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, February 28, 2014

Animal testing only if no alternative, minister says in new plan

DutchNews.nl, Friday 28 February 2014

"Every animal that we can make
 redundant counts," said Dijksma.
Testing drugs and chemicals should only be allowed on animals if there is no viable alternative, junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma says in a new policy document presented to parliament on Friday.

New technology makes much animal testing unnecessary and it should be phased out as much as possible, the minister says in her statement.

In addition, practices which cause pain to animals, such as cutting off a toe from newly-born mice for identification purposes, should be phased out, she said.

Surplus

Breeding genetically manipulated animals has led to a surplus and this should also be tackled, the minister says.

The animals are raised for experimentation but never used. In 2012, nearly 525,000 animals – mainly mice and fish - were surplus to testing requirements.

Nearly 590,000 animals were used for experimentation in relation to human health last year.

Licences

The new legislation will require breeding programmes using genetically manipulated animals to be licenced.

Dijksma has also asked the Dutch Academy of Sciences to come up with recommendations for reducing the use of primates like chimps in animal testing.

Talks are also underway with animal rights groups to work out ways to take better care of animals which are no longer being used for testing.

Top Chinese dairy company Yili sets up R&D center in Europe

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-02-26

Yili president Pan Gang speaks at a ceremony to launch the center in
Wageningen, the Netherlands, Feb. 25. (Photo/Xinhua)

Top Chinese dairy company Yili Group inaugurated its research and development center in Wageningen University on Tuesday, becoming the first such Chinese R&D center in Europe.

Pan Gang, president of Yili, said Europe would become the most important part of the company's R&D systems. "We shall not only cooperate with the top research institutions, but also continue to conduct global research. We will also invite global experts into our R&D team," he said.

The center will focus on milk cow cultivation, dairy product research and food safety.

Wageningen University and its R&D center are leading scientific research institutions. With over 15,000 researchers, the surrounding area of the university is known as the European "food valley" with global food and nutrition research clusters.

The chairman of Wageningen University Aalt Dijkhuizen said as the largest consumer market for dairy products in the world, China supplies the milk for a sixth of the world's population, which is an extraordinary achievement.

"Wageningen University looks forward to cooperating with Yili in promoting the progress of the global dairy industry," Dijkhuizen said.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Greenpeace Calls Out Procter & Gamble for Dirty Palm Oil Sourcing

Jakarta Globe, Ethan Harfenist, February 26, 2014

This file photograph taken on June 7, 2012 shows the boundary between the
 remaining rainforest and newly developed palm oil plantation over cleared
tropical forest land in Central Kalimantan province. (AFP Photo)

Jakarta. Greenpeace accused the US-based consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble on Wednesday of being complicit in environmentally destructive activities in Indonesia, including encroachment of Sumatran tiger habitats, slash-and-burn clearing and the presence of an “orangutan graveyard.”

The environmental NGO slammed the company for sourcing “dirty” palm oil from allegedly unscrupulous suppliers in a report titled ”Procter & Gamble’s Dirty Secret.” The report, the result of a yearlong investigation by Greenpeace International, uncovered evidence that Procter & Gamble-linked palm oil companies were involved in the destruction of orangutan and Sumatran tiger habitats and the kind of slash-and-burn land clearing methods responsible for the region’s annual haze.

“[Procter & Gamble] needs to stop bringing rainforest destruction into our showers,” Bustar Maitar, head of the Indonesian forest campaign at Greenpeace International, said in a press statement. ”It must clean up its act and guarantee its customers that these products are forest-friendly.”

Greenpeace urged Procter & Gamble to adopt a “zero deforestation” pledge and undergo a serious review of its supply chain.

“Procter & Gamble should follow the lead of other palm oil using companies like Unilever, Nestlé and L’Oréal, which have already promised to clean up their supply chains,” Bustar said.

Palm oil is the world’s most ubiquitous vegetable oil and a main driver of deforestation in Indonesia. The oil accounted for roughly 40 percent of the world’s vegetable oil production from 2012-2013, and it is a key ingredient in many household products, like Procter & Gamble’s Head & Shoulders shampoo and Gillette shaving gel.

Procter & Gamble purchased some 462,000 tons of palm oil between 2012-2013, much of it derived from plantations located in Indonesia. One of the companies Greenpeace zeroes in on in its report is BW Plantation, a Jakarta-based firm that is a third-party supplier for Asian Agri — a palm oil company owned by Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE Group.

