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)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Even praying doesn't save one pig's bacon

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-02-28

The pig is seen bowing in front of the Buddhist temple in Wenzhou,
Feb. 22. (Internet photo)

A run-away pig in Wenzhou reportedly bowed in front of a local Buddhist temple. The "act of piety," however, did not save it from its fate, as it was killed later the same day, reports our Chinese language sister paper Want Daily.

A video showing the pig bowing in front of the temple has gone viral online and received more than ten million hits.

The pig, which reportedly ran away from its owner's pigpen on Feb. 22, was seen in front of a Buddhist temple with both its front legs on the floor and its head bowed.

It was the day that the temple held the religious assembly called 3,000 Buddhas Repentance. Several visitors to the temple were so shocked by the scene, which they believed to be a miracle, asked the monks of the temple to recite Buddhist chants for the creature. The monk later proclaimed it a Buddhist disciple.

The owner of the animal, surnamed Huang, was not informed of any of this. He found the pig, took it home and slaughtered it later the same day.

After learning about the bowing act from the video posted online, Huang said he regreted killing it.

While many believe that the pig had some spiritual inspiration that drove it to pay respect to the deity in the temple, experts think something else was at play here.

A local policeman said the pig might have suffered from a syndrome associated with vitamin E insufficiency that made its limbs weak, making it difficult to stand straight. Wang Boqiang, a local veterinarian official said the pig's bowing was largely coincidental. Such behavior is common among the livestock.

A local villager who keeps pigs said he often sees his own do similar pose.

Related Articles:

"Soul Communication" - Feb 22-23, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Text version Part I)

“… Animals. You love them, don't you? What do you know about animals, especially the ones you care for and love, the ones you call pets? They have personalities, don't they? They can talk to you! When they communicate, what does that sound like, dear one? What do their voices sound like? "Well, Kryon, you already know they don't have an actual voice." Oh really? Then how do they "talk" to you? Now it gets good, doesn't it? They communicate through concepts. Their conceptual thought groups are available for you to pick up. So guess where you pick up these thoughts? It's through your pineal, which is the interpreter of multidimensional things in your body. It's not your brain, which is picking up their animal broadcasts, dear ones.

Now, some of you are good at this kind of communication. There are ones who are listening to this right now called animal whisperers, and they know exactly what I'm talking about. Why do they call it whispering? I give you my interpretation. It's because the communications are not linear, and they whisper to you through the pineal and not through brain synapse. It comes in thought groups, very softly and all at once, like the smudge. When you pick it up, you know what the dog or cat or horse or hamster or rabbit is trying to communicate. You know the requests they have, perhaps the distress they have, perhaps the celebration or the love they have.

Now, this kind of communication with animals is easy for you, because you all have felt this. I believe you know what I'm speaking about. So apply this lesson, for what I'm teaching today is no different and uses the same process you're going to use in real life and in meditation when you listen to God.

"Kryon, is it true that communicating with animals is soul communication?" Yes, it is theirs to yours, and if you're good at the interpretation of their thoughts, then why doubt yourself about the next step? Practice doing this communication with your own Higher-Self. Your Higher-Self is that part of yourself that vibrates higher than your cellular dimensionality, and it's part of your "soul group". This "soul group" is part of the nine attributes of the Human Being and is the core of you. It is the part that gives you information from the other side of the veil from that which you call God. …”


Kryon Q&A

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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

11 Arrested Over Illegal Forest Clearing in Riau

Jakarta Globe, Feb 22, 2015

Illegal forest clearing for plantations is a major problem for Indonesia.
(AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

Jakarta. Eleven people have been arrested in Riau for illegal forest clearing, a major issue for Indonesia which is grappling with one of the fastest rates of deforestation in the world.

Police arrested seven suspects in Bukit Batu subdistrict, two in Bengkalis subdistrict and two more in Pinggir subdistrict, police said on Sunday.

“Police found six wood cutting tools, a jerry can filled with fuel and a motorcycle as evidence,” the chief of Bengkalis Police, Adj. Sr. Cmr. Aloysius Supriadi, told Tempo.co.

Aloysius said the eleven people detained are suspected of illegal land clearing and illegal logging.

The arrests come just days after a new study claimed that more than 30 percent of the timber used by Indonesia’s industrial forest sector is sourced from illegal and unsustainable sources.

The report, published this week by the Anti Forest-Mafia Coalition, an alliance of Indonesian civil society organizations, and Forest Trends, a Washington-based non-governmental organization, found a yawning gap between the legal supply of wood to mills — as reported by the Ministry of Forestry — and the output declared by the industrial forestry sector.

The study, Indonesia’s Legal Timber Supply Gap and Implications for Expansion of Milling Capacity, said raw material used by these mills exceeded the legal supply by the equivalent of 20 million cubic meters.

The report said although the source of the wood was unclear, it is likely to have come from trees chopped down during clearfelling for plantations of palm oil and acacia trees, which are harvested by the pulp and paper industry.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Dogs recognize human facial expressions

Angry or happy? Dogs can tell the difference by looking at people's faces. But, do they understand what the expressions mean? Dog owners believe this to be the case, but there is no scientific proof.

Deutsche Welle, 19 Feb 2015

Angry or Happy - For the Dogs it's like a quiz: The winner gets a treat.

Mailmen and dog-owners are well aware of the fact that an angry face or friendly smile can trigger very different reactions in dogs. A team around veterinarian Corsin Andreas Müller has published a new study in "Current Biology" - describing an experiment that makes use of human facial expressions. The researchers showed that dogs are able to differentiate between two distinct human facial expressions, one being "angry" and the other being "happy".

Professor Ludwig Huber supervised
the study
But for the experiment it was not enough to bring an angry or happy man together with a dog, says Professor Ludwig Huber, who supervised the study and holds the chair for Comparative Cognition at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. "Dogs smell and hear very well, but their vision isn't so good. So it's possible they perceive the moods of humans not visually, but in other ways. We know, for example, that humans can also convey fear to other humans by emitting pheromones."

So the scientists had to make sure the dogs participating in the experiment would not be distracted by any smells, sounds or movements. The solution: Touchscreen monitors, on which the faces would be displayed. "The dogs had to touch the screen with their snout to get a treat," Huber explains. "So the dogs had to find out, which of the facial expressions would deliver the food – and most of the dogs found that out in training."

Not just smiling teeth

Dogs that were trained with smiling mouths, later
 recognized happy or angry faces by just looking at
the eyes. (photo: Clever Dog Lab Vienna)
But to make thinks more difficult, the researchers presented the dogs with a mere cross-section of the face – either the area around the eyes, or the area around the mouth. This was to make sure the dogs didn't simply learn that a smiling face with shiny white teeth– resembling a long horizontal white bar – meant food.

Instead the dogs had to learn to read the entire facial expression with all its details. "We didn't just show the dogs new faces and cross-sections. They even passed the most difficult test: Dogs that were trained with the lower half of the face around the mouth were subsequently presented with the other cross section and had to differentiate between "angry" and "happy" – only by seeing the area around the eyes."

In other words: The dogs had to draw conclusions about the smile just by seeing the eyes. This was only possible, because the dogs were able to imagine how the other half must have looked like. "The explanation is: Dogs that remember angry or happy human faces from their day-to-day-life fill in the missing cross-section automatically," Huber says. "They clearly draw on such memories in the tests. So they must be capable of distinguishing between faces and facial expressions."

Dr. Andreas Corsin Müller - lead
author of the study
Do dogs understand the meaning of a smile?

But one big question remains: Do our four-legged friends only distinguish the two, or do they also understand what the expressions actually mean on an emotional level? The experiment was not conclusive on this count, but some observations of the scientists suggest that dogs do understand more than meets the eye: Dogs that were tasked with touching the "happy" faces were much less hesitant to do so.

"It took us almost three times as long, to train the other group of dogs to make contact with the 'angry' ones," Huber recalls. "The task for both groups was essentially the same, but the dogs were reticent to touch the angry face on the touchscreen – and that suggests that they are capable of perceiving emotions and interpreting them." And if you ever lived together with a dog – you would probably not doubt that.

Related Article:

Question: Dear Kryon: Could you please explain why some animals appear to react in fear or keep their distance from me? I'd always believed that as we release our issues and move into balance, animals would find us less threatening (like St. Francis), and I wonder what they're sensing. I've tried to rationalize this reaction, but it still makes me feel bad and question my energy. Other than the animals, the difference in my life seems to confirm that I'm on the right path.

Answer: Thank you, dear one, for this question! This attribute of vibrating higher actually goes both ways with animals. It really depends on how you're vibrating at the moment. Sometimes your light shines so brightly that everyone notices: the animals, the security people in the airport, etc., etc. [Kryon humor] Truly, you can set meters off and blow out lightbulbs in some cases. In those states, animals only see you as powerful and unusual among Humans.

When you "pull in" from power mode, you present yourself as neutral to an animal, and therefore are very safe. An animal will then see you as allied with nature, and no threat at all. What you have to learn is what mode you're in, and how to control these things. Try using the "rainbow filter" that's described in this teaching by partner Jan Tober:

(Page 339 - Kryon Book Nine - The New Beginning)

Friday, February 13, 2015

China tiger farms put big cats in the jaws of extinction

Yahoo – AFP, Neil Connor, 12 Feb 2015

A Siberian tiger tries to catch a chicken released by a gamekeeper to entertain
visitors at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

Harbin (China) (AFP) - A fearsome tiger snarled as a doomed chicken flapped helplessly in its mouth -- but campaigners say such "entertainment" in China is putting big cats further in the jaws of extinction.

"How ferocious, he doesn't let anyone come near him," said one visitor over the sound of crunching bones, as she recorded the grisly scene on her smartphone.

Buying chickens to feed the exhibits at the Siberian Tiger Park in northeast China's Harbin city costs 60 yuan ($10) -- though the menu has plenty of other choices, even cows are available to serve up.

But wildlife protection campaigners allege such parks, along with the dedicated tiger breeding centres or "farms" dotted around the country, actually make their big money selling on body parts from the big cats when they die -- a practise which potentially further threatens the endangered species.

Global tiger numbers have plummeted from 100,000 a century ago to only 3,000 in the wild today, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which classes them as endangered, with poaching and habitat loss primary threats to their survival.

Siberian tigers in their enclosure at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin
(AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

China's tiger farm industry says the trade in captive animals helps to relieve the pressure on wild felines, but wildlife groups argue it reduces the stigma around buying the animals or their body parts, and could create new markets for them.

Debbie Banks, head of the London-based NGO the Environmental Investigation Agency, said that such sales of the body parts of captive tigers was "stimulating demand and sustaining the poaching pressure".

"Raising a tiger to maturity in captivity costs more than poaching a tiger in the wild," she told AFP.

"Wild tigers, leopards and snow leopards are targeted as a cheaper alternative to skins of captive bred tigers."

Figures from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, show that from the turn of the millennium, at least 1,590 tigers were poached around the world up to April 2014 -- an average of two a week.

Among the 13 countries with native tiger populations, numbers are increasing in India and Nepal, which do not have tiger farms, said Banks. But in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and China, where tigers can legally be bred for commercial purposes, wild populations are struggling.

At the same time captive tiger numbers are soaring in China, with up to 6,000 -- twice the global wild population -- in about 200 farms across the country.

Wanted dead or alive

Used for entertainment when the tigers are alive, what happens to the skins and bones of animals that die in captivity is a murky issue.

A Siberian tiger rests at the Siberian Tiger
Park in Harbin (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)
Tiger bones have long been an ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine, supposedly for a capacity to strengthen the human body.

China banned trade in tiger bones in 1993, but the law is regularly flouted, campaigners say. Legislation is also unclear on whether cats bred in captivity are considered endangered in China, and there is little regulation around what needs to be declared when they die.

The animal is considered a symbol of prestige for many in China, with tiger pelt rugs sought-after luxury items, along with tiger bone wine -- bottles labelled with tiger images sell for nearly 5,000 yuan ($800) at the park shop in Harbin.

In December, a wealthy Chinese businessman who bought, slaughtered and ate three tigers was jailed for 13 years.

