Fishing rules announced
Authorities announced plans on Friday to restrict fishing in some regions to try to save the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin from extinction. Experts estimate there are only 55 Maui’s dolphins remaining. Unique to the South Pacific nation, the dolphins have short snouts and rounded fins. Conservation Minister Nick Smith said he wants to extend areas around the Taranaki region where commercial fishing nets are banned. He plans to make a final ruling next month following a period of public consultation. About five dolphins have become ensnared and died in fishing nets since 2000. The proposed changes will likely leave a handful of Taranaki fishermen out of work. Chris Howe, executive director of the New Zealand branch of the conservation group WWF, said in a statement that the proposed new measures are a step in the right direction, but do not go far enough to ensure the species’ survival.
Donkey thieves on the loose
In the middle of the night, police cars were in hot pursuit of thieves on a dusty road, finally catching them and recovering the goods. However, it was not gold or jewelry the gang had stolen, it was eight donkeys. The animals were being rustled from Maharashtra state and sold in neighboring Andhra Pradesh, where some communities believe eating donkey meat can increase strength and virility. Demand for donkeys can not be met in Andhra Pradesh itself as their numbers have been falling as farmers replace them with machines. The gang was selling each donkey for 10,000 rupees (US$152), said R.R. Sayad, an assistant police inspector. The thieves had modified a pick-up truck with stalls so they could nab up to 10 donkeys at a time and had made several trips in the last few months, Sayad said. Police suspect there might be more donkey rustlers on the prowl.
Elephant poisoners arrested
Police say they arrested six men accused of killing 41 elephants with cyanide. State media reported on Friday that police official Muyambirwa Muzzah said rangers followed the tracks in the southwestern Hwange National Park that led to several elephant carcasses. Muzzah said a cache of tusks, worth US$120,000 on the illegal ivory market, and other remains were found near water holes that had been laced with cyanide. He said the six were arrested when they returned to collect the ivory and they are suspected of operating from the western city of Bulawayo. The police official said hundreds of wild animals feeding on the dead elephants could also die from poisoning.
Oil killing whales denied
Environmental officials have denied a link between offshore oil production and four dead whales that have washed ashore in recent days. The country’s Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday that the nation’s oil companies have met all requirements regarding drilling offshore. Activists have expressed alarm after the dead whales have been spotted on beaches near the capital and in the country’s Western Region. The environmental agency maintains that whales also have washed ashore in Asia, the Americas and New Zealand, adding: “the phenomenon is global.” Oil was discovered in 2007 and the country began producing it in December 2010. However, a deep divide still exists between those benefiting from the country’s wealth and those left behind financially.
Men held over baby’s death
Two men were arrested on Friday in connection with the shooting death of a toddler in a stroller in New York City. Authorities had been seeking Daquan Breland, 23, and Daquan Wright, 19, for questioning in the death of one-year-old Antiq Hennis on Sunday. New York authorities said the boy’s father was pushing him in a stroller when multiple shots were fired. The child was pronounced dead at a hospital. Police believe the father was the intended target and the gunfire may have been gang-related. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the killing “a tragedy for [the child’s] family, for this community, for the entire city.”
Teens in coke case freed
A federal judge has ordered the release of two teenagers who had claimed that the cocaine police found in their van was hidden in the vehicle before it was purchased at a US government auction. The federal court said in a statement on Friday that the judge delivered a verdict of not guilty after the prosecutor decided to drop charges. Federal police in November last year detained 18-year-old Sergio Torres Duarte and his 19-year-old friend, Julio Cesar Moreno, near the Pacific Coast resort city of Mazatlan as they traveled to attend a soccer match. Officers discovered a kilogram of cocaine hidden under the minivan’s dashboard. The Torres family had bought the vehicle at a US Customs and Border Protection auction in February last year. The minivan had been seized a year before for hiding bundles of cocaine and US officials acknowledged earlier this year in a letter to Mexican prosecutors that they may have failed to find all the drugs inside it.
Gang shooting kills four
Police say four gang members have been killed in a drive-by shooting in a town where the government has aimed to bring down killings after street gangs mediated a truce. Deputy Police Commissioner Mauricio Ramirez said gunmen drove by a community center in Ilopango on Friday and killed three men and a 16-year-old boy standing outside. Ramirez said the victims belonged to the Mara 18 gang, which last year negotiated a truce with the rival Mara Salvatrucha gang that helped lower homicide rates. However, despite the truce, extortions continue to be carried out in the town outside San Salvador. Ilopango was the first “violence-free” municipality to receive part of a multi-million dollar investment to create jobs and open businesses in areas that have been prone to violence.
Trafficking suspects charged
A court arraigned 18 suspects late on Thursday on charges of belonging to a human trafficking ring that transported Chinese workers to Argentina, court officials said. The arrests stemmed from a three-year probe into organized crime rings specializing in smuggling Chinese workers into Argentina, according to officials. Authorities said 10 of the 18 suspects remained in custody after the hearing. Human smugglers transport Chinese workers into Argentina by crossing the Uruguay River at night or sometimes enter the country by detouring through Brazil. In December last year, police broke up another ring that smuggled Chinese workers into Argentina. Those held included an Argentine police official and employees at the Uruguayan Department of Immigration, the authorities said, adding that those arrested were part of a much bigger operation.