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)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Rabobank world's biggest investor in mega factory farms: Trouw, Monday 30 June 2014

Dutch banks ING and Rabobank are among the world’s biggest investors in giant factory farms in the US and developing economies such as Brazil and China, Trouw reports on Monday, quoting animal rights group Wakker Dier.

The massive farms, some with up to three million chickens or 10,000 pigs are banned in Europe because of their impact on animal welfare, Trouw says.

Nevertheless, Rabobank has invested €4.2bn in such enterprises over the past three years, according to Wakker Dier making it the world’s number one giant factory farm investor. ING, with investments of €1.4bn, is ninth on the list.

The banks are not breaking any rules because there are no rules governing animal welfare in the US, China and Brazil, Trouw states. However, Wakker Dier thinks savers should be aware the banks do not place any demands on the way animals are kept abroad.


Both Rabobank and ING said the size of a farm in not relevant to animal welfare, Trouw reported.

Rabobank said in a statement the report’s conclusions are ‘suggestive’. ‘In terms of animal welfare, we expect our clients to adhere to Food & Agribusiness principles and our animal welfare policies,’ the bank said.

ING said it had no objections in principle to giant factory farms and that it expects its clients to follow the law in terms of animal accommodation and welfare.

One of the companies in the report – Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand – is building 13 factory farms in China.

One of them, the Pinggu 3-million Layer Chicken Project, will produce three million battery chickens a year and are kept in a space equivalent to 400 cm2 per hen. That is half the space required by law in the Netherlands.

Related Articles:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Rabobank under fire over Indonesia palm oil investments, Saturday 28 June 2014

A palm oil plantation (NOS/AFP)
Environmental group Milieudefensie has made a formal complaint against Rabobank with the OECD, saying the bank is breaking rules on deforestation.

Milieudefensie says the bank has some €47m invested in Indonesia palm oil company Bumitama which it says operates illegal plantations and is guilty of illegally cutting down forests. This, in turn, is threatening the habitat of orangutans, the organisation says.

Rabobank says it is in talks with Bumitama in an effort to improve its operations but Milieudefensie says this is taking too long. ‘Rabobank has showed itself to be extremely naïve in this and has a blinkered view,’ spokesman Geert Ritsema told the Volkskrant.

Illegal deforestation is not only against Rabobank’s own policy but against OECD agreements on socially responsible business.

If the OECD upholds the complaint, Rabobank could be excluded from taking part in trade missions and from some subsidies, the Volkskrant said.

Related Articles:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Indonesia Fires Spark Singapore, Malaysia Haze Warning

Jakarta Globe – AFP, Jun 25, 2014

A boat is seen through haze in Northport Klang, outside Kuala Lumpur on June 24,
 2014. Local media reported unhealthy levels of air pollution with an air pollutant index
 of 118 in some parts of the country. Indonesia’s disaster agency warned on June 24
that haze could return to Singapore and Malaysia. (Reuters Photo/Samsul Said)

Jakarta. Indonesia’s disaster agency warned on Wednesday that haze could return to neighboring Singapore and Malaysia after a huge jump in forest fires in a province at the center of a smog crisis last year.

Fires in Riau province, on western Sumatra island, caused the worst outbreak of haze in Southeast Asia for more than a decade in June last year, affecting daily life for millions and sparking a heated diplomatic row.

June is the start of the forest fire season — when slash-and-burn techniques are used to clear land quickly and cheaply, often for palm oil plantations — and disaster officials said the number of blazes in Riau was rising quickly.

A total of 366 “hot spots” — either forest fires or areas likely to soon go up in flames — had been detected in the province on Wednesday, up from 97 the previous day, according to disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

“We must be on alert as the wind is traveling east-northeast. The likelihood of the smog reaching Singapore and Malaysia is getting higher,” Nugroho said.

Experts have said that an expected El Nino weather phenomenon later this year is likely to fan the forest fires as conditions become drier than usual.

El Nino drags precipitation across the Pacific Ocean, leaving countries including Indonesia drier and parts of the Americas wetter.

However the latest outbreak of forest fires was yet to have any serious impact on daily life in Sumatra, and the skies over Singapore were still free of haze.

