Sunday, September 04, 2005

Urban Wildlife

It's easy to go looking for wildlife in wild areas, harder to open your eyes and your mind to the wild creatures that have found ways to exist in the eddies and cracks of the manufactured world humans call civilization. Yet these sturdy prevailing creatures and plants are here forcing a foothold in unwelcoming environs. Last night as we were dropped off at the curb after an evening out, we were pleasantly surprised to see an eight inch female alligator lizard on our steps. She was using the lure of our walkway lights to catch her fill of insects. Five feet away was one of her latest offspring. Only two and a half inches long, this miniature of its mother moved with her same serpentine wiggle.

This morning a swarm of tiny (1 mm) insects are creating a moving matrix on the dry ground beneath the Grevillia robusta in the backyard. They aren't on the moist ground where the sprinklers sprayed last night and they aren't 10 feet away on the hillside. I don't know what they are, but after three days of over 103 F degrees weather, the ground is alive with them. I'm hoping they are lizard food.

I spotted an uncommon Lorquin's admiral butterfly winging its way through the parking lot over the stripmall. A pale orb spider has a wonderful web next to the mail box. The jungle is all around us, waiting to reclaim the Earth.

Monday, May 23, 2005

2nd Annual Island Fox Festival Huge Success!

Small, cute, and critically endandgered. What more do you need to have a little attention directed your way? The island fox from the Channel Islands off California is about the size of a small house cat. On four of the six islands, the subspecies of this special fox have declined in number over 90% since the mid-1990s.

You don't have to go to a far off land to help save endangered plants and animals. The island fox is imperiled because of imbalances in the island ecosystem created by man–DDT, viruses and diseases from domestic pets, human introduction of nonnative plant and animals species, and native animals such as the golden eagle which have stepped in to fill the predatory bird void that DDT created when the fish-eating bald eagles were driven into extinction on the islands. In the late 1990s, golden eagles began preying on the unsuspecting foxes. In five years, the island fox population on San Miguel Island dropped from ~450 to 15.

The 2nd Annual Island Fox Festival at the Los Angeles Zoo on May 21, 2005 brought the foxes' story to children and adults.
It is natural to want to help save a cute creature like the island fox, but the complexity of the problem requires all of us working together and understanding that conservation sometimes requires difficult choices.

It is easy to tell people in a distant rainforest that they shouldn't cut down the forest trees. It is more difficult when the choices of action are your own. The more we know, the more information we have, the better we will all be at making informed choices to help preserve the land and the liviing things that we have the greatest voice about–those in our own backyard.