A Litoria frog, which uses a loud ringing song to call for a mate, was discovered in a rainforest during a Conservation International (CI) led Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition of Papua New Guinea's highlands wilderness in 2008 is pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Steve Richards/Conservation International/Handout

"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)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Two Earthquakes Hit North Nias; No Tsunami Alert

Jakarta Globe, Basten Gokkon, Jan 27, 2015

A screenshot of the United States Geological Survey website showing the
location of Tuesday morning's earthquakes in Nias Island. (JG Screenshot)

Jakarta. Two earthquakes rattled the island of Nias off the North Sumatra coast on Tuesday morning, but did not trigger a tsunami warning. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to property.

The first quake, of magnitude 5.7, struck at 7:53 a.m. on the northeastern tip of the island, sending residents fleeing from their homes.

“The earthquake lasted for about five to seven seconds,” said Faozaro, head of the North Nias Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), as quoted by Tempo.co. “We can ensure that the earthquake won’t cause a tsunami.”

A second quake, of magnitude 4.9, hit just nine minutes later, about four kilometers south of the first one.

The BPBD has deployed officers to North Nias’s 11 subdistricts to survey any damage. “As of now, there have been no reports of injuries or damage to houses,” Faozaro said.

Related Article:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Home cheap home: Vietnam architect's quest for low-cost housing

Yahoo – AFP, Cat Barton, 25 Jan 2015

Farmer Vo Van Duong rests inside a S-House 2 built in his garden in Vietnam's
 southern Mekong delta province of Long An on December 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Hoang Dinh Nam)

Long An (Vietnam) (AFP) - Vo Van Duong's bamboo and coconut leaf house looks much like others deep in Vietnam's Mekong Delta. But unlike them, his seemingly simple abode is designed to withstand typhoons, flooding and earthquakes -- and at a cost of less than $4,000 could herald a new wave of cheap, sustainable housing.

The natural materials on its surface belie the hi-tech internal structure of the farmer's new home, which uses steel struts and wall panels as a defence against the elements in this natural disaster-prone region.

Architect Vo Trong Nghia speaks during 
an interview with AFP in Ho Chi Minh City
on December 13, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang
Dinh Nam)
"The new house is safer, I'm not afraid that it will collapse," the 48-year-old papaya farmer told AFP inside the house he moved into nine months ago.

Duong is testing a prototype by an award-winning Vietnamese architecture firm looking for low-cost housing solutions for communities vulnerable to climate change.

His S-House 2 was free, but if rolled-out on a wider scale could be sold for less than $4,000.

"There was water coming down from the roof in my old house. Sometimes, when there was a strong wind, I was so afraid the house wouldn't survive," Duong said, adding his new home was the envy of his neighbours.

The eco-home is the brainchild of Vo Trong Nghia, who joins other architects around the world in trying to fill a demand for cheap and easy to assemble housing -- from flat-pack refugee shelters to shipping-container homes for tsunami victims.

He says all architects have a duty to help the poor.

"What about those with low income, billions of them, how can they live?" Nghia told AFP. "They have the right to live in comfortable, functional places."

But he wants to go further, creating a home residents can take pride in.

"I don't want people to be looking at it as 'cheap houses' but as resort-quality accommodation close to nature, so (residents) can live a life of the highest quality."

Farmer Vo Van Duong in the garden of a S-House 2 in Vietnam's southern Mekong
delta province of Long An on December 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Flat-pack homes

The design is still being refined by his team, who are eventually aiming to create a flat-pack home. The newest version, S-House 3, can be built by five people in three hours.

"Our goal for S-house is for the owner to construct it by themselves," said Kosuke Nishijima, a partner at the firm.

The latest design also allows for multiple houses to be tacked together, a function that could allow, for example, the construction of a storm-proof school easily transportable to remote areas or a larger family home.

Nghia has already been approached by NGOs in disaster-prone Bangladesh and the Philippines, but is not yet ready to supply the house commercially.

From saline-intrusion and flooding in the Mekong Delta to typhoons along the central coast, Vietnam is also home to communities living in high risk areas.

For decades, Vietnamese families have adapted their houses themselves, many building ad hoc mezzanines to avoid flooding.

In more recent years organisations including the Red Cross and Women's Unions, as well as local authorities, have been trying to help people develop more resilient housing.

