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)
Loading...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Indonesia Ratifies Asean Haze Agreement

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Sep 16, 2014

The Marina Bay Sands casino and resort is pictured on a hazy day in
Singapore June 18, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Edgar Su)

Jakarta. The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in west of the country, choking neighboring Singapore with hazardous smog.

Officials in Singapore and Malaysia have responded furiously to Indonesian forest fires, which have intensified and become more frequent in recent years.

Singapore’s air pollution rose to unhealthy levels on Monday as the Indonesian government failed to control fires in Sumatra island’s vast tracts of tropical forest.

The parliament’s decision has been passed into law.

The agreement obliges the government to strengthen its policies on forest fires and haze, actively participate in regional decision-making on the issue and dedicate more resources to the problem, regionally and domestically.

Indonesia signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution 12 years ago and has been under increasing pressure to ratify the document, beginning deliberations in earnest in January.

“Indonesia has already carried out operations for the prevention, mitigation of forest fires and haze, and recovery activities, at the national level,” the House said in a statement.

“But, to handle cross-border pollution, Indonesia and other ASEAN nations recognize that prevention and mitigation need to be done together,” it said.

While Singapore and Malaysia are smothered in haze from Indonesian forests every year, fires in June last year caused the region’s worst pollution crisis in a decade, renewing calls for action in the archipelago.

Authorities have said most of the fires are deliberately lit to clear land for commercial plantations, such as paper and palm oil, and have arrested people caught in the act.

The June 2013 haze crisis sparked a diplomatic row with Indonesia claiming Malaysian and Singaporean companies with plantations on Sumatra and Indonesian Borneo were among those starting the fires.

Singapore last month passed a bill that gives the government powers to fine companies that cause or contribute to haze up to Sg$2 million ($1.6 million), regardless of whether they have an office in Singapore.

Agence France-Presse

South African charity refunds Dutch rhino poaching prevention cash

DutchNews.nl, Monday 15 September 2014

(NOS)
A South African charity has refunded €1.5m to the Dutch Postcode Lottery after admitting its campaign to inpregnate rhino horns with poison and dye to make them unpopular with poachers is not working.

Animal protection groups told the NRC earlier this year they had doubts about the effectiveness of the project.

'We were naive and too enthusiastic in our belief that horn infusion would help,' Peace Parks Foundation chairman and billionaire Johann Rupert told the Sunday Times. 'It was a mistake, not misrepresentation.'

The Postcode Lottery has confirmed the repayment and has placed the money in a different account until there is more clarity about what methods do work, the NRC says.

The Postcode Lottery gave €14.4m to the foundation in February. During a gala celebration, prime minister Mark Rutte described horn infusion as the 'key' to combating rhino poaching.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bangladesh meet begins to save endangered tigers

Yahoo – AFP, 14 Sep 2014

The wild tiger population has declined to just 3,200 in 2010 from 100,000 a 
century ago, according to wildlife conservationists (AFP Photo)

Dhaka (AFP) - Some 140 tiger experts and government officials from 20 countries met in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Sunday to review progress towards an ambitious goal of doubling their number in the wild by 2022.

The nations, including the 13 where tigers are still found in the wild, had vowed at a landmark meeting in 2010 in the Russian city of St Petersburg to double the population of critically endangered wild tigers.

Experts say the number declined to as few as 3,200 in 2010 from 100,000 only a century ago. But since then, poaching has reached critical levels and has emerged as the greatest threat to wild tigers.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina 
addresses the Global Tiger Recovery
Programme (GTRP) in Dhaka, on Sep 14, 
2014 (AFP Photo)
Statistics from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, show that a minimum of 1,590 tigers were seized between January 2000 and April 2014. That represents an average of two per week.

Officials, however, listed some progress in the four years since the St Petersburg summit, including a rise in the wild tiger population in major "tiger range" nations -- countries where the big cats are found in the wild.

