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)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Australian state lists koala as 'vulnerable'

Yahoo – AFP, 31 May 2015

Australia's Queensland state is to list the koala as a 'vulnerable species'
throughout the northeastern region, saying urban expansion, car accidents and
dog attacks are threatening the much-loved furry animal (AFP Photo/
Torsten Blackwood)

Sydney (AFP) - Australia's Queensland state will list the koala as a "vulnerable species" throughout the northeastern region, saying urban expansion, car accidents and dog attacks were threatening the much-loved furry animal.

"Everybody loves the koala and we must do everything in our power to protect the koala now and into the future," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Sunday of the tree-dwelling marsupial.

Koalas are already listed as vulnerable in south-east Queensland, but the extended protection to cover the whole state will see its government step up its efforts to map populations and conserve habitats.

"We also know, from motor vehicle accidents (to) dog attacks, that this is having a huge impact on the koala populations right across the state," the premier added.

"We have been determined to do everything we can."

A 2011 study estimated there were more than 10 million koalas before British settlers arrived in 1788 but numbers had declined to less than 45,000 in the wild, though it noted their existence high in the treetops makes them difficult to count.

The federal government placed the most at-risk koalas in New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory on the national list of threatened species, classing it as vulnerable, in 2012.

A 2012 report also found the koala population in south-west Queensland had dropped from 60,000 to 11,000 over the past two decades, with researchers blaming drought, heatwaves and habitat clearing for the sharp decline.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rare albino sparrow spotted in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, 25 May 2015

An albino sparrow, one of the rarest birds in the world, seen in the outer
Melbourne suburb of Point Cook (AFP Photo/Bob Winters)

A rare pure white sparrow has been spotted in Australia, leaving ornithologists all aflutter.

The albino was photographed at Sanctuary Lakes near Melbourne, but it is not expected to survive long with its snowy white plumage making it stand out to birds of prey.

Bob Winters, a birdwatching expert and environmental educator, photographed the animal after being alerted to its presence by a friend. But it wasn't an easy task.

"It's a very nervous animal, understandably, so I had to try for quite a few days to get some photos," he told AFP, adding that pure white sparrows had been seen globally only "once in a blue moon".

Australian media said there had been a handful of confirmed sightings of the bird across the world, including one reported in Britain in 2010.

Winters judged that the bird was six or seven months old which in itself was an achievement, due to its lack of camouflage and disabilities that come with being a genetic mutation.

An albino sparrow (L), one of the rarest birds in the world, is seen in the
outer Melbourne suburb of Point Cook (AFP Photo/Bob Winters)

"This bird has got so many disadvantages. They usually get kicked out of the nest because they're different and it has fragile feathers that make it quite difficult to fly," he said.

"Probably no-one wants to breed with it, and it's easy pickings for a bird of prey."

Albinism is a recessive characteristic which only shows up when a bird inherits the albino gene from both parents.

It affects all the pigments, with albino birds showing no colour whatsoever. They also have pale pink or reddish eyes, legs, feet and a pale bill.

Full Disclosure Demanded as Police Nab Suspect in Activist’s Murder

Jakarta Globe, Basten Gokkon, May 25, 2015

Jopi Peranginangin was known for his strong criticism of palm oil
companies. (Antara Photo/F.B. Anggoro)

Jakarta. Environmental and human rights activists have called on the police to reveal the identity of a person suspected of murdering activist Jopi Peranginangin, amid speculation that the alleged culprit is a member of the military.

Jopi died on Saturday after being stabbed in the back as he was leaving a South Jakarta cafe.

“We have found a single suspect,” Sr. Comr. Krishna Mukti, chief of the general crime unit at the police, said on Monday, as cited by news portal “The suspect, identified by the initial J., has been detained.”

“Solidarity for Jopi,” a coalition of several environmental and human rights groups in Indonesia, is urging the police to reveal what they know of Jopi’s fatal stabbing, at the parking lot of a cafe in Kemang.

