Motmot bird festival in Yucatan, Mexico


This video says about itself:

Turquoise-browed Motmot. Near Cerro Lodge. Tarcoles and Carara National Park. Costa Rica, Noel Ureña.

From BirdLife:

Celebrating the colourful Motmot in the Yucatan Birdfair

By Pronatura México, 10 June 2016

Over 15 years ago, the bright plumage of the Turquoise-browed Motmot

I was privileged to see this beautiful bird in Costa Rica.

Eumomota superciliosa inspired the creation of the Motmot Festival in the Mexican state of Yucatan, one of the most important areas for birds in the country.

Colorful travelers, rare, enigmatic, beautiful, large or small – birds have been one of the wildlife groups that have aroused the most interest for those interested in nature-based tourism. Aiming to become a leading example of sustainable ecotourism, the Yucatan Motmot festival was born in 2002 with the idea of attracting those visitors that come to enjoy the cenotes, lowland forests, coastal dunes, mangroves and archaeological sites of the area.

The festival

The celebration has taken different shapes over the last 15 years. What began as a short weekend break in November soon became one month. Due to its success, the celebration has become a surprisingly long one – since 2010 it takes place every year between March and November. Eight months packed with birdwatching activities where everyone is invited. From tourists to birdwatchers, nature guides, students and children. Visitors can participate in a wide range of activities – from courses to workshops, photo and drawing competitions, games and birdwatching and guided nature tours around the state.

Why Yucatan?

The Yucatan Peninsula hosts around 543 species of birds – that’s 50% of the species found in the country. Approximately 40% of them are migratory and take advantage of the strategic position of the peninsula. The habitats of this region are an excellent stopover site where the birds can replenish their energy and rest before they continue their migratory journey to Central and South America. About 100 species find Yucatan so comfortable that they end their travels there!

Bird marathon

The most popular event is the Xoc chi ‘ich’ (“Bird count” in Mayan) at the end of the Festival, from the 25 to the 27 of November in the city of Merida in Yucatan province. Participants can team up with up to 8 other people. Together they get lost in the lush rainforests, secluded beaches and swampy wetlands of Yucatan. Their mission? To count as many species as possible in 29 hours. All teams are guided by a specialist so beginners can simply enjoy the walk – they only need to bring a pair of binoculars and an adventurous spirit! For those who prefer to photograph, the bird marathon is the perfect opportunity to capture unique birds in their home.

This festival is not only a chance for tourists to get to know the culture, archaeology and nature of the country, but is also an opportunity for rural communities and groups to share their riches and knowledge while getting economic benefits from the extra traffic.

For more information, follow the Facebook page Festival de las Aves TOH or visit their website.

Trump effigies burnt in Mexico


This video says about itself:

Mexico: Trump effigy blown up in Monterrey’s ‘Burning of Judas’ festival

26 March 2016

An effigy of a candidate for the USA Republican Party nomination Donald Trump was one of the effigies burnt in Monterrey’s “Burning of Judas” ceremony, on Saturday.

From Reuters news agency:

Sun Mar 27, 2016 3:55am EDT

Mexicans burn Donald Trump effigies in Easter ritual

MEXICO CITY | By Henry Romero and Tomas Bravo

Mexicans celebrating an Easter ritual late on Saturday burnt effigies of U.S. Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant views have sparked outrage south of the American border.

In Mexico City’s poor La Merced neighborhood, hundreds of cheering residents yelled “death” and various insults as they watched the explosion of the grinning papier-mâché mock-up of the real estate tycoon, replete with blue blazer, red tie and his trademark tuft of blond hair.

Media reported that Trump effigies burned across Mexico, from Puebla to Mexico’s industrial hub Monterrey.

The burning is part of a widespread Mexican Holy Week tradition where neighborhoods burn effigies to represent Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ according to the Bible. The effigies are often modeled on unpopular political figures.

