British rugby players against wildlife crime


This 11 September 2015 video is called Former England Rugby Captains Ollie Phillips and Catherine Spencer talk on Trek across Namib Desert.

Another video, no longer on YouTube, used to say about itself:

Catherine Spencer needs you. Are you ready to Endure?

5 September 2015

Catherine Spencer, former England women’s rugby captain turned adventurer & entrepreneur is embarking on the Endure 6 Skeleton Coast Expedition in November 2015. She will be leading ‘Team Snow Leopard‘ on a 150km trek across the Namib Desert to the Skeleton Coast to raise awareness and stop the illegal trade of wild animals in support of The Endure Foundation.

Catherine is looking for adventurers to join her team, if you’re interested in finding out more please visit here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Rugby aces Ollie Phillips and Catherine Spencer to take on desert challenge to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade

Rugby stars Ollie Phillips (former England 7’s Rugby Captain) and Catherine Spencer (former Women’s England Rugby Captain) are taking on the Endure 6 Skeleton Coast Expedition this November to raise awareness and help stop the illegal trade of wild animals.

The expedition is a 150km unsupported trek from the hinterland across the Namib Desert finishing ten days later at the Skeleton Coast in support of The Endure Foundation and its six charity partners. One of those charity partners is the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, who fund a range of innovative, vital and far reaching projects throughout Africa and Asia to achieve real results for endangered wildlife.

Ollie will be leading ‘Team Elephant’ and Catherine will lead ‘Team Snow Leopard’ and the expedition will be filmed and follow the teams on their journey to form a documentary to raise awareness and help stop the illegal trade of wild animals in partnership with DSWF.

Both Ollie and Catherine are looking for motivated team members to join them on this arduous expedition. They will be involved in the planning of the expedition and will face everything from searing heat and sand storms to wild animals and coastal fog.

Ollie Phillips said “I’m thrilled to be leading a team on this expedition. The desert is a completely new terrain for myself and Catherine. We’re looking for people from all walks of life to join our teams to raise awareness for some of the world’s most endangered animals.”

DSWF CEO, Sally Case added: “It is incredible that anything survives in the harsh conditions of much of Namibia’s terrain. That a species like the rhino has evolved and adapted to survive in desert conditions is testament to a species determined to survive. With the teams drawing inspiration from the indomitable spirit of the Namibian black rhino we are sure that this will be the challenge of a lifetime.”

German neo-colonial war drive in Africa


This video, about early twentieth century German colonial war in Africa, is called Namibia – Genocide and the Second Reich.

By Christoph Dreier in Germany:

German politicians and the media push for new wars in Africa

27 August 2015

Last year, the German people were subjected to unprecedented war-mongering against Russia and a campaign for the return of German militarism. Now, the propagandists are going one step further and are beating the drums for new wars in Africa. They cynically try to justify this by referring to the growing streams of refugees.

On Tuesday, the head of the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s foreign affairs department, Stefan Kornelius, said a European refugee policy must begin with a European foreign policy.

“If Europe does not want to become a magnet for refugees from many areas of the world, if the international community does not want to break apart due to its heterogeneous understanding for its humanitarian responsibilities, then it must turn its force outward towards the epicentres of the flight”, he wrote.

The editor has a pretty clear idea what this means and formulates it in rhetorical questions: “Who had also considered intervening in the Syrian civil war, if necessary without a UN mandate? On whose desk are the dossiers regarding Eritrea and Sudan gathering dust in Brussels? What possibilities for influence does the EU have over the African Union, from whose ranks states are bleeding out?”

This is the outline of a policy in Africa and the Middle East, which would result in a massive military escalation and is aimed at controlling the African continent and exploiting it economically.

On Spiegel Online, Roland Nelles, who heads its Berlin bureau and is a member of the Editorial Board, is even more explicit. He also takes the issue of refugee policy as the starting point for comprehensive plans for the recolonisation of Africa.

Germany must no longer “stay out of the problems of this world,” he writes. He accuses the population of keeping politicians from “dealing with the problems on the spot in the crisis regions with massive financial and political means (and if need be, military means). Germany and the other European countries must fundamentally change their attitude. We must do more outside,” he summarised.

He lists regions where he would like to see German military interventions. On Syria, he writes, “We have no real strategy in the fight against the dictator Assad or against IS [Islamic State]. At least the Americans are doing something: they are bombing the terrorists from the air. And we Germans? We send a few old rifles to the Peshmerga. That’s it. We don’t trust ourselves to do more, we don’t want to do more on the spot.”

A debate about military options in Libya is also “a taboo for us”, Nelles complains, provocatively asking, “but why?” He opposes withdrawing troops stationed in Afghanistan.

Last week, the chair of the Foreign Affairs parliamentary committee, Norbert Röttgen, made clear when speaking to broadcaster Deutschlandfunk that the government has long been working on implementing such a policy.

He also called for military intervention against IS. In order to defeat its militia, according to Röttgen, “political and military means” are required. IS is not really affected by air strikes, “but there must be more, that’s certain”, said the former minister.

Like Nelles and Kornelius, he sees such military intervention as part of a broad offensive in Africa and the Middle East. “We need a European foreign policy that engages with this region. We need an Africa policy in Europe,” Röttgen says, relating this directly to the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

For him, a “European Africa policy” means essentially a German policy. He also speaks in favour of Germany seeking different allies with whom it can implement its own goals. “I believe that the Europe of 28 will not respond effectively to these gigantic challenges, but will always wait until all 28 are on board,” he says.

Röttgen calls for “a predictive, preventive, proactive policy as part of foreign policy in Africa, in North Africa.”

One of the main foreign policy experts in the German parliament is advocating a preventive Africa policy—i.e., an aggressive policy based around German interests, which includes military intervention. An entire continent is to become a chessboard for German foreign policy.

This has nothing to do with the well being of the people there, or dealing with the problems forcing millions to flee their countries. It is cynical war propaganda. In reality, it was the military interventions by the NATO powers that have destroyed whole societies in the Middle East and Africa. The misery produced by these wars is now being used to further beat the drums of war.

Rather, the demand for an offensive in Africa is connected with the return of German militarism. Given the deep international economic crisis, which has now also afflicted the developing economies of South America and Asia, Africa is of special interest. The German business elite wants to secure the raw materials and growing markets there.

In May 2014, Berlin formulated its “Africa policy guidelines”, which dealt with these questions extensively and are the basis for Röttgen’s proactive plan. They talk about “Africa’s growing relevance for Germany and Europe”, due to the continent’s economic potential and “rich natural resources.”

Berlin therefore wants to strengthen “Germany’s political, security and development policy engagement in Africa”, to intervene “early, quickly, decisively and substantially” and “comprehensively deploy the whole spectrum of its available means.”

Since then, the German government has already considerably expanded its military interventions. In June, the first phase of the EU military operation “EUNAVFOR Med” was launched in the Mediterranean. Germany is participating in it with 327 soldiers and two frigates. Phases two and three will see the capture and destruction of refugee boats at sea, and according to reports, also the use of bombers and ground troops in Libya.

Earlier this month, the United States announced that together with Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Spain it was planning a comprehensive military intervention in Libya. Thousands of mainly European soldiers will participate in the operation.

In July, Germany took the lead in the military training mission in Mali and also the unlimited extension of the operation. In the last weeks, talks have also taken place with the Netherlands to deploy more German soldiers in the embattled north of the country. In addition, Defence Minister von der Leyen is stepping up cooperation with the Tunisian military.

Now, the media is beating the drum for an expansion of this policy and for new wars in Africa. The protagonists are often the same as those whipping up incitement against Russia in recent years and who call for a military intervention in Ukraine. Stefan Kornelius, who has close ties to government-related think tanks, vehemently advocates confrontation with Russia.

Röttgen, too, is one of the rabble-rousers. He has vehemently advocated economic sanctions against Russia. When Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras paid a state visit there, Röttgen declared this to be “un-European”.

Now, they are planting their flags on the map of Africa once more.

The German government is massively expanding its political, economic and military involvement in Africa. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is currently touring Mali, Niger and Ethiopia with a high-level delegation: here.

Spain’s military deployment in the African continent has seen a major increase since 2013. It is an expression of the new scramble for Africa spearheaded by the continent’s former imperialist masters: here.

