Memory Lane tightens production as sales fall

first_imgBy Sylvia Macdonald and Georgi GytonProduction is to be cut at Finsbury Food Group’s premium cake business Memory Lane Cakes, as sales continue to fall in the recession.The bread, cake and morning goods manufacturer said production at the Cardiff business is likely to be cut from seven to five days a week. A consultation with employees is currently taking place on changes to shift patterns, with 95 jobs out of Memory Lane’s 1,000-or-so staff at risk. This represents 4% of Finsbury’s total workforce of 2,500. Memory Lane is the leading manufacturer of the UK retailers’ premium own-label cake ranges.Martin Lightbody, chairman and major shareholder at Finsbury, told British Baker: “There is a general decline in cake sales, including premium, and we have been at the forefront of premium, especially celebration and upper-tier cakes.”The number of products sold on deals this year increased dramatically, so we have been looking at cost-cutting over innovation. We must show our customers that we can produce excellent products again.”He continued: “Our strategy is going to be to innovate for the future. In the industry I would like to see a general improvement in quality available to consumers, while affordable to our customers. We shall continue to look at opportunities to keep us competitive.”The job losses and changes to shift patterns are only being made at Memory Lane’s Cardiff site, “not company-wide”.A spokeswoman said: “In the current economic climate, the firm believes this is a necessary step to safeguard the long-term employment of as many staff as possible, while ensuring that the company continues to work efficiently in providing high-quality products. Finsbury is committed to full and complete consultation with the affected employees on this matter and will aim to deliver improvements to factory operations, while keeping job losses to a minimum.”In Finsbury’s November trading update it announced that “sales in its larger cake business had declined by 6% in value”, slightly ahead of the overall market decline of 4%.An analyst at stock-broking and advisory house KBC Peel Hunt said that the share price had gone down quite aggressively in the couple of days following the announcement, from around 24-25p to 20p, but had now flattened off.last_img read more

