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Africa Americas Asia Australia Europe HK Species Profiles Turtles

Green Sea Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 綠海龜 – 香港野生動物

Did you know that sea turtles would come to Hong Kong?

There are 7 species of sea turtles in the world, and surprisingly all of them have been spotted in Hong Kong waters. How amazing!

Our most frequent visitor is the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Young turtles are carnivores, preying on crabs, shrimps, jellyfish, and squid. Adults are herbivores, feeding on seaweed.

It is an endangered species, but can be found in all tropical oceans around the world including Hong Kong. They even came ashore! Sham Wan in Lamma Island has a small population known to nest on a regular basis. Only 2 records of nesting outside Lamma Island: Once in Big Wave Bay Beach, Shek O in 2000. Another time in another big wave bay, Tai Long Wan Beach, Sai Kung in 2006.

Oh! Those mama turtles must be surfers. They love big waves!

Chelonia mydas (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Chelonioidea
Family: Cheloniidae
Subfamily: Cheloniinae
Genus: Chelonia
Species: mydas

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

你知道海龜會到訪香港嗎?

世界上有7種海龜, 意想不到7種都曾經被發現出沒過於香港水域, 真的很神奇!

我們最常見的訪客是Chelonia mydas 綠海龜, 年輕的綠海龜是肉食性動物, 會吃魚蝦蟹及魷魚。成年的綠海龜是草食性動物 主要以海藻為食。

綠海龜是瀕危物種, 但可以在所有熱帶的海洋找得到, 包括香港, 牠們甚至會上岸! 南丫島的深灣沙灘是香港唯一經常有綠海龜產卵的地點, 於南丫島以外, 只有2次紀錄。於2000年一次在石澳大浪灣, 另一次於2006年在西貢大浪灣。

噢 綠海龜媽媽們必定是衝浪者, 牠們都喜歡大浪!

Categories
Asia HK Species Profiles Turtles

Golden Coin Turtle – Hong Kong Wildlife | 金錢龜 – 香港野生動物

The Chinese three-striped box turtle (Cuora trifasciata), or better known as Golden coin turtle in Chinese, used to be very common when I was a kid which I refuse to provide the number of years ago. However, now it has become critically endangered due to habitat destruction and poaching.

This species is now very rare but widely distributed in a few localities in Hong Kong and southern China. I have only found a few of them in mountain streams throughout the years.

Unlike most turtles, this is a nocturnal species. It hides very well during the day. It can grow up to 20 cm. As a carnivore, it feeds on insects, fish, frogs, crabs, and snails.

The plastron (bottom shell) is what makes this turtle special. There is a hinge in the middle, to allow complete closure of the shell. That’s why they are called box turtles. But the plastron is also the reason why they got killed by humans to make a Chinese medicine called “turtle jelly”.

Cuora trifasciata (Bell, 1825)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Testudinoidea
Family: Geoemydidae
Genus: Cuora
Species: trifasciata

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

三線閉殼龜, 或者廣為人知的金錢龜, 當我還是小孩的時候其實非常普遍, 不過我不會告訴你實際是多少年以前(笑)。由於棲息地被破壞 以及非法濫捕, 現在已變完成瀕危物種。

這個品種很罕有, 但廣泛分佈於某幾個香港及中國南部的地區。我在這些年只於山澗之中 曾經找到過幾隻。

不似大部分龜類, 這是夜行性的品種, 牠們善於日間躲藏不易被發現。體長可達20厘米。肉食性的金錢龜會以昆蟲, 魚類, 蛙類, 蟹類以及蝸牛為食。

龜腹甲(龜殼底甲)是金錢龜的特別之處, 底甲中間是一個可開合的韌帶, 容許龜殼完全閉合。牠們可以將身體所有部份縮入龜殼以躲開敵人, 也因此牠們被稱為盒龜。但特別的龜甲也是牠們被人類殺害, 來製造具有藥用功效的龜苓膏的原因。

Categories
Asia HK Invertebrates Species Profiles

White Moth Bug – Hong Kong Wildlife | 白蛾蠟蟲 – 香港野生動物

This is a Flatid planthopper (Lawana imitata), or commonly known as White moth bugs, I found in Sha Tau Kok, northern Fanling, New Territories. It can also be found in China and Vietnam.

They live in trees. Adults are active from May to October. I think they look so elegant and beautiful, but farmers just hate them because they drink plant juices from stems to leaves to fruits. This species is considered a pest of citrus, tea, mango, guava, grape, lychee, and cashew.

Lawana imitata (Melichar, 1902)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hemiptera
Infraorder: Fulgoromorpha
Superfamily: Fulgoroidea
Family: Flatidae
Genus: Lawana
Species: imitata

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

白蛾蠟蟲, 紫絡蛾蠟蟬, Flatid planthopper (Lawana imitata)。

我曾經在新界粉嶺北區看過牠們, 你也可以在中國和越南發現牠們的蹤跡。

牠們住在樹上, 成蟲(成年的昆蟲)活躍於5月至10月, 我覺得牠們外型優雅美麗, 但農夫很討厭牠們, 因為牠們會吸食農作物莖部的汁液, 以至葉子及果實。牠們被認定為某些植物的農業害蟲 ,包括橙, 茶, 芒果, 石榴, 葡萄, 荔枝以及腰果。

Categories
Asia Australia HK Species Profiles

Giant Golden Orb-weaving Spider – Hong Kong Wildlife | 人面蜘蛛 – 香港野生動物

One of the most common spiders in Hong Kong, the Giant golden orb-weaver (Nephila pilipes) can be found in primary and secondary forests almost anywhere in Hong Kong.

This species has a wide distribution throughout Asia, China, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, and also Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

They may look creepy to you, but don’t worry when you find them next time. They are generally not aggressive and basically harmless to humans. They just eat bugs. But they do get big.