German defence minister visits Niger and Mali in preparation for massive combat operation in the Sahel: here.

Just one week after official ceremonies marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, federal parliament President Wolfgang Schäuble has called for Germany to once again take up the “burden” of fighting wars abroad: here.

Mammoth ancestor discovery in Namibia


Moeritherium

This picture, like the others in this blog post, is by German artist Heinrich Harder (1858-1935). It depicts Moeritherium, one of the earliest species, ancestral to present day elephants.

Palaeomastodon

This picture shows Palaeomastodon, which lived later than Moeritherium: about 36 million years ago.

Deinotherium

Still later came Deinotherium, looking more like present day elephants; though its tusks pointed downwards.

Before elephant evolution led to the woolly mammoths of about 100,000 years ago, ancestors of these mammoths lived in Africa. They were Mammuthus subplanifrons. Ever since the 1920s, only a few small fossils of this species had been found.

Recently, Dutch paleontologist Dick Mol found an almost complete skeleton of such a fossil ancestor, 3-4 million years old, in Etosha national park in Namibia. Later, Mr Mol says, mammoths left Africa for Eurasia; and humans went along with them.

This video is a National Geographic Mammoth unearthed documentary.

Yesterday, in Amsterdam, the exhibition Giants of the Ice Age, on mammoths and similar animals, started.

Saving albatrosses in Namibia update


This is called A Partnership of Hope – BirdLife International Video.

From BirdLife:

Namibia takes positive steps to save 30,000 seabirds a year

By Shaun Hurrell, Fri, 07/11/2014 – 12:09

Following a meeting with the BirdLife’s Albatross Task Force, The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Namibia has introduced new fishery regulations which should practically eliminate seabird mortality from one of the most destructive fisheries in the world.

This is more excellent news for the Albatross Task Force (ATF) who have been working with the Ministry in Namibia since 2008, and have demonstrated that the combined levels of seabird mortality for their hake longline and trawl fisheries is around 30,000 seabirds per year, which is one of the highest levels in the world.

The ATF have demonstrated that adoption of simple and cost-effective mitigation measures in both these fisheries could reduce mortality to negligible levels.

Incidental bycatch in fisheries constitutes the major threat for many vulnerable populations of seabirds. Globally 300,000 seabirds are killed in longline and trawl fisheries each year where they are hooked and drown on baited hooks or are struck by trawl cables and dragged under water. Approximately 100,000 of these birds are albatross, the most threatened family of birds with 15 of 22 species at risk of extinction.

The ATF is part of  BirdLife International’s Marine Programme and works in the world’s global bycatch ‘hot spots’ with industry to introduce tested practical measures that, once in use, rapidly reduce the mortality of seabirds.

In the trawl fleet the use of bird scaring lines with streamers that flap in the wind and scare birds away from the dangerous areas of a vessel is a simple solution that practically eliminates seabird bycatch. In the longline fleet, this measure in combination with line-weighting (sinks hooks away from foraging birds) and paired bird scaring lines, should reduce bycatch by over 95%.

The new fishery regulations introduced by the Ministry will require all trawl and longline vessels to use bird scaring lines, and for longline vessels to use improved line weighting. These new regulations came into effect on  1 November 2014 and will drastically reduce the impact of these two fisheries on vulnerable seabirds.

The fishing industry in Namibia, led by local fishing companies has been cooperative with the proposed conservation measures, with several companies already adopting voluntary use of the bird scaring lines. The introduction of regulations will ensure the simple measures are adopted across the whole fleet. Namibia already has high levels of observer coverage in their fisheries, which means it will be easy to identify compliance with these new regulations.

This provides an excellent example of how positive collaboration between conservation organisations, local government and responsible industry associations can make a huge contribution to sustaining global biodiversity and reducing our impact on the marine environment.

Related news: This is also great news for local Namibian women in Walvis Bay, whose home-made bird-scaring lines have started to be sold to the fisheries, generating them an income and greater gender-equality in the community.

The Albatross Task Force is an international conservation programme run by BirdLife International and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) which works with local NGOs in seabird bycatch hotspots to demonstrate to fishers how to use simple, effective measures that prevent seabird mortality.

