Vol. II No. 36 Saturday September 6 - September 12, 2003
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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Are the pandas necessary?

Misidentified Weapons


Are the pandas necessary?


I want to raise a question: is it necessary to get giant pandas for Chiang Mai Zoo where the costs to do so are in no relation to what could be done with this kind of money otherwise?

Don’t get me wrong, I love animals. My household owns 3 dogs, 1 puppy (from the street), 5 cats, chickens and birds. Not to forget that I have 3 children and 5 grand children. This is just a statement to say that I am neither an animal hater nor a despiser of mankind.

I read in last week’s Chiangmai Mail that Chiang Mai will pay China US$250,000 for ‘the loan’ of two rare giant pandas. That’s not all the costs involved. There is also the cage which has to be built (only 39.8 million baht) plus of course the giant panda bears will bring their ‘own’ servants from China. This panda staff has to be paid as well, a salary of about 43,000 baht per month.

Now my question: does Thailand have nothing else to worry about, than to borrow panda bears from China?

Is the country in a state where everything is perfect? Every kid has the possibility to go to school, everybody has enough to eat and there is also enough clean water for the people?

When all this and more is done, then - and only then - should the government be allowed to ask for the loan of panda bears. If American zoos like in San Diego, Atlanta, Memphis and Washington act as foster homes for giant pandas, I agree. These cities are not in the developing state as Thailand.

But as long as there are parents in this state who do not know how to feed and dress their children, as long as people - dying from AIDS - cannot afford medication, as long as foreign aid has to step in to do missionary work, until that day, the government should not be allowed to satisfy their ego, but rather take that 250,000 US dollars and help their own suffering people and ethnic minorities in cultivating land and living a more human life.

Walter L. Henderson

Misidentified Weapons


On your web page in the story about 9 killed in Drug shootout you identified the weapons used buy the criminals as “AK-47 sub-machine guns” - for your information, there is no such thing as a AK-47 sub-machine gun.

Later in the same story you go on to say that 5 AK-47 machine guns were confiscated - again there are no AK-47 machine guns. Please use an updated source to identify weapons, there are several online or in book form. It is very unprofessional to describe weapons incorrectly. If you need any help in this matter do not hesitate to contact me. I enjoy your website and surf it weekly.

Weapons expert,



“How cruel”, one might be tempted to say after reading Nuttanee Thaveephol’s article in Chiangmai Mail No.35. ‘National Parks Department trying to discourage slash-and-burn farming in remote areas’. This farming technique has been practised by most hill tribes for over centuries. And not only by hill tribes. Early agriculturalists in many parts of the world did the same: clearing part of the forest around the village by cutting and burning and then start growing your crops in the new field. When after some years the soil is exhausted, it is left to regenerate, while the farmers move on to a new piece in the forest. No deforestation; after some years the trees are growing again. There is a perfect balance between man and forest. So, what seems to be the problem?

In most discussions about the pros and cons of this old farming method not enough attention is paid to the fact that, although the method is the same, the farmers and especially their surroundings have changed. Gone are the days that the little hill tribe community was self-supporting and only producing cereals and vegetables for their own needs. They could maintain a closed system in which almost everything that they needed for daily life was supplied by themselves and their natural environment.

But eventually they got in touch with modern developments. And quite rightly they also wanted electricity, TV, a pick-up. For that they had to sell some of their products, and consequently production had to be expanded. More fields were needed and more forests had to be cut down. And modern fertilisers prevented exhaustion of the soil, so nobody had to go through that long-lasting cycle of reforestation anymore. But the delicate balance between man and forest was fundamentally destroyed.

So what is the solution? If the hill tribe farmers can stop watching TV and driving in pick-ups, they can reduce the surface of their fields and there is time again to let nature do the rejuvenation of the abandoned areas. The group had to live in a “museum”, in total isolation of its modern surroundings. Of course, this is not a realistic proposition. So I am afraid that if we want to stop further damage to our forests, we must ask the National Parks Department to continue their discussion with the hill tribe communities.

Jan Verwers
Doi Saket

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