Showing posts with label Real Life Heroes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Real Life Heroes. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Celebrating World Dog Day today

World Dog Day Aug 26 2013 Poster Message

Happy Dog Day to everyone. Let us celebrate Man's Best Friend today and every day.

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Image Source: A Place to Love Dogs

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Happy Birthday, David Attenborough!

David Attenborough quote
David Attenborough was born on this day in 1926.

He has been an extraordinary natural historian for over half a century and his name is synonymous with several pathbreaking documentaries.

From critically endangered Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Mountains to Lemurs in Madagascar to the largest animal ever on the planet, Blue Whale, David has seen and studied them all. A living legend, in every sense of the word.

David Attenborough bird quote

Wishing him many happy returns of the day and a long and healthy life ahead!

To learn more about David, please visit his website.

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Image Source: PBS Nature

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall

Happy Birthday Jane Goodall 03 April 2013

Jane Goodall was born on this day in 1934. She has been studying chimpanzees for nearly half a century. She is one of Leakey's Angels along with Dian Fossey (Mountain Gorillas) and Birute Galdikas (Orangutans).

Jane Goodall chimpanzees quote PBS Nature

Please visit her website, Jane Goodall Institute to learn more about her work.

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Image Sources: PBS Nature, Wikipedia

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Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey
A Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolsky

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Richard Dawkins!

Richard Dawkins quote

Richard Dawkins was born on this day in 1941.

He is the world's most renowned atheist and the author of international best seller, The God Delusion. He has made the popular documentaries, The Root of All Evil? and The Enemies of Reason.

He is also an evolutionary biologist and has written several books on the subject, including The Selfish Gene.

Richard continues to be an agent of reason and understanding, and is one of my role models.

I wish him the very best of life ahead!

To know more about Richard and his work, please visit his website: Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

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Image Source: Live by Quotes

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Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey
A Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolsky

Thursday, January 31, 2013

TV Review: Attenborough's Life Stories - Episode # 2 - Understanding the Natural World

Meerkat David Attenborough's Life Stories Episode 2 Understanding the Natural World PBS Nature
Sir David Attenborough with a Meerkat
In this episode, David Attenborough takes a closer look at how science helps us to understand the world better.

We first meet the Austrian scientist, Konrad Lorenz. Konrad was a pioneer in the field of imprinting. He studied geese and published the book “King Solomon’s Ring” in 1952.

David gets to experience firsthand the effect of imprinting in geese. The close up shots of geese flying right next to David are simply stunning. They are in my humble opinion, the best shots in this episode.

Konrad Lorenz David Attenborough's Life Stories Episode 2 Understanding the Natural World PBS Nature
Konrad Lorenz 
The concept of imprinting also works on animals including human beings.

We also learn that animals have a well-developed set of communication signs. For example, among vervet monkeys the signal used to alert the approach of a python is different from that used for a bird of prey.

Birds have different types of courtship rituals. In some species, males make astounding physical displays to impress females. In another species, male birds collect beautiful leaves, stones and fruits.

Jane Goodall David Attenborough's Life Stories Episode 2 Understanding the Natural World PBS Nature
Jane Goodall, renowned primatologist
We then meet West African chimpanzees that are renowned for their nut cracking abilities. Human beings share 98% of their DNA with Chimps. Chimpanzees are omnivores and use complex hunting technique to catch their prey.

Another interesting aspect is that Chimpanzees communities each have their own cultures, much similar to human communities.

This is another gem from the veteran naturalist. Recommended to fans of natural history.

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Image Sources: FanpopTimeHumanima Foundation

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

TV Review: Attenborough's Life Stories - Episode # 1 - Life on Camera

David Attenborough's Life Stories - Episode # 1 - Life on Camera - PBS Nature

From land animals to small insects to birds to natural phenomena to even Human DNA, Sir David Attenborough has seen and studied them all. He truly is a living legend.

This is the first of the 3 part series (PBS Nature). In this episode, David Attenborough gives us a walk-through the constantly evolving technical aspects of wildlife film making.

