Citizen science to toads’ rescue

first_imgVolunteers brave dangerous roads and cold, wet nights to help hundreds of these beautiful amphibians reach their watery breeding sites, and find their way home safely once the breeding season is over. Education initiatives and creating awareness about the plight of the toads, particularly as the breeding season approaches, is another important part of Alison Faraday and her conservation colleagues’ work. For a number of years committed volunteers and supportive communities in the Cape Town area have been working hard to ensure Western Leopard toads have a chance of survival in the wild.(Images: Alison Faraday) Western Leopard toads are classified as threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.(Image: blog.noordhoekvillage.co.za)MEDIA CONTACTS • Alison FaradaySpots co-ordinator+27 82 771 6232Wilma den HartighConservation efforts by a group of dedicated volunteers and the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management Department are helping to protect South Africa’s endangered Western Leopard toads.Every year around August, when the Western Leopard toads’ breeding season begins, volunteers from the greater Cape Town area spend many hours ensuring that the little creatures survive their annual migration to breeding sites.Saving as many toads as possible is a labour of love for the volunteers, who brave dangerous roads and cold, wet nights to help hundreds of these beautiful amphibians reach their watery breeding sites, and find their way home safely once the breeding season is over.Suzie J’Kul, a founder of Noordhoek Unpaid Toad Savers and its subsidiary, South Peninsula Outstanding Toad Savers (Spots), says volunteers and members of the public are contributing to citizen science to ensure the species survives.“Through volunteering we are saving an endangered species from becoming extinct, as well as ensuring that our children’s children will inherit this biodiversity that they very much deserve to be a part of,” J’Kul says.Every night, at 18h15 when it gets dark, the first team of volunteers heads out onto the roads, armed with flashlights and reflective gear, to look for toads. The first group works a four-hour shift until 22h15, and then the next team takes over.“It is hard work, but worth it,” says Alison Faraday, co-ordinator of Spots.Threats to survivalWestern Leopard toads (Amietophrynus Pantherinus) are classified as threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List.They are endemic to a small area of the South Western Cape region, Cape Peninsula and Agulhas Plain.Also known as the August frog, they are easily identified by their beautiful markings of chocolate to reddish-brown patches with a bright yellow or black edging on a pink or grey background.Faraday says urban development, habitat degradation and road traffic are some of the biggest threats to the long-term survival of local populations.During the breeding season toads have to navigate road traffic, walls, embankments, swimming pools, drains and storm water canals, and often many don’t survive.Breeding usually takes place during August, but has also been recorded in late July, September, and some breeding calls have even been heard in early October. The start of the season depends largely on rainfall and temperature and sometimes occurs during warmer weather followed by periods of rain.These variables make the work of volunteers even more difficult as only the toads know exactly when the breeding migration will take place.While breeding generally takes place in larger, more secure water bodies, urban development has caused changes to traditional breeding sites, restricting the foraging area and movement of toads. This reduces population size and interrupts gene flow between populations.Faraday says July and August are the most dangerous months for the toads.“This is when most of the mortalities happen, when they are hit by cars and killed,” she says.“Busy roads in the urban areas where they live are death traps, and this animal needs all the help it can get to survive. What we do is pick up as many of these little guys as we can.”Committed volunteersFor a number of years committed volunteers and supportive communities in the Cape Town area have been working hard to ensure Western Leopard toads have a chance of survival in the wild.