Archive for June, 2014

Brigitte’s Pick: Moment Before…

June 30, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog rates this as harrowing stuff. A moment before…Hugh Paxton’s Blog has had a few of these. And has had many moments thereafter to regret that moment.

Over to Brigitte: A Moment Before…

A Moment before….

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Brigitte’s Pick : THE CARING OWL

June 30, 2014
I am from South Africa and about 4 years ago made friends with a spotted eagle owl that showed up on our farm (most probably it was rehabilitated by someone). The owl got injured and I kept it inside for a couple of months until it was well again. During this time our one old cat found out that no other cats are allowed in my study where I kept the owl and she moved in. I allowed this because she has never in her life caught a bird or mouse and was not interested in the owl at all.
During this period the owl got used to her and they regularly ate steak out of my hand together. Once the owl was OK again I let it out, but it now comes and sleeps inside during the day, hunting freely at night. At the moment I have another injured owl that he adopted and feeds regularly (about 2 rats an evening).
The other night I was working late in my study when the owl came in with a rat. I presumed that he were going to feed it to the injured owl, but much to my surprise he flew towards the cat that was sitting on the sofa and tried offering the rat to her. Fortunately I was lucky enough to be able to take a couple of pictures which I include here.

I could only find one other instance where an owl befriended a cat, but I could nowhere find a picture or anything about an owl bringing a mouse or rat to a cat. Unfortunately for the owl, the cat just sniffed at the rat as she has never eaten something like that before. The owl is however aggressive towards all other cats and will even swoop down and attack them if they come to close to his nesting box in the tree. He however accepts this cat even near his nesting box.

More photos of the Spotted Eagle Owl

My owl feeding the injured owl that I told you about above. (2 broken legs and a damaged wing estimated to be 1 year old),

Taking a nap .

The owl bringing a mouse, and later on a bat to my wife while she is sleeping!

A young owlet that he helped raise and that we rehabilitated successfully.

What makes my owl so interesting to me is that it is free to come and go as it pleases and lives as close to a natural life as possible. I have in no way tried to train him or force myself onto him and everything that he does comes natural. I am not in favour of keeping birds, or any other animal for that matter, caged up and release all injured birds if at all possible.

Meditation Retreats at the Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage

June 29, 2014

Wanna be a Buddhist monk (or a nun) for ten days? Here’s the place. It’s free!

My wife is considering a course.

Out of her mind! One reason I love her!

And out of my face for ten days! Another reason I love her!

Cheers from Bangkok!

Hugh

Subject: FW: Meditation Retreats at the Suan Mokkh International Dharma Hermitage

This is the place. It is north of Krabi. M

http://www.suanmokkh-idh.org/

TheReporterandTheGirlMinusThe Super Man: New post Joe Manganie llo’s La Bare, Reveals All

June 27, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has to admit it. TheGirl is going for it, has been, and looks set to continue. To be truthful I never know what’s coming next. I certainly didn’t predict this one – male strippers in a Dallas night club. Enjoy the ride (if not the show).

From: TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan! [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com]
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2014 6:22 PM
To: paxton.bkk@gmail.com
Subject: [New post] Joe Manganiello’s La Bare, Reveals All

TheGirl posted: "So I had an interview with some cast members of Joe Manganiello’s new documentary La Bare. These guys left nothing to my imagination as they talked about the life and culture of being a dancer at a very popular male strip club in Dallas. BackGround:"

Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan!

Joe Manganiello’s La Bare, Reveals All

by TheGirl

So I had an interview with some cast members of Joe Manganiello’s new documentary La Bare.

These guys left nothing to my imagination as they talked about the life and culture of being a dancer at a very popular male strip club in Dallas.

BackGround:

La Bare is the most popular male strip located in Dallas, Texas and has been entertaining ladies from all over the world for decades. I sat down with Channing, Cesar, and J.D – three real life entertainers who work at La Bare and star in this documentary.

I started off asking Channing, who is the youngest of the three, his experiences becoming an exotic dancer and what a rookie can expect when they enter the business.

It’s more than just women, money, and a good time, like the famous line from Magic Mike; these men train and diet like professional athletes, promote themselves like entrepreneurs with business cards and clientele list, hours of choreographed training– and they don’t take kind to newbies who think they can get by with doing the running man on stage.

"First thing you have to do, is go to the gym and stay quiet at first so the veterans don’t give you shit. Don’t bum rush it,…watch the veterans until you find your ground."

Cesar chimes in, "it’s [strip clubs] a pretty open field, if you have a decent body…and you’re brave enough to get on the stage every night. The fact is, our doors are always open."

And anyone can test their bravery on amateur night, which is described by the guys as its own animal where everyone from bad bet pickers to Chippendale hopefuls sign up for a chance to prove themselves. Many, like Channing and Cesar started out as servers, before taking a chance on a Thursday night in front of 30 or so women and co workers!

Channing, also known as the shirtless wonder, had a nice awkward experience that rivaled his high school musical days, (no duh?) and Cesar was just glad he hit all the beats on stage.

Courtesy of La Bare Film

So what is the real difference with female dancers and male dancers? I asked J.D, since he commented in the film that women with big titties and decent looks could easily get a job as dancer.

"It has to do with the clientele, there’s no comparison– everything is different except both are wearing underwear."

The truth is that La Bare dancers do more than just dance. They interact with their audience, sometimes taking women on stage to be part of show and that takes a lot of confidence. Confidence that takes experience and motivation to find.

Courtesy of La Bare Film – Cesar playing "doctor"

They are not just pole dancers– not that anything’s wrong with that.

"…I’ve taken a pole dancing class, its nothing to downplay."– Cesar.

This kind of lifestyle seems like a whirlwind fantasy, but really what you may not know about the men of La Bare, is that they have families. They are fathers, sons, and maybe even grandfathers who go through the same 9 to 5 reality you go through.

Even the strongest of them, is still as frail as the next human.

"So how do you find that boundary between ‘fantasy’ and ‘reality’?" I ask.

Cesar- "Because of the nature of the business and flirtation, its very difficult to have blended relationship in the clubs. It can be difficult because people want more of your time and attention and its kind of difficult keeping your balance in those regards."

Courtesy of La Bare Film

So what’s next?

J.D – "Supposedly a TV Show on the way, it’s highly possible."

Fans, go to theaters Friday June 27, 2014 to watch La Bare. I’ll be visiting the club that night! 😉

Meet the guys from La Bare on their Facebook pages!

Channing

Cesar

J.D

TheGirl | June 27, 2014 at 7:21 am | Tags: documentary, film, Joe Manganiello, la bare, magic mike, opening day | Categories: Musings and Life | URL: http://wp.me/p2MqP7-kw

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Wild Open Eye’s Incoming Puffin

June 27, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog raises this question: Do puffins get better than this?

Hugh Paxton’s Blog provides the answer: No they don’t!

For more stunning photography, camera reviews, photo tips and eco-info go to Andy Luck’s wild open eye website. Well worth a look. And I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend of mine.

Cheers from Bangkok!

Hugh

Brigitte’s Pick: Thoughts on South Africa by 2020..?…..Moletsi Mbeki –

June 27, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thanks Brigitte and Moeletsi Mbeki for this critique of the Rainbow Nation.

Start:

Now this is an extremely intellectual and true piece of writing; read all of it below this excerpt…pity this guy is just a journalist and not the president.

..

by Moeletsi Mbeki: Author, political commentator and entrepreneur.

I can predict when SA’s "Tunisia Day" will arrive. Tunisia Day is when the masses rise against the powers that be, as happened recently in Tunisia. The year will be 2020, give or take a couple of years. The year 2020 is when China estimates that its current minerals-intensive industrialisation phase will be concluded.

For SA, this will mean the African National Congress (ANC) government will have to cut back on social grants, which it uses to placate the black poor and to get their votes. China’s current industrialisation phase has forced up the prices of SA’s minerals, which has enabled the government to finance social welfare programmes. The ANC is currently making SA a welfare state and tends to ‘forget’ that there is only a minority that pay all the taxes. They are often quick to say that if people (read whites) are not happy they should leave. The more people that leave, the more their tax base shrinks. Yes, they will fill the positions with BEE candidates (read blacks), but if they are not capable of doing the job then the company will eventually fold as well as their ‘new’ tax base. When there is no more money available for handouts they will then have a problem because they are breeding a culture of handouts instead of creating jobs so people can gain an idea of the value of money. If you keep getting things for free then you lose the sense of its value. The current trend of saying if the west won’t help then China will is going to bite them. China will want payment – ie land for their people and will result in an influx of Chinese (there is no such thing as a free lunch!)

The ANC inherited a flawed, complex society it barely understood; its tinkerings with it are turning it into an explosive cocktail. The ANC leaders are like a group of children playing with a hand grenade. One day one of them will figure out how to pull out the pin and everyone will be killed. …and 20 years on they still blame apartheid but have not done much to rectify things – changing names etc only costs money that could have been spent elsewhere.

A famous African liberation movement, the National Liberation Front of Algeria, after tinkering for 30 years, pulled the grenade pin by cancelling an election in 1991 that was won by the opposition Islamic Salvation Front. In the civil war that ensued, 200000 people were killed. The ‘new’ leaders are forgetting the ‘struggle’ heroes and the reasons for it – their agenda is now power and money and it suits them for the masses to be ignorant – same as Mugabe did in Zim. If you do not agree with the leaders then the followers intimidate you.

The former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, once commented that whoever thought that the ANC could rule SA was living in CloudCuckooLand. Why was Thatcher right? In the 16 years of ANC rule, all the symptoms of a government out of its depth have grown worse.

  • Life expectancy has declined from 65 years to 53 years since the ANC came to power; – a leader who did not believe that HIV causes AIDS (Mbeki) and another who believes having a shower after unprotected sex is the answer and has 5 wives and recently a child out of wedlock (Zuma). Great leaders for the masses to emulate!!- not!!
  • In 2007, SA became a net food importer for the first time in its history; Yet they want to carry on with their struggle song ‘kill the boer(farmer)’ and stopping farm killings does not seem to be a priority. They do not seem to realise where food actually comes from.
  • The elimination of agricultural subsidies by the government led to the loss of 600000 farm workers’ jobs and the eviction from the commercial farming sector of about 2,4-million people between 1997 and 2007; and – yet they want to create jobs and cause even more job losses – very short-sighted thinking.
  • The ANC stopped controlling the borders, leading to a flood of poor people into SA, which has led to conflicts between SA’s poor and foreign African migrants. Not much thought was given to this – their attitude was to help fellow Africans by allowing them ‘refuge’ in SA. Not thinking that illegals cannot legally get jobs but they need to eat to live. I believe that most of our crime is by non-South Africans from north of the borders. They need to do something to survive! Remove the illegal problem and you solve most of the crime problem.

…but is it in their interest to solve crime? There are whole industries built on crime – each burglary, car hijacking etc results in more sales of product and contribute to GDP. What would sales be if crime was down? I do not believe that anyone has worked out how much electricity is consumed a day because of electric fencing and security lights at night. Reduce the need for this (crime) and Eksdom (Eskom) would probably have a power surplus. – or if they charged our African neighbours the correct rates at least make a decent profit to build more power stations.
What should the ANC have done, or be doing?

The answer is quite straightforward. When they took control of the government in 1994, ANC leaders should have: identified what SA’s strengths were; identified what SA’s weaknesses were; and decided how to use the strengths to minimise and/or rectify the weaknesses. Standard business principle – but they too busy enriching themselves. People who were in prison or were non-entities 20 years ago are now billionaires – how? BEE??

A wise government would have persuaded the skilled white and Indian population to devote some of their time — even an hour a week — to train the black and coloured population to raise their skill levels. This done by lots of NGO’s but should have been more constructively done by the ruling party.

What the ANC did instead when it came to power was to identify what its leaders and supporters wanted. It then used SA’s strengths to satisfy the short-term consumption demands of its supporters. In essence, this is what is called black economic empowerment (BEE). …and put people in positions they could not cope with making them look stupid where if they had the necessary grounding could have been good in the position at the right time. You cannot ‘create’ a company CEO in a couple of years. It takes years of work starting at the bottom of the ladder – not in the middle. Only some things can be learnt in books – experience is the most important factor and this is not found in text books or university corridors.

BEE promotes a number of extremely negative socioeconomic trends in our country. It promotes a class of politicians dependent on big business and therefore promotes big business’s interests in the upper echelons of government. Second, BEE promotes an anti-entrepreneurial culture among the black middle class by legitimising an environment of entitlement. Third, affirmative action, a subset of BEE, promotes incompetence (what I said above) and corruption in the public sector by using ruling party allegiance and connections as the criteria for entry and promotion in the public service, instead of having tough public service entry examinations. Nepotism is rife – jobs for friends and families who are nowhere near qualified – and then hire consultants to actually get the work done – at additional cost of course!

Let’s see where BEE, as we know it today, actually comes from. I first came across the concept of BEE from a company, which no longer exists, called Sankor. Sankor was the industrial division of Sanlam and it invented the concept of BEE.

The first purpose of BEE was to create a buffer group among the black political class that would become an ally of big business in SA. This buffer group would use its newfound power as controllers of the government to protect the assets of big business.

The buffer group would also protect the modus operandi of big business and thereby maintain the status quo in which South African business operates. That was the design of the big conglomerates.

Sanlam was soon followed by Anglo American. Sanlam established BEE vehicle Nail; Anglo established Real Africa, Johnnic and so forth. The conglomerates took their marginal assets, and gave them to politically influential black people, with the purpose, in my view, not to transform the economy but to create a black political class that is in alliance with the conglomerates and therefore wants to maintain the status quo of our economy and the way in which it operates.

But what is wrong with protecting SA’s conglomerates?

Well, there are many things wrong with how conglomerates operate and how they have structured our economy.

  • The economy has a strong built-in dependence on cheap labour; With tight labour legislation they are preventing people from getting jobs. For some industries minimum wages are too high resulting in less people being employed. Because it is almost impossible to get rid of an incompetent employee without it costing lots of money in severance people rather do not employ – run on minimum with no incentive to grow the business – or alternatively automate. Result – more unemployment and employment of illegals at more affordable wages.
  • It has a strong built-in dependence on the exploitation of primary resources;
  • It is strongly unfavourable to the development of skills in our general population; Gone are the days of the artisan – no more structured learning to be artisans over a period of time. Try to fast track everything resulting in little on the job experience to be able to do the job. That is why Eksdom has sub stations blowing up and catching fire – lack of skill and maintenance. A friend told me about 5 years that this would start happening after Tshwane (Pretoria) started qualifying electrical engineers who were not up to standard.
  • It has a strong bias towards importing technology and economic solutions; and – at a higher cost
  • It promotes inequality between citizens by creating a large, marginalised underclass. Who depend on handouts that cannot be maintained into perpetuity.

