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Assam snake ‘rediscovered’ 129 years after its last sighting by a British tea planter

Snippets from the vibrant Northeast that capture politics, culture, society and more in the eight states.

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New Delhi: The Assam keelback or Herpetoreas pealii, a snake species endemic to Assam, was found 129 years after it was last spotted by British tea planter Samuel Edward Peal in 1891.

Peal had collected two male specimens of the non-venomous brown snake in the state’s Sivasagar district and deposited them in a museum. British zoologist William Lutley Sclater, the same year, had described the snake as a new species, naming it after Peal and the place where it was found. While one of the two specimens collected was kept at the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) in Kolkata, the other was sent to the Natural History Museum in London. No sighting of the snake had been reported since and it was considered a lost species.

In September 2018, a team of scientists from the Wildlife Institute of India (WWI) found it along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, while retracing the steps of the Abor Expedition — a military expedition by the British against the Abors in 1911. But Abhijit Das, who was part of the WII team, said that the specimen at ZSI Kolkata was “destroyed” by the time they rediscovered the snake and the team had to collaborate with the Natural History Museum to identify it.

Their peer-reviewed findings were finally published in the June 2020 issue of Vertebrate Zoology, a journal published by the Museum of Dresden in Germany.

Also read: Mizoram’s doctor MLA walks miles, crosses a stream to treat soldier in remote area

Former AIR artiste sings in knee-deep water amid Assam floods, clip goes viral

In a poignant video that has been widely shared online, a former musician and AIR artiste can be seen singing a classic Assamese song by Bhupen Hazarika. The song, Luitor boliya baan, talks about emotions towards the Brahmaputra, also known as Luit in parts of Assam. More than 13 lakh have been affected by the floods in Assam so far.

Syed Saadulla, a 71-year-old from Dibrugarh said, “I decided to make this clip because I wanted to tell people that trouble will always be there in your life, disaster will strike, floods will happen, but you have to accept it, you have to fight it, you have to overcome it.”

A FIFA-certified football stadium for Mizoram soon

Mizoram Sports Minister Robert Romawia Royte has announced that the town of Kolasib will soon have a football ground certified by the FIFA.

Royte made the announcement last week when he had gone to check on the on-going construction of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) sports academy at Kolasib’s Saidan and the laying of artificial turf at the football ground there. This turf, he said, was also certified by the FIFA. The sports minister added that apart from football, three other disciplines would be added to the under-construction SAI sports academy.

In a first, the state had recently also given industry status to sports in order to attract investment and bolster sporting activities.

Ever heard of jackfruit chocolates? Meghalaya entrepreneurs bring unique delicacy

Dasumarlin Majaw and Vijay Brysat, graduates of the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship, have launched a line of delicacies made from jackfruit — jackolates (chocolates made from jackfruit), jackfruit chunks, and jackfruit tikki.

Shillong is home to acres and acres of jackfruit farming and the fruit was a “random selection” for these entrepreneurs. “Eleven thousand metric tonnes of jackfruit are wasted each year, we found after research. There was no second thought on utilising this gift of nature,” said Brysat.

For the two men, cost-effectiveness, the fruit’s protein-vitamin content and non-requirement of any pesticide were its added advantages. They have also been targeting the international market.

“Though the idea of converting jackfruit seeds into chocolate has struck the world already, using tender jackfruit is a novel concept. Also, our ‘100% natural’ practice is going to be one of its kind,” Brysat added.

Also read: Manipur is upset its traditional leirum phee is being sold as ‘Modi gamcha’ in UP


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