Cinnamon Frog Species in Perilous State Successfully Bred in UK

A tree frog at London Zoo in January 2012. Reuters file photo
A tree frog at London Zoo in January 2012. Reuters file photo
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Cinnamon Frog Species in Perilous State Successfully Bred in UK

A tree frog at London Zoo in January 2012. Reuters file photo
A tree frog at London Zoo in January 2012. Reuters file photo

A frog species that is in a “perilous state” due to an infectious disease has been successfully bred at a wildlife park in Oxfordshire, according to The Guardian.

Keepers at the Cotswold wildlife park in Burford have again bred the near-threatened cinnamon frog, four years after it became only the second zoological collection in Europe to breed the species.

Reptile keepers have paid homage to the name and called the froglets after different colored spices including paprika, cayenne, saffron, chipotle and chilly, and they are being looked after in a specialist amphibian breeding room.

Jamie Craig, general manager of Cotswold wildlife park, said the species is in a “perilous state” due to the chytrid fungus, an infectious disease in frogs.

“Our dedicated reptile team have been working hard to perfect breeding techniques in our Amphibian Room,” he said.

“Many frog species have incredibly specific requirements, and it is a testament to their hard work that they have now managed to replicate our previous success with the cinnamon frogs,” he added.

“With the perilous state of many amphibian species in the world due to the Chytrid fungus, any expertise garnered from the captive populations may well be important tools for the future of these fascinating creatures,” Craig explained.

Only five other zoos in Europe keep the species with one other successfully breeding the frogs in the last 12 months, according to the wildlife park.



Pakistan Temperatures Cross 52 C in Heatwave

 People cool off at Angori dam on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, 27 May 2024. (EPA)
People cool off at Angori dam on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, 27 May 2024. (EPA)
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Pakistan Temperatures Cross 52 C in Heatwave

 People cool off at Angori dam on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, 27 May 2024. (EPA)
People cool off at Angori dam on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan, 27 May 2024. (EPA)

Temperatures rose above 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, the highest reading of the summer and close to the country’s record high amid an ongoing heatwave, the met office said on Monday.

Extreme temperatures throughout Asia over the past month were made worse most likely as a result of human-driven climate change, a team of international scientists have said.

In Mohenjo Daro, a town in Sindh known for archaeological sites that date back to the Indus Valley Civilization built in 2500 BC, temperatures rose as high as 52.2 C (126 F) over the last 24 hours, a senior official of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Shahid Abbas told Reuters.

The reading is the highest of the summer so far, and approached the town's and country's record highs of 53.5 C (128.3 F) and 54 C (129.2 F) respectively.

Mohenjo Daro is a small town that experiences extremely hot summers and mild winters, and low rainfall, but its limited markets, including bakeries, tea shops, mechanics, electronic repair shops, and fruit and vegetable sellers, are usually bustling with customers.

But with the current heatwave, shops are seeing almost no footfall.

"The customers are not coming to the restaurant because of extreme heat. I sit idle at the restaurant with these tables and chairs and without any customers," Wajid Ali, 32, who owns a tea stall in the town.

"I take baths several times a day which gives me a little relief. Also there is no power. The heat has made us very uneasy."

Close to Ali's shop is an electronic repairs shop run by Abdul Khaliq, 30, who was sat working with the shop's shutter half down to shield him from the sun. Khaliq also complained about the heat affecting business.

Local doctor Mushtaq Ahmed added that the locals have adjusted to living in the extreme weather conditions and prefer staying indoors or near water.

“Pakistan is the fifth most vulnerable country to the impact of climate change. We have witnessed above normal rains, floods,” Rubina Khursheed Alam, the prime minister’s coordinator on climate, said at a news conference on Friday adding that the government is running awareness campaigns due to the heatwaves.

The highest temperature recorded in Pakistan was in 2017 when temperatures rose to 54 C (129.2 F) in the city of Turbat, located in the Southwestern province of Balochistan. This was the second hottest in Asia and fourth highest in the world, said Sardar Sarfaraz, Chief Meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department

The heatwave will subside in Mohenjo Daro and surrounding areas, but another spell is expected to hit other areas in Sindh, including the capital, Karachi - Pakistan's largest city.


