Forensics can stop illegal trade of ivory

first_imgAt CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg, scientists and investigators showed how they were using forensics to fight illegal ivory trade and poaching of Africa’s elephants.African elephant numbers are plunging because of poaching. Scientists and investigators are using forensics to track and seize illegal ivory and stop criminals at the source.(Image: Shamin Chibba)Shamin ChibbaThe fight against elephant poaching and illegal ivory trade is getting a boost from scientists and international law enforcement, which are using forensics to stop criminals.Speaking at the CITES CoP17 World Wildlife Conference, which ran from 24 September to 5 October in Johannesburg, Sam Wasser, a researcher at the University of Washington’s Centre for Conservation Biology, said they had created a system that helped to seize ivory in the destination country and track it to the source of the killing.Wasser led a discussion on using forensics to combat illegal ivory trade at its source. Using DNA analysis, researchers and investigators have been able to locate the source and track major exports. “We extract DNA from ivory samples and compare them to some 26 genetic markers.”He said that by current estimates, the African elephant could become extinct in ten years’ time. There are currently 400 000 elephants remaining in the wild and up to 40 000 are being killed by poachers every year.Male elephant tusks weigh anything between 45kg and 80kg while female tusks are as heavy as 20kg. On the black market, 0.5kg of ivory can be sold for up to R21 000.Illegal ivory trade was one of the five biggest organised crime networks in the world and was linked to other contraband such as cocaine and heroin, said Wasser. Most contraband is not seized in the source country. And of the 600-million port entries a year, only 2% of ship containers were checked.“To attack the problem we need to know where the ivory is coming from, how big are the networks and how much ivory there is. To stop this, we need to track trade at its source and attack prior to export. We also need to focus law enforcement on major poaching hot spots.”Poachers were well informed, said Wasser. They needed to know the land, make connections with rangers, know the elephants’ movements. They were also savvy when it came to exporting ivory, hiding tusks in long grain white rice sacks from Pakistan, for example.The first step in sampling is to identify pairs of tusks, which can be a monumental task as in many cases, pairs are split in different shipments.In one particular seizure, more than half of the tusks did not have matching pairs. “Pairs (are separated) and get shipped to different locations within a short space of time.”However, this tells investigators that the two shipments are being shipped by the same person.Kingpin’s arrestIn July this year, Kenyan businessman Feisal Ali Mohammed was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by a Mombasa law court after he was found guilty of illegal possession of ivory worth 44-million shillings (R6-million). He also received a fine of 20-million shillings (R2.7-million).According to The Guardian website, a warrant for his arrest was issued in 2014 after two tons of ivory were seized from a car yard in Mombasa. He evaded capture that time.But in October of the same year, Interpol issued a Red Notice identifying Ali as one of the world’s most wanted environmental crime fugitives. He was arrested in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on Christmas Eve 2014 and was returned to Mombasa to face trial.Despite Ali’s capture, Wasser said there were other major ivory smugglers who were well connected with game rangers, port authorities and the like.Any seizure of more than half-a-ton is considered large. However, investigators regularly seize up to two tons at a time, with the largest being 4.6 tons in Singapore last May.Smaller seizures, of up to 300 kilograms, are also made at airports. In one of the more recent seizures, airport security complied with the traffickers. “We saw some footage from Tanzania whereby a security guard switched off the X-ray machine to let through Chinese travellers with ivory going to Switzerland. They were seized in Switzerland,” said Wasser.Poaching locationsAll of the African elephants killed are concentrated within a 300km radius of two regions: 22% in Gabon and Republic of Congo in West Africa, and 78% Tanzania and Kenya in East Africa.According to Thure Cerling, a senior scientist at IsoForensics, most of the elephants killed are younger than five years of age.IsoForensics is an isotope analysis service that has been assessing seized tusks to determine the age of the elephants and their original habitat. “Elephants would have been killed a year before tusks are seized,” said Cerling.He uses samples taken from the cementum, or the outside of the tusk, which is richer in DNA material.Database links seizuresResearchers and investigators are relying on a database created by nonprofit research organisation C4ADS to track shipments – using an app called Windward – and seizures.According to Mary Utermohlen, an analyst at C4ADS, the organisation’s ivory seizure database has more than 1 100 ivory seizures between 2009 and August 2015. “We can link ships and the people involved in those seizures. It’s one degree out so it’s quite accurate.”Last year, C4ADS was able link two major seizures: a 3.1 ton seizure in Thailand in April 2015 and the 4.6 ton seizure in Singapore. Both came out of Mombasa, Kenya. By linking the two seizures, they began linking numerous other ivory exports.Utermohlen spoke of a mega-network in ivory trade wherein 21 seizures contained 81.6 tons of ivory, 4.1 tons of pangolin scales, and 200 kilograms of rhino horn.Wasser said they were trying hard to “feed into transnational investigations” by working with Interpol and other investigators. “Whether you’re pro-trade or against trade, we all want the same thing: stop the killing. That’s the fundamental thing to do right now.”last_img read more