This is the largest spider in Hong Kong. Well, I mean just the ladies. Sexual dimorphism is obvious in this species. A good example of female gigantism and male dwarfism. Females can grow up to 20 cm, while males can be 10 times smaller. So next time when you’re on a hike, finding a big and small spider together. They may not be mother and son but a loving couple.

Nephila pilipes (Fabricius, 1793)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Infraorder: Araneomorphae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Nephila
Species: pilipes

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

Nephila pilipes 或斑絡新婦 (又稱人面蜘蛛), 是香港其中種最常見的蜘蛛之一。可以在原始森林及次生林找到 (基本上遍佈整個香港)。

這個品種遍佈亞洲, 包括中國, 日本, 越南, 柬埔寨, 台灣, 馬來西亞, 新加坡, 緬甸, 印尼, 泰國, 老撾, 菲律賓, 斯里蘭卡, 印度, 尼泊爾, 巴布亞新畿內亞及澳洲。

牠們看上去也許有點可怕, 但如果你遇到牠們, 請不用擔心。牠們基本上對人類無害, 牠們只吃昆蟲, 雖然牠們的體型可以很大。牠們是香港最大的蜘蛛, 當然, 我指雌性的人面蜘蛛。兩性異形的情況在這個品種中很明顯, 這是一個表現了雌性的巨型化及雄性的矮小化的好例子。

雌性人面蜘蛛的體長可以長達20厘米, 但雄性只有十分之一的大小。所以下次你走到郊外時看到一大一小的蜘蛛, 牠們可能不是母子而是一對戀人。

Categories
Asia HK Lizards Species Profiles

Changeable Lizard – Hong Kong Wildlife | 變色樹蜥 – 香港野生動物

One of the most common lizards in Hong Kong is Calotes versicolor.
It has many common names: Changeable lizard, Crested tree lizard, Oriental garden lizard, Eastern garden lizard, and even Bloodsucker.

Common throughout Hong Kong including all major islands, it is also widely distributed in Asia. These lizards can grow up to 40
centimeters. They are sun-loving lizards, can often be found basking in the middle of the day.

They are not chameleons but there are similarities. They can move each of their eyes in different directions similar to what chameleons do.

As the name suggests, they can change color. Males can change to bright red in the throat, the entire head, or parts of the body during the breeding season. In spite of the fact that they can turn red, they are not venomous. Still, bites are what you often get when you catch them.

Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Iguania
Family: Agamidae
Genus: Calotes
Species: versicolor

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

其中一種香港最常見的蜥蝪是Calotes versicolor。在牠有很多名字: 變色樹蜥, 雞冠蛇, 馬鬃蛇, 貓公蛇甚至叫做吸血者。

在香港非常普遍包括大部分主要的島嶼, 同時也廣泛遍佈亞洲。這些蜥蝪體長可達40厘米, 喜愛陽光, 你可以很容易看到牠們在享受日光。

一如牠們的名字, 牠們可以轉變身體顏色, 牠們不是變色龍但也有相似的地方。雄性的喉嚨部分, 能夠變成鮮紅色, 甚至整個頭部或身體各個部分, 一般發生於繁殖期間。牠們也可以轉動眼睛到不同的方向, 就像變色龍一樣。

Categories
Africa Me

Big Cats Roaming Freely In The Wild May Not Always Be The Lucky Ones

Everyone is talking about “Tiger King”. Now you probably have an idea how big cats are kept in captivity. You may think that they could have a better life if they were in their natural habitats. I have spent a lot of time in Africa, and I did not always see a paradise.

This is a lucky one rescued from canned hunting (being kept in a confined, fenced-in area for trophy hunting which is surprisingly legal in some African countries). ⠀
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I don’t know what to say. Nowadays we can’t just seem to tell our kids it’s okay to do anything they like as long as it’s not illegal. There are so many ridiculously wrong activities that are legal, such as canned hunting as an entertainment or a sport. ⠀⠀
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Legality is not a guide for morality.

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Hong Kong Newt – Hong Kong Wildlife | 香港蠑螈 – 香港野生動物

We have many native frogs, but only 1 tailed amphibian (salamander or newt).

The Hong Kong Newt, or Hong Kong Warty Newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis) – I have usually found them in clean mountain streams in Lantau, Hong Kong Island, and the eastern and northern parts of New Territories.

It was once believed to be an endemic species of Hong Kong, but later also found in Guangdong Province in China. Some scientists consider it a subspecies of the Chinese warty newt (Paramesotriton chinensis) but many disagree.

They can grow to up to 15 cm (5.9″) and are very slow-moving carnivores so they mainly prey on earthworms and tadpoles. When hungry they even eat the eggs of their own kind!

Basically nocturnal but they also come out in the daytime in a large group during the breeding season. I have seen over 100 of them crawling on land at a time!

Paramesotriton hongkongensis (Myers and Leviton, 1962)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Urodela
Family: Salamandridae
Genus: Paramesotriton
Species: P. hongkongensis

Where in HK?
New Territories, Hong Kong Island, Lantau, etc

Size: 15 cm
Distribution: Hong Kong, Guangdong Province.
Habitat: Unpolluted mountain streams
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Nocturnal
Conservation status: Near Threatened

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

香港有很多蛙類, 但只有一種有尾的兩棲類, 香港瘰螈

香港蠑螈, 我曾經在大嶼山的一些清澈山澗, 找到牠們的蹤跡, 也曾發現牠們於香港島 新界東及新界北。曾經被認為是香港獨有的品種, 但後來發現中國廣東一帶也有出沒。

牠們體長可達15厘米, 牠們是動作很慢的肉食性動物, 主要以蚯蚓及蝌蚪為食。牠們肚餓的時候, 甚麼會進食同類的蛋!

基本上是夜行性動物, 但也會在日間出沒, 特別是繁殖期間, 會群體出沒, 我曾經看過多達100隻香港瘰螈同時出現呢。

Categories
Asia HK Lizards Species Profiles

Water Monitor – Hong Kong Wildlife | 水巨蜥 – 香港野生動物

A gray area in Hong Kong fauna. Once thought to be locally extinct. Now they are here again! Some think they are native. Others think they are imports.

Varanus salvator (Laurenti, 1768)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Varanidae
Genus: Varanus
Species: salvator

Where in HK?
Very rare – reservoirs, rivers, Mai Po marshes

Size: 1.5 – 3.2 m / 4’11 – 10’6″
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Semi-aquatic
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Diurnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Asian water monitor or Common water monitor (Varanus salvator) is the largest lizard in Hong Kong and the world’s second-largest lizard (in weight) after the Komodo dragon. Water monitors can grow to anywhere from 1.5 m (4’11”) to 3.21 m (10’6″) as the largest specimen ever recorded.

Outside Hong Kong, it is widely distributed in southern Asia including the Chinese Guangxi and Hainan provinces. The species was first described in 1768. But it’s not until 1961 the species was first officially recorded in Hong Kong (northern New Territories). Since then few sightings have been reported from time to time. But they were mostly believed to be released or escaped from imports. Many think that those are from the pet market. But I think the food market would be the most possible main source.

They are still rare in Hong Kong but I have been spotting more of them in recent years. Whether natives or imports, it is kind of proven that they have already (re)established a small population in Hong Kong and become our permanent residents.

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

這是一個香港野生動物相的灰色地帶。一度被認為於香港已絕種,但牠們又回來了。有說是香港本地物種, 又有說由外地引入。

水巨蜥, 或者一般大眾認識的五爪金龍, 巨蜥,澤巨蜥,圓鼻巨蜥等等。是香港最大的蜥蝪, 以及科莫多龍以外世界上第二大的蜥蝪(體重計)。由已知的標本紀錄所得知, 水巨蜥體長可由1.5米達到3.21米不等。

在香港以外, 廣泛分佈於亞洲南方中國廣西及海南一帶。最早於1768年有紀錄形容這個物種, 但只有在1961年才第一次於香港(新界北)有官方的紀錄。由於只有少量的發現個案, 普遍認為是外地引入時被野放到野外。 現在牠們在香港仍然非常罕有, 但我在近年有更多的發現。無論牠們是本地品種還是外來的品種, 相信已經在香港(重新)發展到一個數量。

Categories
Asia Birds Europe HK Species Profiles

Eurasian Eagle-owl – Hong Kong Wildlife | 雕鴞 – 香港野生動物

The largest owl inhabits the smallest concrete jungle in Hong Kong. How intriguing!

Birdwatching normally takes place during the day, except for owls. There are 9 species of owls you can possibly spot in Hong Kong. The most common species is the Collared scops owl (Otus lettia) which is a small one usually no bigger than 25 cm. The other 8 species are way harder to find, just like this.

I was so lucky to have found this huge Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo Bubo) in Yuen Long, New Territories. It is locally rare but widely distributed throughout Hong Kong. It can also be found in Central Asia and Russia, all the way to Europe.

It is the World’s largest owl growing to 75 cm (2’6″) tall, with a wingspan of 188 cm (6’2″). Bubo bubo is not just big but lives long too. It can live over 25 years while some other owls have a lifespan of fewer than 4 years.

Bubo bubo (Linnaeus, 1758)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Strigiformes
Family: Strigidae
Genus: Bubo
Species: bubo

Where in HK?
Rare

Size: 75 cm – wingspan over 1.8 m
Distribution: Europe and Asia
Habitat: Arboreal
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Nocturnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

觀鳥活動通常都於日間進行, 除了觀看貓頭鷹外。

香港有9種貓頭鷹, 你會有機會看得到。最常見的是領角鴞, 通常都很細小不會大於25厘米。另外8種則比較難看得到。

在這圖中的是雕鴞。我很幸運地在新界元朗看到牠。牠們很罕有但廣泛分佈於香港。也可以在亞洲中部, 俄羅斯到歐洲一帶看得到。牠們可體長75厘米, 展開雙翼後更可達至188厘米。

雕鴞不但體型龐大, 壽命也很長, 牠可以活到超過25年。 而其他貓頭鷹一般只能活少於4年。

Categories
Asia HK Snakes Species Profiles

Bamboo Snake – Hong Kong Wildlife | 青竹蛇 – 香港野生動物

This green beauty is responsible for the vast majority of snake bites in Hong Kong, or possibly southern Asia.

Trimeresurus albolabris (Gray, 1842)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Viperidae
Genus: (Cryptelytrops) Trimeresurus
Species: albolabris

Where in HK?
Very common – low hilly areas, grasslands, cultivated fields

Size: 50 – 90 cm / 1’8″ – 2’11”
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Arboreal
Diet: Carnivore
Behavior: Nocturnal
Conservation status: Least Concern

The Bamboo pit viper or White-lipped pit viper (or occasionally called Green pit viper, Bamboo snake, or Bamboo viper) is the most common venomous snake species in Hong Kong and is responsible for over 90% of the reported snake bites. It can be found in forests, mountains, wetlands, and many different habitats. This species can also be found in Southern China, Indonesia, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam.

A small to medium-sized snake growing to 50 cm (1’8″), up to 90 cm (2’11”). Females get bigger than males. Only males have white ventrolateral stripes.

This is a nocturnal species. Even in total darkness, they can catch their prey by using the heat-sensing pits below their eyes which most snakes don’t have. That’s why they’re called pit vipers.

