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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vipers of Batanes


This video is a documentation from GMA7 station.

Batanes, an Island in the Philippines where an endemic snake can be found, the Batanes pit Vipers. Residents of this province are selling these snake from Batanes to Manila then distributed to different countries.

Depending upon the type, size and color, the price of these snakes ranges from P300 to P2000.

These snakes are travel from Philippine airports illegally till it reaches to the buyers.

Massive Selling of Exotic Animals and Endangered Species

The massive selling of this Endangered species and Exotic animals can always be seen every day not just in Aranque Market but also online. Take a look for examples of the forums like Philippine Pet Finder.

Authorities should really have to get inside or just even try to join the forum to see how these animals being trade.

I dont know about this forumboard too. but they suddenly keep thier forum private.

Pet forumboards are being created one by one by someone just to transact these animals. try searching "Philippine pet forum" and you'll see more.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Human Trafficking in Philippines

Over hundreds of reports over the net can be found by searching human trafficking in the Philippines. 150 Filipinas were sold into prostitution to night club operators in African countries, particularly Nigeria. The women were bought for $5,000 each by international syndicates. Men, women and teen girls were trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Africa, North America, and Europe. The government and NGO estimates on the number of women trafficked range from 300,000 to 400,000 and the number of children trafficked range from 60,000 to 100,000. Many Filipino men and women voluntarily migrate to work abroad but later coerced into exploitative conditions. Source of Info.

Foreigners visiting Philippines, not just Americans, particularly other Asians, sexually exploit women and children in the Philippines.

The Philippines has internal trafficking of women and children from rural areas, particularly the Visayas and Mindinao, to urban areas, such as Metro Manila and Cebu, for sexual exploitation or forced labor as domestic workers, factory workers, or in the drug trade.

More on the Source Link.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Parias Mcgregori - The Story


Parias mcgregori, high white female (some collectors pay for snakes like this more than 2500 USD!)
Years back, once i first saw this beautiful species, i was directly in love with them। finding out, how endangered they already are i was forced to do somethings! i simply could not watch them die out without even trying my best to safe them.well, today i proudly can announce; for this time, Parias mcgregori is safe and the population is slowly but surly raising!i have done such tremendous efforts to safe them, that i could wright a whole book about it. today, a shorter story for you need to be enough for the moment. i wright this story, to proof, even single persons can change things - if they only have the will to do it! i also writhing this to encourage every single one to try their best to make a change, and i will tell this story to you - to let you be part of this amazing cooperation, between a single foreigner - arriving on a small island - and their local inhabitants, their local government. an cooperation who would soon to become one of the most successful species survival actions ever done here in the Philippines. the story is not only about the snakes, but the peoples, the peoples from Batanes, the peoples from the national wildlife agencies and a story about an german snake enthusiast, yes -someone like you!How it begun:it was on a bright september morning 2002 as i walked, into an philippine petstore, somewhere in manila, looking for fish for the aquarium i build in a german dive resort in Sabang Beach, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. i was the resort manager this time and constructed a very big part of the Garden of Eden resort. well, i was looking for fish - and came into a small talk with an local animal dealer at the marked who offered me to bye an Changeable Hawk. as i dont showed any interest in the bird, he brought a box, content: The mysterious mcgregors Pitviper! i was shocked, i was overwhelmed and i was angry with this sales person, in this moment the biggest criminal in my eyes. how could he sale an endangered species like this? in the end, i ended up to become his partner in crime, i supported his wrong doing coz i paid him off and have the animals taken away from him. well, i would not do this today anymore, but i had this wonderful feeling i saved the snakes, a wonderful lie to explain my wrongdoing to myself. i could not know - how this day and my choice to buy this few snakes would change my life forever.one year later, i was fighting to get my wildlife farm permit. i resigned at the resort and moved up to the mountains around Puerto Galera. the year before i spend all my time (beside my job) to talk to peoples, setting up a network between folks who was interested in reptilians and to build my very first reptile facilities at my place. my wildlife farm permit application was turned down by the government 4 times. but i would not give up - i pushed my luck and become even more aggressive to proof my capabilities to the government. i was giving lectures to law enforcement agencies and was many times speaker on wildlife congresses, wildlife management seminars and hold snake handling courses within the country. one whole year later - i was given the wildlife farm permit and even more, i was holing a certification in my hands, and was from now on a certified wildlife rescue center as well. that was the time i came across another bunch of Parias mcgregori as the Monitoring Team at the Airport had confiscated a lot of snakes, most of them venomous. well, as now all folks within the country know of me and our "strange love" for venomous reptiles, they turned over all confiscated snakes, and they still do so till today. again, badly dehydrated and full of endo- and ectoparasites the snakes does not looked so good. but this time - i would fight for them, what ever it might cost. i cant have them dying, not this time, what would everybody think about me, what about our reputation?Stage 2, conservation:Make a difference!since, i have taken in lots and lots of animals here, i have decided to change somethings, help this animals even before the where collected by poacher - before they been smuggled off the island. what to do?first of all, it was more than necessary to educate local peoples and the local government about the species and her situation in Batanes island (the only place in the world, where Parias mcgregori can be found).therefore, i needed to travel - all the way up to north - to see for myself what´s going on in Batanes.shortly after my arrival, i went to Mount Iraya, an (for this moment), inactive Volcano - the only natural Habitat on Batanes, where Parias mcgregori can be found. i was, lets say, very shocked how little is the Island and how much smaller even is the site where the snakes can be found!

