Nov 29

Wildscreen’s mission is to convene the best filmmakers and photographers with the most committed conservationists to create compelling stories about the natural world; that inspire the wider public to experience it, feel part of it and protect it.

Films and photographs have an amazing power – they are able to transcend boundaries of language and knowledge – and are one of the most important tools that conservation organisations have to communicate with the public. This is why we are creating our own films and photographs, working with the best filmmakers and photographers to tell the amazing stories of the world’s conservation organisations and the species they work with.

Pangolins

Our most recent film was made with award-winning production company Five Films and kindly narrated by stand-up comedian Sarah Millican. It tells the story of Save Vietnam’s Wildlife, an amazing conservation organisation who rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. In the film, a group of pangolins that have been rescued from wildlife traffickers are cared for by the SVT staff, before being taken back to the forest to be released. Watch it here:

pango copy

Pangolins are in trouble. They are the world’s most trafficked mammal, and are also an animal that most people haven’t heard of. If people don’t know about an issue, they are won’t care about it, so sharing this film and your knowledge of these amazing animals is one of the best things you can do to help save them.

Gannets

Earlier in the year we worked with wildlife photographer Sam Hobson to tell the story of the gannet nesting colony on Grassholm Island. Due to the position of the island and the currents surrounding it, the island has become extremely polluted with washed-up plastic. Gannets are frequently caught in the fishing line, packaging and other plastic items that they nest on, often leading to their demise. Due to gannets having nest fidelity, clearing the litter is not an option as this would disturb the breeding habits of the colony, which could affect the entire population.

Our recent photo story with Sam Hobson. telling the story of a polluted gannet nesting islandFortunately, the gannets have some superheroes in the shape of a team of RSPB volunteers who visit the island during the breeding season and attempt to cut as many individuals free as they can. Risking life and limb, the dedication of these volunteers is extremely admirable and the telling of their story generated conversation and raised awareness throughout the UK, hopefully leading to people thinking twice before disposing of their plastic litter irresponsibly.

 

We would love to help even more conservation organisations and endangered species get their stories heard by creating more films and photographs that reach as many people as possible. Please help us to do this by donating to Wildscreen this #GivingTuesday.

Thank you!

Nov 23

Today’s guest blog has been provided by ONCA, a UK-based charity which aims to cultivate environmental and social wellbeing through the arts. All their activities seek to inspire creativity and positive action in the face of environmental change, and to help galvanise the creation of a critical mass of work responding to and exploring these changes.

One of ONCA’s projects is the Remembrance Day for Lost Species which is held annually on 30 November and aims to raise awareness of the current biodiversity crisis, the Sixth Mass Extinction. Matt Stanfield from ONCA explains…

Lost Species Day logo designed by Julia Peddie

Extinction in and of itself is a normal part of life on Earth. What is absolutely not normal is the current rate at which species are going extinct. So serious has this problem become that many scientists now believe that we are living through the Sixth Mass Extinction, the worst period of global species loss since the end of the Dinosaur Age. Shockingly, there are only half as many individual wild animals alive today as there were forty years ago!

bombus franklini by Eti Meacock _photo by Abi Horn

Bombus franklini by Eti Meacock © Abi Horn

Unlike previous mass extinctions, the Sixth Mass Extinction is not due to some meteorite or volcano. It is being caused entirely by humans, and only human action has the power to stop it.

Remembrance Day for Lost Species (also known as Lost Species Day) began in 2010. An international grouping of artists and scientists felt that the Sixth Mass Extinction needed to be marked, as other tragedies are, with a day of remembrance.

martha procession_photo by robin taylor

Lost Species Day procession © Robin Taylor

One question which I am often asked in connection with Lost Species Day is “Why remember lost species?” My answer is that there are three main reasons to do so.

Firstly, I believe that in order to protect and restore the world’s ecosystem, it is vital to understand what is happening to it. Today’s children live in a severely depleted world but are mostly unaware of this, having never known anything else.

Second, many of the stories of species lost to human activity contain lessons to be learned. The stories of recent extinctions have recurring themes, especially those of overhunting and habitat loss, which between them remain by far the biggest threats to wildlife in today’s world.

