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M Kuriya, Singapore
Our prints

We've created a special place for the animals and plants that we've used on our prints. We've chosen them because they are threatened or endangered species, often because of us. We hope that you enjoy reading about them and can see why they are special and need protecting.

All the prints on our clothing are carefully hand printed using silk screens and water-based inks.


CALIFORNIA DANDELION

Scientific name: Taraxacum californicum
Endangered status: Endangered
Habitat: Meadows and wetlands
Location: California (USA)
Characteristics: California dandelions are native to California, and are found there alone. They are perennial herbs, which means that they grow and bloom over the spring and summer and then die back every autumn and winter. They then return the following year using their roots rather than seeding themselves. Dandelion leaves are edible and can be eaten as a salad vegetable.
Threats: California dandelions are seriously threatened by factors like development, grazing and trampling, water-table changes, mining and the introduction of other non-native dandelion species.


PYGMY ELEPHANT

Scientific name: Elephas maximus borneensis
Endangered status: Endangered
Habitat: Tropical and sub-tropical flat, lowland forests and river valleys
Location: Sabah (Borneo)
Characteristics:  Pygmy elephants are much smaller in size than their Asian and African counterparts, and they are also a more mild tempered and tame. They have large ears and relatively long tails. Pygmy elephants like to live around the lowlands, where soil and food is better quality and more varied.
Threats: Pygmy elephants are under threat from forest fragmentation and loss of habitat due to logging, agricultural plantations and human settlement, where 40% of the forest has been lost. Their populations are now down to just 1000 elephants.

AFRICAN LION

Scientific name: Panthera leo
Endangered status: Endangered
Habitat: Subtropical and tropical dry forest, shrubland and grassland (lowland); dry savanna; hot desert
Location: North Africa, West Africa, South-West Asia
Characteristics:  The lion is one of the four 'big cats' of the world and is the second largest of the feline species after the tiger. The lion's range formally stretched from as far as Africa, Europe, and South-West Asia, but populations now only exist in isolated zones, mainly in Africa. Lions live and hunt in groups and can live for up to 15 years. Male lions can be recognised by their heavy manes.
Threats: It is believed that the lion population has reduced in numbers by 30-50% in the past 20 years. Numbers are continuing to drop and are unlikely to be reversible. Falling lion populations have been caused by habitat loss (through agriculture and livestock farming), which has caused a decline in area  ranges and occupation. Human conflict and civil unrest, and hunting by people continues to be a major threat to their populations. The Asiatic lion population is now so small that it is listed as critically endangered.


HUGH'S HEDGEHOG

Scientific name: Mesechinus hughi
Endangered status: Vulnerable
Habitat: Dry steppe
Location: Central China
Characteristics: Prefers open areas but is also found in shrubs and forests. Unlike many other hedgehog species, the Hugh's hedgehog is known to look for food in the day time, and even in the rain.
Threats: The Hugh's hedgehog faces rapid human encroachment into its restricted range. Habitat loss and degradation is having an ongoing effect on these hedgehog populations.


GIRAFFE
Scientific name: Giraffa camelopardalis
Endangered status: Lower risk
Habitat: Dry savanna and open open woodland habitats; subtropical and tropical dry lowland grassland.
Location: Africa
Characteristics: The Giraffe is the world's tallest mammal, with its front legs longer than its back legs. They live in groups of 15-20 individuals and feed on flowers and leaves (especially those of the acacia tree) which they can get to easily thanks to their long necks. Giraffes need only to drink occasionally and so are often found away from water sources.
Importance: The Giraffe is a herbivore and plays an important role in helping to keep the local ecology stable by dispersing plant seeds which they deposit in their fertile dung piles.
Threats: Although populations remain quite stable in some parts of Africa, their populations have fallen drastically in West Africa where they are poached for their skin and meat. Human induced habitat loss and degradation is an ongoing problem for giraffe populations.


INDIAN ELEPHANT

Scientific name: Elephas maximus indicus
Endangered status: Endangered
Habitat: Lowland and mountain dry forests; lowland and mountain moist forests; subtropical habitats; riverine habitats.
Location: South Asia, eastern Asia
Characteristics: The Indian (or Asian) elephant has grey skin with pink patches on its forehead, trunk, ears and chest.  It uses its trunk to feed by wrapping it around grass or branches and pulling, or by using it to sweep specially collected piles of vegetation into its mouth. The Indian elephant appears in largest numbers in India, but its distribution ranges as far as Borneo (only small populations still exist).
Importance: The Indian elephant plays both an important ecological and cultural role in Asia. Their conservation is important too - as large areas need to be protected (due to their size and their need for large spaces to survive), which means that more biological and ecological diversity is maintained, and in doing so helping many other species too.
Threats: Because of habitat loss and poaching (both human induced) only small, isolated and fragmented populations of the Indian elephant remain and the species faces extinction. There are far fewer Indian elephants (10 times less) than their close relative, the African elephant.


SICILIAN FIR

Scientific name: Abies nebrodensis
Endangered status: Critically endangered
Habitiat: Mountainous Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation
Location: Sicily
Characterisitics: Known only on the island of Sicily. The Sicilian fir is a tall, evergreen tree with a characteristic fir tree shape. Once widespread on the island, the Sicilian fir is now restricted to a small area with only 13 mature individuals remaining in the wild today.
Importance: The Sicilian fir, like any tree is an important component in the natural world. Trees play a vital role in preventing climate change, and the decline in numbers of trees in the world is having its effect on global warming. Trees also help to prevent soil erosion, the loss of which can cause loss of biodiversity and flooding.  Trees provide nutrients for the soil, insects and animals. If managed properly, trees provide building materials and food for human use.
Threats: The Sicilian fir was heavily exploited for timber and firewood  at the beginning of the 19th Century and populations were severely reduced (in fact, the Sicilian fir was thought to be extinct until the 1950’s when it was rediscovered in a just small area).  Deforestation has had an effect on the local soil, which has altered the Sicilian fir’s natural habitat. It also faces competition from other tree species which are more adaptable to changes in the climate. Their small population means that the Sicilian fir is heavily at risk from any chance event, such as fire or disease.


BOX TURTLE

Scientific name:
Pyxidea mouhotii
Endangered status:
Endangered
Habitat:
Forest floor of evergreen forests
Location:
Northeastern India , Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, southern China
Characteristics: Unlike other turtles, box turtles are not aquatic. Instead, they inhabit the forest floor leaf litter where it is moist and offers plenty of cover. They grow to around 7 inches in length  and have a characteristic central ridge or keel along the length of its shell. 
Importance:
Box turtles are omnivorous and play their part in keeping the forest floor alive by eating a variety of vegetation, insects and small mammals. This helps keep the local plant and animal populations stable.
Threats: Box turtles have been harvested in large numbers for the Asian turtle consumption trade and can be found in the live food markets of SE Asia. They are also captured for the international pet trade. Due to this, box turtles are now only found in localised areas of their natural habitat. Populations have already disappeared and those that do remain (even in designated protected areas) are declining.


BROWN BEAR

Scientific name: Ursus arctos
Endangered status: Lower risk
Habitat: Temperate broadleaf forests
Location: Europe, Asia, North America
Characteristics: The brown bear is one of the biggest and strongest living carnivores on earth. They can travel up to 100km foraging and hunting for food and although usually moving slowly, they can run fast if needed. Brown bears usually hibernate during the winter months.
Importance: Brown bears depend on large natural areas to live and hunt, so they play a vital role in keeping other wildlife populations in check. They are also important seed dispersers (through eating fruit and disposing the seeds in their faeces and through carrying seeds on their fur which then drop off). This management helps the local ecology to remain stable.
Threats: Habitat destruction through logging, mining, road building and other developments contribute to the decrease in bear populations. Brown Bears are now only found in 2% of their former range. They are also  threatened by hunting, notably in Asia,  for medicinal purposes (of which there is no evidence of any medical value whatsoever).

