'Attenborough's Ark' contains Durrell target species...
FIRST BROADCAST: 09 Nov 2012, 21:00, BBC TWO
Regular followers of the news section of our website may be aware, that earlier this year, we were graced by the presence of none other than 'the peerless educator', television naturalist extraordinaire Sir David Attenborough. Sir David visited us to film with our delightful black lion tamarins - miniature monkeys that are so affected by habitat loss in their native Brazil, they were once thought to be extinct. The filming was for part of Sir David's newest series titled Attenborough's Ark, which is due to be televised in November this year.
In a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper's Science Correspondent, Sir David Attenborough spoke of the 'top ten' endangered animals that he would add to his Ark, and carry safely into the future. Much like his friend and peer - our founder Gerald Durrell - Sir David chose to focus on the less glamorous and popular species. Fittingly, two of the 'top three' species he chose are already the target of Durrell conservation programmes, not least of which was his first choice, the aforementioned black lion tamarin!
Durrell has been active in the conservation of many tamarin species, but the diminutive black lion tamarin is something of a 'flagship species' of an Atlantic Rainforest restoration programme that Durrell and partners IPE-Institute for Ecological Research have been working hard on for over a decade. Durrell was the first organisation to captive-breed black lion tamarins outside of Brazil, and have released captive bred individuals back into restored areas of rainforest to hopefully increase genetic diversity, and secure hope that the species will have a future in the wild.
Third on Sir David's list was the enigmatic Hispaniolan solenodon, a shrew like mammal that is somewhat unique in possesing a venomous bite and grooved 'fangs', more usually found in reptiles. The solenodon seems to be virtually unchanged from its ancestors that were fossilized some 30 million years ago, so it would seem all the more tragic that these unique creatures are facing a very real threat of extinction. Durrell's Head of Conservation Science, Dr Richard Young has been at the forefront of the study and subsequent efforts to conserve these weird and wonderful creatures.
Speaking of his reasons for choosing these lesser known species, Sir David said; “I could choose those that grab the headlines – the majestic tiger, the spectacular polar bear, the beautiful snow leopard or the magnificent mountain gorilla. They are all animals that I wouldn’t want to lose."
“But there are many other extraordinary creatures out there not in the limelight. These few give a glimpse of the outstanding diversity of nature.”
Here at Durrell, we ceratinly agree. It's a proud moment for us all when we realise that our work with such less prominent species - although often more difficult in the face of lesser publicity - is supported by such a wonderful ambassador for nature.
If you too would like to support Durrell and our work with these important, but often lesser known species, please visit our DONATIONS PAGE to find out how. Every little helps, and we are grateful of all and any kind donations and sponsorships.
Posted 29 October 2012