Cape Town faces Day Zero: what happens when the city turns off the taps?

In 10 weeks engineers will turn off water for a million homes as this South African city reacts to a one-in-384-year drought. The rich are digging boreholes, more are panic-buying bottled water, and the army is on standby

The head of Cape Towns disaster operations centre is drawing up a plan he hopes he never has to implement as this South African city on the frontline of climate change prepares to be the first in the world to turn off the water taps.

Weve identified four risks: water shortages, sanitation failures, disease outbreaks and anarchy due to competition for scarce resources, says Greg Pillay. We had to go back to the drawing board. We were prepared for disruption of supply, but not a no-water scenario. In my 40 years in emergency services, this is the biggest crisis.

The plan being drawn up with the emergency services, the military, epidemiologists and other health experts is geared towards Day Zero, the apocalyptically named point when water in the six-dam reservoir system falls to 13.5% of capacity.

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Water crisis in Cape Town as ‘day zero’ approaches video report

At this critical level currently forecast for 16 April piped supply will be deemed to have failed and the city will dispatch teams of engineers to close the valves to about a million homes 75% of the city.

Its going to be terrifying for many people when they turn on the tap and nothing comes out, says Christine Colvin, freshwater manager for WWF and a member of the mayors advisory board.

In place of piped water, the city will establish 200 water collection points, scattered around the city to ensure the legally guaranteed minimum of 25 litres per person per day within 200 metres of every citizens home.

This will be a major burden on municipal coffers. The estimated cost of installing and running the new system for three months is 200m rand (12m). Instead of selling water, it will be given away for free, which will mean R1.4bn in lost revenue.

Cape Town reservoir satellite

The total city budget is R40bn, so this wont destroy us, but it will cause severe discomfort, says the deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, who adds that he has not had a bath at home for a year. A bigger concern is to ensure the economy doesnt collapse. We need to keep business and jobs going Clearly, there could be a severe impact. It depends on how long it continues.

Neilson stresses that Day Zero can be avoided. A lowering of pipe pressure and a public information campaign to conserve water have cut the citys daily water consumption from 1,200 million litres to 540 million litres. If this can be pushed down another 25%, the taps should stay open to the start of the rainy season in May.

But this is no guarantee. Three consecutive years of drought have made a mockery of normal seasonal patterns.

Were in a critical transition period where the past is no longer an accurate guide to the future, says Colvin.

She illustrates her point with two maps. One based on historical data shows the water risk of Cape Town is green, meaning it is among the lowest in South Africa. The other based on future climate projections is almost the complete opposite, with the city located in a middle of an alarming red heat zone.

What we didnt know was when that future would arrive, says Colvin. Businesses and investors have heard the long-term projections but they havent heard the starting gun go off. If this drought can pull the trigger then that could be a good thing. If this is seen as a pressure test for the new normal, it will help us to adapt.

The government has struggled to keep pace. Plans to make the city more resilient to climate change by diversifying the water supply with boreholes and desalination plants were not due to kick in until after 2020. But the climate has moved faster, bringing a drought so severe it would usually be expected only once every 384 years.

Dam today, gone tomorrow

Theewaterskloof
Theewaterskloof Dam, the main water source for the city of Cape Town, is at a fraction of its water capacity. Photograph: Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

What was the biggest reservoir in the system Theewaterskloof Dam has mostly evaporated or been sucked dry.

One side of the lake is now a desert. Devoid of life, this is a landscape of sand dunes, cracked earth and dead trees. It takes more than 30 minutes walk under a burning sun to reach the last pool of water, which is barely wide enough to skim a stone across. In what looks like a dark failure of evolution, it is ringed by the carcasses of stranded fish.

On the other side, by the dam wall, the water is nearly 10 metres deep, but the shoreline is receding at the rate of the 1.2m a week, leaving the bed exposed to the sun. The afternoon winds once attracted sail boats; now they whip up white dust storms that envelop much of the valley.

The change is visible by the week, said Paul Furstenburg, restaurant manager at Theewater sports club. When I arrived here four years ago, it was like a sea, he says, pointing to photographs on the walls of high waves crashing up to the car park during a storm and dozens of boats sailing in regattas. Now, the shoreline is more than 100m back and one of the three small vessels left in the water is stranded on a sandbank. The club which would normally be thronged with sailors, water-skiers, swimmers, campers and fishermen is almost empty. The revenue has dried up too, leaving the 20 staff worried about their futures. This has gone from a holiday resort to nothing, says Errol Nichols, the safety officer. It has become a desolate place.

A
A dead fish on the dry bed of Theewaterskloof dam. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

In Cape Town itself, the population is jittery. Were scared, says Amirah Armien as she queues to fill a couple of bottles at the spring beside Newlands Brewery. Water is life. What are we going to do without water?

After a run on bottled water last month, supermarkets introduced limits for each customer. Hardware shops have sold out of water tanks and pool covers. Borehole drillers are now so overwhelmed with requests that there is a year-long wait. Even dehumidifiers which are being marketed as water from air devices are out of stock.

People are freaking out, said David Gwynne-Evans, a botanist. You go to the shops and see people buying 20 bottles of water. Its a ridiculous increase of disposable plastic.

He believes Cape Towns vineyards bear a large share of blame because they are water-intensive yet they have continued to expand during the drought. Wine is a luxury. We shouldnt be using water for that, yet even now new vineyards are opening.

Were scared water is life

Residents
Residents queue to collect drinking water from a mountain spring collection point last month. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

The crisis has exacerbated prejudice and division. One homophobic pastor blames the drought on gays and lesbians. There has also been sharp criticism of the government, and feuds between the national and provincial authorities over the handling of the crisis.

Yet among the broader populace efforts to avert Day Zero have been successfully ramped up.

Many hotels have removed the plugs from rooms so guests must have a shower rather than a bath. Blue droplet-shaped signs above office toilet sinks remind users Conserve H2O. Use sparingly. There are more signs in the cubicles, which are divided into No 1 and No 2 toilets to ensure maximum efficiency. Some shopping malls have turned off the taps and installed hand-sanitiser dispensers.

At an individual level, the learning curve has been steep. Civic-minded Capetonians have become accustomed to showering or just ladling hot water in a baby bath that collects the run-off so that it can be used in first the washing machine and then the toilet.

A major topic of conversation for Capetonians is how many litres they use and how long they can go without washing their hair or flushing.

Ive never talked about toilets so much, says Fiona Kinsey, a young office worker. Last year, we were discussing whether it was OK to wee in a public toilet and not flush. Now we are way beyond that.

Shame is used to maintain discipline. An online water consumption map allows neighbours to check on each others usage. Some sports clubs have installed buzzers on their showers that embarrass people who linger under the water for more than two minutes.

There is a positive aspect to this sudden shock. Many people are happy to see a greater awareness of conservation and consumption inequality. Social activists say the rich are experiencing what life has always been like in poor townships, where many residents are used to lining up at standpipes.

For
For residents of informal Cape Town settlements such as Masiphumelele, collecting drinking and washing water from a communal tap has been a daily routine for many years. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Using washing water to flush the toilet is what people in townships do all the time, says Makoma Lekalakala, director of Earthlife Africa. So is washing with buckets and scuttles. I had my first shower when I was in my 20s.

Dee Watson, a teacher, describes the situation as a euphoric stage in which most people are looking out for others in a positive way.

Whats amazing is to mix and talk in the queue with every strata of society. We all need water so it brings people together, says Watson. For now at least, most people are laughing and joking. But its scary that some people are being greedy and panic-buying.

There have been acts of benevolence. At the start of the drought, Newlands spring where water flows freely from underground was a site of mud, crowds and chaos as people jostled to get at the taps and informal labourers competed to carry water for tips.

People were getting hurt, remembers Riyaz Rawoot, a local resident who says he spent R25,000 from his own pocket to organise the spring with the construction of multiple access points and provision of uniforms for the water carriers.

Im not making any money. I just want to be of service. Until now it has been fun, but it is becoming more stressful as more people come, he says. Im worried about Day Zero. People are scared and they dont trust the government, so they might panic and try to get water any way they can.

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A social leveller? Cape Town residents queue to collect drinking water from a mountain spring. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA

Neighbours are already unhappy that their previously quiet street is now a hive of activity, with people carrying water containers in squeaky shopping trolleys back and forth from the spring to cars parked along the main road. Its a nightmare, says one of the residents of the Cresswell House senior citizens community. They come all through the night. Its so noisy we cant sleep.

It is also far from clear that drought is a social leveller. Wealthy homeowners have drilled boreholes and invested in water tanks so they have an independent supply. Joggers who go out at 5am say they can hear the phut phut of sprinklers being used to water lawns before most people are awake. Some residents have called environmental groups to complain their neighbours are filling swimming pools.

At the other end of the income spectrum, there are worries. The government has promised that standpipes will continue to flow in informal settlements after Day Zero, but there is scepticism in the Kanini neighbourhood of the Langa township. The one pipe that serves 20 families tailed off here last Thursday without explanation. Some locals feel they are being punished because of a public outcry about the waste at a street car-washing centre at the neighbouring settlement of Joe Slovo.

Im worried everyone is worried. It will be a crisis for us, says Nowest Nmoni, who makes a living by brewing Umqombothi beer in oil drums. If we lose water, we lose our income.

Q&A

Living in Cape Town? Share your experiences

If you live in Cape Town we’d like to find out how the water shortage is affecting your daily life.Tell us what you think about the measures put in place and what steps you’re taking to save water using our encrypted form here.

Your stories will help our journalists build a complete picture of the situation and we’ll use some of them in our reporting.

Maintaining social programmes will also be a challenge. City officials say hospitals and prisons will run as normal because they have access to aquifers, but questions remain about 819 schools, half of which do not have boreholes. There would be sanitation risks if their toilets were unable to flush, but the authorities insist they will remain open.

The objective is no school closures. We dont want kids on the street compounding issues, says deputy mayor Neilson.

When the Brazilian city of So Paulo faced drought catastrophe in 2015 the army drew up secret plans to take control of reservoirs and water supplies fearing violent unrest, but officials in Cape Town play down such security fears. Though thousands of South African Defence Force and police personnel will be deployed after Day Zero to guard water distribution centres, reservoirs and other strategic areas, they say, the number of officers at each site will be determined by risk assessments of each locations past history of protest or gang activity.

This isnt going to be martial law. It will be low profile, says JP Smith, an alderman responsible for safety and security. There might be some trouble about people cutting queues, but I dont foresee a big increase in crime. The bigger problem will be congestion.

For him, it is a moot point. He believes Day Zero will be avoided. The premier of Western Cape, Helen Zille, however, believes there is a 60% chance that it will occur.