A bedroom inside an ecologically conscious traditional Vietnamese tube house
 designed by architect Vo Trong Nghia's company, in Ho Chi Minh City on 
December 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

But in order to ensure such projects are successful, "private architects' support is critical", according to Boram Kim, an urban specialist with UN-Habitat in Vietnam.

"State and local government authorities are well aware that such houses are needed for the poor, but have little technical knowledge for realising their ideas," she told AFP.

"Architects have technical knowledge for reducing the housing construction cost while making it storm proof," she said, cautioning that it was important for designers to listen to the needs of local communities.

Architect for the poor

Nghia's firm found that one of the problems facing rural Vietnamese living in traditional bamboo shacks or stilted river-bank dwellings is the costly upkeep they require to withstand increasingly extreme weather.

Although the S-House 2's outer casing of coconut leaf may need replacing every four years, the structure itself should require no expensive maintenance, said engineer Lien Phuoc Huy Phuong.

A series of concrete slabs and gaps filled
 with plants in the facade of an ecologically
 conscious traditional Vietnamese tube house
 designed by architect Vo Trong Nghia's 
company, in Ho Chi Minh City, on December
12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Hoang Ding Nam)
"It can last a long time, the structure is sound," he told AFP during a tour of the small building. 

Despite its solid exterior, the house is spacious and airy inside, with large windows and doors to bring residents closer to nature.

"We tried to design this house with the best ventilation system, with spaces by the roof and windows for better air flow," Phuong said, pointing out strategic gaps that should reduce the need for electric fans.

Architect Nghia, who used bamboo as a key element in Vietnam's country pavilion for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, has long sought to incorporate natural and local materials into his work.

One of his first projects in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City was an ecologically-conscious take on a traditional Vietnamese tube home, known as Stacking Green house.

Built in 2011 for around $150,000, the building is made of a series of concrete slabs and gaps filled with plants to provide privacy while still allowing plenty of air and light.

Nghia is in strong demand for high-end projects from hotels to private houses, but said the low-cost S-House is his personal obsession.

"I want to live in S-House. If my family will agree," he said.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Snow leopard spotted in Sichuan panda habitat

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-01-25

One of the images of the snow leopard caught on camera. (Photo/CNS)

A wild snow leopard was caught on camera in a nature reserve in southwest China's Sichuan province, the reserve's administration said on Wednesday.

A camera set up at an altitude of 4,096 meters spotted the rare snow leopard twice earlier this month, the first finding of the snow leopard in the Fengyongzhai National Nature Reserve.

The snow leopard was roaming in a core panda habitat when caught on the camera, said a chief ranger of the nature reserve.

More than 10 cameras were set up in the nature reserve last October in an initiative to protect the snow leopards in Sichuan province.

The findings will help add to knowledge of the precious species, said Deng Jiangyu, a researcher at the reserve.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

India's tiger population jumps 30 percent

Yahoo – AFP, 20 Jan 2015

The census found 2,226 tigers in India last year compared with 1,706 in 2010.
(AFP Photo)

New Delhi (AFP) - India, home to most of the world's wild tigers, on Tuesday reported a 30 percent jump in numbers over four years in a rare piece of good news for conservationists.

A census found 2,226 tigers in India last year compared with 1,706 in 2010, officials in New Delhi announced.

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar hailed the rise as a "huge success" as India battles to save the endangered animals from poachers and smugglers as well as destruction of their natural habitat.

"While the tiger population is falling in the world, it is rising in India. We have increased by 30 per cent from the last count. That is a huge success story," Javadekar said at the release of the census.

The minister cited improved management of India's more than 40 tiger reserves for the increase.

He said the government was working to reduce deadly encounters between tigers and villagers, as farmers encroach on forest land and the big cats leave reserves to search for water and food.

Some 9,700 hidden cameras were used in known tiger habitats including in the northeast state of Assam and western Rajasthan to take photographs of the animals for the count.

More than half of the world's rapidly dwindling wild tiger population lives in India, but the country's conservation programme has been working to halt their decline.

The numbers have been rising since they dropped to 1,411 in 2006 but the current population still remains a long way off 2002 when some 3,700 tigers were estimated to be alive in the country.

There were thought to be around 40,000 tigers in India at the time of independence from Britain in 1947.

