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Governments from around the world recently gathered to discuss the threat of wildlife trade on species. This big cat is both admired and feared by people around the world. If forests are emptied of every last tiger, all that will remain are distant legends and zoo sightings. The tiger has evolved over thousands of years. Currently, this big cat is being trapped, its parts trafficked for various purposes, and pushed out of its home. Many that are left in the wild cling to survival in isolated patches of forest scattered across Asia. To save tigers, we need to secure forest habitats across Asia where they live.

By protecting large, biologically diverse landscapes, we allow tigers to roam and preserve the many other endangered species that live there. In order to protect just one tiger, we have to conserve around 25, acres of forest. As a large predator, the tiger plays a key role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. These ecosystems supply both nature and people with fresh water, food, and health. Securing tiger landscapes could help protect at least nine major watersheds, which regulate and provide freshwater for up to million people. Tourists go to some places where tigers exist, creating opportunities for communities with few alternatives for income to earn money.

Tiger conservation projects also help provide alternative livelihoods for rural communities that not only bring in income but are more sustainable. Poaching is the most immediate threat to wild tigers. Every part of the tiger—from whisker to tail—is traded in illegal wildlife markets.

A result of persistent demand, their bones and other body parts are used for modern health tonics and folk remedies, and their skins are sought after as status symbols among some Asian cultures. There are often limited resources for guarding protected areas in the countries where tigers live. Even countries with strong enforcement of tiger protection laws continue to fight a never-ending battle against poaching, which is now often orchestrated by transnational crime syndicates that rake in significant profits from wildlife crime.

The impact from the death of a single tiger at the hands of poachers reaches beyond one single loss. If a female tiger with cubs is killed, her cubs will most likely die without their mother, and the female's potential for future breeding is lost. If a male is killed, his death can result in intensive competition for his territory among surviving males in the population, leading to potential injury and death.

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Their habitat has been destroyed, degraded, and fragmented by human activities. The clearing of forests for agriculture and timber, as well as the building of road networks and other development activities, pose serious threats to tiger habitats. Tigers need wide swaths of habitat for their survival since they are very territorial.

Fewer tigers can survive in small, scattered islands of habitat, which leads to a higher risk of inbreeding and makes tigers more vulnerable to poaching as they venture beyond protected areas to establish their own territories. People and tigers increasingly compete for space. As forests shrink and prey becomes scarce, tigers are forced to leave protected areas in search of their own territories. This takes them into human-dominated areas that lie between habitat fragments, where they can hunt domestic livestock that many local communities depend on for their livelihood.


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In retaliation, tigers are killed or captured. Local community dependence on forests for fuelwood, food, and timber heightens the risk of tiger attacks on people. It is also the only coastal mangrove tiger habitat in the world. These mangrove forests harbor a variety of species, including tigers, and protect coastal regions from storm surges and wind damage. However, rising sea levels caused by climate change threaten to wipe out these forests and the last remaining habitat of this tiger population. According to a WWF study, without mitigation efforts, projected sea-level rise—about a foot by —could destroy nearly the entire Sundarbans tiger habitat.

Roughly three-quarters of these tigers are located in China, with the remainder found mostly in Thailand, Laos, and Viet Nam. The current scale of captive breeding efforts within these farms is a significant obstacle to the recovery and protection of wild tiger populations because they perpetuate the demand for tiger products and undermine enforcement efforts.

WWF has raised the issue of tiger farms through direct engagement with governments in countries with active tiger farms, and advocates banning the sale of all tiger parts and products, ending breeding and phasing out the farms. We can save wild tigers. In , the 13 tiger range countries committed to TX2—doubling wild tiger numbers by , the next Year of the Tiger. WWF works to enforce zero tolerance for tiger poaching across Asia.

We help build the capacity of enforcement units in each landscape and install the best new technologies to assist local agencies in achieving maximum results. We invest in stronger law enforcement by improving the effectiveness of wildlife rangers, training personnel from enforcement agencies on tools such as SMART Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool , and empowering community patrols and enforcement networks.