The findings on batanes was just scary, almost all snakes was gone! even the mount Iraya is protected, poacher still finding a way to get snakes from the island, selling them for few bucks to traders। the other problem was, the island is shaped like northern Ireland, short grass areas, wherever you look. there is no way to find new habitats for the species in batanes.



The habitats found on mount Iraya on the other hand was amazing, lovely very dense primary rain forrest. virgin like. just breath taking. well, there is hope, if the Mountain will be protected there might be a chance for the most beautiful asian pitviper in the world to survive!


After getting in contact with the local government, we decided to bring the Parias mcgregori population to new life. but first, we need to assure the safety for their habitat. it happen that i have done another trip to Batanes. together with guys from the national wildlife agencies i was going back to the island of Parias mcgregori, but this time i had somethings special with me, the previously confiscated animals. after one and a half year in my hands, it was finally time to release the snakes back into their natural habitat - back to the island. i was worried a bit, concerned the local peoples would not like us to bring venomous snakes back to their place. with this feeling in my stomach i left Mindoro, early morning - traveling to manila, the snakes well packed, to meet with the folks from the wildlife bureau. next morning was the flight scheduled to Basco, the main city in Batanes. what an surprise after we get out of the airplane! all city mayors of the towns on the island awaited us together with their very own wildlife guys. hawai like flowers around our necks we went directly to the office of the governor Gato. what an greeting committee!


After i arrived at the Office of the Governor, we was welcomed by Governor Gato himself। he had done his homework, he knew who i was, he also knew who the others was - what he could not understand was why in the heck we brought this venomous creatures back to his island! well, after one hour of a lovely conversation he was finally finding out, his very special snakes was indeed very important, very important for their eco-tourism program as Batanes now had somethings very unique and somethings that only could be found in Batanes Group of Islands, the Batanes Pit-Viper, Parias mcgregori!


After the meeting with the Governor, we even was able to convince the provincial government to protect mount Iraya and the snakes for the next generations. after signing an Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to protect the snakes and prevent poachers from smuggling. the Director of the Philippine National Police in Batanes assured us, it will be no mercy anymore for violating the Republic Wildlife Act on Batanes. what an success! but now it was time to bring the snakes back to the forrest, everybody wanted to join us. well protected by police and other officials, i finally arrived with "my" snakes at the food of Mount Iraya. well, what follows was the walk into the dense forrest.






Releasing animals back into the wilderness in one of the most rewarding moments you can achieve in your life, at least for me all that interest for a box full of venomous snakes - awesome! i loved it


done! one of my happiest days in my entire life!









Well, i am sure, the habitat will be safe for now, but i was also sure i am not yet done. the most challenging part is still to come.we were granted the permit to start an conservation breeding program. i knew it was´nt to be easy, many folks in the world tried to breed them, so far without success, but i was again sure i would do anything to make it work. two years, intensive studies on Batanes, here at HerpaWorld - close with the animals and always trying to understand what need to be done to become successful- was finally about to become, what i and many others call - the success in conservation and education on wildlife.Stage 3, breeding:well, i needed an special facility for Parias mcgregori, ok - lets build one! the previously for the Batanes Pit-Viper breeding build snake-house comforts today many other species from all over the world. that was the start of our Zoological Institue here in the Philippines.

Snake house I - build for the conservation breeding program on Parias mcgregori.after many clutches got lost (Parias mcgregori has a very unique habit, she incubates her eggs herself - all tests in incubating the eggs artificially wasnt that successful) finally the success came to me. the first hatchlings was born at herpaworld and i was just the most proud dad you could found on earth.















Meanwhile, we produced more than 300 Parias mcgregori in captivity and send lots of snakes around the world, to folks we know they will be able to breed them in the future as well। the beginning is done to safe a striking beautiful species for future generations. lets hope, this will be a permanent success story on conservation! i will try my very best, to make sure the Parias mcgregori will survive, nout only in captivity but in their nature habitat - on the beautiful Batanes Island! middle in nowhere but in the center of my heard!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Kidneys For Sale



What do you do when there is no work? When your children are dying, and you cannot afford to pay a doctor? In the Bagong Lupa slum area in the Filipino capital at least 150 men have chosen to sell one of their kidneys.


By John Einar

Manila, Philippines


Marlene Maico was only two years old at the time Then she fell sick. Very sick - with several diseases at the same time. Her life could only be saved if she was treated properly at a hospital.


- But I had no money, says the father, 31-year-old Satur Maico. The family lived in a shanty in Bagong Lupa, a large slum area close to the harbor in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines.
Garbage and sewage are floating below the shanties. There is visible damage after a typhon hit a few months earlier, in which many of the families lost their homes. For many people it is a depressing life. There is no work. At least not every day. And when they get something to do, residents say, pay is a meager 3 to 6 dollars.
In this neighborhood a desparate Maico helplessly watched his daughter on the brink of death. Finally he chose what he considered to be his only alternative: He accepted that one of his two kidneys was removed from the body and transplanted into a man who was willing to pay.
- I received 70.000 pesos (1750 USD) for my kidney. That is the smallest amount anyone has been paid in this area. But I was desperate and did not have much to negotiate with, says Satur Maico.
Thus the daughter, who now is six years old, was admitted to hospital. The father could afford the 15.000 pesos fee. And she survived.


Today a long scar at the right side of his body bear witness of Maico's sacrifice for his daughter. And at least 150 other men have the same scar in this slum area, according to Dalmacio Zeta, who makes a living as broker in the kidney trade.
- I receive 12.000 pesos (300 USD) for every kidney I provide, tells Zeta (picture to the right). According to him, several brokers operate in other slum areas in Manila.
As in many countries, there is a great need for human organs for transplantation in the Philippines. Only a fraction of relatives approached after the death of a family member accept donating organs for people in need. And not all patients have relatives willing to sacrifice one of their own kidneys.
This situation makes some rich patients choose to open their wallet in search of a person who is willing to help save their lives.

