Johannesburg – Homo naledi could have been driven to extinction by early humans Homo sapiens.
It was announced on Tuesday that the hominin first thought to have lived around three million years ago was found to have existed as early as 236 000 years ago when the first modern humans began to emerge.
This means that Homo naledi, discovered in a cave system in the Cradle of Humankind close to Sterkfontein in 2015 could have also interbred with early humans.
“All we know is that Homo naledi is extinct today. Could Homo sapiens have driven them extinct? Yes,” Professor Lee Berger, project leader for Wits University said.
“Could there have been gene exchange between Homo naledi and early Homo sapiens? It’s entirely possible,” Berger said.
The next step to decoding Homo naledi would be to obtain DNA, which has so far proved elusive, but researchers are trying.
“If we had Homo naledi DNA, not only would we be able to answer the question of a biological exchange with humans, but we would gain a window back millions of years,” Berger said.
“We would actually be looking at DNA from the split with humans. And that would be cool.”
Scientists unveiled the first evidence on Tuesday that early humans co-existed in Africa 300 000 years ago with a small-brained human-like species thought to already be extinct on the continent at that time.
The findings, published in three papers in the journal eLife, raise fresh questions about human evolution, including the prospect that behaviours previously attributed to humans may have been developed by hominin precursors of Homo sapiens.
Hominins are an extinct group of the same genus as humans, the only surviving members of that category today. Man’s nearest living relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, are further removed from Homo sapiens biologically than hominins are.
The species in question is Homo naledi, named in 2015 after a rich cache of its fossils was unearthed near Sterkfontein and Swartkrans.
These treasure troves, some 50 km northwest of Joburg, have yielded pieces of the puzzle of human evolution for decades.
Scientists initially thought Homo naledi’s anatomy suggested the fossils might be as much as 2.5 million years old and were startled by evidence that suggested the species may have buried its dead, a trait long believed to be uniquely human.
But dating of the sediments in which the fossils were found and teeth of the specimens showed that the species was roaming the African bush between 236 000 and 335 000 years ago, around the time that modern humans were emerging.
“No one thought that a small-brained, primitive hominin could extend down through time this long and that period is exactly the moment when we thought modern humans were arising here in Africa,” said Berger.
Berger said the dating may force scientists to rethink their understanding of the emergence at that time of new technologies such as ochre production and bead work for adornments.
There is archaeological evidence from that period but little in the way of fossils to suggest who exactly made such things.
“Now that we know that modern humans or at least the earliest forms of them were not alone during this expansion of the tool kit, it makes us now have to get better and better evidence to say who made what,” Berger said.
The question of when Homo naledi went extinct, and why, remains unanswered, Berger said. Those pre-humans could have survived until 200 000 years ago or even more recently as the fossils uncovered so far do not indicate “an extinction event”.
Homo sapiens may have been the culprit. Some scientists believe early modern humans drove other hominin relatives – for example, Neanderthals in Europe – to extinction elsewhere.
Scientists also know from DNA evidence that Homo sapiens interbred with Neanderthals, so it could have mated with Homo naledi as well, though it was a more primitive hominin. – Reuters
The new Angola International Airport passenger terminal and traffic control tower.
Angola International Airport, which is set to replace Luanda International Airport, will open in the middle of the year. The airport will be able to accommodate 13 million passengers annually.
“The opening of the new airport will assist the country in becoming a major hub for sub-Saharan Africa by linking international business and securing huge logistic networks in Angola,” the airport’s website says.
A new rail link from Luanda to the airport is also under construction. The railway construction began four months ago and is being carried out in three sections. According to local media reports, the ground-levelling works are currently under way, with railway construction set to be completed within 18 months.
Construction on Angola International Airport began in 2004.
African countries are becoming increasingly repressive and causing more people to leave their homes, British charity Oxfam said this week, as Germany warned of the destabilising effect migration is having on the continent.
Political freedom and the problem of Africa’s brain-drain were among the leading issues on the agenda at the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Durban which wrapped up on Friday. Oxfam’s executive director Winnie Byanyima said that “repressive laws on freedom of association and speech” were “a driver of migration.” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble warned at the gathering that “if we fail to stabilise the African continent in the years and decades to come, we will face increasing geopolitical risks” — including more migrant arrivals in Europe.
