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)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Endangered Sumatran rhinoceros born in captivity

BBC News, 23 June 2012 

Ratu's pregnancy lasted about
16 months
A Sumatran rhinoceros - one of the world's most endangered species - has given birth at a sanctuary in Indonesia.

Conservationists at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park said the mother, Ratu, and her male calf were both "very well".

It is only the fourth recorded case of a Sumatran rhino being born in captivity in a century.

There are thought to be fewer than 200 alive in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Their numbers have dropped by 50% over the past 20 years, largely due to poaching and loss of habitat.

'Big present'

A spokesman for Indonesia's forest ministry, Masyhud, told the AFP news agency that Ratu's labour had gone "smoothly and naturally".

"It's really a big present for the Sumatran rhino breeding efforts as we know that this is a very rare species which have some difficulties in their reproduction," he added.

"This is the first birth of a Sumatran rhino at a sanctuary in Indonesia."

It was Ratu's third pregnancy. The previous two ended in miscarriages.

The father of the baby rhino, Andalas, was born at Cincinnati Zoo in the US in 2001 - the first Sumatran rhino to be delivered in captivity in 112 years.

He was brought to Indonesia in 2009 to mate with Ratu, who was born in the wild but wandered out of a forest and was taken in by the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.

On Friday, the US-based International Rhino Foundation said that a veterinary team would harvest Ratu's placental cells, which could be used to generate stem cells.

Stem cells had the potential to be useful for many purposes in the near future, including curing diseases and helping promote reproduction, it said.




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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Brazil biofuel: Shell axes plan for 'illegal' sugar cane

BBC News, 13 June 2012

Related Stories 

Guarani tribes in western Brazil complain
 of persecution at the hands of sugar cane
farmers
A biofuels company set up in Brazil by oil giant Shell has signed a landmark agreement giving up plans to buy sugar cane grown on indigenous lands.

The company, Raizen, was sourcing some of the raw material for ethanol from farmers who encroached on the lands of the Guarani tribe in Mato Grosso state.

The deal comes after months of pressure by the Brazilian authorities and indigenous tribes.

The leader of the Guarani tribe, Nisio Gomes, was shot dead last year.

Gomes, 59, was killed in front of his community in the town of Amambai, near Paraguay border.

Indigenous leaders and pressure group Survival International have welcomed the agreement signed by Raizen, but warned that the tribe's future continued to be threatened by illegal logging and farming on their ancestral lands.

Valdelice Veron, an indigenous Guarani in Mato Grosso do Sul state, says their rivers have been polluted by pesticides.

"We will be able to drink water from our land again. We will be able to start afresh," she told Survival International.

Booming demand

Raizen was established in 2010 as a multi-billion joint venture of Shell and Brazilian ethanol company Cosan to produce ethanol from sugar cane.

The company says it produces 2.2 billion litres of ethanol every year, for export and to supply the Brazilian market, where most a great deal of the cars run both on petrol and biofuel.

Shell's move came under renewed pressure after the killing of Nisio Gomes.

In the deal signed with Brazilian indigenous agency Funai, Raizen says it will not source sugar cane from any land declared by the Ministry of Justice as belonging to indigenous tribes.

The agreement comes into force in November.

The Guarani are Brazil's largest indigenous minority, with around 46,000 members living in seven states.

Many others live in neighbouring Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

The group suffers from a severe shortage of land in Brazil, which has worsened as a boom in agriculture has led farmers and ranchers to extend their holdings.

Indigenous activists say farmers in Mato Grosso do Sul frequently use violence and threats to force them off their ancestral territory, and that the local authorities do little to protect them.


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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bamboo points way to green construction in Indonesia's Bali

AsiaOne, AFP, Sunday, Jun 10, 2012



SIBANG KAJA, Indonesia - Strong, light and cheaper than steel poles, bamboo is ubiquitous across Asia as scaffolding.

So much so that in recognition of the material's versatility, the Indonesian island of Bali has made it an emblem of sustainable construction, replacing buildings of concrete and steel with far greener alternatives.

An entire school, luxury villas and even a chocolate factory are the latest structures to rise from bamboo skeletons as the plant's green credentials and strength are hailed.

