Reunion island amateur footballers beat French professionals


This 4 January 2020 French-language video is about the unexpected 2-1 victory by the Reunion island amateur footballers of Jeunesse Sportive Saint-Pierroise in their away match against the French professional team of Niort.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

You have football cup tournament fairy tales and football cup tournament fairy tales. Far in the Indian Ocean lies the beautiful island of Reunion east of Madagascar. And there is a club called Jeunesse Sportive Saint-Pierroise, which has sensationally reached the sixteenth finals of the Coupe de France.

The largest and most important cup tournament in France is open to all clubs affiliated with the Football Association, including those from overseas. Then you talk about more than seven and a half thousand participating teams, which are initially sorted by region. …

The amateurs of Saint-Pierroise won 2-1 on Saturday against second divisionist Niort, after a journey of more than nine thousand kilometers. Nearly a hundred fans traveled with the team. …

But the most famous football player on the island is without a doubt playmaker and 38-time [French national team] international Dimitri Payet, now a teammate of [Dutch player] Kevin Strootman at Olympique de Marseille.

The performance of the overseas team Saint-Pierroise is not yet unique. In 1989, a French Guiana club managed to reach the last 32 in the cup. At the time, Le Geldar was stopped by FC Nantes of the later world champions Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly.

Saint-Pierroise will hear on Monday evening just after 8.15 pm who the opponents will be in the next round. It might be Bordeaux or Strootman and Payet’s Olympique Marseille – that would be something.

This map shows how far the Reunion amateur footballers had to travel to France

This 4 January 2020 French-language video shows Reunion football fans watching the game on TV and rejoicing about the victory.

French military violence in Réunion colony


This 21 November 2018 video says about itself:

France’s fuel protests spread to the French island of Réunion

France’s Interior Ministry condemns the fuel-tax protests … which have now spread to the overseas territory of Réunion where protestors blocked access to oil depots. @bryancarternews tells us the latest on the ‘yellow vest’ blockades.

By Anthony Torres in France:

France sends military against protesters on Réunion Island

23 November 2018

Announcing the deployment of military forces to Réunion to attack Yellow Vest protesters blockading the island, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean, President Emmanuel Macron is launching a major escalation of the French police state’s repression of workers and youth.

To justify sending squads of gendarmerie military police and national police, he tried to discredit the Yellow Vest protesters, who are protesting his fuel tax increases, citing acts of vandalism allegedly carried out in and around the movement. Wednesday, he warned the state would “brook no negotiations”, adding: “What is happning at La Réunion is very serious. We have engaged the necessary means and we will continue to do so: our military will be deployed starting tomorrow to re-establish order.”

Macron did not say which military units would go to repress the Réunion population. But a squad of gendarmerie from Troyes and another from Maisons-Alfort are to join the four squads already on the ground. Police unions also announced the upcoming arrival of 28 officers of the Anti-Criminal Brigade (BAC) and of a departmental intervention force. Réunion’s police prefect announced the requisitioning of 18 gas stations for emergency and security vehicles.

The political situation in Réunion is extremely tense. From the beginning of the Yellow Vest movement a week ago, there have been 123 arrests—including 16 on Wednesday night, which the authorities called “calm”—and around 30 policemen wounded. The president of the region wrote Macron a letter calling it a “situation of urban guerrilla warfare”. A curfew has been imposed from 9p.m. to 6a.m. for 14 of the island’s 24 municipalities.

Thursday, Réunion’s Departmental Road Directorate (DDR) counted 27 blockades by Yellow Vest protesters, most of which were allowing vehicles to slowly pass through them.

Nevertheless the island is paralyzed, educational establishments are closed, and most athletic and cultural activities are canceled. The airport closes at 4p.m., forcing flights to be delayed and to pass by neighboring Mauritius island for refueling, as Réunion’s airport’s fuel stocks have not been replenished. The shelves in grocery stores and shopping centers are starting to become bare, and resupply for herders and hospital pharmacies are failing.

