Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Kenyan ranger’s moving letter to American rhino hunter

A Kenyan grassroots initiative, Walk With Rangers, has spoken out against the controversial rhino auction held by the Dallas Safari Club that saw the highest bidder, Mr. Corey Knowlton, cough up a staggering US$350 000 to hunt an endangered black rhino in Namibia.
“The sum is pittance compared to the value of our wildlife,” says Raabia Hawa, an honorary game warden with the Kenya Wildlife Service and founder of the Walk With Rangers initiative.
Ms. Hawa has published an open letter to Mr. Knowlton, expressing sadness at the threats he has received in heated debates on online forums. The open letter also addresses the conservation values of old rhinos which Mr. Knowlton contradicts in referring to the rhino as ‘too old to breed’ and deeming it valueless. Her views on this have been backed by world- reknowned wildlife biologist and documentary host, Ian Redmond.
Other conservationists speaking out through the initiative are Kuki Gallman, who has cited her personal 40 years of experience working with wild rhinos in Africa.
The initiative will be presenting a petition to Mr. Knowlton and the Dallas Safari Club signed by rangers and conservationists from the field in the coming few weeks, saying they are frustrated that the voices of those who really are saving species to the point of risking their lives, are too often ignored.
The open letter is available to read below. Walk With Rangers is an initiative that will launch in June 2014 aimed at raising awareness and funds to further enhance anti-poaching operations on the ground. The initiative is in collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Service and its Tanzanian counterpart.
From a wildlife warden to a trophy hunter.
Dear Mr. Corey Knowlton,
I hope this letter finds you and your family well in light of recent developments surrounding the Namibian black rhino hunt auction.
Mr. Knowlton, I had only just returned from anti-poaching patrols when I opened up Facebook and saw the flurry of posts and comments mentioning your name. I did not comment until a few days later (please see your page inbox) as I felt I really needed to understand this situation better.
I have watched several of your interviews and would like to start by apologizing for what your family must be enduring, I know how important family is and you must feel terribly threatened. Please do convey my apologies to your wife, and your children on behalf of myself and the scouts I just spent two weeks with fighting poachers and illegal loggers.
Sir, please know that we are protectors of life, not just because we are rangers and scouts, but because we are human. We must only take that which is sustainable and in a way that will not bring harm to the delicate balance of nature. This is our way, the way of true Africa.
Sir, I have struggled to understand why SCI and DSC continue to put prices on the heads of our wildlife. It is laughable that they even think they have any right. The wildlife of a nation remains the sovereign property of its people. Would this not mean then, sir, that privatizing such public property would, in fact, be a gross violation of the rights of the African people? I will let you ponder over that for a while.
We are in the wake of a crisis that has gripped our region. Poachers have decimated our herds, and Africa is no longer teeming with wildlife. You kind sir, have been duped into believing that your hunt will aid conservation in Africa.
It will not. Aside from gaining Namibia huge disrepute, it will go against the very fiber of what we are trying so hard to achieve – the protection and true management of our last wild things. It is also imperative to note here that local African communities do not eat rhino meat. Please ask Mr. Carter of DSC to stop shaming our people and insulting your intelligence.
Initially when questioned on the hunt, the response resonated ‘support for conservation and anti-poaching’ with specific focus angling towards ‘better training and equipping rangers.’ Mr. Knowlton, let me assure you that this is most discourteous and rather insulting. Is this what SCI and DSC have reduced the value of our wildlife to? A few boots and uniforms?
Please sir, I plead with you to understand what we are facing. Exactly a year and some days ago now, my colleague and good friend was shot by poachers. He stood right in between a rhino they were targeting. He took the bullet for the rhino. He didn’t ask it’s age, he didn’t ask if it was a breeding bull, he didn’t ask if it was male or female, white or black. He just saw poachers, and a rhino, and did what he knew he had to do. THAT, kind sir, is true conservation, management and protection that will ensure the survival of our precious rhino species.
By now you must think I’m just ‘another one of those bunny hugging antis’ and I am fully cognizant that you are probably not seeing any ‘conservation value’ in my words. So I will share with you the following;
“In forty years of close association with black rhinoceros, I have NEVER known of a free ranging wild old male past his breeding period targeting, and killing, rhino females and calves but, rather, the odd fights have only, in my own experience, occurred amongst breeding competing males, as is common in other species.
In Africa old age is respected: by extension, it is un-African and basically unethical not to allow an old male that sired many calves a peaceful retirement, in the same way as breeding bulls in the cattle world are put out to pasture, not sent to the butcher, once they stop being productive. It is equally unethical to use two sets of measures for poachers, who shoot a wild animal for financial gain, and are arrested or shot, and for a wealthy legal hunter who can pay a fortune for the pleasure to kill it, and is congratulated instead? In both cases a dead endangered animal is the end product. This auction is cruel, ill-timed, and to be condemned.
If the person bidding to shoot the rhino bull has that spare cash available, why not DONATE it to the cause and leave the poor rhino alone? The old rhino does not deserve a bullet.
- Kuki Gallmann; Conservationist, author, founder of The Gallmann Memorial Foundation and honorary game warden.”
Sir, we on the field do not understand the logic in this matter. For us, every single one is absolutely critical to the survival of the species, to the sustainable development of the ecosystem they are a part of, and most of all, to the well being and protection of our culture and heritage.
You seem to be a pragmatic man, which is why I’m writing to you. I note your concerns for your family and hope you see our concerns as conservationists and protectors of those we love as our own, the wildlife our friends have fallen trying to protect (I’m also quite sure my colleague would have taken the bullet if you were on the other end of the gun instead of a poacher).
Hunting never has been, and probably never will be, in the true interest of the African people or nations. I appeal to you to spend some time with us to see this for yourself. It is not conservation, and the government officials that continue to allow such ‘fun hunts’ on endangered and critical species, must be ashamed. Indeed they know our great herds are gone, and the more this continues, the more we will fall into the abyss of misery and I’m sure, kind sir, that you do not wish such a ferociously merciless fate for us.
Mr. Knowlton, as I write this I am reading the news from neighboring Tanzania. Poachers have killed one black rhino, and now there are just 35 remaining. Do you think perhaps that DSC would be willing to use the us$350 000 you gave them in good conservation faith, to do a translocation? I know the ‘old bull past breeding’ excuse was thrown around, but I share with you the sensible words of Dr. Ian Redmond, a world-renowned and respected conservationist and biologist, “An old male self-evidently has a good immune system and may carry the genes giving immunity to the next epidemic which might kill some apparently stronger young males. In such circumstances an older male might resume breeding and pass on those important genes.”
Words worth considering don’t you think?
Wildlife protectors and conservationists don’t usually get to air our views Mr. Knowlton, rangers are too busy on the field, protecting wildlife and often don’t have access to world news. I see SCI and DSC have taken full advantage of this, which isn’t really fair.
You deserve a balanced view on this matter, so I will soon be sending you a petition, signed by conservationists and rangers from as many outposts as possible.
Again, I thank you for your time.
With respect and kind regards,
Raabia Hawa
KWS Honorary Warden,
Founder, Walk With Rangers.
Twitter: @raabiahawa


