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

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

70 vets call for action on factory farming and animal welfare

DutchNews, June 27, 2017

Pigs on a factory farm. Photo: Depositphotos.com

A group of 70 vets have signed a letter in Tuesday’s NRC calling for action to improve the lot of animals in the ‘cheap, bulk production’ factory farming system. 

The vets were reacting to this weekend’s investigation into the way the food and product safety board had ignored problems at several abattoirs and moved the vet who raised the issues to a new job. 

‘The shocking conditions described by our brave colleague in Dutch abattoirs are not isolated instances,’ the letter states.

‘Animals are adapted to production methods, not visa versa,’ the letter goes on. ‘Animals are kept in confined conditions without distractions… and then have to undergo mutilations for their own safety.’

‘Cows are separated from calves at birth, pigs are kept in cages, their piglets’ tails are amputated, calves and lambs have their horns cut off and chicken’s beaks are clipped.’ 

Dead

‘A certain percentage of dead arrivals at the abattoir is considered normal,’ the vets write. 

As one of the leading countries in terms of meat and dairy produce, the Netherlands should also ead the way in terms of animal welfare and sustainability, the letter continues. ‘We need a fundamental change in the way factory farming is organised,’ the letter concludes. 

The NRC notes that several vets who had originally signed the letter withdrew their support because they were concerned about possible consequences of such public backing.

Related Articles:




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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Panda mania hits Germany as China's cuddly envoys arrive

Yahoo – AFP, Hui Min NEO, June 24, 2017

The excitement at the welcome press conference gave the pandas a taste
of what might be to come in their new home (AFP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

Berlin (AFP) - Germany had its first taste of panda mania on Saturday as two furry ambassadors arrived from China to begin a new life as stars of Berlin's premier zoo.

The pair, named Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, jetted in on a special Lufthansa cargo plane, accompanied by two Chinese panda specialists, the Berlin Zoo's chief vet and a tonne of bamboo.

A crowd of journalists and officials on hand to welcome the VIPs let out an "ooooh" as Meng Meng raised a paw after flight LH8415 made an especially gentle touchdown at Schoenefeld airport.

The black and white pair, clearly groggy after the 12 hour 20 minute flight from Chengdu in southern China, lay resting in their travelling crates during the welcome ceremony in a hangar.

Until, that is, the Chinese ambassador to Berlin got a little too close, prompting Jiao Ling, the male, to stand up, roar and beat his paws against the plexiglass sides of the crate.

"From this evening, their German and Chinese handlers will stay with them... we'll do everything to help them calm down so they have a good night, eat well and rehydrate themselves," Berlin Zoo director Andreas Knieriem told AFP.

After just over a week's acclimatisation, the pair will be unveiled to the public by no less than Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping, most likely two days before the G20 summit of world leaders hosted by Germany.

The pandas were flown in on a special cargo flight from China (AFP 
Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

Famed for its "panda diplomacy", China has dispatched its national treasure to only about a dozen countries as a symbol of close relations.

Export giants Germany and China have nurtured increasingly close economic ties, and over the last year the have also taken on the leading role in championing free trade as Donald Trump shifts the US away from market liberalisation with his "America First" push.

"The Chinese see the pandas as Chinese brand ambassadors. China obviously has an image problem in Europe and giving pandas is a very smart and easy way to win hearts," said Bernhard Bartsch from the Bertelsmann Foundation think tank in Berlin.

The "pandas will lend a very positive spin in German media to the visit by Xi Jinping in July," he added.

Bamboo snacks, absorbent mats

The excitement over the two bears was clear as the zoo published a daily update on its blog in the run-up to their arrival.

The flight to Germany was carefully prepared, with "bamboo snacks" to keep the pandas happy and absorbent mats to ensure the transport box stayed dry and odourless.

And their new home at Berlin's zoo will measure about 5,500 square metres (59,000 square feet) and comes fitted with a wooded climbing area and an artificial stream.

Meng Meng means "dream" in Chinese, while Jiao Qing translates as "darling", though the Chinese characters are a composite of "tender" and "festive" or "celebration".

The Berlin Zoo built a special enclosure for the two pandas it is receiving from 
China just a few days before a G20 summit in Germany (AFP Photo/Wolfgang Kumm)

But the honour of hosting them does not come cheap.

The zoo will pay $15 million (13.4 million euros) for a 15-year contract to host them, with most of the money going towards a conservation and breeding research programme in China.

And the pandas' main dish -- bamboo -- will cost tens of thousands of euros each year.

The zoo will probably look to offset part of its outlays through panda-themed merchandising.

Ultimately, it hopes that the pair will produce babies, even if experts have warned that panda reproduction is a fine art.

Panda expert Jerome Pouille said that "the female is only receptive to a male for about 24 to 48 hours a year", adding that there was little chance of a cub within the first three years.

China has previously given three pandas to Germany, but the last one, 34-year-old Bao Bao, died in Berlin in 2012, having become the oldest male panda in the world.

About 1,864 pandas remain in the wild in China, up from around 1,000 in the late 1970s, according to the environmental group WWF.

Just over 400 pandas live in zoos around the world, in conservation projects set up with Beijing.

Related Article:


Friday, June 23, 2017

Man stopped on Thai border with orangutans, tortoises, raccoons

Yahoo – AFP, June 22, 2017

The tiny orangutans rescued at the Thai border were less than six
months old (AFP Photo/Handout)

Thai wildlife officers have arrested a Malaysian man attempting to smuggle two baby orangutans, 51 tortoises and six raccoons into the kingdom across its southern border, officials said Thursday.

The animals were packed into plastic boxes and suitcases loaded into Ismail Bin Ahmad's car, officials said.

The 63-year-old was stopped Wednesday as he was attempting to drive through a border checkpoint in Thailand's southern Songkhla province -- part of an insurgency-torn region known as a funnel for drugs, weapons and other contraband.

"The suspect said he was hired to transport the animals from (neighbouring) Perlis state in Malaysia to Hat Yai (in Thailand) for 1,000 baht ($33 dollars)," Prach Kongthong, a wildlife officer manning the checkpoint, told AFP.

The tiny orangutans were less than six months old and will be transferred to a local shelter, he added.

The seized animals, including orangutans, were packed into suitcases and plastic
boxes (AFP Photo/Handout)

Orangutans are native to the islands of Borneo and Sumatra but they are often illegally smuggled throughout mainland Southeast Asia, either for private zoos or as pets.

Most of the 51 rescued reptiles were Indian star tortoises -- an endangered species from South Asia coveted for its star-patterned shell.

Thailand has long served as a transit hub for wildlife products bound for major markets like Vietnam and China, where exotic animal parts are often used in folk medicines.

Thai police frequently seize trafficked animals and wildlife products but they usually only catch low-level couriers, leaving the smuggling kingpins behind the lucrative trade at large.

In December Thai police rescued two baby orangutans in a sting operation that saw undercover officers pose as buyers over a mobile phone messaging app.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Officials seize shoes, jackets made of endangered species at chic Amsterdam store

DutchNews, June 16, 2017

Photo: NVWA.nl 

Government inspectors have removed 105 articles of clothing from shop in Amsterdam’s exclusive PC Hooftstraat because they include leather made from protected species, the Volkskrant said on Friday. 

The shop, Karmaloog, opened earlier this year. It generated headlines because of the owners’ boast that it would be ‘the most exclusive and expensive’ shop in the Netherlands with jackets costing €100,000. 

The items taken by officials include shoes, jackets, belts, skirts and other accessories made of crocodile, python and anaconda leather. 

The paper says officials first became suspicious last year when a consignment of skins turned up at Schiphol airport with problematic paperwork. The package came from Thailand and contained the skins of 12 Siamese crocodiles. 

Cites

Leather from protected species may only be traded in line with the international Cites treaty. Officials visited the shop in March and gave the owners three months to come up with documents showing the skins had been obtained in line with Cites rules. 

However, they only managed to come up with documents for five pairs of shoes, the paper said. 

Although the shop is not named in the official documents, the Volkskrant says one of the pairs of shoes in photographs supplied to the press – green python leather slip-ons – is identical to those advertised on the Karmaloog website. 

Owner Nezir Yozgat told the paper in a reaction: ‘all our items are certified and all our products are legal. We will fight every ruling.’

