Archive for the ‘China Syndrome’ Category

Thai Days: Fake snow

December 8, 2013

Hugh Paton’s Blog has once again bought fake snow. My first effort was at the Emporium, a large department store in Phrom Pong. The spray can looked as if it contained snow spray. Jolly! That was Saturday morning. I’m not sure what snow looks like in China but if it looks like this one China’s not going to be having a white Christmas. I watched my excited daughter trying to spray Merry Christmas on our gate and the snow was rusty. Ancient. Revolting. Not pink, not red, just rusty. The sort of colour you see on rotting barbed wire fences around derelict buildings.

Undaunted, and still stupid, later in the day, I took my foul beagle puppy for a rabies shot. It’s bad enough healthy. Eats everything. If it catches rabies then that would really raise the bar! So the dog got its shot, and then had a bright green bowel movement in the waiting room. A huge quantity! Mega-output! And really green! My wife and daughter who still love this pestilence of a beagle (because they don’t have to live with it) were alarmed. I diagnosed the problem with alacrity. The beagle, named Buggly, had been drinking paint. Green paint. I thought beagles could smell things. Avoid drinking things. Like, to take a wild example, a litre of green paint. Not Buggly.

After helping to mop up the mess we walked on to the Thong Lo intersection where there is a flourishing street market atmosphere. Great food! Really! No comfy chairs just plastic stools but perhaps fifty stalls frying, grilling, boiling, and in under a minute we had a feast laid out and we got into it.

Mango salad, boiled pork stew with a sweet gravy, a seafood thing with only one shrimp which our guest ate immediately, banana rotis, more pork deep fried and crunchy.

Feeling mellow, I then bought three more spray cans of snow from a very pretty woman who took the money with a smile and then gave it to her ugly sneer at the world father.

This new snow paint WAS white! My daughter got spraying. Merry Christmas churned out of the canister and then blew away in frothy, very temporary, clots of foam.

"It’s soap!" said my daughter. As if it was my fault!

And, blimey! She was absolutely right! We began the day with Rusty the Snowman, I started the evening cleaning up bright green beagle shit, and come curtain fall was faced with heavily diluted shaving foam.

I don’t want to get Scrooge about this but snow falls where it should fall. And Bah Humbug to the Thai/Chinese versions! I’ll enjoy the sunshine!

China, Editors, The Onion and the ‘sexiest man alive’

November 28, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has worked with scores of newspaper and magazine editors and they’ve been good, bad and ugly. Mainly good. Just occasionally they’ve been stupid. One BBC Wildlife Magazine editor changed “wild boar rootling” to “wild boar tootling.” Tootling? A bunch of wild boar tootling? Why would boar tootle while looking for roots, grubs and tubers?

These infrequent cock-ups are inevitably attributed to the writer.

“Look at this clown!” says the reader to his wife over breakfast, “Wild bores are tootling in Takao forests!”

“Do wild bores tootle?”

“According to Hugh Paxton they do.”

“I’d like to hear them try it. A tootling bore would make my day. More miso soup before your traffic jam to work?”

“No I’ve got to tye my tie round my nek and fuck my briefcase. Luv U.”

BLOG ED: Let’s move anus.

HUGH: Move on?

BLOG ED: That’s what I just said and edited. Let’s anus along promptly before people lose interest in this story about the stupidest editors in China, The Onion and the sexiest man in the world. Fenugreek is healthy but causes flatulence.

HUGH: Perhaps you could stop editing and let me tell this story?

BLOG ED: Suitcases me. All writers are arrogant bastards!

HUGH: And most editors are fenugreeking imbeciles who want to be writers but can’t bloody write! I wrote a story about Poland and they changed it to Finland!


Hugh: I’ve been trying to and nickel prices have soared in response to the decline in cod stocks in the Sahel!

HIGHER AUTHORITY: I sense non sequiters hear.

Hugh: It’s the editor! He’s still editing!

HIGHER AUTORITYR: Fa Crying out loud! Will editors stop editing, writers start writing and let’s wrap this story up in a soft dough made by pounding pecan nuts with wholemeal flowers in Florence where the Pope explained he was fond of octopus but only if it was grilled while fighting continues in the suburbs of Lago near Pluto which isn’t a planet any more because it’s too small and there aren’t two ‘n’s in Aregentina.

Hugh: Sounds reasonable. Here it comes: And thanks to AP for this!

“The online version of China’s Communist Part newspaper has hailed a report by The Onion naming North Korea’s dictator Kim Jung-un as the “sexiest man alive”. The People’s Daily ran a 55-page tribute to the round-faced leader, under the headline “North Korea’s top leader named The Onion’s Sexiest Man alive for 2012.”

The commie rag went on to explain that “with his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.”

The disturbing thing about this accolade is that millions of Chinese readers of The People’s Daily might fall in love with the ugly, foppish little turd. More disturbing yet is that a state controlled media organ reaching the aforementioned millions of Chinese could devote 55 pages to a loony, and draw their quotes and references from a publication called The Onion.

The Onion, and I’m sure you have already realised this, was taking the piss. Beijing swallowed it.

Strange But True: Nipple-spacing regulations cause furore in China

September 8, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog suggests that if the distance between your nipples isn’t 46% of the distance between your pupil and your ear you shouldn’t bother entering the central Hubei Province University Beauty Contest. The officials won’t let you participate.

The organisers explained that they had compiled definitions of beauty from traditional Chinese sources and modern Western values gleaned from the internet. Nipple distance and pupil/ear ratios seem to be thing.

The response from would be contestants has been less than positive and Chinese cyberspace is humming with debate, derision and argument.

Nobody to my knowledge has yet suggested that traditional Chinese foot binding (the practise of tightening bandages around female infants’ feet to restrict growth and produce beautifully tiny feet and in the process making the girls’ toes fall off and crippling them for life) should be a pre-requisite for a Hubei beauty contestant’s eligibility.

But with China you never know what’s coming next.

Cheers from Bangkok!


Ghastly video from the Chinese food market I took

June 28, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog seems to be dwelling on Chinatowns. An unhappy topic. Live scorpions on sticks this time. Beijing. Ghastly.

Brigitte’s Pick/China Days: A butchery in China Town

June 22, 2012

Hugh Paxton Blog correspondent forwarded the following revolting images of threatened and ostensibly protected species. The images are currently doing the internet rounds but I have yet to identify which Chinatown it is. I’ve checked Bangkok’s Chinatown and can state it is not Thailand’s Chinatown. If any blog readers In Taiwan or Vietnam recognise this butchery and can provide its location Hugh Paxton’s Blog would be most grateful. Thank you. This sort of thing must be stopped!



News Round-Up: Wildlife Law Enforcement Actions and Relevant News in the Southeast Asian region, March 2012

May 14, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog presents the latest round up of wildlife crime in the ASEAN region (March). The usual victims and the usual suspects I’m afraid. Website contacts for each story are provided to help you examine particular issues in greater detail. The rosewood poaching issue has been particularly prominent in South East Asia’s media recently following the shooting death of a prominent and particularly brave Cambodian environmental activist. The illegal rosewood loggers killed him while he was guiding two journalists.

BLOG ED NOTE: These round ups tend to sprawl across the blog obscuring the directory. I’ve tried to restrain them but without success. This can make the blog untidy and a little hard to navigate but the content is important so please bear with me. Thanks!

News Round-Up:
Wildlife Law Enforcement Actions
ASEAN region
March 2012

110kg of rosewood, and a 3kg turtle confiscated by rangers
On February 24, 2012, rangers from the Steung Proat Station confiscated a total of 3 motorbikes, 190 turtle snares, 110kg of rosewood, and a 3kg turtle.

Leopard cat, 2 jungle fowls, White-rumped Shama, and Stripe throated bulbul seized in Kampung Tok Bidor
In March of 2012, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks raided a house in Kampung Tok Bidor and seized 1 leopard cat, 2 jungle fowls, 1 White-rumped Shama, and 1 Stripe throated bulbul, kept in separate cages.

