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.

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)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

VIDEO: 🇯🇵 Modern phoenix: Bird brought back from extinction in Japan

 


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

VIDEO: Visitors to a Swiss zoo catch a glimpse of a rare albino Galapagos giant tortoise born in May

 


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Three critically endangered Sumatran tigers killed in Indonesia

France24 – AFP, 25 April 2022 

Two of the tigers were found at a single location near the village of Sri Mulya, with
a third found about 500 metres (1,600 feet) away Handout INDONESIAN POLICE/AFP

Banda Aceh (Indonesia) (AFP) – Three critically endangered Sumatran tigers were found dead in western Indonesia on Sunday after being ensnared by traps, police said, dealing another blow to the species' rapidly declining population. 

Rampant deforestation has reduced the tigers' natural habitat and increasing conflict with humans has left only several hundred of the endangered species remaining in the wild, according to estimates. 

Two of the dead tigers were first found by local conservationists in Aceh -- which sits on the the northern tip of Sumatra island -- before police were alerted, conservation officials said. 

Authorities found the two intact tiger carcasses next to each other with their feet ensnared by steel slings at a palm oil plantation in East Aceh district, a police statement said. 

A few hours later, police found a third dead tiger about 500 metres (1,600 feet) away from where the other two tigers were discovered. Its feet were also ensnared by a sling and the body had started to rot. 

"Our initial suspicion is that the tigers died after being caught by a boar trap, because when we found them their feet were ensnared by thick steel sling," local police chief Hendra Sukmana said in a statement late on Sunday. 

Officials will conduct autopsies to determine the causes of the tigers' deaths. 

"We strongly condemn this incident... if the tests reveal there's intentional action that caused the deaths of these protected species, we will take strict action," head of Aceh conservation agency Agus Arianto told AFP on Monday. 

Sumatran tigers are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with fewer than 400 believed to remain in the wild. 

Up to 10 tigers are killed yearly, according to the Indonesian forestry ministry. 

Tigers are also targeted by poachers for their body parts that are widely used in traditional medicine -- particularly in China -- despite overwhelming scientific evidence that they have no beneficial value.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

800 parakeets: an unexpected 'Christmas gift' to US rescue group

 Yahoo – AFP, December 27, 2021

The Detroit Animal Welfare Group, based in the northern US state of Michigan, r
eceived more than 800 parakeets over the Christmas weekend (AFP/Prakash MATHEMA)

A US animal shelter was "in shock" after receiving over 800 parakeets during the holiday weekend -- delivered in two batches by the son of their owner who had kept them all enclosed in one room. 

The Detroit Animal Welfare Group, based in the northern state of Michigan, posted on Facebook about a "Christmas present we were not expecting" -- saying the "birds came from a very unhealthy situation." 

It said a first group of 497 birds were dropped off on December 23 -- crammed into seven cages. The owner's son then returned on Sunday with an additional 339. 

"The irresponsibility of the owner is infuriating," the group wrote on Facebook, saying the birds were "smothering each other and needed immediate help." 

"We were in shock," it said, "but could not turn them away." 

Working with other local organizations, the group was able to find temporary housing for the parakeets. 

"It truly takes a village to help these animals," it said. 

Kelly LeBonty, the rescue group's director, told local newspaper the Detroit Free Press the birds "were very very stressed." 

"They were barely moving. We had to get them out and into different cages." 

The son told Lebonty that he believed his father had only planned to breed a few birds, but it got out of hand, and he was now spending $1,200 a month to feed them all. 

The parakeets, some visibly injured or malnourished in photos posted by the group, will be available for adoption after they are evaluated by a veterinarian. 

The Detroit Animal Welfare Group cautioned that "owning a parakeet is a 6-15 year commitment." 

"They require not only food, water and daily cage cleaning but also daily interaction, enrichment and flight time." 

In Michigan, owners can be prosecuted for not providing adequate care to their animals. 

Lebonty said the group had not contacted authorities, noting that she's happy the family took a "step in the right direction," by reaching out for help.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Elle says will drop fur from magazines worldwide

 Yahoo – AFP, Anna CUENCA, December 2, 2021

Elle will soon be fur-free in terms of both editorial content and advertising
(AFP/JOEL SAGET)

Elle magazine announced on Thursday it will stop using fur in all its editorial and advertising content worldwide, becoming the first major publication to do so. 

The monthly lifestyle magazine, which originated in France and is owned by French media group Lagardere, comes out in 45 different editions around the world. 

It has about 33 million readers from Mexico to Japan, with 100 million monthly online visitors. 

But Elle's international director Valeria Bessolo Llopiz told an annual two-day fashion industry conference starting on Thursday in Britain that fur was no longer acceptable. 

"The presence of animal fur in our pages and on our digital media is no longer in line with our values, nor our readers," she said. 

"It is time for Elle to make a statement... rejecting animal cruelty," Bessolo Llopiz told delegates at The Business of Fashion Voices 2021 event in Chipping Norton, in Oxfordshire, southern England. 

Instead, she said the magazine wanted to "increase awareness for animal welfare" and "foster a more humane fashion industry". 

The magazine has already dropped fur from 13 of its editions. Twenty more will drop fur from January 1, 2022 and the rest will start a year later. 

'Old-fashioned' 

The move reflects the changing nature of consumer demand, Bessolo Llopiz told AFP. 

"Fur has become old-fashioned," she said, noting many brands had gone "fur-free" years ago. 

"We are in a new era and the Gen Z (born in the late 1990s to early 2010s), which is the golden target for fashion and luxury, has huge expectations in terms of sustainability and ethics," she added. 

Welcoming Elle's decision, PJ Smith, director of fashion policy for the Humane Society of the United States, said he looked forward to other fashion magazines following suit. 

"This announcement will ignite positive change throughout the entire fashion industry and has the potential to save countless animals from a life of suffering and a cruel death," he told the conference. 

"Fur promotions belong only in the back copies of fashion magazines from days gone by," Elisa Allen, the UK director of animal rights organisation PETA, told AFP. 

She welcomed decisions by publications -- including British Vogue, InStyle USA, Cosmopolitan UK, and the newly launched Vogue Scandinavia -- rejecting fur on their editorial pages and expects the move to soon extend to advertising. 

Consumer pressure 

The decision comes as the fashion industry has faced pressure from animal rights activists to stop the use of real fur on humane grounds and mounting public opposition. 

Smaller fashion weeks held in cities such as Amsterdam, Oslo, Melbourne and Helsinki have all banned fur but larger ones in Paris, Milan and New York leave it up to designers. 

Many big names have already chosen to no longer use fur. 

They include Gucci, Versace and Prada, Burberry, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen, Donna Karan, DKNY and Michael Kors, as well as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Balenciaga. 

A 2020 YouGov survey found that 93 percent of British people refuse to wear natural fur while another by Research Co suggested that in the US, 71 percent opposed killing animals for their fur. 

In Europe, an FOP poll indicated that 90 percent of French opposed the fur trade, while 86 percent of Italians expressed opposition in a 2019 survey by Eurispes. 

In a German poll by Kantar in 2020, 84 percent said cruelty towards animals and killing them for their fur was unacceptable. 

Israel in June became the world's first country to ban selling fur to the fashion industry. 

The fur industry itself argues that its natural product is being replaced with synthetic fur made with plastics that damage the environment. 

The French fur industry federation said in a statement on Thursday evening that it would "consider suing" the magazine's platform for "refusing to sell". The fur industry believes that the decisions of designers and consumers are being forced by "pressure from radical movements". 

While fake fur coats are often made from polyester, which takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, some designers such as Britain's Stella McCartney opt for plant-based materials. 

Others use natural fibres such as wool and feathers to mimic the appearance of fur.

Friday, November 19, 2021

France bans wild animals in circuses

France24 – AFP, 18 November 2021 

Consigned to history: The new law will ban use of lions such as these of
the Amar Circus in 1946 Paris

Paris (AFP) – French lawmakers voted on Thursday to end wild animals being used in live circus shows, spelling an end to performing tigers, lions or bears. 

Performances of wild animals will be prohibited in two years and owning them outlawed in seven years, under the wide-ranging animal rights legislation that has been under debate since 2020. 