A general view a a roof of a chocolate
 factory constructed from bamboo
at a village in Sibang, Badung regency
 on Bali island in this photograph taken
on June 4, 2012. 
(AFP Photo/Sonny 
Tumbelaka)
The factory, which opened last year and produces organic drinking chocolate and cocoa butter, is the latest in a string of buildings on the island, including homes and businesses, to be built of bamboo.

Erected in the village of Sibang Kaja between the resort island's smoggy capital Denpasar and the forests of Ubud, the factory is the initiative of specialty food firm Big Tree Farms, which claims the 2,550-square-metre (27,500-square-foot) facility is the biggest commercial bamboo building in the world.

"Bamboo is unmatched as a sustainable building material. What it can do is remarkable," Big Tree Farms co-founder Ben Ripple, 37, told AFP.

"It grows far more quickly than timber and doesn't destroy the land it's grown on," said Ripple, an American from Connecticut. "Our factory can be packed up and moved in days, so if we decided to shut it down one day, we're not going to damage the rice paddies we sit on."

The 100 hectares (247 acres) of paddies sit inside a so-called "bamboo triangle," with the factory, school and villas standing at each of the three points.

Such ambitious bamboo projects in Bali are mostly driven by eco-conscious foreigners.

With studies showing construction to be one of the world's least sustainable industries - eating up around half of the globe's non-renewable resources - sustainable construction is slowly taking root around the world.

It is among the key topics for discussion at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which opens June 20 in Rio de Janeiro.

In Sibang, the tawny brown bamboo buildings with their grass thatched roofs appear to be rising from the earth.

The three-storey chocolate factory is pieced together using a complex system of scissor trusses and bolts, thanks to clever architecture.

It resembles the traditional longhouses found on Borneo island and was made with more than 18,000 metres (59,000 feet) of bamboo from Bali and Java.

At Sibang's nearby Green School, the 240 students - most of them children of expatriates - learn in semi-outdoor classrooms decked with bamboo furniture.
The school, which opened in 2008 and was the magnet for the other two projects, has 25 bamboo buildings, the main one being a stilt-structure constructed with 2,500 bamboo poles, or culms.

"In Hong Kong and China, they make new skyscrapers of concrete and glass using bamboo scaffolding. But here, the workmen stood on steel scaffolding to build this bamboo building. That's always seemed funny to me," said Green School admissions head Ben Macrory, from New York.

"In most parts of Asia, bamboo is seen as the poor man's timber."

Not, however, in Sibang, where the bamboo villas that nestle between the palm trees are worth US$350,000 to US$700,000 (S$450,000 to S$899,000) each.

Like decadent treehouses for adults, they have semi-outdoor areas and include innovative bamboo flooring that resembles smooth timber and jellybean-shaped coffee tables made from thin bamboo slats.

Bamboo - technically a grass - has been used in building for centuries because of its impressive strength-to-weight ratio.

Jules Janssen, an authority on bamboo in the Netherlands, says that the weight of a 5,000-kilogram (11,000-pound) elephant can be supported by a short bamboo stub with a surface area of just 10 square centimetres (1.5 square inches).

One reason bamboo is so environmentally-friendly is the speed at which it grows, according to Terry Sunderland, a scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research in Indonesia.

"In China, eucalyptus can grow at three to four metres (10-13 feet) a year, which is very impressive for timber. But building-quality bamboo will grow between six and 10 metres (20-33 feet) in that time," he said.

And unlike trees that rarely grow back once felled, bamboo will continue to produce new shoots even after cutting.

But even bamboo has its drawbacks.

Without intensive treatment, it is prone to rotting after exposure to water. It also catches fire relatively easily, which is why many countries limit bamboo structures to just a few storeys.

Ripple acknowledged that building with bamboo was not foolproof, but expressed optimism that the technology to protect it from the elements will improve.

"A friend we work with here always says bamboo needs a hat, rain jacket and boots," he said. "We're lacking on the rain jacket a bit, but we're looking at non-toxic materials to give it some protection."

