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Huge seizures in recent years of trafficked pangolins have drawn worldwide attention to the threat of extinction faced by these armadillo-like anteaters.
It will come as a surprise to some that pangolins top the list of world’s most trafficked endangered mammals.
They’re much sought after in both China and Vietnam for their meat and their scales, which when ground up are believed to remove toxins and cure a variety of ailments, including everything from arthritis to cancer.
Users boil the pangolin to remove the scales, then dry and roast them.
Pangolins can be found in many Asian and African countries, although they are reported to have nearly disappeared from lowland Laos.
Many citizens in China, Vietnam, and Hong Kong believe that pangolin scales have medical uses, but experts, even including some of China’s traditional medicine practitioners, say that no scientific evidence supports this belief.
Some consumers claim that pangolin scales can improve kidney functions, treat palsy and skin diseases, and stimulate lactation, but here again scientific evidence is lacking.
They are also used in traditional African medicine.
Vietnam has passed laws banning the sale of pangolins but implementation appears to be weak. And while some pangolins are rescued, the country has limited capabilities when it comes to caring for them.
According to the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), more than a million pangolins were poached in the decade prior to 2014.
Over the last three years, high-profile seizures of record numbers of pangolin scales by customs officials indicate that smugglers, traffickers, and traders are still selling the scales in large quantities.
On April 3, customs officials in Singapore seized a shipment of more than 14 tons of pangolin scales in what experts described as the largest seizure of a single shipment of its kind ever recorded.
Citing officials, The Washington Post reported that the shipment, which originated in Nigeria, was worth about $39 million U.S. dollars
Some 30,000 pangolins were believed killed for the shipment, according to an official with the Pangolin Specialist Group, who was quoted by The New York Times.
An IUCN Species Survival Commission formed the Pangolin Specialist Group in 2012. It comprises 100 experts from 25 countries and is hosted by the Zoological Society of London.
In 2016, an international body in charge of regulating wildlife trading worldwide acted to ban pangolin poaching, trafficking, and sales.
All 182 member nations belonging to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted in favor of the ban.
The IUCN maintains a Red List of threatened, vulnerable, and endangered species.
All eight species of pangolins, four in Asia and four in Africa, are included on the IUCN Red List, with their designations ranging from vulnerable to endangered.
Populations of all of the species are said by scientists to be rapidly decreasing.
The African connection
On Jan. 31 this year Ugandan authorities reported seizing 750 pieces of elephant tusks and thousands of pangolin scales being smuggled into Uganda from neighboring Sudan.
Officials from the Ugandan Revenue Authority said that the smuggled items were hidden inside pieces of timber carried by three big freight containers.
Two Vietnamese men suspected of belonging to a smuggling ring involved in the case were arrested, the officials said.
The Associated Press quoted officials as saying that the elephant tusks were likely collected in neighboring Congo.
In Africa, elephants are threatened by demand for ivory products in China and other countries, including Vietnam. Africa had 1.3 million elephants in the 1970s but has fewer than 500,000 today, the AP said.
China has officially banned the ivory trade, but some ivory products continue to reach the country from Vietnam and elsewhere.
According to the Hong Kong-based Asia Times, while Vietnam made the trade of ivory illegal in 1992, the country is still a “top market” for ivory goods. They are largely used for decorations and are also used in traditional medicine.
Pangolin trafficking is also banned worldwide under an international treaty, but smugglers are known to bring pangolin scales to Hong Kong and then on into China. In early 2018, reporters from the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that despite the international ban, Hong Kong shops were still selling pangolin scales, sometimes from behind stacks of boxes containing other goods.
The trade in pangolins shipped from the east-central African nation of Uganda is highly profitable. Smugglers can buy the pangolins at low prices in Uganda and sell them at high prices in China and Vietnam. Meanwhile, a market for them has also developed in Indonesia.
Before April’s record-breaking seizure of some 30,000 pangolins in Singapore, this year, customs officials made other sizable seizures in Malaysia and in Hong Kong in February. The Hong Kong haul included 8.3 tons of pangolin scales and 2.1 tons of ivory, in a shipment marked “frozen beef” from Nigeria, media reports said.
Why we should care about pangolins
First of all, pangolins, many of which are about the size of a house cat or small dog, are a threat to no one except to ants and termites, which they lap up with a long, sticky tongue.
They can fight off animal predators with their sharp claws and their scales, which act as a kind of armor when they curl themselves up into a ball.
But pangolins possess little defense against human predators, who can simply pick them up off the ground.
“They’re defenseless,” said Hongying Li, the China program coordinator with the EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in New York which is dedicated to research and protecting people and animals from infectious diseases.
Li said that eating pangolin meat is “a way of showing off. It’s a way of saying I am very rich. I can afford pangolin meat.”
Li also said that pangolins are “very important to the environment, because they eat a lot of ants and termites…”
He described ants and termites as “a disaster for the forest.”
