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)

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Woman’s Passion for Saving Indonesian Orangutans

Jakarta Globe, Madeleine Wilson, January 26, 2014

Three different species have been identified in Borneo, but the true
number mat be nearer to six. (JG Photo/Madeleine Wilson)

Surrounded by plants and in front of a whiteboard, with biology related words like “nuclei” and “mitochondria” being tossed around, I felt like I had been transported back to junior high school where I had stalwartly insisted on leaving such terms behind. But what shone through despite the jargon was Puji Rianti’s passion for her current research. Research that she insists is key to the conservation efforts of the endangered orangutan.

Talking about her study and teaching roles at Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), Puji hesitates “Let’s just say that I’m a biologist.”

Perhaps a more general label is appropriate. While her undergraduate years were focused on in-vitro fertilization, her masters thesis investigated the effectiveness of insect pollinators. Now venturing into the fields of genetics and primatology, it is fair to say that Puji has covered a fair amount of ground.

A love for biology in all of its forms began in junior high school. As one of the top students in her class, Puji was on the hit list for the IPB — a school renowned for its “invitation-only” policy.

She was fortunate enough to find a mentor in one of her professors, Bambang Suryobroto. In a conservative university system that seemed intent on retaining a formal barrier between teacher and student, Puji describes Bambang as “one in a million”; a teacher that commanded respect while still encouraging a very open dialogue with his students.

In those early years, Bambang encouraged Puji to assist on some extra curricular field work involving macaques in Pangandaran, West Java. It was this role that kindled a love affair with primates.

The opportunity to continue working with the lovable mammals was a stroke of luck, Puji admits.

It so happened that a syndicate, known as the Evolutionary Genetics Group, from the University of Zurich had recently produced research looking at the genetic makeup of the Sumatran and Bornean orangutans. They were offering a scholarship to an Indonesian student to continue this research, which Puji managed to secure — a result she puts down to having excellent odds. Incidentally, she was the only one to apply.

Almost three years and two trips to Switzerland later and Puji believes they are well on their way to piecing together a more comprehensive story that has resulted in a genetic subdivision of the endangered species.

Puji Rianti in the laboratory. (JG Photo/Madeleine Wilson)

The big question

It is now widely accepted that there are two species of orangutan. Those that live in Northern Sumatra ( Pongo abeilii ) and those from the island of Borneo ( Pongo pygmaeus ).

From here, the lines become somewhat blurry. In Borneo, three different subspecies have been identified. But it is believed that there may be up to six.

Puji is focusing on the population in Sumatra, which is among the most endangered, with only 6,600 animals left in the wild. Her research indicates a genetic difference between the orangutans commonly found to the north of Lake Toba and those whose natural habitat is on the southern side.

This may seem unremarkable or even, insignificant. But the more compelling matter is why the population that lives in the southern region bears more resemblance to its long-lost Bornean cousins than to its much nearer supposed relatives on the other side of the lake?

“That is the big question,” Puji says.

A multitude of factors can affect how natural populations are genetically structured. It may be as a result of environmental circumstances limiting the breeding ground of a species. Or similarly, the habitat itself — the existence of predators and the like. The social organization can also play a role; whether a species engages in pack-life or prefers a more solitary lifestyle, such as orangutans.

Puji and her fellow researchers believe a forced Bornean immigration to Sumatra following the eruption of Lake Toba 70,000 years ago might explain the genetic similarities between the two, otherwise distant, populations.

Importance to conservation

Mitochondrial DNA analysis might not currently feature in the majority of orangutan conservation discourse, but that does not indicate a lack of importance.

These smaller populations of orangutan can pose all sorts of problems for the future of the species. We all know what happened with some royal families. If they continue to breed within these small subdivisions, the genetic diversity will continue to diminish and in turn affect the overall fitness of the population.

Puji notes that the lack of knowledge surrounding the varying genetic structure means that we are also in danger of losing the original species.

“Most zoos in Indonesia are still putting the Sumatran orangutan and the orangutan from Kalimantan in the same cage. Of course they will breed. They will create a hybrid. And they will create a new species.”

There is also an issue with habitat. Currently, the Sumatran orangutan resides predominantly in trees — a result of dangerous predators prowling the jungle floor. But the Bornean orangutan, without such worries, spends most of its time below the canopy.

Returning a rescued orangutan to the incorrect environment can therefore be hugely detrimental to its survival.

Preventing this is the ultimate goal, Puji says.

“If we can complete the genetic database, we will be able to identify all rescued orangutan and know where they come from so that when they are saved, they can be return to their natural habitat.”

She admits that while the conservation efforts are improving, a lack of understanding about the importance of the movement is inhibiting the progress.

When completing field research, she is often abused by local villagers who can’t understand why she would study the orangutan, a pest that eats all their crops, over the orang (human being).

Thievery, of course, is not typically in the habit of an orangutan, but a necessary measure when their homes are being continually destroyed, often for the benefit of palm oil plantations. These same palm oil companies have been reported to instigate policies of paying local people Rp 150,000 ($12) for each orangutan killed.

A rampant illegal primate trade still exists, with some buyers out for an exotic pet and others with more sinister exploits in mind.

Many of the smaller village communities still hunt the animal for its meat. In Kalimantan alone, it is estimated that 1,000 orangutans are killed every year for this very reason.

“I’m not going to blame the locals — it’s the system,” Puji says.

“We need to educate the villagers as to why we are doing this and also provide them with an alternative.”

She believes it is about everybody doing their part and working together.

“I just hope that the little things I do here — the pure science, genetics — will help the conservation project.”

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