The Paris Massacre—What Next?

first_imgBefore midnight last Friday the world was alarmed by the massacre of over 123 people as a result of a spate of indiscriminate shootings and suicide bomb blasts in the center of France’s glittering capital, Paris.As people enjoyed a casual Friday evening witnessing a concert and having dinner and drinks in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, gunmen and women, who claimed to be Islamists, with deadly automatic weapons, stormed the Bataclan Theatre and neighboring cafes, shooting people at random. In the end, 123 people were counted dead and over 352 people wound, 99 of whom are in critical condition.As predicted by most political and security watchers, the Islamic State (IS), whose trademark is ruthless kidnapping, killing and indiscriminate destruction, immediately claimed responsibility for the massacre.How long can the world be expected to put up with this Islamic State which, since it declared itself a caliphate in June 2014 after acquiring huge tracts of land in Syria and Iraq, has been noted for barbarity, mass killings, abductions and beheadings?But before tackling this question, we must ask another: how did the Middle East become so terribly destabilized? Without claiming to be experts in international affairs, we can say without fear of contradiction that the root of the problem has been the shortsighted policies of some Western governments, notably the United States, which perennially and blindly backed some of the most oppressive Islamic regimes, such as Iran. The USA’s backing of the Shah of Iran for so long because of oil, led to the popular Iranian Revolution in 1979 and the invasion of the US embassy in November of that year, the taking over 60 hostages, leading to the fall of the Carter administration.The second major American mistake was President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, against the better judgment of many other nations and tens of millions of his own fellow Americans. But no, GW had to invade Iraq, to avenge the alleged attempt by Saddam Hussein to kill young Bush’s father. And GW carried out his ruthless invasion under a false pretext, that Saddam had a stockpile of “weapons of mass destruction.”One of the most painful consequences of that invasion was what happened to the Christian churches in many parts of the Middle East, especially Iraq and Syria. These churches had existed since the time of Peter and the other early Christian fathers. Remember, Saul, who later became the eminent Apostle Paul, was, shortly following the crucifixion of Christ, on his way to Damascus, the Syrian capital, to kill Christians. Saul was suddenly struck down by a voice from Heaven asking the very serious question, “Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?”The rest is history. Saul was led to a man named Ananias, who restored Saul’s sight, renamed him Paul – who went on to become the church’s greatest Apostle. Christians have had a presence in the Middle East ever since.Say what you may of Saddam Hussein, but though himself a Muslim, he was committed to religious tolerance and vigorously protected the Christians in Iraq. Today the Christians have been run out of Iraq, and Syria, by the Islamic State. Does this make George W. Bush look like the anti Christ? Only history will tell.Another problem that has caused the Middle East to be destabilized is America’s blind support of Israel and its ruthless atrocities inflicted upon the Palestinians. This is one of the primary causes of the hate and resentment Washington experiences throughout the Middle East and the Islamic world. Heaven knows when this will end, for America seems to believe that Israel can do no wrong. Washington has done nothing to stop the Israelis from occupying Palestinian land.Perhaps the most serious cause of instability in the Middle East is Syrian President Assad who, because of his lust for power, has effectively destroyed his country and caused his own people so much pain, distress and anguish. It is he more than anyone else that has given rise to the ruthless and bloodthirsty Islamic caliphate.Finally, we lay a lot of the blame for the power that IS now has at the feet of President Barrack Obama and his timid approach to the Syrian crisis. Surely the USA is the world’s most powerful nation and leader of the also powerful Western alliance. We firmly believe that Obama, backed his committed partners, Britain, France, Germany, the EU, could have nipped IS in the bud from its very beginning. But oh! The problem of indecisiveness and the terrible consequences it is now wreaking.How long will indecisiveness cause innocent people to suffer and die?France and all other European nations, the USA and Russia must mount a joint response to terrorism from wherever it comes. Evil can be defeated, and defeated it must be. But also, America and its allies MUST be more sincere and more proactive and decisive in their dealing with the Palestinian issue. There can be no real peace in the Middle East—or anywhere else—until the Palestinian problem is fully and decisively resolved.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

