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)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Demands to Scrutinize Forestry Crimes

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Novianti Setuningsih, October 28, 2013

As Indonesia’s economy rapidly, swaths of biodiverse forest across the archipelago
 have been cleared to make way for new business ventures. (AFP Photo)

An antigraft watchdog has urged Indonesian law enforcement institutions to strengthen their fight against crimes in the nation’s forestry sector.

The call came after Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) released a report that showed potential state losses from such crimes totaling Rp 691 trillion ($62 billion) between 2011 and 2012.

Lalola Estele, a researcher with ICW, said the total losses had been calculated from 124 cases of forest crimes recorded by the watchdog from 2011 to 2012.

“The crimes vary from forest conversion, for example the one million hectares of palm oil projects. The second is the illegal use of forest products. The third is tax evasion, for example in the case of Asian Agri,” Lalola said at the ICW headquarters in Jakarta on Sunday.

Lalola emphasized that the problem pointed to the weak law enforcement efforts in charging the corporations involved in the foul play.

According to the organization, of the 124 cases, police had only charged 37 field operators in 20 cases, and a small percentage of company directors and legislators from the House of Representatives in six of the cases.

As such, ICW called on Indonesia’s law enforcement institutions to implement the money laundering law and the anti-corruption law in charging companies, which would make the companies and not just their officials liable to criminal charges.

“The forestry and plantation law doesn’t recognize the act of charging a corporation. That’s why most of those who are charged are individual actors in the field and not the companies,” Lalola said.

ICW’s report reflects the grim reality of prevalent crime in the nation’s forestry industry over recent years.

In August, the University of Indonesia branch of the People For Indonesian Judicial System (MAPPI) organization claimed that potential state losses in a corruption case involving Burhanuddin Husin, the former head of Kampar district in Riau province and the former chief of Riau’s forestry office, could reach up to Rp 687 trillion.

Burhanuddin was found guilty in October 2012 and sentenced to two years and six months in prison, in addition to Rp 100 million worth of fines, for practices of corruption in approving annual working plans for 14 companies in Pelalawan and Siak subdistricts during his time in office between 2005 and 2006.

The court had deemed the licenses invalid as they failed to comply with Forestry Ministry policies because they included swaths of natural forest.

According to Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of the Riau Forest-Saving Network (Jikalahari), the approval of the companies’ permits had subsequently resulted in the deforestation of 38,357 hectares of land, which, with thorough calculations, could see up to Rp 687 trillion of wasted state losses. That amounts to more than the Rp 519 billion calculated by prosecutors from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Burhanuddin’s case.

Meanwhile, in June, the names of several high-profile public officials surfaced in a forestry corruption case in West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and South Sumatra, which allegedly cost Rp 1.92 trillion worth of potential state losses.

“Three ministers [are said to be involved], as well as five other regional chiefs or former regional chiefs, one ministerial adviser, one regional government adviser and six company directors,” Tama S. Langkun from the Anti-Judicial Mafia Coalition, who is also director of investigation with the ICW, said in June.

However, Tama refused to disclose the names of the 16 individuals involved in the case, but promised to submit the list of names to the KPK.

“We will guarantee that these names will be submitted to the KPK,” he said, as quoted by

The 16 individuals are alleged to be involved in five different cases of corruption, including an alleged corruption case at a state-run sugar cane plantation in South Sumatra with Rp 4.8 billion worth of potential state losses, as well as alleged corruption in the conversion of forest areas into oil palm plantation in Kapuas Hulu district in West Kalimantan, with potential state losses of up to Rp 108.9 billion.

Separately, a case of illegal logging activities also surfaced earlier this year, involving low-ranking police officer First Insp. Labora Sitorus from West Papua’s Sorong district, which further damaged the police’s efforts against forest crimes.

Labora was arrested in May after police revealed that the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), the government’s anti-money-laundering watchdog, had traced transactions worth Rp 1.5 trillion ($134.8 million) passing through his bank accounts between 2007 and 2012.

The money was believed to be linked to his alleged fuel smuggling and illegal logging activities, for which evidence included 115 shipping containers bound for China — traced to one of Labora’s companies, Rotua — holding a total of 2,264 cubic meters of merbau wood, a rare hardwood prohibited for commercial logging and for export as rough-sawn timber.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) earlier in May released video footage of illegal loggers harvesting merbau and other species for Rotua from forests on Batanta Island in the Raja Ampat district of West Papua, an ecologically important area with high levels of plant and animal biodiversity.

Rotua has also been reported for receiving timber from the forests of Sorong, Bintuni and other regions of West Papua, the EIA said.

According to the EIA, Labora’s network transferred approximately $100,000 to the National Police headquarters in Jakarta and a similar sum to the Papua province police chief.

The use of the money laundering law in fighting crime in the nation’s forestry sector is considered important as such practices are often used to clean up the trail of dirty money, according to ICW.

