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.

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)

Monday, May 4, 2020

Dolphin spotted in port of Amsterdam is reluctant to leave

DutchNews, May 3, 2020

A lone dolphin has followed a sailing boat carrying a cargo of fair trade coffee and rum from the French coast to Amsterdam’s port and seems reluctant to leave the ship, experts said on Sunday. 

The animal is fit and healthy but rescue organisation SOS Dolfijn said the brackish water is not good for the animal and it may not be able to find enough food. 

‘The animal seems to have developed a close connection with the ship and stayed swimming with it through the sluice gates and now it is in the port,’ said spokesman Eligius Everaarts. 

Attempts to lure the animal back to the open sea are being hindered by the fact that it will have to swim though the sluices at IJmuiden, which means the rescue operation can only happen when the gates are open. 

SOS Dolfijn tried to make the animal follow their boat but after a while it turned and went back to the ship. The schooner which it followed cannot be used to guide the animal back because it must be unloaded first. 

Catching the animal is not option either, the organisation said, because the port is a large area and the manoeuvre could put the animal’s life in danger. 

‘It may make it out on its own bit that will depend on the sluices,’ a spokesperson for the organisation said. 

The adult bottle nose dolphin has been identified as Zafar, a dolphin which has been spotted on the coast of France in 2018 where it was observed to interact with divers. 

The organisation said it will continue to monitor the situation. 

Update Sunday evening: According to broadcaster NOS, the dolphin was successfully encouraged to return to the sea on Sunday afternoon.

The dolphin next to the sailing ship on his way back to the ocean. Photo: Olaf Kraak ANP

Related Article:

Sunday, May 3, 2020

First giant panda born in Netherlands

France24 –AFP, 2 May 2020

One of the giant pandas at the zoo holding her cub - Ouwehands Zoo/AFP/File

Wu Wen, a giant panda loaned to a Dutch zoo by China, has given birth in a first for the Netherlands, Ouwehands animal park announced Saturday.

Mating took place in January and the cub, which belongs to Beijing just like the mother and father Xing Ya, was born on May 1.

"The mother and her cub are staying in the maternity den and are doing well," the zoo in the central city of Rhenen said in a statement said.

"This cub was born and conceived naturally," said Ouwehands owner Marcel Boekhoorn.

"Male or female? The cub’s gender will remain a surprise for the time being," he added.

"The keepers are leaving Wu Wen and her cub alone. When the cub leaves the maternity den after a few months, we will be able to see what the gender is.

"When that happens, the little giant panda will be named," Boekhoorn said. The cub will go to China after four years to join the breeding programme.

The mother and father were loaned to the Netherlands in 2017 for 15 years.

Giant pandas are found only in the wild in China where their habitat is shrinking.

However since 2016 they are no longer considered in danger of extinction but remain "vulnerable".

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Rare albino orangutan spotted in Borneo rainforest

Yahoo – AFP, March 4, 2020

Alba, the world’s only known albino orangutan, was released back into the wild
in late 2018 (AFP Photo/Handout)

The world's only known albino orangutan has been spotted alive and well in a Borneo rainforest, more than a year after she was released into the wild, conservationists say.

Alba, a blue-eyed primate covered in fuzzy white hair, was taken in 2017 from a cage where she was being kept as a pet by villagers in Indonesia's section of Borneo, known as Kalimantan.

Alba was released back into the wild in late 2018.

This week, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said Alba was spotted as it monitored three other orangutans who were recently released.

"After we learned that she can build nests, forage independently and is no longer dependent on human assistance we concluded that she can survive in the forest," said Indra Exploitasia, the environment ministry's director of biodiversity conservation.

Alba's rescue was some rare positive news for the critically endangered species, which has seen its habitat shrink drastically over the past few decades largely due to the destruction of forests for logging, paper, palm oil and mining.

Plantation workers and villagers are sometimes known to attack the animals because they see them as a pest, while poachers also capture them to sell as pets.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Bird traders face fine, jail for dyeing parrots different colours

DutchNews, February 19, 2020 

A yellow-headed Amazon. Photo: Lizzy Foulkes via Wikimedia Commons
A father and son from Zaandam accused of fraudulently exporting parrots by dyeing their feathers and beaks different colours and falsifying paperwork are facing a €7,500 fine and a year in prison respectively, broadcaster NOS reports. 

The public prosecutor said the pair, who trade in exotic birds, had been flaunting export rules for years, particularly when it came to health tests and certificates. The paperwork is necessary, officials say, to protect countries against bird flu, virulent Newcastle disease and psittacosis, which can also affect people. 

The son also stands accused of dyeing certain parrot species different colours in order to export them to countries which restrict the import of some parrots but not of others. 

Apart from dyeing the animals’ feathers he also dyed the beaks of 28 yellow headed Amazons so they would look like a yellow-crowned Amazon which are subject to less stringent import rules. 

In 2015 and 2016 the son was caught at Schiphol trying to ship a consignment of painted birds to Taiwan, many of which dead or dying. 

Complaints about fraudulent dealings by the two have been accumulating since 2008, NOS said.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Chinese turn to social media to feed stranded pets in virus city

Yahoo – AFP, February 3, 2020

A man carries his dog in a shopping bag at a pet fair in Shanghai. China is home
to a growing population of pet owners, with pet-related spending in China reaching
nearly $24 billion in 2018 (AFP Photo/JOHANNES EISELE)

Beijing (AFP) - China's unprecedented quarantining of virus-hit Wuhan has separated millions from their families -- and many from their pets, prompting worried owners and kind strangers to take to social media to ensure left-behind animals are looked after.

The virus that has killed more than 360 in China emerged during the Lunar New Year when hundreds of millions were travelling across the country, and the subsequent lockdown on Wuhan and central Hubei province has left many stranded.

The hashtag "save the pets left behind in Wuhan" became the third-most searched term on the Twitter-like Weibo platform Monday, receiving millions of views from those unable to return to the city, where the virus is believed to have originated, and others willing to help.

"Please help me feed my cat", one user posted on January 30.

On Monday, he used the hashtag to post the happy news he had found a "young man" who had agreed to go and feed his cat Maomao.

"In the video chat, after the man opened the door Maomao meowed so miserably, no one has been home for more than a dozen days..." he said.

More than 2,000 people also joined a group created by the Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association on Chinese chat app QQ to look for "kind-hearted people" willing to feed pets left behind in Wuhan by owners unable to enter the city.

One member on Monday asked if anyone would be willing to feed a pet snake. "I'm worried to death" the user, who posted anonymously, said. "I didn't let him hibernate this winter because he's a baby snake."

That post had no takers as of late Monday.

"If any cats and dogs are stranded and you can let me in, I can help you feed them on livestream," wrote Katherine Cui in eastern Zhejiang province -- where the city of Wenzhou was placed under a similar lockdown to Wuhan on Sunday.

"I have many pets at home, and plenty of cat food, dog food and kitty litter, I know too well how important fur babies are."

The drive to save pets comes after multiple Chinese media reports said apartment complexes had banned pets to stop the spread of the virus, as well as unverified reports that people had thrown animals to their deaths for similar reasons.

While the novel coronavirus is believed to have crossed over from animals to humans at a Wuhan market known for selling live wildlife, the World Health Organization has said on its Weibo account there is "no evidence that dogs, cats and other pets can catch the novel coronavirus."

China is home to a growing population of pet owners, with pet-related spending in China reaching 170.8 billion yuan ($23.7 billion) in 2018, according to a report by Pet Fair Asia and pet website

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Pigs beaten in undercover images from Dutch slaughterhouse

DutchNews, January 31, 2020 

An animal welfare group has published undercover footage of pigs in a slaughterhouse being beaten with paddles and an apparently crippled animal being pulled by the tail.