Authorities said that most of the forest fires last year were deliberately lit to clear land. Slash-and-burn is a traditional farming technique, but environmental groups also accuse big companies of using the method.

According to the Washington-based World Resources Institute, a large number of the fires detected recently have been within the concessions of paper and palm oil companies and their suppliers.

It found 75 hot spots in the concessions of suppliers to Asia Pulp & Paper between June 17 and June 23, and 43 hot spots in zones of suppliers to Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (April) in the same period, using data from satellite mapping tools.

APRIL said it had agreed to support the fire-fighting effort, lending its water pumps and a company helicopter. APP did not immediately comment.

Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jane Goodall, an Eco Legend, Preaches Love for All in Bali

Jakarta Globe, Nadia Bintoro,  June 24, 2014

Renowned conservationist Jane Goodall was the star of a recent conference
in Bali on sustainability. (Photo Courtesy of Green School)

It was the day that many conservationists and environmentalists in Bali had been awaiting for quite some time, the inaugural “Sustainability and Conservation Conference,” set in Bali’s  famous Green School, amid the lush forests of Banjar Saren near Ubud.

The conference was special in many ways, yet the most intriguing aspect for many was that it featured Dr. Jane Goodall, the world-renowned ethologist, environmental leader and UN messenger of peace.

The one-day conference aimed to ignite discussions and initiatives to ensure the sustainability of Bali’s nature and culture. The conference was packed with talks and discussion panels featuring some of the key players in Indonesia’s conservation efforts.

In attendance from early morning to late afternoon, the conference attendees were happily roaming around, moving between the distinct traditional bamboo architecture at the Green School, attending the various talks, panel discussions and activities that appealed most to their interests.

The event was divided into three venues: the main field, the Mepantigan building, and the Turtle room.

Among the speakers in the main field were Steve Lansing, a specialist on subak, the Balinese traditional irrigation system, who presented a talk on the topic “Survival of Subak”; Ian Singleton from the Sumatra Orangutan Conservation Program; as well as David Metcalf, who shed some light on the Dayak tribes of Kalimantan and the challenges they face from the loss of their forests to mining and plantation concessions.

There were also presentations and discussions from nongovernmental organizations and conservation groups, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Coral Triangle Center, Conservation International, Eco Bali, Kopernik, Threads of Life and more, each sharing their expertise and concerns on conservation issues and challenges.

The Turtle room was reserved for “lighter” presentations in the form of movie screenings. Inside the eye-catching bamboo structure, characteristic of the Green School, and amid a cool breeze flowing in beneath the thatched roof, dozens of conservation enthusiasts crowded around to watch movies including “Let Elephants be Elephants” and “Rise of the Eco-Warriors.”

Following the latter, there was a panel discussion featuring two of the “eco-warriors” from the movie, Kodi Twiner and Paul Daley. The talked about their experiences, concerns and insights from filming the movie.

But the highlight of the day was without a doubt the talk by Goodall. A world-leading primatologist, Goodall — who has been passionate about animals since her childhood — began her extensive research on the behavior of chimpanzees in the 1960s in Tanzania. Her unorthodox research methods were initially controversial; for instance, the mere fact that she gave the chimpanzees names instead of numbers, as was common practice among researchers to avoid emotional attachment, raised many eyebrows.

However, Goodall’s research eventually became the foundation for future primate research in the world, and thanks to her findings the scientific community at the time was challenged in some their long-standing beliefs where the animals were concerned, especially with regard to their social behavior and diet.

Goodall has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career and has been twice appointed a UN messenger of peace, in 2002 and 2007. Her Jane Goodall Institute currently operates 19 offices around the world.

Jane Goodall conversing with children participating in the conference.
(Photo courtesy of Green School)

Rights of animals

As the sun slowly set over Bali, dozens of attendees sat cross-legged in the main tent, listening attentively to Goodall’s soft voice, enchanted by her heartfelt talk “Where the Hope Lies.”

Here, Goodall shared her personal stories of how she became a world-renowned primatologist, on the tremendous supports from her mother — who accompanied her daughter to Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park in 1960 out of concern for her safety — and on her belief and conviction on non-human rights. She stands firm that animals possess emotions and personalities just like humans do, and that they therefore deserve ethical treatment as well.

“In what terms should we think of these beings, non-human yet possessing so very many human-like characteristics, how should we treat them?” she asked. “Surely we should treat them with the same consideration and kindness as we show to other humans; and as we recognize human rights, so too should we recognize the rights of the great apes and other animals.”

Goodall also emphasized the importance of planting environmental awareness in young minds through specific programs such as Roots & Shoots, which she first founded back in Tanzania.

Roots & Shoots aims to bring together youths of all ages, from preschool to university, to work on environmental, conservation and humanitarian issues. The program now has chapters in more than 132 countries, involving 100,000 youth.

A day prior to the conference, the first Plastik Tidak Fantastik Festival (Plastic Isn’t  Fantastic Festival) was held by the student-led initiative Bye Bye Plastic Bag.

Hosting Goodall herself during the festival were Isabel and Melati Wijsen, the founders of the BBPB campaign. The sisters, aged just 11 and 12, who are also students at the Green School, accompanied Goodall throughout the day that was filled with various entertaining and socially responsible workshops; a fund-raising fun-run; a trash fashion show; and live musical performances, all prepared and presented by the students.

“Change happens by listening and then starting a dialogue with the people who are doing something you don’t believe is right,” Goodall told the attentive Bali kids from BBPB.

She appealed for the students to be the messengers for a brighter and more environmentally conscious future by being aware and taking the initiative to create more harmonious relationships between the environment and mankind.

The event was closed with a book signing by Goodall.

“Each one of us matters, has a role to play, and makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for the living things around us, especially each other,” she said.

Such inspiring words echoed in the tranquil grounds of the Green School as the sun slowly cast its last shadow.

As they found a way into the hearts of the audience, many participants, both young and adult, seemed to feel motivated to create a greener and more sustainable future for Bali and beyond.

Related Article:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Dogged resistance: Animal activists at the Yulin dog meat festival

Want China Times, CNS and Staff Reporter 2014-06-21

One dealer threatens to strangle the dog if no one offers a better
price. A woman instantly pays his price. (Photo/CFP)

A dealer holds a dog up by the neck.
He knows he is selling to animal lovers
who will pay for its release. (Photo/CFP)
June 21 sees the now infamous Yulin Summer Solstice Dog Meat Festival in southern China's Guangzi Zhuang autonomous region, an event that includes lots of liquor and hot pots filled with dog meat. Locals consider the event a celebration of a longstanding tradition but it is increasingly controversial as China becomes a wealthier country and many come to see dogs as pets rather than anotehr animal to be eaten.

On June 20, the sun is scorching at noon. A couple stand in front of a dog meat restaurant, plates in hand, protesting that eating dog is an atrocity. Most people just walk by but some stop to argue with them about the legality of the practice. Zhou, the husband, said he and his wife have come from another province and hope to raise local awareness of the cruelty of eating dogs on such a massive scale as the annual event.

This woman has paid US$56 to save
the dog from being eaten. (photo/CFP)
At 8pm in the evening, several animal lovers are distributing their literature in the city's downtown area. The more flyers they give away, the more angry locals come and remonstrate with them.

These are two scenes and they are far from isolated. For weeks, animal lovers having been carrying out actions such as intruding into slaughterhouses, protesting to the government, buying dogs that were set aside for slaughter and playing prayers for dogs with a loudspeaker in public. Perhaps the most melodramatic scene was the man dressed as a monk accompanied by eight volunteers praying for the souls of the dogs publicly in the local market on June 19.

Faced with the rising controversy, the Yulin government has been trying to equivocate between two groups equally convinced that right is on their side. It denies that it organizes the festival, suggests its staff avoid eating dog meat publicly, suggests restaurants remove the word dog from their signs, bans the slaughter of dogs in public, bans restaurants without licenses and bans trucks without licenses bringing in dogs from other provinces.

So many suggestions and bans. Not intended to defeat the animal lovers but to trudge a precarious middle path between the animal lovers and the local tradition.

As for the restaurants, they do not mind removing the word dog, nor do they want to make a fuss amid the countless threatening phone calls. Ning, the owner of a famous local restaurant, said she even planned to change the staff's uniform in exchange for peace. Her restaurant is legal and licensed; she pays more than US$16,000 in tax every year but she prefers to keep low profile in the current febrile atmosphere.

