Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

The Ivory Bloodbath: Kenyan Perspective on Elephant Poaching

March 4, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has just returned from a Monday spent at the CITES COP in Bangkok. The best of times (a chance to meet old friends in the conservation movement) and the worst of times (lots of potentially catastrophic developments if the Government ministers don’t take their heads out of the sand and take concerted action to save a very large number of species). See the following message forwarded by my friend Nik, from Kenya on elephant to me just now to see why elephants and rhinos are among the species in the spotlight. There are some very disturbing links.

The film is screening at CITES this evening.

Nik SekhranPrincipal Technical Adviser- UNDP-GEF Ecosystems and BiodiversityHead UNDP Biodiversity Programme

United Nations Development Programme

<email: nik.sekhran>

Phone: +27 12 3548131

Cell Phone: +27 829642384 Follow us:

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

Dario Cossa from Mozamibique: Rhino poaching, death, danger and delinquency

November 5, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is currently in Indochina and many posts reflect this but there is a very direct link between Asia and Africa and the link is unbalanced. This Blog hopes that Dario will become a regular Hugh Paxton Blog correspondent and keep us informed.

Thanks for writing, Dario and I’m glad you are annoyed. This blog thrives on bad jokes, great pictures, strange tales and annoyed correspondents!



Over to Dario!

Hi there. people are making a lot of money out of poaching. we all need money but it must be legal and confessable. in mkzambique whrere i live and i am from people end a rhino’s life for the sake of the bloody car, lobolo, show offs, etc (i will develop this matter next time). The result is that because of unecessary envy and ambition many youngsters quit or resign their jobs and they get on poaching. result? Too many die. shot dead. a few get sone money and do silly staff like being the boss for a week and get back to the field ( game farms, including the greater knp). Life is more valuable than a bullet and a rhino is as much valuable as a rhino. we all have to ensure that we all look after our lives including that of rhino’s.
Text you more tomorrow

Thai Days: need of volunteers for the childrens day of the orphanage WAT SAKEO

November 2, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog will be doing good things on Wednesday 05 December. It’s an open invitation to entertain orphans at Wat Sakeo.

The invitation suggests that “every new idea is welcome.”

This filled me with a sense of relief.

Helping out with “tacro games”, “heat making” and “duck fishing” – three items on the proposed agenda – would make me look a bit dim-witted. I’ve never heard of em and can’t …well I just can’t, ask anybody about tacro games for fear that everybody knows all about them and I’m out of date. “Heat making” could be lighting a fire. But given this is Thailand, it probably doesn’t mean anything like that. Duck fishing? I’ve given this some thought and reckon it might involve catching rubber ducks using magnetic objects attached to beak and fishing pole. I’m sure I’ll be taught otherwise when I’m there.

My plan is to tell stories and when it emerges that nobody can speak a word of English, Plan B is to draw cartoons and create comics.

I’ve a good feeling about this. All should go really well unless there’s a technical snarl up and some good hearted but muddle headed monk puts me in charge of the “tacro/heat making/duck fishing” department.

If you are in Thailand and are proficient in anything that might brighten the day of an orphan swing by, why not? These children haven’t had the best of luck in life.

Cheers from Bangkok!


Here’s the message I received. Their spelling mistakes, not mine!

last year the flooding kept us all very buzzy but this year WE CAN J

We will have the annual WAT SAKEO childrensday on

Wednesday 05. December from 9.00 – 2.30 pm (public holiday)

I would need volunteers to help me with the game stations

Please do come and give a day to these aprox 1000 Children, for us it is just 1 day, for them it is the best day in their year!!!

Looking forward to your reply’s

pleas see the attached files for more info

Isabel de Lestrange

House 23

Tel. 085 989 28 97

Orphanage Wat Sakeo info anglais.doc

Wat Sakeo 2012 englisch.doc

Wat Sakeo 2012 francais.doc

Orphanage Wat Sakeo info anglais.doc

Wat Sakeo 2012 englisch.doc

Wat Sakeo 2012 francais.doc

Japan: Tsunami Victims, corruption, A Bloody disgrace!

