December 14, 2010

Spotlight on Endangered Species Condoms : Madagascar

Some news from our friends at The Center for Biological Diversity, about the Endangered Species Condoms illustrated by Molly Schafer & Jenny Kendler of ESPP:
In the process of giving away 350,000 Endangered Species Condoms in 2010, the Center for Biological Diversity heard a lot of fun and interesting stories from the thousands of volunteer distributors who helped with our human overpopulation campaign. One of the best came from Karen Samonds in Tsinjoarivo, Madagascar -- 10,817 miles from our headquarters in Tucson, Ariz. Karen works with Sadabe, a nonprofit that "recognizes that human health and development depends on natural ecosystems, while the conservation of biodiversity depends on human decisions." Since one of the most important of those human decisions involves reproduction -- and the dynamic of our unsustainable population growth driving the planetary extinction crisis -- Karen distributed the condoms during the family-planning portion of a women's health workshop in Tsinjoarivo.
According to Sadabe's website, biodiversity-rich Madagascar is just the place for this sort of work: "We seek to develop novel and innovative ways to promote the coexistence of people and wildlife at Tsinjoarivo, and elsewhere where humans and wildlife come into conflict." Kudos to Sadabe for making that effort, and many thanks to Karen for making our condoms a part of such great work.
Right now, the Center is sending out 50,000 Endangered Species Condoms for volunteers to hand out on New Year's Eve as a fun and informative way to highlight the connection between human overpopulation and over-consumption, and the extinction of species. Learn more about Endangered Species Condoms, overpopulation and Sadabe.

December 8, 2010

Happy HOWLidays from The Endangered Species Print Project

Forget the Naughty. This Season ESPP is Twice as Nice!

That's right, we've got 2 red wolves, 2 marine mammals, and 2 gifts in one. When you give ESPP you give the gift of art, along with a donation to an important conservation initiative.

Endangered Species Print Project Presents:
This December we have released the wolves! Our newest prints both depict the critically endangered Red wolf. Two gorgeous prints by two popular artists. How will you ever decide between them? There are only approximately 100 Red wolves remaining on our planet so help them out by buying a print. As with all ESPP prints, 100% of the purchase prices goes directly to conservation. Plus, the good karma will help you to makes Santa's "nice" list.

ESPP also recently released two fantastic under the sea prints, celebrating our love of marine mammals: the Vaquita, a mini porpoise, and the North Atlantic Right whale who weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 139,700 pounds! With a variety of artistic styles and species to choose from we have something for everyone (cool) on your list.

Read more about each of our new prints below...

Red Wolf prints by artists Christopher Reiger and Susan Jamison

The red wolf once occupied a range that extended over the forests, swamps, and coastal plains of the southern and eastern areas of the United States, as far west as Texas and as far north as New York.  By 1980, the species was extinct in the wild. Today that number is up to 100! Both Reiger and Jamison's work articulates an understanding and appreciation of the natural world. Their ESPP prints convey the tenuous position of the Red wolf species. We've printed a highly limited edition of only 100 of each on our sustainable and luxurious bamboo paper. All the proceeds support Red wolf conservation and breeding programs at Point Defiance and Mill Mountain Zoos. 

Vaquita print by artist Noah Scalin
Noah Scalin, of the popular blog and book Skull-a-Day, was inspired to work with arranged embroidery floss to depict the Vaquita, the Earth's smallest porpoise, after reading how entanglement in fishing nets is the leading cause of death for the species. His beautiful print is a limited edition of 250 and supports ¡Viva Vaquita!

North Atlantic Right Whale print by artist John Vilhauer
A quick survey of our under 13 audience confirmed that this happy-go-lucky whale is sure to bring a smile to the younger species on your holiday list...along with teaching the importance of biodiversity!  The 2009 population count of North Atlantic right whales found only 438 whales.  All proceeds from the sale of this whale go to The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium.
100% of the proceeds from The Endangered Species Print Project's limited-edition prints support the critically endangered species they depict. Editions are limited to the species' remaining population count. To see more spectacular species head to
Happy Holidays from ESPP!
- Molly & Jenny 

December 6, 2010

Release the Wolves!

No time to write a long post now, but I have to let everyone know...our long awaited double-release of two different Red Wolf prints is here!