BW Plantation is allegedly responsible for the recent clearance of orangutan habitats in Central Kalimantan. The company is also linked to a police investigation into an “orangutan graveyard” next to the province’s Tanjung Putting National Park, a 416 thousand-hectare nature reserve famous for its orangutan population.

“We’ve been confronting P&G over the last eight months with how it’s exposing consumers to forest destruction,” said Areeba Hamid, forest campaigner at Greenpeace International. “Instead of taking urgent action, the company has been greenwashing its actions.”

Procter & Gamble pledges, according to its website, to “confirm that all palm oil purchases have originated from responsible and sustainable sources by 2015.” In its 2012 sustainability report, Procter & Gamble promised to achieve zero net deforestation, in accordance with the Consumer Goods Forum.

Proctor & Gamble and BW Plantations were not immediately available for comment.

Greenpeace has been engaged in a highly vocal campaign against destructive and unsustainable agricultural business practices in Indonesia for decades. The group has been successful in forcing corporate change through campaigns raising awareness of the involvement of large multinational companies in deforestation in Indonesia and abroad.

In October, a report titled “License to Kill: How deforestation is driving Sumatran tigers toward extinction,” focused on questionable sourcing by Wilmar — the world’s largest palm oil trader. The Singapore-based company has since announced a zero deforestation policy.

Asia Pulp & Paper, the world’s largest pulp company, caved to similar pressure after losing several high-profile clients to Greenpeace’s once-active campaign against the paper company. APP has now adopted similar sustainability goals and invited Greenpeace to oversee the process as an independent observer.

“Greenpeace believes palm oil must make a genuine contribution to Indonesia’s development,” Bustar said. “Progressive palm oil producers in the Palm Oil Innovation Group, along with ambitious commitments from big palm oil players GAR and Wilmar, prove that there is a business case for responsible palm oil.

“There is no excuse for companies like P&G, Reckitt Benckiser and Colgate Palmolive to delay immediate action on deforestation.”

Palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia, one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The country was home to nearly half of the world’s palm oil plantations in 2006 after years of concession land grabs, illegal logging and lax law enforcement, according to the World Wildlife Fund.




Related Articles:

More Riau Haze Arrests as Singapore Drafts Legislation

Jakarta Globe, February 25, 2014

A resident of Riau sprays water on a peatland fire in the Pekanbaru district
on February 16, 2014. (AFP Photo)

Jakarta. Another 24 suspects were charged with setting brushfires in Riau on Tuesday in the latest police crackdown on illegal land clearing as the fires raging across the Sumatran province for more than three weeks showed signs of subsiding.

“All suspects are being investigated by the district police,” Riau Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Cmr. Guntur Aryo Tejo told the Indonesian news portal Tempo.co.

The arrests came on the heels of last week’s arrest of a dozen people allegedly involved in setting some of the region’s widespread fires. None of those arrested had any expressed affiliation with the large palm oil and pulp companies found in Indonesia’s once-forested Riau province. The act of setting fire to the forest land has been called a “traditional” method to clear-out land for palm oil plantations, one allegedly used by small-scale farmers for decades in this fertile region. Law enforcement’s seeming inability to address the issue has become a heated concern in Singapore and Malaysia.

One suspect, a 49-year-old woman, was allegedly caught setting fires herself, in spite of protests from her neighbors. A witness told police that he warned the woman to not set fire to scrub land in East Dumai district. Ignoring his pleas, the woman set the ground alight. The fire quickly spread to cover more than a hectare of land, according to Tempo reports.

“The fire has been doused by police officers with the help of residents,” Guntur told Tempo. “The perpetrator and the evidence have been taken to the local police office.”

This year, police in Riau have taken a tough stance on illegal land clearing. Last year’s fires raged for weeks and blanketed neighboring Malaysia and Singapore and hazardous levels of thick haze. The pollution ignited a diplomatic row between Indonesia and Malaysia and Singapore — two nations seemingly exasperated with Indonesia’s inability to control burning in Riau and Kalimantan. Singapore was quick to pour fuel on the flames this year, with the city-state’s environment minister almost immediately accusing Indonesia of not caring about the welfare of its neighbors.

The city-state’s environment minister Vivian Balakhrisnan accused “those countries” bordering Singapore of ineffectual law enforcement as he proposed legislation that would allow Singaporean police to criminally charge companies caught setting land on fire.

