Swift Moment

A cloudless evening and the shrill cries of a small group of European swifts on an evening hunt for insects. A summer concert told in sharp notes. The swift has a wide range and enough numbers to be merit a population status of Least Concern from the IUCN. Considering the slow but persistent declines in…

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Pieces in the Mosaic

Over the past few decades, we’ve grown used to campaigns imploring us to save one animal or another. Usually the photogenic or impressive species. Save The Whale, Save The Panda, and so on. Shortly after the United States’ Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, a case came along about a modest creature, the Tennessee…

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Failed Elver Balance

As the season comes to an end for harvesting the young American eel known as elver, I thought I would revisit a topic I’ve often written about on ChampagneWhisky. The American eel was once a remarkably abundant marine animal along the eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada. Along with its close cousins, the…

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Snake Compass

Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are a successful invasive species in Florida that have been profiting from local wildlife and few natural predators. Native to Southeast Asia and listed by the IUCN as vulnerable or endangered in their original habitats, abandoned or escaped pythons have been thriving in the Florida Everglades, to the dismay of conservationists trying…

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Bumblebee Stumble

I was running a couple of days ago when I heard the thunderous buzzing of a bumblebee. A big fellow bobbed past my head and took a sudden dive, disappearing into the roadside greenery. I waited for a moment, and the bumblebee (or one of its relations) came clambering back out of a hole. Bumbleebees…

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Playing Favorites

As with anything else, there tend to be trends and favorites when it comes to endangered animal species. The polar bear, the orang-utan, the rhinoceros, the tiger, the lion are the iconic poster animals of conservation. The animals that draw attention, affection, and donations. We like to identify with our favorites, and like to think…

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The Happy Pangolin

It’s the third annual World Pangolin Day, a time to raise awareness of the strange and wondrous animal that is the single most encountered mammal in the illegal global trade in endangered animals. The odd pangolin, a scaly anteater that looks like a cross between a streamlined badger and a pine cone, is captured and…

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Complex Bridging

A new bridge project was announced in China this month, the Möbius Bridge. Designed by Dutch architecture firm NEXT, the complicated structure will span the Dragon King Harbor River in China’s Hunan Province. NEXT describes the bridge as a “construction with the intersecting connections based on the principle of the Möbius ring,” which will “connect…

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Placing Value

There’s a well-known old American film called It’s A Wonderful Life. It stars Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a good and generous businessman who finds himself in deep financial trouble. A banker, the infamous cinematic villian named Mr. Potter, reminds a desperate George Bailey that as a last resort, Bailey has a life insurance policy.…

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Unforeseen Gatherings

Walrus Sea ice located along the shallow continental shelf of the Bering Sea usually provides a diving board, a hunting perch and resting place for female walrus and their young. With sea ice retreating into water too deep for hunting, the walrus have had to find safer shores. Around 10,000 of them have gathered on…

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