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S. Africa sees sharp decrease in rhino poaching

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S. Africa sees sharp decrease in rhino poaching

South Africa has seen a sharp decrease in rhino poaching thanks to a decade of implementing various strategies, Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy announced on Friday.


At least 166 rhinos were poached in South Africa during the first six months of 2020, a decrease of almost 53 percent compared with the same period of 2019 when 316 were lost to poachers for their horns, Creecy said.

“We have been able to arrest the escalation of rhino losses,” Creecy said in a statment marking the World Ranger Day which is observed on July 31 annually to commemorate rangers killed or injured in the line of duty and to celebrate the work rangers do to protect the world‘s natural and cultural heritage.

The results are due to the success of “a decade of implementing various strategies, and campaigning against ever increasing rhino poaching by local poachers recruited and managed by crime syndicates,” according to Creecy.

The reduction in rhino poaching has been especially welcomed in the Kruger National Park (KNP), one of Africa’s largest game reserves in northeast South Africa.

The park saw zero rhino killing in the Intensive Protection Zone in April, the first time in practically 10 years, the minister said.

The COVID-19 lockdown also contributed to the reduction in rhino poaching.

Forty-six rhinos were poached across the country from the time lockdown began on March 27 until the end of June 2020, with 14 lost in April, 13 in May and 19 in June, Creecy said.

In the KNP, 88 rhinos were poached in the first six months of 2020. As the lockdown restrictions were gradually lifted, rhino poaching incidents have slowly increased in the park, said Creecy.

Thirty-eight suspected rhino poachers were taken into custody and 23 firearms were confiscated in the KNP from January to June, she said.

Meanwhile 47 suspects were arrested and 18 firearms were recovered in joint operations outside of the park.

Creecy praised the excellent cooperation and teamwork among law enforcement agencies in uncovering attempts to smuggle rhino horns valued at around 115 million rand (about seven million United States dollars) through the O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg early in July 2020.

The decrease in rhino poaching can also be attributed to the disruption of the supply chain resulting from the national travel restrictions, including limitations placed on movement across the country, according to Creecy.

Rhino-related prosecutions indicate that 23 suspects accused of poaching have been convicted with lengthy sentences from January to June 2020.

The National Prosecuting Authority maintained a highly commendable conviction rate of 100 percent, Creecy said.

South Africa is home to about 85 percent of the world’s rhino population, making it the center of the poaching crisis.

(XINHUA)

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Metro

Jigawa reopens 40 schools, directs all workers to resume duty

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Gov. Mohammed Badaru of Jigawa on Monday announced the immediate reopening of 40 schools in the state and also directed all categories of civil servants to return to work from Aug. 4.


The governor, who made this known while briefing newsmen in Dutse, also directed the Ministries of Health and Education to come up with time schedules for running the programme under strict compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the recalling of the workers came few weeks after officers from level 12 and above had resumed.

NAN reports that the state government had initially directed its workers to work from home for two weeks from March 24 and continually expanded the order so as to protect workers from being exposed to COVID-19.

Badaru said the decision to recall all workers back to their duty posts was sequel to the progress recorded in terms of compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures after recalling those in the category of level 12 and above few weeks ago.

According to him, government will adopt the same strategy across the workforce in all the ministries and departments in order to ensure total compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures.

He, however, said that the 40 schools would be selected from primary, junior, senior and private secondary schools from the three senatorial zones of the state.

The governor assured parents and guardians that other schools would also be reopened gradually if there were some improvements in terms of compliance with COVID-19 preventive measures in the selected 40 schools.

Badaru also announced that the state had no single COVID-19 patient for now, adding that the only remaining suspected patient had been discharged after being tested and confirmed negative.

Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Agriculture

AFAN, OFAB, NABDA advocate use of biotechnology to scale up food production

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Following the impact of COVID-19 and banditry activities in the country, some stakeholders in the agriculture sector and scientists have advocated the use of biotechnology to be deployed to scale up food production in the country.


Some of the stakeholders made it known during a webinar session tagged: “Media Summit on Status of Agricultural Biotechnology Research in Nigeria”, in a statement by the organisers – National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA).

The National President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr Kabir Ibrahim said it was imperative to explore the option of the use of innovation to upscale food production to bring about food sufficiency to avert hunger due to the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He, however, emphasised on the need to sensitise smallholder farmers to embrace technological advancement to avert hunger caused by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying to achieve food security modern technologies such as biotechnology must be used.

“Already, a lot of work has been going on to commercialise cowpea, maize, cassava, rice, sorghum as well as cotton and the farmers are seeing good results so it is, therefore, easy to get them to embrace biotechnology,” he said.

The Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr Rose Gidado said the application of efforts would encourage stakeholders to participate in the science-based decision.

She said that this move was crucial and necessary for the acceptance and adoption of innovative technology.

Gidado said the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of zero hunger by 2030 was fundamental for national development and well being of Nigeria, adding that the facilitation of adequate understanding of the several ways Nigeria to achieve the goal “is very fundamental”.

She said that with the current population of over 200 million people and projected population of 400 million people by 2050, an outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria is faced with the risk of the decreased farming population due to age, decreased arable land, poverty, malnutrition and hunger.