Despair
In Bagong Lupa hardly anybody donates their kidneys out of compassion. Instead painful poverty and human despair are the motivating forces behind their acceptance when a broker like Dalmacio Zeta approaches them.
- I would not have done it again, one donor, 27-year-old Napoleon Custodio (picture above), says.
For him, what was promised to be a simple surgery, caused a number of problems.
- I spent one year recovering. And even today I am not able to do heavy physical work. I also have to observe a number of restrictions, for instance as to what type of food I can eat, he says.
In what seems to be a typical explanation in the Philippines, he says he made his sacrifice for his family. He received 75.000 pesos (1875 USD), of which half was given to his parents and the rest shared between himself and his six siblings.
- Sometimes I cannot get job assignments because of my poor health. That makes me feel like I was cheated, he explains. His marriage also broke down because of the problems.
- No, I would not have done it again, Custodio repeats.
- Rather I would have killed myself.
Preliminary ban
So far no laws have regulated the trade in human organs in the Philippines, a fact that has encouraged patients from rich countries like Japan and Saudi Arabia to travel here for a kidney transplantation.
Recently, though, it became a hot topic. Authorities have issued a preliminary ban as more permanent regulations are being prepared. Few people, however, seem to think legislation will have a significant effect.
The reason is obvious: It is a question of money. And it has to do with life, death and despair for both donors and recipients.
A patient must get hold of a kidney donor himself, explains medical doctor Antonio R. Paraiso at the National Kidney Institute.
Those without relatives thus often approach people like Dalmacio Zeta, who is an intermediary between donors and recipients. Doctors at the National Kidney Institute have noted that an increasing number of agents operate in this business.
Doctor Paraiso says most doctors, although they are well aware of the existence of the trade, try to keep the issue at some distance from themselves. He explains:
- Some years ago a patient of mine needed a new kidney. However, he explained that he felt he could not ask any of his own sons to donate. Then one day he appeared with a donor: His maid's son. At that time i refused to do the transplantation. Later on, though, I have learned to put aside my own prejudices. That makes my job easier.
Kidney broker Dalmacio Zeto explains that he gets most orders through a woman who also does business with several other agents. The donors must pass several medical tests before being accepted.
Yet Zeto still has a long way to go before being a wealthy man. He lives in an small shanty at about five square meters close to the beach. His previous home collapsed in a typhon.
Unpopular
He is not very popular in the slum area. As we ask about directions to his place, others just call him "the pig".
- Many are envious because I have bought expensive things after completing deals, such as an organ or a karaoke player. Now all my money are lost, though, he says.
According to doctor Antonio R. Paraiso a kidney transplantation costs about 10.000 USD plus whatever the recipient has to pay for the donor. The latter fee is normally much higher than what the donor himself receives as brokers make sure to take their own share of it.
The National Kidney Institute now tries to make it more difficult for kidney brokers to make money, for instance by making the donor and the recipient meet each other face to face at the hospital.
Paraiso, however, does not completely object to the idea of some form of compensation to people who donate a kidney to a non-relativ. Even within a family gratitude sometimes is expressed in monetary terms, he points out.
- Regulations must be adjusted to our reality, and that being that there is an enormous need for kidney donors, he says.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Underground Economy / Black Market

The underground economy or black market is a market consisting of all commerce on which applicable taxes and/or regulations of trade are being avoided. The term is also often known as the underdog, shadow economy, black economy or parallel economy.
In modern societies the underground economy covers a vast array of activities. It is generally smallest in countries where
economic freedom is greatest, and becomes progressively larger in those areas where corruption, regulation, or legal monopolies restrict legitimate economic activity.

Pricing
Goods acquired illegally can take one of two price levels:
They may be less expensive than legal market prices, as the supplier does not incur the normal production costs or pay the usual taxes. This is usually the case in the underground market for stolen goods.
Alternatively, illegally supplied goods may be more expensive than normal prices, as the product in question is difficult to acquire or produce, dangerous to deal with or may hardly be available legally. This is usually the case in the underground market for goods that are illegal to purchase, sell or possess.

Consumer issues
Even when the underground market offers lower prices, consumers are likely to continue the purchase of the legal counterparts, when possible, due to the following reasons:
The consumer may—justifiably—prefer legal suppliers, as they are both easier to contact and can be held legally accountable in case of product faults
In some jurisdictions, customers may be charged with a criminal offence if they knowingly participate in the unregulated economy, even as a customer.
Consumers may feel that they incur a physical risk to their person, whilst dealing with black market goods, depending on the goods and how they are acquired
Consumers may feel that the black market supplier conducts business immorally, particularly in cases where the black market supplier exploits their own supplier or has a history of exploiting other consumers
However, in some cases consumers may actively prefer the underground market, particularly when government regulations unnecessarily hinder a legitimate service. Examples include:
Unlicensed taxicabs, in Baltimore, it has been reported that many consumers actively prefer illegal taxis, citing that they are more available, convenient, and priced fairly.[1]
Highly marginalized groups, such as illegal immigrants, may effectively be excluded from the legal economy and thus may undertake most of their purchases and employment in the underground economy.

