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Focus on India as world meets to save tiger

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:50 am

As Russia hosts an unprecedented summit on saving the wild tiger, much of the attention is focusing on India, home to nearly half of the big cats but also a leading centre for poaching.

Experts here said that despite positive steps, India is struggling to deal with poaching, with poor villagers willing to kill and sell tigers for just 100 dollars and the rangers charged with protecting the animals under-paid and poorly equipped.

“Poaching is the major threat, number two is habitat destruction,” said Satya Prakash Yadav, an official with India’s environment ministry taking part in the summit of 13 nations in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg.

An Indian Royal Bengal tiger at the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad in June 2010.

India is home to 1,411 tigers of the estimated 3,200 still living in the wild but also to 54 percent of poaching and trafficking cases. According to a recent report by the Traffic International non-governmental organisation, more than 1,000 tigers have been killed in the last decade in Asia.

“People living around the tiger reserves are always poor and if you come offering them a big price for the tigers they will take it,” said Sejal Worah, the director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Indian branch.

“The poacher gets only 100 dollars but the price of all the parts could be a 100 or 200 times more than that.”

Much of the poaching is fuelled by demand for tiger parts in Thailand, where there are far fewer of the wild cats, she said.

Good laws are in place to protect tigers in India, but enforcement has been lax, said Vivek Menon, the director for Southeast Asia for the International Fund for Animal Protection (IFAW), which has trained more than 7,000 rangers in India, a third of the country’s anti-poaching force.

“We have seven years in prison, not fines, if you kill a tiger…. What more do you want? India has very good laws. But the problem is the implementation in such a big country,” he said.

“For many years, nobody went to jail. Before, the judiciary never convicted. That has changed in the last five-six years and this is a good step.”

India’s federal government launched a tiger protection programme in 2007 with several million dollars allocated to urgent measures to cut down on poaching.

Among other efforts, the government recently began hiring retired soldiers to work on tiger reserves.

But Worah said the rangers are working in difficult conditions, hampering their efforts.

“It’s difficult and thankless work,” she said. “Often they are not paid for months and they are badly equipped. Sometimes they don’t even have boots or raincoats.”

Another effort has seen Indian authorities displace villages located in reserves to install tigers in the area. India is expected to commit during the summit to creating protected zones for tigers free of infrastructure, roads and people — a move that is likely to engender controversy.

“In a country like India it is difficult to reserve a zone and to say this is only for tigers and not for anything or anyone else. We don’t have the kind of space that Russia has,” Worah said.

“Social problems are competing with the tigers. It is a fight every day. But it is not a fight we are losing. We make two steps forward for every step back,” Menon said.

Animal-rights groups say the tiger population in India has fallen from 5,000 to fewer than 2,000 in the last five years, despite the allocation of 32,000 square kilometres (12,800 square miles) of sanctuary space.

Still, experts said India has scored some successes in its efforts to save the tiger and they hope the country is on the right track.

“Many of the success stories we talked about even here at the summit are from India,” Worah said.

“India is not a bad example, it’s just a realistic example,” Menon said.

Source: SGGP

World leaders scramble for funds to save the tiger

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:06 am

Russia summit seeks to save tiger from extinction

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 4:26 am

Save the world from climate change — by computer

In Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 at 4:25 am

Disfigured but alive: Zimbabwe cuts horns to save rhinos

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:40 am

 The roaring chainsaw sends fingernail-like shards flying into the baking Zimbabwean bush as it slices through the slumped black rhino’s foot-long horn.

The critically endangered female loses her spikes in just seconds, after being darted from a helicopter.

Doctor Chris Forging cuts a rhino horn in Chipinge National Park, 360km west of Harare

A few minutes later, she leaps up and escapes — disfigured but alive — in a dramatic attempt to deter the poachers who have unleashed a bloodbath on southern Africa’s rhinos.

“De-horning reduces the reward for the poacher,” said Raoul du Toit of the Lowveld Rhino Trust which operates in Zimbabwe’s arid southeast.

“Poaching is a balance between reward and risk. It may tip the economic equation in the situation to one where it’s not worth the poacher operating.”

Rhino poaching reached an all-time high in Africa last year, according to the International Rhino Foundation.

In Zimbabwe, where just 700 rhinos remain, anti-poaching units face military-like armed gangs who ruthlessly shoot the animals to hack off the distinctive horns for the Asian traditional medicine market.

“These poachers in this part of the world here will shoot on sight. They operate in very aggressive units,” Du Toit told AFP.

“They adopt patrol formations when they are after rhinos to detect any anti-poaching units that are deployed against them and they will open fire without hesitation.

