Trump cancels Jacksonville portion of Republican convention
Botswana: Mystery elephant deaths caused by cyanobacteria
Toxins made by microscopic algae in water caused the previously unexplained deaths of hundreds of elephants in Botswana, wildlife officials say.
Botswana is home to a third of Africa’s declining elephant population.
The alarm was raised when elephant carcasses were spotted in the country’s Okavango Delta between May and June.
Officials say a total of 330 elephants are now known to have died from ingesting cyanobacteria. Poaching has been ruled out as a cause of death.
The toxic bacteria can occur naturally in standing water and sometimes grow into large blooms known as blue-green algae.
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The findings follow months of tests in specialist laboratories in South Africa, Canada, Zimbabwe and the US.
Many of the dead elephants were found near watering holes, but until now the wildlife authorities had doubted that the bacteria were to blame because the blooms appear on the edges of ponds and elephants tend to drink from the middle.
“Our latest tests have detected cyanobacterial neurotoxins to be the cause of deaths. These are bacteria found in water,” the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ Principal Veterinary Officer Mmadi Reuben told a press conference on Monday.
The deaths “stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of [water] pans”, AFP quotes him as saying.
Reports in June noted that tusks had not been removed. Poaching has been ruled out as cause of death, as has anthrax poisoning, according to senior wildlife department official Cyril Taolo.
But questions still remain about the deaths, Mr Reuben told reporters.
“We have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only. We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating.”
Hundreds of carcasses were spotted with the help of aerial surveys earlier this year.
Dr Niall McCann, of the UK-based charity National Park Rescue, previously told the BBC that local conservationists first alerted the government in early May, after they undertook a flight over the delta.
“They spotted 169 in a three-hour flight,” he said. “To be able to see and count that many in a three-hour flight was extraordinary.
What is cyanobacteria?
- Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, is found worldwide especially in calm, nutrient-rich waters
- Some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that affect animals and humans
- People may be exposed to cyanobacterial toxins by drinking or bathing in contaminated water
- Symptoms include skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, fever, sore throat, headache
- Animals, birds, and fish can also be poisoned by high levels of toxin-producing cyanobacteria.
Australia’s coronavirus lockdown strategy worked. Could this be a model for the US?
“The Covid-19 epidemic in our country has gone through four waves,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said Saturday. “Besides the first wave (in Wuhan), the other epidemic waves were clusters that were regional and small-scale and were effectively controlled.”
For some lockdown skeptics, China’s experience was easy to dismiss: the country is an authoritarian, one-party state, and its methods could not necessarily be applied in democracies.
But the situation in Victoria proves that the lockdown strategy does work elsewhere, and that, given the proper information and reassurances, people are willing to make the sacrifices required to contain the virus.
With the outbreak in Victoria contained, the number of cases throughout the rest of Australia has continued to trend down. On Sunday, New South Wales, which includes Sydney, reported four new cases, while Queensland state reported just one.
New Zealand too, which on Monday began reducing social distancing regulations after daily cases dropped to zero, has seen positive results from lockdowns, enabling the country to return to relative normality far faster than nations which did not take such measures.
The US, however, remains the worst hit country in the world, with more than 6.7 million coronavirus cases and almost 200,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. As those figures potentially rise through winter, and with less and less reason to go outside, some people may start to reconsider their anti-lockdown sentiment.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested that authorities in Melbourne would consider lifting a nighttime curfew next week. The curfew is currently in effect until October 26.
CNN’s Angus Watson and Eric Cheung contributed reporting.
Cruz: Ginsburg was ‘one of the finest Supreme Court litigators to have ever lived’
“He obviously worked every day with Justice Ginsburg, and I will say he admired what a careful lawyer she was,” he said. “Consistently of the lawyers on the left, of the judges on the left. Chief Justice Rehnquist was always most willing to give an important opinion to Justice Ginsburg because she wrote narrow, careful opinions.”
Cruz also honed in on the importance of filling Ginsburg’s vacancy with a constitutionalist judge ahead of the November election. The senator had been on President Donald Trump’s shortlist of Supreme Court nominees.
“We’re one vote away from seeing our religious liberty rights stripped away, from our free speech stripped away, from our Second Amendment stripped away,” he added. “This election matters, and I think it is the most important issue in 2020 — electing presidents and a Senate who will nominate and confirm strong constitutionalists to the court.”
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