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.

Thailand military dictatorship Internet censorship


This video says about itself:

28 May 2014

Anti-coup protesters in Bangkok managed to capture a Humvee of the Royal Thai Army, Wednesday. They covered the vehicle in anti-coup graffiti and threw litter on its roof.

After the army and protesters had vacated the area, police arrived to clean up the scene and tow the vehicle away.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Dutch people in Thailand warned

Saturday, May 31, 2014, 12:53 (Update: 31-05-14 , 13:42)

Dutch people in Thailand must be careful on social media with statements against the military coup, the Dutch embassy in Bangkok tweets. Nine days ago, the army took over power in politically divided Thailand.

The new rulers yesterday banned sending [so-called] provocative messages through Facebook or other social media. Offenders risk two years in prison.

On Wednesday, Facebook was already unreachable for 55 minutes.

Fleming

On Thursday, police in Bangkok arrested a 42-year-old Fleming because he was said to have criticized the coup. The man, who has lived for several years in Thailand, wore a T-shirt imprinted with Peace Please.

He was released on the same day .

Suppressing

Police and soldiers are present in large numbers in the places in Bangkok where the two political camps during the last six months continuously demonstrated. There is no one to be seen.

In a shopping elsewhere in the city, police arrested a man who to a TV camera briefly showed a sign with the inscription: “elections only.”

Singer Taylor Swift has cancelled a sold-out concert in Thailand after the coup d’état: here.

Class War: Thailand’s Military Coup. Outnumbered by the country’s rural voters, Thailand’s once vibrantly democratic urban middle class has embraced an elitist, antidemocratic agenda: here.

HUNDREDS of demonstrators shouting “freedom” and “democracy” rallied briefly near a shopping mall in the heart of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, yesterday to denounce the country’s May 22 coup: here.

The Thai military, which seized power in a coup on May 22, is consolidating its rule, clamping down on sporadic protests, arresting opponents and critics and ruling out any elections for at least 15 months: here.

An international workers’ union has declared the Thai government to be “on trial” in an impending defamation case against a British human rights defender who exposed alleged modern-day slavery in its canned fruit and fishing industry: here.

Thailand‘s military rulers say they are monitoring a new form of silent resistance to the coup – a three-fingered salute borrowed from science fiction blockbuster The Hunger Games – and will arrest those in large groups who ignore warnings to lower their arms: here.

Thailand’s military is promoting itself as a US ally amid escalating tensions produced by Washington’s military build-up against China: here.

Here are five ways extreme copyright rules can be used to censor the Internet (Thank goodness for @openmedia_ca!): here.

Elephants comfort distressed herd mates


This video is called Asian Elephants Console The Distressed.

From Wildlife Extra:

Asian elephants reassure each other when distressed

February 2014: Asian elephants console others who are in distress, using physical touches and vocalizations just like humans, say scientists.

The findings are the first empirical evidence of consolation in elephants, “For centuries, people have observed that elephants seem to be highly intelligent and empathic animals, but as scientists we need to actually test it,” says lead author Joshua Plotnik of Emory University.

A group of 26 captive Asian [elephants] at an elephant camp in northern Thailand were observed for nearly a year by the researchers, who recorded stress incidences of individuals and the responses from other nearby elephants.

“With their strong social bonds, it’s not surprising that elephants show concern for others,” says co-author Frans de Waal, an Emory professor of psychology and director of Living Links at Emory’s Yerkes National Primate Research Center. “This study demonstrates that elephants get distressed when they see others in distress, reaching out to calm them down, not unlike the way chimpanzees or humans embrace someone who is upset.”

The study found that nearby elephants would then comfort the distressed individual through directed, physical contact which often included using their trunk to gently touch the distressed elephant’s face, or put its trunk in the other animal’s mouth, in a move a bit like a handshake or hug.

Plotnik says. “It’s a very vulnerable position to put yourself in, because you could get bitten. It may be sending a signal of, ‘I’m here to help you, not hurt you.’”

In addition, elephants frequently responded to the distress signals of other elephants by adopting a similar body or emotional state, a phenomenon known as “emotional contagion,” which may be related to empathy. Groups of nearby elephants also were more likely to bunch together, or make physical contact with each other.

The current elephant study’s limitations include the fact that it was restricted to captive animals. “This study is a first step,” Plotnik says. “I would like to see this consolation capacity demonstrated in wild populations as well.”

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Rare spoon-billed sandpiper in Thailand


This video says about itself:

Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Foraging

The common foraging behaviors of Spoon-billed Sandpipers on the breeding grounds differ significantly from their behaviors on the wintering grounds. Birds move more slowly and pick food items — invertebrates and small amounts of plant material – from the surface in a fashion similar to most other small sandpipers. In this segment, a mated pair forages along the edge of a snow-melt pond during the egg-laying period of their nesting cycle.

Video includes commentary by The Cornell Lab’s Gerrit Vyn.

Filmed June 9, 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

Birdwatcher Raphael Lebrun from Belgium, while in Pak Thale in Thailand, spotted a rare spoon-billed sandpiper yesterday.

Hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper travels 8,000km


This video says about itself:

Journey of Spoon-billed Sandpiper

27 June 2013

The aim of the project was to promote the conservation of a Critically Endangered bird species called Spoon-billed Sandpiper. The population is now less than 200 pairs. Each year, this small shorebird has to fly from their breeding ground at Siberia, Russia down to South East Asia for wintering. The main threats it is facing are intertidal habitat loss throughout its migratory and wintering ranges, as well as bird trapping.

This project involved 500 children and helpers from 12 areas and 8 countries (Russia, Republic of Korea, Japan, mainland China, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh). Children helped colouring the animation one picture by one picture. About 1200 pictures were coloured.