A staff member at another restaurant expressed similar feelings. All he wants is to get through this time of year safely. Asked what he thinks of the animal rights activists, he says, "I'm fine with them as long as they don't come making a scene in the restaurant."

At the market at 11am a fierce battle rages between activists and the vendors selling dogs to go in the restuarants' hot pots. Crowds had been gathering in the market since the early morning. There were dog dealers, dog eaters, dog lovers, reporters and rubberneckers, all with their own reason for being there.

Dog dealers know how to distinguish dog lovers from dog eaters as they try to make a sale. A dealer suddenly holds a dog in the air with an iron fork, then drops the animal to the ground, repeating this act three times. A crowd gathers and people began shouting angrily while offering prices.

As the price swells, another dealer follow suit but this time threatens to strangle his dog if no one offers a good price.

At the end of the day, 60 dogs were ransomed in this way at a cost of US$16,000. The dog lovers are pleased that these animals at least are not for the pot. The rubberneckers are satisfied with the kerfuffle; the reporters' memory cards are filled with photos; a dealer waves banknotes to a small group of cheering people.

All are happy — except for the many dogs still crammed in cages in the corner.

Related Article:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Obama orders review of pesticides' effect on bees

Yahoo – AFP, Kerry Sheridan, 20 June 2014

Honey bees work in their hive at a outdoor market August 15, 2013,
in Washington (AFP Photo/Paul J. Richards)

Washington (AFP) - The White House on Friday ordered environmental regulators to review the effect that pesticides may be having on bees and other pollinators that have suffered significant losses in recent years.

Environmental advocates welcomed the plan but said it did not go far enough, noting that the European Union has already banned three common pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, on the basis that they were making bees sick.

Honey bees contribute $15 billion in value to US crops annually, and have suffered severe losses in recent years due to a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

Scientists still do not fully understand why various types of bees and butterflies are dying, but research points to a combination of stresses, including parasites, pathogens and exposure to pesticides widely used in farming.

The government's new plan calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to "assess the effect of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, on bee and other pollinator health and take action, as appropriate," within 180 days.

The memo signed by President Barack Obama also called for a sweeping strategy to be produced across government agencies in the next six months that would protect pollinators by improving their habitat.

Measures include planting flowers along highways, landscaping federal facilities with plants that are beneficial to pollinators, and expanding pollinator habitat in conservation areas.

"Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment," Obama said.

"The problem is serious and requires immediate attention."

The US Department of Agriculture also directed an extra $8 million toward a program in some midwestern states to cultivate new habitats for honey bees.

However, environmental groups said the measures fall short.

"President Obama's announcement on protecting pollinators does not go far enough," said Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica.

"The administration should prevent the release and use of these toxic pesticides until determined safe," Pica added, noting that the US should follow Europe's lead.

The European Commission has restricted the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family, known as clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam, for a period of two years.

The EPA website says the United States "is not currently banning or severely restricting the use of the neonicotinoid pesticides."

Instead, they are "being re-evaluated... to ensure they meet current health and safety standards."

Larissa Walker, who heads the Center for Food Safety's pollinator campaign, said the announcement was "on the right track," but expressed concern.

"Assessment and habitat building alone won't save our pollinators. We need decisive action on pesticides," she said.

"We look to the Obama administration for leadership that will have the lasting impact we need to keep our pollinator populations sustainable and healthy."

Friday, June 20, 2014

Angry Japan farmers bring Fukushima cow to Tokyo

Yahoo – AFP, 20 June 2014

Japanese farmers bring a cow to the front of the agriculture ministry in
Tokyo, on June 20, 2014

Angry farmers from Fukushima brought a large cow to the centre of Tokyo Friday to demand Japan's government investigate a disease they say cattle have developed since the nuclear disaster three years ago.

"Kibo no Bokujo" leader Masami
 Yoshizawa (right) argues with a Japanese
 policeman as he tries to bring a cow to
 the agriculture ministry in Tokyo, on
June 20, 2014
Operators of non-profit "Kibo no Bokujo", or "Farm of Hope", delivered a full-size black cow to the front of the agriculture ministry to demand an investigation into why it and many other animals have developed white dots on their skin since reactors went into meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011.

