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)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

As Indonesia’s Forests Burned, No End in Sight to Infernos

Seventy percent of 1,908 companies under the Forest Ministry’s supervision are said to be committed to complying with state environmental standards


Environmentalists have attributed most of the haze cases in Sumatra this year to
 the slash-and-burn clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations, especially for
 oil palms. President Joko Widodo has signaled a tougher stance against the practice.
(Antara Photo/Untung Setiawan)

Jakarta. Slash-and-burn clearing of forests to make way for plantations topped Indonesia’s list of environmental problems in 2014, with several major forest and land fires in Sumatra once again undermining the country’s fight against deforestation, while generating choking clouds of smoke that left local residents ill and prompt the ire of neighboring countries.

The Indonesian office of international environmental group Greenpeace says the number of fire incidents over the past few years have continued to increase in Riau, a Sumatran province at the center of major forest and land fire incidents in Indonesia in recent years.

Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Muhammad Teguh Surya says a total of 6,644 fire hot spots were detected across Riau in 2011, and this figure has continued to rise: 8,107 hot spots in 2012 and 15,112 hot spots in 2013.

“As of October this year, we recorded more than 21,000 fire hot spots,” Teguh told Indonesian news portal Tempo.co earlier this month.

The Riau administration declared a state of emergency in the province in late February after it failed to tackle fires and haze that spread to surrounding provinces, forcing airports to shut down and disrupting flights, as well as threatening the health of residents.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, said during the emergency period that ran from Feb. 26 to April 4 that potential economic losses from the fires and haze were estimated at Rp 20 trillion ($1.61 billion). Nearly 22,000 hectares of land were torched, including 2,400 hectares located in biosphere reserves.

Nearly 6 million people were exposed to the haze, and 58,000 people suffered respiratory problems as a result.

Riau was forced to declare another state of emergency in July. Although local firefighters, with the help of the military and police, eventually managed to extinguish most of the fires, they kept coming back throughout the year.

BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho has highlighted the need for better law enforcement. In the wake of the peak of the fire and haze incidents in the first quarter of the year, police have arrested dozens of people for allegedly starting the blazes, but law enforcement in the sector has generally been considered toothless, with security officers criticized for only nabbing small-scale farmers and barely going after the large plantation companies in whose concessions many of the hot spots are located.

“The key is law enforcement. Peatlands burn easily, and once they burn, it’s difficult to extinguish the fire. Prevention is more effective than putting out the fires,” Sutopo said.

Environmentalists have attributed most of the haze cases to the clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations, especially for oil palms.

Local farmers and big plantation companies been blame each other for starting the fires, but President Joko Widodo, during a visit to Riau last month, won activists’ praises when he threw his weight behind the smallholders.

“The best thing to do is to give the land to people so they can use it to plant sago. What’s made by people is usually environmentally friendly. They won’t do any harm to nature,” he said. “However, if we give the land to corporations, they will only switch it to monoculture plantations.”

Joko’s predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, won plaudits from the international community for parading as an environmental champion — pledging Indonesia’s commitment to cutting its carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent by 2020 using its own resources, and by 41 percent with international support. He enacted a moratorium on deforestation in 2011 to achieve those goals, and the ban will be in place until next year.

Yudhoyono’s administration, however, came under fire after Nature Climate Change journal published in June a report of a study that found Indonesia had overtaken Brazil as the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter by deforestation, despite the much-ballyhooed moratorium.

The report said Indonesia’s primary forest loss totaled more than six million hectares from 2000 to 2012, with an average increase of 47,600 hectares per year.

“By 2012, annual primary forest loss in Indonesia was estimated to be higher than in Brazil; 0.84 million hectares and 0.46 million hectares, respectively,” it added.

Zenzi Suhaidi, a campaigner manager with the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi, criticized a presidential regulation on peatland protection issued by Yudhoyono earlier this year because it changed the status of Benoa Bay in the south of Bali from a conservation area into a so-called buffer zone.

The change in status allows a controversial commercial development project in the area to proceed, despite an outcry from local fishermen and environmental activists.

“In spite of its name, the regulation jeopardizes the sustainability of peatlands because it compromises certain stakeholders’ interests, and the regulation provides no deterrent effects,” Zenzi said.

He also pointed to a clause in the regulation that rules on environmental restoration requirements for forestry and mining firms, saying it offered a lot of room for backroom deals.

