Archive for Vietnam
Quoted from bbc.co.uk 10th January 2013
‘Figures from the South African government indicate that poaching for rhinoceros has increased substantially in the last year. A record 668 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2012, up almost 50% on the number for 2011. The majority of the animals were killed in the Kruger national park, the country’s biggest wildlife reserve. Experts say that growing demand for rhino horn in Asia is driving the slaughter. South Africa is home to around three quarters of the world’s rhinoceros population of around 28,000 animals. In 2007 a mere 13 animals were lost to poachers. But since then the killing has increased substantially. It is being fuelled by the belief in countries like China and Vietnam that powdered rhino horn has medicinal powers and can impact diseases like cancer. Horns can sell for around $65,000 a kg. The rich rewards have attracted criminal gangs who deploy a range of sophisticated technologies in their efforts to capture and dehorn the animals. The South African government have attempted to fight back using soldiers and surveillance aircraft, but the numbers indicate they are losing the fight.’
In other poaching news, Zambia has banned the hunting of big cats after the ministry of Tourism decided more money was to be made in keeping the animals alive. ‘Blood-sport’ only raised $3 million (£1.9 million) in 2012.
www.independent.co.uk 15th August 2011
A belief in East Asian countries that rhino horn can cure cancer has caused a surge in poaching and museum thefts. Rhino horn is now valued at around £50,000 a kilogram, more than gold or cocaine prompting increased fears for the species’ safety. In southern African countries such as Botswana, only 12 rhinos were killed per year for their horns between 2000 and 2007. However, by 2010 this number had risen to 333. This year, more than 200 have been poached. Now the UK, on behalf of the EU, is to requesting that Asian governments highlight to their populations the lack of evidence for medicinal properties in rhino horns. The problem will be tackled at the upcoming meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Geneva. Richard Benyon, the UK’s Wildlife Minister, stated: ”The price is now very high. But rhino horn is basically keratin, which is the same stuff as our hair and fingernails, and it has no healing properties. The world community cannot sit back and just watch these species disappear, and we want to help debunk the myth of rhino horn’s healing powers.” When asked if he thought such a request would be interfering with the internal politics of Asian countries, Mr Benyon MP said: ”I don’t think it is preachy – it’s just asking these counties to recognise that there is a problem within their borders.” The myth behind the latest surge in demand for rhino horn is related to a Vietnamese politician who supposedly recovered from liver cancer after taking a dose of rhino horn. Although commonly repeated, the name of the politician remains elusive. The Asian market in ‘traditional’ medicines has caused the decline in several other endangered species including the Tiger.
e360.yale.edu 29th July 2011
Quoted from source:
‘A new report says that the Vietnamese military is playing a central role in a multi-billion dollar operation to smuggle illegally cleared timber from neighboring Laos. During a two-year investigation, agents from the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), posing as timber buyers, found that a ban on the export of raw timber from Laos is regularly flouted, with an estimated 500,000 cubic meters of logs being funneled to Vietnamese furniture factories each year. That trade is fueling Vietnam’s surging wood processing industry but poses a threat to millions of rural and indigenous people who depend upon those dwindling forests, the report says. And according to the report, Crossroads: The Illicit Timber Trade Between Laos and Vietnam, one of the biggest loggers in Laos is the Vietnamese Company of Economic Cooperation (COECCO), which is owned by the Vietnamese military. “EIA first exposed the illicit log trade between Laos and Vietnam in 2008, and our latest investigations reveal that sadly nothing has changed,” said Faith Doherty, head of EIA’s Forest Campaign. Much of the illegal timber, the EIA report says, ultimately ends up in stores in the U.S. and Europe.’
www.nationalgeographic.com 12th November 2010
The National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations has published its annual “Destinations Rated” scorecard, which rates the world’s beaches. ‘To create the ratings, the center convened an independent panel of 340 experts in fields from historic preservation and sustainable tourism to travel writing and archaeology. The panel was asked to score 99 coastal hot spots around the world, using categories such as “top rated,” “doing well,” “in the balance,” “facing trouble,” and “bottom rated.” As in previous years, the panel based its decisions on six criteria: environmental and ecological quality, social and cultural integrity, condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites, aesthetic appeal, quality of tourism management, and outlook for the future. The results appear in the November/December 2010 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.’
A few of the entries can be found below. For the rest, please visit the National Geographic website.
www.nationlageographic.com 8th November 2010
A species of lizard that has been on sale in Vietnamese restaurants “for time on end” according to locals is actually an unrecorded species. Leiolepis ngovantrii was discovered by Ngo Van Tri of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology in a restaurant in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. In noting all the reptiles were very similar, he photographed the specimens and sent them to a colleague of his herpetologist L. Lee Grismer of La Sierra University in Riverside, California, to study. It was revealed that the Leiolepis ngovantrii is actually an all female species that spontaneously ovulates, therefore reproducing via cloning and without the need of males. It has been suggested that the genetic oddity that allows the lizards to clone themselves is a result of a merging of two separate strands of DNA from related lizard species. The maternal and paternal lines therefore merge in a hybrid, usually in transition zones of the two habitats frequented by the two lines. For example, the new lizard’s home, the Binh Chau-Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve, sits between scrub woodland and coastal sand dunes. As the Leiolepis ngovantrii’s DNA is only passed down through the female line, only the maternal species has been identified: L. guttata. Although the new species does not seem rare in its habitat, some academics suggest cloning has a negative impact on a species in the long-term as it reduces gene diversity. Single gender species of lizard are not rare though: 1% of known lizard species reproduce by self-cloning (parthenogenesis).
www.bbc.co.uk 25th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘BP has said it will sell its interests in four Gulf of Mexico oil fields to Japan’s Marubeni as part of its moves to pay for the oil spill there. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to raise $650m (£413m). BP is in the process of selling assets worth up to $30bn to meet clean-up and compensation costs. Last week, the company announced it would sell business interests in Vietnam and Venezuela for $1.8bn. BP has owned the assets in the four fields for less than a year. It bought them from Devon Energy alongside other assets in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and Azerbaijan. Andy Hopwood, a BP executive, said: “When BP acquired Devon’s Gulf of Mexico assets, it was clear that these four fields did not fit well with the rest of our business in the region.” A company statement added that BP’s other interests in the Gulf of Mexico would not be affected by the sale – which is expected to be completed in early 2011 – and that the company remained both the largest producer of oil and gas in the region as well as being the largest holder of leases. BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on 20 April, killing 11 workers, and ultimately leaking an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. The well was finally permanently sealed on 19 September. The total bill for compensating victims currently stands at about $11.2bn (£7bn).’