“So there’ve been many gunfights — a number of poachers killed, not so many on law enforcement side but that’s mainly through luck.”

Asian demand for rhino horn, believed to treat anything from headaches to sexual woes, has lured highly organised criminal syndicates.

Zimbabwe’s black rhino were poached to a low of 300 in 1995 but recovered and levelled off to nearly double this before plummeting again to reach around 400 last year, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“It was at this time, 2006-2007, when we actually saw the steep escalation in poaching which is related to syndicate kind of poaching orchestrated out of South Africa,” said WWF’s African rhino manager Joseph Okari.

“It is what makes a big difference between the poaching of today… and the poaching of the ’80s and the early ’90s,” he said.

“That was not highly organised and well co-ordinated like what we are seeing today.”

South Africa and Zimbabwe are rhino poaching hotspots, accounting for nearly all of the 470 rhinos killed in Africa between 2006 and 2009. Half of those killed were in Zimbabwe.

The slaughter this year has intensified in South Africa, where rhino poaching has doubled. Okari puts the shift down to the slashed population in Zimbabwe, particularly in state parks, and hardline controls that include poachers being shot dead.

The result is that the Lowveld region which lost 60 animals last year is now seeing more rhinos born than killed.

“If it was to continue at this level, we could see our population increase in time,” said Lowveld Rhino Trust operations co-ordinator Lovemore Mungwashu.

In addition to de-horning, conservationists in Zimbabwe are fitting rhinos with microchips or transmitters to track them, while mounting foot patrols armed in some areas with AK-47 assault rifles. They’re also conducting intelligence work to infiltrate the gangs.

The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority — which has a five-tonne store of severed rhino horns in Harare — estimates the country now has 400 critically endangered black and 300 less threatened white rhinos.

“At peak, we had close to 3,000 rhinos — that was in the early ’80s,” said national rhino coordinator Geoffreys Matipano who estimates the horns can fetch up to 20,000 dollars per kilogramme (2.2 pounds).

“If you compare it with the past few years, we have managed to contain rhino poaching in the country.”

The painless de-horning is seen as a deterrent but is short-term, expensive, time-consuming and risky with the notoriously unpredictable animals having to be supported with oxygen and sprayed with cooling water.

The trade is so lucrative that poachers will kill a rhino for two inches of horn, which grows back like a fingernail.

“De-horning is not a stand alone strategy. It has got to work with other strategies,” said Matipano.

For privately run reserves, the fight to protect Zimbabwe’s wildlife is relentless.

“We’ve got guys out 24/7 and monitoring things all the time,” said Colin Wendham of the Malilangwe reserve near Chiredzi, shortly before a furious rhino mother tried to attack his vehicle.

“It’s the only way that we’re keeping on top of things.”

While saying state parks still face continual declines, Du Toit believes agressive law enforcement alongside good monitoring can win the fight against the poachers.

“We’re dealing with very aggressive criminals,” he said as the team ear-notched a young female.

“These are not just impoverished local people out to just make a little money — these are focused professional criminals.”

Source: SGGP

Doctors save child stabbed in heart, lung

In Uncategorized on August 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

The Ho Chi Minh City Children Hospital No.1 August 16 announced a success in saving a child who was stabbed in the heart and lung.

The kid in intensive room in the Children Hospital No.1 after the surgery (Photo: SGGP)

The 11 year old child Le Cong Truc in the Mekong delta province of Long An’s district Tan Thanh was taken to the emergency room of the district hospital with an iron stick through his body. Doctors soon cut a wooden part of the  stick and transferred him to the city Children Hospital No.1.

The 20cm iron stick with the outside part moved after the beat of his heart. It has stabbed through right pleura of the lung and right ventricle. When doctors in the  hospital carried out a cardiac surgery, removing the iron stick, the kid’s heart sometimes stopped beating because he lost so much blood.

The child patient had recovered after five days in intensive care. The boy was stabbed when he and other children in the neighborhood hunted mouse in fields, his friends thrust him by chance.

Source: SGGP

Campaign launched to save electricity

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Campaign launched to save electricity

QĐND – Sunday, August 01, 2010, 21:5 (GMT+7)

PANO – The Electricity of Vietnam Group (EVN) has launched a campaign “offerring 1 million compact lamps for the poor” to raise awareness of people on saving electricity and to help poor people save costs.

The campaign will be carried out in 21 southern provinces and cities by the Southern Power Corporation under the EVN.

Accordingly, poor households who use between 50 kWh to 100 kWh each month will be given two compact lamps and workers will come to each house to install them.