Artists Christopher Reiger (of Javan Rhino fame) and Susan Jamison both stepped to the Red Wolf plate and hit a home run. Come check out their gorgeous prints on our website, and get your paws on them before they're gone.

More info on these awesome prints and the most worthy organizations they support soon...

In the meantime: Who needs and Hannukah/Yule/Festivus present? Hint, hint. They want a print!

December 1, 2010

ESPP featured in The American Scholar

The last issue of The American Scholar magazine featured and article on ESPP, entitled "Call of the Wild," and I wanted to share it with you all.

After years of exhibiting artwork in galleries and museums, Chicago-based artists Jenny  Kendler and Molly Schafer decided last year to step outside those white-walled environments and directly support conservation of endangered species.
In their Endangered Species Print Project, the artists print animal images in quantities equaling the estimated number of individuals of that species in the wild.
For instance, no more than 45 Amur leopards are said to remain in Russia and China’s temperate forests, their sole habitat, and so Kendler and Schafer have made an edition of 45 prints. Everything earned from the sale of the prints is donated to an organization that works to save that specific species, in this case the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance, a coalition of 13 nongovernmental organizations dedicated to reducing the poaching and deforestation that threaten the species.
If less money goes to supporters of the more endangered species, they’ll create a second artwork of the same species once the first one sells out. So far they have raised more than $4,000 and donated to 11 organizations. Now they are expanding by lining up guest artists who will draw a variety of animals and plants, including the charismatic Vaquita, a miniature porpoise that lives in the Sea of Cortez in California. —Vanessa Schipani

The issue also included a thorough (and frightening) look at geo-engineering as a possible solution for climate change. You can pick up a copy, with it's great polar bear cover, at your newsstand. Thanks to Vanessa for the write-up!

Oh, and by the way, since the article was published, ESPP has raised it's total funds earned for conservation to almost $5,600 and the number of organizations we're supporting to 17!

November 8, 2010

Whales 2010: Inspiring a New Decade of Conservation

If you're in California, ESPP would like to let you know about the upcoming conference Whales 2010: Inspiring a New Decade of Conservation - The American Cetacean Society's 12th International Conference. The conference is in beautiful Monterey, Califonia and runs from November 12-14, 2010. ACS invites you to join a unique gathering of scientists, policy makers, and conservationists from all over the world to share current status, research, trends, and projects relating to cetaceans and their habitats.


If you make it, please be sure to visit with the wonderful folks at ¡Viva Vaquita! who will have some of artist Noah Scalin's Vaquita prints for sale to support their conservation efforts of the charming little porpoise. ACS also encourages you to enjoy the local delights, and enjoy whale watching, hiking, or kayaking Friday on the Monterey Peninsula.

We're so jealous!

October 21, 2010

New Milestone in Study of Snow Leopards

 A team of wild cat researchers from Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust were recently successful in collaring their twelfth snow leopard, for study and tracking 6,500 feet high in South Gobi, Mongolia’s Tost Mountains. The collaring of the female cat is historic in that the South Gobi team is now monitoring twice the number of cats ever monitored in any previous study of the species.

This most recent snow leopard, temporarily named F4 until the team chooses a name, is a female snow leopard weighing 81 pounds. The GPS-satellite collar she was fitted with will allow scientists to track her movements for the next 20 months, giving insight to the information needed to save the elusive wild cats from extinction. There are believed to be between 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards remaining in the wild today. 

The collaring of “F4” is particularly exciting because the researchers believe she is the mother of another nearly grown female that was fitted with a collar just a few months ago. The team has determined that F4 is still travelling with her cub, so this will be the first time scientists are able to learn how snow leopards rear their cubs and prepare them to leave home to establish their own territory. 

“Following a mother-daughter pair and seeing when the younger female leaves home and where she establishes her own home range is an exciting possibility,” said Panthera Snow Leopard Director Dr. Tom McCarthy. “This collaring, and the ones before it, has helped us reach a new level of understanding about these iconic cats; an understanding that could help us bring them back from the brink of extinction.”

The project in Mongolia is a collaboration between Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust.  For more information on this study and to follow F4 and the other cats, visit

Image & video courtesy Panthera and the Snow Leopard Trust

October 11, 2010

Eco-razzy: American Snack Consumers

Really? Seriously? A major American manufacturer of snack chips goes all out of its way to produce a biodegradable bag to package it's snacks in, and Americans force it off the market? Why would they do such a thing?