“This is something that untrained volunteers can do something about. It is incredibly rewarding,” Faraday says. “We have amazing volunteers.”About 18 suburbs and 100 volunteers are currently involved in the initiative. Ahead of each breeding season, volunteers receive training and they are rostered for four-hour shifts at a time to drive up and down the busiest roads, picking up toads.An important part of their work is also to keep records of the number of toads they see and rescue, noting whether they are dead, alive, male or female and their approximate age. This helps the toad conservation organisations assess the success of their work, and where they can improve.Noordhoek volunteers have gathered six years of records for the area, and neighbouring suburbs have been collecting data for three years.“We need at least 10 years of statistics to clearly determine the increase or decrease in Western Leopard toad numbers as well as to confirm suspected theories on breeding patterns,” says J’Kul.Rehabilitating breeding areasRecently the City of Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management Department successfully rehabilitated a breeding site for the toads in Kommetjie, a suburb of Cape Town.The site, known as Skilpadsvlei, is a historic wetland area in Kommetjie that was drained and filled during the 1940s. It was the only known breeding site for the toad in the area.The City of Cape Town provided phased funding to revive the wetland, which included improving the open space around the area for public enjoyment, as well as restoring the ecological functioning of the system. Part of the project also ensured that the water quality was of a high standard and continuously monitored.The restoration of the wetland is an important step forward in the conservation of the endangered toads, and it seems if the amphibians are taking to the rehabilitated area.In June 2012, Western Leopard toads were seen at the new site during the very first breeding season and in November toadlets were recorded.Unfortunately, two of the three adult toads that selected Skilpadsvlei as their preferred breeding site were later killed on the roads adjacent to the wetland, and this is why the work of volunteers patrolling roads is so important.Permanent solutions and creating awarenessThe Noordhoek Unpaid Toad Savers and Spots organisations are always in need of more volunteers to go out at night when the migration period begins.They also invite the public in all areas where the animals are found to inform them of any activity around the time when the breeding season is expected to start.However, Faraday says that they are looking into finding a more sustainable, long-term solution to protect the toads.“Ultimately we need something that is permanent,” she says.This year the Noordhoek volunteer organisation plans to test a small barrier system, involving sunken buckets that are to be installed on one of Noordhoek’s busiest roads.The buckets will be lowered into the ground at areas of the road where toads usually cross. As they approach, the toads will fall into the buckets, and at intervals volunteers will carry them across the road.“This will hopefully help to save even more toads. It is a good start,” Faraday says.Even though the buckets will delay the frogs for a short while, at least they will be protected and reach their breeding sites safely.Education initiatives and creating awareness about the plight of the toads, particularly as the breeding season approaches, is another important part of Faraday and her conservation colleagues’ work.“It is absolutely essential to get kids aware and we also have bumper stickers that volunteers stick on their cars,” Faraday says. She regularly presents talks at schools to inform children about the toads and how they can help to protect them.Every year they run an awareness campaign to appeal to local motorists to drive more slowly in the affected areas at night and early in the morning, while the migration is underway.last_img read more