“We need to go further,” Vivian said. “We have therefore decided to draft new legislation with extra-territorial applications. If approved by Parliament, errant companies — local or foreign — will face criminal charges in Singapore courts if their overseas actions cause haze pollution in Singapore.”

He said that Singapore was tired of dealing with the problem.

“The root cause is commercial,” he said. “It is not the weather or the environment. Errant companies have been clearing land by illegal burning because it is the cheapest way to do so.”

The proposed legislation — the “Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill” — is still under deliberation. If passed, parties responsible for haze-causing activities would have to pay up to $300,000 in fines, or or up to $450,000 if deliberate criminal activity could be proven in court. The bill would apply to Singaporean and non-Singaporean entities equally, although enforcing the law outside the city-state would present its own challenges.

“We hope this legislation will send a strong signal of deterrence to errant companies,” Balakhrisnan said.

Although this year’s haze has yet to impact Singaporeans — air quality has remained safe throughout the heaviest period of burning — residents in Riau were left to suffer the ill-effects of forest fires as nearly 6,000 hectares burned. Air quality in Riau dropped to dangerous levels, prompting school closures and an outbreak of respiratory illness.

The number of hotspots was recorded as 145 on Tuesday, down significantly from the 1,398 reported by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) on Monday. Most of the remaining fires burned in Bengkalis district. Flights at Pekanbaru’s Sutan Syarif Kasim II International Airport continued to be affected on Tuesday, with 16 scheduled flights suffering delays, airport manager Ibnu Hasan told the Indonesian news portal Liputan6.com.

Other flights were diverted to Batam, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Ibnu said.

More than 100 people were forced to evacuate their homes as the fires spread and air quality dropped in Bengkalis, the local police chief told the Indonesian newsportal Detik.com.

“Our data shows that 125 people in total, including 24 children under five years old, 18 children and 83 adults [have left their homes],” Bengkalis Police Chief Adj. Sr. Cmr. Andry Wibowo told Detik.com. “We had to take them to shelters because their village was surrounded by fire, causing thick smog.”

The provincial government continued to advise against children going outside, closing local schools for some two weeks.

Related Articles:

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cute 'panda' puppies a huge hit in China

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-02-24

One of the viral photographs of the three "panda" puppies, taken in
Yancheng, Jiangsu province, Feb. 22. (Photo/Xinhua)

Two of the three puppies with their owner
Ye Qunying, Feb. 22. (Photo/Xinhua)
Three puppies owned by a family in Yancheng in eastern China's Jiangsu province have become overnight superstars for their uncanny resemblance to panda cubs, reports the state-owned China News Service

Born last month, the three "panda" puppies — with white bodies, black eye circles, black ears, black legs, and black tails — are part of a litter of six offspring of a local mongrel mother and a stray white Pekingese father.

Ye Qunying, the owner of the puppies denied dyeing their fur, adding that they did not initially look like pandas and only gradually grew to look this way. To make them appear even more like pandas, the owner found some bamboo sticks for the puppies to play with.

The panda puppies have attracted visitors from far and wide, though one of them has already been given away. The owner said her family and friends are currently fighting over the remaining pups.

Respiratory Illness and Flights Disruptions as Riau Haze Worsens

Jakarta Globe,  February 24, 2014

Riau residents evacuate on June 23, 2013 as a forest fire engulfs their village
in the Rokan Hulu district. (AFP Photo/Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace)

Jakarta. Some 20,000 people have reported respiratory illnesses in Riau as forest fires and the resulting haze continued to worsen on Monday, the local health agency reported.

“That is the data we’ve compiled from a number of districts and municipalities since late January to Sunday [Feb. 23],” Zainal Arifin, the head of the Riau Health Agency, said in Pekanbaru on Monday.

Last month, fewer than 5,000 people reported respiratory problems in Riau. Last week, however, the figure jumped to 15,000 before surpassing 20,000 on Sunday, the health authority reported.

“We’ve been focusing only on patients with respiratory problems because they are  the focus of the Ministry of Health,” he told Indonesian news portal Bisnis Indonesia.

Zainal urged people in Riau to minimize their time outdoors, citing the poor air quality, especially in the town of Dumai and in the Pelalawan and Siak districts.

“Toddlers and people with asthma should avoid outdoor activities,” he said. “Workers should wear masks in anticipation of respiratory illnesses.”