“We think a public exposé of the investigation results is imperative to show the authorities are transparent with the legal process,” a joint statement published on Monday by the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) reads. “The results can also shed light on who the suspect is. We note that there has been speculation that the suspect is a member of the Indonesian military.”

The coalition — which also includes Greenpeace Indonesia, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) — also called on the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to monitor police investigations and on the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) to keep witnesses and the victim’s family safe.

Jopi died on Saturday morning at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta due to massive bleeding in his lungs, or pulmonary hemorrhage, just a few hours after being stabbed in the back while he was breaking up a fight at the cafe’s parking lot.

Born in 1976 in North Sumatra, Jopi was an activist with AMAN and known for his strong criticism of palm oil companies, particularly those that violate their working permits and concession areas approved by the Indonesian government.

Tiger and leopard populations making a small comeback in China

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-05-24

A tiger and its cubs at the Siberian Tiger Park in Harbin, Heilongjiang province,
May 6. (File photo/Xinhua)

The population of endangered wild Siberian tigers has achieved recovery growth in northeast China over the past decade, research has found.

Approximately 28 Siberian tigers and 42 Amur leopards have been spotted in the forests in northeast China's Jilin province, according to a decade-long survey by the Jilin Provincial Forestry Department and Beijing Normal University unveiled in March.

Whereas, a 1998 project by US and Russian scientists showed there were only six to nine Siberian tigers and three to seven Amur leopards in the area.

The country's crackdown on poaching and recent wild animal protection measures have contributed to the growth, said Lang Jianmin, director of the scientific research and publicity center of the Hunchun National Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve in Jilin.

But the increase of wild animal populations has also caused damage to the local people's interests. To solve the problem, the Jilin provincial government has rolled out a series of measures to compensate for personal injuries or property damage.

"We got compensation from the government after our cornfield was damaged by wild boars. Other villagers were compensated after their cattle was killed by tigers. We appreciate the policy," said Zhang Jincheng, a villager from Chunhua town, Hunchun city.

As an increasing number of Siberian tigers roam the China-Russia border, experts have suggested cross-border nature reserves be set up to provide a favorable environment for tiger movement.

The barbed wire on the border should be removed and a state-level Siberian tiger nature reserve should be jointly built by China and Russia so that the tiger population could continue to grow, said Jiang Guangshun, deputy director of the Feline Animal Research Center under the State Forestry Administration.

Siberian tigers, also known as Amur or Manchurian tigers, mainly live in Russia's Far East, northeast China and northern parts of the Korean Peninsula. Less than 500 Siberian tigers are believed to survive in the wild, with an estimated 18 to 22 in Heilongjiang and Jilin. The world population of Amur leopards is less than 60, with most of them living in Russia. The species has been on the brink of extinction in northeast China as a result of poaching and deforestation.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dogs domesticated over 27,000 years ago: study

Yahoo – AFP, 22 May 2015

A woman holds a Husky puppy during an exhibition in Kyrgyzstan's capital 
Bishkek (AFP Photo/Vyacheslav Oseledko)

Washington (AFP) - Man's best friend may have been his companion for far longer than believed, scientists have reported, publishing an analysis that dates domesticated dogs to more than 27,000 years ago.

Humans possibly domesticated the animals between 27,000 and 40,000 years ago, according to Swedish researchers whose work was published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

The scientists based their analysis on an ancient Siberian jaw fragment. Previous estimates said modern dogs diverged from their wolf ancestors 16,000 years ago after the last ice age.

The "Taimyr" wolf bone in the study, dated to 35,000 years ago, shows that the animal was the most recent ancestor of wolves and modern dogs.

"Dogs may have been domesticated much earlier than is generally believed," said Love Dalen from the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

Curt Willis (L) kisses one of his Treeing Walker Coonhounds during a press conference
by The Westminster Kennel Club on January 28, 2013 (AFP Photo/Stan Honda)

Dalen said the only other explanation for the unusual bone was the less likely possibility that a major divergence between wolf populations took place at that time that gave birth to modern wolves while the wolf population became extinct.