Chasing Cheese Wheels or Lugging Sacks of Wool, UK Competitors Embrace Quirky Extreme Races

 People compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Brockworth, Britain May 27, 2024. (Reuters)
People compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Brockworth, Britain May 27, 2024. (Reuters)
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Chasing Cheese Wheels or Lugging Sacks of Wool, UK Competitors Embrace Quirky Extreme Races

 People compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Brockworth, Britain May 27, 2024. (Reuters)
People compete in the annual Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling competition in Brockworth, Britain May 27, 2024. (Reuters)

Dairy-loving daredevils threw caution to the wind Monday for one of Britain’s most extreme annual events: Cheese rolling.

Cheered by several thousand spectators, scores of reckless racers chased 7-pound (3 kilogram) wheels of Double Gloucester cheese down the near-vertical Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in southwest England. The first racer to finish behind the fast-rolling cheese in each race gets to keep it.

The races have been held at Cooper’s Hill, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of London, since at least 1826, and the sport of cheese-rolling is believed to be much older.

The rough-and-tumble event often comes with safety concerns. Few competitors manage to stay on their feet all the way down the 200-yard (180 meter) hill.

This year’s hill was especially slippery and muddy after recent rain. Members of a local rugby club lined up at the bottom to catch the tumbling competitors.

Tom Kopke from Munich, Germany won one of the three men's races. He said attitude was more important than technique.

"You start and then the adrenaline takes over and you just go, go go," Kopke said.

"Look at this event, look at this hill," added the muddy, breathless winner. "England is mad. I love it."

Local competitor Josh Shepherd and Dylan Twiss from Perth, Australia won the other two men's downhill races. Abby Lampe from North Carolina triumphed in the women’s race with a lighting-fast roll that left the rest of the field far behind.

"You just have to roll," said Lampe, a graduate of NC State who also won in 2022. "There’s a little bit of pain, but it’s just going to be temporary."

Dozens of children and adults also competed in safer and slower, but no less grueling, uphill versions of the race, which are traditionally held on a late-May national holiday.

About 20 miles (32 kilometers) away in the town of Tetbury, competitors carried sacks of wool weighing up to 60 pounds (27 kilograms) over a 240-yard (220-meter) course up and down steep Gumstool Hill.

The Tetbury Woolsack Races have been held since 1972, drawing on a local tradition dating back to the 17th century in the historic wool-trading town.


Indonesia’s Mt Ibu Erupts as Agency Warns Local Aviation Authorities 

This handout picture taken and released on May 21, 2024 by the Indonesian Geological Agency shows Mount Ibu spewing volcanic ash as seen from the monitoring post in West Halmahera, North Maluku. (Photo by Indonesian Geological Agency / AFP)
This handout picture taken and released on May 21, 2024 by the Indonesian Geological Agency shows Mount Ibu spewing volcanic ash as seen from the monitoring post in West Halmahera, North Maluku. (Photo by Indonesian Geological Agency / AFP)
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Indonesia’s Mt Ibu Erupts as Agency Warns Local Aviation Authorities 

This handout picture taken and released on May 21, 2024 by the Indonesian Geological Agency shows Mount Ibu spewing volcanic ash as seen from the monitoring post in West Halmahera, North Maluku. (Photo by Indonesian Geological Agency / AFP)
This handout picture taken and released on May 21, 2024 by the Indonesian Geological Agency shows Mount Ibu spewing volcanic ash as seen from the monitoring post in West Halmahera, North Maluku. (Photo by Indonesian Geological Agency / AFP)

A volcano on the remote Indonesian island of Halmahera erupted on Monday spewing a grey ash cloud six kms (four miles) into the sky, the country's volcanology agency said, adding it had issued a warning for aviation authorities managing local flights.

This follows a series of eruptions this month after authorities noticed an uptick of volcanic activity since April, leading to evacuations of people from seven nearby villages.

"The ash column is seen to be thick and grey and moving westward," the agency said, adding the eruption occurred at 3 a.m. local time (7 p.m. GMT) and recommending that a seven-km (4.35-mile) radius be cleared.

Footage shared by the agency on Monday showed the volcano spewing ash that grew thicker and eventually obscured it.

The agency also issued a "red" color code warning to local aviation authorities on Monday, the highest of its kind due to ash exceeding six kms in height, its website stated.

It previously raised the alert level of the volcano to the highest on its scale on May 16.

Ibu's activities follow a series of eruptions of different volcanoes in Indonesia, which sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and has 127 active volcanoes.