Bites are painful and can cause swelling. The venom is a hemotoxin that attacks red blood cells and causes tissue damage. It may not be deadly to most healthy humans (few fatalities recorded though) but is strong enough to kill or paralyze their prey such as frogs, lizards, and small mammals.

It is one of the 50 species of Asian pit vipers (Trimeresurus). 90% of the snakes in the genus are green. A few of the minority are yellow or blue such as the Sunda Island pit viper. Some are very dark to almost black such as the Mangrove pit viper.

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

青竹蛇, 或稱竹葉青, 白唇竹葉青, 赤尾青竹絲, 是香港最常見的毒蛇。遍佈林木, 山嶺, 濕地以及許多不同的棲息地。

這個物種也可以在中國南方, 印尼,  尼泊爾, 尼泊爾, 巴格達, 緬甸, 泰國, 柬埔寨, 老撾, 越南找到。

這種中小型蛇體長可由50厘米至 90厘米, 這是一種夜行性動物, 即使在夜裡牠仍能捕獵, 使用牠們眼底下的熱能探測器官-頰窩(pits: 凹型窩狀) 由於大部分蛇都沒有頰窩, 也因此牠們被稱為 pit vipers(有凹型窩狀頰窩的蝰蛇)。

被咬到傷口會非常痛, 而且會腫脹。毒液對人類不足以致命, 但絕對足夠殺死牠們的獵物, 例如小哺乳類, 蛙類及蜥蝪。

Categories
HK

Hong Kong Wildlife You May Encounter On A Hike

Hikers “saving” baby owls from naturally predated by a snake was publicly praised by pet welfare groups and “animal lovers” because the baby owl looks innocent and the snake looks evil?

I believe most hikers have a good heart. Many are good pet owners. But they may want to learn a bit more about how wildlife works. Here’s my 2¢.

COVID-19 has brought tons of city people to hiking trails all of a sudden. Good for them. But for the environment, the negative impact is escalating.

Hong Kong is small but surprisingly rich in biodiversity. This small concrete jungle has the world’s largest owl, the most trafficked mammal, the second-largest lizard, and all that.

Native species of Hong Kong I mentioned in this video:
今天我們探討的是香港本土的物種:
Flatid planthopper, White moth bug, Lawana imitata
白蛾蠟蟬
Giant golden orb-weaving spider, Nephila pilipes
斑絡新婦, 人面蜘蛛
Changeable Lizard, Calotes versicolor
變色樹蜥
Bamboo pit viper,  White-lipped pit viper, Trimeresurus albolabris
青竹蛇, 竹葉青
Chinese three-striped box turtle, Golden coin turtle, Cuora trifasciata
三線閉殼龜, 金錢龜
Green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas 
綠海龜
Hong Kong Newt, Paramesotriton hongkongensis
香港瘰螈
Spotted narrow-mouthed frog, Kalophrynus pleurostigma
花细狹口蛙
Red-billed blue magpie, Urocissa erythroryncha
紅嘴藍鵲
Eurasian eagle-owl, Bubo bubo
雕鴞
Malayan porcupine, Hystrix brachyura
馬來箭豬
Chinese pangolin, Manis pentadactyla
穿山甲
Dusky frillgoby, Bathygobius fuscus
深鰕虎魚
Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica
日本鰻 
Hong Kong camellia, Camellia hongkongensis
香港茶 
Bauhinia x blakeana, Hong Kong orchid tree
洋紫荊 

Related: My encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife

See also: Aliens species in Hong Kong

Categories
Me

The Most Misunderstood Hairstyle

They say dreadlocks are ghetto. They say guys with long hair and beard are homeless. They say reptiles are lowlifes. They call others lower to make themselves sound like upper.

They keep mocking and laughing at you until you show them how bright you’re shining. Matter of fact, I couldn’t even care less. Didn’t even care to show. They just couldn’t get their eyes off and pick up their jaws from the floor. Stereotyping is dated.

Hairs are versatile. Don’t restrict them for what the society tells you. Losing yourself in the moment you own is the subtle art of giving zero fig.

Could’ve easily cut my hair and made myself look “decent” and prevent every mother’s son of em from eyeballing and commenting on my real, natural hair. But it’s about one’s rights and freedoms. The irony is that people who amputate naturally growing body parts criticize the few who preserve and cultivate the most radically given gift.

Ain’t no compromiser. Letting my hair go natural. A lion without his man is a kitten. Locs can run wild yet classy. If you don’t see the naturalness check your eyes, if not brain.

Categories
Amphibians Asia HK Species Profiles

Spotted Narrow-mouthed Frog – Hong Kong Wildlife | 花细狹口蛙 – 香港野生動物

Cute little mouth in the 852.

I rarely post local species doesn’t mean I don’t do field trips (or herping) in here. It’s just there’re too many animals around the globe that are piquing my “never-canceled” curiosity. Now, staying at home, it’s never been a better time to re-explore Home Kong.

This Hong Kong resident is a Spotted narrow-mouthed frog or known as Kalophrynus interlineatus in science. 1 of the 5 local species in the narrow-mouthed frog family (Microhylidae).

In Hong Kong they are only found in northern New Territories but not Lantau, Kowloon or Hong Kong Island. I found this one in Fanling. They can also be found in southern China, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. Their habitats are forests, cultivated lands and grasslands.

It has subtle eardrums that can hardly be seen. Being small (4 cm) and looking cute doesn’t mean it’s vulnerable. It does secrete toxic fluid when threatened. Oh, and yes, obviously it can only eat a teeny weeny bit of food — mainly ants!

Kalophrynus interlineatus (Edward Blyth, 1855)
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae
Genus: Kalophrynus
Species: interlineatus

Where in HK?
northern New Territories

Size: 4 – 6 cm
Distribution: Southern Asia
Habitat: Terrestrial
Diet: Insectivore
Conservation status: Least Concern

See more of my encounters with Hong Kong Wildlife.