The Next Generation of Adobe Creative Cloud Is Now Available

first_imgAdobe has released their fall 2017 updates for Creative Cloud. Here are some of the new features that you can use to streamline your editing workflow.Images and Videos via Adobe.This morning, Adobe announced new features across the Creative Cloud. These new toolsets enhance your editing speed with easy-to-use graphics, Team Projects, and new VR compatibility.Adobe Team ProjectsThe Team Projects tool is now out of beta and fully released in both Premiere Pro and After Effects. You can now share one project file among multiple people. Use it to collaborate with your colleagues, and they can insert notes in the project file or make a few edits without having to manually move the project and its assets to a separate drive.The Team Projects tool also has an auto-save feature, which automatically saves all your edits and uploads them to the shared project file.Visit Adobe learn more about Team Projects.Multiple Open Projects — Premiere ProWe can finally open multiple projects at the same time. Now you can move clips and sequences between projects without importing the project file into separate projects. This is a huge update that we have been hoping for, and it is sure to help you organize your videos across multiple projects.Improved Graphics Workflows — Premiere ProThe graphics ingrained in Premiere Pro that we first saw a few updates ago have received a huge makeover. Adobe has introduced a new feature called Responsive Design, which adapts to a multitude of changes you might go through in an edit. Even when you shorten a graphic in a ripple edit, the entrance and exit keyframes automatically adjust to fit the new time duration. You can also apply the Responsive Design to Position, so your graphic assets will adjust to extra characters while maintaining the original composition.Title selection in your preview frame is no longer going to be a giant hassle. The previous graphics grabbing tools were a bit laggy and hard to use, but Adobe has fixed those and included the ability to select multiple text layers in the preview window.A big new feature is the ability to edit the properties of After Effects graphics and templates inside of Premiere Pro without even installing After Effects. This is huge for editors comfortable with Premiere Pro but not that familiar with After Effects. They can now use and edit After Effects graphics and assets natively in Premiere Pro.VR CompatibilityAdobe has added new VR features that gives you the tools to create truly immersive video. You can now use a VR headset to view your timeline in real-time while still using the keyboard to add markers or make cuts. This new view mode helps you ensure that the your VR video works well in practical application.Animating with Data and Expressions — After EffectsYou can now take data from a .JSON file and import it into After Effects to use for infographics or motion capture visualizations. When you update your data in the .JSON file, the infographics will automatically adjust to the new information. This is great for creating infographics with constantly changing data, so when you have to make adjustments to corporate budgets or a number of users for an upcoming meeting quickly, a simple replacement of the number in the .JSON file will update the infographic.Auto-Ducking — AuditionThis is the one new feature that really puts Adobe’s adaptive AI, Sensei, to work. The A.I. will automatically adjust your background music track where there is dialogue or other sound elements. To the editors who have gone through the painstaking task of manually pinning and lowering the music track to adjust for dialogue: this new feature is a gift from the Adobe gods. What took about 30 minutes to a few hours to do now only takes the A.I. a few minutes.Pricing and AvailabilityUnfortunately, the monthly price for Creative Cloud has been increased: it is now $52.99 for individuals and $79.99 for teams. The small price increase may be a bummer, but with all the new time-saving features and abilities, it looks well worth the price. The updates are currently available for download from your Creative Cloud app.Looking for more information on the Creative Cloud? Check out these resources.Change the Language of Adobe Creative Cloud AppsHow to Read Lumetri Scopes in Adobe Premiere ProHow to Quickly Retouch Skin in Adobe After EffectsAdobe Takes the Lead in 360 Video and VR by Acquiring Mettle SkyBoxlast_img read more

India cannot push back those seeking asylum, says Tarun Gogoi

first_imgFormer Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi says the “Rohingya crisis is a humanitarian one and India cannot simply push back those seeking asylum”.Reacting to The Hindu’s report on Saturday that the BJP-led governments in Northeast India have asked the State police forces to push back any Rohingya refugee trying to cross the border, Mr. Gogoi said, “As a country which is concerned about human rights, how can we simply push them back into the country from where they are fleeing because of persecution.”The senior Congress leader maintains that such a stand is a violation of the principle of non-refoulement — not to send asylum seekers back to a hostile country — and “the Government of India should take up with the United Nations to force Myanmar to give the Rohingya citizenship rights”. “It is unfortunate if refugees are also divided along religious lines by the BJP governments in the north-east. They talk about population control but says we welcome Hindu Bangladeshis. If the idea is to welcome minorities who are persecuted, then Rohingya qualify too,” Mr. Gogoi say.He says the north-eastern region can’t handle the burden of more refugees but the “issue has to be dealt with in a humane way.” Suggesting that the Centre convene an all-party meeting and prepare a standard operating procedure to deal with refugees, Mr. Gogoi said, “We should be prepared to provide some temporary shelter if someone crosses the border.”Congress for consensusThe Congress said on Monday that the Modi government “must take all sections of the political spectrum into confidence” on the issue of Rohingya refugees and evolve a national consensus.Addressing presspersons, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi advised caution on the Centre’s position in its affidavit in the Supreme Court that India was not bound by international treaties when it was a question of national security.last_img read more

