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Teen Defaces Egypt’s Ancient Temple


Egypt Temple Graffiti

As reported by Associated Press (AP), a Chinese teenager who defaced an ancient temple in Egypt with graffiti has come under major criticism at home in China. The public as well as press have widely criticized and commented on the incident while emphasizing that the Chinese need to cultivate a good image overseas as more Chinese travel abroad.

The teen scratched “Ding Jinhao visited here” in Chinese on a temple wall in the ancient city of Luxor.  The world found out about the incident as another Chinese tourist posted a photo of it on a popular microblog with the comment: “My saddest moment in Egypt. Ashamed and unable to show my face.” as reported by AP.

Many criticized Ding’s act as an embarrassment to the country and even the People’s Daily, which is a government sponsored paper echoed on the sentiments and criticisms.  The outcry prompted Ding’s parents to publicly apologize.

The most interesting comment came from a well known and prominent journalist with Shanghai Television, who wrote on his microblog: “Why there are so many citizens who go abroad and humiliate us? How many generations will it take to change this kind of behavior?”

This incident happened as Chinese tourism overseas has seen an explosion in growth over the past decade, fueled by rising incomes and the relaxation of government restrictions on citizens’ ability to travel abroad.  China is now ranked the fastest-growing source of international tourists in the world according to the U.N.’s World Tourism Organization. The organization said the volume of international trips by Chinese tourists has grown from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012 and most importantly this accompanies a nearly eightfold increase in spending. 

What is most impressive in terms of economic impact and spending in those countries that are the destinations for Chinese tourists is that China also surpassed Germany to become the largest spender in international tourism, with tourists’ expenditure amounting to a record $102 billion.  However, Chinese tourists, who mostly travel with tour groups, are frequently criticized for rude behavior.

Officials in Egypt have reported that the graffiti has now been removed and the wall has been cleaned and restored to the original condition.


Moral Courage in Environmental Preservation


naser karamiIn the recent years, because of the activities and efforts of experts and professionals, many young and educated individuals have started paying more attention to natural and cultural heritage.

While there are activities before the national elections in Iran, the candidates, because of drawing attention from the electorate, are including topics on the natural and cultural heritage in their speeches. In the last few days, three of the candidates have asked Nasser Karami to write speeches on the environmental issues.  Dr. Nasser Karami is one of the Iranian experts in natural heritage and the director of an independent non-governmental broadcasting agency in Iran. Karami has declined the invitation of these candidates and has stated some reasons which include the followings:

–         Caring for the environment does not require any technical knowledge. It needs, above all, moral courage. It is like being honorable or truthful or courageous. You either have these traits or not. If you lack it you cannot posses it by a declaration.

–         For a President, caring for the environment should demonstrate itself within a grand scheme based on concepts such as sustainable development and considering the multiplicity of life – not only in the ecological sense but within the context of human concepts and values, certain economic plans and how such endeavors are related to the ecological potential of the country. Otherwise, everyone knows that you should not trample the grass and clip the flowers.

From: www.savepasargad.com

Translation by WCHV

Total Oil Won’t Drill in Virunga World Heritage Site


virungaEarlier this month, (May, 2013) the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reported that the French company, Total Oil has made an assurance that it won’t explore for oil within the boundaries of Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Paris, chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie responded to questions posed by WWF-France by confirming that Total is making a “commitment to respect the current limits” of the park, Africa’s oldest World Heritage Site.

Virunga National Park is recognized by UNESCO and the DRC government as a place of outstanding natural value. WWF stated that environmental experts and WWF are pleased that Total has given this clear and comprehensive assurance that they won’t conduct any oil exploration inside Virunga National Park.

African Elephants Slaughtered at a World Heritage Site


tusksAs reported by BBC earlier this month, a heavily armed gang has killed an unknown number of elephants at a world heritage site in the Central African Republic. According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the ivory poachers were seen using a scientist’s observation platform to shoot the animals, which gather there in large numbers. Up to 200 elephants are said to gather daily in one location to drink mineral salts present in the sands.

The site is in the Dzanga-Ndoki Park which is located in the south-western corner of the Central African Republic (CAR), where it borders Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. It is described as a unique habitat for forest elephants in particular.

