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)
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hong Kong giant panda Jia Jia becomes oldest ever

Yahoo – AFP, July 28, 2015

Giant panda Jia Jia stands next to her cake made of ice and fruit juice to mark
 her 37th birthday at an amusement park in Hong Kong on July 28, 2015 (AFP
Photo/Philippe Lopez)

Hong Kong (AFP) - It may not be considered a landmark birthday for humans, but turning 37 on Tuesday made Hong Kong's Jia Jia the oldest-ever giant panda in captivity, and she celebrated in style.

The equivalent of more than 100 years old in human terms, Jia Jia was presented with a towering birthday cake made from ice and fruit juice with the number 37 carved on top in her enclosure at the city's Ocean Park theme park.

"Jia Jia has achieved two Guinness world record titles -- the oldest panda living in captivity and the oldest panda ever living in captivity," said Blythe Ryan Fitzwilliam, adjudicator of Guinness World Records, during a ceremony at the park.

He offered her his congratulations, saying it was an "amazing longevity achievement".

Jia Jia was born in the wild in Sichuan, China in 1978 and was given to Hong Kong in 1999 to mark the semi-autonomous city's handover by Britain two years earlier.

The previous record was held by a male panda called Du Du, who was also caught in the wild and died in July 1999 at the age of 36 in a zoo in China's Hubei Province.

Vet Paolo Martelli said Jia Jia was still "moving about" though she suffered from cataracts and high blood pressure.

"She is sleeping more, so is doing everything less. But she is ageing gracefully, just like your grandma," he said.

Jia Jia was born in Sichuan, China in 1978 and was given to Hong Kong in
1999 to mark the handover by Britain two years earlier (AFP Photo/Philippe Lopez)

Because she eats less bamboo she relies on fibre supplements, Martelli added.

Jia Jia, whose name translates as "excellence", picked at fruit slices and bamboo around the ice cake to celebrate her big day.

Although the exact birth dates of Du Du and Jia Jia are unknown because they were born in the wild, Guinness said that based on the evidence, they've concluded that Jia Jia had claimed the title by a few months.

There are fewer than 2,000 pandas now left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Fund, as their habitats have been ravaged by development.

Roads and railways cut through the bamboo forests they depend upon in China's Yangtze Basin, their primary habitat. Pandas rely on bamboo and eat almost nothing else.

Given their low birthrate, captive breeding programmes have become key to ensuring their survival.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Killer of Cecil the lion was dentist from Minnesota, claim Zimbabwe officials

Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force alleges trophy hunter shot one of Africa’s most famous lions near Hwange national park



Conservationists in Zimbabwe have accused an American man of being the alleged killer of Cecil, one of Africa’s most famous lions and the star attraction at the Hwange national park.

On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the man thought to have paid $50,000 (£32,000) for the chance to kill Cecil was not a Spaniard as originally believed, but US citizen Walter Palmer, from a small town near Minneapolis. The man left the lion skinned and headless on the outskirts of the park, the ZCTF’s Johnny Rodrigues said in a statement.

The hunt took place around 6 July. “They went hunting at night with a spotlight and they spotted Cecil,” Rodrigues said. “They tied a dead animal to their vehicle to lure Cecil out of the park and they scented an area about half a kilometre from the park.”

Walt Palmer, left, and one of his many trophies.

The hunter first shot at Cecil with a bow and arrow but failed to kill the lion. “They tracked him down and found him 40 hours later when they shot him with a gun,” Rodrigues said.

A spokesman for Palmer told the Guardian that the hunter was “obviously quite upset over everything”.

“As far as I understand, Walter believes that he might have shot that lion that has been referred to as Cecil,” the spokesman said. “What he’ll tell you is that he had the proper legal permits and he had hired several professional guides, so he’s not denying that he may be the person who shot this lion. He is a big-game hunter; he hunts the world over.”

On Tuesday, Palmer - a dentist and married father of two - became a target as the Facebook page of his dental clinic was flooded with angry comments and threats. An online petition demanding justice for Cecil had gathered more than 12,000 signatures.

Palmer’s love of hunting is well-documented online. In 2009, he was interviewed by the New York Times about his slaying of an elk that was touted as a kill for the archery record books.