Flash floods and cold lava flow from Mount Marapi, one of the most active in West Sumatra province, covered several nearby districts following torrential rain on May 11, killing at least 62 people with 10 people still missing.

In recent weeks North Sulawesi's Ruang volcano has erupted, spewing incandescent lava. The eruption prompted authorities to evacuate more than 12,000 people on a nearby island.


Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High Speed Railway Eases Pilgrim Travel Between Makkah, Madinah

With a capacity for 60 million passengers a year and speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the Haramain High Speed Railway meets the increasing demand for transportation services in Saudi Arabia. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
With a capacity for 60 million passengers a year and speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the Haramain High Speed Railway meets the increasing demand for transportation services in Saudi Arabia. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Arabia’s Haramain High Speed Railway Eases Pilgrim Travel Between Makkah, Madinah

With a capacity for 60 million passengers a year and speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the Haramain High Speed Railway meets the increasing demand for transportation services in Saudi Arabia. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
With a capacity for 60 million passengers a year and speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the Haramain High Speed Railway meets the increasing demand for transportation services in Saudi Arabia. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Pilgrims arriving in Saudi Arabia for this year’s Hajj season will benefit from a well-organized transportation system. The system ensures pilgrims safe and comfortable travel between Makkah and Medina, enhancing their spiritual journey.

In the past, pilgrims traveled between Makkah and Madinah on camelback, a journey that took almost 10 days. Now, with cars and buses, it’s down to about 6 hours.

But with the “Haramain High Speed Railway,” pilgrims can make the trip in just 135 minutes.

Once on board, pilgrims have everything they need for a comfortable journey, allowing them to focus on their worship and prayers. The railway project, one of the largest in the Middle East, is providing around 1.6 million seats on 3,800 trips for pilgrims and visitors this Hajj season.

The train stations in Makkah and Madinah are conveniently located near the holy sites.

With a capacity for 60 million passengers a year and speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, the railway meets the increasing demand for transportation services.

At the train stations in the al-Sulaymaniyah district and King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat observed smooth passenger traffic. Local staff warmly welcomed the pilgrims, assisting them with inquiries and guiding them to departure lounges while informing them of train schedules.

Passenger journeys start with quick procedures, checking reservations and luggage allowances. Passengers then move to the departure lounge and to their seats, which are comfortable with individual screens.

The train provides services for business class and support for passengers with special needs.

Operations run with 35 electric trains, each carrying up to 417 passengers. These trains have 13 carriages, five for business class and eight for economy, all equipped with food vending carts.

Many travelers praised the top-notch care they received upon arriving in Saudi Arabia, highlighting the Haramain High Speed Railway.

The pilgrims appreciated the “excellent and outstanding” services that made traveling between the two holy cities easier.

E-services let travelers book early, check schedules, and choose departure stations.

The smooth running of train journeys and punctual schedules across different stations show how well the teams manage the numerous daily trips along the electric railway track.

Stations are located in Makkah, Madinah, al-Sulaymaniyah district, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, and King Abdullah Economic City station in the Rabigh governorate.

The stations’ architectural design is inspired by the landmarks of Makkah and Madinah, reflecting their Islamic and unique architectural styles. The stations offer various traveler services like parking, e-booking, ticket counters, and assistance desks.

The station at King Abdulaziz International Airport is the world’s largest airport-connected train station, covering over 105,000 square meters with multiple floors and six platforms, making it easy for travelers heading to Makkah or Madinah.

Since its launch in 2018, the Haramain High Speed Railway’s success has made booking, scheduling, and travel between the holy sites easier for a growing number of passengers.

Built with high-quality standards and safety features, the train plays a crucial role in Saudi Arabia’s railway network development and expansion plan.


Palestinian Man Moves Most Animals from Rafah Zoo

A keeper cares for animals of the Rafah Zoo after their evacuation to a location in Khan Yunis in the Gaza strip on May 22, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
A keeper cares for animals of the Rafah Zoo after their evacuation to a location in Khan Yunis in the Gaza strip on May 22, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Palestinian Man Moves Most Animals from Rafah Zoo

A keeper cares for animals of the Rafah Zoo after their evacuation to a location in Khan Yunis in the Gaza strip on May 22, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
A keeper cares for animals of the Rafah Zoo after their evacuation to a location in Khan Yunis in the Gaza strip on May 22, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

In a cowshed in Gaza's Khan Yunis, zookeeper Fathi Ahmed Gomaa has created a temporary home for dozens of animals including lions and baboons, having fled with them from Israel's offensive in Rafah.