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Costa Rica says no to animal cruelty

Yahoo – AFP, June 11, 2017

People celebrated in the streets of San Jose after a new law which establishes
 fines and prison sentences for those who harm an animal (AFP Photo/Ezequiel
BECERRA)

San José (AFP) - Thousands of animal lovers packed a major San Jose avenue Sunday, many with pups in tow, to celebrate Costa Rica's new animal cruelty law and its fines and jail time for violators.

Bikers, animal rights activists and many animal lovers were on hand dancing to traditional tunes to support the law, signed this month by the Central American nation's President Luis Guillermo Solis.

"We have got to demand that there be no more impunity; that whoever abuses an animal be punished," Solis said, raising cheers from the crowd.

The parade marshal for the day was Duke, a dog that became well known in local media after someone hacked him with a machete and left him for dead.

In another grim case, local teenagers seriously injured a toucan, pummeling its bill with stones.

"We have just seen too many horrific acts against animals. So it's time that we have a law to ensure that they are punished," said Antonio Pacheco, who turned up with his sweater-wearing schnauzer Tony in tow.

Cockfighting and dog fights also have been outlawed, and can earn criminals jail time.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Feline good: Cats counter stress at Tokyo firm

Yahoo – AFP, May 22, 2017

A cat walks across the desk at an IT office in Tokyo, where felines help
alleviate stress and anxiety (AFP Photo/YOKO AKIYOSHI)

Workaholic Japan is known for long office hours and stressed out employees, but one company claims to have a cure: Cats.

A total of nine fluffy felines eat, sleep and walk freely in the small office of IT firm Ferray in Tokyo.

Hidenobu Fukuda, who heads the firm, introduced an "office cat" policy in 2000 upon request from one of his employees, allowing staffers to bring their moggies to work.

"I also give 5,000 yen ($45) a month to those who rescue a cat," he said of his charges.

Other Japanese companies are also allowing animals in the office to help reduce stress and anxiety.

At Oracle Japan, an Old English Sheepdog named Candy works as a "greeting and healing ambassador", according to the company website.

A total of nine fluffy felines eat, sleep and walk freely in the small office 
of IT firm Ferray in Tokyo (AFP Photo/YOKO AKIYOSHI)

The company said it has had an office dog since 1991, and Candy, the fourth one, now has Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Meanwhile, Pasona Group "hired" two goats in 2011 and two alpacas in 2013 as full-time employees, partly for healing purposes.

Tokyo is also home to some 60 registered cat cafes, thanks to a growing number of feline lovers.

Eri Ito, who works at Ferray, says she is sold on the animal's soothing ways.

"Cats are sleeping just beside us... It's healing," Ito said.

But there is also a downside to having felines in the office, Fukuda admitted.

"Sometimes a cat will walk on a phone and cut off the call, or they shut down the computers by walking onto the off switch," he said.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Scientists reveal top 10 most bizarre new species of 2017

A New York university's annual list of the 10 most bizarre new species discovered in the animal and plant kingdoms has been topped by a mini-spider named after a hat from the Harry Potter series.

Deutsche Welle, 20 May


The State University of New York's College of Environmental Science's International Institute for Species Exploration's "Top 10" list came from 10 countries across four continents and were selected from a total of 18,000 newly discovered species, the institute said.

A tiny spider (pictured above), less than 2 millimeters (a tenth of an inch), was named after the bewitched Sorting Hat in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter book series.

"The shape of the spider's body, conical, with a jaunty bend in the narrow tip, is reminiscent of the hat first owned by the famed wizard Godric Gryffindor," the institute wrote on its website.

The list further includes "a strikingly colored freshwater stingray and two plants - a bush tomato that appears to 'bleed' when it's cut and an orchid with the face of the devil," it added.

Two leggy creatures, the institute continued, included on the list, "were a millipede with more than 400 legs and an amphibious centipede, along with a marine worm that looks a lot like fried pastry."



The Top 10 (pictured above from top left)
  • "Sorting Hat" Spider (Eriovixia gryffindori)
  • Unexpected Katydid (Eulophophyllum kirki)
  • Omnivorous Root Rat (Gracilimus radix)
  • 414-legged Millipede (Illacme tobini)
  • "Dragon" Ant (Pheidole drogon)
  • Freshwater Stingray (Potamotrygon rex)
  • Swimming Centipede (Scolopendra cataracta)
  • Bush Tomato (Solanum ossicruentum)
  • Endangered Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus)
  • "Churro" Marine Worm (Xenoturbella churro)

The "Top 10" has been published annually since 2008, with researchers looking for diversity in the animal and plant kingdoms and those threatened with extinction.

The institute, according to its website, "is dedicated to the exploration, inventory, and classification of earth's species, public awareness of the biodiversity crisis, advocacy for the important roles played by taxonomy and natural history museums, the advancement of cyber taxonomy and the application of cyber and digital tools to accelerate and improve comparative morphology, descriptive taxonomy, and phylogenetic classification."

The "Top 10 New Species" list is released around May 23 each year to coincide with the birthday of Carolus Linnaeus - the "Father of Taxonomy," whose work in the 18th century was the beginning point for modern naming and classification of plants and animals.

A further 10 million animal and plant species - five times more than already known - are therefore not yet discovered worldwide.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Dutch draw up dangerous dogs list, send owners back to school

DutchNews, May 18, 2017

The American Staffordshire terrier is on the banned list. Photo: Depositphotos.com

Pitbull terriers, Rottweilers and the Caucasian shepherds are among the animals on a Dutch government list of officially dangerous dogs. 

From next year, the owners of 20 breeds and all pittbull crossbreeds will have to go on a compulsory cause in keeping dogs which are known to have a propensity to violence. 

The list and compulsory course are part of a series of measures the caretaker government plans to introduce in an effort to cut down on the number of dog attacks. 

Junior economic affairs minister Martin van Rijn is also working on a list of banned breeds and plans to give local councils the powers to ban dangerous dogs from some areas. 

In addition, the government will establish a central register to record dog bite incidents and a hotline for people to report dangerous dogs or owners who refuse to deal with their dogs properly. 

Bites

‘There have been a number of serious biting incidents in recent years and this is extremely worrying,’ the minister said in a statement. ‘Councils will be given more powers to take effective measures… but ultimately it is owners who are responsible for their dogs.’ 

The official list of dangerous dogs includes pedigree dogs and crossbreeds which are known to have a high risk of aggressive behaviour. It includes 20 pedigree breeds such as Rottweilers, various varieties of pitbull and bull terrier, bull mastiffs and the Akita.

The Dutch animal protection charity Dierenbescherming has welcomed the course for dog owners. ‘We cannot deny this is a problem,’ a spokesman said. ‘Shelters are full of dogs, most of which are pitbulls and similar breeds. They were often bought on impulse and have not been properly trained.’ 

The Netherlands introduced a ban on breeding pitbulls and similar dogs 20 years ago after three children were savaged to death. But the ban was rescinded in 2008.

Related Article:


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Rare albino orangutan rescued on Borneo island

Yahoo – AFP, May 2, 2017

Albino orangutans are rare on Borneo island, where most have
reddish-brown hair (AFP Photo/HANDOUT)

A rare albino orangutan has been rescued on the Indonesian part of Borneo island where villagers were keeping the white-haired, blue-eyed creature in a cage, a protection group said Tuesday.

In an extremely unusual discovery, authorities picked up the female, estimated to be five years old, in a remote village in Kapuas Hulu district.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), which is caring for the critically endangered ape -- believed to be albino -- said the organisation had never before in its 25-year history taken in such an orangutan.

Normal Bornean orangutans have reddish-brown hair.

Villagers said they captured the ape -- who has not yet been named -- on Thursday. Authorities rescued the ape two days later.

"Orangutans are rare, and an albino orangutan is even rarer," Nico Hermanu, a BOSF spokesman, told AFP.

"Since BOSF was founded 25 years ago, we had never before taken in an albino orangutan at our rehabilitation centre."

Orangutans on Borneo have seen their habitat shrink dramatically as the
 island's rainforests are increasingly turned into oil palm, rubber or paper 
plantations (AFP Photo/HANDOUT)

Pictures showed dried blood around the creature's nose, with the foundation saying the injury could have been sustained when the ape was fighting the villagers' attempts to capture it.

The orangutan has been taken to BOSF's rehabilitation centre for further assessment. Almost 500 orangutans are kept at the centre.

The Bornean orangutan, which along with the Sumatran orangutan are Asia's only great apes, is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as "critically endangered" -- just one step away from extinction.