Authorities across Asia are waging a major battle against poachers, who often sell tiger body parts to the lucrative traditional Chinese medicine market, and other man-made problems such as development leading to habitat loss.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kitty rescue: Homeless cat praised for saving abandoned baby in Russia (VIDEO)

RT.com, January 15, 2015

Still from Ruptly videoStill from Ruptly video

A baby boy not older than 12 weeks has been found in a box on a staircase in an apartment block in the Russian town of Obninsk. The box was meant for a cat, who – after having found a new soul in misery, warmed up the baby and was worried to let him go.

The baby in the cat box was discovered by one of the neighbors, who had heard what she thought to be loud meowing and rushed to rescue the cat from possible offenders.

Still from Ruptly videoStill from Ruptly video

The furry feline has been living in the apartment block for three years, fed and petted by its residents. The day when she found an unexpected guest in her box was a freezing one, but the baby was very warm, according to the woman, who first discovered the abandoned boy.

"She has been keeping the baby warm for several hours and meowing to call for help," she told Ruptly video agency.

The woman, who turned to be a nurse, said she also found a bag with baby food and diapers. The boy was well and tidily dressed, she added.

But it was the baby's new furry carer who was worried about the boy even after police and medics arrived. She kept close to the baby and didn't want to let it go, the woman said. "When an ambulance worker took the baby to bring him into the car, the cat followed him and pitifully meowed," she shared, also saying the four-pawed adoptive mother tried to jump into the ambulance to follow the boy.

Still from Ruptly videoStill from Ruptly video

The cat then sat for hours on the road by the house waiting for the car to return and bring him back, neighbors said.

The baby boy was taken to one of the hospitals in Obninsk, located some 60 miles from the Russian capital. Doctors said the boy – who might be from six to 12 weeks old – is completely healthy and feeling well. "We have received a lot of feedback from sympathizing residents, who are willing to help and ask if any food, toys and other things are needed," a pediatric nurse told Ruptly.

The police is now trying to identify the baby and is searching for his parents, while the cat – who looks to be expecting herself – is receiving extra care and treated like a hero by the residents.

New species of legless amphibian found in Cambodia

Yahoo – AFP, 16 Jan 2015

A new species of legless amphibian resembling a giant earthworm or a snake is
 shown on the ground in Pursat province, Cambodia in this handout photo released
 by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) on January 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fauna
and Flora International)

Phnom Penh (AFP) - A new species of legless amphibian resembling a giant earthworm or a snake has been discovered in a remote but threatened area of Cambodian rainforest, conservationists said on Friday.

The grey-brown creature -- Ichthyophis cardamomensis -- was found in Cambodia's southwest Cardamom Mountains, an area under threat from habitat loss, according to Fauna and Flora International (FFI).

The new species is often mistaken for a snake, with larger species known to grow up to 1.5 metres (nearly five feet) in length, FFI said.

It was confirmed by scientists earlier this month according to leading Cambodian FFI herpetologist Neang Thy.

"These discoveries are important to demonstrate that much of Cambodia's biodiversity remains unknown and unstudied by science, and many more areas need to be searched," Thy, who has been researching amphibians and reptiles since 2003, told AFP.

The creature is caecilian -- an order of amphibians that look like snakes or earthworms and are generally found underground.

Once a stronghold of the toppled Khmer Rouge regime, the bio-diverse Cardamom Mountains are home to an array of rare species, including the Asian elephant, but the area faces widespread deforestation.

Conservationists warn that illegal logging and other habitat destruction could mean new species become extinct shortly after discovery.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Myanmar arrests 102 Chinese loggers

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-01-09

A timber market in Mandalay, Myanmar, March 31, 2011. (File photo/CFP)

Over 100 Chinese nationals have reportedly been arrested by the army of Myanmar for unauthorized logging and the smuggling of local resources, reported China's state-owned Global Times on Jan. 8.

The operation is believed to have taken place in early January. A total of 102 foreign nationals believed to be Chinese and 20 locals have been caught, along with more than 470 vehicles of all sorts carrying timbers and hoists.

Six packets of opium, a large quantity of ephedrine and 12,000 yuan (US$1,930) were also found at camp sites in the logging area, in addition to a logging permit signed by a Kachin Independence Army official, said the report.

The Kachin Independence Army is a rebel militia fighting for autonomy for the northern Kachin region within Myanmar.