The Taimyr wolf lived a few thousand years after Neanderthals disappeared and modern humans spread throughout Asia and Europe, the study said.

DNA analysis also showed modern Siberian Huskies and Greenland sled dogs have an "unusually large" number of gene in common with the Taimyr wolf.

Related Article:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Singapore nets biggest ivory seizure in decade

Yahoo – AFP, 19 May 2015

Ivory tusks, rhinoceros horns and canine teeth from big cats seized by
Singapore authorities are put on display in this photo by Agri-Food and
Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AFP Photo)

Singapore authorities seized the biggest illegal shipment of ivory and other exotic animal parts in more than a decade Tuesday, with the haul from Kenya worth an estimated Sg$8 million ($6 million).

The animal parts were discovered stashed among bags of tea leaves in two 20-foot containers while transiting through the city-state to Vietnam, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and Singapore Customs said in a joint statement.

Authorities uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusk hidden among the bags, the statement said.

Four pieces of rhino horn and 22 teeth believed to be from African big cats -- cheetahs and leopards -- were also found in the containers, it said.

The haul weighed 3.7 tonnes and is the largest seizure of illegal ivory in Singapore since 2002 when six tonnes of ivory were intercepted, the statement said.

The shipping of ivory has been banned since 1989 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) -- to which Singapore, a major hub for seaborne trade, is a signatory.

In April last year, local authorities intercepted a shipment of illegal ivory worth Sg$2.0 million, labelled as coffee berries, transiting from Africa, according to the statement.

A similar cargo, also from Africa, worth Sg$2.5 million was uncovered in January 2013.

Ivory ornaments are coveted in Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand and China despite fears that the trade is pushing wild elephants to extinction.

Rhino horn is prized for its supposed medicinal properties.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Singapore Urges SEA Lenders to Implement Eco-Friendly Policies

Jakarta Globe, Erwida Maulia, May 17, 2015

Palm oil plantations in Indragiri Hulu district in Sumatra's Riau province.
(EPA Photo/Bagus Indahono)

Singapore. The Singaporean government has called on financial institutions operating in Southeast Asia to exercise caution in funneling funds to palm oil producers, saying scrutiny on the sector continues to intensify with recurring problems in transboundary haze.

Banks have acted as an important source of capital for the region’s palm oil industry, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said last week.

Citing a 2010 report by BankTrack, he said lenders provided an estimated 24 percent of the total financing needed for the sector globally, with more than $50 billion invested in the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil sectors alone during the decade prior to the release of the study.

“The number has grown significantly since then. And this includes local sources of capital from within Indonesia and Malaysia,” Balakrishnan said in a keynote speech during the second annual Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources held last Wednesday.

With the recurring issue of transboundary haze, he added, calls have intensified for companies and individuals “all the way down” the supply chain to be held accountable for deforestation — the main culprit behind recurring forest fires in Indonesia and haze affecting neighbors Singapore and Malaysia.

“Due to the environmental scrutiny and the campaigns by environmental NGOs, banks have now also become part of the watch list,” the minister said.

“And my plea to you, therefore, is please pay attention to this and remember the questions will be asked not only of the companies involved, but also of the financiers and the banks behind the industry.”

Balakrishnan added that lenders and other financial institutions are now expected to be more responsible in conducting background checks on palm oil companies. It is not enough to merely see whether their clients would be able to pay their loans and interest rates, he said.

How the companies derive their resources, their methods of production, the environmental, social and even political risks they face all must be assessed before banks decide whether they should invest in the business.

“These [steps] have to become part and parcel of standard due diligence,” Balakrishnan said.

Financial institutions, including banks and investors, have significant influence over the market and the proper behavior of producers, he added.

Representatives from the financial sector speaking at Wednesday’s dialogue conceded that more banks are gradually recognizing the opportunities in sustainable financing. They are also beginning to understand the need to assess their clients’ environmental and governance records to protect themselves from potential reputation damage.