“Many of the business licenses issued in the forestry sector involve corruption, and the results from such practices would get cleaned up through money laundering,” Lalola said.

She highlighted that in the case of Burhanuddin, the court’s failure to charge the companies involved had resulted in an inadequate seizure of assets.

“Institutional crime policies have existed in Indonesia since the 1950s and are regulated in the anti-corruption law, money laundering law and others, but law enforcement officers remain reluctant in using them,” she said.

'Lost world' discovered in remote Australia

Google –AFP, 28 October 2013

Image provided by Conrad Hoskin of James Cook University Queensland on October 28,
 2013 shows the Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko discovered in Australia's Cape York
Peninsula (James Cook University Queensland/AFP, Conrad Hoskin)

Sydney — An expedition to a remote part of northern Australia has uncovered three new vertebrate species isolated for millions of years, with scientists Monday calling the area a "lost world".

Conrad Hoskin from James Cook University and a National Geographic film crew were dropped by helicopter onto the rugged Cape Melville mountain range on Cape York Peninsula earlier this year and were amazed at what they found.

It included a bizarre looking leaf-tail gecko, a gold-coloured skink -- a type of lizard -- and a brown-spotted, yellow boulder-dwelling frog, none of them ever seen before.

"The top of Cape Melville is a lost world. Finding these new species up there is the discovery of a lifetime -- I'm still amazed and buzzing from it," said Hoskin, a tropical biologist from the Queensland-based university.

"Finding three new, obviously distinct vertebrates would be surprising enough in somewhere poorly explored like New Guinea, let alone in Australia, a country we think we've explored pretty well."

Graphic on three new vertebrate species discovered in a remote part of northern
Australia (AFP)

The virtually impassable mountain range is home to millions of black granite boulders the size of cars and houses piled hundreds of metres high, eroded in places after being thrust up through the earth millions of years ago.

While surveys had previously been conducted in the boulder-fields around the base of Cape Melville, a plateau of boulder-strewn rainforest on top, identified by satellite imagery, had remained largely unexplored, fortressed by massive boulder walls.

Image provided by Conrad Hoskin of James
 Cook University Queensland on October 28,
 2013 shows the Cape Melville boulder-
dwelling frog discovered in Australia's Cape
York Peninsula (James Cook University
 Queensland/AFP, Conrad Hoskin)
Within days of arriving, the team had discovered the three new species as well as a host of other interesting finds that Hoskins said may also be new to science.

The highlight was the leaf-tailed gecko, a "primitive-looking" 20 centimetre-long (7.9 inches) creature that is an ancient relic from a time when rainforest was more widespread in Australia.

The Cape Melville Leaf-tailed Gecko, which has huge eyes and a long, slender body, is highly distinct from its relatives and has been named Saltuarius eximius, Hoskin said, with the findings detailed in the latest edition of the international journal Zootaxa.

"The second I saw the gecko I knew it was a new species. Everything about it was obviously distinct," he said.

Highly camouflaged, the geckos sit motionless, head-down, waiting to ambush passing insects and spiders.

The Cape Melville Shade Skink is also restricted to moist rocky rainforest on the plateau, and is highly distinct from its relatives, which are found in rainforests to the south.

Also discovered was a small boulder-dwelling frog, the Blotched Boulder-frog, which during the dry season lives deep in the labyrinth of the boulder-field where conditions are cool and moist, allowing female frogs to lay their eggs in wet cracks in the rocks.

In the absence of water, the tadpole develops within the egg and a fully formed frog hatches out.
Once the summer wet season begins the frogs emerge on the surface of the rocks to feed and breed in the rain.

Image provided by Conrad Hoskin of James
 Cook University Queensland on October 28, 
2013 shows the Cape Melville Shade Skink
discovered in Australia's Cape York Peninsula
(James Cook University Queensland/AFP,
Conrad Hoskin)
Tim Laman, a National Geographic photographer and Harvard University researcher who joined Hoskin on the expedition, said he was stunned to know such undiscovered places remained.

"What's really exciting about this expedition is that in a place like Australia, which people think is fairly well explored, there are still places like Cape Melville where there are all these species to discover," he said.

"There's still a big world out there to explore."

According to National Geographic, the team plans to return to Cape Melville within months to search for more new species, including snails, spiders, and perhaps even small mammals.

"All the animals from Cape Melville are incredible just for their ability to persist for millions of years in the same area and not go extinct. It's just mind-blowing," Hoskin said.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Temple Grandin's story on overcoming autism in her mother's words

Temple Grandin is well known for her work regarding animal behavior in the livestock industry. She is also one of the most famous autistic activists in the world. Diagnosed at age 2, her mother Eustacia Cutler, who came to Kirksville recently as the keynote speaker at the 5th annual disABILITY Awareness Day, believes autism was always there, it just wasn't recognized.

