Cape Town Water Crisis
A LIFE DEVOTED TO CHIMPANZEES
Dr. Géza Teleki (1943–2014) was a devoted guardians of untouched nature. In 1968 he was one of the first people to join Jane Goodall in Gombe, to assist and shape the research carried out there. He spent his entire life serving the chimpanzees’ cause, defying illness, lobbyists’ pressure, a shortage of time and money. He always considered the interests of the entire species paramount, and was advocating it at universities, at his lectures, in his books. He was convinced that in order to save animals and plants, one has to mobilize people’s emotions. He considered himself a nature conservationist rather than a scholar.
His greatest achievement was the foundation of the first national park in Sierra Leone, Outamba-Kilimi National Park, which is still open to visitors. He devoted five years to this endeavor (1979–1984); along with his health.
In fighting against animal experiments, he remained, to the end of his life, an ally to Jane Goodall. And he played a significant role in focusing international attention on the endangered status of chimpanzees, using every means he had to fight for their protection.
He is a member of the historical Teleki family from Szék, the grandson of Pál Teleki. He was born in Kolozsvár [the city of Cluj in today’s Romania], grew up in the United States, but the most important years of his life were connected to Africa. He moved back to his homeland, to Hungary after 63 years.
The documentary presents the life and research of Emil Racovita, one of the first Antarctic explorers, a pioneer of oceanology and the founder of a new science, the bio-speleology. He created in Cluj the first Institute of Speleology in the world.
Using photographs made by Emil Racovita in Antarctica, the film focuses mainly on the Belgica expedition (1897-1899), the first scientific expedition who wintered in Antarctica, having Roald Amundsen, Frederick Cook on board and Adrien de Gerlache as captain.
Romania was known for a long time as one of the last geographical areas harbouring traces of primeval nature in Europe, with the largest brown bear (Ursus arctos) population, live in the Carpathians Mountains, estimated at 6,500 but their real number is certainly much larger than that. Rough terrain, hard to reach areas and "out of date" counting methods make establishing the exact figure impossible. In the past two decades the state of the natural environment has changed dramatically. Reckless exploitation, corruption, the rapid shrinkage of habitats and the rising influence of foreign private interests has created a dramatic situation for wildlife, which has brought about exceptionally serious problems as animals have been compelled to enter human communities in search of food and living conditions to subsist. As bears have been forced to change their long-established lifestyle, bear attacks on livestock and humans have become commonplace, and people’s fear and thirst for revenge has grown to an unprecedented extent. The Romanian bear issue has now reached a critical point generating serious social and political tensions while no acceptable solution has been found yet.
CLIMATE DRIVEN MIGRATION
Human migration sparked by wars, disasters, and now climate Homo sapiens have been on the move from almost their beginnings. Climate-caused floods, drought, and water shortages will likely join the list of reasons to migrate. - ERIN BLAKEMORE
The Holocaust in Northern Transylvania
Following Jewish emancipation in the 19th century, the Jewry became the only minority within the Austrian-Hungarian Dual Monarchy that followed the path of complete assimilation and unconditional loyalty. For the Jewry, Hungary became an attractive and safe option, and increasingly, Jewish immigrants were arriving to settle in Transylvania also. From every province of the Monarchy, Jews were migrating to Transylvania, so the size of the Jewish population was gradually rising. In 1920, the number of Transylvanian residents who identified themselves as Jewish was 181,340. By 1941, they numbered 192,000.
Following the Treaty of Trianon and the Romanian annexation of Transylvania, the Jewish population found itself in a doubly disadvantageous situation: for the majority, their mother tongue as well as their cultural background was Hungarian; in the years between the two world wars, Transylvanian Jews belonged to a “dual minority”. For them, the “golden era” of the Monarchy was over, and from time to time, they kept being reminded—both by the Romanian and by the Hungarian side—of being different. It is not at all surprising then that the overwhelming majority of the assimilated, urbanized Jewry of Northern Transylvania was overjoyed by the Second Vienna Award announced on August 30, 1940—which returned Northern Transylvania to Hungary—while the likewise assimilated Jewry of Southern Transylvania was saddened and disappointed by the border revision.
It is a twist of fate that eventually, among the Hungarian Jews from Transylvania, those who remained under Romanian authority within Southern Transylvania were better off, surviving the critical era with a minimal number of lives lost. Under the pretext of checking the citizenship of Jews, in most counties of Northern Transylvania, the Hungarian authorities committed atrocities. A lesser known chapter of the tragedy of the Hungarian Jewry is the series of deportations taking place largely from Székely settlements in 1840, from October through December. During these deportations, the Hungarian authorities forced many Jewish families that had been declared “stateless” to cross the Hungarian-Romanian border, and when this failed (as it happened in most cases), the persecuted individuals were pushed over to the part of Galicia under Soviet occupation in December at Kőrösmező (today, Yasinia in Ukraine) in Máramaros County (today, Maramureș). They became the first victims of the Northern Transylvanian Holocaust. Those who did not freeze to death in the deep snow were killed by wild animals or were sent to Soviet camps in Galicia. Very few survived the war. The majority of those deported in the fall of 1940 were born in Transylvania, able to show certificates to prove their Hungarian citizenship. Yet as a result of the brutal, occasionally even hysteric anti-Jewish propaganda imported largely from Hungary, neither the Hungarian population nor the Hungarian soldiers sympathized with those who were being deported.
In 1941, the deportations from Székely Land continued, affecting at that point the entire territory of Northern Transylvania. From the Jewish population of just about every Northern Transylvanian settlement, the Hungarian authorities selected a couple of individuals, declaring them to be of “uncertain citizenship”, deporting them. By 1942, the illegal, random deportations carried out by order from Budapest generated several thousand Jewish victims from Northern Transylvania. For example, of the 400 Jews that were entrained and deported from Homoródkarácsonyfalva (today, Crăciunel) in the summer of 1941, only six survived the mass massacres that the German Nazis, assisted by their Ukrainian counterparts, committed near Kamianets Podilskyi in late August, 1941, when altogether 16-18,000 Jews deported from Hungary were machine gunned into mass graves.
In the summer of 1942 began the call-up of Jewish men from Northern Transylvania for labor service. Almost 15,000 Jewish labor servicemen from Northern Transylvania were sent first to Hungarian labor camps and then to the front line. Due to inhumane treatment, insufficient food, diseases and war injuries, most of them did not return.
After the Germans occupied Hungary on March 19, 1944, the deportations were organized in a far more “efficient and professional” manner. During April, Hungarian government regulations aimed at the comprehensive plunder of the Jewry were put into effect in Northern Transylvania. Residents that counted as Jewish under racial laws were excluded from professional organizations, were fired from public institutions; they were not allowed to travel and were required to wear on the left side of their chest a yellow Star of David 10 by 10 centimeters in size, and so on. The local authorities were ordered to cooperate with Jewish organizations to prepare a full register of the Jewish population. Jewish private property, commercial inventories, machinery and equipment were all seized, and Jews had to hand over their valuables and cash.
In May, the Northern Transylvanian Jewry was collected, concentrated in ghettos, and then, crammed into cattle cars under inhumane conditions, they were deported to Auschwitz. The first train to leave from Máramarossziget (today, Sighetu Marmației), which belonged to Deportation Zone I, crossed the Hungarian border on May 16 at Kassa (today, Košice in Slovakia), transporting, under astounding circumstances, 3007 individuals. And the last transport from Northern Transylvania departed from Nagyvárad (today, Oradea) on June 26, carrying 2819 people into death camps in German occupied Poland. During the five weeks that passed between these two dates, over 135,000 individuals were deported to Auschwitz from Northern Transylvania, including Máramaros County (today, Maramureș), where most of them (primarily the children and the elderly) were immediately executed in gas chambers and their bodies were cremated. Others were subsequently starved to death and/or forced to work in German labor camps and factories. No more than 35,000-40,000 of the Jewish population of Northern Transylvania (totaling almost 165,000 individuals) survived the camps, the number of deaths is therefore estimated at 125,000-130,000. Some of the survivors did not return to their birthplace, leaving instead for western countries or for Palestine; those who did return began leaving Romania en masse in the late 1940s.
In Transylvania, including the Partium and the Banat regions, in the year 2002, less than 2000 individuals identified themselves as being of Jewish ethnicity and/or of Jewish religion. But many of those individuals moved to Transylvania following the Holocaust, coming especially from other regions of Romania or from the Soviet occupied Bassarabia and Bukovina, so the number of Transylvanian Jewish survivors still living there is considerably less.
ROMANIA, THE DRAWBACKS OF URANIUM | GREENING
The mines at Baiţa Bihor and Ciudanoviţa were closed in 1998 and 2000 respectively. The Government allocated funds from the state budget for “greening of the areas”.
The operation cost forty-five million lei at Ciudanoviţa (between 2000 and 2005), and funds continue to be allocated to Baiţa, where conservation and greening is underway. Even for a layman, a visit to the two areas will reveal a landscape that does not lead one to think that it has genuinely been conserved, let alone greened. At Ciudanoviţa there the entrances to the mineshafts were concreted over and barriers reading “Danger, ionising radiation” had been set up. The danger of uranium contamination increases day by day. The mineshafts and faces have deteriorated greatly due to the fact that work has either not been carried out or has been done poorly, and the resistance structures have been destroyed. Worst of all, Shaft 1 at the Ciudanoviţa Mine has since caved in. This has led to the galleries being flooded, and the uranium ore has dissolved in the
water. The water has thereby become radioactive. The water has begun naturally to seep outside and form brooks, which flow into the Caraș River. The contaminated water crosses Ciudanoviţa, and animals drink from the river and women do their laundry in it.
At present, in the Ciudanoviţa area there are more than thirty landfills that have traces of uranium. Most of them are unmarked. Children play on them; animals graze on them. Uranium-bearing ore is not easily recognised, especially given that one of the two types found in the area looks a lot like granite. Rainwater washes away the landfills, which flow into the streams that cross the area.
In 2004, Canadian experts from an NGO called the Jules Verne Hobby Club took readings in the Ciudanoviţa area and drew attention to the fact that there are places where the radioactivity exceeds the danger level by thirty times. Independent measurements are forbidden by law, and the authorities invariably claim that the radiation is “within the legal limits.”
In Baiţa Bihor the area is a little better guarded. The guards do not let you pass the barrier (as if radiation could be stopped by a barrier). Perhaps also because here, in a part of the former mine, the country’s only radioactive waste dump is housed. The authorities say that only waste from research and medical processes is stored, but this cannot be verified.
Portrait of a miner.
A psychological and social approach.
The miners from the area are frightened. They are frightened to talk about anything to do with their life as miners. They tend to emphasise the positive aspects – the very high wages, the maximum of fifteen years before retirement, the generous pensions, and the chance of working abroad even many years after retirement.
It is interesting to find out what exactly they are frightened of. What have they been told about their work and the importance of keeping it a secret? What are their lives really like? What were working conditions like in the mine? What were safety measures like underground? What illnesses do they suffer from? What does the future hold for them after they retire at the age of thirty-five?