Plant, snake discoveries in Romania


This video is called Eryx jaculus – snake.

From BirdLife:

Autumn of discoveries: SOR welcomes new findings in the Romanian flora and fauna

By Alessia Calderalo, Mon, 20/10/2014 – 11:34

For the Romanian Ornithological Society (SOR, BirdLife Partner) the autumn of 2014 will be remembered as one of the most rewarding periods since the society began its work in conservation. Two important discoveries have been made in the area of Romanian flora and fauna; our colleagues in SOR are proud to share them with the BirdLife Partnership.

The first good news came in early May, when biologist Matis Attila was mapping habitats in the Dumbrăveni Forest Natural Reserve, a Natura 2000 site. While working, he discovered a plant that had never been seen in Romania before- the Hairy Broomrape Orobanche pubescens. However, it was not until September that he was able to confirm his identification. This plant normally lives in the Mediterranean Basin, in countries such as Greece and even Bulgaria, but not in Romania. “It is not an invasive species because it was not brought artificially into our ecosystem. Maybe the plant has been here before and nobody noticed, since the members of the Orobanchaceae family are hard to determine”, said Matis. Hairy Broomrape is a parasite that takes its water and minerals from the roots of a host plant. From now on, anyone who is interested in seeing the Orobanche pubescens will have be able to do so at the Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden in Cluj-Napoca, where it will be growing with the other 650,000 plants of their collection.

The second, very exciting moment came with the discovery of several specimens of Javelin sand boa Eryx jaculus, a non-poisonous, non-aggressive snake that had not been seen alive in Romania since 1937. The anonymous person who made the finding reported it via a Facebook message to Vlad Cioflec, herpetologist and SOR member, noting the discovery of one specimen of this small snake. Vlad set up a team with Corina, his wife and fellow herpetologist together with wildlife photographer, Doru Panaitescu. The trio promptly went to the site, where they discovered other individuals: a female and six youngsters that were photographed, filmed and returned to their burrows. In 1986 and again in 2011, individual snakes were found dead in Romania, but no Javelin sand boa had been found alive in the country since before World War II. The fact that not only one but seven individuals have been found this time gives the experts reason to think that a viable population is possible in Romania.

This video is about the recent discovery of Javelin sand boas in Romania.

Both discoveries have raised the hopes of biologists at SOR, whose work is dedicated to ensuring that Romanian ecosystems expand in variety and richness. If you wish to know more about these findings, please contact Ovidiu Bufnila, Communications Officer at SOR.

Racist superstitious Italian politician kills protected snake


This 2013 video is called Italian Jewish groups slam Italian politician over racist slurs aimed at African-Italian minister.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Italy’s Deputy Senate Speaker who compared country’s first black minister to an ‘orang-utan’ claims he is ‘cursed’ by African spirits after spell of bad luck

The senior politician who caused outrage by comparing Italy’s first black minister to an orang-utan, now claims he is under siege from vengeful African spirits.

Deputy Senate Speaker Roberto Calderoli invited national and international opprobrium last summer when he said the then Integration Minister, Congolese-born Cécile Kyenge, resembled an ape. He issued only a mealy-mouthed apology, however, and has refused to resign.

Roberto Calderoli is a member of the racist party Lega Nord (Northern League); allies of Marine Le Pen‘s National Front in France and Geert Wilders‘ PVV party in the Netherlands.

In November, he took legal advice when it became clear he was to stand trial in Brescia, charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination. The trial is ongoing.

But today it has emerged that he is also taking mystical advice, after claiming video evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo shows that Ms Kyenge’s father, a tribal leader, has put a “macumba” – an African curse – on him as punishment for the insult.

After a series of misfortunes since the “orang-utan” comment – six surgical interventions (two live-saving), the death of his mother, fractured bones and, just last week, the discovery of a 6ft snake in the kitchen of his house in Bergamo, northern Italy – Mr Calderoli is in no doubt about the magical nature of the threat, and has consulted a mystic.

He said that after the video emerged and he suffered the series of health scares, two friends gave him a lucky charm supposed to possess mystical healing properties. “Two days later, it broke in two by itself,” said Mr Calderoli. “A wizard

Maybe the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?

has told me that there are terrible forces acting against me.” …

Now, in addition to battling ill health, anti-racism campaigners, the courts and tribal relations, Mr Calderoli is facing demands from animal rights activists that he be prosecuted for killing the snake, which they say was a non-venomous, protected species.

Following Mr Calderoli’s comments against Ms Kyenge, racist protesters threw bananas at her during a public appearance. Ms Kyenge had been calling for legislation to automatically grant citizenship to the children of legal immigrants who are born in Italy.

Snakes, scorpions may prevent hospital patients dying


This video is called National Geographic Wild – Deadly Snakes.

Translated from Leiden university in the Netherlands, 14 August 2014:

Poison of snakes and scorpions for new antibiotics

Hospital bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics are a growing problem. The Leiden antibiotic expert Gilles van Wezel will, along with colleague Michael Richardson and experts in the Leiden university hospital and Naturalis museum, look for new antibiotics, made from the poison of snakes and scorpions. To do that, he will get a cash injection from the Scientific Research Organisation.

