Rare Asiatic black bear on camera trap in Vietnam

This video is called Restoration Project of Asiatic Black Bear in Korea.

From Wildlife Extra:

Black bear sighting in Vietnam indicates conservation success

A rare Asiatic black bear has been recorded by WWF camera traps in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam.

Due to its white patch on its chest the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus), is also known as the moon bear or white-chested bear, and is classed by the IUCN as a vulnerable species.

The sighting is an important indicator of the success of the conservation efforts by WWF and the Vietnamese government to improve the quality of the area’s forests and preserve the unique species diversity.

The framework of the Carbon and Biodiversity Programme (CarBi) covers an area of more than 200,000ha of forest, along a vital mountain range that links Laos and Vietnam in Southeast Asia.

It aims to protect and regenerate unique forest by stopping deforestation through protection and sustainable use of its resources.

The Asiatic black bear is not the only rare species to have been spotted since the programme was implemented, for several other valuable species have been found, including the Sunda pangolin, large-antlered muntjac, serrow, Annamite striped rabbit, and Saola, which was rediscovered for the first time in 15 years in 2013.

“They are species affected by illegal hunting which our forest guard patrols and Protection Area management activities should be limiting,” said Phan Tuan, Head of Quang Nam Forest Protection Department, Quang Nam’s CarBi project’ Director.

“Their existence is also dependent on good quality forest. I believe that these photographs are very important monitoring indicators of our conservation impacts.”

New frog species discovery in Vietnam

This video says about itself:

Misty Mountains and Moss Frogs: Finding Frogs in Nests

30 July 2013

Jodi Rowley is a biologist at the Australian Museum discovering and documenting the diversity, ecology and conservation status of amphibians in Southeast Asia. Amphibians in the region are both highly threatened and poorly known, and Jodi and her colleagues conduct scientific expeditions to the forested mountains of Vietnam in search of rare, poorly-known and previously unknown species of amphibian. This video focuses on finding frogs in nests (yes that’s right- nests!).

From Wildlife Extra:

New pink and yellow frog discovered

April 2014: Biologist Jodi Rowley, an expert on Southeast Asian amphibians from the Australian Museum Research Institute in Sydney, recently found this striking pink and yellow frog in the remote Mount Ngoc Linh region of Vietnam.

The 5cm long frog lives in forests above 1,800m where the terrain is steep and rocky, and lacking in the standing water that might be expected to sustain frogs, but the research team found they thrived in water-filled hollows in the trees. The males have skin covered in keratin spines, which increase in size during the mating season and are thought to help females to identify males. The species has been named thorny tree frog (Gracixalus lumarius).

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Agent Orange, veterans’ health threat long after Vietnam war

This video says about itself:

Chilling Legacy of US Chemical Warfare in Vietnam

Agent Orange: The US herbicidal compound known as Agent Orange has scarred Vietnam

July 2004

For downloads and more information visit here.

The use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War means that for many the war never ended. They’re still suffering the effects of chemical warfare.

“I try hard to improve our life but we cannot,” sobs Mr Quy. His stomach, liver and lungs are riddled with cancer and the hospital refuses to treat him. Now he’s too weak to care for his severely handicapped children. He believes it was his exposure to Agent Orange during the war which blighted his family. His only hope is that the law suit against the US companies who manufactured Agent Orange will succeed. But many are angry that it’s taking so long to receive compensation. As the Head of the Association for Victims of Agent Orange states: “The Vietnamese people have suffered but unfortunately, the Americans have avoided their responsibility.”

By Lynne Peeples in the USA:

Agent Orange Posed A Health Threat To Servicemen Long After Vietnam: Study

02/21/2014 5:59 pm EST

Military veterans who say they were sickened by lingering amounts of the herbicide Agent Orange aboard repurposed airplanes after the Vietnam War now have some strong scientific support for their claims.

A study published on Friday refutes the U.S. Air Force and Department of Veteran Affairs’ position that any dioxin or other components of Agent Orange contaminating its fleet of C-123 cargo planes would have been “dried residues” and therefore unlikely to pose any meaningful exposure risks.

That contention has been the basis for the VA’s denial of benefits to sick veterans.

“It’s a question of science and ethics,” said Jeanne Stellman, an Agent Orange expert at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and senior author of the paper, which found standard-exceeding exposures likely occurred after the war — via skin contact, inhalation and ingestion.

“The VA has set up policy that is based on bad science,” she added. “That’s resulted in really inequitable treatment.”

Veterans who sprayed or handled Agent Orange herbicide during the war, or who spent any time on the ground in Vietnam, are automatically eligible for health care and disability compensation under federal Agent Orange legislation. The government presumes that certain conditions such as prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Type 2 diabetes are a result of exposure to the chemical.

Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, told The Huffington Post that, in her opinion, the VA’s presumption should be expanded to include those who flew in the post-war planes.

“We can’t prove it, but everything in here is supportive of the fact that they were exposed and could have been quite highly exposed,” said Birnbaum. “In fact, it would be reasonable to assume that those who flew in these planes after the war were more likely to be exposed than those servicemen who had boots on the ground in Vietnam.”

Perhaps no one knows better than retired Lt. Col. John Harris the consequences of the VA’s apparently arbitrary distinction between possible pre- and post-war exposures.

When HuffPost first covered the concerns of Harris and other veterans last July, he described how the VA initially denied him Agent Orange-related benefits for his diabetes, despite his 12 years of working, eating and sleeping onboard what he refers to as “noxious” C-123s after the war. But when he later found records of a one-hour refueling stop he’d made with a fighter jet in Vietnam during the war, the VA granted his refiled claim.

While Harris is happy to have coverage, he remains frustrated for his comrades.

“I’m absolutely positive that I was exposed to Agent Orange and dioxin in that 12-year period,” he told HuffPost after hearing about the new study. “I think the VA is lying, cheating and stealing to prove a case that is unprovable.”

In a statement to the HuffPost last July, a VA spokeswoman stated that “even though residual Agent Orange may be detected in C-123 aircraft by laboratory techniques years after Agent Orange use, any residual [dioxin] in the aircraft would have solidified and be unable to enter the human body in any significant amount.”

VA spokeswoman Genevieve Billia told HuffPost in email on Friday that the agency “wants to ensure that all Veterans, including those who served on C123s, receive the benefits to which they are entitled under the law,” and that it will “continue to review new scientific information on this issue as it becomes available.”

“VA does not presume by regulation that these Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange,” said Billia.

To show that such exposures likely did happen, Stellman said, her research team had to be “very clever.”

After a decade of spraying more than 10 million gallons of Agent Orange to destroy enemy cover and crops, the C-123s underwent no testing — or decontamination, for that matter — prior to their new stateside assignments with the Air Force Reserve. Between 1971 and 1982, about 1,500 men and women served aboard 34 C-123s that were previously deployed in Operation Ranch Hand.

It wasn’t until 1979, when crews complained about chemical smells, that officials took the first measures of potential contamination. Samples of wiped surfaces in 1994, and again in 2009, supplemented this 1979 air sample data. All but three of the planes have since been smelted.

Stellman, Richard Clapp of the Boston University School of Public Health, Fred Berman of Oregon Health and Science University and Peter Lurker, an environmental engineering consultant and former U.S. Air Force researcher, used this sparse data in three different models. All resulted in estimated exposure levels that exceeded health guidelines for the contaminants.

The team noted that their findings may be extremely conservative.

The levels of toxic chemicals — measured years, even decades, after the veterans were aboard the C-123s — were likely much higher immediately after the war, researchers said. Airborne levels may also have been particularly high while the planes were airborne, due to extreme temperatures, changes in pressure and vibrations.

One of the models that researchers used, which Stellman suggested was based on a “high school chemistry” concept, demonstrated how the old herbicide could have evaporated and attached to dust particles.

“The VA, whether out of ignorance or malice, has denied the entire existence of this entire branch of science,” said Stellman. “They have this preposterous idea that somehow there is this other kind of state of matter — a dried residue that is completely inert.”

Clapp, one of the co-authors, emphasized how “exquisitely toxic” dioxin is at any dose. The chemical has been linked to a host of health effects including cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

“Exposure to even tiny quantities is not ignorable,” he said.

“We do show plausible exposure,” added Clapp. “These veterans should be compensated, too.”

Retired Maj. Wes Carter, who himself served aboard C-123s after Vietnam, has been leading the effort on behalf of this group of post-war veterans. He said he knows of only one such comrade who has received Agent Orange benefits from the VA, his close friend retired Lt. Col. Paul Bailey.

Bailey was among those struggling to secure benefits for himself and his family last July, when he was gravely ill with cancer. He died of the disease in October.

Bailey expressed his frustrations to HuffPost back in July.

“We’ve proved over and over that we’ve been exposed to dioxin, but the VA is refusing to accept the evidence,” said Bailey, who worked as an air medical technician and flight instructor aboard the C-123s. “They’re just dragging their feet.”

Weeks before Bailey’s death, the VA reversed its initial denial of his claim.

“The fact that Bailey got approved, that gives me hope,” said Harris, adding that his hope is further bolstered by the new scientific findings. “There are a lot of others out there that need this help, too.”

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Pangolin news from Vietnam

This video is called World Pangolin Day 2014.

From the EDGE Blog:

Pangolin update from Vietnam

For World Pangolin Day 2014 EDGE fellow Tran Quang Phuong has written an update on his work with Sunda pangolin in Vietnam.

The Sunda Pangolin, Manis javanica, is highly valued for its meat and scales. Across Southeast Asia individuals are caught and taken from the forest by local hunters and sold into the extensive illegal wildlife trade.

Often, it is live animals that are transported around. When local authorities uncover these shipments individuals are frequently released into the forest immediately, in poor condition and with no monitoring of their survival. These individuals are often stressed and dehydrated, reducing their chances of survival. They may also be carrying diseases that could spread to wild populations.

The Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (CPCP) in Cuc Phuong National Park remains one of the only places in Vietnam with local conservationists who are experts in pangolin rehabilitation. With many healthy individuals in their care they have been working with employees of Cat Tien National Park Forestry Protection Department (FPD) releasing these animals and monitoring their survival using VHF radio telemetry.

From this work guidelines will be developed that can be implemented by the FPD for the conservation management of this species to encourage: the release of individuals in good condition; post release monitoring of individuals; and the management of releases in a way that will have a positive impact on the population in the park (i.e. establishing a viable population).

So far FPD Rangers have been involved in basic care for injured pangolins, attaching a transmitter, and tracking animals after release. They have also been involved in dealing with any animal mortalities, which is notoriously high after confiscation. Although upsetting, it helps highlight the importance of doing things properly and acts as a reminder of just how difficult this species is to care for.

By monitoring individuals after release we can evaluate what contributes to the success or failure of a release. By tracking their survival, home range size and shape and sleep site selection we can begin to build up an idea of what factors are important to consider in a release program for this species.

Out for four individuals released, two were still alive after three months, unfortunately the fate of the other two was only followed for two weeks (until the transmitter fell off). However, we have found that these released individuals select sleeping sites in tree hollows, either in the trunk or at the roots, or inside hollow logs. It also takes approximately two weeks of exploratory behaviour before they establish a stable home range, which is a good indication they are able to find adequate resources.

We have also been trying to release individuals in locations where male and female home ranges may overlap. We had some (lucky) success with this when a released female was found in the same tree as a wild male! It also provided an opportunity to then tag and track a wild male. From this we found that although the home ranges of our released individuals were stable, they were small. These individuals had been in captivity for three years so it would be interesting to monitor the behaviour of those released as soon as their rehabilitation was complete to see what size home range they establish. Ideally, this is something that will be carried on by the FPD staff.

In order to develop release programs further, information needs to be gathered from a wild population. Once we have an idea of what a wild population looks like in terms of distribution, abundance and genetic make-up it can be used as a reference for release programs.

As with many species, a priority for the Sunda Pangolin is a decrease in hunting pressure. As this involves a long term attitudinal change, reinforcing depleted populations in areas that are well protected is a proactive and imperative move for this species.

Cambodia: I was so busy watching the pangolin happily slurp up dead ants that it took me a few minutes to realize it was missing one of its back legs. I was at the Pangolin Rehabilitation Center outside of Phnom Penh, which CI helped open in 2012 to provide a temporary home for “scaly anteaters” like this one that was rescued from the illegal wildlife trade: here.

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