While the debate rages about what will happen, who is to blame and whether the city will be drawn together or pulled apart, Pillay and his colleagues at the disaster risk management office are obliged to prepare for the worst something other cities may soon be obliged to do.

We dont want to create panic. We can avert Day Zero, he says. We had hoped that rainfall would replenish the dams, but it hasnt happened. What this signalled to me what that climate change is reality. If you doubted it before, you cant now.

Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/03/day-zero-cape-town-turns-off-taps

Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela

Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela

Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

South Africans have paid tribute to Hugh Masekela, the legendary jazz musician and activist, who died on Tuesday aged 78.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, said the nation would mourn a man who kept the torch of freedom alive. The arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, described Masekela as one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz. A baobab tree has fallen, Mthethwa wrote on Twitter.

A statement from the trumpeters family said Masekela passed peacefully in Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for much of his life, on Tuesday morning.

A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with a profound loss. Hughs global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memories of millions across six continents, the statement read.

Relatives described Masekelas ebullient and joyous life.

Masekela had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade. He last performed in 2010 in Johannesburg when he gave two concerts that were seen as an epitaph to his long career.

South African social media was flooded with tributes to brother Hugh, whose career and work was closely intertwined with the troubled politics of his homeland.

The singer Johnny Clegg described Masekela as immensely bright and articulate an outstanding musical pioneer and a robust debater, always holding to his South African roots.

Masekela was born in Witbank, a mining town in eastern South Africa, and was given his first trumpet by the anti-apartheid activist archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s that became a launchpad for many of South Africas most famous jazz musicians.

Masekela went on to study in the UK and the US, where he had significant success.

Hugh
Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987. Photograph: Phil Dent/Redferns

As well as forming close friendships with jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, Masekela performed alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

He returned to Africa where he played with icons such as Nigerias Fela Kuti, and in 1974 he helped organise a three-day festival before the Rumble in the Jungle boxing clash in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

In 1976, the man who became known as the father of South African jazz composed Soweto Blues in response to the uprising in the vast township. He toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s while continuing his political engagement, writing Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Timeline

Hugh Masekela timeline

Hugh Masekela is born in KwaGuqa Township, South Africa

Masekela is born near Johannesburg to a health inspector father and social worker mother. He sings and plays the piano as a child. At 14, he sees the Kirk Douglas film Young Man With A Horn and is inspired to take up the trumpet.

King Kong

At school, Masekela played in South Africas first youth orchestra,Huddleston Jazz Band. In 1959, he recorded the first album by a South African jazz band alongside Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonas Gwangwa. In the same year, he played in the orchestra of hit musical King Kong.

Masekela leaves South Africa

The ANC are banned, and after supporting the organisation for many years, Masekela leaves South Africa for London. He then moves to New York, where he meets Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie.

Grazing in the Grass

By the late 60s, Masekela was living in California. In 1967, he played at Monterey festival alongside Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. In 1968, his single Grazing in the Grass reached no 1 in the US.

Zaire 74

Masekela returns to Africa in the early 70s, spending time with musicians including Fela Kuti. He organises the Zaire 74 concerts with US record producer Stewart Levine to coincide with the Muhammad Ali/George Foreman Rumble in the Jungle boxing title fight. In 1980, he moves to Botswana.

Graceland tour

Masekela joins Paul Simon for hisGracelandtour. Simons album was partly recorded in South Africa, and the tour incites protests in London due to the cultural boycott against the country.

Return to South Africa

Masekela returns to South Africa following the end of apartheid and the release from jail ofNelson Mandela. In 1996, he plays for the Queen and Mandela by then elected the countrys first black president during the latters state visit to Britain.

World Cup

Masekela performs at the opening concert of the world cup in South Africa. In 2012, he rejoins Paul Simon for a tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Graceland.

James Hall, a writer and broadcaster who spent time with Masekela in the 1990s, said he could have prickly personality at times due to the tension and frustration of being away from his own country for so long.

Masekela was briefly married to Miriam Makeba in the 1960s and remained on good terms with the South African singer after their divorce. They had a wonderful friendship and were very, very close, said Hall, who co-wrote Makebas autobiography.

Masekela refused to take citizenship anywhere outside South Africa despite the open arms of many countries, said his son, Selema Mabena Masekela, on Tuesday.

My fathers life was the definition of activism and resistance. His belief [was] that the pure evil of a systematic racist oppression could and would be crushed. Instead he would continue to fight.

After more than 30 years in exile, Masekela returned to South Africa in the early 90s after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the end of apartheid.

In 2010 he performed at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Johannesburg.

Masekela had many fans overseas. Hugh Masekela was a titan of jazz and of the anti-apartheid struggle. His courage, words and music inspired me and strengthened the resolve of those fighting for justice in South Africa, said Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter.

Hugh
Hugh Masekela photographed for the Guardian in 2011. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jan/23/hugh-masekela-south-african-jazz-trumpeter-dies-aged-78

Trump praises health care of Nambia, a nonexistent African country

(CNN)President Donald Trump lavished praise on the health care system of Nambia during a speech at the United Nations. But there’s one little problem — there’s no such country.

“In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak,” Trump told African leaders gathered Wednesday. “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”
Trump mentioned Nambia twice during the session attended by leaders of several nations, including Ghana, Namibia and Uganda.
    The gaffe lit up social media, with many speculating whether he meant Namibia, Zambia or Gambia.
    The White House later clarified that Trump was talking about the southwestern African nation of Namibia. Namibia dodged the Ebola outbreak that killed thousands in Africa two years ago and affected several nations, including the United States.
    At the time, Namibia revamped its health care system to ward off an Ebola outbreak and treat sudden infections.
    The nation of 2.5 million people is one of the world’s biggest producers of uranium. It shares borders with Angola, Zambia, South Africa and Botswana.