Onward and upward, robots

first_imgEDGE OF DISCOVERYFirst in a series of articles on cutting-edge research at Harvard.On a visit to one Harvard robotics lab, the sewing machines stand out, while the head of another explains how and why lab members are studying termites in Namibia.Welcome to the new age of machines, in which scientists with seemingly disparate talents are using cutting-edge materials, cheap sensors, 3-D printing, and powerful computers to accelerate advances in robotics.Prior innovations transformed the factory and warehouse, but those robots work best in controlled environments, usually out of public view. For researchers at Harvard and elsewhere, one new target is Main Street. “We were promised these things by sci-fi for 50 years,” said Robert Wood, Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “So where are the robots?”The next generation will venture widely into the real world, trekking through forests and fields, driving around town, and covering chores. Major retailers such as Amazon are frank about their desire to deliver packages with drones, automakers want your car to steer itself, and for those who can’t find the time to vacuum the living room rug, there’s a robot for that.But tomorrow’s machines won’t just drop you off, deliver your packages, and clean your house. They will also search for disaster victims and help farm food, experts say. They’ll fight wars, brace limbs, and heal hearts.“Certainly, the technology is now there, and there’ve been some developments over the last decade that allow us to build robots good enough to deal with the real world,” said Robert Howe, the Abbott and James Lawrence Professor of Engineering.,“We build the kinds of robots that people haven’t imagined yet. Little bees that fly, thousands of robots you buy, robots that build by climbing over things, robots that you wear.” – Radhika Nagpal, pictured above,Momentum buildersHarvard’s recent efforts in robotics have enlivened a historically quiet scene. George Whitesides, the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor, noted that his own soft-robot breakthroughs have as much to do with Harvard’s strength in soft-matter physics and with colleagues’ microfluidics work as with robotics.Some of the earliest work on soft robots was done by Japanese researchers in the 1990s. More recently, innovations by Whitesides, Wood, and colleagues like Conor Walsh have advanced the field, paving the way for machines whose design and characteristics, rather than hard gears and levers, regulate movement.“We replace controls by the properties of materials,” Whitesides said, holding up a starfish-shaped rubber gripper that clenches when air is pumped into its arms. “These things tend to curl from the tip — that’s a controllable thing. It would be essentially impossible to replicate without all kinds of things in hard robots.”The work has led to robots that can function despite being run over by a car, that creep and crawl instead of rolling or marching. It has led to research on new manufacturing techniques, such as 3-D printing advances in the lab of Jennifer Lewis, Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering. It has also led to a collaboration with National Geographic on underwater graspers capable of collecting samples of delicate coral, and to the development of a company, Soft Robotics, to commercialize flexible grippers that can handle an array of products — on a farm, in a warehouse, or on an assembly line.,“The transition to market has been an interesting one,” said Whitesides. “What’s turned out to be the initial application is for things I didn’t know existed as problems. … It made it from the lab to commercial [applications] faster than anything I’ve ever been involved in.”Companies like Soft Robotics provide a relatively straightforward measure of robotics progress at Harvard, according to Sam Liss, executive director of strategic partnerships for Harvard’s Office of Technology Development.“The level of startup formation is remarkable,” he said. “Within just the last few years, we’ve seen the launch of Soft Robotics, RightHand Robotics, and Root Robotics, with more to follow. This is a sea change at Harvard. It speaks to not only the significance of the research, but also to our faculty’s focus on translating this research into products that will have impact.”Growth in robotics at Harvard has been driven by the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Researchers say deeper investment in robot-building tools and facilities has made an enormous difference to faculty, students, and fellows.“Especially for the things I do, it’s really important to have those tools accessible for students and postdocs,” Wood said. “SEAS and the Wyss Institute have done a very good job of investing in some of those areas. We don’t really lack anything in that regard.”,Team efforts Harvard has a small core of less than a dozen robotics specialists who collaborate regularly and rely heavily on one another’s expertise. The focus is on land, sea, and air machines that can work closely with humans, often in medical settings, and which think and behave in ways that reflect the innovative drive of their developers.“We build the kinds of robots that people haven’t imagined yet,” said Radhika Nagpal, the Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science. “Little bees that fly, thousands of robots you buy, robots that build by climbing over things, robots that you wear. Our strength in some ways is the wild and crazy robots. Robots that are more like animals than they are wheeled cars.”One example is the RoboBee. Developed by Wood and controlled by Nagpal’s software, the insect-sized flying robot has wide potential as a surveying tool, with the ability to collect images and data from natural disasters, crop-disease outbreaks, even war zones. Small enough that mechanical levers, gears, and other off-the-shelf components were impractical, the machine demanded advances in areas beyond robotic design.“With RoboBees, no component was off the shelf,” said Wood. “We had to invent everything from the ground up: new manufacturing methods, new actuation, sensing, computing architecture, new energy storage — then [with] Radhika, new algorithms to control behavior. A lot of the platforms we work on don’t exist and we have to develop them from scratch. We really like those, not just because of the cool factor but because of the tech fallout along the way.”Sensors and actuators light enough to fly on a robotic insect, for example, might be useful in biomedical devices in which size is crucial, like those used in minimally invasive procedures, said Wood.“We’re taking all these technologies developed from RoboBees, blending them with soft robotics to make new tools for endoscopy and come up with techniques for procedures that are otherwise quite hard to do,” he said.A central attraction of medical robotics is the chance to make a positive impact in people’s lives, said Walsh, the John J. Loeb Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, whose lab-sewn soft-robotic exosuit may one day help stroke patients walk with greater ease. With Harvard Medical School and its 16 affiliated hospitals and research institutions nearby, robotics faculty are well-positioned to determine patient needs that robots might fill, and to collaborate with physicians on setting solutions in motion.For example, in work backed by the National Institutes of Health, Howe and Pierre Dupont, chief of pediatric cardiac-bioengineering at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, have collaborated for years on robotic technology for beating-heart surgery. They are currently working on complementary approaches for controlling how robotic catheters compensate for the motion of a beating heart. Success would allow patients to skip open-heart surgery in favor of a minimally invasive procedure.“It would be so much better for the patient — less trauma, less risk,” said Dupont. “We’re trying to develop technology clinicians haven’t dreamed of yet.”,“I see opportunities for types of things we’re doing to actually make a difference in people’s lives.” — Conor Walsh, above,Meanwhile, Walsh’s exosuit technology has been licensed to ReWalk Robotics, whose plan to put a product in clinical trials this year is a first step in a strategy to bring the machine from concept to market in less than five years.“I see opportunities for types of things we’re doing to actually make a difference in people’s lives,” Walsh said.The medical applications of Walsh’s work — which includes devices to counter heart failure, improve arm function for patients with spinal-cord injury, and boost post-stroke mobility — owe to early and ongoing support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), whose focus is on an exosuit that might ease the burden of 100-pound troop packs.Soft exosuits combine properties of functional apparel with precise placement of cables and motors to strategically assist movement.“The concept of going with a soft system is you can make the system very lightweight, very nonrestrictive, that has a minimal impact on the biomechanics of a person while they walk and is able to deliver a boost in addition to what the wearer’s muscles are normally doing,” Walsh said. “The question then is … can we have a positive effect on a person’s mobility?”So far, in tests on treadmills and on miles-long military hikes, that effect has been measured at 15 percent. In addition, Walsh’s team has demonstrated in experiments with stroke patients that the exosuit can help users clear the ground and push off at the ankle, reducing functional asymmetry between limbs and increasing walking efficiency. Key challenges going forward will include minimizing weight while maximizing assistance and syncing the suit with natural movements.“Is this in synergy with this person?” Walsh said. “Because if you get the timing wrong, our studies have shown you don’t get anywhere near the benefit you can get, but if you get it just right you can really make a big difference to a person.”,Behavior issues  As important as how a machine moves is how it thinks, a reality that Harvard researchers themselves are thinking hard about. Scott Kuindersma, an assistant professor of engineering and computer science and director of the Harvard Agile Robotics Lab, has his sights set on ramping up control systems so that robots reach their full potential.“In my opinion, physically capable robots are already here,” said Kuindersma. “But those robots struggle to perform at their dynamic limit and lack robustness in realistic environments. That’s primarily a computational problem.”A recent arrival at Kuindersma’s lab is Cassie, a two-legged walking robot that looks something like an ostrich. Designed by Agility Robotics, Cassie is an example of advanced hardware that Kuindersma thinks can perform better.“[Cassie] is using a controller the company has developed,” Kuindersma said. “We will promptly delete this. Our goal is to develop algorithms that push locomotion performance beyond state-of-the-art, using this as an experimental platform. A major milestone for us would be to demonstrate high-speed locomotion outdoors, using visual sensor feedback at high rates to plan dynamic walking.“Think about a mountain goat,” he said. “They can scurry up a cliff face, making fast decisions on where to place their feet on very geometrically complex terrain. We’re interested in creating algorithms that can achieve that kind of performance with robots.”While Kuindersma is exploring how to better control complex individual actions, Nagpal is investigating the opposite approach: how to drive complex behavior in groups of simple individuals.“My lab has always had this theme of complexity through simplicity,” Nagpal said. “No matter what kind of agent — ant, human being, or robot — there’s always a limit to what an individual can do. We transcend that by having groups. … Animals that have evolved to work in groups really take advantage of these things.”,“No matter what kind of agent — ant, human being, or robot — there’s always a limit to what an individual can do. We transcend that by having groups. … Animals that have evolved to work in groups really take advantage of these things.” — Radhika Nagpal “A major goal of the course is getting students to think in a different way,” Hoberman said. “You might be fooled, because these devices are paper and plastic, that there’s not a lot of engineering rigor going into it. Using rapid prototyping technologies and off-the-shelf electronics, our students can make a piece of paper walk across the room and adjust its path while sensing its surroundings. The moment of truth is when they turn their device on and it takes on animate life — it’s such a great experience for young designers.”Students also get hands-on learning experiences outside the classroom. Members of the Harvard Undergraduate Robotics Club last year tackled a series of design challenges, including building an autonomous maze-solving robot, an unmanned aerial robot, and a wheeled robot that uses feedback controls to maintain balance.Members say that though each individual brings particular expertise to the club — computer science, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering — robotics is such an interdisciplinary pursuit that almost everyone ventures beyond his or her expertise.Membership in the club “had a huge impact on what I think about doing,” said Shaan Erickson ’17, who wants to marry his passions for cars and robotics in the auto industry. “It opened my eyes to an entirely different field. … I look forward to adding my own contribution to it.”Funding for the research described in this article comes in part from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and from federal agencies such as the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Nagpal has found models in termites in Namibia and army ants in Panama, social insects that manage challenging tasks without central coordination.“There are examples in nature where the coordination required is very small, so we’re using that,” Nagpal said. “That might make it possible to have many cooperating parts. The parts don’t have to be complicated, and the coordination doesn’t have to be complicated, but you can still achieve complex goals.”Among the machines Nagpal has developed is the diminutive kilobot, programmed to behave according to simple guidelines, such as the position and behavior of neighbors. Kilobot swarms can perform complex tasks — in one demonstration they formed themselves into a starfish shape — that are not dependent on a sophisticated computer brain or a system of leaders and followers. Her group has also developed termite-inspired robots that work together on user-specified block structures.“We can produce rules that will cause them to always build the correct structure,” Nagpal said. “And it doesn’t matter if they’re 10 or five or 50, and it doesn’t matter that they don’t know where the other ones are, and it doesn’t matter what order they’re in.”Nagpal sees potential applications in disaster response, exploration, and with environmental sensors. Robots following simple rules could create walls of sandbags, while the inexpensive schools of robotic fish being developed in her lab could someday probe the ocean floor, supplementing or replacing the deployment of costly submersibles that can explore only one place at a time.The development of the kilobot is an outgrowth of a rapid advancement of technology that has not only increased the sophistication of cutting-edge systems, but also dramatically lowered the price of off-the-shelf components, Nagpal noted. “I originally thought I would never have hardware,” she said. “But the reason I thought that was a robot cost $100,000. [Today] I can build novel robots for a couple of hundred dollars. That’s a routine thing in my lab. I have a thousand robots, at $20 [each].”Nagpal has licensed kilobot technology to K-Team, a manufacturer of small mobile robots. Today, 10 other labs around the world own kilobots, and two have 1,000-kilobot swarms.“It’s super amazing, because all these things people are imagining doing with the kilobot system, I would never have thought of. Now it’s a vibrant research area,” Nagpal said.,Tomorrow’s innovators While faculty members are developing the next wave of robots, students are gaining the knowledge and experience to build the machines of the second half of the 21st century. Budding innovators learn as interns, through extracurriculars such as the Harvard Undergraduate Robotics Club, and in the classroom. A search of Harvard’s course catalog for “robot” returns options in microrobotics, artificial intelligence, control theory, and more.“Informal Robotics: New Paradigms for Design and Construction,” taught by Chuck Hoberman, a lecturer in architecture at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, illustrates just how far the field has come. Instead of building complex machines in a high-tech lab, students merge everyday materials with inexpensive computer parts to build robots that can sense and respond to surrounding stimuli.center_img The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

