0Shares0000Hockey gear.(Photo: D. KEVIN ELLIOTT, GANNETT)MONTREAL, Canada, Apr 7 – Hockey-mad Canada was in mourning on Saturday after a bus carrying a junior ice hockey team collided with a semi-trailer truck in Saskatchewan province, killing 14 people.In a country where love of the sport is almost a religion, the crash sparked an outpouring of grief among players and fans on social media, while national political leaders expressed their sympathies. “We can now confirm 14 people have died as a result of this collision,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a statement, which did not say how many of the victims were players or coaches of the Humboldt Broncos team.Of the total 28 people on the team bus, including the driver, 14 were taken to hospital with injuries.“Three of these people have injuries that are critical in nature,” the RCMP said.They gave no information about the status of the truck driver.The crash took place at around 5:00 pm (2300 GMT) Friday on Highway 35 about 28 kilometers (18 miles) north of the town of Tisdale, a trading center in an overwhelmingly agricultural region of the western province.The team was heading north for a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoff game against the Nipawin Hawks.Police gave no indication of the cause, but early Saturday special police investigators were still at the scene, which is roughly 150 kilometers east of Prince Albert City.The Saskatchewan league is a feeder system for higher levels of hockey, with many graduating to play at US and Canadian colleges and major junior league level, while some go on to the National Hockey League.Similar leagues operate throughout the country, their buses a regular feature of the vast country’s highways.“It is a significant accident; we had a tractor trailer and a bus collide,” RCMP Inspector Ted Monro told a press conference, declining to give details about the victims.The STARS Air Ambulance service said two of its helicopters flew to the scene.There were a “high volume of incoming trauma cases” at Royal University Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital, the Saskatchewan Health Authority said on Twitter.Both hospitals are located in Saskatoon city, about 250 kilometers from the crash site.Victims’ families were directed to Nipawin Apostolic Church for information and support.– ‘Devastated’ –The Saskatoon Star Phoenix newspaper published on its website a photo of one player who survived, Derek Patter, lying side by side with two other injured players on hospital beds, clasping each others’ hands in support. One of the young men appeared to be wearing a neck brace.“I cannot imagine what these parents are going through, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy, in the Humboldt community and beyond,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.“Our Broncos family is in shock as we try to come to grips with our incredible loss,” Broncos team president Kevin Garinger said in a statement.The team comprises 24 players, all from Canada, with the youngest aged 16 and the oldest 21.“It’s a horrible accident, my God,” Darren Opp, president of the Nipawin Hawks hockey team, told the Globe and Mail. “It’s very, very bad.“There’s uncles and moms and dads waiting to hear whether their sons and nephews are OK.”In a statement, Hockey Canada said it was “devastated” by the news.– ‘My heart is in Humboldt’ –“Our hockey community is a tight-knit family. We will come together in support of each other in the days ahead, as we mourn those lives lost, remember the injured and support those whose lives are forever changed by this tragedy,” it added.Fans and players alike shared messages of condolences using the hashtag #PrayforHumboldt.“My entire career I’ve looked forward to every bus trip,” tweeted Anaheim Ducks National Hockey League defenseman Steven Oleksy.“It’s a place where players can forget what happens on the ice. 2night my heart is in Humboldt.”An online fundraising page set up by a woman listed on social media as a Humboldt resident raised nearly CAN$40,000 (US$31,000) in a matter of hours.The collision brought back memories of a single vehicle bus crash in December 1986, also in Saskatchewan, that killed four members of the Western Hockey League Swift Current Broncos.The Swift Current Broncos also shared their condolences.“Humboldt Broncos weighing heavy in our hearts and minds tonight,” the team said on Twitter.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
Rosh Sewpersad pioneered Cape Town’s first public-private environmental stewardship programme to preserve the country’s valuable fynbos heritage. Watsonias, found on Nirvana Farm, a type of Atlantis Sandveld fybos. Gladiolus caryophyllaceus which was thought to be extinct in the wild was rediscovered at Nirvana Fynbos Reserve in 2006. Controlled burns are important as they help to regenerate and activate dormant fynbos seeds.(Images: Rosh Sewpersad)MEDIA CONTACTS• Rosh Sewpersad +27 21 658 7206Wilma den HartighA South African fynbos conservationist has taken the lead to establish Cape Town’s first ever public-private environmental stewardship programme to preserve the country’s valuable fynbos heritage.Fynbos is a term given to a collection of plants, mainly shrubs, which form part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. This is the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms and the only one to be found entirely within one country. It is home to more types of indigenous plants than any similar sized area on earth.It all started in 2005, when Rosh Sewpersad bought a piece of land near the town of Atlantis in South Africa’s West Coast region.The land came at a good price and his goal was to rehabilitate the farm, but this was not an easy job – it was severely neglected and densely overgrown with alien vegetation.“While exploring the farm we had to tie string to the shrubs not to get lost,” he remembers.Sewpersad had no idea that once he started clearing the overgrown vegetation on Nirvana Farm he would discover an endangered species of fynbos known as Atlantis Sandveld.This was a significant find as Atlantis Sandveld was previously thought to be extinct.Working with land ownersThrough his efforts to rehabilitate the land, Sewpersad realised the importance of involving private land owners to protect South Africa’s fynbos vegetation.To protect as much fynbos as possible, conservation efforts can’t focus only on reserves and parks, particularly as some of South Africa’s most scarce and threatened habitats are in private ownership.