這可愛的蛙類是花细狹口蛙, 又名條紋狹口蛙, 你只能在香港北面的新界找得到, 但不能在大嶼山, 九龍或香港島。

這一隻花细狹口蛙是在粉嶺找到的, 牠們也曾出沒在中國南部 緬甸 越南及泰國, 牠們一般於森林, 耕地, 以及草原出沒。 牠們主要以蟻類為食, 因為牠們的口太小了。

Categories
HK Me

A Full Newspaper Page Of Me Today

Categories
Africa Americas Snakes

Why Kobe Bryant is called Black Mamba but The Snake is Not Black

One of my closest Black Mamba encounters in Ethiopia

Why did Kobe Bryant choose Black Mamba when there are cobra, viper, rattlesnake, tiger snake, krait, and 600 other venomous snakes in the world?

Let me recap a few cool things about this snake probably most people didn’t know:

Why “Black” Mamba When It’s Not Black?
Its body is not black but olive, yellowish-brown, khaki or gunmetal. It has a coffin-shaped head. When this coffin opens shows an unusually dark bluish-grey to nearly black mouth. Most other snakes have a regular pinkish mouth.

The Most Venomous?
No, the Black mamba is not the most venomous snake. Actually far from it. It’s only the 53rd most venomous snake in terms of toxicity of venom (0.264). ‭That is 264‬ times weaker than the most venomous snake (0.001).

The Largest?
No, the Black mamba is a very long snake (up to over 14 feet) but is still much smaller than the king cobra, not to mention the pythons and anaconda.

Eats Big Prey?
Not at all. It mainly feeds on small birds, bats or rodents that weigh only less than 6% of its body mass.

Then Why So Deadly?
It’s the speed. The Black Mamba is the fastest snake on earth. Even though its venom is far from the most toxic ones but still its bite can kill a human in less than 30 minutes.

I find this species harder to catch and handle than most other venomous snakes especially when in trees. Deadly offense and unbeatable defense at the same time. I’d say encountering/catching a King Cobra is a deadly experience. But when it comes to a Black Mamba in tree, IMHO, it’s an even worse nightmare…

Categories
Africa

Redemption Song Of My 2 Months In Madagascar

Categories
Africa HK

My Accomplishments in 2018

A lot has happened this year. To the now me, 2017 is so five years ago.

January & February

Kenya- Went on a decent, British colonial style safari which was not quite typical of me.

Uganda- Found and got up close and personal with a band of wild Mountain Gorillas up to 400+ lbs. and they literally grabbed my leg.

Uganda- Face to face with the biggest shoebill I’ve seen.

Uganda- Spent a fortune in World’s no. 3 poorest country – paid directly to local people for the products they made barehand.

Kenya- Took care of orphaned rhinos, elephants, lions and cheetahs. Gave each of them a sweet hug.

March

Kenya- Witnessed death of the World’s last male northern white rhino.
Not an accomplishment but a heart-breaking moment that lest we forget.

Hong Kong- My Tesla turned 1 year old. I helped save the environment by not burning 2,500 liters of fuel in a year. Zero-emission, no noise, no heat, too.

April

Hong Kong- New milestone for wildlife education where Jurassic Garage started getting more invites from local Chinese schools. While we have been being invited to international schools every month for the last decade, local schools is a new area for us to spread education to a much wider community.

May

I have proudly become a character in a new book by Marianne Andersen.

June

Been putting a bunch of critters on Coco Chiang (蔣怡)’s naked body for a maternity shoot to promote appreciation of cold-blooded animals. Her baby was born merely a few hours after the shoot.

August & September

Madagascar- 183 wild chameleon findings.

Madagascar- Got robbed by AK-47ers during a road trip.

Madagascar- Ultimate herpetological goal achieved- Finding wild Ploughshare tortoises!!! There’s an “S” after the word tortoise.

Madagascar- Free climbed a big fat baobab barefoot.

Madagascar- Spent a fortune in the World’s ninth poorest country – paid directly to local people for the products they made barehand.

Indian Ocean- The oldest animal I’ve ever met. 200+ years old Giant Tortoises.

December

Hong Kong- My first wildlife themed restaurant launched in Central. I named it Animojo. Not only a first for me, but it’s also a brand new concept to the market combining the promotion of conservation and moral dining experience together. After months of antenatal care, my first baby was born at the littest spot in Central.

Categories
Africa

When Kong Boy Meets Kong Band

Kong boy is me (Hong Kong).

Kong band is a group of gorillas (not the British virtual band but a group of gorillas is called a band).

I’m going to share my Kong moment – The biggest animal I’ve touched in the wild in 2018 was the Silverback Mountain Gorilla of Uganda! I also bear hugged the “more common” lions, rhinos, and elephants I worked with but they were in sanctuaries so the wild Gorilla is my biggest wild beast of the year. And, I didn’t hug him. He hugged me! Too ginormous bucket list encounter not to share.

So I went on my expedition to Uganda earlier this year in the search of the real-life King Kong. Not the extinct giant ape Gigantopithecus but the largest extant primate – the Eastern Gorilla.

It is much rarer than the western gorilla. There are 2 subspecies – Eastern lowland gorilla and Mountain gorilla. In Uganda, we can possibly find the much rarer subspecies, the Mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei), if we’re lucky.

Before you can try your luck searching for gorillas, first you need to know where exactly to go. This subspecies is only possible to be found in 3 countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. They are more easily reached in Rwanda and DR Congo. But in Uganda, there is something else I like more. It’s even more raw and real. In here I chose to climb up to over 8,000 feet above sea level in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park situated along DR Congo border.