WWF issued a warning that a group of 17 individuals, some armed with heavy-calibre rifles, had entered the park and was heading for the Dzanga-bai, an area known locally as the “village of elephants”.  It is believed that the raiders were Sudanese ivory poachers who have been trying to operate in the area and are now taking advantage of the lawless state of the country.

The elephant raid has also alarmed international conservation authorities. African countries have seen a serious spike in the illegal killing of elephants because of the high demand for ivory especially from China which is now at the highest level in 16 years.

Earlier this year (March, 2013) the Thai prime minister promised to outlaw Thailand’s domestic ivory trade.  Yingluck Shinawatra’s announcement at the opening of wildlife trade meeting, Cites in Bangkok, came as African elephants are once again in danger of extinction. During the Cites meeting, a video address from the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, appealing to nearly 200 governments, to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was shown.

It has been reported that more than half of ivory on the streets of China is illegal, and that is in spite of reports that the government of China is trying to control the illegal trade.  However, China is more and more under pressure and scrutiny. Guardian reported that in 2011 more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa and according to the Kenya Wildlife Service, 90% of ivory seized at Kenya’s airports involves Chinese citizens.

Patrimonito: Teaching about World Heritage


PatrimonitoPatrimonito means ‘small heritage’ in Spanish and the character represents a young heritage guardian. Patrimonito has been widely adopted as the international mascot of the World Heritage Education Program.

Patrimonito was created in 1995 by a group of Spanish-speaking students during a workshop at the 1st World Heritage Youth Forum held in Bergen, Norway. Students designed Patrimonito on the basis of the World Heritage Emblem which symbolizes the interdependence of cultural and natural sites: the central square is a form created by people and the circle represents nature, the two being intimately linked; the emblem is round like the world and at the same time a symbol of protection.

In 2002 a cartoon series entitled Patrimonito’s World Heritage Adventures was launched where Patrimonito introduces World Heritage sites, the threats they are facing and proposes solutions to preserve them. Storyboards were chosen following a competition among secondary school students to raise their awareness of the importance of World Heritage and their role in preserving it. The competition was organized by UNESCO on the occasion of the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2002. The selected storyboards are professionally animated and produced in CD-ROM format for global diffusion to schools and at World Heritage Youth events.

The cartoon films are based on storyboards made ‘by young people for young people’ and selected during a Patrimonito Storyboard Competition. They are proving to be useful teaching support materials. They are becoming popular at events held by UNESCO.

Bulgaria’s Cherven Fortress Seeking UNESCO Status


Cherven_(Bulgaria)Earlier this month (May 2013), Sofia News Agency, Novinite reported that the central part of Bulgaria’s Danube city of Ruse and the Cherven medieval fortress will be proposed for inscription into the indicative list of sites to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The proposal was sent to Bulgaria’s Culture Minister Vladimir Penev.  Pavel Dochev, who is an architect  is also one of the initiators of the proposal. He declared that preliminary studies have shown that the proposal was in line with requirements and the official criteria.

Bulgaria has a total of 9 sites on the list, one of which, the Ivanovski rock monastery, is located 12 km south of Ruse. The last Bulgarian site to be included on UNESCO World Heritage List, the Thracian tomb of Sveshtari, was inscribed in 1985.

An Ancient Wooden Boat


boatAn ancient wooden log-boat, which could be possibly thousands of years old, has been discovered partly embedded in the banks of the River Boyne in Drogheda, Ireland.

An initial examination by archeologists, suggests that, the boat could be unique because, unlike other dug-outs or log boats found, it has a pair of oval shaped blisters on the upper edge. Similar boats have been found in the past in Northern Ireland and Britain but not in Ireland. Archeologists suggest that they could have been used for holding oars and this recent find could indicate that Drogheda could have other hidden treasures and more crafts could be found in the River Boyne. According to archeologists, River Boyne is such an important river and crafts have been operating on it since the Stone Age. Such vessels can get swept downstream towards the estuary so there might be a concentration of them in the Drogheda area. Such boats were in use from prehistoric times to transport people, goods and invading tribes.

The boat was found by members of the Boyne Fishermen’s Rescue and Recovery Service (BFRRS) as they were carrying out one of their regular operations to remove shopping trolleys from the Boyne as reported by Irish Times. It is believed that the recent heavy rainfall and the introduction of waste water treatment has led to a lot of sediment and silt being removed from the river bank and this could be possibly the reason why the boat has become visible for the first time in hundreds of years.