Well because the bags are noisy. The crinkly sound hurts their wimpy little ears. Seriously what. the. hell. America?

So now, Frito-Lay will return to packaging made of plastic for five of the six varieties of SunChips.  It will keep the biodegradable and recyclable bags for the original, plain flavor.  The flavor most favored by earthy, crunchy types whose tolerance for noise produced by planet-friendly bags is apparently higher than those who favor the Spicy Chipotle flavor.

According to the Frito-Lay website the bags are made from plant based materials and are designed to compost in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin or pile. That is awesome!

Apparently, it's not awesome enough for most consumers to put up with... sound. Hey, if you need to snack in secret that is an issue all your own, please don't take it out on the planet.

I admit, I tried the  SunChips biodegradable bag and it is loud, laughably so. But that is all I did - laugh and say "this bag is crazy!"  I didn't go to YouTube to post a video complaint. However many  consumers did complain.  Sales declined each month the bags were on the market and Frito-Lay felt forced to return to plastic.

At least, until they can come up with an amazing bag that biodegrades in 14 days and is quiet enough for America.  Frito-Lay says they remain committed to finding a more popular sustainable bag solution.

Would you rather have your snacks in noisy bags or live on litter covered planet landfill?  Hmmm, I guess you could always eat the chips from a bowl... and still hear the TV.

October 8, 2010

New Print Released : Noah Scalin's Vaquita

We're excited to share our newest print with you all --- the gorgeous Vaquita print by artist Noah Scalin. (Be sure to click the image to see if full size.) Noah has been a long time friend of mine, and I love the beautiful piece that he created for ESPP.

Our first photographic/object-based piece, Noah's print was made by carefully arranging tangled threads to form the shape of the little porpoise. He decided to create the print in this way because the main threat to the Vaquitas (of which only an estimated 250 remain) are the nearly invisible gillnets which fisherman use in the Gulf of California. Vaquitas, being mammals that need to breathe air, become entangled in these nets and drown. It is estimated that between 39 and 84 individuals die this way each year, an obviously unsustainable toll on the naturally small population.

Noah's piece, which existed only for a short time, was intended to reflect the tenuous existence of these charming creatures that live in the shallows and lagoons of the Gulf of California. Please also check out Noah's website and his extremely popular project Skull-a-Day, which spawned a super cool book, and even landed him on Martha Stewart's show! Who knew the Martha was into skulls?

Noah's print benefits the wonderful organization ¡Viva Vaquita!, which is working at full tilt to change the situation in the Gulf --- in a way that will be beneficial to local fisherman, while also saving the Vaquita from the brink of extinction. Please check out our site to purchase a print. As always, 100% of the purchase price will support this great organization's work.

October 6, 2010

Endangered Strangers: Northern Abalone

Do you think I'm pretty?

Then why you keep wearing me as jewelry?

I is not wacky pendant.  
I is an animal, just like you. 
I am the Northern abalone. 
And you...
you totally bought that necklace at an art fair, didn't you?

One of the most primitive groups of molluscs on the planet, abalone have remained relatively unchanged for about 500 million years.  Northern abalone are found along the Pacific coast of America from Sitka Island, Alaska, in the north, to Turtle Bay, Baja California in the south. They feed on red algae when they are free roaming infants and settle into the brown algae and a sedentary life as adults.  I'm sure we can all relate to that. Abalone use their rough tongue-like radulas to scrape algae off of rocks. They also catch phytoplankton as it drifts by. Yum!

For hundreds of years abalone were harvested for their meat and decorative shells with a limited impact on their population.  Then... horror movie music played, masked scuba divers swarmed the abalones secret hideouts, reaching out their creepy rubber-gloved hands,  devastating the abalone's numbers and leaving their children homeless and motherless and wait, what happened? The invention of scuba diving! Scuba diving led to the over-harvesting of abalone, whose previously unreachable, remote hang outs kept them safe from human's insatiable greed.

Today there is a total ban on harvesting Northern abalone in British Columbia and partial bans exist elsewhere.  Poaching is a continued threat. A National Recovery Strategy and National Recovery Action Plan for the species have been created in Canada, a superior country where I would like to live.