Temple Grandin's Mother, Eustacia Cutler,
 talked to KTVO's Vanessa Alonso about
 how her daughter came over autism
 and how they are helping others.
"We called them retarded and we tucked them away in intuitions. We didn't know what it was neurologically. Temple when she was little she didn't speak she didn't play. I knew something was wrong. Temple has worked hard since the age of 2 and on to learn different things," Cutler said.

Cutler said life wasn't very easy for Grandin until she went to high school. At the school there was a farm with horses and it was there that Grandin discovered she had an interest in agriculture. At that same time, Grandin met a science teacher who gave her the inspiration to go to college and work in the ag industry. Cutler said that social interaction and friendship has helped Grandin come a long way.

"Looking back on Temple's life is all the people who helped her, who guided her, who supported her, and who taught me. We both had to learn along the road together. We're social creatures. We're dependent on each other to complete us," Cutler said.

Today, Grandin and her mother are now activists for the disorder that affects hundreds of children every year. They stand up for those families who need a voice.

"They need help and affection along the way. They can't do it alone. Nobody can do it alone," Cutler said.

Cutler also said no matter what we are and what we do, we never stop changing, growing, and learning.

"What is normal? Depends what you want to do. What makes character is experience because our genes change depending on external experience and external experience is us. We change all our life," Cutler said.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Indonesian Soldiers Jailed Over Stuffed Endangered Tigers

Jakarta Globe – AFP, October 25, 2013

A stuffed tiger is shown in a military courtroom as evidence in the conviction of two
 military soldiers who owned wild endangered captive animals in Banda Aceh stands
in a military court in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on October 24, 2013. (EPA Photo)

Banda Aceh. An Indonesian military tribunal has jailed two soldiers for illegally possessing two stuffed Sumatran tigers and a stuffed bear, with the men forced to appear in court alongside the protected animals.

The court in Banda Aceh, on western Sumatra island, Thursday handed Chief Sergeant Joko Rianto a two-month jail term and Chief Private Rawali a three-month sentence.

Rianto was given a five million rupiah ($460) fine while Rawali, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was ordered to pay 2.5 million rupiah.

“Rawali and Joko Rianto have been found legitimately and convincingly guilty of illegally possessing dead protected animals,” judge Lieutenant Colonel Budi Purnomo said.

Rianto, who was caught with one of the tigers and a bear in his house, argued he had purchased the critically endangered tiger to use its teeth to cure his sick wife.

Tiger parts are frequently used in traditional medicine in Asia despite the lack of peer-reviewed scientific evidence showing that they have any medicinal benefits.

Rawali claimed a friend had given him the tiger to repay a debt.

Ratno Sugito, a local animal activist, welcomed the sentences: “Even though the sentence was weak, at least the military court showed its willingness to enforce the law.”

The Sumatran tiger is critically endangered and there are only an estimated 400 to 500 still alive in the wild on the island from which the animal takes its name.

Its numbers are rapidly dwindling due to destruction of its rainforest habitat and poachers targeting the animals to sell their parts, mainly for use in Chinese medicine.

The court did not disclose the species of the bear although it said the animal was protected by law.

Agence France-Presse

Monday, October 21, 2013

Australia Crews Battle to Contain Wildfires

Jakarta Globe – AFP, October 21, 2013

Mount Victoria, Australia. Firefighters were racing to tame an enormous blaze in southeastern Australia on Monday with officials warning it could merge with others to create a “mega-fire” if weather conditions worsen.

Crews have been battling fires that flared in high winds and searing heat across the state of New South Wales last week with more than 200 homes so far destroyed and many others damaged.

While dozens of blazes have been contained, 58 were still alight and 14 of them were out of control, enveloping Sydney in a thick white smoke haze that prompted warnings for people to stay indoors and avoid exercise.

The main concern Monday was near the town of Lithgow west of Sydney where a huge fire that has already burned nearly 40,000 hectares was threatening the communities of Bilpin, Bell, Clarence and Dargan.

Officials fear intensifying heat and winds on Tuesday and Wednesday could push it into another blaze at nearby Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains and then move towards the populated areas of Katoomba and Leura.

“I don’t think I’ve ever used the word mega-fire,” said New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

“But the reality is that the modelling indicates that there’s every likelihood that in the forecast weather conditions that these two fires, particularly up in the back end of the mountains, will merge at some point.”

Firefighters spent the night and much of Monday building containment lines to try to prevent such an event, ahead of a predicted deterioration in weather conditions.

Another major fire around the Springwood area of the Blue Mountains, where almost 200 houses were razed last week, escalated to the emergency declaration level along with another in Wilton, southwest of Sydney.

“The fire grounds remain dynamic and challenging for firefighters and are particularly susceptible to the wind and the elevated temperatures that we are experiencing,” Fitzsimmons said.