No celebrity status
But as Martin Fletcher of the Daily Telegraph in London explained in a recent article, pangolins “lack the celebrity status of elephants, rhinos, and tigers.”
That, he says, “helps explain why so few westerners even realize they exist.”
In reporting his story, Fletcher decided to check out zoos but found that not a single British zoo houses any of them. Leipzig is the only zoo in Europe that has one and is one of only six zoos in the world that houses them.
Pangolins are shy, nocturnal creatures and often inhabit forests where it is difficult to spot, photograph, or study them. In captivity, they usually fail to adapt well to alternative foods.
But some prominent figures in Britain have taken note of them.
In 2014, Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, teamed up with the makers of the game “Angry Birds” to create an online contest aimed at helping the pangolin.
In 2015, the prince noted that “the humble pangolin…runs the risk of becoming extinct before most of us have ever heard of it.”
In an episode of the BBC program “Natural World,” David Attenborough said that the Sunda pangolin was one of the 10 species that he would like to save from extinction.
Attenborough recalled rescuing one of these pangolins from being eaten while he was working on a film early in his career.
He described it as “one of the most endearing animals I have ever met.”
The Sunda pangolin’s main predators are humans, tigers, and the clouded leopard.
The animal spends much of its life in trees and is classified as threatened.
‘Wildlife under siege’
The best recent journalism to appear in English on the subject of endangered wildlife in Vietnam was published on April 7 in The New York Times’ travel section of all places.
The author Stephen Nash travelled through a national park in Vietnam which is the home to many rare animals, including pangolins.
He concluded that “wildlife is under siege” in Vietnam and that national parks “are often no refuge.”
Nash learned that pangolins command $500 a pound for their meat and scales in folk-cure apothecaries in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Park rangers and others with whom he spoke at the Cat Tien National Park affirmed that the animal populations in the park were declining.
Some rangers were caught helping hunters catch or kill high-value animals, but those caught doing this were said to be severely dealt with.
The rangers earn something like $200 a month, a relatively low salary, which makes poaching an attractive career option, says Nash. (RFA)
Receiving compliments is something that a majority of us enjoy. Compliments, after all, make us feel good about ourselves. Sometimes compliments intended to be flattering turn out to be a tremendous turn-off, and in some cases, they are insulting. 'Beauty with brains is one of those compliments. So, is 'beauty with brains' a compliment? Without further ado, I would confidently say- NO! It doesn't matter what your gender, colour, or identity is. The answer is clearly a no.
Beauty with a brain suggests that you can only have one of these qualities and that you are an 'exception' if you possess both. "Oh, Wow! You are a beauty with brains" is a phrase that women often hear. This statement is used when a female exhibits characteristics that indicate she is intelligent. People are taken aback if they see a wise and beautiful woman because women are stereotyped to be either beautiful or brainy. The concern with this is that it is naturally assumed that men are intelligent. Women, on the other hand, are supposed to have a natural beauty. If she isn't attractive according to the norms laid down by society, it is expected that she would at the very least be intelligent. When someone manages to be both, it is regarded as a significant accomplishment.
People are taken aback if they see a wise and beautiful woman because women are stereotyped to be either beautiful or brainy. | Photo by Unsplash
Women are being stereotyped into two attributes: being attractive and being intelligent, and they are being conditioned to think that these characteristics cannot exist together. When you tell someone that they are not beautiful, you are implicitly attempting to fit them into the so-called "beauty standards" that today's era is so preoccupied with maintaining. And that is a significant issue. We are not required to fit in; we should take the risk of being unusual.
Many movies, television series, and even advertisements depict the female lead as someone who is the attractive one, well-dressed, with a face full of makeup and lovely hair. On the other hand, the intelligent girl is usually the one with unkempt hair, strange fashion sense, and little to no makeup.
While our generation has been the target of insulting and sexist slurs that have caused us to question our abilities on several occasions, let us work together to reverse the trend. Let us educate each other that beauty and intelligence can coexist and that we are all beautiful in our way and don't need to fit in the so-called standards set by our draconian society.
Keywords: women mental health, beauty, brains, men, intelligence society
Malgudi, a small fictional town in South India has been part of the childhood of most Indians. It is an old, shabby, and peaceful town that is unruffled by politics. The stories set in this small town ring the sense of belongingness in the hearts of its readers. The familiar feeling that feels like home resonates with their soul. And teaches important life lessons to the readers through simple tales. Malgudi Days is one of the books that every Indian child should read. The book is a compilation of 32 short stories that paint a beautiful picture of small-town in India around the '60s and '70s
R. K. Narayan, one of the most well-known and popular writers within India and outside India is the creator of this town and the occurrences of this town. The stories follow the characters Swami and his friends through their everyday lives. Be it the story of fake astrologers who scam and loot the people by his cleverness, or the story of a blind beggar and his dog where the money blinded the man with greed; each story has a lesson to learn, morals and values hidden in it. As the stories are simple, easy to understand yet heart-touching it makes it easy for the kids to connect with each character and imagine the story as if the reader themselves were the protagonist of the story. In simple words, we can say that R.K. Narayan simply told stories of ordinary people trying to live their simple lives in a changing world.
