If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may know that for the past six months, we’ve been posting Freaky Frog articles every fortnight. During our journey through the weird and wonderful world of these amazing amphibians, we’ve looked at the delightfully named ‘scrotum frog’, we’ve examined the remarkable defensive mechanism of the ‘wolverine frog’, and we’ve marvelled at the cryogenic wood frog. There have been frogs that brood their young in their vocal sacs. Toads that brood their young inside pockets in their own skin. Frogs with moustaches. Frogs that practise ‘reproductive necrophilia’.
In recent decades, Britain has seen the reintroductions and translocations of many animals, from red kites and great bustards to pine martens and natterjack toads. But the pioneering Scottish Beaver Trial has been, if anything, even more significant than any of those. It was the first time a licensed, government-sanctioned project returned an extinct mammal to the wild in the UK.
Last August, I wrote two articles on the coronavirus pandemic – one explaining how the virus passed from animals to humans, probably via a wildlife market in China, and another exploring how the subsequent lockdowns impacted wildlife and the environment across the world. They were meant to be brief, exploratory articles rather than comprehensive studies and, barring any future major events that directly affected the natural world, I had no plans to write any follow-ups.
Deep in the dense tropical rainforests of the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, there lurks a very curious creature. With its long legs and predominantly dark brown coat of short fur, it looks, at first glance, a bit like a horse, though a second look will reveal a somewhat deer-like face atop a relatively long, flexible neck, and, most strikingly, horizontal white stripes on its upper legs and rump.
The Congo African grey is an understated beauty sporting ash-grey plumage, which partially conceals the flash of red in its short tail (it is not to be confused with the smaller, darker Timneh grey parrot). This species is found, as its name would suggest, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), along with Kenya, Tanzania and parts of Angola. Already globally threatened, it is more important than ever to understand how the political environment in the DRC is exacerbating the numerous and varied problems facing this gorgeous parrot.