January 14

World Bank Approves US$285M Grant to Fight Ebola

first_imgThe World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors on November 18, 2014 approved a US$285 million grant to finance Ebola-containment efforts underway in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The money will also be used to help communities in the three countries cope with the socioeconomic impact of the crisis and rebuild and strengthen essential health services. The grant is part of the nearly US$1 billion previously announced by the World Bank Group for the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis.The grant provides additional financing to the Ebola Emergency Response Project (EERP) approved by the WBG’s Board on September 16, 2014, including US$72 million for Guinea, US$115 million for Liberia and US$98 million for Sierra Leone, the three countries most-affected by Ebola.Tuesday’s announcement brings the total financing approved so far from the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window (CRW) for the Ebola response to US$390 million. The CRW is designed to help low-income IDA countries recover from severe disasters and crises.“With this additional financing, the World Bank Group is responding to the critical needs identified by the affected countries to step up their fight against Ebola,” said Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President.  “This deadly outbreak is far from over, and the international community must continue to do everything we can to support these countries until we get to zero cases.”The additional financing will enable the three countries to deploy additional national and international health workers, scale up community-based care and community engagement for early detection of suspected Ebola cases, more rapid confirmation of infection status, strengthened treatment and care, and safe burials to curb the epidemic. The funds approved will be deployed by the governments of the three countries with the support of UN agencies.In addition, the project will support an increase in diagnostic capacity for Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, by addressing logistical constraints and increasing laboratory resources for testing to reduce the time in confirming Ebola cases.It will improve and increase storage and distribution of essential supplies, and address specific social issues caused by the Ebola outbreak. The project will also help establish a regional network of public health institutes in West Africa that include disease surveillance and preparedness. This support will be critical to prevent the spread of the Ebola epidemic to neighboring countries as well as to develop a timely and effective regional pandemic response in the future.”It is important to create health systems that are resilient and which can respond quickly to this kind of crisis. This means increasing efficiency, providing incentives to doctors and other health workers fighting the disease, and establishing the right kind of facilities so that  these countries may respond rapidly to the changing situation on the ground,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa.”By enabling a surge of trained health workers, strengthening community-based care, triage, and diagnostic capabilities and restarting public health services, this additional support will help Ebola patients well as those suffering from non-Ebola health conditions to get the essential care they need, ” said Tim Evans, World Bank Group Senior Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population.The World Bank Group is mobilizing nearly US$1 billion in financing for the countries hardest hit by the Ebola crisis. This includes more than US$500 million for the emergency response and at least US$450 million from the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, to enable trade, investment and employment in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.A previously released World Bank Group analysis showed  that if Ebola continues to surge in the three worst-affected countries and spreads to neighboring countries, the two-year regional financial impact could reach US$32.6 billion by the end of 2015, dealing a potentially catastrophic blow to already fragile states.According to the World Health Organization, as of November 14, 2014, there have been 14,413 reported cases of Ebola in eight countries–mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone–since the outbreak began, with 5,177 reported deaths.Established in 1960, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty and improve poor people’s lives.IDA, according to the World Bank Group, is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than US$2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries.  Annual commitments have averaged about US$18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

January 11

Government site had ID-theft potential

first_imgAbout one-third of the 2 million documents on file had the borrower’s name, address, Social Security number and signature. The other two-thirds of the documents were for loans to businesses rather than individuals. Bowen’s office said it was unclear how many of the documents may have been purchased through the site, but said on an average day, about 300 were viewed online. The documents were only available to account users, which are mostly financial institutions, although there are no restrictions on who can create an account. The Web site has about 1,500 regular users, an additional 28,000 casual users and 14 “bulk” users. Bowen said the issue shows the balance governments have to strike in providing the public with access to records while also protecting privacy rights. SACRAMENTO – Hundreds of thousands of Californians’ Social Security numbers have been made publicly available for the past three years on the secretary of state’s Web site, officials said Thursday. The personal information was removed from Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s Web site earlier this week after a state legislator notified her office of the situation and the vulnerability to identity theft. While officials said there is no evidence directly linking the release of the data to any particular incidents, such information is commonly used by identity thieves. The data were available in Uniform Commercial Code filings – documents that lenders file relating to collateral securing a loan. “Making government open, accessible, and Internet-friendly while simultaneously ensuring that people’s privacy is protected isn’t always easy to do,” Bowen said in a written statement. Identity theft is a growing crime in this country, and California has the third-highest rate of such crimes, according to the federal Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse. There were about 45,000 reports of identity theft in California in 2005, or 125 incidents for every 100,000 residents. Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, said the secretary of state records were available for sale over the Internet for $6 each from 2004 until earlier this week, “making this potentially the longest running government Internet breach in California’s history.” Jones alerted Bowen’s office to the breach and has authored legislation that would modify the forms so that the SSN is no longer requested. It also would prohibit the secretary of state from releasing full SSNs to the public. The bill would also put similar requirements on local governments, such as county registrars, that maintain records such as tax liens and civil judgments. Bowen, who took office in January, has been a crusader for privacy rights and protection against identity theft when she served in the state Legislature from 1992 to 2006. She wrote several bills on the subject, including measures to prevent businesses from using Social Security numbers as public identifiers for customers; preventing public colleges and universities from using Social Security numbers as student identifiers; and removing the printing of full credit card numbers on receipts. Lenny Goldberg, a representative of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit group based in San Diego, said identity theft has become more common because it is easy to commit and difficult to prosecute. “We’ve had victims who’ve come up to testify how difficult it is to find the perpetrator and to know where they got the data in the first place, because there’s so much out there on the (Internet),” he said. harrison.sheppard@dailynews.com (916) 446-6723 Preventing ID theft Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. If your health plan (other than Medicare) or another card uses your Social Security number, ask for a different number. Scam artists “phish” for victims by pretending to be from banks, stores or government agencies. Don’t give out your personal information over the phone, in e-mails or in regular mail unless you made the initial contact. Don’t respond to a request to verify your account number or password. Monitor your credit history. You can get one free credit report every year from each of the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. One idea is to order from a different bureau every four months. Call (877) 322-8228 or see www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp. Source: California Office of Privacy Protection160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

January 3

Former Netherlands star warns Sterling: ‘Real Madrid is too big a step’

first_imgBolo Zenden believes moving to Real Madrid would be too big a step for Raheem Sterling to make at this part of his career.The 20-year-old is expected to push for a transfer away from Liverpool this summer having refused their offer of a new contract.Real are being linked with a big-money swoop for Sterling, with new Bernabeu boss Rafa Benitez admitting he is an ‘admirer’ of the England international.But Zenden believes the starlet would be better served moving to another Premier League club if he does decide to leave Anfield.Speaking on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, the former Liverpool and Chelsea star said: “For Raheem, to go to Manchester City is an easier step than Real Madrid.“Madrid is a massive, massive club with a lot of expectations and when you go abroad there is a lot coming at you that you are not used to. You have to adapt and we have seen before it is not for everybody, especially at the age Sterling is.“I think he should play a bit more, get that experience, and maybe make that step later on.”last_img read more

January 3

Queens Park Rangers prepare for Austin exit with signing of new striker

first_img New QPR signing Jay Emmanuel-Thomas Queens Park Rangers have begun to plan for life without Charlie Austin, with the club announcing they have signed striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on a three-year deal.Austin will almost certainly leave the London club this summer following their relegation from the Premier League, with Liverpool, Newcastle United and West Ham linked as possible destinations.And 24-year-old Emmanuel-Thomas has been drafted in to aid Rangers in their quest for another instant return to the top flight.The forward helped Bristol City to League One victory and promotion to the Championship last season, scoring 12 goals in all competitions, but was not offered a new deal by the Robins.Head coach Chris Ramsey told the club’s official website: “I’ve always admired Jay from afar and I’m really delighted we’ve reached an agreement to bring him here.“There was a lot of hype surrounding him when he was a young player at Arsenal, and although he’s had a very steady career since then, this is now a real opportunity for him to really kick on at QPR.“We’ll give him the platform to play and express himself. He’s got flair, he’s a good runner with the ball and he’s got great versatility.“He is already a very good player, but his potential to keep improving is fantastic.”The 24-year-old joins Massimo Luongo and Ben Gladwin at Loftus Road. 1last_img read more