Around 100,000 are estimated to live on Borneo, which is divided between Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, down from 288,500 in 1973 and with their numbers expected to shrink to 47,000 by 2025, according to the IUCN.

The creatures have seen their habitat shrink dramatically as the island's rainforests are increasingly turned into oil palm, rubber or paper plantations, and are sometimes targeted by villagers who view them as pests.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Taiwan bans eating dogs and cats

Yahoo – AFP, April 12, 2017

The tradition of eating dog meat dates back hundreds of years in many
Asian countriesView photos (AFP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam)

Taiwan has banned the eating of dogs and cats, lawmakers said Wednesday, as pressure grows to improve animal welfare after a spate of cruelty cases that stirred public outrage.

Parliament passed legislation to outlaw the consumption, purchase or possession of dog and cat meat, with offenders facing a fine of up to Tw$250,000 ($8,170).

Authorities can also name and shame those who break the law.

"This shows that Taiwan is a society with advanced animal welfare," said lawmaker Wang Yu-min who proposed the new rules.

The bill also hiked the penalty for killing or abusing animals to a maximum two-year jail term and a stiff fine of Tw$2 million.

Dog consumption -- believed by some in Taiwan to help boost male potency -- was common on the island decades ago but has become less popular amid growing calls to protect animal rights.

In 2001, Taiwan amended its animal protection law to ban the slaughter of pets -- which included dogs and cats -- for food, although there was no penalty on eating or buying the meat.

More than 10,000 canines are killed every year at China's notorious dog meat
festival in Yulin (AFP Photo/JOHANNES EISELE)

Sales of pet meat were banned at the end of 2003.

But a string of much-publicised animal abuse cases have continued to triggered deep public concern and demands for tougher protection laws.

Last year, the military was forced to apologise after a video surfaced of three soldiers torturing and strangling a stray dog to death with an iron chain, prompting several street protests.

And in 2014, a male hippo famous for regularly performing at a private zoo in central Taiwan died after breaking a leg and sustaining other injuries during transportation, sparking a public outcry.

Reactions to the new law were mixed, with some deeming it unfair to only single out cats and dogs for better protection.

"This is the cute animal protection law? only cute animals are protected while the rest deserve to die?" read one message posted on Apple Daily's website.

Dog meat consumption is also common in countries such as China, Indonesia,
Vietnam and South Korea (AFP Photo/SONNY TUMBELAKA)

"Why doesn't the parliament amend laws to toughen punishment on drunk driving, fraud and homicide? what a lousy job it is doing," said another post.

Dog meat consumption is also common in countries such as China, Vietnam and South Korea.

Last year, China's most notorious dog meat festival drew crowds despite international outrage, as more than 10,000 dogs were killed at the event in conditions activists described as brutal.

South Koreans are believed to consume somewhere between 1.5 million - 2.5 million dogs every year, but the meat farming industry is in decline, with little demand among the younger generation.

In Vietnam, cat meat -- known locally as "little tiger" -- is also a delicacy and although officially banned it is widely available in specialist restaurants.

Giant pandas head for the Netherlands, and the bamboo is on order

DutchNews, April 12, 2017

Workers carry the female giant panda Wu Wen to a transport cage.
Photo: Chinatopix Via AP

Two giant pandas destined for a 15-year stay in a Dutch zoo, left China for the Netherlands on Wednesday. 

The plane carrying the pandas, as well as 200 regular passengers, is due to land at Schiphol airport on Wednesday evening, and the giant mammals, behind sheets of plexiglass, will then be introduced to the Dutch public for the first time. 


However, Wu Wen (Beautiful Powerful Cloud) and Xing Ya (Elegant Star) will not be seen by the zoo public for some time because they will first be held in quarantine for up to six weeks. 


The pandas are heading for the Ouwehands Dierenpark zoo in Rhenen which has spent 16 year campaigning to bring pandas to the Netherlands. The zoo invested €7m on a special compound which was given official Chinese approval earlier this year. 


The cost of the new compound plus the €900,000 a year fee means that entrance tickets will be more expensive: visitors will be paying a so-called ‘panda tax’. 


