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IBERS scientists embark on giant panda research

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ACP_1584-1 copy (1)Scientists at Aberystwyth University’s IBERS are well known for their research into agricultural animals and plants, but now a team of young researchers at the Institute are embarking on a new project to evaluate how a parasite which can affect giant pandas responds to anti-parasitic drugs.

Dr Russ Morphew and PhD student Cat Pye are working with Iain Valentine of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the conservation charity that owns and manages RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, with links to Chinese research centres, on a three year project to identify how the parasite responds to anti–parasitic drugs and, more specifically, whether drug resistance is the cause of repeat infections in captive giant panda populations.

Dr Morphew said: “We hope that our findings will not only help to inform conservation strategies in captivity and across China’s giant panda reserves, but also that they could lead to improved control strategies to deal with infection in the future.”

The project has been awarded CASE studentship funding by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council). This is a collaborative training grant that will provide Cat with a first-rate, challenging research training experience, allowing her (as a top quality bioscience graduate) to undertake research, leading to a PhD, that is of benefit to her and the partner organisations involved.

Giant pandas, the international symbol of conservation, are one of the most loved species in the world. In a similar way to domestic dogs and cats, giant pandas can be affected by a panda-specific parasitic roundworm called Baylisascaris schroederi. If left unchecked in the wild the roundworm can be fatal, as infection from the parasite can cause damage to the intestines and ultimately reach the brain and eyes.

Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas for RZSS, said: “Like most animals – from dogs and cats to farm and zoo animals – giant pandas can catch roundworms specific to their species and, as part of good zoological husbandry practices, all animals including giant pandas are regularly wormed. However, evidence suggests that over time worms become resistant to some of the drugs currently being used.”

“Nearly all giant pandas are infected with worms from their mother when they are cubs and it is then nearly impossible to eradicate them permanently. When animals are treated regularly the worms go into a dormant state in their body, but when females are pregnant, hormones allow the encysted larvae to hatch, hence the reason why nearly all puppies and kittens have worms as they are passed through their mother’s milk.”

“Although Yang Guang our male is extremely rare in having never shown any signs of worms or their eggs, Tian Tian has shed three worms in the last three years. Although this is a only a few worms  which has had no impact on Tian Tian’s health, it does allow scientists to use her faeces to try to develop new and improved drugs to help pandas who are affected more seriously by this condition.”

“RZSS is sharing expertise, funding and contacts to assist scientists at Aberystwyth University’s IBERS in undertaking this important research. Our colleagues in China are particularly excited by the results that may be achieved and the potential that exists to improve panda care.”

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Ceredigion Youth Service Awards Night Success

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Ysgol Henry Richard pupils receiving certificates.

ON Tuesday, 9 April, over 220 young people and their families, from across Ceredigion joined Ceredigion Youth Service to celebrate their annual Awards Night. The evening was an opportunity to celebrate and recognise the achievements and successes of all young people who have engaged with Ceredigion Youth Service during the past year.

Young people attended from each Secondary School in Ceredigion, Coleg Ceredigion, Ceredigion Training, young people working with the outreach service, and all the young people who attend youth clubs, youth projects and holiday provisions. There has been a wide variety of projects, activities and events held again this year, with up to 5,000 young people in attendance. These have been successful due to the commitment and enthusiasm shown by the young people from all over Ceredigion.

The special awards presented during the evening included awards for Young Volunteer of the Year, Outstanding Contribution awards, Campaign of the Year, Special Achievements and Community Engagement awards. In addition to the special award categories, numerous local certificates were celebrated and distributed to young people achieving national accreditations or to those who have participated in various clubs and projects.

Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council leading the evening.

Catrin Miles, Cabinet member for Learning Services opened the evening. The evening was then hosted by Beca Fflur Williams, Chair of Ceredigion Youth Council. Guest speakers included Ashlie Day, Chloe Toose and Thomas Evans, Ceredigion Youth Service Young Volunteers. The awards were presented by Ellen ap Gwynn, Leader of Ceredigion County Council, Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council and Hag Harris, Chairman of Ceredigion County Council. Clips were shown on the screen including a message from MP Ben Lake. The night was closed by Chelsea Jones and Louise Bryan, members of Penparcau Youth Club.

Elen James, Corporate Lead Officer for Lifelong Learning and Culture said, “Both Ceredigion Youth Service and the Council are extremely proud that over 400 young people have achieved awards through the Youth Service during the past year. Youth Service provision is hugely valuable to young people’s development as they transition into adulthood. Our youth clubs, outreach provision, work within schools and holiday programs offer a variety of opportunities for young people to be a part of something that supports and interests them.”

“The number of young people achieving awards, accreditation and certificates this year is a reflection of our young people’s commitment and enthusiasm across the county and it was a pleasure to welcome so many young people and their families to celebrate with us in Theatr Felinfach. Congratulations to you all!”

For more information or to find out what opportunities are available to you, head over to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages at @GICeredigionYS or contact the team on youth@ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Students help to replace bridges at Parc y Llyn

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Replacement bridge at Parc y Llyn, with some of the students from the Countryside Management Course, Aberystwyth University,

STUDENTS of the Countryside Management Course at Aberystwyth University have been constructing two new bridges to replace the old structures at a popular riverside walk in Aberystwyth, near Morrisons.

Timber for the bridges, some of which was grown and milled on the University Farm, was made into kit form at the college workshop before being assembled on site to span two culverts alongside the river Rheidol.

Students gained experience in the whole bridge building process, from site assessment to the finished project, through the Practical Estates Skills Project. Also included in the project was, the construction of a kissing gate at Penglais woods using timber clefted from a chestnut tree at the Local Nature Reserve, and repair of some of the steps there.

This is the last year in which the Practical Estate Skills Project will be undertaken. This brings to an end a 20-year long partnership between the University and the County Council’s Coast & Countryside Section. Over the years, students have been given the opportunity to contribute to improving the footpaths, bridleways and public access in the various communities over that time.

Public Rights of Way Officer, Eifion Jones said, “Ceredigion County Council is very grateful for the work done and wishes to thank the students and course tutors for their contribution to the maintenance of the reserves.The two new foot bridges is a credit to them all, and will serve the community of Aberystwyth and the surrounding area for many years to come.”

Funding for the materials were financed by the Coast & Countryside section via the Welsh Assembly Environment and Sustainable Development Grant (ESD) and by Aberystwyth University. All work regarding the gate was financed by Aberystwyth University, including the felling of a sweet chestnut tree by a Tree Surgeon.

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Newcastle Emlyn: Luke Cuber-Hives burgled and set fire to Adpar heath shop

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A CARMARTHEN man has been jailed for the burglary and arson of the Riverside Health Shop in Adpar, Ceredigion last year.

Luke Cuber-Hives now of of Ty Croeso, Adpar, Newcastle Emlyn has been handed 54 months in custody.

Police have said: “An extensive enquiry received the support of the local community, who identified his involvement in further theft and fraud offences. Cuber-Hives appeared before
Swansea Crown Court yesterday, where he received a jail term totalling 54 months.”

Detective Inspector Richard Yelland, senior investigating officer into the enquiry, told The Ceredigion Herald: “This sentence sends a strong message that arson is a serious and dangerous act.

“Ceredigion has seen first-hand the devastating impact these mindless acts can have on victims, and the fear it spreads in the community. We saw in Aberystwyth that fire can quickly take hold and lives can be lost.

“In this case it appears, the fact that nobody was hurt was due to luck, rather than the judgement of Mr Cuber-Hives.

“I hope that anyone considering such behaviour will think twice before committing such offences with a long prison sentence waiting for those who get caught.”
The incident took place in the early hours of November 27, 2018

The 28-year-old was charged with stealing five charity collection boxes to a value unknown from Riverside Health Shop between November 26-27; committing fraud at Newcastle Emlyn by claiming he was collecting money for charity on November 26 and also stealing a set of ladders and marble worktop worth £350 from Riverside Café between November 19-20

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