Conglomerates are a vehicle, not for creating development in SA but for exploiting natural resources without creating in-depth, inclusive social and economic development, which is what SA needs. That is what is wrong with protecting conglomerates.

The second problem with the formula of BEE is that it does not create entrepreneurs. People do not develop necessary skills when being fast-tracked into a position and being given a free ride.You are taking political leaders and politically connected people and giving them assets which, in the first instance, they don’t know how to manage. So you are not adding value. You are faced with the threat of undermining value by taking assets from people who were managing them and giving them to people who cannot manage them(what I said earlier above). BEE thus creates a class of idle rich ANC politicos.

My quarrel with BEE is that what the conglomerates are doing is developing a new culture in SA — not a culture of entrepreneurship, but an entitlement culture, whereby black people who want to go into business think that they should acquire assets free, and that somebody is there to make them rich, rather than that they should build enterprises from the ground. Agree!

But we cannot build black companies if what black entrepreneurs look forward to is the distribution of already existing assets from the conglomerates in return for becoming lobbyists for the conglomerates. All companies start from the bottom – when they are ‘given’ these businesses they are usually run into the ground because of inexperience. And when they are given loans to buy business the loans invariable are not repaid and the businesses go bankrupt.

The third worrying trend is that the ANC-controlled state has now internalised the BEE model. We are now seeing the state trying to implement the same model that the conglomerates developed.

What is the state distributing? It is distributing jobs to party faithful and social welfare to the poor(what I said in different words). This is a recipe for incompetence and corruption, both of which are endemic in SA. This is what explains the service delivery upheavals that are becoming a normal part of our environment.

So what is the correct road SA should be travelling?

We all accept that a socialist model, along the lines of the Soviet Union, is not workable for SA today. The creation of a state-owned economy is not a formula that is an option for SA or for many parts of the world. Therefore, if we want to develop SA instead of shuffling pre-existing wealth, we have to create new entrepreneurs, and we need to support existing entrepreneurs to diversify into new economic sectors.
Make people work for their ‘handouts’ even if it means they must sweep the streets or clean a park – just do something instead of getting all for nothing. Guaranteed there will then be less queing for handouts because they would then be working and in most instances they do not want to work – they want everything for nothing.
And in my opinion the ANC created this culture before the first election in 1994 when they promised the masses housing, electricity etc – they just neglected to tell them that they would have to pay for them. That is why the masses constantly do not want to pay for water, electricity, rates on their properties – they think the government must pay this – after all they were told by the ANC that they will be given these things – they just do not want to understand that the money to pay for this comes from somewhere and if you don’t pay you will eventually not have these services.
And then when the tax base has left they can grow their mielies in front of their shack and stretch out their open palms to the UN for food handouts an live a day to day existence that seems to be what they want – sit on their ar$e and do nothing.
Mbeki is the author of Architects of Poverty: Why African Capitalism Needs Changing. This article forms part of a series on transformation supplied by the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda Unite Efforts to Combat Illegal Timber Trade in East Africa

June 27, 2014

Interpol again! Hugh Paxton’s Blog is delighted to share their latest with you!

From: INTERPOL Environmental Security Sub-Directorate [mailto:environmentalcrime@interpol.int]
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2014 11:59 PM
To: paxton.bkk@gmail.com
Subject: Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda Unite Efforts to Combat Illegal Timber Trade in East Africa

Dear Colleagues,

INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Sub-Directorate is pleased to share with you a media release by the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (UN-REDD). UN-REDD announced today, in a collaborative effort with INTERPOL and key East African nations, an initiative to tackle the illegal timber trade that is stripping East Africa of one of its most valuable natural resources.

The announcement took place this morning at UNEA, the United Nations Environment Assembly, in the presence of high-level government representatives from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania; Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator; representatives from FAO, UNEP, and UNODC; as well as the head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit, David Higgins.

INTERPOL and its partners remain committed to combatting the illegal timber trade, which is estimated to cost the world economy between USD 30 and 100 billion annually.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Project Leaf team at environmentalcrime for more information on this and other environmental security initiatives.

Best regards,

Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda Unite Efforts to Combat Illegal Timber Trade in East Africa

Coordinated Approach Set to Curb Trade that Costs World Economy US$30-100 Billion Annually

Bags of charcoal wait by the side of the road to be loaded; Logged terrain in the Mau Forest of Kenya – Photo: UNEP, Photographer: Riccardo Gangle

Nairobi, 26 June 2014 – High-level government representatives from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania today, at the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), announced their intention to work together, along with INTERPOL and UN agencies, to curb the illegal timber trade that is stripping East Africa of one of its most valuable natural resources.

The East Africa Initiative on Illegal Timber Trade and REDD+ represents an innovative cross-border, multi-sectoral effort that will create a powerful deterrent to Africa’s illegal timber trade.