Bamboo


The pandas are expected to go through 500 kilos of bamboo a week, which will be sourced from a bamboo grower in Asten and delivered weekly. The company Bamboo Giant, also supplies the food from a selection of different types of bamboo, for pandas in Vienna and Edinburgh. ‘The pandas are choosy,’ director Bennie Nielen told the NRC. ‘Every week the keepers in Vienna and Edinburg send us an overview of what they have eaten and what they have not touched so the menu can be adapted.’ 


The pandas are accompanied by a keeper and a vet from China who will stay with them for at least three months. And in case the pandas do decide to procreate, the female Wu Wen has a bigger enclosure with room for a baby.



Friday, April 7, 2017

First world survey finds 9,600 tree species risk extinction

Yahoo – AFP, April 5, 2017

Brazil is the country with the most diverse tree population, with 8,715 species,
according to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) group

The first ever global database of trees on Wednesday revealed that 9,600 tree species are threatened with extinction and identified a total of 60,065 in existence.

Brazil is the country with the most diverse tree population, with 8,715 species, according to the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) group.

It also has the largest number of tree species -- 4,333 -- that only exist there.

In total 58 percent of trees are so-called single country endemics, with 2,991 species only found in Madagascar and 2,584 only found in Australia.

After Brazil, Colombia is the second most diverse country, with 5,776 different tree species, followed by Indonesia, with 5,142.

The London-based BGCI, which represents an estimated 2,500 botanic gardens around the world, used data from more than 500 published sources to create the list.

Of the 60,065 tree species, only around 20,000 have been assessed for their conservation status -- of which 9,600 are threatened with extinction.

"BGCI's main reason for publishing the list is to provide a tool for people trying to conserve rare and threatened tree species," the organisation said in a statement.

"Currently, around 10,000 tree species are known to be threatened with extinction, largely by deforestation and over-exploitation.

"This number includes over 300 species that are critically endangered with fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the wild."

Aside from the Arctic and the Antarctic where there are no trees, the Nearctic region -- comprising most of North America -- has the lowest diversity, with less than 1,400 tree species.

The database will be continually updated, as around 2,000 new plants are discovered and described each year.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hunters have shot 1,440 dune deer as cull continues

DutchNews, April 3, 2017

Deer in a Zandvoort residential area earlier in January. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Hunters have so far shot 1,440 of the fallow deer living in the dune area west of Amsterdam, alderman Udo Kock has told the city’s finance committee. 

The city and province of Noord-Holland want to slash the deer population from 3,800 to 1,000 in order to reduce damage to plants and trees and reduce the risk of road accidents. 

Officials hope to have reduced the deer population to 1,000 by 2020. Female deer are being targeted to keep the population down. 

Efforts to keep the deer in the reserve with high fences and cattle grids have failed to contain all the animals and there were 61 traffic accidents involving deer in 2015. 

Animal rights groups have tried to have the mass cull stopped but the courts ruled in favour of the cull. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Zealand parrot has 'infectious laugh'

Yahoo – AFP, March 21, 2017

New Zealand's kea parrots are renowned for being intelligent and mischievous,
often called "the clown of the mountain" (AFP Photo/Raoul SCHWING)

Wellington (AFP) - Researchers have found that New Zealand's kea parrot has the avian equivalent of an infectious laugh -- a call that when heard prompts others to drop everything and have some fun.

Kea live in alpine areas and are renowned in New Zealand for being intelligent and mischievous, often called "the clown of the mountain".

But a paper published in the journal Current Biology on Tuesday argues the bird's playful reputation is not entirely anthropomorphic.

Austrian researcher Raoul Schwing found the kea has a "play call" distinct from its other vocalisations, which caused other parrots to start playing spontaneously.

Schwing, a doctoral student in animal behaviour at Auckland University when the research was conducted, said even birds that were by themselves began playing when they heard the call.

"The fact that at least some of these birds started playing spontaneously when no other birds had been playing suggests that, similar to human laughter, it had an emotional effect on the birds that heard it, putting them in a playful state," he said.

Schwing said similar "emotionally contagious" vocalisations had previously been recorded in chimpanzees and rats, but the kea was the first non-mammal.

He said the call was akin to a form of infectious laughter and warranted further study, as well as serving as a reminder that humans may not be as unique as we like to think.

"If animals can laugh, we are not so different from them," he said.