The law, once signed by President Emmanuel Macron, will also ban live dolphin shows in the next five years and immediately end mink farming, meaning the country's last operator will close. 

Macron's centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) party called the legislation "a historic step in the animal rights combat". 

Circus owners denounced it, while some environmentalists said it did not go far enough. 

The foundation of France's most famous animal advocate, veteran actress Brigitte Bardot, welcomed "a major advance for the animal rights cause in France". 

As well as the measures targeting circuses, the new law will raise the maximum penality for mistreating animals to up to five years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($85,000), and will tighten restrictions on the sale of pets. 

Loïc Dombreval, the LREM co-sponsor of the law, conceded that other controversial issues had not been included within the scope of the legislation, which won cross-party support in both houses of parliament. 

"There will inevitably come a day when... we will debate sensitive issues such as hunting, such as bull-fighting, or some animal-rearing practices," said the lawmaker, who is also a veterinarian. 

'Arbitrary law'

Environmentalists had called for measures to improve the conditions inside industrialised animal farms, which will require "a change in our agricultural model", Senator Daniel Salmon said on Thursday. 

Issues such as hunting and bull-fighting are especially sensitive because they are staunchly defended by supporters in rural areas as long-standing cultural practices. 

Farms that make foie gras pate in France -- which force-feed birds such as geese and ducks to artificially bloat their livers -- have also long been targeted by campaigners. 

The 120 circus owners in France are likely to protest against the restrictions placed on their livelihoods and have warned that some animals might end up abandoned. 

"It's an arbitrary law because there are not mistreated animals in our circuses," William Kerwich, head of the circus animal trainers' union, told AFP. 

He said there would be a reaction from his members on Monday, and a legal appeal. 

The new legislation also bans the use of wild animals in television shows, nightclubs and private parties. 

Polls show that a vast majority of French people support the law, and dozens of cities and towns around the country have already banned travelling circuses that use animals. 

The changes will bring France into step with more than 20 European countries that have either banned or heavily restricted the use of animals for entertainment.

Monday, July 19, 2021

France pledges to end chick culling in 2022

Yahoo – AFP, July 18, 2021

German animal rights activists throw toy chicks into a fake shredding machine
to protest the killing of male chicks

France will outlaw the culling of male chicks in the poultry industry in 2022 after years of protests from animal welfare activists, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said Sunday. 

Millions of male chicks are killed after hatching every year, most often by being shredded or gassed with carbon dioxide, because they do not produce eggs and do not grow as large as females. 

Farmers say no practical and affordable ways exist to tell a chick's sex in the egg at mass production facilities, and an EU directive from 2009 authorises shredding as long as it causes "immediate" death for chicks less than 72 hours old. 

But opponents denounce unnecessary cruelty and point to improving techniques for finding males before they hatch. 

"As of January 1, 2022, all poultry hatcheries will have to have installed or ordered machines letting them learn a chick's sex in the egg," Denormandie told the daily Le Parisien. 

"2022 will be the year when shredding and gassing of male chicks ends in France," he said, saying the law would prevent the killing of 50 million male chicks every year. 

The state will provide a financial aid package of 10 million euros ($11.8 million) to help farmers buy the necessary equipment, he added. 

The move comes after Germany said in January that it would also ban the controversial practice next year. 

Switzerland banned the shredding of live chicks last year, but still allows them to be gassed.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Valentino joins growing band of fur-free designers

Yahoo – AFP, May 19, 2021, Rudolph Valentino 

Valentino's decision follows a growing number of big fashion names
renouncing the use of animal fur
 

Valentino has became the latest fashion powerhouse to abandon real fur, in a move welcomed on Wednesday by Italian campaigners as a "nail in the coffin for the cruel fur trade". 

The iconic Italian house said it would cease production at its Milan-based fur company, Valentino Polar, at the end of this year and the last collection to include fur will be the fall/winter 2021-22 season. 

"The fur-free stance is perfectly in line with the values of our company," said Jacopo Venturini, CEO of Valentino, in a statement. 

"We are moving full-steam ahead in the research for alternative materials in view of a greater attention to the environment for the upcoming collections." 