15 out of 22 species of albatross are threatened with extinction. Working closely with BirdLife Partners in the Southern Ocean, we’re working to stop the needless slaughter of these amazing birds and bring them back from the brink of extinction.

New law passed in Namibia to protect 30,000 seabirds from death by trawling or longlining: here.

Training fishermen to prevent seabird deaths in Namibia. By Stephanie Winnard, 3 Nov 2016: here.

Giraffes helped by photographers


This video is about Niger‘s endangered white giraffes (full documentary).

From Wildlife Extra:

Citizen science project launched to help the world’s giraffes

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) with the support of the Polytechnic of Namibia has launched a project to develop an online citizen science platform for giraffes.

GiraffeSpotter.org is an easy to use web-based application that allows people to upload their photos of giraffes they have seen, together with the location where the image was taken and any other valuable information they can supply to help in conservation efforts, such as herd size, sex and age class of the giraffe.

With the help of GiraffeSpotter.org, GCF will be able to improve its understanding of giraffe ranges, distribution, numbers and ultimately the various species of giraffes’ conservation status across Africa.

At the same time, the charity hopes that the project will also engage people and raise awareness of the plight of giraffes in the wild.

15 years ago there were 140,000 giraffes in Africa. Today there are 80,000: here.

Saving albatrosses in Namibia


This video about saving albatrosses is called A Partnership of Hope – BirdLife International Video.

From BirdLife:

Saving seabirds, empowering women: the Albatross Task Force gains momentum

By Shaun Hurrell, Fri, 18/07/2014 – 09:53

Our Albatross Task Force were recently recognised for their efforts that have saved 99% of albatrosses from death in a major fishery in South Africa. Now across the border, momentum continues to gather for seabird conservation in Namibia. Rather than official recognition with awards, this time it is personal recognition shown by the actions of local people that are causing Albatross Task Force instructors to beam with pride.

In Namibian waters alone, more than 30,000 seabirds are drowned every year due to long-line and trawl fishing, making these fisheries some of the most destructive in the world. We have devised, and been awarded for, a simple solution – techniques to scare birds away from death by entanglement (such as bird-scaring lines). Now in Namibia, fishermen are voluntarily using bird-scaring lines on their boats, a testament to the work of our Namibian Albatross Task Force.

This is not only incredible news for seabirds which, as we have seen in South Africa, will now almost entirely avoid accidental drowning on these boats. But this is great news for local Namibian women in Walvis Bay too, whose home-made bird-scaring lines have started to be sold to the fisheries, generating them an income and greater gender-equality in the community.

A force for saving seabirds, a task of attracting people

Consider how many hours Albatross Task Force instructors spend riding the waves on local fishing vessels, testing and finding these solutions. Consider their interaction with the captains, whose two main concerns are keeping their crew safe and to increase the catch rate of their target fish species. Consider their education efforts, based on sound scientific evidence, to inform the fishing community of the mitigation measures that protect seabirds.

In order to repel seabirds away from danger, first you have to spend a lot of effort to attract people to the issue.

So for the Namibian fishermen to be using bird-scaring lines voluntarily, this is huge. It means they have learnt that each bird caught on a hook potentially represents one less fish on that hook. It means they are improving their chances of their fishery being awarded a sustainable certification (we help them document the reduction in seabird by-catch). It means that when the ocean gets rough, they are still thinking about albatrosses.

“This represents a huge positive shift in momentum for seabird conservation, and the fact that it is 100% due to Albatross Task Force efforts is really encouraging,”

said Oliver Yates, Albatross Task Force Coordinator.

A total of 13 trawlers (about 15% of the trawl fleet in Namibia) have now purchased tori lines for voluntary use on their vessels, as well as 3 demersal long-line vessels (about 25% of the fleet). Steel weights that keep hooks out of the reach of albatrosses – funded by a Lucile and Packard Foundation project – are now in production for the longline fleet.

“Voluntary implementation is happening!” said Oli.

“There is a long way to go in terms of the practicalities of getting the mitigation into action on the vessels, but a lot of the hard work is already done.”

Saving seabirds is also empowering women

Earlier this year the Albatross Task Force in Namibia developed a project to work with a local women’s empowerment group in Walvis Bay to manufacture and supply bird-scaring lines for the longline and trawl fisheries of the country. Currently represented by five women whose only income was from selling jewellery made from seas shells, the local group called Meme Itumbapo have already built bird-scaring lines for 10% of the Namibian fleet.

Following training and the provision of equipment and materials by the Albatross Task Force, and with the announcement of £20,000 support from the Namport Social Investment Fund, the project will generate opportunities for Meme Itumbapo women and more with no formal education and limited employment options. Their hand-built, quality-assured, local, affordable lines will be flying off the back of more and more Namibian fishing boats in the next two years.

The lines not only prevent birds getting snagged on hooks or in nets, but flag for Namibia a vision of protected biodiversity, local economic empowerment and for greater gender equality.

On a roll in Namibia

The at-sea demonstrations and education work the Albatross Task Force undertakes does not just apply to local fishermen: we also lobby governments and fisheries for new regulations.

The new fishing permit conditions we helped draft, including technical guidelines for mitigation measures, have been signed by the Permanent Secretary for Fisheries. And next month, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Namibia will meet with BirdLife to discuss their National Plan of Action for Seabirds and how we can help support the implementation of mitigation measures.

“We are confident of a positive outcome in the meeting, and look forward to working with the fleet to extend mitigation use onto all vessels,” said Oli.

With a lot of the hard work done in Namibia and support from local people, Albatross Task Force instructors have every reason to be smiling confidently as they head out to sea again.

The Albatross Task Force is an initiative led by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) for the BirdLife International Partnership.

Seventeen out of 22 species of albatross are threatened with extinction. The main threat to albatrosses is death at the end of a hook on a fishing long-line.

Working closely with BirdLife Partners in the Southern Ocean, we’re working to stop the needless slaughter of these amazing birds and bring them back from the brink of extinction.

New elephant shrew species discovery in Namibia


This video from East Africa says about itself:

Elephant Shrew, Macroscelidea order, eats ants termites worms and makes paths to dash from when a threat appears. Although diurnal they are seldom seen.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

New species of mouse-like creature with ‘elephant trunk’ discovered

A mouse-like creature with an elephant’s “trunk” has been discovered in a remote desert in Namibia.

The new species is known as an “elephant shrew” and is a type of round-eared sengi.

The tiny creature is the smallest known member of the sengi family with a body just 9cm long and despite its size, is more closely related to elephants, manatees and aardvarks than to shrews.

It was discovered by researchers from the California Academy of Sciences during research on their cousins in southwestern Africa.

Dr Jack Dumbacher and colleague Dr Galen Rathbun noticed that one animal differed from any they had seen before, being smaller, with rust-coloured fur and a new hairless gland underneath its tail.

Genetic analysis confirmed that they had discovered a new species and their findings will be published in the Journal of Mammology.

It is the third new species of sengi discovered in the wild in the past decade.

Dr Dumbacher, the Academy’s curator of ornithology and mammalogy, thanked colleagues for collecting “invaluable” specimens that allowed them to discover the difference.

He added: “Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it’s exciting to think that there are still small areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored.”

Found on the inland edge of the Namib Desert at the base of the Etendeka Plateau, scientists believe the creature went undescribed for so long because of the challenges of doing scientific research in such an isolated area.

Yet it is the isolation and unique environmental conditions of the region that have given rise to the sengi and other unique organisms.

An Etendeka round-eared sengi has been added to the Namib Desert exhibit in the Academy’s natural history museum.

It joins a replica of Welwitschia mirabilis, an ancient plant also native to the Namib Desert that can live for up to 2,500 years.

See also here.

One small mammal is experiencing a triumphant return to its long-ago spot on the tree of life. Scientists have elevated a subspecies of giant sengi, or elephant-shrew, to full species status. Aided by genetic information gathered from the California Academy of Sciences’ vast mammal collection, Academy researchers collaborated with colleagues from the University of Alaska Museum (UAM), the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (FMNH) to explore the evolutionary relationships among giant sengis. In the process, the team discovered that a white-tailed subspecies of giant sengi from the Congo Basin and western Uganda was genetically distinct enough to return it to full species status, as originally designated upon its discovery in the late nineteenth century. Rhynchocyon cirnei stuhlmanni (now R. stuhlmanni) follows three new sengi species discoveries from the last decade. The team’s revision of species relationships among giant sengis appears this summer in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution: here.

