Archive for March, 2013

Oxford v Cambridge: the boat race

March 31, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog delighted to see a great rowing contest – perhaps the world’s most famous. But in the end?

We won!!!

As usual.


Hugh (a BNC and Oxford partisan)

Gun Crime, USA, 1980 -2013, 1,057,000

March 29, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog heard the snarl of a scooter and then there they were! Two copies of The Japan Times newspaper – special delivery!

Not flung from the scooter (normal practice for deliveries) but hurled with extreme prejudice  at one of my cats. Completely understandable.

Let’s move on from cat/scooter conflict scenarios. Complex. Disturbing. No solution in sight.

I’d been looking forward to seeing the Japan Times issues because I’d got a few stories in them and my wife was profiled in a column, and yes, a bit of vanity.

What smacked me in my face, front page, was Yoko Ono and a number.

1 million and fifty seven thousand.


Don’t try dialing it for a pizza. That’s the number of Americans who have been killed (by guns) in the USA since John Lennon was shot on Dec 8, 1980.

Yoko Ono’s twittering about it.

Me, I was stunned.


I didn’t actually read my stories. I’d written them so I knew what I was blathering about.  I was transfixed by this number (and by john Lennon’s blood spattered glasses) . I just sat awhile and wondered why a country that has lost more than a million of its people can even consider gun ownership a ‘debate’.

1,057,000. I hope that’s a typo.

It isn’t, is it?





STUDY: Leopards are the New Backyard Wildlife

March 28, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog hates to say I told you so, but I told you so! Leopards can live close and you don’t see them. One lived in the roof of Nairobi’s football stadium. For years. I wrote about this ten years ago!

I must say that nobody took me seriously or read it.

Fair enough actually. It wasn’t as if I’d clambered up the roof struts to photo record the beast. It was bar talk. Here’s something with a little more scientific background.

Photos: LIVING WITH LEOPARDS – Camera traps set up at night in a densely populated region of India virtually devoid of wilderness revealed leopards, striped hyenas, jackals – and lots of people.

Photo Credit: Project Waghoba

Copies of the study available for download:


CONTACT: STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner)

JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney)

Move Over Squirrels: Leopards are the New Backyard Wildlife

New WCS-led Study documents rise of big cats in urbanized landscape in India

Camera trap photos show leopards, hyenas – and lots of people

NEW YORK (March 28, 2013) — A new study led by WCS-India scientist Vidya Athreaya finds that certain landscapes of western India completely devoid of wilderness and with high human populations are crawling with a different kind of backyard wildlife: leopards.

The study found as many as five adult large carnivores, including leopards and striped hyenas, per 100 square kilometers (38 square miles), a density never before reported in a human-dominated landscape.

The study, called “Big Cats in Our Backyards,” appeared in the March 6 edition of the journal PLoS One. Authors include: Vidya Athreya and Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Centre for Wildlife Studies in Bangalore; Morten Odden of Hedmark University College; John D. C. Linnell of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research; and Jagdish Krishnaswamy of Asoka Trust for Research of Ecology in the Environment.

Using camera traps, the authors founds that leopards often ranged close to houses at night though remained largely undetected by the public. Despite this close proximity between leopards and people, there are few instances of attacks in this region. The authors also photographed rusty spotted cat, small Indian civet, Indian fox, jungle cat, jackal, mongoose – and a variety of people from the local communities. The research took place in western Maharashtra, India.

“Human attacks by leopards were rare despite a potentially volatile situation considering that the leopard has been involved in serious conflict, including human deaths in adjoining areas,” said big cat expert Ullas Karanth of WCS. “The results of our work push the frontiers of our understanding of the adaptability of both humans and wildlife to each other’s presence.”

The authors say that the findings show that conservationists must look outside of protected areas for a more holistic approach to safeguarding wildlife in a variety of landscapes.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit


Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to

WCS Digital Community:

Web Sites:


Wildlife Conservation Society

Bronx Zoo

Central Park Zoo

Queens Zoo

Prospect Park Zoo

New York Aquarium

WCS Youtube:




Stephen Sautner

Director of Communications

Wildlife Conservation Society

Bronx Zoo

Bronx, NY 10460

p: 718-220-3682


Skype: scsautner

Twitter: @TheWCS

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Kenya gets tough on Chinese ivory smuggler (or not)

March 28, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog applauds the decision of the Kenyan authorities. Really worth a round of applause for its tragedy/comedy/farce.

Tian Yi, a Chinese national, was apprehended in Nairobi while in transit on Sunday. His suitcase attracted attention because it bulged with slivers of bark.

Mr. Yi, described them as ingredients for Traditional Chinese Medicine. China, traditionally, has no traditional medicine source in Kenya, or anywhere else in Africa. For millennia the Chinese apothecaries had no idea Africa even existed.