Ongehoord claims that the hours of images were made in August 2019 by ‘Johan’, a volunteer for the group working at the Westfort slaughterhouse in IJsselstein. 

The slaughterhouse, whose website says it sells ‘sustainable meat from the Netherlands’ told RTL Nieuws that it was investigating the images and implementing immediate measures to ensure poor treatment does not happen in future. 

‘Harsh herding and beating pigs isn’t allowed and shouldn’t be allowed,’ it said in a statement. ‘We take full responsibility for this and will implement [a set of] measures. The permanent camera supervision will also be intensified and a team including two of our own vets will monitor the images.’ 

However animal welfare experts told RTL Nieuws that beating animals in order to herd them – especially using the sharp side of a paddle – would count as ‘abuse’ and contravene European guidelines. 

Carla Schouten, agriculture minister, called the images ‘unacceptable’ and pledged to reduce the speed of slaughter at such factories.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Fugitive giraffe found dead in Thai canal

Yahoo – AFP, January 30, 2020

One of the runaway giraffes was spotted crossing the road in Bang Khla, Thailand
(AFP Photo/Jongput JIRA-APAKUL)

Bangkok (AFP) - A giraffe whose daring escape from convoy en route to a Thai breeding station won hearts online was found dead in a lotus-clogged canal on Thursday after a two-day search using drones and hang gliders.

Two giraffes made a bid for freedom from the back of a poorly secured truck as it slowed in highway traffic after leaving Bangkok's main airport on Tuesday.

The animals had been imported from an unnamed African country and destined for Safari World, a popular attraction outside Bangkok which describes itself as "an open zoo".

Rescuers caught one of the creatures after stunning it with a tranquiliser gun, but the other escaped into scrubland -- cheered on by hundreds of thousands of people on social media.

The story took a tragic turn, however, after it was found dead in a lotus swamp near a main road, according to Safari World.

Vets will determine the cause of death.

Hundreds of thousands of Thais followed Facebook live videos of journalists trailing the hunt for the runaway ungulate.

Comments lamenting its fate poured onto social media.

"Hope you reincarnate in a better world lil giraffe," said one.

Safari World is Thailand's biggest animal park, but the multi-million dollar company has in the past been criticised for training its creatures to perform for entertainment -- including staging boxing matches with orangutans.

Zoos and animal shows are common in Thailand, where tourists pay to have their pictures taken with tigers or watch elephants play football and perform tricks.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Glass frogs reappear in Bolivia after 18 years

Yahoo – AFP, January 28, 2020

The Bolivian Cochran frog is a species of glass frog native to Bolivia and
notable for its transparent belly (AFP Photo/Oliver QUINTEROS)

La Paz (AFP) - A rare species of frog native to the eastern slopes of the Bolivian Andes has been spotted in the South American country for the first time in 18 years, the investigation team that made the discovery told AFP.

The Bolivian Cochran frog is notable for its transparent belly, leading to its nickname, the "glass frog".

"The rediscovery of this species fills us with a ray of hope for the future of the glass frogs -- one of the most charismatic amphibians in the world -- but also for other species," said investigation team members Rodrigo Aguayo and Oliver Quinteros, from the Natural History Museum "Alcide d'Orbigny", and Rene Carpio of the San Simon University in Cochabamba.

The team came across the frogs on January 8 during a mission to rescue reptiles and amphibians threatened by a hydroelectric project in the Carrasco National Park to the east of Cochabamba, the fourth largest city in Bolivia.

Glass frogs are tiny, measuring only 0.7-0.9 inches (19-24 millimeters) and weighing just 2.5-2.8 ounces (70-80 grams). They can be found in the departments of La Paz (west), Cochabamba, Santa Cruz (east) and Chuquisaca (southeast).

Some frogs' hearts and digestive tracts can be seen through their transparent bellies.

Those found in the Carrasco National Park had a transparent belly with a "white chest. The bones and vocal sac of the males are dark green," the team said.