She said that agricultural biotechnology was the solution to Nigeria’s food security. She also said the conventional method of agriculture could no longer meet up with the country’s demand.

“With the current state of agriculture in Nigeria, it has become paramount to also adopt this technology to improve our productivity and revive our industries.”

“The time is now, let us sensitise people on the potential of this innovation to aid decision making and adoption in Nigeria.”

The Acting Director-General, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa harped on the importance of biotechnology application for the benefits of man, especially in the areas of health, agriculture and environment.

“Biotechnology has other applications; in agriculture, it is massive and that is where most postCOVID-19 is coming, you find out that here in NABDA, using Biotechnology we have started impacting massively in the area of agriculture.

“For instance, in our yam multiplication programme, last year, we were able to produce one million yam seedlings and this year, we are targeting five million yam seedlings, all these things are feasible because of biotechnology,” he said.

The NABDA DG said the agency had been involved in using biotechnology to advance health activities, especially in the era of COVID-19 pandemic..

Edited By: Grace Yussuf (NAN)

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Education

WAEC: KDSG directs schools to open Aug. 10

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The Kaduna State Government has directed secondary schools to open from Aug. 10 to enable SSS 3 students write their Secondary School Certificate Examination (SSCE).


The state Commissioner for Education, Dr Shehu Makarfi, said in a statement in Kaduna on Monday, that the directive was in compliance with the Federal Ministry of Education resolution for schools to open on Aug. 4.

This, according to Makarfi, is to enable final year students to write their West African Examination Council (WAEC), National Examination Council (NECO) and other certificate examinations.

“Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’i has approved Monday, Aug.10 as the resumption date for the SSS 3 students that are expected to begin their WAEC examination slated for Aug. 17.

“Therefore, the Ministry of Education is directing all school principals to arrange to receive SSS 3 boarding students on Aug. 9 and day students on Aug. 10.

“All administrators of public and private schools are to note that the one-week period commencing from today is to allow for necessary preparations and arrangements to meet COVID-19 guidelines for the opening of schools.

“Principals are to ensure compliance to agreed guidelines, which include reduced hours of work/revision to four hours per shift, social distancing in classes, laboratories, libraries and hostels,’’ he said.

He added that there should also be consistency in temperature monitoring and handing over of any suspected case of COVID-19 to health authorities.

He warned that no school should open before Aug. 10, except for boarding schools, where students are expected to arrive on Aug. 9.

The commissioner further directed private secondary schools in the state to report their readiness to open to the schools’ Quality Assurance Authority.

He said that private schools should report, using the appropriate checklist and obtain a written ‘no objection to open’, on clean bill of health.

He also asked that head of higher institutions and principals of secondary schools should report to the relevant department in the ministry.

He called on parents to ensure proper arrangement for safe transportation of their children to and from schools.

“To make the environment safe and conducive for academic activity, the government is doing everything possible to decontaminate and disinfect public schools, including higher institutions and provide hand washing facilities.

“We will also arrange for temperature monitoring of both staff and students, provision of face masks to staff and students, as well as hand sanitisers.

“However, parents are advised to equip their children with extra face masks and small 100ml hand sanitisers for use during their transportation to and from schools,’’ he added.

Makarfi said that appropriate dates for other examinations would be announced in due course, including school opening for the rest of the classes including SSS1, SSS2, JSS 1 to 3 and primary schools.

He encouraged schools to continue the e-learning programme using Google class, Zoom, radio and television and other online platforms until normalcy returned.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Politics

Edo 2020: Obaseki assures Akoko Edo traditional rulers of better days ahead

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Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo has assured the people of the state that he will not disappoint them if re-elected, as he has laid the foundation for greater development in the state.


Obaseki made the pledge at the palace of Otaru of Igarra, Oba Emmanuel Saiki, where he solicited the royal father’s blessings and support for his re-election at the Sept. 19 gubernatorial election in the state.

“I am seeking for a re-election because we have started a revolution of development in the last four years to make governance relevant to Edo people.

“We pay civil servants and pensioners on time; we have trained our teachers to be digital and now our children are learning well.

“We have improved on infrastructure in Igarra land and we will do more.

“At this period of COVID-19 pandemic, the people need a leader with focus who is concerned about the lives of the people of the state.

“Agriculture must be improved on and taken seriously as farming should be a priority because money from Abuja has been cut down.

“What you have seen in the last four years is small, compared to the great things that will follow in my second term. We have the experience that they don’t have.

“Our radical reforms have given us a solid foundation to build on. We will tackle security challenges in the state as we will finance the vigilance groups as they are well organised,” he said.

In his remarks, Oba Saiki, prayed God to continue to guide tne governor in all his ways and urged him to continue to advise youths to shun political thuggery.

Contributing, the Chairman of Akoko Edo Traditional Council, Oba Patrick Okara, lauded Obaseki for his prompt response to COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Okara further commended him for the rehabilitation of roads in Akoko-Edo, adding that there were more roads begging for attention across the region.

“We have been feeling the impact of your government, but we want to feel it more. We demand for any institution of higher learning in the oldest local government in Nigeria, Akoko-Edo,’’ he said.

Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Ejike Obeta (NAN)

 

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