Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Singapore Airlines bans lion bones in cargo

Yahoo – AFP, September 21, 2018

Singapore Airlines says it has banned lion bones as cargo on its planes
(AFP Photo/GREG BAKER)

Singapore (AFP) - Singapore Airlines said Friday it has stopped accepting lion bones for cargo after the carrier was singled out in a report for transporting the animal parts from South Africa.

Campaigners have long called for a ban on the controversial trade in big cat bones, which are sought after for medicine and jewellery in Southeast Asia.

Singapore Airlines was the sole carrier importing lion bones from South Africa to Southeast Asia last year, according to a report released in July by the non-profit EMS Foundation and animal rights group Ban Animal Trading.

At least 800 lion skeletons had been exported with the blessing of the South African government in 2017, the report said, making it the world's largest exporter of lion bones.

The airline told AFP it had stopped accepting lion bones as cargo, but did not say when the policy had come into effect.

"Singapore Airlines does not accept the carriage of lion bones as cargo following a review which took into account increasing concerns around the world," the company said in an email.

EMS Foundation director Michele Pickover said her organisation had sent the report to the airline and "appealed to them to immediately stop its involvement in this terrible trade".

"I believe that once they were informed about what this trade entails they took the correct and logical decision not to support it," she told AFP.

South Africa has been sending lion bones to Southeast Asia since at least 2008 and it was likely that Singapore Airlines had been transporting them since that year, Pickover added.

Lion bones and other body parts are highly sought after in parts of Southeast Asia -- particularly Laos, Thailand and Vietnam -- for use in jewellery and for their supposed medicinal properties.

In Vietnam, lion bone is cooked and turned into balm while claws and teeth were used as body ornaments, the report said.

While trade of body parts from wild lions is banned, international treaties allow the sale of parts taken from lions bred in captivity.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

VIDEO: A zoo in Colombia's second city of #Medellin shows off a newborn spider monkey, a rare species in critical danger of extinction #spidermonkey

Young elephant electrocuted in Thailand

Yahoo – AFP, September 15, 2018

The mahout (C) of 10-year-old elephant named 'Lucky', wildlife volunteers and
 police surround the animal's body in Samut Prakhan province, south of Bangkok,
in a photo taken by civilian volunteer charity Ruamkatanyu on September 14,
 2018 (AFP Photo/Handout)

Bangkok (AFP) - A young male elephant was electrocuted in Thailand after stumbling into a drain and crashing into a restaurant sign, police said Saturday.

Two elephant handlers were walking 10-year-old Plai Nam Choke -- or "Lucky" in English -- around a town in Samut Prakhan province south of Bangkok, offering passers-by the chance to feed him for cash.

But Lucky stumbled into an open sewer and collided with an electric signboard outside a restaurant, said police officer Nopporn Saengsawang.

"I received a call at 8:30 pm that the elephant was stuck in the drain," he said. "He likely died from electrocution."

Some rescue workers from a local charity group attempted CPR on Lucky for three hours after he fell.

The two handlers were charged with illegally moving the elephant and animal cruelty offences, Nopporn said.

Lucky hailed from the northeastern province of Surin, home to a famous annual elephant fair that features a parade by performing pachyderms.

Wild elephants can still be seen in Thailand's national forests, but their numbers have dwindled to about 2,700 from a peak of over 100,000 in 1850.

A large number have been domesticated for entertainment or tourism purposes, prompting accusations of animal cruelty.

Handlers are usually banned from walking elephants through cities due to space constraints, but many risk punishment in pursuit of living.

Research has shown that elephants caught in the wild and subjected to a lifetime of captivity suffer from long-term stress and tend to have shorter lifespans.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Thursday, September 6, 2018

VIDEO: Three baby Bengal tigers, including one albino cub, born in May play at the Bengal Safari Park in India

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Caesar, the oldest lion in Amsterdam’s zoo roars his last

DutchNews, August 24, 2018

Photo: Ronald van Weeren via Artis

Caesar, the oldest lion in Artis zoo in Amsterdam, has roared his last, the zoo authorities announced on Thursday 

The lion, who lived in the zoo for 19 of his 20 years and was leader of the pride, had been ill for some time. On Thursday his condition worsened and zoo vets decided to put him down. 

