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, October 6, 2014

Dayak Iban People Won’t Give Up Fight for Ancestral Lands

Wild West: Original inhabitants of fertile West Kalimantan lands face uphill battle against those intent on clearing forest areas, but activists say prospect of new president renews hope of a solution for the disputes between indigenous peoples, companies and local governments

Jakarta Globe, Basten Gokkon, Oct 06, 2014

Part of the 15,000 hectares of land originally owned by the indigenous Dayak Iban
people, which has been turned into a palm oil plantation. (JG Photo/Basten Gokkon)

Pontianak. For the Dayak Iban tribe of West Kalimantan’s Bengkayang district, the dense virgin forest here near the Indonesian border with Malaysia has been the center of life for generations.

“The ancestral forest is rich with natural resources,” Momonus, 42, the chief of the Dayak Iban village of Semunying Jaya tells the Jakarta Globe during a trek through the forest.

“The graveyards of our ancestors are there, as are our places of worship.”

Semunying Jaya is a seven-hour drive, with no stops, from Pontianak, the provincial capital. The nearest center of commerce, the Seluas traditional market, is two hours away, along a dirt track with no streetlights.

So remote is this village of some 50 households that using a satellite dish is the only way to catch television broadcasts — and those with a cellphone get text reminders that they are roaming on Malaysian carrier Digicom’s frequency.

Uninvited guests

Like many indigenous groups, the Dayak Iban didn’t traditionally subscribe to the notion of land ownership. The forest and everything within it was there to be used, and when the need arose they would move to another part of it.

When their nomadic wanderings came to an end and they finally settled in what would become Semunying Jaya village, they assumed that they would continue to have access to the 18,000 or so hectares of forest from which they had subsisted for decades.

Limited access to education and zero awareness of land laws meant they never thought to formalize their claim to the land.

So it came as a bitter shock to the Dayak Iban when its rich forests were suddenly beset by wave upon wave of outsiders seeking to exploit it. First came Yamaker Kalbar Jaya, a company belonging to the armed forces, which began logging the area in 1987.

Then from 1998 to 2000, the government appointed state-owned logger Perum Perhutani to reforest the area — only to see it continue cutting down valuable trees and sell them for timber across the border.

In 2000, Lundu Sawmill, a Malaysian company based in Sarawak state, illegally logged timber in Semunying Jaya, which ignited protests from the indigenous people, who fought back by seizing two bulldozers.

Two years later, the Indonesian company Agung Perkasa obtained a permit to develop an oil palm plantation in the area. But by 2004 it still hadn’t planted any oil palms. Instead, it was illegally felling trees and selling the timber in Malaysia. Its permit was subsequently revoked and awarded to another company, Ledo Lestari, a year later.

Momonus at a landmark in the Dayak Iban’s
customary forest. (JG Photo/Basten Gokkon)
Conflicts

If the villagers thought that the arrival of a bona fide plantation company — a unit of the Duta Palma Nusantara group controlled by Surya Darmadi, one of the top 150 wealthiest individuals in Indonesia — would be an improvement from the illegal loggers, they were to be deeply disappointed.

Ledo Lestari had a concession to develop 20,000 hectares of plantation, and duly razed 15,000 of the Dayak Iban’s 18,000 hectares of ancestral forest to plant oil palms. Four months after its arrival, the villagers’ rubber farms were destroyed by the company to build a road.

The community protested and imposed a fine against the company for violating its traditional laws, having successfully employed the same tactic against Yamaker back in 1987.

But Ledo didn’t flinch, offering nothing in the way of compensation, even after the villagers escalated their protest by seizing one of the company’s motorcycles.

“During the protests, we received many curses and threats from the company’s hired thugs,” Momonus says. “They threatened to kidnap us, and set bounties on our heads of Rp 50 million to Rp 75 million [$4,100 to $6,160].”

With Ledo showing no sign of wanting to resolve the conflict, the community seized an excavator and eight chainsaws in an attempt to stop the forest clearance, and invited the company manager to discuss the matter.

The response was one they hadn’t expected: Momonus and another village elder, Jamaludin, were arrested by the police on charges of extortion. After nine days in jail, they were released due to lack of evidence.

“When I was in jail, the company offered Rp 1 billion [$82,000] to each family on condition that we all give up our land,” Momonus said.

Ledo was in 2006 refused a right of cultivation, or HGU, the final permit required of commercial oil palm planters, because of the ongoing conflict with the local community. It reapplied in 2011 and the process is pending. It currently continues to operate on a plantation permit, or IUP, and land concession permit.

Sufferings

Momonus says the Dayak Iban community is justified in its stand against the plantation company.

“Our land was taken away from us without our knowing about it. Our rubber farms were cleared without any discussion. Even our graves and sanctuaries were cleared, almost as though our identity was being erased,” he says.

Ever since the forest was razed, he says, the water in the rivers around the village have become contaminated, and the villagers now resort to collecting rainwater.

There has also been a dire social impact on the community, with unemployment rising after villagers lost their rubber farms, and children dropping out of school to work — some of them in Malaysia — in order to supplement the family’s income, Momonus says.

Tensions have also arisen as some members of the community take jobs with Ledo, giving up their land in exchange for a house measuring four by five meters, with no electricity or plumbing.

“What we want is for the company to leave and to give us back our 15,000 hectares of land. We’ve had enough,” Momonus says. “For now, what we can really fight for is the 1,420 hectares of ancestral forest still standing because there was already a ruling about that from the local government in 2010. We just need help to make it happen.”

“We also want our sufferings in Semunying Jaya village to be heard by the new government,” he adds.

The graveyard in Semunying Jaya with palm
trees planted on it without the people’s consent.
(JG Photo/Basten Gokkon)
Overlapping regulations

The conflict in Semuning Jaya is one of a litany of near-identical tales of plantation, logging or mining operations muscling in on land long inhabited by indigenous groups. Of the 6,000 complaints of rights violations lodged with the National Commission for Human Rights, or Komnas HAM, a fifth relate to land disputes.

Rights activists and the dispossessed have called on the incoming administration of President-elect Joko Widodo to do more to resolve the disputes between indigenous peoples, companies and local governments.

“What needs to be done first by the new government is to issue a presidential decree enforcing the Constitutional Court’s ruling,” says Abdon Nababan, the secretary general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago, or AMAN.

The ruling he refers to is a landmark 2012 verdict striking a clause from the 1999 Forestry Law and effectively handing ownership of indigenous lands from the state to the indigenous groups themselves.

Since then, however, the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has done little to enforce the ruling by issuing new supporting regulations to reflect the change.

“SBY promised [to issue a president decree] since a year ago, but he still hasn’t done it, even now when his term is almost up. If Joko issues the ruling, that will be a groundbreaking step,” Abdon says.

He adds that the new administration should also work on revising overlapping regulations and laws related to ownership of indigenous land and the presence of indigenous people across the archipelago.

“Overlapping regulations let people cherry-pick which law to use to support their personal interests. This way, the strongest party will always win,” Abdon says. “That’s why so many indigenous people lose their cases in court because they never have enough resources to go through the legal process.”

Hope for new government

Land conflicts have raged for decades, with the government continuing to hand companies concessions to hundreds of thousands of hectares of land inhabited by indigenous people.

The dispossessed communities have had limited courses of redress, and conflicts between them and the security forces, often in the pay of the concession holders, have resulted in numerous deaths and arrests.

Sandrayati Moniaga, a commissioner at Komnas HAM, says the new government must make a real effort to resolve the disputes, and warns of “nationwide destruction” if the state continues to ignore the issue.

“This has reached a crucial point. A systematic solution is non-negotiable,” says Sandrayati, noting that Komnas HAM recently filed a preliminary report to Joko’s transition team about rights violations allegedly committed against indigenous groups.

She adds the new government can use its first year in office to compile all the cases, and resolve them gradually over the following years.

Activists have also praised Joko’s plan to create a national commission focusing on Indonesia’s 70 million indigenous people, who make up roughly 29 percent of the country’s 240 million inhabitants.

Joko and Vice President-elect Jusuf Kalla have committed to creating an independent and permanent national commission to work on regulations and forming institutions that will oversee matters related to the recognition, honoring, protection and empowerment of indigenous peoples, according to Abdon.

“The commission can operate directly under the president’s watch,” he says.

Sandrayati says the national commission for indigenous people, which should also have regional chapters across the country, can provide security and certainty for the tenure of indigenous lands, eventually providing fair solutions to all stakeholders involved in the disputes.

“If all is worked out well, the indigenous people’s rights will be protected and investors can stop worrying about disputes that may disrupt their business,” she says.

Abdon adds that businesses and indigenous people should be able to live and work alongside one another, as long as they can find a mutually beneficial common ground, including but not limited to drawing up a legal rental agreement between all stakeholders protected by the state, without stripping the indigenous people of their right to the land.

“For instance, the companies can pay a royalty to the people for the duration of the contract. And once the contract ends, the companies have to return the land back to them,” he says.

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