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Older than dinosaurs: last South African coelacanths threatened by oil exploration
Marine life Older than dinosaurs: last South African coelacanths threatened by oil exploration
Just 30 of the prehistoric fish known to exist, raising fears oil wells will push it to extinction
Bright blue, older than dinosaurs and weighing as much as an average-sized man, coelacanths are the most endangered fish in South Africa and among the rarest in the world.
Barely 30 of these critically-endangered fish are known to exist off the east coast of South Africa, raising concern t hat a new oil exploration venture in the area could jeopardise their future.
Coelacanths, whose shape has remained almost unchanged for 420m years, captured world attention when the first living specimen was caught off the port city of East London in 1938. This discovery was followed by the subsequent capture of several more off the Comoros islands in the early 1950s, confirming that coelacanths were definitely not extinct.Shelf Life: Six ways to prepare a coelacanth | @GrrlScientist Read more
December 2000 brought further excitement when divers found a small coelacanth colony in underwater canyons near South Africaâs Sodwana Bay, adjacent to the iSimangaliso wetland park and world heritage site.
Now the Rome-based energy group Eni plans to drill several deep-water oil wells in a 400km long exploration block known as Block ER236.
Dr Andrew Venter, the chief executive of Wildtrust, one of several conservation groups lobbying for a signifi cant expansion of South Africaâs protected ocean areas, said: âThe Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 decimated fish populations â" so if we had an oil spill off iSimangaliso it is very likely it could wipe out these coelacanths.â
The Sodwana coelacanths are about 40km from the northern boundary of the Eni exploration area and nearly 200km north of the first drilling sites, but Venter said oil spills spread far and swiftly.
His concerns have been echoed by the coelacanth expert Prof Mike Bruton, who said the fish are specialist creatures, sensitive to environmental disturbance.
âAnything that interferes with their ability to absorb oxygen, such as oil pollution, would threaten their survival. The risk of oil spills or blowouts during exploration or future commercial production in Block ER236 is a source of serious concern.â
Last year, Eni commissioned a mandatory environmental impact assessment (EIA) but the scoping report makes scant mention of the potential threat to the Sodwana coelacanths.
Instead, the report suggested that coelacanths were unlikely to be found next to the first exploration wells.
Responding to fears the fish could be wiped out by leaks or undersea blowouts, the oil drilling company said: âEni always applies the highest operational and environmental standards, which often exceed local compliance regulations.Dinosaur fish pushed to the brink by deep-sea trawlers Read more
âPrior to any ope ration we undertake sensitivity mapping to identify sensitive offshore marine habitat which guide our planning. In addition to this, Eni would comply with all the requirements of the environmental management programme which is based on the outcomes of the impact assessment.
âSpecialist studies have been conducted for both marine ecology and oil spill modelling scenarios and no specific threat has emerged in relation to this. The specialist study pertaining to accidental spillage modelling is currently being independently third-party peer-reviewed.â
Bruton said studies on coelacanths caught off the coasts of Indonesia and Tanzania showed that the remoteness of their habitat had not protected them from exposure to pollutants such as PCB and DDT, which had been used on land but had drifted over the sea on atmospheric winds and had accumulated up the food chain to the top predators, such as the coelacanth.
If oil were to be spilled in the ocean, Bruton feared th e coelacanth colony could be destroyed. âThe risk needs to carefully evaluated before this commercial venture has progressed too far and it is too late,â he said. âOil spills do not respect the boundaries of marine protected areas.âTopics
- Marine life
- South Africa
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Diposting oleh Netizen 24 Worldwide On 17.21
Minnesota Orchestra Honors Nelson Mandela By Bringing Music To South Africa
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Former South African President Nelson Mandela is depicted in a stained glass at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto, South Africa. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide captiontoggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Former South African President Nelson Mandela is depicted in a stained glass at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto, South Africa.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
The Minnesota Orchestra will play one of its most important gigs of the year this month â" at the Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto, South Africa. In doing so, it will become the first major U.S. orchestra to visit that city. The performance is part of a year of celebrations recognizing the centennial of Nelson Mandela's birth. It makes sense for the orchestra to play in the community central to the freedom struggle which brought down apartheid.
Today, the church seems to radiate peace, but Regina Mundi caretaker Danny Dube says this place experienced horrible violence. He points to bullet-holes preserved in the walls and says in the 1970s anti-apartheid activists met here and were attacked by police officers.
"They started throwing in tear gas canisters, as well as shooting," Dube says. "The problem was they did shoot from the outside as well as inside the church.& quot;
Regina Mundi became an early site for the country's post-apartheid truth and reconciliation commission.
Maki Mandela, Nelson Mandela's oldest daughter, knows that her father saw music as a blessing. "It is through music that we express our pain, our anger, our joy," she says.