December 29

Niners’ win – and so do Texans

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO – When Joe Nedney booted an overtime field goal through a drizzle as miserable as these teams’ records, everybody won something in the San Francisco 49ers’ season finale against the Houston Texans. The 49ers salvaged some pride with consecutive victories – and the Texans definitely won by losing soon-to-be-fired coach Dom Capers’ final game, wrapping up the No. 1 draft pick and the chance to dream about Reggie Bush. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson If Houston had won, the New Orleans Saints would have received the top pick and first dibs on Bush, the Heisman Trophy-winning tailback from USC who’s widely expected to enter the draft. Adams returned a third-quarter interception 40 yards for a tying touchdown for the 49ers (4-12), whose own No. 1 pick, Alex Smith, finally threw his first touchdown pass late in the first half. “It is nice to win two weeks in a row,” said Smith, who went 16 of 29 for 159 yards and hit Brandon Lloyd for a 14-yard score. “It shows a lot about this team, going down both weeks, and we came back.” Bush has been on fans’ minds in Houston and San Francisco since November – but the 49ers, Bush’s favorite team growing up, dropped out of the top five in the draft by doubling their win total from last season. “It’s a little premature right now to say who we’re taking,” said general manager Charley Casserly, who’s expected to keep his job. “But I think everybody knows we aren’t taking Matt Leinart.” Mike Adams lateraled his second interception to Ben Emanuel for a 35-yard return in OT, and Nedney set off an unlikely celebration with a 33-yard field goal with 3:52 left to end the 49ers’ 20-17 victory Sunday. The kick also provoked a giant sigh of relief in Houston, as the Texans (2-14) narrowly avoided ruining the only solace left in their awful season. After the game, a person close to the organization told the Associated Press that Capers will be fired today to start an offseason of big changes – probably peaking with a red-white-and-blue jersey for Bush. center_img Bush, who watched from Los Angeles while preparing for Wednesday’s Rose Bowl against Texas, claims he still doesn’t know whether he’ll enter the draft. “Whatever happens in this game, it won’t have any effect on me,” Bush said. “Obviously it will just (affect) who gets the first pick in the NFL Draft.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

December 27

GAA NEWS: NAOMH ULTAN CLUB NOTES

first_imgAGM – The Naomh Ultan GAA AGM will be held Sunday December 2nd at 5pm upstairs in the clubhouse, everyone more than welcome. ROYAL FLUSH & BINGO – Royal Flush Draw results for the weekend of 18/11/2012 were 7, 10, 11 & 18. There was no winner. Consolation prizes went to Manus Boyle, Jimmy Byrne & Sean Brosnan. Next weeks jackpot now stands at €5720. Bingo in the GAA Clubhouse, Dunkineely on Friday night at 9pm. Prize money of €1170 paid out. Three of the panels are €100, €150 & €200. Many thanks to all who support our weekly bingo and royal flush draws.  25 CARD DRIVE – After commencing over a month ago, it was decided to change the night of the 25 card drive from Thursday to Wednesday. There will also be a table for ladies for any interested. It commences at it’s usual time of 8:30.pm.GAA NEWS: NAOMH ULTAN CLUB NOTES was last modified: November 19th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

December 21

Fulham linked with QPR target

first_imgA number of papers report QPR’s signing of Nancy midfielder Samba Diakite, which is expected to be formally completed today.Linked with Wigan.Twitter comments by Rangers vice-chairman Amit Bhatia advocating the introduction of a video challenge system for football are picked up by The Guardian and The Sun.Elsewhere, the Daily Mail report that Fulham have offered £2m plus Andy Johnson for Wigan striker Hugo Rodallega, who has attracted interest from QPR.The Mail say Rangers are instead looking to complete the signing of former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse from Lazio and will make an improved offer for Tottenham’s Steven Pienaar.And Chelsea have made a £1m offer for Nottingham Forest’s 18-year-old forward Patrick Bamford, according to a story that appears in the Mail and The Sun.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