Noting that Palmer had learned to shoot at age five and was “capable of skewering a playing card from 100 yards with his compound bow,” the article said Palmer had paid $45,000 at auction to take part in the hunt, with the proceeds being used to help fund the elk habitat. As the hunting season began, Palmer was on probation for lying to authorities over the exact location where he had killed a black bear in northern Wisconsin in 2006.

A 2008 Flickr photo album by Trophy Hunt America and Porcupine Creek Outfitters, a company that leads hunting expeditions, shows Walter Palmer posing next to avariety of slain animals, including a wood bison and a lion. In another online photo Palmer and his bow and arrow sit next to a slain rhino, the captionstating that the photo was taken in South Africa.

The same company advertises trips to Africa, under the name Safari Connection. Photographs to advertise the company’s services show hunters posed next to elephants. Other expeditions show hunters posed next to polar bears amid snowy backdrops.

Two people who accompanied the hunter on his Zimbabwe trip were identified by authorities and arrested earlier this month, including Theo Bronkhorst, the founder of Bushman Safaris Zimbabwe which is believed to have organised the hunt. Both are facing poaching charges and due to appear in court in early August.

Zimbabwe National Parks confirmed the charges. “In this case, both the professional hunter and land owner had no permit or quota to justify the offtake of the lion and therefore are liable for the illegal hunt,” it said in a statement. Bronkhorst’s hunting license has been suspended and efforts were being made to interview another employee of Bushman Safaris who was believed to have also taken part in the hunt.

The 13-year-old lion was wearing a GPS collar as part of an Oxford University research project that had been running since 1999, making it possible to trace his last movements. Rodrigues said the hunters tried to destroy the collar, but failed.

Walt Palmer and a Nevada California Bighorn.

The death of Cecil comes as Zimbabwe, like many countries in Africa, attempts to crack down on illegal hunting and poaching, said Rodrigues. “This has been going on too long. Cecil is the 23 or 24th lion that has been collared and then killed in Hwange. We have to try and stop it.”

Initially his organisation had said the whereabouts of Cecil’s head was unknown, sparking concerns that it would be sent abroad as a trophy. The fear brought conservationists and politicians together this week to call on the European Union to ban the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies from African countries that cannot prove their lion populations are sustainable.

On Tuesday, Rodrigues said the head of the lion had been located in Zimbabwe and had been impounded to be used as evidence in the investigation.

The ZCTF said on Tuesday that it continued to mourn Cecil. Rodrigues pointed out that the hunter was believed to have paid just $50,000 to kill a creature that would have brought millions of dollars worth of tourism to the reserve.

Conservation authorities said they were also dealing with the likely consequences of Cecil’s death for his six cubs. “The saddest part of all is that now that Cecil is dead, the next lion in the hierarchy, Jericho, will most likely kill all Cecil’s cubs so that he can insert his own bloodline into the females.”


Cecil was a major tourist attraction at Zimbabwe's largest game reserve in
Hwange National Park, due to his distinctive black mane (AFP Photo)


Hunt: Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed
1,977 houbara bustards in just 21 days while
on holiday



Spain's King Juan Carlos poses in front of a dead elephant
on a hunting trip in Botswana, Africa. Photograph: Target
Press/Barcroft Media

Spain's king ousted as WWF honorary president
Spain's King Juan Carlos under fire over elephant hunting trip



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.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Farmers clash with protected Asian elephants in Yunnan

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-07-25

Elephants foraging and drinking water at a scenic spot in Xishuangbanna,
Yunnan, Feb. 24, 2011. (File photo/Xinhua)

A war between humans and elephants is raging in southwestern China's Yunnan province.

This year alone, three people have been killed by wild elephants there and three elephants have been killed by either pesticides or gunshot.

A villager from Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, a popular tourist destination where elephants feature prominently on tours, was detained by police on Sunday for killing a pregnant wild elephant. The villager, surnamed Wang, opened fire with a homemade gun on a group of wild elephants that had invaded his land. A female elephant weighing more than 3 tonnes was later found dead in Wang's fish pond with a bullet in her head. The cow was carrying a 99-kilogram male calf and was almost ready to give birth.

On June 26, two immature bull elephants were found dead with blood oozing from their mouths, trunks and anuses. Police found pesticides in the stomaches of both and have not ruled out the possibility that they were poisoned deliberately by farmers. As many as 16 wild elephants were seen in the area at the end of November.

Asian elephants are an endangered species and are protected in China. About 250 to 300 roam Xishuangbanna and other parts of south Yunnan. Bad planning has led to a fragmented habitat, which means they often intrude into villages, damage crops and even attack humans.

A villager died after being attacked while working in his fields in June. His wife narrowly escaped death thanks to a shed that collapsed, shielding her from further attacks. There have been at least three elephant attacks in the vicinity this year. Two women died from such attacks in the area in 2012 and 2013.

The heavily forested Simao district is an ideal habitat for elephants. About 60 of them are known to roam the district. Six people have died there and nine have been injured in elephant attacks since 1999. Farmers are reportedly afraid to harvest their crops, students have nerve-racking trips to school and local people go less frequently to the market, due to the lack of any concrete management systems. Some cannot even sleep in their own houses for fear that hungry pachyderms will break in and raid their larders.

The number of wild elephants is on the rise, which is certainly a good thing, but they pillage or trample crops, tear down trees and houses and are a very real threat to people's lives.

Simao forestry bureau attributed 33 deaths and 165 injuries to wild animals, mostly elephants, from 1991 to 2010. In the whole province, 1,324 deaths and about 390 million yuan (US$63.7 million) of losses have been blamed on wild animals over the past decade. Such tragedies will become more frequent if the central government campaign to improve the environment is successful and elephant numbers increase without any concrete measures to create a suitable habitat for the animals in areas remote from farming land.

An adult elephant eats up to 300 kilograms of food each day and drinks a large amount of water. It walks dozens of kilometers while foraging.

Chen Mingyong, an elephant expert with Yunnan University, believes that conservation corridors are key to resolving the conflict between man and beast. Linking the fragmented habitat with protected corridors will reduce the overlapping space inhabited by both humans and elephants.

Food source bases where bamboo and bananas are grown specifically for the elephants will also help. Most of the harm done comes from the elephants' endless search for food.

Simao government spent over 600,000 yuan (US$97,000) last year on an "elephant canteen" that includes a banana garden, a bamboo forest and a pool. The provincial government faces mounting compensation bills for damage caused by the protected animals. The annual cost can run to 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million).

In 2009, Yunnan contracted China Pacific Insurance Company to insure crops, property and lives in some regions. The government pays the premiums and the insurers investigate and compensate people when animals cause trouble.

Li Laoxiao has tried everything to drive the elephants away from his plantation, but to very little avail. "Now I just let them eat. I get 15 yuan (US$2.42) for each damaged rubber tree, and 10 yuan (US$1.61) for a banana tree."

The commercial mechanism is clearly more effective. Compensation is higher and paid more quickly, but rumbling discontent persists. In November, 114 villagers from nine villages in Simao petitioned for better protection and higher compensation.

Yang Zhengrong of the insurers' Yunnan branch told Xinhua that the company paid over 81 million yuan (US$13 million) in compensation from 2010 to 2013 but received less than 48 million yuan (US$7.7 million) in premiums.

"The compensation mechanism needs to be improved. It is not sustainable in the long run," Yang said.

New animal protection laws in Taiwan may close older zoos

Want China Times, CNA and Staff Reporter 2015-07-26

Chiu Hsi-ho and Xiao He put on a show for visitors, July 24. (Photo/CNA)

A private zoo in Madou district in Tainan in southern Taiwan is set to be closed for good in January next year, with the owner complaining that the country's newly revised Animal Protection Act will make his business too challenging to run.

"Making the decision is painful," Chiu Hsi-ho, owner of the Madou King of Crocodile Zoo, said Friday.

Once the revisions to the Animal Protection Act take effect on Jan. 23 next year it will be difficult for small-scale private zoos to survive, Chiu said, adding that he will be unable to run a zoo when the laws become stricter than when he started his business nearly 40 years ago.

The death, attributable to negligence, of a hippopotamus named A He late last year belonging to another private zoo in Taichung triggered public outcry over animal abuse, prompting lawmakers to amend the Animal Protection Act.

The revisions, passed Jan. 23, stipulate that an "animal show vendor" must have a license from the proper authorities prior to commercial operation.

A He, who had been a long-time favorite attraction at Taichung's Skyzoo recreational farm, died on Dec. 29 last year from injuries sustained when the animal jumped from a moving truck. The hippo later fell a second time while suspended over a pond at a farm in Miaoli where he was undergoing rehabilitation treatement.