“That was a setback by Yudhoyono this year. The regulation ‘inadvertently’ provides room for gratuities,” Zenzi said.

“This year we’ve seen the effects of forest destruction, yet the previous administration still issued that regulation to exploit [forests].”

Zenzi, though, like other environmental activists, is encouraged by Joko’s take on green issues, following his visit to Sungai Tohor village in Riau’s Meranti Islands district in late November.

They believe the president’s siding with local farmers and his particular attention to the management of peatlands are positive signs of his commitment to the environment. Joko, during that visit, introduced a canal system to manage the water level in peatlands to make them more resistant to fires. He said he wanted the system to be part of the government’s permanent policies on Indonesia’s peatland management.

Joko also has ordered reviews of logging permits and concessions of plantation and mining firms, in an effort to crack down on slash-and-burn clearing of forests.

“Those commitments may be part of a concrete agenda that will have significant effects. And implementations of all of them must start in 2015,” Zenzi said.

He said the government must set up a body to ensure implementation of those commitments, suggesting a name like “the Anti-Forestry Mafia Committee,” or “the Agrarian Conflict Resolution Board.”

“Mechanisms [for resolutions] have to be built because the number of cases of [land] conflict and environmental degradation are very high already, and the incidents are widespread,” Zenzi said.

He added Joko’s administration also faced a challenge in the form of regulations issued during Yudhoyono’s term.

“Although Joko’s administration has signaled its good intentions to fix our country’s environmental problems, we cannot forget that there are many policies on the environment arbitrarily issued by the previous administration,” he said.

Rasio Ridho Sani, a deputy to the environment and forestry minister, however, argued that Indonesia had made significant improvements in the environmental sector, citing growing environmental awareness among logging, plantation and mining firms operating in forests.

He said 70 percent of the total 1,908 companies under the ministry’s supervision were committed to complying with the government’s environmental standards. The figure is an increase from 49 percent in 2004.

“Seventy percent of those corporations have refined their commitments to managing their activities and the effects toward the environment,” Rasio said.

“This means the environmental awareness of the business community has increased. And we hope that the number will stay that high and increase even further,” he said.

He added that the public’s awareness about environmental issues was also improving, citing how more people were starting to cycle to work and were committed to recycling their waste as part of a greener lifestyle.

“This is a very good sign for our nation,” Rasio said.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Owner of injured hippo turned in to prosecutors

Want China Times, CNA 2014-12-27

Veterinarians inject anesthetics to the hippo A He in Miaoli county,
Dec. 26. (Photo/Chiang Shih-chu)

The Taiwanese owner of a hippo injured after jumping from a truck that was carrying it has been turned over to prosecutors by police for further investigation on whether he had broken the Wildlife Conservation Act.

The hippo jumped from the truck and broke its teeth and one leg when the vehicle was taking the animal from a shelter in Miaoli to Skyzoo recreational farm in Taichung, where it has been raised for eight years, an initial investigation by Miaoli police found.

According to the owner of "A He," the animal was originally a gift from the Kaohsiung city government to the Taichung county government (now part of the Taichung city). But Taichung county later gave the hippo to the Taichung farm after finding it was not capable of taking good care of it.

Staff at the farm said it was one of two hippos that was being transported from a temporary shelter to their renovated home at the farm. Staff members suggested that the hippo must have been startled at some point in the trip, leading it to jump through a ventilation window in their container and collide with a parked car.

As the owner could not provide legal import documents for the hippo, an internationally protected wild animal, Miaoli police decided to turn him in to prosecutors for breaching the Wildlife Conservation Act.

The Miaoli County government will also slap a fine of NT$15,000 (US$472.45) -NT$75,000 (U$2,365) on the owner for his failure to protect the animal.

The hippo startled several Miaoli county residents on Friday as it rammed itself against a parked car after escaping from its enclosure aboard the truck.

It was eventually overcome with exhaustion and laid down on the ground, appearing to be suffering from injuries, including broken teeth and a broken leg.

New transportation arrangements have been made to return the two hippos back to their habitat in Taichung, this time under sedation by veterinarians, according to a farm official.

