Iguanas reintroduced to Santiago Island in Galapagos

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This handout photo released by the Galapagos National Park shows part of a group of 1,436 iguanas of the subspecies Conolophus subcristatus, from Seymour Norte island, being introduced to Santiago island as part of a conversation program in the Galapagos Islands, on January 7, 2019. (AFP)
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This handout photo released by the Galapagos National Park shows one of a group of 1,436 iguanas of the subspecies Conolophus subcristatus, from Seymour Norte island, before they are introduced to Santiago island as part of a conversation program in the Galapagos Islands, on January 7, 2019. (AFP)
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This handout photo released by the Galapagos National Park shows part of a group of 1,436 iguanas of the subspecies Conolophus subcristatus, from Seymour Norte island, before they are introduced to Santiago island as part of a conversation program in the Galapagos Islands, on January 7, 2019. (AFP)
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This handout photo released by the Galapagos National Park shows a group of 1,436 iguanas of the subspecies Conolophus subcristatus, from Seymour Norte island, being introduced to Santiago island as part of a conversation program in the Galapagos Islands, on January 7, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 08 January 2019
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Iguanas reintroduced to Santiago Island in Galapagos

  • The program is also aimed at protecting the population of iguanas on North Seymour, said to number around 5,000, where food is limited

QUITO: A group of more than 1,400 iguanas have been reintroduced to an Ecuadoran island in the Galapagos archipelago around two centuries after they disappeared from there, authorities said on Monday.
The Galapagos land iguanas from North Seymour Island were freed onto Santiago Island as part of an ecological restoration program, the National Galapagos Park authority said in a statement.
The last recorded sighting of iguanas in Santiago Island had been made by British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1835.
“Almost two centuries later, this ecosystem will once again count on this species through the restoration initiative,” said the park authority.
Its director, Jorge Carrion, said the iguanas became extinct due to the introduction of predators such as the feral pig, which was eradicated in 2001.
The program is also aimed at protecting the population of iguanas on North Seymour, said to number around 5,000, where food is limited.
“The land iguana is a herbivore that helps ecosystems by dispersing seeds and maintaining open spaces devoid of vegetation,” said Danny Rueda, the park authority’s ecosystems director.
The Galapagos archipelago, some 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the Ecuador coast, contains unique wildlife and vegetation, and is a Unesco World Heritage site.
But it has one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 20 January 2019
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No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics
  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking party in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”