Officials with Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru said at least 12 flights were delayed, canceled or rerouted because the haze had reduced visibility in the province.

“Between 5 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. [on Monday], the visibility was only 500 meters,” airport manager Baekuni said on Monday. “The minimum visibility for safe flights is at least 1,000 meters.”

Affected routes included those to and from Malaysia and Singapore, as well as Bandung, Batam, Jakarta and Medan, on flights operated by Aviastar, Citilink, Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and Tigerair Mandala.

A Citilink flight from Jakarta, which was supposed to land at Pekanbaru airport at 7:20 a.m., was diverted to Batam.

Forests in Riau began burning again earlier this month, with officials blaming local farmers for using the slash-and-burn method to clear land.

On Monday, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said 1,398 hotspots were detected across Sumatra, with most of them concentrated in Riau.

Ahmad Agus Widodo, an analyst with the Pekanbaru office of the BMKG, said Bangka-Belitung and Lampung each reported one hotspot. South Sumatra reported two, Aceh five, Jambi 24, Riau Islands 43 and North Sumatra 85.

“Most hotspots were recorded in Riau province,” Ahmad told liputan6.com. “[NASA's] Terra and Aqua satellites detected 1,234 fire hotspots across eight districts and municipalities in Riau.”

He added the figure marked a significant rise from the roughly 80 hotspots detected in Riau on Sunday.

Ahmad said that with the wind blowing toward the south, haze was spreading to the neighboring provinces of Jambi and West Sumatra.

Related Article:


Indonesian elephants found dead, poisoning suspected

Google – AFP, 24 February 2014

File photo taken on July 14, 2013 shows a resident looking at the carcass of
 a male Sumatran elephant in Aceh Jaya district on Indonesia's Sumatra island
(AFP/File, Fikri Ramadhavi)

Jakarta — Seven Sumatran elephants have been found dead in western Indonesia and it is thought they were poisoned, a wildlife official said Monday, just the latest deaths of the critically-endangered animals.

Dozens of the elephants have died after being poisoned in recent years on Sumatra island, as the creatures come into conflict with humans due to the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations which destroys their habitat.

The latest to die were a female adult, five male teenagers, and a male calf believed to be from the same herd, said local wildlife agency spokesman Muhammad Zanir.

The remains of the elephants were found on February 16 just outside Tesso Nilo National Park and it is thought they died five months earlier, he said.

"There is an indication that they were poisoned," he said. "Some people may consider the elephants a threat to their palm oil plantations and poison them."

While Sumatran elephants are regularly found dead, it is rare to discover so many at the same time.

Swathes of rainforest have been destroyed in recent years to make way for plantations and villagers increasingly target Sumatran elephants, which they regard as pests.

While most concessions for palm oil companies are granted outside Tesso Nilo, in Riau province in eastern Sumatra, many villagers still illegally set up plantations inside the park, said WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar, who goes by one name.

Poachers also sometimes target the animals -- the smallest of the Asian elephants -- for their ivory tusks, which are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

The WWF says there are only between 2,400 and 2,800 Sumatran elephants remaining in the wild and warns they face extinction in less than 30 years unless the destruction of their habitat is halted.

Rampant expansion of plantations and the mining industry has destroyed nearly 70 percent of the elephant's forest habitat over 25 years, according to the WWF.

Protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the elephants as "critically endangered", one step below "extinct in the wild".

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sichuan waves goodbye to Belgium-bound panda pair

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-02-23

A photos of Hao Hao, left, and Xing Hui. (Photo/Xinhua)

A pair of giant pandas are leaving for Belgium on Saturday, on lease from their breeding center in southwest China's Sichuan province.

Hundreds of people attended a ceremony on Saturday morning to see the two pandas off at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas. They are bound for a research program at Belgium's Pairi Daiza Zoo.

Hao Hao, the female, and Xing Hui, the male, are both four years old and will stay in Belgium for the next 15 years, as announced during Belgian prime minister Elio Di Rupo's September visit to China.

"The Belgians are crazy about giant pandas. All people and media are talking about them," said Eric Domb, head of the Pairi Daiza Zoo during the ceremony.

Several days ago, the Belgian prime minister announced that he would meet these Chinese "VIPs" in the airport. Brussels airport has even told panda fans not to go there because "they may not see pandas even through a telescope."

