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, October 31, 2007

WWF declares Mt. Lumut forest as special conservation area

Muara Teweh, C Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Indonesia has declared a protected forest in Mount Lumut in Barito Utara (Barut) district in Central Kalimantan a conservation area for Heart of Borneo (HoB) program, a local official has said.

The protected forest in Mt. Lumut which covered 25,802 ha-land was considered a sacred place by native Dayak Hindu Kaharingan community. Thus, the WWF-Indonesia regarded that it should be turned into a conservation area, local environmental management and spatial arrangement office head Akhmad Yani said here Wednesday.

Dayak Hindu Kaharingan people are native inhabitants in Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and South Kalimantan.

The Barut district administration supported the program and thus set up a working group that had been tasked to give a description before WWF-Indonesia officials in Jakarta on November 15.

The administration has suggested a national park status for the protected forest which is really rich in flora and fauna. The Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) launched a study on the forest and planned to recommend a world natural heritage for the forest as well.

Akhmad said the Barut district administration had already asked a forest minister to revoke concessionary permit of PT Indexim Utama Corporation that operate on the slope of Mt. Lumut.

Kelud eruption could be massive

Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Kediri

Cooled lava from a 1990 eruption has blocked magma at Mount Kelud in East Java, which authorities warn could cause a larger eruption this time around.

Head of observation at the Bandung-based Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center, Mohammad Hendrasto, said Tuesday it was this threat of a larger eruption that prompted the authorities to leave the volcano on top alert.

He said an increase in the temperature of Kelud's crater lake also contributed to the decision not to lower the volcano's alert status.

He said the volcano, which has been on top alert status since Oct. 16, has continued to experience two to three volcanic quakes a day.

"These indicators have shown there is still a lot of activity at Kelud. The threat of eruption is still imminent, although we can't be sure when the explosion will take place," he said at a press conference.

On Tuesday afternoon, the temperature of the crater lake was 35.6 degrees Celsius on the surface, 38.2 degrees Celsius at a depth of 10 meters and 39.5 degrees Celsius at a depth of 15 meters.

He said authorities believed the volcano erupted on Oct. 16, when 510 volcanic quakes occurred in a single day.

During the 1990 eruption, the volcano recorded 327 quakes.

From Oct. 16 to Tuesday, the magma has reached a depth of 700 meters, he said.

"After further observation over the past four days, we found cooled that has blocked the magma's passage out.

"We don't precisely know how thick the cooled lava is, but when the volcano does erupt it will send out more solid materials than in previous eruptions," Hendrasto said.

A member of the disaster center's team monitoring Kelud estimated the cooled lava was more than 4.3 kilometers thick and that if the volcano erupted, it might spew out solid materials for up to three hours.

"If this scenario happens, this year's explosion will be much worse than previous eruptions on record. It might even be bigger in terms of other volcano eruptions in the country," he said.

The cooled lava could be expelled as large stones that could be thrown very long distances, considering the amount of pressure built up inside the volcano.

He recommended residents living within a 10-km radius of the crater remain in shelters.

He warned that the longer the magma was blocked inside the volcano, the more carbon dioxide would accumulate. The gas has started coming out from cracks near the crater, but authorities do not have the equipment to measure the levels of the gas.

Many residents, however, have ignored the warnings and returned to their homes.

Returning residents say they have survived past eruptions and are not worried about Kelud's current rumblings.

"The residents no longer believe the government. I'm tired trying to persuade them to evacuate.

"I have distributed disclaimers to ensure the residents will not sue if they're injured in the eruption," Sugihwaras village head Susiadi told The Jakarta Post.

Disclaimers have been distributed to 790 families in Ngancar district in Kediri regency.

"I don't want to be blamed by people if there is an eruption," he said.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ecolabel certified timber products the only way forward

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute (LEI) said it was working toward better managing the increased demand for ecolabel-certified timber products from Indonesia.

Indonesia's furniture and handicraft group (Asmindo) and furniture maker PT Setyamitra agreed on the weekend via a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together with LEI.

By signing the MOU, all groups have committed to preserve the environment, market products made from certified forests and to improve the quality of timber products using available new technologies.

LEI said it would ensure Setyamitra would supply high-quality seedlings for reforestation programs and would use modern wood-turning technologies.

"The MOU shows our commitment to boosting the growth of certified community forests," LEI executive director Taufiq Alimi said in a press statement.

"We are confident this cooperation and a certification program on community forests will mean we are able to protect community forests, improve the community's welfare and improve our furniture exports," Taufiq said.

LEI had also helped find enterprises in Wonogiri, Central Java, to partner Setyamitra in its new focus on ecolabel-certified, export-quality products, he said.

The furniture company said it would open a marketing office in Yogyakarta and a furniture outlet in Kemang, South Jakarta.

Asmindo chairman Ambar Tjahjono said his association had been interested in Setyamitra's green program because it was committed to use timber from well-managed industrial forests.

"We want all furniture companies and those using forest products as raw materials to follow Setyamitra's example in preserving the environment and rejecting the use of illegal logging," he said.

Alimi said Indonesia's forested areas had declined to 90 million hectares.

He said only 1.1 million hectares were managed in accordance with the sustainable development program.

"We expect to certify community forests along the southern part of Java," he said.

"And we are pushing certification for customary forests in Sui Utik village, Kapuas Hulu in West Kalimantan.

"There are some major forestry firms currently in the process of certification.

"Hopefully, some 3 million hectares of forest will get LEI certification by 2009", he said.

LEI's communication manager Indra Setia said the growing demand for ecolabel-certified wood products had had a profound impact on the furniture sector, including buyers, agents and industry associations.