A nearly 40-year-old crocodile called Xiao He is a star attraction at Chiu's zoo. At a length of 5.8 meters and weighing 1,250 kilograms, Chiu said he "trained" Xiao He to perform in the zoo's regular animal shows. The croc was also forced to allow visitors to sit on its back for photographs.

Xiao He has drawn many business opportunities for the zoo, Chiu said.

Apart from the crocodile, Chiu's zoo is also known for keeping unusual animals such as a turtle with three heads, a crocodile without a tail and featherless chickens. Over the past few years, however, his animal shows have been blasted by groups accusing Chiu of animal abuse.

His zoo has been singled out as one of Taiwan's top 10 worst animal farms, he went on, saying that "it made me feel terribly bad," since he claims to have always spared no effort in attending to the special animals he keeps in captivity.

Saying that he has never violated the existing Animal Protection Act, Chiu added that he has taken many measures to improve his zoo.

The regulations, however, are becoming more and more strict thanks to increasing awareness of animal welfare. "It is almost impossible for a small zoo keeper to follow them," according to Chiu.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Circus bears offered sanctuary from trauma in Romania

Yahoo – AFP, Mihaela Rodina

All of the bears in the "Libearty" brown bear sanctuary have a "sad but 
educational" story (AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

Zarnesti (Romania) (AFP) - Circus bear Mura wound up in the world's biggest brown bear sanctuary in the heart of Romania's Carpathian mountains after refusing to perform any longer, following five years of unbearable abuse.

Caged, beaten and starved by their owners, 80 bears rescued from captivity have been taken in to be healed of trauma at the "Libearty" sanctuary, but the process can be slow.

Mura for instance instinctively begins to dance at mealtimes. "She's still afraid she won't be fed if she doesn't dance," Libearty guide Paula Ciotlos told AFP.

So far, two million euros have been
 invested in the "Libearty" bear sanctuary,
 which welcomed more than 20,000 tourists 
in 2014 -- about 60% of them foreigners
(AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)
After doing tricks for the Globus circus in Bucharest for five years, Mura one day obstinately refused to keep performing and was finally handed over to the sanctuary by her owner.

Set up in 2005, the 69-hectare (170 acre) complex was itself the result of a storm of outrage caused by the plight of a self-mutilating bear named Maia, who hurt herself in protest against the cruel conditions she was kept in, and who eventually died of her wounds.

"The establishment of this sanctuary was inspired by Maia," said Cristina Lapis, president of the "Millions of Friends" animal rights support group.

Their paws still bear traces of cuts from the glass bottles.

All of the bears in the sanctuary have a "sad but educational" story, said Ciotlos.

By opening its doors to tourists, though for no more than three hours every day, the sanctuary hopes people will gain a new perspective on animals in captivity.

British tourist John Hancock is one of the converted. He said he "no longer wants" to see animals at the zoo after seeing some of the effects of captivity first hand.

'Ideal environment for bears'

"This is the ideal environment for the bears," said Hancock. "They enjoy everything they need here."

Caged, beaten and starved by their owners, 80 bears rescued from captivity 
have been taken in to be healed of trauma at the "Libearty" sanctuary (AFP 
Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)

The land was donated by the city of Zarnesti, and has ample forest and ponds for the bears, who are fed once a day by staff.

They can never re-enter the wild because they've lost many of their instincts and "would never be able to survive alone in the forest, fight for a female, or for food," Ciotlos said.

So far, two million euros ($2.2 million) have been invested in the sanctuary, which welcomed more than 20,000 tourists in 2014 -- about 60 percent of them foreigners.

Brown bears are common in Romania, which has a population of around 6,000. In mountainous areas, female bears and their cubs often wander into villages to scavenge for food in trash bins.

A 'nursery' for orphan cubs

In another pathbreaking project, cubs separated from their mothers due to accident or human action are being lodged in a "nursery" in the Hasmas mountains, about 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Zarnesti.

Brown bears are common in Romania,
 which has a population of around 6,000 
(AFP Photo/Daniel Mihailescu)
"A cub is very fragile and vulnerable until the age of two or three," said the project's founder and animal lover Leonardo Bereczky.

He said they were protected but also encouraged to fend for themselves, especially to forage for food.

"It is very important that the cubs grow up far from human beings" before resuming a life in the wild, he said, adding that so far about 100 cubs had been successfully released.

Bereczky said the main threats for the bears was the growing infiltration of man into their habitat, and deforestation.

Ciotlos said some people also wanted to turn them into pets.

She said that between 1990 and 2000 a lot of restaurants in the Carpathian region displayed caged bears to attract tourists, but those establishments are becoming more rare because Romania has passed more restrictive laws in hopes of curbing abuse.

"Now there are no more than a dozen bears waiting to be rescued in Romania," Ciotlos said.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Panda experts visit Taipei Zoo to if if Yuan Yuan is pregnant

Want China Times, CNA 2015-07-16

Yuan Yuan, July 14. (Photo courtesy of Taiwan Zoo)

Two panda experts flew to Taipei from China Tuesday to help the Taipei Zoo monitor giant panda Yuan Yuan, who has been showing signs of pregnancy lately, though zookeepers are yet not able to provide confirmation.

A spokesman of the zoo said Tuesday that Yuan Yuan received two artificial inseminations on March 26 and 27.

On June 11, zookeepers found the 11-year-old panda apparently losing her appetite and exhibiting other signs of pregnancy.

As Yuan Yuan resisted an attempted ultrasound check, zookeepers are not yet able to confirm the pregnancy, the spokesman said.

Yuan Yuan gave birth to her first cub, Yuan Zai, on July 6, 2013. The female panda was the result of numerous attempts by the Taipei Zoo to artificially inseminate Yuan Yuan.

Yuan Yuan came to Taiwan together with a male panda Tuan Tuan in December 2008 as gifts from Beijing. The pandas, especially their offspring Yuan Zai, have become the most viewed animals at the Taipei Zoo.

According to the spokesman, the delivery date is usually around one month after showing signs of pregnancy.

The zookeepers will be able to identify whether Yuan Yuan is really pregnant or not within a week, and if it is confirmed, she may deliver the cub soon.

The gestation of giant pandas ranges from 95 to 160 days.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Conflict of interest claims over Malaysian timber imports

DutchNews.nl, July 15, 2015

Dutch government ministers have accused environmental groups Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund of having a conflict of interest in the approval of imports of Malaysian timber, Trouw reports. 

The government said earlier this week the Netherlands will support the import of Malaysian timber with an MTCS certificate rather than FCS certification, which is backed by the environmental groups. 

Junior environment minister Wilma Mansveld and junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma say in a parliamentary briefing that ‘in concrete terms, several NGOs which were involved in founding the FSC certification system want to promote it’. 

This, the ministers imply, is why Greenpeace and the WWF do not support MTCS certification. 

However, WWF spokesman Jaap van der Waarde told Trouw the accusations of a conflict of interest are ‘incomprehensible’. 

‘The fact that my organisation forms part of the board of another certification system is irrelevant,’ he said. ‘The Malaysian certification system does not do the job.’ 

Economic interests

Malaysian forests are still being cut down and ‘it would appear that if the economic interests are big enough, certification systems do not need to meet Dutch sustainability targets,’ he told the paper. 

Successive Dutch governments have wrestled with the approval of Malaysian timber and both an independent commission and the Dutch courts have ruled there is no question of Malaysian timber being harvested sustainably, Trouw says. 

The ministers argue that the problems have now been solved and that a ‘final check’ will be made to ensure Malaysian timber imported into the Netherlands does come from sustainable sources.

Elephant ivory seized at Taoyuan airport

Want China Times, CNA 2015-07-15

The captured raw elephant ivory on display at the Taoyuan International Airport,
July 14. (Photo/CNA)

Customs officers at Taiwan's main airport on Monday confiscated 5.6 kg of undeclared raw elephant ivory that was brought into the country by a Taiwanese woman returning from Hong Kong.

The woman, who arrived at Taoyuan International Airport on a Cathay Pacific Airways flight, was carrying 120 pieces of raw ivory hidden in peanut candy packages in her checked luggage, Taipei Customs Office said.

Such ivory is usually used to make name stamps, the office said, adding that the 5.6 kg of ivory was confiscated because its importation was in violation of the Wildlife Conservation Act.

Violation of the law carries a penalty of six months to five years in prison and a fine of NT$300,000-$1.5 million (US$9,658-$48,300), the customs office said.

The woman said she was unaware of the law and had been asked by a friend to bring the packages to Taiwan.

According to Article 24 of the Act, the import or export of live wildlife or Protected Wildlife products is not allowed without the approval of the national principle authority.

In accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the import or export of protected wildlife species or products requires prior approval by the Council of Agriculture, an export permit or certificate issued by the country of origin, and an import permit issued by Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Liberia's 'Planet of the Apes' chimps facing starvation

Yahoo – AFP,  Zoom Dosso, 12 July 2015

Chimpanzees used by The New York Blood Centre for testing and released on 
Monkey Island in Liberia face starvation as the island has no fresh water or food
and the US body has withdrawn funding for their care (AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso)

Monkey Island (Liberia) (AFP) - A speedboat laden with fruit approaches and four chimpanzees come bounding over from the dense forest, screeching excitedly as volunteers throw them pineapple and mango chunks.

The apes are part of a colony of former research lab captives enjoying retirement uncaged on an atoll deep in the jungle of southern Liberia, known as Monkey Island.

The only significant inhabitants of the six islets, the chimps have been living an idyllic existence, fed by human volunteers on their very own 'Planet of the Apes' -- a nickname given to the archipelago by local media.

Chimpanzees are fed on Monkey Island, a 
celebrated colony of former research lab
 captives on an atoll deep in the jungle of
 southern Liberia, n June 29, 2015 (AFP
Photo/Zoom Dosso)
But the colony of 66 chimps has been at the centre of an international storm since the New York-based blood bank funding it announced in March it was stopping the cash.

The New York Blood Center (NYBC), which carried out about 30 years of biomedical research on the animals, had publicly committed to their lifelong care after they were retired in 2005.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is supporting the colony through emergency fundraising as the Liberian government and the blood bank lock horns over who should be responsible for their care.

"NYBC may believe that people will forget and that this will go away, but I can assure you that it won't," HSUS vice-president Kathleen Conlee told AFP in an email from Washington DC.

"They are absolutely responsible for the long-term care of these chimpanzees."

Conlee described the chimps' care costs -- estimated at $30,000 (27,000 euros) a month -- as "a mere drop in the bucket for this organisation that has hundreds of millions in revenue annually".

'Moral obligation'

The Liberia Biomedical Research Institute (LBRI) entered into an agreement with the NYBC in 1974 to carry out research in a lab about 65 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Monrovia, capturing or buying the chimpanzees.

The research project had gained a world class reputation in the field of viral infections, particularly hepatitis, by the time it ended and the NYBC appeared to make a commitment to the chimps in retirement as a reward for their contribution.

NYBC director Alfred Prince wrote in the American Society of Primatologists Bulletin in 2005 that Monkey Island was to become "a dedicated full-time sanctuary".

The New York Blood Centre, which carried out 30 years of biomedical research 
on this colony of 66 chimpanzees in Liberia, has said it is to stop funding the feeding
and care of the animals - which now face starvation (AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso)

"NYBC recognises its responsibility to provide an endowment to fund the sanctuary for the lifetime care of the chimpanzees," he wrote.

The chimps are entirely reliant on humans for their survival, as there is no year-round fresh water supply or enough food on their islets.

LBRI head Fatorma Bolay said initial emergency funding from the HSUS, pooled with cash from other sources, had probably saved the animals from dehydration and starvation.

World-renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall sent an open letter to the NYBC in May urging the organisation to consider its "moral obligation" to continue funding the chimps' care.

"I find it completely shocking and unacceptable that NYBC would abandon these chimpanzees and discontinue support for even their basic needs," she wrote.

AFP emailed and telephoned the NYBC but the centre did not respond to requests for comment.

'No different from humans'

John Abayomi Zeonyuway, a volunteer at the institute, showed AFP the animals' care routine on a recent visit to Monkey Island, a 25-minute speedboat ride up the John River from Roberts International Airport.

As the boat approached the first of the islets, a nine square-kilometre patch of jungle known as Island Five, a welcoming party of four chimps began screeching and jumping up and down excitedly.

World-renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall sent an open letter to the New York
 Blood Centre in May urging the organisation to consider its "moral obligation" to
continue funding the chimps' care (AFP Photo/Zoom Dosso)

"This is their way of saying that the food is here," Zeonyuway explained as he threw pawpaws, bananas and other fruit for the animals.

Zeonyuway visits the colony every second day, and each time he does a mental roll call to ensure all are present and in good health.

"I can't see Samanta. Bullet is here -- he's already eating," he called out to his crew as the rest of the residents came to join the feast.

The boat then proceeded to Island Four, 15 minutes away, where the clan of 10 apes included four unplanned babies, the result of failed vasectomies, according to the HSUS.

Birth control efforts have since been stepped up so that the population doesn't grow further.

At all six of the islands the routine was the same: an excited greeting and a feast for the animals.

"The chimps are part of me. I am glued to them because I see them every other day," Zeonyuway told AFP.

"They are no different from humans. They fight and they make peace. They need help, they need attention. We cannot afford to lose these animals to hunger and sickness."

Thursday, July 9, 2015

After ban, Mexico's circus animals await new homes

Yahoo – AFP, Yemeli Ortega, 8 July 2015

A tiger is seen in a cage at the Hermanos Cedeno circus in Chimalhuacan, 
Mexico, on July 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Chimalhuacan (México) (AFP) - The big tent's lights are out and the stars of the show, seven Bengal tigers, pace restlessly in cages, waiting for new homes following new legislation banning circus animals in Mexico.

The Hermanos Cedeno circus, like hundreds of others across the country, can no longer feature performances by big cats, bears, camels and other animals under the controversial law that came into force on Wednesday.

A pony and a camel are seen
at the Hermanos Cedeno circus
in Chimalhuacan, Mexico, on
July 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Ronaldo Schemidt)
"I never thought it would end like this," said Junior, the tiger tamer of the Cedeno circus, as workers put away tents in Chimalhuacan, outside Mexico City.

One of the tigers, "Whiskers," stares blankly at the six kilograms (13 pounds) of chicken in his two-by-two meter (6.5-by-6.5 foot) cage, while "Samurai" licks his paws.

Junior, who goes by his circus name, fears that leaving the circus will be a "shock" for the tigers, which are "used to people, music and applause."

As for Junior himself, he has "no idea" what he will do for work from now on.

Some 200 circuses have wild animals, the environment ministry said. While nearly 1,100 animals were declared in 2014, only 511 have been counted this year.

Armando Cedeno, the owner of the circus in Chimalhuacan and president of the industry's national union, estimates that there are likely about 4,000 animals.

Some 70 circuses have already gone bankrupt while 2,000 workers have lost their jobs, he said, staring at his tigers, the main attraction for his shows.

Stroking the head of one tiger, Cedeno said the government has not fulfilled its promise to find new safe havens for the animals in zoos, foundations or the homes of collectors in Mexico and abroad.

But deputy environment minister Rafael Pacchiano countered that circus owners have not requested any help from the authorities to relocate the animals.

Circuses that still use animals for their shows will be fined more than $250,000, said Guillermo Haro, the federal environmental protection prosecutor.

From now on, circuses can only keep animals if they have the proper permits and keep them in good living conditions, but they cannot feature in shows. Otherwise, authorities will seize them.

A view of the stage of the Hermanos 
Cedeno circus in Chimalhuacan, Mexico, 
on July 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ronaldo 
Schemidt)
Mutilated bear

The law is the brainchild of the Green Party, which promoted the legislation with a media blitz that denounced alleged cases of animal abuse.

In a prominent case last year, a circus in the eastern state of Yucatan was fined more than $50,000 after it removed the lower jaw of its black bear, Invictus.

The Green Party argues that the law "sets a precedent for the respect and protection of animals."

But Leonora Esquivel, co-founder of the international animal welfare group AnimaNaturalis, said the law is limited because it does not apply to cock fights, bullfights and shows with marine animals.

While wild animals will no longer feature in circuses, Esquivel said Mexico needs to implement a new model for zoos to turn them into "fauna recovery centers."

A critic of the law, Ruben Escamilla, a lawmaker from the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, said the legislation offers no financial compensation to circus owners.

"There's a clear violation of private property," Escamilla said.

Cedeno said circus owners will launch legal bids to counter what they consider a "discriminatory" law that is based on "false propaganda."

Armando Cedeno, owner of the Hermanos Cedeno circus, looks into a cage with
a tiger in Chimalhuacan, Mexico, on July 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Final show

The Cedeno Brothers held their final show with animals on Monday.

"Don't take the animals away!" the crowd shouted, after the tigers formed a pyramid and jumped through a fiery ring.

"It's pure grief," Cedeno said, wearing boots covered in dirt at the muddy circus grounds.

"Don't stop coming to the circus even though we no longer have tigers. Don't let us die," he said before shutting himself inside his caravan.