Blyth’s reed warbler video

This is a Blyth’s reed warbler video.

These birds nest in Asia and in Eastern Europe. They are rare vagrants in Western Europe.


Demoiselle cranes video

This video is about demoiselle cranes. These birds migrate across the Himalaya mountains to India.

‘Yetis’ are Asian bears

This video says about itself:

Yeti, Bigfoot debunked: DNA reveals the bear facts

2 July 2014

An international team of researchers working on the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project has analyzed DNA evidence from samples of hair sent to them as possible evidence of the creature commonly referred to as Bigfoot.

Cryptozoology is the study of animals that people claim exist, but haven’t yet been proven to be real, like Bigfoot, which pops up in various forms among different cultures around the world.

This study has debunked all of the samples from across the United States, Russia, and other countries after comparing them with DNA sequences cataloged by GenBank.

Animals that matched the samples included cows, horses, bears, sheep, porcupine, deer, canidae like coyotes, wolves or dogs, a serow, a human, and a raccoon which was found in Russia, significantly outside of the animal’s supposed natural range.

From the University at Buffalo in the USA:

Abominable Snowman? Nope — study ties DNA samples from purported Yetis to Asian bears

New paper shows how science can explore the roots of folklore

November 28, 2017

Summary: The Yeti or Abominable Snowman — a mysterious, ape-like creature said to inhabit the high mountains of Asia — looms large in the mythology of Nepal and Tibet. Now, a new DNA study of purported Yeti samples from museums and private collections is providing insight into the origins of this Himalayan legend.

The Yeti or Abominable Snowman — a mysterious, ape-like creature said to inhabit the high mountains of Asia — looms large in the mythology of Nepal and Tibet.

Sightings have been reported for centuries. Footprints have been spotted. Stories have been passed down from generation to generation.

Now, a new DNA study of purported Yeti samples from museums and private collections is providing insight into the origins of this Himalayan legend.

The research, which will be published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, analyzed nine “Yeti” specimens, including bone, tooth, skin, hair and fecal samples collected in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. Of those, one turned out to be from a dog. The other eight were from Asian black bears, Himalayan brown bears or Tibetan brown bears.

“Our findings strongly suggest that the biological underpinnings of the Yeti legend can be found in local bears, and our study demonstrates that genetics should be able to unravel other, similar mysteries,” says lead scientist Charlotte Lindqvist, PhD, an associate professor of biological sciences in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, and a visiting associate professor at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

Lindqvist’s team is not the first to research “Yeti” DNA, but past projects ran simpler genetic analyses, which left important questions unresolved, she says.

“This study represents the most rigorous analysis to date of samples suspected to derive from anomalous or mythical ‘hominid‘-like creatures,” Lindqvist and her co-authors write in their new paper. The team included Tianying Lan and Stephanie Gill from UB; Eva Bellemain from SPYGEN in France; Richard Bischof from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences; and Muhammad Ali Nawaz from Quaid-i-Azam University in Pakistan and the Snow Leopard Trust Pakistan program.

The science behind folklore

Lindqvist says science can be a useful tool in exploring the roots of myths about large and mysterious creatures.

She notes that in Africa, the longstanding Western legend of an “African unicorn” was explained in the early 20th century by British researchers, who found and described the flesh-and-blood okapi, a giraffe relative that looks like a mix between that animal and a zebra and a horse.

And in Australia — where people and oversized animals may have coexisted thousands of years ago — some scholars have speculated that references to enormous animal-like creatures in Australia’s Aboriginal “Dreamtime” mythology may have drawn from ancient encounters with real megafauna or their remains, known today from Australia’s fossil record.

But while such connections remain uncertain, Lindqvist’s work — like the discovery of the okapi — is direct: “Clearly, a big part of the Yeti legend has to do with bears”, she says.

She and colleagues investigated samples such as a scrap of skin from the hand or paw of a “Yeti” — part of a monastic relic — and a fragment of femur bone from a decayed “Yeti” found in a cave on the Tibetan Plateau. The skin sample turned out to be from an Asian black bear, and the bone from a Tibetan brown bear.

The “Yeti” samples that Lindqvist examined were provided to her by British production company Icon Films, which featured her in the 2016 Animal Planet special “YETI OR NOT,” which explored the origins of the fabled being.

Solving a scientific mystery, too: How enigmatic bears evolved

Besides tracing the origins of the Yeti legend, Lindqvist’s work is uncovering information about the evolutionary history of Asian bears.

“Bears in this region are either vulnerable or critically endangered from a conservation perspective, but not much is known about their past history,” she says. “The Himalayan brown bears, for example, are highly endangered. Clarifying population structure and genetic diversity can help in estimating population sizes and crafting management strategies.”

The scientists sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of 23 Asian bears (including the purported Yetis), and compared this genetic data to that of other bears worldwide.

This analysis showed that while Tibetan brown bears share a close common ancestry with their North American and Eurasian kin, Himalayan brown bears belong to a distinct evolutionary lineage that diverged early on from all other brown bears.

The split occurred about 650,000 years ago, during a period of glaciation, according to the scientists. The timing suggests that expanding glaciers and the region’s mountainous geography may have caused the Himalayan bears to become separated from others, leading to a prolonged period of isolation and an independent evolutionary path.

“Further genetic research on these rare and elusive animals may help illuminate the environmental history of the region, as well as bear evolutionary history worldwide — and additional ‘Yeti’ samples could contribute to this work,” Lindqvist says.


Asians protest Donald Trump’s warmongering

This video from the USA says about itself:

On Asia Trip, Trump Met by Protests Calling on U.S. to Open Diplomatic Relations with North Korea

10 November 2017

President Donald Trump continued his five-nation tour of Asia, landing in Vietnam today for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. … In Korea, he attempted to visit the Demilitarized Zone, but his fleet of helicopters was turned back due to bad weather. We speak with Professor Bruce Cumings, who just returned from Seoul, South Korea, where Trump was met with protests. He is professor of history at the University of Chicago and the author of several books on Korea, including “Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History.”


Save yellow-breasted buntings

This is a yellow-breasted bunting video.

From BirdLife:

17 Oct 2017

Is the Yellow-breasted Bunting the next Passenger Pigeon?

Wide-scale, unchecked hunting has, in the space of just three decades, driven frightening declines in two widespread bunting species, on both sides of the Eurasian landmass. Armed with our scientific findings, the BirdLife Partnership is now working to help buntings recover.

By Simba Chan

We are all familiar with the cautionary tale of the Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius — once the most abundant species in North America, and possibly the entire world. Numbering well into the billions at the peak of its existence, flocks of Passenger Pigeons flying overhead were likened to deafening hurricanes. It seemed unthinkable that this superabundant bird could go extinct.

Yet, it did. Unchecked hunting and the widespread clearance of hardwood trees, which provided the bulk of its diet, drove a steep decline in numbers in the late 19th century. By the time we realised what was happening, it was too late to reverse the decline, and Martha, the last known Passenger Pigeon, died in captivity in 1914. This sorry tale serves to remind us that although many birds are classified as Least Concern by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List, if we ignore the warning signs, no species is immune from the threat of extinction.

In the mid-1990s, the observed decline of the Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola in Hokkaido, Japan alerted conservationists that another super-abundant species might be in trouble. Now we know it has suffered a huge decline, possibly as much as 95 percent of its population, in the span of just two to three decades. Prior to 2004 the Yellow-breasted Bunting was not regarded as of conservation concern, but since 2013 it has been listed as Endangered, and this year the discussion on BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Birds Forum concerned a potential further uplisting to Critically Endangered.

The main reason for its decline is also comparable to that of the Passenger Pigeon: the species migrates in huge flocks, which are hunted in massive numbers. Again paralleling the Passenger Pigeon, the Yellow-breasted Bunting’s plight has been worsened by improvements in communication and transportation. The species gathers in large numbers at night to roost, making the birds easy to trap in high numbers.

The species is known as the “rice bird” in China, where it is hunted for food — a practice that has been illegal since 1997, but continues on the black market to this day. Such unsustainable and mostly illegal hunting on migratory passerines in Asia has pushed not only the Yellow-breasted Bunting to the edge of extinction; according to preliminary monitoring projects performed in Amur Region (Russia) and Hong Kong SAR (China), all migratory bunting species in eastern Asia are declining.

In order to address and confront this little-known crisis, BirdLife International co-organised an international workshop on conservation of the Yellow-breasted Bunting with the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society (BirdLife in China (Hong Kong)) and the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China in November 2016. The purpose of the workshop was to collect information and opinion for drafting an International Conservation Action Plan on the Yellow-breasted Bunting, and to form an international conservation network on this and other migratory passerines.

More than 50 experts from almost all major range countries attended the workshop. The main recommendations from the workshop were that the Yellow-breasted Bunting should be officially protected in all range countries, that its migration patterns should be managed using colour banding and geolocators, and that its breeding, migration and wintering sites need to be identified, surveyed, protected, and managed. It is also imperative to study the effect of agrochemicals on migratory passerines that use farmlands, and promote wildlife-friendly farming practices. International cooperation on the research and conservation of this species and other migratory passerines is necessary if we are to stabilise the numbers of Asia’s vanishing migrants.