Caesar had 21 descendants among whom two lionesses that still live in Artis zoo. 

The lion lived to a good age, Artis said. Lions in the wild don’t usually live longer than 10  to 14 years. 

‘He was very well-known to visitors who were impressed by his dark mane and piercing roar,’ Artis wrote. The zoo is now looking for a new pride leader.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Cameroon pangolin traffickers caught in the act

Yahoo – AFP, August 21, 2018

Pangolin scales are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine (AFP Photo/
Jekesai Njikizana)

Yaoundé (AFP) - Police in Cameroon have shut down an international poaching gang after catching six traffickers carrying more than 700 kilos of pangolin scales, a conservation group said Tuesday.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are one of the world's most trafficked species and are threatened with extinction. Their scales are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine and their meat is a delicacy in many Asian and African countries.

The six poachers -- five Cameroonians and one from the Central African Republic -- were arrested on August 18 in Douala, a coastal city in southwest Cameroon, according to the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA).

Most of the 718 kilos (1,600 pounds) of scales they were carrying were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, it said.

The gang bought pangolins from smaller traffickers in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo before sending them to Nigeria, where they were prepared for export to Asia, it said.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Greek holiday hotspot to protect over-worked donkeys

Yahoo – AFP, 28 July 2018

Authorities on the idyllic Greek holiday island of Santorini have decided to offer
protection for the donkeys who carry tourists up a steep  cliff after animal rights
activists held a protest

The authorities on the idyllic Greek holiday island of Santorini have decided to offer protection for the donkeys who carry tourists up a steep cliff, after facing protests and adverse publicity.

The town hall issued a statement Saturday saying a meeting had been held with animal rights groups and animal owners to ensure "respect for the rights and well-being of donkeys".

After a video of an owner beating a donkey aired on social networks, four campaigning groups held a protest Friday which ended in scuffles.

The town hall said all parties had accepted a series of measures including keeping the animals in the shade during rest periods and ensuring plenty of water and food.

The load and hours of the donkeys would also be limited while owners who mistreat their animals would be banned.

Donkeys and mules line up to give tourists a ride on the 
island of Santorini

The statement said the rights activists "declared themselves satisfied with these measures, as long they are followed".

Santorini, perched hundreds of metres above a bay in a volcanic crater, has struggled to cope with huge numbers of tourists who have flooded in over recent years.

The town hall has imposed limits on the numbers of cruise liners and people allowed onto the island.

Authorities on the idyllic Greek holiday island of Santorini have decided to offer protection for the donkeys who carry tourists up a steep cliff after animal rights activists held a protest

Donkeys and mules line up to give tourists a ride on the island of Santorini.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Animals still a draw, despite shrinking crowds, says Chinese circus

Yahoo – AFP, Xin LIU, Joanna CHIU, July 10, 2018

A caged Siberian tiger at the Chinese Prosperous Nation Circus Troupe while
in Dongguan (AFP Photo/NICOLAS ASFOURI)

A crowd of just 10 people watched the endangered Siberian tiger roar on command on his hind legs and pounce through hoops inside the big top of the Chinese Prosperous Nation Circus Troupe.

Lions and a young bear with a wound on its snout followed, performing tricks for the few who braved the sweltering heat in southern Guangdong province to help keep the travelling circus going for another day.

The use of wild animals in circus shows has come under growing criticism around the world, with some countries banning the practice, but for the Chinese troupe, the beasts are considered a major attraction.

"Many Chinese live in big cities where it's hard to get out into the wilderness. We bring nature to them," Li Weisheng, the troup's manager, told AFP.

Circuses have a long history in China. Called "maxi", pronounced "mah-shi" meaning "stunts on a horse", they have a history going back more than 2,500 years and would often pair acrobatic performances with stunts on galloping horses.