New cabinet ministers in the Manmohan team

first_imgThe recent Cabinet reshuffle, which the Prime Minister said was “hopefully, probably the last” before next Lok Sabha polls, was confined to Congress party barring the inclusion of Tariq Anwar of NCP as a Minister of State.22 ministers were administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Cabinet Ministers and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj.The new Cabinet ministers who took oath are: K. Rahman Khan (Minority Affairs), Dinsha J Patel (Mines), Ajay Maken (Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation), MM Pallam Raju (Human Resource Development), Ashwani Kumar (Law & Justice), Harish Rawat (Water Resources) and Chandresh Kumari Katoch (Culture).Following is the complete list of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s council of minister after Sunday’s reshuffle.Cabinet Ministers:Manmohan Singh – Prime Minister (Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Planning, Atomic Energy, Space)Pawan Kumar Bansal – RailwaysPalaniappan Chidambaram – FinanceSharadchandra Govindrao Pawar – Agriculture, Food Processing IndustriesA.K. Antony – DefenceSushilkumar Sambhajirao Shinde – Home AffairsSalman Khurshid – External AffairsSudini Jaipal Reddy – Science and Technology, Earth SciencesGhulam Nabi Azad – Health and Family WelfareFarooq Abdullah – New and Renewable EnergyM. Veerappa Moily – Petroleum and Natural GasVayalar Ravi – Overseas Indian AffairsAjit Singh – Civil AviationMallikarjun Kharge – Labour and EmploymentM. Mangapati Pallam Raju – Human Resource DevelopmentKapil Sibal – Communications and Information TechnologyAnand Sharma – Commerce and Industry, TextilesC.P. Joshi – Road Transport and HighwaysAjay Maken – Housing and Urban Poverty AlleviationChandresh Kumari Katoch – CultureG.K. Vasan – ShippingKamal Nath – Urban Development, Parliamentary AffairsHarish Rawat – Water ResourcesKumari Selja – Social Justice and EmpowermentM.K. Alagiri – Chemicals and FertilizersPraful Manoharbhai Patel – Heavy Industries and Public EnterprisesSriprakash Jaiswal – CoalAshwani Kumar – Law and JusticeK. Rahman Khan – Minority AffairsDinsha J. Patel – MinesRaj V. Kishore Chandra Deo – Tribal Affairs, Panchayati RajBeni Prasad Verma – SteelJairam Ramesh – Rural DevelopmentMinisters of State with Independent Charge:Krishna Tirath – Women and Child DevelopmentJitendra Singh – Youth Affairs and Sports (also minister of state for defence)Kuruppassery Varkey Thomas – Consumer Affairs, Food and Public DistributionSrikant Kumar Jena – Statistics and Programme ImplementationJayanthi Natarajan – Environment and ForestsManish Tewari – Information and BroadcastingPaban Singh Ghatowar – Development of North Eastern RegionK. Chiranjeevi – TourismBharatsingh Madhavsinh Solanki – Drinking Water and SanitationJyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia – PowerK.H. Muniyappa – Micro, Small and Medium EnterprisesSachin Pilot – Corporate AffairsMinisters of State:E. Ahamed – External AffairsJitin Prasada – Human Resource DevelopmentShashi Tharoor – Human Resource DevelopmentRamachandran Mullappally – Home AffairsV. Narayanaswamy – Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Prime Minister OfficeDaggubati Purandeswari – Commerce and IndustryAdhir Ranjan Chowdhury – RailwaysKotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy – RailwaysLakshmi Panabaka – TextilesNamo Narain Meena – FinanceS.S. Palanimanickam – FinanceSathyanarayana Sarvey – Road Transport and HighwaysPreneet Kaur – External AffairsCharan Das Mahant – Agriculture, Food Processing IndustriesTariq Anwar – Agriculture, Food Processing IndustriesRanee Narah – Tribal AffairsPorika Balram Naik – Social Justice and EmpowermentAbu Hasem Khan Choudhury – Health and Family WelfareTushar Amarsinh Chaudhary – Road Transport and HighwaysMilind Murli Deora – Communications and Information TechnologyKruparani Killi – Communications and Information TechnologyPratik Prakashbapu Patil – CoalRatanjit Pratap Narain Singh – Petroleum and Natural Gas, Home AffairsVincent H. Pala – Water ResourcesNinong Ering – Minority AffairsPradeep Kumar Jain Aditya – Rural Development, PlanningRajeev Shukla – Parliamentary AffairsSrikant Kumar Jena – Chemicals and FertilizersDeepa Dasmunsi – Urban DevelopmentSuresh Kodikunnil – Labour and EmploymentS. Jagathrakshakan – New and Renewable EnergyK.C. Venugopal – Civil AviationPaban Singh Ghatowar – Parliamentary AffairsLalchand Kataria – DefenceWith IANS inputsadvertisementlast_img read more