The injured hippo enters the pond in Taichung's Dajia district,
Dec. 27. (Photo/CNA)

Related Article:


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Elephant ivory smuggling 'kingpin' arrested in Tanzania

Suspected organised crime boss Feisal Ali Mohammed is arrested following publication of Interpol most-wanted list

The Guardian – AFP, 23 December 2014

Feisal Mohamed Ali, bottom-right, has been arrested in Tanzania following
an Interpol most-wanted list. Photograph: Interpol

A suspected organised crime boss alleged to be a leading figure in the illegal ivory trade has been arrested by Interpol agents in Tanzania, officials said on Tuesday.

The international police organisation last month put Kenyan national Feisal Ali Mohammed on a list of nine most-wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment.

“Feisal Ali Mohammed was arrested by Interpol officers in Dar es Salaam. He was then booked in Musimbasi police station at 10:42pm last night,” Kenya’s director of public prosecutions said in a statement.

It said he is facing charges in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa for “dealing and possession of elephant tusks” weighing more than two tonnes and equivalent to at least 114 poached elephants, which were found during a raid in June.

Herd of elephants in Tarangire National Park, Tanzania. Photograph:
Ingvild Holm/Environmental Investigation Agency

Two alleged accomplices, Abdul Halim Sadiq and Ghalib Sadiq Kara, were arrested then, but Mohammed managed to escape and has been on the run since. According to an Interpol source, Mohammed was caught in “a string operation” conducted in conjunction with Tanzanian police.

He is the second of the nine alleged “environmental criminals” listed by Interpol to have been arrested since the Interpol appeal last month. Earlier this month, Zambian national Ben Simasiku was arrested on charges of possessing ivory from Botswana.

In November, Interpol said the arrest of the suspects would “contribute to the dismantlement of transnational organised crime groups who have turned environmental exploitation into a professional business with lucrative revenues.”

Ivory is sought out for jewellery and decorative objects and much of it is smuggled to China, where many increasingly wealthy shoppers are buying ivory trinkets as a sign of financial success.

A sharp rise in poaching in Kenya, which is home to an estimated 30,000 elephants and just over a thousand rhinos, has sparked warnings from conservation groups that the government is losing the fight against the slaughter.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jokowi Pledges to Protect Female Human Rights Activists

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite, Dec 22, 2014

Activists protesting against violence against women, in Central Jakarta
on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Reno Esnir)

Jakarta. Having granted clemency to a female activist just last week, President Joko Widodo on Monday promised that other female Indonesian activists would never be imprisoned again for defending human rights.

“We have to keep fighting for people’s rights. Female activists, who strive for their rights and also other people’s rights, should never be imprisoned. Something like that should never happen again,” Joko, also known as Jokowi, said on Monday in Jakarta.

The president was speaking on Indonesia’s Mother’s Day. It was not immediately clear whether his pledge would also apply to male human rights defenders.

Last Wednesday, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry issued a letter granting clemency to Eva Susanti Bande, a human rights activist who had been jailed after standing up for farmers’ rights in Luwuk, South Sulawesi, in 2010

Eva, who was released from the Petobo detention center in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Friday, was convicted of instigation and vandalism for her involvement in a rally with a group of farmers against a palm oil company.

In 2010, the Luwuk District Court in Central Sulawesi sentenced Eva to 3.5 years in prison but her sentence was increased to four years on appeal. Eva requested presidential clemency after the Supreme Court turned down her appeal last year.

“I granted Eva’s plea for clemency because I’m fully aware of what she’s striving for, which is the people’s right to land,” Joko said.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Birds Can Sense a Coming Storm and Flee

Jakarta Globe - AFP, Dec 19, 2014

A male golden-winged warbler carrying a light-level geolocator on his back
 and identification bands on his legs, is seen in the Cumberland Mountains of
 Tennessee, US, in this undated handout photo provided by Gunnar Kramer.
(Reuters Photo/Gunnar Kramer)

Miami. Birds appear to be able to sense a coming storm and fly away before it hits, according to research out Thursday on golden-winged warblers in the United States.

These tiny, delicate birds weigh just nine grams, or about as much as a palmful of coins, and yet somehow they knew that a massive storm system — including tornadoes and high winds — was on its way one to two days in advance.

They fled their breeding grounds in the mountains of eastern Tennessee just before the storm system swept through the central and southern United States in late April 2014.

The storm caused at least 84 tornadoes and killed 35 people.

“It is the first time we’ve documented this type of storm avoidance behavior in birds during breeding season,” said ecologist Henry Streby at the University of California, Berkeley.

“We know that birds can alter their route to avoid things during regular migration, but it hadn’t been shown until our study that they would leave once the migration is over and they’d established their breeding territory to escape severe weather,” he said.

When the birds flew off, the storm was still hundreds of miles away, so there would have been few detectable changes in atmospheric pressure, temperature and wind speed.

“The warblers in our study flew at least 1,500 kilometers total to avoid a severe weather system. They then came right back home after the storm passed.”

Scientists think that this sixth sense that birds possess has to do with their ability to hear sounds that humans cannot.

Birds and some other animals have been shown to hear infrasounds, which are acoustic waves that occur at frequencies below 20 hertz.

Events like winds blowing, ocean waves crashing and volcanoes erupting at faraway distances can create infrasounds that birds may be able to sense, even when the events themselves are thousands of kilometers away.

Tornadoes are also known to produce strong infrasound.

“There’s growing research that shows that tornadoes are becoming more common and severe with climate change, so evasive actions like the ones the warbler took might become more necessary,” said Streby.

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wild animals reappearing in Taiwan's northern coastal areas

Want China Times, CNA 2014-12-15

Formosan rock monkeys in the Taipei Zoo, Feb. 11. (File photo/Yao Chih-ping)

A survey on wild animals on Taiwan's northern coast between the Tamshui and Jinshan areas has found that since farming activities on the villages skirting Yangmingshan National Park and human consumption of wild animals decreased, many idle farm plots are turning into second-growth forests and rare wild animals are reappearing.

The Forestry Research Institute under the Council of Agriculture said that the survey found an abundance of wild animals in the second-growth forests with a diversity comparable to the country's national parks, which have long been under strict protection.

The survey recorded ferret badgers, masked palm civets, civet cats, pangolins, Formosan rock monkeys, Reeves' muntjac and boars.

The survey also found that the population density of several animals are higher than those of the natural forest just two kilometers away, including twice the number of masked palm civets and five times the number of ferret badgers. Civet cats have even been spotted on the outskirts of mountain villages.

The institute claims that the reappearance of the wildlife is related to the diminished farming activities and fewer people eating the wild aninmals.

More than 20 years ago, farming was thriving in the villages near Yangmingshan National Park, and many residents regarded wild animals as pests or food for consumption.

Over the last decade, however, much of the farmland has been left unused, making it a paradise for wildlife again.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Death toll continues to rise in Indonesian landslide

Rescuers have pulled more bodies from debris left after a mudslide hit a village in central Indonesia. Dozens are still missing and hundreds have been displaced by the disaster.

Deutsche Welle, 14 Dec 2014


Rescue workers in Indonesia on Sunday continued their search for more than 70 people left missing after a mudslide two days previously buried 105 houses in the village of Jemblung in central Java.

"The rescue team has found 32 bodies ... and is still searching for 76 people buried in the landslide," National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a text message.

Sutopo said 25 of the victims had been identified, adding that more than 2,000 people were taking part in the search. Some 600 people had been forced from their homes and were being accommodated in temporary shelters at several locations, he said.

President's visit

The ground around the disaster site is reportedly still unstable, forcing rescuers to be careful while digging for fear of causing more mudslides. Sutopo said that rescue teams had also been hampered by the fact that many roads and bridges were destroyed.

President Joko Widodo (seen above in white) visited the area on Sunday, and promised to relocate the people made homeless by the disaster. He also warned Indonesians to be "vigilant," saying that there were many other areas in the country where landslides were a likely event.

Friday's mudslide in the Barnjarnegara district, some 460 kilometers (285 miles) east of the capital, Jakarta, was triggered by three days of torrential rains.

Landslides caused by heavy rains and floods are common in Indonesia during the rainy season, which runs from November to March. The national disaster estimates that about half of the countriy's 250 million population lives in areas that are prone to landslides.

tj/es (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Govt to ‘Help’ Lapindo With Mudflow Compensation, Offers to Buy Assets

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite, Dec 08, 2014

Children play on swings on the embankment of the Lapindo mudflow. Victims
 are still waiting for full compensation from the company accused of triggering
the disaster. (JG Photo/Arief Priyono)

Jakarta. Victims of the Lapindo mudflow disaster in Sidoarjo, East Java, are one step closer to being compensated for losses — eight years after dozens of villages and hundreds of hectares of farmland were swamped.

