Extinct Schomburgk’s deer, really extinct?


This August 2018 video says about itself:

The Schomburgk’s Deer (Rucervus schomburgki) was a member of the family Cervidae.

Native to central Thailand, Schomburgk’s deer was described by Edward Blyth in 1863 and named after Sir Robert H. Schomburgk, who was the British consul in Bangkok from 1857–1864.

It is thought to have gone extinct by 1938, but there is speculation that the deer might still exist.

This graceful deer inhabited swampy plains with long grass, cane, and shrubs in central Thailand, particularly in the Chao Phraya River valley near Bangkok.

This deer avoided dense vegetation. They lived in herds that consisted of a single adult male, a few females, and their young.

The wild population of Schomburgk’s deer is thought to have died because of overhunting in 1932, with the last captive individual being killed in 1938.

The species was listed as extinct in the 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

However, some scientists consider this species to be still extant.

In 1991, antlers were discovered in a Chinese medicine shop in Laos. Laurent Chazée, an agronomist with the United Nations, later identified the antlers from a photograph he took as coming from Schomburgk’s deer.

Only one mounted specimen is known to be in existence, which currently resides in Paris’s Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle after living in the zoo there until 1868.

From Northwestern University in the USA:

Rare deer likely lived 50 years beyond declaration of extinction

Fresh antlers from Schomburgk’s deer were photographed in Laos in 1991

September 6, 2019

A rare deer species that lived in central Thailand might have come back from the dead — without the help from sci-fi-like genetic engineering.

Schomburgk’s deer (Rucervus schomburgki) was added to the extinction list in 1938. But new evidence, gleaned from antlers obtained in late 1990 or early 1991, shows that it survived for at least an additional half-century and might still be around today.

The research was published last week (Aug. 30) in the Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. Gary Galbreath, professor of biological sciences at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, was involved in the work.

After the wild population died out from overhunting in 1932, the last known Schomburgk’s deer died in captivity six years later. Or so we thought. A trucker in Laos found a set of antlers, seemingly in fresh condition, in the early 1990s. He then gave the antlers to a shop in the northern Laos province of Phongsali.

In February 1991, United Nations agronomist Laurent Chazée photographed the antlers. Galbreath and his collaborator G.B. Schroering recently analyzed the antlers’ physical condition in those photos. Based on the widely spreading, basket-shaped, hyper-branched structure of the antlers, the team determined the antlers belonged to a Schomburgk’s deer. (Other Asian deer’s antlers do not have the same signature basket shape.)

Galbreath also confirmed that the antlers were fresh when photographed in 1991. The antlers — spotted with dark red to reddish-brown dried blood — had been excised from the deer’s head. The color of the blood and condition of the exposed bone marrow offered clues into the antlers’ age.

“The relative antiquity of the antler specimens can be assessed by the materials, such as dried marrow, still adhering to them,” said Galbreath, an expert in Asian wildlife. “Even the blood was still reddish; it would become black with increased age. In the tropics, the antlers would not continue to look this way even within a matter of months.”

Before they were listed as “extinct,” the deer were well documented in Thailand. Galbreath believes a small population probably also lived in a remote area in central Laos, where they just might still be living today.

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Releasing Asian elephants into the wild


This 2 February 2019 video says about itself:

Elephants Released into the Wild | BBC Earth

In Thailand, realising elephants into the wild is one of the highest forms of making merit.

Researchers at the University of Turku found that the presence of a maternal sister was positively and significantly associated with annual female reproduction in a population of working elephants in Myanmar. In addition, an age-specific effect was found: young females were more sensitive to the presence of sisters and even more likely to reproduce when living near a sister: here.

Asian songbirds’ nests and roads, new study


This video shows a white-rumped shama singing.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

Road proximity may boost songbird nest success in tropics

January 29, 2019

In the world’s temperate regions, proximity to roads usually reduces the reproductive success of birds, thanks to predators that gravitate toward habitat edges. However, the factors affecting bird nest success are much less studied in the tropics — so does this pattern hold true? New research published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications shows that interactions between roads, nesting birds, and their predators may unfold differently in Southeast Asia.

Rongrong Angkaew of King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and her colleagues placed 100 next boxes for the cavity-nesting White-rumped Shama in forest interior and 100 near a road at an environmental research station in northeast Thailand. Monitoring nests and radio-tracking 25 fledglings from each site for seven weeks, they found that nest success was 12% higher and post-fledging survival 24% higher at the edge versus the interior — the opposite of the pattern commonly observed in temperate regions.

“There were some special challenges involved in carrying out the field work,” says Angkaew. “When we started setting up the nest boxes in the field, we found a lot of tracks and other signs of poachers and illegal hunting, so we had to avoid some parts of the forest edge in order to reduce human disturbance to our nest boxes, which could have affected nestling and fledgling survival rates.”

Predators caused 94% of nest failures and 100% of fledgling mortality, and locally important predators of small birds, such as green cat snakes, northern pig-tailed macaques and raptors appear to prefer interior forest habitat. Fledglings also preferred to spend time in dense understory habitat, which provides cover from predators and was more available near roads.

Overall, the study’s results suggest that the effects of roads on birds’ reproductive success depend on local predator ecology — the same rules don’t necessarily apply in different biomes. Angkaew and her coauthors hope that more studies like theirs will help identify key nest predators and assess their foraging behaviors in multiple landscapes, in order to determine the best ways to conserve vulnerable bird species in areas affected by human development.

Thai hermit crab’s new home, a food tin


This video says about itself:

Crafty Hermit Crab Finds a New Home in a Food Tin | BBC Earth

1 June 2018

With shells disappearing because of tourists, hermit crabs in Thailand have turned to rubbish to solve their housing crisis.

Thai people demonstrate against military dictatorship


Thai demonstrators against military dictatorship, Reuters photo

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

In Bangkok hundreds of people have taken to the streets to protest against the military regime in Thailand. They took action at the regional headquarters of the United Nations. The estimated 900 demonstrators want the regime to stop what they believe is intimidation of activists.

The demonstration is one of the biggest against the government in months. It is organized by the People’s Movement for a Just Society, a network that stands up for people who have lost their land because the government has expropriated it.

Fear

Protests against the junta are relatively special in Thailand because Thai people did not dare to demonstrate in recent years.

“Two years ago no one would have taken to the streets to demonstrate against it, but now the irritation about the junta has won the fear”, says correspondent Michel Maas. “These are not the first and certainly not the last demonstrations that will be held there.”

Coup

The army seized power in Thailand in 2014 and thus put an end to a protracted period of protests. The junta promised that free elections would be held, but they have been postponed several times, to the displeasure of the population. The elections are now scheduled for next year.

Maas thinks that the Thai protest movement will become bigger in the coming period.

The Thai election held on March 24 was a sham, engineered by the country’s military junta to try to give some legitimacy to its autocratic rule. After seizing power in 2014, the regime promised to hold an election the following year, but even after ramming through a new anti-democratic constitution in 2016, has repeatedly delayed any poll, fearing a voter backlash: here.