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

Nature by Numbers (Video)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Special Report: Plantations struggle as CPO prices in free fall

Manggi Habir, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 11/14/2008 11:03 AM  

Plantation companies are one of the first to suffer from the deepening global downturn. And, as the year end nears, it is plantations with scale of production, the right mix of tree maturity and a conservative balance sheet (low debt and high cash levels), that are best able to weather the storm. 

It was only a few months back, that the sector's outlook still looked so bright. Crude palm oil (CPO) prices were on an unprecedented upward climb. Fueled by high economic growth in India and China CPO prices soared to reach a peak of US$1,200 per ton by mid-year, about double its historical prices in the $350 to $600 per ton range. 

Reflecting this trend, the share price of Indonesia's three top listed plantation companies, PT Astra Agro Lestari (AALI), PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantations (UNSP) and PT London Sumatera (LSIP) also doubled in 2007, reaching respective peaks of Rp 28,000, Rp 2,275 and Rp 10,650 per share by early 2008. 

However, with the consolidation of the global downturn in the second semester, these earlier gains disappeared in a couple of months. CPO prices began their steep decline after June, reaching a low of $500 per ton by November. Reflecting this drop, share prices of the above three companies also fell by more than 70 percent, to reach lows of Rp 8,550, Rp 340 and Rp 2,725 per share, respectively. 

This has been a painful awakening for plantation managers after seeing margins and profitability levels rise. So what has been the impact? First, there has been the drop in revenue with falling commodity prices. Costs, on the other hand, are fairly fixed and not easy to adjust downward in this sector. This ultimately translates into narrowing margins and profitability. 

For instance, Astra Agro Lestari, the largest of the three plantation companies, showed a steady decline in quarterly net income from Rp 827 billion in the first quarter of the year, to Rp 770 billion in the second and further down to Rp 532 billion in the third quarter. 

How have they responded? In the short-term, the response has been on finding ways to control costs and push them downward. This is difficult in a business with a long business cycle. Palm oil tree crops take 3-4 years to plant and grow to first production level, during which time it is all cash outflow. This is then followed by another 6-7 years for a tree to reach its maturity and generate peak yields. 

Interestingly, the plantation cost structure has undergone a fundamental change with the rise in oil prices. In 2006, the largest cost component was labor, accounting for 39 percent of total cost. 

However, by 2008, with rising gas prices, fertilizer costs have rapidly grown to replace labor as the largest cost component. Fertilizer, which previously accounted for just 14 percent of total cost, now takes up 34 percent of the CPO cost structure. 

As a result, it has become the major focus in the sector's cost cutting efforts. Efforts are underway to use fertilizers more efficiently and to look at replacing costly chemical-based fertilizers with natural organic compost waste. The drop in oil and gas prices should help bring down fertilizer prices, although companies have yet to notice and confirm this trend. 

In the long term, there is a focus on improving tree crop yields by investing in higher yielding and disease resistant seeds. Currently Fresh Fruit Bunch or FFB yields are about 18.2 tons per year per hectare. This palm fruit is then further processed by mills yielding an average of about 4.2 tons of CPO per year per hectare. 

Most Indonesian plantation companies limit their activity to the upstream part of the value chain, focusing on planting, harvesting and processing palm fruits into CPO. Rarely have they ventured further downstream to vertically integrate into the next phase of processing, for example, into cooking oil or cosmetics, where the value added and larger margins are to be found. 

There is also little discussion thesedays about investing in biofuel processing plants, with the decline in oil prices. 

Plantation owners explain that moving downstream would require extensive investment. This is not limited to large processing plants but also to building distribution networks and marketing capability, as well as investing in creating strong brand names. This, they argue, requires a different skill base. 

Besides, they also say, there is much to do already at their end of the value chain. The argument is that it would be more prudent if they focused on what they are good at, which is expanding and investing in their existing processing mill capacity, improving efficiency in their planting phase and increasing yields and then further seeking additional land or acquiring other plantations to plant more hectares and expand their capacity. 

Astra Agro operates some 235,000 hectares of tree crops across the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi. About 80 percent of its tree crops are mature, with the remaining 20 percent in the planting or immature phase. In a downturn cycle planters prefer to have a larger mature proportion in their tree crop mix as it minimizes the heavy cash outflow found in the initial phase. 

With a large mature area, there is also more cash flow generation, even with lower prices. This is why plantation companies that are relatively new or have a larger immature proportion of tree crops are suffering more in this downturn cycle. 

Another cost that needs to be managed well in a downturn is financing costs. All commodity companies that face volatile commodity prices tend to have conservative balance sheets, carrying low debt levels in proportion to their capital. Astra Agro, for example, has Rp 1.9 trillion in cash as of September 30, 2008, and practically no debt. 

It is too early to tell whether the recession will be long enough to encourage consolidation in this sector. What is sure is that those with scale, an appropriate mix between mature and immature tree crops and a conservative balance sheet should be able to ride out the storm more comfortably than others. 

Manggi Habir is Contributing Editor at The Jakarta Post

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