The decision follows a growing number of big fashion names renouncing the use of animal fur, including Armani, Prada and Gucci. 

Martina Pluda, Italy director for campaign group Humane Society International, said Valentino's decision "is a major nail in the coffin for the cruel fur trade". 

"Like so many other designers, Valentino knows that using fur makes brands look outdated and out of touch, and fur industry certification schemes are little more than the hollow PR spin of an industry that kills 100 million animals for fur a year," she said.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Cambodia ready to welcome 'world's loneliest elephant'

France – AFP, 30 November 2020 

Dubbed the world's loneliest elephant by the press, Kaavan was the only
Asian elephant in Pakistan Aamir QURESHI AFP/File

Siem Reap (Cambodia) (AFP) - An elephant dubbed the "world's loneliest" was set to land in Cambodia on Monday from Pakistan, headed for a sanctuary housing three potential mates, an official said. 

The case of Kaavan -- an overweight, 36-year-old bull elephant -- sparked global uproar from animal rights groups, who petitioned for his move from an Islamabad zoo accused of substandard care and conditions. 

His cause was boosted by a spirited social media campaign by American singer Cher, who travelled to Pakistan to see him off. 

"Cambodia is ready to welcome Kaavan," deputy environment minister Neth Pheaktra told AFP Monday. 

The elephant is expected to land in tourist hotspot Siem Reap around 2 pm (0700 GMT), before being transported to neighbouring province Oddar Meanchey where a wildlife sanctuary awaits him. 

"We expect to breed Kaavan with local elephants -- this is an effort to conserve the genetic fold," the minister said, adding that the sanctuary also houses three female elephants. 

Dubbed the world's loneliest elephant by the press, Kaavan was the only Asian elephant in Pakistan. 

But the conditions at the Islamabad zoo were so bad that a judge in May ordered that all the animals be moved. 

A team of vets and experts from Four Paws, an Austria-based animal welfare group, has spent months working with Kaavan to get him ready for the trip -- a complicated process due to his size and the amount of food needed en route. 

The elephant also had to be taught to enter the massive metal crate that was placed in a cargo plane for the seven-hour flight. 

But "Kaavan quickly gained confidence in us and made great progress in a short time", said Four Paws veterinarian Dr Amir Khalil in a statement Monday. 

Superstar Cher is expected in Cambodia to be part of Kaavan's welcome entourage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A zoo soap opera: Gay penguins steal nest with eggs from lesbian couple

DutchNews, October 20, 2020 

The would-be fathers. Photo: Dierenpark Amersfoort

A gay penguin couple at Amersfoort’s Dierenpark zoo, who hit the international headlines last year when they stole an egg to hatch, have gone a step further this year by stealing the complete nest of another couple – who happen to be a lesbian duo. 

Last year the same African penguin couple stole an egg from another penguin family, ‘acquiring’ it at a moment when no-one was looking.That egg failed to hatch and the couple remained childless – and are likely to remain so, for now at least. 

The couple are taking in it in turns to sit on the eggs and keep them warm, while the other forages for food. However, the eggs are unlikely to hatch because they have probably not been fertilised, given they were laid by the lesbian couple, says zoo keeper Sander Drost. 

Drost says the would-be fathers are a dominant couple within the 17-strong group in penguin enclosure. ‘Each couple in the enclosure have their own shelter but this couple has commandeered two,’ he told RTV Utrecht earlier this year

Penguins breed twice a year and the ousted females will probably build a new nest shortly, the zoo told DutchNews.nl. Homosexuality is fairly common in penguins and there have been various other reports of them fostering chicks.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Two endangered Javan rhino calves spotted in Indonesian park

 France24 – AFP, 20 Septemebr 2020

Two extremely rare Javan rhinoceros calves have been spotted in an Indonesian
national park Handout ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTRY MINISTRY/AFP

Jakarta (AFP) - Two extremely rare Javan rhinoceros calves have been spotted in an Indonesian national park, boosting hopes for the future of one of the world's most endangered mammals. 

The rhino calves -- a female named Helen and male called Luther -- were seen with their mothers in footage taken from nearly 100 camera traps installed in Ujung Kulon national park between March and August, authorities said in a statement on Sunday. 

On the westernmost tip of Java in Banten province, Ujung Kulon is the last remaining wild habitat for Javan rhinos. 

After years of population decline, the arrival of the new calves brings the total number of the rare mammals to 74. 

The sanctuary comprises some 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest and freshwater streams. 

The Indonesian government has been surveying other areas across Java and Sumatra islands to relocate the rhinos from the danger of Mount Krakatau, an active volcano not far from the national park. 

"These births bring a big hope for the continuation of the life of the critically endangered special Javan rhino," said Wiratno, a senior official at the environment ministry. 

Javan rhinos have folds of loose skin giving them the appearance of wearing armour plating. 

They once numbered in the thousands across Southeast Asia, but have been hard hit by rampant poaching and human encroachment on their habitats.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Swiss to ban foreign trophy hunters from killing Alpine ibex

Yahoo – AFP, DIETER NAGL, August 28, 2020

There are over 6,000 Alpine ibexes in the Swiss canton of Wallis

A Swiss region that has faced heavy criticism for allowing wealthy foreigners to pay large sums to shoot protected Alpine ibexes, a species of wild goat, for trophies decided Friday to end the practice.

The southern Swiss canton of Wallis, the only one to allow the trophy hunting, said in a statement that as of next year, foreigners would no longer be granted permits to hunt ibexes.

The canton stressed that its Alpine ibex population was growing healthily and said there was still a need for responsible regulation through hunting.

But it said that from 2021, "ibex regulation will only be carried out by hunters residing in the canton of Wallis or those who hold a Wallis hunting licence."

The canton has for years quietly allowed trophy hunters to shoot ageing male ibexes already destined for elimination.

But a documentary aired by public broadcaster RTS last year brought the trophy hunt to the attention of the broader public, sparking a heated debate across Switzerland about the practice and its potential impact on the viability of the species.

Outraged citizens launched a petition demanding the "disgraceful" hunt be halted, gathering some 75,000 signatures in a matter of months.

The entire Swiss ibex population was wiped out at the end of the 19th century, but since they were reintroduced from neighbouring Italy, the population in the country has grown to around 17,000.

Wallis counted 6,030 ibexes at the end of 2019 -- nearly double the roughly 3,500 in the canton 15 years earlier.

The canton allows several hundred animals to be culled each year, with the maximum quota this year standing at 544 animals.

Animals across all age groups and of both sexes can be listed for culling, but males over the age of 11 are typically offered to trophy hunters, at a price.

The cost depends on the length of the horns, with the longest specimens, measuring around 1.10 metres, reportedly raking in up to $20,000 for a pair.

The canton has pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars in income from this hunt annually.

For 2020, authorities have granted hunting permits for up to 45 large males over the age of 11, including 25 to foreign hunters.

While the canton will lose income once the foreign trophy hunters are gone, it pointed out Friday that the shift would lead to a reduction in workload for game rangers, who had been tasked with supervising and accompanying foreigners holding one-day hunting permits.

This, it said, would allow the region to save on personnel resources, meaning there would be no need to hike hunting licence prices for Wallis residents, which had been one of the main sticking points in the debate.

Mink farmers to shut up shop next year, reported compensation deal worth €180m

DutchNews, August 28, 2020 

Mink on a fur farm. Photo: Dzīvnieku brīvība via Flickr 

The government has decided to bring forward the closure of the Dutch mink fur industry from 2024 to next March, following outbreaks of coronavirus on at least 41 of the country’s 110 fur farms. 

Fur farmers begin killing young mink for their fur in November and have been told by farm minister Carola Schouten that they must shut up shop before the next breeding season in 2021, broadcaster NOS has reported. 

The mink on all 41 farms where coronavirus has been found – well over 160,000 – have already been killed. Before coronvirus hit, there were some 700,000 young mink on fur farms in the Netherlands, national statistics agency CBS said last week. 

There had been calls from some quarters to close down the industry immediately because of the risk coronavirus is spread to humans and because pockets of infection could remain. 

However, government health experts have said the risk to human health is not serious enough to merit such a move, NOS said. 