The government banned the export of logs in April, 2014, to reduce deforestation and the country's heavy reliance on pallet exports. According to the forestry department, Myanmar is going to slash the amount of logged wood in the fiscal year of 2014-2015 down to 40% of that in 2010-11. Logging activity will be reduced in Homalin in the northwest and Tanintharyi region in the south of the country. In the northernmost region of Kachin, logging is prohibited.

According to local media reports, the Myanmar army started taking action against jade smuggling last year in the Kachin region, where both local and Chinese smugglers trade jade and other commodities near the border with China. The army subsequently spotted unauthorized logging activities and embarked on a three-day operation from Jan. 2 to 4, 2015 to track those responsible in the mountainous area.

"Illegal logging has been going on in the north despite the official ban on the export of logs announced last April," said a Myanmar forestry official. "Military operations were conducted because the region is largely controlled by rebel forces and is inaccessible to forestry personnel."

Monday, January 5, 2015

Animal rescuer gets lion share of affection (+Video)

The Telegraph, 13 Jan 2007

Ana Julia Torres and Jupiter share a hug
An adult lion reaches through the bars of its cage, holds Ana Julia Torres between its paws and gives her a kiss after she rescued it from a circus and nursed it back to health.

The African lion, Jupiter, which weighs over 240lb, is one of about 800 animals cared for at the Villa Lorena shelter in Cali, Colombia.

Ms Torres, 47, a teacher, began rehabilitating abused animals 10 years ago after a friend gave her an owl that had been kept as a pet.
Now, she says, her centre takes in everything from limbless flamingos to blind monkeys.

She funds the animal shelter with her salary, bolstered by donations. But she is adamant that it will not open to the public. "We want the animals to live in peace. This is a paradise where they can finally rest."

Related Article:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Police Find 8 Hectare Marijuana Plantation in Aceh

Jakarta Globe, Jan 04, 2015

A marijuana plantation in Indrapuri, Aceh, discovered by police in
February 2013. (AFP Photo/Atha)

Jakarta. Police in Aceh have started destroying about eight hectares of marijuana plants found growing in Seulimeum subdistrict.

Aceh’s top cop, Adj. Sen. Comr. Heru Novianto, said police found the field last week, but efforts to locate the growers have so far been unsuccessful.

“The police are still trying to identify who owns the field and who works there,” Heru said, as quoted by state-run news agency Antara. “We believe that there are other marijuana fields in this area.”

Officers started destroying the plants on Thursday. However, given the size of the field and difficult access, it could take until Tuesday next week before all the plants are removed.

Heru said three people were spotted in the area on Thursday night, but fled.

Related Article:

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As Indonesia’s Forests Burned, No End in Sight to Infernos

Seventy percent of 1,908 companies under the Forest Ministry’s supervision are said to be committed to complying with state environmental standards

Environmentalists have attributed most of the haze cases in Sumatra this year to
 the slash-and-burn clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations, especially for
 oil palms. President Joko Widodo has signaled a tougher stance against the practice.
(Antara Photo/Untung Setiawan)

Jakarta. Slash-and-burn clearing of forests to make way for plantations topped Indonesia’s list of environmental problems in 2014, with several major forest and land fires in Sumatra once again undermining the country’s fight against deforestation, while generating choking clouds of smoke that left local residents ill and prompt the ire of neighboring countries.

The Indonesian office of international environmental group Greenpeace says the number of fire incidents over the past few years have continued to increase in Riau, a Sumatran province at the center of major forest and land fire incidents in Indonesia in recent years.

Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Muhammad Teguh Surya says a total of 6,644 fire hot spots were detected across Riau in 2011, and this figure has continued to rise: 8,107 hot spots in 2012 and 15,112 hot spots in 2013.

“As of October this year, we recorded more than 21,000 fire hot spots,” Teguh told Indonesian news portal Tempo.co earlier this month.

The Riau administration declared a state of emergency in the province in late February after it failed to tackle fires and haze that spread to surrounding provinces, forcing airports to shut down and disrupting flights, as well as threatening the health of residents.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, said during the emergency period that ran from Feb. 26 to April 4 that potential economic losses from the fires and haze were estimated at Rp 20 trillion ($1.61 billion). Nearly 22,000 hectares of land were torched, including 2,400 hectares located in biosphere reserves.

Nearly 6 million people were exposed to the haze, and 58,000 people suffered respiratory problems as a result.

Riau was forced to declare another state of emergency in July. Although local firefighters, with the help of the military and police, eventually managed to extinguish most of the fires, they kept coming back throughout the year.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho has highlighted the need for better law enforcement. In the wake of the peak of the fire and haze incidents in the first quarter of the year, police have arrested dozens of people for allegedly starting the blazes, but law enforcement in the sector has generally been considered toothless, with security officers criticized for only nabbing small-scale farmers and barely going after the large plantation companies in whose concessions many of the hot spots are located.

“The key is law enforcement. Peatlands burn easily, and once they burn, it’s difficult to extinguish the fire. Prevention is more effective than putting out the fires,” Sutopo said.

Environmentalists have attributed most of the haze cases to the clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations, especially for oil palms.

Local farmers and big plantation companies been blame each other for starting the fires, but President Joko Widodo, during a visit to Riau last month, won activists’ praises when he threw his weight behind the smallholders.

“The best thing to do is to give the land to people so they can use it to plant sago. What’s made by people is usually environmentally friendly. They won’t do any harm to nature,” he said. “However, if we give the land to corporations, they will only switch it to monoculture plantations.”

Joko’s predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, won plaudits from the international community for parading as an environmental champion — pledging Indonesia’s commitment to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by 2020 using its own resources, and by 41 percent with international support. He enacted a moratorium on deforestation in 2011 to achieve those goals, and the ban will be in place until next year.

Yudhoyono’s administration, however, came under fire after Nature Climate Change journal published in June a report of a study that found Indonesia had overtaken Brazil as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter by deforestation, despite the much-ballyhooed moratorium.

The report said Indonesia’s primary forest loss totaled more than six million hectares from 2000 to 2012, with an average increase of 47,600 hectares per year.

“By 2012, annual primary forest loss in Indonesia was estimated to be higher than in Brazil; 0.84 million hectares and 0.46 million hectares, respectively,” it added.

Zenzi Suhaidi, a campaigner manager with the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi, criticized a presidential regulation on peatland protection issued by Yudhoyono earlier this year because it changed the status of Benoa Bay in the south of Bali from a conservation area into a so-called buffer zone.

The change in status allows a controversial commercial development project in the area to proceed, despite an outcry from local fishermen and environmental activists.

“In spite of its name, the regulation jeopardizes the sustainability of peatlands because it compromises certain stakeholders’ interests, and the regulation provides no deterrent effects,” Zenzi said.

He also pointed to a clause in the regulation that rules on environmental restoration requirements for forestry and mining firms, saying it offered a lot of room for backroom deals.

“That was a setback by Yudhoyono this year. The regulation ‘inadvertently’ provides room for gratuities,” Zenzi said.

“This year we’ve seen the effects of forest destruction, yet the previous administration still issued that regulation to exploit [forests].”

Zenzi, though, like other environmental activists, is encouraged by Joko’s take on green issues, following his visit to Sungai Tohor village in Riau’s Meranti Islands district in late November.

They believe the president’s siding with local farmers and his particular attention to the management of peatlands are positive signs of his commitment to the environment. Joko, during that visit, introduced a canal system to manage the water level in peatlands to make them more resistant to fires. He said he wanted the system to be part of the government’s permanent policies on Indonesia’s peatland management.

Joko also has ordered reviews of logging permits and concessions of plantation and mining firms, in an effort to crack down on slash-and-burn clearing of forests.

“Those commitments may be part of a concrete agenda that will have significant effects. And implementations of all of them must start in 2015,” Zenzi said.

He said the government must set up a body to ensure implementation of those commitments, suggesting a name like “the Anti-Forestry Mafia Committee,” or “the Agrarian Conflict Resolution Board.”

“Mechanisms [for resolutions] have to be built because the number of cases of [land] conflict and environmental degradation are very high already, and the incidents are widespread,” Zenzi said.

He added Joko’s administration also faced a challenge in the form of regulations issued during Yudhoyono’s term.

“Although Joko’s administration has signaled its good intentions to fix our country’s environmental problems, we cannot forget that there are many policies on the environment arbitrarily issued by the previous administration,” he said.

Rasio Ridho Sani, a deputy to the environment and forestry minister, however, argued that Indonesia had made significant improvements in the environmental sector, citing growing environmental awareness among logging, plantation and mining firms operating in forests.