"There has been some increase in the number of tigers in significant countries such as India, Nepal and Russia," said Andrey Kushlin, programme manager of the Global Tiger Initiative.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina opened the conference, saying efforts to conserve the wild cats have reached a "turning point".

But her own government has been under fire from experts at home and abroad for setting up a giant coal-fired power plant on the edge of the Sundarbans mangrove forests, home to one of the largest tiger populations.

Local experts fear the 1,320-megawatt power plant now being built will pollute the water of the world's largest mangrove forest, jeopardising its delicate biodiversity and threatening the tiger population.

Bangladesh says some 440 Bengal tigers live in its part of the Sundarbans -- a figure disputed by local experts who say the number will be less than 200.

Kushlin said at the conference the 13 range nations are expected to agree by 2016 to provide an accurate census of their wild tiger populations.

"We need accurate figures so that we know where we stand," said Kushlin, who also works for the World Bank.

The 13 tiger range countries are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has listed the tiger as critically endangered. Poaching, encroachment on its habitat and the illegal wildlife trade are blamed for the declining number.

The conference will end Tuesday with the adoption of a Dhaka Declaration, which will set actions for the remaining eight years of the goal.

Related Article:


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mount Lokon Erupts in North Sulawesi

Jakarta Globe, SP/Rully Satriadi, Sep 13, 2014

Photo of erupting Mount Lokon via BeritaSatu.

Jakarta. Mount Lokon erupted on Saturday early morning in North Sulawesi, sending a column of  ash 600 meters into the air and prompting local authorities to set up an exclusion zone around the volcano.

“The eruption must be monitored closely because… the ash fell on the eastern part of the mountain, Mandolang, Tombariri and East Tombariri district in Minahasa, and Manado has also been affected,” local resident Feri Rismawan said on Saturday.

In Malalayang, a subdistrict of the provincial capital of Manado, people wore facemasks to protect themselves from the respiratory effects of the ash.

Minahasa district head, Jantje Sajow, said the government had advised people not to venture outside without a mask. The local disaster management agency followed this up by distributing masks free of charge, while the local government set up a 2.5-kilometer radius around the crater which local people were not allowed to cross.

The 1,580-meter Mount Lokon is one of Indonesia’s more active volcanos. It erupted in 1991, killing a Swiss tourist.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Two More Elephants Found Dead in Aceh, Police Suspect Poachers

Jakarta Globe, Nurdin Hasan, Sep 08, 2014

A dead Sumatran elephant with its tusks removed was found in Aceh
Jaya district. (Antara Photo/Anwar)

Banda Aceh. Police in Aceh are on the hunt for suspected poachers after two more elephants were found dead with their tusks brutally removed.

The grisly find at a palm oil plantation in East Aceh district on Sunday, the same day an elephant was found dead in Aceh Jaya district, brings the total number of elephants found dead in the province this year to six.

The Aceh Jaya elephant was also found with its tusks removed.

Aceh Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Gustav Leo said officers were on the site where the two dead animals were found by residents, about 200 meters apart, at a plantation in Jambo Reuhat village, Banda Alam subdistrict.

Gustav said the police strongly suspected the elephants were killed for their tusks.

“Looking at the horrible condition of the elephants and the fact that their tusks are missing, this strongly suggests they were intentionally killed,” Gustav said.

Idris, a resident, said the elephants seemed to have been shot before their tusks were removed.

“There were gunshot wounds in the elephants’ necks,” Idrus said.

The elephants were found some eight kilometers from the nearest village.

Gustav said Aceh Police were committed to solving the case, adding that in April officers had to release several suspected poachers because of a lack of evidence of their involvement in the killing of an elephant in Teupin Panah village, in Aceh Besar district.

Genman Suhefti Hasibuan, head of the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said on Sunday that only about 450 to 500 elephants still live in Aceh.