November 1, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog is frequently appalled by the behavior of the Japanese bureaucratic system and the country’s ghastly internal politics. But this AP story lifted me to new depths of despair.


That was the header.

Let’s read on?

If you have a strong stomach.

“About a quarter of the 11.7 trillion yen budget for reconstruction after the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and …whaling.”

The money is also going to development projects in Okinawa. It’s also been spent on promoting the highest radio transmitter in the world “The Tokyo Sky Tree”, renovations of Tokyo government offices, fighter aircraft pilot training, investigation into rare earths…the list of stupidity is long!

And here! Let’s have a look at the basic, brutal facts!

More than 325,000 of the 340,000 people evacuated from the tsunami/nuclear debacle remain homeless. Or are living somewhere else (mostly in relative’s homes).

When was the tsunami?

March 2011.

I gave money to help the tsunami victims, we all did, loads of Thais did, we sent it (our cash) to Tokyo.

And the government spends it on whaling to boost the economy.

325,000 Japanese people still homeless.

A bloody disgrace.

Petition time again and bullying: Care2 Members, Have You Heard About This?

June 6, 2012

From: Ellyn S., Care2 Action Alerts []
Sent: 06 June 2012 02:15 PM
To: Hugh Paxton
Subject: Care2 Members, Have You Heard About This?

June 2012 Issue Unsubscribe

you have 300 butterfly credits

Care2 members,

Have you heard about Jessica Barba?

This brave 15-year-old girl created a video to speak out against bullying. She also devised a Facebook page for a character she made up, a 12-year-old bullied girl named "Hailey Bennett." Although clearly presented as fiction, a parent saw the video and called Longwood High School. Jessica was suspended.

Believing that Jessica should be commended for her bravery and not punished, Care2 stepped in. Over 15,000 of you signed the petition to reverse her suspension and allow her to turn her project in for a fair grade.

"Jessica demonstrated the kind of creative thinking and action which will create new paradigms and solutions to long-standing problems like bullying," affirms Jeannie R. "There are frequently many truths expressed in fiction."

Carol L. agrees. "As a retired teacher, I wish I had a student create something so important and sensitive as this!"

Thanks to such passion, Longwood High School rescinded their disciplinary action and Jessica was finally allowed to returned to school.

See what Care2 members can do? Thanks for always taking action!

Want to Do More?
Do you want to make sure that an indigenous woman in Guatemala has enough cement to build a cooking stove? Earn butterfly reward credits and use them to do good.

Click now »

"No Me Llames Oaxaquita"
This week, an Oxnard, California school district took a stand against racial discrimination and banned a epithet hurled by nonindigenous Mexican immigrants.

Read about it »


Environmental Education – Our Kids Deserve Better!
Sign model/actress Katie Cleary’s petition for better environmental education!
Take this chance to change our future »

Stop the Harvesting of Endangered Sea Turtles in Granada
Sign the petition to help Granada’s endangered sea turtles.
These turtles must be protected! »

Stop the Sexual Harassment of Immigrant Farmworkers
Sign the petition to help these vulnerable women!
Stop the abuse! »

Brigitte’s Pick: What is eaten in one week – fascinating!

June 5, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog agrees with Brigitte – this is indeed fascinating! I’ll make a note of what we eat in a week and see how it compares.



What is eaten in one week – fascinating!

This is undoubtedly one of the most interesting e-mails I’ve ever received. Take a good look at the diet of each country and the cost of what is eaten inone week.

Italy : The Manzo family ofSicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or $260.11= R 1967, 00

Germany:The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or $500.07=R 3712,00

United States: The Revis family ofNorth Carolina (Sure hopemostAmerican
families eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less junk food than this family.)

Food expenditure for one week $341.98= R 2538,00

Mexico:The Casales fa mily ofCuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or $189.09= R 1403,00

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or $151.27= R1123, 00

Egypt: The Ahmed family ofCairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or $68.53= R507, 00

Ecuador:The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: $31.55=R234,00

Bhutan:The Namgay family ofShingkheyVillage
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03= R37,00

Vile Crimes: Dung throwers, foetus pills, and skull abuse

May 9, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog rates the following people as perfect applicants for my Horrible Bastards section.

We start with New York where there are some. In New York robbers came up with a strategy that involved deliberately spraying tomato ketchup on a victim then pretending to help clean them up by dabbing napkins on their gunk-stained clothing. While distracted an accomplice would steal the person’s purse or money or credit cards. This is a bit horrible. But in Australia a group of scumbags have taken this tactic one hideous step further. Customers using ATMs are bombarded with faeces. Helpful people move in to assist. Money vanishes. How low is that?

Moving on! Let’s have a look at China and South korea. Viagra is a hit. But some South Korean men clearly yearn for more. Hence the market for “flesh pills”. These are manufactured in China and contain ingredients extracted from dead human foetuses or infants. Given the one child policy pursued by China and the Chinese people’s cultural inclination to have sons rather than daughters, I’m guessing (shrewdly) that these pills are either fake (very likely) or are made of female abortion victims.

The flesh pill racket was uncovered in August last year and since then South Korean customs have thwarted 35 attempts to smuggle in the capsules, either in suitcases or in the mail. Somebody has been counting the confiscated capsules and has reached a figure of 17,451.

Quite a lot.

Scientists have given them a look over and certainly there are some that aren’t misinforming consumers about ingredients. They are not providing sell by dates and are keeping mum when it comes to the masses of “super bacteria” that arrive and are consumed.

Skull abuse? I’ll leave you hanging on that one. I need to make lunch and clean the kitchen, feed the cats. That sort of thing. But you will get the full story! Plus a bit more!

Hugh in Bangkok

Thai Days: public information on asbestos and asbestos-related disease

May 1, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog received the following from my friend Maureen who is director of the World Health Organisation in Thailand. It concerns skulduggery in the asbestos industry. Of interest to anybody concerned about public health, corporate strong arm tactics and fraud. Best wishes! Hugh


Hi, Hugh. As promised re: asbestos, attached is a picture of the t-shirt and brochure in distribution in Thailand by Oran Vanich Ltd (which uses chrysotile in their products like roof tiles). These are distributed in construction stores. The t-shirt states that WHO certifies that chrysotile is a safer substitute. Chrysotile is a form of asbestos and their statement (regarding WHO is untrue). Below is one of our efforts to alert the asbestos control network here (which is quite active). We will also be sending some targeted letters from our legal department and hold a press conference with the Ministry of Public Health later in the month. Dr Vithaya (at Chula Univ) is being pursued legally for his good scientific work and communications on asbestos. The Office of the Consumer Protection Board in Thailand is also being pursued legally by industry (but they are confident that the judge will rule in their favor). Have a look, although tonight I note that our website link to our short film isn’t working, but you can look at our facebook site to see it. Our facebook/twitter site is young, but the followers are growing rapidly.

Dear colleagues and friends concerned about eliminating asbestos-related disease:

As discussed recently, please find some information on WHOs position regarding the asbestos and asbestos-related disease.

Please note that we have posted a simple but clear message onto our twitter, facebook and webpage regarding chrysotile asbestos to counter-act the misuse of WHO’s name through the distribution of t-shirts with erroneous messages about chrysotile asbestos and through the establishment of sites such as and also this Thailand specific site

Social media is an increasingly popular medium that can be utilized to ‘get the message out.’ WHO is capitalizing on the public reach of social media, by the promotion of this message-orientated video on asbestos.

To support this effort, please take the time to visit our sites and ‘like/ tweet/ share’ this video with your networks:!/WHOThailand

We thought it was particularly timely to post this in light of World Day on Health and Safety at Work.

We hope to make this message viral and confirm in a public way, that WHO has never supported the use of chrysotile asbestos over safer alternatives. Your suggestions are most welcome.

Best regards to you all,
T-shirt Chrysotile_WHO.pdf

Science for Environment Policy: Payments for Ecosystem Services

April 3, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog received the following articles on financial mechanisms designed to conserve biodiversity. Some food for thought here. And in the light of the ongoing fires burning in the forests on northern Thailand the more food for thought of this nature the better.