The government announced on Monday that it would buy assets from the company accused of triggering the disaster, Lapindo Brantas, which could then use the proceeds to pay out Rp 781 billion ($62 million) due to victims this year.

Minister of Public Works Basuki Hadimuljono said the government would buy about 20 percent of the company’s assets, which was mostly land, in affected areas.

The announcement comes just days after President Joko Widodo — through cabinet secretary Andi Widjajanto — ordered Lapindo Brantas to wrap up payments to victims of the mud volcano. On top of the Rp 781 billion owed to residents, the company, which is affiliated with the family of Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, must pay Rp 500 billion to affected businesses in 2015.

“They still have around Rp 1.4 trillion to pay,” Andi said. “We’re waiting for it.”

The government’s decision to buy assets from Lapindo Brantas is bound to raise questions about why money from the state budget was essentially being used to compensate a mistake made by the company.

The government is already required to pay Rp 300 billion compensation to victims whose land is located outside the map of affected areas. A 2012 judicial review which sought to have the company cover all compensation costs in areas affected by the mudflow was rejected by the Constitutional Court.

Andi said buying the company’s assets was part of the government’s effort to “help” Lapindo Brantas fulfill its responsibilities.

Lapindo Brantas was conducting gas exploration in the Sidoarjo area in 2006 when one of its natural gas wells blew out, causing a mud flow which destroyed hundreds of homes, swamped 720 hectares of land and displaced thousands of people.

Scientists blame drilling activities by the company for triggering the eruption, but the government at the time decreed it a natural disaster.

Related Articles:


Lapindo Told to Shell Out For Mudflow Before Drilling Again

Lapindo Disaster Caused By Human Error: Study

Indonesia's mud volcano flows on

Satellite picture received from Ikonos Satellite Image on May 29, 2008 shows
the mud volcano and its surrounding area in Sidoarjo, East Java. (AFP/Ikonos
Satellite Image)

More pictures ....

VP Kalla Tells Business Owners to Behave

Jakarta Globe, Novianti Setuningsih, Dec 08, 2014

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, left, talking with Trade Minister Rachmet Gobel at
 the leadership meeting of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(Kadin) on Monday. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla in a speech for the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) on Monday urged the nation’s entrepreneurs to stop ruining the environment and pay their taxes.

“In the wood-trading era, in the 1960s and 70s, a lot of trees were cut down, causing floods that we still have to deal with until now,” said Kalla, himself a successful businessman.

The vice president also told the hundreds of entrepreneurs attending Kadin’s national leadership meeting that the government was going to improve its natural resources management.

“The mining sector was profiting while our environment was wasted. The [new] regulation is made to protect our natural resources,” Kalla said.

He added that business should also pay all taxes and royalties they owe, and that owners could be banned from traveling abroad if they fail to do so.

Kalla explained that the government needed the income from taxes and royalties to help fund its program to improve the nation’s infrastructure.

Related Article:


Monday, December 8, 2014

Jokowi’s Call for Ecological Reform Reaches Palm Oil Firms

Jakarta Globe, Dec 08, 2014

The practice of burning peatlands has not only damaged the environment but
also triggered health problems. (EPA Photo/Azwar)

Jakarta. Following last week’s strong pro-peatlands and forests commitment by newly inaugurated President Joko Widodo, two of the world’s largest palm oil producers and traders have announced policies to address the criticism of deforestation in their supply chains.

However, Greenpeace says that where Musim Mas commits to immediately protect High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests, Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) does not define exactly what it will protect.

The High Carbon Stock Approach, the global environmental group argues, is a tested tool that identifies degraded areas suitable for plantation development and forest areas that merit protection to maintain and enhance carbon, biodiversity and social values.

It is being overseen and further refined by the multi-stakeholder High Carbon Stock Approach Steering Group, which involves international non-governmental organizations including Greenpeace as well as palm oil producers Cargill, Agropalma, Wilmar, New Britain Palm Oil, Daabon and Golden Agri Resources, and one of the world’s largest pulp and paper companies Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).

“While Musim Mas will use the leading methodology to break the link between palm oil and deforestation, KLK fails to identify what forests the company plans to protect,” said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Annisa Rahmawati. “Without a clear definition, it is hard for us to believe that the company is serious about its commitments.”