Traded goods and services
In developed countries, some examples of underground economic activities include:

Transportation providers
In areas where taxicabs, buses, and other transportation providers are strictly regulated or monopolised by government, an active black market typically flourishes in providing transportation to underserved communities. In the United States, some cities restrict entry to the taxicab market via a medallion system. This has led to an active market illegal taxicab operation. Customers range from black Americans living in urban neighborhoods to rural old-order Amish.

Illegal drugs
Main article: Illegal drug trade
Beginning in the 19th and 20th centuries, many countries began to ban the possession or use of various recreational drugs, such as the United States' infamous "war on drugs." Many people nonetheless continue to use illegal drugs, and a black market exists to supply them. Despite ongoing law enforcement efforts to intercept illegal drug supplies, demand remains high, providing a large profit motive for organized criminal groups to ensure that drugs are available. The United Nations has reported that the retail market value of illegal drugs is worth 321.6 billion dollars.[2] While law enforcement efforts do capture a small percentage of the distributors of illegal drugs, the high and very inflexible demand for such drugs ensures that black market prices will simply rise in response to the decrease in supply—encouraging new distributors to enter the market in a perpetual cycle. Many drug legalisation activists draw parallels between the United States' experience with alcohol Prohibition and the current bans on various psychoactive drugs.

Prostitution
Prostitution is illegal or highly regulated in some nations throughout the world. In such areas it is classic study of the underground economy because of consistent high demand from customers, and the high pay, labor intensive, and low skill aspects of the work attract a continued supply of sex workers. While prostitution is observed in virtually every nation, studies have shown that it tends to especially flourish in poorer countries, and in areas with large numbers of unattached men, such as around military bases.[3]
Prostitutes in such areas generally operate with some degree of secrecy, sometimes negotiating price and activities through codewords and subtle gesture. Additionally, in areas such as the Netherlands where prostitution is legal but carefully regulated, illegal prostitutes exist whose services are offered without regard for legal requirements or procedures. In Nicaragua legal prostitution is regulated and most upscale hotels require identification of both parties involved to help prevent the growing percentage of child prostitution.

Weaponry
The legislatures of many countries forbid or restrict the ownership of personal arms. These can range from cold steel weapons exceeding certain sizes to firearms, either altogether or by classification (e.g. caliber, automatism, etc), to explosives. The black market can supply such demands, by smuggling the arms from countries where they were either purchased legally or stolen. The purchase of personal arms via these channels can be of use to criminals, those who wish to use them for self defense, and weapons collectors.

Alcohol and tobacco
Black markets can also form near when neighboring jurisdictions with loose or no border controls have substantially different tax rates on similar products. Products that are commonly smuggled to fuel these black markets include alcohol and tobacco.
It has been reported that smuggling one truckload of cigarettes from a low-tax U.S. state to those jurisdictions of the same country with the highest taxes can lead to a profit of up to $2 million.[4] The low-tax states are generally the major tobacco producers and have come under enormous criticism for their reluctance to increase taxes from their minimal rates. North Carolina eventually agreed to raise its taxes from 5 cents per pack to 35 cents, although this remains far below the national average.[5] However, South Carolina has thus far refused to follow suit and raise their taxes from seven cents per pack (currently the lowest in the U.S.A.)[6] Some law enforcement officials have expressed concern that the profits from tobacco smuggling may be directed to terrorist organizations. This has led to calls for the U.S. Congress to intervene by setting mandatory minimum tobacco taxes for all states.

Copyrighted media
Street vendors in many third world countries, particularly in Asia where loose enforcement of copyright law exists, often sell deeply discounted copies of films, music CDs, and computer software such as video games, sometimes long before the official release of a title. Innovations in consumer DVD and CD burners and the widespread availability on the Internet of cracks for most extant forms of copy protection technology allow anyone with a few hundred dollars to produce DVD and CD copies that are digitally identical to an original and suffer no loss in quality.
Such operations have proven very difficult for copyright holders to combat legally, due to their decentralized nature and the cheap widespread availability of the equipment needed to produce illegal copies for sale. Widespread indifference towards the enforcement of copyright law on the part of law enforcement officials, as well as social acceptance, further compounds the issue.

Currency
Money itself can be an item traded on a black market. This usually occurs when a government either taxes transactions of the local currency with foreign currencies, or tries to set, or "peg," the local currency at some arbitrarily low level. By taxing currency transactions at officially designated places (e.g., banks), unofficial vendors of the currency may arise to trade the money without the cost of the tax being incurred. Also, a government may try to physically control the exchange of foreign currencies. When they do so, they often peg their currency with an exchange rate that is unreasonable low compared to the value of the foreign currency. Residents of the country, unable to acquire foreign currency any other way, will seek to buy the foreign currencies from travelers at rates that more properly reflect the local currency's real value (see example of Ghanaian cedi from the 1970's and 1980's).

Appearance and disappearance
In the case of the legal prohibition of a product viewed by large segments of the society as harmless, such as alcohol under prohibition in the United States, the black market can prosper, allowing the black marketeers can reinvest profits in a widely diversified array of legal or illegal activities, well beyond the original item.
Underground markets can be reduced or eliminated by removing the relevant legal restrictions, thereby increasing the supply and quality of formerly banned goods, e.g. marijuana-trade debate. Removing legal restrictions will usually reduce the price of the goods in question, possibly resulting in more of them being bought and sold. This can be beneficial to the state, as the state:
simultaneously decreases the illegal cashflow, thus making the performance of other, potentially more harmful, activities financially harder.
can perform quality and safety controls on the traded goods, thus reducing the harm to the consumers.
can tax the trade, thus providing a source of revenue.
can free up prison space and save taxpayer money

Modern Examples:

Wars
Black markets flourish in most countries during wartime. Most states engaged in total war or other large-scale, extended wars must necessarily impose restrictions on domestic use of critical resources, which are needed for the war effort, such as food, gasoline, rubber, metal, etc., typically through rationing. In most cases, a black market develops to supply rationed goods at exorbitant prices. The rationing and price controls enforced in many countries during World War II encouraged widespread black market activity.
During the Vietnam war, soldiers would spend Military Payment Certificates on maid service and sexual entertainment,[citation needed] thus supporting their partners and their families. If the local then wanted consumer goods, which were sparse in the civil stores due to governmental import controls, he would purchase them for the double price from one of the soldiers, who owned a monthly ration card and thus had access to the military stores.[citation needed] The transactions ran through the on-base maids to the local populace. Despite the fact that these activities were illegal, only flagrant or large scale black marketers were prosecuted by the military.[citation needed]

Prohibition in the United States
Main article: Prohibition in the United States

Alcohol
The prohibition period in the 1920s in the United States is a classic example of the creation of a black market, its activity while the affected good has to be acquired on the black market, and its end. Many organized crime syndicates took advantage of the lucrative opportunities in the resulting black market in banned alcohol production and sales. Since much of the populace did not view drinking alcohol as a particularly harmful activity (that is, consumers and its traders should not be treated like conventional criminals), illegal speakeasies prospered, and organizations such as the Mafia grew tremendously more powerful through their black market activities distributing alcohol.

Smoking
This effect similarly is seen today, when jurisdictions pass bans on smoking in bars and restaurants. In such jurisdictions, smokeasies (businesses, especially barrooms, which allows smoking despite the legal prohibition) frequently arise. This phenomenon is very prevalent in many jurisdictions with smoking bans, including California[7][8], Philadelphia[9][10], Utah[11], Seattle[12], Ohio[13], and Washington, D.C.[14].

Clearstream
The Clearstream scandal is an example of such tax evasion. Based in Luxembourg, Clearstream practices financial clearing, which means it centralises operations of multiple banks, some based in tax havens.

source

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