The farm is located only 14 kilometres (nine miles) from the nuclear plant and is keeping some 350 cows that were abandoned in the area when their owners had to evacuate because of radiation contamination.

"Our cows cannot be shipped as meat. They are evidence of lives affected by radiation," said Masami Yoshizawa, leader of the farm, in front of the ministry, as his supporters and media looked on.

Fellow Fukushima farmer Naoto Matsumura said: "What if this started happening to people? We have to examine the cause of this and let people know what happened to these animals."

The vast farmland in Fukushima has been contaminated by radioactive materials from the Fukushima plant, forcing tens of thousands of local residents to give up their homes to live in temporary shelters.

The government says it could take decades to clean the region, but scientists say many residents may never be able to return because of the contamination.

Related Articles:

"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear  (> 20 Min)

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) - (Text version)
“... Japan

Let us talk for a moment about Japan, and then I'll close the day of messages. There are thousands of souls on my side of the veil and they're just fine, more than fine. We have spoken so often of what happens at the Wind of Birth. I told you, before they even came in, they saw the potential. I looked in their eyes. "You may not last long. You know that, don't you? You're coming into this planet and you may not be here very long. And the passing that you will have with your family will not be pleasant, if any ever are. Why would you come in anyway?" I want to tell you what they said. When a soul has the mind of God, it understands fully what generates peace and what generates energy shift. You can clearly see what generates what the planet needs the most when you are about to arrive. So they said, "We're going to be part of one of the biggest compassion events the planet has ever seen." One earthquake, one tsunami. All of those who left that day will change the earth forever. And it already has. It was the same for the last tsunami as well.

Every single one of them on my side of the veil is getting ready to come back. Many old souls were involved, and just for a moment, if they could give you any information, if they could talk to you right now, if they could speak your language and look into your eyes, they would thank you for your compassion for them and those who are left. And they would say, "Be with those family members who are still alive. Enter their hearts every day and give them peace and keep them from crying, because we're OK."

Nuclear Power Revealed

So let me tell you what else they did. They just showed you what's wrong with nuclear power. "Safe to the maximum," they said. "Our devices are strong and cannot fail." But they did. They are no match for Gaia.

It seems that for more than 20 years, every single time we sit in the chair and speak of electric power, we tell you that hundreds of thousands of tons of push/pull energy on a regular schedule is available to you. It is moon-driven, forever. It can make all of the electricity for all of the cities on your planet, no matter how much you use. There's no environmental impact at all. Use the power of the tides, the oceans, the waves in clever ways. Use them in a bigger way than any designer has ever put together yet, to power your cities. The largest cities on your planet are on the coasts, and that's where the power source is. Hydro is the answer. It's not dangerous. You've ignored it because it seems harder to engineer and it's not in a controlled environment. Yet, you've chosen to build one of the most complex and dangerous steam engines on Earth - nuclear power.

We also have indicated that all you have to do is dig down deep enough and the planet will give you heat. It's right below the surface, not too far away all the time. You'll have a Gaia steam engine that way, too. There's no danger at all and you don't have to dig that far. All you have to do is heat fluid, and there are some fluids that boil far faster than water. So we say it again and again. Maybe this will show you what's wrong with what you've been doing, and this will turn the attitudes of your science to create something so beautiful and so powerful for your grandchildren. Why do you think you were given the moon? Now you know.

This benevolent Universe gave you an astral body that allows the waters in your ocean to push and pull and push on the most regular schedule of anything you know of. Yet there you sit enjoying just looking at it instead of using it. It could be enormous, free energy forever, ready to be converted when you design the methods of capturing it. It's time.

So in closing, do you understand what you're seeing? You're seeing intelligent design, quantum energy and high consciousness. You are seeing changes in Human nature. You're seeing countries putting things together instead of separating. You are seeing those who don't want war and instead want peace, good schools for their children, safety in their streets and a say in their government. We told you it was going to happen this way. I want my partner to teach these things that I have said in his 3D lectures for awhile. Many won't be able to know these things otherwise.  …”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Huge haul of rare anteater scales seized in Hong Kong

Yahoo – AFP, 17 June 2014

A rescued baby pangolin is released in the forest in Karo district,
located in Indonesia's North Sumatra province, on July 31, 2012.