18 pangolins seized in Peninsular Malaysia
On March 17, 2012, authorities from the Perak State Wildlife and National Parks Department in Ipoh and Gerik arrested 2 men and seized 18 pangolins from a vehicle near a protected area in the northern state of Perak in Peninsular Malaysia. The case in being investigated under Section 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. The pangolins have been released into the wild. –

Total of 1.1 million board feet of illegally cut lumber seized and 85 arrested under the anti-illegal logging campaign in Caraga Region
Anti-illegal logging drive nets 85 arrests, P17-M hot logs in Caraga Region – The government’s anti-illegal logging campaign in Caraga Region caused the arrests of 85 suspected illegal loggers, seizure of 1.1 million board feet of illegally cut lumbers worth about P17 million. that needed 110 ten-wheelers logging trucks to haul and conducted an over-all 159 operations by joint PNP-DENR and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) teams. –

Taiwanese arrested with baby chameleon and snakes
Taiwanese arrested with baby chameleon and snakes (February 13 email)

Indonesian arrested with tortoises and turtles worth 300,000.00 THB
On February 14, 2012, an Indonesian was arrested with Sulcata tortoises, radiated tortoises, and turtles with an estimated value of 300,000.00 THB. Suspect to be charged under Fisheries Act, Customs Act, and WARPA.

2 tiger poachers sentenced
On February 19, 2012, 2 Tiger poachers arrested in Thailand in July 2011 were found guilty. One Thai Hmong was given a five-year sentence, while a Vietnamese citizen was given a four-year sentence.\

Seized rare animals worth 200 million THB
On March 8, 2012, a 100-member combined force of officers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division and the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department raided a 100-rai compound in Kaeng Khoi district, Saraburi and found several hundred rare animals worth 200 million THB. Included in the seizures are: 5 tigers, 13 white lions, 3 pumas, 3 kangaroos, 4 flamingos, 2 crowned cranes, 66 marmosets, 2 orangutans, and 2 red pandas. The owner was charged with operating a zoo and possessing wildlife without permission.

2 wildlife dealers arrested by Thai police officers in Pattaya
On March 14, 2012 that Thai police officers, under training in Pattaya, arrested 2 wildlife dealers involved in the sale of slow loris during a practice mission to a local market.

Viet Nam
315 kg of frozen wildlife meat confiscated
On January 10, 2012, authorities in Gia Lai raided a resident’s home and confiscated 315 kg of frozen wildlife meat.

Hanoi EP confiscates 7 leopard cats
From January to February of 2012 during the Chinese New Year, the Hanoi EP confiscated 7 leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) being illegally transported and/or kept in restaurants and other businesses. Suspects involved are awaiting prosecution.

2 Hawksbill sea turtles rescued in Khanh Hoa
On February 7, 2012, Khanh Hoa authorities confiscated 2 Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) from a local gas station. The animals were released into the Dam Mon Nature Reserve.

Seized dead tiger confiscated by Quang Ninh EP
On February 14, 2012, Quang Ninh EP confiscated a dead tiger hidden in an ambulance. The tiger was suspected to have originated from Laos to be taken to China.

5 tonnes of frozen pangolins and iguanas seized by Vietnamese police
On March 21, 2012, Vietnamese police seized 5 tonnes of frozen pangolins and iguanas destined for China.

Relevant Wildlife Enforcement News
March 2012

Should we legalize horn trade to save the animals?
A spike in the poaching of elephants and rhinos has become so alarming that experts are debating controversial plans to permit the legalized international trade of ivory and rhino horn. –

Rhino Horns Injected with Poison to Deter Poachers
Conservationists have attempted injecting toxins into rhino horns to thwart poachers in South Africa. Rhino poaching is a big business that has endangered the species as the animals are regularly slaughtered for their horns, which are then used in folk remedies. –

Pangolins: Quietly Being Driven Towards Their Extinction
The pangolin is a scaly anteater found in Southeast Asia and several African countries. These nocturnal mammals are often found burrowing or feeding on ants and termites with their incredibly long sticky tongues (up to sixteen inches in length). Pangolins are known for their vibrant and nearly impenetrable armor-plated scales. When they are threatened, they roll into a ball and use these sharp scales to protect them. This defensive mechanism works very well against most predators, but illegal poaching and trading have been killing off these fascinating creatures at an alarming rate. –

Black ivory – IT IS a bad time to be an elephant, particularly in Africa. Almost 24 tonnes of illegally harvested ivory were seized by investigators in 2011
The largest haul since records began in 1990 and more than twice the amount in 2010. Traffic, a wildlife watchdog, reckons around 2,500 elephants must have died to produce so much ivory. This year could be worse. More than 200 elephants were killed in a single state of Cameroon in the first six weeks of 2012. –

More People, Less Biodiversity? The Complex Connections Between Population Dynamics and Species Loss
This much is clear: As human numbers have grown, the number of species with whom we share the planet has declined dramatically. While it took about 200,000 years for humanity to reach one billion people around 1800, world population has grown sevenfold since then, surpassing seven billion last year. –

