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Scientists find more gorillas in West Africa than they expected

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A study has found there could be more gorillas and chimps in West Africa than scientists previously thought.

But it has revealed there is a dark side to the seemingly good news.

While the number of the endangered primates could be more than double previous estimates, it is also declining at an alarmingly rapid rate.

In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers spent a decade in a vast 190,000 km2 area of forest, counting lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, and their nests.

It guessed that the 2013 population of gorillas was around 362,000.

The gorillas are being killed for their meat
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The gorillas are being killed for their meat

This is far more than the previous 150,000-250,000 estimate by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

But it is also believed to be 19% less than eight years ago. Then, some 450,000 lived in the forested region of West Africa where such primates are native, according to the team’s estimates.

The study’s author Fiona Maisels said humans hunting gorillas for food and forest loss could be to blame for the present and future decline of the animals.

Her findings indicate that 80% or more of gorillas will be gone by the end of the century.

Primate expert Paul Garber, who was not involved in the study but praised it, said the losses are likely to have accelerated in the five years since the 2013 count.

“That is a doomsday scenario, and we need to reverse this immediately,” he said.

:: Jungle police risk their lives for endangered gorillas


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Researchers hunt for gorillas in West Africa

The study, which spanned an area in Angola, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo and Gabon, relied on researchers walking about 1.2 miles a day while they looked up, down and sideways to find primates.

Running physical checks in about one quarter of the forest and using computer simulations to account for the rest of the area, they discovered about 20,000 nests – something nobody else had done before, according to Ms Maisels.

The team found around 129,000 chimpanzees as well as hundreds of thousands of gorillas.

While the sample size meant it was not possible to account for a change in the chimp numbers, the team behind the research suspect there has been a decline.

While at least two external scientists say the study is “important”, however, it has not been universally praised.

Volker Sommer at University College London said the method of counting nests couldn’t be trusted, as it is difficult to tell if they are used in the day or night, if at all.

Adding a computer modelling approach took the “questionable approach” to “new heights”, he argued.

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Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong back behind bars over corruption scandal | Business News

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Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong has been sent back to jail after receiving a two-and- a-half year sentence over his involvement in a major corruption scandal.

The 52-year-old, South Korea’s most powerful businessman, was convicted at a retrial on charges of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds worth about 8.6 billion won (£5.7m).

It leaves Lee sidelined for the time being from major decision making at the company, one of the world’s largest makers of computer chips and smartphones.

Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy Z Fold2 today
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Samsung has performed robustly in the latest financial year

Shares dipped 3%.

Lee had previously served a year behind bars for bribing an associate of former president Park Geun-hye before an appeals court suspended the jail term in 2018.

A year later, the supreme court ordered a retrial. Time served will count towards the latest sentence.

Lee’s lawyer Lee In-jae said: “This case involves the former president’s abuse of power violating corporate freedom and property rights… The court’s decision is regrettable.”

The Samsung vice chairman’s sentence complicates the process of inheritance from his father, who died in October.

Analysts said the court’s decision was unlikely to affect day-to-day operations at the company though large-scale decisions with longer term impacts – such as takeovers and major personnel changes – could be impacted.

Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee arrives at a court in Seoul, South Korea, January 18, 2021. Yonhap via REUTERS
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Lee is South Korea’s most powerful businessman

Samsung has performed robustly in the latest financial year, with its semiconductor business rebounding thanks to strong demand for PCs and servers during lockdowns.

Meanwhile sanctions against Huawei have hindered a company that is one of Samsung’s biggest rivals in smartphones, smartphone chips and telecoms equipment.

Samsung said earlier this month that it was on course to report a 26% rise in operating profit to 9trn won (£6bn) for the last quarter.

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China gold mine blast: 12 trapped workers still alive following explosion last week | World News

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Twelve miners are still alive a week after an explosion trapped 22 workers underground at a Chinese gold mine, state media says.

Rescue teams are desperately trying to bring them back to the surface following the blast in Shandong province in eastern China on 10 January.

According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, a note passed through a rescue shaft on Sunday night said that while 12 of the workers were still alive, the fate of the other 10 remained unknown.

The rescue shaft had been used to pass food and supplies to the group while they wait.

The handwritten message said that four of the miners had been injured and the health of the others was declining, due to the lack of fresh air and an influx of water.

It added that the group needed medical supplies and drugs, and ended with: “Keep on with the rescue efforts. We have hope, thank you.”

Managers of the operation at the Qixia gold mine, which had been under construction at the time, were arrested and detained, after failing to report the incident for more than a day.

They have since been removed from their posts, along with the mayor of the nearby city of Yantai.

More than 300 people are part of the rescue effort above ground, with teams drilling a new shaft to try and reach the chamber and expel deadly fumes.

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Alexei Navalny: Dominic Raab joins international leaders in calling for immediate release of Putin critic | World News

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Dominic Raab has called for the immediate release of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.

The foreign secretary has joined a host of leading politicians who have condemned Mr Navalny’s arrest on his return to Russia, after he was poisoned with a nerve agent last year.

Mr Raab said: “It is appalling that Alexei Navalny, the victim of a despicable crime, has been detained by Russian authorities. He must be immediately released.

Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia sit in the plane during the flight to Moscow from the Airport Berlin Brandenburg (BER) in Schoenefeld, near Berlin, Germany, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny plans to fly home to Russia on Sunday after recovering in Germany from his poisoning in August with a nerve agent. (AP Photo/Mstyslav Chernov)
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Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia sit in the plane during the flight to Moscow from the Airport Berlin Brandenburg

“Rather than persecuting Mr Navalny, Russia should explain how a chemical weapon came to be used on Russian soil.”

Mr Navalny was detained at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on Sunday, after spending five months in Germany recovering from poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent.

The 44-year-old, who is one of Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, blames Moscow for the attack that nearly killed him, although the Kremlin denies any involvement.

His detention minutes after landing was widely expected because Russia’s prisons service said he had violated parole terms from a suspended sentence on a 2014 embezzlement conviction.

He is due to be held until a date is set for his case. Lawyers for Mr Navalny said they have not been granted access to him.

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Moment Navalny is detained after landing in Russia

The arrest has prompted international calls for his release, with the US, the UK, Germany, and France condemning Moscow.

On Monday, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News the UK government was “very worried” about Mr Navalny’s safety.

He said: “The foreign secretary will say more about this, but we are very worried about the wellbeing and safety of Alexei Navalny.

“And of course, we have to make sure that the Russian government answers why a poison was used.”

Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, said Washington “strongly condemns” the decision to arrest Mr Navalny and called his detention “the latest in a series of attempts to silence Navalny and other opposition figures and independent voices who are critical of Russian authorities.”

He added on Twitter that he was “deeply troubled” by the move.

“Confident political leaders do not fear competing voices, nor see the need to commit violence against or wrongfully detain, political opponents,” he said.

President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser called on the Russian authorities to free him.

“Mr Navalny should be immediately released, and the perpetrators of the outrageous attack on his life must be held accountable,” Jake Sullivan said in a tweet.

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‘They tried to kill me,’ says Kremlin critic

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, called Mr Navalny’s arrest “unacceptable” and demanded his immediate release.

He was echoed by the French foreign ministry and German foreign minister Heiko Maas.

Mr Maas said: “Russia is bound by its own constitution and by international obligations to the principle of the rule of law and to the protection of civil rights.

“These principles must, of course, be applied to Alexei Navalny as well. He should be released immediately.”

On leaving Berlin on Sunday, Mr Navalny said he didn’t think he would be arrested as he had “every right” to return to his home country.

The arrest raises tensions in Russia as it approaches national parliament elections this year, in which Mr Navalny’s organisation is expected to be active in trying to defeat pro-Kremlin candidates.

“This is a real act of bravery for Alexei Navalny to return to Russia, given that government agents already tried to kill him once,” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth tweeted.

“But he understandably wants to be part of the pro-democracy movement in Russia, not a dissident in exile.”

Mr Navalny fell into a coma while aboard a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on 20 August.

He was transferred to a hospital in Berlin two days later.

Labs in Germany, France and Sweden tested the substance he was exposed to.

It was established he was poisoned with a Soviet-era novichok nerve agent – the same kind of substance used against Sergei and Yulia Skripal, a former Russian double agent and his daughter, in a 2018 poisoning in Salisbury.

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