Secret mission saves Australia’s ‘dinosaur trees’ from bushfires Jan 17, 2020 0 457 12345 AFPSydneyA secret operation by specialist firefighters has saved the world’s last stand of Wollemi Pines, a pre-historic species known as “dinosaur trees”, from Australia’s unprecedented bushfires, officials said.Fewer than 200 of the trees exist in the wild, hidden in a gorge in the World Heritage Blue Mountains, northwest of Sydney, an area hit by one of the biggest bushfires that have ravaged much of Australia for months.With flames approaching the area late last year, air tankers dropped fire retardant in a protective ring around the trees while specialist firefighters were winched into the gorge to set up an irrigation system to provide moisture for the grove, officials said.Matt Kean, environment minister for New South Wales state where the Blue Mountains lie, described the operation as “an unprecedented environmental protection mission”. While some of the trees were charred by the flames, the grove was saved from the fires, he said in a statement late Wednesday.“The fire did go through there, we had a few days of thick smoke so we couldn’t tell if they’d been damaged. We all waited with bated breath,” he told ABC radio.“It’s just been a phenomenal success story,” he added.He said this wildfire season was the first opportunity to monitor the response of the trees to fire in a natural setting, helping the park to refine how it manages the grove.The Wollemi Pine which grows up to 40-metres (130-feet) high is believed to have existed since the Jurassic period 200 million years ago, pre-dating many dinosaurs. They were believed to be extinct, only ever seen in fossils, until their accidental discovery by a park ranger in 1994.The grove’s remote location has remained a closely-guarded secret to protect the trees from contamination by visitors. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Philippines says danger high despite volcano ‘lull’ Jan 17, 2020 0 102 Taliban propose brief Afghan ceasefire to the US, say sources Jan 17, 2020 0 84 THE ‘INTERCEPTOR’ — MALAYSIA’S LATEST WEAPON TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT Jan 17, 2020 0 1489 Putin’s new PM promises ‘real changes’ for Russians Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new prime minister promised “real changes” on Thursday as he was approved by lawmakers after the Kremlin announced sweeping reform plans. Putin tapped Mikhail Mishustin for .. Japan reports case of mystery virus behind China outbreak Tokyo: Japan has confirmed a case of a mystery virus that first emerged in China and is from the same family as the deadly SARS pathogen, authorities said on Thursday. It appears to be only the second time the novel .. Former Philippine police chief indicted for drugs war corruption Manila: The former chief police enforcer of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs will be charged with corruption for allegedly protecting officers linked to the narcotics trade, the justice .. Alleged slap in face costs 300,000 dollars and a sheep in Afghanistan Kabul: A traditional council of elders in Afghanistan has told a former lawmaker to pay an Afghan minister 300,000 dollars in cash along with a sheep to compensate for an alleged slap in the face. A tribal leader and deputy .. India to invite Pakistani PM to October regional summit DPA New Delhi New Delhi will invite Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit when it hosts the event later this year, Indian officials said on Thursday. “India will be ..