But the fire chief played down earlier suggestions that all communities in the Blue Mountains, where 76,000 people live, could be evacuated.

“We are not planning a mass evacuation of the Blue Mountains community,” he said.

Instead authorities were taking “a very targeted approach to securing and protecting all the communities.”

An emergency warning was issued for the Blue Mountains village of Bell, where residents were urged to evacuate. Other township residents were told to shelter in their homes or warned that they faced several days of isolation without electricity.

This included people in the village of Mount Wilson, which was used as the backdrop for scenes in the recent Hollywood blockbuster “The Great Gatsby” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Amid the worst fire disaster in the state for nearly 50 years, New South Wales declared a state of emergency on Sunday, which gives firefighters the power to forcibly evacuate people, with penalties for refusing.

Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher said every possible resource was being used, including firefighters drafted in from interstate with the option that the military could be deployed.

With hundreds of people evacuated due to the encroaching flames, police revealed they were dealing with reports of looting from victims, although the number of incidents was small.

State Premier Barry O’Farrell called looters “scumbags” and vowed to track them down.

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old boy was charged with deliberately lighting two fires on the New South Wales Central Coast last week, one of which forced hundreds of people to flee their homes and saw the closure of Newcastle airport.

A 14-year-old youth faced similar charges over a blaze north of Sydney.

Wildfires are common in Australia’s summer months, which run from December-February. But an unusually dry and warm winter and record spring temperatures has seen the 2013/14 fire season start early with warnings of a long, tough summer ahead.

Agence France-Presse

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jakarta Ramps-Up Efforts to End Masked Monkey Performances

Jakarta Globe,  October 19, 2013

A monkey wears a mask during a Topeng Monyet (Monkey Mask) show, a
traditional Indonesian street performance, in eastern Jakarta on April 25, 2011.
(Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo announced an innovative solution to rid the capital of masked monkeys on Friday. The government will buyback all monkeys used as street buskers in a campaign that aims to put an end to the cruel practice known locally as topeng monyet.

“This has become an international issue,” Joko said, according to the city government ’snews portal. “Have pity on the monkeys because they are being exploited by their owners.”

The costumed long-tailed macaques are a regular fixture on Jakarta’s streets, where they are often in the company of young children busking for spare change. The primates, dressed in tiny outfits, with the head of a doll worn as a mask, are made to carry small buckets for spare change or ride tiny push motorcycles to entertain spectators.

They are taught to walk upright by trainers who hang them from chains, forcing the macaques to use their hind legs instead of walking on all fours. Most are trained and sold from East Jakarta’s South Cipinang Besar slum, an area known locally as Kampung Monyet, or monkey village.

Animal rights groups have long-campaigned for a government order banning the barbaric practice. Former Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo allowed the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) to seize the monkeys off the streets, but stopped short of issuing a by-law banning their use.

When JAAN confiscated 21 monkeys in August of last year, four tested positive for a host of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, hepatitis, herpes and tetanus, raising concerns of a disease outbreak in Jakarta.

The group has since began an awareness campaign, informing buskers that they monkeys are both in violation of Indonesian law and possible carriers of disease.

Joko’s administration ordered the city’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) to crackdown on the practice. Plain-clothes officers began seizing street monkeys as early as February of this year, confiscating the primates and issuing penalties to their handlers.

The Jakarta government prepared a one-hectare field at Ragunan Zoo to house the purchased macaques. The street buskers will be taught career skills to find a new job, Joko said. The administration aims to make Jakarta topeng monyet-free by 2014.

“We will provide training for the animal caretakers,” Joko said.

Related Article:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Swiss crack case of parrot egg underwear smuggler

Google – AFP, 17 October 2013

File picture for illustration shows young parrots at Seropedica Recovery Center,
 a reserve of the Brazilian Environmental Institute near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 
on October 17, 2008 (Austral Foto/AFP/File, Renzo Gostoli)

Geneva — Swiss customs authorities said Thursday that they had arrested a bird specialist who smuggled the eggs of protected parrots in his underwear and travelled the globe trading in rare species.

The customs service said in a statement that the man, whom it did not identify, was though to have trafficked over 150 eggs from endangered parrots that are protected by international law, as well as rare pheasant species.

The man, a Swiss citizen who was also a legal bird trader, was busted at Zurich airport in 2010 with 25 eggs hidden in his underwear as he returned from Brazil.

The customs service explained that it was only revealing details of the case now because of the secrecy surrounding the probe.

Investigators managed to establish that thanks to a solid international network of contacts, the man managed to smuggle more than 150 eggs to buyers in Indonesia, Thailand and Mexico.

The total value of the contraband eggs was 65,000 Swiss francs (54,000 euros, $71,000), the customs service said, adding that it had not been possible to establish where they came from.

Investigators said that the man also had an aviary of several hundred birds, including endangered species.

