Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Numbats - Charming and Endangered

By Sharon Wormleaton

The Numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus is a small Australian marsupial found in south-west Western Australia. Sadly, it is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species .

It once existed across much of southern Australia but by the 1980s only two small populations, comprising around 300 individuals, could be found in south-west Western Australia.

The devastating reduction in distribution was attributed to the introduction of the European red fox, changes in fire regimes and land clearing. At present there are thought to be no more than 1000 individuals remaining in the wild, and the population trend is declining.

Numbat recovery efforts include fox baiting, translocation of wild numbats to establish new populations, and a captive breeding program. The recovery efforts have seen an appreciable increase in numbers and successful re-introductions into six conservation areas and two fenced sanctuaries.

Despite all efforts, the numbat remains at risk of extinction with feral cats being the biggest threat to numbat populations at present.

Ongoing research initiatives from the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) include a radio tracking project. The project is an annual affair that has taken place in Dryandra Woodland near Narrogin since 2006. The radio tracking project requires a family of numbats (mother and young numbering as many as four) to be caught and fitted with radio tracking collars. Four fixed radio tracking towers are then erected in the mother's home range and simultaneous 'fixes' are taken on each collared numbat at 20 minute intervals for a two week period. The radio tracking towers are manned by volunteers for three 4-5 hour shifts from 6am until 7pm. The data collected is subjected to computer analysis to provide a map of each individual numbat’s movements throughout each day. This will hopefully enhance knowledge of juvenile numbat development.

Driving surveys are another key aspect of the project. As many numbats as possible are found and fitted with radio tracking collars so they can be periodically monitored throughout the life of each numbat to gain further information. Some of these collared numbats are re-caught at later stages and released in other locations, while others are re-caught to supplement the captive breeding program. Ultimately the radio tracking project has many benefits for numbat conservation efforts, and will hopefully help ensure the survival of this remarkable and beautiful little mammal.

I have been involved with the radio tracking project in a volunteer capacity for the last two years. It was certainly a privilege to have the opportunity to contribute to the conservation efforts for this unique little mammal. We were informed last year the project didn’t have the funding to continue anymore, like many threatened species projects in Australia, so I decided I would try my luck at raising funds for the project to continue at least one more year. Thankfully the Paddy Pallin Foundation have chosen the numbat radio tracking project as the recipient for their next ‘Don’t Bag the Environment’ (DBTE) fundraiser. Whenever anyone makes a purchase from a Paddy Pallin store and declines a plastic bag, 20 cents is donated to the project. Donations can also be made in-store or online .

Besides raising funds to support environmental projects, the DBTE program also reduces packaging waste and land fill, and conserves energy resources required to manufacture plastic bags, so it has many benefits for the environment. The DBTE program has a new beneficiary every six months with all proceeds for the next six months (April to September 2010) going to the numbat radio tracking project, so any support is most welcome.

The Crescent Nailtail Wallaby was the last mammal to become extinct in Australia in 1956, but in 2009 Australia possibly saw its first mammal extinction in 50 plus years. In January 2009 there were thought to be less than 20 Christmas Island Pipistrelles (microbat) remaining, so a rescue mission was initiated with the hope of capturing the remaining pipistrelles to start a captive breeding program. The rescue attempts were unsuccessful and there have been no recent sightings, so the outlook doesn’t look good for the pipistrelle. As far as developed nations go Australia has the worst record of mammal extinctions and near extinctions, so plenty needs to be done to prevent further extinction of unique and remarkable mammals such as the Numbat.

Profits from the sale of Sharon's work on Art for Conservation will also go to the numbat radio tracking project.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Pretty UR What??

by: Maria Montano - webmaster for Art for Conservation

A “pretty url” is a way for you as an artist on AFC to send people directly to your collection of work for sale on Art for Conservation. It is short, and easy to remember – it helps you tell people how to support you as an artist, as well as the conservation cause that you are supporting with your work.

Your URL on Art for Conservation is picked by you when you sign up for your account. Your “username” that you use to login becomes your URL. For example, my username is “mariamontano” so my URL is: When you type this into your favorite web browser (internet explorer, Mozilla Firefox etc.) you will be sent to a webpage that is just yours! It features one of your images, your artist’s bio/statement – and tells the world what organization you choose to support with your print sales!

So this is wonderful right? But how do you use it to drive traffic to your work on AFC? Here are 5 easy ways to use this tool to help raise awareness about your work.

  1. Put a link in your e-mail signature.
    You should always have a link to your website and your work on Art for Conservation in your e-mails.
    Mine looks like this:

    Maria Montano Photography
    Fan me on facebook
    Support Conservation – Buy My Prints on Art for Conservation
    (I have used an “embedded link” here instead of just my URL)

  2. Do you have a website?
    If you do you should put a link to your work for sale on Art for Conservation!
    You can do this by using a bit of html code (simply copy/paste the code below and replace my username with yours!)

    <a href="">Prints for sale on Art for Conservation</a>

    Your viewers will see the following on your website:
    Prints for sale on Art for Conservation

  3. Are you on facebook or twitter?
    If so, do what I do, and post links to your work on AFC! You can even do a “featured” image of the week – use this space to sell your art and promote your work on AFC at the same time!