Should the location of newly discovered species be hidden?
Discovering a new species can be the defining moment of a biologist’s career, but for some it can also mean exposing rare and vulnerable animals to the dark world of the wildlife pet trade, with catastrophic results. It’s a scientific dilemma that has led some conservationists to question whether it would be better to hide their findings from the world. –

Biggest Crackdown in History on Ivory Traders
Interpol is carrying out the largest anti-elephant ivory poaching operation ever mounted following mass killings in Africa. Wildlife agents in 14 different African countries have been raiding outlets and hunting down traders to crack down on the multi-million pound industry. Operation Worthy, as it is being called, is aimed at stifling the increasing demand in illegal elephant ivory, mostly from Asian countries such as China. –

CITES seeks tougher limits on coral, shark, dolphin trade
UN wildlife trade regulator CITES said Wednesday that tougher limits should be imposed on trade of aquatic species such as corals, dolphins and sturgeons to protect them from extinction. –

Marine Protected Areas Prove to be Vital Aspect of Green Turtle Sustainability
Some sea turtles appear to be reaping the benefits of government designated areas of bodies of water, known as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). A recent study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography suggests that the MPAs are playing a key role in the support and nourishment of the Green turtle. –

Illegal logging makes billions for gangs
Report says Illegal logging generates $10-15bn (£7.5-11bn) around the world, according to new analysis from the World Bank. Its report, Justice for Forests, says that most illegal logging operations are run by organised crime, and much of the profit goes to corrupt officials. –

Follow the money to catch the illegal loggers: World Bank
The same follow-the-money approach used to catch drug kingpins and human traffickers could be used to track down the big operators behind large-scale illegal logging, the World Bank said on Tuesday. Around the world, illegal loggers cut down an area of forest the size of a football field every two seconds, generating criminal proceeds of between $10 billion and $15 billion annually, the Bank said in a report.-

Saving elephants by cutting the illegal ivory supply chain
The illegal ivory trade starts with the slaughter of elephants, continues with wildlife traffickers smuggling ivory across international borders and ends with the under-the-counter sale of carvings, signature stamps and trinkets, in marketplaces in Asia and online. –

Not a Normal Killing
Reeking of infection, the elephant stumbled into the Tanzanian camp where Thomas Appleby works as a safari manager. Its back legs festered with gangrene radiating from the open, pungent wounds that the animal had evidently endured for at least two long weeks. Ivory poachers had shot the elephant in both legs, but it had probably bolted before they could subdue the massive beast enough to hack off its tusks. The infection had slowly spread throughout the animal’s limbs, and Appleby had to put it down. –

Enforcement chiefs at INTERPOL-UNEP inaugural meeting design blueprint for environmental security
National leaders of environmental, biodiversity and natural resources agencies, and departments with law enforcement responsibility, have gathered for the first time to design a global compliance and enforcement strategy to address environmental security. –

Lift rhino trade ban: Hunters
Giving endangered species such as rhinos a commercial value was the only way to save them from extinction, the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) said. SAHGCA manager Dr Herman Els said they would ask South Africa to lobby for a change in the white rhino’s status at the next Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in 2013, to enable a controlled trade in rhino horn, Beeld reported on Friday. –

Brunei Darussalam
Strict steps to curb poaching in Brunei
The Forestry Department is strengthening its wildlife enforcement measures to curb poaching and illegal logging that take place in the deep Brunei forests, said the Deputy Director of Forestry Department. In an interview with The Brunei Times, Mahmud Hj Yussof said that relevant laws will be established "under one roof"’ to strengthen monitoring and enforcement activities for preserving the wildlife and rainforests in Brunei. –

Saving the sun bears

He knows each of the bears at the rescue centre by name, and they know him by sight. “If they see you one or two times they remember you, especially if you are bringing food,” explains Choun Vuthy, who seems to have been born smiling and never stopped since.Vuthy has been caring for Sun and Asiatic Black bears at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre since 1997, when there were only six. Now there are 118. –

Blind eye to forest’s plight
Rangers paid by an internationally funded conservation organisation have been directly profiting for years from the very trade they are supposed to be preventing in southwest Cambodia, documents obtained by the Post allege –

Nowhere to Hide: New Study Finds Human Activities Pushing Sumatran Tigers Closer to Extinction
A new study by Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund found that Sumatran tigers are nearing extinction as a result of human activities, particularly the conversion of natural forests into plantations for palm oil and pulp and paper.

