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    Every Creeping Thing: True Tales of Faintly Repulsive Wildlife: “Conniff is a splendid writer–fresh, clear, uncondescending, and with never a false step; one can’t resist quoting him.” (NY Times Book Review)

    The Species Seekers:  Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth by Richard Conniff is “a swashbuckling romp” that “brilliantly evokes that just-before Darwin era” (BBC Focus) and “an enduring story bursting at the seams with intriguing, fantastical and disturbing anecdotes” (New Scientist). “This beautifully written book has the verve of an adventure story” (Wall St. Journal)

    Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time by Richard Conniff  is “Hilariously informative…This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.” (Outside magazine) “Field naturalist Conniff’s animal adventures … are so amusing and full color that they burst right off the page …  a quick and intensely pleasurable read.” (Seed magazine) “Conniff’s poetic accounts of giraffes drifting past like sail boats, and his feeble attempts to educate Vervet monkeys on the wonders of tissue paper will leave your heart and sides aching.  An excellent read.” (BBC Focus magazine)

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Posts Tagged ‘leeches’

Discovering Mammals in Insect Soup and Leech Stew

Posted by Richard Conniff on August 7, 2013

The land leech as conservationist

The land leech as conservationist

By Richard Conniff/

Wandering through the forest in Madagascar a while back, I quickly became accustomed to having land leeches turn up on various parts of my body. “Filthy little devils,” iHumphrey Bogart called them, in The African Queen. The leeches were mainly annoying because anticoagulants in their saliva caused the wounds to bleed long after I had flicked the leeches themselves back into the underbrush. It  never occurred to me that I was tampering with one of the most sophisticated and cost effective biological monitoring tools ever invented.

Imagine your mission is to visit a remote protected area and determine the presence of the Annamite striped rabbit (Nesolagus timminsi), first discovered in the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam and Laos in the 1990s, and rarely seen since then. You have tried using camera traps in likely habitats for 2000 nights—that’s more than five years—without success. Monitoring on foot has also failed to produce results, as rare mammals are often nocturnal and have typically managed to survive because they live in steep, wet, densely vegetated places. They also tend to be heavily hunted. So they naturally flee from humans. What to do?

Go out and ask the leeches what they’ve been eating.

Resarchers recently tested the method in the Central Annamite region of Vietnam, using the time-honored technique of picking the leeches—25 of them—off their own   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Conservation and Extinction, Cool Tools, Environmental Issues, Species Classification | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »