Wake Me When It’s Spring


Spring is here and some wildlife are emerging from hibernation. They should be waking up on the sunny side of the den after a long winters rest but that is not necessarily true. Hibernation takes a toll on their body and  it takes a great deal of energy to wake up and join the land of the conscious. The New York Time’s Science section has a wonderful article about what goes on in this time of waking for a few different animals: Waking From Hibernation, the Hard Work of Spring Begins (by Steph Yin).

Happy Spring everyone!

About the Illustration: Acrylic gouache and India ink. I am currently smitten with acrylic gouache. The opacity of gouache but waterproof like acrylic paint. When I read the article and saw the picture of the sleeping black bear and her cub this image came to me. I considered putting pjs on both of them but I decided the sleeping masks were enough.

Glow In The Dark Bacon


Six years after the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant, wildlife has taken over the the twelve mile exclusion zone around the plant. Most notably packs of wild boars have settled in to their new homes. Unfortunately for residents who are slowly planning their return to the area, these boars are highly radioactive (300x higher than the safety standards) and no longer intimidated by humans. Major hunts and special incinerators is the current answer to this situation but will it be enough? Will residents ever go back?

Note: A lovely article about the wildlife of Chernobyl. It is embedded in the article linked above  but I wanted to highlight it in case you missed it.

About This Illustration: Watercolor on Yupo Paper.

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright


A bright note from the conservation world in 2016!  Wild tiger populations are on a rise for the first time in a century, an estimated 3,890 now roam the earth-up from 3,200 in 2010. India houses most of the world’s wild tigers. The country has taken tiger conservation seriously. Russia, Nepal, and Bhutan are also seeing conservation successes.

Although this is encouraging these numbers do not indicate habitat quality (i.e. habitat fragmentation) or the status of subspecies. Populations in some countries are not well accounted for at this time and in places like Indonesia habitat destruction for the palm oil industry are negatively impacting tiger populations. Poaching for the black market (mostly for Chinese traditional medicines) and habitat destruction and fragmentation are the major causes in the decline of wild tiger populations in recent years. They are still a concern but coordinated conservation efforts and enforcement are helping tigers make a come back after a path towards extinction.

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About the Illustration: Watercolor ink on bristol paper. This illustration can be purchased through my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ScienceStories


Artichoke with Legs


Meet the Pangolin, a scaly mammal that eats insects and hangs out in trees or burrows in the ground. It’s keratin-based scales are meant for protection from predators, a unique adaptation for a mammal. There are eight species of pangolin found in Asia and Africa. Unfortunately this unique critter has the dubious title of “most trafficked mammal” due to rampant poaching for it’s meat. During the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), delegates voted to ban all trade of all extant species of pangolin.

About The Illustration: Watercolor ink and micron pens. Originally I had him playing the piano but I removed the piano and now he looks a bit awkward. Oh well.


For those of you with little ones or have little ones in your life in some way-consider picking up a copy of “Roly Poly Pangolin” by Anna Dewdney. She’s the author of the Llama Llama books. A portion of each sale goes to pangolin conservation in Vietnam.

Wildlife on the Brink


This recent illustration appears to incorporate some random critters at first glance. Salamanders, bats, and starfish-what could they possibly have in common?

Bat populations in North America are suffering from White-Nose Syndrome. I wrote about White-Nose Syndrome in “Cave Fresh“. Starfish along the Pacific coast are dying out from Sea Star Wasting Disease. I wrote about Sea Star Wasting Disease in “Trouble Among The Stars“. Salamanders (as well as frogs) around the globe are succumbing to Chytrid fungus. I have yet to write about Chytrid but I did write about Snake Fungal Disease in “Fungus Among Us“.

Disease, unfortunately, is the common thread but it is that common thread that scientists are beginning to see across the globe and across taxa. That is why the science and health community created the One Health Initiative. A collaborative effort connecting human and animal health with environmental health in order to understand the global picture for health. The impact of viruses and warming sea water on starfish may not seem so important to you but it is an indicator of environmental health and what is to come if we do not take notice and act. We are all connected…


A Ray of Hope


Devil Rays (Modula spp.) are one of the species up for discussion during CITES Conference of the Parties 17 in South Africa. CITES stands for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. An international agreement between governments to make sure trade of wild animals and plants does not lead to extinction. Rays and sharks are not doing well and a number of species are up for discussion during the conference.

About The Illustration: Acrylic Ink with brush and pen.

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The State Of All Things


At the beginning of the month the IUCN World Conservation Congress met in Hawaii to discuss the status of threatened and endangered species across the globe. IUCN stands for International Union for the Conservation of Nature , an international organization focused on conservation and sustainability as it relates to natural resources. The IUCN oversees the  IUCN Red List, a comprehensive global database of the conservation status of plant and animal species.

The World Conservation Congress brings together a diverse group of people (leaders, decision-makers, academics, indigenous people) to determine the state of global conservation and identify necessary actions. The Congress deliberated over many conservation issues. Here are some of the them:

The status of the Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) changed from Extinct to Vulnerable. Good news but there is still much that needs to be done to protect this iconic species.

The Eastern Gorilla (Gorilla beringei), the largest primate, is now listed as critically endangered due to poaching. It joins three other ape species on that unfortunate list.

-There are four Giraffe species according to recent genetic analysis. Before the Giraffe was considered to be one species with four subspecies.

The oceans are screwed. Period.

A ban on the trade of ivory. Amen.

-And much, much more…http://iucnworldconservationcongress.org/press/iucn-congress-news A great list of press briefs from the  recent Congress for those of you who would like to learn more about global conservation.