Hong Kong customs officials have seized $2 million-worth of scales from the endangered pangolin, or "scaly anteater", authorities said Tuesday, in their biggest such haul in five years.

Officials intercepted two shipments bound for Southeast Asia containing three tonnes of pangolin scales from Africa around the end of last month, amid a rise in illegal smuggling of the species.

Pangolin scales are prized as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine while the rare anteater's tough, scaly skin is also used in fashion accessories in Asia.

Prices on the black market have surged in recent months as illegal trade has boomed, partly to meet growing demand from mainland China, according to activists.

"The seizure was the largest in five years for Hong Kong," a customs spokeswoman told AFP, adding that the raids uncovered 3,300 kilos (8,160 pounds) of the scales, worth about HK$17 million (USD$2.19 million).

"Customs officers selected a shipment arriving from Kenya for inspection and found about 1,000 kilos of pangolin scales. With subsequent intelligence gathered... customs officers found about 2,340 kilos of pangolin scales," a customs statement said.

One man has been arrested in connection with the haul.

This handout picture released by the Hong Kong government taken
 on June 16, 2014 shows seized the pangolin scales that were sized
by customs officials.

The larger shipment originated from Cameroon disguised as sawn timber.

Pangolins are small, insect-eating mammals covered nearly entirely with keratin scales -- the same protein that makes up human hair.

The scales are used in Chinese traditional medicine to treat allergies and boost male virility, while the meat is also considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam.

But activists say it is a myth that pangolin has medicinal properties.

"There are still many people in Asia, notably in Vietnam and China, who mistakenly believe that consuming pangolin scales or rhino horn can cure cancer and other illnesses. It cannot," Alex Hofford, a Hong Kong-based consultant to the charity WildAid, told AFP.

"The increase in the price of pangolin scales reflects the spiralling price of rhino horn, as pangolin is often used as a substitute for rhino horn," he said.

Prices per kilo have risen to HK$5,000 from HK$2,000 five years ago, the South China Morning Post quoted an unnamed government source saying.

Trade in pangolins is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Related Article:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rare tiger spotted swimming across Sino-Russian border river (Video)

China launches new ivory smuggling crackdown

BEIJING, June 16 (Xinhua) -- China's General Administration of Customs (GAC) has launched a new campaign to crack down on smuggling of ivory and endangered species in the country, it announced on Monday.

The campaign will last six months until the end of this year, a GAC spokesman said.

Overseas customs authorities will offer legal assistance for the campaign, according to the administration.

China has stepped up action against ivory smuggling in recent years, confiscating about 21 tonnes of smuggled tusks and ivory products and capturing 377 criminal suspects in 1,309 cases since April 2012.

Editor: Yang Yi

Friday, June 13, 2014

European first for gorilla mum in Arnhem, Thursday 12 June 2014

A record-breaking mother. Photo: Burgers Zoo

A gorilla in Arnhem’s Burgers’ Zoo has managed to keep her twin babies alive for a full year, for the first time ever in a European zoo, news agency ANP says on Thursday.

The only other zoo where twin gorillas have survived is in Atlanta in the US. Just ten sets of gorilla twins have been born in captivity since 1962.

N'Kato and N'Hasa are identical twins and were born on June 13, 2013.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sumatra Sees Surge in Hotspots After Relative Lull

Jakarta Globe, Jun 10, 2014

A worker pours water to extinguish a fire that is burning through his pineapple
 plantation in the haze-affected district of Tanah Putih in Rokan Hilir, part of Riau
province, on June 26, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Beawihart)

Jakarta. Satellites on Sunday detected 227 hotspots across Sumatra — the highest number in three months, after a relative lull — including 37 in the hard-hit Riau province, where blazes have caused school cancelations and widespread respiratory illness.

According to information obtained by NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites, fires were burning over the weekend in Aceh, Jambi, North Sumatra, Riau, South Sumatra and West Sumatra, state-run Antara news agency reported.

“There are three helicopters on standby, as the [rental] contract expires in September,” National Disaster and Mitigation Agency (BNPB) information division head Agus Wibowo said on Monday, as reported by Antara. The helicopters could carry a combined 8,600 liters of water, he said.