Both Musim Mas and KLK are part of the Malaysia-based Sustainable Palm Oil Manifesto (SPOM), an industry initiative that has commissioned further carbon study. In their new policies, the companies say they will adopt the outcomes of that study after 2015.

Where the HCS Approach has explicitly been developed to implement commitments to break the link between palm oil and deforestation, the objective of the SPOM appears to rather be balancing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and socioeconomic aspects.

Greenpeace and other leading NGOs do not support the SPOM as it falls short of new benchmarks for responsible palm oil production and trade, and is not a multi-stakeholder driven initiative. However, the HCS Approach Steering Group has stated an openness to any new credible science and will consider recommendations from the SPOM study.

“With deforestation rates rising in Indonesia, KLK and Musim Mas need get their priorities [straight]. We urge these companies to make a long-term commitment to the best tools available, in particular the HCS Approach, to break the link between palm oil and deforestation. They also need to require their third party suppliers to do the same,” Annisa said.

KLK and Musim Mas’s announcements come days after a visit by Joko to the coastal peatlands of Riau. The president assured that his minister for environment and forestry is reviewing plantation concessions, and will revoke the permits of those that have damaged the ecosystem.

Greenpeace has declared its support of Joko’s push for environmental law enforcement, and pointed to a recent case in which a director and a manager of KLK subsidiary Adei Plantation and Industry were found guilty of negligence over forest fires in Pelalawan, Riau.

In his visit to the province Joko declared his preference for farms owned by individuals — as opposed to corporations — to curb the haze crisis that stems from peatland fires in Riau and across Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Joko said private farmers had minimal impact on the environment when compared to corporate monoculture plantations such as those for oil palms and pulpwood, which have been the main cause of environmental damage in the province.

The president added that he had ordered Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya to review and monitor concessions currently operated by large companies across the country.

“If they are indeed destroying the ecosystem with their monoculture plantations, they will have to be terminated,” Joko said.

“We must put a stop the [destruction], we mustn’t allow our tropical rainforests to disappear.”

The president revealed that the government also plans to employ a new approach in managing Indonesia’s peatlands, vast expanses of which can be found in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Fires on these two Indonesian islands, which often lead to transboundary haze problems in Singapore and Malaysia, begin on peatlands as it is drained and subjected to slashing and burning to give way for the cultivation of commercial plants.

Local farmers and large corporations have for years been placing the blame on each other for igniting fires on peatlands.

Corrupt government officials, meanwhile, have been blamed for lax law enforcement that allows fires and haze problems to recur every year, harming the health of both local and neighboring residents, and increasing economic losses as airports are forced to close.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Orangutan in Kalimantan Said to Have Died With 40 Pellets in Her Body

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Dec 05, 2014

An injured female orangutan, which was found on Dec. 3, 2014 with some 40
 air rifle pellets in her body, in poor health following its rescue in Nyaru Menteng,
Kalimantan. The orangutan later died. (AFP Photo/The Borneo Orangutan
Survival Foundation)

Jakarta. An orangutan has died after being found on a palm oil plantation in Kalimantan with 40 air-rifle pellets in her body, an animal protection group said on Friday.

The adult female was found on Wednesday in a critical condition inside a palm oil plantation in the Central Kalimantan province, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said in a press release.

The case is the latest example of one of the critically-endangered primates being killed by humans. Orangutans are faced with extinction from poaching and the rapid destruction of their forest habitat, driven largely by land clearance for palm oil and paper plantations.

“An X-ray result showed 10 pellets in the head, 8 pellets in the left leg and pelvis, 18 pellets in the right leg and pelvis, as well as six pellets in the chest and right hand,” it said.

The primate’s right upper leg was also broken and maggots were found inside her open wounds. She also very skinny due to malnutrition.

A team of medics operated on the orangutan in an attempt to save her life but she died on Thursday, the foundation said.

The group estimates that the attack took place three days before she was found.

“This added a long list of conflict between between industry and wildlife, as well as [the] practice of nature exploitation,” it said, urging Indonesian government to take a real action to protect the primates.

“The BOS Foundation urged real commitment and action of government, private sector in protecting orangutan,” it said.

Orangutans are native to the vast island of Kalimantan, which is shared among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

Destruction of Indonesia’s lowland rainforest and peatland for palm oil plantations and agriculture has led to a dramatic decline in the number of orangutans, Asia’s only great ape.