The three frogs found were taken to the K'ayra amphibian conservation center at the Alcide d'Orbigny museum.

Experts will try to encourage the frogs to breed as part of a conservation strategy.

The K'ayra Center is also home to a pair of Sehuenca water frogs, known as Romeo and Juliet, that scientists have been trying to convince to mate to help preserve their critically endangered species.

Their attempts have so far been in vain.

‘New’ wasp species found during expedition to Amsterdam park

DutchNews, January 28, 2020 

Photo: Jiangli Tan (Northwest University, Xi’an) 

The Vondelpark in Amsterdam is home to a hitherto undiscovered species of wasp, which has now been named after it, the Parool reported this week. 

The Aphaereta vondelparkensis, a type of parasitoid wasp, was discovered last year at the park’s Koeienweide, a small area of grassland, by a team of scientists and local researchers. It was caught in a trap consisting of a jar of rotting chicken which had been buried in the ground. 

The five-day project was set up by Taxon Expeditions, which organises research trips to all corners of the world. The company’s founder Menno Schilthuizen chose the location to explore how biodiverse a spot in the middle of a busy city can be, the paper said. 

Apart from the unexpected presence of the wasp, the team’s findings were ‘spectacular’ in other ways as well, city ecologist Remco Daalder told the paper. ‘In just five days we found over a hundred moths, 85 species of beetle, 21 species of spider and 15 species of snail. It goes to show that the biodiversity in only a few hectares in a city can be huge.’ 

Daalder said Schilthuizen had broadened the idea of biodiversity.’When we say biodiversity we usually think of rabbits or blackbirds. But Schilthuizen looks at the soil and it contains a wealth of species. We are talking to him about exploring other parks to see what creatures we can find there.’

Saturday, January 18, 2020

New cases of cruel slaughterhouse practices revealed: RTL

DutchNews, January 17, 2020

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo:

A number of slaughterhouses in the Netherlands are still causing unnecessary suffering to pigs despite pledges from agriculture minister to curb the practice, RTL Nieuws reports. 

RTL said that between January 2018 and July 2019 several new instances had come to light in which pigs were placed in vats of very hot water while still alive. The broadcaster bases its claim on reports requested from Dutch health and safety watchdog NVWA by pig protection organisation Varkens in Nood. 

In the reports, NVWA inspectors said they had personally witnessed six cases in which live pigs were placed in the vats and tried to swim. They also reported seeing a live pig dumped on a pile of bodies and pigs being beaten by workers. 

The practice of immersing live pigs in vats of hot water first came to light in Belgium in 2017. In 2018 RTL requested Dutch inspection reports and found that as many as 19 Dutch slaughterhouses had been fined 48 times over animal welfare issues, including placing and drowning live pigs in very hot water. 

One particular slaughterhouse had been fined 11 times in the space of six months in 2018, RTL said at the time

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

NVWA inspectors are a permanent fixture at the 21 big slaughterhouses in the Netherlands but smaller ones are only checked at intervals. It is not clear at which of the slaughterhouses the latest cases were found to have occurred. 

Varkens in Nood spokesperson Frederieke Schouten said all slaughterhouses need more supervision. ‘The only solution are cameras at every slaughter line. A slaughterhouse that does not keep to the rules more than once will have to be closed immediately.’

Animal sector calls for ‘fair trade mark’ for dogs

DutchNews, January 17, 2020 

A healthy and happy spaniel.

There is a fair trade mark for cocoa – so why not for pets? 

Animal rights and vets organisations, concerned about the sale of puppies of unknown backgrounds and health problems, have set up a FairDog platform. 

The website, which aims to be up and running within two years, should offer pet buyers puppies with a certified pedigree and reliable details about their health, behaviour and breeding method. 

According to the NOS broadcaster, some 150,000 puppies are sold each year in the Netherlands. It reports that many are cheap, come from Eastern Europe, and could suffer from health problems such as viruses and bacterial infections. 

