Survivors of Japanese militarist sex slavery demand justice

This video from Australia says about itself:

Australian comfort woman Jan Ruff-O’Herne

Jan Ruff-O’Herne told her shocking story on Australian Story in 2001 – a secret that took her 50 years to come to terms with before finally, she revealed it in a letter to her two daughters.

An idyllic childhood in Java was brought to an abrupt end by the Japanese occupation during Word War Two. Aged 21, she was taken from her family and repeatedly abused, beaten and raped – forced to be a sex slave for the Japanese military.

The term coined for this brutal sex slavery was ‘comfort woman‘.

But since revealing her ‘uncomfortable truth’ Jan Ruff-O’Herne’s suffering has been transformed into something affirmative.

In February this year, this 84-year-old Adelaide grandmother made the long journey to testify before Congress in Washington DC. The Congressional hearing was the pinnacle in her 15-year global campaign to seek justice for ‘comfort women‘.

Now six years since Australian Story first aired her story, Jan Ruff-O’Herne feels she is one step closer to finally achieving her ultimate goal.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

JAPAN: Five former victims of Japan’s wartime sex slavery and their supporters submitted hundreds of official documents to the government today, demanding that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe face up to the country’s past atrocity and formally apologise.

Several support groups backing the women, who are from Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea, said the documents collected from round the world include clear evidence of coercion.

Successive Japanese governments have insisted that there is no proof the women were systematically coerced, citing a lack of official Japanese documents stating so.

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New nature reserve in the Philippines

This video from the Philippines is called Palawan Wildlife.

From Wildlife Extra:

New forest reserve for Philippines

March 2014: An 80,000-acre reserve on Palawan Island in the Philippines is to be created by Rainforest Trust and the Center for Sustainability (a Palawan-based NGO) in association with the Puerto Princesa city government

Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot which is home to endemic species such as the Palawan bearcat, Palawan pangolin, and key populations of the Palawan horned frog, Philippine flat-headed frog, and Philippine cockatoo.

In November 2013, a study published in the journal Science identified Palawan as the world’s fourth most ‘irreplaceable’ area for unique and threatened wildlife.

“Rainforests, including those in Palawan, are the richest places on earth, holding the majority of the planet’s biodiversity, yet 100 acres of rainforests around the world are cleared every minute,” said Dr. Paul Salaman, chief executive officer of Rainforest Trust. “Our new project in the Philippines is an extraordinary opportunity to save a vast area of unprotected rainforest near an important UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Center for Sustainability, our local partner, has been laying the groundwork for this project for five years. The support of the city government of Puerto Princesa, recognized for its excellent conservation track record, has been critical. As a result, the new reserve is going to safeguard many rare endemic species.”

Rainforest Trust has already raised over $160,000 and requires an additional $40,000 to fund the development and protection of the reserve. This includes creating a management plan, increasing the number of wardens to enhance law enforcement, and providing sustainable livelihoods for the local Batak tribe.

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Good Dutch bird news

This video from the Philippines says about itself:

Some HD footage of this water bird that migrates to the Philippines.

Common name: Kentish Plover
Scientific name: Charadrius alexandrinus
Habitat – along coast on beaches, and exposed mud or coral flats.
Total length: 175 mm.


Manila Bay, Philippines, November 28, 2010, Canon 7D + 500 f4 L IS + stacked Canon 2x/1.4x TCs, 1400 mm, 475B + 3421 support, manual exposure in available light.

BirdLife in the Netherlands reports today that a legacy has enabled them to make new breeding spots for shorebirds, jointly with Natuurmonumenten conservation organisation, between Zierikzee and Burgh-Haamstede on Schouwen-Duiveland island in Zeeland province. They will make islets where the birds will be able to nest safely.

Over 10% of the rare, threatened Kentish plovers in the Netherlands nest on Schouwen-Duiveland.

BirdLife writes about one of three Schouwen-Duiveland areas where work will start in 2014:

In Prommelsluis now, there are 18 species of breeding birds including large numbers of gulls, geese and spoonbills and Red List species such as black-tailed godwit, redshank, skylark and meadow pipit. The construction of an island with seashells in the northern part the area will hopefully tempt the Kentish plover, avocet, ringed plover and various terns to breed.

BirdLife has plans to make Schouwen-Duiveland a better place for partridges as well.

Good Philippine turtle news

This is a video about the green turtle from the BBC’s Life in Cold Blood documentary series.

From Wildlife Extra:

Turtle Island sanctuary plans gains momentum

Foiled poaching attempt galvanises local support to protect Philippine breeding spot

November 2013: Community efforts to curb poaching of endangered sea turtles in Tawi-Tawi, the Philippines, have been backed by local Moro folk seeking the immediate enactment of a bill to declare an island in the province a protected turtle sanctuary.

Tawi-Tawi congressional representative Ruby Sahali said members of the provincial maritime police and Department of Environment and Natural Resources representatives unit last week released to the sea 15 green sea turtles and 19 Hawksbill turtles found in a boat abandoned by armed poachers after a firefight with police five nautical miles off neighbouring Sipangkot and Sitangkai islands.

Sahali had earlier proposed the declaration by Congress of the Turtle Island in the province as a ‘protected area’, which would put the island under the direct control of the Protected Area Management Board. “The aim is to effectively prevent encroachment by poachers hunting for sea turtles and gathering turtle eggs [and] to hasten the implementation of projects complementing the government’s sea turtle and conservation programmes,” she said.

The island, about 100 miles off the provincial capital Bongao, has earned the moniker ‘Turtle Island’ because it serves as a nesting spot for endangered sea turtles.

Mindanao peace activists and environmentalists have joined locals in supporting the proposals. Locals currently put markers on the spot where turtle eggs are laid and help guard the area from poachers and animal predators.

Endangered wildlife species, Philippines and elsewhere

This video is called Philippine wildlife.

By MIKAEL ANGELO FRANCISCO in the Philippines, November 18, 2013 8:57pm:

Palawan as Earth’s 4th most ‘irreplaceable’ area for endangered species

Animals unique to Palawan such as the horned frog, the Palawan flying fox, and the Palawan bearded pig appear to be dwindling in numbers, painting a disturbing picture of reality: the unique inhabitants of the “Last Ecological Frontier of the Philippines” are at risk of dying out, making Palawan one of the most critical areas for species conservation on the planet.

A detailed report published in the international magazine Science presents a comprehensive analysis of statistics covering 173,461 terrestrial protected areas and 21,419 vertebrate species across the globe. The study was a collaborative effort from scientists hailing from France, Switzerland, the UK, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and the US.

The list of protected areas was taken from the World Database on Protected Areas, while the species examined in the report were taken from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species. The data used in the study is regarded as the world’s most complete collection of information regarding endangered species.

The researchers identified the Palawan Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary as the overall 4th most irreplaceable protected area in the world, as well as the 10th most vital in terms of threatened bird species. Palawan is the largest province in the country in terms of land area, spanning over 1,700 islands. reports there are 392 protected areas in the region.

The study also ranks 38 other locations in the Philippines, including Mt. Banahaw, the Sierra Madre mountain range, and Mt. Makiling.

The most irreplaceable areas in the world

A total of 137 protected areas in 34 countries were identified as the most vital to the survival of 627 various species of amphibians, birds, and mammals. Half of these species are critically endangered.

The findings reveal that the two most irreplaceable areas in the world are both in Venezuela. The Formaciones de Tepuyes Natural Monument is the most irreplaceable area in the world, followed by the Canaima National Park. Additionally, Colombia’s Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta Natural National Park is listed as the most irreplaceable protected area in terms of overall number of threatened species.

The Western Ghats World Heritage Site in India is ranked highest when it comes to endangered amphibians, while the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California World Heritage Site is the most globally irreplaceable area in terms of threatened mammals. The Galapagos Islands World Heritage Site, on the other hand, nearly tops the list of areas crucial in terms of endangered bird species.

World Heritage Sites

A number of places highlighted in the study are already recognized as World Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). However, a considerable number of the areas identified in the report have yet to be awarded this distinction, including the aforementioned Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta Natural National Park, Cuba’s Ciénaga de Zapata wetlands, and Tanzania’s Udzungwa Mountains National Park.

Lead author Soizi Le Saout believes that all of these irreplaceable areas are worthy of World Heritage status. “Such recognition would ensure effective protection of the unique biodiversity in these areas, given the rigorous standards required for World Heritage sites,” the researcher explains.

The path to World Heritage Site recognition entails an extensive review system, says Ana Rodrigues, co-author of the study. “In order to be granted World Heritage status, countries must demonstrate that the site meets rigorous standards of integrity and management, and provide guarantees that these standards will be maintained,” adds Rodrigues, a conservation biologist from the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology in Montpellier, France.

The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Underground River, both located in Palawan, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Focus on other species too

The researchers also noted that efforts directed solely towards the preservation of more “charismatic” animals, such as polar bears, might not be the ideal approach to take towards species preservation.

According to Rodrigues, some protected areas focus almost exclusively on aesthetically appealing animals, leaving the smaller and less attractive species more vulnerable to the threat of endangerment and even extinction.

However, the researchers maintain that all species and protected areas bear significance in the overall picture. “We’re not saying we should drop any,” clarifies Rodrigues.

Only ‘paper parks’

Even more unsettling is the fact that some of these so-called “protected sites” only exist as “paper parks” – designated in name alone, without proper management or investment.

“Páramo Urrao National Protective Forests Reserves, in Colombia, for example, does not really exist,” says Paul Salaman, chief executive of the Rainforest Trust and biodiversity expert. “It was legally created in 1975, but this was never translated into on-the-ground management.

”Through the study, the scientists seek to emphasize the importance of improving the management and maintenance of existing protected areas. “[I]t has become clear to us that you can’t just [expand the network of protected areas],” states Rodrigues.  “You also need to ensure the existing areas work and do what we need them to do.”

For countries burdened with financial troubles such as the Philippines, the key to the preservation of threatened species lies in the efficient management of protected areas.

“Protected areas can only fulfill their role in reducing biodiversity loss if they are effectively managed,” notes Simon Stuart, chairperson of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. “Given limited conservation budgets, that is not always the case, so governments should pay particular attention to the management effectiveness of highly irreplaceable protected areas.” — TJD, GMA News