New ebook: on African Elephant / Conservation

A new – and free – 51 page ebook about elephants is available for download from iTunes. Rich in media including video the ebook aims to explain the distribution, physiology and social life of this long-lived, intelligent animal.  You will see the elephant living its natural life in original photography and video clips. Given the dire predictions about future survival, it is important that we all understand and appreciate this magnificent animal and act to save it. Written for the non-specialist of all ages, this book aims to make a small contribution to the elephants’ conservation. This e-book is intended for the iPad and shows the African elephant in the…

Review of 5 Elephants by Rob Laidlaw

One of my most memorable zoo visits was to Toronto Zoo in 2012 with the Zoocheck Canada director, Rob Laidlaw. It was a great experience to see African Elephants, Toka, Thika and Iringa before they travelled across Canada and USA to their new abode at the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary in San Andreas, California. In my opinion, the transfer of the three Toronto Zoo elephants marks the greatest achievement in the history of Zoocheck Canada, a wild animal protection charity established in 2012. 5 Elephants is Rob Laidlaw’s personal endeavour to help human beings relate to elephants as individuals, both in the wild and in captivity. Given that elephants are…

TV Review: Poaching Wars – too much pad not enough depth

Finally I’ve managed to sit down and watch the first part of ITV’s mini documentary series Poaching Wars. Firstly I have to say I did enjoy the episode but it was clearly edited with the international – and mainly US – market in mind. The programme started well but after 40 minutes the pointless padding started to appear which provided network operators with the ability to chop up the programme for ad breaks which tend to be more and longer than in the UK. Why else would the programme spend so much time on Tom Hardy being childish and fooling around on a hammock? The problem though was that this extra padding…

New Product: Solar Trail solar powered camera trap

New Product: Solar Trail solar powered camera trap

The Solar Trail camera trap is a boom to wildlife watchers who want to leave their cameras out in the field for a long period of time without the worry of the batteries going flat. The trail camera has a rechargeable battery that is kept fully charged up by an attached solar panel. It was only a question of time before this type of facility was added to the camera traps as increasingly they are being left out in the field for longer periods. It’s not just the animals that are being photographed but increasingly these types of cameras are being used in anti-poaching activities. The Solar Trail also has…

Springwatch rustles a few feathers over nesting

Just catching up on yesterday’s BBC Springwatch programme and it appears that one of the items has caused a fair bit of controversy on the internet forums and in the media. The culprit was a feature on field craft on how to find bird nests. Sadly lots of people are complaining about the feature and the ‘damage’ that could be done to birds. It so sad that so many people are still letting their hearts rule their heads where wildlife is concerned. Taking a quick peek at a nest when you are out on a wildlife walk is not going to cause any problems to a bird. This was made…

Review – Stealth Gear one man photographic hide

Review – Stealth Gear one man photographic hide

I’ve never used a professional portable photographic hide before for wildlife photography. For me a bit of camo netting is quick and easy to use and light to carry and if you can find some suitable branches you can usually make a pretty efficient makeshift hide. It was with some trepidation that I chose to buy this photographic hide. But it is well worth the investment. The hide incorporates a chair so it offers a bit of comfort as well as shelter from the worst of the weather. It was surprisingly light for the size of the backpack and with wide padded shoulder straps the hide is very easy to…

David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities

David Attenborough is back on prime time TV with his BBC series Africa. But his fans need not be disappointed when the series comes to a close as he has a brand new series starting later this month on Eden. Called Natural Curiosities the series is exclusive to Eden. Starting on 29th January Sir David will take a close look at some of the more wondrous and unique aspects of the natural world which will fascinate any wildlife lover. The series will be concentrating on some of the species that Sir David has found most intriguing in his 60 years of global travel and wildlife film making. The 5 part…

From Whales to Rhinos the wars continue

Whale Wars on Animal Planet – part of the Discovery Channel and countless satellite and cable channels – has been a massive success with many viewers. It was only a question of time before that same formula was taken out to other endangered species. The fight to save the rhino is the next step for Animal Planet. In their winter roll out of programmes for the coming season they have announced not just a new series of Whale Wars but also a new series called Battlefield: Rhino Wars. The series will follow the exploits of a team of rangers – ex-special forces and commandos from the US working in South…

TV Review: Wild At Heart the final episode

Finally I’ve had the time to catch up on some Christmas viewing through catch up TV. For me the highlight of the season had to be the final episode of Wild At Heart. It was a feature length 90 minute episode that finished a much loved series about a vet in Africa. The final episode took the series back to what made it so popular in the first place. There was humour, a great feel good factor with a family coming together to overcome problems and there was the stunning African scenery and wildlife. Wild At Heart seemed to have lost it’s way in the last series and possibly last…

Review: Hama Cable Release For Digital Cameras

The Hama cable release for digital cameras is a universal cable that has both benefits and negatives. If you are willing to make a few easy adjustments to your digital camera then it can be a really useful gadget especially if you are into digiscoping. If you use a compact digital camera for your digiscoping then keeping any movement to a minimum can really help boost the quality of your pictures particularly when you are at high magnification. Using some sort of remote shutter release will help you to achieve this. However most compact digital cameras do not offer this option. One solution is to use the Hama cable release. This shutter…

TV Review: Branson says get up and walk out if restaurant has shark fin on the menu

