No snake soup for Hong Kong’s young snake catcher

No snake soup for Hong Kong’s young snake catcher
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Hong Kong is home to a variety of snakes, from the venomous king cobra to larger species such as the Burmese python. Whenever one of these reptiles is spotted slithering into a home or coming alarmingly close to a residential area, Lee is among the snake catchers called to capture the creatures. (AP)
No snake soup for Hong Kong’s young snake catcher
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Ken Lee, a registered snake catcher, recently hit the headlines when he bagged this 3m long Burmese Python spotted by residents of Tai Pak Tin village in Hong Kong’s rural New Territories district on Dec 1, 2020. (Courtesy of Ken Lee via AP)
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Updated 02 January 2021

No snake soup for Hong Kong’s young snake catcher

No snake soup for Hong Kong’s young snake catcher
  • When Ken Lee gets his hands on a python, he doesn’t eat it, it’s released
  • Take the snakes out of the equation and you upset the balance says Ken

HONG KONG: Hong Kong is home to a variety of snakes — from the venomous king cobra to larger species such as the Burmese python. Whenever one of these reptiles is spotted slithering into a home or coming alarmingly close to a residential area, Ken Lee is among the snake catchers called to capture the creatures.
But unlike commercial snake catchers of yesteryear, whose catch is often served up as soup in the city’s snake shops, Lee doesn’t sell the snakes he captures. He is part of a new breed of snake catchers who strive to release the reptiles back into nature.
“There are occasions where people have caught the snakes before I arrived on the scene, but unfortunately some of them were killed or fatally injured,” said 31-year-old Lee, who is one of Hong Kong’s youngest registered snake catchers. “Some people caught the snakes bravely, but actually it caused harm to wildlife.”
Like many other snake catchers in the city, Lee is self-taught. He first started handling snakes at the age of 17, when he worked as an apprentice in a Hong Kong snake shop. His experience spurred him to learn more about biodiversity and biology, and he eventually went on to study that at a university in Taiwan.
When Lee catches snakes, he uses a range of equipment — puncture-proof gloves, sticks, hooks, a torch and bags. At times, he even uses his bare hands.
In early December, he made headlines when he successfully captured a 3-meter-long (10-foot-long) Burmese python in a village located in a rural part of Hong Kong. The same month, Lee was also called to a high-rise residential building in a rural area to capture a bamboo pit viper — a common, venomous green snake whose bite can cause a nasty swell.
The snakes he catches are sent to the Kadoorie Farm and Botanical Garden, a local nonprofit organization that shelters rescued wild animals. After a health check, most of the creatures are then released back into the local parks.
“I hope all these wild animals could be returned to nature,” Lee said.
Currently, he works as a research assistant at four universities in the city and volunteers at the Hong Kong Society of Herpetology Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the study of reptiles and amphibians.
Even though Hong Kong has ample green areas that serve as different habitats for snakes, Liz Rose-Jeffreys, Kadoorie Farm’s conservation officer, thinks the city’s urban development may threaten the survival of snake species.
“I think this is one of mutual respect, really. They are our wild neighbors, they’ve been here a lot longer than us, and I think we have a duty to respect nature,” she said. “They form an important part of our ecosystem, so if we have to remove snakes, then it would upset the balance that has been established for many years.”


TWITTER POLL: Signal is more comfortable to use versus other instant messaging apps

TWITTER POLL: Signal is more comfortable to use versus other instant messaging apps
Updated 18 January 2021

TWITTER POLL: Signal is more comfortable to use versus other instant messaging apps

TWITTER POLL: Signal is more comfortable to use versus other instant messaging apps
  • Facebook-owned WhatsApp badly hit by a backlash after updating its privacy policy

DUBAI: Signal is more comfortable instant messaging service to use compared with other apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram, according to half of those who responded to an Arab News poll.

Signal’s surge in popularity among smartphone users, thanks to a two-word tweet from technology entrepreneur Elon Musk endorsing the encrypted messaging service, clearly showed as 50 percent of the 1,451 respondents expressed contentment with it.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp, badly hit by a backlash after updating its privacy policy, got a thumbs-up from three out of 10 poll respondents while Telegram had about a tenth of supporters. The remaining 10 percent of Arab New readers who responded to the poll meanwhile said none of the three instant messaging apps were comfortable to use.

 

 

Musk earlier urged users to “Use Signal” after WhatsApp, the most popular instant messaging app, was accused of forcing subscribers to share their personal data with its parent company Facebook for advertising.

Users had to accept these new terms before February 8, otherwise their accounts will be deleted. The ensuing furor prompted WhatsApp to delay its take it or leave it privacy update until May.

It likewise came out with a clarification the privacy changes were focused on how businesses used the app.

“We want to be clear that the policy update does not affect the privacy of your messages with friends or family in any way,” WhatsApp said in a statement.

“Instead, this update includes changes related to messaging a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data.”