Southee’s swing: Tim Southee on par with Sachin Tendulkar’s number of sixes in test…

first_imgAdvertisement With a red cherry, swinging the ball in the air is the attribute that one would correlate Tim Southee with rather than a clean swing of a bat to dispatch the ball into the stands. But as per the stats, Southee is also pretty good at the latter skill.Advertisement Coming into bat at No.8 during the second innings of the first Test in Galle, Southee achieved a rare feat with the bat by equalling the tally of the number of sixes hit by the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in the longest format.Advertisement During the pacer’s short-lived innings of 14 off 19 deliveries, he hit a solitary six which was enough to get his tally to 69. He just needs one more to be level with Pakistan’s Younis Khan.Sachin Tendulkar reached 69 sixes in 329 innings while it only took 89 innings for the right-arm seamer. The current record for the maximum sixes in the longest format is held by Southee’s former teammate and captain Brendon McCullum, who has hit a staggering 107 sixes over the course of his career.Advertisement Read Also:Cherry loves Boult: Sri Lankan players puzzled after ball gets stuck into Trent Boult’s helmet\https://www.sportsindiashow.com/zimbabwe-great-grant-flower-claims-fed-lack-freedom-security-pakistan/ Advertisementlast_img read more

Mallard’s Team of the Week — Castlegar Vikings

first_imgThe Castlegar Vikings save their best for last, sweeping through the playoffs to capture the West Kootenay Men’s Flag Football League championship at the Mount Sentinel Field.The Vikes first took out defending champ Dam Inn Mates before finishing off the league in the final by knocking off Nelson Hour Glass 33-14. The win is the sixth in seven years for the Castlegar franchise.Mallard’s Source for Sports would like to add to the dynasty by saluting the squad as Team of the Week.The Vikes includes, back row, L-R, Joel Muller, Jay Trower, John Lloyd, Ryan McKellar, Paul Laratta, John Foley, Dave Perepolkin and Jaime Simpson.Front, Carl Perepolkin, Steve Mota and Jesse Bosma.last_img read more

