December 30, 2002

This past week I finished up a photo project I've been working on for the past 5 months. I have included a small selection of images included in the project. Many of the photos available through the travel section of the site also appear in the work. All copies of the work have been distributed and none are available to the general public.

December 27, 2002

Added a table on recent new species discovery, in the "Saving Rainforests that Remain" section. For example, a 2002 survey of Sri Lanka's rainforest turned up some 120 new species of Rhacophoridae -- Old World Tree Frogs.

December 26, 2002

Added a new page on the story of ABT-594, an experimental painkiller derived from poison arrow frog skin secretions. Also added pictures and further text to the page on rainforest floor reptiles and amphibians.

December 24, 2002

The Worldwide Fund for Nature initiated a campaign against palm oil plantations for their significance in tropical deforestation. [more]

December 22, 2002

Added photos to the canopy-dwelling mammals page in the rainforest section of

December 20, 2002

Added relevant photos to the page on animal locomotion in the canopy. This new format will be gradually applied across all pages in the rainforest section of

December 19, 2002

Made some modifications on the Argentinian ice and glacier pages along with some further changes on the page detailing anti-HIV compounds from the rainforest.

December 18, 2002

Late this summer Reuters released some pictures of new deforestation and fires in Matto Grosso, Brazil.

December 5, 2002

Tuesday The Wall Street Journal featured an article suggesting that Africa can feed itself but questioning whether it makes economic sense to do so. According to the article, as many as 38 million people are threatened with starvation in the coming months. [more]

December 3, 2002

A couple of weeks ago at the 12th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) the United Nations moved to protect several tropical forest species by restricting their trade. These include big-leaf (or American) mahogany, three Central American parrot species, and several threatened species from Madagascar -- the flat-tailed tortoise, various chameleons, a burrowing frog, and the Madagascan orchid. [more]

December 2, 2002

Added some more Madagascar pictures of scenery and fauna.

December 1, 2002

New webstats for Traffic increased 23% in November to an average of 1546 visitors per day.

November 30, 2002

Gary Strieker of CNN reported an uptick in poaching of mountain gorillas in Central African forests, possibly for the purpose of capturing a live baby gorilla for a private collection. At least one baby gorilla is missing and six adults have been killed in protected areas. It is estimated that 660 mountain gorillas remain in the world. [more]

November 27, 2002

Today the Wall Street Journal featured an article on the difficulty of tracking forest elephants in Kakum National Park, Ghana. [more]

November 26, 2002

Made some minor changes to the plant care page so it loads properly across browsers.

November 25, 2002

Tom Lorenz sent me some Freshwater Barracuda pictures which I posted along with a couple species descriptions.

November 12, 2002

Last week Sharon Begley wrote a Wall Street Journal article detailing new mathematical models of a smallpox attack. As the US debates smallpox vaccinations, scientists are re-evaluating some of the assumptions in the apocalyptic "Dark Winter" scenario which projected a million deaths within 3 months of an attack.

    Consider the disputed "R(0)." Pronounced R-nought, it is the number of secondary cases per primary case in a susceptible population. Dark Winter used 10: Everyone infected in the terrorist attack spread smallpox to 10 others. But epidemiologist James Koopman of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, suspects R(0) today would be hardly greater than 1. When he helped eradicate smallpox in India 30 years ago, even people packed onto buses for long trips didn't catch smallpox from infected passengers. An R(0) just over 1 means an outbreak would spread so slowly as to be easily contained.

    Even a higher R(0) might not spell doom. Scientists led by Martin Meltzer of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention modeled an outbreak that started with 100 infected people, each of whom infected three others, who also infected three others, etc. "Quarantine alone could stop disease transmission," they found, even if authorities daily isolated only half of those with overt symptoms. Adding targeted vaccination helped even more. They calculate that 40 million doses of vaccine, not 280 million, would be enough to contain an outbreak. [more]

November 7, 2002

CNN covered a report claiming that the drop in harvesting of endangered species used in traditional impotence remedies coincides with booming sales of Viagra. The article points out that many environmentalists are skeptical of the report, instead suggesting that any drop is harvesting can likely be attributed to the economic slowdown in much of Asia. [more]

November 6, 2002

Pfizer announced it will sell its Tetra aquarium and pond supplies business for $238.5 million to a European private equity fund as it focuses on its core pharmaceuticals business.