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Zach Profit, Sept. 24

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest We are pretty happy. We are 10% done with corn and 15% done with soybeans. We got started last Monday Sept. 17 in some corn. The moisture starting off was 21% to 23%. We had a small patch that was an earlier hybrid that came in at 18.5%.We haven’t really seen anything under 190 bushels and the sky is the limit the other way. We have seen up to 230 and we have only run the earlier hybrids with 103- and 104-day corn. It has met our expectations and it is definitely going to be good. It will be right at the yields we had last year. I’m not sure it will be much better than last year but I think it will come off at a lower moisture.The soybeans, I think, are the big story in the area with yields anywhere from 60 to 80 bushels with the majority of the yields I have heard around 70. The beans are doing really well. We have had some pretty marginal ground do really well so far.In our 30-inch row experiment, those beans looked tough but I think they will yield better than we were expecting. They were podded up really well. Our regular 15-inch beans we normally do are 70+ bushels.We had quite a bit of wind Thursday and Friday. There was some corn going down in the area. It seems to be extremely hybrid specific. There are fields that are a quarter to half snapped off laying flat on the ground. There were gusts of 25 or 30 miles per hour.We have seen good test weight and quality corn. Vomitoxin does not appear to be an issue.There have been rumors about soybean seed issues with a mold or fungus actually on the seed. There was quite a bit of it coming into one elevator.We have had no rain and everything is going pretty well, but it looks like it is going to rain. We are keeping up with the maturity of the soybeans as they ripen. I think there is a big crop out there.last_img read more

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Organize Your Video Editing Projects with Smart Folders

first_imgSmart Folders should make file organization easier and serve as a shortcut for you as an editor. They also work across different file extensions…not just Final Cut Pro.This video was created by Industrial Revolution, Thanks for sharing guys!How do you keep your files organized? Share in the comments below. Smart Folders are a free way to find and organize your video editing project files on a Mac.Keeping files organized is a skill that many editors are not good but it’s super important when working on multiple projects at the same time. As an editor you’ve probably accidentally deleted files because they were improperly organized. Obviously that is not a fun situation to be in. Fortunately Apple computers have built-in Smart Folder capabilities specially designed to help you sort through project files on your computer. The following video by Industrial Revolution explains how to create and utilize Smart Folders on a Mac. The video covers:Creating Smart FoldersSetting file extension parametersCreating date parameterslast_img read more