My armed guide and I spent hours climbing and finding a number of chameleons and other reptiles. They’re very interesting but we had to keep going as there’s not much time to find the gorillas before it’s dark.

Categories
Africa

The Rarest in Madagascar

The Ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora), or Angonoka tortoise, may look like just any tortoise to most people. But if you know a bit about reptiles you would realize this is the number 1 rarest tortoise in the world. It is also one of the top 10 rarest animals on earth – significantly rarer than the giant panda.

This species is always number 1 on my list of wild animals I wish to encounter in Madagascar. Finally, after decades, I have achieved this ultimate goal. I found the Angonoka!

Throughout the past decades, from time to time, I’ve seen a number of juvenile to sub-adult Ploughshare tortoises in captivity, from high-end black market which is the main threat of the species. I’ve also seen a few in sanctuaries I used to work with. It already gave me goosebumps seeing real ones in captivity. I was always hoping to find a wild one since teenage. However, like over 99% of people in the world, I had never got a chance to encounter a wild Ploughshare tortoise and it remained my ultimate herpetological goal.

Categories
Africa Lizards

Chameleons in Madagascar I Encountered

In my last 6-week trip to Madagascar, I have been to most of the districts in the country except the extreme north such as Nosy Be where I already visited a few times in the past. I went on field trips every day (and night). There have been 183 chameleons in my findings. Here I’m collecting highlight photos of some of the chameleons I found during the herping trips.

If you will be visiting Madagascar for wildlife you will never miss the chameleons. There are about 202 known species of chameleons in the world, while 89+ of them are endemic to Madagascar. The rest of the family mainly hail from sub-Saharan Africa. Malagasy species are classified into 3 genera: Calumma,  Furcifer, and Brookesia.

Categories
HK

Talking Animals on Radio

Haven’t been on radio for a while and yesterday I talked about my previous trip to Madagascar and especially the precious encounter with the Plougshare tortoise.

I also talked about the animal educational program we have been running for a while.

Big shoutout to Annalie chow from RTHK 3 for inviting me and letting my voice go on air 100% unedited.

2018-11-14 “1 2 3 Show” RTHK Radio 3

Categories
Africa Amphibians

Frogs in Madagascar I Encountered

Frogs are the only amphibians in Madagascar. There are no toads, salamanders, newts, or caecilians.

Malagasy painted mantella (Mantella madagascariensis)

Categories
Africa Lizards

Lizards in Madagascar I Encountered

There are over 300 species of lizards in Madagascar. During the trip, I’ve come across countless lizards that were mostly Chameleons, Leaf-tailed geckos, and Day geckos.

Other than these 3 popular types of lizards, there had been some
lesser-known species I found that are no less interesting.

Three-eyed lizard (Chalarodon madagascariensis)

One of the 8 species of Malagasy iguanas. It is also called Malagasy collared lizard. I found them in Ifaty (south) and Morondava (west).

Categories
Africa Lizards

Day Geckos in Madagascar I Encountered

Phelsuma is a genus of geckos mostly found in Mauritius and Madagascar. Day geckos are especially easier for me to spot than other geckos not only because of their bright green color but also their unusually diurnal behavior. I found them not only in the field but also in many of the rooms I stayed just like house geckos.

Madagascar giant day gecko (Phelsuma grandis)

Categories
Africa Lizards

Leaf-tailed Geckos in Madagascar I Encountered

Uroplatus is a genus of geckos, commonly known as leaf-tail geckos, which are endemic to Madagascar. If you think chameleons are experts at camouflage I’d say the leaf-tailed geckos are the masters of camouflage. At some point, they could be at the same difficulty level to spot in the jungle as stick insects. Not only does their tail resemble a leaf, most of their body parts are exactly like tree branch textures. Locals describe them as “half plant, half animal”. Luckily I have found a number of them during my trip to Madagascar.

Giant leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus)

Categories
Africa Mammals

Lemurs in Madagascar I Encountered

Indri (Indri indri)

Once upon a time, there were extinct lemurs as big as gorillas. Today, the Indri is the largest extant lemur species. But it is critically endangered, too.

Categories
Africa Mammals

Mammals in Madagascar I Encountered

Most of my sightings of mammals in Madagascar are lemurs, obviously. I’d put them in another post – Lemurs in Madagascar I Encountered

Lemurs are attractive but I wouldn’t forget that there were many interesting and lesser-known mammals I encountered in Madagascar.

Lesser hedgehog tenrec (Echinops telfairi)

Surprisingly, the tenrecs are related to sea cows and elephants but not hedgehogs! They look largely similar to hedgehogs of mainland Africa as a result of convergent evolution. Don’t judge an animal by its look. This species is endemic to the southern and southwestern parts of Madagascar. I found most of the tenrecs in Ifaty, southern Madagascar.

Categories
Africa

Aye-aye, Devil of Madagascar

This is one of the Aye-ayes (Daubentonia madagascariensis) I found in Madagascar. They are lemurs but quite a different one. Despite their large body size, the Aye-ayes took me a lot longer to find than other lemurs.

It means death when its elongated middle finger points at someone, locals believe. The Aye-aye would scare the poop out of most (even local) people if they encounter one at night in the woods. But for me, I was feeling soooo lucky and blessing that I got a chance to encounter with the most bizarre-looking animal on the island.


I can’t think of any other creatures that would be a better fit for me to share on Halloween. The title of “Devil of Madagascar” is the reason why most of the Aye-ayes got killed by local people. Comparing to poaching or game hunting, this kind of killing is even more ridiculous. I’ve told every Malagasy people I met about this wrong belief and most of them understood and agreed not to kill them anymore.

Categories
Africa

Baobab and Tortoise Symbiosis

The largest succulent and the most trafficked tortoise.

So old, so slow, yet (probably) not too wise.