November 3, 2002

Updated the page covering anti-HIV compounds from the rainforest in the solutions section of A Place Out of Time.

November 1, 2002

New webstats for Rainforests are increasing in popularity relative to tropical fish.

October 30, 2002

Added 16 more pictures to the Madagascar photo collection in the black lemur, chameleon, and gecko sections.

October 27, 2002

Based on a suggestion from Dr. Stefan Schnitzer at the University of Minnesota Dept of Forest Resources, I reworked the page on vines and lianas in the tropical rainforest section of the site.

October 23, 2002

Did some work on the Madagascar photos section of the site resolving some link issues.

Monday the Wall Street Journal featured an article on the risks of the smallpox vaccine. The article discussesd some of the potential adverse reactions to the vaccine along with some of the liability concerns on behalf of healthcare providers. [more]

October 21, 2002

Watercolor of a favela (slum) in Rio de Janeiro.

October 20, 2002

I wrote another brief column for the Polish aquarium hobby magazine, Magazyn Akwarium. This one covers travel in tropical rainforest countries.

October 15, 2002

Pictures from my 1995 trip to the Rio Napo and the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER) in Peru.

October 14, 2002

Pictures from the rainforest in Malaysia (Borneo) are posted.

October 12, 2002

Pictures from my 1995 trip to the rainforest in Costa Rica. Photos from my 2001 trip are also still available.

October 10, 2002

I have been doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes -- hopefully users will notice the improvements as they use the site. I added pictures from the Daintree and Atherton tablelands rainforest in Australia. Some of these photos were taken in 1989 while others are from 2001.

October 2, 2002

New webstats for

September 23, 2002

This past weekend I wrote this column on the role of aquariasts in conservation for a Polish aquarium hobby magazine -- Magazyn Akwarium. So for those of you who do not read Polish or subscribe to the magazine I have posted an English language version.

September 22, 2002

Added 60 profiles of freshwater aquatic plants in the tropical freshwater fish section of the site. Please keep in the mind that this text was written in 1994 and taxonomic nomenclature may be out-of-date.

September 20, 2002

Another disheartening story out of Indonesia. Raymond Bonner of the New York Times describes rampant illegal logging in "Indonesia's Forests Go Under the Ax for Flooring." An excerpt:

    Pekanbaru, Indonesia - On a verdant two-acre plot, where space has hastily been cleared for a few simple buildings, three heavy-duty band saws whine 24 hours a day, slicing huge logs into boards of varying lengths and widths.

    Down the road another sawmill, with eight band saws and more than 200 workers, also cuts up logs 24 hours a day. The owners said they cannot keep up with the demand, a claim that's easily believed - along a four-mile stretch of road, there are an estimated 50 sawmills.

    After being cut into long planks, most of this wood is bought by traders in Malaysia and Singapore, and then, after being further cut, sanded, molded and grooved, sold around the world - as flooring in China and Japan, office stationery in Europe and furniture in the United States.

    Indonesia's timber industry is booming, good news for a country suffering widespread unemployment and mired in economic stagnation. There is a dark side, however: nearly all of these sawmills operate without a license, and overall, according to government figures, 80 percent of Indonesia's timber trade is illegal, which means that the trees are felled without a license or under a concession that had been secured with a bribe.

    The corruption is rampant. Senior government officials insist on payoffs, from companies and big-time traders, in exchange for concessions. Military commanders take a cut or even have their own operations. The local policeman demands a payment to allow the trucks, laden with illegally cut logs, on the way to illegal sawmills, to proceed along the road.

    The upshot is that Indonesia's tropical forests, among the largest in the world, are rapidly disappearing. Vast tracts of once pristine forests have been reduced to barren and scarred wasteland. It is estimated that at least four million acres of forests - an area roughly the size of Connecticut - are being stripped of their trees every year, according to government statistics. It is estimated that the lowland natural forests here on the island of Sumatra, home to the endangered orangutan and the rare Sumatran tiger, will be gone within five years; those in Kalimantan, within 10. [more]

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Tropical Fish

A Place Out of Time
Tropical Rainforests - Their Wonders and the Perils They Face. Information on rainforests, biodiversity, and environmental concerns.

Tropical Freshwater Fish.

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Copyright Rhett Butler 2002