Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Unstoppable Jonah Lomu Dead at 40

I am no Rugby fan. I don't even know the rules of the game. I think there are two halves just like in football. The only thing I know about this sport is Jonah Lomu. And that too because he seemed to be on the front page of every major newspaper at one point in time. He had a rugby ball safely tucked between one hand and his chest. The other hand was probably busy getting an opponent out his way. While he was trying not to step on another one he had knocked down half a second earlier. It was an impressive sight. Just like when I watched games of basketball back in 1993 and noticed one guy that seems to be hanging in the air a little longer than everyone else.

So when I watched bits of World Cup matches recently I looked out for him in the All Blacks team. I saw one Dan Carter but no Jonah. And then the world heard the news of his sudden death. Kind of sad. RIP big guy.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Waiting Better Than Massive Bat Culling

Our flying fox had been red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because its population was expected to decline by about a third in the next twenty one years. Culling 18,000 bats is equivalent to exterminating 20% of the species -- in a few weeks -- if you think there are 90,000 of them. Additional pressure that the endemic bats might find impossible to bear. But wait. Not everybody agrees there are 90k bats: the IUCN puts the actual figure closer to 50,000. Which would mean that the operation under way will be eliminating a third of Zorro Volador Negro de Mauricio.

Projections of the IUCN may also be too optimistic as meteorological data appears to have become increasingly shaky: cyclones and hurricanes have been showing up in places great-grandmothers never thought possible. Plus we've seen several cyclones lining up in our neck of the ocean in the not-so-distant past.

The upshot of all this uncertainty is that we need to tread super cautiously. For sure there seems to be more bats now -- Mauritius has been spared by strong cyclones for several years -- but more people are netting their trees. Which should give government pause to consider other mitigating measures that have been tried elsewhere. Especially given that bats are not the only fruit predators in town. And in any case many of them will not survive a major cyclone.