Riau officials said that plans for cloud seeding and water bombing were underway.

As of Friday, two days before the surge, NASA only detected eleven Sumatra hotspots, and only two in Riau.

BNPB predicted that El Nino, at the end of June, would bring hot, dry weather, causing blazes to flare up again.

As forests are cleared and species vanish, there's one other loss: a world of languages

A new report shows a direct link between disappearing habitats and the loss of languages. One in four of the world's 7,000 spoken tongues is now at risk of falling silent for ever as the threat to cultural biodiversity grows

The Guardian, The Observer, John Vidal, Sunday 8 June 2014

A Nenets reindeer herdswoman in Russia's Arctic region. Photograph: Staffan
Widstrand/WWF (click on picture for graphic depicting global language loss)

Benny Wenda from the highlands of West Papua speaks only nine languages these days. In his village of Pyramid in the Baliem valley, he converses in Lani, the language of his tribe, as well as Dani, Yali, Mee and Walak. Elsewhere, he speaks Indonesian, Papua New Guinean Pidgin, coastal Bayak and English.

Wenda has known and forgotten other languages. Some are indigenous, spoken by his grandparents or just a few hundred people from neighbouring valleys; others are the languages of Indonesian colonists and global businesses. His words for "greeting" are, variously, Kawonak, Nayak, Nareh, Koyao, Aelak, Selamt, Brata, Tabeaya and Hello.

New Guinea has around 1,000 languages, but as the politics change and deforestation accelerates, the natural barriers that once allowed so many languages to develop there in isolation are broken down.

This is part of a process that has seen languages decline as biodiversity decreases. Researchers have established a correlation between changes in local environments – including the extinction of species – and the disappearance of languages spoken by communities who had inhabited them.

"The forests are being cut down. Many languages are being lost. Migrants come and people leave to find work in the lowlands and cities. The Indonesian government stops us speaking our languages in schools," says Wenda.

According to a report by researchers Jonathan Loh at the Zoological Society of London and David Harmon at the George Wright Society, the steep declines in both languages and nature mirror each other. One in four of the world's 7,000 languages are now threatened with extinction, and linguistic diversity is declining as fast as biodiversity – about 30% since 1970, they say.

While around 21% of all mammals, 13% of birds, 15% of reptiles and 30% of amphibians are threatened, around 400 languages are thought to have become extinct in the same time.

New Guinea, the second-largest island in the world, is not just the world's most linguistically diverse place, it is also one of the most biologically abundant, with tree-climbing kangaroos, birds of paradise, carnivorous mice, giant pigeons, rats bigger than domestic cats and more orchid species than any other place on the planet.

Today, both its wildlife and its languages are endangered. According to linguist and author Asya Pereltsvaig, the language of Bo is spoken by 85 people, Ak by 75 and Karawa by only 63. Likum and Hoia Hoia have around 80 speakers, and Abom just 15. Guramalum in New Ireland Province had at the last count only three speakers and Lua is almost certainly extinct, with a single speaker recorded in 2000.

Ironically, Lua is now the name of a successful computer programming language.

More than half of New Guinea's and one in four of the world's remaining languages are threatened, says Jonathan Loh. This compares with estimates that suggest a quarter of all mammals, a third of all sharks and rays and one in seven bird species are endangered.

"There are extraordinary parallels between linguistic diversity and biodiversity," says Loh. "Both are products of evolution and have evolved in remarkably similar ways, and both are facing an extinction crisis."

But exactly why there should be such a close link between languages and biological diversity is unclear, even though it was noticed by Darwin. "Places of high diversity, especially tropical forests, have always been known to have high linguistic diversity, whereas tundra and deserts have low diversity," says Loh. "It is possible in some way that higher biodiversity is capable of supporting greater cultural diversity. The explanation seems to be that both biological and cultural diversity depend on the same environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall."

Conservationists fear that the loss of species due to man's activities is accelerating. And linguists say that the wealth of the world's human languages is now safeguarded by very few indigenous peoples, most of whom live precarious lives in developing countries.

