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Australian animals face extinction threat as bushfire toll mounts

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When volunteer Sarah Price found a baby kangaroo frightened but miraculously alive in the pouch of its dying mother surrounded by the embers of Australia's bushfires, it seemed fitting to name him Chance, AFP reported.

The furry pair had survived flames that have ripped through much of southeastern Australia, but the mother's organs later collapsed from acute stress — making her one among the more than one billion animals estimated to have died in the crisis so far.

Chance is slowly recovering, getting regular food and water and hiding out in a bag in a darkened room — a rare success story amid a disaster that has shocked even volunteers accustomed to Australia's frequent bushfires and prolonged droughts.

"We are not seeing the amount of animals coming into care or needing rescuing that we would normally anticipate," Price, who works with wildlife rescue group WIRES, told AFP. "We think a lot perished in the fires."

Haunting images of koalas with singed fur, possums with burnt paws or countless charred kangaroo carcasses have flashed around the world and have come to symbolise a nation and an environment buckling under the weight of a crisis fuelled by climate change.

The populations of less visible creatures, such as frogs, insects, invertebrates and reptiles, are also expected to have been devastated.

Experts warn that even those animals that survive face a perilous fight to stay alive.

"A lot of the animals die after the fire because they have a lack of food and lack of shelter," Mathew Crowther of the University of Sydney told AFP.

"They could get eaten by other animals, or they can't get enough food for themselves."

In Victoria state, where the fire season is still in its early stages, veterinary surgeons said they have come across koalas, birds, wallabies and possums suffering from not just burns, but respiratory problems.

"Many are having to be humanely euthanised, but some are able to be saved, with a handful being returned to the remaining habitat, and three brought into care… so far," a spokeswoman for Zoos Victoria said.

– 'Holocaust of destruction' –

Australia's extinction rate for mammals is already the highest in the world, but there are growing fears this year's bushfires could cause localised extinctions.

"The (kangaroo) mobs will generally try and regroup. When they come back, obviously the… grass isn't green anymore, the foliage isn't there, the bushes have gone, the trees are burnt," Price said.

One third of Kangaroo Island, a wildlife haven off the coast of South Australia state, has been razed and there are fears some species unique to the area might have been wiped out.

"There's almost no considerable habitat remaining for many species. That leads to local extinction events," John Woinarski of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub told national broadcaster ABC, describing the fires as a "holocaust of destruction" for wildlife.

At least half of Australia's only infection-free koala population on Kangaroo Island, a key "insurance population" for the species' future, is feared dead with more badly hurt.

The Kangaroo Island dunnart, already one of 10 priority threatened mammal species targeted in the national government's Threatened Species Strategy, could face extinction.

University of Sydney professor Chris Dickman said his estimate of more than one billion animals killed was "highly conservative".

"We're probably looking at what climate change may look like for other parts of the world in the first stages in Australia at the moment."

Some parts of the bush will take decades to recover and experts say substantial investment may be needed to restore habitats if animals like Chance are to have another shot at survival.

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First VicePresident Mehriban Aliyeva awarded highest Papal Order of Knighthood in Vatican

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First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Mehriban Aliyeva has been awarded the highest Papal Order of Knighthood-Order of Pope Pius IX (Dama di Gran Croce dell’Ordine Piano) in the Vatican.

First Vice-President Mehriban Aliyeva was awarded in recognition of her contributions to the development of culture, as well as mutual relations with the institutions of the Holy See.

The Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin presented the Order to Mehriban Aliyeva.

The Order of Pope Pius IX was founded in 1847. The Order is often given for particular services for Church and society.
The Grand Cross is the highest rank presented to heads of state and high-ranking statesmen.

The current President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella, a number of former heads of Italy, including Giorgio Napolitano, as well as crowned people-Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Albert II, King of the Belgians are also among the awardees.

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President Ilham Aliyev meets with mayor of Rome

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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has met with Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi.

President Ilham Aliyev hailed the results of his state visit to Italy. Noting that more than 25 documents were signed during the visit, the head of state underlined that Azerbaijan and Italy were strategic partners. “The strategic partnership will cover all areas of our cooperation.”

President Ilham Aliyev said that the meetings held during the visit were very fruitful. The head of state noted that relations between Azerbaijan and Italy were at a high level. The President pointed out that cultural cooperation and inter-city relations between Azerbaijan and Italy were also developing, adding that Baku and Naples were declared sister cities in 1972.

“A monument to great Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi was unveiled in Villa Borghese park in Rome in 2012. The Azerbaijani Cultural Center will also open in Rome.”

The Azerbaijani President stressed that a declaration to be signed between Baku and Rome would create wide opportunities for developing relations between the two countries` cities, adding that there was similar cooperation among other cities of the two countries.

Mayor Virginia Raggi thanked Azerbaijan for its support for archaeological excavations in Rome. She emphasized that they intended to continue cooperation between the cities of Baku and Rome. The mayor also underlined that numerous events would also be held in Rome as Italy declared 2020 as the Year of Azerbaijani Culture.

Following the meeting, the head of state and the mayor viewed the remains of an ancient site in Rome.

The head of state signed the guest book of the Mayor's Office.

The Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan and the Mayor's Office of Rome signed an agreement during the official visit of President Ilham Aliyev to Italy in July, 2014, providing for the allocation of funds for archaeological excavations in the area of the Mercati di Traiano museum.

The head of state was informed of the works carried out here. It was noted that very important historical and archaeological discoveries were found during the excavations.

The discoveries were presented to President Ilham Aliyev.

It was stated that the residents of Rome praised the work done under the agreement and archaeological discoveries.

Then the Declaration of Cooperation was signed between the “Icherisheher” State Historical and Architectural Reserve and the Mayor's Office of Rome witnessed by President Ilham Aliyev.

The document was signed by Azerbaijan`s Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi.

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Start it UP Keep it UP project wins grant competition of Erasmus

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During training representatives of 6 countries 24 mentors on social entrepreneurship participated at trainings about “Monetization of the idea”, “Effective working with Mentees” and “Situation analysis”.

Throughout this programme mentees from each country shared their experiences on panel discussions and discussed suggestions for being more effective on field of mentoring.

On the last days of training course attendees visited sustainable social businesses at Thessaloniki and learned their experiences.

There is thought of representative of Azerbaijan Isa Zeynal: “Social businesses play the role of natural solver of social problems on society at world. Learning these practices from various countries will be helpful for improvement of social entrepreneurship in our country”.

“Start it UP, Keep it UP” is continuing since February 2019, and participants from Croatia and North Macedonia attended on trainings about social entrepreneurship at previous sessions. As the next and last stage of project participants will attend “International Social Entrepreneurship Forum” in Baku on 5-10 April 2020.

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