He said 70 percent of the total 1,908 companies under the ministry’s supervision were committed to complying with the government’s environmental standards. The figure is an increase from 49 percent in 2004.

“Seventy percent of those corporations have refined their commitments to managing their activities and the effects toward the environment,” Rasio said.

“This means the environmental awareness of the business community has increased. And we hope that the number will stay that high and increase even further,” he said.

He added that the public’s awareness about environmental issues was also improving, citing how more people were starting to cycle to work and were committed to recycling their waste as part of a greener lifestyle.

“This is a very good sign for our nation,” Rasio said.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Owner of injured hippo turned in to prosecutors

Want China Times, CNA 2014-12-27

Veterinarians inject anesthetics to the hippo A He in Miaoli county,
Dec. 26. (Photo/Chiang Shih-chu)

The Taiwanese owner of a hippo injured after jumping from a truck that was carrying it has been turned over to prosecutors by police for further investigation on whether he had broken the Wildlife Conservation Act.

The hippo jumped from the truck and broke its teeth and one leg when the vehicle was taking the animal from a shelter in Miaoli to Skyzoo recreational farm in Taichung, where it has been raised for eight years, an initial investigation by Miaoli police found.

According to the owner of "A He," the animal was originally a gift from the Kaohsiung city government to the Taichung county government (now part of the Taichung city). But Taichung county later gave the hippo to the Taichung farm after finding it was not capable of taking good care of it.

Staff at the farm said it was one of two hippos that was being transported from a temporary shelter to their renovated home at the farm. Staff members suggested that the hippo must have been startled at some point in the trip, leading it to jump through a ventilation window in their container and collide with a parked car.

As the owner could not provide legal import documents for the hippo, an internationally protected wild animal, Miaoli police decided to turn him in to prosecutors for breaching the Wildlife Conservation Act.

The Miaoli County government will also slap a fine of NT$15,000 (US$472.45) -NT$75,000 (U$2,365) on the owner for his failure to protect the animal.

The hippo startled several Miaoli county residents on Friday as it rammed itself against a parked car after escaping from its enclosure aboard the truck.

It was eventually overcome with exhaustion and laid down on the ground, appearing to be suffering from injuries, including broken teeth and a broken leg.

New transportation arrangements have been made to return the two hippos back to their habitat in Taichung, this time under sedation by veterinarians, according to a farm official.

The injured hippo enters the pond in Taichung's Dajia district,
Dec. 27. (Photo/CNA)

Related Article:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Elephant ivory smuggling 'kingpin' arrested in Tanzania

Suspected organised crime boss Feisal Ali Mohammed is arrested following publication of Interpol most-wanted list

The Guardian – AFP, 23 December 2014

Feisal Mohamed Ali, bottom-right, has been arrested in Tanzania following
an Interpol most-wanted list. Photograph: Interpol

A suspected organised crime boss alleged to be a leading figure in the illegal ivory trade has been arrested by Interpol agents in Tanzania, officials said on Tuesday.

The international police organisation last month put Kenyan national Feisal Ali Mohammed on a list of nine most-wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment.

“Feisal Ali Mohammed was arrested by Interpol officers in Dar es Salaam. He was then booked in Musimbasi police station at 10:42pm last night,” Kenya’s director of public prosecutions said in a statement.

It said he is facing charges in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa for “dealing and possession of elephant tusks” weighing more than two tonnes and equivalent to at least 114 poached elephants, which were found during a raid in June.

Herd of elephants in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Photograph:
Ingvild Holm/Environmental Investigation Agency

Two alleged accomplices, Abdul Halim Sadiq and Ghalib Sadiq Kara, were arrested then, but Mohammed managed to escape and has been on the run since. According to an Interpol source, Mohammed was caught in “a string operation” conducted in conjunction with Tanzanian police.

He is the second of the nine alleged “environmental criminals” listed by Interpol to have been arrested since the Interpol appeal last month. Earlier this month, Zambian national Ben Simasiku was arrested on charges of possessing ivory from Botswana.

In November, Interpol said the arrest of the suspects would “contribute to the dismantlement of transnational organised crime groups who have turned environmental exploitation into a professional business with lucrative revenues.”

Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.

A sharp rise in poaching in Kenya, which is home to an estimated 30,000 elephants and just over a thousand rhinos, has sparked warnings from conservation groups that the government is losing the fight against the slaughter.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jokowi Pledges to Protect Female Human Rights Activists

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite, Dec 22, 2014

Activists protesting against violence against women, in Central Jakarta
on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Jakarta. Having granted clemency to a female activist just last week, President Joko Widodo on Monday promised that other female Indonesian activists would never be imprisoned again for defending human rights.

“We have to keep fighting for people’s rights. Female activists, who strive for their rights and also other people’s rights, should never be imprisoned. Something like that should never happen again,” Joko, also known as Jokowi, said on Monday in Jakarta.

The president was speaking on Indonesia’s Mother’s Day. It was not immediately clear whether his pledge would also apply to male human rights defenders.

Last Wednesday, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry issued a letter granting clemency to Eva Susanti Bande, a human rights activist who had been jailed after standing up for farmers’ rights in Luwuk, South Sulawesi, in 2010

Eva, who was released from the Petobo detention center in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Friday, was convicted of instigation and vandalism for her involvement in a rally with a group of farmers against a palm oil company.

In 2010, the Luwuk District Court in Central Sulawesi sentenced Eva to 3.5 years in prison but her sentence was increased to four years on appeal. Eva requested presidential clemency after the Supreme Court turned down her appeal last year.

“I granted Eva’s plea for clemency because I’m fully aware of what she’s striving for, which is the people’s right to land,” Joko said.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Birds Can Sense a Coming Storm and Flee

Jakarta Globe - AFP, Dec 19, 2014

A male golden-winged warbler carrying a light-level geolocator on his back
 and identification bands on his legs, is seen in the Cumberland Mountains of
 Tennessee, US, in this undated handout photo provided by Gunnar Kramer.
(Reuters Photo/Gunnar Kramer)

Miami. Birds appear to be able to sense a coming storm and fly away before it hits, according to research out Thursday on golden-winged warblers in the United States.

These tiny, delicate birds weigh just nine grams, or about as much as a palmful of coins, and yet somehow they knew that a massive storm system — including tornadoes and high winds — was on its way one to two days in advance.

They fled their breeding grounds in the mountains of eastern Tennessee just before the storm system swept through the central and southern United States in late April 2014.

The storm caused at least 84 tornadoes and killed 35 people.

“It is the first time we’ve documented this type of storm avoidance behavior in birds during breeding season,” said ecologist Henry Streby at the University of California, Berkeley.

“We know that birds can alter their route to avoid things during regular migration, but it hadn’t been shown until our study that they would leave once the migration is over and they’d established their breeding territory to escape severe weather,” he said.

When the birds flew off, the storm was still hundreds of miles away, so there would have been few detectable changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature and wind speed.

“The warblers in our study flew at least 1,500 kilometers total to avoid a severe weather system. They then came right back home after the storm passed.”

Scientists think that this sixth sense that birds possess has to do with their ability to hear sounds that humans cannot.

Birds and some other animals have been shown to hear infrasounds, which are acoustic waves that occur at frequencies below 20 hertz.

Events like winds blowing, ocean waves crashing and volcanoes erupting at faraway distances can create infrasounds that birds may be able to sense, even when the events themselves are thousands of kilometers away.

Tornadoes are also known to produce strong infrasound.

“There’s growing research that shows that tornadoes are becoming more common and severe with climate change, so evasive actions like the ones the warbler took might become more necessary,” said Streby.

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wild animals reappearing in Taiwan's northern coastal areas

Want China Times, CNA 2014-12-15

Formosan rock monkeys in the Taipei Zoo, Feb. 11. (File photo/Yao Chih-ping)

A survey on wild animals on Taiwan's northern coast between the Tamshui and Jinshan areas has found that since farming activities on the villages skirting Yangmingshan National Park and human consumption of wild animals decreased, many idle farm plots are turning into second-growth forests and rare wild animals are reappearing.

The Forestry Research Institute under the Council of Agriculture said that the survey found an abundance of wild animals in the second-growth forests with a diversity comparable to the country's national parks, which have long been under strict protection.

The survey recorded ferret badgers, masked palm civets, civet cats, pangolins, Formosan rock monkeys, Reeves' muntjac and boars.