The Swiss veterinary service also seized seven rare parrots from an accomplice, with an estimated value of 8,000 Swiss francs.

The two men face a heavy fine for trafficking in endangered species.

Rare Javan Leopard Caught After Wandering by Village

Jakarta Globe, Vento Saudale, October 17, 2013

A Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas) caught on camera trap Center for
 International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Gunung Halimun-Salak National
Park, West Java, Indonesia. (Photo courtesy of CIFOR)

A rare Javan leopard has been caught alive by a conservation team in Sukabumi, West Java, after residents reported that the animal had been seen wandering around the outskirts of their village.

A team from the Indonesian Wildlife Conservation Forum (Foksi) at Taman Safari Indonesia caught the critically endangered animal last week. Residents had earlier reported seeing the leopard near Girimukti village, in Ciemas subdistrict, and the team caught the animal to prevent it from being killed.

Locals suspected the big cat had been preying on livestock.

“In the past few weeks I have been communicating with some of the residents to prevent the Javan leopard from getting killed,” Hendra, one of the team members, told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday.

He said he and his team began honing in on the leopard’s whereabouts on Friday by following its footprints and droppings. The team then placed two cages in the area, baiting the cages with live goats to trap the leopard.

“Last Saturday night, the villagers heard some noise and they suspected the leopard had entered the cage to prey on the livestock,” Hendra said.

The team estimated the male leopard to be between 8 and 9 years old and to weigh about 45 to 50 kilograms. The leopard was taken away by the West Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) along with local officials, and was brought to Taman Safari zoo in Cisarua, Bogor.

Earlier this month, a Javan leopard was shot dead after it invaded a house in a village in the East Java district of Lumajang and attacked three officials who were attempting to capture it.

The leopard, believed to be from the forest-covered slopes of nearby Mount Semeru, ran into the house in Sumber village after being spotted and subsequently chased down by local residents who were attempting to drive it away, according to Taman Safari Indonesia director Tony Sumampauw.

The big cat invaded a house belonging to Mulyadi, who immediately fled along with his family. The villagers asked for help from the local authorities, and a team from Taman Safari II in Prigen, East Java, was sent to capture the animal.

When the team arrived, they found a crowd surrounding Mulyadi’s house and immediately launched efforts to check on the animal.

As they opened the door to take a look at the leopard, it attacked two officials from Taman Safari and a police officer. Another police officer then immediately shot the animal.

The three officials attacked by the leopard sustained minor injuries and were treated at a hospital.

The Javan leopard ( Panthera pardus melas ) is a leopard subspecies that exists in the wild only on Java.

It has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2008, with the population estimated to be less than 250 mature individuals. It is protected under Indonesian law.

Kenya to microchip all rhinos' horns to beat poachers

Google – AFP, 16 October 2013

A male white rhino grazes at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy on November 18,
2010 (AFP/File, Simon Maina)

Nairobi — Kenya will place microchips in the horn of every rhino in the country in a bid to stamp out a surge in poaching the threatened animals, wildlife officials said Wednesday.

"Poachers are getting more sophisticated in their approach," Paul Udoto, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), told AFP.

"So it is vital that conservation efforts also follow and embrace the use of more sophisticated technology to counter the killing of wildlife."

Kenya has just over 1,000 rhino, and the tiny chips will be inserted and hidden in the horn, which is made of keratin, the same material as fingernails or hardened hair.

The World Wildlife Fund donated the chips as well as five scanners at a cost of $15,000 (11,000 euros), although tracking the rhino to dart them and fit the device will cost considerably more.

However, it will boost the ability of police to prosecute poachers or traffickers, allowing for all animals to be traced and providing potential vital information on poaching and smuggling chains.

"Investigators will be able to link any poaching case to a recovered or confiscated horn, and this forms crucial evidence in court, contributing towards the prosecution's ability to push for sentencing of a suspected rhino criminal," KWS said in a statement.

Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years. Rhinos are not the only animals targeted; whole elephant herds have been massacred for their ivory.

The lucrative Asian black market for rhino horn has driven a boom in poaching across Africa.
Asian consumers falsely believe the horns have powerful healing properties.

In August, poachers shot dead a white rhino in Nairobi's national park, a brazen raid in one of the best guarded sites in Kenya.

Simply chopping the horn off the rhino has limited impact, Udoto explained.

"The horn grows back... and we've so sadly found that poachers can kill a rhino at first sight and only then find that its horn has been removed," he said.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Zimbabwe elephant poisoning toll reaches 100

Google – AFP, 15 October 2013

An African elephant is pictured on November 19, 2012, in Hwange National 
Park in Zimbabwe (AFP/File, Martin Bureau)

Harare — Zimbabwean wildlife authorities said Tuesday they had discovered another 10 elephant carcasses, bringing the number of the animals poisoned by cyanide for their ivory to over 100 in the past month.