Of the 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, half now have fewer than 10,000 speakers, and these 3,500 languages are spoken by only 0.1% of the world's population – equivalent to a city about the size of London. These eight million people are now responsible for keeping the wealth of human cultural history alive, says the report.

At the other end of the spectrum, because of colonisation, globalisation and the worldwide move to cities in the last 30 years, a handful of global languages increasingly dominates: 95% of the world's population speaks one of just 400 languages, each spoken by millions of people, and 40% of us speak one of just eight languages: Mandarin, Spanish, English, Hindi, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian and Japanese.

"We are losing the richness of human diversity, becoming more and more similar. The languages we speak define how we think and understand the world," says Mandana Seyfeddinipur, director of the endangered languages archive at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

"The loss of human culture is frightening," says Loh. "Nearly all the threatened languages are spoken by indigenous peoples and, along with the languages, the traditional knowledge of these cultures is being forgotten. The names, uses, and preparation of medicines, the methods of farming, fishing and hunting are disappearing, not to mention the vast array of spiritual and religious beliefs and practices which are as diverse and numerous as the languages themselves."

Loh and Harman argue that if you want to save nature it may be vital to conserve cultures too. "The vast store of knowledge that has evolved and accumulated over tens of thousands of years could be lost in the next 100 years," says Harman. "While linguists have made efforts to archive as many of the endangered languages as possible, and ethnobiologists have attempted to record the traditional use of plants, the most important conservation takes place on the ground as part of a living culture."

"As we lose rare indigenous languages we lose the cultures and all the knowledge that they contain. The knowledge of indigenous people is phenomenal. Conservationists should make use of it," says Loh.

The authors have developed an "index of linguistic diversity" which shows that the fastest declines have taken place in the Americas and Australia. Languages spoken in Africa, Asia and Europe are faring better. For biodiversity, the fastest rates of decline have occurred in the Indo-Pacific region, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

"Species populations in North America, Europe and northern Asia have been more stable. Biodiversity has declined most rapidly in the tropics, but remained steady in temperate regions.

"However, linguistic diversity has declined rapidly in the new world [Americas] but more slowly in the old world," says Harman.

The explanation for the different speeds of decline, they say, lies with the threats that both languages and species face. "Habitat loss and degradation is the greatest threat for species, and since 1970 most has taken place in the tropics. In the developed world most habitat destruction took place before 1970, so biodiversity loss has flattened out.

"Languages do not usually go extinct because an entire population of speakers dies out, but because the speakers of a minority, usually indigenous, language shift to a more dominant language and, typically within a few generations, lose their mother tongue.

"Migration, urbanisation and national unification policies have been the primary drivers of language shift in Africa, Asia and Europe. In the Americas and Australia, the primary driver has also been migration, but where the migrants, mainly European, greatly outnumbered the indigenous populations.

"Ultimately both biodiversity and linguistic diversity are diminishing as a result of human population growth, increasing consumption and economic globalisation which are eroding the differences between one part of the world and another," says the report.

Benny Wenda says the link between human culture and biodiversity is clear because it is the indigenous peoples of the world who have mostly conserved nature.

"If you fell the trees then you destroy human culture as well as the birds of paradise. People depend on the forest and the forest has always depended on us. We are as one."


Around 7,000 languages are spoken in the world, 90% of which are used by fewer than 100,000 people.

Languages are grouped into families that share a common ancestry. English is related to German and Dutch, and they are all part of the Indo-European family of languages. Romance languages, which include French, Spanish and Italian, come from Latin.

2,200 of the world's languages can be found in Asia, while Europe has 260.

The world's most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.

Some of the oldest languages known include Sanskrit, Sumerian, Hebrew and Basque.

Around 2,500 languages are at risk of extinction. One-quarter of the world's languages are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people.

The United Nations uses six official languages to conduct business: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

Communities isolated from each other because of mountainous geography sometimes develop multiple languages. Papua New Guinea has 832 different languages. In Mexico, there are 68 different indigenous languages, further subdivided into 364 variations.

At least half of the world's population are bilingual or plurilingual. While there are "perfect bilinguals", who speak two languages equally well, most bilinguals do not.
South Africa has 11 official languages – the most for a single country.

The pope tweets in nine languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Arabic, Portuguese and Latin.

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