President Jacob Zuma, who hosted the forum of African movers and shakers, described the handling of migration as among the “critical challenges facing the world”.
The total number of migrants worldwide reached 244-million in 2015, and among them a record 63-million were forced to leave their homes, including refugees, people displaced within their own countries and asylum seekers, the World Food Programme said Friday.
Byanyima said that massive outflows from Africa were a damning verdict on the performance of the continent’s political class.
“That is a judgement on the leadership we have on our continent, failing to create economic opportunities for their people,” she told AFP.
“In many of those countries you have repressive illegitimate regimes that spend the money that should go toward empowering their people on security systems, on monitoring their people, oppositions and silencing media.” A recent survey by CIVICUS, which monitors freedoms worldwide, found that only two African countries were fully open — the island nations of Cape Verde and Sao Tome & Principe. Not one country on the African mainland was found to be free.
Byanyima also criticised wealthy governments which have diverted their aid budgets into covering the costs of refugee arrivals.
“Rich countries must stop repurposing aid, they must maintain aid for the conflict-affected countries. They must not divert it to meeting refugee costs in their countries or their security needs. They must maintain it for fighting poverty,” she said. “If they help to make countries stable, to achieve inclusive growth then people will not want to leave their homes. Development cooperation is a tool for peace and stability.” More than 1,000 migrants have died making the perilous Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy so far in 2017, according to the UN refugee agency.
More than 36,700 people have been pulled to safety and brought to Italy so far this year according to the International Organisation for Migration, an increase of nearly 45% compared with the same period last year.
At least 150 of those killed were children, though the figure is likely to be higher as many underage migrants travel unaccompanied so their deaths often go unreported, according to Unicef.
Distressing images of African migrants being plucked from heaving seas or the coffin-strewn aftermath of major sinkings have become a regular feature of television news bulletins since the migrant crisis began spiralling out of control four years ago. Last year saw around 5,000 deaths.
Italy’s bid to close the marine migrant route from Africa to Europe was dashed after a deal it had signed with Libya was suspended by Tripoli’s Court of Appeal in March. The deal had been fiercely criticised by rescue groups and human rights campaigners.
Dodoma, Tanzania — Tanzanian police say at least 34 people are dead after a bus carrying students lost control and crashed.
Arusha Region Police Commander Charles Mkumbo said the bus was carrying the students from a primary school in Arusha for an examination on Saturday.
He says four other people were injured in the crash that occurred in Karatu.
Police say authorities are trying to recover the bodies trapped in the bus after it struck some trees.
Sun International is considering all its options regarding the Fish River Sun Hotel and Country Club Resort in Port Alfred, which is on land currently being claimed by three communities.
Sun International’s Fish River Sun Hotel and Country Club Resort in Port Alfred, Eastern Cape, is likely to be affected by a land claim being heard in the Port Alfred Magistrate’s Court.
According to a report in the local title, Talk of the Town, some 86 farms are being claimed as historical land where the Prudoe, AmaZizi and Tharfield communities resided. Sun International’s property is on some of the land in the dispute.
According to the report, the council representing Fish River Sun’s interests, Advocate Nyoko Muvangua told the court that the business would not continue in operation for longer than another six months.
However, Sun International has not confirmed its plans to pull out.
Spokesperson, Zoleka Skweyiya, told Tourism Update that the group was considering all its options.
Skweyiya pointed out that the court cases had been dragging on for years. “As a business we need certainty,” Skweyiya said. “To date the various communities have not been able to reach agreement despite various proposals.” The dispute has been ongoing for 17 years.
She said Sun International had resolved to withdraw its objections to the land claim.
According to Talk of the Town’s report, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti told the court the department did not want the operations of the Fish River Sun to be jeopardised. “We do not want people to lose jobs. We will negotiate with the owner. Ideally, we would like to see the business owner collaborate with the families,” the Minister is quoted as saying.
The Minister suggested a model where the department would purchase the hotel and the land, with the current owners paying a form of rental compensation to the claimants.
(MENAFN – Gulf Times) Mozambique’s government and the armed opposition party Renamo extended their four-month truce indefinitely yesterday, the day the ceasefire expired.
‘Today I announce an indefinite truce. It is not the end of the war, but it is the beginning of the end, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama told journalists. ‘This is great news for the people of Mozambique.