Sources suggest the government has come up with a €180m compensation package to offset the financial impact of early closure. Of this €40m is to pay for the cull and the rest will go to the farmers who have lost their income. 

Schouten is expected to go public with her plan after discussing it with the cabinet on Friday morning.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dutch baby panda is named after Van Gogh, with a nod to Starry Night

DutchNews, August 14, 2020

A webcam still from the promotional video

The baby giant panda born in the Ouwehands zoo in Rhene in May has been named  Fan Xing, which refers to Van Gogh and his painting Starry Night, zoo officials said on Friday. 

Fan comes from Fan Gao which means Van Gogh in Chinese while Xing, which means star, and symbolises hope, is also a reference to the panda’s father Xing Ya. The name is gender neutral because no-one yet knows the baby’s sex. 

In total, 22,000 people from all over the world helped chose the name from a shortlist of five, all of which had a link to the Netherlands. The baby panda and mother Wu Wen are currently remaining in their nest, but officials expect the baby will first be on view to the public in October. 

Fan Xing will stay in the Netherlands for a maximum of four years.  Wu Wen and Xing Ya, who arrived in the Netherlands in May 2017, will return to China in 2032. 

Fans can also follow the baby panda via webcam, at a cost of €1 per hour. The money raised goes to help pandas in the wild, the zoo authorities said.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Alpaca therapy helps convicts with mental illness

Yahoo – AFP, LENNART PREISS, August 8, 2020

A German psychiatric hospital is offering alpaca therapy for criminals with mental illnesses

Offenders with mental health conditions at a southern German hospital can pitch in with looking after a small herd of alpacas as part of their therapy.

Staff at the Mainkofen psychiatric hospital in Bavaria say the aim is for the generally calm animals to help patients develop skills towards social reintegration.

Those on the programme have daily tasks, such as to feed the around 10 alpacas, walk them, brush their coats, dress their wounds and clean out their stables.

Erwin Meier, whose name has been changed for this report, has helped care for the alpacas since October and believes it has helped him.

"I like it very much," he said.

Patient Erwin Meier (not his real name) says looking after alpacas has helped 
him to control his anger

"It's fun to work with animals. There is something to do every day."

The animals, which can be known to spit, have helped him to control his anger, said Meier, who did not want to give details about his conviction.

"I used to get angry quite quickly, I was impulsive, but it's improved thanks to the animals, because if I get angry, they get angry too, and the calmer I am, the calmer they are too," he added.

Hats and blankets

The programme is open to all patients at the hospital but intended primarily for offenders.

Alpaca owner Silke Lederbogen has a farm with about 50 of the animals and 
uses their wool to make hats and blankets

If they stay out for too long or outside the authorised hours, permission to spend time with the alpacas is revoked.

Silke Lederbogen, the programme leader and owner of the alpacas, runs a nearby farm with her husband with about 50 of the animals, using their wool to make hats and blankets.

"Usually, patients in the hospital do not have contact with 'normal' people," she said.

But, in walking with the alpacas on the hospital grounds, they are given the chance to chat and answer questions about the animals from interested visitors, patients and staff, she added.

"And they can do so competently," she said.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Leopards, wolves vanishing from panda conservation areas: study

Yahoo – AFP, 3 August 2020

It may be one of the most recognisable symbols of conservation, but efforts to protect the giant panda have failed to safeguard large mammals sharing its habitats, according to research published Monday showing dramatic declines of leopards and other predators.

The giant panda is seen as an 'umbrella' species because its conservation is
considered to help many less well-known animals, plants and birds



The giant panda has won the hearts of animal lovers around the world and images of the bamboo-eating creature with its ink-blot eye patches have come to represent global efforts to protect biodiversity.

Since conservation efforts began, China has cracked down on poachers, outlawed the trade in panda hides and mapped out dozens of protected habitats.

The strategy is considered one of the most ambitious and high-profile programmes to save a species from extinction -- and it worked.

The panda was removed from the International Union for Conservation of Nature endangered species list in 2016 although it remains "vulnerable". 

But a new study published on Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution has cast doubt over the idea that efforts to protect the panda automatically help all other animals in its territory.