      Trump: My friends go to Africa to get rich

    Nambia aside, Trump also applauded the continent’s economic progress during the speech.
    “Africa has tremendous business potential,” he said. “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.”
    Meanwhile, here are nine reasons to spend your money in Namibia.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/21/africa/trump-nambia-un-africa-trnd/index.html

    Exclusive: footage shows young elephants being captured in Zimbabwe for Chinese zoos

    Rare footage of the capture of wild young elephants in Zimbabwe shows rough treatment of the calves as they are sedated and taken away

    The Guardian has been given exclusive footage which shows the capture of young, wild elephants in Zimbabwe in preparation, it is believed, for their legal sale to Chinese zoos.

    In the early morning of 8 August, five elephants were caught in Hwange national park by officials at Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).

    These captures are usually kept as secret as possible. The Guardian understands that in this case the usual procedure was followed. First, a viable herd is identified. Then operatives in a helicopter pick off the younger elephants with a sedative fired from a rifle. As the elephant collapses, the pilot dive-bombs the immediate vicinity so the rest of the herd, attempting to come to the aid of the fallen animal, are kept at bay. When things quieten down, a ground-team approaches the sedated elephants on foot, bundles them up, and drags them on to trailers.

    The footage, a series of isolated clips and photographs provided to the Guardian by an anonymous source associated with the operation, documents the moment that operatives are running into the bush, then shows them tying up one young elephant. The elephants are then seen herded together in a holding pen near the main tourist camp in Hwange.

    Elephant
    In this part of the footage, a young female elephant is seen being kicked in the head repeatedly by one of the captors. Photograph: The Guardian

    Finally, in the most disturbing part of the footage, a small female elephant, likely around five years old, is seen standing in the trailer. Her body is tightly tied to the vehicle by two ropes. Only minutes after being taken from the wild, the animal, still groggy from the sedative, is unable to understand that the officials want her to back into the truck, so they smack her on her body, twist her trunk, pull her by her tail and repeatedly kick her in the head with their boots.

    Altogether, 14 elephants were captured during this time period, according to the source, who asked to remain to anonymous for fear of reprisal. The intention was to take more elephants, but the helicopter crashed during one of the operations. It is estimated that 30-40 elephants were to be captured in total.

    The elephants that were taken are now in holding pens at an off-limits facility within Hwange called Umtshibi, according to the source. One expert who reviewed the photographs, Joyce Poole, an expert on elephant behaviour and co-director of the Kenya-based organisation ElephantVoices, said the elephants were bunching huddling together because they are frightened.

    The
    The young elephants in their enclosure. According to experts, they are bunching, huddling together because they are frightened. Photograph: The Guardian

    Audrey Delsink, an elephant behavioural ecologist and executive director for Executive Director for Humane Society International Africa, also reviewed the photos and footage. She believed that most of the elephants were aged between two and four. Basically, these calves have just been weaned or are a year or two into the weaning process. In the wild, elephants are completely dependent on their mothers milk until they are two, and are not fully weaned until the age of five.

    A number of the calves, she said, were displaying temporal streaming a stress-induced activity. Many of the gestures indicate apprehensive and displacement behaviour trunk twisting, trunk curled under, face touching, foot swinging, head-shaking, ear-cocking, displacement feeding, amongst others. Zimparks were approached but did not make a comment.

    The buyer for the young elephants is a Chinese national, according to inside sources who asked not to be named. Last year he was associated with a case involving 11 wild hyenas, who were discovered in a truck at Harare international airport that had been on the road for 24 hours without food or water and were reportedly in an extremely stressed condition, dehydrated and emaciated and, in some cases, badly injured.

    One
    One of the hyenas found in a consignment at Harare airport in Zimbabwe. Photograph: The Guardian

    The legal live trade in wild animals

    The capture of the baby elephants is just one of a number of operations that have taken place in Zimbabwe and across the continent over several decades. Nine elephants were reportedly exported from Namibia to Mexico in 2012, six from Namibia to Cuba in 2013, and more than 25 from Zimbabwe to China in 2015. In 2016, the US imported 17 elephants from Swaziland despite objections from the public and conservationists. From 1995-2015, more than 600 wild African elephants and 400 wild Asian elephants are reported to have been traded globally, according to a database kept by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

    Under Cites, trading live elephants is legal, with a few stipulations. The destination must be appropriate and acceptable, and the sale must benefit conservation in the home country. But elephant conservationists and animal welfare advocates point out a number of flaws in the system. There are no criteria setting out what appropriate and acceptable means and what is really contributing to conservation, explained Daniela Freyer of Pro-Wildlife, a German-based organisation that seeks to improve international legislation protecting wildlife. Currently, it is entirely up to authorities in the importing countries to define and decide. There are no common rules and no monitoring of the conditions of the capture, the number of animals being traded, where they will end up or the conditions in which they will be kept at their destination. There is also no monitoring of the requirement that a sale benefit conservation.

    For example, Zimbabwe and China are the biggest players in the live elephant trade, but Iris Ho, wildlife programme manager at Humane Society International (HSI), says they have found little information from the importing countries on the animals arrival. We dont know how many facilities in China have received the elephants imported from Zimbabwe during the last few years. We dont know the status of these animals.

    Attempts to comply with the few Cites stipulations such as appropriate and acceptable destinations are sometimes dismissed. In 2016, a Zimbabwe delegation of Zimparks and ZNSPCA inspectors travelled to China to access the facilities, where they found that most of the zoos showed signs of poor treatment of the animals. But their recommendation that a shipment of 36 elephants remain in Zimbabwe until the holding facilities in China were completed and assessed for compliance by Zimbabwe, was ignored.

    On September 16 Chinese papers announced in cheery headlines that three elephants two females and a male, aged approximately four years old had arrived at the Lehe Ledu wildlife zoo. Photographs of the elephants from Chinese media were analysed by Poole, who noted that the face one of the females looked pinched and stressed. The elephant appears to have begun to wear her tusks down on the bars, rubbing back and forth in frustration. Poole added that the sunken look, dark eyes and mottled skin are common for young, captured elephants. In the wild, you only see the pinched, sunken look in sick or orphaned elephants.

    The zoo has said that it is providing more than 1,000 square metres of indoor space and 3,000 sq metres outdoors. The animals have six full-time babysitters and every meal is prepared carefully, based on scientific recommendation.

    A video posted on YouTube celebrating the arrival of the elephants at Lehe Ledu zoo.

    Finally, questions have been asked about whether Zimbabwe is complying with the Cites stipulation that the sale of the elephants must benefit their conservation in the wild. The environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, was reported in the Guardian last year as saying the sale of the elephants was necessary to raise funds to take care of national parks in Zimbabwe, which have been ravaged by drought and poaching. But in the past, there have been unconfirmed reports of Grace Mugabe, the presidents wife, using funds from the sales of elephants to pay off a military debt to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    The international body governing the trade, Cites, is increasingly coming under fire for its role. The scientific literature states that captive facilities continue to fall far short of meeting elephants natural needs for movement, space and extended social networks, with negative effects on health, behavior and reproduction, said Anna Mul, a legal adviser on animal law at Fondation Franz Weber, an organisation that is lobbying Cites to end the trade of live elephants.

    A spokesman for CITES said: The triennial CITES conference held last year (CoP17) agreed that appropriate and acceptable destinations was defined as destinations where the importing State is satisfied that the recipient of the live animals is suitably equipped to house and care for them. CoP17 also agreed on a process to assess if additional guidance on this matter is required. Further, both the importing and exporting countries are now required to be satisfied that any trade in live elephants should promote the conservation of elephants in the wild. In addition, the exporting Party must also be satisfied that animals are prepared and shipped so as to minimize the risk of injury, damage to health or cruel treatment of live elephants in trade… CITES does not address the way in which the animals are captured or stored prior to export.

    But for now, China continues to import the vulnerable elephants at almost conveyor-belt speed. According to Ho, some pressure to stop the practice is beginning to be felt, but the country is influenced by the view that breeding is conservation. And then, of course, there is a willing partner in Zimbabwe and the thrill of seeing African elephants by the visitors.

    Its a win-win, she said, for those who are financially profiting from the legal trade in the calves. But its a lose-lose for the animals, both imported and left behind.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/03/exclusive-footage-shows-young-elephants-being-captured-in-zimbabwe-for-chinese-zoos

    With 1 male left worldwide, northern white rhinos under guard 24 hours

    Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya (CNN)At first glance, Sudan looks like any other northern white rhino: stout and agile, with square lips.

    He grazes under the hot sun, his massive head lowered to the ground, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in central Kenya.
    When he’s not napping in his enclosure, he waddles around the sprawling savannah, stopping briefly to drink water from a concrete hole.
      But Sudan is not just any rhino. He’s the last known male northern white rhino left in the world.
      For an animal on the verge of extinction, the fate of the subspecies rests on his ability to conceive with the two female northern white rhinos at the conservancy.

      24-hour security

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      Sudan’s female companions, Fatu and Najin, live at the conservancy, where experts are scrambling to ensure the subspecies does not go extinct.
      The animals are under 24-hour protection by armed guards. Rhinos are targeted by poachers, fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments. Experts say the rhino horn is becoming more lucrative than drugs.
      In addition to round-the-clock security, the conservancy has put radio transmitters on the animals and dispatches incognito rangers into neighboring communities to gather intelligence on poaching.
      The conservancy is also raising funds to help equip and train rangers who guard the rhinos.

      On the verge of extinction

      At 42, Sudan is elderly in rhino years. Fatu, 15, is a spring chicken, while Najin is 25.
      Though the three northern white rhinos are physiologically healthy, age might be a factor, says George Paul, the deputy veterinarian at the conservancy.
      “Sudan is currently old and may not be able to naturally mount and mate with a female,” he says.
      In addition, he has a low sperm count, which complicates natural and scientific efforts, experts say.
      Najin could conceive, but her hind legs are so weak, she may be unable to support a mounted male.
      “There has been recorded mating between different pairs over the last few years, but not conceptions,” Paul says. “Based on a recent health examination conducted, both animals have a regular estrus cycle, but no conception has been recorded.”
      And if one is not recorded soon, the beloved animal will go extinct.

      Alternative methods to conceive

      In a race against time, international experts are resorting to science to try to sustain the subspecies.
      The northern white rhino cannot mate with a black rhino, but there is a chance it could mate with a southern white rhino, Paul says. While southern white rhinos are not endangered — Ol Pejeta has 19 — they are a different subspecies from the northern white rhino genetically. Though the offspring would not be 100% northern white rhino, it would be better than nothing, experts say.
      A committee at the conservancy is also looking at various alternative reproduction techniques, including in vitro fertilization.
      “In other countries, success has been achieved with embryo transfer in a different rhino species, thus that, as a technique, can be presupposed to be the most promising,” Paul says. “However, consultations are ongoing amongst different reproductive technique experts on the way forward.”

      Countdown to extinction

      The need to preserve the northern white rhino is dire.
      “Realistically, we are looking at these animals dying in the next decade or so. But hopefully, using artificial methods of reproduction, we might be able to bring them back in the future,” Paul says. “This might mean that it will happen when the current animals are already deceased, but it could happen.”
      The conservancy acquired the northern white rhinos — two males and two females — in 2009 from a zoo in the Czech Republic. Suni, the other male northern white rhino at the conservancy, died last year.
      There are no known northern white rhinos left in the wild. A total of three remain in captivity worldwide — all in Kenya,
      Sudan, the only male left, is in a company of one.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/16/africa/kenya-northern-white-rhino/index.html

      Nelson Mandela Fast Facts

      (CNN)Here is a look at the life of Nelson Mandela, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of South Africa.

      Death date: December 5, 2013
      Birth place: Mvezo, Transkei, South Africa.
      Birth name: Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela
        Father: Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, a counselor to the royal house of the Thembu tribe
        Mother: Nosekeni Fanny Mandela
        Marriages: Graca Machel (July 18, 1998-December 5, 2013, his death); “Winnie” (Madikizela) Mandela (1958-1996, divorce); Evelyn (Ntoko) Mandela (1944-1958, divorce)
        Children: with Winnie Mandela: Zindzi, 1960 and Zenani, 1959; with Evelyn Mandela: Makaziwe, 1953; Makgatho, 1950-January 6, 2005; Makaziwe, 1947-1948; Thembekile, 1946-1969
        Education: University of South Africa, law degree, 1942
        Other Facts:
        He was given the name Nelson by a school teacher. He was sometimes called Madiba, his traditional clan name.
        Mandela was called both “the world’s most famous political prisoner” and “South Africa’s Great Black Hope.”
        Timeline:
        1941-1943 –
        Mandela meets Walter Sisulu who helps him get a job at the law firm of Witkin, Sidelsky, and Eidelman.
        1944 – Joins the African National Congress and helps found the ANC Youth League.
        1951 – Becomes president of the ANC Youth League.
        1952 – Opens the first black law partnership in South Africa with friend Oliver Tambo.
        1952 – Leads the newly launched [ANC] Campaign for the Defiance of Unjust Laws, a program of nonviolent mass resistance.
        July 1952 – Mandela is charged with violating the Suppression of Communism Act.
        December 5, 1956 – Mandela is among 156 resistance leaders arrested and charged with high treason.
        March 21, 1960 – In Sharpeville, police fire upon protestors challenging apartheid laws; 69 people are killed.
        April 8, 1960 – The ANC is banned nine days after Mandela is arrested and the government imposes a state of emergency after the events in Sharpeville.
        March 29, 1961 – Mandela and all co-defendants are found not guilty of treason.
        June 1961 – Mandela begins organizing the armed struggle against apartheid Umkhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nations). He travels in Africa and Europe studying guerrilla warfare.
        August 5, 1962 – Is arrested on charges of inciting workers to strike and leaving the country without valid travel documents. Mandela represents himself at trial.
        November 7, 1962 – Is sentenced to prison, five years hard labor.
        June 12, 1964 – Is sentenced to life in prison for four counts of sabotage. Convicted and sentenced with Mandela are Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Denis Goldberg and others.
        1980 – The Johannesburg Sunday Post leads a campaign to free Mandela. A petition demanding his and other ANC prisoners’ release is printed in the newspaper.
        1982 – Is transferred to Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison after 18 years on Robben Island.
        1988 – Is transferred to Victor Verster Prison.
        July 5, 1989 – Meets with President P.W. Botha.
        August 15, 1989 – Botha resigns as president and head of the National Party. Frederik Willem de Klerk replaces him and begins dismantling apartheid.
        December 13, 1989 – Mandela and de Klerk meet for the first time.
        February 11, 1990 – Mandela is released from prison after more than 27 years.
        1990 – Embarks on a world tour, visiting Margaret Thatcher, the US Congress, and US President George H.W. Bush.
        July 1991 – Mandela is elected president of the ANC.
        1993 – Mandela and de Klerk share the Nobel Peace Prize.
        April 29, 1994 – Elected the first black president of the Republic of South Africa in the first open election in the country’s history.
        May 10, 1994 – Mandela is inaugurated.
        June 1999 – Mandela leaves office.
        1999 – Establishes the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
        January 19, 2000 – Addresses the UN Security Council, appealing for help in ending the brutal civil war between ethnic Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi.
        July 25, 2001 – Announces that he has prostate cancer and is undergoing treatment.
        January 31, 2003 – Mandela criticizes President George W. Bush‘s stance on Iraq, saying he has no foresight and can’t think properly.
        November 29, 2003 – Aids awareness event, the 46664 Concert (Mandela’s prison number) at Green Point stadium in Cape Town. The event draws 30,000+ fans with performances by Beyonce, Peter Gabriel, Bono, Bob Geldof and many more; and speeches by Mandela and Geldof.
        December 1, 2003 – Mandela participates in the signing of the Geneva Accords for peace in the Middle East.
        January 7, 2005 – Announces that his son, Makgatho Mandela, has died of AIDS and that the disease should be given publicity so that people will stop viewing it as extraordinary.
        March 21, 2005 – Hosts the “46664 concert” in George, South Africa, to promote AIDS awareness.
        August 29, 2007 – A bronze statue of Mandela is unveiled in Parliament Square in London.
        June 27, 2008 – A London concert is held at Hyde Park in honor of Mandela’s 90th birthday (on July 18) with all proceeds going to an AIDS charity. It is estimated that about 40,000 tickets were sold.
        July 18, 2009 – The Nelson Mandela Foundation creates Mandela Day to be held every year on his birthday. The purpose of the day is to bring awareness to community service.
        November 11, 2009 – The United Nations declares July 18th Nelson Mandela International Day.
        December 11, 2009 – The movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela opens in South Africa, Canada and the United States.
        February 11, 2010 – On the 20th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison tributes, commemorations and marches in his honor take place.
        June 11, 2010 – Mandela makes his first World Cup appearance before kickoff of the final match.
        January 26-28, 2011 – Is hospitalized in Johannesburg and treated for an acute respiratory infection.
        June 21, 2011 – Meets with US First Lady Michelle Obama at his home in South Africa.
        February 25-26, 2012 – Treated for an abdominal hernia.
        March 2012 – The Nelson Mandela Digital Archive Project is launched. Google gives a $1.25 million grant to help preserve and digitize thousands of archival documents including items donated by Mandela himself.
        December 8, 2012 – Is admitted to the hospital, suffering a lung infection.
        December 15, 2012 – Undergoes successful endoscopic surgery to have gall stones removed.
        January 6, 2013 – A spokesman says Mandela has successfully recovered from surgery and a lung infection and is slowly getting back to his normal routine.
        March 27, 2013 – Is admitted to the hospital due to the recurrence of a lung infection.
        April 6, 2013 – Mandela is discharged from the hospital.
        April 29, 2013 – The South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) releases video of Mandela as he sits at home surrounded by South Africa President Jacob Zuma and other government officials. SABC and the African National Congress, which has been critical of media in the past, are accused of political exploitation.
        June 8, 2013 -Mandela is admitted to hospital with a recurring lung infection. The former president is listed in serious but stable condition and is breathing on his own.
        June 23, 2013 – Officials say Mandela’s condition has worsened in the past 24 hours, and he is now in critical condition.
        August 31, 2013 – Is discharged from the hospital to continue his recovery at home. According to President Zuma he is still listed in “critical but stable condition but responding to treatment.”
        December 5, 2013 – Mandela dies at his home in the Johannesburg suburb of Houghton. South African President Zuma orders all flags in the nation to be flown at half-staff through the state funeral.
        December 15, 2013 – Mandela is buried in his childhood village of Qunu.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/11/world/africa/nelson-mandela—fast-facts/index.html

