“This world is a paradox: in the name of liberty, it makes you choose between the same things, and the same things both on the table or on TV”
Undoubtedly, diversity is a distinctive characteristic of life. It not only serves as an ornament, it makes life possible. For our species, in particular, both biological and cultural diversity are essential.
“Once we accept the idea that the soundscape is a valuable source of information — an extraordinary narrative we have yet to decipher — we open up whole new worlds to explore. And if we want to think about our impact on the natural world, then we’d better listen to what the nonhuman vocal organisms are saying in response”
As interviewed by Leath Tontino
The Sun (September 2014)
This Full Moon is very special; it is both Full Moon and Summer Solstice (or Winter Solstice, in the South). There are still people in rural areas, indigenous people mostly, holding solstice rituals every year throughout the Americas. They hold these celebrations as a way of honoring and show how grateful they are to the Earth, the Sun, and to those they call their grandparents: their ancestors. Our thoughts are with those celebrating the solstice. After showing our respect to these individuals and groups, let’s begin with our main topic.
These birds, as immigrants to this country, have settled down here and have since legalized their status: they are now Panamanians! R. Ridgely mentions that they were supposedly brought from Colombia as caged songbirds, and that they were first seen in the Balboa area (in the area formerly known as the Canal Zone or the “Zone”), around 1932 (3: Pg. 356).
As a summary of the topics covered on the first part of this article (February’s Full Moon), allow me to quote here part of the introduction posted on Panama Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project’s website: “Amphibians are dying all over the world due to chytridiomycosis. This disease, caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is responsible for dramatic amphibian declines and extinctions in the Neotropics, including Panamanian tropical forests...”
When the disease caused by Bd makes its way to a new area, amphibian populations in such area suffer a significant decline. Just a small number proves to be resistant to Bd; however, declining populations show little ability to recover from infection. Scientists believe that a significant portion of infected populations could now be extinct and, unfortunately, nothing has been found to prevent this disease from spreading.
The decline and possible extinction of amphibian populations worldwide is both a warning sign and a reality. We have been facing a significant crisis for a long time now. This crisis affects global biodiversity probably more severely than any other event witnessed by human beings. We are urged to react to this tragic situation which could be the symptom of more complex and serious changes happening in the biosphere that could foretell potential adverse effects on the world we share.
Butterflies. At least 18,000 butterfly species have been identified worldwide, and more than 10% of them can be found in Panama. At schools, kids are taught that the name of this country means “abundance of butterflies”. I think Stanley Heckadon said it best: “the meaning of ‘panama’ should be just abundance”, plain and simple.
Monkeys in Panama. There are eight species of monkeys in Panama, and most of them are very dependent on jungle habitats, although some are able to adapt better to other environments, like the “tití” variety.
Fernando Sucre is a lawyer, and he also collects stamps since he was very young. Recently, his eldest son asked him why would he do something that no one else would ever see (referring to his stamp collection). Fernando gave a lot of thought to what his son asked him. This simple question was the initial idea behind the book “Cruzando Fronteras. Los sellos postales de Panamá como expresión de historia, cultura e identidad” (suggested translation: Crossing Borders. Postage Stamps as an Expression of the History, Culture, and Identity of Panama”, presented recently by Fernando and other co-authors at the National Library. I would like to share some information with our readers of this Full Moon bulletin, based on this work of over 300 pages illustrated with beautiful national stamps. This is the first of two parts in which I will include the text I wrote as a contribution to this work.
“Did you plant anything this year?” I asked Hernán while he was sailing us out of Gobernadora Island. “Absolutely not! What for? The changamé eats it all…” was his answer.
In Panama’s countryside, the great-tailed grackle is called by its proper name in Spanish: changamé. In Panama City we call it talingo, but that is the name of a different “tick-eater” species…well, actually of three species, all from the genus Crotophaga.