The gang involved had killed 10 tigers in total, domestic media reported, some of them smuggled in alive "from Southeast Asian countries".

The tigers cost them 200,000 to 300,000 yuan ($48,000) each, and they reaped profits of more than 100,000 yuan per animal, reports said.

Chinese tiger purchases came under scrutiny at an anti-poaching conference in Nepal last week attended by around 100 experts, government and law officials from tiger habitat nations.

Campaigners say that the mere availability of "farmed" tiger products fuels the demand, which Mike Baltzer, leader of the WWF Tigers Alive Initiative, described as "so huge that it's very difficult to address the issue".

"When you have a cultural perception among wealthy people in China that owning a tiger is a matter of prestige, you can't change it overnight," he said.

Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei insisted that Beijing was taking action to tighten laws against poaching, adding: "We have adopted a recovery plan on China’s wild tigers and work to improve the habitats of wild tigers."

Visitors look at Siberian tigers from their bus at the Siberian 
Tiger Park in Harbin (AFP Photo/Goh Chai Hin)

Big cat in a bottle?

There are only about 45 wild tigers in China, according to EIA. But there are more than 1,000 at the Siberian Tiger Park, which was launched in 1986 with just eight animals.

Park representatives have repeatedly been quoted saying that the trade in captive-bred tiger products reduces pressure on wild animals, and that they hope to reintroduce some of their creatures into the wild.

But repeated requests by AFP for comment on whether they sell on the dead animal parts or use them in products went unanswered.

In the park's souvenir shop "bone strengthening wine" is sold in elaborate bottles adorned with tigers.

A shop assistant denied to a foreign visitor that tiger bone was an ingredient.

But when AFP telephoned the shop an employee gave a different impression, saying: "In order to avoid the penalties for selling tiger-bone wine, the name was changed from 'tiger bone wine' to 'bone strengthening wine.'"



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Elephant Patrols Seek to Protect Indonesia’s Rainforests

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Feb 11, 2015

In this photograph taken on Jan. 25, 2015, a mahout deployed as forest ranger,
prepares a trained Sumatran elephant at Trumon sub-district in province of
Aceh, Sumatra. (AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

Trumon, Indonesia. Indonesian men ride on Sumatran elephants as they patrol though dense jungle in the west of the tropical archipelago, warriors on the front line of the fight against illegal logging and poaching.

They trek alongside rivers, over rough terrain and deep into the rainforest in an area that is home to numerous endangered species, from orangutans to tigers, but which has suffered devastating deforestation in recent years.

The sprawling Indonesian archipelago has large swathes of tropical forest but vast tracts are being felled to make way for palm oil and pulp and paper plantations, destroying biodiverse habitats and adding to greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of the logging that takes place is illegal as it happens outside concessions granted to companies, but it is hard for authorities to keep track. Poaching of endangered species is also common, with elephants killed for their ivory and tigers for their pelts.

The elephant patrol project, run with communities in the Trumon district of Aceh province, on Sumatra island, aims to give a helping hand.

It employs local men as “mahouts”, or elephant-keepers, who keep a lookout for illegal logging and poaching and report it to authorities to follow up.

Hendra Masrijal, 33, quit his job as a food vendor to become a mahout. He is among a group of around about 25 keepers involved in the scheme, including former separatists who fought against the central government until a peace deal was struck a decade ago.

In this photograph taken on Jan. 25, 2015, mahouts deployed as forest rangers,
ride their trained Sumatran elephants at Trumon sub-district in Aceh, Sumatra for
a patrol in a forested area. (AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

“It makes me sad when I see pictures of elephants killed by poachers for their tusks,” Masrijal told AFP. “Their habitat is also being encroached [on] by farmers and villagers.”

The patrols deep into the jungle last between two and seven days, with mahouts normally spending 15 to 20 days a month on expeditions.

The initiative covers a vast area of 27,000 hectares called the “Trumon Wildlife Corridor”, which is wedged between two conservation areas. Authorities are currently trying to push through legislation to give it protected status.

As well as keeping a watch for logging and poaching, the program has staff who conduct training in local communities and develop eco-tourism to give villagers who have traditionally lived off illegal practices an alternative livelihood.

Tisna Nando, a spokeswoman for USAID, which has funded the expansion of the project over the past year, said communities were “enthusiastic” about the initiative.

“They see that they can actually benefit economically from protecting the forest in the area, rather than cutting it down,” she told AFP.

A study last year published in the journal Nature Climate Change showed that Indonesia had for the first time surpassed Brazil in its rate of tropical forest clearance, despite a moratorium on new logging permits imposed several years ago.

Agence France-Presse


Police Nab 8 Hunters for Killing Elephant in Riau

Jakarta Globe, Feb 11, 2015

Ivory can fetch up to $800 a kilogram on the international black market.
(Reuters Photo/Bobby Yip)

Jakarta. The Riau Police on Tuesday arrested eight alleged ivory hunters who are suspected of having shot an elephant to cut off its tusks.

Officers confiscated two two-meter-long pieces of ivory, modified hunting rifles, six 7.6-millimeter bullets, blades and an axe.

The hunters allegedly told the police that they had been hunting for wild boars in the acacia woods of Bengkalis when an elephant walked past them. They proceeded to shoot the animal.

“The suspects are guilty of taking part in an illegal hunt,” Riau Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tejo told Tempo.co, a news portal.

Police say the ivory is worth approximately Rp 10 million ($780) per kilogram on the international black market.

If found guilty of having violated the 1990 law on natural resources conservation, the hunters could face up to five years in jail and a fine of Rp 200 million.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

South Africa considers viability of legal rhino horn trade

Team will look into technical and strategic aspects of the trade in response to poaching crisis, but ministry says South Africa has not taken a position on the issue

The Guardian, AFP, Tuesday 10 February 2015

The carcass of a rhino killed for its horn being prepared for postmortem, in Kruger
National Park, South Africa, 4 February 2015. Photograph: Salym Fayad/EPA

South Africa has appointed a panel of experts to examine the viability of a legal rhino horn trade, the environmental affairs ministry said on Tuesday as poaching of the species spiked to record levels.

The 21-member task team will look into technical and strategic aspects of the trade.

“It is important to emphasise that South Africa has not taken a position on the issue and will not do so until the committee has completed its work and presented its findings,” said the ministry in a statement.

The committee which includes conservationists, scientists and immigration authorities, is tasked with identifying additional measures to curb the illegal killings, including enhanced intelligence to break up syndicates.

It has to submit its report to government before year end.

South Africa, which is home to the world’s largest rhino population is facing a poaching crisis, with 1,215 animals killed in 2014, a 21% increase from the previous year.

The slaughter of one of Africa’s most iconic wildlife species is driven by a demand for its horn in Asian countries.

The powdered horn, made of the substance similar to human fingernails is popularly believed to have medicinal properties, although there is no scientific proof for the claim.

Internationally, the rhino horn trade was banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1977.

But a domestic trade continued within South Africa’s borders for decades. Government later placed a moratorium on the local trade in 2009.

If South Africa decides to pursue a legal rhino horn trade, it will have to win over two-thirds of member states at the next CITES conference, which the country will host in 2016.

Poaching in South Africa has been on the rise despite multifaceted efforts to stop the problem.

Last year, authorities relocated a number of rhinos from the famed Kruger national park, in an attempt to save them from illegal hunters.

The large park, approximately the size of Wales, has experienced the highest number of killings.

It is said that a kilogramme of rhino horn sells for up to $100,000 (£65,627) in Vietnam, double the price of gold.

South Africa is said to be home to around 20,000 rhinos, some 80% of the worldwide population.

Fighting animal cruelty in LatAm, one tweet at a time

MSN – AFP, Alina Rodriguez, 10 Feb 2015

Veterinarian Carmen Soto treats a toucan that lost the upper half of 
his beak after being attacked by youths, on February 4, 2015. (AF)

Veterinarian Carmen Soto is gently swabbing what is left of Grecia the toucan's bright beak, preparing to fit him with a prosthesis to replace the part hacked off by vandals.

The images of the bird's mutilated red-and-yellow beak caused outrage last month in Costa Rica, where donations for a prosthesis came pouring in after his story went viral on social media -- a new weapon in the fight against the age-old problem of animal cruelty in Latin America.

Appalled citizens sent in $3,000 to outfit Grecia with a prosthetic beak after a gang of rowdy youths attacked the bird, which activists say is a sort of half-wild, half-tame mascot for the central town of Grecia.

A similar case shook Honduras in January, when a group of young people blew up a stray dog with fireworks and posted a video online.

And in Peru, social media users were repulsed when a man whose children had been bitten by the neighbor's dog claimed revenge by tying the animal to the back of his car and dragging him through the street.

Veterinarian Carmen Soto, in charge of an animal rescue centre, in
La Garita, Alajuela, 45 km north of San Jose. (AFP)

Such cases usually go unpunished in Latin America, where laws against animal cruelty are mostly weak or non-existent.

The network of organizations fighting the phenomenon is also small and underfunded.

But social media is changing that, said Cynthia Dent, executive director for the Humane Society International in Latin America.

"Twitter and Facebook have increased our awareness of cases of cruelty in Latin America, said Dent from the Costa Rican capital San Jose, the group's regional headquarters.

"In the past we would only hear about it when there was a case reported in the press. But now we have outraged people who take advantage of social media to highlight these cases of cruelty and join forces against them."

Those protests are starting to spill over from the Internet to the street, pressuring the authorities to act.

"The visibility that social networks give to animal cruelty puts more pressure to pass laws," Dent told AFP.

$2 fines

Demonstrators have held rallies in recent months in Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru and Uruguay calling for harsher laws to fight animal cruelty.

In countries such as Mexico and Uruguay, animal cruelty is a crime but offenders are rarely punished.

Most countries in Latin America impose only a small fine for abusers.

In Colombia, for example, the fines range from $2 to $20.

"These laws are on the books, but they're not enforced. Prosecutors aren't trained to implement them," said Leonora Esquivel, head of animal rights group Anima Naturalis Mexico.

In Costa Rica, a country whose economy depends on tourists drawn to its world-famous rainforests and wildlife, activists are calling on Congress to impose prison terms for animal cruelty -- a fight that has gained momentum since the attack on Grecia the toucan.

Lawmakers wary of the legislation are trying to amend it to continue allowing bullfights, a tradition inherited from Spain during the colonial era that remains popular in much of Latin America.

In Venezuela, bullfights remain legal alongside cockfights and "coleo," a Latin American twist on rodeo where cowboys on horseback try to grab young bulls by the tail and pull them to the ground.

Bulls are also at the center of a legal row in Colombia, where a court last week ordered the reopening of the bullfighting ring in the capital Bogota, whose mayor, Gustavo Petro, had ordered it closed in 2012 as part of a campaign against cruelty to animals.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Taipei keeper fined for letting dog ride on top of van

Want China Times, CNA 2015-02-08

The dog, which aroused controversy, jumps on the top of a vehicle in New
Taipei city, Feb. 7. (Photo/ Hsieh Wen-hsuan)

A dog owner has been fined for allowing his dog to stand on top of his small van during a drive in suburban Taipei, despite the family's insistence that the dog rode there voluntarily, police said Saturday.

The Tamsui Police Station said it took action after seeing a photo posted on the Internet of a car with four dogs in the vehicle — including one that stood on top of it.

The police said they learned about the situation when carrying out their regular monitoring of the internet, and then located the driver, surnamed Su, and his wife, surnamed Cheng, who denied that they forced the dog to stand on the top of the van.

Cheng said the dog was used to doing that, but she admitted that animal protection officials had warned them about the practice before.

She said that the dog has always held its footing when taking its position on top of the vehicle and that she and her husband drive slowly to get the dog accustomed to the traffic flow.

Su was condemned by many netizens as being "abusive" after the picture was posted online.

Ministry: Indonesia Has Only Four Decent Zoos

Jakarta Globe, Vento Saudale, Feb 08, 2015

In this file photo taken on April 17, 2013, an ailing critically endangered
Sumatran tiger named Melani is fed from an enclosure at the Surabaya Zoo.
(AFP Photo/Juni Kriswanto)

Pasuruan, East Java. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has given the management of the vast majority of Indonesian zoos a piece of its mind, saying there are only four decent wildlife parks throughout the archipelago.

Indonesia currently has 58 registered zoos, but 54 of them are either deemed improper by the government or are not yet officially accredited.

Bambang Dahono Adji, the ministry’s director for conservation, said that only half of the nation’s zoos had gone through the accreditation process, and that most failed to make the cut.

“Out of those 29 zoos, only 4 received the A-grade, meaning they are decent and appropriate,” he said on Saturday. “While the others were given Grade B [less than decent] or C [bad].”

The four zoos that do make the grade are Taman Safari Cisarua in West Java, Taman Safari Pasuruan in East Java, Taman Safari Gianyar in Bali, and Sea World in Jakarta.

The accreditation process is conducted once every five years by representatives from the government, veterinarians and other experts who look at animal welfare, animal death rates and the zoo’s facilities, among other things.

“We will evaluate from time to time whether [a park's] accreditation result gets better or worse,” Bambang said. “It’s possible for a Grade-A zoo to get a lower grade in its next accreditation. For those with Grade C, if they don’t get their act together, the ministry will recommend that their license be revoked.”

Bambang admitted that state-run zoos have been performing poorly, but he said he expected plenty of improvement in the near future, as the government has been investing in human resources.

Surabaya Zoo is the most notorious wildlife park in the country, for its high rate of animal deaths.

The zoo lost its permit in 2010 over a tug-of-war over control of the zoo by the previous management. The management fiasco resulted in the massive neglect of the animals and dozens of deaths, including of critically endangered species, and the loss of some animals suspected to have been sold into the illegal wildlife trade. But Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini in August last year announced major changes in the running of the zoo.

Before the mayor stepped in, a lion was found strangled to death in its enclosure after getting tangled in a cable that was hanging loose near its door. And in 2012, the zoo’s only giraffe was found dead with a 20-kilogram ball of plastic trash in its stomach. The plastic was believed to have accumulated from trash thrown into the giraffe’s enclosure by visitors. There was also a case in 2011 of three baby Komodo dragons going missing — presumably sold into the illegal wildlife trade.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

E. Kalimantan to Stop Issuing Mining Permits in Forests

Jakarta Globe, Tunggadewa Mattangkilang, Feb 05, 2015

The governor of East Kalimantan has said he will no longer issue permits
for mining or plantations. (Antara Photo)

Samarinda. The governor of East Kalimantan has announced a plan to stop issuing land-use permits for mining and plantation concessions in the province’s forests.

“Starting from this year, there will be no more permits for land lend-use for coal mining and forestry activities,” East Kalimantan governor Awang Farouk Ishak said on Thursday.

Awang said he was confident banning the awarding of concessions for mining and logging would not hamper the province’s economic growth. He said the measure was necessary to protect the environment for the longer term.

A land permit, known as a IPPKH, is required for companies wanting to carry out economic activity in forestry areas.

Awang said the government would still issue licenses for infrastructure projects, such as power plants or roads. But he emphasized that the government would tighten the monitoring of the permits it does decide to issue.

“After the permit is issued the progress of the development would be tightly monitored because we don’t want the permit to be misused,” he said. “Excessive land conversion is very concerning and will affect the effort to achieve food security status.”

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pakistan prepares for Saudi royal to hunt 'protected' birds

Yahoo – AFP, 2 Feb 2015

A falcon (R) tries to catch a Houbara bustard during a falconry competition,
 part of the 2014 International Festival of Falconry, in Hameem, 150km west of
 Abu Dhabi, on December 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

Quetta (Pakistan) (AFP) - Pakistani authorities are finalising arrangements for a Saudi prince to visit its southwestern desert region to hunt the Houbara bustard, a bird supposedly protected by law, officials said Monday.

An advance party has already been reached the Yak Much desert in the province of Baluchistan along with falcons which will be used to catch the bustard, officials said.

Saudi Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz is expected to join the group in coming days. He led a hunting party to Baluchistan last year that officials said killed more than 2,000 bustards.

The birds are listed as "vulnerable" and declining in numbers by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's "Red List" of threatened species. Hunting them is banned in Pakistan.

But authorities issue special permits to wealthy visitors from Arab countries. Permit holders are in theory restricted to hunting a maximum of 100 of the protected birds over 10 days, but only in certain areas.

A Houbara bustard flies during a falconry competition -- part of the 2014
 International Festival of Falconry -- in Hameem, 150km west of Abu Dhabi,
on December 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/Karim Sahib)

Saifullah Zehri, district forest officer for wildlife in Chagai district of which Yak Much is a part, told AFP the advance party arrived on Sunday in a C-130 transport plane.

"They were fully equipped and had all the material which is required for bird hunting," Zehri said.

Arab sheikhs are known as enthusiastic hunters, travelling to Pakistan each year to hunt the bird using the traditional Arabian method. They arrive by private jets from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

According to conservative estimates, between 500,000 and a million birds of all species migrate through Pakistan each year -- flying south from Siberia to pass the winter in Central and South Asia.

Hunt: Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed
1,977 houbara bustards in just 21 days while
on holiday

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Spain's King Juan Carlos poses in front of a dead elephant
on a hunting trip in Botswana, Africa. Photograph: Target
Press/Barcroft Media


Sunday, February 1, 2015

'Tiger heavyweight' Nepal hosts anti-poaching summit

Yahoo – AFP, 1 Feb 2015

Nepal's success in turning tiger-fearing villagers into their protectors has seen 
none of the endangered cats killed for almost three years, offering key lessons
for an anti-poaching summit opening shortly in Kathmandu (AFP Photo)

Kathmandu (AFP) - Nepal's success in turning tiger-fearing villagers into their protectors has seen none of the endangered cats killed for almost three years, offering key lessons for an anti-poaching summit opening in Kathmandu on Monday.

Experts from conservation group WWF, which is co-hosting the conference with Nepal's government, said the Himalayan nation was a "tiger heavyweight" in the battle to fight poaching and protect them from extinction.

"Nepal and India are our tiger heavyweights leading the region. India excels at recovering tiger numbers and Nepal at zero poaching," said Mike Baltzer of WWF Tigers Alive Initiative.

Hundreds of young volunteers act as
 unofficial guards for Nepal's national parks,
 home to 198 tigers and 534 rhinos -- both
 listed as critically endangered species by
WWF (AFP Photo)
India in January reported a 30 percent jump in tiger numbers since 2010, while Nepal saw numbers rise almost two thirds between 2009 and 2013. Its last reported poaching incident was in March 2012.

Decades of trafficking and habitat destruction have slashed the global tiger population from 100,000 a century ago to approximately 3,000, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Tikaram Adhikari, director general of Nepal's department of national parks and wildlife conservation, said an initiative to convince villagers to inform on poachers and pay them half of tourism revenues had paid huge dividends.

"Earlier, some villagers even protected poachers because they didn't want tigers attacking them. We heard them out, built electric fences, focused on increasing tourism and gave them a big cut of the revenues," Adhikari said.

"Now they know the benefits of protecting tigers and they want to help. The survival of the animal is a matter of prestige for them," he told AFP.

Hundreds of young volunteers act as unofficial guards for Nepal's national parks, home to 198 tigers and 534 rhinos -- both listed as critically endangered species by WWF.

A tip-off by local villagers meant police were able to arrest four poachers less than a week after they allegedly killed a tiger in 2012, Adhikari said.

Nepal has twice been recognised for going a full year with no poaching incidents involving tigers or rhinos.

The impoverished country's success in combating wildlife crime sends a clear signal that "anti-poaching cannot be left only to conservationists," WWF Nepal's Diwakar Chapagain said.

"We have to involve people on the ground -- volunteers and local law enforcement must have a stake in the process. Otherwise conservation is not sustainable," Chapagain told AFP.

"Spending money and running awareness campaigns is not enough. You need boots on the ground and that's where local communities and law enforcement play an important role in cracking down on poachers," he said.

The five-day anti-poaching summit, which opens Monday evening, will see experts and officials from 13 countries meet to launch an Asia-wide push to fight wildlife crime.

Countries with tiger populations -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand and Vietnam -- in 2010 launched a plan to double their numbers by 2022.



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