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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Elusive Wild Elephants Captured on Film in Cambodia

A still from the unique video, which shows the shy beast placidly munching on greenery. Credit: Allan Michaud.

Wild Asian elephants have been captured on film in Cambodia, a country where the shy giants are rarely seen, an international conservation organization announced yesterday (Dec. 21).

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has just released what may be the first high-quality professional footage of wild Asian elephants ever taken in the south Asian country. Decades of civil war and instability in the latter part of the 20th century made Asia’s largest land mammal shy and difficult to observe directly.

Wildlife photographer Allan Michaud shot footage of the shy beasts on July 24 in the newly established Seima Protection Forest, a 1,100-square-mile (2,850-square kilometer) protected area along Cambodia’s eastern border with Vietnam.

"It does seem surprising that such a large animal is actually quite elusive, but they usually avoid humans,” said Edward Pollard of WCS’s Cambodia Program. "This new footage is a great visual confirmation that Seima is vitally important for biodiversity, as well as the protection of forest carbon."

The footage captures images of a male Asian elephant casually feeding on grass on the margin of a road that runs through Seima Protection Forest, which contains a significant percentage of Cambodia’s elephant population.

In 2006, surveys that collected DNA from elephant dung revealed a population of approximately 116 animals within the protected area — but not a single elephant was seen during the study.

Most of the images of wild elephants from the region come from camera traps. The film represents only the third elephant sighting along the Seima road in the past five years.

Researchers have noted that along with the recent elephant sighting, other species observed along the road include gaur (an Asian species of wild cattle), a monkey species known as a black-shanked douc, four other species of primate, and green peafowl, indicating that wildlife are adapting to the road.

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Shamika2Gold To Buy Gold And Ruby Licenses In Cambodia

(RTTNews) - Aultra Gold, Inc. (AGDI.OB: News ), operating internationally as Shamika2Gold, said it executed a definitive securities exchange agreement to buy a concession of gold and ruby exploration license in Cambodia. The area covered in the license comprise approximately 158 square miles in the Samlaut district adjacent to the Pailin ruby gem area.

Upon closing of the exchange, Shamika would buy approximately 85% of the capital stock from the Mauritius holding company which, upon formation and contribution, would hold the mining rights in exchange for 57 million shares of Shamika common stock and shares of Series B Performing Preferred Stock.

Montreal, Canada-based Aultra Gold, Inc. engages in exploring natural resources properties in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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by RTT Staff Writer

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Man gets prison for overseas sex with teen

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- An American has been sentenced to 104 months in a U.S. prison for having a long-term relationship with a teenage girl while he was teaching in Cambodia.

A federal judge in Los Angeles Monday also ordered Michael James Dodd, 61, to pay the girl $9,500 restitution, the Los Angeles Times reported. He pleaded guilty in September to traveling overseas to have sex with an underage person.

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said Dodd had a sexual relationship with the girl, then 14, for about five months in 2008 while he was teaching in Phnom Penh. Dodd gave her family $200 a month and food, although Mrozek said Monday it was unclear the family knew he was having sex with the teenager.

"There shouldn't be any suggestion that he was renting the girl or the family was prostituting her out," Mrozek said. "Although there is no question that this girl and her family lived in impoverished conditions that are really hard to imagine."

Dodd served 16 months of a 10-year sentence in Cambodia before he was extradited for prosecution under U.S. law.
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