"Most are asking LEI how and where to get ecolabel-certified timber to meet their clients' demands," Indra said.

"We usually refer them to companies that have received ecolabel certification from LEI, particularly community forests in the southern part of Central Java."

Wonogiri regency in Central Java and Gunung Kidul regency in Yogyakarta have 5,200 hectares of community forest areas that are ecolabel certified.

The forests have an annual production of 90 cubic meters of wood.

Alert level raised for Anak Krakatau

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

Authorities have responded to a rise in activity on Mount Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait by placing the volcano on the second highest alert.

The Bandung-based Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center raised the alert status of Mount Anak Krakatau on Friday, making it the fourth volcano in the country to have its status raised in recent weeks.

The volcano was formed in the massive Krakatau eruption in 1883, which killed tens of thousands of people and was the largest explosion in recorded history.

Disaster center head Surono said that according to observations from the Kalianda volcano monitoring post in South Lampung and a monitoring post in Psauran, in Serang regency, the volcano had been spewing smoke since Oct. 23.

He said further observation confirmed there had been eruption.

"But there is no need to worry about Mount Anak Krakatau's activity. It has a short (eruption) sequence, which is around four years.

"Since it erupts so many times, it does not reserve enough energy to trigger a massive eruption. Fears of a tsunami can also be dismissed," Surono said in Bandung, West Java, on Saturday.

There are now three volcanoes around the country on the second highest alert status, as well as one on the highest alert.

Mount Soputan and Mount Karangetan, both in North Sulawesi, are on the same status as Anak Krakatau.

Mount Kelud in East Java is on top alert status, meaning an eruption is imminent.

The 305-meter high Mount Anak Krakatau is located in South Lampung regency in Lampung province.

Surono said authorities had looked at the data and determined there was no danger of an eruption by Anak Krakatau large enough to create a tsunami.

He said his office had recommended the Lampung and Banten administrations warn fishermen, residents and tourists to stay at least three kilometers from the volcano.

"We want them to follow the order without believing the rumors of a tsunami," Surono said.

Meanwhile, Mount Soputan in Tombatu district in South Minahasa regency remains on the second highest alert even though it is spewing smoke about 200 meters into the air.

"We are keeping Soputan on second highest alert status since the eruption is taking place far from people's homes and is not too dangerous. There is no need for people to panic, but they should listen to instructions from officials," Surono said.

The center has ordered people to stay at least six kilometers from the crater of the volcano, he said.

He said the center would evaluate Mount Kelud's status within the next three or four days.

"But the evaluation does not mean we will downgrade the volcano's status. Our team still work on the data to produce the best solution for everyone."

There are also nine volcanoes in the country on third highest alert status.

They are Mount Kerinci in Jambi province; Mount Gamkonora on Halmahera Island in Maluku; Mount Dukono and Mount Ibu in North Maku; Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta; Mount Semeru in East Java; Mount Talang in Solok regency, West Sumatra; Mount Lokon in North Sulawesi; and Mount Papandayan in Garut, West Java.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Three volcanoes simmering in Indonesia

Blitar, Indonesia (ANTARA) - Scientists in Indonesia closely monitored three simmering volcanoes across the disaster-prone nation Friday, including the offspring of infamous Krakatau off Sumatra island.

Ash has been spewing some 200 metres (yards) into the air since Tuesday at Anak Krakatau, or Child of Krakatau, the volcano left behind after Krakatau blew in 1883 and killed some 36,000 people, scientist Agus Budianto told AFP.

"We will issue a recommendation for visitors not to come close to Anak Krakatau, (to maintain) at least a three-kilometre (two-mile) distance," said Budianto, Indonesia's Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Centre.

Anak Krakatau forms part of a popular international tourist destination about 40 kilometres off Sumatra island. Visitors typically tour the waters around the volcano by boat.

Budianto said scientists were considering raising the alert status of the volcano a rung up on its four-tier system, but said the disaster potential of the volcano, being far offshore, was low.

Meanwhile, Mount Soputan on Sulawesi island spewed more smoke and lava, a day after the volcano, one of Sulawesi's most active, shot clouds of smoke 1,500 metres (one mile) into the air and lava down its slopes.

Scientist Jemmi Runtuwene, speaking from the volcano's monitoring post about 25 kilometres from its crater, said on Friday that the smoke column only reached 100 to 600 metres and that tremors were calmer compared to Thursday.

Residents living in the sparsely-populated surrounding areas have not been evacuated.

On Indonesia's main island of Java, Mount Kelud remained on red alert, meaning an eruption is feared at any time.

An advisory that the volcano could blow was issued on October 16 and sparked efforts to evacuate some 130,000 people living within 10 kilometres of its water-filled crater.

"The temperature of the crater lake is still recording a slight increase," said Sulis, a scientist at Kelut's monitoring post.

The rise indicates sustained volcanic activity and the risk of an eruption.

More shallow and deep tremors caused by magma activity have also been recorded, he said.

Disaster management officials have had difficulties convincing locals that they face imminent danger, though many shelters are filling up at night.

An AFP correspondent in Blitar, one of the two districts straddling the volcano, said most evacuation shelters he visited on Friday were empty.

Kelud most recently erupted in 1990, sending searing gasses and volcanic debris rushing down its slopes that killed 34 people.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where continental plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The archipelago nation is home to 129 active volcanoes, including 21 on Java.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mt. Krakatau activity increases

The Jakarta Post

SERANG, Banten (Antara): Mount Krakatau volcanic activity has increased over the past three days, prompting authorities to raise its status.