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Yudhoyono Gets Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior Invite

Jakarta Globe, June 07, 2012

Greenpeace's new Rainbow Warrior will be christened at a sustainable
development summit in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo from greenpeace.org)

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Greenpeace has invited President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to board its new Rainbow Warrior ship at the upcoming UN environmental meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

At the presidential office in Jakarta on Thursday, Yudhoyono met with executives from the international environmental advocacy group, including Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace Asia executive director Von Hernandez and Nur Hidayati, head of the Greenpeace Indonesia office.

Naidoo told a press conference after the meeting that the invitation was in light of the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio De Janeiro from June 20-22.

Despite Greenpeace’s often critical stance on the Indonesian government’s environmental record, including a one-year-old deforestation moratorium that critics have lambasted as poorly enforced, Naidoo praised the nation on Thursday for its “commitment” to environmental issues.

“Indonesia has shown its commitment not only to environmental issues but also to encouraging synergy between the economic and environmental sectors and poverty reduction,” Naidoo said.

“The results of my discussion with the president show that economic growth, environmental protection and poverty reduction can go together,” he added.

Naidoo further said Greenpeace had extended an invitation to Yudhoyono to board its new Rainbow Warrior ship, which will be christened on the sidelines of the Rio summit.

He added that the third Rainbow Warrior was scheduled to visit Indonesia next year. The first Rainbow Warrior was bombed in 1985, while the second was retired in August of last year.

Naidoo did not say, however, whether Yudhoyono accepted the invitation.

Antara/JG
Related Article:

Greenpeace to monitor Shell Arctic drilling with submarines

Greenpeace plans on deploying two small submarines to watch
 for signs of trouble when Shell begins drilling its Arctic oil wells,
set for later this summer

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brazil farmers in legal feud with Monsanto over GM soy

Google/AFP, by Hector Velasco (AFP), May 3, 2012

Combine harvesters crop a soybean field in Campo Novo do Parecis
(AFP/File, Yasuyoshi Chiba)

CAMPO NOVO DE PARECIS, Brazil — Illegally smuggled into Brazil 14 years ago, transgenic soy has proved a boon to domestic farmers and now accounts for 85 percent of total production.

But five million Brazilian farmers are now locked in a legal feud with US biotech giant Monsanto, the GM soy seed manufacturer, and are refusing to pay crop royalties.

In the mid-1990s Monsanto began commercializing its genetically modified soy in the United States.

Monsanto's soy seeds are spliced with a bacterium's gene that makes the plants immune to the company's popular herbicide Roundup, which farmers can then use to kill weeds while the soy plants flourish.

The first transgenic soy seeds were illegally smuggled into Brazil from neighboring Argentina in 1998 and their use was banned and subject to prosecution until the last decade, according to the state-owned Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA).

The ban has since been lifted and now 85 percent of the country's soybean crop (25 million hectares or 62 million acres) is genetically modified, according to Alexandre Cattelan, an EMBRAPA researcher.

Last year, Brazil was the world's second producer and exporter of soybean, behind the United States.

Sales of GM soy -- which is used for animal feed, soybean oil or biofuel -- reached a whopping $24.1 billion and made up 26 percent of Brazil's farm exports last year. China is the main customer of Brazilian soy.

But four years ago, five million big and small Brazilian producers filed a lawsuit against Monsanto, accusing the US chemical giant of unduly collecting two percent of sales of their annual harvest.

Since 2003-2004, Monsanto has demanded that producers of transgenic soy pay it two percent of their sales as crop royalties, Neri Perin, a representative of big producers, told AFP.

Lawyers for the producers say this means that their clients end up paying twice for the seed.

"Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production," said lawyer Jane Berwanger.

In April, a judge in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, Giovanni Conti, ruled in favor of the producers and ordered Monsanto to return royalties paid since 2004 or a minimum of $2 billion.

Monsanto appealed and a federal court is to rule on the case by 2014.

In the meantime, the US company said it was still being paid crop royalties.

At the same time, transgenic soy cultivation is spreading like wildfire across Brazil, despite protests from environmentalists who say it leads to increased deforestation and from experts who say it results in less farm jobs.

"Transgenic soy occupies 44 percent of land under grain cultivation but represents only 5.5 percent of farm jobs," said Sergio Schlesinger, a researcher who slammed the advance of soybean monoculture in his book "the grain that grew too much."

He said this highly mechanized monoculture requires little labor and leads to the expulsion of thousands of farm workers.

After its initial ban on GM soy, the Brazilian government is now investing in research to develop this type of technology.

Transgenic soy is now grown in 17 of the country's 26 states, with the largest production in Mato Grosso, Parana and Rio Grande do Sul.

Although still the largest exporting country, the United States has lost the dominant position it once had in the global soy trade. Brazil, Argentina, China and India have all become major players as the world's demand for soy as food, vegetable oil, and animal feed has continued to increase.

Given the amount of available arable land and water resources in Brazil, experts expect this South American giant to eventually become the number one soybean-producing nation.

Related Article:


Sunday, June 3, 2012

How Do You Save Sumatra? Google Map It

Jakarta Globe, Andrew D. Kaspa, June 03, 2012

A map showing Sumatra's forest cover in 1985.
(Photo Courtesy of 
http://maps.eyesontheforest.or.id)
        
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Sumatra becomes a digital paint-by-number as you play with the layering functions of the “Google Earth: Eyes on the Forest” map. With one click, the world’s sixth-largest island becomes a sea of green rainforest. Another click reveals a decidedly less emerald present-day reality.

Toggling the various data sets can be an enlightening — and for the environmentally conscious, alarming — exercise.

The project, unveiled last week, is a joint venture of Google Earth Outreach, the World Wildlife Fund and Eyes on the Forest, a Sumatra-based coalition of environmental NGOs. It organizes decades of data in a visual array that sheds light on a bedeviling question: Just what’s really out there in Sumatra, and how quickly are the forests being destroyed?

Users can query the Google Maps Engine for an assortment of data on Sumatra, such as what land is ostensibly under government protection, what types of forests exist and once existed, and which land tracts are considered high-priority conservation areas.

In the spotlight are four critically endangered species — the Sumatran rhino, elephant, orangutan and tiger — that are often the “faces” of deforestation on the island. Users can set the map to reveal the shrinking ranges of these animals over the last 25 years.

It becomes clear that Sumatra’s shrinking forests are sending these animals the way of the dodo.

Afdhal Mahyuddin, a spokesman for the coalition, said a synthesis of governmental and NGO data began in the early 2000s. The tool’s creators hope the map can help inform policy debates, raise awareness and maybe, just maybe, slow the rate of deforestation.

“Now is the time to turn these static reports into dynamic, living web-based databases,” Afdhal wrote in an e-mail to the Jakarta Globe. “WWF and EoF focused on Sumatra … as it is the island with the highest deforestation rate in Indonesia and where transparency on the drivers of that deforestation is needed the most.”

The most sobering feature of the new tool is the ability to push “play” on the deforestation that has taken place on the island since 1985, watching the dramatic withering of the island’s forest cover play out on loop. Based on WWF data, the Google Maps Engine shows the incremental loss of just less than 50 percent of natural forest cover since 1985.

Map layers also address the broader issue of deforestation’s contribution to carbon dioxide-induced global warming, which is taking place in rainforests across the world. The depletion of carbon stocks stored up in trees and peatland is a problem not just for Sumatran tigers and rhinos, but for humankind’s posterity as well.

The project is a logical outgrowth of two things: the fact that Indonesia’s rainforests are seeing some of the fastest rates of deforestation on the planet, and Indonesians’ insatiable appetite for all things web-related. Maps may succeed where protests and studies have not.

It is part of a broader suite of Google Earth projects with a philanthropic bent, typically launched in collaboration with NGOs. Recent projects include a map to track land-mine clearing around the world; partnering with an indigenous tribe to protect the Amazon rainforest they call home; and a map revealing the effects of mountaintop mining removal in the United States’ Appalachian Mountains.

The Sumatra team hopes to eventually include other regions and data sets.

“Ultimately, a nationwide civil society-driven ‘Internet map facility’ like this would be very desirable,” Afdhal wrote. “But it would only work and stay current if it is supported by all the stakeholders who have and are collecting detailed knowledge on any given geographical area to be collected by the facility.”

“Further expansion is planned, but will also depend on how fast we can find funding for the work.”

And as they say, money doesn’t grow on trees.

