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)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Norway Urges Indonesia to Keep Forest Protection

Jakarta Globe, August 24, 2012

An excavator clears a ditch on a road owned by a disputed palm oil plantation
 firm near Sebangau Kuala, Pulang Pisau district in Central Kalimantan on
June 19, 2012. Plantation firm Suryamas Cipta Perkasa is accused by NGOs
of developing the site without environmental approvals and clearing forest on deep
peatlands, in violation of Indonesian laws. (Reuters Photo/David Fogarty)

Related articles

Oslo. Norway’s environment minister on Friday urged Brazil and Indonesia to avoid backtracking on policies to protect tropical forests, saying up to $2 billion in aid promised by Oslo hinged on proof of slower rates of forest clearance.

Norway, rich from oil and gas, has promised more cash than any other donor nation to slow rainforest clearance from the Amazon to the Congo. Protecting forests slows climate change, since plants soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas.

Environment Minister Baard Vegar Solhjell, whose country is failing to meet goals for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, said he was closely following debate in Brazil that might brake what he called a “huge success story” in slowing deforestation.

Oslo has promised up to $1 billion each to Brazil and Indonesia, the two main beneficiaries of a forest initiative worth 3 billion Norwegian crowns ($514.75 million) a year to help combat global warming.

“It is important that they [Brazil] follow policies that mean that they continue reducing deforestation in future,” he told Reuters. “We are paying for actual results.”

President Dilma Rousseff in May vetoed elements of a new law passed by Congress that would relax the forest cover farmers must preserve on their land. “We don’t know what is going to happen” after the veto, Solhjell said.

Other policies under Rousseff have slowed, for instance, the new areas of forest set aside as protected land.

Norway has transferred slightly less than $100 million to projects in Brazil from a total of $425 million set aside for the nation in the years 2008-11, he said. The rest of that total is still to be assigned to projects.

Of the up to $1 billion promised to Brazil, up to $575 million is yet to be set aside. However a weakening of forest protection would mean a lower payout, Solhjell said.

‘Big step forward’

He also said Indonesia had made a “big step forward” with a moratorium on forest clearance in 2011 as part of the deal with Norway, despite wide criticism that illegal logging continues.

“They [Indonesia] need to develop from this initial phase into a phase of actual reductions” of deforestation, he said. “The big money will be connected to actual results.”

Norway helps about 40 nations protect forests.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the world lost a net 5.2 million hectares of forests a year in 2000-10 — totaling an area the size of Costa Rica — down from 8.3 million a year in the 1990s.

Slower deforestation rates in Brazil and Indonesia and forest plantings in China, India and other countries helped brake losses, it said. Norway says that 17 percent of man-made carbon dioxide emissions are caused by deforestation.

Some environmentalists say Norway is poorly placed to lecture other nations about their environmental policies when it has not lived up to its own.

Solhjell said Norway was failing to meet its domestic plans for deep cuts in emissions as part of efforts to avert warming that a UN panel of experts says will bring more floods, dust storms, heat waves and rising sea levels.

He said it was impossible even to say if Norway’s emissions had peaked.

“My friend who is a historian says it is easier to talk about the past than the future,” he said.

In 2011, emissions were 5.6 percent above 1990 levels at 52.7 million tons of carbon dioxide, the highest year so far was 2007 with 55.5 million. Norway is the world’s No. 8 oil exporter and number two gas exporter by pipeline.

Norway has set aside 2 billion crowns to buy carbon emissions rights under the Kyoto Protocol, the UN deal for slowing global warming, to meet a self-imposed goal of cutting emissions by 9 percent below 1990 levels in 2008-12, he said.

He said that Norway was planning extra measures, such as higher carbon taxes on its oil and gas industry, to meet its target of a cut in emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, deeper than almost any other rich nation.

Reuters

Thursday, August 23, 2012

'Almost Toothless' Rat Species Discovered in Indonesia's Sulawesi

Jakarta Globe, August 23, 2012

The new species of rodent, Paucidentomys vermidax. (Image courtesy of
Kevin Rowe/Museum Victoria website)

Related articles

A rare and extreme species of rodent was recently discovered in Indonesia, showcasing biodiversity in the country and the evolutionary process, a new research paper has said.