The volcano had produced 20 tremors and released 80-meter to 200-meter-long white-grey smoke plumes every hour from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26, Sigin, a monitoring officer , said Friday.

Normally, the volcano produced only five tremors per hour but since last Wednesday the frequency of tremors had increased, he said. Consequently, tourists and fishermen had been warned not to come near the volcano.

Greens: RI should lead in Bali

Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should focus on efforts to push for a climate deal within the legally binding framework of the Kyoto Protocol to avoid defaulting to a voluntary scheme such as proposed by the U.S., a leading environmental group said.

Maria Athena Ronquillo Ballesteros, a Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy activist, said Yudhoyono should demonstrate more leadership by presenting a clear agenda with the issues that are important to Indonesia and the world.

She said Indonesia should avoid turning the Bali conference into a "circus of issues" by allowing voluntarily-type commitments to interfere with a "serious discussion of Kyoto's nature as a legally binding treaty", she told a news gathering Friday.

Ballesteros said it would be fruitless to base emission reduction efforts on a voluntary scheme, since parties can drop out at any time without suffering any consequence.

Indonesia and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) will hold a climate conference from Dec. 3 to 14 in Bali.

The main task for the conference is to begin to formulate a new multilateral agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the current global agreement that formalizes efforts to curb pollution which expires in 2012.

The Kyoto Protocol requires industrial nations to reduce emissions to at least 5 percent below their 1990 levels, although Australia and the U.S. -- which both worry about the economic consequences of implementation -- did not ratify the protocol.

Parties to the protocol have further agreed to cut their emissions levels by 25 to 40 percent, effective in 2012

On Wednesday and Thursday, ministers and senior officials from 36 countries meeting in Bogor, West Java, managed to reach an agreement regarding a new green policy to take effect in 2009.

In his address to the meeting, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for developed nations to honor their emissions commitments, arguing that emissions cuts should be voluntary for developing countries.

In the September meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Sydney, Australia proposed a voluntary scheme for achieving emissions cuts in both developed and developing countries. The scheme met with opposition from most other countries, including Indonesia.

Greenpeace Indonesia political adviser Arief Wicaksono said although Indonesia had agreed to discuss the voluntary scheme, it should not be allowed to jeopardize the Kyoto approach, underlining the understanding that Indonesia wants to maximize gains from both schemes.

Arief said Indonesia did not want to have to choose between two approaches to multilateral emissions control. "Indonesia can get money from the U.S. or Australia faster through reforestation and other programs. But it also hopes to benefit from the Kyoto Protocol through carbon trading and transfer of technology. The U.S. proposal should be discussed on the sideline of the major (Kyoto) events," he said.

If Yudhoyono wanted Indonesia to benefit from the world spotlight in Bali, he said, the President should be brave enough to take action on behalf of developing countries and the world as a whole. He could begin by announcing a total ban on peatland conversion in Indonesia.

Because of carbon emissions from the peatland areas, Indonesia has become the world's third largest emitter, behind the U.S and China, according to the World Bank.

W. Java farmers demand better sugar mills

Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon

West Java sugarcane farmers have asked the government to fulfill its promise to revamp sugar mills in the province and to increase sugarcane farmlands to meet the country's domestic needs.

Anwar Amali, chairman of West Java's Indonesian Sugarcane Farmers Association, said three of five sugar mills in West Java were already more than one hundred years old and in need of repair.

"The three sugar mills, which need to be urgently revitalized, are the ones in Karang Suwung, Tersana Baru and Sindang Laut," Anwar said.

The sugarcane farmers first asked the government five years ago to assist with improving their mills, but received no response.

Anwar said their welfare depended on the operational feasibility of the mills.

The association represents 13,157 sugarcane farmers in West Java who work on 12,372 hectares of farmlands in Cirebon, Majalengka, Kuningan, Indramayu, Subang and Sumedang.

Anwar said Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla visited Jatitujuh sugar mill in Majalengka in June to tell sugarcane farmers the government would revamp 52 sugar mills throughout Indonesia.

The government said it had provided Rp 5 trillion to finance the revitalization program that would last for around three years.

Anwar said the country could achieve self-sufficiency in sugar production by 2009 if the government fulfilled its promise.

"But to fulfill the national sugar self-sufficiency the government should (also) expand the farmlands as soon as possible."

The national demand for sugar is estimated at 3.3 million tons per annum, comprising 2.5 million tons for human consumption and 800,000 tons for industrial use, Anwar said.

But Indonesia uses 350,000 hectares of sugarcane farmland to support a national production of 2.3 million tons of sugar, so the country must import the balance.

Anwar said the country needed to expand sugarcane farmlands to 750,000 hectares and the country would need to create some 400,000 hectares of new sugarcane farmland.

Mt Krakatau in Sunda Strait placed in "on-guard" status

Serang, Banten (ANTARA News) - Anak Gunung Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait has been placed in an "on-guard" status after having shown increased activity during the past three days, an observing officer said.

The volcano had produced 20 tremors and released 80-meter to 200-meter-long white-grey smoke plumes every hour over the past three days (Oct 24-26), Sigin, an officer assigned to keep a watch, said on Friday.

In a normal state, the volcano produced only five tremors per hour but since last Wednesday the frequency of tremors had increased, he said. Consequently, tourists and fishermen had been warned not to come near the volcano.

But until Friday, the volcano had not sputtered nor emitted lava so that it was still not in a very critical condition.

In 2000, the volcano reached a higher level of activity marked by the emission of hot lava so that it was put in an alert status, Sigin said.

