1New Species Alert
Fossil hunters have discovered a new species of dinosaur that has been hidden in plain sight in a South African museum collection for 30 years. The fossilised bones had been misidentified as a peculiar specimen of Massospondylus, one of the first named dinosaurs. But a detailed analysis of the 200m-year-old skeleton, which includes an almost complete skull, led researchers to conclude that the remains not only represented a new species but belonged to an entirely new genus too. Named Ngwevu intloko, which is Xhosa for “grey skull”, the creature measured about 4m from the tip of its snout to the end of its tail and may have weighed as much as 300kg. It walked on its hind legs and had a barrel-shaped body, a long, slender neck and a small, boxy skull. Though predominantly a plant-eater, Ngwevu may have taken small animals too when the opportunity arose.SOURCE: CNN
2Dealing with the Elephant in Botswana
The country has lifted a ban on elephant hunting, which was imposed in 2014, citing the challenges faced by small-scale farmers by a growing elephant population. Home to Africa’s largest herd of 130,000, Botswana is famed as the continent’s last safe haven for the world’s largest mammals, but that could change as President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s administration rolls out its controversial policy, aimed at reducing human-wildlife conflict. The idea is that allowing hunting will reduce risk to humans, essentially by reducing the population of elephants. But Cyril Taolo, the deputy director of the department of national parks and wildlife, explained that population control wouldn’t work. He said as elephants move into areas where people are not accustomed to dealing with them, they pose great danger. Because the hunting ban has been suspended, Botswana, which depends heavily on wildlife-based tourism, is faced with the threat of a tourism boycott. Edwin Tambara, a manager at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), backs a broad, sustainable approach to ensure communities can live in a shared habitat with wildlife. Renown conservationist Mike Chase, director of Elephants Without Borders (EWB), is sympathetic to the danger elephants pose, but blamed other factors including how Botswana secures animal enclosures.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
3Africa’s Deadliest Killer Ravages Burundi
Malaria has killed more than 1,800 people in Burundi this year, the UN’s humanitarian agency says, a death toll rivalling a deadly Ebola outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. In its latest situation report, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said 5.7 million cases of malaria had been recorded in Burundi in 2019 – a figure roughly equal to half its entire population. Of those cases, a total of 1,801 died from the mosquito-born disease in Burundi between 1 January and 21 July, OCHA said. The tiny country of 11 million people in the African Great Lakes region has still not declared a national emergency, despite OCHA saying the outbreak crossed “epidemic proportions” in May. A lack of preventative measures like mosquito nets, climatic changes and increased movements of people from mountain areas with low immunity to malaria were driving the crisis, OCHA said. SOURCE: EYE WITNESS NEWS
4Ethiopian and Somali Migrants Go from the Fire to the Frying Pan
Many migrants from East Africa choose a route that is less known, cheaper and even more dangerous than the Mediterranean: They cross the Gulf of Aden and land in war-torn Yemen. But Yemen is unstable itself, torn asunder by many years of war. At the end of 2014, Huthi rebels conquered the capital Sanaa and overthrew the government. In March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia attacked the Shiite rebels. The fighting has developed into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which supports the Huthis. Many migrants are unaware of this. The number of migrants arriving in Yemen from East Africa every year ranges from 50,000 to 150,000. The weather is also a factor. During the summer months, the wind can be very strong and this affects the number of people setting out from Djibouti. This migration route is less known compared to the one to Europe through Sudan and Libya. It’s cheaper but very dangerous. Yemen is littered with landmines.
SOURCE: DEUTSCHE WELLE
5Ghana’s Tranquil Escape from the Clogged Capital
Aburi is an escape from Ghana’s traffic- and waste-clogged capital. Forty-five minutes away (or less, depending on how enthusiastic you are to get there), the town is a carpet of green — mountains, hills, banana and palm trees — bursting in every direction. Located in the Akuapim South municipal district of Ghana’s eastern region, it is part of the Akwapim-Togo mountain range, with hills averaging 1,500 feet. Hills hushed in silence, interrupted by the occasional songful chirp of birds. The Botanical Gardens (20 GHC, or $5), opened in 1890 and occupying about 64.8 hectares of land, is home to 350 plant species and is literally the seedbed of the production of cocoa and rubber in southern Ghana. It’s the perfect place to set up a picnic, lie in the grass, listen to the whistle of trees and enjoy the cool air. There are also birds and butterflies to spot. Centuries-old trees to marvel at. A picturesque procession of palm trees at the entrance.