The paper “Evolutionary novelty in a rat with no molars,” published in this month's Biology Letters, said the new species, Paucidentomys vermidax, is an almost toothless, worm-eating rat unable to gnaw or chew, according to a statement released on Wednesday by the Museum Victoria in Australia.

Written by Jacob Esselstyn of McMaster University, Canada, Anang Achmadi of Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense, Indonesia, and Kevin Rowe of Museum Victoria, the paper states that the discovery illustrates how the process of evolution can lead to the loss of previously successful traits in species faced with new opportunities.

“There are more than 2,200 rodent species in the world and until this discovery all had molars in the back of their mouth and incisors at the front,” said Rowe, according to the statement posted on the museum's website.

Paucidentomys means “few-toothed mouse” and vermidax means “devourer of worms,” the statement explained.

“The specialised incisors of rodents give them the distinct ability to gnaw — a defining characteristic of rodents worldwide. In having lost all teeth except a pair of unusually shaped incisors that are incapable of gnawing, this new rat is unique among rodents,” Anang was quoted as saying.

“This is an example of how species, when faced with a new ecological opportunity, in this case an abundance of earthworms, can evolve the loss of traits that were wildly successful in previous circumstances,” Rowe said.

“While we face a global crisis of biodiversity loss, this new species reminds us that we are still in an age of biodiversity discovery. Wild habitats where new species wait to be discovered are still out there,” Rowe added.

However, the researchers added that the habitat of the new species, discovered in the rainforests of Sulawesi, is under threat.

“In the mountains of Sulawesi, where we discovered Paucidentomys, healthy forests still nurture rare and remarkable species, however, they are isolated patches imperiled by expanding logging, mining, plantations and other human activities,” Rowe said.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Another Illegal Wildlife Trading Ring Uncovered in Jakarta

Jakarta Globe, Fidelis E. Satriastanti,  August 17, 2012

Indonesian officers display the skins of a Sumatran tiger, left, and Javan
leopard in Jakarta on Wednesday. (JG Photo/Safir Makki)
               
Related articles

Authorities have uncovered a second illegal wildlife trading operation in the space of less than a month, seizing endangered animal pelts during a raid on a house in Cilandak, South Jakarta, on Tuesday night.

Darori, the Forestry Ministry’s director general of nature conservation and forest protection, said his office had managed to scupper an attempt to sell the pelt of a Sumatran tiger and a Javan leopard.

Officers also arrested four people at the house. One of them, identified only as R.S., has been identified as an illegal wildlife trafficker and named a suspect by the police.

He has been charged with trading in protected animal parts under the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law, for which he could get up to five years in prison and up to Rp 100 million ($10,500) in fines.

Tuesday’s raid comes just four weeks after police seized dozens of stuffed rare animals and pelts from a suspected taxidermist in Depok.

The stuffed animals confiscated in the July 17 bust included 14 tigers, two leopards, one clouded leopard, a lion, three bears and a tapir. There were also two sacks full of tiger pelts, as well as a stuffed tiger head and four mounted deer heads.

The Sumatran tiger and Javan leopard are classified as critically endangered species, one step away from being extinct. Trading in or possession of these protected animals or their parts is a criminal offense.

The suspect, Feri, has also been charged under the Natural Resources Conservation Law and faces up to five years in prison.

His arrest came a day after Greenpeace Indonesia reported that the Sumatran tiger, one of the most threatened of the remaining six tiger subspecies in the world, was disappearing from the wild at a rate of around 51 animals a year.

The World Wide Fund for Nature recently identified Indonesia as a key country of origin for tiger parts and elephant ivory in the illegal trade of wild animal parts.

In its “Wildlife Crime Scorecard” released last month, it rated the government as “failing on key aspects of compliance or enforcement.”

“Although Indonesia has increased its efforts to protect wild tiger populations and detect illegal trade, there remains a significant enforcement gap for tigers at the retail level, with Sumatra having a significant illegal domestic market for tiger parts,” the report said.

Additional reporting from Antara

Dutch vet fights South African rhino poachers

RNW, by Elles van Gelder, 16 August 2012

 (Elles van Gelder)
              
Every day in South Africa, a rhinoceros will bleed to death after its horn has been hacked off by poachers. The horns are sold on the black market in Asia, mostly in Vietnam, where they’re believed to have powerful medicinal properties. Dutch veterinarian Martine van Zijl Langhout works together with local wardens to try and protect this threatened species.