"We've moved all the animals we had, except for three big lions that remain (in Rafah)", he told Agence France Presse.

"I ran out of time and couldn't move them."

Ahmed abandoned his zoo in Rafah when Israel ordered the evacuation of parts of the southern Gazan city.

Before the offensive, the city on the border with Egypt had been spared a ground invasion and more than half of the Gaza Strip's population was sheltering there.

"I am appealing to the Israeli authorities: these animals have no connection to terrorism", Gomaa told AFP, saying he wanted their help in coordinating with aid agencies to rescue the lions left behind in Rafah.

He fears they won't survive long on their own.

"Of course, within a week or 10 days, if we don't get them out they will die because they'll be left with no food or water."

Gomaa said he had already lost several of his animals to the war. "Three lion cubs, five monkeys, a newborn monkey and nine squirrels," he said.

And while the squawking of parrots fills the air, many of Gomaa's other birds are no longer with him.

"I released some of the dogs, some of the hawks and eagles, some of the pigeons and some of the ornamental birds. I released a lot of them because we didn't have cages to transport them."

In the cowshed, Gomaa is making do with what he has, using improvised fencing to raise the heights of the pens so that their new inhabitants, spotted deer, can't leap out.


Saudi Arabia’s Soudah Development Announces Birth of 3 Ibexes in Soudah Peaks Project Area

These new arrivals follow the release of 23 ibexes into the natural areas last year. (SPA)
These new arrivals follow the release of 23 ibexes into the natural areas last year. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Soudah Development Announces Birth of 3 Ibexes in Soudah Peaks Project Area

These new arrivals follow the release of 23 ibexes into the natural areas last year. (SPA)
These new arrivals follow the release of 23 ibexes into the natural areas last year. (SPA)

The Soudah Development Company, a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, announced the birth of three ibexes in the "Red Rock" area within King Abdullah National Park in Soudah.

These new arrivals follow the release of 23 ibexes into the natural areas last year in collaboration with the National Center for Wildlife (NCW) as part of the company's initiative to release endangered animals and the center's program to breed and re-localize wildlife species, reported the Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.

Previously, the NCW released two mothers who recently gave birth to the ibexes in the "Red Rock" area. The third mother, approximately two years old, was born in an enclosed area before being released into the project area in February 2023 and recently gave birth in the park, contributing to the increase in ibex numbers within the protected area.

Currently, Soudah Development Company is monitoring nine ibexes and providing a suitable environment for them to live in the park's "Red Rock" area.

CEO of Soudah Development Company, Eng. Saleh Al-Oraini, stressed that these births represent a significant step towards re-localizing endangered species and enhancing ecosystems in the region.

He also highlighted the company's steadfast commitment to the goals of the Saudi Green Initiative and its contribution to the sustainability of the local environment and biodiversity in the Soudah Peaks.


Sunday Cricket an Escape for Migrant Workers in Lebanon

Migrants living in Lebanon take part in a cricket match held at a parking lot in Beirut on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
Migrants living in Lebanon take part in a cricket match held at a parking lot in Beirut on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Sunday Cricket an Escape for Migrant Workers in Lebanon

Migrants living in Lebanon take part in a cricket match held at a parking lot in Beirut on May 19, 2024. (AFP)
Migrants living in Lebanon take part in a cricket match held at a parking lot in Beirut on May 19, 2024. (AFP)

In a Beirut car park, migrant workers cheer as their teams face off in a cricket tournament, a moment of respite in crisis-hit Lebanon, where working conditions are often tough.

"Sunday we are so happy... We eat together, we laugh together," said cricketer Pradeepa Silva, a 42-year-old Sri Lankan, as she and her teammates prepared coconut rice and other traditional food nearby to share.

"Work is very tiring" and workers are stressed and worried, said Silva, who is employed as a housemaid six days a week and pays for her daughter's university studies back home.

Every Sunday, players mainly from Sri Lanka but also from the Philippines, India and Pakistan gather in Beirut's Ashrafieh neighborhood to play cricket -- a little-known sport in Lebanon.

