As visitors swarm to Burma the tour operators new favourite, readers of The Vintage Magazine may be interested to learn of a recent expedition to the land of steamy jungle, icy peaks and turquoise seas.

Largely isolated by the western world for over half a century, Myanmar as it now prefers to be called, is the home to many little known wild creatures and probably the location of some undiscovered species.

Indeed, only in 1998 the eminent American naturalist, Alan Rabinowitz discovered a species new to science in the remote mountainous terrain of Northern Burma.  The Leaf Deer, a small primitive mammal was brought out alive and kept for some years in Yangon.  But as Rabinowitz admits, there may well be other unknown animals living in this vast, thinly populated jungle where distant snow capped peaks rise majestically above the emerald tree line.  Furthermore there were rumours of colonies of rare voles living in this remote region.  As President of the Vole Club one of these rodents caught my attention.  Pere David’s vole (Eothenomys Melanogaster) is described as a soft, shaggy, sooty-brown mouse-like beast with a blunt nose, short legs with a small tail covered by short hairs that obscure the rings of scales.  The soles of the feet are said to be hairy behind the pads, the young are blackish and the females have four teats.  Sightings of the little fellow had been made near Mount Imaw Bum (9000 feet) where a specimen brought in by a pygmy’s cat measured 141mm from head to tail tip.  Before being consumed by the hungry little people, who regard it as a delicacy, it was weighed at 27 grams.  There were also reports of other voles invading Northern Burma including the Chinese Vole (Pitymys Pinetum) and the Korean Meadow Vole (Microtus Montebelli) but these usually live at lower altitudes.

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Sunday, March 3rd, 2013