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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 Komodo 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
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 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
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
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
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.