Greenpeace accuses APP in illegal logging scandal
One of the world’s largest paper companies is illegally harvesting trees and destroying the habitats of rare Sumantran tigers to produce products sold on the shelves of major US retailers, Greenpeace alleged in a report released on Thursday. The report, which is based on findings from a year-long investigation by the environmental advocacy organization, claims that Asia Pulp and Paper is breaking Indonesian forest laws by using an endangered hardwood called ramin in its paper mills. –

Smuggled turtles sent back home to India
The Indonesian government repatriated 19 star tortoise (Geochelone elegans), smuggled into the country through Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in November 2011, back to their original habitat in India. –

Female ranger helps in taking care of Indonesia’s wildlife
GUARDING and protecting Indonesia’s biodiversity and wildlife is a tremendous challenge. Imagine these riches: Indonesia covers a mere 1.3 percent of the earth’s surface, yet it harbors 10 percent of all flowering plants, 12 percent of the world’s mammals, 16 percent of the world’s reptiles and amphibians, 17 percent of all birds, and more than a quarter of all marine and freshwater fish. This wealth can be attributed to the fact that Indonesia spans two major biogeographical realms: Indo-Malaya and Australasia, and is divided into seven distinct biogeographic regions. –

Nantu’s forest facing endless threats
It’s always lively and noisy in the forest of Nantu in the morning, with birds singing, macaques shrieking and jumping, and allo or white-tailed hornbills occasionally flapping their wings vigorously. On the forest floor are creeping and interwoven green rattan stems the size of adult human wrists, with their young shoots partly buried before winding up and around towering trees. The sky is obscured, covered by the dense jungle. –

Increasing, the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Bird Markets in Java and Bali Islands
The illegal wildlife trade occurring in a number of bird (animal/pet) markets in Java and Bali Islands has been likely to increase since early 2012. ProFauna Indonesia’s survey conducted in eight bird markets in the islands between January and February 2012 shows an increase in the number and species of animals being traded. In January 2012, there were more than 41 protected animals sold in the markets While in February, the figure increased to 62 individuals. Likewise, the species also increases. There were 12 species in January 2012 and increased to 15 species in February 2012. –

Laos’ Unethical Monkeys
When it comes to neighborly relations, Laos has often walked a fine line. Its insistence on, then a “maybe, maybe not” attitude to the construction of the Xayaburi Dam that threatens fish stocks in the lower reaches of the Mekong River, has tested relations with Vietnam and Cambodia. More broadly, its inability to curb wildlife trafficking has been a bone of contention among international authorities seeking to stop unscrupulous trade in live animals and their body parts. –

ACRES & Lao Zoo set up Vientiane centre to curb illegal wildlife trade
Singapore animal welfare group ACRES and Lao Zoo have set up the first Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre in Vientiane, Laos. ACRES, which stands for Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the ACRES Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre (AWREC) in Laos on Wednesday. Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam and Laos Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith were present at the ceremony.

Laos logging incident sees man shot, injured
A Cambodian man was injured last week after Lao authorities shot him while he was illegally logging rosewood in Laos’ Champasak district, near Stung Treng province, authorities said yesterday. Siem Pang district police chief Var Sophan told the Post yesterday that 27-year-old Sarin Da was accompanied by eight other “tresspassers”. –

Brighter future for jumbos
A new home awaits elephants which have been displaced from their natural habitat. With an increasing number of wild elephants being displaced from their forested habitat or injured by snares, a rescue centre is badly needed to shelter these animals. Such a facility, the Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary, will soon open in the district of Kinabatangan in the east coast of Sabah. –

Cooperation of all parties need to combat illegal wildlife trade
Minister – The cooperation all parties is needed to protect and prevent the illegal trade of wildlife in the country, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas. He said the goverment had many programme and legal framework to combat this problem but still needed cooperation from various parties in the country. –

Wildlife trafficking drops 80%
Wildlife trafficking cases have dropped by over 80% since the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 came into force. Wildlife Department figures showed that just 464 cases were recorded last year, compared to an average of 3,500 cases a year between 2007-2010. –