“The amount of fynbos found on private land is significant,” Sewpersad says.In 2009 the first ever stewardship agreement was established with the City of Cape Town, under which Nirvana Farm was declared a conservation area.The programme offers various incentives for land owners, such as rates rebates and support from the City of Cape Town’s fire department to perform ecological burns.“Controlled burns are important as they help to regenerate and activate dormant fynbos seeds,” explains Sewpersad.Through the programme landowners are also supplied with herbicides that prevent alien vegetation from sprouting again.A love for conservationSewpersad, who works as a systems analyst, has no formal training in botany or conservation but it is his interest in the indigenous shrubs that drives him.“I’ve always been interested in conservation causes so it was a natural progression to get involved in fynbos,” he says.His work to preserve the internationally significant biodiversity on Nirvana Farm is also getting noticed, and recently the Mail & Guardian newspaper named him one of this year’s 200 young South Africans, an annual campaign recognising young people under the age of 35 who are doing extraordinary things.A uniquely South African plant under threatSouth Africa’s treasured fynbos vegetation is something unique that the country can lay claim to, and it is an important part of the country’s natural and cultural heritage.Fynbos is famous not only for the diversity of its plant species but also the beauty of its wildflowers.“Preserving fynbos makes sense for so many reasons,” Sewpersad says.Cape fynbos is characterised by exceptionally high numbers of highly localised species – including some that are restricted to areas as little as one square kilometre.It is a major draw card for tourism in the Western Cape, but fynbos has also been used extensively in food preparation, for natural medicine and even in popular culture with traditional songs such as Suikerbossie ek wil jou hê (Afrikaans for ‘Sugarbush, I want you so’), says Sewpersad.This is an Afrikaans folk song and the word “suikerbossie” is used as a term of endearment that could be translated as “sweetie”. The suikerbossie is also a species of protea endemic to the Cape Floral kingdom.Alien vegetation is a threatBut now the conservation of fynbos is coming under pressure and Sewpersad says that in the Cape more than one-third of the species are endangered.The greatest threats to Sandveld fynbos are unsustainable land use and the encroachment of introduced alien vegetation such as Acacia saligna or Port Jackson, Australian myrtle and wattle.Sandveld fynbos was once found along the West Coast, almost as far as the Namibian border. According to Sewpersad it mostly occurs in acidic, coarse-grained soils that are poor in nitrogen and phosphorus.It rarely develops in areas of drought and occurs on the sandy soils of the mountains and coastal plains.This is why alien vegetation is a serious threat to the survival of such fynbos species.Sewpersad explains that in the 1950s and 1960s alien vegetation was introduced to stabilise sand dunes on the West Coast.“At the time, they didn’t realise impact in years to come,” he says.As alien vegetation has no natural predators, there is no way to keep populations in check. “What alien vegetation does is change the soil type so that it becomes unfriendly to fynbos.”Expanding the programmeNext Sewpersad would like to expand the programme to make larger conservation reserves or corridors of fynbos.“This will increase conservation impact if the area is larger,” he says. “Conservation becomes more effective when you link up various green belts.”He is working with the City of Cape Town to establish such corridors, but says this part of the project is also a good opportunity for private companies to get involved through corporate social investment projects.He believes South Africa should do more to market the unique shrub. Fynbos isn’t only beautiful to look at, but it could be exported successfully as cut flowers. After all, one of South Africa’s biggest exports, rooibos tea, is also derived from fynbos species endemic to the Clanwilliam Cederberg area.As he continues to rehabilitate the farm and restore it to its natural beauty, he’s discovering more exceptionally rare and endangered species. Already 186 other plants have been unearthed, of which 33 are critically endangered and on the Red Data list of threatened species.Sewpersad’s dedication to protecting this internationally significant vegetation type is paying off, but he says there is more work to do.“We work hard to remain true to our role as custodians of a last remaining example of naturally-occurring Atlantis Sandveld fynbos in the world – a product of 71-million years of evolution,” he says.
Coordinators of the Maratha Kranti Morcha have decided to not hold future demonstrations on roads. They will instead resort to peaceful sit-ins outside houses of MPs and MLAs. At a meeting held in Parli of Beed district on Thursday, they demanded that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announce reservation to the Maratha community by August 7 and the government dissolve the cabinet sub-committee headed by Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil.“If the government fails to do these, the Morcha will resume its State-wide agitation from August 9,” Abasaheb Patil, one of the coordinators, said.The coordinators claimed that none of the Maratha quota agitators were involved in the violence that erupted at various places during the agitation. “Action should be taken against those responsible for the clashes,” Mr. Patil said.The members hinted that Parli will henceforth be the decision-making centre of the protest. “We will form a separate committee to hold parleys with the government,” Ramesh Kere-Patil, another coordinator, said. However, Morcha coordinators in other districts are not pleased with the meeting in Beed, and accuse Mr. Patil and other leaders of trying to hog the limelight by making Parli the future nerve centre.“The prominent members in the Parli meet like Mr. Abasaheb Patil belong to the Chhava Sanghatana, a minor Maratha outfit. By holding an impromptu press meet without consulting coordinators in other districts, they are trying to monopolise the movement. But, the protest is beyond any single outfit’s control,” Shantaram Kunjir, a coordinator in Pune, told The Hindu.In a parallel development, the Pune Rural Police arrested 18 persons, including three minors, for arson, and damage to public property during the clashes in Chakan. The police have also identified nearly 100 people who were part of groups indulged in vandalism.