Last weekend, I went out to the Toronto Islands for the first time this year. I think I’ll be going out again today, but I wanted to first share the photos I took on last weekend’s trip.
On the ferry:
National Geographic‘s Brian Clark Howard reports about the science involved in the hunting of lions in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is thought to have between 500 and 1,680 lions remaining, about 80 percent of which live in protected areas. The country has the highest proportion of lions that can be legally hunted, along with Tanzania, which is home to 40 percent of Africa’s lions.
Across the continent, lion numbers have plummeted by more than 80 percent over the past century, from 200,000 to less than 30,000.
Zimbabwe’s poverty and remoteness has made it harder for game officials there to keep a close eye on legal lion hunting and to prevent poaching than in some surrounding countries, says Wayne Bisbee, a trophy hunter and conservationist who often visits Africa. Zimbabwe is also often cited for its corruption—its president, Robert Mugabe, has ruled the country for 35 years— which can lead to lax or unequal enforcement.
[. . .]
In 2013, 49 legal lion trophies were exported from Zimbabwe, out of about 665 such trophies that come from Africa each year.
Zimbabwe’s wildlife authority has issued a statement saying it is aggressively investigating what it calls the illegal hunt of Cecil and has jailed two of the guides that arranged the shooting trip of American dentist Walter Palmer. The guides currently on bail in the Cecil case could face as much as 15 years in prison, and Zimbabwe’s authorities have asked for Palmer to be extradited to their country to face possible charges.
BBC reports with Farai Sevenzo.
For a country that has been largely left to its own fate, the sudden spike in international interest in Zimbabwe did not come from the high unemployment figures, the food shortages, the state persecution of vendors, the lack of medicines, the lack of cash – but from a lion named “Cecil” by conservationists.
Cecil was killed by a US dentist fond of hunting, who was once fined for killing a bear in his own country outside the permitted hunting area.
The lion’s death has not registered much with the locals – and for most Zimbabweans the name is more associated with the British imperialist diamond digger Cecil John Rhodes, serving as a reminder that the country once bore the name Rhodesia.
Indeed for the Zimbabwe press this explains “the saturation coverage on the demise of his namesake”, and they have been reminding us that tourism and hunting are “mired in elitism”.
blogTO’s Chris Bateman this week engaged in a bit of alternate history in his post “How Toronto almost landed the 2008 Olympics”.
Toronto planned to build its Olympic stadium, aquatic centre, and athletes’ village in the west Port Lands, just north of the Shipping Channel. The velodrome and tennis facilities would be at Exhibition Place and a new plaza covering Lake Shore Blvd. would provide a direct link to Ontario Place.
The Air Canada Centre would host basketball and volleyball and baseball would be played in the SkyDome. A central meeting place at the base of the CN Tower called the Olympic Ring Central Plaza was also included on the plans that were unveiled in November, 1999.
[. . .]
In February 2001, as the final announcement drew near, an evaluation team from the International Olympic Committee visited Toronto for a round of final inspections. Desperate to make a good impression, the city cleaned up pollution-blackened snowbanks along the tour route and hurriedly swept the streets.
Still, the visit didn’t exactly go smoothly. 11 of the 17 IOC inspectors became trapped in a lift for more than an hour at the Park Hyatt hotel moments before they were due to deliver their findings.
[. . .]
And then there was Mel Lastman’s cannibal remark. In 2001, less than a month before the final vote, Lastman explained to reporters why he wasn’t keen to make a visit to Kenya to drum up support from African IOC delegates.
“What the hell do I want to go to a place like Mombasa,” he said. “I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me.”
In Moscow with the rest of the Toronto 2008 team for the final announcement, Lastman formally apologized to Keba Mbaye, a Senegalese IOC vice president and the person in charge of tallying the final votes. Mbaye had earlier said he was offended by Lastman’s crass remarks.
Let’s say that Toronto has a mayor who acts more astutely, and the city lands the 2008 Olympics. What happens next? A big surge in debt can be counted upon, but I don’t think economic apocalypse would be likely. Perhaps the ongoing real estate boom might be fueled still further by the construction boom? What would be the impact on China of a loss of the Olympics?
This isn’t something that I think would necessarily have a huge effect, on Canada or China or the world. Am I wrong?
Sarah Duong at Torontoist reported, meanwhile, that a majority of Torontonians would like to their city to host the games.
A poll published yesterday by Forum Research shows that a majority of Torontonians approve of a potential bid for the city to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. Among 755 respondents, 61 per cent approve the notion, 30 per cent disapprove, and 9 per cent are unsure or undecided.
The poll comes one day after the Pan Am Games closing ceremonies and a non-answer by Mayor John Tory on the subject.
“I just think today is not the day to answer that question. We should let things subside,” said Tory in an interview. “We’ve got to make sure we execute the Parapan Games as well as we did the Pan Am Games.”
But the time to think about an Olympic bid is now. With the September 15 deadline to submit bid cities fast approaching, many are fearful that Toronto will miss its chance to host the games. Having previously submitted applications to host the Olympics in the past, if a bid does indeed get pushed through, the 2024 games will represent Toronto’s sixth time vying for a chance to host the event (1960, 1964, 1976, 1996, and 2008).
NDP leader Tom Mulcair expressed cautious optimism about the bid, stating, “Having seen the fantastic success of the Pan Am Games, I’m optimistic that Toronto would be able to put together a bid for the 2024 Olympics. I think it has to be costed very carefully, having seen what’s happened in the cases of other Olympics in the past.”
I would like it if, as in Barcelona, the Olympics could be connected to a city-wide program for urban regeneration. If.