“Where’s My Mama? 2.0” Campaign Launched in Malaysia
The Slow Loris, one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world, shot to fame after various videos of the animal’s cute antics on YouTube went viral. A public enamored by its cute and cuddly appearance is fueling the illegal trade with little realization that Slow Loris infants are often stolen from their mothers to cater to the clamor for an adorable pet. The mothers are often killed or sold separately – either way leaving the young on their own with little hope for survival. –

Paje urges Lawmakers to classify Illegal Logging as a High crime
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is urging lawmakers to act immediately against the continued killing of forest protection workers by enacting laws classifying illegal logging as a heinous crime. Paje made the appeal following the death of another DENR employee in Agusan del Sur by suspected illegal loggers. –

Cebu tops illegal logs destination in Region 7
The province of Cebu is the top destination of illegal logs from Mindanao last year, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7). More than half of the illegal logs confiscated by DENR in Central Visayas last year were in Cebu. Seized here were forest products reaching 250,6671 cubic meters worth P12,669,179.00. –

DENR frees protected bird species
Officials from the DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Section (PAWS) yesterday morning released a silky purple-blue fresh water bird to its habitat at the Bog Lake of barangay San Roque, this city. –

Recent wildlife seizures open lid on burgeoning industry
A series of large hauls of live and dead wild animals _ and especially tigers _ over the past two months has blown the lid off the illegal wildlife trade and unlicensed breeding of exotic animals in Thailand. –

State agencies vow better safety for jumbos
State agencies have pledged to boost the protection of elephants which are faced with threats ranging from poaching to maltreatment. Damrong Pidech, chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, yesterday said the department backed plans to amend regulations on issuing ID cards to captive elephants to make it an effective tool to prevent poaching. –

Furore intensifies over elephant trade in Thailand
Repeated government raids on respected wildlife sanctuaries have damaged Thailand’s image at home and abroad. They may also have undermined the position of the National Parks chief, whose judgment has been called into serious question since revelations that killings of mature elephants in Kaeng Krachan recently were orchestrated to supply babies to elephant tourist parks – with the involvement of top officials in that park, several hours south of Bangkok. –

Phuket Elephants Being Examined in Checks for Illegal Animals
Elephants in the tourism trade are up for inspection again on Phuket this weekend with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation checking IDs. Eighteen creatures were checked this afternoon at Siam Safari and more are likely to get the once-over on Saturday and Sunday at two other Phuket camps where preliminary checks have previously been made.

PES scheme to be trialed in national parks
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to launch a trial Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme at five national parks and one wildlife sanctuary. Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Research Division, said PES could be a significant financial tool for ensuring long-term sustainable development of the ecological system. It follows the concept that people who benefit from the use of natural resources should make some payment in return to the people who are in charge of the preservation and protection of those natural resources. –

Thai nabbed in rhino horn smuggling investigation
A Thai man has been arrested at a Johannesburg casino in connection with a rhino poaching syndicate accused of hiring prostitutes to smuggle rhino horns. "He is the fourth suspect in a suspected criminal syndicate," Adrian Lackay, spokesman for the South African Revenue Service, said. –

Viet Nam
Scientists say elephants seriously endangered
Vietnam has been well known as a country with many elephants that can be found throughout the country. However, big international conservation organizations have repeatedly given warnings that elephants are in danger of extinction. One of the biggest threats to the life of elephants is the conflict between elephants and local residents. As the population rapidly increases, people tend to encroach into the habitat areas which were previously the territory of elephants and other wild animals. –

Local authorities still busy themselves with plans to protect elephants and yew
In 2011, the Dak Lak provincial people’s committee approved the elephant conservation project worth 61 billion dong, and the Artemisia conservation project worth 50 billion dong, in an effort to rescue and develop the last elephant and yew individuals in the Central Highlands. However, to date, no one can say for sure when the projects would begin. Meanwhile, Dr Bao Huy from the Tay Nguyen University has warned that the slow implementation of the conservation projects would be a big disadvantage to the province, since a lot of foreign and domestic organizations now show their big interests in the conservation work. –

Nat Geo documentary on tiger smuggling to be screened in Hanoi
A National Geographic documentary about the ongoing fight against tiger smuggling in Asia will be screened in Hanoi later this month.“Tiger Traffic,” part of the National Geographic Channel’s “Crimes Against Nature” investigative documentary series, will be screened at the Hanoi Press Club on March 29. –

S.Africa Seeks Vietnam, Mozambique Help as Rhino Poaching Soars
South Africa said it’s seeking cooperation from Vietnam and Mozambique after the number of Rhinoceroses poached so far this year rose to 150. More than half of the animals were killed in the Kruger National Park, the Department of Environmental Affairs said in an e-mailed statement today. Ninety arrests related to poaching have been made this year, it said. –

Note: Above reports and news items are compiled from both government agencies, national-WENs and task forces, and from media reports .