Migrant workers are employed under Lebanon's controversial "kafala" sponsorship system, which rights groups have repeatedly denounced saying that it enables a wide range of abuses.

On May 19, several hundred people gathered for a tournament that also brought together traditional food stalls, a DJ playing Bollywood hits and other music, teams from the British and Sri Lankan embassies and young Syrian refugee players.

Iris Sagario from the Philippines ran onto the field for the Roaring Lions women's team, wearing an orange and blue shirt with her name printed on the back.

"I love cricket," said the 43-year-old, who works as a housekeeper. "I'm very excited to play every Sunday" -- her only day off.

After winning their match, Sagario's team broke out into cheers, hugging and high-fiving each other. They went on to take the women's trophy.

- 'Lord's of Lebanon' -

More than 160,000 migrants from 84 nationalities were in Lebanon last year, according to a report from the International Organization for Migration.

With daily bombardment in south Lebanon as Hezbollah and the Israeli army clash amid tensions over the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza, some foreign embassies have advised their nationals to leave the country.

"At first I was worried" but "my sir (employer) assured me that all is good," said Sagario, who was also in Lebanon in 2006, when Israel and Hezbollah last went to war.

"I'm choosing to stay because... I don't know what I'll do if I go back to the Philippines. I want to give financial (help) to my family," she said.

Curious passersby sometimes peered over a tumbledown stone wall to watch the matches.

Organizer Fernando Sugath, 52, from Sri Lanka said some players nicknamed the car park they have been using for around two decades "Lord's of Lebanon", a reference to the famous Lord's cricket ground in London, which is known as the "home of cricket".

Matches in the car park were halted for five years when the players lost access to the site but resumed in 2022, Sugath said.

His team changed its name to the Saint Joseph Cricket Club in honor of the neighboring church that helped them return to the site.

- 'Let them have some freedom' -

Migrant workers at the cricket match "are very lucky that they've got some good employers who give them the Sunday off", said Sugath, who first came to Lebanon in 1996 as a cleaner and is now an administrative assistant.

Rights groups have long criticized Lebanon's restrictive sponsorship system, saying it facilitates exploitation and leaves migrant workers at the mercy of their employers, amid persistent reports of physical and sexual abuse, unpaid wages and long work hours.

Sugath appealed to all employers to give workers "at least one hour, two hours off on Sunday... Let them have some freedom, let them use the phone, call their families".

As the men's competition kicked off, big hitters began smashing the ball into the trees lining the car park as fielders scrambled for a catch.

Majid Satti, 39, from Pakistan, captains the Eleven Brothers team -- with five players from Pakistan and six from India -- which came runner-up in the men's tournament.

Their two countries have long had a strained relationship, but "we have no issue... we are all like brothers here," said Satti, a concierge who has been in Lebanon for 15 years.

Vice-captain Raju Singh, 41, from India, said the players "never think about" politics.

An electrician by trade, Singh wore his team's traditional cricket whites, with long white trousers and shoes, and was among those in charge of the coin toss to decide which teams would field or bat first.

The Lebanese 500 lira coin he used, valued until 2019 at around 35 US cents, is now worth less than a single cent following Lebanon's economic collapse, during which some migrant workers were abandoned by their employers and others pushed to leave the country.

Singh said he loved cricket and travelled almost 30 kilometers (20 miles) each week for the Sunday games.

"When we finish (and) we go home, we are waiting for next Sunday," he said.


Saudi Ginseng Returns after 20 Years in the Northern Borders

The "abab" plant, also known as "Saudi ginseng" or "ashwagandha", has returned after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Borders Region. (SPA)
The "abab" plant, also known as "Saudi ginseng" or "ashwagandha", has returned after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Borders Region. (SPA)
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Saudi Ginseng Returns after 20 Years in the Northern Borders

The "abab" plant, also known as "Saudi ginseng" or "ashwagandha", has returned after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Borders Region. (SPA)
The "abab" plant, also known as "Saudi ginseng" or "ashwagandha", has returned after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Borders Region. (SPA)

The "abab" plant, also known as "Saudi ginseng" or "ashwagandha", has returned after a 20-year absence in the deserts of the Northern Borders Region, the Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday.
This evergreen shrub with yellow flowers has reemerged, alongside other wild plants.
In an interview with SPA, Director of the Amana Environmental Association in the region Nasser Rashid Al-Majlad, said that the area's rich green wealth presents economic opportunities. By utilizing natural plant resources, the region can enhance biodiversity, combat desertification, expand green spaces, promote tourism, and foster human development.
Al-Majlad said that these efforts align with the principles of the green economy, which aims to strike a balance between economic and environmental needs for the benefit of both humanity and the planet.
Khonaysser Al-Anazi, a plant enthusiast, said the abab plants on the outskirts of Arar city reappeared due to increased rainfall and the expansion of green areas. He highlighted the potential for cultivation and utilization of these plants for various purposes.


