The Globe as you know it is changing. Coming June 2019

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To understand more about why you are so important to our member support initiative, we encourage you to read the following from our managing editor ~ Read more

The Globe as you know it is changing.

Since 2007, Southeast Asia Globe has been a space for some of the region’s best writers and photographers to take our readers behind the headlines into the stories that shape people’s lives. Every month, you could expect to pick up our latest print edition and find high-quality journalism, analysis and artwork waiting on every page. And since 2007, we’ve fought to uphold our promise of quality and independence to you, our readers.

But, like we said, the world is changing. Print publications just aren’t reaching the audiences they need to fulfil their promise of informing, educating and entertaining the public. Advertisers continue to invest in digital platforms while printing costs creep ever higher. Print may not be dead, but it’s fighting for its life. And we’re tired of waiting by a sickbed for its condition to improve. We want to be present at the birth of something new.

That’s why Southeast Asia Globe is relaunching as a member-driven platform featuring daily long-form features combining world-class journalism with enthralling art design and data-centered tech. Through our core pillars – Power, Money, Life and Earth – we are focusing in on the central issues that our readers have always engaged with most, with the same in-depth coverage of politics, business, social affairs and the environment that you’ve come to expect since 2007.

But leaving print behind us doesn’t just save our backs from lugging stacks of magazines across Southeast Asia. It opens up a global readership who don’t just want to read the news, but have a say in the stories that we tell and the way that we tell them. We’re not asking you to take out another magazine subscription – our stories are open to all. What we’re offering our members is a space where they can pitch and vote on the stories that they think deserve to be told. We want to inspire an engaged and active community of members who vote for, comment on and contribute to the stories that matter most to them. We want to work with our members to curate the way they engage with the news – not just as readers, but as an active extension of our editorial team.

That’s how we’re changing to bring you great stories. Here’s how we’re not.

We’re independent. Always have been, always will be. We’re not owned by any corporation or aligned with any state. We choose the stories that we tell, and the way that we tell them.

We’re creative. We’re not interested in churning out breaking news stories on the hour, every hour. We believe that the best stories are the ones that come alive on the page, digging deeper into the issues that shape Southeast Asia – and bringing you along for the ride. From our dedicated designers to our new software development team, our commitment is to constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways of reaching out to our readers.

We’re open. Challenging governments, NGOs and businesses to be transparent with the public means nothing if we keep our own readers in the dark. That’s why we will be completely open about why we tell the stories that we tell – and how we pay for them. Work with us to build something that endures where many media fail, and decide with us exactly where that money is going.

Above all, we’re optimistic. And yeah, we know what you’re thinking. Faced with impending climate collapse, the rise of right-wing authoritarian governments across the world, widening wealth and income inequality and deepening divisions rooted in race or gender or creed, it’s hard not to open the papers and feel the weight of the world pressing down. But we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t believe that when people work together, they can make their little corner of the world a more just, open and equal place.

And that’s why we can’t do this without you. We believe that across the globe is a community of people who care deeply about social justice, environmental action and press freedom – and who will join in to help make those ideals a reality. We’re not just holding our hand out – we need your voice to play a vital role in building Southeast Asia Globe into a leading space for progressive causes in the region. Tell us what stories the mainstream media is missing. Share with us the causes that matter most to you, and how we can champion those causes not just across Southeast Asia, but the world.

Our vision is clear. By 2025, we want to be recognised for building a great space for outstanding journalists from across the region to explore new ways of telling Southeast Asia’s most vital stories. Let’s bring together a community of engaged and loyal members who want to help reshape the media rather than just read it. And we want to reach a point where our readers, not advertisers, are the ones working to support our shared vision of an inclusive media.

We can’t do this without you. Let’s get together and build something that we all believe in.

If you’re interested in joining us, sign up to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter. And watch this space.

Face value

By: Mark Andrews - Posted on: November 18, 2013 | Society

Vietnam’s unrelenting belief in the power of rhino horn is causing the animals to be mutilated and driven to extinction

By Mark Andrews 

Three shots from a high-calibre rifle ring out across the bushveld. It is about 2am in Kruger National Park, South Africa, and a team of rangers have been hot on the trail of suspected poachers for the past two hours. A helicopter is scrambled and lands a special forces unit in Houtbosch Section. Contact is soon made, and a firefight ensues. Three poachers are apprehended, but one dies at the scene from his wounds. However, he is not the only one fatally wounded. Nearby, “a white rhino cow was crying pitifully, its horns had been hacked off crudely, it was still alive, its eyes had been gouged out and the spine had been hacked. It could not move but kept trying to lift its head,” said Ken Maggs, chief operations officer of South African National Parks’ anti-poaching initiative. He has seen many horrifying sights, but none quite as bad as this.

