animals Tag

mon repos turtle rookery, bundaberg, queensland, australia
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Hatch and release

Mon Repos Turtle Rookery, Queensland, Australia The sun is setting and the beach is empty – it officially closes at 6 o’clock in the evening this time of year. The sand stretches out with no interruptions, just the small waves crashing against it on the shore. The sky is changing from a bright blue into soothing spectrum of purples and oranges. Everything is set.I’m at the Mon Repos Turtle Rookery, on the Queensland coast near Bundaberg. It’s the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific Ocean. And tonight I am on patrol with the rangers who are going to make sure it all runs smoothly.From the beginning of the season in November, turtles begin arriving on the beach from the ocean to lay their eggs. They swim to the shore after dark, drag themselves up...

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11 February
sloth sanctuary, costa rica, see a sloth, limon
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Sloth is not a sin

Sloth Sanctuary, Costa Rica Slowly. Just a little. He gradually opens his eyes.He looks around, lazily surveying the scene before him. Presumably the tree is the same and the walls are the same. The blurry shadows of people seen through dozy eyes look a bit different. But new people coming in here is normal. Everything seems in place and he closes his eyes again and drifts off.This is life for a sloth here at the Sloth Sanctuary on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. It is the refuge for local animals that have been injured or orphaned and need some gentle care.“It came on completely not under our control,” owner Judy Avey-Arroyo explains. “We gave in to the sloths 21 years ago.”Judy is American and she started the sanctuary with her late Costa Rican husband. It happened when they were setting up a hotel for birdwatchers – but animal welfare was...

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18 December
oceanium, rotterdam zoo, behind the scene, sharks, turtles, netherlands
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Like a fish out of water

Oceanium, Rotterdam Zoo, The Netherlands All around is blue. There's water above, there's water either side, and there's water ahead. Like a fish out of water, I'm surrounded by ocean.Sharks glide past on one side and then a large turtle appears, swimming overhead. Schools of fish dart around and a stingray patrols the sandy ground. This is what it must feel like to be in the sea...

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31 May
komodo dragon, komodo island, rinca island, komodo national park, reptiles (9)
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Inside the dragons’ lair

Komodo Island, Indonesia Some people will tell you, sincerely, that the movie King Kong was inspired by an expedition to Komodo Island. Others will tell you, with as much conviction, that the island was the basis for Jurassic Park. Neither is necessarily wrong, neither is necessarily right. Regardless, stepping off the boat, walking down the small wooden pier and into the forest feels like a trip back in time – to a land where the lost animals of history rule supreme.The Komodo dragon exists only in this one part of the world - on four small islands in the Komodo National Park, in the southern part of Indonesia. The animal’s isolation from the rest of the planet is what has ensured its survival for so long. It had no predators and was not discovered by the Western world until 1910. Quarantined and indomitable, evolution largely overlooked these dragons.As I walk into...

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01 November
komodo dragon, attack, rinca island, komodo national park, dangerous reptiles (4)
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“I was attacked by a dragon and survived”

Komodo National Park, Indonesia Maen still has nightmares about that morning. About those few minutes in which he almost died. About the time he was attacked by a man-eating reptile and had to fight it off to save his life.“I don’t like to tell more my story because when I tell again, when I’m sitting alone, I remember,” he says, softly and humbly. “I would like to try to forget this story.”But Maen, the quiet-spoken middle-aged Indonesian, has agreed to tell me his tale so I can share it. He thinks it’s important for people to understand the dangers of the Komodo dragons.It was 2009 and Maen had been working here on Rinca Island in Komodo National Park as a ranger for about a year when he went into the office that morning. The small wooden building in the main camp looked the same as usual and he went in and...

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30 October
tanjung puting, kalimantan, orangutans, foundation, borneo, visiting, tourism, tours (3)
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Is orangutan tourism ethical?

Seeing the orangutans at Tanjung Puting In the middle of the jungle of Borneo, the paradox hit me. Surrounded by the rustling of the animals, hours from civilisation, it all became clear. The very thing that is threatening the wildlife population here is the same thing that could save it – human intervention.“You need to find a balance in life”, says Fred Galdikas from the Orangutan Foundation International.“The good thing is people are more aware… the bad thing is we’re bringing more people here.”So the issue stuck with me… Should I, as a tourist, be intruding on the animals’ land? Or will my presence here ultimately help them?Yesterday I wrote about joining Fred to visit the orangutan conservation camps in Tanjung Puting National Park in Kalimantan (the Indonesian part of Borneo). He grew up here amongst the animals and, along with his mother and other workers, has dedicated his life to...

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23 October