The International Conservation Action Plan of the Yellow-breasted Bunting is expected to be published by 2019, as good consultation with different countries and stakeholders, including some regional and national workshops, are needed. However, important actions are already underway. In the breeding season of 2016, BirdLife International and Birds Russia conducted a preliminary study on the Yellow-breasted Bunting in Sakhalin, Russia. The result was alarming: it has seemingly disappeared completely from southern Sakhalin, and could only be found at a few localities in northern and central parts of the island.

The next year, a joint team from BirdLife International, Wild Bird Society of Japan (BirdLife Partner) and Birds Russia visited northern Sakhalin and colour-banded eighteen Yellow-breasted Buntings so we could study its migration. Geolocators will be used in the breeding season of 2018 if the banded birds have proven they are returning to the same breeding sites.

This year, China has made a very positive move in saving the Yellow-breasted Bunting and other migratory passerine by enforcing a revised Wildlife Conservation Law. It outlaws the eating of protected species, which includes the Yellow-breasted Bunting. The key to success is higher awareness among the general public so they will refuse to buy the birds and report any illegal activities seen.

BirdLife International and the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society have produced a poster to support implementation of the new conservation law. BirdLife Partners will also support an education programme on prevention of hunting and wildlife consumption in all other range countries as the fight continues to ensure that the Yellow-breasted Bunting doesn’t become another cautionary tale for future generations.


No fruit bats, no durian fruit

This video says about itself:

14 May 2015

A Cave Nectar Bat is pollinating durian flowers in Thailand. The durian is the king of South East Asian fruits, selling for billions of dollars annually. However, every flower must be pollinated by a bat in order to set fruit, even when grown in orchards.

From the University of Nottingham in England:

Durian industry could suffer without the endangered fruit bat

October 3, 2017

Scientists have discovered that Southeast Asia’s endangered fruit bats — commonly known as flying foxes — play an important part in the pollination of the iconic and economically important durian tree.

Using camera traps, researchers collected video evidence showing the island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) pollinating durian flowers, leading to the production of healthy durian fruit. Their study — Pollination by the locally endangered island flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) enhances fruit production of the economically important durian (Durio zibethinus) — has been published in the Journal of Ecology and Evolution.

The video footage was captured on Tioman Island by a team led by Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz as part of her PhD at the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (France) in collaboration with the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Dr Sheema said: “These are very important findings because they shed more light on the crucial ecosystem services provided by flying foxes. Previously it was known that the smaller, nectar-feeding bats are pollinators for durian — but many people believed that flying foxes were too large and destructive to play such a role. Our study shows the exact opposite: that these giant fruit bats are actually very effective in pollinating durian trees.”

The spikey tropical durian fruit, with its spikey skin and distinctive odour, is highly prized throughout Malaysia and Thailand. A ubiquitous icon of Southeast Asian culture, it is also a lucrative industry, generating millions of US dollars in local and international trade. The new findings suggest these economic profits owe a huge debt to large fruit bats such as flying foxes — as they were previously believed to be destructive rather than beneficial.

Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, from the School of Environment and Geographical Sciences of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and one of the coauthors of the study, said: “The durian is a fascinating plant that, with its flowers pollinated by bats and its seeds dispersed by large animals like elephants, beautifully exemplifies the importance of plant animal interactions. The durian fruit is particularly famous for its pungent smell and unique taste, adored by most people in Southeast Asia and so often misunderstood — abhorred? — by westerners. We hope this study brings attention to the urgency of conserving flying foxes in Southeast Asia.”

Flying fox populations in severe decline

The island flying fox is already classified as ‘endangered’ on Malaysia’s National Red List.

Large fruit bats of the genus Pteropus are severely threatened by hunting and deforestation. They are often sold and eaten as exotic meat due to an unsubstantiated belief that consuming them can help cure asthma and other respiratory problems. They are also persecuted and killed as agricultural pests, as some people claim that the bats cause damage and economic loss by feeding on cultivated fruits.

Consequently, these factors have led to a severe decline in flying fox populations worldwide.

Repercussions for tropical ecosystems

This study shows that these bats play important roles as seed dispersers and pollinators in rainforests, especially on islands. Their disappearance could therefore have repercussions for tropical ecosystems.

This international team of researchers from Malaysia, France, India, and Thailand, in collaboration with Tree Climbers Malaysia, has found that Southeast Asia’s durian supply could be affected too.

Dr Sheema said: “If people end up hunting flying foxes to extinction, it’s not hard to see that there could be serious implications for Southeast Asia’s beloved ‘King of Fruits‘”.


Green peacock video

This is a green peacock video.

These birds live in north-east India, south-east Asia and Java in Indonesia.