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Eastern Mongolia supports one of the most important breeding populations of the White-naped Crane Antigone vipio (WNC), which is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN. Large numbers of WNCs were found to be breeding at high densities within the Ulz River basin during surveys conducted in 2000 and 2001, along a 270 km section of the river. Following these surveys, an extended drought continuing for at least a decade has threatened wetland ecosystems throughout Eastern Mongolia. This study reports the findings of surveys conducted in 2010 and 2011 along the same section of the Ulz River surveyed a decade earlier, as well as a generalised survey of other sites where breeding WNCs had previously been recorded. Along the Ulz River, populations declined from 42 territorial pairs in 2001 to 17 in 2011. Estimates of detection probability using distance sampling and occupancy methods at two locations gave consistent results of 23%–27% detectability. With a minimum population of 234 WNCs observed across all sites in 2011, these detection probabilities suggest that the areas surveyed support the majority of breeding WNCs in the western population. Although we cannot exclude the movement of WNCs beyond the survey area, these findings also suggest that the population has declined between 2001 and 2011. Exploration of key habitat variables using occupancy models and generalized linear mixed models found that WNCs favoured areas of high wet vegetation (estimated as ‘wet meadow’ coverage and using normalized difference vegetation index), and low grazing pressure. Given the importance of water resources to WNCs and nomadic herding communities, use of wetland habitat must be carefully managed to balance the needs of cranes and people, particularly during periods of drought.
The death of Nelson Mandela on 5 December 2013 was in a sense a wake-up call for South Africans, and a time to reflect on what has been achieved since ‘those magnificent days in late April 1994’ (as the editors of this volume put it) ‘when South Africans of all colours voted for the first time in a democratic election’. In a time of recall and reflection it is important to take account, not only of the dramatic events that grip the headlines, but also of other signposts that indicate the shape and characteristics of a society. The New South African Review looks, every year, at some of these signposts, and the essays in this fourth volume of the series again examine and analyse a broad spectrum of issues affecting the country. They tackle topics as diverse as the state of organised labour; food retailing; electricity generation; access to information; civil courage; the school system; and – looking outside the country to its place in the world – South Africa’s relationships with north-east Asia, with Israel and with its neighbours in the southern African region. Taken together, these essays give a multidimensional perspective on South Africa’s democracy as it turns twenty, and will be of interest to general readers while being particularly useful to students and researchers.
A Fragile Democracy – Twenty Years On, the fourth New South African Review, is one of doubtless numerous attempts to characterise the state of South Africa some two decades after those magnificent days in late April 1994 when South Africans of all colours voted for the first time in a democratic election. As we write this, we are approaching the country's fourth such election, a significant indicator of the overall success of our democratic transition – for although there may prove to be wrinkles there is every expectation that the forthcoming contest will again be ‘free and fair’. Nonetheless, there are likely to be changes in the electoral landscape, there being significant prospect at time of writing that the ruling African National Congress's (ANC's) proportion of the vote will fall below 60 per cent, the level of electoral dominance it has consistently achieved hitherto. While the ANC can claim many triumphs, and can convincingly claim to have transformed South Africa for the better (materially and spiritually), there is nonetheless widespread discontent abroad. The ANC itself displays many divisions. The Tripartite Alliance (which links it to the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu)), is creaking; it is threatened by new opposition parties which appeal to disaffection – especially among the poor and those who feel excluded from the benefits of democracy – and even the established opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) today seeks to cloak itself in the mantle of Mandela. Even while the ANC boasts about steady growth, more jobs, improved service delivery and better standards of living for the majority, critics point out that the economy is stagnating, unemployment remains stubbornly high, corruption flourishes, popular protest abounds, and government and many public services (notably the intelligence agencies and the police) have earned an alarming reputation for unaccountability. So we could go on – but we won't, as we would rather encourage our readers to engage with the wide-ranging set of original essays provided by our authors.
