Monday, July 17, 2006

Faunal ponderings

Monday, July 17, 2006

I've been giving serious consideration to bat poo.

Gingerly entering the Twilight Zone bat cave at Chester Zoo my first thought was, how am I going to survive this experience without getting plastered with bat guano? (the collective, scientific term for the droppings of seabirds and bats). I wasn't so much concerned that bat droppings make excellent gunpowder - I'd lived through the Manchester bombing after all. I just didn't want to get any in my hair.

Once my eyes had acclimatised to the dark I scanned the walkways for evidence of aerial bombardment of the faecal kind, and found none. That's interesting, I thought; I know from watching nature documentaries that bats are known to do their business mid-flight as well as when roosting. In light of our hypersensitive compensation culture I reasoned that people wouldn't be allowed to wander about in this environment without the protection of a helmet. Therefore until someone can prove otherwise I'm going to make the logical leap that these bats are trained to only fire when circling above peopleless woodland areas. Any stray payloads are likely genetically analysed and paired with the offending bat, who would then be punished by way of withholding fruit and other privileges like watching old Batfink re-runs on TV.

Milling around the rhino enclosures I was struck by another conundrum. There aren't any Vietnamese Javan rhinos at Chester Zoo, but they do make reference to them on the information panels dotted around the viewing area. One fact bite said there were "only 2-7 Vietnamese Javan rhinos left in the world". Two to seven. Just think, a single drunk safari tourist in a jeep could wipe the entire species off the face of the planet! This is shocking and depressing in itself of course, but why be so vague about the population count when it can be totted up on two hands? It can't be that they are dispersed throughout the country, roaming the wilderness in difficult to reach, unmonitored areas because I know they are all located in the same habitat, the Cat Tien National Park.

Wouldn't you think if there were so few remaining members of a species in existence they would be known individually by pet name, electronically tagged and guarded round the clock by an elite squad of Green Peace, animal-defense guerrillas? At the very least they should be allowed to unwind in lavish palaces, freely partake in on-tap beer and assorted delicatessen and have their every whim satisfied by a team of doting soubrettes. While they were reposing I'd expect a throng of gynaecologists to be feverishly instructing their sperm in all the best fallopian tube navigation/ovum penetration techniques to improve their chances of procreation.

Find out what you can do to help at the International Rhino Foundation web site.




How many fingers am I holding up?

Yup we know the state of those who counted them now.

Actually what i think's really happened is they looked up the site and saw "less than 10" (ignoring of course the other 50-60) and drafted 1-10 in but 1 was deemed silly because they would definitely become extinct then and 10 was too many to give that proper sense of urgency.

I think we should all be ordering rhino droppings today. Not just any old rhino droppings but the :

Ultra Rare Vietnamese Javan Rhino Nuggets (TM). Lovingly processed, compressed and donated by our friends in the wild.

Word is common old boring rhinos are trying to sneak into the enclosure!


I can explain some of that. There are two sub-species of Javan rhinos, Indonesian and Vietnamese. There are believed to be 50-60 of the former left and 2-7 of the latter.

The zoo probably got their figures from here:

Yep, I bet Vietnamese Javan rhino droppings would fetch a good price on eBay. Definitely wouldn't hurt the wildlife protection fund.

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