Piko Fieggen, of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals which is one of the FairDog project’s founders, told the NOS. ‘If you take on a dog, you want a nice dog that you can enjoy without problems. The goal is that in the Netherlands we soon only have healthy and well-socialised dogs.’ 

The initiative will offer a quality stamp for dogs offered on its site, and dogs from abroad will be checked rigorously for infectious diseases. The aim is that it will also offer advice for people who might want to adopt, for instance, a former racehound or stray. 

Linda Wouters, a dog breeder, told the NOS that a screening programme was wise, especially for dogs with a risk of genetic issues. ‘The French Bulldog is a race that often has a lot of problems and often it is simply bred rather than people making an effort to improve the breed,’ she said. 

Vet Mijntje de Beer, who works in Boxtel, warned that a cheaper dog would not come cheap in veterinary bills if it is not healthy. ‘I often see dogs from eastern Europe that just aren’t healthy, which have parasites or specific bacteria or viruses,’ she reportedly said. ‘You can’t take a puppy with diarrhoea to a training course so they quickly get behind in their development.’ 

There are an estimated 1.5 dogs in the Netherlands, and the demand for the pet is thought to be greater than the regulated supply. The FairDog partners have also submitted a report to the Dutch government calling for more co-operation to ensure only ‘well-trained and healthy dogs’ are for sale.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Plea for New Zealand to house fire-threatened koalas

Yahoo – AFP, January 13, 2020

Koalas and their habitats have been hit hard by Australia's devastating bushfires
(AFP Photo/Tristan Kennedy)

Wellington (AFP) - Thousands of people have signed a petition for koalas to be introduced to New Zealand to escape Australia's devastating bush fires, but the proposal has been given the thumbs down by officials.

A group calling itself the Koala Relocation Society said koalas were "functionally extinct in Australia" but could thrive in New Zealand which has nearly 30,000 hectares planted in eucalypts.

There have been estimates of up to a billion koalas and other animals affected by the fires raging across Australia and there are concerns about how the survivors will cope given the loss of vegetation.

As of midday Monday, the online petition had 7,500 signatures, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Television New Zealand that the government's focus was on helping to get the fires under control so koalas "can stay in their natural habitat".

Wellington Zoo animal science manager Simon Eyre believed any assistance should be provided directly to the Australian authorities dealing with the fallout from the fires.

"For us, it would be assisting in Australia and it wouldn't only be koalas, it would be other species affected by the fires as well," he said.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Walker gored by Tauros bull on Brabant nature reserve

DutchNews, January 6, 2020 

A Tauros bull in the Netherlands. Photo: Henri Kerkdijk-Otten via Wikimedia

A man out walking in the Maashorst nature reserve in Brabant has been seriously injured after he was gored by a bull, local broadcaster Omroep Brabant reported on Monday. 

It is not yet clear why the bull attacked, but the man may have gotten too close to the animal in an attempt to photograph him, the broadcaster said. 

Several herds of Tauros cattle and European bison (wisent) live on the reserve as part of an ongoing project to keep grass growth under control and improve biodiversity. 

Last year, two walkers were also attacked by Tauros on the reserve and one broke her ankle as she attempted to flee. 

The Maashorst reserve covers 2,400 hectares and the large mammals roam freely over around one third of it.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Montreal horse-drawn carriages take one last lap

Yahoo – AFP, Anne-Sophie THILL, December 27, 2019

A horse-drawn carriage passes by in a street of Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada
on December 22, 2019.Montreal's horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads
on December 31, ending a long feud between the city and coachmen and a
quaint means of local travel that dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

Montreal (AFP) - To tourists they are a time-honored, charming way of seeing the sights but animal rights activists say Montreal's horse-drawn carriages are a cruel and unnecessary relic of yesteryear.

A longstanding feud between the coachmen and their critics looks set to end however with the unique mode of transport set to disappear from the streets of Canada's second city by year end.