Pallas’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus (PFE) is sparsely distributed across a vast swathe of central, eastern and southern Asia, and is classified as ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN on the basis of population size and reports of declines in many areas. Mongolia has long been considered a breeding stronghold for the species, but evidence to support this is unclear. Our objective was to assess the current distribution and status of the PFE in Mongolia to enable a more accurate assessment of the species’ conservation status, through collation of existing information from the historical literature, and a contemporary survey of historical sites and potential PFE breeding habitat. Thirty-four traceable locations were identified in the historical literature, of which breeding activity had been recorded in seven. Field surveys were conducted at a total of 77 sites throughout the study period (2005–2011) between April and October, including 21 of the historical PFE locations. PFE were observed at eight sites, all of which were historical PFEs locations, and no evidence of breeding activity was recorded. These findings suggest that Mongolia is not (and may never have been) a breeding stronghold for the PFE. The lack of eagles at 13 of 21 historical sites surveyed, coupled with a lack of sightings of birds at alternative locations is suggestive of a decline in site occupancy. Observations of juvenile eagles within one month of the spring thaw suggests that at least a proportion of Mongolian PFEs are breeding at southern latitudes, and future studies to establish these migratory linkages are warranted. These findings, coupled with evidence of declines in other parts of the PFE range indicate a need to re-evaluate the species’ conservation status, and in particular to determine the number of mature PFEs present in suitable habitat in the Indian Subcontinent and Myanmar between November and March.
Asian vultures have undergone dramatic declines of 90–99% in the Indian Subcontinent, as a consequence of poisoning by veterinary use of the drug diclofenac, and are at a high risk of extinction. Cambodia supports one of the only populations of three species (White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Slender-billed Vulture G. tenuirostris and Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus) outside of South Asia where diclofenac use is not widespread. Conservation of the Cambodian sub-populations is therefore a global priority. This study analyses the results of a long-term research programme into Cambodian vultures that was initiated in 2004. Population sizes of each species are estimated at 50–200+ individuals, ranging across an area of approximately 300 km by 250 km, including adjacent areas in Laos and Vietnam. The principal causes of vulture mortality were poisoning (73%), probably as an accidental consequence of local hunting and fishing practices, and hunting or capture for traditional medicine (15%). This represents a significant loss from such a small population of long-lived, slow breeding, species such as vultures. Cambodian vultures are severely food limited and are primarily dependent on domestic ungulate carcasses, as wild ungulate populations have been severely depleted over the past 20 years. Local people across the vulture range still follow traditional animal husbandry practices, including releasing livestock into the open deciduous dipterocarp forest areas when they are not needed for work, providing the food source. Reducing threats through limiting the use of poisons (which are also harmful for human health) and supplementary food provisioning in the short to medium-term through ‘vulture restaurants’ is critical if Cambodian vultures are to be conserved.
Neonatology as a subspecialty was established in 1975. There have been adventures and misadventures. There have been advances and declines. However, with a greater understanding of normal development and physiology, the improvements in technology and the utilization of evidence-based medicine, our subspecialty continues to thrive. Much of our success has been due to the better use of ventilation techniques and the development of newer antibiotics to treat infectious conditions.
However, it was known early on that nutrition was an essential part of our equation for success. With the increasing survival of premature and extremely premature infants and the increasing incidence of prematurity, nutrition as an adjunct to the care of the tiny premature infant is of paramount importance. Appropriate nutritional therapy should allow for maximum growth without adverse effects and evidence suggests that infants who grow at the highest quartiles have better neurocognitive outcomes. It is also well recognized that extrauterine growth restriction due to other morbidities and inadequate nutritional intervention can lead to poor outcomes. The full-term infant and late-preterm infant have multiple avenues available to provide adequate nutrition for growth. However, the preterm and especially the extremely low birthweight infant (ELBW) still present great challenges.
This monograph entitled “Nutritional Strategies for the Very Low Birthweight Infant” presents a method to understand the complexity of nutrition in this gestational age and weight group and to provide “strategies” for therapy. The chapters discuss energy, the basic components of nutrition (carbohydrate, protein, fat), vitamins, minerals and trace elements. In addition, there is information regarding human milk, infant formulas and influences on neurodevelopmental and growth outcomes.
It is probable that ‘The Farm Beneath the Sand’ will come to stand for a revolution in archaeological investigation. The authors show that a core of soil from an open field can provide a narrative of grazing animals, human occupation and their departure, just using DNA and AMS dating. In this case the conventional archaeological remains were nearby, and the sequence obtained by the old methods of digging and faunal analysis correlated well with the story from the core of ancient ‘dirt’ DNA. The potential for mapping the human, animal and plant experience of the planet is stupendous.