PHUKET: Thailand is in hot pursuit of a cagey crocodile that has made unwelcome appearances off the beaches of resort island Phuket only to slip through the clutches of local authorities.
The evasive reptile was first seen near Rawai beach about a week ago but has resurfaced in multiple locations near the beaches on the Andaman Sea.
A group of hunters has joined an expanding team trying to track it down. Thawee Thongchai, the mayor of Karon town on the west coast of Phuket, told AFP Monday they had come very close to success.
“We almost caught it when it was seen near the beach in Karon, (we were) meters away but it moved quickly back to the sea,” Thawee said.
“We do not yet know where it comes from.” Thailand’s pristine beaches draw millions of tourists a year and Phuket in the southwest is one of the most popular destinations.
Thawee said choppy monsoon seas had prevented fishing boats from using nets to capture the creature, which is almost two meters in length.
The Siamese crocodile was once ubiquitous across Southeast Asia but is currently listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list.
Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist, and lecturer at Kasetsart University said the presence of a crocodile in Phuket meant it was likely a hybrid saltwater version of the species bred on a farm, and it was not the first such sighting.
“Normally the open sea is not a place where a crocodile would live,” he said. Crocodile numbers in Thailand and Southeast Asia generally have been decimated by habitat loss, commercial hunting for the skin trade and the capture of live reptiles to stock crocodile farms, according to the IUCN. In Thailand, there are just a handful of wild populations in central and western national parks.
A French tourist was bitten on the leg by a crocodile inside a Thai national park in January last year when she tried to get close to take a selfie.
In 2014 a Thai woman committed suicide by leaping into a pond of crocodiles at a farm popular with tourists on Bangkok’s outskirts.
China’s property market stabilizing on tough curbs
BEIJING: China’s property market remains generally stable as the government continues stepping-up property curbs.
New home prices in four first-tier cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou – rose 0.2 percent in July from a month ago, 0.4 percentage points lower than that in June, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed today.
New home prices in Shanghai fell while prices in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen rose 0.2 percent, 0.6 percent, and 0.5 percent, respectively.
New home prices in 31 second-tier cities rose 1.1 percent in July, 0.1 percentage points lower than June.
On a yearly basis, first-tier cities reported a 0.2-percent increase in new home prices. Existing prices rose 0.5 percent, 0.4 percentage points higher than a year earlier.
NBS senior statistician Liu Jianwei said local governments continued to step up property regulation in July and strike a balance between demand and supply to promote the healthy development of the sector.
New home prices declined year-on-year in two of the 15 “hotspot” cities where speculative home purchases are monitored, with the most significant price drop of 0.1 percent last month, with 11 cities posting growth and two staying flat.
During previous years, rocketing housing prices, especially in major cities, fueled concerns about asset bubbles. To curb speculation, the government rolled out various control measures, including restrictions on purchases and increasing minimum down payments for mortgages.
Major cities announced 260 control measures during the first seven months this year, 80 percent more than the same period last year, according to the research center of the Centaline Group.
Analysts expect more control measures to be announced as the central authority vowed to regulate the property market order and “firmly curb the rise in home prices” at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee last month.
The government will accelerate the establishment of a long-term mechanism to promote the stable and healthy development of the market, Cong Liang, spokesperson of the National Development and Reform Commission told a press conference on Wednesday.
The property market will continue adjusting amid the increasingly tightened regulation, said Liu Weimin, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Book of Xi’s discourses on poverty alleviation published
BEIJING: A book of extracts from the discourses on poverty alleviation by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has been published by the Central Party Literature Press.
The book, which was compiled by the Party history and literature research institution of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, will be distributed across the country.
Tokyo’s Nikkei index jumps more than 2.2%
TOKYO: Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei index surged more than 2.2 percent Tuesday, swiftly recovering from the previous day’s losses, with investors encouraged by an apparent hiatus in the Turkey lira crisis.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which lost more than two percent on Monday, rose 2.28 percent or 498.65 points to close at 22,356.08, snapping a four-day losing streak. The broader Topix index was up 1.63 percent or 27.45 points at 1,710.95.