"You can pet him if you want," Nathalie Matte tells onlookers attracted to her hoofed beast with its flowing mane and tail.

In the heart of Montreal's Old Port neighborhood, a half dozen horses and carriages are lined up outside the Notre Dame basilica, waiting for riders.

A group of tourists, tempted by offers of a languid and comfortable ride along cobblestone streets, and a complimentary blanket across their lap on a cold winter's day, snap pictures.

Horse-drawn carriages line up in front of the Notre-Dame basilica in Old-Montreal, 
waiting for tourists in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 22, 2019.Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, ending a long
 feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint means of local travel that dates
back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

The carriages this time of year are decorated with red ribbons and fir branches to mark the Christmas holidays.

"It's a unique way to see the city rather than just taking the bus or the subway," says Mujtaba Ali, 29, who is visiting with family from neighboring Ontario, as he steps off a carriage.

Horses and landaus -- four-wheel, convertible carriages named after the German city of their origin -- are a part of Montreal's cultural heritage, says owner Luc Desparois.

"They've been around as long as Montreal has existed," he told AFP.

The Quebec city was founded by European settlers in the 1600s at the site of an indigenous village inhabited as far back as 4,000 years ago -- although the landau itself was invented in the 18th century

City Hall has ordered an end to the tourist rides out of concern for the horses. In 2018, the council passed a by-law banishing horse-drawn carriages, starting in 2020.

Two horse-drawn carriages pass by in a street of Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada 
on December 22, 2019.Montreal's horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads 
on December 31, ending a long feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint 
means of local travel that dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

The death of a horse in 2018 while pulling a carriage was the last straw for animal rights groups, and prompted mayor Valerie Plante to speak out against the carriage industry, saying it was no longer welcome in Montreal.

The decision will put some 50 coachmen and their horses out of work.

Animal welfare

"It is a tradition that has long been appreciated but today I think it is time to move on," said Jean-François Parenteau, the city's pointman in the case.

The city, he said, must "show concern for the animals."

His comments drew praise from Galahad, a Quebec association for the protection of horses, which lobbied for the ban. Its founder Chamie Angie Cadorette said the horses faced tough working conditions.

"It is not just an hour a day. It is eight hours a day, going up and down roads in traffic," she said, accusing horse owners of neglect.

"They say they are mistreated. Prove it," retorts Desparois, who recently lost a legal challenge to the ban.

A coachwoman puts a cover on her horse while waiting for tourists in freezing 
temperatures in Old Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 22, 2019.Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, ending a 
long feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint means of local travel 
that dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

City Hall, under pressure from activists, had long sought to ban the carriages, but until now had managed only incremental steps, such as requiring horses be taken off the road when summer temperatures soared.

That did not satisfy animal rights groups.

In April, to prevent out-of-work horses from ending up at slaughterhouses, the city said it would pay the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Can$1,000 (US$760) for each horse offered a refuge or adoptive family.

As of December 16, only one application to join the program had been made.

The offer is a "total insult" for Desparois, owner of the Lucky Luc stable, which has a total of 15 horses and employs 15 coachmen.

"You could offer me $10,000 tomorrow morning and I would not sell them to you," he said, adding that after 34 years in the business his animals mean more to him than money could.

After the ban comes into effect, the "king of horse-drawn carriages" -- as local media has dubbed him -- plans to take his horses to other nearby communities or maybe even to Ottawa.

Coachwoman Nathalie Matte, 52, who's about to lose her job after Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, waits for 
passengers in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on December 22, 2019.Montreal's 
horse-drawn carriages will be taken off the roads on December 31, ending a long 
feud between the city and coachmen and a quaint means of local travel that 
dates back to the 1600s. (AFP Photo/Eric THOMAS)

Neither option, he says, will be as profitable as rides in the Old Port, where he charges Can$53 per half hour ride or Can$85 for an hour with an average of two to seven rides per day.

Older coachmen will simply take early retirement. Others will likely leave the profession.