African wild dogs adapt use of space to coexist with lions and

first_img Citation: African wild dogs adapt use of space to co-exist with lions and hyenas (2014, June 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Journal information: PLoS ONE Explore further Cheetahs found to use spatial avoidance techniques to allow for surviving among lions © 2014 They formed this hypothesis based on examples of avoidance from other carnivore communities. For example, in Nepal it was found that leopards avoided areas with high tiger densities. Another study found that small brown hyenas avoided bigger spotted hyenas because of competition over food. Darnell and her team completed their research in Hluhluwe–iMfolozi National Park where the movements of six packs of dogs, 12 lion prides and a clan of hyenas where tracked over about two years. Carnivore location, activity and behaviour was recorded every week. This was normally done during either sunset or sunrise, when carnivores are most active. “Subjects were nearly always observed in person. Wild dogs and lions were located both via radio telemetry and opportunistically. Spotted hyenas were observed mostly opportunistically,” said Gunther. By doing this, the research team were able to define the areas over which each carnivore roamed. They were also able to identify the times during which each carnivore displayed activity. This allowed the researchers to assess both spatial and temporal aspects of avoidance. It was found that African wild dogs spent the majority of their time in areas that were free of lions. For instance, wild dogs consistently located their dens in areas of low lion density. But given the relatively small size of the national park, sometimes spatial avoidance was not possible. In these situations wild dogs avoided the lions by emerging from their dens to hunt at times when the lions were not active. Defending kills But wild dogs did not avoid spotted hyenas, either spatially or temporally. The lack of avoidance shown by the wild dogs to hyenas was probably due to the relatively large pack size of the dogs in Hluhluwe–iMfolozi National Park. This would be an advantage during a conflict and may allow the dogs to defend their kills adequately from any scavenging hyenas. Gunther concluded by saying: “we cautiously suggest that wild dogs can co-exist with lions and hyenas, but they need enough space to do so”. Carnivore competition We mostly think of large carnivores being in competition with the prey they hunt and eat. But recently there has more recognition of the conflicts that occur between different carnivore species. African wild dogs, lions and spotted hyenas are just three of many carnivores that inhabit the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi National Park in South Africa. The park is set over about 96,000 hectares, about the size of a small county. The three carnivores have similar diets; they feed on a range of prey including gazelles and other antelopes. Because they have such similar tastes, the three carnivores have to compete with each other to eat. African wild dogs are smaller than lions and hyenas and usually come off worst in conflicts. Given the lion’s size, it is not surprising that they pose the biggest threat to wild dogs during conflicts. In fact, one of the biggest causes of African wild dog mortality is predation by lions. Spotted hyenas also pose a risk, but they do not kill wild dogs. Instead hyenas are known for stealing freshly killed carcasses from wild dog packs. All conflicts of this kind are of course costly for wild dogs, but it is agreed that lions are a far larger threat to wild dogs than hyenas. Avoiding dangerKeeping this in mind, Professor Darnell of Humboldt State University, Virginia, and her colleagues from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, California, collaborated with researchers in South Africa based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of Pretoria. Their aim was to find out how African wild dogs managed to co-exist with larger carnivores. “We were very interested to see how wild dogs moved in space relative to their larger competitors, lions and hyenas. Did wild dogs avoid these other carnivores? How did they manage to share space?” Said Dr Gunther, a lead researcher at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, California. They tested the idea that wild dogs would avoid other carnivores, and the risks which they pose. It was predicted that dogs would avoid lions more strongly than hyenas, as lions pose more of a threat. ( —African wild dogs share their habitat with other, larger carnivores such as lions and spotted hyenas. In a recent paper, published in PLOS one, it was found that African wild dogs adapt their use of space to avoid some larger carnivores. This allows wild dogs to co-exist with lions and hyenas, provided there is enough space to do so. More information: Darnell AM, Graf JA, Somers MJ, Slotow R, Szykman Gunther M (2014) Space Use of African Wild Dogs in Relation to Other Large Carnivores. PLoS ONE 9(6): e98846. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098846AbstractInteraction among species through competition is a principle process structuring ecological communities, affecting behavior, distribution, and ultimately the population dynamics of species. High competition among large African carnivores, associated with extensive diet overlap, manifests in interactions between subordinate African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and dominant lions (Panthera leo) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Using locations of large carnivores in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa, we found different responses from wild dogs to their two main competitors. Wild dogs avoided lions, particularly during denning, through a combination of spatial and temporal avoidance. However, wild dogs did not exhibit spatial or temporal avoidance of spotted hyenas, likely because wild dog pack sizes were large enough to adequately defend their kills. Understanding that larger carnivores affect the movements and space use of other carnivores is important for managing current small and fragmented carnivore populations, especially as reintroductions and translocations are essential tools used for the survival of endangered species, as with African wild dogs. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Home ranges of African wild dogs, lions, and spotted hyenas during the (a) denning period, (b) post-denning period, and (c) non-denning period in 2004 in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa. Credit: PLoS ONE 9(6): e98846. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0098846last_img read more