‘Superfungus’ threatens last Panamanian golden frogs
PANAMA CITY: Cocooned from the outside world, some 200 critically endangered golden frogs are living..
PANAMA CITY: Cocooned from the outside world, some 200 critically endangered golden frogs are living a sheltered existence in Panama, protected from a devastating fungus that threatens to wipe out a third of the country's amphibian species – a situation scientists describe as "critical."
The frogs, which are yellow or gold with black spots, enjoy a controlled environment inside fish tanks installed at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a 465 sq m facility in Gamboa, north of Panama City.
Though endemic to the lush Central American country, no Panamanian golden frog can be seen in its natural habitat, threatened as it is by a so-called "superfungus" that has decimated amphibians in the wild.
According to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) published this week, the planet has lost more than two-thirds of its vertebrates in less than 50 years.
The situation is especially dire in the tropical areas of Central and South America, where the extent of loss is pegged at 94 per cent.
Believed extinct in the wild, only about 1,500 of the tiny Panamanian golden frogs are found in zoos where they can reproduce.
But it is not only frogs that are vulnerable to the fungus. Toads, salamanders and caecilians – limbless amphibians similar to snakes – are also at risk.
"In Panama, we can say that about a third of the 225 species of amphibians are threatened in some way," said STRI researcher Roberto Ibanez.
Gina Della Togna, a specialist in molecular and cellular biology at the University of Maryland, described the situation as "critical."
The biggest threat posed to amphibians is chytrid fungus, which spreads through water.
The pathogen is responsible for chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease that scientists say has already caused the disappearance of some 30 species.
The fungus becomes embedded in the animal's skin and infects it, causing it to be unable to exchange salts and water with the environment.
The disease causes irreparable damage to vital functions. Eventually the animal dies of heart failure caused by asphyxiation.
"It's a pretty dramatic and painful disease," said Angie Estrada, a biologist at Virginia Tech University and administrator of Panama's Summit Park.
"When the fungus gets to a place where it wasn't, it affects populations very much and animals die en masse. It causes certain death in the individuals it infects. It's a devastating phenomenon," said Della Togna.
The microorganism was first detected in the 20th century in the Korean Peninsula and scientists warn that it has already spread throughout the world.
"Anywhere in the world where there are amphibians, the fungus is already there," said Estrada.
It arrived in Panama in the early 1990s and has been wreaking havoc ever since.
"It's a superfungus that can even affect other species that are not amphibians," according to Ibanez.
He warned that deforestation, environmental destruction and pollution of streRead More – Source
Cultural Influences on Marketing Strategies
Culture plays a significant role in consumer behavior. It influences everything from how people consume products to the way they look. Creating marketing campaigns that take into account these differences will help your business to succeed.
To begin with, different cultures have their own unique customs and rituals. This includes everything from the number 7 being good luck in the Czech Republic to eating dinner at the end of the day in Ireland.
Another important example is the way language is used to communicate. People in countries like Italy and France tend to eat a lot more packaged pasta and chocolate bars than their American counterparts.
Similarly, different languages can also lead to different marketing messages and branding issues. For example, an American company might create a slogan promoting its latest product. However, if this slogan is translated into a different language, it can lose its original meaning.
Some other aspects that can affect a marketer’s message include business norms, color, and aesthetics. The most important thing to remember when marketing to a foreign country is to understand their culture.
Other cultural differences include religion. Different religions have different beliefs and attitudes about marketing and business. Therefore, it is important to understand how religion impacts how a marketer communicates.
Similarly, different cultures have different attitudes about clothing. Women in many Middle Eastern and Muslim nations are required to wear modest clothing. Likewise, an evening meal in the United States is called dinner, while a similar dinner in Ireland is called tea.
Pakistan floods: Desperation and displacement in Sindh province
The Prime Minister of Pakistan has said the “magnitude of the calamity” is bigger than expected, after visiting flood-hit areas.
Shehbaz Sharif was speaking from Sindh province – which has had nearly eight times its average August rainfall.
The floods have killed nearly 1,000 people across Pakistan since June, while thousands have been displaced – and millions more affected.
As the BBC drove through Sindh, there were displaced people in every village.
The full scale of the devastation in the province is yet to be fully understood – but the people described it as the worst disaster they’ve survived.
Floods are not uncommon in Pakistan, but people here said these rains were different – more than anything that’s ever been seen. One local official called them “floods of biblical proportions”.
Near the city of Larkana, thousands of mud homes have sunk under water. For miles all that’s visible is treetops. Where the water level is slightly lower, thatched roofs creep out from underneath the water.
In one village, the people are desperate for food. In another, many children have developed waterborne diseases.
When a mobile truck pulled over, scores of people immediately ran towards it. Children carrying other children made their way to the long queue.
One 12-year-old girl said she and her baby sister had not eaten for a day.
“No food has come here, but my sister is sick, she has been vomiting,” the girl said. “I hope they can help.”
The desperation was evident in every community. People ran towards car windows to ask for help – anything.
On one of the main streets out of the city of Sukkur, hundreds of people have settled.
Many of them walked from remote villages, and were told that help is easier to get in the urban areas. But there’s not much difference here.
On Friday, PM Sharif said 33 million people had been hit by the floods – about 15% of the country’s population.
He said the losses caused by floods this season were comparable to those during the floods of 2010-11, said to be the worst on record. The country has appealed for more international aid.
In Sindh, it’s not that local authorities are not trying, but they admit that they are out of their depth.
The provincial government says this is a “climate change catastrophe” and that the people of Pakistan, especially in the poorer communities, have been the worst affected.
The solutions will not be quick – acres of land are waterlogged and the water is not receding fast enough for any rebuilding to take place here.
There’s not much to do for the people but to wait – wait for the rains to stop, wait for the water to go down, wait for more resources to be allocated to these kinds of communities.
In the meantime, life continues to be difficult.
Read from: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-62699886
Burkina Faso military says it has seized power
The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.
The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.
Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.
His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.
The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.
On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.
The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.
The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.
Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.
The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.
The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.
UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.
The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.
Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.
Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.
Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.
Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.
The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.
It is unclear who posted the tweets.
Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.
On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.
The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.
But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.
That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.
Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.
Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.
Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.
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