Leafs rock Rebels 9-1 en route to five-point weekend

first_img“I thought we played good (Saturday) we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances,” Sookro explained. “(Today) we were moving our feet more and obviously capitalizing on those chances.”Sookro was one of the fast skating Leaf forwards, as twice he walked around Castlegar defenders to put the puck past Rebel goalie Nate Rabbitt, who had a strong case for suing his teammates for non-support through the latter stages of the game.Nelson scored twice early in the second as Travis Wellman, on the power play, and Blair Andrews increased the lead to 3-1.Before the period ended Carsen Willans and Sookro, with his first of two in the game, increased the advantage to four goals.The onslaught continued for the Leafs as Sookro, Matthew Naka, with his first of two in the game, and Dunlap, with his second goal, completed the scoring.The nine goals saw Rabbitt chased from the goal, replaced by backup Patrick Zubick.Nelson held a wide margin in shots, with a 42-20 advantage.The Leafs have a week to prepare for another round of Murdoch Division tests as Beaver Valley Nitehawks return to the Heritage City for a Friday contest.Saturday Nelson travels to Grand Forks to face the improved Grand Forks Border Bruins.LEAF NOTES: A five-point weekend made Family Weekend a success for the franchise. Every year Leaf management invites player parents to Nelson to watch a few games. . . .Jamie Vlanich of the Leafs and Seth Schmidt of Castlegar, got an early shower Sunday after exchanging blows during a second-period fight. . . . Vlanich had two points to move into second spot in KIJHL scoring. Teammate Travis Wellman finished with four points, including his KIJHL leading 14th and 15th goals, to move into a tie for fifth spot in league scoring. . . .Sunday, assistant coaches Sean Dooley of the Leafs and Castlegar’s Bruno Tassone got into a jawing match at the team benches during the second period and were ejected from the game. . . .Matthew Naka and Aaron Dunlap each finished the game with three points while Carsen Willans and Blair Andrews checked in with two points. . . . Tyler Moffat played all three games during the weekend to run his season record to 6-1. . . . Saturday, Castlegar rallied from a 2-0 deficit with goals from Diego Bartlett. Vlanich and Linden Horswill scored for the Leafs. Nelson out shot the Rebels 41-33 in the contest. The Castlegar Rebels paid in spades for spoiling the Nelson Leafs unbeaten start to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season Saturday night.After spotting the Rebels a 1-0 lead, Nelson scored nine unanswered goals en route to a convincing 9-1 shellacking of Castlegar Sunday afternoon at the NDCC Arena in the rematch of the home-and-home series between the two West Kootenay rivals.The win gives Nelson (8-0-1-1) a three-point advantage after a tough three-game Thanksgiving stint against two of the Murdoch Division heavyweights Beaver Valley and Castlegar.“That’s for sure that was definitely a bounce-back game for us after losing in overtime (to Castlegar) last night,” said Nelson forward Brandon Sookro following his four-point game to lead the Leafs scoring attack.After defeating the Leafs 3-2 in overtime Saturday thanks to a Derek Georgopoulos extra time marker, the visitors continued carry the momentum when Lindan Calliou scored on Nelson netminder Tyler Moffat less than three minutes into the game.Aaron Dunlap tied the game two minutes later before Nelson unleashed its offence in the final 40 minutes, scoring four times in each of the second and third periods.last_img read more

Stephen Curry: “I never want to have a reality show of my life”

first_imgOAKLAND – Unlike the Kardashians, Simon Cowell and Donald Trump, Warriors star Stephen Curry has vowed not to break this self-imposed rule.“I never want to have a reality show of my life,” Curry told Bay Area News Group.So when he weighed his latest venture with Facebook Watch, Curry admitted feeling “very skeptical” on agreeing to the project. He only did so once he realized this could be another platform to highlight his storied NBA career, while also promoting his Christian faith and …last_img read more

Raiders place Martin on IR, sign Corey Liuget

first_imgALAMEDA — The Raiders did some roster shuffling Sunday that helped clarify two positions but created more questions at another.The Raiders signed veteran free agent tackle Corey Liuget, while placing running back Doug Martin on injured reserve and waiving long-snapper Andrew DePaola.Martin, who coach Jon Gruden said had a shoulder injury, cannot come back to play for the Raiders this season. He’ll either remain on I.R. and collect his $2 million salary, or negotiate a settlement when …last_img read more

Call of the wild in Sabi Sand

first_imgThe main building at Kirkman’s Kampis a fine example of the old colonial style.(Image: Chris Thurman)MEDIA CONTACTS • Valeri MoutonandBeyond PR+27 21 532 5861 or +27 21 532 5801Chris ThurmanIt happens to everyone who encounters animals in the African bushveld, from the most experienced game ranger to the first-timer “on safari”.We see a giraffe munching on leaves and think of a baseball player chewing gum. Lionesses with cubs look to us like any human mothers of triplets would – exhausted, exasperated, while their broods run playfully over and around them.Spotting an elephant stripping the bark off a broken branch by rotating it carefully in his mouth, we find ourselves stuck between similes: is he like a craftsman, turning a piece of wood in a lathe; or a guy watching rugby on TV, working away at a tough stick of biltong?A group of young male buffalo, separated from the herd, remind us of a gang of moody, testosterone-filled teenage boys. A lone leopard, knowing no territorial boundaries and roaming over hundreds of kilometres, is Clint Eastwood or James Dean – an outlaw, a rebel without a cause.Those who like long words call this anthropomorphism: seeing human characteristics in things that aren’t human.Anthropomorphism is also what makes us pity the poor dung beetle, not only because of the unpleasant raw material Mother Nature gave him to work with, but because we see his daily struggle in terms of human endeavour. He can spend hours pushing a dung ball ten times his size up a hill, only to see it tumble down again – like Sisyphus who, in Greek mythology, was condemned to perform a similarly hopeless task for eternity as a punishment for disobeying the gods.The male, presenting his carefully crafted ball to a potential mate, may have his proposal rejected: a failed suitor. Or the female might take up his offer, and join him in making a little dung-centred home: the perfect picture of husband and wife cooperating in domestic bliss.But then there are sights that make us realise how irreconcilably different wild animals are to us. A lion at an impala kill, licking the dead animal’s neck with its rough tongue – not in a gesture of tenderness, but to soften the hide before taking the head in its mouth and cracking open the skull. A pack of hyenas chasing a leopard from a two-day-old buffalo carcass, before ripping into the rotting flesh with bloody abandon.And there are stories about animal behaviour that seem to take the survival instinct, or the law of natural selection, to extremes: lions killing the offspring of competing males, or entire prides abandoning weak cubs to save their energy for nurturing offspring that are more likely to prosper.Common groundWe sometimes think that this is what separates us from animals – but as we know all too well from the evidence of human selfishness and violence, we have much in common with a natural world that is “red in tooth and claw”.And yet, paradoxically, if we want to maintain some form of relationship with the animal kingdom we must overcome our “animalistic” impulses to destroy and, instead, desire to conserve. In the process, we might also learn how to treat our fellow-humans better.That is, I think, what lies at the heart of our collective fascination with “the bush”, and what makes game viewing a mentally, emotionally and spiritually invigorating activity. It’s the reason that a stay in the bush is top priority for most tourists to South Africa and, for South Africans, it’s the reason that our pristine savannah is a source of national pride.I was reminded of this on a recent trip to Kirkman’s Kamp in the Sabi Sand private game reserve, which shares a fenceless border with the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga.How far we have come, as even a brief acquaintance with the human history of the Sabi-Kruger area reveals. Just over a century ago, my great-great-uncle Harry Wolhuter was a game ranger in the newly-formed Kruger Park. His conservation efforts were stymied by a close encounter with two rogue lions: he was attacked, knocked off his horse and dragged almost 100 metres, before managing to stab one of the lions and climb a tree to escape the other.Heroic stuff, indeed, and Uncle Harry’s legend has been proudly recounted by many of his successors over the years; but I’d prefer to watch a lion from the safety of a jeep, thank you.Lion countryA lion-killing Harry of an entirely different sort was Harry Kirkman. In the 1920s, Kirkman was given the job of managing a cattle ranch called Toulon Farm, owned by the foolhardy souls at the Transvaal Consolidated Land and Exploration Company.Yes, that’s right: they decided to farm cattle in an area with what was then one of the world’s highest concentrations of lions. Go figure. It was left to Mr Kirkman to deal with the leonine menace – a job he was alarmingly good at, killing over 500 lions during his six-year stay at Toulon.Fortunately, however, the land was subsequently sold to more environmentally-minded owners. Years later, the homestead once shared by Harry and his wife became the centre of Kirkman’s Kamp. This lends the lodge a “colonial” atmosphere, with large verandas and sweeping lawns offering a different aesthetic to other Sabi Sand lodges.Style and architectural charm are one thing; the socio-economic legacy of colonialism and apartheid another altogether.The “human ecology” in rural Mpumalanga – as throughout the country – remains fragile. Many people, desperate for food or some form of income, turn to poaching.For this reason andBeyond – the company that manages Kirkman’s Kamp and other lodges in the Sabi Sand area – is attempting to address community needs: turning former poachers into trackers and rangers; helping schools and families to tend their own vegetable gardens; planting trees to provide shade in which plants can grow; and, crucially, undertaking educational initiatives to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.It seems, then, that humans and animals have more in common than we think – and protecting wilderness areas is a matter of mutual interest. So perhaps anthropomorphism isn’t such a bad thing: if we see ourselves in animals, and see animals in ourselves, we might just survive as a species after all.http://www.andbeyondafrica.com/luxury_safari/south_africa/sabi_sand_game_reserve/and_beyond_kirkmans/accommodation/and_beyond_kirkmans_kamplast_img read more

MPEDA ties up with Swiss cooperative

first_imgCOOP Cooperative, one of Switzerland’s leading retail and wholesale companies, on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) to develop export-oriented organic aquafarming in India to cater to the growing demand for organic seafood products across the European Union.MPEDA chairman A. Jayathilak and COOP Member of Management Gerhard Zurlutter signed the MoU at the ongoing India International Seafood Show 2018.The MPEDA will identify entrepreneurs and provide them with technical advice on the production of high-quality organic shrimp that meet national and international certification protocols. COOP, which has nearly 2,200 sales outlets throughout Switzerland and wholesale/production business activities across Europe, has offered to procure the processed shrimp at a premium of up to 15% and with an additional 5% through financing for development activities, including training.Incentive for farmers“The reason why many farmers are hesitant to get into organic production is the increased costs involved. The premium price offered will offset the extra cost and incentivise them to explore organic farming,” said Mr. Jayathilak. The pilot project will be run in Kerala to produce Organic Black Tiger Shrimp, initially on about 1000 hectares. If successful, the project will be extended to other places. MPEDA and COOP will facilitate the certification of a shrimp hatchery for the production of organic shrimp seed, and certify and empanel a small-scale feed mill unit to source the organic feed.Mr. Zurlutter, who is also the head of overseas buying of frozen products for COOP, said the project in India would be their second leg in organic farming after Vietnam, where they have had success with similar projects and organic producers who are generating considerably higher revenues than conventional farmers. Towards sustainability“For us organic is not just an investment, it is the future. We are retailers with a deep-seated commitment to sustainability, and we understand that we have to get farmers into a position where they can readily adopt organic farming practices, so we support them with higher prices,” Mr. Zurlutter said.Kochi-based JASS Ventures and Baby Marine International will collaborate with COOP to organise the supply chain in Kerala and process the produce.last_img read more

10 months agoHiguain fast losing confidence of AC Milan owners and teammates

first_imgHiguain fast losing confidence of AC Milan owners and teammatesby Carlos Volcano10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveAC Milan’s owners Elliott Management are seriously considering ending the loan of Gonzalo Higuain.Corriere della Sera says Higuain is losing the confidence of management and teammates as he struggles for goals.On-loan from Juventus, Higuain can be signed permanently for €36m. But Elliott are now fast losing confidence in the deal.There are also concerns about Higuain’s status amongst the squad, where the younger players believe he is enjoying preferential treatment.Indeed, when Patrick Cutrone was hooked during the stalemate with Bologna ahead of his senior teammate, he was caught complaining to teammates in the dugout, “Why me?” TagsTransfersAbout the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more