Mad: They're cute, they're smart; they're funny, they're sociable; they're even considered the epitome of cooperative living. In fact, they could probably teach MetaFilter a lesson or two. In their September issue, National Geographic has gone stark, raving meerkat-bonkers - and not a moment too soon either. We're talking new desktops here, no mistake..[Flash needed for first link - definitely worth waiting for it to load - Real or WindowsMedia for some other on-site features.]