According to EVN, about 800 households will be provided compact lamps, saving 192 kWh of electricity (equaling 168 billion VND).

This meaningful campaign will contribute to saving electricity and will help poor households reduce their expense.

The campaign will last until the end of October.

Translated by Duy Minh

Source: QDND

Google scrambles to save Internet license in China

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

China is threatening to revoke Google’s business license over the company’s decision to redirect Chinese traffic to computers in Hong Kong that are not governed by the communist government’s censorship practices.

The latest skirmish between Beijing and the Internet search leader threatens to cripple the company in one of the Web’s biggest markets.

Google agreed Tuesday to dismantle the virtual bridge to its Hong site that was created in March, but it was unclear whether that will be enough to stay in business in China. The license is required for the company to continue providing its mapping and music services in China.

Google hopes to keep its license by turning its Chinese website into a so-called “landing page” anchored by a link that users must click on to send visitors to the Hong Kong search service. The company has no plans to revert back to its previous practice of omitting search results that the Chinese government considers subversive or pornographic.

“This new approach is consistent with our commitment not to self-censor and, we believe, with local law,” David Drummond, Google’s top lawyer, wrote in a blog post.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said he had not seen Google’s announcement and could not comment on it. However, he added, “I would like to stress that the Chinese government encourages foreign enterprises to operate in China according to law.”

In this April 12, 2006 file photo, Chinese poke their heads through a Google logo shortly after Google debuts its Chinese Language brand name in the Beijing Hotel in Beijing.

The impasse could drag on for months, analysts predicted, as both Google and the Chinese government jostle in a heavyweight wrestling match unfolding on an international stage.

Google Inc. announced in January that it would no longer comply with Chinese censorship after being hit by a hacking attack traced to China. The high-profile challenge irritated Chinese leaders, even though they want foreign companies to help develop the country’s technology industry.

Google met a Wednesday deadline to apply to renew its Internet license in China. It’s not clear how long the Chinese government will take to review the application, but BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis expects the company “to twist in the wind for a while.”

Google’s uncertain fate in China could become a distraction for management, but it’s one that is probably worth the trouble, said Gartner Inc. analyst Whit Andrews.

That’s because China already has about 400 million people online, making it the world’s largest Internet market, and that figure is expected to steadily grow for decades to come.

“Google knows its shareholders think it’s important to be in China, and a lot of its future value is riding on that,” Andrews said. And China’s government knows it has to flex its muscle because “if it looks like Google is running the show, it could affect their power.”

Google shares fell $17.82, or nearly 4 percent, to $454.26 on a rough day throughout the stock market.

China has not produced a big windfall for Google yet, partly because it’s one of the few markets where the company’s search engine is not the most popular. (The homegrown holds a 60 percent share compared with about 30 percent for Google.)

Analysts estimate Google gets $250 million to $600 million in annual revenue from China, or about 1 percent to 2 percent of its total revenue.

Even if Chinese regulators approve Google’s new navigation tool, the added click to reach Hong Kong could still drive away some users.

If that were to happen, “then advertisers will panic and cut spending,” said Edward Yu, president of Analysys International, an Internet research firm in Beijing.

Google could still remain in China even if the government pulls the plug on its website in that country. The company has indicated it would like to retain its engineering staff in China to take advantage of the country’s technology talent and to maintain a sales force that also sells ads to Chinese businesses trying to reach customers outside the country.

If is shut down, mainland Chinese users could still reach Google’s services by manually typing in the address of the Hong Kong site. But China’s government could also use its own technology tools, sometimes called a “Great Firewall,” to prevent its citizens from connecting to Google’s sites outside the country.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company launched its China-based site in 2006 after Chinese government filters blocked many users from reaching the company’s U.S. site.

Source: SGGP

From TV show to reality: Celebrities to save “dance” for fans

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

In a break from competition, the stars of “Buoc nhay hoan vu” (Universal Steps) meet with their fans face to face for the first time.

Poster for the Universal Steps’ fan meeting on June 5 at Tan Binh District Event Hall (Photo: Cat Tien Sa)The stars, for the first time, will meet their fans in a relaxed atmosphere, free of the intensity of competition, at the Tan Binh District Event Hall, on the morning of June 5.  The meeting will be extraordinary because there will not be any boundaries between fans, stars and the stars’ judges, as they celebrate their shared love for the spirit of dancing.

A list of participants, including singers Ngo Thanh Van, Siu Black and Doan Trang, Miss International Beauty 2009 Vu Thi Hoang Diep, comedian Minh Beo, their foreign dance partners and dance-sport artist Khanh Thi have confirmed they will be in attendance for the June 5 meeting.