Vine: Buddy Hield’s Clutch Block Of Darrell Davis Helps Send Oklahoma To The Sweet 16

first_imgBuddy Hield blocks Darrell Davis.Vine/Dan LyonsOklahoma’s Buddy Hield is this year’s Big 12 Player of the Year, and for good reason. The junior shooting guard does everything for the Sooners, and in tonight’s Round of 32 game against Dayton, that includes making a crucial block on a fast break lay-up attempt that could have cut the Oklahoma lead to two points. Dayton guard Darrell Davis stole the ball from OU’s Jordan Woodard, and immediately took off for the hoop. As he released the ball, Hield made a fantastic play to reject the shot out of his hand. Instead of a two-point game, Oklahoma was fouled and extended the lead.Oklahoma finished the game with a 72-66 win, and will face Michigan State in the Sweet 16 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.last_img read more

Raheem Sterling hailed as one of worlds best by Kompany

first_imgLondon: Vincent Kompany has hailed Manchester City teammate Raheem Sterling as one of the best players in the world after his 13-minute hat-trick in the 3-1 win against Watford. The victory at the Etihad on Saturday took the defending champions four points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table but Jurgen Klopp’s men closed the gap to a single point on Sunday. There was an offside debate over Sterling’s first goal and his second was a tap-in but his third highlighted his skill as he weaved into the area, cut back and fired past Ben Foster. Also Read – Dhoni, Paes spotted playing football together “It’s incredible because his first year at City was tough, and then from the moment Pep (Guardiola) came in he just kicked on and went from strength to strength,” said City captain Kompany. “For me, he is one of the best wingers in the world. He’s so important for us. To have the ability to unlock defences when they defend with so many bodies is the sign of a top, top, top player.” Sterling’s strikes shifted what had been a frustrating game decisively in City’s favour. As in their two previous games, the score was 0-0 at half-time and City, despite dominating possession, needed to work hard for openings. Also Read – Andy Murray to make Grand Slam return at Australian Open “These kind of games are much trickier than what people can see from the outside,” said Kompany, who has featured in City’s past five games. “It’s mentally demanding because it puts you to sleep that you have so much possession and are bouncing against the same wall.” City boss Pep Guardiola was more measured in his praise for Sterling, 24, who has now scored 20 goals for club and country this season. “He scored three goals, we’re delighted, but he can do better,” said Guardiola. “The first half was not the best performance from him, but it’s good when not playing at the top level to be consistent and score the three goals.” Guardiola hailed midfielder Ilkay Gundogan as an “incredible player in all senses” but again expressed concern over the German’s contract situation. The 28-year-old has not been an automatic starter under Guardiola and has just one season remaining on his present deal. Guardiola said: “I would prefer him to stay but at the same time I want to feel he wants to stay too. If he doesn’t want to stay, he has to leave.”last_img read more

TMC workers hurt in highway accident

first_imgKolkata: At least 30 Trinamool supporters and workers suffered injuries after the bus they were travelling in plunged into a water body near Siliguri-Jalpaiguri State Highway on Sunday. The injured party workers have been admitted to hospital for treatment.The Trinamool workers were planning to take part in an election campaign meeting by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in Jalpaiguri. They had hired the bus to reach the venue of the election campaign meeting. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaAccording to local residents, on Sunday, Banerjee was scheduled to address an election campaign meeting at Churabhadar in Moynaguri from 1:30 pm. To attend the meeting, around 45 TMC supporters and workers had hired the bus from Sariam. They had started their journey in the morning to reach Churabhandar. However, after a few kilometres near Talma, the bus had a tyre burst and the driver lost his control over the steering and the vehicle plunged into a water body beside the Siliguri-Jalpaiguri State Highway. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayLocal resident ran to help the accident victims. Meanwhile, Rajgunj police station and local Trinamool leaders were informed about the accident. Police officers reached the spot shortly and rescued the injured persons. Almost all the passengers had suffered injuries but about 30 of them had suffered serious injuries. The injured persons have been rushed to Rajgunj Rural Hospital Belakoba Rural Hospital and Jalpaiguri Super Specialty Hospital. A few of them were discharged after providing necessary treatment and many are still undergoing treatment.last_img read more