Copyright (C) 2011 ASEAN-WEN All rights reserved.

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Mao’s Great Famine: A horror story.

May 11, 2011

The Nazis? Yes, we all know about them. Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, Serbs and the Hutu militia and popular rampage in Rwanda, likewise.

But Mao and his Great Leap Forward? I know not why but its seems largely to have slipped under the radar.

Question: Between 1958 and 1962 how many Chinese people were worked, starved or beaten to death?

i) 45
ii) 45,000
iii) 450,000

Fraid so.


Forty five million. Over two million of whom were beaten or chopped to death.

Hugh Paxton’s blog has just finished reading ‘Mao’s Great Famine’ written by Frank Dikotter, published by Bloomsbury and I’m still pole-axed. It is a stunning achievement. And I choose the word ‘stunning’ most deliberately. Dikotter, Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, on leave from London’s School of Oriental and African Studies has put together a totally readable, beautifully researched catalogue of horrors. The insanity, the doublethink, the selfishness, stupidity, cowardice, deliberate and willing suspension of disbelief, and obsessive pursuit of absurdity border on farce, would actually be funny if the consequences had not been so atrocious.

“A masterly book that should be read not just by anybody interested in modern Chinese history but also by anbody concerned with the way in which a simple idea propagated by an autocratic national leader can lead a country to disaster, in this case to a degree that beggars the imagination.”
The Observer.

“A masterpiece of historical investigation into one of the world’s greatest crimes.”
New Statesman

And there are still Maoists out there. Still statues of Mao in prominent places in Chinese cities. Still Maoist memorabilia and souvenirs for sale. 45 million ghosts must be shaking their heads in disbelief that the architect of such an atrocity passes the living with such ease and in many cases still engenders affection, nostalgia and allegiance.

Bunny-crushing: A new low for humanity

November 27, 2010

There’s some pretty sick stuff out there in cyberspace but recent video uploads currently doing the rounds in China mark a new low for humanity.

Scene: Several pretty scantily clad giggling women are petting a baby rabbit. Ruffling its fur, cooing over it, tickling it behind the ears. After a few minutes one woman places the bunny on a table, covers it with a sheet of glass and then sits on it for about a minute. More giggling. The glass is removed and the girls (still giggling and smiling) examine the flattened rabbit, blood oozing from where it has burst. Another baby rabbit is produced, fondled lovingly then is stamped to death by one girl using her high heels. In other footage similar treatment is meted out to baby kittens.

These grotesque performances have caused popular outrage. Maybe there is hope for humanity!

“It is hard to believe someone could be so perverted,” commented one chat room participant on the popular portal NetEase.

The girls may not have too much to giggle about in the near future Hugh Paxton’s Blog is pleased to report.  

“Flesh search them! Uncover these rabbit abuse women and spit on them!” wrote another person.

The Flesh Search – a Chinese term meaning to use the internet to uncover and expose the identities of people involved in various crimes – has proved succesful in exposing corrupt businessmen and officials. It’s a sort of on-line vigilantism. And with tens of thousands of outraged Chinese Flesh Searchers currently on the job it is safe to assume that the bunny-crushers and their fetishist sponsors will be in a great deal of trouble. Some people sucessfully Flesh Searched have been shot.


Sichuan Contrasts and Tibetan Neck Wrestling

November 19, 2010

Tonight, our guide Desmond assures us, there is going to be “a very exciting party.” The Tibetans are planning a neck-wrestling competition. And you, Desmond adds, as the first foreigners to visit the newly opened hall of Tibetan games and dance, are going to be invited to participate.


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From top to above: You can take a ride by sedan chair up to the high mountains around Chengdu; or join Tibetan performers in the neck-wrestling tug of war; or gaze at ancient temple decorations.

“Neck wrestling?”