Veterinarian Tim Bouts from Pairi Daiza came to Chengdu a week ago to meet Xing Hui and Hao Hao. He has been briefed on their quirks of diet and is up to date on panda health matters.

Xing Hui and Hao Hao will travel to Belgium on a charted DHL aircraft, where they can enjoy enough space and food.

The aircraft, equipped with advanced medical facilities, will carry nearly 100 kilograms of bamboo and two Chinese experts will pander to the pandas' every whim onboard.

The chartered flight will take off from the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport late Saturday afternoon.

Hao Hao and Xing Hui are expected to arrive in Brussels on Sunday, via Bahrain, and make their debut this April.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kellogg's to buy only sustainably sourced palm oil

Company forces suppliers to protect forests and peatlands, and respect community rights

theguardian.comJohn VidalWednesday 19 February 2014

An excavator clears a forest for palm oil plantation in west Kalimantan on Borneo
island, southeast Asia. Photograph: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images

The food giant Kellogg's has caved in to public pressure and agreed to buy palm oil only from suppliers who can prove that they actively protect rainforests and peatlands and respect human rights.

The move, which follows intense pressure from consumer groups around the world, is expected to improve the survival chances of highly endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan in southeast Asia, as well as provide some protection for indigenous peoples in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, Latin America and west Africa who depend on tropical rainforests for a living.

At least 30,000 square miles of tropical forest has been cut down in the past 20 years to supply the burgeoning global food industry with cheap palm oil to make packaged foods, ice cream and snacks. The deforestation has led to illegal land grabs, forest fires and social conflict in communities which depend on forest resources for their livelihoods. The heavy loss of peatlands has also contributed significantly to the increase in climate change emissions.

In a statement, Kellogg's said that it will require its suppliers to "protect forests, endangered species habitat, lands with high carbon content, and peatland of any depth. Suppliers will also be required to protect human and community rights."

"While palm oil is a very small percentage of our total ingredients, as a socially responsible company, concerns about the sustainable production of palm oil are clearly on our radar screen," said chief sustainability officer Celeste Clark.

The company, whose brands include Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Special K and Pringles is thought to use about 50,000 tonnes of palm oil a year, said that it planned to impose the changes by December 2015. It has sales of $14bn (£8bn) annually, manufactures in 35 countries and sells food in over 180 countries.

"This is clearly a step in the right direction. Now it needs to be implemented. This will limit the damage that has already been done but it shows that the palm oil industry is in transformation. Now it needs other major US and European companies to follow," said Pat Venditti, deputy forest campaign director at Greenpeace.

The Kellogg's move, said Venditti, is expected to raise standards and increase pressure on other food giants and their suppliers to follow suit.

It also represents a major success for environment and consumer groups who have challenged the industry's longstanding assurances that palm oil cultivation in Asia was "sustainable" and which has hidden behind easily-obtained green "certificates" which have not stopped the forest destruction even in national parks and on fragile peatlands.

Kellogg's follows a string of food companies and their suppliers who have committed themselves to raising standards. It acted following reports last year that it had been using illegally-grown palm oil from Indonesia sourced from its supply partner Wilmar International, which controls over a third of the global palm oil trade. In December 2013 Wilmar committed to ban its suppliers from destroying forests and peatlands.

Related Articles:


Large Cache of Smuggled Exotic Animals, Some From Indonesia, Seized in Philippines

Jakarta Globe – AFP, February 19, 2014

A female Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor) feeding, showing the species’ unusual
 preference for browsing compared to most other macropods that tend to graze, in Victoria,
Australia, in January, 2008. A load of smuggled animals, including wallabies, was
discovered in the Philippines on Wednesday. (Wikimedia Commons)

Manila. Wildlife officers said Wednesday they had seized almost 100 exotic animals and birds, including cockatoos, echidnas and wallabies, that had been smuggled into the Philippines for sale to wealthy collectors.

The cache, hidden in small containers in a van, was made up of wildlife from Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, said Eric Gallego, spokesman for the local office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

They included yellow-crested cockatoos and long-beaked echidnas, two species listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

They also included four wallabies from Australia and about 90 exotic parrots from Indonesia, said Gallego.

Several of the birds or animals had died, possibly from the stress of long travel in harsh conditions, he told AFP.

Law enforcers acting on a tip stopped a van with the wildlife and two attendants in the southern city of Surigao on Mindanao island on Saturday, just as the vehicle was about to board a ship heading north.

