Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Dutch kill 190,000 ducks to contain bird flu outbreak

Yahoo – AFP, November 27, 2016

Workers in protective gear get ready to cull ducks as part of prevention measures
against bird flu at a duck farm in Hierden, central Netherlands on November 27,
2016 (AFP Photo/Remko de Waal)

The Hague (AFP) - Dutch officials have culled 190,000 ducks on a central Netherlands farm where inspectors have confirmed the presence of a highly infectuous strain of bird flu, officials and local media said Sunday.

The outbreak was detected at a farm in Biddinghuizen, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Amsterdam, where about 180,000 ducks were put down together with another 10,000 within a one kilometre radius, the Dutch food and safety watchdog NVWA said.

"There are three other poultry farms within a three kilometre radius and they are being monitored," the NVWA added in a statement.

Authorities have also imposed a ban on poultry and poultry product transport within a 10 kilometre radius, the statement said.

Tests indicated that the birds were killed by an H5N8 variant of the disease "which is highly infectuous" for poultry -- killing about 30 percent of infected birds -- but not "very dangerous to humans", public newscaster NOS said.

Earlier this month the Netherlands shuttered petting zoos and banned duck hunting as it stepped up measures to stem a bird flu outbreak blamed for killing scores of poultry and more than a thousand wild birds in the country.

In the western port of Rotterdam, a park closed its animal section after several aquatic birds were found to have died from the H5N8 virus. Others still not affected have been penned in.

And on the banks of Lake Markermeer, close to Amsterdam, about 1,250 wild birds were found dead earlier this month, local news reports said.

The H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed more than 420 people, mainly in southeast Asia, since first appearing in 2003. Another strain of bird flu, H7N9, has claimed more than 200 lives since emerging in 2013, according to World Health Organisation figures.

Avian flu severely hit the Netherlands in 2003 with health authorities destroying some 30 million birds in an effort to quash an outbreak.

Around 106 million chickens are raised on Dutch poultry farms, according to the latest Dutch statistics.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Sri Lanka bans use of young elephants for work

Yahoo – AFP, November 23, 2016

A buddhist monk feeds fruits to an elephant at a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka
(AFP Photo/Ishara S.Kodikara)

Sri Lanka unveiled tougher laws Wednesday, including a ban on using young elephants for logging and other physical work, as part of a crackdown on cruelty to domesticated wild animals.

Wildlife Minister Gamini Jayawickrama Perera said the cabinet approved new regulations imposing tough conditions on owners of elephants, which are considered sacred by Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

The animals are also legally protected but are often subjected to cruel treatment by some owners.

Under the new regulations seen by AFP, owners are banned from using working elephants below the age of 10 years while those under five years cannot be used in parades, even at religious festivals.

There are 41 new conditions aimed at ensuring minimum standards of care, including the daily diet that should include fresh fruit in addition to leaves and vegetables.

Owners must also take their elephants for daily walks of not less than five kilometres (three miles) and the animals must be allowed two and a half hours for bathing.

The minister is also seeking to regulate the use of elephants in movie productions.

Elephants cannot be made to fight each other on camera. Flash or floodlights cannot be shone on the animals and letting off firecrackers near them is also banned.

Sri Lanka elephant owners must take their elephants for daily walks of not less 
than 5km (AFP Photo/Ishara S.Kodikara)

Those violating the new regulations could lose their ownership licence and face up to three years in jail.

The new laws come into force as the authorities investigate allegations that over 40 baby elephants had been stolen from national wildlife parks over the last decade and are being kept as pets.

Asian elephant expert Jayantha Jayewardene said the new rules were welcome.

"The regulations are a step in the right direction, but it will be difficult to enforce things like the quality and the quantity of food that should be given to each animal," Jayawardene told AFP.

Many rich Sri Lankans keep elephants as pets to show off their wealth, but there have been numerous complaints of ill treatment and cruelty.

Capturing wild elephants is illegal. Official records show there are about 200 domesticated elephants in a country where the population in the wild is estimated at about 7,500.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Egyptian crocodile is a mummy in more ways than one as scan reveals 47 babies

DutchNews, November 18, 2016

Photo: Interspectral 
Experts have discovered 47 mummified baby crocodiles packed inside the preserved corpse of a fully-grown beast at a museum in Leiden. 

The surprise find emerged in a new scan of the three metre-long ‘mother’ crocodile, which has been at the National Museum of Antiquities (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden) since 1828.

‘This mummy was intended as a votive, a present to the crocodile god,’ curator Lara Weiss told the Volkskrant. A previous scan in 1996 had shown that the mummy contained two crocodiles bound together, but the babies only became clear on the new 3D scan carried out by Swedish tech firm Interspectral at Amsterdam’s Academic Medical Centre.

‘You can’t see them properly on the old scans unless you know they’re there. And we never expected to find this,’ said Weiss. 

The 2500-year-old crocodile, which the museum acquired in 1828, is one of only two such mummies in the world known to contain the preserved remains of its young. The other is in the British Museum in London. 