September 28, 2010

Tiger Tuesday: Last Tiger Strongholds Identified

Scientists have tallied up a group of the last remaining 'strongholds' of wild tigers, 42 areas across Asia, where the breeding females of the extremely rare big cats live. They estimate that around 1000 breeding females of various tiger sub-species inhabit these areas, which are the last hope for wild tigers' survival.

  The last Bali Tiger was recorded in 1937

Of the former 580,000 square miles (1.5 million sq kilometers) of habitat suitable for tigers, wild tigers now remain in only 7%. The 'strongholds' encompass only half of one percent of tiger's former range. As readers of this blog know, habitat loss, and especially poaching for illegal wildlife trade and "traditional" medicines are behind this terrible decline.

The Caspian Tiger became extinct in the late 1950's

These 42 newly identified sites hold 70% of the worlds remaining tigers, which number less than 3,500 in total.

Joe Walston, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia program says, "In the past, overly ambitious and complicated conservation efforts have failed to do the basics - prevent the hunting of tigers and their prey. [...] Efforts need to focus on securing these sites as the number one priority for the species."

So, at least for our tiger friends, 42 really is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything...

Our source at concludes with this practical summation:

The scientists calculated the total required annual cost of effectively managing these strongholds at $82 million, which included the cost of law enforcement, wildlife monitoring, getting the community involved in their protection and other factors. Although that might seem a large price tag, $47 million of that is already provided by the governments of the areas where the sites are located, supplemented by international support, the researchers said. The $35 million shortfall is needed to intensify proven methods of protection and monitoring.
"$35 million is less than what [New York Yankees baseball player] Alex Rodriguez made last year in salary and endorsements," Robinson told Our Amazing Planet. "There's quite a bit of money floating into protected areas at this time - the shortfall is not huge." Robinson noted he was recently in talks in Washington, D.C., with representatives of some multilateral government agencies to talk about this funding for tigers.

Well, tigers get my endorsement. What about yours? If so, please be sure to let your friends and family know about the danger of extinction that faces the world's wild tigers today.

 The Javan Tiger became extinct in the 1980's. Let's not add to this list.

September 23, 2010

New Print: John Vilhauer's North Atlantic Right Whale

Who could resist this charming print by local Chicago artist and designer John Vilhauer? (My favorite part is the barnacle eyebrow. I want a pair of my own.)

This whimsical print benefits North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, a fabulous organization that we are so pleased to be working with. NARWC works to eliminate human-caused right whale deaths in critical habitats and migration corridors, to protect right whale habitats, and to assess factors that reduce reproductive success of right whales.

It's not too early to be thinking about gifts for the holidays, and if I do say so myself, an ESPP print and it's corresponding donation to NARWC would be a great gift for a special child or whale fancier in your life.

(Oh, and we're on a bit of a sea mammal kick, so keep your head under the water for our upcoming print. People say don't hold your breath, but in this case do. It won't be long.)

The North Atlantic right whale print is available here. Read more about this amazing and endangered species here.

September 21, 2010

Tiger Tuesday Twice in One Tuesday!

Panthera & the BBC's Natural History Unit have worked together to document the first evidence that tigers can live and breed at extremely high altitudes. Tigers, normally found in jungle habitats, were discovered more than 13,000 feet high in the Himalayas. The discovery could make it easier to create a conservation corridor, linking populations across Asia. We wonder if the tigers have moved up to new altitudes due to habitat loss, or if they have been there all along?

Tiger Tuesday!

This is the 2nd in our series Tiger Tuesday leading up International Tiger Day on September 26th, 2010. There are approximately 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild.

Image © Wildlife Checkpoint Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand

Illegal trade in tigers and tiger parts is one of the main reasons the species is endangered.  Tigers are used throughout Asia (most heavily in China) for traditional medicines or tonics including tiger bone wine and aphrodisiacs. Trade in tigers is prohibited by the Convention in Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES.

The illegal wildlife trade is a gruesome, multi-billion dollar business run by organized criminal syndicates. This year National Geographic published The Kingpin an exposé of the world's most notorious wildlife dealer. His future plans include farming captive tigers for parts.

September 20, 2010

Renegade Craft Fair

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported ESPP at Renegade Craft Fair! We raised a significant amount of money for critically endangered species and met lots of great people.

Check out our booth mates Shapes & Colors. They sew and and screen fantastic pillows, bags, and more all made from organic cotton, linen, and hemp using water based, non-toxic inks.