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Tigers need landscapes to thrive, and our work to protect and connect their fragile habitat is based on rigorous scientific analysis. WWF has chosen places to focus its resources based on the best available science. These areas are where densities of prey and tigers are at their highest. The locations encompass tiger corridors that link tiger sites within landscapes. Our work includes building local capacity to manage protected areas, coordinating with partners to manage core tiger areas and corridors, and addressing human-wildlife conflict and the impacts of infrastructure development in tiger landscapes.

Monitoring tigers and their prey is essential to achieving our goal of doubling wild tiger populations. By employing camera traps, tracking technologies and DNA collected from scat droppings , we scrutinize the progress of tiger populations in order to adapt our strategies and make conservation decisions based on strong science and field experience. WWF works with governments across the 13 tiger range countries with wild tiger populations to maintain momentum around the conservation of tigers, which is an asset that can enhance their development agendas.

By linking tiger conservation with forest preservation and carbon sequestration efforts, tiger range nations and their partners can demonstrate their commitment to promoting a healthy environmental and economic future. The trade in tiger parts and products is a major threat to wild tiger survival.

Together with TRAFFIC, the global wildlife trade monitoring network, we implement strategies to stop wildlife criminal networks, help governments shut down black markets, and change consumer behavior. We conduct investigations to document the tiger trade, catalyze action against it, and train enforcement agencies.

In mainland Southeast Asia, the deltas that were formed by nutrient-rich alluvial deposits brought by the rivers in the region, such as Irrawaddy, Chao Phraya and Mekong, provide excellent ground for wet rice cultivation. Similarly, in Central Java of Indonesia and Luzon in the 13 chap The Land and Its History 7 Philippines, the rich volcanic soil is very suitable for the planting of rice.

However, the uneven rainfall in mainland Southeast Asia restricts the cultivation of rice to one crop per year. To overcome this problem, sophisticated irrigation systems have been constructed to ensure a stable supply of water. In some countries, the presence of an irrigation system allows farmers to practise double cropping, thus greatly enhancing the productivity of these rice farmers. Another significant development in the cultivation of wet rice in Southeast Asia was the introduction of HYVs high yielding varieties of rice.

The cultivation of cash crops in plantations was only introduced to Southeast Asia during the period of colonial rule. It was a lucrative source of income for the colonial powers. The cash crops, which are grown mainly for export markets, can be divided into food crops such as coffee and sugar cane, and agricultural raw materials such as rubber. Some cash crops fall under both categories.

For example, oil palm can be further processed into edible cooking oil, or it can be used to manufacture non-food products such as soaps and diesel substitutes. For decades, Malaysia had been the main producer of natural rubber in the world. However, the law of comparative advantage has since enabled Malaysia to move into oil palm cultivation instead. Compared to wet rice cultivation, planting of cash crops has certain advantages. The perennial nature of these crops allows continuous harvest, thus providing income and employment throughout the year.

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In Southeast Asia, cash crops are also cultivated by smallholders. Smallholdings are family businesses that cultivate cash crops but on a smaller scale. It was said that before the post-Independence industrialisation of Southeast Asia, much of Southeast Asian life was dominated by the three Rs: Religion, Rice and Rubber. The importance of rice for subsistence farmers and the importance of rubber as an export crop have necessitated the need for a full separate chapter on rice and another chapter on rubber in this book.

Documentation on Western colonisation of the region dates back to as early as the 16th-century. The rationales for colonisation were mainly economic. The Industrial Revolution in Europe had given rise to the need for raw materials. Given its richness in natural resources, Southeast Asia was a good target for colonisation. The colonies also provided ready markets for manufactured goods of the colonising powers. The desire to protect and secure the trade route between India and China through the strategic Straits of Malacca was another reason. Colonisation brought about significant changes to Southeast Asia.

South-East Asia

Whether these changes benefited countries involved remains controversial. The most conspicuous impact was the introduction of a money economy by the colonial rulers. Farmers in the region began to sell their produce for money; either from a surplus production of subsistence crops such as rice or from the cultivation of cash crops such as rubber. To facilitate the movement of goods and resources, the colonial powers built ports, railways, and roads. The development of inland infrastructure, however, also benefited the locals.