Bird of the Week: Jerdon’s Babbler

Thank you, Justin!
This article by Justin Moyer /photo courtesy of WCS

Though we’re officially in the the Holocene (“entirely recent”) epoch, some scientists say we’re actually living in an age they call the Anthropocene. As Smithsonian magazine put it: “They argue for ‘Anthropocene’ — from anthropo, for ‘man,’ and cene, for ‘new’ — because humankind has caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere, among other lasting impacts.”

Sure, homo sapiens isn’t perfect. Sure, some say we’ve killed off half the world’s animals since 1970, and species are going extinct 1,000 times faster because humans are hanging around wreaking havoc. But if a day of reckoning ever comes, there’s one critter we can say we didn’t entirely dispose of: Jerdon’s babbler (Chrysomma altirostre). The small brown bird, last seen in 1941, was recently rediscovered in Myanmar.

Now, there’s nothing all that special about the Jerdon’s babbler. It’s just about six inches tall. It lacks the majesty of the bald eagle and the literary baggage of the albatross. It has no magic powers, and is not the harbinger of anything.

But, despite humanity’s best efforts, the babbler survives, flitting about Myanmar’s grasslands – an environment that faces an uncertain future because of human encroachment.

“The degradation of these vast grasslands had led many to consider this subspecies of Jerdon’s Babbler extinct,” Colin Poole, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s regional conservation hub in Singapore, said in a statement. “This discovery not only proves that the species still exists in Myanmar but that the habitat can still be found as well.”

First discovered in the 1860s, the babbler had not been seen in decades, and was located last year using a dirty acoustical trick. Upon hearing the subspecies’ distinctive song, scientists recorded it and played the recording back – and, lo and behold, a real live specimen of an animal missing since World War II came to check out what was up.

Researchers, who found a number of other specimens and were able to take blood samples, will now study the rediscovered animals to determine how they differ from other birds in the area – and how they are faring. After all, where’s there’s life, there’s hope.

Finding several birds is a “very good sign,” Richard Thomas, a council member of the Oriental Bird Club, told National Geographic. “”It suggests they’re … okay, and the habitat is still there.”

Time To Get Serious About Wildlife

Reading the UN News can make you cry sometimes. Today another article puts on record the illegal wildlife trade.  As rhinos are slaughtered their numbers dwindle and many of our large mammals may soon disappear off the face of the Earth if we don’t get real serious putting a stop to it.

I write this today in memory of a baby black rhino named Maalim that was rescued by the Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project after it’s mother was brutally killed and her horn cut off.  Save World Draw visited Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project in Kenya shortly after they rescued Maalim and I just fell in love with this unbelievable animal, cute as can be. Rhinos have lived in this this region long before man invaded its territory.  Save World Draw, along with many others, sponsored Maalim for about two years until he died from a disease. He was just too weak to fight it off.  This picture taken by Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project is of Maalim playing with his little mattress that he would throw over his back to snuggle down for the night. Maalim, you are not forgotten and may you rest in peace.

Today, March 3, 2015, is World Wildlife Day, and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon talked about illegal wildlife trade and how it degrades ecosystems. The UN General Assembly in 2013  adopted an agreement on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Too late to save Maalim who if raised my his mother in the wild would have had much better chance of  survival.

Bravo to Secretary-General Ban, whose comments give voice to this cause: “Combatting this crime is not only essential for conservation efforts and sustainable development; it will contribute to achieving peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fuelled by these illegal activities.”  The Secretary-General adds, “Getting serious about wildlife crime means enrolling the support of all sections of society involved in the production and consumption of wildlife products, which are widely used as medicines, food, building materials, furniture, cosmetics, clothing and accessories.”

According to the United Nations, CITES:


  • As many as 100,000 African elephants were killed between 2010 and 2012.
  • Population of forest elephants are estimated to have experienced a 62% decline between 2002 and 2011.
  • In Asia, poached African ivory was valued at $165 to $188 million. remaining virtually unchanged in 2014 compared to 2013.


  • 1,215 rhinos were poached in South Africa alone in 2014 – this translates to one rhino killed every eight hours.
  • 94 per cent of rhino poaching takes place in South Africa, which has the largest remaining populations
  • In 2014, poached rhino horns are valued at $63 to $192 million.

Apes: Chimpanzees, Gorillas & Bonobos in Africa; Orangutans in Asia

Illicit trafficking in live great apes is estimated (at a minimum) lost from the wild over the last 14 months of (from GRASP records) :

  • 220 chimpanzees,
  • 106 orangutans,
  • 33 bonobos, and
  • 15 gorillas

“Wildlife crime is a transnational organized crime generating billions of dollars and undermining development. It is also an inter-generational crime that can permanently scar the world through the loss of some of our most beautiful creatures.  To stop this, we must act now,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Yes, we hope to see the UN Development Program (UNDP) deal with wildlife crime by concentrating on law enforcement, updating laws and educating communities. Regions in Asia and Africa must partner with neighboring countries and work together to stop illegal trade in these precious animals. What has taken them so long?

“World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to  celebrate wildlife, but it is also a wake-up call to get serious about wildlife crime. We must all do more to halt the illegal trade in wildlife. UNDP and its partners are committed to this task,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark recently. Actually, the wake-up call has been there a long time. I pray that with the serious involvement of the UN, we can see some real action on this problem before it’s too late. I ask my readers to follow the UN’s promise to take action; check out their link below. Let them know of the urgency for many of these animals and let’s not forget the birds, too. This may be their last hope.

UN adopts new global platform to tackle wildlife, forest crime

If you haven’t heard of the NGO, Sheldrick Trust Orphans Project for baby elephants and baby rhinos, I invite you to click on this link and sponsor a baby elephant or baby rhino through them. You won’t regret it.