Researchers found that the leopard, snow leopard, wolf and dhole -- also known as the Asian wild dog -- have almost disappeared from the majority of giant panda protected habitats since the 1960s.

The findings "indicate the insufficiency of giant panda conservation for protecting these large carnivore species," said Sheng Li, of the School of Life Sciences at Peking University, who led the research.

The authors compared survey data from the 1950s to 1970s with information from almost 8,000 camera traps taken between 2008 and 2018.

They found that leopards had disappeared from 81 percent of giant panda reserves, snow leopards from 38 percent, wolves from 77 percent and dholes from 95 percent. 

The predators face threats from poachers, logging and disease, the study found.

The authors said a key challenge was that while pandas may have a home range of up to 13 square kilometres (5 square miles), the four large carnivores can roam across an area exceeding 100 square kilometres.

Sheng Li told AFP that individual panda reserves -- typically around 300-400 sq km -- are too small to support a "viable population of large carnivores like leopards or dholes".

- 'Enormous charisma' -

Panda conservation has helped protect other animals, he said, including small carnivores, pheasants and songbirds.

"Failing to safeguard large carnivore species does not erase the power of giant panda as an effective umbrella that has well sheltered many other species," he added.

But he called for future conservation to see beyond a single species, or animals with "enormous charisma", to focus on broader restoration of natural habitats. 

He said he hoped this can be achieved as part of a proposed new Giant Panda National Park, a long-term programme that would link up existing habitats over thousands of kilometres to allow isolated populations to mingle and potentially breed.

The recovery of large carnivore populations would "increase the resilience and sustainability of the ecosystems not only for giant pandas but also for other wild species", the researcher added.

The IUCN estimates there are between 500 and 1,000 mature adult pandas in the Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu regions of China.

The conservation group lists the leopard and snow leopard as vulnerable across the areas they are found in, while the dhole is listed as endangered.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Vietnam suspends wildlife trade as pandemic prods action

Yahoo – AFP, July 24, 2020

Vietnam, one of Asia's biggest consumers of wildlife products, has suspended
all imports of wild animal species "dead or alive" (AFP Photo/HOANG DINH NAM)

Vietnam, one of Asia's biggest consumers of wildlife products, has suspended all imports of wild animal species "dead or alive" and vowed to "eliminate" illegal markets across the country.

The directive signed by the leader of the Communist country follows an international scandal over the sale of wildlife, which has been blamed as the origin of the coronavirus pandemic in neighbouring China.

It is a major victory for conservation groups who have in the past accused Vietnamese authorities of turning a blind eye to the rampant trade in endangered species inside and across its borders.

"The prime minister orders the suspension of imports of wildlife -- dead or alive -- their eggs... parts or derivatives," said the order released Thursday on the government website.

Graphic on pangolins, the world's most heavily trafficked mammals (AFP Photo/AFP)

"All citizens, especially officials... must not participate in illegal poaching, buying, selling, transporting... of illegal wildlife."

Among the most frequently smuggled animal goods are tiger parts, rhino horn and pangolins used in traditional medicine.

Despite the high prices they command -- with ingredients trafficked from as far as Africa -- there is no scientific evidence of their health benefits in humans.

Vietnam locked down swiftly to dodge a major health crisis as COVID-19 emerged, but its economy has been hit hard.

The country will also "resolutely eliminate market and trading sites which trade wildlife illegally", the edict said -- warning of a crackdown on the poaching, trafficking, storing and advertising of animals, birds and reptiles.

It is a major victory for conservation groups who have in the past accused 
Vietnamese authorities of turning a blind eye to the rampant trade in 
endangered species (AFP Photo)

Anti-trafficking group Freeland hailed the move as the most stringent to control the wildlife trade since the pandemic broke out.

"Vietnam is to be congratulated for recognising that COVID-19 and other pandemics are linked to the wildlife trade," said Steven Glaster, its chairman.

"This trade must be banned as a matter of international and public health security," he added.

China, the world's biggest market for illegal wildlife products, has enacted a similar ban. Vietnam has gone further by taking aim at online sales and imposing an indefinite ban on the trade.

While welcoming the move, conservationists warn enforcement will be a challenge across a country with long porous borders and poorly paid officials who can be bent by cash.