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As written during the Indian Independence movements and finally published in 1943. The stories in the Malgudi days beautifully encapsulated the transitioning milieu of the British era to post-Independence India. Each of the stories portrays a facet of life in Malgudi and simultaneously a life in an Indian town. R.K. Narayan was one of the first writers who pioneered Indian writings in the English language and the book was later republished outside India in 1982 by Penguin Classics. Thus, the book enjoyed a worldwide audience. The New York Times even described the virtue of the book as "everyone in the book seems to have a capacity for responding to the quality of his particular hour. It's an art we need to study and revive."
The beautiful storytelling of the book was assisted by beautiful illustrations allowing the children to let their imagination teleport them to the world of Malgudi. All the illustrations in the book were illustrated by the world-renowned cartoonist, R.K. Laxman who is also R.K. Narayan's younger brother. The illustrations complimented the scenes from the stories and excited the children, keeping them engaged in reading the book for hours.
The illustrations complimented the scenes from the stories.Pixabay
The short stories from Malgudi Days were later adapted into a television adaptation in 1986. This show was directed by actor and director Shankar Nag. It was filmed both in Hindi and English, containing 54 episodes and the first 13 episodes respectively. Later the series was revived for additional 15 episodes. The show featured several popular celebrities from the Kannada film industry of those days – Girish Karnad, Vishnuvardhan, Ananth Nag, Arundhati Nag and Vaishali Kasaravalli, to name a few. The series was premiered on the Doordarshan channel and became the window into the town Malgudi for many. The show did not only excel in its storyline the TV adaptation elevated the storytelling as the show was technically very sound and stood out in its fantastic detailing in terms of locations and sets. With the cinematography being creative The Malgudi days- TV series once again warmed the hearts of both young ones and adults.
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Malgudi- our childhood home
Malgudi days hold a special place in the hearts of whoever has read the book as a child. With the detailed descriptions of the town and stories one almost gets a feeling that they've visited the place themselves. The characters, Swami and his friends feel like they were all readers' childhood friends. The surreal feeling of being home in the world of Malgudi. The world of Malgudi is intimate, warm, lifelike, and engaging. The setting is modern, and the life portrayed in these stories is contemporary. Still, there is an old-time air about It. R K Narayan once described Malgudi as "Malgudi is where we all belong, and where we wish we lived."
Keywords: Malgudi days, Malgudi, R K Narayan, R K Laxman, storytelling, our childhood home Malgudi
Well, if you'll notice then the moon takes twenty-nine days to complete its lunar cycle, whereas women's menstrual cycle is generally 28 days! Coincidence? I think, not.
It is believed that when a woman goes through her menstrual cycle, she goes through the different lunar energies. In fact, in ancient times it was said that the natural rhythm of women was to menstruate under a new moon and ovulate under a full moon.
At the same time, it is also believed that the cycle and its stages are connected to different seasons, namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Let us see how the lunar cycle is related to a woman's menstrual cycle!
It must be noted that the menstruation period is during the new moon period and also during the winter season. It is said that this is a reflective phase; a phase of silence, introspection, and solitude. During this phase, a woman's body is more sensitive, and so they're able to connect with it and hear the messages it gives. Interestingly, this is also the time when a woman naturally recycles energy as she menstruates, and hence, it's also the for their rest and recovery.
The Crescent moon represents the pre-ovulation period. This is also the season of spring, and so the time corresponds to an increase in physical energy. During this period, a woman's mental strength is at its peak and their thoughts are much clearer. At the same time, emotions are more stable during this period, and because of which women tend to be more social and outgoing.
This phase of the moon represents ovulation, and the season associated with this phase is summer. It must be noted that this period is full of energy and vitality. At the same time, this period plays a significant role in the lives of women because it's actually a fertile phase in all aspects of their life, be it personal or professional. During this period, the self-confidence and self-esteem in women tend to rise, and along with this, an increase in their sex drive can be seen very well.
This phase of the moon represents pre-menstruation, which is also associated with the autumn season. During this period, a woman's physical energy starts to decline. Metaphorically, just like a tree sheds its leaves, a woman, too, feels the need to let go of anything that is not benefiting her. At the same time, memory and the ability to concentrate decrease in this period.
I hope, now you will not think of the moon just as a celestial body, but as a companion in the lives of women!
Keywords: Women pre-Menstruation, Feminine, women Health Fitness, the moon represents the pre-ovulation period, period and moon cycle.