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Workshop Wows!

I would like to say a big thanks to everyone who came to the Wildlife photographic workshop last weekend, it was a fantastic couple of days and we had such a super bunch of people attend.       I would also like to thank Adam and Gretchen for their valued support and our Anna Bunney for helping arrange the workshop as part of our new ‘Museum Meets’ Programme.
It was real pleasure for me to be apart of the workshop and I would sincerely like to thanks Chris Mattison for making the weekend a huge success by sharing his professional expertise and doing such a fantastic job in making sure there was always something new for everyone to learn.
Apart from learning new techniques from Chris, everyone also got to photograph an amazing array of rare species from our Vivarium – which when viewed through the lens certainly provided the Wow factor! Many of our participants have kindly been in touch this week to express their thanks and to also share some of the great photos they took. Here is a selection of just a few of them:

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Bats and Man

This week I saw something on Ebay that got me thinking, and the more I found out about it, the more it bothered me. With my interest in animals, somehow I had come across a dead bat for sale.. and then another, and then another.

My field work in Ecuador was a fine introduction to tropical bats 

It turns out that in places like Malaysia and Indonesia there is a growing trade in capturing live rainforest bats ‘en masse’ for killing and selling. You might think, what has this to do with frogs?, nothing I guess, but I also like bats, and have always been interested in these wonderful creatures.

In fact, if I had not specialised in frogs, bats would have been my subject. In the past I have worked with several bat researchers in the Neotropics and seen as well as photographed many fantastic rainforest species up close. When in Australia I actually stayed at a fruit bat sanctuary and helped release some of the orphans, which was so cool. I also remember on my first visit to Trinidad visiting the famous Tamana bat caves and going deep inside to discover some incredible species, before watching them all emerge in a blur of batwings into the warm tropical night – fantastic!

It turns out that literally thousands and thousands of these amazing flying mammals are being robbed from their natural habitats, including National Parks, to be sold world-wide for one reason or another. Fruit bats in particular are being sought after for selling, and some of the ways they are treated and killed really is atrocious: Bat torture. The bats are not pests, but play an extremely important role in the future of rainforests: Bats are crucial to them for many reasons

Apart from being food delicacies and aphrodisiacs, some  species of bats are currently being killed especially to be sold internationally – framed or stapled-up in plastic bags and sold on the internet to buyers who really just don’t care how they got there. I emailed some sellers this week to say they should be ashamed of themselves for making money this way after knowing full well that the bat species in question were being killed especially. On one occasion I actually got a reply back saying: ‘you are right, I am sorry‘ – just goes to show..

Perhaps if more people do this we could at least put a stop to some of these creatures being killed simply to be sold on the internet. What do you think? Please let me know. or maybe them…



&  Here

    Bat Conservation international      Kalimantan Project      Bat Conservation UK

Precious Pictures

Atelopus varius, (c) Andrew Gray

Fifteen years ago, Chris Mattison, the world renowned photographer and author, photographed a wide selection of frogs in the Vivarium. Many of the wonderful images he produced were used in our first frog exhibition ‘A World of Frogs’ and have also featured in a wealth of herpetological books and international features over the years. Unfortunately, also over the past fifteen years many amphibian populations have drastically declined and species have disappeared from areas where they once thrived in the wild. Areas of South and Central America have been particularly hard hit, with a changing climate and Chytrid fungus affecting many highland species, including Harlequin Toads of the Genus Atelopus.

Atelopus ignescens, (c) Chris Mattison

Both Chris and I have visited many places to see and photograph frogs during our careers and have experienced first-hand the effects of such drastic declines. For instance, in 1985 on his first trip to Ecuador, Chris found and photographed some black Atelopus ignescens toads on the Paramo of Ecuador, just north of Guaranda. He had been looking specifically for these toads, which are jet black above and orange below (pictured). He found them very easily – he tells me that upon getting out of his car he saw several, in broad daylight. Apparently they were everywhere.             But within a few years they had disappeared completely; none have been seen since 1989.

Photographs taken when capturing such unique moments become more precious with age, and looking back over them can bring memories flooding back of the first time you saw such an amazing creature in the flesh. I remember when Chris first saw and photographed the Costa Rican Lemur Leaf Frogs in the Museum, he was blown away with them. Then, they were still quite plentiful in the wild, but nowadays they are Critically Endangered and only known only from just 1 or 2 small breeding sites.

In a couple of weeks Chris will be returning to the Manchester Museum especially for our Wildlife Photography Course, which will provide others with a unique opportunity to see first hand and photograph for themselves some of the world’s rarest amphibians, including the Lemur Leaf Frog.

The course is now fully booked.

Here are just some of the species our participants will see and photograph: