brad brace

2/25/2009

SEA TURTLE SLUMP FLOODS POVERTY BORDERS AS ELEPHANTS PLAGUE CROPS AND DIVERSE ANTS DROWN RATS

Hundreds of dead turtles were found washed ashore along the coastal lines
from Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar to St Martin’s island with bruises all over
their bodies.

A herd of 70 to 75 elephants of the Dalma forest have strayed into five
villages of West Midnapur district and damaged large tracts of crops and
destroyed several houses.

The World Bank warned that up to 53 million more people around the world
could fall into poverty in 2009 as a result of the global economic slump,
and up to 400,000 more children could die each year as a result of rising
infant mortality. The statistics highlight the worldwide character of the
social catastrophe being caused by the deepening crisis.

Armies of ants from Solomon Islands have invaded Papua New Guinea and are
threatening to wipe out the economy in at least one part of the country. A
report from Bougainville says the ants from across the border in the
Solomon Islands are destructive to plants and human beings.

Tonga’s Government has elected to renew emergency powers in parts of capital city.
The acting chief secretary and the secretary to the cabinet, confirmed that the Public
Safety and Public Security Regulations had been extended. The regulations were
renewed based upon the recommendation by the Minister of Police.

More than 700 people in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands province have
been left homeless after a river burst its banks following weeks of heavy
rain.

Over 400 female dead turtles have floated ashore over the last two weeks
alone, locals claimed.

A District Forest Officer said the pachyderms damaged
paddy and sugarcane in about 45 hectres in Tarrui, Gopalbar, Pundra, Sinda,
Mohanpur villages. They also destroyed five mud houses.

The rescuers recovered at least 27 bodies and over 10 people still remained
missing as a passenger launch capsized in the country’s southern Barisal
district. The incident took place in Kirtonkhola River when a sand-laden
cargo ship SM-Selim hit the Mehendiganj-bound launch ML-Happy from Barisal,
with over 100 passengers on board, locals and survivors said.

In Vanuatu, a volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific, root and tuber
crops ensure the subsistence and self-sufficiency of the islands’
inhabitants. Be they taro (Colocasia esculenta) or the greater yam
Dioscorea alata, which are traditional crops introduced by the first
sailors to have travelled to the islands some 3500 years ago, or other
plants that have been grown for some time or were introduced more recently,
root and tuber crops, which are propagated vegetatively, replanted and
propagated by cuttings, are the mainstay of the Melanesian diet. However,
it is the maintenance of the diversity of these plants that lies behind the
food security strategy adopted by the islands’ inhabitants. Melanesian
gardens are a prime example of this: by mixing crops, they provide
protection against pathogens, ensure better use of soils and sunlight, make
certain plants more drought-resistant, allow harvests to be spread over
time, and provide a more varied diet.

“I don’t think the government has understood the gravity of the crisis or
figured out how to tackle such an unprecedented situation.” A British
rodent ecologist — in Bangladesh studying the impact of the rat
infestation — said the rodent population was doubling in size every three
weeks. This means, of course, they must spread into new areas in search of
food. “In addition to destroying nearly all field crops in the region, the
rats get into people’s houses, eating stored food and damaging all sorts of
personal possessions and biting people while they sleep.”

The ants are believed to have transferred during the Bougainville crisis
when there was no quarantine service. The ants from Solomon Islands are
attacking and killing the local PNG ants, vegetables and cash crops.

The World Bank released its forecast to coincide with the Group of Seven
(G7) summit of finance ministers and central bank governors in Rome.
Anti-poverty organisations from the UN Millennium Campaign joined the bank
in lobbying for the establishment of a “Vulnerability Fund” in which each
developed country would devote 0.7 percent of its stimulus package to aid
impoverished “developing” countries.

The body of a woman named Dipti Dey, 30, was first recovered shortly after
the disastrous ferry accident. Later, bodies of 26 other launch passengers
were retrieved from inside the sunken launch after it was salvaged, raising
the death toll to 27, officials confirmed. The Prime Minister has
condoled the death of people and asked the officials to take necessary
steps for treatment of survivors.

The root and tuber species grown in Vanuatu were inventoried in ten
villages representative of the communities in the archipelago. Five
primarily grow taro, the other five yam, for both cultural and climatic
reasons. With more than 1000 varieties of thirteen species, the inventory
confirmed the varietal diversity of the crops grown. The archipelago’s
agro-biodiversity comprises three types of plants: plants that arrived
naturally, for instance on the wind, those imported by the first immigrants
– taro and greater yam in this case – and those introduced recently, also
by man, in particular cassava.

“The whole region has been affected by localised famine, forcing people to
depend on food aid. Food shortages will be a permanent feature here for
many years. We have captured 2,000 big rats from one hectare (2.47 acres)
of land. I can tell you the situation is worsening as rats are invading new
territories.” The WFP will begin a 2.6-million-dollar programme to help the
thousands of people who have lost their livelihoods because of the rats.

Even this utterly inadequate proposal received short shrift from the G7
ministers. In their final communiqué, a single one-sentence reference to
poorer economies said: “The G7 also stresses the need to support emerging
and developing countries’ access to credit and trade financing and resume
private capital flows, and is committed to explore urgently ways, including
through multilateral development banks, to enhance this support.” In other
words, the plight of hundreds of millions of destitute people must be left
in the hands of the same financial system and “private capital flows” that
have broken down, producing the worst global collapse since the 1930s.

A worried cocoa farmer on Buka Island, Aloysius Sammy, said the ants were
also attacking people and the victims were developing swollen bodies from
the ant bites. The ants were found in decaying biscuits and other food
items on cargo storage compartments on banana boats.

The bank’s new estimates for 2009 suggest that lower economic growth rates
will force 53 million more people to exist on less than $2 a day than was
expected prior to the downturn. This is on top of the 130-155 million
people pushed into poverty in 2008 because of soaring food and fuel prices.

An estimated 25 hectares of land was inundated when the Waghi River
flooded, swamping vegetable gardens, cash crops and livestock.

Experts said these turtles met their death as they travelled the stretch of
nearly 120km from Sonadia Island in Cox’s Bazar to St Martin’s island to
lay eggs on the shore.

Villagers alleged that the forest department, despite repeated requests,
did not take any steps to drive out the elephants. Four “Hulla Parties” had
been deployed to push the elephants to the Nayagram forest.

The bank’s extremely low benchmark for poverty—$2 a day—suggests that its
figures vastly underestimate the actual number of people around the world
who are barely able to feed, clothe and house themselves.

Under these renewed powers the police have the authority to stop and search
any vehicle without a warrant, as well as to seek evidence inside of any
vehicle. The powers also allow officers wider authority to make arrests.
These powers have been criticized by international rights organizations
for being an abuse of power and an attempt to frustrate the pro-democracy
movement.

Mr Sammy, who owns a two-hectare cocoa block, said half of his crop had been
destroyed by the ants. He said in south and central Bougainville, there
were no longer any signs of Papua New Guinea ants. Mr Sammy said he placed
some PNG tree ants on his cocoa trees and in just five seconds they were
attacked by Solomon ants.

The country’s National Disaster Centre committed $50,156 to the Western
Highlands provincial government to help more than 700 displaced villagers
in the Dei region, it said. The works department and two local construction
companies were partly to blame for failing to build adequate drainage.

The turtles get entangled in the fine fishing nets used indiscriminately by
fishing trawlers. The fishermen, instead of releasing them back to the sea,
beat them to death with sticks and dumped their bodies in the sea, experts
alleged.

Bangladesh’s remote Chittagong Hill Tracts region faces a serious risk of
prolonged famine and bubonic plague unless a ballooning rat population is
brought under control, experts say.

Preliminary estimates for 2009 to 2015 forecast that an average 200,000 to
400,000 more children a year, a total of 1.4 to 2.8 million over the
six-year period, may die if the crisis persists.

The emergency powers were originally put into place in November 2006 after
a riot broke out in the heart of the capital city of Nuku’alofa. The riot
began when a group broke away from a political reform rally and began
looting local businesses. Throughout the course of the riot 150
businesses, mostly owned by people of Chinese origins, were destroyed.

A disabled gunsmith has been arrested in Papua New Guinea for manufacturing
guns and ammunition in his backyard shed. The 39-year-old wheelchair bound
man known as “Harzem” was also reportedly found with numerous books on
Islam, terrorism and war.

Some fishermen from Sonadia, preferring anonymity, confirmed this saying
it’s a tedious task to release the turtles back into the waters.
Organisations working for the protection of sea turtles have recovered 62
carcasses from Cox’s bazaar area. They have expressed
concern about the environmental pollution caused by such large number of
carcasses.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) began distributing three million
dollars of emergency food supplies to some 120,000 people in the
southeastern tribal area bordering India and Myanmar, after the rat
population exploded.

This is a very serious problem and the Autonomous Bougainville Government,
especially the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) and Agriculture, should
do some serious research on how to get rid of these ants, Mr Sammy said.
With the absence of mining on Bougainville the economy was predominantly
agriculture-based, which meant cash crops like copra and cocoa were the
ones driving the economy. And without control, the Solomon Islands ants are
destroying cash crops, the farmer said.

In addition, millions of people already living in poverty “will be pushed
further below the poverty line,” according to the World Bank policy
note,”The Global Economic Crisis: Assessing Vulnerability with a Poverty
Lens.” The note states: “Almost all developed and developing countries are
suffering from the global economic crisis. While developed countries are
experiencing some of the sharpest contractions, households in developing
countries are much more vulnerable and likely to experience acute negative
consequences in the short- and long-term.”

People residing at Shortland borderline between Papua New Guinea and
Solomon Islands have raised grave concern over increased border crossing by
foreigners into Solomon Islands and vice versa. The people fear this might
lead to allowing terrorists to enter Solomon Islands illegally or drug
smuggling.

Most of the turtles found in this area are of the Olive Ridley, one of the
smallest species of sea turles. This species weighs between 10 to 20kg, 63
to 70cm length and 60 to 67cm in breadth.

Police made the arrest at Dami village in PNG’s West New Britain Province,
an island region in northern PNG, as part of an operation to reduce gun
proliferation. The area has been experiencing ongoing local clashes fuelled
by homemade weapons and firearms. Harzem is believed to be the main weapon
supplier in the tribal conflict.

The rats — some weighing as much as 1.5 kilogrammes (3.3 pounds) — feed
on bamboo forests in the hilly region. A Dhaka University zoology professor
recently visited the hill tracts and sounded the alarm over the
“devastating” impact of the year-long rat plague.

Almost 40 percent of 107 developing countries are “highly exposed” to the
poverty and hardship effects of the crisis and the remainder are
“moderately exposed,” according to the report. The bank warns that three
quarters of these countries will be unable to raise funds domestically or
internationally to finance job-creation, the delivery of basic
infrastructure and essential services—including health, education and core
public administration—and safety net programs for the vulnerable.

Borderline representatives appearing before the Committee alleged that
foreigners illegally entered Solomon Islands through Bougainville. Recent
past crossings happened because Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea did
not have borderline check points where Immigration, Customs and Quarantine
officials manned the posts.

The West New Britain Police Commander said Harzem was in police custody and
would appear in court as soon as possible. “I have given instructions to
fast track his case because of his condition,” he said. Police confiscated
several weapons and ammunition and are continuing their operation in a
neighbouring areas.

The root and tuber crop panel of ten villages in Vanuatu comprises more
than 1000 varieties of thirteen species. the primary aim of farming in this
volcanic archipelago in the South Pacific is to ensure food
self-sufficiency.

The threats of a famine-fuelled conflict are real as the rats are
destroying everything in the hills. Adding to the urgency of the situation,
authorities must act fast to avoid an outbreak of deadly bubonic plague.

The statistics provide only a pale outline of the impoverishment,
malnutrition and misery caused by the global recession. These outcomes are
an indictment of the anarchy of the private profit system. First, the
speculative escalation of food and fuel prices of 2007-08 threw up to 155
million people into poverty; and now the financial crash is threatening
many millions more. These forecasts make a mockery of the United Nation’s
Millennium Development Goals, which set targets to overcome poverty by
2015.

Solomon Islands and PNG have cross-border entries like a traditional
practice before, but people from other countries who came with yachts
abused this privilege. The Foreign Relations Committee also met with
people of Choiseul in Taro.

In most of the villages, notably those attached to their traditions,
ancestral crops are predominant. However, in villages subject to severe
environmental constraints (acid rain or ash showers due to active
volcanoes, cyclones, etc), there are more either local or newly introduced
crops. These crops bolster food security by making the cropping systems
more resilient. In other Pacific archipelagos, such as New Caledonia and
the Solomon Islands, the introduction by the Europeans of new root and
tuber species, combined with the arrival of a market economy, has totally
disrupted the existing systems. Ancestral species have disappeared and food
crop production has become uniform, making the production systems more
fragile and reducing the quality of the local diet. Conversely, in Vanuatu,
while the local populations are increasingly accepting and growing new
plants, those plants have had to fit into the existing agro-biodiverse
systems without adversely affecting the other species grown. In the most
fragile zones, they even help to overcome the shortages resulting from the
seasonal nature of traditional crops. The food production strategy in
Vanuatu is not yet under threat, as culturally speaking, owners set great
store by their Melanesian gardens, which is continuing to maintain their
characteristic agro-biodiversity, despite the growing role played by cash
crops grown for export.

“I have approached certain people in the DPI division and reported this
case but my case has fallen on deaf ears.” Mr Sammy also said when a border
post was set up, every boat whether traditional border crossers or not,
must still be quarantined and customs checks should be enforced. A lot of
ants have also been brought into Bougainville by plant hunters or
collectors, especially for flowers like roses and orchids from Solomon
Islands, which are regarded as some of the most beautiful and rare in the
world. Bougainvilleans are appealing to the Government to do something
before cash crops are wiped out in Bougainville.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress