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Panamanian holding a drone — Photo: UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Members of Panama's 12 indigenous nations are embracing a cutting-edge technology — drones — in an effort to protect their ancestral lands.

Roughly 7.4 million hectares of rainforest cover more than half of Panamanian territory, but it is rapidly disappearing, some estimate by as much as 20,000 hectares per year.

To halt the destruction, the Panamanian Environment Ministry, working in collaboration with the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has begun supplying indigenous groups with drones that can be flown below the canopy mist and enable closer monitoring and clearer pictures of where trees have been harmed, Bogota-based daily El Espectador reports.

Project participants are taught to assemble drone parts, plan flights, operate the contraptions by remote control, and read, download and compare the pictures with satellite versions.

Anthropologist Luz Graciela Joly, in an interview with the website Scidev.net, explains that modern technology use does not go against the ancestral teachings of the indigenous participants. "There are no static cultures here," she says. "All of them change in time and most indigenous cultures adopt and incorporate technologies, like cell phones, when it suits them."

Native community leaders reportedly welcomed the proposal. FAO official Lucio Santos says the UN now plans to extend the program to other areas, starting in October with the Peruvian Amazon.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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