Despite its short course of only about 112 kilometres (70 mi), the Boyne has major historical and archaeological significance. The Battle of the Boyne, a major battle in Irish history, took place along the Boyne near Drogheda in 1690 during the Williamite war in Ireland. It passes near the ancient city of Trim, Trim Castle, the Hill of Tara (the ancient capital of the High King of Ireland), Navan, the Hill of Slane, Brú na Bóinne (an archaeological site), Mellifont Abbey, and the medieval city of Drogheda.

Golestan Palace: Recent News



While the Golestan Palace awaits recognition and being listed by UNESCO on the World’s Cultural Heritage list, the area in the vicinity and close proximity to the palace is now under construction.  These few buildings that are being built in the close vicinity of the Golestan Palace are receiving building permits from the city of Tehran.  It is very difficult to understand the timing of these recent developments and the fact that it coincides with UNESCO’s reviews.

A few days ago one of the members of the Islamic parliament by the name of Bijan Nobavaeh told the reporters that many high ranking members of the parliament have connections and are influencing the construction projects.  He also told the reporters that UNESCO has warned the Iranian Government that if these new buildings are built in the very close vicinity of the Golestan Palace, the listing by UNESCO could be jeopardized.

Golestan Palace is the latest Cultural heritage site in Iran which is considered endangered, similar to a number of other sites. These deteriorations have resulted in these sites not being recognized and listed on the UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage sites list.

Golestān Palace pronounced “Kakheh Golestān” (The Rose Garden Palace) was built during the reign of Tahmasp I of the Safavid dynasty (1502–1736), and was later renovated by Karim Khan Zand (r. 1750-1779). When  Agha Mohamd Khan Qajar (1742–1797) chose Tehran as his capital, the Court and Golestan Palace became the official residence of the royal Qajar family. During the Pahlavi era (1925–1979), the last dynasty in Iran, before the Iranian revolution,  Golestan Palace was used for formal royal receptions and the Pahlavi dynasty built their own palace at Niavaran. A major part of the Golestan Palace is now a museum open to the public.

Study Offering New Insights on the Origins of Maya Civilization



A recent study published in the April 26th issue of Science magazine reports on the results of new discoveries from Ceibal, Guatemala and prompting archeologists to reconsider the origins of the Maya civilization, which flourished in Mesoamerica for centuries. A team of archeologists led by Dr. Takashi Inomata from University of Arizona, dated early ceremonial structures at the site and concluded that the Maya culture had multiple influences.  For example, they suggest that the formal plazas and pyramids at Ceibal, an ancient Maya site in Guatemala, probably arose from broad cultural exchanges that took place across southern Mesoamerica from about 1,000 to 700 BCE. These new findings from the excavations challenge two prevailing theories on how the ancient Maya civilization began, suggesting its origins are more complex than previously thought. Until now, two theories have dominated the debate concerning the origin of the Maya civilization: one suggesting that the Maya developed almost entirely on their own in what is now southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, and another suggesting that the older Olmec civilization was the Maya’s dominant cultural influence. The new findings, however, mean that neither of these theories can tell the full story of the Maya. Dr. Inomata and his team provide radiocarbon dating measurements taken from some of the ceremonial constructions at Ceibal that predate the growth of La Venta, a major center of the Olmec, by as much as 200 years.

The Uncertain Fate of Persian Zebra



Persian Zebra or Iranian Zebra, is one of the species of Asian Zebra (Equus hemionus) and a large mammal belonging to the horse family. It is indigenous to the deserts of Iran, Syria, India and Tibet. Persian Zebra is similar to a donkey but slightly larger in size.
Persian Zebra is now critically endangered, and the remaining numbers can now be found in two areas of Iran, including in Touran National Park and other protected areas of Bahram’gur.
Destruction of the natural habitats for these animals, lack of proper management of protected areas and hunting are only a few factors that have threatened the survival of these animals. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently lists the animals in the Valley as “endangered”.
There is currently no accurate official count of these zebras. The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that the number is 330, while only last autumn 2012, there were over 433 of them still alive. It then looks like that in the last six months; over 110 of them have died.
It seems that more attention and serious measures need to take place in order to preserve Persian Zebra.