Thanks to ESPP artist John Vilhauer for taking photos. John's print will be released later this week.! Stay tuned.

September 14, 2010

Tiger Tuesday!

September 26th, 2010 is International Tiger Day and we're gearing up here at ESPP with a series of Tiger Tuesday posts. Today we'll be sharing some awesome camera trap images with you and asking you to take one small action to help international efforts to save the species. 

image: Wildlife Conservation Society

With an estimated 3,000 tigers remaining there is a very real chance that the species will go extinct in your lifetime.  Shockingly there are more tigers in private holdings in the state of Texas than there currently are in the wild!

This fall world leaders will meet to negotiate a plan to prevent the extinction of the wild tiger, it is critical that we make sure the United States shows leadership on this issue and gives tiger conservation its full backing.  You can easily tell Congress to Support the Global Conservation Act of 2010 here.

And view the following video and images...

From World Wildlife Federation: "Close up footage of a tiger and two cubs, the first time that WWF has recorded evidence of tiger breeding in central Sumatra in what should be prime tiger habitat. The images have led to renewed calls for stronger measures against poaching and the rapid deforestation of tiger landscapes on the Indonesian island."

An Amur (Siberian) Tiger at Hunchun National Nature Reserve
image: Hunchun National Nature Reserve

Sumatran Tiger
 image: Fauna & Flora International/DICE

An Indian Tiger in Bandhavagargh National Park, India

Cooling off in a watering hole in Bandhavgarh National Park, India

image: Michael Nichols

September 10, 2010

August 17, 2010

ESPP at Renegade Craft Fair

Just an early warning that The Endangered Species Print Project will be at Renegade Craft Fair Chicago on September 11 & 12.  We will be selling ESPP prints along with extra special ESPP items that will only be available at the fair.  Renegade Craft Fair will feature over 300 indie artists and artisans and promises to be a good time. If you are in the area be sure to stop by our booth!

August 4, 2010

2010 is the Year We Should Have Finally Made a Change

EDGE has updated their site to include a new section on coral reefs. The page begins with a short film narrated by a girl living in the year 2065.  She learns of coral reefs from her grandfather, as they have sadly not existed in her life time. Luckily this is a fictional account and there still time to ensure it remains so, but only if we act. As the grandfather of the film states "2010 is the year we should have finally made a change."

I can't think of a better(worse) catalyst for that change than the 2010 gulf of mexico oil spill.

EDGE estimates 1-3 million species of plants and animals live on coral reefs. Climate change is the clear and present danger to coral reefs. EDGE suggests that reducing atmospheric CO2 to below 350 ppm will help to slow climate change and it's effects on the reefs.

Watch the film and learn more here.

July 23, 2010

Not Gone Yet: Horton Plains Slender Loris Rediscovered

 © C Mahanayakage

The Horton Plains slender loris (Loris tardigradus nycticeboides) was thought to have gone extinct in 1939 when its Sri Lanka forest habitat was clear-cut to make way for tea plantations.

The Zoological Society of London lead as expedition to find the animal after a 2002 encounter. Their research included 1,000 nocturnal surveys in 120 forest areas.  ZSL was able to both photograph and measure the loris who is 20 centimeters long.

The Horton Plains slender loris remains incredibly rare. Researches estimate that 60 -100 individuals remain. While not extinct, this loris remains one of the most endangered primates.

ZSL conservation biologist Craig Turner listed conservation and restoration of the remaining montane forest, which makes up less than 1% of the land area of Sri Lanka, as key to the species' survival.

Read more about the rediscovery here.

July 21, 2010

Announcing a special triple print release to celebrate ESPP's anniversary!

The tattooed Sumatran Tiger, the elegant Whooping Crane and the totally awesome Moldavian Meadow Viper burst onto the ESPP scene today! Sink your claws into our three new prints before they disappear at

  • The Moldavian Meadow Viper print by ESPP founder Molly Schafer supports The Hungarian Meadow Viper Life Project, which is keeping these amazing snakes from the brink of extinction.
  • The Sumatran Tiger print by Maine artist Alison Wheeler benefits the Sumatran Tiger Trust, which works to preserve these gorgeous beasts in the wild, where only about 350 remain.
  • The Whooping Crane print by ESPP founder Jenny Kendler helps fund Operation Migration. You may have already heard of this amazing organization, which releases captive-bred Whooping Cranes into the wild, and teaches them to migrate using ultralight aircraft!
Excitingly, ESPP's new prints are on a gorgeous and sustainable, art-quality bamboo paper!

