Created in 2006 by science journalist Paola Catapano, MINIDARWIN aims at taking groups of children on scientific expeditions coached by real scientists and science communication professionals.

On the occasion of International Year of Biodiversity 2010, theMiniDarwins are ready to leave on their third expedition, to the Amazon Forest, devoted to biodiversity and its socio-economic spin offs. The MiniDarwins will be coached by biodiversity scientists and an ecological socio-economist specialised in ethno-ecology to experience life with an Indigenous population in the Amazon Forest

During the trip, we will publish on this blog a diary of the expedition and some of the photos, videos, interviews and texts we are producing for later publication on our website, book, reportage and documentary film.

22 July 2010

What is biodiversity..

Thu July 22,  Gland (Geneva)
The answers of Jean-Christophe Vié, Deputy Head of the Species Programme at IUCN





As the departure date approaches at a faster and faster pace (… it’s Monday, July 26!), the MiniDarwin are just starting realising about the unique expedition and wondering about its main theme, Biodoversity. This is not a friendly word for kids, it’s a rather technical term, but its meaning is very familiar to any child: biodiversity is ....  NATURE … in its grandiose variety! This is Jean Christoph Vié’s word and we can trust him. Jean Chrisophe is an expert on Species (that is all the animals and plants on our planet) working at IUCN, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
 Created sixty years ago, IUCN is the world’s first global environmental organization. It’s main objective is to keep Nature alive, through scientific research on species and ecosystems, field projects to better manage natural environments, and advice to governments all around the world to develop better environmental policies and legislation. One of the most important instruments dvelopped by IUCN to fight biodiversity loss is the RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIES, measuring the risk of extinction of mammals, birds, amphibians, sharks, reef-building corals, conifers, reptiles, fishes, plants, invertebrates … you name it! This amazing compilation gives us an indication of how life on Earth is going, how little is actually known and how urgent it is to assess more species. The IUCN RED LIST is a real Barometer of Life.

video

Jean-Christophe Vié answers Kai’s question: What is the origin of your interest in animals?


Since I was a child I’ve always had a passion for nature. I grew up in the countryside and this is the reason why I was not spending my time in front of Playstations or the Nintendo. I spent most of my time in the fields, outside, observing animals. Where did this interest come from? It came from the books I received as a kid, which were not as nice as the books you can find today. I also received a pair of binoculars and then I was fascinated by an American TV series, called Daktari, that I adored. It’s now old fashioned, but it played a big role in triggering my interest for Nature.

video

Jean-Christophe Vié answers Maxine’s question: Can you tell me more about the bald Uakari (cacajo calvus calvus) that we are going to meet in the Mamirauà reserve ?








Although I never met this animal, I did my PhD thesis on a very close cousin of the Uakari; the Saki monkey, in French Guyana. The bald Uakari is very special, as you can see from the photo of his face on the cover of this book, the Red Book on Threatened Species. English people say he looks like a gin drinker, because he’s bald like me but much redder than me. The Uakaris live in groups, their colour is white and they exploit the flooded areas bordering the Amazon basin. The level of the Amazon river changes a lot according to the season, whether it is rainy or dry, and the Uakari exploit these areas as they eat fruit. 

You can follow Jean-Christophe's own blog here: 
http://viesurterre.com/

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