Long considered the cradle of many mammal species, Africa no longer lives up to that image with the discovery in the Wyoming badlands of 54 million-year-old skeletal remains of the first elephant shrew, said Jonathan Bloch, assistant curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Bloch described his team’s finding in the March 24 issue of the journal Nature: here.

Rio Tinto’s anti-environment anti-people policies


This video says about itself:

Vote Rio Tinto for Greenwash Gold 2012

The metal for the 2012 Olympics medals is being provided by Rio Tinto, a massive British mining company.

Metal for the medals will come from the company’s Kennecott Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, USA, and its Oyu Tolgoi mine in Mongolia.

Groups in Utah are protesting about air pollution from Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon operations, which contributes to hundreds of premature deaths each year in the Salt Lake City area. Planned expansion would make the situation worse.

The Oyu Tolgoi mine will use enormous quantities of water in a desert region, and campaigners there accuse the company of poor planning and failure to share information with the public.

But these are not the only concerns about Rio Tinto.

The company’s Ranger Uranium Mine in Australia is routinely spilling radioactive water into the surrounding area and is opposed by Aboriginal communities.

Rio Tinto has been accused of association with human rights abuses around its now-closed Kelian Gold Mine in Indonesia and the Grasberg copper and gold mine in West Papua.

In Bougainville, in the Pacific, the company hopes to reopen a copper mine which caused such catastrophic pollution that local people closed it down. Vicious repression of anti-mine protesters by the Government of Papua New Guinea sparked a war.

In the USA, Rio Tinto is accused of violation of Indigenous treaty rights in Michigan, a legacy of pollution in Wisconsin, and planning destructive projects in Alaska and Arizona.

And it has a history of appalling labour relations.

Rio Tinto is bad news for many communities around the world. Its operations have failed to provide adequate protection of public health, the environment, workers and human rights. It is a scandal that it should be providing the metal for the London Olympic medals.

Vote Rio Tinto for Greenwash Gold 2012!

Directed and animated by Irene Fuga – www.irenefuga.com
Sound and Music by Nathaniel Robin
Special effects and additional animation by David Lopez Retamero

By Paul Donovan in Britain:

Confronting Rio Tinto‘s dirty tricks

Friday 25th April 2014

Trade unionists around the world are uniting to resist the strong-arm tactics of the notorious mining company. PAUL DONOVAN reports

A succession of trade union and community representatives from across the world have told how mining giant Rio Tinto is practising a 21st century form of colonialism.

Addressing a forum organised by the London Mining Network at Amnesty International in London earlier this month, they explained how the company makes offers to national governments that they cannot refuse.

This then leads in some cases to governments almost becoming an arm of Rio Tinto’s operations.

The company operates in this way across many countries, practising a divide-and-rule policy toward governments, workers and citizens.

Mamy Rakontrainibe, of Tany in France, explained how the company QIT Minerals Madagascar is 80 per cent owned by Rio Tinto and 20 per cent by the government.

The mining operations have resulted in destruction of the environment, including pollution of the air and rivers.

“RT have denied local people access to the forests,” said Rakontrainibe.

“When RT came to Madagascar they presented themselves as a big corporation that would bring development to the country. Whereas what we’ve observed is that they’ve come to Madagascar and we have lost our homes and had to go elsewhere,” said Perle Zafinandro of community organisation Fagnomba in Madagascar.

“Before they came to Madagascar RT bought out the political powers. If Madagascans don’t agree with the activities of RT, the authorities act to protect RT.”

However the fightback has gained strength over the last four years, with indigenous people organising barricades around the mining operations. These activities began in October 2010 with just a few people but now around 8,000 are taking part.

Zafinandro called for help in rolling back the power of the company in Madagascar.

“We’re in the 21st century. It is no longer acceptable to have colonisation, yet that is what we have in another form in Madagascar,” Zafinandro said.

Roger Featherstone from the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition told of the battle with Rio Tinto at Oak Flat, near Phoenix, Arizona.

