Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Botswana’s government is lifting a ban that protected its elephants from being hunted, part of a series of decisions that could have lasting impacts on the country’s conservation efforts.
In a letter to reporters, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism referred to elephants as predators and said their numbers “appear to have increased.” It said a subcommittee found that conflicts between humans and elephants had risen, harming livestock and the livelihoods of Botswana’s people.
The announcement marked a sharp departure from the policies of former President Ian Khama, who suspended elephant hunting after data showed the population in decline. The ban took effect in 2014 but did not stop hunting in registered game ranches.
In May, Botswana’s newly elected president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, made international headlines for giving three African leaders stools made of elephant feet.
In June, he requested a review of the ban on hunting elephants.
His study group recommended “regular but limited elephant culling,” in addition to establishing elephant meat canning for pet food and other products. Among other conclusions, it recommended the government expand Botswana’s safari hunting industry.
Authorities said Thursday that the government accepted all recommendations except the regular culling of elephants and the establishment of meat canning. “This was rejected because culling is not considered acceptable given the overall continental status of elephants. Rather, a more sustainable method such as selective cropping should be employed,” the government said.
Conservationists around the world took to social media to denounce the government’s reversal on elephant hunting.
“Horrific beyond imagination,” said Paula Kahumbu, CEO of the Kenya-based WildlifeDirect. She said hunting was an archaic way to address the problems of living with mega fauna. “Africa, we are better than this,” she tweeted.
German organization Pro Wildlife wrote that hunting was a bloody sport, “#cruel, outdated, unethical and often undermining” conservation.
Other groups celebrated Botswana’s announcement, including Safari Club International, a U.S.-based organization that supports regulated trophy hunting.
President Paul Babaz called it “heartening” in a statement. “These findings clearly show that hunting bans actually hurt wildlife conservation; hunting is the key to providing the necessary revenue to fund anti-poaching efforts and on-the-ground conservation research,” he said.
Fewer than 400 elephant licenses will be granted annually, the government of Botswana announced on Twitter Thursday. It said it was planning for “strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences” and compensation for damage caused by wildlife. All migratory routes for animals that are not considered “beneficial” to Botswana’s conservation efforts will be closed, including an antelope route to South Africa.
Northern Botswana is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The population grew steadily from 80,000 in 1996 to 129,000 in 2014.
It happened as habitat loss and poaching devastated elephant populations across Africa. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, poachers slaughtered 100,000 African elephants, National Geographic reported.
Last September, the carcasses of 87 elephants were found close to a protected sanctuary in Botswana. They had been killed for their tusks.
‘We are hostages’: Two years on, Rohingya still in Myanmar trapped by new war
YANGON (Reuters) – When Myanmar officials toured refugee camps in Bangladesh last month, inviting Rohingya Muslims who fled the country to return, they brought with them pamphlets adorned with cartoons showing hijab-wearing women passing through checkpoints and happily grasping identity cards.
Muslim vendors sell fish in the market of Maungdaw, Rakhine July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Ann Wang
They did not mention the new war being waged at home.
While the majority of Rohingya residents of northwestern Myanmar were driven out by a military campaign that began in August 2017, a scattered community of some 200,000 remained behind in Rakhine state, in villages that were spared the violence. Two years on, many of them are now trapped by a new conflict.
Since late last year, government troops have been battling the Arakan Army, an ethnic armed group that recruits from the mostly Buddhist Rakhine, who make up the majority in the region.
The worsening fighting has left Rohingya caught in the middle and facing threats from both sides, a dozen villagers told Reuters, making returns ever more unlikely.
“We are stuck in the middle of their fight,” said Tin Shwe, a villager from Buthidaung township, where clashes have been intense. “There has been no improvement of our lives over the past two years, only degradation. Only trouble.”
More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine to Bangladesh after Myanmar’s armed forces launched a crackdown following attacks on security posts on Aug. 25, 2017.
United Nations’ investigators have said the army campaign included mass killings and gang-rapes and was carried out with “genocidal intent”. The military denies almost all the allegations made by refugees during what it said was a legitimate counterterrorism operation.
On Thursday, a third attempt to begin the repatriation of 3,450 Rohingya cleared by the authorities to return to Myanmar failed when the refugees refused to go back.
Min Thein, director of Myanmar’s social welfare ministry, said security measurements were in place for returning refugees. “The Myanmar police force will guard them,” he said.
A military spokesman did not answer phone calls seeking comment.
Authorities have shut northern Rakhine off from journalists and most humanitarian agencies, and imposed an internet blackout since late June, citing the need to avert unrest.
The restrictions make information difficult to verify, but Reuters spoke to a dozen Rohingya still in central and northern Rakhine and refugees in Bangladesh with relatives who stayed behind.
Some described landmine blasts and shells falling in Muslim villages, as well as intimidation from combatants on both sides of the conflict.
Two told Reuters they would flee to Bangladesh if they could, but routes out of the country used during the previous exodus have been rendered unsafe by the violence.
More than 1,000 Rohingya have arrived in the camps in Bangladesh since January, according to the United Nations refugee agency, a figure that also includes arrivals from India, which has in recent months been cracking down on what it says are illegal Rohingya immigrants.
Those from Myanmar cited violence linked to fighting between Arakan Army insurgents and the military as well as poor living conditions, spokeswoman Louise Donovan said.
Many refugees living in the crowded Bangladesh camps say they want to return home, but under specific conditions, including guarantees of citizenship and security and improvements in the lives of Rohingya still in Myanmar.
Denigrated as illegal immigrants, although many can trace their ancestry in Myanmar back centuries, the Rohingya there are mostly denied citizenship and subject to tight restrictions on movement that keep them confined to camps and villages.
CAUGHT IN CROSSFIRE
The Arakan Army has been fighting for greater autonomy for Rakhine, a region that was an independent kingdom for centuries.
In its calls for an armed “revolution”, the group draws on deep-seated historical resentment felt by some Rakhines towards the ethnic Bamar majority that dominates the central government.
Rohingya still living in the area say they have been caught in the middle of the conflict.
Government troops battling the insurgents have set up camp in Muslim villages in parts of northern Rakhine, five villagers told Reuters. Soldiers ask Muslim residents to bring them food and firewood, or to show them the roads, villagers said, putting them in danger of retribution from the Arakan Army.
“If they say they will stay, we have to accept it,” said one Rohingya living in Rathedaung township, who like others asked not to be named for safety reasons.
Another in Buthidaung township said soldiers had asked him to guide troops, as he was a proficient Burmese speaker. Some of the Muslim population, particularly from poorer communities, speak only the Rohingya dialect.
Afterwards, the villager said, he got a call from an unknown number, warning that anyone who helped the military would face consequences. He said the speaker told him: “We will kill you. We will burn your village.”
Two Rohingya were shot dead in Rathedaung township’s Sin Khone Taing village in early August after escorting troops, five locals told Reuters. Officials from the village could not be reached for comment.
“We are hostages, stuck between two groups,” said one Muslim who fled the village. “We are not safe. It has been three times already that we have fled from the village since June … The government cannot control this area.”
Arakan Army spokesman Khine Thu Ka denied the organization had killed civilians, blaming Myanmar forces for the deaths.
“We don’t kill our civilians like that,” he said. “As we heard, the Burmese military took them and eliminated like them … There are too many cases like that.”
Many Rohingya in Myanmar have been reliant on international non-profit organizations for medical care and deliveries of food since a previous bout of violence in 2012 that forced many into camps.
Since the start of the Arakan Army conflict, little has been getting through.
In Rathedaung’s Sin Khone Taing village, Rohingya said they last received a delivery of food in May. “People are living off rice porridge,” said one villager.
Kyaw Win, executive director of Burma Human Rights Network, which monitors the Rohingya crisis, said it had received reports of landmines and improvised explosive devices placed on the roads near the exits of Rohingya villages.
In a joint statement last week, 61 NGOs including Save the Children and Oxfam said there had been “no meaningful progress on freedom of movement or human rights” for the Rohingya still in Myanmar, while the recent “upsurge in violence has worsened the already precarious humanitarian situation in central and northern Rakhine state”.
Across the border, in the sprawling Bangladesh camps, refugees keep in touch with their relatives in Myanmar via phone, now that the internet connection has been cut. Nobody is urging them to come home.
“All of the people want to flee as there is no security,” Tin Shwe said. “The government cannot help the few Rohingya left behind. So how could anyone believe they could help hundreds of thousands?”
(This story corrects typo in 34th paragraph, replacing “improved” with “improvised”)
Reporting by Poppy McPherson and Thu Thu Aung; Editing by Alex Richardson
South Korea begins military drills around disputed island amid feud with Japan
FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a part of the group of islets known in South Korea as Dokdo and in Japan as Takeshima in the Sea of Japan, October 20, 2007. REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev/File Photo
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s military will conduct two days of drills around a tiny island also claimed by Japan, Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday, just days after Seoul decided to scrap an intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo amid worsening relations.
Tokyo and Seoul have long been at loggerheads over the sovereignty of the group of islets called Takeshima in Japanese and Dokdo in Korean, which lie about halfway between the East Asian neighbors in the Sea of Japan, which Seoul refers to as the East Sea.
The military drills were scheduled to begin on Sunday, Yonhap reported, and could exacerbate tensions between the two neighbors.
South Koreas on Thursday had announced the scrapping of the intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, drawing a swift protest from Tokyo and deepening a decades-old dispute over history that has hit trade and undercut security cooperation over North Korea.
Relations between South Korea and Japan began to deteriorate late last year following a diplomatic row over compensation for wartime forced laborers during Japan’s occupation of Korea.
They soured further when Japan tightened its curbs on exports of high-tech materials needed by South Korea’s chip industry, and again this month when Tokyo said it would remove South Korea’s fast-track export status.
The disputed islands have long been one of the most sensitive areas of contention for South Korea and Japan. Recently, South Korea and Japan traded words over the way the islands were described on a website for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
The islands were at the center of a more serious clash in July, when both South Korea and Japan responded to what they saw as a violation of their air space near the islands by a Russian military plane.
Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Leslie Adler
Airport security: 3D baggage scanners could end liquid restrictions
All major UK airports must introduce 3D baggage screening equipment before the end of 2022, the government says.
Ministers say the technology will boost security, speed up pre-boarding checks, and could end the restrictions on travelling with liquids and laptops.
The equipment, similar to CT scanners used in hospitals, is already being installed at London’s Heathrow Airport.
It provides a clearer picture of a bag’s contents, which staff can zoom in to and rotate for inspection.
Currently, passengers taking liquid in their cabin baggage are restricted to containers holding no more than 100ml, which must be shown to security staff in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag of about 20cm (8in) x 20cm.
The limits have been in place since November 2006. Their introduction ended a ban on liquids in the cabin imposed three months earlier, when British police said they had foiled a plot to blow up as many as 10 planes using explosives hidden in drinks bottles.
Announcing the new plans, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new technology would cut down on “hassle” for travellers and improve security.
“By making journeys through UK airports easier than ever, this new equipment will help boost the vital role our airports play in securing the UK’s position as a global hub for trade, tourism and investment,” he added.
Heathrow has revealed it is spending £50m in order to roll out the technology over the next few years.
It is the first UK airport to install the equipment, which it has been trialling since 2017.
The airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said it would make travel “less disruptive”, adding that the scanners were able to see what liquid was contained in luggage.
The scanners are set to be rolled out to other UK airports over the next few years.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the new equipment means “no more pulling out your socks and your underwear, and having to separate your liquids and and take your laptops out”.
He added that aviation companies would be paying for the changes, rather than the taxpayer.
The technology is already being used by US airports, including Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago’s O’Hare.
African News6 months ago
ICT Tenders: Government at work
American Entertainment5 months ago
Chicago Mayor Says City Will Send Smollett Bill for Investigation
News6 months ago
Perimeter fencing to improve safety at Red Bank Primary
Music5 months ago
Christopher Martin – I'm A Big Deal | Official Music Video
News5 months ago
Suspend intended CAL lease of Boeing aircraft, T&T Opposition urges
African News4 months ago
Clashes in Peru coca eradication operation leave at least two dead
Music5 months ago
Cristy Barber from VP RECORDS flys in for Chino Album Launch
Music5 months ago
Sweet Jamaica – the album has landed! Mr Vegas at VP Records Florida