Friday, October 26, 2007

President Yudhoyono Receives Leadership Award

Friday, 26 October, 2007 | 17:31 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono received the Leadership Award from the US-ASEAN Business Council at the Shangrila Hotel, Jakarta, yesterday (25/10).

According to US-ASEAN Business Council’s President, Matthew Daley, Yudhoyono received this award as he is considered a leader who managed to handle tsunami and earthquake disasters that hit Indonesia. “In addition, Indonesia’s economy also grew favorably,” said Daley, in his opening speech before giving the award.

The award was given during a dinner with United States and Indonesian businesspeople. Also attending the event were Trade Minister Mari Elka PAngestu, Head of the Investment Coordination Agency (BKPB) M. Lutfi, and Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) M. S. Hidayat.

President Yudhoyono expressed his gratitude for the award. He stressed that the award was not only for himself but all the Indonesian people. “This isn’t the work of one man, but the whole nation,” he said.

Sutarto

Erupting Indonesian volcano spewing hot lava

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - An erupting volcano on Indonesia's Sulawesi island began spewing hot lava on Friday, a day after shooting ash some 1,500 metres into the air, an official said, although nearby villages were still not being ordered to evacuate.

Mount Soputan volcano, which lies in North Sulawesi province, likely was producing a small lava flow, but authorities were unable to spot it because the crater remained covered by clouds, Agus Budianto, chief of volcano monitoring for Indonesia's state-run volcanology centre, told DPA.

Soputan has been at a Level 3 alert since its last eruption in December 2006 due to its "short duration activity" - meaning it only experiences tremors for short periods before erupting, as was the case on Thursday morning, Budianto said.

A Level 4 alert is only given when an active volcano is threatening the safety of people living nearby, but the villages closest to Soputan are 8 kilometres away.

"Historically, the lava trails from this mountain are a maximum of 3 kilometres," Budianto said.

Meanwhile, the volcanology centre continues to have a Level 4 alert - meaning an imminent eruption - for the Mount Kelud volcano in East Java province, which has forced thousands of people within a 10-kilometre radius to evacuate.

Mount Kelud last erupted in 1990, killing dozens of people, and is regarded as the most active of Indonesia's numerous volcanoes.

Kelud's temperature continued to rise Friday, an indication that an eruption was imminent, Budianto said.

The Indonesian archipelago lies within the "Pacific Ring of Fire," where seismic activity such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common.

Residents join forces to overcome water crisis

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Magelang, Central Java

With rivers running dry or being reduced to just a trickle every dry season, the residents of nine rural subdistricts in Central Java are working together to manage a spring to meet their clean water needs.

The project is being managed independently by Dharmo Warih Tirto Lestari cooperative, with the aim of serving 10,000 families in Kajoran district, Magelang, Central Java.

A water distribution network is being built to channel the water from Sigandulan spring to the households.

To cover the cost of providing high-quality water, customers have to pay fixed rates. The rates are, however, lower than those set by the regional water utility (PDAM).

The new service connection charge is Rp 650,000 (about US$71), much lower than the Rp 1,600,000 PDAM charges.

PDAM customers pay Rp 800 per cubic meter for the first 10 cubic meters of water. For more than 10 cubic meters, the rate is Rp 1,000 per cubic meter.

Residents who use the services of the cooperative will have to pay a Rp 2,500 monthly administrative fee and Rp 650 per cubic meter for the first 10 cubic meters of water. From 10 cubic meters, the rate is Rp 800 per cubic meter. Public facilities like mosques and low-income households have free water access.

The nine subdistricts the cooperative will serve are located along the Tangsi River, which starts at Potorono hill, Kajoran, Magelang, where Sigandulan spring is located.

"We hit on the idea of managing our own water because so many residents experienced water shortages during the dry season," said cooperative chairman Hery Subrastawa, who initiated the water project.

Even though the quality and quantity of the spring water is sufficient, residents continue to experience water shortages due to the lack of water infrastructure as the spring is located far from their homes.

The village located closest to the spring is Sukorejo and next to it is Krumpakan. The other villages are Mangunrejo, Sambak, Madukoro, Bambusari, Kwadran and Wonogiri, which is the farthest village away from the spring at 15 kilometers away.

Herry, the head of Sambak subdistrict, said the spring had the capacity to discharge 25,000 liters of water per second. If the water was channeled properly to the villagers' houses, there would be enough for everyone.

To channel the water, 10 reservoirs have been built, along with a piping system to deliver the water to the end users.

"By the end of September, all the subdistricts were connected to the running water system," said cooperative head Yuna Elia. In September, the first phase of water distribution to households began. In this phase, the cooperative connected 1,000 households to the water distribution network.

The provision of free water for the poor is in accordance with cooperative regulations, which stipulate that the water management should focus on public interests and that the revenue should be partly spent on community welfare improvement.

Herry said he first had the idea of managing the water service independently in 2004. But it could not be implemented right away due to a lack of human resources and villagers' skepticism.

"To the villagers, it was not a grand idea, just an unrealistic pipedream," Herry said.

"For three years, we familiarized people with the idea and convinced them we could do it," he said.

Another problem, according to Herry, was the lack of technical skills.

"We knew nothing about water management. But we were not lacking in confidence. We simply made sure our technicians had access to knowledge and training," he said.

The installation of the pipes was financed by the Public Works Agency. Other facilities were supported by third parties like non-governmental organizations.

Another important aspect of water management is environmental conservation. "Good water management does not only mean distributing the water and charging low rates. It should also include environmental conservation. "We did our best to find out about environmental conservation by reading books and asking experts," Herry said.

Cooperative regulations stipulate that 2.5 percent of the revenue should be spent on environmental conservation efforts. Today, he said, the conservation activities are focused on reforestation.

The conservation measures are being taken in cooperation with Environmental Service Program, a Yogyakarta-based non-governmental organization that tries to empower the community so that it can carry out the activities independently. "This is evolution. An evolution in ideas about community empowerment," said Akbar Ario Digdo, the NGO's public outreach and communications officer.

Akbar said the NGO ran workshops on environmental conservation, inviting people living in the subdistricts to make comparative studies in other areas. "The awareness, creativity and willingness of the people is our most valuable asset," he said.

Students discover 'history of life' at fossil museum

Suherdjoko, The Jakarta Post, Sragen, Central Java

A student group entered Sangiran Museum in Sragen, Central Java, and enthusiastically looked at the various fossils on display, which date back from hundreds of thousands to millions of years ago.

All of the fossils are kept in 15 vitrines at the museum, which is also called the Conservation Center of Early Man Site. There are mollusk fossils, fossils of water creatures like fish, turtles, crabs and crocodiles, as well as hippopotamus fossils. Other collections include fossils of stone tools and fossils of mammals like buffaloes, ancient elephants, deer, tigers, pigs and rhinoceros, and of course the Pithecanthropus erectus VIII fossil, which is the most complete hominid skull fossil ever found in the country.

Complete information about the fossils is attached on each vitrine.

"Human beings can create tools to ease their work, while animals can just use tools," archeologist and guide Anjarwati Sri said.

In another part of the museum there is a diorama describing the life of pre-historic people who lived in caves. "They were our ancestors," said Manik, one of the students from the University of Yogyakarta.

The visitors then went to the watch tower, from where they could view the Sangiran dome or Sangiran site underneath.

Sangiran is well-known all over the world. In that place, various ancient fossils were found, including those of ancient human beings, water, sea and land animals and plants.

Sangiran comprises two hamlets located on the border of Sragen and Karanganyar regencies. The hamlets are divided by the Cemoro River.

Many fossils have been found in the 56-square-kilometer Sangiran site, which is unique and is considered the oldest human settlement in the world, dating back a million years ago. With half of the findings comprising ancient Homo erectus fossils, Sangiran attracts experts from all over the world for research and study about the evolution of prehistoric human beings.

Sangiran began to draw scientists' attention in 1893 when Eugene Dubois explored the area in search of the fossils of early humans. It seemed, however, that he was not that serious. Dubois found the fossils of skulls and thighs of ancient men in Trinil, Ngawi, East Java, instead. They were called Pithecanthropus erectus, which means monkeys that walked upright.

It was not until 1930 that JC van Es studied Sangiran took the exploration more seriously. His activities were continued by GHR von Koenigswald. In 1934 Koenigswald found about 1,000 tools made by people who lived in Sangiran. The tools could be used to cut, spruce spear heads and trim objects. In archeology, they are called flake tools, while Koenigswald called them the products of the "Sangiran flake industry".

In 1936, Koenigswald found fossils of the jaws of bigger ancient men called Meganthropus paleojavanicus. The following year he found the skulls of Pithecanthropus erectus, which Dubois had been unable to find.

The findings drew both foreign and local scientists to Sangiran. Among the foreigners were Helmut de Terra, Movius, P. Marks, HR van Heekeren, Gert Jan Bartstra, RW van Bemmelen, Anne Marie Semah, Francois Semah and M Itihara. From Indonesia, there were RP Soejono, Teuku Yacob (the former rector of the University of Gadjah Mada who died recently), S. Sartono and Hari Widianto.

Several research institutes -- both from inside and outside the country -- also became interested in studying the site including the American Museum of National History; the Biologisch Archeolosgisch Instituut Groningen, Netherlands; Tokyo University; National d'Historie Naturelle Paris; the Center for Research and Development of Geology, Bandung; National Research Center for Archeology and the Archeology Center of Yogyakarta.

In his efforts to find the fossils, Koenigswald had enlisted the help of the chief of Krikilan village, Toto Marsono, who later deployed the villagers. They found a lot of fossils of bones and kept them in the village hall, which later became the Sangiran Museum, located in Kalijambe district.

When Koenigswald stopped his research, the villagers continued digging out the earth and got more fossils.

In 1974, the Central Java government established the Sangiran Museum in Krikilan village. Nine years later a bigger museum was built by the central government and since then more facilities have also been developed.

To protect the Sangiran site, the government in 1977 declared it a cultural conservation site. It covers part of Kalijambe district, Plupuh district and Gemolong district in Sragen regency and part of Gondangrejo district in Karanganyar regency. In 1996, UNESCO put Sangiran in the 593rd position on the World Heritage List under the name of Sangiran Early Man Site.

Anjarwati, who graduated from the University of Gadjah Mada, said that geomorphologically Sangiran was a mountainous area with a dome structure in the middle.

The dome structure had been through a "deformation process", with breaks, landslides and erosion transforming it into a valley. As a result, all layers of the ancient land with all items and remains of the life on it were revealed.

There were four stratigraphic formations: the Kalibeng Formation, which was the oldest earth layer in Sangiran at about three million to 1.8 million years old. The 107-meter thick land was the sedimentation of the ocean bed where many mollusk, turritela and foraminifera fossils were found.

The younger formation was the Pucangan Formation, which dated back from 1.8 million to 800,000 years ago and was 100 meters thick. In this formation many fossils of vertebrata like elephants (Stegodon trigonocephalus), bulls (Bibos palaeosondaicus), buffaloes (Bubalus palaeokarabau), deer (Cervus sp) and hippopotamus were found. Fossils of pre-historic men were also found in the highest part.

The third formation was the Kabuh Formation, which dated back from between 800,000 to 250,000 years ago and was between 0.1 and 46.3 meters thick. Many hominid and mammalian fossils were found in the lower layer but none of the fossils of pre-historic men were found in the upper layer.

The last formation was the Notopuro Formation that contained gravel, sand, silt and mud. Volcanic mudflow and fossils were rarely found here.

The latest finding in Sangiran was in April when villagers found fossils of the skull of pre-historic elephant of Stegodon trigonocephalus in Dayu hamlet, Dayu village, Gondarangrejo district, Karanganyar regency.

Early examination showed that the elephant lived between 800,000 and 700,000 years ago. The fossil was 1.02 meters high, 46 cm wide and 69 cm high.

Until today 960 fossils of ancient elephants have been found. The one that was found in April was registered as finding number 13,813 among the collection of the Conservation Center of Pre-historic Men of Sangiran.

Sangiran now has guesthouses that were built by the Sragen administration for researchers who want to stay there for a long time and also for tourists who wish to see the site and enjoy the rural view.

Tourists charmed by insects, reptiles at Purbalingga park

The Jakarta Post

Thousands of dried beetles and butterflies are arranged neatly in glass cases. There are also various kinds of dried grasshoppers and scorpions that have been placed artistically on shelves.

Information about the insects is provided but visitors who want to know more can always ask the guides who will be only too happy to help.

In the same room, which is about as big as a basketball court, there are a number of glass cabinets. Inside them are various kinds of live snakes. Some are as small as pencils or thumbs. Among them are white snakes called Puebloan milk snakes or Albino snakes from Mexico and green mangrove snake (Gonysoma oxyephae).

They are all found in Purbalingga Reptile and Insect Park in Kutasari, Purbalingga, Central Java. Located only five kilometers from the heart of the city, the park has become a unique tourist attraction in the regency.

Visitors, who are mostly students and children, can learn about the animals and have fun at the park. They can even touch the snakes.

"This snake will not bite you. We have covered its mouth with transparent tape. So, if you take its picture, the people who look at the picture will have no clue that the snake's mouth was taped shut. It cannot bite. The most it can do is stick out its tongue," said Dewa, a guide.

He held a python that was as big as his arm. It was quite large and looked frightening with its black stripes. Dewa managed to convince the children to touch the cold-blooded reptile.

Another snake, a white one, became the center of attention. Many visitors wanted to pose with the Mexican snake and even put it around their neck. They were confident they would come to no harm because several snake tamers stood guard.

"We guarantee that the snakes we show visitors are clean. We have bathed them beforehand. So they are not smelly," said Dewa, smiling.

In some other glass cases, there were snakes that looked fierce, ready to bite anyone who got close. They repeatedly tried to peck the onlookers, but hit the glass.

Each glass case has the name of the reptiles inside, along with the place where they came from, the types and whether they are poisonous. In total, there are 133 snakes of 65 types.

Visitors can also take a look at lizards with slippery scales from Australia and Papua. There are also the so-called pencil lizards. These are a kind of snake from Europe and they are as thin as a pencil, but quite long at between 28-54 centimeters. Each pencil snake can have 26 babies.

Another reptile at the park is the white snake called tali wangsa (Boige dandrophyla), which is 2.5 meters long.

In the yard outside, turtles roam around on the grass. Cages containing monitor lizards, big snakes, komodo dragons and crocodiles can also be found in the yard.

After getting to know the reptiles, visitors can explore the park's insect section. Indonesia has the highest number of endemic butterflies in the world.

In Purbalingga Reptile and Insect Park, each insect has been preserved. There are big and small butterflies as well as various kinds of scorpions and beetles. All are arranged neatly like the butterflies of the Lepidoptera order that are placed in formations like earrings.

Among the beetles are those of the Coleoptera order called rhinoceros beetles and coconut beetles that look strong and fierce. Dried bumblebees are arranged like huge rings and many visitors pose with those insects as the background.

"There are 1,779 beetles and 505 butterflies here. If the information attached on the cases is not sufficient, we are ready to explain about their breeding and other things," Dewa said.

The professionalism of the guides and the cleanliness of the park and, of course, the park's collection have attracted many tourists. Recently, visitors was seen queuing to buy the Rp 3,000 (35 US cents) entrance ticket a few minutes before the park opened.

"We really want to make tourists happy. When they enter the room, everything must be clean. The glass must be cleaned so that they can see the animals clearly. The animals, too, must be in good health," Dewa said.

He said that he and other colleagues once cured a man of his snake phobia. They patiently educated him about reptiles as part of the therapy. "Finally he had the courage to touch the snakes."

What do visitors say about the park?

"It's a new experience for me. I didn't have any idea that Indonesia had so many butterflies. I am really fascinated by their beauty," said Devi, who came with a group from Tasikmalaya, West Java, by bus.

Similar comments came from tourists from Scotland, Jim and his wife Cheni Kane. In the guest book, he wrote, "I am delighted on behalf of my wife Cheni and my self, to be informed that we are the first European visitor to your wonderful park. It really has been an exhilarating experience, especially enlivened by your vivacious guide Fehi. What a place! What a lovely girl!" Purbalingga Transportation and Tourism Agency head Sugeng Priyanto said that tourism contributed 30 percent of the regional revenue.

In 2006 the revenue from the tourism sector reached Rp 5.2 billion, and the target for this year is Rp 6.9 billion.

Activists against mining in conservation zone

Jongker Rumteh, The Jakarta Post, Manado

Environmentalists in North Sulawesi warn traditional gold mining activities pose a threat to the Bogani Nani Wartabone conservation zone.

They say the conservation zone, in Bolaang Mangondow regency, North Sulawesi, is the largest repository in the province of local floral and fauna.

The zone's traditional role, they say, is under threat because of a rise in gold mining in the area, particularly after the local legislative council moved to legalize the mining activities.

Sulawesi Program Coordinator for the Wildlife Conservation Society, Johny Tasirin, and the director of the Lestari Manado Foundation, Sri Hardiyanti Gunadi, said the rare flora and fauna of Bogani would disappear forever unless the government put a halt to mining in the conservation zone.

Bolaang Mangondow legislative council speaker Sunardi Sumantha acknowledged the council sent a letter to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry seeking official permission to mine gold in Bogani.

"We sent the letter last year. We hope residents there will be allowed to carry out mining operations in the conservation zone because the gold mining is not concentrated in one area. The combined size of the mining operations would only be about 350 hectares," Sunardi said.

The Bogani Nani Wartabone conservation zone covers more than 287,000 hectares and is home to about 300 species of rare plants.

"The zone hosts 68 percent of all mammals that exist in Sulawesi, 47 percent of birds and 27 percent of reptiles. The maleo bird (Macrocephalon maleo), babirusa (Babyrousa babyrussa), anoa (Bubalus quarlesi) and two kinds of monkey species, Macaca nigra and Macaca nigrasence, are some of the rare animals that can be found there," Tasirin said.

"We hope politicians do not use the issue of opening up gold mining in the conservation zone for short-term political purposes, such as a way to win the residents' votes in the upcoming elections in Bolaang Mongondow Utara and Mabagu Utara, because this could endanger the biodiversity there," he said.

He said the conservation zone was not the only place that would suffer the negative impacts of mining in the area.

Extensive mining would decrease the regency's water supply because its sole major river, the Dumoga, has its source inside the conservation zone, he said.

The river is the primary source of irrigation water for farmers in the regency.

"This conservation zone is the only remaining forest in North Sulawesi. All of the people in Indonesia, even the world, would be disappointed if it was damaged," Sri Hardiyanti said.

Tasirin also said the forest in the conservation zone was being threatened by people cutting down trees to supply rattan factories in Gorontalo.

Tasirin and fellow conservationists are working with villagers who live near the forest and local government representatives to protect the forest.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wild elephants kill 14-year-old boy on Indonesia's Sumatra island

The Jakarta Post

JAKARTA(AP): A wild elephant trampled to death a14-year-old boy who drove into the animal on a motorbike on Indonesia's Sumatra island, a conservationist said Thursday.

The boy and his 42-year-old father had been riding home at dusk Wednesday when they hit the 3-meter-tall elephant as it crossed the road near their village in Bengalis district, said Rahmad Sidik of the local Conservation and Natural Resources Agency.

The elephant stamped on the teenager's head, killing him instantly and leaving him unrecognizable, while his father escaped with injuries, Sidik said.

It was the latest fatal incident involving elephants living near or in Bukit Barisan National Park.

In May, wild elephants searching for food in a village inside the park trampled a woman and her 3-year-old daughter to death.

Environmentalists say illegal logging and farming are destroying the endangered animals' natural habitats, forcing them to seek new feeding grounds.

About 2,500 elephants are believed to live in the park, about 200 kilometers northwest of the capital, Jakarta.

Mount Soputan spews ashes

The Jakarta Post

MANADO (Antara): Ash spewed from Mount Soputan on the northern tip of Sulawesi island has covered villages on the volcano's western slopes, forcing hundreds of people to evacuate Thursday morning.

"A number of villages in Southeast Minahasa district on which ash has fallen have been put on a state of red alert," a spokesman for the district administration, Ronny Suwarno, said.

Ronny said the government would evacuate more residents living on the volcano's western slopes if the ash continued to spread in a westerly direction.

"The government will keep monitoring the emission of ashes. If there are signs of increased activity we will evacuate the affected residents," he said, adding the 1,783-meter high volcano has sent up ash 1,000 to 1,500 meters into the sky.

Ash also rained down on a number of villages in South Minahasa district, forcing residents to remain indoors.

Ash also rained down on a number of villages in South Minahasa district, forcing residents to remain indoors.

"The South Minahasa district administration is monitoring the situation in a number of villages which have the potential of being affected by the emission of ashes. The villages are Maliku, Kotamenara, Ritey and Kilometer Tiga," administration spokesman Benny Lumingkewas said.

The volcano last spewed ash and rock in the middle of August.

Indonesia lifts tsunami warning after Sumatra quake

Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:52pm EDT

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A powerful magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted the Indian Ocean off Indonesia's Sumatra island early on Thursday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties and a brief tsunami alert was lifted.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake, which hit at 4:02 a.m. (2102 GMT), was quite shallow at only 30 km (18.6 miles) deep and struck 135 km west of Bengkulu.

"There has been no tsunami so far and up until now there is no damage or casualties," Firwan Chairil of the National Disaster Management Office in Jakarta said by telephone.

An official at the Honolulu-based U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said his agency had told the Indonesian government of a possible small and localized tsunami.

PTWC geophysicist Gerard Fryer said that if a tsunami had occurred it would only threaten an area about 100 km (65 miles) from the epicenter and would probably be less than one meter (three feet) high.

The Indonesian meteorological agency, which put the quake at a depth of 10 km, issued a tsunami warning immediately after the tremor but lifted it later.

