this is bbc world news, the headlines. the government in catalonia is insisting that sunday's vote on independence will still go ahead. this is despite spanish authorities closing off polling stations and raiding a communication centre that was due to count the votes. on a brief visit to china the american secretary of state, rex tillerson, has said washington is in direct contact with north korea and wants to start a dialogue over its nuclear and missile programmes. the british prime minister — theresa may — has arrived for her party's annual conference. but she is under renewed pressure from within her own cabinet over her approach to brexit. scientists say losing the ability to smell could be an early sign of dementia, they say people who were unable to smell peppermint and rose we re unable to smell peppermint and rose were more than twice as likely to develop dementia. at ten o'clock martine croxall
will be here with a full round up of the days news. first, our world. a handful of raw sapphires. beautiful and valuable. but they also pose a threat to this, the indri lemur, one of the rarest animals on earth. poor people in their thousands have invaded the animal's home, seeking their fortune in the remote forests of madagascar. are you rich? no, not yet. not yet? laughs. not yet rich! they mine the land, but for little reward. very hard, the life here. in the rush for sapphires,
there's a price to be paid. less than a year ago in eastern madagascar, there was a chance discovery of sapphires, sparking a gem rush. tens of thousands of people flocked to the area. and we are now following the route they carved out. when the road ends, we walk. about one hour in, six to go, and i'm carrying half the weight these guys are. but in these hills there are hidden dangers.
disease, bandits. and every journey to the mine has its risks. time to visit the vatto mesina, sacred stones. an offering to ancestors ensures safe passage and good fortune. after this the going gets tougher. a once narrow forest path churned to mud by thousands of feet. as we walk, the trees close in on us. and then we hear them. lemurs calling. indri, right above us. the mining trail leads directly through their territory.
naturally timid, we have to go to a national park to get this close. the indris live on the fourth—biggest island on the planet, 500km off the coast of east africa. the wildlife is spectacular and rare. many species live here and only here. it is a privilege to see them in their natural habitat, but for how much longer? this has taken more than nine hours of walking, but we are finally here. we are right at the centre of what is the latest sapphire rush, the biggest sapphire rush. for at least 20 years, and still they come, men, women and children. building homes of wood and plastic, creating a makeshift town
hoping to get rich. tens of thousands of people have moved here to clear the land and dig for gemstones. this was once virgin rainforest. but now look. mineshafts and spoil heaps scar the landscape. there are thousands of men right across this valley working all day, every day, down these pits, digging out hundreds of bags of sand, and all of them are looking for something no bigger than the size of my fingernail. and this is what they are after. a handful of stones. it took bruno and his team many
they have travelled from all over the island, because there isn't any work at home. so they come here, hoping to find a sapphire that makes their fortune. this one took days to find, but is worth only about $200, split between a team of four. what does it feel like when you find a sapphire? but it's always a gamble. stephane has been here for months and has nothing to show for it. university—educated, now he works these pits to support his family. the future, i don't know. do you want to be here?
for this moment. i am here. but when i don't have money to live here, maybe i will go back to my home. do you have family, children, a wife? yeah, i have a wife, one daughter, and three sons. yeah. and you come all the way here to help them? yeah, that's why i came here. what do you want for them, your children? i want them to have a good life. it is not greed which drives men here, but poverty. madagascar is one of the poorest countries on earth. 80% of the population lives on less than $1 a day. there are fewjobs
for men like these. keen eyes sieve and search, a promise of wealth in every handful. have you found any sapphires? many, but not very good. so are you rich? no, not yet, not yet rich. but the wealth they seek comes at a cost. the mines eat away at the forest. the villages that spring up pollute the water, and threaten the habitat of the indri lemur. lemurs calling.
can you hear that? that's the sound of indris singing. they are on that side of the valley and are singing to the indris on this side. they are critically endangered and they only live in a very small area of madagascar. they cannot survive in captivity. so when they're gone from here, they're gone for good. we travelled to mitsinjo, a conservation project where the indri are able to thrive. the biggest of all the lemurs, they spend most of their lives in the trees, eating and sleeping in the branches. they produce few young, only breeding every two or three years. this is extraordinary. these indris come down from the forest canopy.
they live in small family groups. this is a group of five, two adults and threejuveniles. they eat nothing but leaves and seeds. they need a bigger range, a large territory to live in. so as the forests are cut around them, they have to retreat to smaller and smaller areas. but when those forests are gone, they will die out. in this park, our guide is one of the world's most foremost authorities on lemurs. that's really sad. he's horrified by what we show him. you can see the scale. yeah. it's huge. oh, yeah. and make no mistake, this is all illegal. on paper, the land is protected. but the authorities seem unwilling or unable to stop it.
here in madagascar, there are fortunes to be won or lost. the miners who dig up sapphires sell them on to dealers. they call this man ‘the president'. he holds court, waiting for the sapphires to be brought to him so he can inspect them and offer a price. notice the torch — every dealer needs one — and the rings — you'd have thought business was good. but far from it. but getting a good price for sapphires means keeping them safe first. this man stores them in his mouth because,
he says, he has no pockets. translation: it's calm here but beneath the surface, there's fear too. he said they need security because when you walk from the city, from town to here, there are some people who attack you. bandits? yeah, bandit. is he scared? yes, yes, we are afraid of that. sapphires are sold in england, in france, for rings... yeah. ..necklaces. uh-huh. do you think those rich people understand your life here? i think they, yeah, they understand the life here but they don't care, maybe. when i talk about the government, the government in madagascar, you know, they don't care about us.
deep in the forest, a day's walk from the nearest road, the authorities can seem remote, indifferent, and powerless. vibrant, polluted, and poor — antananarivo, madagascar‘s capital city. from here, the country's elite monitor the sapphire rush with great interest. the sapphire trade is a sensitive issue here. the government really doesn't like to talk about it, and somejournalists have been arrested for trying to expose the nepotism and corruption at its heart. the authorities claim they are trying to regulate the industry. but still, the illegal mining goes on. in recent months, ministers have talked of reform, to tighten the law and control small—scale mining. but ngos working in conservation say what really stops effective policing
is a lack of money. officials on the ground can't even buy fuel for their vehicles. these are in national parks, often, where it's happening. the authorities seem powerless. yes. u nfortu nately, most of the sapphires, gems, even gold rushes that we've had have been in protected areas, sometimes national parks. and it's all illegal, of course, but then, there is very little capacity to enforce legislation generally in madagascar — especially in very, also remote areas, because you have, i mean, they are usually remote areas so it's even more difficult to enforce the law in this case. do you think the government wants to enforce the law?
i wouldn't dismiss also that there is maybe a lack of willingness to act. which means gems from illegal mines continue to flow to the capital and on into backstreet workshops. here, skilled hands and sharp eyes work to unlock the value of the gems. stones will go through several pairs of hands before they reach the capital antananarivo and a place like this, where they're cut and polished for export. a stone sold by a miner for £25 will be sold by a dealer like this for £250, and when it is in the us or in bangkok or in dubai, will go for more than £5,000. shaolin is happy to show this stock. the mining may be against the law but the trade isn't.
this is his favourite, sold in the us for more than $2 million. some sapphires are mined legally in madagascar but how can a buyer know? the truth is, they probably cannot. most big dealers come from sri lanka or thailand. in shaolin‘s view, they buy up malagash sapphires to pass off as their own. but now, there are calls for greater transparency, demands that each gem be traceable to the mine it came from — a worldwide agreement to reform the trade. there could be some kind of international regulations
on the trustability of gems. so that, at the retailer's side, you can know where this came from and how it was produced, whether it was in a sustainable way. so you would call for some kind of international accord, rather like that which regulates the trade in diamonds? yes, yes — and we have started this discussion with the malagasy authorities. it has just started, so i think that with also international support and pressure, this discussion could move forward more quickly. how urgent is that need? that would be urgent because we are not protected from the next rush. it can happen anytime,
anywhere in madagascar. and so, it would be urgent to act, it would also help us in the future. that sounds like a good place to start. but for jonah ratsimbazafy, the lemur expert, real change can't wait. we're almost out of time. there are valuable gems beneath this red soil. unique wildlife in the trees above.
throughout the uk, that's it, sunday will be an unusually muggy day thanks to trouble cool air amongst this area of low pressure and this isa this area of low pressure and this is a driving force, and atlantic low re m na nts of is a driving force, and atlantic low remnants of the hurricane and that is the remnants of maria, which will have unlimited impact on our shores. a windy day with humid air, outbreaks of rain and drizzle across many areas and clarity through the morning. brighter through the west later in the day but the rain and drizzle comes and goes. temperatures in the high teens and not feeling very muggy indeed. the muggy air clears interlinear continent through
monday, fresher conditions for the north atlantic amid strengthening wind. frequent showers taking this into monday morning, scotland, northern ireland and other england as you receive the strongest winds for a monday morning rush hour. we can keep across the latest weather warnings, 60 mph gusts, in the west we could see damaging gusts of 70 mph potentially. the strong winds easing down through the day, clearing the north—east of scotland later in the afternoon. frequent showers north of the uk, the southern half largely dry but sunshine churning hazy from the south—west later on. you will notice and much vastly fresher feel on monday, temperatures are good few degrees down, next to the fact we're dragging thatair degrees down, next to the fact we're dragging that airfrom degrees down, next to the fact we're dragging that air from the arctic and noticed this system getting close to them afternoon. it pushes away quite quickly. high—pressure building in. that high pressure builds in further
through the night and into wednesday, north—westerly winds and a chilly starting wednesday but the winds will move in the south westerly direction to the day and the cloud increases for the north—west of scotland and we could see heavy, persistent rain. the vast majority of the uk, dry and sunny further south but after a chilly start, temperatures not lifting a huge amount but feeling warmer. rainfall totals totting up and much of england and wales stays dry and
feeling warmer and we start the week. beyond that, thejet feeling warmer and we start the week. beyond that, the jet stream keeps stronger with the angela dean puttering and frivolous that means the weather systems will come through one of the next, a changeable padron for the end of the week and through the weekend, starting with high pressure. it does mean chilliness across the southern half of the uk. we will keep you updated it seemed blind. —— the same time tomorrow. this is bbc news. the headlines at 10pm: theresa may arrives in manchester ahead of the start of her party's conference, as borisjohnson calls for a strict limit on any
brexit transition deal. ukip‘s new leader henry bolton addresses his party conference, saying multiculturalism is swamping british culture. the spanish government says most potential voting stations for tomorrow's banned referendum on catalan independence have been closed. good evening and welcome to bbc news. on the eve of the conservative party conference theresa may is under renewed pressure from within the cabinet