Van Zijll Langhout stalks as quietly as possible through the tall grass at Mauricedale Park in the east of South Africa near the famous Kruger Park. She pulls back the trigger on her special tranquiliser rifle, takes aim and fires. The rhinoceros in her sights wobbles groggily for a few minutes before sinking onto its knees and rolling unconscious onto its side. Van Zijll Langhout and her team, carrying a chainsaw, approach the animal cautiously.

Brutal killings

There are some 20,000 rhinos in South Africa, 80 percent of the world population. And every day these animals are slaughtered savagely by poachers. First the rhino is shot to bring it down, and then the horn is hacked off with axes and machetes. The poachers cut as deeply into the animal’s head as possible. Every extra centimetre of horn means more money in their pockets. In 2007, thirteen rhinos in South Africa fell victim to poachers.  Last year that number had soared to 448, and the toll so far this year is 312.

Reducing risk

Loud snoring can be heard. The vet blindfolds the rhinoceros and then the park manager starts up the chainsaw and proceeds to slice into the beast’s horn.  Van Zijll Langhout monitors its breathing: “This is one way to stop the poachers” she explains. “They want as much horn as possible so rhinos with a small horn are a less attractive target”.

Van Zijll Langhout came to South Africa in 1997 when she was still a student and worked at Kruger Park with lions, elephants and rhinos. She knew she’d found her dream job, and five years ago she returned as a qualified vet. “It’s an unquenchable passion, such an adventure, and every day is different,” she says, “It’s such a privilege to work with African animals and an honour to be able to do something for them”.

No better option

The preventive removal of the rhinoceros’ horn takes about ten minutes. Van Zijll Langhout, an energetic woman in her thirties with wildly curly hair, compares the process to clipping nails or having a haircut: “It’s completely painless; we cut above the blood vessels”. Again she checks the animal’s breathing as its snores echo through the bush. “It’s not nice that we have to do this, but I don’t really see a better option”, she sighs, “and the horn does grow back, otherwise we wouldn’t do it.” The fact that visitors to the park might be disappointed and expect to see rhinos complete with proud curving horns doesn’t bother her: “What matters is the animals’ survival”.

Organised crime

The fight against poaching is a difficult one. “These are professional criminals”, explains Van Zijll Langhout. “This isn’t about poor locals living in huts. Poachers have advanced weapons and sometimes even use helicopters.” The horns are worth more than their weight in gold, so it’s a lucrative trade for organised crime syndicates.

The horn falls to the ground; the team will preserve it and register it. The rhino is given an injection. Within minutes he’s back on his feet and walking off into the bush. His newly weightless head is no guarantee of safety though. A rhino was poached in the park the same week as the horns were sawn off. Even the stump that remains after the procedure is worth big money.

Click to watch Elles van Gelder's video about rhino poaching (Dutch language)

Rhino and wardens in Mauricedale Park (Elles van Gelder - www.rnw.nl)
Anaethsetised rhinoceros (Elles van Gelder - www.rnw.nl)
Sawing off the horn (Elles van Gelder - www.rnw.nl)
Proceedure completed (Elles van Gelder - www.rnw.nl)

Related Articles:

Untouchables: Southeast Asia’s Biggest Wildlife Traffickers


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Untouchables: Southeast Asia’s Biggest Wildlife Traffickers

Jakarta Globe, August 15, 2012

Customs officials show smuggled elephant tusks at airport customs in
 Bangkok on July 17, 2012. Thai Customs seized a shipment from Kenya of
 158 pieces African elephant tusks, weighing 456.12 kilograms and with an
 estimated value of 22.80 million Thai baht ($722,000). (EPA Photo/
Narong Sangnak)

Bangkok. Squealing tiger cubs stuffed into carry-on bags. Luggage packed with hundreds of squirming tortoises, elephant tusks, even water dragons and American paddlefish. Officials at Thailand’s gateway airport proudly tick off the illegally trafficked wildlife they have seized over the past two years.