Visitors will be able to see the babies in a ‘virtual autopsy’ of the mummy when the National Museum of Antiquities opens its new Egyptian collection gallery on November 18.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Vanilla and spice next to bloom in Dutch greenhouses

Yahoo – AFP, Maude Brulard, November 12, 2016

University of Wageningen researcher Filip van Noort and vanilla grower Joris
Elstgeest inspect vanilla orchids, part of four years of ground-breaking research
(AFP Photo/Maude Brulard)

Bleiswijk (Netherlands) (AFP) - Flowers more exotic than the humble tulip will soon flourish for the first time in Dutch greenhouses after intensive research into growing the capricious vanilla orchid to harvest one of the world's most expensive spices.

In the middle of potato fields in a central Dutch rural town, scientists from Wageningen University have for the past four years been nurturing vanilla orchids. And their research has been deemed a success.

"Based on our information, businesses believe vanilla is a plant with a lot of potential for Dutch greenhouses and have decided to start growing it," said researcher Filip van Noort.

How many orchids will be planted will be decided at the start of the next growing season in the spring, and it will take at least three years before the first Dutch-grown vanilla hits the market.

In Bleiswijk, home to the ground-breaking research, vines from about 100 plants stretch metres high in hot, tropical greenhouses. Hidden under fleshy, oval-shaped leaves are the buds, that will eventually become the vanilla pods so prised by chefs the world over.

"The challenge is to ensure the plants blossom and then to be able to pollinate them in a cost-effective way," said van Noort.

Cultivation of the vanilla orchid is hugely labour intensive as the orchid's flowers 
only last one day and must be pollinated by hand if they are to produce fruit
 (AFP Photo/Maude Brulard)

Black gold

Cultivation is hugely labour intensive. The orchid's flowers only last one day and must be pollinated by hand if they are to produce fruit. So it was an apt challenge for the Dutch -- renowned for their green fingers and their expertise in greenhouse cultivation.

"A few years ago we were looking for new plants which could be grown in Dutch greenhouses," explained van Noort.

The aim was to increase the variety of crops grown by Dutch farmers as they search for improved profits.

Vanilla made sense. Currently the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar holds a quasi-monopoly over world supply producing some 80 percent of global vanilla bean stocks.

It is also the world's second most expensive spice, with prices climbing to 350 euros ($380) a kilo this month -- compared with 60 euros in 2014.

"In the past the price was too low to be interesting. But today, with demand increasing, the prices are rising," said orchid expert Joris Elstgeest.

The long, black vanilla pods, with their distinctive caramel and at times woody scent, have to be collected by hand from the vines and then dried before being sold.

It is the sticky tiny black seeds scraped from inside the pods which are a baker's delight, lending an almost intoxicating flavour to everything from cakes and ice-cream.

The long, black vanilla pods, with their distinctive caramel and at times woody scent, 
have to be collected by hand from the vines and then dried before being sold 
(AFP Photo/Maude Brulard)

All organic

Originating from Mexico, the vanilla orchid was brought to Europe by Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus. But all attempts to grow it in milder climates failed for lack of the type of bee which pollinated the flowers.

It was not until 1841 that someone on the island of Reunion figured out how to pollinate the flowers one-by-one.

That method finally paved the way towards large-scale production, with Madagascar proving the most effective of growers.

But even if prices fall and as other countries explore possible vanilla crops, Dutch growers believe it will prove a good investment.

In past decades, synthetic vanilla flavourings were increasingly adopted by the food industry. But with a return to all things authentic and organic, the real stuff is making a welcome return.

Bleiswijk vanilla is wholly organic, say its Dutch growers, unlike in Madagascar, they claim.

Vanilla is also the world's second most expensive spice, with prices climbing
 to 350 euros ($380) a kilo this month -- compared with 60 euros in 2014 
(AFP Photo/Maude Brulard)

Half of Madagascar's vanilla is exported to Europe, and a third to the United States. But clients say the quality has been slipping, with producers harvesting the pods before they reach maturity to cash in on the price boom.

Some Madagascans even speculate the vanilla industry is being used as a front for the illegal trade in rosewood –- a sought-after product in China.

The Dutch consortium behind the project says it has already received lots of interest from local high-end restaurants as well as food companies.

The Netherlands is a global leader in the art of greenhouse growing with almost 10,000 hectares of this lowlands country set with rows of glasshouses growing all kinds of flowers, fruits and vegetables -- compared to just 1,900 hectares in France.

And researchers are already setting their sights on other spices.

"We've also got black pepper, which seems to be adapting well," said van Noort, adding indigo used to dye blue jeans was another project.

And perhaps saffron -- the world's most expensive spice derived from the saffron crocus -- could be next to flourish here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Jailhouse dogs check in at Portugal prison

Yahoo – AFP, Daniel Silva, November 8, 2016

A prisoner in the high security prison at Monsanto in Lisbon cuddles a dog at
a kennel staffed by inmates, and dubbed the "Dog's House" (AFP Photo/
Patricia de Melo Moreira)

Lisbon (AFP) - Gloria is a regular at Portugal's most infamous prison, but it isn't crime that keeps her coming back. The golden Barbado da Terceira is just one of the canine guests at a most unusual dog kennel run by inmates.

Owner Rui Silva checked in his pet, a shaggy Portuguese breed, for a weekend stay in the maximum security jail in Lisbon.

"It did not really phase me," the 48-year-old TV broadcast technician said about leaving his pet at the Monsanto prison, where Portugal's most notorious criminals are housed.

"I asked if they took good care of the animals, they said yes. That's what matters."

The inmates welcome the pets at the so-called Dog House in a modest reception area adorned by photos of former four-legged guests.

They verify vaccination records and receive instructions from pet owners. During the stay, they oversee feeding and bathing, walk the dogs and administer medication.

"It's a lot of responsibility," said Ricardo, an inmate serving a sentence for drug trafficking, as a pit bull licked his hand through the fence of its pen.

"What I really like is having contact with the public," the 34-year-old former bar owner said.

Giving inmates the chance to reboot relational skills and gain job experience is the goal of this unique project in Portugal.

The kennel at Monsanto prison in Lisbon has space for 68 dogs and is often
 full over peak holiday periods when the public need a safe place to leave their 
dogs while travelling (AFP Photo/Patricia de Melo Moreira)

'Time goes by faster'

The kennel, a white and yellow building, is located just outside the barbed-wire fence that surrounds the prison, a former military fort perched atop the highest point of Lisbon among pine and oak trees, with a panoramic view of the capital.

Its 68 dog pens usually fill up during peak vacation periods in summer and at Christmas, as well as over long weekends.

Two to five prisoners work at the kennel, depending on how busy it is. They receive a monthly stipend of around 80 euros ($90) for their work.

"It is totally different than being inside, time goes by faster," said Ricardo, who was dressed in a red tracksuit and grey sweatshirt, as he pointed in the direction of the jail.

Married and with a young daughter on the outside, he said he was thinking of setting up his own kennel after he is released from jail at the end of the year.

The prison initially began the kennel for its staff but in 2000 it opened the facility to the general public.

The kennel charges 10 euros ($11) per day per dog, or just 9.50 euros if the owner brings the pet's own food.

Those who can work at the kennel are selected from the approximately 20 
prisoners who have been assigned to a less restrictive regime due to good 
behaviour (AFP Photo/Patricia de Melo Moreira)

'Reduces aggression'

Prison officials stress the kennel is not a business, but rather a tool to help rehabilitate prisoners and prepare them to return to society by giving them job skills.

"Looking after animals develops emotional ties which the inmates then project onto other people and society in general," Monsanto prison director Ana Cristina Carrolo Pereira Teixeira said.

And many of its regular customers like Silva, who first left his Gloria at the kennel several years ago, support those goals.

"Its being part of a prison maybe makes me want to use it even more, to help out," he said.

But not all prisoners at Monsanto, used to house the nation's most dangerous convicts, make the cut for kennel care.

Among the roughly 160 inmates currently held is an explosives expert with the Basque separatist group ETA who was arrested in Portugal in 2010, and the killer of two young policemen in a Lisbon suburb in 2005.

Those who can work at the kennel are selected from the approximately 20 prisoners who have been assigned to a less restrictive regime due to good behaviour.

"We try to pick ideal people for this role and that like being here," the kennel's veterinarian, Pedro Miguel Canavilhas de Melo, said.

Teixeira, the prison director, said she believes the inmates "are better people when they leave here in the way they relate to others because of their relationship with the animals."

"I think it calms inmates, their relationship with animals reduces aggression," she added.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Aussie police find baby koala in woman's bag

Yahoo – AFP, November 7, 2016

A police officer takes care of a baby koala in Brisbane after it was found
hidden in the bag of a woman they arrested on an unrelated matter

Australian police uncovered a baby koala hidden in the bag of a woman they stopped in the street.

The 50-year-old, who was being spoken to on unrelated matters on Sunday evening, stunned Brisbane officers when she revealed she had the creature in her canvas satchell.

"Not quite believing their ears, the officers cautiously unzipped the bag and found this gorgeous boy," Queensland police said.

"The koala -- believed to be about six months of age -- seemed to be in good health, although a bit dehydrated."

The woman claimed she found the joey, which is protected under the Nature Conservation Act, on Saturday night and had been caring for it since.

The marsupial was handed to the RSPCA, an animal protection charity, which named him Alfred.

The much-loved koala has been under increasing threat across Australia in recent
decades, particularly from habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and bushfires

"He’s been on fluids but is doing well and will shortly be going out to a carer,” said RSPCA spokesperson Michael Beatty.

The woman was subsequently arrested over "outstanding matters", police said.

The much-loved koala has been under increasing threat across Australia in recent decades, particularly from habitat loss, disease, dog attacks and bushfires.

A 2012 national count placed total koala numbers at 330,000, though their tree-top habitat makes accurate assessment difficult.