Illegal logging degrades forests, causes economic loss, destroys biodiversity and livelihoods, promotes corruption, and funds armed conflict. The economic costs of illegal logging are staggering. Including processing, an estimated US$30-100 billion is lost to the global economy through illegal logging every year, making the trade in illegally harvested timber highly damaging to national and regional economies.

Well-managed forests are a vital economic resource that supports the livelihoods of 1.6 billion people. Ecosystem services from tropical forests alone are estimated to be worth, on average, US$6,120 per hectare each year. Africa’s forest cover is estimated at 675 million hectares, or 23 per cent of the continent’s total land area continent. Between 2000 and 2010, 3.4 million hectares were lost annually to illegal logging –equivalent to an area 322 times the size of Paris, or 5.1 million football pitches.

In addition to facing the challenges of illegal logging within their borders, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda are also used as transit countries for timber illegally logged in other countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The Tanzanian strategy to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), the on-going Kenya REDD+ governance project and the Uganda REDD+ readiness plan highlight the importance of strengthening law enforcement and forest governance to address the illegal timber trade as one of the key drivers of deforestation.

These countries recognize that illegal logging must be mitigated, and forests managed sustainably, in order to reduce emissions from forest loss. As such, a key goal of the initiative is to curb illegal logging and trade in East Africa as a way to address deforestation and subsequently reduce emissions from forests.

The government of Norway, a strong global supporter of tropical forests and those that depend on them, has announced its intended support for this important collaboration.

“I am very enthusiastic to learn that there is great interest from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to tackle illegal logging and trade,” said Tine Sundtoft, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway. “We know that these illegal activities constitute an important driver of deforestation and forest degradation in the region.”

“Due to illegal logging, countries are deprived of substantial revenues from the forest sector, and the income from this trade often ends up in illegal networks, fuelling crime as well as conflict,” she said. “Norway is committed to supporting this initiative and congratulates the countries, the UN and INTERPOL, for coming together and announcing their dedication to work together on this important initiative.”

The East Africa Initiative on Illegal Timber Trade and REDD+ provides an opportunity to build on each country’s experiences combatting the illegal timber trade, and brings in the specialized expertise of INTERPOL and each collaborating UN agency. The five agencies will assist the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania to address a different facet of the illegal trade in timber: from economic drivers, and corruption, to law enforcement, customs control, and monitoring.

“Safeguarding the world’s forests is not just the most cost-effective way to mitigate climate change: well-managed forests also generate multi-trillion dollar services such as reliable water flow, clean air, sustainable timber products, soil stabilization and nutrient recycling,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“We cannot afford, economically or environmentally, to allow the continued wholesale destruction of one of our planet’s most valuable resources,” he added. “That is why UNEP applauds the East Africa Initiative on Illegal Timber Trade and REDD+ and the firm commitment of the governments of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda to help ensure the responsible management of one of the most important sources of inclusive and sustainable economic growth available to us.”

Given the multi-sectoral negative impact of the illegal timber trade, the initiative will receive strong implementation support from INTERPOL, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

“This initiative demonstrates the UN’s strong support to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda in tackling illegal logging and trade, and our appreciation to Norway for leading this process,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. “Moving forward, leadership and agreement on the need to act is critical, and co-operation remains essential.”

A key element of the initiative’s strategy is to support countries in addressing the illegal timber trade from source (illegal logging) to export. This will focus on increasing accountability, transparency and developing the technical capacities to deliver effective enforcement and verification.

“Wildlife and forest crime demands a global solution that offers international cooperation founded on joint operations, intelligence sharing and strong and compatible national legislations,” said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “We can do nothing less. This is our shared planet; wildlife and forest crime is our shared responsibility.”

Enforcement plays a critical role in the process. The apprehension and prosecution of those involved in the illegal timber trade and in illegal logging reduces the perceived rewards of taking part in these illegal activities. For this reason, the initiative will also include, with the support of INTERPOL, and with the engagement of police forces, strengthened exchange of intelligence and communication across borders.

“We remain committed to developing and maintaining networks of cooperation like the one we see here today between UN agencies and INTERPOL,” said David Higgins, Head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit. “Through collaboration and coordination, we are building an unprecedented approach to address illegal logging and trade in East Africa.”

Additional Information

The joint UNEP-INTERPOL report, The Environmental Crime Crisis, which defines the cost of environmental crime which is threatening security and development, can be downloaded here: http://www.unep.org/unea/docs/RRAcrimecrisis.pdf

General photos of the timber trade and logging (not specifically illegal or in East Africa), are available here, with full photo credits required: http://bit.ly/1lbcMmk

About the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)

UNEA is the highest-level UN body ever convened on the environment. It enjoys universal membership of all 193 UN member states as well as other stakeholder groups. With this wide reach into the legislative, financial and development arenas, the new body presents a ground-breaking platform for leadership on global environmental policy. UNEA boasts over 1200 participants, 170 national delegations, 80 ministers and 40 events during the five-day event from 23 to 27 June 2014 at UNEP’s HQ in Nairobi, Kenya. www.unep.org/unea

New from Wild Open Eye: Fighting the illegal tiger trade in Vietnam, an ENV news release

June 25, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s Blog continues to bombard loyal readers with wildlife crime stuff. When wildlife crime stops, I’ll stop. Could take a while!