The radicalization of the protests on Réunion reflect the extreme poverty and intense class conflicts that characterize all of France’s overseas possessions.

According to a 2015 National Institute of Statistics study, 40 percent of the island’s inhabitants live in poverty: “Poverty is far more widespread than in metropolitan France (14 percent). Their revenues are lower and heavily dependent on social aid: for one quarter of households, welfare payments constitute the principal monetary resource, which is four times more than in metropolitan France. Poverty is particulately acute in small rural communities where jobs are scarce.”

The government is terrified by the continuing protests on the island, whose current police forces are overwhelmed and cannot stop the protest. But Macron is maintaining his unpopular policies of austerity and tax increases affecting working people. Fearing that blockades on the island could spread to other overseas departments and territories that have already seen significant strike action—and ultimately provoke a social explosion in metropolitan France—he is replying with repression.

The sending of more squads of gendarmes and police to Réunion is a warning to all workers mobilized in opposition to Macron’s policies. He plans to use the entire military and police machine in order to repress growing opposition to militarism and austerity.

Macron’s approval of sending the military against the Yellow Vests in Réunion is a signal to the general staff and to the police forces. As against youth and workers protesting the Socialist Party’s (PS) labor law under the state of emergency in 2016, the police and military have been a green light for a brutal crackdown.

The “Yellow Vest” protest, a heterogeneous movement organized outside the control of the union bureaucracies and the various petty-bourgeois parties linked to the PS, has stunned the ruling class. Separated by a class gulf from masses of workers, led by a state whose president is widely hated, it fears the eruption of a broad political movement in the working class.

His reference to mobilizing “our military” against it is sinister. Réunion is a French department whose population enjoys, on paper at least, all of the legal and democratic protections of French citizens in metropolitan France. The head of state’s decision to proudly announce the deployment of “our military” against them underscores the collapse of democratic forms of rule and the advanced state of the drive to authoritarianism in Europe.

Macron’s announcement clearly has as the goal of habituating the population to the idea that military repression is a legitimate tool of domestic policy in France.

These actions make clear the aim of the government’s announcement of a return to universal military service starting in June of next year. The move not only aims to help Europe rival the United States, Russia and China as world powers, and to impose military discipline to the youth in order to strangle social protests. The goal is also to train the youth in the use of arms in order to attack their class brothers and sisters, so as to allow Macron to continue imposing his unpopular wars and austerity policies despite mounting popular opposition.

At the same time, the Macron government is rehabilitating or promoting fascist figures of the 1930s in order to legitimate nationalism and violent repression of social and political opposition. Two weeks ago, Macron saluted Philippe Pétain, the Nazi-collaborationist dictator [of] France during World War II. As well, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux recently quoted favorably Charles Maurras, the fascist and anti-Semitic ideologue of the far-right Action Française movement.

This fascistic policy is the product of a turn to the far right by the entire ruling establishment, notably under PS President François Hollande, who had Macron as his economy minister. The PS imposed a state of emergency … as well as legalizing mass electronic spying.

The threat now bearing down on the inhabitants of Réunion is the consequences of this reactionary repressive spiral carried out by the PS …

The way forward for the struggle launched by the Yellow Vest protests is a mobilization of the working class in an international struggle against militarism and austerity and for socialism. The defense of protestors on Réunion island requires the development of a politically conscious movement in the working class, fighting for a socialist and revolutionary perspective against nationalism, militarism and state repression.

See also here.

Yellow vests protests in France: here. And here.

Despite the violent repression of Sunday’s Paris protest, Yellow Vest protests are continuing and allying with numerous strike movements unfolding at the European level. Port, Amazon and oil refinery workers are on strike and defending roadblocks set up by the Yellow Vest protesters. Their demands—for Macron to resign, for an end to social inequality and attacks on social rights, and against a European army—are taking on an ever more working-class character: here.