"Ten elephant carcasses were recovered in Hwange (national park) the day before yesterday (Sunday), two suspects were arrested and 14 pieces of ivory recovered," said Caroline Washaya-Moyo, spokesperson for the parks and wildlife authority.

In mid-September the park reported 81 elephants had been killed, and Washaya-Moyo said the discovery of the latest carcasses, and several others in between, brought the figure to over 100.

Twelve people have been arrested in recent weeks in connection with the killings, three of whom were sentenced in September to at least 15 years in prison each.

The magistrate also ordered them to pay $600,000 (440,000 euro) to the Zimbabwe Wildlife and Parks Authority for killing the animals by the end of the year.

Authorities have given villagers living around the park until the end of October to hand over any cyanide they might have or risk arrest.

Traditional leaders in Tsholotsho, a village bordering the park, pleaded with the authorities to pardon the villagers saying they were driven by poverty to kill the elephants and not by greed.

Just 50 rangers patrol the 14,650-square kilometre (5,660-square mile) park, and wildlife authorities say 10 times that number are needed.

There are more than 120,000 elephants roaming Zimbabwe's national parks.

Elephant tusks and other body parts are prized in Asia and the Middle East for ornaments, as talismans, and for use in traditional medicine.

The international trade in ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after the population of African elephants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to just 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Wildlife expert estimate that the illegal international ivory trade is worth up to $10 billion a year.

Related Article:

Monday, October 14, 2013

The amazing intelligence of elephants

Researchers have found that elephants understand pointing. It's more evidence of their intelligence, yet people still hunt them, John Sweeney, Monday 14 October 2013

African elephants help a calf up a slope after fording the Ewaso Nyiro river
in Samburu National Reserve. Photograph: AFP Photo/Carl de Souza

Science in the 21st century is at last beginning to map the intellect of elephants – and that may cause trouble for those who shoot elephants for sport, such as big game hunter Donald Trump Junior, or for profit, such as poachers exploiting the greed for ivory in China. The scientists are playing catch-up, proving right the insights of a poet from the 17th century, a biologist from the 19th century and a teak forester from the 20th.

At the University of St Andrews, Prof Richard Byrne and his colleagues have discovered that elephants immediately understand people when they point with their arms. This skill comes naturally, and suggests a depth to elephant intelligence first identified by the poet John Donne, who wrote that the elephant is "nature's great masterpiece … the only harmless great thing."

Two centuries on, Darwin wrote that man and the higher animals share "the same senses, intuitions, and sensations, similar passions, affections, and emotions, even the more complex ones such as jealousy, suspicion, emulation, gratitude, and magnanimity; they practise deceit and are revengeful."

In Burma, before and during the second war, James "Elephant Bill" Williams observed the amazing intelligence of his elephants, their empathy, their emotional sophistication and their anger. For my novel, Elephant Moon, set in Burma in 1942, I drew on Elephant Bill's wisdom, and, without wishing to give the plot away, Darwin's point about revenge.

The more I read about the massive elephant brain, the more convinced I've become, in the words of one psychologist, Graeme Shannon of Sussex University, "there seems to be something going on there". He was talking about elephants in Kenya being able to distinguish between different languages – English, safe, the language of tourists clicking cameras; Maa – potentially dangerous, the language of the Maasai warriors who occasionally kill elephants; and Swahili, generally safe. The elephants seemed anxious when someone spoke Maa; the moment she switched to Swahili, they became calm.

Animal psychologist Karen McComb, also at Sussex, played back elephant sounds – the deep, gargling rumble they make – to discover how many individual voices one animal could recognise. The answer? More than 100. Research in Japan suggests they can count, too. But it is the empathy of elephants that stands out, that makes them seem so alike to humans. My (wholly unscientific) research on elephants squares with Prof Byrne, when he wrote: "What elephants share with humans is that they live in an elaborate and complex network in which support, empathy, and help for others are critical for survival."

All of this raises the stakes in the battle with those who carry on shooting, in some cases poisoning, elephants for pleasure and gain. If the elephant brain is much more like the human one than hitherto thought, then we may be looking at a Kantian categorical imperative: "Thou shalt not kill elephants".

And that means taking on Chinese power. The New York Times last year reported that 70% of the illegal ivory trade is going to China and that Chinese online forums offer ivory chopsticks, bookmarks, rings, cups and combs, and advice on how to smuggle it.

The poachers will stop killing elephants when the Chinese market for ivory collapses. To that end, education and enforcement matter – but that may not be easy if, as the New York Times suggested, the People's Liberation Army loves nothing more than an ivory trinket.

George Orwell wrote in his essay, Shooting an Elephant: "I did not want to shoot the elephant. I watched him beating his bunch of grass against his knees, with that preoccupied grandmotherly air that elephants have. It seemed to me that it would be murder to shoot him."

And about that, as so much else, Orwell was bang on target.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Next Year, No More Selling Animals on City Streets: Basuki

Jakarta Globe, Lenny Tristia Tambun, October 11, 2013

Animals are sold on the street for Idul Adha on October 9, 2013 in
Surabaya, East Java. (JG Photo/Dhana Kencana)

Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said on Friday that vendors selling animals for the Muslim holiday of Idul Adha will from next year be prohibited from trading on the city’s sidewalks.

“[The practice] is still permitted for this year, but people will not be able to sell [animals for the sacrifice] on sidewalks next year,” Basuki said.

It is common in Jakarta for vendors to sell goats, sheep and cows for Idul Adha.

Basuki said that Central Jakarta Mayor Saifullah signed a written agreement with the city on Monday saying that sellers could not trade animals and take up public space next year, though no such agreement has yet been reached in other parts of the city.

Kukuh Hadi Santoso, the head of the Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP), said that even though the practice violates a local bylaw, his institution has still been tolerating it.

“The sellers have already purchased the animals,” he said. “This year is the last year that they will be able to sell on the streets.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Second Orangutan Dies at Surabaya ‘Nightmare Zoo’

Google – AFP, October 10, 2013

An orangutan soaks in an artificial river at the Surabaya zoo in Surabaya
on October 10, 2013. (AFP Photo/Juni Kriswanto)

Surabaya. An endangered Borneo orangutan died Thursday at Indonesia’s “death zoo,” the latest in a series of suspicious animal deaths that have prompted calls to close the notorious facility.

Fifteen-year-old Betty the orangutan had difficulty breathing before she died, Surabaya Zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat said, adding she had just undergone a week of intensive treatment.

“Based on her medical records, she was suffering from inflammation of the lung,” he said.

Supangkat said the inflammation was caused by “extreme hot weather that has hit Surabaya city.”

The ape’s death comes two weeks after a 12-year-old Borneo orangutan named Nanik died from an intestinal tumor and liver problems. Orangutans typically live between 50 and 60 years.

Supangkat denied any negligence by the zoo, saying the orangutans lived in a leafy outdoor enclosure and were given healthy diets of fruit, milk and multivitamins.

The Surabaya Zoo is Indonesia’s largest and has been dubbed a “death zoo” as hundreds of animals have died prematurely or suffered abuse there in recent years.

In July last year a 15-year-old endangered orangutan at the zoo named Tori was forced to quit smoking. Management had allowed visitors to throw lit cigarettes at her for 10 years, making the smoking orangutan the zoo’s star attraction.

Also last year a 30-year-old male giraffe died at the zoo with a 20-kilogram beachball-size lump of plastic in its stomach from food wrappers thrown into its pen by visitors.

Animal welfare groups have called for the zoo to be closed down, with British singer and animal rights activist Morrissey joining the chorus of criticism last year.

There are an estimated 45,000 to 69,000 Borneo orangutans left in the wild. They are native to the vast island of Borneo, shared among Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Down, Not Out: Threatened Species Find Sanctuary at Taman Safari

Jakarta Globe, Camelia Pasandaran & Ihsan Hartono, October 9, 2013

Taman Safari, located in Bogor, West Java, has 18 tigers in its breeding center,
 six of which were brought to the zoo for rehabilitation after suffering serious
injuries elsewhere. (JG Photo/Camelia Pasandaran)

The car came to a sudden stop as Taman Safari park director Tony Sumampau opened the door, yelling at a group of foreign tourists breaking one of the park’s most important rules: never step out of your vehicle.

“Get back into the car,” he yelled at the confused-looking men.

The men stood there sheepishly before climbing back inside. Guest safety is a constant concern for Tony. Taman Safari is a cage-less zoo and a veritable Noah’s Ark of animals. Our van rolled past wandering giraffes, bathing hippos and crouching lions as we headed deeper into the park.

The beasts, which seem tame enough from the car window, have enticed curious visitors from their cars. The consequences of getting too close to a wild animal, Tony warned, can be severe.

“We had an incident one time where a foreigner ventured outside of his vehicle and got bitten,” he said. “The embassy got involved.”

Located in the Puncak highlands of Bogor, West Java, Taman Safari is one of Indonesia’s most famous zoos. It houses roughly 2,500 animals with a special focus on Indonesian species. At the safari section of the zoo, visitors can drive through the grounds and gaze out the window at a wide range of free-roaming animals.

But the zoo is also known for something else: it’s an internationally recognized animal-rehabilitation center tasked with treating some of the nation’s most critically endangered animals.

Decades of unchecked deforestation and rampant poaching have taken a toll on Indonesia’s population of forest-dwelling animals. The Sumatran rhino, elephant and tiger are all critically endangered.

Tiger tank

It’s a tough life for Indonesia’s remaining Sumatran tigers.