This comes courtesy of my beloved brother Charles and my dear friend Andy of Wild Open Eye. And some underpaid brave men and women in Vietnam. And the ENV! Probably underpaid, too.

Cheers from Bangkok!

Hugh

 

New post on Wild Open Eye – Natural Vision, News from Wild Open Eye

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Fighting the illegal tiger trade in Vietnam, an ENV news release

by charlespaxton

Wildopeneye is sharing this news from Education for Nature – Vietnam, about

fighting the illegal tiger trade in Vietnam…

Bengal tiger photographed by Andy Luck, is one species suffering from illegal trade

ENV says the wild tiger population has crashed in Vietnam. The illegal wildlife trade for
tiger body parts continues and is being countered by a three-pronged strategic response.
Andy Luck Photo and copyright.

Hello Wildopeneye Readers,

Although the wild tiger population has decreased dramatically in Vietnam, tigers continue
to be traded for their bones which are used in tiger bone medicine, and are also consumed
in the form of wine which contains whole tiger cubs or parts of tigers. To stop the illegal
tiger trade in Vietnam, ENV has been taking a three-pronged approach, working with law
enforcement, decision-makers, and the public.

By conducting major investigations and with the help of public reporting, our crime unit
has beenworking hard to document, track and prevent tiger crimes. Since 2006, ENV has
documented 280 violations involving the trading, transporting, possessing or advertising
of tigers or tiger products.

For a detailed summary of tiger seizures, please see the following (updated) link:

http://www.envietnam.org/images/News_Resources/Publication/ENV_Summary_of_Tiger_seizures_2006_2013.pdf

Best regards,

Communication and Public Awareness Department
Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV)
Address: Block 17T5, 17th floor, Room 1701,
Hoang Dao Thuy Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi
, Vietnam
Tel: +84 4 6281 5424

E-mail: communication.env
Website: www.envietnam.org (English), www.thiennhien.org (Vietnamese)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EducationforNatureVietnam

charlespaxton
| 24/06/2014 at 3:58 pm | Tags: Education for Nature-Vietnam, ENV,

Fighting the illegal tiger trade in Vietnam
,
prevent tiger crimes
| Categories: Conservation, Illegal Wildlife Trade | URL: http://wp.me/p10R9B-nV

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New UN and INTERPOL study finds environmental crime worth up to USD 213 billion each year

June 25, 2014

Hugh Paxton’s blog passes this on from INTERPOL. Worth a read. If you know a wildlife smuggling syndicate or a dodgy pet shop or a bunch of doped up Central African Republic rebels armed with AKs with a Toyota full of ivory give INTERPOL a call. Or drop me a line. USD213 billion! Fighting that strikes me as a tough one. And requires a tough response.

In Thai Village wildlife crime is not an issue. Rita, my neighbor had rats. They were trapped. The office ordered them to be transported to a forest for release. The Thais and Burmese I know shudder at the thought of hurting animals and love elephants. Many people do.

Some people don’t and shame on them! Shame!

Cheers!

Hugh

From: INTERPOL Environmental Security Sub-Directorate [mailto:environmentalcrime@interpol.int]
Sent: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 4:11 AM
To: paxton.bkk@gmail.com
Subject: New UN and INTERPOL study finds environmental crime worth up to USD 213 billion each year

Dear Colleagues,
Please find below the latest press release issued by INTERPOL. Other language versions will be published on the INTERPOL website as they become available.
Best regards,

Estimados Colegas,
Vea debajo el último comunicado de prensa publicado por INTERPOL. Otras lenguas oficiales serán publicadas en el sitio de INTERPOL, tan pronto estén disponibles.

Chers collègues,
Veuillez trouver ci-dessous le dernier communiqué de presse diffusé par INTERPOL. Les traductions seront publiées sur le site web d’INTERPOL au fur et à mesure de leur disponibilité.
Cordialement,

Illegal trade in wildlife and timber products finances criminal and militia groups, threatening security and sustainable development

New UN and INTERPOL study finds environmental crime worth up to USD213 billion each year

NAIROBI, Kenya (24 June) -Global environmental crime, worth up to USD213 billion each year, is helping finance criminal, militia and terrorist groups and threatening the security and sustainable development of many nations, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL.

The Environmental Crime Crisis, a rapid response assessment, was released during the first United Nations Environment Assembly, where action to tackle environmental crime is high on the agenda for hundreds of environment ministers, law enforcement officers, the judiciary and senior UN officials.

One terrorist group operating in East Africa is estimated to make between USD38 and USD56 million per year from the illegal trade in charcoal, says the report. In total, militia and terrorist groups in and around African nations with on-going conflicts may earn USD111 to USD289 million annually from their involvement in, and taxing of, the illegal or unregulated charcoal trade.

