Frankincense tree (Oman)

Image via Wikipedia


Scientists working in Ethiopia have written a report that says many of the trees from which frankincense is made are dying out.

Boswellia trees

Frankincense is a resin. It comes from a sticky substance, called sap, produced by trees from the Boswellia genus. These grow in parts of North Africa and the Middle East. Cutting, or stripping, an area of bark from the trunks of Boswellia trees produces the resin. This is called tapping. Where the tree is tapped the milky-white sap rises to the surface, where it dries and hardens. Then it is collected in chunks. Oil produced from the resin is used in perfumes and ointments. When heated or burnt, frankincense gives off a strong fragrance, or smell. It is used in this way during Jewish, Islamic, and Christian religious ceremonies. Different types of frankincense are considered to be of different quality. Light- or white-coloured large chunks are the most valuable.

Chunks of white-coloured frankincense Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25th December. Twelve days later, on 6th January, they celebrate Epiphany. On this date, in the Christian tradition, three kings, or magi, arrived from distant lands to visit the baby Jesus. As gifts they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is known that the Ancient Egyptians used frankincense around 5,000 years ago. It was first taken to Europe by French knights who took part in the crusades, or holy wars, in the 11th and 12th centuries. This is how it gets is name. Frank is an old word for a person from France or western Europe. In Arab countries, frankincense is often called olibanum.

The scientists studied 13 groups of Boswellia trees growing in different parts of north west Ethiopia. Over 6,000 trees were included in their research. Some were tapped, while others were untouched. The scientists recorded measurements for two years. These showed by how much the trees grew during this period, and how many seeds they produced. The scientists noticed there were fewer young trees, called saplings, than older trees, which were nearing the end of their lives. The scientists used their measurements to predict what will happen to the ‘frankincense forests’ in future. If their calculations are correct, it means within several years there will not be enough young trees to replace the dying older ones.

The scientists say there are several reasons for this. Other types of trees are now growing in the forests, taking space where Boswellia saplings could have grown. Tapped trees also produce fewer seeds than untapped ones. In addition more areas of the trees are being cut down and turned into grazing land for farm animals. And a type of insect, called the longhorn beetle, is attacking some of the trees.

The scientists who did the study have made some recommendations. They say young trees must be allowed to grow in protected areas and not tapped for several years. If this doesn’t happen, they warn, it’s likely that there will be much less frankincense in the future.


African and Iranian Traffickers are incorporating in the Asia-Pacific!


Africa drugs and Iran collaboration!

Africa drugs and Iran collaboration!

A growing number of African and Iranian Traffickers are incorporating in the Asia-Pacific Region, and have become one of the largest production and trafficking centres for synthetic drugs, the UN said today in a report.

“In addition to the threat of organized crime endemic region, the report draws attention to the increasing reach and presence of transnational criminal groups” in Africa and Iran, said the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC, for short in English).

The report on the trafficking of synthetic drugs in 2010 found an increase in African groups, using Cambodia as a center for financial operations, China, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

“To avoid arrest, African trafficking organizations have diversified their routes through the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Asia,” says the report.

Iranians believe criminal groups of methamphetamine or amphetamine factories in Japan, Malaysia or Thailand, where multiplied Iranian arrests of drug trafficking.

However, the majority of synthetic drugs are produced locally in the region, with major centers in China, Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines.

Gary Lewis, head of UNODC in the Asia-Pacific, said that the countries of East Asia require more resources to stop the trafficking of methamphetamine, which last year reached 136 million tablets seized, compared to 32 million 2008.

“We must be more active on all fronts to help the countries of the region to prevent the dangers of the South and East Asia will become the largest producer of illegal drugs,” said Lewis in a statement.

According to the UN office, the manufacture of synthetic drugs like methamphetamine and amphetamine are replacing from the 90 to plants producing heroin and cannabis that have proliferated in the region in previous decades.

In 2010, the largest seizure of these synthetic drugs in China was 58.4 million pills, followed by Thailand (50.4 million) and Laos (24.5 million).

In total, 442 factories were dismantled methamphetamine and amphetamines last year in East Asia, five times more than in 2006.

Of the 15 countries the report methamphetamine use decreased or remained in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines and Korea, while it expanded in Cambodia, China, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.

The UN warned that drug design, in cases such as Indonesia have overtaken the use of hashish, not only pose a serious security problem and crime, but also a serious danger to public health.

Mexican Military seized explosives in Veracruz!

Explosives found!

Explosives found!Image via Wikipedia

In a security operation that occurred Wednesday in the southern Veracruz city of Coatzacoalcos, military personnel seized high explosives, detonators, weapons, cell phones, military type equipment and stolen vehicles from a safehouse located in the colonia Brisas del Golfo area of the city.

The El Universal news agency reported that Mexican Army sources in Coatzacoalcos identified the explosives seized as 45 C-4 plastic explosive charges.

Five suspects were detained by the military during the operation.