MP Urges Gvt To Slaughter Excess Elephants To Feed Starving Zimbabweans

 19th November 2021  News Headlines This News

By Anna Chibamu

MAKONI Central legislator David Tekeshe left members of parliament and Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda in stitches Wednesday after he suggested that government must slaughter thousands of elephants which are in excess to provide free meat for starving citizens.

Tekeshe stood to pose a supplementary question on the issue regarding in-excess elephants in the country’s national parks due to a ban on the sale of ivory.         360p geselecteerd als afspeelkwaliteit×

“We are facing a challenge of human-wildlife population. The number of elephants in Zimbabwe is highly unsustainable. They have exceeded the desired number. Is it not possible for the government to slaughter the elephants that are in excess for relish,” Tekeshe amid laughter from other legislators.

He also queried Zimbabwe’s export policy regarding the export of live elephants to other countries.×280&×600%2C160x600%2C200x200%2C200x200%2C200x200%2C200x200%2C0x0%2C1123x537%2C698x280&nras=2&correlator=2151246082545&frm=20&pv=1&ga_vid=920031139.1637605802&ga_sid=1637605802&ga_hid=739879038&ga_fc=1&u_tz=-480&u_his=2&u_h=640&u_w=1139&u_ah=607&u_aw=1139&u_cd=24&dmc=4&adx=91&ady=1786&biw=1123&bih=537&scr_x=0&scr_y=0&eid=31062422%2C31063696&oid=2&psts=AGkb-H9ujBn2J91ZbSyckbcREqF1yajk2ApHJJvi1RIedQex-Q-qxBrjzg6R1YjJMzKKVElSmXigBdz4307FtBNpcNhsDLkl6F3eFbg1-qff%2CAGkb-H9dCri-UFNeOCvF8ZzpKg9DZj8FrsY8Xstliq-4r_UZXzAp1A594-vqe359Pbu_4DT3NGP3iPth8HYo6YzUQWgk6eFZSoQG7mvj0tzEv3o%2CAGkb-H9UmmlxN8LzNMAv2F_5qpm1wR55MG91nA5wbf9vpNzY4km3mku3fLjaNxwDMmTON2c0qvJw_yvvcPCaJK3Mm7Q1XEGxkB0mhnyYOHj-c2o&pvsid=992433032775179&pem=453&tmod=1711382956&eae=0&fc=896&brdim=0%2C0%2C0%2C0%2C1139%2C0%2C1139%2C607%2C1139%2C537&vis=1&rsz=%7C%7ClEebr%7C&abl=CS&pfx=0&fu=128&bc=31&ifi=4&uci=a!4&btvi=2&fsb=1&xpc=TvQsVhp3dv&p=https%3A//

Zimbabwe currently has about 100 000 elephants against the carrying capacity of 45 000, which has resulted in spiking cases of deadly human-wildlife conflicts involving the giant mammals.

Leader of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi admitted the parks had more than over 65 000 elephants countrywide.

“It is very correct that the carrying capacity for our elephants has been exceeded. We really want to downscale and have a reasonable amount of our herd of elephants. As a country, we are constrained because of the international conventions that we are party to but we really believe that this is very unfair,” Ziyambi said.

“We should be allowed as a country to sell off the excess stock of our elephants; it is one of the areas that our minister of Tourism is seized with and we are pushing as a block, particularly as African countries”

“Those that impose this ban do not have elephants in their countries and we believe that it should not be a blanket statement that applies to everyone else in the world. We must look at it region by region and look at it specifically looking at us here in Southern Africa, you find out that almost 50% of the elephants in the world are in Southern Africa outside Kenya – that is Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Zambia. We believe it is something that we must look at and continue pushing so that we are allowed that free trade,” he said.

One of world’s last two northern white rhinos dropped from race to save the species

FILE PHOTO: Najin and her daughter Fatou, the last two northern white rhino females, graze near their enclosure at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia National Park

Thu, October 21, 2021, 6:44 AM·2 min read

NAIROBI (Reuters) – One of the world’s last two northern white rhinos, a mother and her daughter, is being retired from a breeding programme aimed at saving the species from extinction, scientists said on Thursday.

Najin, 32, is the mother of Fatu who is now the only donor left in the programme, which aims to implant artificially developed embryos into another more abundant species of rhino in Kenya.