Other groups that benefit from the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products are also estimated to earn between USD4 and USD12.2 million each year from elephant ivory in the Central Africa sub-region, driving a significant reduction in elephant populations across Africa, the report says.

Combined estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UNEP and INTERPOL place the monetary value of all environmental crime—which includes logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, illegal fisheries, illegal mining and dumping of toxic waste—at between USD70 and USD213 billion each year. This compares to global Overseas Development Assistance of around USD135 billion.

The report points to an increased awareness of, and response to, the growing global threat, but calls for further concerted action and issues recommendations aimed at strengthening action against the organized criminal networks profiting from the trade.

“Beyond immediate environmental impacts, the illegal trade in natural resources is depriving developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues just to fill the pockets of criminals,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Sustainable development, livelihoods, good governance and the rule of law are all being threatened, as significant sums of money are flowing to militias and terrorist groups.”

“This assessment reveals that, while there is growing awareness, the responses to date in terms of impact have not been commensurate with the scale and growth of the threat to wildlife and the environment. The scale of wildlife and forest crime in threat finance calls for much wider interventions and policy action,” he said.

“Building on the initiatives that took place this past year—from the CITES COP in Bangkok to the Botswana Elephant Summit and the French Government-hosted Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, to the UN Security Council resolutions (21/34 and 21/36) and the destruction of numerous stock piles of ivory around the world—it is imperative that 2014 becomes a year of concrete and decisive action,” he added.

Illegal Logging and Forest Crime

Illegal logging and forest crime has an estimated worth of USD30 to USD100 billion annually, or 10 to 30 per cent of the total global timber trade. An estimated 50 to 90 per cent of the wood in some individual tropical countries is suspected to come from illegal sources or has been logged illegally.

For pulp and paper production, networks of shell companies and plantations are used to funnel illegal timber through plantations, or to ship wood and pulp via legal plantations. These methods effectively bypass many current customs efforts to restrict the import of illegal tropical wood to the US and to the EU.

Based on data from EUROSTAT, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Tropical Timber Association (ITTO), the EU and the US annually import approximately 33.5 million tons of tropical wood in all its forms. It is estimated that 62 to 86 per cent of all suspected illegal tropical wood entering the EU and US arrives in the form of paper, pulp or wood chips.

In Africa, 90 per cent of wood consumed is used for woodfuel and charcoal, with an official charcoal production of 30.6 million tonnes in 2012, worth approximately USD9.2 to USD24.5 billion annually. The unregulated charcoal trade alone involves an annual revenue loss of at least USD1.9 billion to African countries.

For East, Central and West Africa, the net profits from dealing in and taxing unregulated, illicit or illegal charcoal combined is estimated at USD2.4 to USD9 billion, compared to the USD2.65 billion street-value worth of illegal drugs in the region.

With current trends in urbanization and the projected growth of over one billion additional people in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2050, the demand for charcoal is expected to triple at least in the coming three decades. This will generate severe impacts such as large–scale deforestation, pollution and subsequent health problems in slum areas.

The increased charcoal demand will considerably increase the purchasing power of non-state armed groups, including terrorist organizations, and accelerate emissions if left unchallenged.

Fauna and Flora

The illegal trade in fauna and flora (other than fisheries and timber) has been estimated by different sources to be worth USD7 to USD23 billion dollars annually.

The trade involves a wide range of species including insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish and mammals. It concerns both live and dead specimens and associated products, which are used for pharmaceutical, food, pets, ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes. All of these have a significant value not only on the black market, but to national economies if managed sustainably.

The report highlights poaching across many species, including tigers, elephants, rhinos, great apes and Saiga antelopes:

  • The number of elephants killed in Africa annually is in the range of 20,000 to 25,000 elephants per year out of a population of 420,000 to 650,000. For the forest elephant, the population declined by an estimated 62 per cent between 2002 and 2011. Poached African ivory may represent an end-user street value in Asia of USD165 to USD188 million of raw ivory, in addition to ivory from Asian sources.
  • 94 per cent of rhino poaching takes place in Zimbabwe and South Africa, which have the largest remaining populations. Here, the involvement of organized syndicates has seen poaching rise from less than 50 in 2007 to over 1,000 in 2013. Rhino horn poached last year is valued at around USD63 to USD192 million.
  • Even conservative estimates suggest that the illegal trade in great apes is widespread. From 2005 to 2011, a minimum of 643 chimpanzees, 48 bonobos, 98 gorillas and 1,019 orangutans are estimated to have been lost from the wild through illegal activities. The real figure is more likely to be around 22,000 great apes lost to the wild over that period.

Threat financing

Wildlife and forest crime plays a serious role in threat finance to organized crime and non-state armed groups, including terrorist organizations. Ivory also provides income to militia groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic.

