Botswana reports mysterious deaths of hundreds of elephants

GABORONE, Botswana (AFP) — Hundreds of elephants have died mysteriously in Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta, the head of the wildlife department said Thursday, ruling out poaching as the tusks were found intact. The landlocked southern African country has the world’s largest elephant population, estimated to be around 130,000. “We have had a report of 356 dead elephants in the area north of the Okavango Delta and we have confirmed 275 so far,” Cyril Taolo, the […]

Brazilian Amazon sees worst June in 13 years for forest fires

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP) — Amazon forest fires in Brazil increased by 19.5 percent in June compared to the same month last year, making it the worst June in 13 years, authorities revealed on Wednesday. June marks the start of the dry period and there were 2,248 recorded fires, leaving analysts expecting a worse year for the rainforest than the devastating 2019, which provoked anger throughout the world. The National Institute for Space Research […]

Japan begins charging for plastic bags

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Retailers in Japan began charging for plastic bags Wednesday, a move aimed at curbing Japanese consumers’ love for packaging and finally bringing the country in line with other major economies. Shops including the ubiquitous convenience stores can decide how much to charge customers for the bags, with a common price being three yen (around three US cents). The new rule seemed to be having some effect, with one shopper telling public […]

UK ‘increasingly likely’ to see +40C temperatures

by Kelly MACNAMARA Agence France-Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Temperatures in Britain could exceed 40 degrees Celsius every three or four years by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, research published Tuesday has found, as climate change increases the likelihood of scorching heat waves. The modelling study by Britain’s Meteorological Office found that emissions are dramatically increasing the likelihood of extremely warm days in the UK, particularly in the southeast. Without climate change, a […]

Nepal offers locust bounty as swarms threaten crops

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AFP) — Nepal is offering farmers cash rewards for catching desert locusts to limit the damage caused by the destructive swarms that have ravaged harvests in India and Pakistan. South Asia is experiencing its worst infestation in decades, with the plague of locusts devastating agricultural heartlands and are now entering Nepal. “Our decision is aimed at encouraging people to catch the insects instead of using pesticides which might be harmful to the environment,” […]

A vanishing way of life in Danube Delta’s natural paradise

by Mihaela RODINA / Ionut IORDACHESCU Agence France-Presse SFANTU-GHEORGHE, Romania (AFP) — As the “last rower” left in one of the villages dotting Romania’s Danube Delta, Iosif Acsente is all too aware of how the traditions and vistas of the region are slowly disappearing — an issue brought into sharper relief by the coronavirus pandemic. Acsente has been plying the Delta with his wooden boat for more than four decades now from his home village […]

Senegal capital fights shoreline developers

by Emmet LIVINGSTONE Agence France-Presse DAKAR, Senegal (AFP) — It took one morning in late May to cut a large chunk from the side of a seaside volcanic hill in Senegal’s capital Dakar, to make way for a hotel. A man had turned up with permits and diggers got to work, according to Mamadou Mignane Diouf, an official from a local campaign group called Forum Social, who fought against the development. “No one should build here,” […]

South Pole warming three times faster than rest of Earth: study

by Patrick GALEY PARIS, France (AFP) — The South Pole has warmed three times faster than the rest of the planet in the last 30 years due to warmer tropical ocean temperatures, new research showed Monday. Antarctica’s temperature varies widely according to season and region, and for years it had been thought that the South Pole had stayed cool even as the continent heated up. Researchers in New Zealand, Britain and the United States analysed […]

Panda gifted by China gives birth to second cub in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AFP) — A giant panda gifted by China to Taiwan has given birth to a second female cub after being artificially inseminated, Taipei Zoo announced Monday. Yuan Yuan and her partner Tuan Tuan have been top attractions since arriving from China in 2008 as a symbol of what were then warm relations between the two sides. The unnamed cub, weighing 186 grams, was born on Sunday after five-hour labor, the zoo said. “We […]

Australian outback station turned into national park

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A slice of the Australian outback almost the size of greater London will be turned into a national park to help protect threatened species, authorities said Saturday, in a move welcomed by green groups. Narriearra Station, a 1,534-square kilometre (592-square-mile) property in northwest New South Wales, is the biggest purchase of private land for national parks ever made by the state government, Environment Minister Matt Kean said. It stretches across floodplains, […]

France pulls plug on country’s oldest nuclear plant

by Béatrice ROMAN-AMAT Agence France-Presse FESSENHEIM, France (AFP) — France’s oldest nuclear power plant will shut down on Tuesday after four decades in operation, to the delight of environmental activists who have long warned of contamination risks, but stoking worry for the local economy. The Fessenheim plant, opened in 1977 and already three years over its projected 40-year life span, became a target for anti-nuclear campaigners after the catastrophic meltdown at Fukushima in Japan in […]

Russian mining giant admits waste ‘violations’ at Arctic plant

MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — A Russian mining giant behind an enormous Arctic fuel spill last month said Sunday it had suspended workers at a metals plant who were responsible for pumping wastewater into nearby tundra. Norilsk Nickel cited a “flagrant violation of operating rules” in a statement announcing it had suspended employees responsible for dumping wastewater from a dangerously full reservoir into wildlife. The incident occurred at the Talnakh enrichment plant near the Arctic city […]