"I won't have a choice but to quit. I won't have the means to move to Ottawa," said Nathalie Matte, 52, a coachwoman who plans to return to a previous job as a groom.

City Hall, meanwhile, is working on a retraining program to help coachmen transition to other tourist jobs.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Indonesia hits European Union with WTO lawsuit over palm oil

Yahoo – AFP, December 16, 2019

Indonesia has accused the European Union of discrimination against its palm
oil exports (AFP Photo/Mohd RASFAN)

Indonesia has filed a World Trade Organization lawsuit against the European Union over plans to phase out palm oil-based biofuel for cars, the trade ministry said.

The action could escalate a trade dispute between Indonesia -- the world's top palm oil producer - and the EU, which plans to end its use of biofuels by 2030, citing concerns over widespread deforestation caused by the sector.

The EU earlier imposed duties on imports of subsidised biodiesel from Indonesia saying it was needed to level the playing field for its producers.

In response to what it called "discriminative" policies against its key palm oil exports, Indonesia said it filed a complaint with the WTO last week.

"Indonesia officially sent a request for consultation on December 9, 2019 to the EU as the initial step for the lawsuit," Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said in a statement Sunday.

Neighbouring Malaysia, the world's second-biggest palm oil producer, has also threatened WTO action against the EU.

Teresa Kok, the minister overseeing Malaysia's palm oil sector, told AFP on Monday that she will head to Europe in March, and a challenge will not be filed until after then.

She said she wanted to try to convince European officials to change course on her trip.

"I want to give my trip a chance and see whether I can avoid filing the case at the WTO," she added.

Palm oil is the world's most widely used vegetable oil and a key ingredient in a wide range of products from food to cosmetics.

But environmentalists say it drives deforestation, with huge swathes of Southeast Asian rainforest logged in recent decades to make way for palm plantations.

Iman Pambagyo, Indonesia's director general for international trade negotiations, said Jakarta had previously tried other bilateral avenues to reach an agreement, without success.

"We need to assert Indonesia's stance on EU policy," Pambagyo said, referring to the WTO complaint, and adding that he hoped for a "best solution".

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Golden jackal caught on camera in Drenthe, third sighting in three years

DutchNews, December 6, 2019 

A golden jackal. Photo: tontantravel via Wikimedia Commons

A golden jackal has been spotted in Drenthe, a first for the province, local broadcaster RTV Drenthe reports. The animal was photographed by chance when it walked past a wild life camera in a undisclosed location. 

The sighting dates from November 22 but has only now been made public to prevent people from going out and trying to find the notoriously shy animal. 

There are only two other reported sightings of the jackal in the Netherlands – in 2016 and 2017 two of the animals were spotted in the Veluwe nature reserve. The camera that caught the jackal in Drenthe was part of a project by the Zoogdierenvereniging Nederland to count mammals such as otters, beavers and pine marten. 

‘When I saw the pictures on my camera I was flabbergasted, volunteer Cindy de Jonge-Stegink told the broadcaster. De Jonge-Stegink thought at first she was looking at a wolf but was put right by Forest Commission warden Aaldrik Pot. ‘It was relatively small, with pointy ears and snout’, he said. 

Jackals have been making their way to northern Europe from eastern Europe for a number of years now and have been spotted in Germany and Denmark as well. There have been no signs the animals have actually settled there. 


The organisation’s wolf expert Glenn Lelieveld said jackals are shy and only need a small habitat of around four square kilometres. ‘It might well be that the jackal has been walking around in Drenthe for quite a long time. But it may have crossed the border by now. They can walk hundreds of kilometres in search of a new area to settle in and their tracks are very difficult to see.’ 

Jackals are omnivores and it has been suggested that if jackals were to settle here they could help reduce the deer population in a natural way. 

Jackals are not a danger to humans. ‘If you leave them alone they will leave you alone,’ Lelieveld told RTV Drenthe.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Rescued tigers leave Poland for Spain

Yahoo – AFP, December 1, 2019

The tigers (including Gogh pictured at the Poznan zoo) were found in late October
emaciated and dehydrated in the back of a truck taking them from Italy to a zoo
in Russia's Dagestan Republic (AFP Photo/Wojtek RADWANSKI)

Warsaw (AFP) - Five of nine tigers that narrowly survived a gruelling journey across Europe set off on Saturday for their new home at a Spanish animal refuge after weeks of recovery at a Polish zoo.

"The tigers have left. We're very happy that in just 24 to 30 hours they will arrive," said Malgorzata Chodyla, spokeswoman for the zoo in Poznan, western Poland.

Their destination is the Primadomus Wildlife Refuge in the southeastern Spanish town of Villena.

Chodyla said there was a brief scare, as two of the tigers did not want to sleep, despite the sedatives they were given.

"When the whole team has to enter the enclosure to carry out the tiger and it suddenly lifts its head up, those are some tense moments. But everything happened safely," she told AFP.

She added that the vehicle had heating and the tigers had enough room to switch positions.

In late October, Polish border authorities found 10 emaciated and dehydrated big cats in the back of a truck taking them from Italy to a zoo in Russia's Dagestan Republic.

Polish prosecutors charged two Italian truck drivers and a Russian man believed to have organised the journey with animal abuse after the truck got stuck for days on Poland's border with Belarus.

Prosecutors also charged a Polish border service veterinarian for failing to properly examine the tigers when they first arrived at the Koroszczyn crossing, where one of them died.

The surviving nine tigers were taken to two Polish zoos.

The Poznan zoo described them as "emaciated, dehydrated, with sunken eyes, excrement stuck to their fur, urine burns, in a total state of stress, without the will or desire to live" when they were first discovered.

According to animal rights organisations, there are only between 3,200 and 3,900 tigers in the wild worldwide.

Another 7,000 are held in captivity, mainly in Asia.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Online fundraiser for bushfire-hit koalas tops Aus$1 mn

Yahoo – AFP, November 21, 2019

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital near Sydney has raised more than
Aus$1 million on GoFundMe to help bushfire-hit koalas (AFP Photo/SAEED KHAN)

Sydney (AFP) - An online fundraiser for koalas injured in devastating bushfires topped Aus$1 million ($680,000) on Thursday, making it Australia's biggest campaign on the GoFundMe platform this year.

Deadly bushfires have ravaged vast swathes of eastern Australia, and wildlife carers estimate the blazes have killed hundreds of koalas this month in New South Wales state alone.

A crowdfunding page set up by the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to provide automatic water drinking stations for wild koalas soared past Aus$1 million, with donations from more than 20,000 people from countries including the United States, France and England.

The wildlife charity's "Help Thirsty Koalas Devastated by Recent Fires" drive, which had an initial goal of just Aus$25,000, got more donations than any other campaign in Australia this year, GoFundMe said, and is the second-biggest since the platform launched Down Under in 2016.

It is one of 700 bushfire-related fundraisers launched on the platform in the past 10 days, which to date have raised a combined total of Aus$2 million.

An online fundraiser for koalas injured in Australia's devastating bushfires
tops Aus$1 million ($680,000)

The next-biggest has raised Aus$60,000 to support firefighters and people impacted by the blazes, which have killed six people, razed hundreds of homes and scorched about 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of land since October.

The koala hospital, some four hours north of Sydney, has rescued 31 koalas from the scorched bush in recent weeks, and said it had been "overwhelmed by the kindness, good wishes and support from the Australian and international community".

It plans to use the excess funds to deliver koala drinking stations to other parts of the state, purchase a water-carrying vehicle to replenish the stations, and to establish a koala breeding programme.

With more than 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres) of land scorched in the state, the fires have also destroyed large tracts of the tree-dwelling marsupial's habitat.

A so-called "Koala Ark" would be built for recovering koalas, the hospital said, hoping they will eventually breed and be returned to the wild.