strange behaviors

Cool doings from the natural and human worlds

  • Richard Conniff

  • Reviews for Richard Conniff’s Books

    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)

  • Wall of the Dead

  • Categories

  • Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘urbanization’

Habitat on Our Doorsteps: Making Room for Wildlife in an Urbanized World

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 3, 2018

(Illustration: Luisa Rivera)

by Richard Conniff/Yale Environment 360

One morning not long ago, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, I traveled with a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist on a switchback route up and over the high ridge of the Western Ghats. Our itinerary loosely followed the corridor connecting Bhadra Tiger Reserve with Kudremakh National Park 30 miles to the south.

In places, we passed beautiful shade coffee plantations, with an understory of coffee plants, and pepper vines — a second cash crop — twining up the trunks of the shade trees. Coffee plantations managed in this fashion, connected to surviving patches of natural forest, “provide continuous camouflage for the predators,” — especially tigers moving through by night, my guide explained, and wildlife conflict was minimal.  Elsewhere, though, the corridor narrowed to a thread winding past sprawling villages, and conservationists played a double game, part handholding to help people live with large predators on their doorsteps, part legal combat to keep economic interests from nibbling into the wildlife corridor from both sides. It was a microcosm of how wildlife hangs on these days, not just in India, but almost everywhere in the world.

For conservationists, protecting biodiversity has in recent years become much less about securing new protected areas in pristine habitat and more about Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Posted in Biodiversity, Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Seven Ways to Make Your City Wildlife Friendly

Posted by Richard Conniff on March 14, 2015

(Photo: Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

A few years ago I was visiting the west Baltimore neighborhood that inspired the American television series Homicide and The Wire. It was an urban wasteland, the brick row houses largely abandoned and boarded over. Whoever used to live here had long since gone away. Then we turned a corner onto North Carrollton Avenue, and for one city block it was a miracle:  Handsome old trees formed a green canopy over the street. The houses were occupied and well tended. Someone was selling flavored ices at a stand in the shade in the middle of the block. The trees, a local woman told me, made all the difference, shading the houses, filtering the air, and making it easier to breathe. There were birds and squirrels in the branches overhead.

That visit comes to mind because I have been thinking lately about ways to make cities more livable, for people and wildlife alike. The rapid urbanization of the Earth is the dominant movement of this century, and the sprawling, unplanned growth of cities and suburbs tends to leave behind patches of greenery only by accident—a few neglected parks, some street trees here and there, and the occasional sliver of protected land. Wildlife gets crowded out and pushed toward extinction.

Plenty of studies have already demonstrated that street trees and other green spaces tend to reduce crime, improve health, build stronger neighborhoods, encourage investment in housing stock, slow stormwater runoff and lower pollution. So let’s focus on the wildlife for now. Cities are not ideal wildlife habitat, but they are increasingly the only habitat. So what do we need to do to make room for wildlife in our increasingly urbanized world?

Plan for Green Space

Add some trees along a street, and you’ve got someplace where birds can rest or roost. Add a park at the end of that street, even a small one, and now you’ve got a spot where migrating birds can stop and eat on their way to or from their breeding grounds. Even adding just 150 square meters of green space—that’s 10 parking spaces—will bring one additional bird species into a neighborhood, according to a 2013 study by urban greening specialist Paige Warren at the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. The green space can include a community garden that benefits human residents. Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators will also show up, said Warren, “even in very dense metropolitan areas like in Manhattan.”

Make those Green Spaces Connect

Multiple parks or gardens that are connected make for exponentially

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Biomimicry | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Why 2015 Should be a Good Year for Wildlife

Posted by Richard Conniff on January 9, 2015

(Photo: David Fettes/Getty Images)

(Photo: David Fettes/Getty Images)

 

There’s always plenty of reason to get depressed about the prospects for wildlife at the start of the New Year.  Environmentalists were, for instance, unable to stop last weekend’s predator hunting derby by Idaho’s abundant population of anti-wolf idiots.  But there’s good news, too: They didn’t kill any.  (In fact, it took the sound and fury of 125 hunters to shoot just 30 coyotes).

Better still, a study published last month in the journal Science reported that even if the Idaho effete tremble at the idea of living with their native predators, Europe is handling them just fine.  In fact, the continent that gave us “Little Red Riding Hood” and “the Big Bad Wolf,” is now home to twice as many wolves as the contiguous United States, despite being half the size and more than twice as densely populated.  Look for wolves to expand their range this year, building on recent forays into Denmark and Belgium. Thanks to its equivalent of the Endangered Species Act, Europe also manages to live happily with an estimated 17,000 brown bears compared with just 1,800 grizzly bears in the U.S. Lower 48.

My point is that we should start the New Year not in frustration and despair at the plight of wildlife, but intent on success, because the worldwide fight for wildlife has in fact compiled an extraordinary record of achievement.  (I’m thinking of

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Environmental Issues | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »