Rufous Hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax) – better dead or alive ?

My friends went birdwatching in Adams (Ilocos Norte) and were thrilled to see a family of Rufous Hornbills. A few minutes later, they encountered a hunter proudly showing off a dead juvenile hornbill (bill is not red yet). My friends showed the photo to the local police, who just shook his head saying the hunter is the son-in-law of the vice mayor. Whether he is a relative or not, it is sad that our countrymen do not realize the role these birds play in the balance of nature. Hornbills eat fruits of forest trees and spread the seeds far and wide, that is why they are called farmers of the forests. Can our authorities do anything ? Should they (we) start an advocacy campaign ? If you care about our environment, if you care about the future of our country, please share this photo to everyone you know – Mike Lu, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines

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“Sabah” Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus x Epinephelus fuscoguttatus) (?)
Changi, 14th February 2014

This grouper likely originated from the fish farms situated off the northeastern coast of mainland Singapore; massive numbers of fishes being raised in these aquaculture facilities died during the mass mortality event which took place in the eastern Straits of Johor in early February.

Large numbers of dead groupers were found washed up on the beach, although their identity is unclear. Several grouper species are known to be farmed (or used to be farmed) in the Straits of Johor.

One source (Shannon Lim from OnHand Agrarian) states that the fish farms in the Straits of Johor now mostly raise hybrids informally known as “Sabah Groupers”, which are crosses between the Giant or Queensland Grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) and Brown-marbled or Tiger Grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus), although attempts are being made to introduce hybrids between other grouper species in the region.

Fig. 3. Remains of the partially eaten Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) (ZRC 2.7057). Photograph by Noel Thomas

Crested Serpent Eagle (Spilornis cheela) preying on Oriental Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina)

Location, date and time: Singapore Island, Singapore Botanic Gardens; 14 March 2014; 1220 hrs.

Observation: At 1220 hrs, a Crested Serpent Eagle was observed landing on a grassy slope with an Oriental Whip Snake in its talons. The snake was still alive and writhing. The eagle first bit the back of the snake’s head, presumably killing the prey. It then proceeded to feed on selected parts of the snake while grasping it firmly in its talons. At 1501 hrs in the same area, the snake was found partially eaten and abandoned. It was retrieved for documentation purposes. Injuries were found mostly on the posterior ventral side of the snake. The specimen was then deposited in the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore, under catalogue number ZRC 2.7057.

Remarks: The Crested Serpent Eagle occurs in Singapore both as a very rare resident and a non-breeding visitor from neighbouring areas. It is found mainly in forest and old plantations, and is a well-known predator of reptiles, particularly tree snakes (Yong et al., 2013: 36).

Reference:

  • Yong D. L., K. C. Lim & T. K. Lee, 2013. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing Limited, Oxford, England. 176 pp.

Source: Singapore Biodiversity Records 2014: 82-83

Thailand: Dog skins found dumped in forest

26th March 2014;

Hundreds of dog skins have been found dumped in a forest in Sakhon Nakon province in an area notorious for exporting canine meat and skins used for making leather for items such as golf gloves, police said Wednesday.

Acting on a tip-off, police made the gruesome discovery in bags left next to a large pile of dog bones in a forest on Tuesday in Muang district, Sakon Nakhon, which borders Laos.

“The skins would be bleached – some are then sent by smugglers to other countries to be made into gloves for playing golf,” Pol Sub Lt Lamai Sakolpitak, the deputy superintendent of the provincial police force, said.

“Experts say that dog skins are also used for instruments such as drums,” Pol Sub Lt Lamai said, adding that it is illegal to kill canines to sell their parts in Thailand or abroad.

He said the find was likely linked to a recent raid on two nearby makeshift factories where skins were stripped from dogs’ bodies.

“Some people were afraid that we would find the skins at their houses, so they dumped them,” he added.

Local campaign group, Watchdog Thailand, condemned the killing of dogs for sale, saying that exporters pay around US$10 (320 baht) for every live dog, including pets and strays from surrounding areas.

They then butcher the animals, skin them and blow-torch the carcasses to preserve the meat for sale – mainly to buyers in Vietnam and China where it is a delicacy.

“The skins are used for golfing gloves, hats, small purses and wallets,” a staff member of Watchdog Thailand told AFP, requesting anonymity.

“Cow leather is more expensive and therefore not always used to make small products.”

The group said the raid earlier this year also yielded scores of dog carcasses and skins.

In May last year around 2,000 dogs kept in cages – and apparently destined for the dinner table – were rescued in the province.

Source: Bangkok Post

Thailand: Dog skins found dumped in forest

Philippines: 2 Dwarf Sperm Whales, 21 dolphins killed by dynamite fishing off Siargao

By Ernie Reyes, 26th March 2014;

Dynamite fishing has killed two Dwarf Sperm Whales (Kogia sima) and 21 dolphins have been killed in the waters of Mindanao’s surfing haven, Siargao Island, despite a ban on the practice under the Fisheries Code of the Philippines, Senator Loren Legarda said Wednesday.

“This is another unfortunate case of marine resource abuse. Dynamite fishing has long been banned and is punishable under the Fisheries Code along with (other) illegal fishing methods,” Legarda said.

“Authorities must strictly enforce the law because this is not only about a fisher’s catch or a community’s livelihood, but also about the state of marine biodiversity, which affects the nation as a whole,” she added.

Citing reports, Legarda said the marine mammals had been badly injured by blast fishing and were later stabbed by local fishermen.

“Our law enforcement agencies should go after the perpetrators of this crime against nature and ensure that our seas and marine species are safe from such cruelty. We should be more vigilant because this could be happening in other parts of the country as well,” she said.

At the same time, Legarda made a pitch for the fishing communities of Siargao to further capitalize on the Surigao del Norte island’s reputation as a surfing haven by becoming “a model for marine conservation through sustainable fishing methods and other marine protection practices.”

“Fishing is not only a form of livelihood but also a way by which a fisherman can carry out his responsibility as a steward of our marine resources,” she stressed.

Source: InterAksyon

Philippines: 2 Dwarf Sperm Whales, 21 dolphins killed by dynamite fishing off Siargao