Archive for May, 2015

Further to the jolly turtle (see last post).

May 29, 2015

Here are some more photos from Luciano Candisani, the man behind the jolly sea turtle (see Hugh Paxton’s Blog last post). Luciano has the knack! No doubt about that!

A joyful turtle: antidote to the saiga antelope catastrophe.

May 29, 2015

If you are still brooding over the horrendous ongoing saiga antelope fatalities (see Hugh Paxton’s last Blog post), here’s something a little more cheerful.

Best from Bangkok!


Terrible…120,000 dead: half of the world’s saiga die in less than a month

May 29, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog agrees with my beloved wife, Midori. Terrible. So many dead. So fast. And the story is ongoing, now. God alone knows what the next few days will bring.


From: Midori Paxton []
Sent: Friday, May 29, 2015 3:26 PM
To: Hugh Paxton
Subject: Terrible…120,000 dead: half of the world’s saiga die in less than a month

Midori Paxton

Regional Technical Adviser, Biodiversity and Ecosystems

UNDP – Global Environment Facility

Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Bangkok Regional Hub

Rajdamnern Nok Avenue, 10200 Bangkok, Thailand

Tel: +66 (0) 2304 9100 Ext.2713 / Fax: +66 (0) 2288 3032

Mobile: +66-(0)98 824 7330

Skype: midori.paxton Follow us:

Brigitte’s Pick: Village in Afghanistan … Incredible!!

May 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog agrees with Brigitte on this one. Incredible, indeed! Also highly creative and very cozy! I’ve seen troglodyte dwellings in Turkey and have heard that 30 million Chinese live in caves (I haven’t actually seen them doing it) but when it comes to world class excavations these Afghans are serious contenders for the cup!

Thanks for sharing this, Brigitte!


Subject: FW: Village in Afghanistan … Incredible!!

Village in Afghanistan … Can you believe it??

And you wonder why they can’t find Osama Bin Laden?

Brigitte’s Pick: : Mongolian Nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer

May 28, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thinks you’ll enjoy this latest from Brigitte. My beloved wife is often in Mongolia doing good environmental works (as usual) and speaks very highly of the people and scenery, wildlife and immensity of wilderness. Her photo library bulges with wolves, yaks, sturdy men on ponies, eagles and precipices. Reindeer, too. But none quite as dramatically captured for posterity as these!

Subject: FW: : Mongolian Nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer

Mongolian Nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer

Thought this most interesting…….. and great photography

When we think of reindeer, most of us jump

to the same imagery: the North Pole, snow and Christmas time.

When you think of reindeer, your mind might not immediately go to the Altai Mountains of

Outer Mongolia in Central Asia. Here, a nomadic tribe lives among the reindeer.

The lives of the real-life reindeer riders have fascinated outsiders for generations.

The idyllic land was described in 518 B.C.E. by Greek poet Pindar as "Hyperborea" and the

tribe as a healing race living peacefully with "neither disease not bitter old age is mixed.

in their sacred blood; far from labor and battle. "

The tribe’s contemporary name is the Mongolian Taïga Dukha, for the Taïga region mountain range

in Khövsgöl, Mongolia.

It’s neighbored by the Russian border and the remote Darkhad valley.

Much of the area is under natural protection, although it’s noted for its inaccessibility and

remoteness, even by local standards.

Although the Dukha call the area home, they are certainly not a dominating force: they

readily share their space with an incredible array of their animal neighbors.

Wild horses, bears, eagles, and wolves are all common to Khövsgöl’s landscape.

The Dukha have for generations bred docile reindeer, although never for meat. Their

unique form of reindeer husbandry is keenly conscious of the area’s conservation and bio-diversity.

The reindeer provide a great means of transportation along the rough terrain for

migrating, hunting and occasionally taking trips into town. Nearby villages will often

purchase and collect the antlers the reindeer naturally shed during wintertime.

Beyond the reindeer, Dukha have a tradition of eagle hunting.

The Dukha practice Tengrism, a shamanistic religion that emphasizes totemism, the spiritual

connection and kinship with animals, plants and spirit beings.

There’s a seamless blend from totemism in religious practice and everyday life.

