January 14, 2020
The wildfires in Australia have burned through more than 38,000 square miles, killing hundreds of millions of animals in the path of the blazes and devastating significant swaths of crucial habitat for the survivors. 
These Are Some Of The Australian Animals Hit Hardest By Wildfires
Numerous animals in the hardest-hit states of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia face real threats to extinction as they struggle to recover from the destructive fires.
The federal government has committed $50 million to a wildlife recovery fund. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced half this sum would go to wildlife rescues, hospitals and conservation groups, and the other $25 million would go to an emergency intervention fund advised by a panel of experts.
Ecology expert Chris Dickman from the University of Sydney conservatively estimates more than 1 billion animals may have perished across the country, based on mammal, bird and reptile population density estimates multiplied by the area burned.
According to a draft of the Victorian state government’s bushfire biodiversity response plan obtained by HuffPost, the blazes in the state had burned through “mostly high biodiversity value areas.” The report listed 54 species for immediate concern based on the extent of habitat burned, with numerous species having lost more than 40% of their habitat and some projected to lose more than 70%. Among the 54 species are 13 amphibians, 2 bats, 8 mammals, 11 birds, 7 reptiles and 13 aquatic fauna.
A spokesperson for the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service said an emergency recovery plan to protect and restore wildlife populations in the state is being developed. “On-ground interventions to protect threatened species and remaining habitat will need to include provision of food, water and shelter as well as pest and weed control,” she said.
Here’s a snapshot of the species facing serious threat from the fires.Brush-tailed rock-wallabyThe brush-tailed rock-wallaby was already listed as endangered prior to the bushfires. Mark Eldridge, the principal research scientist at the Australian Museum Research Institute, has been studying the species for more than three decades. He said many of the remaining wallaby colonies had been burned by the “unprecedented large and hot fires.”
“The fires have killed some individuals but others have survived as they were able to shelter in their rocky crevices. However, the survivors now face an extremely difficult time as the fire has removed all or most of their food so they face starvation, and with most plant cover gone they are now very exposed to predators ... which are often attracted to burnt areas.”
He said that, although he does not usually favour intervention, these were “desperate times,” nodding to the New South Wales government’s current aerial food drops of carrots and sweet potatoes for hungry animals.
“The species has certainly taken a hit and will continue to suffer. Once we know more about the impact, we will be able to see if their conservation status needs to be reassessed.”
He said there was an urgent need to step up control of non-native predators and herbivores in fire-affected areas to give survivors a chance to recover.Kangaroo Island dunnartThe Kangaroo Island dunnart is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rosie Hohnen, an ecologist at Charles Darwin University who researches the species, said that the fires have burned “all sites that they have been detected at since 1990, so effectively its entire range.”
“Given it was previously considered critically endangered and that it will be very difficult for individuals to survive in burnt areas, it’s clear the species is in real peril, on the very edge of extinction,” Hohnen said.
Attempts to recover the species will involve surveying unburned habitat, controlling predators in those areas and fencing off the predator-free areas.KoalaKoalas have been hit hard in some of their populations, such as near Port Macquarie, New South Wales, where populations of several hundreds have been reduced to very few, said Mathew Crowther, a University of Sydney expert in wildlife ecology. However, a lot of koala habitat does still remain unaffected by the bushfires, he said. 
Federal environment minister Sussan Ley said that up to 30% of their habitat in New South Wales had been destroyed and that the fires might move the koala from its “vulnerable” classification to “endangered.”Southern corroboree frogExperts are gravely concerned about the critically endangered southern corroboree frog. The species already faced a grim future due to disease, and climate change has affected its alpine environment in the Kosciuzko National Park, Zoos Victoria says on its site. A mega-blaze comprised of three fires has moved through this region, leaving experts unclear on the frogs’ fate. However, conservation groups have “insurance” populations of captive-bred frogs on site.Regent honeyeaterThis critically endangered songbird has lost important breeding habitat, especially in its Capertee Valley stronghold. According to Ross Crates, the lead researcher for the species at Australian National University, at least 20% of its known breeding habitat had been lost. “Probably at least 60% of the areas where they may disperse through to spend the winter has been burnt,” he said.
A plan to release captive-bred regent honeyeaters last year has been rescheduled for spring due to the wildfires, however, surveying of burned sites will need to take place to see if this plan is still viable.Spotted-tail quoll The spotted-tail quoll was endangered even before the fires and suffered losses to feral predators and habitat destruction from changing fire patterns, land clearing and logging. The fires destroyed key habitat in areas including the Tallaganda National Park, a biodiversity stronghold, which urgently needs rain to regenerate. Long-footed potorooThe long-footed potoroo, found in Victoria’s fire-ravaged East Gippsland region and in southeastern New South Wales, is a forest-dwelling mini kangaroo that feeds almost exclusively on a type of fungi. The animal is likely to have sustained serious loss of food and habitat, and it will be vulnerable and exposed to predators.Glossy black cockatooKangaroo Island’s unique subspecies of glossy black cockatoo was, until recently, a success story for Australia’s conservation. Daniella Teixeira, a conservation biologist at the University of Queensland, said that, although it was not yet safe for staff to get on the ground to make assessments, as much as 60% of the habitat may have been lost.
“With a population of fewer than 400 birds before this crisis, this loss of habitat will be a major setback to the long-running conservation efforts for this unique bird,” she said.
She said the devastating losses may even put the bird back on the “critically endangered” list. However, her team would work hard to recover the species.“By winter, we hope to plants thousands, if not tens of thousands, of food trees. These will provide food within five to 10 years. That probably seems like a long time, but that’s actually really quick for a tree. Our overall objective is to create more habitat so that the birds have a better chance of surviving such events in the future,” she said.
You can support organisations saving wildlife by donating to the Nature Foundation’s Wildlife Recovery Fund, the Save the Kangaroo Island Glossy Black-Cockatoo fund, 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... Number Of Animals Feared Dead In Australia’s Wildfires Soars To Over 1 Billion Jeff Bezos Scorned For £530,000 Donation To Australia Fire Relief
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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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