Elephant habitats have increasingly come under threat in the province, where enormous swaths of land are being cleared for industrial use. Villagers cite elephants’ encroachment on plantation areas as an aggravating factor in often violent responses.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

UN’s Ban Ki-Moon Meets Young Eco-Warriors at a Bali School

A green school makes the effort in nurturing its students' potential in becoming green leaders

Jakarta Globe, Nadia Bintoro, Sep 07, 2014

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon greets young students in Sibang Kaja,
Bali on Aug. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Green School Bali)

Putting theoretical discourse into real action, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Green School in Sibang Kaja, Bali, on Aug. 28, to learn about and witness firsthand sustainable education from a group of future leaders.

Accompanied by several significant figures in the political movement for climate change, including Norwegian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morten Hoglund; Ambassador of Norway to Indonesia Stig Traavik; founder of the Green School Bali, John A. Hardy; and head of school John Stewart.

Ban and the delegation were warmly welcomed by 412 students of Green School, from pre-kindergarten to high-school level.

Equally excited to salute the secretary general on stage was Green School’s own deputy secretary general of the campus’ Model United Nations Club, Clover Horan.

The 10th grader leads the Green School’s own version of the UN, which aims to expand students’ knowledge on international issues and policy making.

Together with Ban, the delegation took the stage to give their remarks on the importance of young leaders to create a more sustainable future ahead.

In his opening speech, the UN secretary general shared his amazement over Green School’s commitment in molding the younger generation into future green leader of the world.

“This is the most unique and impressive school I have ever visited. Thank you very much for your strong commitment and vision to [making] this world green,” Ban said.

Recognizing the alarming threat climate change poses on the development and betterment of the world’s poorest communities, Ban noted that around today’s world leaders have had “though choices to make,” especially in the months leading up to the Sept. 1-4 Climate Summit and its post-2015 Development Agenda.

Onlookers as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speaks at the school
on Aug. 28, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Nadia Bintoro)

He encouraged his young audience to take an active part in the world’s ongoing efforts to combat climate change by developing into global citizens.

“Tomorrow you are going to be [our] leaders. And today, we need to be together working very hard to make the world of tomorrow much better for all its people,” Ban appealed to the crowd of enthusiastic students.

He especially congratulated “Bye Bye Plastic Bag,” an initiative led by Green School students Isabel and Melati Wijsen, which aims to collect one million signatures to ban the use of plastic bags in Bali. Ban said he hopes children all over the world could have the drive and passion to start a similar campaign.

During his visit, the secretary general also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Green School Bali, the National Redd+ Agency and the United Nations Office for Redd+ Coordination in Indonesia (UNorcid).

The joint endeavor, called “Green Schools for Sustainable Development,” details a collaborative framework between the three parties involved for the implementation of sustainable development in Indonesia’s schools and other educational institutions.

The MOU will serve as a guide for facilitation and development of green schools across Indonesia.

The three signatories are committed to recruiting one million Green Youth Ambassadors in schools across the archipelago by 2017.

“The Green School is an outstanding proof of concept. The next step is to achieve proof of scale. Supporting [the development] of green schools and strengthening environmentally sensitive educational curricula are two of the ten imperative actions of the National Redd+ Agency in 2014,” said Heru Prasetyo, head of the Indonesian National Redd+ Agency (BP Redd+).

The international delegation’s visit continued with a tour around Green School, showcasing several of the institution’s efforts to promote sustainable living and green education.

The event came to an end with the secretary general and his wife releasing two Bali starlings, which were bred by the Begawan Foundation — located within the school’s premises — to limit the risk of the species’s extinction.

As the magnificent white birds soared into the blue Bali sky, so did the hopes of those in attendance that day, for a greener and better future.

UN Secretary General Ban was in Bali on Aug. 28-29 for the Alliance of Civilizations’ Sixth Global Forum, which this year carried the theme of “Unity in Diversity: Celebrating Diversity for Common and Shared Values.”

Renowned conservationist Jane Goodall was the star of a recent conference
in Bali on sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of Green School)

Related Article:


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Council chiefs call for a ban on wild animals in circuses

DutchNews.nl, Wednesday 03 September 2014

(NOS/ANP)
Executives from 24 Dutch councils, including Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, are urging the economic affairs ministry to ban circuses from using wild animals.

The council officials have written to junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma urging her to bring in a ban as soon as possible, in line with the coalition agreement of 2012.

Councils are not currently able to ban circuses which have wild animals from their jurisdiction and need national legislation to make it possible.

Wild animals in circuses have ‘little room to live in, spend a large part of the day in a cage or chained up… Entertainment involving animals gives the audience, children in particular, a bad example about how to treat animals,’ news agency ANP quotes the letter as saying.

The letter was drawn up by Joost Eerdmans who has animal welfare in his portfolio in Rotterdam. Other signatories come from Almelo, Gouda, Haarlem and Schiedam.

Related Articles:



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tiger Dies After Rescue From Indonesian ‘Death Zoo’

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Sep 02, 2014

In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013, an ailing critically endangered Sumatran
 tiger named Melani is fed from an enclosure at the Surabaya Zoo. The emaciated
Sumatran tiger, whose plight drew attention to the horrific conditions at an Indonesian
zoo, has died a year after being rescued from the centre where hundreds of animals have
perished, an official said on Sept. 2, 2014. (AFP Photo/Juni Kriswanto)

Jakarta. An emaciated Sumatran tiger, whose plight highlighted horrific conditions at an Indonesian zoo, has died a year after being rescued from the center where hundreds of animals have perished, an official said on Tuesday.

Pictures of painfully thin tigress Melani in an overgrown enclosure, with her fur matted and dull, caused shock when they were published last year and increased calls for action to be taken against Surabaya zoo.

It has been dubbed the “death zoo” as so many animals have died there prematurely in recent years owning to neglect, including several orangutans, a tiger and a giraffe.

After the pictures of Melani were published and officials warned the critically endangered tiger was on the brink of death, she was taken from the zoo to a safari park south of the capital Jakarta in July last year.

She was suffering from a serious digestive disorder after being fed tainted meat at the zoo on the main island of Java.

The 16-year-old was placed in a special enclosure with a vet assigned to care for her.

But more than a year of specialist care was not enough to save her, and she died in her sleep last month, Tony Sumampau, chief of Indonesia’s zoo association, told AFP.

The zoo association originally wanted to put her down in September last year but they changed their minds after a protest by activists.

“But she was truly suffering. You could see it in her face. … It was pitiful,” Sumampau said.

There are estimated to be only several hundred Sumatran tigers left in the wild.

Agence France-Presse

Surabaya Zoo, which is home to almost 3,000 animals, has come under fire
 for its gross negligence and mistreatment. (Photo courtesy of Jakarta Animal
Aid Network).

Related Articles:



Sunday, August 31, 2014

The World's Saddest Cat Is Up For Adoption (Video)

Opposing Views, Dominic Kelly, Sat, August 30, 2014

A Washington animal adoption center is actively trying to find a new home for Tucker, the world’s saddest cat.

Tucker has a number of genetic abnormalities that have caused various health issues, including thin skin, easy bruising, and chronic shedding that requires her to wear a protective shirt. Due to her genetic issues, Tucker has a droopy face, and as a result, she’s become known as the “world’s saddest cat.”

“Tucker enjoys sitting on laps and playing with string toys!” said the adoption center Purrfect Pals, according to Metro. “She also loves to be pet under the chin and behind the ears and is great with children.”


Purrfect Pals posted information about Tucker on their website, and since, people from all over the world have expressed interest in adopting the one-year-old feline.

Although Tucker looks incredibly sad all the time, the center says that she is actually really loveable.

Sources: Metro, Gawker, NY Daily News

Heroic pit bull saves 8-year-old boy from deadly bee attack by dragging him to safety

Mirror, Kara O'Neill, Aug 31, 2014

The dog pulled the boy to safety after the swarm of stinging insects were released into a group of unsuspecting kids


A pit bull saved an eight-year-old boy from a deadly bee attack by dragging him to safety by his trouser leg.

Jesse-Cole Shaver, from Oregon, was playing with a group of 10 friends in a local wood behind his house when one of the kids stepped on a rotten log, unleashing a swarm of bees.

The children were at the bottom of a steep embankment near their apartment building on Tuesday evening when the bees were released, stinging Jesse at least 24 times.

Most of the children managed to scramble back up the hill away from danger but Jesse was unable to get a secure footing.

Hero: Pit bull Hades saves Jesse-Cole from bee attack

But luckily, the boy's pit bull, Hades, was on hand to help and grabbed his trouser leg in order to pull him up the steep incline.

After the attack, Jesse told KPTV in Oregon: "Hades saw me and came and she dragged me up to the grass and then stopped and let me crawl on her back and then took me to mom."

Jesse's older sister, Jasmine Jones, was stung five times in what, for her, could have been a fatal attack.

The 14-year-old is allergic to bee stings and had to have two injections from an EpiPen to prevent her body from swelling.

The frightened mother, who did not wish to be named, said: "A couple of these kids could have got really sick or died."

Stung: Jesse and his sister Jasmine were taken to hospital after the bee attack

Both children were taken to Williamette Falls Hospital for treatment after the attack where doctors were still attempting to remove bee stings from the children's hair.

They were released from the hospital a few hours later. Hades was also stung but is also now fine.

Jesse's mom said that her son couldn't wait to get home and thank his dog for saving him.

The children have vowed never to go back down to the embankment again.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dramatic Papua New Guinea volcano quietens

Yahoo – AFP, 30 Aug 2014

Mount Tavurvur erupting in eastern Papua New Guinea, Aug 29 2014.
(AFP Photo: Oliver Bluett)

A volcano which has erupted in Papua New Guinea was Saturday spewing fragments from its crater and rumbling loudly, but its activity appeared to be subsiding, a seismologist said.

Mount Tavurvur, which destroyed the town of Rabaul when it erupted simultaneously with nearby Mount Vulcan in 1994, came to life again early Friday, with rocks and ash erupting from its centre.

Security officials man a check-point to alert 
residents following the eruption of Mount 
Tavurvur in eastern Papua New Guinea on 
August 30, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ness Kerton)
The eruptions on the remote island of New Britain in eastern PNG thrust plumes of ash into the air, prompting local evacuations and international flights to modify their routes.

"At the moment we are getting only discrete explosions," Jonathan Kuduon, a senior seismologist at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory, told AFP.

"The activity has subsided," he said, adding that the fragments were reaching less than 200 metres (600 feet) above the crater.

"These small explosions are usually accompanied by noise."

So far there have been no reports of injuries or damage, but the volcano continued to boom and spew lava overnight and parts of Rabaul are blanketed in ash and pumice stone.

Kuduon said Mount Tavurvur remained a concern, saying officials were worried about the amount of ash in parts of Rabaul, but the kind of eruption -- Strombolian (low-level) -- meant it could subside quickly.

"I think from Tavurvur you can expect small eruptions to go on yet. You can still expect eruptions from that volcano but not from Vulcan," he said.

"Looking at past eruptions, I think the eruptions are getting less and less. Which simply means that the volcano is dying out."

The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in the northern Australian city of Darwin said it was keeping a close eye on the situation after Friday's eruption which saw ash reach 60,000 feet (18,000 metres) which is flight level.

"The last two big eruptions at Rabaul, you've had the Tavurvur eruptions first and then one in a fairly close time period you've had Vulcan erupt," official Cyndee Seals told AFP.

But Kuduon said he was not overly concerned about Mount Vulcan erupting.

Youths wearing masks plays among ash
 spewed after the eruption of Mount 
Tavurvur in eastern Papua New Guinea on
August 30, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ness Kerton)
This crater rumbled to life with Tavurvur in 1994, with the eruptions destroying much of Rabaul, with falling ash causing buildings to collapse. While loss of life was minimal, looters ransacked the evacuated town.

"In 1994 you had eruptions from Vulcan that went (on) for nearly two weeks and then the volcano just shut of," Kuduon said.

The seismologist said the people of Rabaul were now waiting for the eruptions from the 688-metre (2,270-foot) Tavurvur crater to stop completely.

"We need to go back to our normal life. So long as we have eruptions going it will affect our normal life. We only wish that the volcano can go back to sleep now," he said.

PNG sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire" where high volcanic and seismic activity is the norm.

The Post-Courier reported that Rabaul port was temporarily closed Friday as a precautionary measure.

Leave that iguana in the jungle, expert tells Costa Rica

Yahoo – AFP, Oscar Nunez, 30 Aug 2014

A nurse at the Simon Bolivar Zoo's veterinary surgery gives a medicine to a
squirrel in San Jose on August 28, 2014, Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)

San Jose (Costa Rica) (AFP) - Thousands of parrots, monkeys, iguanas, toucans, turtles and other rainforest animals are kept as exotic pets in Costa Rica, a practice putting some species at risk, according to experts.

The Central American country, famous for its rich biodiversity, won plaudits from conservationists two years ago for banning sport hunting in a pioneering move to protect wild animals.

A macaw eats at the Simon Bolivar Zoo's
 veterinary surgery, in San Jose on August 28,
 2014, Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)
But scientists and activists -- gathered this week for the country's first-ever conference on the issue of captive wildlife -- say tropical animals face another major threat in Costa Ricans' long-time love of exotic pets.

"There are no precise figures, but we know it's a problem of great magnitude, because a study by the environment ministry found that 25 percent of households have a parrot or a parakeet as a pet," said Andrea Aguilar of the Instituto Asis, a key figure behind the conference.

That would add up to nearly 400,000 exotic birds in cages, she said.

Aguilar's institute runs a shelter for wild animals in La Fortuna de San Carlos, a lush region in northern Costa Rica that draws large numbers of foreign tourists with its famous wildlife and tropical vegetation.

The shelter takes in wild animals kept as pets that fall sick or are wounded by people, cars or electric shocks.

It gives them veterinary care and, when possible, prepares them for an eventual return to the wild.

Cindy Rivera, a nurse at the Simon Bolivar 
Zoo's veterinary surgery, weighs a turtle
 in San Jose on August 28, 2014 Costa
Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)
"Costa Rican law forbids keeping wild species as pets, but the law isn't enough because there's a very deep-rooted custom. People don't realize that wild animals are not and cannot be pets," Aguilar told AFP in an interview ahead of the First Congress on Wildlife Rescue, Recovery and Freedom in San Jose.

She said people have a range of reasons for keeping pets such as white-faced capuchin monkeys, green iguanas or songbirds. They are drawn to the animals' beauty, they want to entertain their children or they feel it brings them social status.

But the underlying problem is that people are largely ignorant of the animals' diets, growth, life span, habitat, diseases and behavior.

"A family falls in love with a baby white-faced capuchin because it's funny and affectionate, but when it reaches two years old its behavior will change. It will become aggressive, bite and pull people's hair. That's when it becomes a problem at home," she said.

Such animals often end up being mistreated or killed, or, with luck, in a shelter, she said.

By that point returning them to their native environment is difficult. They lack survival skills and are unlikely to be accepted by other members of their species.

Traffic in exotic animals

The international traffic in exotic animals exacerbates the problem.

A Spider Monkey sits in an enclosure at the
 Simon Bolivar Zoo in San Jose, Costa Rica 
on July 28, 2013 (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal)
The illegal $20-billion-a-year trade has taken a major toll on Costa Rica's biodiversity, as animals are captured and sold abroad, Aguilar said.

One of the goals of the three-day conference is to prod the Costa Rican government to expand environmental education programs for locals, foreign visitors and ecotourism operators.

"It's important to make people understand that wild animals have to live in the forest, because they have different needs from domesticated animals," said Aguilar.

Protecting the environment is also key for the Costa Rican economy, which depends heavily on tourism and attracted 2.4 million visitors last year -- many of them drawn by the country's tropical wildlife and forests.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pandering to the crowd: panda accused of faking pregnancy in bun fraud case

Ai Hin showed all the signs she was expecting but only wanted extra food and the trappings of celebrity, say keepers

theguardian.com, AFP, Beijing, Thursday 28 August 2014

Giant panda Ai Hin put on a ‘phantom pregnancy’, possibly because she wanted
special treatment, her Chinese keepers say. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Hopes that tiny panda paws would be seen in the world’s first live-broadcast cub delivery have been dashed after Chinese experts suggested the “mother” may have been focusing more on extra bun rations than giving birth.

The slated star of the show, giant panda Ai Hin, had shown signs of pregnancy at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Centre, according to state news agency Xinhua.

A live broadcast of the event was planned but Xinhua said her “behaviours and physiological indexes returned to normal”, citing experts saying she experienced a “phantom pregnancy”.

The breeding centre, in China’s south-western province of Sichuan, commonly moves pandas that are thought to be pregnant into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care.

“They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life,” Wu Kongju, an expert at the base told Xinhua.

Phantom pregnancy is said to be common among the endangered animals. Many continued to display pregnant behaviour after noticing the difference in treatment they received, Xinhua said.

Six-year-old Ai Hin showed reduced appetite, less mobility and a surge in hormones when her “pregnancy” was first detected, the news agency said, before further observations concluded it was fake.

The giant panda’s natural habitat is in the mountainous south-west of China. But they have a notoriously low reproductive rate and are under pressure from factors such as habitat loss.

China has about 1,600 pandas living in the wild and another 300 held in captivity.

“Only 24% of females in captivity give birth, posing a serious threat to the survival of the species,” Xinhua said.

Giant wasps' nest found growing on single bed in spare bedroom

Nest in Winchester home measured 3ft x 1.5ft and housed 5,000 wasps, which had chewed through mattress and pillows to build it

theguardian.com, Agency, Wednesday 27 August 2014

Giant wasps' nest found in Winchester home. Pest controller John Birkett said: 'In 45
 years I have never seen anything like it.' Photograph: John Birkett/Longwood
Services Pest Control

A man who went into a rarely-used spare room in his mother's home was shocked to discover that 5,000 wasps had made a giant nest in the bed.

The nest, 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep, was still expanding and the insects had chewed through the mattress and pillows to build it.

When pest controller John Birkett was called to the scene he realised it had been growing for several months. His client, who lives alone in the five-bedroom house in Winchester, Hampshire, had not been in the spare bedroom for months. When her son opened the door and discovered the nest in the single bed he realised a window had been left open the whole time.

Birkett, of Longwood Services, said: "We got a call as we normally do … but a bedroom – I thought that was unusual. I opened the door and I just couldn't believe it. The pillow was covered in this 3ft wasps' nest and the workers were still busy building the nest.

"In 45 years I have never seen anything like it. There must have been 5,000 wasps. It's amazing that the woman didn't realise she was living with them.

"I got dressed up like a spaceman and tried to destroy as many as I could with the workers flying around the room. In that nest there must have been up to 700 queen wasps."

He said the only nest he had previously found in a room was about the size of a tennis ball.

Birkett finally managed to clear the area using a spray to kill the wasps. He was even able to rescue the beloved blanket on the bed.

Though he got the job done, Birkett was saddened at the death of so many wasps. "It was a work of art and they had worked so hard, but she looked at it and said, 'No, no, no - you've got to get rid of it.' If they did that in three-and-a-half months, that's amazing, isn't it? They're just little things."

Indian woman kills leopard with sickle after it attacks her

Kamla Devi, 56, says she battled with the animal for half an hour after it attacked her while she was tending her fields

theguardian.com, Agence France-Presse in Dehradun, Wednesday 27 August 2014

Kamla Devi suffered several injuries after she fought off a leopard. Photograph: Europics

A 56-year-old Indian woman is recovering in hospital after killing a leopard that attacked her, as she tended her fields armed only with a sickle.

The woman told Indian broadcaster CNN-IBN that she battled with the leopard for half an hour on Sunday morning before finally delivering a killer blow with her sickle.

"The leopard lunged at me many times and we fought for a long time," she told the channel from her hospital bed in the northern state of Uttarakhand, her arms bandaged and a big scar across her right cheek.

"I got hold of my sickle and fought with it. That's when the leopard was killed," said the woman, named as Kamla Devi.

Devi, who was widowed a few years ago, told the Hindustan Times she was terrified when the leopard attacked, but was determined not to succumb.

"I gathered my courage to fight back. I promised myself that this is not my last day here," she told the paper.

She told AFP that she grabbed the ear of the attacking leopard with her right hand and kept swinging at the animal with the sickle in her left. Hearing Devi's screams for help, villagers in the Rudraprayag district came running but the leopard was dead by the time they reached her, a witness, Jagdish Singh, said.

Dr Rakesh Rawat said Devi's injuries, which include fractured hands and deep cuts on her body, were not life threatening and she was recovering.

Leopard attacks are relatively common in rural areas of India, although it is rare for the leopard to come off worse. In 2009 a nine-year-old boy in the same state fought off a leopard that had attacked his sister.

The animals are increasingly venturing into populated areas as their habitat becomes depleted. Video footage from Mumbai last year showed a leopard creeping into an apartment block complex and snatching a small dog.

Conservation group WWF called for better management of forests and other habitats for India's leopard population, which numbered 1,150 in a 2011 census.



Herd mentality: 'Sheepdog mystery' solved at last

Yahoo – AFP, Richard Ingham, 27 Aug 2014

A sheepdog herds a flock in Lowther, northwest England, on September 13, 
2009 (AFP Photo/Paul Ellis)

Paris (AFP) - There is the riddle of the Bermuda Triangle. The unresolved identity of Jack the Ripper. The enigma of how the Universe developed beyond a quark-gluon soup following the Big Bang.

And then there is the Sheepdog Mystery.

A puzzle that has niggled mathematical minds for years, the Mystery is this: how does a single dog get so many selfish sheep to move so efficiently in the same direction?

The answer, revealed on Tuesday in a journal published by Britain's prestigious Royal Society, is that sheepdogs cleverly follow a simple rulebook.

Researchers fitted highly accurate GPS tracking devices into backpacks that were then placed on a trained Australian Kelpie sheepdog and on a flock of 46 female merino sheep in a five-hectare (12-acre) field.

They then used the GPS data to build a computer model of what prompted the dog to move, and how it responded.

Sheep cohesiveness is the big clue.

The dog's first rule is to bind the sheep together by weaving around side-to-side at their backs, and once this has been achieved, it drives the group forward.

"It basically sees white, fluffy things in front of it," said Andrew King of Swansea University in Wales.

"If the dog sees gaps between the sheep, or the gaps are getting bigger, the dog needs to bring them together."

Daniel Stroembom of Uppsala University in Sweden explained: "At every step in the model, the dog decides if the herd is cohesive enough or not.

"If not cohesive, it will make it cohesive, but if it's already cohesive, the dog will push the herd towards the target."

Single sheep dogs can successfully herd flocks of 80 or more sheep in their everyday work and in competitive herding trials.

But the model suggests that, in theory, a dog could herd more than 100 by following the two simple rules.

In contrast, other attempts at resolving the Sheepdog Mystery are more pessimistic. They say that 50 sheep would be the limit -- beyond this, another dog (or a human) would be needed to close up the gaps.

The study, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, comes with an intimidatingly geeky headline: "Solving the Shepherding Problem: Heuristics for Herding Autonomous, Interacting Agents."

But the work goes beyond scientific curiosity, said the authors.

"There are numerous applications for this knowledge, such as crowd control, cleaning up the environment, herding of livestock, keeping animals away from sensitive areas and collective or guiding groups of exploring robots," said King.