Venomous EDGE animal becomes BBC star
Wednesday 2 June 2010
Conservationists from top UK institutions, including ZSL, have been joined by BBC News’s science reporter Rebecca Morelle, on a mission to save the Hispaniolan solenodon.
Calling their project The Last Survivors, Rebecca joined the team as they ventured into the forests of the Dominican Republic, in search of the only mammal in the world that can inject venom through its teeth.
Found in the forests and brush country of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the solenodon is now classified as endangered, with the Haitian population thought to be almost extinct.
The BBC team have been able to follow the ZSL’s Dr. Sam Turvey and the rest of The Last Survivors team in action. Various news articles have already been on the BBC website, with radio and TV broadcasts to follow soon.
Carly Waterman, ZSL’s EDGE Programme Manager, commented “It is wonderful to see the solenodon receiving so much media attention. Having been on the planet for over 76 million years its long-awaited moment of fame has finally arrived.
“The solenodon is a fantastic flagship for the conservation of the extraordinary forgotten species highlighted by the EDGE programme, without which our planet would be a much poorer place”.
Before European colonisation of Hispaniola, the insectivore species was one of the dominant predators on the island. As a result it has never evolved any ‘anti-predator’ defences.
A slow, clumsy mover, it is poorly equipped to defend itself against introduced predators such as dogs, cats and mongooses.
Special Event – July 2010
A special photographic exhibition and lecture series is being held at London’s Apothecary Gallery in conjunction with the Last Survivors Conservation Project.
The event will be a rate opportunity to discover more about the challenges of solenodon and hutia conservation, and life on the island of Hispaniola through the ages, as well as share in the project’s successes to date.
All proceeds from the event will go towards the Last Survivors Conservation Project.
Talks by Project Leader, Dr Jose Nunez-Mino and Scientific Advisor, Dr Samuel Turvey, will be held on Wednesday 7 July, Friday 9 July and Wednesday 14 July, with each evening covering a different topic.
An exhibition of photographs by some outstanding Dominican photographers will complement the talks.
EDGE of Existence
The EDGE of Existence programme is the only global conservation initiative to focus specifically on threatened species that represent a significant amount of unique evolutionary history.