For example, one of the most honorable titles passed down by generations is the eagle hunter

who tames and trains eagles to hunt small prey for food.

Photographer and Mongolia/Tibetan language scholar Hamid Sardar-Afkhami spent some

time with this incredible Himalayan tribe to bring these incredible images.

I found this information. Deep in the Larch Forests of Northern Mongolia lives a tiny tribe of people known as the Dukha. For more than 3,000 years they have survived as nomads, moving camp 10 times a year across the mountains. Their existence is pinned on one animal: the reindeer. But their unique way of life now hangs in the balance.

Getting to the taiga, where the Dukha live, is a long and arduous process. From the traffic-choked streets of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaan Bataar, it’s an hour’s flight to the tiny city of Murun. From there it’s two long days of intense off-roading through the vast, wild landscape of the Mongolian steppe.

Our guide was Dan Plumley, an American who first encountered the Dukha more than 10 years ago and who went on to create the Totem People’s Project, an organization that works to empower and protect nomadic reindeer herders in Northern Mongolia and Eastern Siberia.

"They just basically grabbed me by the lapels and said, ‘You can’t leave us, you’re the only who knows that we’re challenged people and we’re facing extinction and we need help,’" Plumley explained.

The final stage of the journey into the taiga is the most grueling: a 10-hour trek on horseback, crossing three mountains through thick mud and dense forest. And then, in the distance, we catch the first glimpse, almost surreal, of a Dukha man riding a reindeer.

There are 52 Dukha families in the taiga. They live in small groups in tepees spread out over an area of some 6 million acres. Unlike most reindeer-herding cultures, the Dukha raise their deer primarily for milk production. Reindeer milk, reindeer yoghurt and reindeer cheese are the staples of the Dukha diet. Only a small amount of reindeer are actually slaughtered for meat and pelts.

The most important function of the reindeer is as a means of transportation. The deer may look small, but they have extremely strong necks from the heavy weight of their antlers, which weigh up to 50 pounds.

From a very young age, Dukha children learn to ride the deer, often without saddles. The relationship between the Dukha and their deer is very loving — these are the oldest domesticated reindeer in the world.

Sanjin is a revered Dukha elder. His son is also a reindeer herder.

"The reindeer are our life," he said, "Everything we do is connected to them."

"It’s a great heritage from our ancestors," added his son.

Without Electricity, Running Water, Dukha Separated from Modern World

Life for the Dukha tribe is simple and hard. There is no electricity or running water, and the temperature can drop to 40-below-zero in the winter. While they are starting to incorporate elements of the modern world, such as solar-panel batteries and satellite dishes, into their daily life, they are doing it at their own pace.

"They’re interested in bettering their life, but they want to do it on their terms," explained Plumley, "And living on their terms is a window for us from a harried world into what’s really important in life: friends and family, spending time laughing and telling stories, seeing nature and all of its beauty."

It’s easy to get swept up in the dramatic beauty of the landscape and the velvety fur of the reindeer. But the animals face very real threats to their existence. Increased mineral prospecting, gold mining and timber cutting are destroying the reindeer habitat."

139 Bizarre and Beautiful New Species Discovered in Greater Mekong Region

May 27, 2015

It would appear that Hugh Paxton’s Blog has some newly discovered neighbours! I’ll be keeping a weather eye out for them!

Cheers from Bangkok!

From: Lee Poston []
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 9:23 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: 139 Bizarre and Beautiful New Species Discovered in Greater Mekong Region

139 Bizarre and Beautiful New Species Discovered in Greater Mekong Region

Bangkok, May 27, 2015 – A soul-sucking ‘dementor’ wasp, a bat with nightmarish fangs, a stealthy wolf snake and the world’s second longest insect are among the 139 new species discovered by scientists in the Greater Mekong region in 2014. Many are already at risk, according to a new report, “Magical Mekong,” released today by WWF.

In total, 90 plants, 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine fish, and one mammal are detailed in the report. They include a feathered coral whose nearest relatives live in Africa, four moths named after Thai princesses, a colour-changing thorny frog and two orchids discovered already being traded.