“It makes good business sense, not just from a reputational perspective, but also from a credit prospective. Generally, a company that actually does good from an environmental perspective would be in better financial health,” said Vincent Choo, chief risk officer of OCBC Bank.

However, Jeanne Stampe, the Asian finance and commodities specialist of environmental group WWF International, sees  domestic banks from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations lagging behind in implementing environmental, social and governance standards.

Both bank management and shareholders simply don’t see the need or urgency to take action, she said.

Stampe added that she also recognizes a lack of senior-level prioritization, a lack of capacity and lack of pressure coming from both regulators and company stakeholders to take the issue seriously.

The Singapore dialogue raised concerns that sustainability, which should be a new basis for growth in the region, has instead become a greater challenge amid falling commodities prices across the globe, as well as the constant need to create more jobs in Southeast Asia.

However Simon Tay, the chairman of Singapore Institute of International Affairs, the organizer of the event, said there was still hope for a better outcome.

“If we look at the industry itself, we see signs of change,” Tay said during his opening speech.

“More larger and leading companies among us here today recognize and are responding more strongly to the sustainable challenge as a business issue; not merely as public relations.”

Minister Balakrishnan added that there was an increasing trend among consumers to demand for environmentally friendly products — and that this was not just a phenomenon in developed countries.

He cited a Nielsen survey conducted last year, which reported that 55 percent of the online consumers across 60 different countries said they were willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to providing positive social and environmental impacts.

“This propensity of willingness to buy socially responsible brands is actually strongest in the Asia-Pacific region, where 64 percent of respondents [had] this preference. And I believe this preference will stay, with their wallets that will grow stronger in the years to come,” Balakrishnan said.

“The industry sectors that can first develop standards and labels on sustainable products will have a head start,” the minister added.

Arief Yuwono, the Indonesian Environment Ministry’s deputy for environment degradation control and climate change, said promoting sustainability would also be a key priority for President Joko Widodo and his administration.

The Indonesian government is currently seeking to extend the moratorium on granting new land concessions for plantations and mining activities, which expired on Wednesday.

“We’re working on the final draft, and we hope it will be issued very soon,” said Arief, who also addressed the audience at Wednesday’s dialogue.

He conceded that several issues still needed to be addressed before the new moratorium draft could be finalized, including law enforcement, synchronization with other related, existing regulations  and the one-map reference issue.

Overlapping maps of concessions, community forests and protected forests have caused problems in implementing the deforestation moratorium since it was first introduced by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2011.

Joko has agreed to extend the moratorium, Indonesian Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya revealed after a meeting with the president at the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

“Proposals to strengthen [clauses in the moratorium] from Walhi, Kemitraan, Sawit Watch, WRI and others are very much appreciated and will be summarized by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for a follow-up,” ministry spokesman Eka W. Soegiri said in a press statement on Wednesday, naming Indonesia’s leading environmental groups.

Mozart-Loving Chickens May Answer Quest for Healthier Nugget

Jakarta Globe, Naveen Thukral & Gavin Maguire, May 17, 2015

Chickens bred with drug-free feed rest in their coop as lights are dimmed and
 classical music by Mozart is being played in the background at Kee Song Brothers'
 drug-free poultry farm in Yong Peng, in Malaysia's southern state of Johor
April 16, 2015. (Reuters Photo/Edgar Su)

Yong Peng, Malaysia. In barns filled with classical music and lighting that changes to match the hues outside, rows of chickens are fed a diet rich in probiotics, a regimen designed to remove the need for the drugs and chemicals that have tainted the global food chain.

As food giants face growing pressure to offer healthier produce, Southeast Asian poultry firm Kee Song Group says its use of “good” bacteria in feed and water means it can meet one the industry’s biggest challenges: how to mass produce drug and hormone-free poultry at a reasonable price.

A series of scandals in the last few years —from melamine-tainted milk powder in China, horse meat supplied as beef in Europe and growth drugs causing lameness in US cattle — has triggered a consumer backlash over food standards and safety.