Prohibition not a solution Ekta Kapoor on demand to regulate digital content

first_imgMumbai: Producer Ekta Kapoor is not in favour of regulating streaming platforms as she believes it will only create a bigger need for unregulated content. The Supreme Court has sought the government’s response on a plea to regulate the functioning of streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Currently there is no censorship on online content other than age rating. “Prohibition will create a bigger want. This is a sad situation… A lot of people ask me, ‘How can you be so bold?’ but I have always said this that I don’t have any problem with sex. Also Read – ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ has James Cameron’s fingerprints all over it: Arnold Schwarzenegger “If the person who is acting has consensually agreed to have people watch them and the person is watching because he wants to watch it (then there is no issue). It is a two-way street. When anything is a one-way street, even in a marriage, it is a crime. Sex is not an issue, forcing yourself (on someone) is.” Ekta owns the OTT platform AltBalaji. When asked what would be her decision if the apex court takes a stand, the producer said, “Who are we to take a stand? They will take a stand and we will follow. But my beliefs are clear. I feel any prohibition in society will only create a bigger need for it. It is human psychology.” Also Read – Salman pays tribute to Vinod Khanna on ‘Dabangg 3’ wrap up With streaming platforms gaining a strong foothold in the Indian market, Ekta said there is a constant need to come up with good content that appeals a large segment of the audience. “I have to put out lot of content and better content as soon as possible. But I don’t compete with them. They deal with urban niche audience and I deal with mass audience.” Talking on the sidelines of the launch of season two of TV shows “Kawach” and “Bepanah Pyaarr”, Ekta said she enjoyed the web medium more.last_img read more

King Mohammed VI Flies To Mali

first_imgRabat – King Mohammed VI left this afternoon Morocco, heading to Bamako for an official visit to Mali, first leg of an African trip that will take the Sovereign to Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea-Conakry and Gabon.The royal delegation includes the Sovereign’s advisors Taib Fassi Fihri and Fouad Ali El Himma, as well as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Aooperation, Salaheddine Mezouar, Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, Economy and Finance Minister, Mohamed Boussaid, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, Equipement, Transport and Logistics Minister, Aziz Rebbah, Industry, Trade, Investment and Numeric Economy Minister, Moulay Hafid Elalamy, Health Minister, El Houceine El Ouardi, Energy, Mining, Water and Environment Minister, Abdelkader Amara, Tourism Minister, Lahcen Haddad and Youssef Amrani, chargé de mission at the Royal office.A business and economic executive delegation and other civil and military figures are also part of the Sovereign’s delegation.last_img read more

Brazil vs Mexico Lineups announced

first_imgFilipe Luis will start in Marcelo’s place for Brazil today as they look to continue their pursuit of a sixth world title by defeating Mexico in today last-16 encounterTite’s side have won 19 of their last 24 games since he took charge two years ago along with an impressive 18 clean sheets.While Marcelo had trained normally yesterday, he will start from the bench and may be used as a substitute later on in the match.Right-back Danilo has recovered from the thigh problem, but has been overlooked in favour of Fagner.Mexico’s 39-year-old captain Rafael Marquez will start for El Tri in this decisive encounter as the side look to avoid a seventh consecutive last-16 exit at the World Cup.Neymar, BrazilNeymar can win the Ballon d’Or, says Ander Herrera Andrew Smyth – September 13, 2019 An “excited” Ander Herrera believes new Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Neymar is a contender for the Ballon d’Or alongside Kylian Mbappe.However, centre-back Hector Moreno is suspended with Hugo Ayala being called up in his place.The teams are in for #BRAMEX! #WorldCup?????? pic.twitter.com/cayJmgV2fJ— FIFA World Cup ?? (@FIFAWorldCup) July 2, 2018last_img read more