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Plus pick: Lakshadweep

first_imgStayBangaram Island Beach ResortThis is luxury at its best in Lakshadweep. The beach huts with tiled roofs augment the scenic beauty of this uninhabited island. For more privacy there are the villas. The verandahs, all thatched with palm, are galleries to the spectacular views of the sea. This resort also boasts a bar–a rarity considering Lakshadweep is alcohol free.Tel: (0484) 266 8221; www.cghearth.comAgatti Island Beach ResortYou can walk straight into this resort after getting off the plane–it’s a stone’s throw away from the Agatti airport. This eco-friendly resort offers some of the best swimming stretches in Agatti. You can fish in the blue lagoon and barbecue your catch for dinner. The best way to while away time is to laze on a hammock under coconut trees.Tel: (0484) 236 2232; www.agattiislandresorts.comEatCoconut RiceThere can be arguments and more arguments about the authenticity of this dish, which is more associated with Tamil Nadu. But this recipe with the Lakshadweep twist is something you can try at home. And it will serve you well in the sweltering heat. Just boil the rice in coconut milk, instead of water. And that’s all you need to do. A lagoon fish pickle is the perfect accompaniment but it also tastes good with regular spicy fish and meat curry.KalanjiTry this for breakfast if you are bored of omelettes and toasted bread. Kalanji is a light, flaky roti (almost feels like paper) made of rice. It is served with milk and sliced bananas. A heavier and tastier version of the kalanji is the aluura, which comes with a generous coating of eggs and raisins. This is spiced with turmeric to give the roti a dash of colour. Aluura is usually had with a glass of cold milk.ShopTuna PickleThe islands of Lakshadweep have little or nothing for the avid shopper. But if you must bring back something from here–apart from happy holiday memories–then we suggest you choose the tuna pickle. These are tiny bottles of pure delight. Rich and delicious, the chunks of tuna fish in oil and spices can make even the most mundane of meals interesting. And the best place to buy these pickles is the popular canning factory on Minicoy Island. You can also pick up cans of tuna chunks, white tuna meat and smoked tuna from the factory outlet here.SeeMinicoy LighthouseThis lighthouse, built by the British in 1885, is the only one in the country where the Tricolour is unfurled every day. The 49m-high lighthouse once witnessed the hoisting of the Union Jack every day till April 2, 1956–the day the Indian Navy took over. Built with black bricks imported from England, the view from the top of this well-maintained structure, will take your breath away. The island of Minicoy, comprising a cluster of 10 villages, is also famous for lava, a colourful dance form unique to Lakshadweep.KalpeniThis island has the largest lagoon in Lakshadweep. The shallow yet sparkling lagoon is ideal for water sports. A huge storm bank of coral debris along the shoreline is yet another attraction of this secluded island, with the small islets of Tilakkam, Pitti and uninhabited Cheriyam making a pretty picture on the waterfront.advertisementlast_img read more

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Manchester United down Real Madrid on penalties in International Champions Cup

first_imgManchester United defeated Real Madrid in an ugly penalty shootout on Sunday with seven players failing to convert from the spot after their International Champions Cup match ended 1-1 in Northern California.United, who won the shootout 2-1, took the lead just before halftime when Anthony Martial slalomed into the box past three defenders to set up Jesse Lingard from close range.Both sides made a raft of changes at the break, which upset the rhythm of the game. The sweltering conditions were also a factor as players struggled to get the tempo back up, while the 65,109 fans eagerly awaited the next goal.It came in the 69th minute after Victor Lindelof took Real’s Theo Hernandez down in the box and Brazilian Casemiro scored from the penalty spot.Casemiro would get another chance from the spot in the shootout but hit the crossbar with Real’s fifth kick to leave United the winners.The first four penalty takers all missed, prompting incredulous laughter from a crowd denied much of a game in the second half. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Daley Blind found the net for United while Luis Miguel Quezada was the only Real Madrid shooter to score.Jose Mourinho was pleased to get the win but emphasized it was nothing more than a training exercise. His only real concern from the game was midfielder Ander Herrera limping off just minutes after coming on as a substitute in the second half.”I also always say to the players, no risk in friendlies,” said Mourinho. “If you feel something, or if you feel something is coming, get out, because the result is not important.”advertisementReal Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was encouraged by what he saw from his team in their first pre-season match.”It was our first game and we did quite well against a team that has had four or five games under their belts. I think that’s a positive,” Zidane told reporters.”We hope we continue to find our form fast and that’s what we’re working on.”The two sides are to meet again in the UEFA Super Cup on Aug. 8 in Macedonia, which will be a much more competitive affair.European champions Madrid next play Manchester City while United face Barcelona on Wednesday.last_img read more

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NPSC Steps Up Efforts to Equip Parents with Coping Skills

first_img The National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) is stepping up efforts to equip parents to properly raise their children.Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kaysia Kerr, tells JIS News that the entity is concerned about the number of parents who are showing low coping skills and are consciously ‘opting out’, not wanting to continue the duties associated with parenting.Over the past month, the NPSC, under its ‘Be the Influence’ campaign, has been placing emphasis on three areas – planned parenthood, substance abuse and corporal punishment.Planned parenthood, as the term suggests, encourages prospective parents to plan before having children and to develop strategies for how to approach parenting.“When you think about parenting, in the same way you think about the career you want, the house you think you want to live in or the other material things you want, and sit down and craft a plan to obtain them, it is the same thing we are saying to our prospective parents,” Ms. Kerr says.She adds that “for those that have teenagers and early teens, we encourage them to sit down, and have the conversation with them about parenting and why it is important to plan”.As it relates to substance abuse, Ms. Kerr says the NPSC is providing assistance where children are purchasing over-the-counter drugs and cough syrup, which she says, are being mixed to make “dangerous cocktails”.“We want parents to explain to children why it is dangerous to ingest these substances. Don’t just say ‘don’t use this particular substance’… .  You need to encourage children on a daily basis… . Remind them when they are going off to school, if they see negative things happening, they do not have to partake,” she says.Ms. Kerr advises parents to develop a relationship with their children, so that they will be comfortable speaking to them about these matters. Parents will then be able to make a report to the school that these substances are being circulated on the compound, she points out.Importantly, Ms. Kerr notes that parents must investigate the reasons their child may be taking these substances, as this may be a sign of underlying emotional issues.“You can explore, because if your child is following a fad, that is perhaps easier to correct than if there are underlying issues and the child is using the substance to self-medicate or cover up the pain that he/she is feeling. Encourage and support them, and you get to delve into whether or not your children are involved in these activities, and what they need to do to stay away from these substances,” she explains.On the topic of corporal punishment, Ms. Kerr says the NPSC is seeking to start a national discourse to eliminate this method of discipline, as it has the potential to escalate to abuse.Rather than flogging, she is encouraging parents to have conversations with children to uncover the underlying reasons for behavioural problems.“Strike a conversation, not your child… .  We really don’t want children to be beaten. We want that cycle to be broken. There are other positive practices that can be employed that will elicit a better response than the potential abuse. Find out why children are behaving the way they are,” she advises.Also, Ms. Kerr recommends that parents encourage discussions about the child’s feelings.“You want to explain to them and you want to get from them what their own feelings are about these boundaries. Where possible, compromise. Parents must be prepared to compromise, but we don’t want beatings to continue,” she says.Other recommendations Ms. Kerr offers is for parents to explain the reasons for the rules they have set and why it is important that the child adhere to these rules for their well-being.The NPSC’s ‘Be the Influence’ campaign is the continuation of a three-year campaign that was launched in 2017 as a call to action for parents to strive to be positive role models in their children’s lives. She adds that “for those that have teenagers and early teens, we encourage them to sit down, and have the conversation with them about parenting and why it is important to plan”. The National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) is stepping up efforts to equip parents to properly raise their children. Story Highlights The NPSC’s ‘Be the Influence’ campaign is the continuation of a three-year campaign that was launched in 2017 as a call to action for parents to strive to be positive role models in their children’s lives.last_img read more

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