But Thai and foreign law enforcement officers tell another story: Officials working hand-in-hand with traffickers ensure that other shipments through Suvarnabhumi International Airport are whisked off before they even reach customs inspection.

It’s a murky mix. A 10-fold increase in wildlife law enforcement actions, including seizures, has been reported in the past six years in Southeast Asia. Yet, the trade’s Mr. Bigs, masterful in taking advantage of pervasive corruption, appear immune to arrest and continue to orchestrate the decimation of wildlife in Thailand, the region and beyond.

And Southeast Asia’s honest cops don’t have it easy.

“It is very difficult for me. I have to sit among people who are both good and some who are corrupt,” says Chanvut Vajrabukka, a retired police general who now advises Asean-Wen, the regional wildlife enforcement network. “If I say, ‘You have to go out and arrest that target,’ some in the room may well warn them.”

Several kingpins, says wildlife activist Steven Galster, have recently been confronted by authorities, “but in the end, good uniforms are running into, and often stopped by bad uniforms. It’s like a bad Hollywood cop movie.

“Most high-level traffickers remain untouched and continue to replace arrested underlings with new ones,” says Galster, who works for the Freeland Foundation, an anti-trafficking group.

Galster, who earlier worked undercover in Asia and elsewhere, heaps praise on the region’s dedicated, honest officers because they persevere knowing they could be sidelined for their efforts.

Recently, Lt. Col. Adtaphon Sudsai, a highly regarded and outspoken officer, was instructed to lay off what had seemed an open-and-shut case he cracked four years ago when he penetrated a gang along the Mekong River smuggling pangolin.

This led him to Daoreung Chaimas, alleged by conservation groups to be one of Southeast Asia’s biggest tiger dealers. Despite being arrested twice, having her own assistants testify against her and DNA testing that showed two cubs were not offsprings from zoo-bred parents as she claimed, Daoreung remains free and the case may never go to the prosecutor’s office.

“Her husband has been exercising his influence,” says Adtaphon, referring to her spouse, who is a police officer. “It seems that no policeman wants to get involved with this case.” The day the officer went to arrest her the second time, his transfer to another post was announced.

“Maybe it was a coincidence,” the colonel says.

In another not uncommon case, a former Thai police officer who tried to crack down on traders at Bangkok’s vast Chatuchak Market got a visit from a senior police general who told him to “chill it or get removed.”

“I admit that in many cases, I cannot move against the big guys,” Chanvut, the retired general, notes. “The syndicates like all organized crime are built like a pyramid. We can capture the small guys but at the top they have money, the best lawyers, protection. What are we going to do?”

Chanvut’s problems are shared by others in Southeast Asia, the prime funnel for wildlife destined for the world’s No. 1 consumer — China — where many animal parts are consumed in the belief they have medicinal or aphrodisiacal properties.

Most recently, a torrent of rhino horn and elephant tusks has poured through it from Africa, which suffers the greatest slaughter of these two endangered animals in decades.

Vietnam was singled out last month by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as the top destination country for the highly prized rhino horn.

Tens of thousands of birds, mostly parrots and cockatoos plucked from the wild, are being imported from the Solomon Islands into Singapore, often touted as one of Asia’s least corrupt nations, in violation of Cites, the international convention on wildlife trade.

 According to Traffic, the international body monitoring wildlife trade, the imported birds are listed as captive-bred, even though it is widely known that the Pacific Ocean islands have virtually no breeding facilities.

Communist Laos continues to harbor Vixay Keosavang, identified as one of the region’s half dozen Mr. Bigs, who has been linked by the South African press to a rhino smuggling ring. The 54-year-old former soldier and provincial official is reported to have close ties to senior government officials in Laos and Vietnam.

Thai and foreign enforcement agents, who insist on anonymity since most work undercover, say they have accumulated unprecedented details of the gangs, which are increasingly linked to drug and human trafficking syndicates.

They say a key Thai smuggler, who runs a shipping company, has a gamut of law enforcement officers in his pocket, allowing him to traffic rhino horns, ivory and tiger parts to China. He frequently entertains his facilitators at a restaurant in his office building.

According to the agents, Chinese buyers, informed of incoming shipments, fly to Bangkok, staying at hotels pinpointed by the agents around the Chatuchak Market, where endangered species are openly sold. There they seal deals with known middlemen and freight operators.

