World Bird Festival in China


Barn swallowFrom BirdLife:

The Beijing Bird Watching Society’s (BBWS) World Bird Festival events included an Olympic theme.

Among the mascots that will welcome visitors to the 2008 Games in Beijing is Nini the swallow.

“We organised the event, ‘to protect swallows in Beijing, to welcome the Olympics’, in Daxing Milu Garden,” explained Fion Cheung, BirdLife’s China Programme Officer.

“Visitors could not only watch the Barn Swallow, the character of the festival, and see the end of their southern migration, but also enjoy a variety of activities including a display of artificial nests, and kite-making. The idea was partly to show Beijing citizens how they can take part in conservation activity.”

More than 40 volunteers helped, and more than 1,200 people took part in the event.

Beijing’s Olympic swallow mascot – known as Nini- reflects the popularity of the swallow shape among Beijing’s traditional kite-flyers. Because of the swallow’s graceful aerobatic flight, Nini has also been chosen to represent gymnastics among the Olympic events.

Nini is one of five mascots, or “Fuwa”, along with Beibei the Fish, Jingjing the Panda, Huanhuan the Olympic Flame and Yingying the Tibetan Antelope. Together, the first syllables of their names spell out Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni – Welcome to Beijing.

World Bird Festival in Dominican Republic: here.

In the Americas: here.

Birds in Phoenix, USA: here.

Vietnam: rare bat species discovered


This video says about itself:

“Asia’s Best Kept Secret” TV programme by Channel News Asia. Segment highlights on BATS & CAVES OF MULU (World Heritage Site) in Sarawak, Borneo. DEER CAVE – World’s Largest Cave Passage home of 3 million bats.

From VietNamNet:

Rare bat species discovered in Vietnam

31/10/2006

A species of grey-nosed bat, which is very rare in the world, has been found in Vietnam, reported the Institute for Natural Ecology and Resources.

A group of scientists from the institute cooperated with experts from the UK, Iceland, Germany, Malaysia, and Thailand to make a survey of bats at the national parks of Cat Ba and Cuc Phuong in August and September under the sponsorship of the Darwin Initiative Foundation and the BP Conservation Programme.

Through the survey, scientists discovered a species of large grey-nosed bat in the two above national parks. This is the first time this species of bat has been found in Vietnam.

This species of bat, called Hipposideros grandis, was found for the first time in 1936 in the Akulnti area of Myanmar.

Before being found in Vietnam, the bat had only been found in Thailand and Myanmar.

According to the survey, the big grey-nosed bat species is living in Vietnam in large numbers. They often live with the small-nosed bat (Hipposideros alongensis).

Ngoc Huyen

Bats in Malaysia: here.

Bats in the USA: here.

USA: new Sylvia Plath poem discovered


Sylvia Plath

Associated Press reports:

Online magazine to feature unpublished Plath poem

October 30, 2006

RICHMOND, Virginia. An unpublished sonnet that Sylvia Plath wrote in college while pondering themes in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel “The Great Gatsby” will appear Wednesday in an online literary journal.

Plath, who committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 30, wrote “Ennui” in 1955 in her senior year at Smith College, said Anna Journey, a graduate student in creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Journey discovered the sonnet while researching Plath archives at Indiana University.

The poem will be featured in Blackbird, published online by VCU’s English department and New Virginia Review.

In her personal copy of Fitzgerald‘s book, Journey said, Plath wrote the phrase “le ennui” — boredom — next to a passage in which Jay Gatsby’s love interest, Daisy Buchanan, complains that “I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.”

“She was observing; her notes were creative, metaphorical reactions,” she said of Plath. “She was riffing off of Fitzgerald’s passages.”

The 14-line Petrarchan sonnet opens:

“Tea leaves thwart those who court catastrophe,

designing futures where nothing will occur.”

The ironic poem pokes fun at people who consult tea leaves or psychics, hoping they will foretell impending disasters, but says that real life is seldom as dramatic or romantic as a fairy tale, said Gregory Donovan, a VCU English professor and Blackbird co-editor.

It was notable that a woman who suffered dramatic depression and marital difficulties had examined the concept of boredom as a college student, Donovan said.

But what is more illuminating was that the poem is another example of how hard Plath worked at her craft at a young age.

“That’s what made it possible to write such amazing poems later in life,” he said.

“Poets don’t just come out of an overwhelming emotional experience. They come out of study and hard work.”

Linda Wagner-Martin, author of “Sylvia Plath: A Literary Life,” thinks there still might be more early, unpublished works by the prolific writer.

When Plath’s widower, British poet Ted Hughes, put together a collection of Plath’s poetry in 1981, “he didn’t pay much attention to her earlier poems,” said Wagner-Martin, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina.

“He had the audacity to say, ‘Plath’s career started when she met me.'”

But what makes the discovery of any unpublished Plath poem noteworthy, Wagner-Martin said, is the groundbreaking expression of humor and anger by a female writer, and her works’ lasting impact.

“These were not voices you would hear in the ’60s in women writers,” she said.

Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” which is considered by many as the first American feminist novel, was published in 1963 and was a precursor to decades of feminist writing.

But Wagner-Martin said Plath never saw women adopt contemporary attitudes — she killed herself two weeks after the book was published.

Update: read the poem with introduction here.

See also here.

Sylvia Plath’s play: here.

A journal which launched the career of late poet laureate Ted Hughes and led to him meeting first wife and muse Sylvia Plath was acquired by the British Library.

Thoreau: here. And here.

Ted Hughes’s poem on the night Sylvia Plath died: here.

A close friend of Sylvia Plath responds to Ted Hughes’s “Last letter”: here.

Sylvia Plath’s hidden drawings: here.

The Salem murder that inspired the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne: here.

History of depression by Barbara Ehrenreich: here.

South Africa: black rhinos in new nature reserve


Black rhino

From the WWF:

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – Twelve black rhino have recently been released into a game reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal, forming the third founder population of a rhino conservation project.

As part of the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project — a partnership between WWF and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife — the rhinos were released in the Pongola Game Reserve on 13,000ha of land made up of six neighbouring properties. This adds to 80,000ha of land in KwaZulu-Natal that have been set aside especially for black rhino conservation.

The black rhino, which used to be the most numerous rhino species in the world, became critically endangered following a catastrophic poaching wave in the 1970s and 1980s that wiped out 96 per cent of Africa’s wild black rhino population in only 20 years. At the lowest point, there were just 2,500 black rhinos left. Today, thanks to conservation efforts, numbers have increased to about 3,600.

The WWF-supported rhino project aims to increase black rhino numbers by increasing the land available for their conservation, thus reducing pressure on existing reserves and providing new areas in which they can breed rapidly.

Kenya: British soldiers kill white rhino.

From the Google cache:

Rhino, goat strike unlikely bond

Mon May 23, 2005

KROMDRAAI, South Africa (Reuters) – A pair of orphans have formed an unlikely bond on a South African game park although horns and a love for horse pellets are about the only things they have in common.

Clover is an 11-month-old female [white] rhino calf who was orphaned in the wild when her mother was slain by poachers.

Her constant companion these days is Bok-Bok, a young goat who was also lonely and abandoned.

Improbably, the two made a perfect match and have become inseparable companions at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve about 18 miles northwest of Johannesburg.

Black rhinos in Tanzania: here.

Zimbabwe: April 2011. Game scouts reported a severely wounded black rhino wandering around Save Valley Conservancy. Rangers were despatched to locate the rhino and were met with a horrifying and gruesome sight. The rhino had been shot several times by poachers and the horns had been hacked out: here.

White rhino born in Florida zoo: here.