Snakes counted in British gardens


This video is called Identifying snakes in the UK.

From Wildlife Extra:

Summer stock take of snakes take now underway in UK gardens

A spotlight is shining on snakes in UK gardens with a call from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) to report if you have spotted a snake on your patch this summer?

The organisation is also asking gardeners to make their gardens “snake-safe” by cutting down on particular types of netting that can be a danger to the animals.

This summer so far has seen a record number of snake enquiries made to ARC. Most reports are grass snakes, which are harmless to people and pets.

This has prompted the “Summer Snake Stock Take” to help judge how snakes are faring in the UK today.

The naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, one of ARC’s patrons, said: “Snakes are amongst the most beautiful wildlife that we have, but sadly all three of the UK’s species [adder, grass and smooth] are in trouble.

“So if one turns up in your garden it’s a treat. Try to make it feel at home by making a pond or compost heap, and be very careful with any netting you use over the pond or your peas as snakes can become fatally entangled.”

Certain fine netting – especially the kind often used over ponds and to protect peas and strawberries – can be a death-trap for snakes and slow-worms, which are not true snakes but legless lizards.

ARC has published a leaflet setting out easy alternatives to this fine netting, helping gardeners to reduce snake casualties.

Jim Foster, ARC’s Conservation Director, said: “We’d like people to let us know if they’ve spotted a snake in their garden this summer.

“All sightings are useful: we know that snake habitat in the countryside is vanishing, yet gardens could be a backyard back-up plan for grass snakes. Gardeners can use our advice to boost local snake numbers.”

The new advice provides an ID guide to Britain’s snakes, answers to common queries, and facts to dispel widespread myths about snakes.

You can take part in the survey by visiting www.arc-trust.org/summer-snakes.

Grass snake expansion in Flanders


This video is called Britain in COLD BLOOD – The Grass Snake (Natrix natrix).

Translated from Knack weekly in Belgium, 7 July 2014:

The grass snake is on the rise in Flanders. The snake which until recently did not live in Flanders has been observed 27 times since the beginning of this year. VRT TV reports this.

The grass snake hibernates and lays its eggs inter alia in compost heaps. Probably the animal was brought from Germany with compost and the snake came to Limburg province that way.

Hummingbirds and snake in Costa Rica


This is a fiery-throated hummingbird video.

Still 28 March 2014 in Costa Rica. After the hummingbirds of San Gerardo de Dota, we went to a bit lower part of the mountains.

Fiery-throated hummingbirds, 28 March 2014

At 10:30, we stopped at a place with many hummingbirds. Fiery-throated hummingbirds were the species most attracted to the feeders.

Fiery-throated hummingbird on branch, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird feeding, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbird on a branch, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbirds on branches, 28 March 2014

Fiery-throated hummingbirds on branch, 28 March 2014

Other species: volcano hummingbird.

Magnificent hummingbird male, 28 March 2014

And magnificent hummingbird; both male and female.

Magnificent hummingbird female, 28 March 2014

And green violetear.

Hairy woodpecker, 28 March 2014

There was also a hairy woodpecker, feeding nestlings.

Sooty thrush, 28 March 2014

Sooty thrushes were present. We would not see them again, as they are birds of higher mountain levels.

Here, we also saw our only Costa Rican snake: a black-speckled palm-pitviper. A poisonous species, living only in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama.

New wolf snake species discovery in Cambodia


This video from Thailand is called Common Wolf Snake – Lycodon capucinus; about a relative of the newly discovered snake.

From Wildlife Extra:

Distinctive new wolf snake species discovered in Cambodia

A new wolf snake species has been discovered in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.

Wolf snakes are nonvenomous members of the family Colubridae, and named after their large teeth that are found in both jaws.

This distinctive, almost chequered, coloured snake was discovered by Cambodian herpetologist Neang Thy, Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) research adviser in Phnom Penh, in a high altitude montane rainforest.

He said: “Given its unique colouration, submontane habitat and altitudinal separation from other wolf snakes in the region, the species will probably prove to be endemic to the Cardamom Mountains.”

The new snake has been named Lycodon zoosvictoriae by Thy in honour of the Zoological Parks and Gardens Board of Victoria in Australia, which has supported FFI’s studies in the region for several years.

Thy said: “The support FFI received from Zoos Victoria has helped build the capacity of Cambodian researchers and conservationists and has greatly improved understanding of Cambodia’s reptiles and amphibians. Naming this species in honour of Zoos Victoria will ensure a memorable and historical record of the support they’ve given FFI, both in discoveries and conservation of the Cardamoms.”

This discovery is the eighth new snake to be found in the Cardamom Mountains since survey work began in 2000.

This video is called Elusive New Wolf Snake Species Found In Cambodian Mountain.

The scientific description of this new species is here.