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)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Willie Smits: Hanging around with orangutans

Chairman of the Rocky Mountain Institute Amory Lovins says there isn’t enough natural habitat left for endangered Willie Smits is building his own rainforest.

Ode Magazine, Max Christern | Jan/Feb 2009 issue

Willie Smits, Nature conservationist. Borneo, Indonesia
Photo: Jay Ullal, Thinkers of the Jungle

It’s quiet in the forests of Southeast Asia, says Willie Smits. Too quiet. “These days, if you walk through the rainforests of Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam or Laos, you hardly hear a sound,” he says. No tropical birds, no mating calls from gibbons, no chirping, no growling. Smits has a ready explanation: “In all those countries, animals have been driven from their natural habitats in droves. Everything is pretty much gone, smuggled out of the forest and sold by traders, particularly to the wealthy Chinese. These are becoming the quietest forests in the world. The only place you still see and hear animals is Indonesia.”

Indonesia, the elongated archipelago in South Asia, has become a second home to the Dutchman Willie Smits. But there, too, the animals are being chased away in ever-greater numbers due to illegal deforestation. In recent years, he has seen it happen in the Indonesian province of Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, where he has lived and worked as a forester, microbiologist and conservationist for three decades.

“The illegal deforestation and animal-smuggling activities have gotten worse here since President Suharto left,” Smits says. “Under his leadership there was still a monitoring system, but that has really fallen by the wayside.” He adds, however, that illegal deforestation and animal smuggling aren’t the only reasons for the accelerated deterioration. Climate change plays a major role. “The forest is confused. There is no longer any common flowering rhythm, and if we don’t do anything about it, the forests will slowly die out.” Smits has a plan to prevent that: Build his own rainforest, and in the process provide a home for his favorite primate, Borneo’s endangered orangutan.

Smits is back in his native Netherlands for a couple of days and is meeting with principals of the Rotterdam-based company Spie Controlec Engineering, which provides engineering, installation and maintenance services to a broad range of industries. The décor doesn’t fit with Smits’ adventurous life in the rainforest. We’re sitting in the cafeteria of the firm, just off one of the city’s beltways, eating cheese and sausage wrapped in plastic and drinking coffee from a machine. But Smits doesn’t seem at all bothered by his surroundings. As he tucks into a cup of split pea soup and an ox tongue sandwich, he explains his work clearly and with enthusiasm.

His latest project involving sugar palms is the primary focus. Together with engineers from Spie, he’s putting the finishing touches on a new invention: the Green Village Box, a shipping-container-sized factory in which yeast is added to the sugary sap from the palms and converted to ethanol. The colorless liquid is distilled and separated into its pure version, which fuels a generator to create electricity and heat as well as drinking water. It’s a true Willie Smits invention: original, natural, replete with crucial economic prospects for the local population. These locals use the ethanol as fuel, instead of wood or coal, ensuring no more trees need to be felled. Smits, 51, is a kind of rainforest inventor; so far, he has come up with 30 of his own inventions. But if you have to choose just one description of Smits, it would be the world’s most prominent protector of orangutans and their natural habitat.

When Smits got his degree at the agricultural university in Wageningen, he wanted to go somewhere no one had ever been. “I don’t like the dull and the routine,” he says, “so I wasn’t too excited about taking a job in Holland.” Consequently in 1980, Smits ended up in the middle of the Borneo rainforest. He met his wife there—an Indonesian woman who has played a pivotal role in his work. “She familiarized me with the Indonesian political scene and, thanks to her, I understand its structure and culture, which has been a tremendous help.”

As a young forestry engineer, Smits set up a gene bank for indigenous trees and did groundbreaking research into fungi that he calls “the key to the regeneration of the tropical rainforest.” He taught farmers to get more out of their land. And he lost his heart to the orangutans after finding one in a garbage dump. He took care of the primate and later rescued others from bars, nightclubs and tourist attractions, where they were used for entertainment. When Smits felt they were ready to return to their natural habitat, he ran into another problem: There wasn’t enough forest for the apes—and even if there had been, the animals were at risk from illegal wood poachers.

“That’s where I got the idea I’m still working on,” Smits says, “creating a forest just for the monkeys.” And that idea expanded into a unique project whereby Smits, in his words, “imitated nature.” For his forest, Smits sought a place no one would mistake for being in perfect shape. Instead, he wanted people to say, No one in his right mind would tackle this. He shows a slide of the landscape as it had appeared six years earlier: The ground is yellow and brown from fires that raged there each year; trees are scarce. Indeed, no sane person would start an ambitious forest project here. But Smits did.

The area spans 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) and has been developed one step at a time in recent years, with the help of the local population. If you look at Smits’ slides in chronological order, you see a miracle unfolding. The last photo in the series was taken earlier this year and shows a large green area with high trees as far as the eye can see. “I’ve planted over a thousand different types of trees here,” Smits explains. “The soil was a kind of ashy dirt because the grass that grew here couldn’t retain any water and the trees had been felled in massive numbers.” He used his fungi to break down the recalcitrant alang-alang grass and his gene bank to build up a new forest. Along the edges of the parcels, he planted rows of sugar palms, Smits’ magic tree. He now knows a sugar palm will only grow in forests with a wide diversity of trees. And collecting the sap from the tree is labor-intensive and difficult. But the locals have known the most effective ways to handle these problems for centuries. The rows of sugar palms also keep the fires away and so protect the rest of the forest.

Smits had the trees planted in long rows, with smaller plants and vegetation in between. The local population was closely involved from the beginning, and residents understand how they’ll benefit from this human-made patch of rainforest. It’ll mean a large future harvest of ethanol and an important source of energy. Given that, their economic future looks brighter, which is why they’re protecting the forest from illegal logging.

“We also have the technology to monitor whether trees are being cut down,” Smits explains as he shows photographs of the satellite systems and cameras he and his team use to track everything right down to the ground. “But the best protection of the forest ultimately lies with the people who live and work here. And the fact that they now see and feel that there is a bright future keeps the thieves away.”

More than 100 types of birds have made their homes in the forest. And they all bring in new seeds, so the number of plant varieties grows quickly. The forest is already large enough to create its own clouds. It rains more often above this area compared to adjacent stretches of unworked rainforest. “There is already 25 percent more rainfall. We’ve created our own microclimate,” Smits says.

In the near future, the first of his primates will be released here, making the original dream a reality. Nearly every day people express excitement about the successful development of the forest. “It is progressing so well,” Smits says. “All the threads are coming together. It’s working.”

On one of the hills in the forest, he built a beautiful eco-lodge together with the locals where tourists can experience what’s been created. Smits says they can’t believe their eyes.

His telephone chirps. In fluent Bahasa Indonesia, he speaks briefly with one of his co-workers on the land back on Borneo. He’s part of a big family there, he explains. Because of the forest, of course, but also thanks to the band, which plays rock as well as traditional Indonesian Dangdut music. “The band is one big family and all things family are good in Indonesia. We play at every party there and we always do it for free. They love that and it’s another way to get all the locals involved in the project. To make sure that this will never be a quiet forest!”

“Willie Smits is the world’s leading protector of orangutans and their habitat. Willie and his Indonesian team of hundreds have re-created a lush rainforest of several thousand hectares (some 8,000 acres) from parched and devastated grasslands. Soon this healthy forest, created one square meter at a time, will be ready for the rehabilitated orangutans, the original keystone species. The ecosystem is beautifully and comprehensively integrated with the local economy, making the people so much better off. This may be the finest example of ecological and economic restoration in the tropics.” -Amory Lovins, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which advocates energy-efficient resource use and policy development

“Willie Smits is the world's leading protector of orangutans and their habitat. Willie and his Indonesian team of hundreds have re-created a lush rainforst of several thousand hetacres (some 8,000 acres) from parched and devastated grasslands. Soon this healthy forest, created one square meter at a time, will be ready for the rehabilitated orangutans, the original keystone species. The ecosystem is beautifully and comprehensively integrated with the local economy, making the people so much better off. This may be the finest example of ecological and economic restoration in the tropics.”

— AMORY LOVINS, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which advocates energy-efficient resource use and policy development

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