Brendan Moyle

Massey University senior lecturer, Dr Brendan Moyle, has been passionate about wildlife his entire life, which motivated him to gain qualifications in zoology and economics. The economics comes from a simple realisation. Most causes of wildlife loss are ultimately economic in nature. Threats like habitat loss and poaching are fundamentally economic in nature. Of late he's been focused more on issues of wildlife poaching. When he started out as a zoologist, Brendan had a fascination with some of our smallest arachnids- the falsescorpions. Since then he's moved on to various crocodilians, and more recently, tigers. This takes him to smuggling ‘hotspots’, where avoiding getting eaten by large carnivores, bitten by small venomous reptiles, shot at by smugglers seem to be important skills. Like many other conservationists, I’ve also developed a keen interest in wildlife photography.

Car Theft and Transport in Auckland: A Personal View - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Oct 04, 2021

Introduction I was going to drive to Wellington for a funeral that day. And when I got up, my car was gone. It was a Subaru Forester of 2006 vintage. The paintwork was near immaculate and everything ran smoothly. I’d maintained that car for years. Not just on a casual and erratic basis, but consistently. The kids liked locating it in mall carparks. They just walked to where the glow was. Losing it when I was supposed to be in bereavement felt especially cruel. The Social Cost of Crime The car was insured, but it is also easy to steal Subarus from this period. It is perhaps unsurprising that the Subaru Legacy and Impreza are in the top 10 of stolen makes. But despite the insurance, a lot of other costs occur. I contacted the Police first for a report, … Read More

Black Rhino Photo - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jul 08, 2020

One of the challenges of working on illegal wildlife markets, is you don’t really have scope to talk about your research into illegal wildlife markets. There is some stuff though that willbe coming out on Asiatic black bears in China, and before Covid19, I was delving more into rhinos. Which everyone knows are poached for their horns. But not as aphrodisiacs in TCM. I think I’ve been posting that last point for about 20 years so I am hopeful, that one day, people will learn that TCM is not in fact, about cures for impotence. The two main African species are the white rhino and the black rhino. Both of these have most of their populations in south Africa and Namibia. And South Africa has been the front line on an intense war against poachers since about 2008. White rhinos … Read More

Auckland Bike Life - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Feb 11, 2020

Once again the Aotearoa Bike Challenge is on us, and once again I’m participating. In principle this is not hard because it does not represent a significant switch in behavior for me. I already bike nearly every day. The Bicycle The fascinating thing about cycling is the realisation that this is not an archaic form of transport. The bicycle is an incredibly advanced machine that can easily transport many times its weight. The basics of the road bicycle was settled in the 1880s and 90s. This is a diamond-shaped frame, a crank (the bit the pedals attach to) that turns the rear wheel via a chain, spoked wheels, and pneumatic tyres. And that design is basically brilliant. That’s largely why the improvements to it have come largely from better materials and more efficient gearing. Fundamentally, we still ride an A-shaped … Read More

What to do about the Trade In Endangered Species Act - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Oct 24, 2019

A discussion document on our TIES legislation was introduced by the Conservation Minister recently. This Act is the main tool we use to as a party of the CITES treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 1973). The motivation for the proposed changes clearly comes from the dramatic decline in the elephant populations since 2009, generated in large part by poaching for ivory. CITES and by extension TIES deals with the international trade in endangered species parts. Nonetheless, recent years have seen a push for some countries to ban the domestic trade in ivory as well. China for instance, closed its domestic market in the beginning of 2018. Hence the Government is considering what to do also. Actions range from a complete ban through to allowing some limited and regulated trade, to possibly doing nothing at all. I’m … Read More

Back on the bicycle - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jul 24, 2019