Recently, Tyson Foods pledged to eliminate the use of human antibiotics in chicken by 2017, one of the most aggressive timetables yet by a US poultry firm.

The top American poultry producer, which supplies fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, is among a number of groups globally incorporating probiotics into feed.

“For meat producers, reputation risks are becoming stronger driving companies to focus on safe ingredients specially in Europe and the United States,” said Pawan Kumar, director for food and agricultural research at Rabobank in Singapore.

Kee Song says the cost to produce drug-free chickens using probiotics is now only 10-12 percent more than using antibiotic-fed poultry. It sells these birds at a 30 percent premium in stores, far less than expensive free-range organic chicken.

The firm annually produces around 4 million drug-free birds at its Malaysian farms in Yong Peng, 125 km north-west of Singapore, and aims to expand sales to China and the West.

“Probiotics, either alone or in combination with essential oils and organic acids, are at the forefront of international approaches to replace antibiotics,” said Wayne Bryden, Professor of Animal Science at the University of Queensland.

Probiotics populate the gut with healthy bacteria in a bid to curb bad bacteria, while oils and organic acids are also often included in feed to aid digestion.

A team at the Australian university, partly funded by feed maker Ridley AgriProducts, have found in preliminary trials that using a probiotic can double the efficiency of use of protein from feed to boost weigh gain in livestock.


An estimated 80 percent of antibiotics used in the United States are administered to livestock with the use expected to surge by two thirds globally between 2010 and 2030.

Scientists are worried the practice could spur antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

McDonald’s has also pledged to eliminate chickens fed on human antibiotics at its US restaurants and is looking at similar steps in Asia.

“In Asia Pacific, we will be working with our supply partners and relevant experts to implement this enhanced measure,” a company spokesperson said via email.

While demand for healthier products is increasing fast in the West, some experts say that in parts of Asia customers will not be prepared to pay more for drug-free poultry, though China could be a promising market after high-profile food scares.

Mozart and blue lighting

In Kee Song’s Malaysian poultry farm, 20,000 chickens rest on saw dust in the dimly lit barns, with feed and water laced with probiotics being automatically pumped into feeding pans.

As well as playing Mozart, lighting is used in a bid to keep the birds tranquil with neon blue lighting turned on when the birds are taken for slaughter.

“Look at the environment, chickens stay healthy and happy here,” the firm’s Chairman Ong Kee Song told Reuters.

“Even the droppings don’t smell,” added Ong, who has been a vegetarian for 17 years after a stay at a Buddhist temple.

Traditional chicken farms are notorious for producing noxious fumes as well as loud noise from squawking birds.

Growth hormones mixed with feed can also produce oversized breasts and wings that underdeveloped legs struggle to support for more than a few steps.

Chia Tet Fatt, a molecular geneticist who previously was a professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University teamed up with Kee Song to produce the probiotic used, lactobacillus, and confirmed chickens were not fed any drugs or antibiotics.

Tan Chee Kiang, vice president of Charoen Pokphand, the world’s biggest animal feed miller, also said the feed it supplied to Kee Song was free of antibiotics.

By not using drugs, the poultry farms need to maintain stringent cleanliness measures to avoid the risk of infection and it takes three days more than conventionally produced chickens to attain a commercially viable weight of 1.8 to 2.0 kg.

As well as supplying supermarkets, Kee Song also sells to some restaurants in Singapore, including French restaurant Cocotte, where the chicken is used for a signature dish.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brussels clears way for geese to be gassed throughout the Netherlands, May 11, 2015

The European Commission has given the green light to pest controllers to gas hundreds of thousands of geese throughout the Netherlands. 

At present, geese can only be gassed within a 20 kilometre radius of Schiphol airport because of the threat the birds pose to aircraft. Elsewhere geese have to be killed manually. 

The government wants to reduce the size of the goose population in the Netherlands back to its 2005 levels which, experts say, will entail the slaughter of 500,000 birds. 

The permit to use carbon dioxide to kill the birds has been granted to Duke Faunabeheer, which has the contract to gas geese around the airport. It will start catching and gassing geese in Utrecht and Noord-Holland provinces in the last week of May. 

However, bird research group Sovon says it is far from clear if killing geese actually reduces the population. And animal rights party PvdD says a better method of controlling geese numbers would be to grow different sorts of crops in the areas where the birds concentrate.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Activists Urge Jokowi to Renew Forest Clearing Ban

Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s moratorium on deforestation will soon come to an end

Jakarta Globe, Kennial Caroline Laia, May 06, 2015

Indonesia has the third largest area of tropical rainforest on the planet, but
also one of the fastest rates of deforestation. (EPA Photo/Bagus Indahono)

Jakarta. Environmental activists have called on President Joko Widodo to extend and strengthen a forest-clearing moratorium that runs out this month.

The moratorium on issuing permits to clear peat and primary forests was introduced in May 2011 by then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and slated to run for only two years. Yudhoyono extended it in 2013 on a temporary basis, and activists say Joko now has the chance to make a lasting positive impact by giving the moratorium a firmer legal basis.

Any extension to the moratorium “must stipulate punitive measures for people or companies that violate it,” Zenzi Suhadi, a forest campaigner for the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or Walhi, told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.

“This is needed to curb [the illegal] issuance of licenses for forest exploitation, whether for mining or for large-scale plantations,” he added.

He noted that the moratorium as enforced by the Yudhoyono administration was for all practical intents toothless, noting that the Forestry Ministry issued mining and agriculture concessions for 12 million hectares of forest land, much of it ostensibly off-limits under the moratorium, between 2011 and 2014.

“During this period, there was no punishment for the violators,” Zenzi said. “The next moratorium should include punitive measures to ensure that no one hurts the environment.”

He also said it was important that the moratorium be supported by a new agency “to supervise its implementation as well as enforce the law.”

“The government must consider extending the moratorium period. It’s been proven that a two-year moratorium isn’t as effective as expected.

Making it longer will help the government prioritize its to-do list, from evaluation to license review to management refinement,” Zenzi added.

The original moratorium was enacted as part of a deal that would see Norway provide up to $1 billion in funds for climate change mitigation projects in exchange for demonstrable protection on Indonesia’s part of high conservation value forests, including peat forests, which store enormous amounts of carbon dioxide.

Critics, though, have long argued that the moratorium does far too little to protect such areas, given that it applies only to new concessions and not to existing ones on peat and primary forests.

In the time since the moratorium went into force, nearly 970,000 hectares of peat forest have been cleared, half of that total coming from the heavily logged Sumatran provinces of Riau and Jambi, according to a study by Walhi and environmental nongovernmental organization Kemitraan.

The study also found that in some regions, up to four-fifths of the primary and peat forests identified as off-limits for new concessions are already protected under prevailing zoning regulations, hence the moratorium is doing little to expand the scope of forest protection.

Progressive revisions have also seen the map of areas protected under the moratorium shrink, with dozens of concessions issued across the country for land that was at one point included in the moratorium map, says Hasbi Berliani, Kemitraan’s program manager for good governance.

The forest area that falls outside the moratorium map “is really wide.”

“It is really crucial for the government to strengthen [a] few points in the moratorium to protect other areas [that] haven’t been included within. As long as the moratorium doesn’t include it, it’s useless,” Hasbi said.

Zenzi echoed the sentiment, saying that what Indonesia really needed was not a moratorium on new concessions, but a termination program for existing licenses.

“The situation is critical,” Zenzi said, noting that when the moratorium was renewed in 2013, it included new concessions for energy and food production, thanks to what he called corporate lobbying. “This cost the country 1.2 million hectares.”

“This year, there’s the possibility of intervention from the biofuel and food lobbies, and exemptions for border regions,” Zenzi added.

Strong government commitment, he said, was key to an effective moratorium.

“However big the intervention, once the government is committed to the people, it won’t compromise or make any exceptions unless it’s in the interests of the people,” Zenzi said.