The other night with the full moon, I was there in the extreme south of Madagascar watching these 2 symbolic Malagasy creatures living in harmonic symbiosis. I was sitting next to both of them all night and loving them both, like a triangle.

Both the Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) and Baobabs (Adansonia sp) have been living a slow-paced life for 88 million years, which city people are recently getting to understand.

Not only are these creatures slow, but they are also stubborn as w(h)ell. They’d stick with their lifestyle despite the fact that the force of uptempo pace from the outside world had arrived in such remote “natural” habitats. The title of critically endangered species ain’t no scare any feces outta’em. They’d rather not change to fit in.

The extinction of a species could be normal. However, it seems it’s happening over 1,000 times faster than it’s supposed to.

Categories
Africa

I Climbed up a Big Fat Baobab

To celebrate my encounter with the super rare Ploughshare tortoises in Madagascar, I decided to free climb the biggest baobab in the area barefoot.

These chubby beauties are straight and surprisingly smooth. Baobabs are so much harder to climb than most trees. I still ain’t sure how I managed to climb up so high. I was feeling like a lizard.

Not only are the fruits superfood, but the baobabs are also beneficial to humans in hundreds of ways. But like most of the creatures in Madagascar, these trees are facing extinction, too. Mighty, yet fragile.

Categories
Africa

My Oldest New Friend The Aldabra Giant Tortoise

200+ years old is the age of this tortoise I was told. It might be exaggerated but still, I think this is the oldest animal I have ever met. I had to check history books to imagine how the world was like when this old folk was a 3-inch small hatchling.

Giant tortoises are proven the longest-living land animals and the longest-living reptiles, with the oldest recorded at 152.

The Aldabra giant tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea) is the world’s largest tortoise, together with the Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra).

This Aldabra giant tortoise is the most baby-faced old folk I’ve ever encountered. My fisheye lens even helped me to magnify the cuteness which seems like a good way to let more people appreciate these long-lived, peaceful animals. Despite the very long, tough journey before reaching their natural habitat, they’re among the easiest animal for me to photograph.

We indeed ought to keep them away from unnatural harm because our ancestors massacred and eliminated at least 35 species and subspecies of their ancestors (giant tortoises) within a very short period of only 250 years. Now, the Aldabra tortoise of the Aldabra Atoll is the only species left in islands of the Indian Ocean.

Categories
Americas Asia

Not All Alligators Are Americans

“Alligator or crocodile?” is hardly an easy game to play even for reptile lovers. The difference of the shape of snouts is not too obvious. Convergent evolution might be a bit too hard to understand. Most people’s idea is that alligators are the ones in the US and the rest are all crocodiles. Some even think that both are the same animals with different names in American and British English.

I guess it’s safe to say that the word alligator sounds American. As a matter of fact, the origin of the name is more from Spanish. Every time when I mentioned the Chinese alligator (Alligator sinensis) my American friends would be shocked to learn the fact that the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is not the only alligator in the world. Indeed, there are two species of alligators in the world.

The Chinese alligator, also known as the Yangtze alligator (揚子鱷), is not only critically endangered but also a very little known species, comparing to its more common American cousin. In Chinese, alligator and crocodile share the same word. Thus, there’s no such trouble telling apart alligators from crocodiles in China.

Categories
Lizards

Why Do Some Lizards Have Forked Tongues?

Animals tongues are much more useful than humans!

Red tegu

Different Shapes of Tongues

Most of the lizards have short and round tongues. Chameleons have elongated, extrudable tongues yet not forked. The only lizards with a serpent-like forked tongue are the carnivorous ones of a larger size in family Varanidae (Monitors, goannas, Komodo dragon) and Teiidae (Tegus, whiptails, caiman lizards).

Northern caiman lizard

How Do Their Tongues Work?

Snakes and some lizards rely on flicking out their tongues to collect environmental information. Every flick receives odors and miniscule moisture particles floating in the air. When the tongue is back into their Jacobson’s organ the collected data will be processed and converted into a 3D image resembling the surrounding environment.

Komodo dragon

Why Better Split?

Being forked in the tip helps them tell objects on the left from the right. The difference is the lizards forked tongues are way longer than snakes. Lizards have higher mobility with heads higher up above ground hence the longer tongues help to reach the ground for the smell of earth.

Lace monitor
Categories
HK

Beauty and the Beast Maternity Shoot With Coco Chiang

Putting a bunch of creepy crawlers on a professional model, actress, and cordon bleu chef Coco Chiang (蔣怡)’s naked body for a maternity shoot may sound crazy but is part of what we do. What is crazy to me is that her baby was born merely a few hours after the shoot!

Huge shout out to Coco for showing so much appreciation, love, courage, and respect to my cold-blooded, scaly buddies of all sorts. It’s a big success! Beautiful inside out.

When you can have good celebrities involved in the promotion of conservation, it works way more efficiently.

Categories
HK

I Am a Fictional Character

I have become a character in this new book – ‘The Golden Age‘ by Marianne Andersen.

How amazing! And I just realized that I am the only character based on a real person! This is when I collected this very perfect copy together with author autograph. Parents and educators, you must check out this upcoming book. It is about a kid’s imagination and journeys in Hong Kong.

Categories
HK

My Tesla Turned One

Other than animals, just like most big boys, I love cars.

Almost every expedition I went on I needed 4×4 vehicles, from Jeep Wrangler to Land Rover to G-Wagon. Back in town, having a G63 as daily driver and a Lambo for track days is just adrenaline pumping dream.

However, all of the mentioned vehincles have that one thing in common I had to forget about. No, not the price tag. It’s fuel consumption.

No matter how much fun these rides are, I decided not to use them any more, at least not as daily drivers.