This brings the total new species discovered in the Greater Mekong, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, to 2,216 between 1997 and 2014 – an average of three new species a week.

“The Greater Mekong’s unique ecosystems are truly the gift that keeps on giving, providing sanctuary for a treasure trove of species and critical benefits for millions of people across the region,” said Teak Seng, Conservation Director for WWF-Greater Mekong.

Highlights of the report include:

· Thailand’s Ampulex dementor wasp, which was named after the soul-sucking dementors from the Harry Potter books. Its venom turns cockroaches into passive zombies before it devours them alive.

· Equally fearsome, the long-toothed pipistrelle bat has extremely long fangs. But this bat has more reason to fear humans, as its habitat in Laos could be lost due to dam construction and quarrying.

· A crocodile newt species in Myanmar may also be in trouble as its core breeding habitat – a pond on a university campus – is threatened by a construction project. And it is already in demand from the international pet trade, with two of the newts found in pet stores as far away as Europe.

· Also on the market are two new orchid species discovered in Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak Market. The scientist who discovered them almost didn’t publish his find because he feared it could spark a rush to collect them. But he realised that they need to be recognized by science to gain protection.

· The world’s second largest insect, a stick insect that measures 54 cm, was found less than one kilometre away from a village in northern Vietnam.

· A stealthy wolf snake has a distinctive “flying bat” pattern that helps it to blend in with the tree bark and mosses that characterise its home in Cambodia.

“As Magical Mekong reveals, the scientists behind these discoveries feel they are racing against the clock to document them and strongly advocate for their protection before they disappear,” Seng added.

Threats to the region’s species include a proposed new border crossing and road in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Protected Forest; two unsustainable dams in Laos; rising deforestation rates and continued illegal poaching.

“We’ve only skimmed the surface of new discoveries in the Greater Mekong,” said Dr. Tom Gray, Manager of Species Conservation for WWF-Greater Mekong. “However, while species are being discovered, intense pressures are taking a terrible toll on them. One wonders how many species have disappeared before they were even discovered.”

WWF believes that rangers urgently need more support, equipment and training, along with enhanced law enforcement efforts targeting criminals involved in the illegal trade in wildlife and timber. A commitment to protecting key wildlife habitat is also crucial, with countries cooperating across borders to make sustainable decisions on issues such as where to construct large infrastructure, like roads and dams.

“Seeing these incredible new species discoveries – from a color-changing thorny frog to the historic 10,000th reptile species — gives me hope for the future of the Greater Mekong,” Gray added. “Whether it’s conducting critical field research or training forest guards, WWF and its partners are working to ensure that these species – and those yet to be discovered — are protected for generations.”


For further information: Lee Poston, Communications Director, WWF-Greater Mekong, mob: +66 918 832 290 lee.poston

Notes to Editors:

· To see the digital report, click here

· For photos, a PDF report and other background, click here

· Scientists typically wait to reveal new finds until an animal or plant is officially described as a new species — a time-consuming process — hence the lag between the initial discovery and announcement for some species spotlighted in the report.

· Magical Mekong is the seventh in a series of reports highlighting new species discoveries in the Greater Mekong region. For details on past reports, click here

· Follow us on Twitter: @WWFMekong and Facebook:

TheGirl: FW: New post Memorial Day – Baking, School, and Tribu lations

May 26, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog feels increasingly further and further away from TheReporterandTheGirl. Our world’s are so very different! Memorial Day? Baking School?

I admire her vigour, her bounce-back, her compassion, all that! And what I do like is her occasional grumpy spate! She’s a very likeable Girl!

But she’s an American Girl, A New York Girl, a Black Girl, a City Girl, and I’m one of those Englishmen who isn’t any of that.

I read TheGirl’s book and still hold firm to my position – it is an excellent book for a receptive audience. It really is, and it is personal and generous. Touching. There’s power in the writing and TheGirl has let us into her diary. A very special privilege.

We Brits don’t really like talking about that sort of stuff.

Publishing anything is extremely hard. Writing a book is hard. Maintaining a blog is hard.