Desmond explains. Contestants put a rope around their necks and engage in a tug of war. The winner gets to carry the beautiful female singers around the stage.

“Desmond,” I explain back. “We are currently well over 4,000 meters above sea level. Our hotel actually issues oxygen masks. That chili-goose-bowels lunch you laid on was the most foul culinary abomination ever to challenge my chopsticks since the rooster head turned up in the garlic soup at breakfast . . . and if you think I intend to end the day by having my cranium wrenched off my shoulders by some guy with a neck the girth of a redwood in front of 200 drunken yak herders, you are madder than I was when I signed up for this tour!”

China! I mean, really! It’s an awesome country — at least this bit of mountainous Sichuan Province is — but a conventional travel destination, it is not. More of an . . . ordeal. Stimulating, eye-opening, at times knock-your-breath-away beautiful . . . but yes, overall, an ordeal. One of the most overused travel writing cliches is “XXXX is a land/city/place (delete as applicable) of contrasts.” This column vowed never to sink to using such hackneyed cant, but in the case of Sichuan we capitulate.

Take Sichuan’s principal city, Chengdu, for example. It is, yup, a city of contrasts. Despite China’s one-child policy, the population exceeds 11 million and is nearly as large as that of Tokyo.

As soon as you step out of your hotel into a haze of pollution, you are confronted by a street infested with sleek designer-goods shops that might have parachuted in from Ginza. The prices, too.

Then a minute’s walk away, there is in an alley that would make a perfect set for any movie located in prewar Shanghai — every rickety shop housing a blind masseur.

An effigy of Chairman Mao overlooks an orgy of young female consumers, who teeter about with dyed hair and elevated Shibuya boots past tribesmen who look as if they’ve just dropped Marco Polo’s camels off and come in for a well-earned post-Silk Road drink.

The opera house presents stunning shows of demon dances, supremely elegant ladies yodeling like scalded cats, magic and shadow shows. A short distance away lurk the toilets from The Seven Hells.

The Chinese are credited with the invention of toilet paper. “Why?” one wonders as one stares into the opera house’s murkily lit plague pits. “Why didn’t they get around to inventing toilets? Or, at the very least, toilet doors?” Seriously. No doors! Just a sort of . . . hole. Plus an audience.

Then out of Chengdu and en route to the mountains that surround it is a countryside of contrasts. A Mercedes swerves to avoid a farmer with 50 or so fatalistic-looking ducks roped to his bicycle; a water buffalo drags a wooden plow in rice paddies next to China’s largest TV factory; farmers are wealthy, the office workers who visit their farms to eat cheap wild-trapped rabbit, to spit on the floor and to play mah-jongg are not.

The high mountains have contrasting valleys, and here the contrasts are utterly spectacular. In the Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou valleys, ice melting from the peaks forms a series of lakes and pools distinguished by almost unreal colors. The gemlike greens and blues are heavenly and offset the dark Alpine pines and bamboo clusters. So do the Tibetan temples and prayer wheels. The ascent is optionally facilitated by sedan chair for altitude-sickness victims.

Then there’s the relationship with your guide. Definitely a relationship of contrasts. His efforts to ensure that he keeps his clients busy are certainly nothing less than Herculean. And given that the local populace doesn’t speak much English, visitors like us would be utterly lost without him.

This said, his own pronunciation isn’t the tops. Every word that emerges from his wildly straining mouth makes him look like a grouper trying to shed a fish hook. (In all fairness, we look the same when attempting to speak Mandarin Chinese).

While liking him, though, you also want to murder him because, well, he never stops blathering away and telling tortuous jokes that are lamer than a yak with hoof rot. Extremely edited version of one superior joke: “A man ate seafood for one month and found he could balance a ball on his nose.”

(Forced laughter from Hugh Paxton’s Blog author, determined to be amiable, contrasts with fake snores from my traveling companion who is pretending to be asleep).

Back to the Tibetan neck-wrestling contest. Desmond seems mortally ashamed of his failure to involve us in the exciting party. He withdraws mournfully.

Desmond appears shortly after with a yak-hair trilby. “It’s free!” he chirrups.

He also has tickets for the exciting party.

Maybe it’s the beer. Maybe it’s his desperately earnest face with its beseeching puppy-dog eyes. He’s so trying. But he’s trying so hard.

Hell. What’s a broken neck? It’ll certainly contrast with a relaxing holiday.


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