As you know, 100% of the proceeds from ESPP print sales go directly to front-lines conservation, so please be generous and purchase some for your family and friends! Because ESPP prints are limited editions based on the populations of the species depicted, some editions are running low already. Be sure not to miss out! 

Can you believe the Endangered Species Print Project is already 1 year old?

Thanks for all your support over the past year!
- Molly Schafer & Jenny Kendler

July 8, 2010

Eco-razzy : Person on my street whose sprinkler flooded the sidewalk

Yes, person on my street whose sprinkler flooded the sidewalk and sprinkler users everywhere we agree with this mouse lemur: You Suck!

A newly described species of mouse lemur (Microcebus mittermeieri).
Photo by: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic Society   Graphics by: The Endangered Species Print Project

Not only did your flooding of the sidewalk with a 2 inch pool of water under a constant sprinkler shower make it rather difficult for me to walk past your house, in an attempt to avoid the waterworks, I rolled my ankle, spraining it badly. That's right, I hope the cement in front of your home has been growing/blooming/whatever you thought it would do if you watered it because right now I'm wearing an ankle brace on my stretched tendons and can't run or bike for 3 weeks. I repeat: You Suck!

As I sat on your neighbor's stairs watching your sprinkler sprinkle a cascade of water onto your porch, the resulting waterfall flowing down your front steps,  the growing pool on the sidewalk, a squirrel first drinking then sort of paddling through it, I was flooded with anger.

Outraged not only for my own sorry situation ( a foot that could not support my weight let alone wade up your the steps to kick your door in and break your ankles, err, ask you politely to turn of your sprinkler and begin bailing out the side walk) but for our very planet.

Plenty of humans lack clean water to drink, to cook or bathe with, yet sprinkler users everywhere see fit to water cement. In fact water-borne diseases from unsanitary water are one of the leading causes of death world wide. Water diverted for human use leaves marshes, bogs, woodlands and all the flora and fauna who reside within diminished. Despite these unsettling realities, according to the EPA:

"An American family of four can use 400 gallons of water per day, and about 30 percent of that is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Nationwide, landscape irrigation is estimated to account for almost one-third of all residential water use, totaling more than 7 billion gallons per day."

Water is a finite resource, sprinkler users, use it wisely and use it sparingly.  How about a quick spritz with the hose instead of hours of running a sprinkler while you watch TV, or hey- just wait for it to rain!  Better yet try planting native plants that are adapted to your local climate and will thrive without much care (more time for TV), or try xeriscaping.

The cool thing about where we live- it's a planet that can take care of itself! The natural world known as planet Earth can nourish what grows on it if humans would just get out of it's way. And P.S. it's the only planet we've got.

For more tips on water-smart yards visit the EPA's Watersense site. Please.

Using a sprinkler is a waste of water even for a garden, but for sidewalks, porches, non-living objects of every variety it is a goddess-forsaken tragedy. :P

July 7, 2010

Baby Guam Micronesian kingfishers increase world population to 134

 A very rare Guam Micronesian kingfisher chick is fed using a hand puppet at Lincoln Park Zoo. All 134 members of the severely endangered species live in zoos. (Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune / June 17, 2010)

Two baby Guam Micronesian kingfishers were recently born at Chicago's own Lincoln Park Zoo. Molly and I have been lucky enough to see these charming little birds in person in their bird house. Unfortunately, a zoo is the only place you'll see these rare birds, as they are sadly extinct in the wild. The story of how most of Guam's endemic birds became extinct or extinct in the wild is a strange one that starts with WWII.

Molly and I were invited some time ago to write an article for the awesome art blog Bad at Sports, which explains the very strange circumstances surrounding the kingfisher's current endangerment. You can read the full article here.

The eventual goal of this captive breeding population, (what we think should be the goal of all captive breeding programs) is to release the kingfishers back into the wild...though that may be far in the future.

Let's hope that one day these little guys again grace the waterways of beautiful Guam. Supporting their recovery is the least we can do at this keep checking back with ESPP, as there's a Guam Micronesian kingfisher print in the works.

July 5, 2010

Sea Dragons : Life

Check out this completely magical video of these completely magical creatures of the Australian ocean: Sea Dragons!