David’s sense of humor shines throughout the episode. David is humble enough to focus on the nature and history of wildlife film making.

David was 8 years old when he saw his first wildlife film, Dassan by Cherry Kearton in 1934. Thus began his lifelong fascination with natural history.

David’s first film was Zoo Quest for a Dragon made in 1956. David is headed with his crew to Komodo Island to shoot the famous inhabitant: Komodo Dragon. David shares the picture he took of a curious Komodo that literally came face to face with him and was just a few yards away when the picture was taken.

Click on the link below to buy your copy:

David discusses in detail the hardships faced by filmmakers due to the technical limitations. When filming underwater, initially they could only film for 10 minutes. They had to return to the surface and put a fresh film roll to continue the filming.

This situation was remedied with the arrival of the video camera that could shoot for 30 minutes. This made the shooting of never-before-seen sequences possible (The Blue Planet, 2001 and Nature’s Great Events, 2009).

David shares a funny anecdote about the “Bubble helmet” with microphone that was meant to enable the presenter to speak underwater.

David Attenborough's Life Stories - Episode # 1 - Life on Camera - PBS Nature

David then focusses on the problems of shooting animals that are active in dark, such as bats and lions. Presence of camera lights disturbs the normal behavior of these beings. With the help of Infrared light cameras, able to capture the normal behavior (The Life of Mammals, 2002).

We are also treated to a superb Kiwi encounter (The Life of Birds, 1998). Kiwis have poor eyesight but are compensated by an amazing sense of smell. To hide his presence, David laid among the seaweeds whose strong odor was the perfect camouflage.

Here are some of the different types of cameras and techniques used for specific purposes:
  1. Thermal cameras – used to shoot animals based on their body heat readings
  2. Optical Probe – used to film insects and other microorganisms such as ants inside their nests.
  3. Motion detector – used to film rattlesnakes hunting rats
  4. Slow motion camera – used to film Kestrels, and Hoverflies (Life in the Undergrowth, 2005). Both of these winged beings can hover in the air and slow motion filming techniques are used to understand their ability to do so.
  5. Time lapse studio – This is the reverse of Slow motion camera and is used to speed up slow action (The Private life of Plants, 1995).
  6. Aerial Photography – used to shoot a wild dog hunt (Planet Earth, 2006)
  7. Computer animations – replaced line drawings as the best technique to recreate ancient life forms (The Life of Birds, 1998 and Life in Cold Blood, 2008)
It is an interesting fact that the human race has a lot left to learn about the natural world around us and it is the scientific and technical advances by the humankind that enables us to continue this learning process. David pays tribute to the human aspect of the filmmaking by ending the episode with the filming of Snow Leopard by Mark Smith in Pakistan (Planet Earth, 2006).

David Attenborough's Life Stories - Episode # 1 - Life on Camera - PBS Nature

David has the candor and humility to go back and correct himself. In one such instance, David was initially mistaken about how Nepenthes rajah, the largest Pitcher plant gets its nutrition. David soon figures out that the pitcher plant and tree shrews share a symbiotic relationship. The shrew feeds on plant’s liquid and leaves its droppings that provide nitrogen supply to the plant.

This is a must watch for fans of David Attenborough and Wildlife.

Click here and here to read reviews of episodes # 2 and 3 respectively.

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Image Source: PBS

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

RIP Neil Armstrong (August 5 1930 - August 25 2012)

RIP Neil Armstrong

Neil Alden Armstrong passed away today.

The first man to walk on the moon, he is famous for his quote: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Armstrong’s achievement represents a milestone for humanity in space research.

May his soul rest in peace.

Image Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Edge of Eden: Living with the Grizzlies by Jeff & Sue Turner

Charlie Russell, The Bear Man of Kamchatka
Charlie Russell, The Bear Man of Kamchatka
Charlie Russell is a Canadian naturalist, who has had a lifelong fascination with Grizzly Bears. His father, Andy Russell was himself a renowned conservationist and author of many books, including Grizzly Country.