December 19

Darwin Demo Falls Short

first_img(Visited 55 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 What the new “evolution in action” experiment lacks in Darwin support is compensated by its propaganda value.A cursory look at a story in The Atlantic would lead readers to suspect that the creation-evolution debate is over, and Darwin won. You can even watch the victory lap in the embedded video clip. Bacteria at both ends of a rectangular grid, made out like a football field, race to the midline, overcoming antibiotics first 10, then 100, then 1000 times the strength needed to kill them. It’s survival of the fittest! Send this demo to the classrooms of America:Beyond any applications in research and medicine, the MEGA-plate also makes for a wonderful teaching tool. It makes the abstract concrete. It vividly brings the process of evolution to life—and to view. “We’re visual creatures,” says Baym. “Seeing is believing.”When Michael Baym and Tami Lieberman of Harvard shared the video at an evolutionary conference last month, their colleagues were instantly cured of lockjaw:…many attendees were awed and slack-jawed. “It’s exciting, creative and, game-changing,” says Shelly Copley from the University of Colorado, one of the organisers. Baym himself, who has seen the movies hundreds of times, is still blown away by them. “You can actually see mutations happening,” he says, before shaking his head and smiling.The results were published in Science Magazine under the title, “Spatiotemporal microbial evolution on antibiotic landscapes.” Does a closer look at the methods and results vindicate Darwin? The “evolution” of antibiotic resistance is nothing new. ID advocate Michael Behe discussed it at length in his second book, The Edge of Evolution. He showed that in ideal test conditions—the evolution of malarial parasite resistance to chloroquine and other chemicals—Darwinian evolution was incapable of crossing fitness landscapes requiring more than two coordinated mutations. Malaria parasites could sometimes survive antimalarial drugs, but only by “throwing stuff overboard” – i.e., engaging in desperate attempts to survive through loss of information. (By analogy, a criminal can evolve resistance to handcuffs by having his hands cut off.)To succeed in demonstrating Darwinian evolution, Baym would need to show (1) realistic starting conditions, (2) the unguided emergence of new genetic information, (3) positive selection, (4) fitness increase over wild type, (5) speciation, (6) some innovative heritable structure capable of leading to new branches of organisms, and (7) successful competition of the winners in the real world, alongside other organisms in the ecology. Let’s examine the paper for these requirements.Realistic starting conditions? The Materials & Methods section shows that they used a “strain from the Keio collection of E. coli K-12 BW25113 knockout variants.” The platform on which the experiment was run was highly artificial, consisting of purified agar, with several rounds of artificially-selected bacteria as starters. The environment contained no other organisms that wild E. coli were likely to encounter in the wild.New genetic information?  The authors discuss mutations, but there is no mention of beneficial mutations or gain-of-function mutations. Michael Behe claims at Evolution News & Views that over half the identified mutations amount to loss of function. The others are likely deleterious as well:The key to understanding the paper is its Figure 3C. There it shows the genes that have undergone more than one mutation across tested bacteria. They break the mutations down into silent changes, changes of amino acids (point mutations), and insertion-deletion or nonsense mutations, which almost certainly are loss of function (LOF). Over half of genes contain such LOF mutations, along with some point mutations, which likely also degrade or destroy function. In other words, devolution.Positive selection?  There is no mention of positive selection in the paper among the 11 mentions of the word. Nor is there mention in The Atlantic.Fitness increase?  There is no mention of fitness increase in the paper among the 5 words “fit” or “fitness” and no mention of the word in The Atlantic.Speciation?  The organisms at the beginning and end of the experiment are still not only E. coli, but descendants of the original strain of E. coli.Innovation?  The word “innovation” is lacking in the paper. The word “novel” is only mentioned as a possibility for future experiments: “Owing to the relaxed evolutionary constraints in range expansion dynamics, the MEGA-plate is likely to reveal novel mutational pathways to high-level multiantibiotic resistance.” In a companion piece in Science, Luke McNally and Sam P. Brown claim innovation, but provide no specifics: “The advent of evolutionary innovations via mutation and the subsequent selection of these mutants are thus imprinted on the plate, providing an unprecedented visualization of evolution through time and space.” The innovation, however, is merely inferred from the fan-shaped patterns on the advancing fronts of resistant strains.Competition in the wild?  No mention is made of releasing the winning germs back into the wild to see if they could survive and proliferate in real-world conditions against their less-evolved progenitors. McNally and Brown admit this: “the MEGA plate could be criticized as merely a caricature of real-world environments, but such a perspective misses its value as a tool to elucidate the fundamental principles of evolution in a spatial environment.” Surprisingly, they also consider Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiment (LTEE) with E. coli to be vulnerable, too: it “could be similarly criticized for being unrealistic yet has provided key insights into the longterm bounds of evolutionary fitness and the dynamics of evolutionary innovations, among many other discoveries.” But if they are both unrealistic caricatures, how can they provide insight? Maybe it’s just in the propaganda arena.Propaganda ValueThe true significance of this paper is its visualization potential to promote evolution to unsuspecting students. Baym’s statement “seeing is believing” makes that clear, but the last sentence in the paper is even more explicit:Its relative simplicity and ability to visually demonstrate evolution makes the MEGA-plate a useful tool for science education and outreach.In short, a visual aid that demonstrates nothing of Darwinian evolution can nonetheless serve as a “useful” teaching tool to promote Darwinian theory. Useful to whom? “In other words, the MEGA-plate does not correspond to the real world and may be irrelevant to medicine,” Behe says. “Instead, its value will be primarily to indoctrinate students in evolution.”We want to see the germs evolve powered flight, sonar, and the ability to compose symphonies. Then we’ll be impressed.last_img read more