Slanders depicting “Yellow Vest” protesters as violent neo-fascists collapse: here.

Strikes and demonstrations shake France: here.

French government violence in Réunion colony


This 22 November 2018 video says about itself:

🇫🇷France’s fuel protests stretched to the islands of Réunion.

Protests against soaring fuel prices in the French territory of Réunion have shut down much of the island. The government has cancelled all flights and closed schools and suspended public transport. Police and protesters have been injured and more than a hundred people have been arrested.

Demonstrators on the island in the Indian Ocean say it’s about much more than the cost of filling up the tank.

Al Jazeera’s Mereana Hond reports.

Also ‘yellow vest’ protests in Belgium.

This 8 November 2018 video says about itself:

Is Macron‘s En Marche out of step? | DW English

Accused of being out of touch with voters, the French president’s poll ratings continue to slide ahead of EU elections in 2019. Can he boost his image before he loses the argument over Europe?

Conflict Zone is Deutsche Welle’s top political interview. Every week, our hosts Tim Sebastian and Michel Friedman are face-to-face with global decision-makers, seeking straight answers to straight questions, putting the spotlight on controversial issues and calling the powerful to account.

Mascarene petrel nests discovered at last


This video says about itself:

26 May 2013

The Mascarene Petrel is breeding on Round Island (Mauritius).

From BirdLife:

13 June 2017

After 130 years, the Mascarene masquerade is over

With the help of infrared binoculars, GPS and a heck of a lot of rappel rope, we’ve managed for the first time to scale the sharp, inaccessible cliffs where the Mascarene Petrel nests, and see one of these Critically Endangered birdsnesting colonies for ourselves

By Alex Dale

It’s easy to appreciate how the Beck’s Petrel’s breeding grounds have managed to evade human eyes for so long, given that their potential range spans the length of a vast, little-explored archipelago.

But what if we were searching for the breeding grounds of a different petrel species – one whose range is confined to a single, remote island? That would be a piece of cake (or chum, if you prefer) in comparison, right?

Well, not necessarily. We’re in Reunion, a small, French-owned volcanic island in the Indian Ocean, situated between Madagascar and Mauritius. It is here, and only here, that you’ll find the Mascarene Petrel Pseudobulweria aterrima, another Critically Endangered seabird, and indeed one of the 15 rarest and most threatened bird species in the world, with an estimated global population of just 100-200.

Even so, with such a limited range, you wouldn’t necessarily expect the Mascarene Petrel to pull a disappearing act. Yet, like the Beck’s Petrel Pseudobulweria becki, this ocean-faring bird is so elusive that it once went unseen for many decades. The dramatic discovery of a grounded bird on the island in the 1970s was the first sighting for nearly a century, and it would be another 25 years before another specimen turned up. In between these long droughts, all we’ve had to go on is its haunting nocturnal calls, which have inspired many Creole tales and legends on the island.

Which is a problem, because if there’s one thing we know for sure about one of the world’s most poorly-understood birds, it’s that the Mascarene Petrel is in trouble. The species’ already slim numbers are suspected to be thinning further still as a result of two man-made factors. The first is light-induced mortality – a result of the birds getting disorientated and crashing as a result of urban lights. A public awareness campaign on the island organised by Reunion National Park – “Nights Without Lights” – has already done much to reduce the death toll.

The other threat, however, will prove a lot harder to dim – namely, nest predation by introduced mammals such as cats and rats. Invasive species are a leading cause of island-endemic bird extinctions worldwide, but BirdLife’s recent successes in French Polynesia, where we’ve managed to eradicate introduced mammals on five of six targeted islands, serves as inspiration that their spread can be halted.

However, the situation for every species is different, so before we can develop an effective conservation strategy for the Mascarene Petrel, we need to better understand its ecology and breeding habits. No mean feat, when you’re talking about a rare, strictly nocturnal seabird suspected to nest in burrows high up on sharp, inaccessible cliff edges.