Science for Environment Policy
DG Environment News Alert Service. Thematic Issue
Payments for Ecosystem Services
28 March 2012
Issue 30
this service
Online archive
of past articles
the Editor
to this News Alert
Enhancing the effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES)

Biodiversity and ecosystems provide many critical life support functions and benefits for human wellbeing, security and economic growth, including food, clean water, recreational services and climate regulation. Despite its significant values, biodiversity worldwide is being lost, in some areas at a rapid rate.

Given these losses, there is an urgent need for firstly, greater application of policies and incentives to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and secondly, a more efficient use of available finance in existing biodiversity programmes. PES is a flexible, incentive-based mechanism that has potential to deliver in both of these areas. This Thematic Issue of Science for Environment Policy explores research which can help guide effective PES schemes. Under PES agreements, a user or beneficiary of an ecosystem service provides payments to individuals or communities whose management decisions and practices influence the provision of ecosystem services.

Research suggests that PES schemes could play a more prominent role in linking public and private efforts to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services, both in the EU and globally, as demonstrated in the article ‘Sustainable funding for global ecosystem services: new system proposed‘. Lessons from common pool resource management (CPR) for PES can be found in the article, ‘Can common pool resource management aid PES implementation?‘ which found that six sustainable management characteristics from CPR will also have lessons for PES. Over the past decade, PES programmes have proliferated rapidly. Experience and lessons learned from these applications provide valuable insights for improving PES design and implementation – see for example: ‘Learning from Ecuador’s national conservation incentive scheme‘. Similarly in Europe, a UK case study of a PES scheme for farmers highlights the important role of neighbours in uptake of a scheme: ‘Neighbours can influence farmer participation in PES schemes‘. Other case studies worth reading include a report1 on the valuation of natural capital and subsequent application of a PES scheme in Nepal, which suffers an acute water scarcity.

Key criteria that are needed to enhance PES effectiveness include (OECD, 20102):

  1. Removing perverse incentives: For a PES programme to produce effective incentives, conflicting market distortions, such as environmentally harmful subsidies, should be removed.
  2. Clearly defining property rights: The individual or community whose land use decisions affect the provision of ecosystem services must have clearly defined and enforceable property rights over the land.
  3. Clearly defining PES goals and objectives: These help to guide the design of the programme and enhance transparency.
  4. Developing a robust monitoring and reporting framework of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  5. Identifying buyers and ensure sufficient and long-term sources of financing. The article ‘How to attract PES investment from private business?‘ examines how much private companies are prepared to invest in PES schemes for tropical forests and what can be done to motivate them.
  6. Identifying sellers and target ecosystem service benefits: Accounting for spatial variation in ecosystem service benefits via economic valuation, benefit scoring, and mapping tools allows payments to be prioritised to areas that provide the highest benefits. If the PES budget is limited, this can substantially increase the cost-effectiveness of the programme.
  7. Establishing baselines and target payments to ecosystem services that are at risk of loss, or to enhance their provision: A PES programme should only make payments for ecosystem services that are additional to the business-as-usual baseline.
  8. Differentiating payments based on the opportunity costs of ecosystem service provision: PES programmes that reflect the cost of an alternative action that must be avoided (e.g. deforestation) to as to enhance ecosystem service provision are able to achieve larger ecosystem service benefits per unit cost.
  9. Consider bundling or layering multiple ecosystem services: Joint provision of multiple services can provide opportunities to increase the benefits of the programme, while reducing transaction costs. This is clearly demonstrated by the article ‘Bundled’ PES schemes to boost cost-effectiveness‘.
  10. Addressing leakages: Leakage occurs when measures to enhance ecosystem services provision in one location leads to increased pressures for conversion in another. If leakage risk is expected to be high, the scope of the monitoring and accounting framework may need to be expanded so as to detect, and consequently address, leakage.
  11. Ensuring permanence: Events such as forest fires may undermine the ability of a landholder to provide an ecosystem service as stipulated in a PES agreement. If the risks are high, this will impede the effective functioning of a PES market.
  12. Delivering performance-based payments and ensure adequate enforcement: Payments should be ex-post, conditional on performance. When this is not feasible, effort-based payments (such as changes in management practices) are a second best alternative, provided that changes in ecosystem management practices will bring about the desired change in service provision.