There are no known living males and neither of the two remaining northern white rhinos can carry a calf to term.- ADVERTISEMENT -

Northern white rhinos, which are actually grey, used to roam freely in several countries in east and central Africa, but their numbers fell sharply due to widespread poaching for their horns.

A Biorescue team led by researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany has been racing against time to save the world’s most endangered mammal.

“The team has reached the decision to retire the older of the two remaining females, 32-year-old Najin, as a donor of egg cells,” Biorescue said in a statement, citing ethical considerations.

Najin’s advanced age, and signs of illness, were also taken into account, they said.

Scientists hope to implant embryos made from the rhinos’ egg cells and frozen sperm from deceased males into surrogate mothers.

“We have been very successful with Fatu… So far we have 12 pure northern white rhino embryos,” David Ndeereh, the acting deputy director for research at the Wildlife Research and Training Institute, a Kenyan state agency, told Reuters.

“We are very optimistic that the project will succeed.”

The team hopes to be able to deliver its first northern white rhino calf in three years and a wider population in the next two decades.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Nick Macfie)

UN climate report: Africa’s rare glaciers to disappear within two decades

BY JORDAN WILLIAMS – 10/19/21 08:38 AM EDT

A new report from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that Africa’s rare glaciers will disappear within two decades.

The report released Tuesday warned that the current retreat rates of Africa’s glaciers — Mount Kenya, the Rwenori Mountains and Mount Kilimanjaro — are higher than the global average. If it continues, the mountains would be deglaciated by the 2040s.  

Mount Kenya is expected to be deglaciated a decade sooner, the report found, which would make it the first entire mountain range to lose glaciers because of human-induced climate change.

The WMO made the findings in The State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report, which details how Africa is disproportionately vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.

The report was done in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), and other international and regional scientific organizations.

The WMO’s report stated that Africa is witnessing increasing weather and climate variability, which leads to disasters and disruption of economic and ecological systems. In 2020, the region saw continued warming temperatures, accelerated sea-level rise and climate events like floods and droughts.

By 2030, up to 118 million “extremely poor people,” those living on less than $1.90 per day, would be exposed to droughts, floods and extreme heat in Africa if adequate measures are not put in place, the report said.

The report further found that climate change could further lower gross domestic product in sub-Saharan Africa by up to 3 percent in 2050. 

Adaption costs in sub-Saharan African are estimated to be between $30 billion to $50 billion each year over the next decade to avoid even higher costs of additional disaster relief. 

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said in a statement that enhanced climate resilience is an “urgent and continuing need.”

“Investments are particularly needed in capacity development and technology transfer, as well as in enhancing countries’ early warning systems, including weather, water and climate observing systems,” Taalas continued.

American imports of giraffe trophies and body parts are driving the animals to extinction

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

October 12, 2021 0 Comments

American imports of giraffe trophies and body parts are driving the animals to extinction

Giraffe-hide covered pillows for sale at The African Market Trophy Room Collection in Florida, March 2018. The HSUS206SHARES

Giraffes, with their iconic long necks and unmistakable, beautifully patterned coats, are facing extinction. There are currently fewer than 69,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild today. And the threats of habitat loss and illegal hunting for bushmeat are only exacerbated by demand for giraffe trophies and other products traded internationally.

The U.S. is partly to blame. Americans are importing giraffe body parts from trophy hunts, as well as giraffe bones, skins and other parts for commercial trade at alarming rates. There are currently no federal protections to stop them.

Today, Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, in coalition with another conservation organization, are bringing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to court for failing to act on our 2017 petition to provide protections for the beloved species under the Endangered Species Act. Giving giraffes protections under the Endangered Species Act, as requested by our petition, would provide much-needed federal oversight over giraffe imports to the U.S. and only imports that can be shown to benefit the survival of the species would be allowed.

Giraffe populations have plummeted in recent years partly because of the global demand for their body parts, which is why they need endangered species protections. 1001slide/

Between 2006 and 2015, more than 40,000 giraffe products were imported into the U.S., including 3,744 giraffe hunting trophies—on average, more than one per day. These imports also included 21,402 giraffe bone carvings, 4,789 bones and 3,008 skin pieces, parts used to create grotesque products like knife handles, giraffe skin pillows and even Bible covers, as revealed by a 2018 HSUS/HSI undercover investigation.

For years, we have worked to increase protections for giraffes, both domestically and internationally. In 2018, we brought the FWS to court for failing to make an initial determination on our petition. In early 2019, the agency agreed with us that giraffes may qualify for endangered species protection.

While this was a necessary first step, the agency still has to make a final determination on whether to propose endangered species protections for giraffes. By law, that decision was due in April 2018—12 months after we filed our petition—yet the agency continues to drag its feet. It still hasn’t afforded giraffes long overdue endangered species protections. Today’s lawsuit challenges the FWS’s failure to take timely action on giraffes.

While giraffes have thankfully received some international protections in recent years, those protections are proving insufficient on their own. After significant work by HSI, HSUS and others, giraffes were listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as CITES, in 2019. This listing put in place monitoring and regulations on the international trade in giraffes and products derived from them. However, several major African countries that are exporters of giraffes objected, saying they won’t implement the export permits and safeguards required by the CITES listing. Sadly, we know this CITES listing has done little to address the U.S.’s contribution to giraffes’ perilous position.

This underscores the urgent need for the FWS to take action to ensure that American imports of giraffe trophies and international and domestic trade in giraffes does not continue to threaten the survival of this iconic species. Listing giraffes as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act will showcase the U.S. as a leader in the conservation of giraffes, further draw attention to this long-neglected species and make additional conservation funding available. The listing will put in place crucial safeguards for the species that will help balance the lack of adequate protections in many of the countries where they roam. An “endangered” listing would require the FWS to scrutinize imports and ensure that they enhance the survival of the species. The listing will also regulate interstate trade in giraffe parts, which will help to crack down on the gruesome flow of products found in our investigation.

Giraffes urgently need our help. America’s role in pushing this species toward extinction must stop. We are suing the Service today in order to force action on this critical issue before it is too late to save this remarkable species.

Mountain bongo makes a return to Mt Kenya

Monday, May 03, 2021

Mountain bongo
A mountain bongo at Fairmont Mt Kenya Safari Club hotel in Nyeri.File | Nation Media Group

By Gitonga Marete

The mountain bongo, described as beautiful and shy, is an endangered antelope whose population living in the wild globally is estimated at just 150.

About 30 years ago, the animals used to roam the Mt Kenya forest habitat but due to hunting for game meat and trophy, the numbers got depleted.

In Kenya, the population of bongos living in the Aberdare forest and other conservancies is about 30.

But there is hope: The animals are being bred in zoos in Florida, US and this rare antelope is coming back home, thanks to a project initiated by the Meru county government in collaboration with other conservation stakeholders.

The county government has partnered with Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Mt Kenya Trust and two Community Forest Associations (CFAs) to form a trust that will spearhead the project.

Lewa Conservancy, which is offering technical assistance, has already carried out a feasibility study with findings showing that the project is viable, according to Mr John Kinoti, the community development manager.

“The study shows that once reintroduced, the bongo will not face many challenges since this used to be their home,” Mr Kinoti said in an interview.

Last Friday, deputy governor Titus Ntuchiu unveiled the Meru Bongo and Black Rhino Conservation Trust (MBBR-CT), which has been given the mandate to receive the first batch of bongos from a US-based conservation organisation and set up a sanctuary in Mt Kenya forest where the animals will be bred.

Mr Ntuchiu said the US organisation got its seed of the bongo from the habitant and the project is aimed at giving back to the community after their breeding efforts were successful.

“The conservationists identified the Mountain Bongo as faced with extinction and took a few to Florida for breeding. They are now bringing them back in this project that seeks to conserve the endangered animal,” he said.

Last year, governor Kiraitu Murungi launched the first Mountain Run in Africa to promote tourism, support conservation and help fund the establishment of a cancer institute with the mountain bongo and black rhino targeted in the conservation efforts.

The sanctuary is expected to attract tourists with the two CFAs – Kamulu and Ntimaka – benefitting from fees charged to tourists, thus providing members of the community with income.

County executive in charge of Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives Maingi Mugambi said besides conservation, the project is expected to spur tourism growth in the county.

“This is a big step towards achieving world-class tourism standards and the ripple effects of this project will be felt by members of the community since the revenue generated from tourism activities will go to the CFAs which are owned by members of the community,” Mr Mugambi said.

How new discoveries in west Africa could rewrite pre-history

Tourists visit the ruins of Kunta Kinte island in the Gambia River, near Jufureh, Albreda
Archaeology in West Africa could rewrite the textbooks on human evolution.

By Eleanor Scerri

Independent Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human HistoryApril 17, 2021

Our species, Homo sapiens, rose in Africa some 300,000 years ago. The objects that early humans made and used, known as the Middle Stone Age material culture, are found throughout much of Africa and include a vast range of innovations.

Among them are bow and arrow technology, specialized tool forms, the long-distance transport of objects such as marine shells and obsidianpersonal ornamentation, the use of pigmentswater storage, and art. Although it is possible that other ancestors of modern humans contributed to this material culture in Africa, some of the earliest Middle Stone Age stone tools have been found with the oldest Homo sapiens fossils found so far.

The textbook view is that by around 40,000 years ago, the Middle Stone Age had largely ceased to exist in Africa. This was a milestone in the history of our species: the end of the first and longest lasting culture associated with humanity, and the foundation for all the subsequent innovations and material culture that defines us today.

Despite its central role in human history, we have little understanding of how the Middle Stone Age ended. Such an understanding could tell us how different groups were organized across the landscape, how they may have exchanged ideas and genes, and how these processes shaped the later stages of human evolution.

Unfortunately, vast swathes of Africa remain near complete blanks on the map when it comes to such deep prehistory, making it difficult to address these questions. Research has tended to focus on areas such as eastern Africa, where preservation is known to be high, understandably minimizing risks and maximizing gains. However, the emerging consensus that all of Africa played some role in human origins means that we can no longer afford to neglect vast regions of the continent if we want to reconstruct our evolution in a realistic framework.

For these reasons, my colleagues and I have been focusing on west Africa, one of the least well understood African regions for human evolution. And our recent work is validating earlier claims of a rich Middle Stone Age past.

New work in Senegal

In 2014, our work in Senegal led to the discovery of a site in the country’s north that suggested the Middle Stone Age ended there far more recently than the textbooks suggested. Several young dates in west Africa had been reported in the past, but the work was largely dismissed owing to problematic dating conducted before the present-day standards existed.

Dates from Ndiayène Pendao indicated that the site was around 12,000 years old. Yet the material culture was classically Middle Stone Age, without any Later Stone Age tools or production methods. In 2016 and 2018, we returned to the field to look for sites in different regions of Senegal and on different river systems, on tributaries of the Senegal and the Gambia. This is because sources of fresh water were critical to people in the past, just as they are to people today; river terraces also often offer excellent preservation conditions and are therefore good places to search for archaeological sites.

The site of Laminia on the Gambia had never been dated. We conducted a detailed assessment of its rock layers to obtain dating samples we could confidently link to the artifacts. The samples returned a date of 24,000 years ago for the site, which confirmed that a young Middle Stone Age was indeed present in the region.

The site of Saxomununya produced an even greater surprise. As the classically Middle Stone Age artifacts, such as retouched Levallois points, and ‘scrapers’, from this site were found upon and within a young terrace of the Falémé River, it was obvious that the site was relatively young. However, the date of 11,000 years ago took the youngest Middle Stone Age into the Holocene epoch, the period after the last major ice age. This was the first time such old material culture had been found in such recent times in Africa. It indicated that the results from Ndiayène Pendao were neither a fluke nor an error.

These results extend the last known occurrence of the Middle Stone Age by a staggering 20,000 years. At the same time, work by colleagues in Senegal also suggested an equally late first occurrence of the Later Stone Age at around 11,000 years—younger than in most other African regions.

Why did the Middle Stone Age last so long and why did the Later Stone Age arrive so late?

Population expansions

Part of the answer to the first question may lie in the fact that parts of west Africa appear to have been less affected by the extremes of repeated cycles of climate change. This may have created stable environmental conditions over a long period of time. As a result of such stability, a finely tuned toolkit that had worked well for millennia might not have needed to change, regardless of the social complexity of the people who made the tools.

The answer to the second question lies in the fact that this region of Africa was relatively isolated. To the north, it meets the Sahara Desert and to the east, there are the Central African rainforests, which were often cut off from the west African rainforests during periods of drought. However, around 15,000 years ago, there was a major increase in humidity and forest growth in central and western Africa. This may have linked different areas and provided corridors for dispersal of human populations. This may have spelled the end for humanity’s first and earliest cultural repertoire and initiated a new period of genetic and cultural mixing.

What is clear is that the long-held simple unilinear model of cultural change towards ‘modernity’ is not supported by the evidence. Groups of hunter-gatherers embedded in radically different technological traditions may have occupied neighboring regions of Africa for thousands of years, and sometimes shared the same regions. Long isolated regions, on the other hand, may have been important reservoirs of cultural and genetic diversity. This matches genetic studies and may have been a defining factor in the success of our species. Our findings are a reminder of the dangers of ignoring gaps on the map.