Stars will share their experiences from training for every competition and promise to reveal their secret “unforgettable” moments from the show, such as Siu Black’s tears on her third night of competition and the intense emotions Van felt when her best friend Johny Tri Nguyen picked her up when she fell. In return, fans can ask their favorite artists any questions in the hopes of receiving friendly feedback.

The opportunity to see the stars sing, dance and act live on stage, will further enhance the experience for fans who attend the event, which is free-of-charge.

One day later, the stars will visit the HCMC Center for Training Disabled People and Orphans (Hoc Mon District), which is sure to be emotional as well.  Not only bringing gifts, the stars will visit the needy people with their hearts and empathies on display.  The stars have long anticipated the chance to play with children from the center and have expressed their eagerness to hear their heart wrenching stories.

The “Buoc nhay hoan vu” is the Vietnamese version of the famous U.S’s TV show “Dancing with the stars”.

Source: SGGP

EU loan arrives to save Greece from debt default

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 5:02 am

Greece on Tuesday received a badly-needed slice of European Union loan support to help it meet an imminent debt deadline as it braced for new strikes against austerity measures this week.

“The sum of 14.5 billion euros has been released by the European Commission,” the finance ministry said in a statement.

“These funds cover Greece’s immediate and short-term loan requirements and obligations,” the ministry said, adding that 10 eurozone members had contributed bilateral loans.

The money from mainly Germany and France arrived just a day before Greece needs to pay nine billion euros on a maturing 10-year government bond.

The ancient temple of Parthenon atop the Acropolis hill is illuminated by late evening sunlight in Athens

The funds are part of a 110-billion-euro bailout recently agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund in return for deep austerity cuts.

“All (EU) states which had to mobilise so that Greece can meet its debt deadline on May 19 have met their obligations,” French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told a news conference in Brussels.

But as the government got relief on the economic front, it suffered a humiliating blow with the resignation of secretary of state for tourism Angela Gerekou late Monday after a newspaper article revealed her husband’s unpaid taxes.

The finance ministry confirmed that Tolis Voskopoulos, a singing star of the 1970s and 1980s, owed 5.5 million euros (6.9 million dollars) in unpaid taxes and late payment fines.

Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Socialist government has ordered a major campaign against tax cheats as part of the new drive to put the public finances in order.

“Typhoon Angela hits government,” the pro-administration To Vima daily said Tuesday. Ta Nea, which also supports the ruling party, said the minister had been sacrificed “as a message” to other officials.

Aside from a political embarrassment to Papandreou as he labours to enforce unpopular spending cuts, Gerekou’s resignation also leaves the travel sector leaderless at the start of a tourism season which debt-hit Athens badly needs for revenue.

The outgoing junior minister had been “an asset” to the sector, the head of the Greek chamber of hotels (XEE) told a news conference on Tuesday.

XEE chairman George Tsakiris and other leading hoteliers called on the government to rapidly appoint a successor to Gerekou, warning of a 10 percent drop in tourist arrivals this year because of the debt crisis and unrest.

They also noted that the greater Athens region — which draws 15 percent of arrivals — suffered 27,000 night cancellations after a violence-marred protest on May 5 when three people died in a firebombed bank.

Greece is trying to rein in a public deficit of over 30 billion euros to keep a debt mountain of nearly 300 billion euros from a default that could cause a European crisis and even threaten the world economy.

Athens will receive another nine billion euros in September, including 6.5 billion from eurozone members and 2.5 billion euros from the IMF.

A third nine-billion-euro installment will be made in December, the finance ministry said, adding that a first review of Greece’s austerity programme is due in the third quarter of 2010.

To clinch the EU-IMF bailout which helps its economy stay afloat in a growing recession, the Greek government has had to enforce a barrage of deeply unpopular tax hikes and wage and pension cuts.

The measures are opposed by unions which have called a wave of street protests and three general strikes in the last three months.

Visitors and Greeks alike face fresh hardship as a new general strike against the austerity measures on Thursday will shut down state offices, public services, banks and confine ferries to port.

“We are striking because we do not want to work for 40 years without rights, with hunger wages and leave the workforce at the age of 70 with a mendicant’s pension of 300 euros (370 dollars),” said the Communist-affiliated All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) which has held several protests at top-line hotels.

Fitch Ratings warned it might still cut Greece’s credit rating to junk status even though Athens had secured a bailout from the EU and IMF because of the daunting task of getting its strained finances into shape.

“The downside risks are high and Fitch has accordingly judged that negative outlooks on Greece’s sovereign ratings remain appropriate,” the agency said in a statement.

Source: SGGP