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Thailand eyes genetics regional database for wild cats

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Thailand eyes genetics regional database for wild cats | Thaiger

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Thailand the great hope in saving the tiger
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The planning for a genetics regional database for wild cats in Thailand has begun in hopes of rescuing wild breeding tiger populations in the region – but serious law enforcement is still necessary to save the endangered animals, says the project’s executive officer Panthera Alan Rabinowitz.

The genetics lab, if successful, could mark Thailand as a regional hub for tiger conservation – allowing for scientists to study and find ways in preserving the big cats.

Currently USAID, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the First Secretary from the US Embassy, and Chulalongkorn University have all expressed an interest in the project. Should everything run smoothly, lab setups and the training of personnel may begin early in 2015 and are expected to run 3-5 years in Thailand and 10 years in the entire region.

Tigers in Thailand are crucial because the Kingdom has the last known breeding population of the Indo-Chinese tigers in the region.

Only some 3,000 wild tigers are left in the world, of which around 200 are located in Thailand. Despite increased efforts to conserve these big cats by local governments, poachers who hunt the animals for Chinese medicinal purposes or for profit are still destroying the species faster than they can breed.

The lab will help Thailand understand its tiger population. This includes understanding both the genetics and the population structure so that related tigers aren’t released to breed together says Salisa Rabinowitz, associate director at the American Museum of Natural History.

“Thailand is ready [to become a regional hub while] other countries in Southeast Asia are not,” added Salisa Rabinowitz. According to the geneticist, what makes Thailand ready to become a regional hub compared to economically strong countries such as Singapore, Malaysia or even South Korea is that Thailand has both the wildlife and it is a non-commercial molecular lab, which means that data can be safeguarded.

But not only will a genetics regional database be essential for tiger conservation, harsher law enforcement by authorities is needed too. “We have come to realise [that]what needs the strongest focus [in order to conserve tigers],is more than good science, it is law enforcement – serious law enforcement,” Alan Rabinowitz said.

“True law enforcement people, [such as] the police and soldiers should be especially trained to enter forests and to take part in some of this locking up of these forests,” he said. “If governments would take this seriously, as serious as they take crime in the city, and these areas become better locked up, [there will be improvement.]” he said.

Reportedly, many people involved in killing these tigers can be traced back to larger rings of criminals also involved with child slavery, drugs and the selling of arms. The overlap has resulted in an increased cooperation between local authorities and the international wildlife community.

“Whatever is left here, is not just another tiger population, it’s a crucial tiger population. Right now, while there are still some tigers left in other countries, we’re not able to document any breeding population of tigers right now in Laos, in Cambodia, in Vietnam or in China,” Alan Rabinowitz said.

Despite the critical tiger situation, Rabinowtiz remains optimistic because the attitudes of people are changing and there are habitats still available for these tigers to return. “I’m really hoping that in the next decade Thailand becomes the shining star, a model for wildlife conservation in the entire Southeast Asian region and the regional hub for training, reintroduction, for genetic work for all of Southeast Asia,” he added.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths

Tim Newton

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Today the public health department has reported 3,394 new cases and 29 new Covid-related deaths. 1,498 of today’s cases come from Thailand’s prisons (more below). Taking the shameful inmate toll out of the equation and the trend is still steady with around 2,000 – 2,500 new cases each day over the past 3 weeks across Thailand.

Around the world the trends for new infections and deaths are starting to fall quite quickly.

Covid UPDATE Wednesday: 3,394 new infections and 29 deaths | News by Thaiger

β€’ Roll up, roll up your sleeves. But the Thai PM says… hold on! PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has poured cold water on walk-in vaccination centres for Covid vaccinations. In the past week the public health department has been rushing to set up private vaccination locations around the country to hasten the roll out of vaccines for the first public vaccine category next month.

PM Prayut told a cabinet meeting yesterday he didn’t prefer the idea of the walk-in centres (Central Lad Phrao was already to open as yesterday) because “people would turn up in droves causing chaos”. He was particularly worried about centre around Bangkok where there is a population of 8 million+

The PM has asked that the Mor Prom app is working properly with registrations preferred so the Government can monitor the demand and act accordingly. The government says they’re working on an English, and other languages, version of Mor Prom to open registration for non-Thais soon.

β€’ The Department of Corrections reports that there are now 11,670 prisoners infected with Covid in 13 prisons across Thailand.

β€’ A major Japanese medical association is calling on Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee to cancel the 2020 Tokyo Games. The Games are set to start on July 23.

The appeal, made in a letter to Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga and comes amid concerns that the health-care system in Asia’s second-largest economy cannot accommodate both the potential medical needs of thousands of international athletes, coaches and media while fighting yet another spike in coronavirus infections.

β€’ The Chon Buri (including Pattaya) public health officials announced 39 new and confirmed cases of Covid and 1 more death today. According to The Pattaya News, “officials are asking for the public to remain working from home if possible and especially to avoid small social gatherings with people who are not members of your own household until the situation improves”.

As usual we will have an update of all the provincial totals this afternoon.

SOURCES: Nation Thailand | FRB

 

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Pattaya

20 people arrested at Pattaya restaurant for allegedly violating alcohol ban

Tanutam Thawan

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Stock photo by Bence Boros for Unsplash

Police in Pattaya arrested 20 people last night at a local restaurant where alcohol was reportedly being sold. While Chon Buri recently eased disease control restrictions, now allowing restaurants in the province to offer dine-in services again, alcohol sales and consumption at restaurants are still prohibited.

Saewana restaurant was raided at around 11pm last night by officers from Pattaya and the Banglamung district station. Alcohol was served in glasses and the bottles were hidden, police say.

Pattaya News says all 20 people at the restaurant were arrested, including the owner. They face charges for allegedly violating the provincial disease control order. Those who violate the Emergency Decree could face a hefty fine or even imprisonment.

A police officer who spoke to a Pattaya News reporter said that there is a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol consumption at restaurants as the policy has been made clear to the public.

SOURCE: Pattaya News

 

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Thailand

Thailand News Today | Releasing 50,000 prisoners, Covid sniffer dogs, bungled kidnap | May 18

Tanutam Thawan

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Following an abortive attempt at a kidnap for ransom at the end of March, 3 people are currently under arrest, National vaccine rollout could finally get underway next week, pecially trained sniffer dogs will soon be deployed on the streets of Bangkok to sniff out cases of Covid-19 infection, Koh Samet reopening to visitors after being closed for 3 weeks and Local fishermen have found space debris, possibly from a satellite or parts of a used launch rocket.

 

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