An ice age almost one million years ago led to a meeting between leopards from central and southern Africa while they searched for warm lands to hunt in. They started breeding and now, reveals molecular ecologist Laura Tensen, a new DNA study has shown that the descendants of these two groups are the leopards found today in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province. This finding is important for maintaining the genetic diversity of today’s leopards, which will allow them to beat disease in years to come.

Gabon recently concluded a national dialogue aimed at charting a path back to democratic rule. Since a coup in 2023 removed Ali Bongo Ondimba from office, ending the Bongo dynasty’s 56-year hold on power, Gabon has been under a military junta. Douglas Yates warns that the coup leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema, risks ending up as the country’s third autocratic leader if he fails to generate economic growth and hand over power to a civilian.

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Anna Weekes

Environment + Energy Editor

Leopard DNA study in South Africa traces ancestry to ice age – and will guide conservation

Laura Tensen, University of Copenhagen

Research exploring how leopards evolved has found that South African leopards are descended from an ice age a million years ago.

Gabon: post-coup dialogue has mapped out path to democracy – now military leaders must act

Douglas Yates, American Graduate School in Paris (AGS)

Gabon’s military ruler risks becoming the country’s third autocratic leader if he fails to generate economic growth and return the country to democratic paths.

Belief in democracy is on the decline in Africa. Traditional institutions can help restore its importance

Vladimir Chlouba, University of Richmond

Traditional institutions represent, for many African citizens, the most immediate form of governance.

Minimum wage for South African farm workers: study shows 2013 hike helped reduce poverty even though compliance was poor

Ihsaan Bassier, London School of Economics and Political Science; Vimal Ranchhod, University of Cape Town

The study provides reason for optimism about the effects of minimum wage policies on poverty.

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