Yi, while no doubt spurred by noble thoughts of curing his countrymen, women and children from various diseases and ailments and mental health problems and impotency, had mingled his healing remedies with…


Did Yi stuff his suitcase with:

A. Soiled underwear and smelly socks

B. Traditional Chinese Medicine bark, roots, with a view to selling these to bio-prospecting companies.

C. Copies of “anal slave” and “ whip me, whip me”

D. Just lots of bark.

E. A present for his wife bought hastily and without forethought from Nairobi duty free.

F. An HIV-AIDS positive test result due to Yi’s reckless fornication with the girls at Buffalo Bills.

G. Nothing. He just wanted to carry the suitcase.

H. Three silly hats and eighteen bananas.

I. Lots of little shampoo bottles snaffled from various hotels, small bars of soap and several bathrobes and towels, and a Gideon’s Bible found in a bedside drawer.

J. Lots of bark and 439 pieces of worked ivory painted brown to match the medicinal bark.

Hugh Paxton Blog Quiz Winners, as usual, won’t roll home with a prize. But don’t give up! It has been known to happen.

Answers follow.

‘A’ to’ I’. You may well be right. Apart from ‘G’.

Yi wasn’t in this for the suitcase.

‘H’’ looks unlikely, too.


Did you think ‘J’?


Mr Yi had painted all his bits of ivory brown to make them look like his traditional medicinal tree bark.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog Final Quiz:

Q: Was he arrested and thrown into jail?

1. Yes.

2. No.

3. Did he pay a crippling fine for his role in a trade that spurs and supports criminality and rebel takeovers of countries such as the CAR (it’s in the Congo region, Central African Republci – they’re having a civil war as usual).

4. Or was he fined a punitive fee of one US dollar per ivory piece.

Number four wins!

I find this scenario ridiculous. This man, this Mr Yi,  is a smuggler, he isn’t a tourist who picks up an ivory trinket in ignorance. He is commercially motivated, his bark ploy indicates that he is of sub-standard intelligence,  and he should be in a Kenyan jail being fed weevils and gang banged by Somali pirates for robbing them (the Kenyan people) of their natural resources.



Brigittes Pick: Why We Shoot Deer

March 27, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog rates this deer vs farmer story extremely funny. Educational, cautionary, but mostly very funny. The author won’t be eating a whole lot of venison.

Let’s begin. Over to the farmer who understandably wishes to remain anonymous although he did provide a photo – if you recognise him you’ll know him. And you’ll know better than to help him start a deer farm.

Why we shoot deer

I had this idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up– 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold.

The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope, and then received an education. The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer– no Chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined. The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.

I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder – a little trap I had set before hand…kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when ….. I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and slide off to then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head–almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.

It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp… I learned a long time ago that, when an animal -like a horse –strikes at you with their hooves and you can’t get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away. So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope……to sort of even the odds!!

All these events are true so help me God…An Educated Farmer

Cambodia: when TV reality becomes real

March 27, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s blog has negative feelings about ‘reality TV’. Some programmes are conceptually unreal. People are put in positions and given tasks that are fundamentally abnormal. I watched one show involving different themed teams struggling to cross the Namib desert. The ‘Dykes’ team consisted of lesbians. Reality? Hardly. Surreal- ity. Yes. Was everybody involved made to look foolish and grotesque? Well, yes they were.

The spectacle degraded everybody involved and missed the point of Namibia.

A French reality “Survivor” TV programme has just been cancelled after one contestant died on day one. Heart attack on Koh Rong island, off the southwestern coast of Cambodia. Pronounced medically fit to participate in Survivor, Gerald Babin (25) keeled over almost immediately and all the other survivors were sent back to France.

Reality can be like that. It just can’t be on TV. Not if it’s real.

Personally speaking I’d have kept the cameras rolling. Recorded who died next. Ratings! Wowzaah! Bring on the gladiators! Add a few tigers to Koh Rong (go wrong?) island. but no, didn’t happen. It was a definite ‘cut’.

This un-watched reality TV glimpse into reality has stopped but I guess the shows will go on.

I wish they wouldn’t.

There’s a lot more out there to film and record that’s really real.  And a lot more interesting. And a lot more important. Real people doing real things. Just to take one example!

As for Big Brother? Never watched it. Never will. My neighbours provide more than sufficient entertainment!

Cheers from Bangkok!


Death In The Forests: the unnoticed human and elephant holocaust

March 25, 2013

Forest elephants_tomo_final.doc

Brigite’s Pick has a crack at more numerology: 2013 March Calendar

March 25, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has always skated over slippery ice when it comes to maths, accounts, and numbers in general. But they still retain a fascination. Here’s a batch from correspondent Brigitte.

Over to Brigitte!

2013 March Calendar

This is interesting:

March 2013
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31


This year March has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This happens
once every 823 years.

Hidden in Plain Sight: China’s Clandestine Tiger Trade

March 25, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog draws your attention to the Environment Investigation Agency’s new documentary on tiger farming. Check the website

As it’s the height of the lambing season, here are The Helm Wind Blues!

March 24, 2013

Hugh Paxton's Blog

Before you check out this hilarious Cumbrian music video, provided courtesy of Hereldeduke and Rife Records, I should also give you the brief orientation to this meteorological phenomenon that comes with the video. Enjoy!

“The Helm Wind is a unique wind that blows over the Pennine mountains in the Eden valley area of Cumbria, North England. It creates a bar of cloud known as the “Helm Bar”. This mysterious wind has become legend with tales of sheep going missing and cows being picked up and blown into the next field.”

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