January 07, 2020
The number of wildlife estimated to have died in Australia’s wildfire catastrophe has skyrocketed to more than 1 billion. 
Australia Fires: Number Of Animals Feared Dead Soars To Over 1 Billion
Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, told HuffPost that his original estimate of 480 million animals was not only conservative, it was also exclusive to the state of New South Wales and excluded significant groups of wildlife for which they had no population data.
“The original figure ― the 480 million ― was based on mammals, birds and reptiles for which we do have densities, and that figure now is a little bit out of date. It’s over 800 million given the extent of the fires now ― in New South Wales alone,” he said.
“If 800 million sounds a lot, it’s not all the animals in the firing line,” he added.
That figure excluded animals including bats, frogs and invertebrates. With these numbers included, Dickman said, it was “without any doubt at all” that the losses exceeded 1 billion. “Over a billion would be a very conservative figure,” he said.
An environmental scientist at the World Wildlife Fund Australia, Stuart Blanch, confirmed these estimates, reiterating that, given the expansion of the fires since the last calculations, 1 billion was a modest guess.
“It’s our climate impact and our obsession with coal that is helping wage war on our own country,” Blanch said. 
Critically endangered species, including the southern corroboree frog and mountain pygmy-possum, could be wiped out as fires ravage crucial habitat in Victoria’s Alpine National Park and New South Wales’s neighbouring Kosciuszko National Park.
Threatened species, such as the glossy black cockatoo, spotted-tail quoll and long-footed potoroo (both small marsupials), are also facing real risks of extinction in large parts of their range.Dickman said bats, which have enormous populations along Australia’s east coast and are critically dependent on forest habitat, undoubtedly also sustained enormous losses.
“The numbers would have to be huge. And they’re very susceptible to the fires,” he said.
Over the weekend, Australia Zoo’s Bindi Irwin shared sad news from the zoo’s wildlife hospital. 
“In September, flying fox admissions to the hospital skyrocketed by over 750% due to drought conditions and lack of food,” she wrote. “Flying foxes are now being drastically affected by wildfires and we’re again seeing an influx of these beautiful animals from across the country.” View this post on InstagramA post shared by Bindi Irwin (@bindisueirwin) on Jan 4, 2020 at 2:04pm PSTKoalas have lost more than 30% of their key habitat in New South Wales and may have lost a third of their population in that region, federal environment minister Sussan Ley told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. last month. Dickman said it would be a “tough” recovery for the iconic Australian marsupial, dependent on the availability of their food ― eucalyptus tree leaves ― after the blazes sweep through.
The University of Sydney’s animal loss estimates also exclude livestock, which federal agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie expects will exceed 100,000 animals. Harrowing footage of thousands of dead animals beside roads has appeared on social media as the National Defence Force rushed to dig mass graves to avoid a health emergency.WARNING GRAPHIC. Sorry to share these images near Batlow, NSW. It’s completely heartbreaking. Worst thing I’ve seen. Story must be told. #AustraliaFirespic.twitter.com/E7jrgcuUiv— ABCcameramatt (@ABCcameramatt) January 5, 2020A graphic compiled by agriculture market analysis company Mecardo found that 8.6 million head of sheep and 2.3 million cattle were in the areas of New South Wales and Victoria affected by bushfires. 
It could take months before the exact number of livestock losses are known.
Officials will reportedly kill thousands of camels in the country’s northwest as they wreak havoc on communities with their water consumption during the drought and fire emergencies.
The fires across Australia have killed 25 people, destroyed or damaged more than 2,000 homes and burned nearly 31,000 square miles ― an area about the size of Austria. 
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Monday that the federal government would commit $2 billion over two years to a new national bushfire recovery agency, and more if needed.
Despite sustained criticism, the government has taken a firm stance on climate policy, with Morrison dismissing calls to curb the nation’s substantial coal industry and repeatedly pushing the party line: “We’re meeting and beating our targets.”
The bushfires alone are believed to have spewed as much as two-thirds of the nation’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.Dickman said that the only remaining glimmer of hope amid this disaster was that the government may finally heed the advice of ecologists and environmental scientists, who he said had been frozen out of policymaking for over two decades.
“With any luck, now the government will actually come back and think, OK, we do need the science. We do need the modelling predictions. We do need really good, informed advice about what we should be doing.”
WWF Australia’s environmental scientists have outlined a three-part plan to address the crisis, Blanch told HuffPost.
“One, reduce the threat by ending logging or bulldozing of mature forests... Secondly, a 10 million hectare major reforestation agenda, and, thirdly, in the very short term, more support for wildlife carers and wildlife hospitals around the country.” 
You can support organizations saving wildlife by donating to WWF Australia, NSW-based animal rescue group Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), Zoos Victoria’s bushfire emergency wildlife fund, Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital, or Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.Related... Here’s How To Help Those Affected By The Australia Fires ‘Heartbroken’ Kylie Minogue Matches Pink’s Half A Million Dollar Donation To Australian Firefighters Australia Rainfall 'Not Putting Out The Fires', Firefighters Warn
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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