The survey also found that the population density of several animals are higher than those of the natural forest just two kilometers away, including twice the number of masked palm civets and five times the number of ferret badgers. Civet cats have even been spotted on the outskirts of mountain villages.

The institute claims that the reappearance of the wildlife is related to the diminished farming activities and fewer people eating the wild aninmals.

More than 20 years ago, farming was thriving in the villages near Yangmingshan National Park, and many residents regarded wild animals as pests or food for consumption.

Over the last decade, however, much of the farmland has been left unused, making it a paradise for wildlife again.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Death toll continues to rise in Indonesian landslide

Rescuers have pulled more bodies from debris left after a mudslide hit a village in central Indonesia. Dozens are still missing and hundreds have been displaced by the disaster.

Deutsche Welle, 14 Dec 2014

Rescue workers in Indonesia on Sunday continued their search for more than 70 people left missing after a mudslide two days previously buried 105 houses in the village of Jemblung in central Java.

"The rescue team has found 32 bodies ... and is still searching for 76 people buried in the landslide," National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a text message.

Sutopo said 25 of the victims had been identified, adding that more than 2,000 people were taking part in the search. Some 600 people had been forced from their homes and were being accommodated in temporary shelters at several locations, he said.

President's visit

The ground around the disaster site is reportedly still unstable, forcing rescuers to be careful while digging for fear of causing more mudslides. Sutopo said that rescue teams had also been hampered by the fact that many roads and bridges were destroyed.

President Joko Widodo (seen above in white) visited the area on Sunday, and promised to relocate the people made homeless by the disaster. He also warned Indonesians to be "vigilant," saying that there were many other areas in the country where landslides were a likely event.

Friday's mudslide in the Barnjarnegara district, some 460 kilometers (285 miles) east of the capital, Jakarta, was triggered by three days of torrential rains.

Landslides caused by heavy rains and floods are common in Indonesia during the rainy season, which runs from November to March. The national disaster estimates that about half of the countriy's 250 million population lives in areas that are prone to landslides.

tj/es (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Govt to ‘Help’ Lapindo With Mudflow Compensation, Offers to Buy Assets

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite, Dec 08, 2014

Children play on swings on the embankment of the Lapindo mudflow. Victims
 are still waiting for full compensation from the company accused of triggering
the disaster. (JG Photo/Arief Priyono)

Jakarta. Victims of the Lapindo mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, are one step closer to being compensated for losses — eight years after dozens of villages and hundreds of hectares of farmland were swamped.

The government announced on Monday that it would buy assets from the company accused of triggering the disaster, Lapindo Brantas, which could then use the proceeds to pay out Rp 781 billion ($62 million) due to victims this year.

Minister of Public Works Basuki Hadimuljono said the government would buy about 20 percent of the company’s assets, which was mostly land, in affected areas.

The announcement comes just days after President Joko Widodo — through cabinet secretary Andi Widjajanto — ordered Lapindo Brantas to wrap up payments to victims of the mud volcano. On top of the Rp 781 billion owed to residents, the company, which is affiliated with the family of Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, must pay Rp 500 billion to affected businesses in 2015.

“They still have around Rp 1.4 trillion to pay,” Andi said. “We’re waiting for it.”

The government’s decision to buy assets from Lapindo Brantas is bound to raise questions about why money from the state budget was essentially being used to compensate a mistake made by the company.

The government is already required to pay Rp 300 billion compensation to victims whose land is located outside the map of affected areas. A 2012 judicial review which sought to have the company cover all compensation costs in areas affected by the mudflow was rejected by the Constitutional Court.

Andi said buying the company’s assets was part of the government’s effort to “help” Lapindo Brantas fulfill its responsibilities.

Lapindo Brantas was conducting gas exploration in the Sidoarjo area in 2006 when one of its natural gas wells blew out, causing a mud flow which destroyed hundreds of homes, swamped 720 hectares of land and displaced thousands of people.

Scientists blame drilling activities by the company for triggering the eruption, but the government at the time decreed it a natural disaster.

Related Articles:

Lapindo Told to Shell Out For Mudflow Before Drilling Again

Lapindo Disaster Caused By Human Error: Study

Indonesia's mud volcano flows on

Satellite picture received from Ikonos Satellite Image on May 29, 2008 shows
the mud volcano and its surrounding area in Sidoarjo, East Java. (AFP/Ikonos
Satellite Image)

More pictures ....