African history professor Dr. Helena Pohlandt-McCormick wrote her doctoral thesis on Regina Mundi. She bought tickets for the Soweto show despite living two hours away by air. People in Soweto can't afford concert tickets, she explains, and most know little about orchestral music.
"Classical music is associated with Europe," McCormick says. "And in the sort of decolonization there is a turn against the kinds of arts that are associated with the west, or the north, or with Europe."
Simply put, orchestral music is still seen as a white artform. This is something Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo VÃ¤nskÃ¤ acknowledges. The tour is his idea. A few years back, VÃ¤nskÃ¤ worked with the South African National Youth Orchestra Foundation and was impressed by the musicians' talent. He hopes to build an audience for them and other orchestras, few of whom ever come to South Africa.Enlarge this image
Regina Mundi caretaker Danny Dube uncovers a corner of the church's main altar. Dube says a South African police officer smashed off the end of the marble structure with a rifle butt during the Soweto Riots in the 1970s and '80s. Euan Kerr/Minnesota Public Radio News hide captiontog gle caption Euan Kerr/Minnesota Public Radio News
Regina Mundi caretaker Danny Dube uncovers a corner of the church's main altar. Dube says a South African police officer smashed off the end of the marble structure with a rifle butt during the Soweto Riots in the 1970s and '80s.Euan Kerr/Minnesota Public Radio News
Composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen wroteHarmonia Ubuntu for the Minnesota musicians. The Orchestra will play the piece, among others, on Aug. 17. "These are amazing and courageous acts, I think, of public diplomacy and public engagement, especially in the world that we live in now, which is so fractured," he says.
Tilda Smith, a first-time classical attendee, heard the piece at the opening concert in Cape Town on Aug. 10. "It's almost like you could see movies, or the sea, or n ature, and everything flowing in front of you," Smith says. "So peaceful. It's beautiful."
"Shosholoza" is often called South Africa's second national anthem and while orchestral music is not a significant part of the country's culture, choral music is. The Johannesburg-based Gauteng Choristers will join members of the Minnesota Chorale and the orchestra for Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (from the Ninth Symphony) for the Aug. 17 performance. The soloists will all be South African. They will also sing a series of South African songs with the full orchestra.Enlarge this image
Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo VÃ¤nskÃ¤ leads an afternoon rehearsal in Cape Town, South Africa, before the fi rst concert of its five-city South African tour, Aug. 10, 2018. Euan Kerr/Minnesota Public Radio News hide captiontoggle caption Euan Kerr/Minnesota Public Radio News
Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo VÃ¤nskÃ¤ leads an afternoon rehearsal in Cape Town, South Africa, before the first concert of its five-city South African tour, Aug. 10, 2018.Euan Kerr/Minnesota Public Radio News
While there were many black faces at the performances in Cape Town and Durban, the audience was still mainly white. Soweto will be different. To make sure as many people as possible can enjoy the music, the Minnesota Orchestra has arranged for free tickets and money for transportation t o the shows.
Maki Mandela says that Soweto is still a place of great poverty, "But it is also a place of hope in many ways because if you could survive the dark brutal days of apartheid, and people can still be living today, it just shows that you can't conquer the human spirit."Source: Google News South Africa | Netizen 24 South Africa
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Platinum giant to cut more than 13000 jobs in South Africa
The world's second-largest platinum producer says it will cut more than 13,000 jobs in South Africa over the next two years. Impala Platinum says it is because of lower commodity prices and soaring production costs.
The miners' union has said it will not accept the job cuts and is threatening industrial action.
The cuts come as South Africa commemorates the sixth anniversary of the Marikana massacre when 34 miners were shot dead by police during a wage strike.
Al Jazeera's Fahmida Miller reports from Rustenburg in the North West province.Source: Google News South Africa | Netizen 24 South Africa
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What is the future of South Africa's mining sector?
South Africa has some of the world's biggest reserves of platinum, gold, iron ore and coal.
But mining now makes up less than seven percent of its economic output, a steep fall from 20 percent in the 1970s.
Mining companies are blaming low prices and soaring production costs for their plans to cut thousands of jobs at a time the country is struggling with high unemployment rates.
Mining is also intertwined with race relations in South Africa.
The people who work deep underground in often dangerous conditions are overwhelmingly black, while the executives overseeing them are mainly white.
Some of the firms have pushed back against government plans to make them bring on more black shareholders.
So, is it a losing battle for the mining sector? And can South Africa move away from its dependence on commodities?
Presenter: Mohammed J amjoom
Lebohang Pheko - senior research fellow at Trade Collective
Moleko Phakedi - deputy general secretary at South African Federation of Trade Unions
Ralph Mathekga - researcher and lecturer at the University of the Western Cape
Source: Al Jazeera NewsSource: Google News South Africa | Netizen 24 South Africa