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)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hard Labor in a Ghostly World: East Java's Sulfur Mines

Jakarta Globe, Tim Hannigan, February 02, 2010

Sulfur miners carrying their 60 to 100-kilogram loads up the steep inner slopes of the crater. (JG Photo/Tim Hannigan)

The rising road is a mess of pebbles and potholes and the engine of my motorbike strains as I wind my way between the ruts. It’s been an hour since I left the neat, sleepy little town of Bondowoso, in East Java, riding first between luminescent rice terraces and red-roofed villages, and then uphill into the forest. A few more lumps and bumps, a few more steep switchbacks before the road suddenly levels and a view of a lost world opens below. Surrounded by dark ridges is a swath of rolling forest under a veil of yellow haze. Welcome to the Ijen Plateau.

The chain of volcanoes that runs the length of Java ends in style at the mighty Ijen-Raung Massif. Rocketing from the rice terraces this colossal complex of peaks — flanked by the 3,332-meter Gunung Raung to the west and the 2,800-meter Gunung Merapi to the east — can be seen from Bali on a clear day.

Rolling down through the trees I reach sleepy Sempol, the main village of the Ijen region, home to the men and women who work on the surrounding coffee plantations. On the outskirts of the village is the Arabica Homestay, a guesthouse owned by one of the coffee companies, and the overnight base for my journey to Ijen. More than 2,000 meters above sea level the air here is fresh and invigorating, and a cup of sweet local coffee is all I need to recover from the bumpy ride from Bondowoso before I head out to explore.

Beyond Sempol the road rises through tiers of glossy-leaved coffee trees. When I reach Pos Paltuding, the trailhead for the hike to the Ijen crater itself, the sky has darkened. It’s hardly ideal weather for an afternoon stroll, but I set out along the trail anyway. Within minutes a thick downpour begins and I duck beneath the dripping roof of a concrete shelter beside the path.

Despite the inclement weather the trail is busy — not with hikers, but with workers, surely some of the toughest men in Java. The Ijen crater is an active volcano, and it produces a continuous supply of high-grade sulfur, an important ingredient in sugar production and pharmaceuticals. The mining operation here continues as it has for generations — completely void of any mechanical aid. Some 400 men head up the steep slopes each day to collect sulfur from the crater before carrying the back-breaking load in wicker baskets along the five-kilometer trail to a weighing station in Pos Paltuding.

As I sit shivering in the rain, I watch a steady stream of workers trotting downhill, balancing loaded baskets on creaking bamboo poles across their shoulders.

One of the men takes a break to join me. His name is Aripin. He’s 41 years old. While the workers on the surrounding coffee plantations are ethnic Madurese, Aripin says that those who work on the mountain are mostly Osing Javanese from the Banyuwangi region. Aripin himself comes from the village of Licin, on the volcano’s eastern slope. He carried his first load of sulfur from Ijen at the age of 12.

Aripin explains that he is paid for the sulfur by weight — Rp 600 (6 cents) per kilogram. Most men carry two loads of between 60 and 100 kilograms every day. I try to do the math on my fingers. Aripin helps me out: “Most days I make about Rp 80,000.”

This puts his income above that of many college-graduate office workers in the cities, but when I point this out Aripin laughs. “Are any of those office kids strong enough to do this job? I don’t think so! The money is good enough, but you need both mental and physical strength. How much you make is up to you. You can’t do well unless you can motivate yourself.”

Aripin works 15 days a month, sleeping with the other workers in a hut on the mountainside half the month before heading back to his wife and two young sons in Licin, to enjoy 15 days with the family. “I can make enough money to live on in 15 days.”

The rain falls in sheets, and early twilight blankets the mountainside. “Come back in the morning,” Aripin says. “The view is better.” It is sound advice and I follow him back down the muddy trail.

The mountains are dark facades in the dawn under an empty sky. I hurry uphill, falling in with the gangs of sulfur carriers. The trail winds through the pines and a view opens to the east over thickly forested slopes. I pass Aripin heading rapidly downhill. He was awake at 4 a.m. and he’s already lugged his first load up from the crater.

I reach the rim as a morning haze begins to creep up from the forest. The slopes here are bare of vegetation, and far below I can see the cobalt-blue lake that fills the belly of the Ijen crater. Rising from its shores is a plume of thick white smoke.

The trail down to the crater winds steeply over a landscape of what looks like builders’ rubble. Long trains of men sweat their way uphill under heavy loads.

A man named Saudiq pauses to catch his breath and chat. He is carrying 70 kilograms, the first of his two daily loads. The strongest workers of all, he says, can carry as much as 125 kilograms. Like Aripin, Saudiq has no complaints about his income. “It’s enough to live on,” he says with a wry smile, “but this is hard work … .”

Just how hard is obvious down at the sulfur vents: With nothing but old handkerchiefs for protection from the hellish fumes, men hack at the fresh, candy-colored deposits, loading their baskets.

“I usually make about Rp 2 million a month,” says one man, pausing from his work. “One million for food, and one million for fun,” he adds with a suggestive leer.

It’s not a job I could ever do — walking back up the steep trail to the crater rim carrying nothing more than a camera is enough for me.

The rain has returned when I reach the trailhead, and I drive east up a steep, deteriorating track of a road. The dripping forest is full of furious insect noise and I recall the tale a park ranger back at Pos Paltuding told me: Traveling along this same road by motorbike one morning, he saw a black panther emerge from the undergrowth. It watched him for a long, fearless moment before vanishing into the trees.

I’m too busy concentrating on the dreadful road to look out for big cats. Rivers of rainwater gush along the ruts and my bike bounces over fist-sized rocks. Finally the road levels, and as it does the rain suddenly stops. I’m in the village of Licin, close to Banyuwangi. Ahead of me the dark hills of Bali rise above a slate-gray channel, and behind, fading into blue cloud, is the eastern wall of the lost world of Ijen.

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