Sadly, sea dragons are under threat from run-off pollution and from collectors who take them both for their exotic beauty and for 'alternative' medicine. We don't need to tell you, lovely readers, that chomping a beautiful wild creature is the wrong way to go about curing what ails you. Luckily though, sea dragons are now protected by the Australian government.

We hope you enjoy this enchanting video from the BBC's Life series. (...of course, it's narrated by the inimitable D. Attenborough!)

June 26, 2010

The Big Caption

Recent posts to one of our new favorite blogs, The Big Caption, related to the horrendous nightmare also known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The Big Caption uses typography to make jokes and statements.


June 25, 2010

First National Park Born Condor Chick Poisoned by Lead Shot

The famous first baby condor to have been born inside a National Park in over 100 years had to be brought in by biologists, and taken to intensive care, due to lead poisoning. The birds are being treated via a process known as chelation to remove the lead from their blood, which would otherwise kill them. The chick and his father were likely poisoned by lead shot from a carcass they ingested.

The NRA is currently fighting proposed bans on lead shot --- which poisons many species of wildlife, as well as human beings. To be blunt, and without cursing, I cannot possibly understand why the NRA and certain hunters insist on using lead shot, when steel shot is available. It seems to be a case of being worried that they can't budge an inch --- but it is patently obvious that lead shot is incredibly detrimental to wildlife and the environment. (As well as routinely poisoning hunters who can't possible get all the minute fragments of lead out of their kills.)

Image courtesy of our friends at the Peregrine Fund

Of course, many hunters are also great advocates for wildlife and conservation, so it will be interesting to see how this schism will play out. Let's hope we win, as it will be a great victory for the health of people, animals and the environment!

The Los Angeles Zoo is currently treating both father and chick. Let's keep our fingers crossed for them, as only 180 of these soaring giants remain in the wild.

It is currently unknown whether or not the mother has also been poisoned, though efforts are underway in Pinnacles National Monument to trap her, in order to test her lead levels.

You can support these magnificent birds through the great work of the Peregrine Fund by purchasing Barnaby Whitfield's beautiful California Condor print for ESPP.

June 24, 2010

Bumble Bees: The Next Endangered Species?

In an effort to reduce the decline of bumblebees The Society for Invertebrate Conservation and University of California at Davis entomologist Robbin Thorp formally petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the insect — called a Franklin's bumblebee — under the Endangered Species Act.

Image copyright Peter Schroeder
Franklin's bumble bee (Bombus franklini) on California poppy (Eschscholzia californica

Twelve years of surveys conducted by Dr. Robbin Thorp clearly show that this species has declined steadily.  The decline has been so severe that only a single Franklin’s bumble bee was observed in 2006 and none since.

“Over the last 12 years I have watched the populations of this bumble bee decline precipitously,” said Dr. Robbin Thorp, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Davis.  “My hope is this species can recover before it is too late.” 

The cause of the catastrophic decline of Franklin’s bumble bee is hypothesized to be an escaped exotic disease that may have spread from commercial bumble bee colonies to wild bumble bee populations. Research in Dr. Sydney Cameron’s lab at the University of Illinois is underway to test this hypothesis. Other threats that may be harming Franklin’s bumble bee populations include habitat loss and degradation, climate change, pesticide use, and invasive plant species.

The group is preparing petitions to protect other bumblebee species as well.  The Associated Press reports that bees pollinate about 15 percent of all crops grown in the nation, worth $3 billion.

Visit The Xerces Society for more info on this petition and bee conservation.  The full petition is available here.

June 22, 2010

New Monitor Lizard gives Scientists Double-X-Rated Surprise

A Varanus bitatawa lizard on its home island of Luzon in the Philippines.
Photograph by Joseph Brown

Scientists in the Philippines recently discovered a new species of giant Monitor lizard, as long as a human being. The new species was a surprise for several reasons: First, it is unusual for such a large species to have gone undiscovered (turns out this "incredibly secretive" lizard was hiding in the trees!), and secondly, the new species has a double penis. Yep, that's right. Two wangs.

This species with it's peculiar penis is related to the famous Komodo Dragon, but unlike it's gnarly relative known for biting prey with its bacteria filled mouth and returning to their bloated corpses to feast days later (yum) --- the Varanus bitatawa is a gentle vegetarian. What a nice fellow.