"The quake was felt strongly, but I did not panic because I have got used to it. So far we haven't received any reports of damage or casualties," a police officer in Bengkulu said.

The same area was hit by a more powerful quake of magnitude 8.4 last month that killed at least 25 people and toppled thousands of homes.

A series of tremors have struck the area in recent weeks.

Mahudi, a local Red Cross official in Bengkulu, also said there did not appear to have been any damage after Thursday's quake.

"It was felt very strongly because our post is in the coastal area. But there was no panic and no buildings have collapsed so far in Bengkulu."

Indonesia suffers frequent earthquakes, located in an area of intense seismic activity on the "Pacific Ring of Fire."

A huge earthquake measuring more than 9 struck off Sumatra on December 26, 2004, causing a massive tsunami and more than 230,000 deaths in countries across the region.

(Additional reporting by Sandra Maler and Frances Kerry in Washington)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

President visits Mount Kelud refugees

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post): President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and First Lady Ani Yudhoyono visited Wednesday evacuees from East Java's Mount Kelud danger zone in their current shelters.

The President met refugees in shelters in Segaran village, Wates district, and Siman village, Kepung district, Metro TV reported.

He was scheduled to spend one night in an emergency tent at the Siman refugee shelter with evacuees.

On Thursday, after presenting aid to the refugees, the President and his entourage would leave for Surabaya to get the latest update about the Lapindo mudflow disaster.

Indonesian volcano eruption imminent: scientist

Blitar, Indonesia (ANTARA News) - A scientist warned on Wednesday that all indications pointed to the imminent eruption of a volcano on the Indonesian island of Java, despite it showing few obvious signs of activity.

Mount Kelut, a 1,731-metre (5,712-foot) volcano with a history of deadly eruptions, was put on high alert on October 16, triggering efforts to evacuate some 130,000 people living within 10 kilometres (six miles) of its crater.

But the mountain and its fertile farmed slopes have been quiet for the past few days with no drastic changes in the frequency and magnitude of volcanic and tectonic quakes affecting the area.

Most residents are spending the nights at temporary shelters further down the slopes but they are returning to work the fields during the day.

"The trend is that the centres of the shallow volcanic quakes are moving closer and closer to the surface, and this is the normal pattern prior to an eruption," said Kristianto, a geologist monitoring Kelut.

"They (the quake centres) are now less than one kilometre beneath the crater's floor but the mountain will only erupt when these are accompanied by shallow quakes of large amplitude and long, continuous tremors," he told AFP.

Although he said that an eruption was impossible to predict accurately, the signs leading to an eruption usually followed the same pattern.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was to tour the area later Tuesday.

"We are making preparations for the visit but our priority remains on those displaced," said local official Sigit Raharjo.

Geologists have said they expect an eruption of Kelut would comprise of "heat clouds", searing gases and volcanic debris rushing down the slopes, similar to the most recent eruption in 1990 that left 34 dead.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where continental plates collide causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. The archipelago nation is home to 129 active volcanoes, including 21 on Java.

South Sumatra villagers turn abandoned land into profit

Khairul Saleh, The Jakarta Post, Palembang

When Zahir and Asom first came up with the idea to plant cucumbers, or timun suri, on a large plot of idle land in their South Sumatra village, they were laughed at by their neighbors.

However, the middle-aged men from Ogan Ilir regency refused to give in, planting their first crop early this year.

It was no easy task to encourage villagers from the Beti and Muara Meranjat villages to help plant the initial crop.

"Other residents were reluctant to join in. We did all we could though and didn't give up," Zahir told The Jakarta Post at his home in Muara Meranjat village recently.

After two months of trial and error, their initial efforts bore fruit. It was only after witnessing the potential success of the project that other villages agreed to lend a hand.

Before filling the entire eight-hectare plot of vacant land with cucumbers, the villagers carried out a trial run near Lebung Karangan village.

It was successful, and today the farming involves some 30 workers to plant and harvest cucumbers, paying them Rp 30,000 per day.

This is a remarkable success story, considering the idea to grow timun suri on the land was suggested by Zahir after he found a pile of cucumber seeds in the Jalur 26 irrigation area in Sungsang.

While various other fruits and vegetables could be grown on the land, the villagers plan to stick with timun suri as their primary cash crop.

"We will always grow timun suri ahead of the fasting month due to an increased demand for it at that time," Asom said, adding that demand for the fruit was significantly lower outside the fasting month.

Zahir said rice could also be planted on the land, but without a hand tractor and startup capital the task would be difficult.

"The land would be more efficient if we were able to use a hand tractor because we could grow more crops, except for in the rainy season when the ground becomes waterlogged," he said.

To plant crops, farmers in the village collect cucumber seeds from mature fruits. The seeds are then rinsed, dried and kept in bottles filled with ash until they are eventually planted.

Growing cucumbers is not difficult, Zahir said.

Organic fertilizer is used to loosen the soil and make it fertile, with chemical fertilizer added 10 days later. Two seeds are placed in each of hundreds of small holes that are dug, and within two months the plants are ready to be harvested.

A hectare of farmland can usually produce 7,000 cucumber plants, which have the potential to generate Rp 50 million (approximately US$5,550) in profit.

During the month of Ramadhan, a kilogram of timun suri can fetch up to Rp 2,400. At this time, farmers sell more than 50 tons of timun suri per day to buyers in various cities across South Sumatra.

"Breaking the fast with a cucumber drink is very refreshing," a resident of Meranjat village explained.

"The drink quenches my thirst in an instant, especially if it contains condensed milk and syrup."