“Since he started his campaign and began talking about immigrants, Mexico, and Mexicans, I said ‘I’ve got to get this guy,'” said Felipe Linares, the artisan who crafted Trump and whose family has been making Judases for more than 50 years.

Trump, the front-runner to win the Republican nomination for the Nov. 8 election, has drawn fire in Mexico with his campaign vow to build a wall along the southern U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to make Mexico pay for it.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has said his country will not pay for the wall and likened Trump‘s “strident tone” to the ascent of dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Trump, who has also aroused concern among many in his own party with his proposals, has accused Mexico of sending rapists and drug runners across the border and vowed to increase fees on some Mexican visas and all border crossing cards to help make Mexico pay for the wall.

Judas effigies are burnt in villages and towns in several Latin American countries such as Venezuela and in parts of Greece. Anthropologists say the practice serves a symbolic function to overcome divisions and unite communities around a common enemy.

Linares has also done mock-ups of corrupt former union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and President Enrique Pena Nieto, whose popularity has been hit by conflict-of-interest scandals and the disappearance of 43 students at the hands of corrupt police.

(Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

According to Dutch NOS TV, ISIS effigies were burnt in Mexico as well.

USA and Mexico, from Pancho Villa to Donald Trump


Donald Trump and other racists in the US Republican party, cartoon by Ted Rall

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The day Pancho Villa gave as good as he got

Friday 11th March 2016

At the time when a US presidential candidate denigrates Mexicans PETER FROST recalls how 100 years ago the legendary rebel gave the US a taste of its own medicine

Racist US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has hit on a richly sympathetic seam of historical US bigotry with his attack on Mexico and Mexicans.

Trump is happy to tell his public that Mexicans are all drug dealers, criminals and rapists. Sadly, far too many US citizens seem only too happy to believe him.

Trump’s main policy promise is to build a wall along the US-Mexico border and to make the Mexicans pay the cost of the wall.

It is all bullshit and bollocks of course but Trump won’t be the first US president to ride to success on a tidal wave of that particular malodorous mixture.

Political tensions between Mexico and its northern neighbour have a very long history. Indeed, exactly 100 years ago this week, March 9 1916, a group of Mexicans led by the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa actually invaded the US.

At that time Mexico was run by an unelected dictator Porfirio Diaz and the rich landowners were transforming the agriculture of the country by industrialising sugar production. Their profits rocketed while peasant farmers — treated little better than slaves — found themselves with no land to grow food. Poverty and starvation stalked the land.

Pancho Villa was a classic example of what communist historian Eric Hobsbawm called a social bandit. He became a folk hero despite, or perhaps because of, the way he used crime to finance his revolution and equip the men who flocked to join his rebel band.

He was born in 1878 as Doroteo Arango only later in life would he take the name Francisco “Pancho” Villa (Pancho is the nickname for Francisco).

When Villa was 15, his father died. The boy began to work as a sharecropper to help support his mother and four siblings.

One day in 1894, Villa came home from the fields to find that the owner of the hacienda was about to rape his 12-year-old sister. He grabbed a pistol and shot the man dead. He was 16. To escape retribution he headed for the mountains of Sierra Madre Occidental in the region of Durango.

From 1894 to 1910, Villa spent most of his time there as an outlaw. By 1896, he had joined other bandits and soon became their leader. This band would steal cattle, rob shipments of money and rob the wealthy to give to the poor. It was during this time that he began using the name Pancho Villa.

In 1910 revolution was in the Mexican air. Francisco Madero set out to remove the dictator Diaz and aware of Villa’s growing reputation and popularity recruited him to lead a cavalry force in the revolutionary war.

Villa and his well trained and motivated band crushed Diaz’s undisciplined conscript troops in battle after battle.

Each victory brought more men into Villa’s ever-growing army. He realised the value of the media and signed a contract with a Hollywood company to make live action films of his battle victories.

After only a few months, Madero’s forces emerged triumphant and Diaz was removed from power. But democracy in Mexico wasn’t going to be that easy. Almost immediately following the revolution one of Madero’s top generals, Victoriano Huerta, murdered Madero, threw Villa in prison and declared himself president of Mexico.