However, this gentle giant lizard is most likely in severe peril. The Philippines is one of the most heavily deforested areas on the planet, so there may not be much time to learn about this amazing species.

Forests continue to be cut down in the Philippines due to economic inequality, lack of government regulations, lack of political will, and corruption. It is hoped that international pressure (perhaps, via REDD) could slow or stop the devastation of the 5% of these forests that remain. These rain forests, rich in biodiversity, no doubt still harbor many more surprises!

June 17, 2010

The Fellowship of the Whale

The time is near for the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting to vote on a proposal to legalize commercial whaling. In fact, it's only days away and the vote could go either way. We've pondered the pros and cons of this proposal before. Also known as the "whaling compromise" it proposes to legalize commercial whaling for the first time in 30 years in exchange for reducing the number of whales killed each year. According to the IWC even with the global ban on whaling an estimated 2000 whales a year fall victim to unregulated whaling.

Alarmingly, some IWC members may abstain from voting on the proposal which allows killing of endangered species-the Sei whale and the Finback whale. There has been a huge global outcry against this proposal, only 30 years after the hard fought battle to ban commercial whaling in the first place.

From our friends at Avaaz:
After the global ban was first implemented on commercial whaling, the number of whales killed each year plummeted from 38,000 per year to just a couple of thousand. It's a testament to the power of humanity to move forward. As we move to confront the other crises of the modern age, let's cherish this legacy of progress -- by joining together now to protect our majestic and intelligent neighbors on this fragile planet.

An amazing piece Flights, Girls, and Cash Buy Japan Whaling Votes in the Sunday Times uncovers that Japan has been using cash, development aid, and yes prostitutes to buy the pro-whaling votes of  IWC members in African, Asian, Pacific and Caribbean states.

Reporters posing as lobbyists offered to buy the anti-whaling votes of IWC members. Their offers were repeatedly weighed against the aid and gifts promised or already bestowed upon them by Japan.  Most had marginal or no interest in whaling. The Sunday Times piece quotes the chief fishing policy adviser to the Marshall Islands as saying the only reason for the Marshall Islands pro-whaling position is because of the financial aid from Japan.

Japan even has landlocked countries believing that whales are threatening their country's food supply. This silly claim is further proof that Japan's "scientific" whaling is a farce.

Since this is a blog and we like to express our personal opinions along with the facts, I'll update you on mine. Although I can see the logic in the whaling compromise and it's potential for conservation, at the 11th hour I must cast my vote to uphold the ban on commercial whaling. I don't trust policy makers enough to hold whale hunters to the proposed quotas, especially after reading the Sunday Times piece. There is already so much illegal killing with the ban in place, I don't believe legalizing whaling will reduce illegal harvesting. I'd like to hope that something like that could work but today at least for, I have little hope for humanity's ability to restrain itself from annihilating itself along with the planet. You can add your name along with 681,289 (at the time of this post) others to a global petition to uphold the ban on commercial whaling here. That number, at least, is hopeful.

You can read what Cristian Maquieira, Chairman of the IWC has to say in defense of the new proposal here.

This post title is borrowed from a PBS documentary by the same name, The Fellowship of the Whales. Watch it here.

June 16, 2010

Endangered Strangers: The Clouded Leopards

Yeah, I have the longest canine teeth of any modern carnivore

Photo: Alain Compost/WWF-Canon
And I'm prettier than all of them too
I don't make a big deal out of it or anything
Me strong, sexy, silent type

Unless you push me...

I'm the Clouded leopard

Little is known about the clouded leopards, medium size wildcats from the forest of Asia. They are excellent climbers. No really- they are able to climb upside down, on the underside of a tree branch, and hang from their hind feet!  Their tail can grow up to 3 feet long, the same length as their body.

The Clouded leopard has the longest upper canine teeth for it's skull size of any modern carnivore.  It's jaw and skull evoke primitve saber-tooth cats and in fact, Clouded leopard skulls are unlike those of any other cat living today.

In 2007 the Borneo Clouded Leopard was declared to be a separate species. Formerly considered to be one of the now 4 sub-species of Clouded leopard, the declaration was made after a study comparing coat patterns and coloration. Researchers found the leopards on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra are markedly different from animals found on the Southeast Asian mainland. Genetic testing was also done.  Researchers estimate that the two species diverged approximately 1.5 million years ago due to geographical isolation.