Agence France-Presse

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pedigree dog health and welfare in spotlight, breeders pledge action

DutchNews.nl, November 27, 2014

The Dutch dog breeders’ association is taking steps to improve the health of pedigree dogs, in particular by ensuring they don’t have problems because of their extreme appearance, broadcaster Nos says on Thursday.

Vets will be present at all dog shows from 2016 and will make their own judgements about ‘best of breed’, alongside the judges, Nos says. The aim is to have eradicated health problems caused by physical deformities such as very flat noses and multiple skin folds by 2024.

The association’s plan, entitled Fairfok, or ‘fair breeding’, was presented to junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma on Thursday.

From 2018, pedigree dog family trees will be able to apply for Fairfok approval, which shows the breeding has taken place with appropriate consideration for the behaviour, health and welfare of both the parents and puppies.

There are between 1.5 million and 1.8 million dogs in the Netherlands, of which around 500,000 are pedigrees.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Old Traditions for Saving Water

Jakarta Globe, Sitti Aminah, Nov 27, 2014

A villager collects water from a well, which was dug from the bottom of a lake
 that had dried up in Gunung 
Kidul village, near Yogyakarta in Java. Drought
 continually plagues the area and the villagers who reside there. (Reuters
Photo/Dwi Oblo)

Jakarta. Indonesia is home to some of the world’s largest water deposits. According to the Water Environment Partnership in Asia, WEPA, almost 6 percent of the world’s water resources  can be found in Indonesia. Additionally, Indonesia controls 21 percent of water resources in the Asia-Pacific region.

Geographically, it can be said that Indonesia is blessed with an abundance of water in storage.

Mountainous areas covered in rain forests form natural water catchments. Mangrove forests in coastal areas, meanwhile, protect inland water storage from saltwater intrusion.

Indonesia undoubtedly plays an important role in global water security and environmental conservation. This, however, does not mean Indonesia is immune from water-related problems.

Water is one of several basic necessities, a valuable asset that has the potential to trigger problems should it be manipulated or managed unwisely. Speaking of manipulating water resources, the government and the private-sector play an increasing role in this sector.

The 1945 Constitution mandates the government as the sole manager of water resources throughout the archipelago. It is given the mandate so that it can fulfill the people’s basic necessities.

Overwhelmed by the task, the government has delegated part of its water authority to the private sector. They require the private sector to ensure that Indonesia’s need for water is balanced with accessible supplies.

Excessive use

Despite efforts to maintain supply, most urban populations in Indonesia use water excessively.  It may be because to them, water is something easily available, not something that they struggle to attain.

Lower- to middle-income people in Indonesia use 169.11 liters per day, per person on average. The figure is higher for those in the middle-to-upper class group who use 247.36 liters. Almost every domestic activity requires water, from washing clothes and cleaning the dishes to cooking, drinking and watering gardens.

According the Indonesia Water Institute, since 2000, various regions in Indonesia have been forced to deal with water scarcity. Such shortages are blamed by environmental degradation. Additionally, water becomes scarce due to unwise management.

The Baduy people

An examination of the traditional practices of some indigenous groups, including the Baduy people in Banten is insightful. Their actions are in line with sustainable development principles, consisting of three pillars: environment, economy and community. Under those principles, they are able to manage the environment wisely.

The practice, supervised by their elderly, bars Baduy Dalam (Inner Baduy) people, who live deep in the forest, from cutting down trees. Cutting trees is only allowed should the tree be of a sufficient age. If they cut down one tree, in exchange, they must plant two trees. We can see here an effort to balance the ecosystem, and maintain an abundance of trees.

The indigenous Baduy people demonstrate to us how to manage our relations with the environment. By preserving the forest, they maintain the availability of water in the soil.

In terms of their other two pillars, economy and community, an examination of Baduy Luar (outer Baduy) people’s practices is useful.  They are allowed to sell their crops to meet daily necessities, but only if they maintain the sustainability of their plantations and don’t harvest excessively — which can damage their forests. The Baduy sees nature as an integral part of their life that must to be respected. It is a remarkable value, one which has allowed them to avoid environmental-related problems, including water scarcity.

If we apply such values to our modern society, everyone will benefit. Indonesians need to wake from their long sleep and consider such core environmental principles. Unique traditional values that respect nature are part of our country’s identity. Even though they often originate from different cultural practices, they have one thing in common: a unique, traditional solution for environmental issues.