Countries in West Africa on high alert after Ebola outbreak in Guinea

By Stephanie Busari and Radina Gigova, CNN

Updated 11:49 AM ET, Mon February 15, 2021

Lagos, Nigeria (CNN)Guinea declared an Ebola outbreak in one of its regions on Sunday, after the West African nation confirmed at least seven cases of the disease, including three deaths, the country’s National Security and Health Agency (ANSS) said.Health officials in the southeastern N’Zerekore district said seven people who attended the funeral of a nurse tested positive for the disease and experienced symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding. Three of them died following the February 1 funeral. It is unclear if the nurse, who worked at the local health center, died from Ebola.

Five dead in newest Ebola outbreak in Congo, UNICEF says

Five dead in newest Ebola outbreak in Congo, UNICEF saysThe World Health Organization (WHO) has pledged support for Guinea, helping to procure the Ebola vaccine which has helped control recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Its teams are already on the ground also helping to ensure infection prevention and control in health facilities and other key locations as well as reaching out to communities.An Ebola treatment center will also be opened in the Gouecke region of N’Zerekore, where the outbreak was declared.Content by ShutterflyShow your love with your favorite memoriesWith the tech wizardry of 2021 and Shutterfly’s easy-to-use interface, you can give a gift that’s totally unique to the both of you.The Red Cross said in a statement that a network of more than 700 trained volunteers has been “activated as part of a first wave of response and the government has called on people to respect hygiene and prevention measures and to report signs of the disease to health authorities.”


Map data ©2021 GoogleTerms of UseThe world’s largest Ebola outbreak to date started in 2014 in Guinea and continued to 2016, spreading into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. More than 28,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 of them died.close dialog

Do you want the news summarized each morning?We’ve got you.Sign Me UpBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.The current outbreak has again started in a border area of Guinea and the WHO says it is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to increase surveillance in border districts as well as improving the capacity to test for cases.”It’s a huge concern to see the resurgence of Ebola in Guinea, a country which has already suffered so much from the disease. However, banking on the expertise and experience built during the previous outbreak, health teams in Guinea are on the move to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, in a statement.”WHO is supporting the authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed.”In a tweet, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “#Guinea has many years of experience battling #Ebola, with skilled incident managers and vaccinators… Government is taking action. One of the first steps will be ensuring community understands the risks and will join in response. Their role is crucial.”Countries in West Africa are on high alert and Nigeria says it is monitoring the situation and will issue a public health advisory to address concerns in Africa’s most populous nation.Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is a severe disease that first spreads from wild animals to humans. Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. Humans can also be exposed to the virus, for example, by butchering infected animals.On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die, though this has varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks, according to WHO.New Ebola cases have also been reported this month in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On February 7, WHO announced a new case of Ebola in Butembo, located in the country’s North Kivu province. WHO’s regional office for Africa said Saturday that a third Ebola case had been confirmed in the town of Katawa, near Butembo.The health agency said it is working with partners to provide essential medical supplies to support local health authorities. Vaccinations also commenced in the region on Monday.The DRC has faced several outbreaks of Ebola to date. In June 2020, DRC reported its eleventh Ebola outbreak. A total of 130 confirmed and probable cases were reported, as well as 55 deaths.

CNN’s Maria Fleet, Mia Alberti, Meera Senthilingam, Sharon Braithwaite and Nimi Princewill contributed to this report.


Sudan declares state of emergency as record flooding kills 99 people

Floods caused by heavy seasonal rains have damaged more than 100,000 homes, says minister

A barricade against flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.
 A barricade against flood waters in Tuti island, where the Blue and White Nile merge in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Photograph: Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images

Sudan has declared a three-month state of emergency after flooding that has killed 99 people this year, according to the country’s state news agency.

The Sudanese minister of labour and social development said that in addition to the deaths, the floods had affected more than half a million people, injuring 46, and had damaged more than 100,000 homes.

Much of the flooding was triggered by heavy seasonal rains, mainly in neighbouring Ethiopia, which caused the Nile River to rise to nearly 17.5 metres (about 57ft) at the end of August – the highest level in 100 years, according to the authorities.

The rates of floods and rain for this year exceeded the records set in 1946 and 1988, with expectations of continued rising indicators, Lena el-Sheikh added.