Culling Controversy as French Wolf Population Falls in 2023

There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP
There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP
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Culling Controversy as French Wolf Population Falls in 2023

There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP
There is increasing controversy about the status of wolves in France - AFP

The estimated number of wolves in France last year was 1,003, down nine percent from the year before, environmental associations said earlier this week, urging the French government to lower its quota for the number of the animals which can be killed each year.

The drop in the predator's population is the first in almost ten years, according to loupfrance.fr, a site managed by France’s biodiversity authority.

"This new estimate reinforces the finding that the species' conservation status is not good," the six conservation groups wrote.

The current quota allows for 19 percent of the French wolf population to be legally killed.

But an administrative source close to the matter —- who confirmed the 1,003 figure —- told AFP that current hunting limits would be maintained, allowing for "209 wolves" to be culled, AFP reported.

The percentage is "based on the estimated population at the end of the winter, which was 1,104," said the source, asking not to be named.

The number of wolf attacks is also on the rise, added the source.

For their part, agricultural groups argue culling nearly one-fifth of the predator's population is still too low to prevent what they say is a growing number of attacks on livestock.

Wolves had vanished from France but began returning in the 1990s, with farmers saying they suffered 12,000 attacks on their animals in 2022.

"For 2024, we're expecting to see an increase in the number of reports and victims," said a representative for France's sheep farmers group, Claude Font.

"If we hold at 19 percent of the estimated wolf population, we're not going to stop the number of sheep being killed," he said, calling for political action at the highest level to increase the percentage.

But for League of the Protection of Birds (LPO) president Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, "wolves are being sacrificed on the altar of agricultural demagoguery".

In addition to authorised hunting, "we're seeing an upsurge in poaching and poisoning", he told AFP.

The National Wolf Group (GNL) meeting, scheduled for Friday, will bring together environmentalists, elected officials, civil servants, the agricultural industry, and hunters.

But several environmental groups pulled out of the organisation in September 2023, deeming the government's 2024-2029 wolf plan "unacceptable".

The proposition calls for increased support for farmers dealing with livestock loss from wolf attacks, simplified population culling, and an overhaul of the current counting system, which is an estimate drawn up by France's biodiversity authority.

The wolf is categorised as "strictly protected" in the European Union, but France's new plan raises the possibility of reviewing the animal's status.

In September 2023, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen warned that "the concentration of wolf packs in some European regions has become a real danger for livestock and potentially also for humans".

For conservation groups, however, the dip in the wolf population is a clear sign that efforts to protect the predator are falling short.

The government must "stop advocating downgrading the species’ level of protection".


Germany Warns from Dangers of 'Laughing Gas' Sales

The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)
The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)
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Germany Warns from Dangers of 'Laughing Gas' Sales

The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)
The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people (Shutterstock)

Germany's health minister, Karl Lauterbach, plans to introduce stricter rules to curb the sale of nitrous oxide, sometimes known as laughing gas, especially to young people.

The drug, which is used in medicine as an anaesthetic and for pain reduction, has become a particularly popular party drug among young people in Germany. The sale and consumption of nitrous oxide is not restricted under current law, dpa reported.

"We will come up with a regulation quickly," Lauterbach told public broadcaster ARD on Friday.

Among the possibilities is including nitrous oxide in the list of psychoactive substances, which come with very strict rules for sale and possession.

He said that a complete ban would not be possible because nitrous oxide is used for industrial purposes as well.

"We are now tackling this very quickly," assured the minister.

Until the government takes action, Lauterbach recommended that parents educate their children: "It may sound fun and harmless, but it's not," the minister warned.

Regular consumption could lead to accidents or even neurological damage, and permanent damage cannot be ruled out either, he said.

"It's very dangerous for children and young people," said Lauterbach.