The Forestry and Environment Ministry says it wants to extend the moratorium as part of a wider program to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent by 2020, and has welcomed suggestions of environmental groups in drafting an extension.

Edited by Hayat Indriyatno

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rare birds jammed inside water bottles in Indonesia

Yahoo – AFP, 6 May 2015

Indonesian police say 21 yellow-crested cockatoos and one green parrot 
were jammed inside plastic water bottles, as an alleged wildlife smuggler 
arrived in Surabaya, on May 4, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Surabaya (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesian police have arrested a suspected wildlife smuggler after discovering nearly two dozen rare live birds, mostly yellow-crested cockatoos, jammed inside plastic water bottles in his luggage.

The 37-year-old man was stopped by police on Monday as he alighted from a passenger ship in Surabaya, a city on the main island of Java.

Photographs show the birds, with distinctive yellow plumage, peering out of the bottles after being found by officers. The bottoms of the bottles had been cut off to squeeze the birds inside.

Police and customs officials hold rare
 Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos, j
ammed inside plastic water bottles, 
confiscated from an alleged wildlife 
smuggler, on May 4, 2015 (AFP Photo)
The head of the criminal investigation unit at Tanjung Perak port, Aldy Sulaiman, said police found the birds stashed inside the man's luggage.

"We found 21 yellow-crested cockatoos and one green parrot," he said.

"All the birds were found inside water bottles, which were packed in a crate."

The birds have since been sent to Indonesia's natural resources conservation office, which deals with wildlife-trafficking cases.

Sulaiman said the man -- whose identity was not disclosed in line with normal criminal procedure in Indonesia -- had admitted carrying two birds for a friend but claimed to know nothing about the other animals.

If found guilty of smuggling, the man, from near Surabaya, could face up to five years in prison.

Yellow-crested cockatoos are native to Indonesia and neighbouring East Timor and considered critically endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

They are different to the larger and more common sulphur-crested cockatoo which is mostly found in Australia and New Guinea.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Agricultural microbiology draws Chinese researchers to Argentina

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-05-02

An organic experimental farm using agricultural microbiological
technology in Beijing, Oct. 27, 2013. (File photo/CNS)

Microbiology applied to agricultural products is connecting China with Argentina, two emerging markets with complementary economies and strategic partners looking to increase bilateral exchanges.

Among the many links between Beijing and Buenos Aires, Argentine firm Rizobacter stands out. The company, which uses microbiology to boost soy output while cutting production costs, has been in business for 38 years and reports an annual turnover of US$100 million, 20% from exports.

In December, a delegation of the Academy of Sciences from China's Heilongjiang province visited the firm in Pergamino, a city located 180 km northeast of the capital Buenos Aires.

The delegation came to explore the possibility of signing an agreement for joint research and development of microbiological technologies, to improve Chinese soil and output.

"We are here to visit and get to know the Rizobacter plant," said Wang Gang, vice president of the academy.

"We are very interested in getting to know the technology being developed by this company and all of the efforts on the production of soybean, mainly related to soybeans and rhizobia," Wang added.

The Argentine company "sends products to countries like Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, the US, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and China, and has 400 employees. It is a very technological and professional company," Rizobacter CEO Ricardo Yapur said in an interview with Xinhua.

Rizobacter produces microbial, or soil, inoculants that are used to boost soybean production. The inoculants are applied to the seeds so when they germinate they can better absorb nitrogen in the air.

The method is not only highly sustainable, because unlike chemical fertilizers, it doesn't pollute the air, water or soil, and it's also cost effective, said Yapur.

The microbe costs between US$5 and US$10 per hectare, in contrast to urea fertilizer, which requires high pressure and temperatures to function, requiring burning petroleum, and costs US$150 dollars per hectare, said Yapur.

"This technology has been fully adopted in Argentina, where 90% of producers use inoculants, because the technology and the data shows it binds enough nitrogen to produce good results," he said, adding "it increases output by about 150 kg of soy."

At its plant, the company has the ability to carry out tests, quality control, and strain selection, and to experiment with different factors, such as temperature and light.

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