Investigations by Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, indicate that Vietnam is now the key country leading demand for rhino horn. This is evidenced in both the final destination of seized shipments and by tracing the trade chain following arrests of crime syndicate members.

Ironically, Vietnam used to have its own rhinoceros population. Back in 1989, a small group of Javan rhinos, the most critically endangered of the five existing species, was discovered in south Vietnam. This led to the creation of Cat Tien National Park about 150km north of Ho Chi Minh City. In April 2010, with the discovery of a rhino carcass, the population was declared extinct – all dung samples collected between 2009 and 2011 were from this animal. HI_298947-UseWEB2

Records of the use of rhino horn in Chinese pharmacopoeia go back at least 1,800 years, with it traditionally used to treat ‘hot’ diseases such as fevers, inflammation and toxicity. By the 7th Century, it was common for the nobility to have cups made from rhino horn due to the prevalence of assassination at the time and the ability of the protein keratin – essentially the same material as your fingernails – to detect poisons. “Someone figured out that rhino horn drinking vessels were very good at detecting poisons because most poisons were alkaloids and when they were poured into these keratin cups they started to fizz and react,” says Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes, an independent conservation economist, who thinks this historical use may help explain the belief in the healing properties of horn.

Today in Vietnam the use of rhino horn appears segmented but is associated with the rich and famous. Not only is it used in the traditional way, but some people believe it is effective against cancer, and it has also become a party drug – used as a hangover cure. “Rhino horn is often given as a gift to curry favour with business relations and political officials. The key driver from our research is the emotional one rather than the functional,” says Dr Naomi Doak, Greater Mekong programme coordinator at Traffic.

Although Vietnam has signed up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the implementation of it has been very patchy, with Traffic reporting that the market in the country for rhino horn is “growing and very open”. The highest levels of the government seem implicit in the trade, with its effectiveness in curing cancer supposedly originating due to an unnamed government official recovering from the condition. Vietnamese diplomats have also been implicated in the illegal rhino horn trade by the Environmental Investigation Agency, with diplomatic staff serving in Africa allegedly involved with smuggling.

In the past few years, poaching has increased exponentially in South Africa, where most of the world’s rhinos now survive. As of September the number of rhinos poached this year stands at 704, compared to 668 for the whole of last year. South Africa estimates that, if the current trend continues, rhino extinction will occur around 2026. HI_296529-UseWEB4

Evidently, current measures to combat the trade are not working. Even as South Africa has tightened regulations, poaching has increased. From a very low level in the mid-1990s, rates increased before the introduction of trophy hunting – which is completely legal – where Vietnamese pay to take part in the hunts and then take the horn. Poaching dropped after this, only to shoot up with the implementation of Threatened or Protected Species regulations in 2008, which made it very difficult for rhino owners to do anything without a permit and also leaked information to the crime syndicates involved in poaching. Rates rose further in 2009 with the moratorium that stopped internal sales of horn within South Africa. With these ‘legal’ routes closed, the price of horn has increased, leading to a knock-on increase in poaching levels.

South Africa currently has a stockpile of more than 18 tonnes of horns, in government and private hands, and is going to lobby at the 2016 CITES meeting for a one-off lifting of the trade ban. “People are gambling on the rhino’s extinction and are speculatively stockpiling,” says t’ Sas-Rolfes, who claims that poaching only becomes economically attractive at a certain horn price level.

John Hume, who owns about 900 rhinos, thinks that the answer is farming the rhino. “Whether rhino horn can be scientifically proven to work as medicine is most likely irrelevant to those who use it,” he says. “Ironically, there is no need to kill one single rhino for the consumers of horn as rhino horn is a renewable resource that can be easily harvested.” An African white rhino can yield as much as one kilogram per year, while a killed animal provides only three kilograms. In contrast, a living animal can offer as much as 60kg in its lifetime.

Such a move is not without precedent. The South American vicuña was hunted to near extinction for its wool, but with sustainable harvesting and giving the local community an economic incentive, numbers increased from about 10,000 to 421,500.HI_42889-UseWEBBB

In South Africa, about three-quarters of protected areas are privately owned, whereas in Kenya the big game population dropped by more than 50% after outlawing such areas in the 1970s. This may sound anathema to conservationists, but “you don’t need a lot of rhinos to keep tourists happy. In South Africa, most of the expansion of the wildlife population has been driven by hunting,” says t’ Sas-Rolfes.

Rhinos are teetering on the brink. Current measures to cut demand in Vietnam are not working and, unless a workable solution is found, an animal that has been around for up to 15 million years will go extinct on our watch.




Also view:

“Growing green” – Can Cambodia develop and become an eco-friendly tourist destination at the same time?

“Game, set and trap” – Camera traps are crucial tools for better understanding the composition and populations of wildlife in the region. They also tell us what is being lost

“With a heavy heart” – In a sad twist of fate, elephants are forced to fuel an insatiable logging industry that contributes to the slow demise of their species