I am back on the bicycle. The accident and ensuing recovery time, (and some work in China) postponed a return. Nonetheless, I’m undeterred. It’s good to be back on the saddle. The Social Cost of Accidents One of the reasons we give for why motor vehicles produce economic inefficiencies, is their social cost. Some of this is easy to understand. The congestion on motorways ends up being a type of cost that is imposed on other drivers (who reciprocate this- everyone loses). Without congestion fees or other similar economic incentives, we end up with too many cars on the roads. Another is the emissions from the tail-pipe. This produces local pollutants (microscopic particulates, carbon monoxide etc) as well as global (greenhouse gases). Another social cost is accidents. If someone causes an accident on a road or motorway, they rarely … Read More

I had an accident - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 11, 2019

I stood up on the road. This came with a sense of astonishment. All my limbs were still working. Next priority was looking behind me to see if any cars were coming up behind me. And then I saw my crashed bicycle. It was a long way back. Past the car that caused my crash. A bit earlier I’d got the chance to leave work in my golden hour. Just after the school rush and before the build up of after-work traffic. The weather was clear and pleasant. Traffic was light. It was good to be commuting home on the bike. There’s a roundabout by the Stadium on Oteha Valley Road. My approach was at 36kph [1]. Slowing to check the roundabout for cars (Yes! It was empty), I began my circuit. I kept an eye on the road entering … Read More

Beat Air Pollution: UN Environment Day - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 05, 2019

June 5 is the UN Environment Day with the theme this year, being air pollution. Air pollution comprises a number of gases and microscopic particulates that impact on ecosystems and human health. Both the quality of life and human longevity is impacted by these pollutants, often in urban areas. One only has to think of news stories from London or Beijing to realise human health suffers. (Header photo was taken by me in Beijing on a day when we were warned it was unsafe for anyone to be outside). Urban Forests One of the important tools we have to beat air pollution is Urban Forests. I’ve mentioned these before in connection to biodiversity conservation. Urban forests however, are also one way air pollution can be reduced. An Auckland Urban Forest Forests are more than trees. They include … Read More

Pandas and Bamboo: A recent dietary specialisation? - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Feb 11, 2019

Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) eat bamboo and not much else. This in evolutionary terms is odd. It’s odd in part because the panda has a short gut typical of carnivores. And it still possesses many of the genes associated with a carnivorous lifestyle. This is largely due to belonging to the bear family Ursidae. This is a group of animals not noted for being herbivores. They are animals that are carnivores or omnivores. In turns out the giant panda isn’t very good at eating bamboo. It has to eat a lot to make up for the short gut (herbivores have longer guts to give more time to digest the plant-matter). And it has to use conserve energy. So pandas aren’t very active animals and they occur at a low density (this reduces energy-burning conflicts). Like all bears, they don’t have … Read More

The bacterial jungle of your car - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Feb 04, 2019

A recent article on car cleanliness described the bacteria that abound on car interior-surfaces. The results were shocking, with the headline announcing steering wheels had on average four times the amount of bacteria that public toilets did.  It inspired some to clean their cars . Nonetheless I confess I felt no surprise reading this. This is one of my motivations for keeping my car clean- both inside and out. The air-quality inside cars is often not optimal. Academic work confirms this. Environmental Pollution One of the things we are very good at is monitoring and regulating emissions in the environment. For instance, water quality is measured for pollutants and bacteria like E.coli. We have standards for when it safe to swim in said water, and efforts to sustain and improve these are required. Air quality is similarly measured … Read More

The Soy of Travel - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jan 31, 2019

Long ago I made my first trip to China. China was a different place then. Hotels were sort of modernising, but weren’t quite there. In Beijing we used to be put up in the delightfully awful Friendship Hotel. Pipes were affixed to wall interiors, odd noises were common, and concrete was everywhere. I think the mattresses might have been made from it. The mattresses were always solid and hard. I used to ask for rooms with 2 single beds so I could locate the marginally softer one. Now things are much more civilised. Hotels are well made, mattresses are softer, and you no longer feel part of some historic Cold War relic. It’s not the same. The other challenge was food. I like Chinese food. I’ve always been adept with chopsticks. This could be an issue with restaurant staff afraid … Read More