However, this past November, following more than 15 years of research from an international team of ornithologists, an EU-funded LIFE+Petrels project team managed to successfully discover an active Mascarene Petrel breeding colony for the first time ever. It’s a major breakthrough in our bid to better understand how to protect this species, and it was made possible thanks to a combination of old-school fieldwork and cutting-edge technology.

“The Mascarene Petrel is only active at night, so to track its movements we needed the help of a new technological device – military infra-red binoculars” says Patrick Pinet,  Scientific Manager of the LIFE+Petrels project. “As far we know it’s the first time this tool was used for wildlife conservation”.

The tool was acquired by the LIFE+ Petrels team thanks to a partnership with Mercantour National Park, an alpine wildlife refuge on the French-Italian border. They were used, in conjunction with acoustic recordings and thousands of hours of observational fieldwork, to pinpoint cliff edges where the birds could frequently be seen landing – indicating a likely breeding colony.

Once one such spot was identified, in a remote area of the south of the island, the next step was for a human expedition team to brave the steep, treacherous terrain to verify the colony. “We spent five hours walking in vertically sheer cliff tropical woodland up to 700m, after that we made a rappelled down 50 feet to reach the place we identified with IR binoculars” recalls Pinet. “The breeding colony is located in a crumbling, infirm volcanic cliff where you wouldn’t want to stay for long”.

Because of the steep cliffs, the explorers could not rely on GPS alone to locate the suspected colony, and so were forced to remain in contact with the rest of the team down below, who parlayed instructions to them via walkie-talkies. Fortunately, the team got lucky and found the colony at the first time of asking – perhaps guided by their nose, since the colony’s strong fishy smell could be detected from a distance of around 30 meters. The discovery of these burrows means the team can now move onto brainstorming practical ways to secure the species’ future.

“The first, and most urgent step, is to protect the breeding colony from invasive predators” says Pinet. “The second step is to take further measures to ensure the species’ continued survival.

“We are currently considering two options: the first is to build a barrier around an established colony to keep predators out. The second is the construction of an artificial colony close to the sea, to avoid the issues created by urban light.”

Réunion grey white-eye birds, new research


This video says about itself:

Speciation research on the Reunion gray white-eye (Zosterops borbonicus)

3 September 2013

A short introduction to our research into how the Reunion gray white-eye has diversified into different plumage forms in different parts of the small island of Reunion, in the South Indian Ocean. More information here.

From Ostrich: Journal of African Ornithology:

Population density of the Réunion Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus within the summit ecosystems of Réunion, Mascarene Islands

30 November 2015

Abstract

Assessing population density is crucial for studying the ecology and evolutionary biology of species as well as for conservation purposes. Here we used point count methods to infer population density in a single-island endemic passerine bird, the Réunion Grey White-eye Zosterops borbonicus, that displays striking evidence of differentiation at a small spatial scale.

Population density was estimated at 5.17 birds ha−1 (CL 4.85–5.50), a value somewhat higher than previously believed. This estimation provides the first detailed estimation of bird population density in the vulnerable summit ecosystems of Réunion and will possibly allow a better understanding of the evolutionary causes of this plumage colour variation.

Wildlife in French colonies threatened


This June 2017 video says about itself:

Operation Acteon & Gambier, French Polynesia

Some of world’s rarest birds rebound on Pacific islands cleared of invasive predators Five remote Pacific islands are once again safe havens for four of our world’s rarest bird species following the success of one of the most ambitious island restoration projects ever implemented.

Just two years after ambitious efforts by a team of international conservation organisations to rid French Polynesia’s Acteon & Gambier island groups of invasive mammals began, five of six targeted islands are now confirmed as predator-free—a ground-breaking one thousand hectares in total. Early signs already indicate that rare birds found nowhere else in the world (endemic) and other native plants and animals are recovering as the remote islands return to their former glory.

From BirdLife:

Protecting birds in ‘tropical’ Europe

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, Mon, 13/07/2015 – 11:46

Given the nature protection laws in the EU (the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive), it’s easy to believe that all European territories are well protected. But ironically, its overseas territories and départements, often teeming with biodiversity, are not covered by the EU’s environmental law framework. As a result, they are plagued by problems of invasive alien species, loss of habitat and extinction of endemic species.

Réunion Island, Martinique and French Guiana (all French overseas départements) are perfect examples. The Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux (LPO), BirdLife’s Partner in France, has been working there with local ornithological partners to save endangered birds like Réunion Cuckooshrike (or Tuit Tuit) and the Guianan Cock-of-the-rock (Le Coq de Roche Orange) through their five-year Life+Cap DOM programme, which concluded in a seminar in Paris on June 30-July 1 this year. This was the first Life+ project involving the creation of a network of local ornithological NGOs and the protection of fauna in the French overseas entities.

E-rat-ication

Réunion Cuckooshrike has been listed as Critically Endangered since 2008. Their numbers had dropped drastically due to predation by black rats, an invasive species that thrives on picnic remains. When the Life+ project began in 2010, there were only 27 pairs of the species in the world, all present in the Roche-Écrite Nature Reserve (now part of the Réunion National Park).

On islands like Réunion, species evolved without any predators or pathogenic agents, which left them particularly vulnerable to introduced predators. The extinction rate of bird species in Réunion is over 50%, and more than half the extinctions of island bird species are caused by the introduction of new predators.

Manual rat eradication in the core area of this site in the park, carried out all year round, with the Société d’Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion (SEOR), the Réunion National Park and the National Forestry Commission, led to the number of birds increasing to 40 pairs in 2015, with over 92% of eggs laid successfully fledging chicks. The species’ breeding area has also been increasing by about 9% per year.

Voluntary rescue rangers

Réunion Marsh-harrier or ‘Papangue’ is the only bird of prey breeding and endemic to the Réunion Island. It is the last raptor nesting on the island. With less than 200 pairs remaining, it is an Endangered species. But despite this status, for years it has been killed illegally or kept in cages. Since it flies at a low altitude while hunting, it is prone to fatal collisions with electric cables. Feeding on rats poisoned by rodenticides also contributes to deaths.

To protect the species, not only were frameworks put into place after consultation with national and regional authorities, but a group of 77 volunteers – the Papangue SOS Brigade – was formed in 2012 to monitor the numbers of the species at three sites, report any hurt or poisoned bird, and create awareness among the local farmers, residents and veterinarians to the issue.

Orange is the new red

In French Guiana, the limited nesting sites of the striking Guianan Cock-of-the-rock are threatened because of their economic viability: gold mining, logging, poaching and illegal animal trade, and unregulated wildlife tourism.

Since the species is fruit-eating and primarily inhabits forests with caves, the Groupe d’Etude et de Protection des Oiseaux en Guyane is working with local tour operators and mining companies to provide information about the most sensitive areas for the Cock-of-the-rock.  Tour operators have also been informed about the vulnerability of the species to visitor disturbance. Visitor tracks have been reoriented to enhance the viewing of the Cocks at their lek (breeding display site) and a hide put up to reduce disturbance by tourists.

Read more about the project, and view videos on Lifecapdom.org.

Endangered Mascarene petrel discoveries


This video says about itself:

26 May 2013

The Mascarene Petrel is breeding on Round Island (Mauritius).

From BirdLife:

Critically endangered Mascarene Petrel discovered at sea and unique image captured of bird with its egg

By Adrian Long, Thu, 04/09/2014 – 00:01

An expedition to find the Critically Endangered Mascarene Petrel at sea has returned with new information on one of the world’s least-known seabirds. Incredibly they have photographed a female bird where the egg is an obvious protrusion in the contour of her underbody.

This is thought to be the first record of any bird photographed in flight with an obvious egg inside the body.

Author Hadoram Shirihai said: “Against the background of a pinkish-orange sunset, with Réunion Island in the distance, I spotted a petrel through my camera’s viewfinder. Almost immediately I saw the outline of an egg, a huge bump at its belly.  I called out to the other expedition members – “she has an egg, she has an egg…”. She flew close to the boat which gave me the unique chance to photograph her just before the sun set. It was a magical moment, and to think that in less than an hour she would probably lay her egg and contribute to the future survival of this threatened species.”

Fellow author Tony Pym said: “These are first photos of Mascarene Petrel taken at sea. Up until now the only shots are of grounded birds, brought down due to artificial lighting on Réunion, the breeding island.”

Author Vincent Bretagnolle: “With some estimates of only a few dozen breeding pairs of Mascarene Petrel our at-sea records suggest there are more individuals than thought, and that unknown colonies somewhere on the island have ensured the future of this species, at least for now.”

Roger Safford from BirdLife International said: “This exciting discovery provides important information on a very poorly known and globally threatened seabird. The finders are to be congratulated on their dedication. Their discovery was no accident, combining meticulous planning and research.”

Mascarene Petrel is classified as Critically Endangered by BirdLife International on the IUCN Red List because it is assumed to have an extremely small breeding population and to be undergoing a continuing decline owing to predation and light-induced mortality.

“For most Critically Endangered species like Mascarene Petrel there is still hope for their survival,” added Safford, BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. “BirdLife and its partners are working to save the world’s most threatened species from extinction. With the right conservation action, often underpinned by sound science, we have improved the populations and fortunes of many species.“

“Mascarene Petrel is set to benefit from direct conservation action on Réunion. The Parc national de La Réunion authorities have been awarded funds from EU LIFE+ this year to reduce threats and undertake conservation actions for the petrel.  This will involve working on the ground with local conservation organisations such as SEOR (Société d’Etudes Ornithologiques de La Réunion).”

The sighting has given new insight into the timing of the breeding season of the species which will help with future searches for its breeding grounds on Réunion Island, the only known place for the species in the world.

The search for the elusive petrel is described in a paper in the latest Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club. Thirty-three Mascarene Petrels were observed, and 12 of them photographed. The species’ flight, behaviour and detailed comparison to other species are also described for the first time.

Orchid-pollinating cricket discovered on Reunion


This video is called Wild orchid wasp mimic – David Attenborough – BBC.

From Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in London:

Cricket as an orchid pollinator

An orchid researcher based on the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean and collaborating with scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) has used motion sensitive night cameras to capture the first known occurrence of a cricket functioning as a pollinator of flowering plants. Not only is this the first time this behaviour has been documented in a member of the Orthoptera order of insects who are better known for eating plants but the ‘raspy cricket‘ is also entirely new to science. The discovery is revealed in a paper published recently (12 January 2010) in Annals of Botany.

In 2008 Claire Micheneau, a RBG Kew-associated PhD student studying how the epiphytic orchid genus Angraecum has adapted to different pollinators on Reunion Island, and Jacques Fournel, her collaborator, shot the remarkable footage. It shows a raspy cricket (Glomeremus sp) carrying pollen on its head as it retreats from the greenish-white flowers of Angraecum cadetii.

The genus Angraecum is best known for Darwin’s study of the comet orchid, Angraecum sesquipedale of Madagascar, and his hypothesis that it was pollinated by a bizarre, long-tongued moth pollinator a theory that was later proved to be true a number of years after his death.

See also here, with video.

Plant-wasp pollinator relationship: here.

The first fossil spider cricket (Orthoptera: Gryllidae: Phalangopsinae): 20 million years of troglobiomorphosis or exaptation in the dark? Here.

The Silent Mass Extinction of Insect Herbivores in Biodiversity Hotspots: here.

Dutch orchids in winter: here.

In this study we provide the first genetic data on the critically endangered species the Reunion cuckoo-shrike Coracina newtoni: here.

Pollinating birds and mammals declining, reveals first global assessment of trends in the status of pollinators: here.

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