Wednesday, December 23, 2009

article: Poachers Break Into Asian Zoo
Published on August 24th, 2009

This is an article I found today. Since internet links can be so ephemeral, I will repost it further down the page.

I found this article thanks to the website of Tiger World, a big cat sanctuary and zoological park here in North Carolina ( I have not yet visited Tiger World, but I am looking forward to it. They are not an AZA accredited institution, but they are licensed by USDA (for what that is worth).

Anyway, I was rather shocked at the audacity of said poachers, and yet it is not surprising in the least. Even at the Tulsa Zoo in Oklahoma, we had to endure quite a bit of vandalism and minor theft. Indeed, sometimes smaller animals would be stolen. However, poaching of zoo property is taking criminality to a whole new level.

Tiger Killed, Skinned Inside Indonesian Zoo

Tiger looking cautious

Authorities fear that the killing of Sheila the tiger at Jambi’s Rimbo Zoo is a shocking new development in the illegal wildlife trade. The tiger’s skin, along with body parts in demand for traditional Asian “remedies”, were taken from the tiger’s enclosure.

Officials noted that even the tiger’s blood had been collected.

According to the Jakarta Globe, authorities suspect the poachers went through a gutter into the zoo and made their way to Sheila’s enclosure, where they threw in poisoned bait to kill her.

Didy Wurdjanto, the head of the Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Center, is confident that the killing of the tiger was done by professionals who were well aware of the tiger’s value in the illegal wildlife trade.

There is no doubt that the killers were professionals because they did their job very cleanly, taking off the skin in the enclosure rather than dragging the 100-kilogram animal out, which could have attracted attention … I just can’t bear the thought that this could be a new trend in the illegal wildlife trade, [that poachers] are now going after tame tigers in zoos rather than in forests. The demand for tigers is increasing and the price is getting higher because there are so few left.

The head of Taman Rimbo Zoo “refused to speculate on whether zoo staff could have been involved in the crime.”

Increasing demand for tiger parts

Tiger (and rhino) conservation is under serious threat by China’s economic boom: The growing affluence in China and other Asian countries is driving an unprecedented demand for tiger (and rhino) parts for supposed “medicinal” purposes - and as a result, forcing tigers and rhino closer to extinction in the wild.

China has even lobbied to get the ban on their horrific “tiger farms” lifted: See “Breeding Tigers for Commercial Trade in Body Parts.”

Now it appears these murderers will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Image source:

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

whether weather

Commenting on the weather differences in North Carolina (where I grew up and where I live now) versus Tulsa, Oklahoma (where I lived for nearly 4 years until recently)

We had quite a fog this morning, and yesterday morning. A white-out after just a few feet down the road. We NEVER had fogs like this in Oklahoma (that I saw). I imagine the winds off the plains blew any away moisture like that.

And speaking of wind, it was such a still morning: no breeze at all. Again, that NEVER happened in Oklahoma. In fact, when I moved back to Carolina it took WEEKS before I felt an Oklahoma-quality stiff breeze, and that was a very very rare event.

On the other hand, in North Carolina we're not used to thunder that rattles your teeth and sets of car alarms.

What's it like where you are?

Oh, and If we had a castrated ram who acted differently according to climatic conditions, it'd be case of whether weather wether.

Monday, December 14, 2009

What have you read by W. Somerset Maugham?

One of my favorite authors currently but not discovered until relatively recently, after my college years. I found him by a method I have really come to value. Anthologies of short stories. That's how I found Saki, and that's how I found Hal Clement, and that's how I found Maugham. Once I find an author I revel in, I look up what else he or she has written.

By the way, I've been told it's is correctly pronounced "Mawm." Originally, I was thinking of him as "mawg-ham" which although I conclude forgivable seems quite uninspired. It reminds me of the seminal German poet of Faust fame, "Go-Ee-Thi."

Okay, back on topic (sort of) I found a Maugham short story in an anthology crediting itself as the "best" modern short fiction in the English Language. I cannot recall the title, even though I've looked, but it was about (roughly) a British man's self-perception as a "gentleman" and "man of civilization" at a lonely island outpost in the middle of a jungle.

I realize that little description probably doesn't engage anyone to look up this author, but assure you, you would be surprised.

Anyway, I soon followed the author's name from his short story to the library search engine and found his one of his best-known novels, "A Razor's Edge." It follows a young man's search for the meaning of life, searching among Eastern mysticism and Parisian frolics.

After that, I found "Ashenden" on eBay and I was thrilled to own a copy that antique (the '50s) with the original cover intact. I just finished reading that this season.

As authors go, Maugham is overwhelmingly cosmopolitan. By that I mean multiculturally influenced. He has a personal background in British espionage and foreign affairs, which he puts to good use in his works. Even though his stories rarely seem to follow a clear beginning-middle-end format, his characters are so very human that I suppose his stories thus mirror life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

what have you read by Kipling?

Namely, Rudyard Kipling, best known for the "Jungle Book" but also quite a bit else.

I never read "Jungle Book", but of course I saw the Disney animation (almost entirely unfaithful, btw). I did however get introducted to the "Just-So Stories" as a kid. And they left a lasting impression.

Well, I learned a few years ago of his novel "Kim" and I got it from the library. I had been seaching for the origins of the "spy thriller" genre out of curiosity, and Wikipedia told me to look it up. Reading "Kim", it was my first Kipling in almost two decades, and I was thrilled.

Before I go on, please allow me to address (justified) criticism of Kipling's views as a rascist and fascist and all-around distasteful character. He was I think but he doesn't deserve the bad wrap he receives. In large part, he was a product of his times. Even more, everyone is (or should be) allowed faults and his are painfully just out in the open.

Okay, my point is, in reading the introduction to "Kim" I came across a comment about Kipling's one attempt at science fiction. That caught my attention tremendously. I now had a mission, a quest, although I expected many delays, and indeed found them.

I have read it, now. "With the Night Mail: A Story of 2000 A.D." There aren't too many sci-fi stories I've read written in the 1890s.

This blog is getting a big long, so I will talk about it (and other supernatural fantasy stories, like the Phantom 'Rickshaw) later.