Charlie believes that man can peacefully co-exist with Grizzly Bears. In addition to using an electric fence around his house in the wilderness, Charlie uses just pepper spray to prevent any untoward encounter with the bears. To quote Charlie: “...they are not unpredictable..they are's just that we just do not know how to predict them...”.

The documentary is shot in South Kamchatka Sanctuary, one of Russia's protected habitats and a true spectacle to behold. Misty mountains surround beautiful lakes and Charlie has set up his study center right in the middle of this beautiful oasis.

Charlie Russell's study center in Kamchatka
Charlie's study center
After the end of Cold War in Russia, hunters and poachers killed bears indiscriminately, resulting in lot of orphaned cubs. Charlie decided to launch a pioneering project to recover orphaned cubs in the wild.

The documentary focuses on the two five month old male cubs adopted by Charlie. His typical day starts with preparing their breakfast (mixture of sunflower seeds and sugar). This is followed by Charlie taking the cubs out to explore and indulge in some fun time. Charlie is an expert fisherman and teaches them the crucial skill of fishing that they need to master in order to be successful in the wild.

Charlie Russell and his adopted bear cub sport fishing
Charlie and his adopted cub sport fishing
Charlie’s love for these bears is evident in the way he patiently guides them to catch fish and protects them from dangers such as aggressive adult bears. Adult bears are a particular danger to the cubs and Charlie needs to be on his toes all the time to come to their rescue. This can be quite tough for Charlie, considering his advanced age.

What differentiates Charlie’s work with the bears from a Timothy Treadwell is the amount of respect and understanding, Charlie has for these giants. Charlie cares for his cubs, as a surrogate mother would for her offspring. He never takes the bears for granted and treats them with the necessary care, always having pepper spray handy, should things go out of hand. The documentary even contains an example of Charlie using the pepper spray to save his adopted cubs from an aggressive adult male bear.

Charlie Russell with one of his adopted grizzly bear cubs
Charlie Russell with one of his adopted cubs
Charlie's efforts have helped turned the South Kamchatka Sanctuary into a World Heritage Site. I am currently reading Charlie’s book Grizzly Heart. The book documents the efforts of Charlie in setting up his study center. I will post a separate entry to review the book.

Here’s wishing many more years of healthy life to Charlie Russell, as he continues his exemplary work with one of my most favorite animals on the planet: Grizzly Bear.

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Image Source: ARD

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Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey
A Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolsky

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey captures the essence of what makes the Mountain Gorillas a truly great species.

Dian was leading a relatively normal life in USA, when she made a short trip to Africa. She brought back some pictures and written descriptions of her experience with Mountain Gorillas. This eventually led to her being designated as one of “Leakey’s Angels”. She was chosen to study Mountain Gorillas, just as Jane Goodall and Birute M. Galdikas were chosen to study Chimpanzees and Orangutans respectively.

Dian studied Mountain Gorillas for more than a decade and she describes her experience in great detail in this book. She had great love and respect for these magnificent animals and this shines through in each page. Some of her favorite Gorillas include Digit, Rafiki, Uncle Bert and Macho. In addition to the Gorillas, she also had a pet dog, who she loved very much.

Dian Fossey with her favorite gorilla, Digit
Dian with her favorite gorilla, Digit

Digit’s massacre by poachers led to Dian starting the “Digit Fund”, which is now known as “The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International”. Dian advocated “Active Conservation” efforts to save the Gorillas.

She also found “Karisoke Research Center”, which continues Fossey’s work in studying Mountain Gorillas.

Click on the link below to buy the book:

Dian was murdered in her cabin in 1985. Her murder still remains unsolved to this day.

Dian was not perfect. She was reported to be a heavy drinker as well as a different person to get along with. She was also not the first person to study Mountain Gorillas. Still, she will always be remembered for dedicating her life to studying Mountain Gorillas and ensuring that people all over the world know about the plight of these magnificent apes. Dian’s book is a rare insight into her awe-inspiring work.

Highly recommended to people who love Mountain Gorillas or are interested to know more about Dian Fossey.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

"A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death."

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