GREEN PEACOCK

Scientific name: Pavo muticus
Endangered status: Vulnerable
Habitat: Tropical Savannah and riparian forests
Location: SE Asia - Myanmar to Java
Characteristics: Peafowl are omnivorous and consume flowers, seeds, insects and even small reptiles such as grass snakes. They like to hunt in small social units, on the ground, in shallow streams and especially in tall grass environments. Peacocks display their beautiful feathers during courtship rituals, where they are a good indicator of the health status of an individual.
Importance: Peafowl play their ecological role in helping to keep insect and small animal populations in check and in keeping the local plant species abundant through dispersal of their seeds.
Threats: This species has a small, fragmented and rapidly declining population which is projected to continue. They are threatened mostly by high hunting levels (for food). Their decline in numbers is also due to a reduction in extent and quality of habitat. The habitats of the Green peacock are being cleared for agriculture, logging and human settlements.


GREVY'S ZEBRA

Scientific name: Equus grevyi
Endangered status: Endangered
Habitat: Dry, arid scrublands and plains
Location: Kenya. Somalia, Ethiopia
Characteristics: The largest of all wild equines (the horse family). It has bigger ears and narrower stripes than other species of zebra, looking more mule-like than horse-like. Grevy’s zebra is highly territorial, staying in areas considerably smaller (and less lush) than other zebras. They mark their territories with dung piles. Grevy’s zebra feed on grasses and other plants.
Importance: Grevy’s zebras are herbivores and so help to keep the local ecology stable by dispersing seeds of grasses and other plants which they eat and then deposit in their fertile dung piles. They are a source of food for other animals which rely on them as a prey, making them a natural and important part of the food chain.
Threats: Numbers of Grevy’s Zebras have declined by 70% in Kenya and a similar decline has been recorded in Ethiopia. This trend is continuing. Habitat loss and degradation is their major threat, and it is due to human interference. Competition from pastoral people hunting and gathering, and the introduction of their livestock has resulted in overgrazing and a reduction of their natural food source. Predators such as wild dogs, native to the zebra’s habitat are also responsible for mortalities within their population.


ORANGUTAN (Sumatran and Bornean)

Scientific name: Pongo abelii and Pongo pygmaeus
Endangered status: Endangered to Critically Endangered
Habitat: Tropical and sub-tropical  moist, broadleaf forest
Location: Borneo, Sumatra (Indonesia and Malaysia)
Characteristics: Orangutans are largest tree climbing mammal in the world and are the only great ape found in Asia. Orangutans prefer to stay above ground in the trees, swinging from one tree to another to move around, and making nests in the branches to sleep in. They have long, reddish brown fur and walk on all fours with fists clenched when on the ground. They have been observed making tools for foraging, scratching, fighting, digging and other purposes. Orangutans have an extremely low reproductive rate (perhaps one offspring every 5 years) which means that they are very vulnerable to, and take a long time to recover from population declines. The orangutan diet comprises mostly of fruit and is supplemented with shoots, leaves, bark, lianas and occasionally, eggs and small vertebrates.  ‘Orangutan’ means ‘man of the forest’ in Malay.
Importance: The orangutan plays an important role within the forest’s own ecosystem. By eating the forest fruit they are helping to maintain the natural balance of the forest vegetation. They create small clearings which encourages new plant growth from below the canopy.
Threats: Numbers of orangutan are fast declining due to habitat destruction by man. Lowland forest habitat is being cleared at an alarming rate by legal and illegal logging or fire, to make way for agricultural land or palm oil plantation, and for the exotic wood industry. Huge areas of their habitat are being cleared every year. Unless this is protected, the orangutan faces extinction in the wild. Groups such as the WWF are working to save them and their habitat. Another threat they face is that they are  hunted for food, for which there is no cultural taboo. Their skulls are also seen as a valued gift and fetch a high price. Young orangutans are exploited for the pet trade. Fossil records show that the orangutan once had a much wider distribution in Asia.

Photos courtesy of NCTC Library (brown bear and box turtle), WWF (pygmy elephant) and Aishuia Isjanto (green peacock).

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