A Harbin black bear performs at the Chinese Prosperous Nation Circus Troupe, 
which considers its animals a major attraction (AFP Photo/NICOLAS ASFOURI)

The use of large cats, monkeys and bears is a more recent practice.

China has some of the world's laxest animal rights laws, and campaigners have long called for tougher regulations on the treatment of animals in travelling circuses.

The two owners of the troupe, Li Rongrong and Li Ruisheng, were arrested in 2016 for illegally transporting rare and endangered animals and sentenced to 10 and eight years in prison, respectively, but were cleared of all charges at a second trial last year.

The troupe's animals -- two African lions, a two-year-old black bear, a pack of dogs and the tiger -- spend most of their time in tiny metal cages under a big tent.

The animals are a major draw, Li, the manager, said, standing next to the red and white striped tent in the city of Dongguan, although he admitted attendance has dropped in recent years.

The tiger and a lioness with a cut tail -- both about a year old -- share one cage, in which they restlessly pace around each other. A few times a day, they are allowed to play in the circus ring.

The members of the Chinese Prosperous Nation Circus Troupe say they will do what 
they have to do to keep their tradition alive, despite falling attendances (AFP Photo/
NICOLAS ASFOURI)

The lone bear grasped the top bars of his cage and swung his body back and forth.

In the past few years, multiple videos have emerged of apparent animal abuse in China, such as a circus tying down a Siberian tiger for audience members to sit on for photos, which sparked widespread outrage.

Chinese people are increasingly calling for better protection for captive animals.

The members of the Chinese Prosperous Nation Circus Troupe, however, say they will do what they have to to keep their tradition alive and insist they are working in the interests both of the public and the animals.

"We are helping the public learn more about nature and animals," said Li.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Minister pledges action after slaughterhouse animal abuse is revealed

DutchNews, June 20, 2018

Photo: Despositphotos.com 

Dutch farm minister Carola Schouten says she will tighten up the rules on abattoir closures and increase fines for animal cruelty following revelations about conditions in Dutch slaughterhouses. 

An item on RTL Nieuws, based on government inspectors’ reports, said that 48 fines had been handed down to 19 abattoirs which process cows, sheep and pigs over the past two years because of serious animal welfare issues. 

Inspectors had seen several instances of pigs being placed in vats of very hot water when they were anaesthetised but still alive and trying to swim. The animals were then held under the water by slaughterhouse workers until they drowned. 

In another case, calf was skinned alive. The inspector wrote: ‘despite the calf’s movements, the slaughterman went ahead with removing the skin from its head.’ 

There were also 16 cases of animals being dismembered while they were still alive because their carotid artery had not been properly cut, RTL Nieuws said.   

Millions

Every year some 15 million pigs, 2 million cows and 500,000 sheep are killed in the Netherlands’ 180 slaughterhouses. 

Fines for breaking the law range from €500 for a ‘slight infringement’ to €10,000 for a very serious or repeat offences. 

MPs from across the political spectrum have now called on the minister to get tough. In particular, they say fines should be increased and abattoirs which are multiple offenders should be closed down. 

‘This is absolute horror for the animals,’ said Esther Ouwehand of the pro-animal PvdD. ‘We are supposed to believe that everything is so well arranged here in the Netherlands. But a slaughterhouse which skins an animal alive, drowns them in a piping hot bath or chucks them in the bin should be shut down.’

Monday, June 18, 2018

Indonesian woman swallowed by giant python

Yahoo – AFP, June 16, 2018

Residents of a village in Indonesia were suspicious that a python had eaten their
neighbour so they cut it open and found the woman's body inside, according to
the local police chief (AFP Photo/ROBERT SULLIVAN)

An Indonesian woman has been found in the belly of a giant python after the swollen snake was captured near where she vanished while tending her vegetable garden, police said Saturday.

The body of 54-year-old Wa Tiba was found Friday when villagers cut open the seven-metre (23-foot) python which was found bloated in the village of Persiapan Lawela on the island of Muna, offshore of Sulawesi.

"Residents were suspicious the snake swallowed the victim, so they killed it, then carried it out of the garden," said local police chief Hamka, who like many Indonesians has only one name.

"The snake's belly was cut open and the body of the victim was found inside."

Some 100 residents, including worried relatives, launched a search for the woman after she failed to return from her garden Thursday night.

Hamka said villagers found the giant serpent lying about 30 metres from Tiba's sandals and machete, adding she was swallowed head first and her body was found intact.

The garden in which she disappeared was at the base of a rocky cliff, pockmarked by caves, and known to be home to snakes, Hamka added.

Giant pythons, which regularly top six metres, are commonly found in Indonesia and the Philippines.

While the serpents have been known to attack small animals, attempts to eat people are rare.

In March last year, a farmer was killed by a python in the village of Salubiro on Sulawesi island.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Penka the cow spared death over crossing EU border

Yahoo – AFP, June 11, 2018

This handout picture taken near the village of Kopilovtsi in Bulgaria and released by
 the Four Paws Foundation shows Penka the cow that risked death by staying
over the EU border. (AFP Photo/Hristo Vladev)

Sofia (AFP) - Bulgarian authorities announced Monday that Penka, the cow who risked death by straying over the EU border, will not be put down after all.

"Laboratory analyses of the cow that spent 15 days in Serbia and crossed the border back (into Bulgaria) are negative for all the tested diseases," Bulgaria's Food Safety Agency announced Monday.

"She will not be killed and will return to her herd by the end of the week," agency spokeswoman Ekaterina Stoilova confirmed to AFP.

Penka's plight went viral on social media and made headlines around the world after her owner Ivan Haralampiev, from the western village of Kopilovtsi, launched an appeal 10 days ago to save her.

The animal had wandered away from her herd near the western Bulgarian village of Mazarachevo on May 12 and spent more than two weeks in Serbia before local farmers identified her from her earmarks.

Penka then fell foul of strict EU rules on the import of live animals from third countries, which require extensive paperwork giving the animal a clean bill of health before it can enter the bloc.

Haralampiev lacked the necessary documents to authorise her return and was only allowed to take her back if he agreed to put her down within days.

But instead he launched an appeal on television to save her, sparking a worldwide outpouring of sympathy.

By Monday more than 30,750 people -- including former Beatle Paul McCartney -- had signed an online petition to save Penka addressed to EU institutions.

Penka's fans shared her story with the hashtag #SavePenka and even wrote a poem describing her odyssey.

Haralampiev told Bulgarian media on Monday that he was very grateful "to all the people from across the world who stood up for my poor animal".

"You have no idea how much stress this cost me but it was worth it," Haralampiev said, adding that he was looking forward to an emotional reunion.

Penka would have "luxury fodder" and "lots of caresses" to look forward to and had become "very special" for the family, he said.

Penka was even discussed during the European Commission's daily briefing on Friday with climate spokesperson Anna-Kaisa Itkonen answering extensive questions from journalists regarding the cow's situation.

Bulgarian food safety authorities say it is not an isolated case, with animals from Serbia and Macedonia often entering Bulgarian territory, and they are holding talks with the neighbouring countries to resolve the issue.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Rare white bison born at Belgrade Zoo

Yahoo – AFP, 30 May 2018

"Dusanka", an extremely rare white bison, was born at Belgrade zoo

One of the world's rarest animals -- a white bison -- has been born at Belgrade zoo, officials said.

The calf, named Dusanka, was born on Monday and trotted around her enclosure in "good health", according to the zoo's veterinarian.

"According to my information, no other (American) white bison has been born in Europe," veterinarian Jozef Ezvedj told AFP.

"Her father Jovan (a white bison) came to us in 2007, imported from America when he was still very young, practically a baby. Dusanka inherited his genes," Ezvedj said.

Dusanka's father was also a white bison

"We are making sure that she is in good health and that she enjoys a peaceful childhood."

Many Native Americans consider white bison to be a good omen and a symbol of hope.

Thousands of Native Americans joined in celebrations of the birth of a white bison female in the US state of Wisconsin in 1994.

"Perhaps we should inform them? Bison among Native Americans are very important in terms of mythological significance," Ezvedj said.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A new weapon against sexual assault: Dutch police dogs trained to sniff out sperm

DutchNews, May 15, 2018

Police dogs have many roles. Photo: Graham Dockery

Dutch police have a new weapon at their disposal in the hunt for rapists – a dog which has been trained to sniff out sperm outdoors, RTL Nieuws said on Tuesday afternoon. 

The two dogs have been involved in 80 cases and the trial was so successful that four more dogs will be trained to work in places where sexual assaults have taken place, RTL said. 

In two cases, the dog’s evidence was instrumental in solving two sex crimes – one of which involved a young girl who was knocked off her bike and raped. 

The dogs are able to identify specific sperm up to a week after the incident. This, says RTL, saves on laboratory time because technicians can identify the sperm sample’s dna straight away, rather than test all sorts of different items for potential evidence. 

The sperm dogs are part of a team of 120 sniffer dogs, all trained to focus on specific smells, such as drugs or money. 

Last year, the police abandoned plans to train up sniffer rats. They were going to be used to detect illegal fireworks, fake cigarettes and human bones but the plan was dropped because they could not be made ‘operational’.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bangladesh puppy killer sentenced

Yahoo – AFP, May 10, 2018

Activists have in recent years successfully campaigned to stop mass cullings
of street dogs in Dhaka and other cities (AFP Photo/MUNIR UZ ZAMAN)

A Bangladeshi security guard was handed a jail sentence on Thursday for burying alive two dogs and their 14 puppies, in what activists hailed as the country's first ever animal cruelty conviction.

Mohammad Siddique, who buried the dogs in polythene sacks, "was sentenced to six months in jail and fined 200 taka ($2.50)," prosecutor Forkan Mia told AFP after the trial in Dhaka.

Animal rights campaigners, who have long lobbied for replacing the South Asian country's colonial-era laws on animal maltreatment, said they hoped the sentence would act as a deterrent.

"The fact that this case was heard by the magistrate is a major achievement," said Rakibul Haq Emil from animal rights group the PAW Foundation, who brought the case.

"I am sure it will send a warning message that it won't be easy to get away with cruel treatment to animals in Bangladesh," he said.

The bodies of the dogs were discovered in October in a Dhaka neighbourhood. But despite outrage from campaigners, police were initially reluctant to take up the case.

Cruelty towards animals is commonplace in Bangladesh but activists have in recent years successfully campaigned to stop mass cullings of street dogs in the capital and other major cities.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Australia pledges cash to help save the koala

Yahoo – AFP, May 7, 2018

Habitat loss, dog attacks, car strikes, climate change and disease have taken
their toll on one of Australia's most recognisable animals (AFP Photo/Peter PARKS)

Australia unveiled on Monday a US$34 million plan to help bring its koala population back from the brink, following a rapid decline in the furry marsupial's fortunes.

The Australian Koala Foundation estimates there may be as few as 43,000 koalas left in the wild, down from a population believed to number more than 10 million prior to European settlement of the continent in 1788.

"Koalas are a national treasure," said Gladys Berejiklian, premier of New South Wales state, in announcing her government's conservation plan.

"It would be such a shame if this nationally iconic marsupial did not have its future secured."

Habitat loss, dog attacks, car strikes, climate change and disease have taken their toll on one of Australia's most recognisable animals.

Studies show a 26 percent decline in the koala population in New South Wales over the last 15-20 years. The state lists the species as "vulnerable", while in other parts of the country they are effectively extinct.

Under the Aus$45 million plan, thousands of hectares will be set aside to preserve the marsupial's natural habitat.

Funds will be used to tackle diseases ravaging koala populations, including chlamydia -- which causes blindness, infertility and death in the species.

Cash has also been earmarked for research, roadkill hotspot upgrades and a new hospital to care for sick and injured koalas. A hotline will also be set up to report koalas in trouble.

The move follows an independent report in late 2016 that recommended a clearer strategy to deal with the population decline.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

50 live crocodiles from Malaysia seized at London airport

Yahoo – AFP, May 4, 2018

Saltwater crocodiles from Malaysia found at London Heathrow Airport had not been
packed in accordance with international regulations, making the importation illegal
(AFP Photo/ARNO BURGI)

British officials have seized an illegal shipment of 50 live crocodiles at London Heathrow Airport, the UK Border Force said Friday.

The year-old juvenile saltwater crocodiles were found crammed into five boxes coming from Malaysia.

The were bound for a farm in Cambridgeshire, eastern England, where they were to be bred for their meat.

The animals had not been packed in accordance with international regulations, making the importation illegal.

Each box only had room for four crocodiles but 10 had been packed into each one.

"It is just not acceptable for reptiles to be transported in this way," said Grant Miller, head of the national Border Force Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) at Heathrow.

"The crocodiles had started to fight each other during the flight as space was limited, so little attention had been paid to their welfare.

"We will seize anything that contravenes CITES regulations, so this should serve as a warning to those thinking about transporting wildlife in such conditions."

The crocodiles were found on April 27. One has since died and the others are being cared for before being rehomed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

VIDEO: Deaf since childhood, Razali Bin Mohamad Habidin has developed a closer bond with the creatures under his care than any other keeper at Singapore's Jurong Bird Park, where other staff refer to him simply as the "bird whisperer"

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fans jubilant as Bollywood star Salman Khan freed on bail

Yahoo – AFP, April 7, 2018

Salman Khan is one of the world's highest-paid actors (AFP Photo)

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan left prison on Saturday after being granted bail so he can contest a five-year jail sentence for killing rare antelopes.

Hundreds of frenzied fans awaited the 52-year-old as his vehicle sped through the gates of Jodhpur Central Jail, where the action star had spent two nights after being sentenced on Thursday.

Some tried to cling to the sides of his sports utility vehicle and scores of motorbikes followed Khan as he was driven at high speed to Jodhpur airport to a waiting chartered jet.

He flew to Mumbai where more crowds -- with many men emulating Khan's distinctive hairstyle and clothes -- gathered outside his luxury apartment, dancing to songs from his films.

Khan appeared on the terrace of his apartment with his family and waved to his fans.

A judge released Khan, one of the world's highest-paid actors, in return for bail and sureties totalling 100,000 rupees ($1,500). He cannot leave India without court permission.

Hordes of fans outside the court erupted in celebration on hearing the result, beating drums and chanting Khan's name.

Khan did not attend the bail hearing but prosecutor Mahipal Bishnoi said the actor must appear in court again on May 7.

Khan's army of fans and the Bollywood elite were stunned by the court sentence in the 20-year-old case.

Khan had denied shooting dead two rare antelopes known as black bucks on a hunting trip while filming a movie in 1998.

The court found him guilty while acquitting four other actors.

The actor enjoys a cult-like status and is affectionately known by the Hindi name "bhai", or "brother".

Relief and anger

"Prayers of millions worked," said television actor Arjun Bijlani in a tweet.

But while his fans and producers of costly upcoming films may be relieved, Khan still faces a major courtroom drama.

Bollywood actor Salman Khan's advocate Hastimal Saraswat briefs the 
media outside court (AFP Photo)

Throughout the multiple cases, eyewitnesses have stated they saw Khan firing a gun in October 1998.

Animal rights group PETA said it was disappointed with Khan's bail.

"While Salman Khan gets to go back home to his movie star life for now, black bucks were made to pay the highest price, with their lives," Manilal Valliyate, chief executive of PETA India, said in a statement.

Khan has accused Rajasthan's forest department of trying to frame him. His lawyers claim the black bucks died of natural causes such as overeating, insisting there was no evidence they were shot.

Four other Bollywood stars -- Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, Tabu and Neelam Kothari -- who were also accused in the case were acquitted due to lack of evidence.

Khan remains one of Bollywood's biggest draws despite the off-screen drama, starring in more than 100 films and television shows.

