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.

Some good and bad news with Sumatran tigers - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jul 04, 2016

I’ve been in Asia of late, and finished up at the Conservation Asia conference.  This isn’t just a place to present your own research, but also a place to learn more about what it happening elsewhere. I like to go to sessions I know little about.  Especially the fields of conservation biology that tend to be neglected.  So amphibians and arthropod conservation tends to draw me in.  I think it’s no secret that there is a strong bias towards terrestrial birds and mammals in both policy and biology. Nonetheless, I did pop into some of the carnivore sessions, and well, got some good updates on the status of the Sumatran tiger. The Sumatran tiger is the only tiger subspecies that survives in Indonesia (both the Java and Bali tiger subspecies have become extinct).  Sumatra is also a tough island to … Read More

Sunday Seascape 19 June - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 19, 2016

The teaching semester has come to an end.  I’m about to go back to Asia next weekend.  It felt like a good time to escape into some local forests and beaches.  So, it was off on the Okura Bush Walkway.  As the goal was really, just to get away from everything and go on a hike, I kept the photography kit down. A compact travel tripod rather than my larger landscape tripod. Just the Sony a7R and a couple of lenses.  And a selection of Lee filters. It wasn’t really optimal for photographing many subjects.  The low tide and calm sea sucked a lot of features out of the water.  The overcast conditions might have suited some waterfall photography, but they tended to mute colours and wipe detail out of the sky.  One way to offset this is to … Read More

Here comes the rain again – #Friding in Auckland - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 10, 2016

The bike has a new chain and gear cables.  It helped yesterday’s ride to work. Under 16 minutes moving time.  Four new records on different segments of the ride.  Today though is Friday, and I’m back #Friding.  I could hear the rain most of the night.  The neighbour’s cat broke into the bedroom and glued himself to my legs.  He was still there when we got up. Fortunately the rain had eased off when I made my ride in today.  It’s definitely a day for bike lights.  And a shower jacket. Number of cyclists seen riding two abreast or riding through red-lights = nil. Number of other cyclists seen also = nil.  Number of bikes in the bike-rack stand I use at work = nil. Number of cars passing me and staying 1.5m away = ha ha ha ha. Read More

Back to #Friding - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 03, 2016

My bike has needed a bit of serious maintenance ahead of winter. That’s handicapped the cycling this week.  Given how wet it has been, that may have been a good thing.  Anyway, it was back to my regular Friday cycling.  I pondered whether it was worth wearing leg-warmers as it was getting rather chilly.  In the end I just picked some longer socks. The view from the northern edge of Long Bay was particularly rewarding.  We live in a beautiful city. Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island – pic is actually a panoramic so please click to view it properly.   I’ve been running more this week. Rather than get into the car and join everyone else, it’s possible to take bus to work and run home. It’s much harder work than cycling. And slower. About 40 minutes for … Read More

10 Facts About Crocodiles - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Jun 02, 2016

As possibly the only New Zealander to be a member of the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group, it seemed timely to introduce a few facts about crocodiles. All photos below were taken with me during work (except for the alligator at the bottom) in the Northern Territory of Australia.  I had lookouts to help take the photos… The Estuarine crocodile is named for the salt-excreting pores on its hide. These are visible in the dots in the scales shown below. There are two indigenous Crocodile species found in Australia.  These are the Estuarine (or saltwater) and the Johnston River (or freshwater).  Their popular names are the ‘saltie’ and the ‘freshie’. The Estuarine crocodile is also the largest living crocodile species on the planet.  It can grow up to 7 metres long and weigh 1000kg.  This makes it larger … Read More

Sunday Seascape: 29 May - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

May 30, 2016

Sunday around Auckland was pretty dire weather-wise, so I have dug into some past shots for view of Auckland.  Both shots are taken form North Head, looking over Devonport toward the Auckland CBD. Obviously they were taken at night time.  This meant along the way I startled the odd hedgehog, who wasn’t expecting pedestrians this time of night. I had time to plan these shots are little more carefully than last visit to North Head.  Both are 5m 30s exposures taken with the Sony a7R.  So that’s 36 MP of full-frame goodness.  It really is a great little camera for landscape shots.   … Read More

#Friding on my mind - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 29, 2016

Another Friday and that’s another occasion to participate in the grassroots #Friding campaign.  My goal however, is not to commute to work on the bicycle once a week, but to drive but once a week.  It’s been a good couple of weeks for it.  For one thing, the school holidays has reduced congestion.  That means I don’t have to brake for cars on the bicycle as much as normal.  I wish sometimes, drivers would realise they’re not testing their driving skills around me, so much as I get to test my reaction times and brakes.  Anyway, I’m getting a few personal records.  It’s nice to know if the road is clear and (mostly) flat, I can cruise at a decent 35-36 kph. Conditions are getting cooler though, so it has been this week, into the arm-warmers or long-sleeved tops.  Today’s … Read More

Friday means #Friding - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 15, 2016

I was pleased to find the weather was so conducive to cycling.  Sunny without the heat and humidity of February.  A nice chill in the air.  I broke out the arm warmers. Today’s look was canary yellow.  I like to persuade myself motorists will see me. It was oddly peaceful, wheels spinning as I glided down the roads to work.  If you want to experience a lovely Autumn morning in Auckland, the bicycle beats the car. I don’t actually enjoy driving in Auckland.  It’s just a means to get around.  On Wednesday for instance, it was a day for the car.  One son tries to break his leg getting out of the shower.  I drive him to the local Accident and Emergency.  That’s through school traffic.  “This” I explained as we queued, ‘is why I bike … Read More

Let’s not panic: Rhino horn for sale in NZ is not a catastrophe - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 08, 2016

News that the auction house Cordy’s is selling a rhino horn earned a rapid backlash.  Nonetheless, from a conservation perspective this is really, a non-issue.  The logic that sale of old horns promotes rhino poaching, is akin to believing our trade in whale-bone carvings is encouraging the Japanese to hunt whales. NZ conservation laws for the most part, concern our our native wildlife.  An exception is species listed under CITES.  This international convention governs the trade in wildlife.  the commercial, international trade in species listed in Appendix I is prohibited.  NZ is a signatory to this treaty.  Rhinos were listed on Appendix I in 1976. For rhinos, what this means is we have made all commercial import of rhino horn into NZ illegal. The only covers rhino horn that originate after the listing.  Antiques, personal effects and pre-convention sources … Read More

Wait…what’s the fastest growing religious group in NZ? - Chthonic Wildlife Ramblings

Apr 06, 2016

The NZ Herald reported on the Egypt’s plan to send Imam’s to fight radicalization in NZ.  I will offer no opinion on this issue, given I have no knowledge of the extent of Islamic radicalisation in NZ.  Nonetheless, one claim did catch my attention: Muslims, now about 1 per cent of the population, are New Zealand’s fastest-growing religious group. This claim to fastest-growth seemed suspiciously short of a credible source, so I tried to verify it by looking at the NZ census data, comparing the 2006 Census to the 2013. This does not support that Muslims are the fastest-group religious group. In absolute terms, the group that has experienced the greatest growth since 2006 was ‘No Religion”. This increased by 338,241 people. In relative terms (and bearing in mind that if there is a small base of that … Read More