December 19

Can Materialism Provide a Sense of Purpose?

first_img(Visited 162 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 Studies show that having a sense of purpose enhances mental and physical health. The problem for materialists is how to conjure it up out of matter in motion.New Scientist, the staunchly atheist rag in the UK, is no friend of creation, conservatism, or the Bible. Once in awhile, though, they do have to face reality. Reporter Teal Burrell recently contributed a piece to New Scientist about “A meaning to life: How a sense of purpose can keep you healthy.” Can she get from atoms to purpose?As human beings, it is hard for us to shake the idea that our existence must have significance beyond the here and now. Life begins and ends, yes, but surely there is a greater meaning. The trouble is, these stories we tell ourselves do nothing to soften the harsh reality: as far as the universe is concerned, we are nothing but fleeting and randomly assembled collections of energy and matter. One day, we will all be dust.Spoken as a consistent materialist. And yet— we aren’t dust yet.One day, but not yet. Just because life is ultimately meaningless doesn’t stop us searching for meaning while we are alive. Some seek it in religion, others in a career, money, family or pure escapism. But all who find it seem to stumble across the same thing – a thing psychologists call “purpose”.We each have a few days left (she says in effect) before turning to dust to find this elusive thing called ‘purpose.’The notion of purpose in life may seem ill-defined and even unscientific. But a growing heap of research is pinning down what it is, and how it affects our lives. People with a greater sense of purpose live longer, sleep better and have better sex. Purpose cuts the risk of stroke and depression. It helps people recover from addiction or manage their glucose levels if they are diabetic. If a pharmaceutical company could bottle such a treatment, it would make billions. But you can find your own, and it’s free.She defines purpose by its effects, not by its essence. We still don’t know what it is. This ‘vague’ and ‘ephemeral’ purpose — is it just a comfortable fantasy? Can it be conjured like a genie out of the materialist bottle to do its master’s will? Distinguishing hedonic (pleasurable) from eudaimonic (goal-directed) purpose doesn’t seem to help much, although the latter seem to provide most of the health benefits. Burrell slights religion, arguing that while religious people tend to score higher than others in purpose-driven health benefits, not all of them do, and some non-religious people experience purpose. (By this she fallaciously reasons that all religions are equivalent. I Corinthians 13 is vastly different from a belief that by killing as many infidels as you can with a suicide bomb you will have endless sexual bliss in the afterlife. Both involve ‘purpose’ of a sort, but can they really be compared? Would Burrell congratulate the latter if his purpose made him feel good? Word has it that ISIS is recruiting brainwashed captive Yazidi children as suicide bombers. Some purpose.)When all is said and done, for a materialist like Burrell, a sense of purpose must boil down to particles in motion. “If people with purpose live longer, there must be some biology underpinning that,” her favorite authority figure opines. Ratcheting up his perhapsimaybecouldness index, he speculates:That something could be a brain region called the ventral striatum, an area activated when people are told to focus on things of value. Cole has found in as-yet-unpublished research that people with more activity in this area show similar patterns of gene expression to those with high levels of eudaemonic well-being. Focusing on something positive and bigger than yourself may activate the ventral striatum, which can inhibit areas like the amygdala, which usually promotes the stress response. Another indication of this comes from research showing that higher scores on a scale of purpose correlated with less amygdala activation.And one study indicates that people with higher eudaemonic well-being have both increased activity in the ventral striatum and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. “Things that you value can override things that you fear,” says Cole.An alternative theory for how purpose could affect biology is by preserving telomeres, caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect DNA from damage, but that shorten with age and stress.If materialism is true, however, it would make no sense for Burrell to advise people on how to improve their sense of purpose. “Who” makes that decision? If your brain determines your feelings, you could just take a ‘purpose pill’ and cure a brain imbalance like you would cure any other illness. But even then, “who” would decide to take the pill?In the view of Burrell and New Scientist, it all ends in death. Some purpose.How would you respond to this article? Let’s hear some comments. Come back later for our thoughts.last_img read more