He finished second behind Shah Rukh Khan in the 2017 Bollywood earnings rankings. Both the Khans are among the world's top 10 best-paid actors.

The Bollywood heartthrob's latest blockbuster "Tiger Zinda Hai" (Tiger is Alive) collected some $85 million worldwide.

Khan has nearly $90 million riding on his projects in coming months with at least three films in the pipeline, analysts say.

A director of one of Khan's upcoming films "Race 3" expressed relief at his release.

"I am happy that he has got bail. After working with him so closely I have become a huge fan of him, not only as an actor but also as a human being," Remo D'Souza told the Press Trust of India.

"Almost 90 percent of the shoot for (the film) is over and the remaining portions will mostly be shot in India."

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pretty polly or pests? Dutch in a flap over parakeets

Yahoo – AFP, Charlotte VAN OUWERKERK, 12 March 2018

Thousands of rose-ringed parakeets, close relatives of parrots, have made their
home in the Netherlands over the past five decades, and their growing presence has
become a source of noisy debate

To their detractors, they're dirty alien invaders whose incessant chatter ruins Sunday morning lie-ins. To their supporters, they're beautiful, cheerful reminders of warmer climes amid the winter chill.

Love 'em or hate 'em, thousands of rose-ringed parakeets, close relatives of parrots, have made their home in the Netherlands over the past five decades, and their growing presence has become a source of noisy debate.

Like in other European cities such as London and Paris, the colourful green birds with distinctive red beaks have proliferated over the years.

They gather in garden trees and around schools; they even roost outside the Dutch parliament in The Hague, with urban legend telling how one debate was drowned out by the birds' constant calls.

Imported from Pakistan in the 1960s to brighten the aviaries of wealthy Europeans -- especially the Dutch and British -- over the years many escaped and have now successfully adapted to life in the city.

Indeed, the rose-ringed, or ring-necked parakeet was listed among Europe's top 100 most invasive species in the scientific journal "Biological Invasions" in December.

While their fans claim they are victims of a knee-jerk fear of anything new, some groups actively lobby for their numbers to be culled.

In Amsterdam, where one of the largest colonies of parakeets lives, the town hall has banned residents from putting out food in some areas or risk a 70 euro ($86) fine.

Critics argue the flying flocks undermine the natural order, pinching the resting spaces of owls and bats, leaving behind piles of bird droppings and ravaging trees and plants.

"Some residents are even thinking of moving house because of their infernal noise," said Wilfred Reinhold, president of an association fighting against the birds' presence in the country.

'Charming, but destructive'

With plentiful food, few predators and lots of water, the living is easy in the Netherlands, where the flocks have grown unchecked.

In Leiden, biologist Roelant Jonker has taken the country's oldest colony of the birds under his wing, despite being allergic to their feathers and even though his passion was sorely tested six years ago.

In Amsterdam, home to one of the largest colonies of
parakeets, the town hall has banned residents from
putting out food in some areas or risk a fine of 70 euros

While studying a group of yellow-eared parrots in the jungles of Colombia, Jonker was taken hostage by FARC rebels, a "traumatising experience" which lasted eight months.

But he remains determined to protect the estimated 15,000 parakeets which now call the Netherlands home. By comparison, France is 15 times bigger but counts only some 10,000 parakeets.

"Of course they are charming... but they also cause a lot of damage," said Reinhold, keeping a watchful eye on some budding chestnut trees outside the Dutch parliament.

A recently published picture of an embassy-lined street near the royal palace sullied with parrot droppings has only added grist to his mill.

'Here to stay'

Reinhold insists that measures should be taken to stop the flocks.

"Nets could be dropped on the trees at night to catch hundreds of them," he suggested, accepting however that using guns to shoot them down "would not be a very good idea in the city".

But removing them would be too costly, argued Jonker, declaring: "There is nothing to do. They are here, they are going to stay."

He pointed to some birch trees, saying they had once been imported by the Romans and were now an integral part of the Dutch landscape.

The next generation will see the parakeets "as ordinary birds... and they will be as ordinary as all the different colours of people and birds in Europe," he added.