Conservation groups estimate that there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild. Those that remain face serious threats from villagers, poachers and shrinking habitats. The cats, the smallest living tiger species in the world, used to thrive in the heavy jungles of Sumatra, where they existed parallel to cousins in Bali and Java.

Experts now worry that without intervention the Sumatran tiger will face similar extinction.

Tigers in the wild fall under the protection of several groups, including the Ministry of Forestry and armed park rangers. But when the animals are injured by humans — caught in snares or neglected by other zoos — they often end up at Taman Safari.

The zoo has 18 tigers in its breeding center, six of which were brought to Taman Safari for rehabilitation after suffering serious injuries elsewhere.

Dara, a five-year-old tiger, was found trapped in a snare in Jambi.

“She was taken to the Jambi zoo at first, but [after she came here], the infection caused by the snare left us with no other choice but to remove her paw,” Bongot Huaso Mulia, a veterinarian at Taman Safari, told the Jakarta Globe.

She rarely leaves the platform in her enclosure and shields her missing paw under her body constantly, keenly aware of her handicap.

“She doesn’t want people to know that she’s missing a paw,” Tony said. “They [tigers] behave like humans.”

Salamah, another female tiger, was found trapped in a snare in Aceh. Her injuries were so severe veterinarians had to remove one of her legs.

“She was less than a year old at the time of the accident,” Tony said. “She was caught for three days in the trap when a team from Syah Kuala University found her. They amputated her paw, but her leg showed signs of necrosis, so they had to amputate.

“After several amputations, her leg was gone.”

Melani was rescued from the Surabaya Zoo and brought to Taman Safari
after years of abuse. (JG Photo/Camelia Pasandaran)

No gilded cages

Sumatran tigers face threats in captivity as well.

Taman Safari’s most famous tiger-in-residence, Melani, made waves internationally when photos of her emaciated frame were posted online by animal rights activists. The photos served as a stark reminder of the state of some of Indonesia’s zoos.

The Surabaya Zoo, Melani’s former home, was less a zoo than a dungeon — a sad symbol of neglect and mismanagement where dozens of animals dropped dead or disappeared.

A giraffe was found dead with 20 kilograms of plastic in its stomach. Komodo dragons disappeared. An African lion slowly died in pain.

Melani, who was born in captivity, was fed a diet of formaldehyde-tainted meat for years, destroying her digestive tract in the process. The tiger lost all her teeth and fell seriously ill, dropping to less than half her recommended weight.

Her condition was poor enough that zoo staff first recommended Melani be put down. But after months of treatment at Taman Safari, she was on the mend.

Nowadays, Melani still struggles to keep on weight and consume solid food. She spends her time silently sitting in her enclosure, displaying none of the ferocity usually associated with her species.

“She’s no longer suffering from anemia and hipovolemia, and her blood tests are showing positive results. However, her malabsorption issue persists and since she is getting older, it is difficult for her to go back to normal,” Yohana, Melani’s veterinarian, previously told the Jakarta Globe.

Though Melani has survived her mistreatment, it’s apparent that she will feel the effects of years of neglect for the rest of her life.

A better tomorrow?

The future looks dim for Indonesia’s critically endangered animals. Deforestation continues despite several high-profile commitments to curb the destructive practice.

Animal-human conflicts have become increasingly common in Sumatra, with villages reporting elephant and tiger issues in Aceh and Riau. The Indonesian government has made commitments to protect its endangered species, but a parallel push for sustained economic growth has opened up previously untouched tracts of forest to potential development.

The island of Sumatra, home to some of the most critically endangered species, is ground zero for the nation’s agri-business sector. Logging and plantation conversion have decimated the natural forests in Riau, home to Southeast Asia’s largest pulp mill.

From 1985 to 1997, an estimated 67,000 square kilometers of forest were lost in Sumatra.

Furthermore, annual brush fires tear through the province, choking the region in thick haze and injuring local wildlife — including several tapirs who now live at Taman Safari.

Back to the breeding center, a now-healthy Sumatran tiger named Bimo paces his enclosure. After being rescued by the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and brought to Taman Safari in 2011, Bimo was reportedly poisoned.

“A nearby river from the place of his rescue contained diazinon, a type of insecticide used in the area,” said Bongot Huaso Mulia, a veterinarian at the zoo. “So we assume that he ingested that.”

As his caretakers passed his cage, Bimo let out a devastating roar, a testament to his health and well-being.

As wildlife organizations try to work with plantation companies to monitor endangered species on the island and thwart further habitat destruction, places like Taman Safari provide a safe haven for Sumatra’s most vulnerable animals.

Tapirs are among the animals that Taman Safari's rehabilitation center
houses. (JG Photo/Camelia Pasandaran)

Related Article:

Surabaya Zoo, which is home to almost 3,000 animals, has come under fire for its
gross negligence and mistreatment. (Photo courtesy of Jakarta Animal Aid etwork).