Philippine Hybrid Rice Gains Int’l Acceptance; Indonesia Plants Big Area

MB.com, by Melody Aguiba, June 3, 2012

The locally developed SL-8 hybrid rice has become a popular international rice variety with 32,000 hectares now planted in Indonesia and is expanding rapidly in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa.

Hybrid Rice
A total of 105,000 hectares is aimed to be planted with SL AGritech Corp.’s (SLAC) hybrid rice varieties in Indonesia.

The company’s agreement with the Indonesian government has led to a plan to expand the hybrid area which consists of 40,000 hectares in East Kalimantan, 21,000 hectares in South Kalimantan, 34,000 hectares in South Sulawesi, and 10,000 hectares in Southeast Sulawesi.

SLAC is also shipping this year 1,000 metric tons (MT) of seeds to Bangladesh in an agreement with the government and another 1,000 MT to Vietnam.

"The Philippines is now famous among Bangladesh farmers because Bangladesh traditionally uses Chinese hybrid. But it’s only SL that has become a government-supported hybrid, so they’re always talking about SL-8 as a government hybrid," SLAC President Henry Lim Bon Liong said in a press briefing.

It will beef up seed shipment volume to Myanmar, Brunei, India, and Nigeria.

But the aim of the company is to partner with foreign governments so that the hybrid rice seeds may be grown abroad rather than exported from the Philippines.

"We want to do seed production in their land because we have limited land," said Lim.

In Myanmar, SLAC initially shipped 10 to 11 MT of parental seeds worth $35,000 which has since been showing favorable results.

"During the harvest of the seeds, even the president of Myanmar was there because it their highest yield (so far) in Myanmar," he said.

A yield of up to 17 MT per hectare has already been achieved in the country from these hybrid rice seeds since the government adopted a hybrid rice program 10 years ago.

Among the highest yielders were Severino Payumo, 17.28 MT per hectare in Nueva Ecija; Aida Badong, 17.2 MT, Camarines Sur; Fernando Gabuyo, 16.75 MT, Nueva Ecija; and Eduardo Policarpio, 15.8 MT, Nueva Ecija.

Yield in Bangladesh has been reaching to 12 MT per hectare.

While India is also a hybrid rice seed producing country, SLAC has an opportunity to expand in India, said Lim, while it is likewise expanding in Nigeria.

"Nigeria is a top importer of rice. Before they were the largest importer until we overtook them as the largest rice importer. They’re very sincere in expanding hybrid rice area. That’s why we’ll send technicians over to them, he said.

"Before they used to eat just corn and sorghum. But rice is easy to prepare, is tender, and has the aroma which they got to like so consumption went up. A lot of African countries will eat more rice in the future. The market is going to be bigger and bigger."

Lim said that while the Department of Agriculture aims to export rice, the government may do better by targeting to export high yielding hybrid rice which can make exporting more globally competitive.

"We can never be competitive at the $400 price of rice in the market. The production cost of Vietnam is only P8 per kilo. Maybe our cost of production is P11 cost per kilo."

Harvesting only three to four MT per hectare will not make the country export-competitive, but hybrid rice’s higher yield that can reach 11 to 12 MT per hectare will bring costs down, he said.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

3 Sumatran Elephants Found Poisoned in Indonesia

Jakarta Globe, June 02, 2012

An official inspects a dead Sumatran elephant allegedly poisoned by
 poachers for its tusks, in Bireum Bayeun, Aceh province, Indonesia, on Friday,
June 1, 2012. Three Sumatran elephants were found dead from poisoning on
Friday. Indonesia's endangered elephants on Sumatra island are threatened
 by habitat loss and poaching. Less than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are
 believed to remain in the wild. (AP Photo/Iskandar)

An environmentalist says three endangered Sumatran elephants have been poisoned and found dead within a palm oil plantation in western Indonesia.

Rono Wiranata from the FAKTA nongovernment group said workers at the state-run plantation were believed to have placed the poison on palm fruits.

The dead 3- and 5-year-old elephants were found Thursday in two separate locations in East Aceh district.

Wiranata on Friday cited plantation workers in saying more elephants may die from the poison. Five of the endangered Sumatran elephants have been found poisoned in Aceh province since April.

Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are left in the wild. Environmentalists say they could be extinct within three decades unless they are protected.

Associated Press