Last but not least, Remembrance Day for Lost Species places a great emphasis on storytelling as a means of remembering extinct species. Extinction stories are often memorable, with exotic settings, colourful characters and creatures which it is hard to believe ever existed. Animals such as Steller’s sea cow, the upland moa and the Tasmanian tiger may sound fantastical but you wouldn’t even have to go back as far as the Middle Ages to have seen them all.

Thylacine marionette by Ben Macfadyen © Warren Draper

Thylacine marionette by Ben Macfadyen © Warren Draper

In telling the tales of vanished species, thoughts often turn to those species which still cling on. In the future, will Remembrance Day for Lost Species honour the memory of the Sumatran rhino, the Cuban crocodile or the blue whale? Their tales are not yet finished, a chance remains to change their narrative and it is a chance which we have the power to take.

Passenger pigeons by Emily Laurens © Keely Clarke

The hope of Lost Species Day is that, besides providing an opportunity to remember extinct organisms, it will inspire fresh commitments to the protection and restoration of the natural world.

The intention of Lost Species Day has always been for the event to be inclusive, diverse and global in scope. Anyone, anywhere, can commemorate species lost to human activity and commit anew to protecting the planet’s biodiversity as they see fit. This could involve anything from lighting a candle to holding a procession, and much more besides. The fundamental objective is to help people develop an emotional connection to the issue of species loss.

Artistic projects have played a big role in Remembrance Day for Lost Species so far, since the arts are an effective means of getting across the message behind the initiative in a way that truly resonates with people at a deep level.

Thylacine cabaret © Mari Opmeer

If this piece has inspired you to participate in this year’s Remembrance Day for Lost Species on 30 November, find an event near you or to let ONCA know about something which you are planning for this year’s Lost Species Day.

Dec 14

As a general rule the animals on ARKive don’t wear jumpers, but to mark the launch of Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day today, we thought we would highlight a few species that could perhaps do with one.! We’ve also unearthed a plant that surprisingly seems to take part in Christmas Jumper Day all year round…

Hairless babies

Dormouse photo

Hang on in there dormouse, not long until you can hibernate!

As a small mammal living in a temperate climate, one of the main challenges the common dormouse faces in life is maintaining its body temperature. An adult dormouse has to hibernate for up to seven months of the year to survive the colder months so it can’t be too much fun for a hairless newborn. Fortunately a cosy nest will protect the baby dormice which spend the first ten weeks of their life with their mother.

Photo of common dormice
I hope that nest can keep them warm…

Hairless adults

If there was a competition for the animal most in need of a new wardrobe, the award would probably go to the naked mole rat every time. The naked mole rat controls its body temperature by moving to different parts of its burrow according to the temperature, with the tunnels closer to the surface being warmer. It is just as well as it may take more than a Christmas jumper for this tunnel dweller to be considered ‘cute’.

Naked mole rat photo

I don't know if red and green are your colours...

Cold and wet

In addition to being entirely absent of hair, the wood frog also has to make do with moist skin on top of that. Yet the wood frog can be found as far north as Alaska, so it must be doing something right when faced with cold conditions. Amazingly the wood frog can survive being partially frozen many times over the winter due to the special chemicals in its blood. Even so I reckon a nice warm jumper would not go a miss.

Photo of a wood frog

Personally I find it easier just to put another layer...

Early (feather) baldness

Feathers are an essential insulator  for the many bird species living in cold climates. Magellanic penguin chicks are left unattended for days while the adults go off to forage and so depend on their first layer of feathers to keep out the cold. Sadly the Wildlife Conservation Society recently reported large numbers of chick have succumbed to a feather-loss disorder, resulting in these bald babies gaining weight at a slower rate than their feathered fellows.

Magellanic penguin chick

Fortunately this chick has a nice thick layer of feathers

An exception – the plant with a pre-made jumper

Woolly willow

Woolly willow on a cold day

It’s not just the name of the woolly willow that’s in line with the idea of a nice warm Christmas jumper, the coat of hairs on each leaf also add a furry touch to this shrubby willow.

George Bradford, ARKive Researcher

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