What has Corinna's column of fortean bird news got to do with Cryptozoology?

Well, everything actually!

In an article for the first edition of Cryptozoology Bernard Heuvelmans wrote that cryptozoology is the study of 'unexpected animals' and following on from that perfectly reasonable assertion, it seems to us that whereas the study of out-of-place birds may not have the glamour of the hunt for bigfoot or lake monsters, it is still a perfectly valid area for the Fortean zoologist to be interested in. 


The Gonzo Daily - Friday
OK boys and girls, it's that time of the week again. Issue 62 of the Gonzo Weekly magazine is imminent. It features an exclusive interview with the legendary Twink (who is, btw a really nice guy), a chat with the ever lovely Judy Dyble about the early days of Fairport Convention, A dispatch from the Jefferson Starship tour from Liz Lenten, Merrell Fankhauser's Birthday Boogie, a new biography of Peter Gabriel, some exciting news about unreleased archive material from Warsaw Packt and The Deviants, and more news, reviews, views, interviews and kangaroos (OK, no Macropoda but I got carried away with things that rhymed with OOOOS) than you can shake a stick at. And the best part is IT's COMPLETELY FREE!!!
To make sure that you don't miss your copy make an old hippy a happy chappy and subscribe
PS. If you are already a subscriber but think that you haven't been receiving your copies please check your spam filters. For some reason known only to the Gods of the internet, some e-mail programmes automatically count the magazine as 'spam' probably because it comes from a mass mailer. Either that or they are just jealous of our peerless content
THE GONZO TRACK OF THE DAY: Deep Moaning Blues (Ma Rainey)
RICK WAKEMAN: Dudley MPs show their support for Black Country TV crew's star-packed programme plans
*  The Gonzo Daily is a two way process. If you have any news or want to write for us, please contact me at  jon@eclipse.co.uk. If you are an artist and want to showcase your work, or even just say hello please write to me at gonzo@cfz.org.uk. Please copy, paste and spread the word about this magazine as widely as possible. We need people to read us in order to grow, and as soon as it is viable we shall be invading more traditional magaziney areas. Join in the fun, spread the word, and maybe if we all chant loud enough we CAN stop it raining. See you tomorrow...

*  The Gonzo Daily is - as the name implies - a daily online magazine (mostly) about artists connected to the Gonzo Multimedia group of companies. But it also has other stuff as and when the editor feels like it. The same team also do a weekly newsletter called - imaginatively - The Gonzo Weekly. Find out about it at this link: www.gonzo-multimedia.blogspot.com/2012/11/all-gonzo-news-wots-fit-to-print.html
* We should probably mention here, that some of our posts are links to things we have found on the internet that we think are of interest. We are not responsible for spelling or factual errors in other people's websites. Honest guv!

*  Jon Downes, the Editor of all these ventures (and several others) is an old hippy of 54 who - together with his orange cat (who is currently on sick leave in Staffordshire) and two very small kittens (one of whom is also orange) puts it all together from a converted potato shed in a tumbledown cottage deep in rural Devon which he shares with various fish, and sometimes a small Indian frog. He is ably assisted by his lovely wife Corinna, his bulldog/boxer Prudence, his elderly mother-in-law, and a motley collection of social malcontents. Plus.. did we mention the orange cat?


My beloved younger stepdaughter and her significant other write: 'Look at what we discovered yesterday at Holt Country Park!? What looks like a mummified rabbit in a tree?? We were incredibly disgusted and curious as to how it got there.' She went on to say that they estimated it as being about 1m long. I asked for permission to post it on the bloggo and she replied 'Yep you may post it as long as Aaron and I get a marvellous photography mention xxx'

So I did. Has anyone any idea what it is and why?

KARL SHUKER: Look Out For The Invisible Catfish!

How do you look for a fish that can't be seen? Find out with Karl Shuker!

Read on...

ANDREW MAY: Words from the Wild Frontier

News and stories from the remoter fringes of the CFZ blogosphere...

From Nick Redfern's World of Whatever:
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OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today