There’s something so familiar about looking into the eyes of any great ape, something that resonates within us when we engage with our ancestral cousins – it’s hard not to take what’s happening to the Tapanuli orangutan personally. It’s been less than two years since it was recognised as a new species, and yet already its very existence is under threat from the construction of a hydroelectric dam. This issue, we visit the endangered Sumatran forest it calls home to find out what makes this species special (p56).
Of course, it’s not only great apes that tug at our heart strings. And just as we instinctively look to protect our own young, so too is it difficult to resist the charms of animal babies. This was the subject of a recent BBC Two series, and we spoke to the programme makers to find out what it was like to follow the precarious first year of life for six tender offspring (p72).
Closer to home, with the evenings now drawing in, I’ve been inspired by Tiffany Francis to grab a flask of hot chocolate and head out at sundown to engage with my local fauna after dark (p68). And on the subject of things that come out at night, we also visited Skomer Island off the Welsh coast, home to some 350,000 breeding pairs of Manx shearwaters. Not that you’d know they were even there during daylight hours (p42).
Paul McGuinness Editor
A ‘Manxie’ during migration at sea. When breeding on Skomer, they stay hidden until sundown.