By Fred Kockott
Wildlife ACT response team with the bodies of 13 white-backed vultures, poisoned for the traditional medicine trade. Wildlife ACT / Mongabay<p>Nearby was the body of an impala — snared, killed, and laced with poison. The rangers burned all the contaminated carcasses to ash to remove the poison from the ecosystem.</p><p>It is the fourth vulture poisoning incident in northern Zululand this year, bringing the total recorded number of vultures harvested for body parts in this region alone to 53. The actual number of birds killed is believed to be much higher as many incidents are never detected.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.ewt.org.za/what-we-do/what-we-do-species/vultures-for-africa/" target="_blank">Endangered WildLife Trust's (EWT) Vultures for Africa Programme</a> manager, Andre Botha, said it was difficult to quantify how many vultures are deliberately poisoned for body parts.</p><p>According to records kept by EWT, more than 1,200 vultures have been deliberately poisoned in Southern and Eastern Africa this year. Culprits include poachers who poison the carcasses of elephant and other game in an apparent effort to conceal illegal activities from rangers. These poisonings are referred to as "sentinel poisonings", as vultures circling over poached animals alert rangers to the killings.</p>
Poisoned vulture: more than 1,200 vultures have been deliberately poisoned in Southern and Eastern Africa in 2019. Wildlife ACT / Mongabay<p>"Vultures provide critically important ecosystem services by cleaning up carcasses thus reducing the spread of dangerous diseases such as anthrax and rabies and resulting in highly significant economic and human health benefits," said Brent Coverdale, an animal scientist for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife at the symposium. "We really can't afford to lose them."</p><p>As vultures are protected by law, it is illegal to possess or kill any of the six vulture species found in South Africa. Nevertheless, deliberate killings continue.</p><p>Roberts said the latest poisoning incident had been reported to local police.</p><p>"We are hoping this leads to an arrest," said Roberts. "If the illegal harvest of these birds is not halted, then extinction may be just around the corner and the services that they provide within the ecosystem will be lost forever."</p><p>As part of a bid to save vulture populations, managers of conservation areas and private game reserves in South Africa are collaborating to <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/11/lift-off-for-first-african-vulture-safe-zones/" target="_blank">create safe havens for existing vulture populations</a>.</p><p><em><em>Fred Kockott is the founding director of <a href="https://rovingreporters.co.za/" target="_blank">Roving Reporters</a>, a journalism training agency that focuses on environmental, social and justice issues.</em></em></p><p><em>Additional reporting by Mlu Mdletshe, Roving Reporters.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2019/12/alarm-over-mass-vulture-poisoning-in-south-africa/" target="_blank">Mongabay</a>.</em></p>
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Greenpeace has revealed the world's largest nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution hotspots across six continents, and identified Mpumalanga, South Africa as the biggest NO2 hotspot, even outranking areas in China, India and the U.S.
The lush, green province is home to the southern half of Kruger National Park and the iconic Blyde River Canyon. At the same time, it's home to a dozen coal fired power plants owned and operated by the power utility Eskom.
For many people, the holidays are rich with time-honored traditions like decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the menorah, caroling, cookie baking, and sipping from the unity cup. But there's another unofficial, official holiday tradition that spans all ages and beliefs and gives people across the world hope for a better tomorrow: the New Year's resolution.
Benefits of Chamomile Tea<p><strong>Sleep More Soundly</strong></p><p>Pick your grandmother's brain about the best way to fall asleep, and she might tell you to down a nice glass of warm milk. But if you consult with science, research shows that chamomile might be a better option. That's because it contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which can <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia and other sleep problems</a>.</p><p>Two research studies even confirmed the power of chamomile throughout the day and before bed. In one of those studies, postpartum women who drank chamomile for two weeks <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26483209" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">experienced better sleep quality than the control group who didn't</a>. Another research effort measured how fast people could fall asleep. Those results illustrated that participants who consumed 270 milligrams of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3198755/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fell asleep 15 minutes faster than the control</a>. The chamomile group also had considerably fewer sleep disruptions. </p><p><strong>May Be Able to Keep Your Gut Healthy</strong></p><p>Though the following studies used rats as the subjects, research shows that chamomile can potentially play a beneficial role in digestive health. According to that research, the anti-inflammatory properties in <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24463157" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chamomile extract may be able to protect against diarrhea</a>. Additionally, chamomile may be an effective way to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4177631/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stop the growth of bacteria in our stomachs that contribute to ulcers</a>.</p><p><strong>Reduces Stress and Anxiety</strong></p><p>Few things are more relaxing than curling up with a good cup of tea, so it's logical that chamomile tea can serve a stress reducer. While it lacks the potency of a pharmaceutical drug, long-term use of chamomile has been shown to <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27912875" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">"significantly" reduce general anxiety disorders</a>. In general, chamomile can act almost like a sedative, and many people enjoy the tea because it puts them in a calm and relaxed state almost immediately. </p><p><strong>Boosts Immune Health</strong></p><p>Vitamin C and zinc are common over-the-counter supplements that people often turn to when they're hoping to avoid becoming sick. While scientists admit that more research must take place to prove chamomile's impact on preventing ailments like the common cold, the existing studies do show promise in this area. </p><p>One study had 14 participants drink five cups of the tea every day for two consecutive weeks. Throughout the study, researchers collected daily urine samples and tested the contents before and after the consumption of the tea. Drinking chamomile resulted in a significant increase in the levels of hippurate and glycine, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">both of which are known to increase antibacterial activity</a>. Inhaling steam from a pot of freshly brewed chamomile tea may also ease the symptoms of nasal congestion.</p><p><strong>Minimizes Menstrual Cramps</strong></p><p>This one may come as a surprise, particularly to readers who have tried every possible over-the-counter treatment to reduce period pain. Several research studies have proven that chamomile tea may be able to minimize the pain and cramps that occur during menstruation. Women in that same study also dealt with lower levels of anxiety that they typically felt because of menstrual cramps.</p><p><strong>Help Diabetes and Lower Blood Sugar</strong></p><p>For people with diabetes, regulating blood sugar levels can be a matter of life or death. And while chamomile will never replace prescription-strength drugs, it's believed that it can prevent an increase in blood sugar. A 2008 study on rats showed that chamomile could have a <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf8014365" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">moderate impact on the long-term risk of diabetes</a>.</p><p><strong>Might Improve Your Skin</strong></p><p>Ever wondered why there's been an influx of chamomile-infused cosmetic products? The reason why so many manufacturers now include chamomile in their lotions, soaps, and creams is because it <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5074766/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acts as an anti-inflammatory on our skin</a>. That means it may be able to soothe the puffiness that plagues us as we age. Those same anti-inflammatory properties can be vital in restoring skin health after we've received a sunburn. </p><p>Before discarding your used chamomile tea bags, try chilling them and placing them over your eyes. Not only will this help with the puffiness, but it can drastically light the skin color around the eye.</p><p><strong>Help With Heart Health</strong></p><p>Some of the most beneficial antioxidants we put into our bodies are what are known as flavones, and chamomile tea is chock full of them. Flavones have the potential to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which, when elevated, <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814348/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">can lead to heart disease</a>.</p>
Why Everyone Is Drinking Chamomile Tea<p>Now that you know so much about the wonders of chamomile, it shouldn't come as a surprise why the tea is so popular with people of all ages. In addition to tasting great, chamomile offers up benefits that boost the health of body parts both inside and out. As you ponder your own New Year's resolutions, think about how healthy and natural vitamins, supplements, plants, and oils can help guide you on your own personal path to improvement. Happy New Year!</p>
"To achieve this, we encourage animal welfare organisations, community groups, youth and children's clubs, businesses and individuals to organize events in celebration of World Animal Day. Involvement is growing at an astonishing rate and it's now widely accepted and celebrated in a variety of different ways in many countries, with no regard to nationality, religion, faith or political ideology," the event's website says.
Tess Thompson Talley of Kentucky has sparked public outcry after photos of her proudly posing with a black giraffe she killed in South Africa last year went viral.
The big game hunter posted images of the June 2017 hunt onto her social media page. Then last month, the South Africa-based news outlet Africland tweeted out the images with a missive describing Talley as a "White American savage" for shooting down the "very rare" animal.
Six black rhinos were airlifted Thursday from South Africa to Zakouma National Park in Chad, a journey of more than 3,000 miles.
“Day Zero," the day drought-stricken Cape Town, South Africa is projected to run out of municipal water, has been moved to mid-May 2018 following a decline in agricultural usage, according to a statement from Alderman Ian Neilson, the city's executive deputy mayor. Day Zero was previously projected to fall on April 16.
Capetonians, however, were urged to continue reducing consumption as "there has not been any significant decline in urban usage," Neilson said. The city's four million residents must continue to use no more than 50 liters of water per person per day.
Dam levels fell to 26 percent capacity on Wednesday, compared to 26.3 percent on Monday and 26.6 percent last week. Once the dams reach 13.5 percent, the municipal water supply shuts off for all but essential services, such as hospitals and key commercial areas.
Cape Town: Three months to Day Zero? SkyPixels / Wikimedia Commons
By Alex Kirby
Water scarcity is now a real threat in two developing countries at the forefront of efforts to reduce climate change, India and South Africa.
This is not the tragically familiar story of extreme weather, stunted crops and foreshortened lives. It is a different sort of threat: to urban life, to industrial development and to attempts to end poverty.
Cape Town is on track to become the first major city in the world to run out of water.
The world-renowned tourist destination—and the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg—could approach "Day Zero," when most taps run dry, by April 21, Mayor Patricia de Lille said Tuesday.
The world's last remaining tigers are living under severe threat of extinction, having lost 93 percent of their historical range and suffered a population crash of 95 percent during the past century.
The major threat to their continued existence on Earth is poaching to meet the high demand in Asia for their parts and derivatives.
The overwhelming global response to President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was essentially, "Go jump in a lake"—or as one Germany tabloid succinctly phrased it in a widely circulated headline:
Very much enjoying the German press at the moment. "Earth to Trump..." https://t.co/sPqkUPYVlw— J.K. Rowling (@J.K. Rowling)1496386149.0
As a result of South Africa's highest court rejecting a bid by the government to keep a ban on the sale of rhinoceros horn, it will soon be legal to buy and sell the land mammals' horns in the country.