Featherstone explained how the company BHP/RT developed a copper mine, taking out a cubic mile of soil then dumping it elsewhere in order to save money rather than infilling the space.

Featherstone claimed that Rio Tinto would trample over every federal law if it could.

“They’ve used every dirty trick in the book, bought everyone who is for sale but they’ve lost,” said Featherstone, who said community organisations have been resisting the company on the ground and in the legislative assemblies.

Benny Wenda of the Free West Papua campaign complained of collusion between the Indonesian rulers of West Papua and Rio Tinto.

“This company is operating in the middle of a genocide,” said Wenda, who explained how the West Papuans are unable to speak out.

“There is intimidation of my people and destruction of the environment.”

Marta Conde of Autonomos of the University of Barcelona told of Rio Tinto operations in Namibia.

In Namibia, Rio Tinto operates under the name of Rossing Rio Tinto.

Research conducted by Conde found that working in the uranium mine was having a detrimental effect on workers’ health.

“Some 39 people complained of health problems. They were not informed about the health conditions and didn’t know if they had been exposed to radiation or not.”

Workers were found to be contracting TB, lung infections and cancer. Many would retire and die shortly afterwards. “Uranium mining companies gently deny that workers get sick because of exposure to radiation,” said Conde.

Analysis has been conducted of both the rock dump and tailings coming from the mines. The dump was found to result in water contamination that saw an increase in fluoride, arsenic and zinc.

The tailings resulted in high concentrations of uranium downstream of a dam.

“We are demanding that Rossing should allow independent specialists to have access to the mining facilities in order to carry out independent monitoring of the mine,” said Conde.

There was further evidence of the growing grass-roots fightback against the ravages caused by Rio Tinto from Adam Lee from IndustriALL, the global mining union.

Lee explained how the union had looked for one of the most offensive multinational mining operators to confront and came up with Rio Tinto.

“A lot of our members are employed by RT and want to see it treat workers better,” said Lee, who added that the company had a reputation for picking fights with trade unions around the world.

Lee said that the unions want a global campaign to confront Rio Tinto in each country where it operates.

IndustriALL intends to resist Rio Tinto’s efforts to keep negotations separate to each country, effectively using divide-and-rule tactics.

“They also want to divide labour from civil society,” said Lee, who indicated that this sometimes amounted to getting workers to line up against environmental groups.

“We will be exposing the ugly truth about RT and making them live up to their own claims,” he said, adding that Rio Tinto “is not a socially responsible company at the moment.”

The swathe of damage being caused across the world by the mining exploits of Rio Tinto was apparent in the different testimonies from Africa to north America.

However there was encouraging news of community-based fightbacks that are seeing the company being confronted and pressed to act in a more responsible way.

There is a long way to go, but people are beginning to take on the company over the way it behaves at local, national and international levels.

THE world’s largest jewellery retailer will face a Valentine’s Day boycott over its supplier’s shocking record of abuse against its workers. Global union IndustriAll called on supporters not to buy gifts from stores owned by retailer Signet because it is supplied by the infamous Rio Tinto mining giant: here.

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Namibian workers’ cancer from United States nuclear weapons program


This video is called Uranium mining in Namibia.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

NAMIBIA: Rio Tinto workers who mined uranium to supply the British and US militaries in the 1970s are suffering from cancer and other illnesses, a charity exposed yesterday.

A joint study by charity Earthlife Namibia and activists at the Labour Resources and Research Institute published this week showed that workers who had been employed at the firm’s Rossing mine in the Namib Desert were now battling cancer and respiratory ailments, after years of working in one of Africa’s largest mines.

Rio Tinto has denied knowledge of the former workers health problems, saying it would study the report.

Namibia was then ruled by the apartheid regime in South Africa.

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Wildlife recovery in Namibia


This video says about itself:

Pride of Namibia

1 March 2014

Namibia is home to the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told. Since its birth just over 2 decades ago, the country of Namibia has shown the world how to ensure Africa’s natural legacy while expanding livelihoods.

“Pride of Namibia” tells the story of communities committed to protecting wildlife, of a nation that has enshrined conservation into its constitution, and of the future of responsible travel – tourism that directly benefits the people who give wildlife freedom to roam.

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