With the choice of english speaking TV a bit limited at the moment I stumbled on Bloomberg TV while hunting around the cable stations. The Asia Business programme was showing an interview with Sir Richard Branson. There was a lot of discussion about the environment and wildlife in relation to the Asian region and Sir Richard has predicted that China will have a complete ban on shark fin soup within 3 years. It’s certainly feasible as China has now banned shark fin soup for all state and official banquets. A general ban would not be such a big step. In the meantime Sir Richard said that anyone who goes into a restaurant…

Review: Praktica 20-60x zoom spotting scope

Review: Praktica 20-60x zoom spotting scope

This review covers my latest spotting scope from Praktica  – the B00514 which is the angled zoom scope with a 77mm lens and 20 to 60 times eye-piece.  It’s an easy to use spotting scope that is ideal for beginners or those looking for a good general workhorse spotting scope that is rugged and can be taken out into the field. The Praktica is well-built and is rubber armoured to allow it to withstand all the knocks and bumps that it will inevitably get when in use. The scope is waterproof which allows it to be used in a range of weather conditions though I wouldn’t be too keen on standing out in heavy rain…

TV Review: Natural World – Tiger Island

The Natural World series on BBC2 can always be relied on to provide highly entertaining and informative programming. Just what is needed as we head into the Olympics. Tiger Island was all about the Sumatran tiger – but with a difference. This programme looked at a local millionaire businessman who wanted to rehabilitate man-eating tigers, so-called conflict tigers, and then to release them back into the wild. Even amongst the tiger experts around the world the idea of releasing conflict tigers back into the wild is controversial.   It’s essential though that every Sumatran tiger is given the chance of life if the species is to survive. With about 600 left in the…

DVD Review: The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau

DVD Review: The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau

With my latest Amazon commission gift voucher I opted to get this series of DVD of my childhood hero and it finally arrived yesterday. So last night I settled down to a Jacques Cousteau  undersea fest. And it was as good to watch last night as it was 40 years ago. This box set contains all of Costeau’s programmes made for the Undersea world series between 1967 and 1976. It’s a great marine wildlife series of DVD’s but now it’s also an important document of environmental history.  I got through 4 of the 36 programmes in the box set and it is amazing how far we have come in understanding the marine environment. the programmes…

TV Review: Secrets of our Living Planet BBC2

If the first programme of the BBC nature series Secrets of Our Living Planet is anything to go by I think the BBC has another  major ward winning wildlife  programme in its portfolio. The series, presented by Chris Packham, is both educational and entertaining presenting the science of ecology in an easily understandable but not condescending manner. This first programme was entitled the Emerald Band and took us on a journey into the synergistic relationships that can be found between the plants and animals in the tropical forests of South America, Central Africa and the islands of Asia. The moment to savour in the first programme for me was the sight…

TV Review: Springwatch 2012 BBC2

Well what a difference a week can make in the world of wildlife. Coronation Street had its tram wreck and Emmerdale Farm had its plane crash so a change in the weather appears to have wiped out half of the staring cast of this years Springwatch. If the new broods were not starving to death because of a lack of insects, they were drowning and if not drowning the predators were having a feast. Flaming June may not be living up to its name but Darwin’s survival of the fittest is certainly coming in to play. With all the death and destruction, together with a bit of mother-son incest, you have…

TV Review: Jimmy and the Giant Supermarket Channel 4

As a bit of a foodie who is concerned – to a limited degree – on how our food is produced it’s great to see Jimmy Doherty back in action again. This time it’s a short series where he is working to try and produce a high welfare version of three of Tescos biggest selling foods. The three foods that Jimmy is trying to produce will go head to head with Tescos own brand meatballs, pork sausages and chicken kievs. Last week he tried his hand at producing a value range of free-range meatballs and almost succeeded – the problem was that his recipe used rose veal – meat from young male calves – and the…

TV Review: Indian Ocean and Simon Reeve

There’s been a quietly entertaining and informative programme on BBC2 each Sunday night for the last few weeks. Indian Ocean with Simon Reeve follows Simon on his travels around the Indian Ocean and calls in on the countries that border it. There has been some really good eye-opening sections in the series and last weeks was no different. Last Sunday Simon visited India and Bangladesh and examined the prawn fishing industry. I stopped eating prawns about 10 years or so ago because of the devastating impacts on both the environment and human life that prawn fishing and farming produces. I know there are some certification schemes that aim to help you make a good…

TV Review: BBC1 Panorama Ivory Wars

The last 3 or 4 years has been particularly bad for elephants as poachers hunt them down for their tusks. It’s big business and profits runs into many millions of pounds each year. tonight’s Panorama programme took a look at the very real war that is going on between wildlife conservationists and the criminals behind the poachers. The poachers and criminal networks behind the trade in ivory are well armed – many modern armies would be pleased to have some of the weapons used by these poachers – and well organised. To keep ahead the authorities need to use the latest techniques to protect the herds of elephants. the programme showed…

BBC documentary leads to campaign to end trade in slow loris

After hosting a BBC Natural World documentary revealing the plight of the slow loris in Indonesia, a top primatologist has started a campaign to cease the trade in this particular threatened primate. Anna Nekaris, the host,  is Professor in Primate Conservation at Oxford Brookes University and specialises in lorises, nocturnal mammals and Asian primates. In the programme Jungle Gremlins of Java which was broadcast in January this year, Anna is followed by the cameras as she checks out the infamous pet markets in Jakarta. Here slow lorises and other vulnerable and endangered species are openly on sale. [pullquote]Our primate rehabilitation centre in Java is home to more than 100 slow lorises that have been rescued from the illegal…