Toddler chews head off snake

A sleepy snake came to a rather untimely end after having its head half chewed off by a fearless toddler in an Arab town in northern Israel, the child’s family said, according to the Deccan Chronicle.Thirteen-month-old Imad Aleeyan, who has six teeth, was found chewing on the head of the 30-centimetre snake by his mother, who alerted the neighbourhood with her screams. A neighbour who had rushed to see what was going on yanked the half-dead reptile out of the boys mouth and killed it, she said.“When he pulled it out, Imad started crying,” she said, describing the snake’s head as ‘very badly chewed’ when it emerged from the boys mouth.They immediately checked the child for any bite marks but found none, with doctors at Rambam hospital in Haifa confirming he was unharmed. “Doctors at the hospital told us the snake was really poisonous but that we were very lucky because they release less venom in the winter,” she said. Her screams brought the rest of the family — and the neighbourhood — running.“We rushed in and found the baby with a snake in his mouth, chewing it. It was really scary, just horrible,” the boy’s aunt, Yasmin Shahin, said. “I was making his milk and I looked over and saw he had a snake in his mouth,” said his mother, Ghadir Aleeyan who lives in the town of Shefa’Amr, 15 kilometres (9 miles) east of the port city of Haifa. “I started to scream. I couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said. “I nearly died of fright.” But Dr Boaz Shacham, an expert on amphibians and reptiles, told AFP that from looking at images of the smashed-up serpent online, it appeared to be a coin-marked snake (hemorrhois nummifer), a non-venomous species which resembles a viper.Such snakes grow up to 1.3 metres in length, he said suggesting it was a ‘very young’ specimen.“It probably didn’t bite the child because of the cold,” said Shacham who is the head of the herpetology collection at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “They are not really active in winter.” read more

UN agency praises Kazakh decision not to extradite refugee to Uzbekistan

The decision comes less than a week after four Uzbek refugees and an asylum seeker were sent back by neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, a move that was sharply criticized by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which expressed grave fears for their safety. UNHCR said today it has heard nothing about the five since their forced return.“We particularly welcome the open and cooperative spirit in which this case has been resolved, and the level of professionalism demonstrated by the Kazakh authorities in the process,” UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva today.The Uzbek refugee in Kazakhstan, who had been living in the country for seven years with his family, was detained in late June following an Uzbek extradition request. After a thorough review, UNHCR considered the claims against him groundless and that he was in need of international protection and recognised him as a refugee.“We feared his life would be in danger if he was returned to Uzbekistan,” the spokesperson said. “The Kazakh authorities also concluded the evidence upon which the extradition request was based was insufficient and rejected the request.”Last week’s forced return of the Uzbeks by Kyrgyzstan was a “serious violation” of the 1951 Refugee Convention, Ms. Pagonis said, while adding that the agency was reassured by Kazakhstan’s commitment to the agreement as shown by today’s decision. The refugee was handed over to the UNHCR in the city of Almaty.“We see this as the result of a long-standing cooperation between UNHCR and the government, aimed at strengthening Kazakhstan’s capacity to provide international refugee protection as set out in international refugee law.” read more