If you travel Fringed Hill in New Zealand fair
Take care for fragile eggs grow there.
They are not laid, or set or placed.
They grew from mycological lace.
It runs ‘neath the ground, in threads microscopic
Until its fruiting body becomes periscopic
Popping out of the ground brown and round till it shows
A pale white center near the base of your toes.
This fungus amongus is considerably rare,
Found only on Fringed Hill in New Zealand fair.
On the high slopes of four Volcanoes
In the mountainous mountains of Mexico
A rabbit, almost the smallest of all,
Hides in the forest to grow.
Like most lagomorphs, it is eats mostly plants
But may gain some protein from a snack of small ants.
As it dines and drinks during the twilight
Heading to bed before it’s darkest night.
These diminutive bunnies hide in the Zacaton
Away from the predators seeking to snack on
The Volcano Rabbit. And of course there is man
Who used to make farmland as fast as it can.
But, despite a habitat split into fractions,
There have been good people taking good actions
To preserve this example of genetic diversity
And to help it overcome it’s eco-adversity.
Eggs and Rabbits are inexplicably linked with the Easter Holiday – an example that synergy and branding are very old concepts indeed. Fischer’s Eggs are egg-like fungus growing in New Zealand. It is a surprise to many that, yes, even mushrooms can be endangered. Though, fungus and bacteria possess incredible genetic diversity with new species discovered in differing teaspoons of forest soil!
The Volcano Rabbit has a heavy metal name, but would likely die if placed in a mosh pit. It is larger than only the pygmy rabbit in the world of rabbits, closely resembling a pika. Which is an animal that looks a lot like a rabbit, but isn’t one. It lives in Mexico on Four Volcanoes. Most of its troubles are a loss of habitat due to humanity. So, you know, humans are the worst.
If you ever see a silhouette on the Gobi vista,
It may be the envy of every fashionista –
With eyelash thick and lush with nary a mascara,
To keep the sun and sand away from its sclera.
The Bactrian is a champion of mammalian survival,
In the rocky desert, defeating every trial.
A needle, a prickle, an edible rock?
It eats it, it chews it, without sense of shock.
It’s soles are as leather, thick, wide, and sturdy.
Fur, warm as heather, red, thick, and curly.
Two humps rise up on the ridge of the spine,
Droopy if unhealthy, plump and high if its fine.
Related, it’s true, to those domesticated,
But can drink seawater until it’s thirst is sated.
Wild populations were found to be best
In an area victim to Nuclear tests!
They aren’t mean, but aren’t nice, so keep yourself wary –
This Bactrian’s meaner than your own dromedary.
Traders know the value with a saying that’s common –
Translated it means “Mo’ humps, mo’ problems.”
The Wild Bactrian Camel used to be thought a feral version of its domesticated cousin. However, as happens, DNA testing shows this is not the case! They are distant relatives, but very similar. Camels themselves are thought to have originated in North America and crossed to Asia on a land bridge.
Due to the harsh conditions of the Gobi, these camels are tough. They can eat any vegetation, drink any clean water (salt or fresh or frozen) available, and even smoke cigarettes. They are a sturdy, incredible ungulate.
When you’re the world’s smallest mammal
It’s tough to be brave
So inside the forest you find
Hang upside down for most of the Day
At sunset, wake up and head on your way.
But not for too long – only time to devour
As many insects as possible in a half hour.
Then back to the cave until a quarter to dawn
To eat a bit more before nature’s lights come on.
Egg laid upon leaf Hatch into verdant shoreside. Swim toward future.Nymph within water Cascading jaws intake prey Mosquitoes beward.Dragonfly on the post Molted wings dried by suns’ warmth – Soar across water.Wings dry from sunshine Dragonfly of last molting Soar across water.Halfway to our goal, I felt time for Haiku was ripe. Haiku are easy, but hard. Great ones escape me, but they are a good exercise to teach meter. Dragonflies are an important creature in Japanese culture.Dragonflies are connected to the ecological web deeply. Pollution affects them greatly as they exist in the water. Their prey as adults also comes from the water. It is a great example of the cycle of life. Due to this, several species are threatened to endangered (Hine’s Emerald comes to mind). Insects (see bees) can be thought of as creepy or scary. This is especially true for folks from more urban areas who attend natural areas where bugs are bugs. The Dragonfly plays an incredibly important role in the web of wetland and watershed areas. It leaves humans alone.And incredible spring sight is a dragonfly, recently molted, drying its wings in the sunshine.
Some choose to dine in a life of fine living and exotic meat –
Is the life of Pangolins worth only a tasty treat?
Let us document with vigor, in rigorous alliance
To determine the flavor of one through double-blinded science!
Our goal is narrow, simple, clear – are pangolins delicious?
Accompanied with wine or beer? Are they found nutritious?
Appropriate in stir fry, or perhaps a stew with roots?
Nestled in a marble rye? Diced small with citrus fruits?
Yes, these answers we set to obtain at a dinner party tonight.
Served whole from tail to brain – the first course is a fright.
Regard the animal’s thick scales. I suspect one should remove them first.
Worse than chewing fingernails – this first course is the worst.
Guests next sample soup, then cheese made from the mammalian ducts
(A delicate culinary coup – we really are in luck!)
A braise, a boil, a fricassee, followed by carpaccio
As we all do wish to see if raw has more flavor to show.
Nine pangolins, then ten, and twenty, eaten from the wild.
Knowledge provided so we many can stop a population defiled.
After Pangolin pudding eaten cold, we compared our notes in anguish
Discovering it best between two rolls in a dense Pangolin Sandwich.
First you take a pangolin and trim it free of scales,
Then stand over the kitchen sink to eject a mournful wail.
This helps assuage the guilt before your morbid feast.
Take a whole wheat roll and split it on opposite sides of the beast.
Pangolin, it benefits from addition of a spicy aioli
As well as thin layers of cheese, taking care to slice it slowly.
When is best to devour this rich and ripe repast?
You’ll have to hunt it quickly, because it’s going fast.
At the risk of good taste, hopefully some levity in the proceedings. Pangolins suffer from a reputation as an exotic and tasty meat desired by the wealthy. An unbelievable number are taken from the wild each year to be consumed. Their scales are used as medicine. As with the Rhino – they are keratin rich. Perhaps the ill rich could eat their own toenails?
A pangolin eats ants and is really an interesting creature to see. They are largely nocturnal, able to swim, and deeply endangered. There are eight species of them. They also have stink glands for defense and marking.
I wish to make it clear I do not advocate the eating of pangolins.
What power in flights of the bumblebee
Hovering abuzz among sweet flowers
I admit one so small does humble me.
Blossom to bloom, wings flap and rumble free
Climbing petals to apex of bower
What power in flights of the bumble bee.
Swiping pollen to stamen in umbel sea
Sipping nectar, flitting hour to hour
I admit one so small does humble me.
Brave men grunt in wild, yet with grumbling flee
(The threat of stinger leads them to cower)
What power in flights of the bumblebee.
Home made in remains of a crumbled tree
Five thousand flowers a day it empowers.
I admit one so small does humble me.
Alas, my poem serves as short fumbled plea
For their scarcity fills me with dour.
What power in flights of the bumble bee –
I admit one so small does humble me.
The rusty-patched bumblebee is a bumblebee and it is endangered. The world of bees is shaken to its core. Many culprits have arisen, though I suspect many culprits are guilty. Bumblebees, mason bees, other bees – are better at pollinating than honeybees. But we get honey from honeybees. Maybe that’s why?
The rusty-patch does live in large colonies. It is named for a rust-colored patch of hair on its abdomen. Bumblebees are not necessarily friendly, but they tend to leave people alone if left alone themselves. They can sometimes be found, exhausted, lying on the ground. Sometimes a bit of sugar water can energize them. Individual bees do not have long lifespans, however – they exist to serve the colony.
Bees are terribly important ecologically, also economically.
The poem is a villanelle. I have written exactly one before this, but I’m quite happy with how it turned out. I also hope we can help the bees.
Will you be within African Forest?
Or the yellow plain of the Savannah?
Sumatra within the bright rainforest?
Within the pages of the Brahmana?
You stand, great bulk towering over all
The creatures of land. Plain or verdant wood.
Should I meet you, I do not intend gall
But as I clasp hand to trunk, brotherhood.
Your family dominates the sunset
Trumpeting the gentle descent of night.
Such a meeting, I would not soon forget
But hold in memory well past daylight.
For the elephant remembers it’s friends.
I offer reciprocity to that end.
This may be the 2nd sonnet I’ve ever written in my life. About elephants! About a third of the way through the month, I decided elephants could pop up. I was trying to avoid the most well-known species for a bit, but I obviously failed earlier with the rhino.
Elephants have two species: African and Asian. The African is the larger of the two, and always has tusks. Each is split into subspecies. All are Endangered in some way.
Elephants, being large enough to hold up magical worlds, eat a lot. Due to the loss of grazing land for their massive
diets, they begin to die out. Elephants show great intelligence, kindness, clarity. The remember medical clinics where they can get help – and help others. They have saved the lives of humans. They are known to mourn their dead in funeral.
This poem is somewhat personal, silly as it may sound, because I have always wanted to meet and befriend an elephant. They are one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet.
We may go to Mars one day
And sail across the stars one way.
Upon red dirt, humanity may claim
A future against the earth’s mad shame.
This porpoise, too, forced from its home
Travels to lakes, no current to roam.
Away from river, with fishers and boats
Alone in the water, lest a calf it on dotes.
A traveler to a world not it’s own.
Never again to see the Yangtze of home.
The Yangtze River Porpoise is a finless freshwater porpoise. It is dying in the Yangtze River of home, so scientists have been moving it with some success to nearby freshwater lakes. This re-homing may save the species, but not the habitat.
There used to be another finless freshwater porpoise only a dozen years ago. Sadly…
In the forests of Indochina
Lives an ungulate of mystery.
You may never see it living
As the sunlight hits the trees.
The Saola (or the spindlehorn)
Has a discovery so young –
It’s less than thirty years we’ve
Known it and it’s barbed tongue.
Adept as a strict vegetarian
It feasts on plants and leaves
Solitary and hiding deep
To protect itself from thieves.
Saola! Play your hide-and-seek.
Do it well so none can find.
For your rarity adds value
Creating danger from mankind.
The Saola was discovered in 1992 and almost immediately earned a place on the endangered species list. It is the only member of its genus and incredibly hard to find. This lack of data makes it even harder to keep protected and it is not currently known how many still live.
It’s rarity makes a bold kill for local hunters. Due to the economic and cultural attitudes of its home region, it is an enormous challenge for conservationists to protect it from hunting. This is an area that survives on subsistence and eats what it can find. One great challenge of conservation is local attitudes – many sensible given living conditions. Can one ask humans to starve to protect an ungulate?
There is not much hope for the saola, but it remains a unique and beautiful creature.
Matthew Abel writes a bit and likes some things, but not everything. He would like to be independently wealthy.