  4. Link from your e-newsletter
    While talking about what shows you got into, and showing off your latest new work – take the time to talk about Art for Conservation and always (and I mean always!) provide a link to your work on Art for Conservation. I do this with all of my e-newsletters – see what I did on my newsletter - click here

  5. Business Cards!
    Do you have a business card? If so, providing a link to view your work online is important!
    Don’t have a website? Use your pretty URL and send people to your work on Art for Conservation.

Remember your pretty URL on Art for Conservation is like having your own mini-website on our site! Use it to send people to your work, learn about you as an artist and purchase prints of your art. Hopefully these 5 tips will help you increase traffic….and SALES on Art for Conservation!

Maria Montano is the webmaster for Art for Conservation as well as a photographer.

She is passionate about using her images to create social change, be it conserving our natural resources or raising awareness about social justice issues.

Learn more about Maria - and her work - click here

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Endangered Species Condoms - Part 2

If you caught the previous post on Endamgered Species condoms, you'll want to watch this video of one volunteer handing out condoms in varying locations on the street. It is both funny and illuminating in that it shows the disconnect that many people have between over-population and depletion of resources, habitats and species.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mike Forsberg - Great Plains

This is a splendid book, both visually and informationally. You will come away from it with a renewed appreciation for the Great Plains and the treasures that abound there.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Curtain of Camouflage

by Shyamala Rao

We had booked a three day stay at the Safari Lodge nestled at the edge of the Bandipur National Forest in the state of Karnataka in South India. Safari rides were scheduled twice a day for about 2 hours apiece. It was hot and dusty, with dried out vegetation everywhere. The trees, grass, shrubs were all uniformly brown and kindling dry. Every ride was “shake, rattle and roll” time. The vehicles were noisy beyond belief and they spewed out foul smelling vapors. The diesel filled fumes intermingled with the red dust of the forest floor rose up like a shroud and draped over us. With each breath our throats got more parched and dry.

In the forest we were treated to a surfeit of birds and animals. Peacocks and wild cockerel dotted the entire landscape. There were wild boar, looking and acting quite mild, macaques galore gamboling freely, sambar and chital leapt and frolicked and then settled down to graze contentedly, gaur at a distance, munching peaceably and seemingly unperturbed. As for the elephants, there were several large herds and we watched their browsing and their play. We had not spotted any of the big cats.

Off we went, with camera, sunscreen and hat in hand, into the depths of this dry and dusty forest in the Western Ghats. As we entered the park we were greeted with the darting flashes of iridescence, the usual welcoming committee, the male cockerels with their arching tail feathers and male peacocks with their straight long tail feathers, strutting their stuff and the females shrouded in their muted colors, sienna and umber, stayed by the sidelines and watched with nonchalance. We saw some elephants at a distance as we hurtled along and approached a pond.

The truck came to a stop and there in the murky water was a tiger swimming and cooling off from the heat. Unhurriedly the tiger climbed out of the water and stood by the water’s edge, looked around as he shook off the water from his fur. He was gorgeous, glistening in his Halloween colors. Slowly, leisurely he walked towards the shrubs and as we watched he simply disappeared into the forest. We stared long and hard and couldn’t see any signs of him. He was totally hidden in the thorn forest of Bandipur. One moment we could see this gorgeous big cat, his muscles rippling as he walked away, clad in his incomparable black and orange coat with their singular stripes and the next moment he was no longer visible. It was as if the curtain of camouflage had come down, the show was over and we, the audience were left bereft.

It had been an awesome experience, my first glimpse of a tiger in the wild, living free and unfettered, in territory that he had conquered on his own and has established as his home. He was the progeny of a line that went back 2 million years and every one of his ancestors had lived free in the wild. He placed his life on the line every single day of his life, from other tigers that might seek to displace him and from poachers and villagers who might entertain malevolent intentions towards him. He lived his solitary existence, hunting only to feed himself, engaging in no gratuitous killing, patrolling his territory and living his life as he was meant to do, just as each of his ancestors had done. He required a modest territory with vegetation, a source of fresh water, plentiful prey, and privacy. I was overwhelmed by the privilege that had been granted me. I had been permitted to enter his territory, his home, his space and observe him for a few moments. As he eased back into the forest he took with him his entire history, brave and proud descendant of a species that goes back to the Pleistocene era.

In 1973 there were 1400 tigers remaining in India. Project Tiger was established to help improve habitats and provide protection to this animal. In the 1990s the numbers increased to 3500. By 2007 the numbers were down to 1411 and today it is probably lower still. The drastic decline is reported as being to be due to illegal poaching.

So we are at the brink of extinction. Surely this ought not to be allowed to happen. These glorious, adaptable, strong, brave and independent animals are being besieged by man’s needs. It is humans that have laid these burdens on these big cats and it seems to me that which we have wrought, we ought to be the ones to relieve and rectify. I trust and believe we can do so.

Shyamala Rao is a guest blogger on Art for Conservation. She is a wildlife artist living and working in San Antonio, Texas where she is a practicing psychiatrist. Her interest in wildlife was stimulated by a visit to the Serengeti in 2007 and since then she has been putting her feelings about animals onto canvas. She has just begun writing about conservation issues and hopes that by writing and painting she can do her part in helping conserve the glorious diversity of species on this planet.

This post was excerpted from the full article which can be found on her
Her art can be purchased at

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