        Robert Mugabe ‘not sleeping, just resting his eyes’

        Zimbabwes 93-year-old president has been photographed seemingly nodding off at several conferences, but his spokesman says its an optical affliction

        Robert Mugabe is not sleeping in meetings as a series of images would suggest. In fact, his PR man has said, he is simply resting his eyes.

        The state-run Herald newspaper on Thursday quoted spokesman George Charamba as saying the 93-year-old Zimbabwean president has a medical condition that means his eyes cant handle bright lights.

        He spoke after Mugabe left this week for medical treatment for his eyes in Singapore.

        I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the president is sleeping in conferences no, Charamba said.

        The comments came after Mugabe was captured apparently dozing at a World Economic Forum meeting in South Africa this month.

        Theophilous (@tchiviru)

        #Mugabe sleeping at the #WEF during a discussion on youth involvement in decision making. Sad…. pic.twitter.com/OYQjuTkFE3

        May 4, 2017

        It isnt the first time he has been photographed mid-nap. It also happened during Ghanas 60th anniversary of Independence parade in March.

        Ismail Akwei (@akweiakwei)

        #Ghana is 60 and ongoing is the independence day parade. Mugabe is caught sleeping while ceremony is ongoing. #Ghana60YearsOn pic.twitter.com/5qajyiFnUw

        March 6, 2017

        Mugabes weakening health is being watched carefully in Zimbabwe. Images of him struggling to walk on a red carpet and toppling from a raised lectern in 2015 have trended on social media.

        He has been in power since 1980 and says he will run for election again next year.

        Associated Press contributed to this report

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/12/robert-mugabe-not-sleeping-just-resting-his-eyes

        Where the Mexico City Policy matters the most

        (CNN)

        She has five children and works as a farmer in Budadiri, Uganda, east Africa.
        “I want to look after my children,” Mudua says. “But I am a woman alone, and any time a man could force me into sex and I could get pregnant.”
        Women like Mudua, thousands of miles away from Washington and the White House, are the ones starting to feel the reverberations of US President Donald Trump’s Mexico City Policy, reintroduced in January amid a slew of executive orders from the newly inaugurated President.
        Mudua currently receives her contraception from Marie Stopes Uganda, a non-profit that provides family planning advice and sexual health services across the country.
        “I’m going to be OK because I will not have to give birth to a child I don’t want on my own,” she says.
        But for Mudua and others like her, things are about to change.
        Named after the venue of the conference where it was first announced by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, the Mexico City Policy, also known as the “global gag rule” withholds American aid (USAID) from any international non-governmental organizations that offer women advice on abortion.
        Marie Stopes Uganda says that 94% of its outreach work, which aims to bring contraception to women in rural and remote areas, is funded by USAID.
        It estimates that these funds will start to dry up around September, which over the next three years could result in an extra 1.1 million unwanted pregnancies in Uganda alone.

        ‘US funds never used for abortions’

        Any criticism leveled at the President for the manner in which he signed the order (surrounded by a group of white men) or the potential impact on global health services was drowned out by the widespread condemnation and confusion that met Trump’s controversial travel ban announced three days later.
        Meanwhile, governments, NGOs and health organizations on the ground have been coming to grips with the far-reaching consequences of the policy, which experts say will have little to no impact on the number of abortive procedures.
        “United States government funds have never been used for abortions,” says Tewodros Melesse, director general of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
        “Even during the Obama administration or Clinton administration, it was not possible to use US funds for abortion.”
        NGOs that performed the procedure could receive US funding for other programs, though, including those related to contraception and sexual health.
        Now organizations that offer abortions as part of their family planning services — or even refer patients to other clinics that can perform abortions — will be prevented from receiving any assistance at all from the US Agency for International Development, one of the largest contributors to international development assistance.
        Melesse says it’s going to have a huge impact. “We’re going to be losing around 100 million US dollars over the next three to four years.”

        ‘Unequivocal’ evidence

        Major reproductive care NGO Marie Stopes International says complying and removing safe abortion from its services isn’t an option.
        The evidence is “unequivocal,” says Marjorie Newman-Williams, Marie Stopes’ vice president and director of international operations, that doing so would expose women to increased potential dangers.
        According to the latest WHO data, 21.6 million women annually are so desperate that they gamble with the risk of life-threatening injuries or even death to have unsafe abortions. Every year 47,000 women die from complications.
        “Agreeing to the Mexico City Policy would mean accepting their fate and turning our backs on the very women who need us most,” says Newman-Williams.
        In 2003, shortly after the policy was last introduced by George W. Bush, the Center for Reproductive Rights published a report highlighting horror stories from women who’d sought out surgery from the wrong practitioners.
        In one example, a poor 17-year-old house help wanted to terminate her pregnancy.
        The person she went to see “did not know the anus from the vagina,” one Kenyan NGO reported. “He destroyed her anus, rectum, uterus and some of the small intestine.”

        Contraception conundrum

        Newman-Williams says that laws attempting to stop women from having abortions don’t work because they don’t stop the need for women to have abortions in the first place.
        And, paradoxically, as NGOs lose funding and are less able to provide contraception, the number of unwanted pregnancies is only likely to increase, which drives up the demand for abortions.

        Washington-based Impassioned Advocates for Girls and Women reports that after the last reinstatement of the policy in 2001, shipments of US-donated condoms and contraceptives completely stopped to 16 developing countries — mainly in Africa.
        Family planning providers in another 16 countries (also mainly in Africa) lost access to condoms and contraceptives because they refused to accept the conditions of the Mexico City Policy.
        One healthcare worker on the ground in Uganda told CNN she currently issues contraceptive injections to between 30 and 50 women a month.
        “Women will walk for many miles to a health clinic and find that they cannot provide the services,” says Reproductive Health Uganda (RHU) volunteer Akiiki Jemimah Mutooro. RHU anticipates it will lose $420,000 in funding.
        “If we are unable to continue this service, many women will lose out.”
        The reduction in access to contraception will also have a profound impact on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including the battle with HIV, according to IPPF.
        “All the effort the United States has made over the years to support funding for HIV Aids initiatives is going to be affected by telling organizations who have received funding … that they cannot inform the patient about abortion,” says Melesse.

        She decides?

        Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to be one of the hardest-hit regions, says Marie Stopes International’s director of strategy, Maaike van Min.
        It’s the largest recipient of American aid and already has more abortion-related deaths than any other continent.
        She says a lot of work is being done on domestic financing, but social welfare systems are still in their infancy across much of the developing world and there are competing priorities for scarce resources. “It will be a challenge to try to meet the funding gap,” she says.
        In February, dozens of governments and private philanthropists pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to a global fundraising initiative called She Decides, launched by Dutch Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen.
        In 2002, the European Commission came forward and said it wanted to make up the shortfall after Bush’s reinstatement of the policy. This was an important move, says Melesse, because it proved “the US cannot tell the world how women’s health and sexual reproductive health should be handled.”
        White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says President Trump has always made it very clear that he’s pro-life and he’s staying true to his pre-election promises.
        “He wants to stand up for all Americans, including the unborn, and I think the reinstatement of this policy is not just something that echoes that value, but respects taxpayer funding as well,” Spicer said in a press briefing at the time.
        In January, Republican Congressman Chris Smith, chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, lauded the move in a press release.
        “Organizations like Marie Stopes International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation have reported performing over 1 million abortions annually,” Smith said, citing a January 2017 poll where 83% of American respondents said they opposed US tax dollars being used to support abortion abroad — but omitting that in the same poll 52% of Americans also said they were pro-choice.
        The deprivation of this choice for women in less-privileged circumstances is what jars with Melesse the most.
        “This government is coming and telling the rest of the world: you cannot have the democracy that the United States has,” he says. “That’s really the most critical part.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/28/africa/mexico-city-policy-impact/index.html

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