In 1913 Pancho escaped and crossed the Rio Grande with just eight men. He marched towards Mexico City, gathering supporters along the way. His force became known as The Division of the North.

His army consisted entirely of cavalry, and he was one of the first military commanders in history to use railways as a means of moving men and artillery across long distances so they could join battle more quickly.

Villa purchased supplies and equipment from the US, raising money by robbing trains and rich landowners and won battle after battle against Huerta’s men. In only a few months he had liberated the state of Chihuahua and became its governor.

Villa’s campaign of revenge against Huerta was quick and efficient, often using unorthodox guerrilla tactics. At the battle of Tierra Blanca he hijacked an enemy locomotive, loaded it up with explosives and crashed it into an enemy train depot, destroying tons of critical supplies.

Perhaps his greatest victory came when his troops captured the the mountain-top fortress of Zacatecas. This was the home of Mexico’s silver reserve. This daring raid essentially broke the back of Huerta’s war machine and filled the revolution’s coffers.

Just weeks later Villa marched into Mexico City to link up with fellow revolutionary Emiliano Zapata — in the city, however, they met resistance from another revolutionary leader, the conservative Venustiano Carranza.

Carranza had the support of the US government who had supplied him with heavy machine guns. This superior firepower allowed him to drive Villa and Zapata from the city.

Upset by the US taking Carranza’s side in the revolution, in March 1916 Villa took his cavalry and mounted the only successful foreign invasion of US soil in the 20th century, riding into the town of Columbus, New Mexico.

Despite the best efforts of the US 13th Cavalry, Villa’s men captured a large quantity of guns and ammunition before escaping back across the border.

Just like Trump today the US government was not happy. A few days after the raid 6,000 US cavalrymen under General John J Pershing crossed the border to search out Villa and his men.

The search techniques they used were a strange mixture of old and new and included traditional bloodhounds and one of the first ever uses of aerial reconnaissance.

Finally after 10 months of searching, they returned home empty-handed.

By 1920 Carranza had been deposed and replaced by new leadership under Alvaro Obregon and Villa, now aged 42, declared his retirement. Three years later he was assassinated.

Pancho Villa is still remembered and honoured. His tactics and strategies shaped the way that guerilla war would be fought in years to come. His memory inspired other revolutionaries around the globe not least in South and Central America.

Whale saved from illegal net


This video says about itself:

23 February 2016

Sea Shepherd crew rescued a [humpback] whale entangled in an illegal totoaba gillnet in the Gulf of California.

Sea Shepherd currently has two vessels in Mexico’s Gulf of California on OPERATION MILAGRO.

Our goal is to save the vaquita porpoises, the most endangered marine mammal.

The vaquita are caught as a result of fishing the totoaba, a fish poached for its swim bladder.

Both the vaquita and the totoaba are endangered species and protected by law.

Both species live only in the Gulf of California.

See also here.

Canyon wren in Mexico, video


This video says about itself:

A Canyon Wren moves around its rocky home

24 February 2016

Canyon Wrens are found throughout the arid mountain country and canyonlands of western North America. These birds nest and feed in narrow rock crevices, gleaning spiders and insects from rock surfaces, often from tight cracks in the rock.

Video recorded by Eric Liner/Macaulay Library in Sonora, Mexico.

George W Bush’s ‘super Berlin’ wall damages wildlife


This 2012 video is called Photos and video of wildlife stranded at the US-Mexico border wall.

From Newsweek in the USA:

The Environmental Impact of the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

By Melissa Gaskill On 2/14/16 at 2:28 PM

A line of 18-foot-tall steel posts placed four inches apart cuts like a scar across the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge near McAllen, Texas. It’s a stretch of a barrier extending intermittently across 650 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border from California to Texas, and presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio vow to enlarge it if elected.

