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A pond in warming Mali is disappearing, and a UNESCO-listed fishing tradition is in danger

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A pond in warming Mali is disappearing, and a UNESCO-listed fishing tradition is in danger
ENT

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A pond in warming Mali is disappearing, and a UNESCO-listed fishing tradition is in danger

2024-06-14 13:14 Last Updated At:13:20

SAN, Mali (AP) — Thousands of fishermen holding cone-shaped nets stood side by side, cheering and chanting as they waited for the signal. Suddenly, they rushed to a large muddy pond and cast their nets, dropping to their knees in the mud. Soon, one proudly held up a fish the length of his arm.

For several hundred years, people have gathered in the southern Mali town of San for Sanké mon, a collective fishing rite in June that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. The rite, with masked dancers and traditional costumes, is on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

The marathon session of collective fishing celebrates the town's founding and marks the beginning of the rainy season. But climate change and heat waves are disturbing the tradition.

Sanké pond is starting to disappear, said a village chief, Mamadou Lamine Traoré.

Heat waves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. Temperatures in the town have reached a record this year at 48.5 degrees Celsius (119 degrees Fahrenheit), Emmanuel Doumbia, a local weather observer, told The Associated Press.

The unprecedented heat wave in Mali this year has also led to a surge in deaths. The heat wave began in March as many in the Muslim-majority country observed the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with dawn-to-dusk fasting.

The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center said that insufficient data in Mali makes it impossible to know the number of heat-related deaths, but estimated that the toll this year has likely been in the hundreds, if not thousands.

An analysis published in April by the World Weather Attribution — an international team of scientists looking at how human-induced climate change impacts extreme weather — said the latest heat wave in the Sahel, a region south of the Sahara that suffers from periodic droughts, is more than just a record-breaker.

Climate change has made maximum temperatures in Burkina Faso and Mali hotter by 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the researchers said.

Experts have warned of more scorching weather ahead.

At the latest Sanké mon collective fishing rite, men sweated as they stripped skinny chickens bare and cooked them over reeds, and dancers in sporty knee socks or plastic sandals adjusted armbands adorned with cowrie shells. A national flag waved limply on a weathered pole along the trampled shore.

“This tradition was already established before I was born,” said one participant, Amadou Coulibaly, who remains faithful to it despite the growing challenges.

When the rite was added to the UNESCO list in 2009, there were plans to dig deeper into the pond to prevent it from silting up, Traoré said. “But since then, nothing was done and the pond is starting to create problems." It wasn't clear why no action was taken.

The pond's disappearance would threaten not just the centuries-old rite but also the town's economic survival if attention fades, he said.

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

Thousands of fishermen fill a large muddy pond and cast their nets in the southern Mali town of San, Thursday, June 6, 2024, for Snake mon, a collective fishing rite that begins with animal sacrifices and offerings to the water spirits of Sanké pond. For several hundred years, people have gathered for the rite, which is on UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage. Heatwaves in Mali in recent years have caused the pond to start drying out. (AP Photo/Moustapha Diallo)

HONG KONG (AP) — A top Chinese university fired a professor on Monday, a day after a graduate student accused him of sexual harassment on social media in a rare public allegation and posted recordings as evidence, drawing widespread support.

The woman, who identified herself as Wang Di, said she is studying in a doctoral program at Renmin University of China’s School of Liberal Arts. She posted a 59-minute video on Sunday on the Weibo social media platform in which she said her supervisor, an ex-vice dean and former Communist Party representative at the school in Beijing, physically and verbally abused her.

She also said that for more than two years after she rejected him, he assigned her many tasks, scolded her and threatened that she would not graduate. She also posted audio clips which she said were evidence of the harassment. In one, a man could be heard trying to kiss a woman, who kept saying, “No, no, teacher.”

“At this moment, I can no longer endure it and have nowhere to retreat, so I am speaking out,” she wrote. She demanded that the professor be punished and a new supervisor be appointed for her. She wore a mask in the video, but held up an identification card.

Her post drew 2.2 million likes as of Monday evening, with many users leaving comments in support of the student.

Renmin University said Monday it concluded that the complaints against the professor were true following an investigation. In addition to sacking him, it also revoked his party membership and reported the incident to authorities in accordance with the law, it said in a statement on Weibo.

It said the academic had “seriously betrayed the original mission of teaching and educating” and that his acts violated party discipline and school rules.

The professor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After the university announced its decision, the woman's post on Weibo disappeared.

The Associated Press does not generally name people who say they are victims of sexual harassment unless they publicly identify themselves.

In China, public accusations of sexual harassment have become rare in recent years following an uptick during a brief #MeToo movement that was swiftly snuffed out by the government. The ruling Communist Party views powerful social movements as a potential threat to stability and its hold on power.

In June, a Chinese journalist who promoted women’s rights as part of the #MeToo movement was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of incitement to subvert state authority, according to her supporters.

In one of the most high-profile cases, former Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai disappeared from public view after accusing former high-level official Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault in 2021. Her accusation was quickly scrubbed from the internet and discussion of it remains heavily censored.

People past near the logo for Renmin University outside the main campus in Beijing, Monday, July 22, 2024. A PhD student at Renmin University, one of the top universities in the country, accused her supervisor, also party secretary and vice dean of School of Liberal Arts of molesting her and taking revenge after being rejected, and threatening not to let her graduate. The university has responded saying it will launch an investigation. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

People past near the logo for Renmin University outside the main campus in Beijing, Monday, July 22, 2024. A PhD student at Renmin University, one of the top universities in the country, accused her supervisor, also party secretary and vice dean of School of Liberal Arts of molesting her and taking revenge after being rejected, and threatening not to let her graduate. The university has responded saying it will launch an investigation. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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