December 18

Rhinos in Boucher’s safe hands

first_imgHaving retired from his active cricket career in mid-2012, Boucher asserted that he will now focus all of his energy to saving South Africa’s rhinos.(Image: Mark Boucher) Micro-chipping the rhinos and collecting the DNA for a database will go a long way towards saving the animals from decimation.(Image: SAB) MEDIA CONTACTS • Mark Boucher   SAB-Boucher NPC  +27 11 881 84 17  RELATED ARTICLES • Using technology to fight poaching • A legacy for the African rhino • Giving rhinos a voice through art • Sangomas join the rhino force • Taking the plunge for our rhinos • Special anti-poaching weapon for SA • Musos pitch in to save rhinosCadine PillayFollowing a severe eye injury which forced his early retirement, former Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher has gloved up for rhinos – the cricket star has decided to devote his time to rhino activism as South Africa battles with escalating poaching figures.Boucher and South African Breweries (SAB) launched the non-profit SAB-Boucher Conservation in October this year. Boucher was appointed by SAB as its Castle Lager rhino ambassador, to raise funds for rhino conservation both locally and abroad through the Our Rhinos in Safe Hands campaign.Having retired from his active cricket career in mid-2012, Boucher asserted that he will now focus all of his energy on the new partnership. The former Protea played 147 test matches and 295 one day internationals for South Africa, taking 999 dismissals behind the stumps and one wicket as bowler, in all forms of the game – his 556 test dismissals is still a world record. “I now have the opportunity to contribute something meaningful towards a cause that is close to the hearts of my fellow South Africans.” Boucher said at the launch.“This type of partnership can make a positive contribution if we focus on a tangible contribution to the larger rhino conservation effort.”The SAB-Boucher partnership aims to raise enough money to register all of South Africa’s 18 000 rhinos on a national rhino DNA database.SAB was involved in the setup of the organisation with a donation of R300 000 (US$34 000) but the ultimate goal is to raise at least R1-million ($113 000).Micro-chipping and DNARhoDIS (the Rhino DNA Index System) was established and is run by Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pretoria.A DNA database is an essential element in the fight against poaching. If the origin of the horn is unknown, it makes tracking the illegal trade very difficult. If trade is legalised, as many argue is the only sustainable solution to the poaching problem, then the DNA database will be central to managing it.“Micro-chipping the rhinos and collecting the DNA for a database will go a long way towards saving the animals from decimation,” Boucher said.“There are so many passionate people out there fighting rhino poaching every day, and yet we don’t seem to be winning the battle.”When a police raid results in the arrest of poachers, those in possession of rhino horns, or the actual traffickers, the DNA database will go a long way towards giving authorities more ammunition against criminals.It will prove that horns seized from suspects can be traced to a particular country and conservancy, and will help to establish when the animal was killed; this makes a much stronger case in the courts.“Our passion for the country’s natural environment motivated us to join forces with Mark Boucher to single-mindedly focus on the DNA database as one of the key pillars required for a sustainable solution to rhino poaching,” said SAB executive director Dr Vincent Maphai.SAB has micro-chipped and collected DNA samples for the database since 2004 and 77 rhinos have received microchip insertions and had DNA samples extracted to deter poachers.Other players get on boardSupporters of SAB-Boucher Conservation include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former cricket administrator Dr Ali Bacher, former SANParks CEO Mavuso Msimang, renowned conservationist Dr Ian Player, and scientific officer of the African Rhino Specialist Group Dr Richard Emslie.Poaching figures for 2012 have already surpassed all past records, with 570 rhinos killed this year alone in South Africa.SAB-Boucher Conservation will initially focus on its most pressing concern, namely the safety of South Africa’s rhino, but is later expected to direct its efforts to other threatened species, whose DNA will also be entered into the database.last_img read more