Ivory similarly provides funds to horse gangs operating in Sudan, Chad and Niger. Given the estimated elephant populations and the number of projected killed elephants within striking range of these militia groups, the annual income from ivory to militias in the entire sub-Saharan range is likely in the order of USD4 to USD12.2 million.

Illicit taxing of charcoal, commonly up to 30 per cent of the value, is conducted on a regular basis by organized criminals, militias and terrorist groups across Africa. Militias in DRC are estimated to make USD14 to USD50 million annually on road taxes.

The primary income of the group operating in East Africa appears to be from informal taxation at roadblock checkpoints and ports. In one roadblock case, they have been able to make up to USD18 million per year from charcoal traffic in Somalia’s Badhadhe District. The overall size of the illicit charcoal export from Somalia has been estimated at USD360–384 million per year, the group earning up to USD56 million of this.

Responses

“Transnational criminal organizations are making immense profits by exploiting our natural resources to fuel their illicit activities, threatening the stability and future development of some of the world’s poorest regions," said INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin.

“While there is growing awareness of the dangers posed by wildlife crime, it will require a dedicated and concerted international effort among law enforcement and partner organizations to effectively combat this threat to global security,” he added.

While more needs to be done, the scale and nature of the illegal trade in wildlife has been recognized and some successes have been scored.

One example of International enforcement collaboration is the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC)—which includes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), UNODC, INTERPOL, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The ICCWC, along with increased collaboration with countries and agencies such as UNEP, has created a more effective structure to provide support to countries in the fields of policing, customs, prosecution and the judiciary.

These initiatives have revealed important and significant early results, including:

  • Poaching for Shahtoosh wool from Tibetan or Chiru antelopes caused an 80 to 90 per cent reduction, or nearly a million, in the Chiru antelope population in China in the 1990–2000s. This resulted in a significant environmental, police and military effort to prevent eradication. It was combined with the establishment of some of the largest protected areas in world.
  • Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon reached its lowest level in 2012 since monitoring of the forest began in 1988. It went down by up to 78 per cent, primarily as a result of a coordinated enforcement approach using satellite imagery and targeted police operations. This was supported by large-scale efforts through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and other initiatives to strengthen the participatory processes of indigenous peoples, stakeholders and alternative livelihoods.
  • Improved intelligence sharing among agencies has enabled INTERPOL to support countries in larger and more effective police operations, leading to larger seizures of illegal timber and wildlife products. In 2013, Operation Lead, under INTERPOL’s project LEAF, resulted in the seizure of 292,000 cubic meters of wood and wood products—equivalent to 19,500 truckloads and worth around USD40 million—in Costa Rica and Venezuela.
  • Operation Wildcat in East Africa involved wildlife enforcement officers, forest authorities, park rangers, police and customs officers from five countries ‒ Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe—and resulted in 240 kg of elephant ivory being seized and 660 arrests. On June 21, more than four hundred rangers in Tanzania graduated as trackers to support further anti-poaching efforts.
  • An Indonesian case showed how money-laundering measures can lead to prosecutions for illegal logging. A 2012 UNODC training course involved Indonesian financial investigative and anti-corruption agencies (PPATK, KPK), ranging from the federal to the local levels. After the course, investigations into suspicious transactions led to the conviction of a timber smuggler. He received eight years’ imprisonment, with evidence showing USD127 million passed through his accounts.
  • “Illegal timber activities not only ravage the Earth’s fragile biosphere, but harm a region’s economic, political, and social stability,” said David Higgins, head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Unit. “A coordinated, international response is crucial to combat the criminal groups involved in forestry crime.”

Recommendations

Even given the above successes, the scale and coordination of efforts must be substantially increased and a widened effort implemented, the report says.

It issues twelve specific recommendations, including:

  • Acknowledge the multiple dimensions of environmental crime and its serious impact on the environment and sustainable development goals, and help support sharing of information.
  • Implement a coordinated UN and national approach to environmental crime by helping to coordinate efforts on environmental legislation and regulations, poverty alleviation and development support.
  • Support UNEP as the global environmental authority to address the serious and rising environmental impacts of environmental crime and to engage the relevant coordination mechanisms of the UN system to support countries and national, regional and international law enforcement agencies with relevant environmental information.
  • Encourage the donor community to recognize environmental crime as a serious threat to sustainable development and revenues, and to support national, regional and global efforts for the implementation and enforcement of targeted measures to curb the illegal trade.
  • Strengthen environmental legislation, compliance and awareness and call upon enforcement agencies and countries to reduce the role of the illicit trade in threat financing to non-state armed groups and terrorism.
  • Identify end-user markets and implement consumer awareness campaigns.
  • Strengthen institutional, legal and regulatory systems to further combat corruption and ensure that the legal trade is monitored and managed effectively.

The Environmental Crime Crisis can be downloaded from the following link: http://www.unep.org/unea/docs/RRAcrimecrisis.pdf

Thai Days: how to deal with adolescents

June 24, 2014

Be as grumpy as them. Ignore them when they ignore you. And don’t be there for them when they need you most.

Cheers!

Hugh


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