The barrier is intended to deter illegal immigration and smuggling. Whether it has achieved those aims remains unclear, but what is clear in this part of Texas is that sections of the barrier bisect and isolate public and private lands, threatening to decimate wildlife habitats and leaving communities on both sides of the border that rely on wildlife tourism to wither.

New snake species discovery in Mexico


This video says about itself:

NEW SPECIES of Pitviper from Mexico

26 December 2015

HERP.MX is proud to introduce two new species of Ophryacus: the Emerald Horned Pitviper, Ophryacus smaragdinus, and the Broad-Horned Pitviper, Ophryacus sphenophrys. The description in Mesoamerican Herpetology is available here: www.herp.mx/pubs/2015-Grunwald-et-al-Oph­ryacus.pdf

——

The story starts in the 1850s with Swiss naturalist, Francis Sumichrast in the eastern state of Veracruz. Among Sumichrast’s important reptile and amphibian collections was a series of horned vipers which he sent to various collections around the world – including the Milan Natural History Museum in Italy. Two of these unusual vipers landed in the hands of museum director Georg Jan, who, described them as the new species Trigonocephalus (Atropos) undulatus, now Ophryacus undulatus in 1859 (www.herp.mx/pubs/1859-Jan-Atropos-undul­atus.pdf). Typical of this era, Jan included a brief summary of the two specimens and three simple line drawings – illustrations that would prove critical when the type specimens were later destroyed during WWII.

Dozens of specimens were collected across several states in the decades that followed – including a particularly interesting snake from southern Oaxaca. During the summer of 1949, W. Leslie Burger collected a pitviper that, while superficially similar to other Ophracus undulatus, possessed distinctly wide, wedge-shaped horns, and a lower number of scales between the eyes and on the underside of the tail. Based on these differences, in 1960 Hobart Smith described Burger’s specimen as the new species: Bothrops sphenophrys and inferred a close relationship to B. undulatus (now Ophryacus) (www.herp.mx/pubs/1960-Smith-New-and-Not­eworthy-Reptiles-from-Oaxaca-Mexico.pdf)­.

Fast forward to 1971. Without explanation, W. Leslie Burger, the very same individual who collected the original specimen of Ophryacus sphenophrys, placed the species in synonymy with Ophryacus undulatus in his unpublished PhD dissertation at the University of Kansas. 18 years later, Campbell and Lamar followed his lead but this time noting that most of the distinguishing characters for O. sphenophrys fall within the range of known variation for O. undulatus. Unbeknownst to all parties, this “variation” was contaminated by a third, undescribed species of horned viper.

Fall of 2010 found the HERP.MX Field Team in Sierra Madre Oriental searching for the eastern limit of Crotalus aquilus in the soggy cloud forests of Veracruz. Just before 11PM on the evening of Septemer 16th, Mexican Independence Day, while returning from field work on a windy, pot-holed mountain road, a bright green pit-viper appeared in the headlights. Though similar to specimens of O. undulatus observed elsewhere, several conspicuous differences suggested the snake represented an undescribed form. Subsequent trips, specimens, and reviewing museum specimens began to shed some light on the horned viper puzzle – largely thanks to the horn itself.

Even though Jan’s original specimens had been destroyed in WWII, his drawings were precise enough to determine which snake he’d been studying half a world away, over 150 years ago. The profile view shows a narrow horn immediately above the snake’s eye, typical of Ophryacus undulatus, while these new specimens from east-central Veracruz had rounded horns separated from the eye by other smaller scales. In a stroke of good luck, a search of museum specimens revealed a second Ophryacus sphenophrys at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México – from the same area, and consistent with Smith’s original description. With the range of variation of O. undulatus adjusted to exclude scale counts from the new species from the north, it was apparent that Smith wasn’t off the mark after all, and Burger’s specimen from 1949 did in fact represent a distinct species.

Some time, additional specimens, scale counts, lab work, and writing later —the team is excited and proud to introduce the new species Ophryacus smaragdinus and resurrect Hobart Smith’s O. sphenophrys. Enjoy!

See also here.