The states of Khartoum, Blue Nile and River Nile are among the hardest-hit by the floods, while damage has also been reported in the Gezira, Gadarif, West Kordofan and South Darfur regions, according to the UN.

The UN said it was supporting the national response with emergency shelter and household supplies, together with water, sanitation and hygiene assistance, food, health services and vector control.

The UN reported that it was able to respond quickly as supplies to meet the needs of 250,000 people had been pre-positioned before the rains started.

But with stocks “being depleted rapidly”, the UN is calling for wider support from the international community.

Good News: Cameroon cancels logging plan that threatened rare apes

AUGUST 12, 2020 / 9:54 AM / 2 DAYS AGO

FILE PHOTO: The eyes of a dominant male western lowland gorilla stare at a visitor at the primate sanctuary run by the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund in Mefou National Park, just outside the capital Yaounde, March 21, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly/File Photo

DAKAR (Reuters) – Cameroon has backtracked on a decision to allow industrial logging in one of the region’s least exploited rainforests, home to rare gorillas, tool-wielding chimpanzees and giant frogs.

The latest government decree overturns one signed in July that would have permitted timber extraction across 68,385 hectares (264 sq miles), or nearly half, of southwestern Cameroon’s Ebo forest, following an outcry from conservation groups and local communities.

Logging would have destroyed the habitat of a small population of gorillas that may be a new subspecies and threatened chimpanzees known for both cracking nuts and fishing for termites, according to Global Wildlife Conservation.

Without giving a reason for the U-turn, the office of Prime Minister Joseph Ngute said in a statement on Tuesday that he had been instructed by President Paul Biya to reverse the earlier decree allowing logging.

It also said Biya had ordered a delay to plans to reclassify a separate 65,000 hectares of Ebo, a move that could have opened it up to loggers.

Conservationists, researchers and local groups have repeatedly urged the Cameroonian government to suspend plans for the two long-term logging concessions in Ebo, which is also the ancestral home of more than 40 local communities.

On Wednesday, Greenpeace Africa greeted the authorities’ apparent change of heart with cautious relief.

“The government of Cameroon seems to have suspended logging plans,” it said in an emailed statement. “The fate of Ebo forest – the communities dependent on it and the wildlife that live in it – still remains unclear.”

Ebo’s mountain slopes and river valleys also host at least 12 plant species that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet as well as the endangered Goliath Frog, a shy, cat-sized amphibian that builds pools for its tadpoles out of rocks.

Coronavirus in DR Congo captured on camera

A collaborative online project is documenting the challenges facing the Democratic Republic of Congo as it tackles Covid-19, measles and Ebola in 2020.

Vendors and shoppers at Kituku market on the shores of Lake Kivu in GomaImage copyrightMOSES SAWASAWA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC

Congo in Conversation is a website that chronicles the country’s human, social and ecological challenges in the current health crisis.

A stream of articles, photo reports and videos will be uploaded to the site from journalists and photographers based in DR Congo, many of whom are Congolese.

The website was produced by Foundation Carmignac and the Canadian-British photographer Finbarr O’Reilly.

The Foundation Carmignac provides a grant each year to an individual who will produce work that focuses on topical issues such as human rights and the environment.

O’Reilly was awarded the 11th Carmignac Photojournalism Award. As part of the award, the photographer planned to produce a photo report on DR Congo in 2020.

But as borders closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, he and the Award team had to rethink how to report on the country. This led to the Congo in Conversation website.

A person wears Covid-19 protective overalls and maskImage copyrightJUSTIN MAKANGARA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionA member of the Covid-19 response wears protective equipment at the entrance to a building in the Gombe commune of DR Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. The responders were at the main entrance of the building to raise awareness among apartment residents about social distancing and to take the temperature of anyone entering or leaving the building, where there are around 75 families and offices.
A street scene showing shoppers in DR Congo's capital KinshasImage copyrightJUSTIN MAKANGARA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionA street scene in Kinshasa. Congolese authorities closed schools and shut down major commercial activities to enforce social distancing in a country where many people weren’t taking precautions and didn’t believe the virus was a threat to them during the early days of the pandemic.

Coordinating the project from London, O’Reilly is working with journalistic colleagues in cities in DR Congo to curate videos, photos and stories that will be shared on the website.

