In the concluding part of our West End to Wildlife blog series, we catch up with The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables star Ramin Karimloo, and globe-trotting thespian, singer and composer Verity Quade.
Aside from man, Ramin’s chosen species has the greatest natural distribution of any terrestrial mammal in the western hemisphere: the puma. This species, also known as the cougar, mountain lion or panther, has Ramin fascinated, “They’re so beautiful and graceful, yet powerful, fearless and intelligent.”
Ramin tells us that he particularly likes the black varieties of these impressive big cats; the black colour morphs are rare, and are known as melanistic individuals. We have some wonderful images on ARKive of black forms of the Javan leopard, a majestic leopard subspecies which is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Did you know?
- The puma hunts by stalking and ambushing its prey.
- The solitary puma is highly adaptable, and can swim and climb trees if necessary.
- The puma holds the record for the mammal with the most common names, with over 40 names in English alone!
- This nocturnal and crepuscular species is protected over much of its range, but is also persecuted as a potential threat to livestock.
Sarah Earnshaw’s whale-watch in New Zealand was her favourite animal encounter, and it seems that someone else from the theatrical world has been awed by the incredible wildlife New Zealand has to offer.
Verity Quade fell in love with two amazing bird species on her travels to the southern hemisphere, and she chose to highlight these feathered fellows in our blog, as she herself had never heard of either of these species before encountering them in New Zealand on her recent trip.
Verity’s first species choice is the kakapo, as she loves its endearing, fluffy face, and finds one kakapo behaviour particularly amusing, “The male digs a pit, sits in it, puffs himself out like a balloon and makes a booming noise to attract a mate. If a female is impressed by the boom, she’ll come and take a look. If she doesn’t like the look of him, she’ll just walk off again!”
Sadly, the ground-dwelling kakapo is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and in 2004 the total population of this species numbered no more than 83 individuals.
The great spotted kiwi is Verity’s next choice, and she describes it as a fascinating and beautiful animal – and she’s not wrong!
Did you know?
- The great spotted kiwi is a flightless bird, with incredibly fine, soft feathers.
- This species is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
- The primary threat to this lovely bird is predation by introduced mammalian species.
- The great spotted kiwi’s large feet have fleshy footpads, which enable it to walk almost silently.
- Kiwis are the only bird species with external nostrils on the tip of the beak.
Despite her penchant for birds, one of Verity’s favourite wildlife experiences was an oceanic one, “There is no greater feeling than being able to interact with a wild creature in its own environment, on its own terms. I recently swam with a pod of dusky dolphins – and a few Hector’s dolphins – and it was the most magical, unforgettable experience. I felt both awestruck and immensely privileged.”
Verity’s wildlife encounters with the birds and the dusky dolphins have had a profound effect on her, and she firmly believes in the importance of conservation efforts, “I have had the privilege of seeing various creatures in their natural habitats over the last year, and would like everybody to be afforded that same honour, which will only happen if we preserve the habitats and conserve the creatures themselves.”
Why not have a browse around the ARKive website to seek out your favourite species? You might be surprised at what you find! Then follow us on twitter (@ARKive) and help spread the wildlife love by tweeting about your chosen awesome animal or peculiar plant using the #LoveSpecies hashtag!