The birds and animals are believed to have been shipped from Indonesia to Malaysia and then across the maritime border to the southern Philippines where they would be taken to Manila, said Gallego.

“There must have been an order from a rich person in Manila for the animals as collector’s items. It must be someone who is into rare animals,” he told AFP.

The head of the government’s wildlife division Josefina de Leon said a crime syndicate with members from different countries was known to be smuggling rare animals from Malaysia into the southern Philippines.

Two men caught with the van will be charged with illegally transporting wildlife, a crime punishable up to six months in jail and a 50,000 peso ($1,120) fine depending on the rarity of the animals involved.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Singer Fei Yu-ching gives NT$1m to feed rescued animals

Want China Times, CNA 2014-02-18

A staff member feeds dogs at an animal shelter in Kaohsiung.
(Photo courtesy of Animal Rescue Team)

Famous Taiwanese singer Chang Yen-ting, better known as Fei Yu-ching, has donated NT$1 million (US$33,000) to an animal protection group, which will use the money to buy cat and dog food for animals in shelters.

Ni Jing-tai, a spokesman for the Animal Rescue Team, said Monday that it set up a fund-raising platform to solicit donations on a long-term basis to help stray dogs or cats or those kept in underfunded private dog or cat shelters.

Ni said that Fei, known for his love of animals, contacted the platform through his agent and informed the group that he wanted to make a donation and hoped that more people would join him.

The group did not expect the donation to be as much as NT$1 million, and "we're very moved," Ni said.

Ni said the money will be used to buy dog and cat food that will then be donated to 50 underfunded cat and dog shelters around Taiwan, benefiting an estimated 12,900 cats and dogs.

Fei is famous for his mellifluous voice and has a wide following in the ethnic Chinese community.

News of the donation has received an enthusiastic response since it was posted on the Animal Rescue Team's Facebook page over the weekend.

As of Monday morning, more than 35,000 netizens "liked" the news, with some leaving messages such as "Fei Yu-ching is handsome and good at singing," "Xiaoge (nickname of Fei), you're great," "you are a guardian angel for stray cats and dogs," and "give you tens of millions of likes."

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thousands Flee Explosive Eruption at Mt. Kelud

Jakarta Globe, February 14, 2014

Mount Kelud in Kediri, East Java. (Wikimedia Commons)

Thousands of people were reported to have fled their homes in the East Java district of Kediri when Mount Kelud erupted late on Thursday night.

The eruption shot a column of smoke 10 kilometers into the atmosphere, according to Surono, the former head of the Volcanology and Disaster Mitigation Center (PVMBG), as quoted by Viva.co.id, and sent gravel raining down as far as 50 kilometers from the crater of the volcano.

The eruption at 10:50 p.m. was preceded by a seismic earthquake was felt as far away as the Central Java town of Solo, the Jakarta Globe’s Ari Susanto reported, and heard as far away as Yogyakarta, 200 kilometers away, according to Tempo.co.

Experts had warned that any eruption would be particularly explosive, given how quickly the volcanic activity had escalated at Kelud since Feb. 2. The eruption occurred less than two hours before authorities raised the alert to the highest level on the four-point scale, although residents had already begun evacuating since Thursday afternoon, MetroTVNews.com reported.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), told Republika.co.id that “thousands” of people had left the area and evacuation efforts were still ongoing.

He said authorities had imposed a 10-kilometer exclusion radius around the crater, double the five kilometers established earlier this week.

Supeno, the head of the East Java office of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), told Viva.co.id that there were no reports yet of casualties as a result of the eruption, and that his office was focused on getting everyone out of the 10-kilometer exclusion radius.

The story continues to develop.

Wired.com

Wired.com

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Question (2002): Dear Kryon, A friend and I are meditating on the recent shark attacks and feel that it has to do with the planetary changes. We just can’t understand why they have become aggressive. What is the message the sharks are bringing? Why is this happening?
—Thank you,
Maryann

Answer: Indeed there are changes with the environment and also with biology regarding the 12-year grid change. I will first give you what was happening in general: What you are seeing are mammals, amphibians, insects, and even fish that are in areas that are new to them. Every life-form that migrates is effected by magnetics. All life forms that follows certain feeding scenarios and are “following the food” have the potential to be affected. This is due to the changing of the magnetic ley lines of the earth as we have stated before.

The areas where you can see in the ocean most clearly are within those migration patterns closest to the land. Where the ocean interfaces with the land, there are challenges for all these creatures for at least one of their generations. Whales will beach themselves by following old magnetics headings that now “drive” them into peninsula’s and other land areas that were marginally on the edge of their old paths. Birds, amphibians, and insects will be seen to do odd things for awhile.

So these shark fish may be in greater numbers in these coastal areas than in the past, but the increased aggressive behavior was actually something else: There was a tremendous “release” of energy due to the Sept. 11 event. Much like the energy of earthquakes and other earth movement, much of the environment “feels it” coming. We have spoken about how the Sept. 11 event was not a surprise to the earth. [See Lee’s article “Did Kryon give us hints”] So, some of the new actions of these fish were due to an actual energy buildup of coming events... of which you now understand.

If you are paying attention, therefore, you might ask, “Does this mean that Human consciousness issues affect the actual earth?” Yes they do! Finally you may begin to see how global consciousness is tied into the environment, and even to basic physics and reality. They are not separate, and never were. The indigenous knew it, and now the “modern” world is beginning to wonder.

Blessed is the Human Being who understands that what they think, do, and intend, actually drives the reality of the dirt of the planet!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Riau is Burning… Again

Singapore Slams Indonesia as 'Hotspots' Spread

Jakarta Globe, Camelia Pasandaran, February 12, 2014

Forest fires rage at a sago plantation in Kepau Baru village, Meranti, Riau.
 (Photo courtesy of Walhi)

Jakarta. Brushfires continued to rage on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Wednesday, blanketing the troubled Riau province in heavy haze and prompting calls of concern in Singapore as officials braced for the possible return of what is fast becoming an annual problem.

Local officials first reported hazy conditions in Riau last week as the province’s yearly brushfires tore through parched forests and scrubland after weeks of little rain. On Feb. 6, climate and disaster officials reported some 109 “hotspots” across Riau, placing the blame on local farmers’ use of a traditional method to clear covered farmland: setting the offending foliage alight.

By Monday the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency counted some 187 hotspots on satellite imagery provided to Indonesian officials by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). One day later that number had jumped to 458 hotspots throughout Sumatra, Riau disaster agency head Said Saqlul Amri told the state-run Antara News Agency. More than half of the fires were in Riau, predominately concentrated in the districts of Bengkalis, Rokan Hilir and Siak, he said.

“The number of hotspot in Riau is 244, an increase from 55 hotspots a day before,” he said.

Air quality hit hazardous levels in Dumai and Siak districts on Tuesday, measuring 400 API on the Pollutant Standards Index. In Bengkalis and the provincial capital of Pekanbaru the air quality measured in excess of 100 API — “unhealthy” on the scale.

Some 1,493 people suffered respiratory illness in Dumai and Siak, the only districts to report cases to the local Health Agency. Officials worry the number will climb as additional reports roll in.

“At the moment, we only have reports from the two districts about the number of people suffering [upper respiratory tract infections] because of the haze in Riau,” Diwani, head of Riau Health Agency told the local news portal goriau.com on Tuesday.

The agency has distributed hundreds of masks in affected areas, and warned residents to remain indoors until the haze recedes. In Siak elementary and high schools have been temporarily closed since Tuesday to prevent students from falling ill.

“There are 210 schools are closed because the haze is getting thicker and dangerous especially for the children,” Siak education agency Kadri Yafis told the Indonesian news portal Liputan6.com.

Four flights were cancelled because of poor visibility at Riau’s Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport on Wednesday. Several other planes were able to land safely at the airport despite visibility dropping to as little as 200 meters. The airport’s staff has warned pilots to remain alert and is prepared to divert planes to nearby airports if visibility drops further.

A hot-button issue

The fires are already garnering a reaction in Singapore, where officials, already exasperated with Indonesia over the decision to name a naval vessel after two men responsible for a deadly 1965 bombing of an Orchard Road office building, were quick to express further disappointment in their neighbor.

“Hot spots increasing dramatically in Sumatra, with 458 visible today,” the city-state’s environment minister Vivian Balakhrisnan wrote on Facebook on Wednesday. “Haze may worsen when the winds weaken next week. Some rain expected, but not enough to douse the fires.

“We will try to encourage them to take action — but we all know the welfare of close neighbors is not their priority.”

Air quality in Singapore measured a healthy 35 API on Wednesday, according to the city-state’s National Environmental Agency.

Last year’s brushfires, which blanketed Singapore and Malaysia in a thick blanket of hazardous haze, resulted in weeks of finger-pointing and name calling between the neighboring nations. Indonesian officials accused Singapore of “behaving like a child,” while others accused Singaporean companies of setting the fires.

Many of the companies involved in agri-business in Indonesia are registered in Singapore, but were founded and are still run by Indonesian moguls — a fact that makes such criticisms moot.

Officials in Singapore and Malaysia accused Indonesia of failing to curb what has long been an annual problem. Air quality in Singapore dropped to the worst levels in more than a decade last year, prompting the adoption of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) agreement on a transnational haze monitoring system.

One Ministry of Forestry official said the central government was concerned about the potential impact in Singapore and Malaysia.

“For sure, our government is prioritizing our own country [right now] as it’s not their country which is affected by the smoke at the moment, but us,” Raffles Panjaitan, the director of forestry investigations and observation at the Ministry of Forestry, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday. “We never intend to send smoke [to Singapore], but the wind might be heading there. We are concerned about this.”

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in an effort to prevent further strains on cross-border relations, ordered all disaster mitigation officers to do everything in their power to prevent the spread of haze to neighboring countries.

“Our officers have carried out efforts to prevent and handle the fires,” Raffles said.

‘An old tradition’

The Indonesian government has blamed this year’s haze on the actions of small-scale farmers — a claim that diverts the blame from large international agricultural commodity companies but underscores the hurdles the country faces in curbing an illegal practice in a place where enforcement is often lax and corruption is endemic.

“From initial information, the cause of the fire was local people who were used to clearing the land by burning it,” Raffles said. “It is an old tradition.”

A new crop of farmers from the neighboring province of North Sumatra were to blame for the fires, Raffles said. The farmers had moved in to concessions already granted to large agricultural firms, setting the existing cover on fire in an attempt to divert the blame and later use the land themselves, he explained.

“They wanted to imply that the companies were the ones who are burning the forests,” Raffles said. “Police have launched investigation into this case.”

This year’s early dry season in Riau has compounded matters, he said. The dry land has made containing the blaze difficult, Raffles admitted.

“Although it’s wet in Jakarta and most of Java, Riau and West Kalimantan have not seen rain for a month,” he said.

Local residents also set fires of their own during the dry season, torching roadside forests and wooded areas near residential neighborhoods, National Disaster and Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“These [dry] conditions trigger people to burn the forest,” Sutopo told the Indonesian news portal kompas.com. “Most of the hotspots are located near the streets or residential areas.”

Little progress on a government solution

The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) placed the blame on the shoulders of the central government, arguing that the ministries had a track record of favoring large palm and pulp companies known for environmentally destructive practices.

“It’s the mistake of the Indonesian government.” Zenzi Suhadi, a campaigner at Walhi, said on Wednesday. “When they issue a land concession, they failed to consider the environment and the rights of the local people. So it’s normal that after the environment has been badly damaged, that there would be consequences like forest fires and floods.”

The organization urged the government to review the contracts of any company caught burning to clear land.

“They should review the concessions given to companies which illegally clear the land,” Zenzi said.

The campaigner pointed to a disputed concession in Meranti owned by Nasional Sagu Prima, a sago palm plantation company. The land was long used as a sago plantation, but local farmers had always planted the trees amid the existing forest, he said.

When the company was awarded the land by the central government, it clear-cut the forest and planted a large 21,000-hectare sago plantation, Zenzi said. When the plantation caught fire, it quickly spread to land owned by local, small-scale farmers, he explained.

“Recently their plantation was on fire and it spread to people’s plantations,” he said.

While the company was able to douse the flames, the damage was already done to several local farms, Zenzi said.

“They cleared the forest,” he said. “They made the problem and the local people have become the victims. It’s the mistake of the government.”

The central government has to stop protecting big companies and reduce the environmental impact of unsustainable practices in places like Riau, he explained.

“The only way to stop [the fires] is by limiting the issuance of concessions for the plantation companies, especially those who have been illegally clearing the forest,” he said.

The government, though, has its own plan. Local officials need to continue their work to convince farmers to not set fire to existing vegetation.

“We do try to change their practices,” Raffles said. “Officers from the central government, the provincial to district level, have tried to inform and educate them about this. But they can’t be changed automatically. It takes time.”