The sources say that when they report such investigations seizures are either made for “public relations,” sink into a “black hole” — or the information is leaked to the wrongdoers.

Such a tip-off from someone at Bangkok airport customs allowed a trafficker to stop shipment of a live giraffe with powdered rhino horn believed to be implanted in its vagina.

“The 100,000 passengers moving through this airport from around the world everyday are oblivious to the fact that they are standing in one of the world’s hottest wildlife trafficking zones,” says Galster.

Officials interviewed at the airport, one of Asia’s busiest, acknowledge corruption exists, but downplay its extent and say measures are being taken to root it out.

Chanvut says corruption is not the sole culprit, pointing out the multiple agencies that often don’t cooperate or share information. Each with a role at Bangkok’s airport, are the police, national parks department, customs, immigration, the military and Cites, which regulates international trade in endangered species.

With poor communication between the police and immigration, for example, a trader whose passport has been seized at the airport can obtain a forged one and slip across a land border a few days later.

Those arrested frequently abscond by paying bribes or are fined and the case closed without further investigation. “Controlled delivery,” effectively penetrating networks by allowing illicit cargo to pass through to its destination, is rare.

Thailand’s decades-old wildlife law also awaits revision and the closing of loopholes, such as the lack of protection for African elephants, and far stiffer penalties.

“The bottom line is that if wildlife traffickers are not treated as serious criminals in Southeast Asia we are just going to lose more wildlife,” says Chris Shepherd, Traffic’s Southeast Asia deputy director. “How often is anyone arrested? They just run off, they must be the fastest people on earth.”

Chalida Phungravee, who heads the cargo customs bureau at Suvarnabhumi, says just the sheer scale makes her job difficult. The airport each year handles 45 million passengers and 3 million tons of cargo, only some 3 percent of which is X-rayed on arrival. The main customs warehouse is the size of 27 football fields.

But seizures are made, she said, including boxes of tusks — the remnants of some 50 felled elephants — aboard a recent Kenya Airlines flight declared as handicrafts and addressed to a nonexistent company.

“We have cut down a lot on corruption. It still exists but remains minimal,” she said, citing recent computerization which has created a space, dubbed “the Green Line,” between customs officials, cargo and traffickers.

Galster says unlike the past, traffickers are no longer guaranteed safe passage, describing a daily battle at Suvarnabhumi with “undercover officers monitoring corrupt ones and smugglers trying to outwit them all.”

Such increased enforcement efforts in the region have slowed decimation of endangered species, he says, “but there is still a crash going on. If corruption is not tackled soon, you can say goodbye to Asia’s tigers, elephants and a whole host of other animals.”

Associated Press
Related Article:


Friday, August 3, 2012

Heartwarming pictures of the baby monkey which made friends with a TIGER

Daily Mail, by Rebecca Seales3 August 2012
 
To our eyes they look like unlikely playmates, but no-one seems to have told this baby macaque not to monkey around with tigers.

Pictured at the Hefei Wild Zoo in China’s Anhui province, the tiny rhesus monkey, named Taoqi, was perfectly at ease as he rolled around with the big-cat-to-be.

Still at the fluffy stage, the blue-eyed tiger cub was happy to snuggle with its smaller friend.

Give us a cuddle: Baby rhesus macaque Taoqi cosies up to a young
tiger cub at a zoo in Hefei, China

One shot shows cheeky Taoqi climbing over the cub's back, while in another he fearlessly bats at the tiger's face.

A quick look at the cub's open mouth reveals the budding teeth that characterise these hunting cats.

It's anyone's guess if their friendship will go the distance, but for the moment, the tiny predator is clearly feline good around his great ape.

More...

Peekaboo: Taoqi peers fearlessly at the camera as he clings
to the cub's back

Mind the teeth! The tiny tiger shows its budding fangs as its
macaque friend goes in for a stroke

Although Taoqi lives in captivity in eastern China, rhesus monkeys are native to South, Central and Southeast Asia. They are venturesome creatures, and learn to swim at just a couple of days old.

Often happy to live alongside humans, many rhesus monkeys raid refuse for food, or rely on their neighbours for handouts.