‘It is important to bring back a spark of hope to the Mozambican people. Peace is just beginning, he said via teleconference from his hideout in the central Gorongosa mountains.
The truce has boosted hopes that the enmity between Renamo and the ruling Frelimo party, which dates back to the 1977-92 civil war, can finally be brought to an end.
Dhlakama said he was in regular telephone contact with President Filipe Nyusi and that the two had agreed that the army would pull out of more than 26 positions in Gorongosa.
Key issues in the ongoing peace talks include Renamo’s demands for decentralisation.
A 1992 peace deal turned Renamo into the main opposition party, but it relaunched hostilities in 2013, accusing Frelimo of excluding the opposition from political and economic power in the southern African country rich in gas and coal reserves.
The 2014 elections were due to restore peace, but Renamo accused Frelimo of fraud and demanded jurisdiction over six provinces in which it claimed to have won a majority.
New attacks and clashes killed hundreds of people.
But the truce is reported to be holding, with vehicles moving without military escort after Renamo’s highway ambushes ceased.
Dhlakama had retreated in October 2015 to the central Gorongosa mountain range with 800 former fighters demanding a greater share of power.
His former rebel fighters who waged a bloody 1976-1992 civil war that claimed 1mn lives took up arms again in 2013 against the ruling Frelimo party, accusing its leaders of enriching themselves at the expense of the southern African country.
The fighting had often focused on the country’s main roads, with Renamo attacking government convoys and civilian vehicles, and soldiers accused of ruthlessly targeting suspected rebels in nearby villagers.
The violence sent thousands of people fleeing to government-run camps, relatives’ homes or across the border to #Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Dhlakama first declared a ceasefire in December, and renewed it twice for two months in January and in Marc to allow time for peace negotiations with the government.
In February President Filipe Nyusi announced a new round of peace talks, but minus the international mediators who had previously been involved in the process in 2016.
The #EuropeanUnion delegation (EU) in Maputo, which has been part of the mediation, said yesterday’s announcement was a ‘very welcome development which ‘helps to create an environment conducive to the continuation of negotiations.
Apart from a few isolated incidents, the truce has generally held since Christmas Eve.
Yesterday Dhlakama admitted there was ‘no political agreement yet to mark the end of the war but stressed the importance of the truce.
‘An open-ended truce means that there is no more shooting, that people can move freely, that investors if still scared can return, he said.
He was optimistic that the government would soon pull out its troops from the centre of the country where they had been deployed.
‘Government is committed to the complete withdrawal from all its military positions in Gorongosa region, he said, adding that by June all government soldiers would have returned to their base camps.
Dhlakama however did not say when he would return from his hideout.
‘I would like to be able to go out next week but I have to guarantee my safety, he said.
The Renamo leader in 2015 accused the government of two attempts to assassinate him, including an attack on his convoy in which 24 people died.
‘If everything goes well, soon we will be together on the streets of Maputo, to prepare for the elections, ‘he added.
#Mozambique holds local government elections next year and presidential polls in 2019.
Renamo and the government had previously signed a ceasefire on the eve of the October 2014 general elections.
But then Renamo refused to accept the results of the poll when it was beaten once again at the ballot box by Frelimo, the ex-Marxist party, which has been in power since the former Portuguese colony’s independence 40 years ago.
Renamo spokesman Antonio Muchanga, said the latest truce would help speed up the negotiations towards a definitive end of the conflict, expressing the hope that ‘by the end of this year everything will be resolved.
#Mozambique ranks the eight poorest countries in the world.
Cape Town – Cape Town International Airport has achieved international passenger number growth which boosts tourism in the Western Cape and adds to job creation.The Aviation Barometer, a quarterly indicator of passenger traffic, which was released this week by Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), showed that year-on-year figures indicated that overall passenger growth in the first quarter was subdued, with a total of arrivals up by a marginal 0.8 percent.
The Barometer said international arrivals rose 5.6 percent while departures went up 7.6 percent during the period.
It said King Shaka International showed more growth for international arrivals, increasing 8.1 percent while departures shot up 8.4 percent compared to last year.
It said Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) came in second with 7.1 percent growth with OR Tambo International Airport experiencing 4 percent growth.
However, domestic arrivals experienced a decrease of 3.37 million passengers, 1.03 percent down from the previous year, while departures also eased 1.1 percent.