Every region in Indonesia is moving towards preserving the environment as one solution for water scarcity. I’m optimistic that this will work. I’m also aware, though, that it is going to be a life-long project to make people understand environmental principles.

Once they understand the actions they can take to alleviate water scarcity, their behavior will change. Let’s appreciate what we have, and let’s move forward with it.

Sitti “Ina” Aminah is a knowledge management officer at the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Yayasan Kehati)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pachydermis Stormborn: Taipei Zoo baby hippo named after the rain

Want China Times, CNA and Staff Reporter 2014-11-23

Baby hippo Yu and mother Najuzhong at Taipei Zoo, Nov. 21. (Photo
courtesy of Taipei Zoo)

Taipei Zoo said Friday that a baby hippopotamus was born in a pond at the zoo as rain poured down on the night of Nov. 16.

The baby hippo, currently smaller than its mother's head, was named Yu, which means rain, and its mother's name Najuzhong was added, the zoo said on its official website.

The zoo said its veterinary staff observed last Sunday afternoon that the mother had gone into labor and they monitored her until she gave birth at about 10pm.

Since then, Najuzhong Yu has been sticking close to its mother's side but can already dive, the zoo said.

The calf's sex has not yet been determined because the mother would not allow the veterinary staff to get too close, the zoo said.

It said the mother and newborn are being kept in the Asian rainforest display area because the enclosure for its African animals is under renovation.

The best time for visitors to see the baby hippo is when the mother leaves the pond to feed. "If you're lucky, you may have a chance to see her breastfeeding," a zoo keeper said.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Australia Brings ‘Koala Diplomacy’ to Bear at G20

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Nov 16, 2014

First Lady Iriana Widodo holds a koala while on a spouse visit to a koala sanctuary
 at the G20 conference in Brisbane, Australia on Nov. 15, 2014. (EPA Photo/Ian Waldie/
Pool Australia And New Zealand Out)

Brisbane. Australia arranged a warm and fuzzy welcome for the world’s most powerful leaders at this weekend’s G20 summit with a campaign dubbed “koala diplomacy”, in which top politicians cuddled the shy native marsupials.

While there may have been sharp differences during policy discussions, G20 leaders were unanimous in their desire be photographed with the furry grey animals, which were brought in from a local wildlife park for the summit.

Everyone from US President Barack Obama to China’s first lady Peng Liyuan queued up to hold the koalas as the world’s press snapped away.

Even host Tony Abbott’s pre-summit threat to aggressively “shirtfront” Russian leader Vladimir Putin was temporarily forgotten as the pair smiled and posed side-by-side cradling koalas in their arms.

The well-traveled White House press corps, normally immune to the charms of “local color”, were also enchanted by the iconic bush creatures when they met a two-year-old female named Jimbelung.

The koala, which is destined to be sent to Japan as a gift, munched contentedly on eucalyptus leaves but her handler said she was too tired to pose with reporters after photo sessions with Putin and Obama.

However, there was time for one more round of pictures when local powerbroker Campbell Newman, the Premier of Queensland state, turned up with a gaggle of media in tow.

But handler Al Mucci, from the Dreamworld wildlife park on the nearby Gold Coast tourist strip, said bringing the koalas to the summit was not just about ramping up the event’s cuteness factor.

He said Jimbelung, whose name means “friends” in the local Aboriginal dialect, belongs to a species struggling with declining numbers as human development encroaches on their habitat.

“As an Australian, I am proud of the fact that we are hosting the G20 and I’m proud that today we can share the koala story,” he told AFP.

“Koalas and people aren’t learning to live together and their population is dropping. We want to share that with the global community, that more help is required to make sure that people and koalas live together for another 200 years here in Australia.”

While not listed as endangered, koalas are officially considered “vulnerable”, and efforts to boost their population have been stepped up in recent years.

A 2011 study estimated there were more than 10 million before British settlers arrived in 1788 but numbers had declined to less than 45,000 in the wild, though it noted their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.

Koalas spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping. On the rare occasions when they are spotted in the wild, they are usually nestled in the crook of two branches either napping or chewing leaves.

Agence France-Presse

Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott, left, and US President Barack Obama each
 hold a koala before the G20 Leaders' Summit in Brisbane on Nov. 15, 2014.
(Reuters Photo/G20 Australia/Handout)

Related Article: