December 24, 2015
Ancient Dog Breed Revived To
Protect Sheep In Mongolia
By Grace Brown
Tuv Aimag, Mongolia (AP) Through three decades of marriage, they have wandered together across the rolling hills of Mongolia’s northern Tuv Province, accompanied by their herd of sheep and stalked by the wolves and snow leopards that threaten their livelihood.
Five months ago, Chulunjav Bayarsaikhan and Tumurbaatar Davaasuren were joined by a new partner, Hasar, a shaggy, 11-month-old bankhar dog that a hundred years ago would have been a far more common sight outside the country’s tent homes known as gers.
``Now, nothing comes near our herd at night,’’ Tumurbaatar said. ``If anything does, she barks in an alarming way, so we come out before it can attack. She learned to patrol all night and is protecting them well.’’
Bankhar mother & puppies
As years of overgrazing increasingly push Mongolian nomads into the territory of their oldest foes — snow leopards and wolves — a group of researchers and herders are trying to reinstate the bankhar, a close relative of the Tibetan mastiff, to its historic place beside their masters. The dog is native to Mongolia but nearly disappeared over the course of mass urbanization drives during the Soviet era.
DNA analysis conducted by Cornell researchers and released this year points to Mongolia as the location where domesticated dogs first appeared some 15,000 years ago. That makes the bankhar even more of a Mongolian icon.
For thousands of years, the giant dogs roamed the Mongolian steppes with their nomadic masters, so much a part of the landscape that they featured in Chinese Qing Dynasty paintings of Mongolia and the 13th century travelogues of Marco Polo.
Now experts are hoping to revive that legacy.
At the small nonprofit Mongolia Bankhar Dog Project outside the capital, Ulaanbaatar, biologists and breeders say the shaggy, intelligent bankhar could help conservationists convince herders that they need not aggressively trap and hunt endangered predator species.
The center raises bankhar, which can grow as large as a small bear, and hands them over at 4 or 5 months old to herders like Chulunjav and Tumurbaatar, who must continue to train them under a strict regime aimed at developing their bond with livestock rather than humans. The center is a result of efforts to revive the bankhar launched in 2004 by U.S. biologist Bruce Elfstrom.
Hasar now follows sheep day and night and wards off, but doesn’t attack, predators that once decimated the couple’s herd.
Bankhar dog show this year
``I have high hopes for my dog as a herder, because she has learned a lot so far,’’ Chulunjav said. ``I hope in the future she can be my good friend and partner in my nomadic life.’’
Although the country of less than 3 million people is rapidly urbanizing, mostly around sprawling Ulaanbaatar, roughly one-third have held on to their traditional nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle. Cattle or sheep losses can spell catastrophe for households.
Using dogs to protect herds also can help protect snow leopards as their population falls below 1,000, mostly in the western Altai mountain range and in the south, near the Gobi Desert, according to WWF Mongolia director Batbold Dorjgurkhem.
``The habitat that is needed by snow leopards is shrinking, due to increasing livestock numbers in Mongolia,’’ says Batbold. ``Because of this, there is a conflict between herders and this top predator.’’
Falling numbers of snow leopards are also unsettling Mongolia’s ecosystem, Batbold added. Among the snow leopard’s prey are disease-carrying marmots, whose numbers are proliferating as their chief predator’s population declines.
Greg Goodfellow, a scientist at the Mongolian Bankhar Dog Project, said larger herd sizes and the ensuing demand for grazing land are key factors behind the shrinking snow leopard habitat. With fewer livestock lost to predation, the group hopes herders will be able to reduce livestock numbers, easing the need to push further into leopard territory.
The dog project is seeking grants to set up regional breeding centers throughout Mongolia.
There are now 10 adult dogs at the group’s first breeding center. A further 15 dogs already have been placed with qualified herders, including in the Gorkhi-Terelj and Hustai national parks where wolves reside, and in South Gobi province, where snow leopards prowl.
If trained correctly, the bankhar’s large size and intelligence makes it especially suitable for guarding livestock, said dog project caretaker Davaasuren Munkhsuld.
``Mongol bankhars know how to act in difficult situations. They know how to take control,’’ Davaasuren said. ``They sense if a person or other animal has come with good or bad intentions, then decide whether or not to attack. They are very intuitive.’’
Remember ‘Back Seat Bingo’ & 50¢ Allowances?
NC Woman Writes About Life In The 1940s & 50s
By Jill Doss-Raines
The Dispatch of Lexington
Lexington NC (AP) - Author and Lexington native Alice Sink has an incredible memory, which her readers get the benefit of each time they pick up one of her 24 books.
In her latest, ``The Way We Were: 1940’s and 1950’s,’’ Sink, who now lives in Kernersville, takes her readers on a journey through these two decades of what people in the South were watching at the movies and on TV, playing, wearing, eating, celebrating holidays, viewing parades and more. The idea for the book grew out of conversations with friends after they viewed a vintage film sent to them showing Lexington people and places.
While the photos in her book are exclusively of people and places in Lexington, the written material is presented in a way that is universal for any small, Southern town in the 1940s and `50s.
The cover photo sets the theme showing meticulously dressed elementary-aged students at Robbins School dressed in stiffly starched and ironed white shirts and bow ties and their white-glove clad hands neatly placed on their laps for a group photo after the school minstrel show. Sink is the third person from the right on the second row.
A malt shop/drugstore in the 1940s
``I printed 800 postcards of that photo and sent them to every person I knew in Lexington and asked them if they would buy a book on this topic,’’ said Sink, who is a retired associate professor of English at High Point University. ``They all said yes.’’
Like most of her books, Sink settles on a general topic before writing begins and then lets her memories take over. Her table of contents is the last thing she completes, she said, noting how she works backward. Sink’s easy, almost conversational style of writing brings history to life for readers. In chapter 8, ``Slang,’’ Sink writes: ``During our growing-up years, we were taught by our parents, school teachers, and Sunday School teachers that slang was not becoming. Of course we did pick up some of the more colorful expressions, but we used these almost exclusively in conversations with our peers. Remember this one: `Back Seat Bingo’ was kissing while in a car.’’
In chapter 14, ``Events We Will Always Remember,’’ Sink writes: ``When we had a childhood bout with a sore throat, our parents took us to Dr. Leonard’s office. `Stick out your tongue,’ he’d say, and we obeyed like the good children we had been taught to be. He would grab our tongues with a small thin white towel, hold on tightly, and swab our throats with silver nitrate. He’d always give us a big hug, tell us how `brave’ we (had) been, and send us on our way.’’
In other chapters, she writes about the thrill children felt each Saturday morning when armed, usually with 50-cent allowance, they set off for downtowns across the South to spend the day watching movies and looking and wishing for hours at all the interesting things stocked at dime and department stores.
``I just remember a lot of things,’’ Sink said during a recent interview. ``There were two dime stores across from each other (in Lexington) — Macks and McLellans. We got fresh-popped popcorn, chocolate drops, orangades and peanuts. Each different department had a counter and clerk that would patiently allow us to look and look and look at everything.’’
The girls, she recalled, gravitated to the cosmetic counter where they coveted Evening is Paris perfume.
``It stinks like crazy, but then we thought it was wonderful,’’ she said.
Trips to the March Hotel lobby meant an hour or more of taking magazines from the enormous wall rack to read and then place back.
``You were supposed to move three feet over and buy the magazine, but we didn’t,’’ she said with a laugh. ``We just read everything and then put it back.’’
That’s because sometimes the girls were saving up their 50-cent allowance until they had enough for the latest ear bobs (what we now call earrings) at the Belk-Martin store.
Sink hopes readers take away a view of history written in a more casual tone than most history books and documents. She also hopes, she said, it brings back a flood of their own memories of these two decades.
From Coloring Books To Harper Lee, Paper’s Had A Good Year
By Hillel Italie
AP National Writer
New York (AP) From adult coloring books to a new novel by Harper Lee, it was a year for unexpected hits and hits that sold well in paper editions.
As e-book sales remain stalled at some 25 percent of the market, hardcovers and paperbacks held steady at a time digital has upended the music, film and television industries. According to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks around 85 percent of the print market, sales of paper editions increased modestly in 2015. As of early December, 571 million units had sold, compared to 559 million in 2014.
Coloring books for grown-ups, a concept once as out of left field as, say, a second of work of fiction from Lee, were the hottest trend. Led by Johanna Basford’s ``Lost Ocean’’ and ``Enchanted Forest,’’ the phenomenon understandably caught on almost exclusively in the print format, and Basford has no desire to change that. Numerous apps have been designed for adult coloring, but Basford wants her work ``experienced only on paper,’’ according to Penguin Books publisher-senior vice president Patrick Nolan.
Simon & Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy noted the rise of coloring books and of books by YouTube stars, another genre that did especially well in print. ``Neither of these categories was a factor before this year,’’ she said.
Paper all along has been especially popular for nonfiction and children’s books, a tradition upheld for such top 2015 releases as David McCullough’s ``The Wright Brothers’’ and Bill O’Reilly’s ``Killing Reagan.’’ For Jeff Kinney’s million-selling, illustrated ``Diary of Wimpy Kid: Old School,’’ 95 percent of sales were for print, according to the Abrams imprint Amulet Books.
``I’m not surprised that physical book sales of `Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ outstrip e-books by such a wide margin,’’ Kinney wrote in a recent email. ``So much of the way kids experience the world these days is through a screen, but we instinctively know that the best way to get kids reading is by placing a book in their hands.
E-books have been most successful in adult fiction, with sales for Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize-winning ``All the Light We Cannot See’’ divided equally between print and digital even though there was little difference on Amazon.com between the cost for the hardcover ($15.29) and for the Kindle edition ($13.99).
The price gap on Amazon also was small for the hardcover and e-editions for Lee’s ``Go Set a Watchman,’’ and might have hurt digital sales. Lee’s first work since ``To Kill a Mockingbird’’ not only defied the repulsion of critics by staying on best-seller lists for months, but sold in hardcover by a ratio of 4-to-1 over the e-book.
Jonathan Burnham, publisher and senior vice president of HarperCollins Publishing, has a theory.
``Possible the historic nature of the publication made people want to own a physical copy,’’ he told the AP.
Paper even managed surprisingly well for romance novels, which have thrived as e-books. According to Harlequin’s executive vice president for North American marketing, Brent Lewis, the majority of their sales are now from paper editions; before the ratio had been 50-50. Amanda Bergeron, the head of the digital Avon Impulse imprint, also sees improvement for print books.
``A lot of people a few years ago got new devices, so like anything that’s new and exciting you lean toward that for a period of time,’’ Lewis said. ``And that shine has worn off a little bit. Some people have reverted back a bit to paper.’’
Romance author Jennifer Ryan has seen that change herself. She was first published in 2013 through Avon Impulse and by the end of the year her ``Saved by the Rancher’’ series had attracted a substantial following. This year, with her ``Montana Men’’ novels, her work was finally published in paper editions.
``When I got into the paperback market and was in bookstores I thought my e-books would outsell my paperbacks because people knew me just through e-books,’’ she said.
``But over the last year or so the digital sales have gone down a little and my paperback sales have gone up. I have talked to other author-friends, and they have seen the same thing.’’