Read also: Western Cape the place to visit
Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said the CTIA contributed massively to the provincial tourism.
Winde said the airport reached a significant milestone last year, processing 10 million passengers in a year for the first time.
“Boosting air access forms part of our Project Khulisa economic strategy, which is seeking to add up to 100 000 jobs to the tourism sector.
“Early indications are that we have made excellent progress in this regard, and I am looking forward to releasing an official update on Project Khulisa later this year.”
Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said CTIA added 400 000 seats on direct flights to the city in a year, providing far more capacity to welcome visitors.
Duminy said Cape Town was listed among many world-renowned travel publications last year, as a top destination.
“It must be acknowledged that South Africa and Cape Town represent affordable luxury to our international visitors, as the exchange rate remains in their favour.
“Quite apart from the astounding attractions and experiences including the iconic Big Seven attractions, the city has been host to some phenomenal events in the first part of 2017, so besides the traffic coming here for leisure purposes, we have visitors attending events in their thousands, whether for business purposes (Mining Indaba) or for entertainment or sporting purposes, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival or the Cape Town Marathon, for example.”
Duminy said the initiative had shown great potential for growth with investors noting the city’s capacity for staging successful events. He added that Cape Town Tourism was cautiously optimistic that the growth seen would continue.
3 May 2017
The Mozambique Civil Aviation Authority launched a public tender on Tuesday for the allocation of domestic, regional and intercontinental routes
The Mozambique Civil Aviation Authority launched a public tender on Tuesday May 2, for the allocation of domestic, regional and intercontinental routes, and asked interested Mozambican and foreign companies to apply.
This follows strong criticism of LAM (Mozambique Airlines) by many of its customers over flight delays and cancellations – criticism that was supported by President Filipe Nyusi, when he visited LAM on April 13, and later that day addressed an extraordinary meeting of the Consultative Council of the Transport Ministry.
Nyusi also called for competition in civil aviation, and claimed there were senior figures in the Transport Ministry “who find it difficult to let the competition flow”. “We don’t have planes flying, but we don’t let others fly. We say that our airspace is open, but we don’t say what this means.”
He urged the IACM to take a flexible approach to the entry of new companies into the domestic market. “You are closing the circuit so that things operate as they did in the past,” he said. “The problems of transport result from this closure.”
The routes covered by the tender include virtually every conceivable domestic route, whether currently flown by LAM or not. If other companies respond to the tender and are accepted, LAM would face competition on its routes from Maputo to the main central and northern cities (Beira, Chimoio, Nampula, Tete, Lichinga and Pemba).
Clearly the IACM would like to attract other companies to use Nacala International Airport on the northern coast. This airport, inaugurated three years ago, is the most modern in the country and the most underused. The only airline using Nacala is LAM for flights to and from Maputo. So the routes proposed in the tender include from Nacala to virtually every other provincial capital.
The tender also covers new routes from small airports such as Inhambane and Chimoio to cities that currently cannot be reached without changing planes.
The regional routes in the tender exclude LAM’s most profitable route, which is Maputo-Johannesburg, operated in an arrangement with South African Airways. But other South African destinations are covered, included Lanseria (north-west of Johannesburg), Cape Town and Durban.
Other regional routes currently flown by LAM (but sometimes operated by other airlines) are included in the tender (to Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Addis Ababa). So are routes that have never been flown before, such as Maputo to Mauritius, to Gaborone, to Zanzibar or to Mombasa.
The international routes include Maputo to Doha (currently flown by Qatar Airways) and Istanbul (currently flown by Turkish Airlines) but most of the proposed routes are entirely new, including destinations such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Singapore and Hanoi.
The IACM also suggests routes from Nacala to destinations in South Africa, Tanzania and Malawi, and also to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Other intercontinental flights never flown before include Beira, Tete, Nampula and Pemba to Doha, and Nampula to Istanbul and Ankara. New regional routes proposed include Nampula to Mauritius, Beira to Mombasa and Pemba to Gaborone.
Airlines applying for these routes must hold a licence issued by IACM and a sales code approved by IACM, and their flights must be included in an integrated reserves and sales system.
They must prove that they have the financial capacity to operate the flights, and present an economic viability study. Preference will be given to companies that have been operating on the national and international market for more than two years.
Companies have 30 days, as from Tuesday May 2, to send their applications for the routes to the IACM.