Which is why Hugh Paxton’s Blog feels that this girl’s gold! She doesn’t relent and isn’t a bossy advisory sort.

Even if she is further and further away from my world she comes close from time to time.


From: TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan! []
Sent: Tuesday, May 26, 2015 8:46 AM
Subject: [New post] Memorial Day – Baking, School, and Tribulations

TheGirl posted: "Wow, so it is the end of a much needed long weekend here in New York City. I usually spend at least half of these weekends at the gym, but these last few days were different. In the last few weeks I decided that it was time for me to go back to school,"

New post on TheReporterandTheGirlMINUSTheSuperMan!


Memorial Day – Baking, School, and Tribulations

by TheGirl

Wow, so it is the end of a much needed long weekend here in New York City. I usually spend at least half of these weekends at the gym, but these last few days were different.

In the last few weeks I decided that it was time for me to go back to school, and pursue an advance degree. Thus, I have spent my free time researching different graduate programs and their requirements, as well as sprucing up a 1,200-word personal statement. I just completed this statement about two hours ago.

I’m hoping to have my proposals and statements written, edited, and rewritten in the next few weeks, so I can just start applying and applying to various schools. Most programs start their application period in August, but a couple I can apply to now– so hopefully by the end of 2015 I will know where I’m going.

It is a tough decision, but I have been out of school and working for 5 years, and my last couple of jobs — I felt "stuck". Meaning, I come in and I do a great job, I get promoted and some more money; everyone is happy with my work blah blah blah, but I don’t seem mobile, like I hit a ceiling or something.

Well, my first job ended in lay-offs, which I recently found out that on my second anniversary of leaving, the organization will close for good. I’m not facing lay-offs now, but I’m in the same place where I started last year, and although I acquired a lot of skills, some of these I don’t see myself using in the long term. Thus, what am I getting out of my current position, except for a paycheck?

New York City is competitive, there are tons of people walking around with B.As, M.As, and all kinds of BS; so maybe a PhD will give me more of an edge, especially since I have a better idea of what I want study and what field I want to work in. As well as being a student will open more opportunities, like internships or fellowships etc….

So I’m feeling optimistic! This is the first in a long time. I even tried a red velvet cake recipe for the second time –without any dye — and I’m proud to say it came out red, moist, and frosted with a yummy traditional ermine frosting.

Thus, I wish you all a happy end to this Memorial Day weekend. A day we remember why we are here; our hopes and dreams and the chance to capture them!

I hope you have your cake, and eat it too!

@ReporterandGirl or on Facebook at TheReporterandTheGirl

TheGirl | May 25, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Tags: baking, hopes, memorial day, red velvet cake | Categories: Musings and Life | URL:

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Thanks for flying with


Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran | Talk Video |

May 24, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has heard a lot of people quoting the Koran, using the Koran, exploiting the Koran, but I haven’t met too many people who have read the Koran quite as carefully as Lesley Hazleton, the following Ted Talk speaker. This really is a must if you want to know what all the fuss is about and why, if people actually read the Koran, there wouldn’t be any fuss about it at all and a very great deal less violence. The speaker makes her startling (at least for me) observations with a perfect mix of erudition, wit and (at least for me) utterly convincing common sense and uncommon sensitivity.

It’s a very safe bet the psychopathic death worshippers in ISIS haven’t watched Lesley Hazleton speak. An equally safe bet that American Koran-burning preachers haven’t either.

In my opinion this talk, short though it is, should be a compulsory ingredient in any serious religious education secondary school slot, irrespective of the spiritual stance of the curriculum, institution, teachers or students. Watch the talk. Tell me you don’t agree!


Hugh (an atheist in Bangkok)

Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems | Science Advances – Significant research. Global impact.

May 24, 2015

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is once again the bearer of grim news. 70 percent of all forest lies within one kilometer of its edge,

If you are a glutton for punishment check the following link.

Have a nice day!


Happy Biodiversity Day !!

May 22, 2015

Further to Hugh Paxton’s Blog last (International Biodiversity Day) we have raided our extensive photo library (and borrowed a snow leopard from a colleague) and created a collage to enhance the festive atmosphere!

Cheers from Bangkok!


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