So one year ago I bought a Tesla for daily driver to replace my Land Rover. Since then, my motorhead friends never texted me. Despite the fact that Tesla is even quicker than most of the latest Ferrari models, gas car owners tend to disagree. But this is what’s unique about Tesla. If you don’t own a Tesla, you are most likely a hater.

Even my PR crew suggested that I should avoid mentioning my car as it’s a luxury item which would be in conflict with my conservation work. I disagree. To me, Tesla is never anything luxurious but a transport option which is noiseless and zero-emission people use to help reduce pollution. Not to mention safe and fast.

Anyways, what I have achieved matters more than empty words – I helped save the environment by not burning 2,500 liters of fuel in a year.

My Tesla turned 1 year old. I hadn’t visited a gas station for 1 year. 20,000 km of pure electric mileage was done. That would have burnt approximately 2,500 liters on my previous daily driver, a Land Rover, which had a fuel consumption of 8 km/l.

Categories
Africa Mammals

World’s Last Male of This Rhino Dies

Kenya

So long, Sudan!

As a dinosaur fan when I was a kid, co-existing with some still living triceratops on earth inside the timeline of my life was hope, heuristic and what made me go on. But now I’m grown and I’ve learned more. It just leaves tears.

After Suni died 4 years ago, Sudan became the last surviving male Northern white rhinoceros in the world. And he died yesterday in Kenya at the age of 45.

The remaining of the subspecies are 2 females, daughter and granddaughter of Sudan. Although Sudan had his sperm frozen and stored and cloning may sound like an option, the subspecies will still probably have to be declared extinct following the West African black rhino and Vietnamese Javan rhino which were both declared extinct 7 years ago.

All of the rhinos gone extinct human witnessed were subspecies. The African rhino that is closer to a full species extinction is the Black rhino.

Just in case if you didn’t know, as the media coverage is mainly on the African species, the rhinos which are facing much more critical situations are the Asian species. There are around 25,000 African rhinos left. Less than 4,000 Asian rhinos are left where the Javan rhino (full species) being one of the most endangered mammals on earth. 2 out of 3 subspecies of the Javan rhino have gone extinct. The last subspecies (Indonesian Javan rhino) population is estimated at around 63 left. The most endangered subspecies of rhino is the Bornean rhino which only around 15 individuals left in total.

Rhinoceros have lived on earth for over 25 million years. Having experienced them gone extinct one by one during merely 7 years within our human lives is just plain devastating, irrecoverably.

Categories
Africa Birds

Face to Face with the Biggest Shoebill

No, it’s not the bill you pay for your Air Jordan.

The shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) or whalehead, is a very large stork-like bird. This is one I’ve come across in Uganda. In front of such a prehistoric looking creature with a wingspan of over 8 feet, you better stay low like what I did in the photo. It’s not that we should be scared of them. That’s respect.

Categories
Africa

Typical Safari Is Not Typical of Me

I just went on a decent, British colonial style safari watching the big five in Maasai Mara, Kenya.

Such a typical safari for some who’s been working with wild animals for decades. Why did I feel brand new? It’s because it’s not hands-on. My eyes had plenty to see but my hands had nothing to grab. Oh right, cameras.

Trying new things feels good. Not of my major interest but I did know how to enjoy the journey and got inspired.

I did tons of photos, though. Here’s one. More to add later.

Categories
Americas

Two Heads One Body

Siamese, conjoined and polycephaly mean the different conditions of more than a head or some parts of the body. It’s more like twins in progress but never completed. Two-headed humans are mostly identified as two persons. But for animals, it’s still under debate whether they should be considered one or two beings.

Categories
Americas Asia Lizards

Jesus Christ Lizard

There are over 10,000 extant species of reptiles. How many have you seen? There are only two lizards known to be able to run on water. This earned the renowned Basilisk of the new world the nickname “Jesus Christ lizard”.

From the old world, there’s this lesser-known Sailfin Dragon that evokes even more of my interest. Its Latin name Hydrosaurus says it all. They inhabit rainforests and can run across the river like a jet boat. Firstly described almost 250 years ago but not much has been known so far. I’ve had such a privilege to be able to handle such a beautiful adult Sailfin Dragon. Life is good.

Categories
Americas HK

From Big Game Tragedy In Ohio To Legal Killings In Hong Kong

After the fire that kills 3,000 high-end top quality snakes in a reptile facility in Colorado merely a month ago, now there is another heart breaking loss in Ohio.

R.I.P. to the 50 animals killed in Ohio. 18 highly endangered Bengal tigers, 17 lions, bears, gray wolves, and more were shot to death by the Sheriff’s deputies in Zanesville, Ohio on Wednesday after the owner of an exotic farm threw their cages open and committed suicide.

The media and animal welfare organizations are all aiming at the state regulations of dangerous exotics possession but my first question was why would they have to kill them all instead of tranquilizing? It is well understood that their job is to ensure public safety and for the deputies tranquilizer darts are not as easy to practice as shooting to death like big game. Not saying it is a fault, but there were better options.

Those animals are infamously built for the ability of taking out a human, although the possibility of them killing someone is in fact very low. The tragedy in Ohio was sad but the holocaust was somehow unblamable. But right here in Hong Kong there have been many animals being killed unnecessarily. The wild animals in here considered dangerous are mostly snakes. We do have native venomous snakes in here but in fact they are way less dangerous to people than what they are known for. I have often seen tiny little snakes being smashed to death in order to “ensure public safety” but many times those were non-venomous. Another times there were issues of wild boars attacking people then authorities allowed legal hunting. They can attack but after all they are just pigs. They don’t kill people.

Most times the authorities like to tackle problems and avoid responsibilities the easiest way for them but that is definitely the worst way. In a metropolis like Hong Kong, animals would never like to attack humans until they are forced to. Killing only generates hate. Killing endangered animals is even the worst sin that no one is able to compensate.