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.
(To the tune of Lorde’s Royals – I might do a video as it’s hard to read it)
A Cnidarian colonial
Existing with motility sessile
The reef is quite baronial
For all the creatures in which to nestle
Such as the sponges, clownfish, purple nudibranches –
Turtles, urchins, zooxanthelae patches.
They don’t care – it’s the habitat of their dreams.
And so there’s mollusks, sea stars, lots of phytoplankton –
Morays, lobsters, an invertabraic sanctum –
All they need is an ocean in which feed.
But we’re losing our coral (coral)
Wrap your arm in a black band
As reefs slowly fill with sand
Oh its end is close at hand.
Growing ever smaller (smaller)
Turning to a bone white reef.
And baby soon, oh soon, oh soon, oh soon –
They might be a fantasy.
Scientists have cracked the code.
They’ve figured out the ocean acidification –
Can cause polyps to grow and glow brighter in color
A sign of their stagnation.
The warmer water causes lower reef health –
Symbiotic algae finding itself expelled
Leaving it – susceptible to disease.
Leaving this diverse and vibrant sea life ecosystem
To slowly wither as in a food web cataclysm –
Why do we care? Our marine life is under there.
But we do need coral (Coral)
It fixes nitrogen and carbon
At levels seen as a bargain
Compared to land plants’ own burden –
They stop big waves sooner (sooner)
Preventing bad erosion.
They kickstart life, start life, start life, start life
In the seabed of the ocean.
Coral Reefs are amazing habitats of biodiversity. They protect shorelines, help provide data for climate scientists, and are dying. Along with ocean warming due to climate change, acidification as carbon is absorbed isn’t helping.
This whole series of poems is preachy; this one is a bit more so, I guess. Jumping back from sandwiches and vaccines to a pretty serious problem. We can survive without pangolins, but we need coral reefs. We really do – they kickstart food chains we are part of, marine speaking.
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.
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.
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.
A journey of slow descent to the ocean floor.
Does it begin as the spirit leaves?
Will it’s family miss
Now it’s gone?
On the floor of the Ocean.
Blue Whales are one of several species of endangered whales. The Blue Whale is the largest animal that we know of to ever have lived on Earth. Despite its great size, it eats some of the smallest – existing on krill and plankton strained into its great baleen plates.
Whales are big. Unbelievably big. To paraphrase Douglas Adams, you think an Elephant eclipses your buddy Roy, but it’s just peanuts to a whale. The only whale I have seen is a humpback, and I was completely thrown by the size. Blue Whales are over twice as large (their heart is the size of a small car). A blue whale calf can be 40 feet long!
They are threatened by hunting and ocean health in general. As with most ocean species, climate change is having an adverse effect.
While doing research for this poem, I found a great little write-up on whale fall by Ursula Vernon. Poetic (though likely inaccurate) to imagine an old whale passing peacefully in the ocean, sinking slowly to the floor to create entire ecosystems.
He’s the “man of the forest,” alone in the trees
With a bearded visage and short reaching knees.
An arboreal lifestyle, shy, what a pity.
Oh long-armed friend, won’t you come to the city?
You say forest only, I’m not convinced on that thought.
You’re too anti-social, I think it best you ought
To give apartment living a try.
These big city flats are incredibly high.
Swing from the flagpoles, enter by roof.
Throw on a hoodie, draw it tight – and poof!
No one would bother you at the fruit stand
They’d think you a long-armed, fuzzy old man.
Possibly a client of an espresso shop
Who sits “novelling” until the herbal tea is hot.
Or stay in the woods! But, know that I care.
I worry the woods won’t always be there.
The fruit it is fresh and the air it is clean.
I’ll understand if you refuse the urban scene.
There are three species of Orangutan – Sumatran, Bornean, and Tapnuli. They are all quite endangered.
Orangutans eat mainly fruit and leave most of their lives in the canopy. Compared to all primates, they are the least social. Long arms, very fuzzy, with red hair. This allows them great skill when re-shelving library books as well.
Likely, they also do not live near a city center, but given their anti-social tendencies, I do think they may be sneaking into indie band concerts and giving opinions on cold brew coffee.
No Rhino need knows it has a nose that is known
I doubt it would keep it from strife.
It’s horn it grows until it shows those prone
For extracting it along with its life.
The Rhinos foes do not oppose or bemoan
A horn be it black, white, or Javan
They goes to meadows where it is grown
Do the deed and don’t bother to dwell on.
The rhino knows not its nose is known
By foes who impose wildlife.
The rhino grows in peace solitary, alone
And isn’t awake for the knife.
While perhaps a measure of frivolity is welcome, it is a challenge to bring to the Rhinoceros. The most threatened extant species are the Black, Javan and Sumatran. The Javan has less than 60 individuals. While a challenge to tell a person they should not hunt animals for food (in the case of the gorilla), the rhino is poached for its horn.
The horns are ground up and used for medicine despite having all the effect of a mug of nail clippings. This is why they are shot and killed – so their horn can be removed. Conservation efforts are considered poor at best in most cases. The White Rhino has made a comeback in recent years, but is once again seeing a decline in numbers.
Thankfully, Rhinos can often be found in zoos. They are beautiful, amazing creatures if you ever have the chance. Their skin is thick and appears plated. They feature in one of Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So stories as well.
Matthew Abel writes a bit and likes some things, but not everything. He would like to be independently wealthy.