The project was organized by the China Programme of BirdLife International/Hong KongBird Watching Society and was sponsored by the Eric Hosking Trust.

From Wildlife Extra:

A hand-reared sandpiper travels 8,000km

November 2013; A rare hand-reared spoon-billed sandpiper has been spotted for the first time in the wild, more than 8,000km from where it was released in Russia.

Twenty-five of the critically endangered birds have been raised over two years by an Anglo-Russia conservation team on the Russian tundra, before being released to join their wild-born counterparts in migrating to South-East Asia. However until now it was unknown whether any would be spotted until they return to Russia to breed aged two-years-old, so the news one has been seen in Thailand, on the coast near Bangkok, and another in southern China was welcomed.

WWT Head of Species Conservation Department, Baz Hughes said: “This is really exciting news. We now know that spoon-billed sandpipers, raised by our avicultural staff on the Russian tundra, can migrate with their wild counterparts to wintering areas a quarter of the way around the globe.”

Conservationists take eggs from wild spoon-billed sandpiper nests, prompting the parent birds to lay a further clutch. The hand-reared chicks are safe from predators and, with the wild-raised chicks from the second clutch, it increases the total number of birds fledging by up to ten times. The hand-reared birds are all marked with small white plastic leg flags. Marking birds allows them to be identified later and helps reveal information about their movements and behaviour.

Christoph Zöckler, Coordinator of the East Asian- Australasian Flyway Partnership’s Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force said: “We’ve learnt an enormous amount about spoon-billed sandpipers’ movements over the last few years but there are big gaps. While we still don’t know all the places they stop over on migration, we can’t protect them or address any threats they face there.”

Hitler ‘superhero’ in Thailand


This video is called An Alfred Hitchcock documentary on the Nazi Holocaust.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Thai university apologises for ‘superhero’ Hitler billboard

Nazi leader depicted on banner hailing Chulalongkorn graduates alongside Batman, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk

Monday 15 July 2013 11.28 BST

Thailand‘s leading university has apologised for displaying a billboard that showed Adolf Hitler alongside Superman and other superheroes, saying it was painted by ignorant students who did not realise the image would offend anyone.

The huge billboard was placed outside the art faculty of Chulalongkorn university as part of a tribute to this year’s graduates.

It said “Congratulations” in bold white letters and showed Hitler with his arm raised in a Nazi salute next to Batman, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and Iron Man.

“[We] would like to formally express our sincere apology for our students’ superhero mural,” the art school dean Suppakorn Disatapundhu said in a statement on Monday. “I can assure you we are taking this matter very seriously.”

The billboard was up for two days before being removed on Saturday in response to criticism. Online photographs showed graduating students in their robes, mimicking Hitler’s raised-arm salute.

Suppakorn said new art students had painted the banner as part of a traditional send-off from incoming students to the graduating class, and it was one of dozens of banners and billboards across the campus during the university’s commencement period.

The artistic vision behind the picture was to show that good and bad people co-exist in the world, Suppakorn said after summoning the students for an explanation.

“They told me the concept was to paint a picture of superheroes who protect the world,” the dean said in a telephone interview.

“Hitler was supposed to serve as a conceptual paradox to the superheroes,” he said, noting that the superheroes were painted in vivid colours while Hitler’s image was in grey. “This kind of thoughtless display will not happen again.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an international Jewish human rights group, had criticised the banner before its removal.

“Hitler as a superhero? Is he an appropriate role model for Thailand’s younger generation – a genocidal hatemonger who mass-murdered Jews and Gypsies and who considered people of colour as racially inferior?” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the centre, in a statement on Friday.

“The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is outraged and disgusted by this public display at Thailand’s leading school of higher education.”

The study of history in the Thai school system revolves primarily around the history of Thailand and its long line of kings. World history is glossed over, with little or no mention of the Holocaust.

Thailand snails discoveries


Perrottetia aquilonaria, one of the newly described species. Credit: Somsak Panha

From Wildlife Extra:

A new species on every mountain – Extraordinary evolution in Thailand

Tiny colourful snails are in danger of extinction with vanishing limestone ecosystems

April 2013. Three new species from the genus Perrottetia were described from north and north-eastern Thailand. The species show extraordinary endemism, with each of these colourful snails occurring as “One Hill One Species”. This is a very peculiar phenomenon where each one of these highly endemic snails is specific and the only one inhabiting a certain mountain range. They live in rock crevices, feeding on even smaller snails, insect larvae and some earthworms species. These beautiful animals are now at risk from extinction with the destruction of limestone ecosystems.

Limestone ecosystems in the world are now being destroyed at an alarming rate. This means we are losing biodiversity resources, a tendency especially threatening for the hot spot areas like Thailand. The new research findings show that key terrestrial invertebrates, such as several new bright carnivorous land snails are still persisting in such areas and are being described even from the highly endangered quarried sites. This demonstrates that there are still remnants of some fundamental ecosystem, which lives and is struggling for survival, a great experience for mankind to learn.

Researchers from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok and the Natural History Museum in London (Thanit Siriboon, Chirasak Sutcharit, Fred Naggs and Somsak Panha) discovered many new taxa of the brightly coloured carnivorous terrestrial snails family Streptaxidae. Terrestrial snails are primarily herbivores and only a few groups like this one are carnivorous. The animals come from several limestone areas across the world, including some threatened by human exploitation, especially by quarrying.

Ecosystem destruction

“The three new Perrottetia species exhibit distinct morphological characteristics, which make for a great example for evolutionary studies in unstable environments,” comments one of the authors, Dr Somsak Panha. “More than 50% of limestone ecosystems in this region have been or still are being destroyed. This astonishing case of biodiversity persistence gives a valuable reason to put effort in the conservation of this important world ecosystem. “

The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

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