The importance of stakeholder inputs for the design and implementation of PES are demonstrated in ‘Future agri-environmental schemes need co-ordinating across landscapes‘ as well as the need to develop tools and policies for improving PES design. The article ‘An alternative conceptual framework for ‘Payments for Environmental Services on offer‘ describes a framework, incorporating the social aspects of PES, which can be used by practitioners, such as governments, to design and implement a variety of PES schemes. At a global level, PES is prominent in the discussions under the Convention on Biological Diversity on resource mobilisation for biodiversity3. One such mechanism is the potential role of REDD+4 in providing biodiversity co-benefits.

Recognised as an important implementation tool, the role of PES schemes has been promoted in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 20205, and their potential is further highlighted in the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe (COM(2011)57)6. Regarding Parties’ commitment under the Convention for Biological Diversity to substantially increase financial resources from all sources, the Strategy recognises the need for increases in public funding, but also the potential of innovative financial mechanisms, including PES. There are ongoing reforms within the EU where PES can play an important role, in particular, agri-environmental schemes in the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reform and similar support payments in the proposed European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The establishment of Green Infrastructure is another areas where PES could potentially play a role.

Dr Katia Karousakis

Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), France.

  1. Navraj P et al. 2010. Valuing Water and its Ecological Services in Rural Landscapes: A Case Study from Nepal. Mountain Forum Bulletin. ICIMOD, Nepal.
  2. OECD, 2010. Paying for Biodiversity: Enhancing the Cost-Effectiveness of Payments for Ecosystem Services. OECD Publishing.
  3. See:
  4. See:
  5. See:
  6. See:
New system of sustainable funding for global ecosystem services
Researchers argue that of the five mechanisms available for ensuring the provision of ecosystem services – prescription, penalties, persuasion, property rights and payments – only payments are likely to be effective at the global level. However, while a number of international Payments for Ecosystem Services (IPES) schemes exist, their impact on ecosystem services remains negligible.(more…) Download article (PDF)

Petitioners of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your time!

March 16, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog did a routine check on Thai elephant seizures and ended up joining a campaign to prevent enforced prairie dog extermination in Montana.

That’s one of the joys, mysteries and frustrations of the internet. You set off with a destination in mind and then become seduced into going somewhere else. And then somewhere else. My travel plan was Thailand but I was soon in Montana. And I lent my name to a petition.

I then wrote to Wyoming to urge a ban on wolf hunting. I was then invited to send a letter suggesting the regulation of privately owned big cats in the USA.

By now it was getting late. And there seemed to be more petitions begging for my attention by the minute. Lots more.

The culprits?

These guys facilitate email petitions. The petitions struck me as worthwhile. And here was the problem. They were so worthwhile that I wanted to sign them all (or most of them). But if I started signing all these petitions I’d end up staying up all night. And today. And tonight…

I tore myself away. I’d done my bit for prairie dogs in Montana. And wolves in Wyoming. Thai elephants got a bit lost in the process but my input was redundant – loads of people had signed a petition already. They’d reached the target figure.

Strangely enough, their petition seemed to have worked. There are major shake-ups currently ongoing in Thailand regarding elephant poaching, smuggling, mistreatment.

This said, I think it a bit unlikely that the wolf hunting advocates in Wyoming or the prairie dog poisoners in Montana will alter their stupid policies because some English guy in Bangkok has sent them his signature and a short polite message suggesting a rethink.

But it might. You never know. And if you never try you never will!

Check this website if you’ve got itchy petition signing fingers, or indeed if you are contemplating starting a petition. The site’s well organised, the background to each issue is explained and sources for further information are made available if you want to explore the situation and circumstances in greater depth. I feel this is a positive initiative. And it is also a learning tool. I am now Montana prairie dog and Wyoming wolf hunting aware!

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