“For too long, stories from Africa have been told by outsiders and that has often reflected their kind of colonial attitude and reinforces a lot of the kind of infrastructural and racial biases that people can bring to storytelling,” says O’Reilly.

“Thankfully, that started to change over the last few years as more and more African journalists use platforms to tell their own stories in their own voices, and share their ideas and perspectives.”

Much of the country is under lockdown, but millions of Congolese rely on the informal economy to survive and live life on the margins with little to no social safety net.

A market in DR Congo's capital KinshasaImage copyrightJUSTIN MAKANGARA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionA market in DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa.

“Since the declaration of the first case of Covid-19 in the DR Congo, prejudices and false information have been circulating about the virus in the capital Kinshasa,” says Justin Makangara, one of the Congolese photographers.

“One of the most widespread beliefs is that Covid-19 is a ‘disease of the rich’.

“In the megalopolis of Kinshasa, several prejudices have developed, including the stigmatisation of certain minorities with statements such as ‘the Coronavirus is a punishment from God to the LGBT community’.

“Nevertheless, efforts are being made in the fight against the pandemic despite the socio-economic crisis the country is going through, with the production of masks made of wax fabrics and charities developing here and there to support the most vulnerable.”

Vendors and shoppers at Kituku market on the shores of Lake KivuImage copyrightMOSES SAWASAWA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionVendors and shoppers at Kituku market on the shores of Lake Kivu in Goma, eastern DR Congo (above and below). Many Congolese survive on their daily earnings and cannot afford to follow health advice on maintaining social distance.

Street vendors, traders and motorcycle-taxi drivers rely on what they earn for the day and frequently lack property or savings.

According to the UN, nearly half of all workers throughout the African continent could lose their jobs.

Vendors and shoppers at Kituku market on the shores of Lake KivuImage copyrightMOSES SAWASAWA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionVendors and shoppers at Kituku market on the shores of Lake Kivu.
Vendors at a street market in GomaImage copyrightLEY UWERA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionVendors at a street market in Goma.

“As a young Congolese photographer, I am proud to play an active role in the fight against this global pandemic,” said contributor Moses Sawasawa.

“[Congo in Conversation] provides an outlet for me to forget the precarious political situation that has affected my province for more than a decade and to prove to the whole world that, despite the war, young Congolese people possess many talents.

“To me, a positive of this pandemic is that I can truly show what the population is going through in this period of crisis as well as highlight the precarious economic and social situation my country is experiencing.”

Stores seen closed in the eveningImage copyrightJUSTIN MAKANGARA FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionIt is Sunday, 5 April at 9.05pm. Gombe is preparing for its 14-day lockdown. The grocery stores and shops are already closed and this part of the busy city is empty of its regulars. Gombe is the administrative centre of Kinshasa, the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic in DR Congo.
Image captionAn empty classroom in Kinshasa after Congolese authorities closed schools.

Covid-19 is not the only outbreak of disease which DR Congo is currently grappling with.

Since January 2019, more than 6,500 children have died from measles in the country, and 335,000 others have been infected, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data.

Over the past 18 months, the country has been dealing with the second-worst Ebola epidemic in history – 3,453 cases and 2,273 deaths.

A Red Cross burial worker shows a man how to put on protective glovesImage copyrightFINBARR O’REILLY FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionA Red Cross burial worker shows a man how to put on protective gloves.

“If you take a look at the youth of the country, they are taking matters into their own hands,” says O’Reilly.

“They’re not accepting poor governance or human rights abuses that are very common.”

Neighbours and Red Cross burial workers in protective clothing gather outside a homeImage copyrightFINBARR O’REILLY FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionNeighbours and Red Cross burial workers in protective clothing gather outside the home of a family where an 11-month-old girl has died during Congo’s Ebola outbreak in the town of Rutshuru in North Kivu province.

“[The youth are] taking on roles that a government normally should, in terms of educating the population about health concerns and how to prevent catching Covid-19.

“And because of Congo’s experience with Ebola virus, it is in some ways quite well prepared for dealing with another viral problem.”

Neighbours and Red Cross burial workers in protective clothing gather outside a homeImage copyrightFINBARR O’REILLY FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionRed Cross workers prepare to bury the girl in Rutshuru.
The Red Cross burial workers carry a box containing the body of an 11-month-old girlImage copyrightFINBARR O’REILLY FOR FONDATION CARMIGNAC
Image captionThe coffin of the Ebola victim is carried away.

All photographs courtesy Congo in Conversation