6Uganda Starts its Largest Ebola Vaccine Trial to Date
Health authorities say the rollout is an apparent effort to prevent the disease from spreading. An epidemic across the border in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo has killed over 1,800 people, making this outbreak the second-deadliest to date, with fatality rates nearing 70%. The experimental Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered to health care professionals, as well as ambulance drivers, burial teams and cleaners. The trial is expected to last two years and cover 800 people in the Mbarara district in southwest Uganda. There are no licensed treatments for Ebola, but one vaccine, manufactured by Merck, was used effectively at the end of the 2013-2016 outbreak in the DRC and has been used during the current epidemic. Over 180,000 people have received this vaccine.
7[OPINION] Boom Or Bust -Education Will Determine Africa’s Transformation
August 12, marks International Youth Day, and the theme for this year is ‘making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive’, is particularly apt for Africa. Consider this. Every 24 hours around 35,000 African youth are looking for work. By 2050, Africa will be home to about 830 million young people, meaning that at current trends, the challenge will only become tougher. In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta pushed for education reforms to prepare the youth for a new era. The National Policy on Curriculum Reforms, whose vision is “nurturing every learner’s potential” is anchored on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which includes education aspirations to catalyze an education and skills revolution with a greater role assigned to the Private Sector. To prepare Kenya’s young people to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world and to build on existing national leadership on young people, the country has joined Generation Unlimited as one of its key partners. President Uhuru Kenyatta, a global champion of Generation Unlimited, has established a high-level steering committee co-chaired by the Government and the UN to guide the implementation of Generation Unlimited in the country, as well concrete steps to attract public and private partnerships in support of its goals.
8REPORT: The “Grand-scale Corruption” which the Sassou-Nguesso Family Continues to Engage
A new investigation by anti-corruption NGO Global Witness has discovered the apparent theft of more than $50 million in public funds from the Republic of Congo by Denis Christel “Kiki” Sassou-Nguesso, son of the country’s president, Denis Sassou-Nguesso. The resulting report alleges the younger Sassou-Nguesso, 44, laundered the money through a “complex and opaque corporate structure” spanning six European countries, the British Virgin Islands, and the US state of Delaware. It’s far from the first time the nation’s first family has been accused of embezzling funds from their country’s treasury. In 2007, Global Witness fingered Kiki, a Congolese parliamentarian, as having spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that may derive from sales of state oil on lavish designer shopping sprees in Paris, Marbella and Dubai.” His sister, Claudia Sassou-Nguesso—also an elected member of Congo’s parliament—allegedly pilfered nearly $20 million in state monies to buy a condo in New York City’s Trump International Hotel & Tower, according to a Global Witness report released in April. (The Congolese government called the charges “fake news.”)SOURCE: QUARTZ AFRICA
9What’s Eating South African Youth?
Every week a group of South African teenagers crowd into a studio to play hip-hop and discuss neighbourhood gun crime for their community radio show, Bigger Than Life, on Alex FM. They are determined to help stem the violence that blights their densely populated township of Alexandra in Johannesburg. The Alexandra township’s community radio station was established in 1994, the year white-minority apartheid rule ended. Alexandra is just three miles from Johannesburg’s affluent business district but poverty and danger are ever-present. The settlement covers 7 sq km, with many of the bare-brick houses and corrugated iron steel shacks lacking running water and electricity.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
10Ready to Swim for Cape Verde
Cape Verde has never won an Olympic medal, and despite the country sending only four swimmers to the 2020 Olympics, siblings Latroya, Troy and Jayla Pina have all been chosen to compete as members of the Cape Verde National Swim Team in the 2020 Summer Olympics. They will also swim in the Confederation Africaine de Natation Championship Meet in early September.. They have never been to the archipelago nation off the north-west of Africa, but their mother was born there. The Pinas hope to follow in the footsteps of Simone Manuel, who in 2016, became the first black female swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal.