Best of our wild blogs: 27 Feb 17



4 Mar (Sat): FREE Ubin Mangrove tour with R.U.M.!
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Wild fun for kids during the March school holidays!
wild shores of singapore

Garden Supple Skink (Lygosoma bowringii) @ Pulau Ubin
Monday Morgue


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Project to save horseshoe crab wins green prize in Singapore

Toh Wen Li Straits Times 23 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE - ITE College West student Eunos Chong had never met a horseshoe crab face to face until a project he started about two years ago made him passionate about protecting the endangered creatures.

As part of a project for the SembCorp Marine Green Wave Environmental Care Competition, Mr Chong, 18, and three of his schoolmates designed and manufactured a "Horseshoe Crab Propagation System", a system of tanks and an incubator for breeding and rearing horseshoe crabs.

And on Thursday (Feb 23), they took home the winning prize in the junior college/ ITE category for their project.

Mr Chong said the project aims to help repopulate horseshoe crab species in the wild, and encourage Singaporeans to learn more about them.

Horseshoe crabs have been around since before the dinosaur era. Despite their name, they are not crabs and only superficially resemble crustaceans. Instead, they are closely related to arachnids - a group that includes spiders and scorpions.

After the "back-breaking work" of fishing the horseshoe crab eggs - smaller than a green bean - from the shoreline at Kranji, the team placed the eggs in an incubator system equipped with an industrial temperature controller, air pumps and oxygen-booster to increase the hatch rate.

After the horseshoe crabs hatched, they were transferred to various tanks, including a hatching tank, nursing tank and display tank. It took them about eight months to design and manufacture the incubator and tank systems.

Mr Chong said the team has already bred "hundreds" of horsehoe crabs in captivity, and most have been released back into the wild.

He said he soon grew attached to the marine creatures, adding: "Initially, I was afraid to touch them. Their tails were intimidating... Later, it felt as though I was feeding my own child. You have to feed the horseshoe crabs gently, and tend to their needs."

Mr Chong and his teammates have already won $8,000 and a one-month work attachment with BP Singapore, but said it is still early days for the project. They hope to increase the survival rate of the horseshoe crabs from 20 to at least 50 per cent by making improvements to the system.

A total of 69 teams from primary and secondary schools, junior colleges, ITEs and tertiary institutions received prizes at the Marina Mandarin hotel on Thursday morning.

SembCorp Marine's Green Wave Environmental Care Competition for Schools, now in its 15th year, received 279 project submissions involving more 900 students in 2016.

The competition aims to give students a broader perspective of the environmental challenges faced by Singapore and other countries, by having them showcase practical ideas for environmental sustainability.

Other winning projects involved a "Water Saver" device designed by students from Northland Primary School, and a cellulose aerogel material designed by Hwa Chong Institution students to be more effective at soaking up oil spills.

The competition is organised by Sembcorp Marine, and co-sponsored by BP Shipping and Shell International Eastern Trading Company.

Sembcorp Marine's president and CEO Wong Weng Sun said: "We all agree that the increasingly thoughtful and sophisticated entries we see from each successive Green Wave competition bodes well for Singapore's long-term sustainability management."

Said Minister for Education Ng Chee Meng, who was guest-of-honour at the event: "We want to nurture our young to keep exploring beyond textbooks, and competitions like Green Wave provide them with an opportunity to identify real-life problems, work in teams, undertake research and come up with practical solutions."

He encouraged students to be enterprising, push boundaries, and get out of their comfort zones. Touching on the importance of "informal learning spaces", he urged parents not to focus too much on academic grades.


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Need to tap maids in drive to save water

Lin Yangchen, The Straits Times AsiaOne 26 Feb 17;

Domestic workers take care of water-intensive activities such as washing and cooking. But they may not necessarily be aware of water- saving drives and messages, according to experts.

To help turn things around, some private and public organisations are planning to reach out, or have already engaged, these maids to acquaint them with the importance of conserving water.

The issue of saving water came under the spotlight after last Monday's Budget announcement that the Government is raising water prices by up to 30 per cent, the country's first such hike in 17 years.

This comes amid increasing concerns about Singapore's long-term water security.

Experts said the message about saving water may not be trickling down to many maids, going by their years of field experience and interactions with people in different countries. This is not helped by the fact that maids are not the ones paying the bills in Singapore.

Professor Asit Biswas of National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said the Republic is very different from developed cities in the West, because many of the middle and upper-class households have maids.

"No European or North American city has Singapore's unique characteristic of maids," said Prof Biswas, who has advised United Nations agencies and governments around the world on water security.

"And because the water price in Singapore is so low (relative to household income), the person in charge of water, for all practical purposes, is the maid."

While the price of potable water in major European cities ranges from about $5 to $8.50 per cu m, including taxes, that in Singapore is about $2 and will remain below $3 even after the 30 per cent hike.

Prof Biswas said the water-saving campaigns have mainly targeted Singaporeans, and this needs to be adjusted to educate maids too.

There are about 230,000 maids in Singapore, said the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support & Training (Fast).

Professor Ng Yew Kwang of Nanyang Technological University's Division of Economics said the phenomenon of how people who turn the taps on may not be actually paying the bills is a common one.

This is applicable to cleaners, for instance, apart from maids.

He added that a way around the problem would be to increase water prices substantially so that employers will take action. He had previously said that even a doubling of water prices would not be excessive from an economic perspective.

In response to queries from The Sunday Times, national water agency PUB said it has worked with the Ministry of Manpower to organise educational roadshows and activities on water conservation for domestic helpers.

The agency has produced a bilingual video and a water-saving handbook in English, Bahasa Indonesia, Tamil and Burmese that is shared with maid agencies and training providers.

Meanwhile, Fast president Seah Seng Choon said the association plans to organise talks by PUB, give away water-saving gadgets and appoint Save Water Ambassadors among its 6,000 member maids.

"Fast will be a vehicle to reinforce foreign domestic workers to do their part (to save water) as they are part of the fabric of Singapore society," added Mr Seah.

Meanwhile, some employers have been trying to educate their maids on saving water.

One of them is Madam Yeong Soh Yeng, a freelance pre-school teacher. She lives in a five-room Housing Board flat with her husband, seven children and their Indonesian maid, Madam Fatimah Dulhadi.

Madam Yeong, 62, noted that water usage by maids from different countries may differ, so it is up to employers to let them know how to manage the use of water for household chores.

She has taught Madam Fatimah, 35, to collect water from the washing machine's rinse cycles, which she said amounts to more than 10 litres, to wash the floor and flush the toilet.

In another household, administration officer Maha Leckshmi, 64, makes the effort to educate her Sri Lankan maid Welendra Mulacharige Wimalawathie, 55, on saving water.

The two, who live in a three-room flat in Yishun, use the washing machine only for curtains and bedsheets, and bathe from a pail.

Said Madam Leckshmi of her maid: "She's like family. I always show her the bill and tell her we need to save water and electricity."


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Malaysia: Fraser’s Hill to be kept pristine for migratory birds

The Star 27 Feb 17;

RAUB: Fraser’s Hill which is a habitat for migratory birds will be kept pristine, said state Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin.

“As of now, only 5% of the Fraser’s Hill is developed and there will be no more development. Only upgrading of existing facilities will be allowed,” he said.

“We have to limit the development in the area. This is a well-known tourist attraction and a bird watching destination,” he after attending the closing ceremony of the Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race yesterday.

A total of 315 bird lovers took part in the competition here yesterday.

The participants came from countries such as Japan, Nepal, Canada, France, South Africa, the Netherlands and United Kingdom.

As for the proposed project to have a cable car from Raub to Fraser’s Hill, Mohd Sharkar said the feasibility studies found that it was not viable.

Mohd Sharkar also said that Fraser’s Hill was one of the oldest tourist destinations in the world and that it was loved for its cool climate and greenery.

Last year, the hill resort was a very popular with tourists and welcomed 123,483 visitors, which was a 6% increase compared to 2015.

“One of the main attractions here is bird watching,” he said.

“Our country is in the fourth position in Asia as a birding destination after China, India and Thailand.”

Mohd Sharkar said there were at least 785 species of bird recorded in the country and most of these birds could be found in Fraser’s Hill.

He said BirdLife International, the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, had identified Fraser’s Hill as an “important bird area (IBA)”.


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Malaysia: No logging or mining activity in Tasik Chini -- Wan Junaidi

The Star 27 Feb 17;

PETALING JAYA: There have been no logging activities or bauxite mining in Tasik Chini since 2014 contrary to a newspaper report, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

“I want to clarify that the report on Tasik Chini was based on its condition from 2009 to 2013 and it does not reflect its current condition,” said the Natural Resources and Environment Minister in a statement yesterday.

Dr Wan Junaidi said the aerial footage of the supposed logging activities was taken in 2013.

“After the floods in 2014, the Government made several efforts to restore the surrounding areas in Tasik Chini,” he said.

On Saturday, a Malay daily reported that Tasik Chini – recognised as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO – was plagued by uncontrolled logging, mining and farming activities.

He said a Conservation and Preservation Steering Committee was set up at the East Coast Economic Region Development Council meeting in March 2016 to identify the causes contributing to the deterioration of Tasik Chini and the steps taken to rectify the situation.

Among the responsibilities of the committee to protect Tasik Chini was to ensure mining activities were carried out responsibly and that forest conservation initiatives be conduc­ted through its reforestation programmes.

“Two operations have also been successfully implemented to protect the rich biodiversity in Tasik Chini by preventing intrusions and ensuring its water quality achieves Class 1 status by 2019,” he said.

“Monthly monitoring of its water quality has seen the majority of its stations achieving a Class 2 status and the return of marine life.”

Dr Wan Junaidi added that no logging licences had been issued.

“Up to now, there have only been two iron mines that are still active after being approved by the Pahang state government in 2010,” said Dr Wan Junaidi, adding that the mines were 5km away from Tasik Chini.

He also saidt the initiatives implemented by the ministry to preserve the area included the monitoring of the water quality of the lake, strengthening of the banks of the lake, and the preservation of plants by various authorities.


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Malaysia: Over 10,000 Baram folks cut off by floods

STEPHEN THEN The Star 27 Feb 17;

MIRI: More than 10,000 people from at least 15 longhouses as well as students from a school in the interior Baram district in northern Sarawak have been cut off due to floods.

Over the past 24 hours, heavy rains have inundated these populated settlements, resulting in metre-deep waters.

Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau visited the flooded areas on Monday to check on the relief aid supplies.

He told The Star that the affected settlements and school had been cut off after the timber roads became flooded.

"Among them are the settlements in Long Bedian, Long Atip, Long Tajang, Long Buan, Long Bemang, Long Loyang, Long Batan, Long Aton, Long Sobeng, SK Long Sobeng, Long Anyat, Long Luteng, Long Puak and Long Lama town.

"The students of SK Long Subeng have been evacuated to the nearest longhouse.

"The school have been closed as flood waters will reach the roof of the school building," he said.

Ngau has issued an alert for help from the state and federal authorities.
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Malaysia: Terengganu agriculture industry on alert for red weevil beetle infestation

ROSLI ZAKARIA New Straits Times 25 Feb 17;

KEMAMAN: State Agriculture Departments here have been directed to inspect all date palm and to destroy trees determined to be infested with red weevil beetles.

"This move is crucial, because red weevil beetles find a convenient host in date palm, and they are now attacking coconut trees," said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

He said agriculture officers need to go to the ground to identify date palm trees to instruct owners to destroy the host trees, failing which, the department would have to act.

He also warned farmers against importing plants without going through the legal process, including undergoing strict quarantine procedures.

"We need to look at the threat posed by the red weevil beetle seriously. The future of our palm oil industry is at stake," Ahmad Shabery added.


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Indonesia: Whale shark dead after being caught up in trawl

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 26 Feb 17;

A 6-meter whale shark weighing more than 1 ton got caught in the trawl of a fisherman in Selakau waters, Sambas regency, West Kalimantan, on Friday. Residents later cut the protected animal up and distributed the pieces.

Officers from Selakau Police and the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) questioned the fisherman, identified as Gustian, over the incident. He said the animal had accidentally become caught up in a trawl he had put out in waters around 20 kilometers off the shore. When he had discovered the shark in the net, Gustian claimed, it had already been dead.

Gustian, who had been out fishing with his son that day, said they had been unable to release the whale shark from the trawl, so he decided to pull it to the pier.

Gustian said he was not aware that whale sharks were a protected species. He said he did not know who had ordered the local residents to cut the shark into pieces and take them home.

Pictures of the whale shark went viral on social media, showing local residents, including children, crowded around the carcass of the animal on Selakau Beach.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia’s West Kalimantan program manager, Albert Tjiu, told The Jakarta Post on Sunday there had been no clear information on whether Selakau waters were the habitat of whale sharks. However, he said, a WWF researcher conducting a survey in the area had heard of a similar incident last year. (ebf)


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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Feb 17



Singapore, the Global Stronghold of the Straw-headed Bulbul
Singapore Bird Group

Short Walk At Punggol Park (22 Feb 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

NSS Kids’ Fun with Nature and Culture at Jalan Kubor Cemetery
Fun with Nature

First Naked walk at Chek Jawa in 2017
wild shores of singapore


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‘Turn the tide on plastic’ urges UN, as microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy

UNEP 23 Feb 17;

23 February 2017 – Launching an unprecedented global campaign, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is urging everyone to eliminate the use of microplastics and stop the excessive, wasteful use of single-use plastic, to save the world’s seas and oceans from irreversible damage before it’s too late.

“Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables,” Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of UNEP, said in a news release announcing the campaign.

“We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop,” he added.

Through its Clean Seas campaign, the agency has urged countries and businesses to take ambitious measures to eliminate microplastics from personal-care products, ban or tax single-use plastic bags, and dramatically reduce other disposable plastic items by 2022.

Ten countries have already joined the initiative with far-reaching pledges: Indonesia has committed to slash its marine litter by 70 per cent by 2025; Uruguay will tax single-use plastic bags later this year; and Costa Rica will take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education, according to UNEP.

These initiatives could not come sooner as up to 80 per cent of all litter in the oceans are made of plastic.

According to estimates, by 2050, 99 per cent of earth’s seabirds will have ingested plastic

An illustration of the sheer magnitude of the problem is that as much as 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than stars in our galaxy – litter the seas.

Each year, more than eight million metric tonnes of plastic end up in oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and cost at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. According to estimates, by 2050, oceans will have more plastic than fish if present trends are not arrested.

According to UNEP actions to stem the growing tide of maritime litter could include reducing the use of single-use plastics at the individual level such as by using reusable shopping bags and water bottles, choosing products without microbeads and plastic packaging, and not using straws to drink.

“Whether we choose to use plastic bags at the grocery store or sip through a plastic straw, our seemingly small daily decisions to use plastics are having a dramatic effect on our oceans,” said film actor and founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation, Adrian Grenier.

Similarly, on larger and commercial scale, supply chains can be modified.

One such example is the technology company DELL Computers: which has announced that it will use recovered ocean plastic in its product packaging.

“DELL is committed to putting technology and expertise to work for a plastic-free ocean,” said its Vice President for Global Operations, Piyush Bhargava. “Our new supply chain brings us one step closer to UNEP’s vision of Clean Seas by proving that recycled ocean plastic can be commercially reused.”

According to UNEP, major announcements are also expected at the upcoming conference on The Ocean at the UN Headquarters in New York (5-9 June), and UN the Environment Assembly to be held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in December.

“The ocean is the lifeblood of our planet, yet we are poisoning it with millions of tonnes of plastic every year,” expressed Peter Thomson, the President of the UN General Assembly, highlighting the upcoming conference and urging for ambitious pledges to reduce single-use plastic.

“Be it a tax on plastic bags or a ban on microbeads in cosmetics, each country [can] do their bit to maintain the integrity of life in the Ocean.”




UN Declares War on Ocean Plastic
UN Environment launches major global #CleanSeas campaign to end marine litter
Ten countries are already on board, as well as DELL Computers, singer Jack Johnson, actor Adrian Grenier and media personality Nadya Hutagalung
More than 8 million tonnes of plastic leaks into the ocean each year – equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic every minute
UNEP 23 Feb 17;

23 February 2017 – UN Environment launched today an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: microplastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022.

Launched at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, the #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to pass plastic reduction policies; targeting industry to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products; and calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits – before irreversible damage is done to our seas.

Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment, said, "It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans. Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop."

Throughout the year, the #CleanSeas campaign will be announcing ambitious measures by countries and businesses to eliminate microplastics from personal care products, ban or tax single-use bags, and dramatically reduce other disposable plastic items.

Ten countries have already joined the campaign with far-reaching pledges to turn the plastic tide. Indonesia has committed to slash its marine litter by a massive 70 per cent by 2025; Uruguay will tax single-use plastic bags later this year and Costa Rica will take measures to dramatically reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.

Each year, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80 per cent of all litter in our oceans is made of plastic.

According to some estimates, at the rate we are dumping items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups after a single use, by 2050 oceans will carry more plastic than fish and an estimated 99 per cent of seabirds will have ingested plastic.

Media personality Nadya Hutagalung supports #CleanSeas by calling on the cosmetics industry to stop adding microplastics to their products. As many as 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than stars in our galaxy – litter our seas, seriously threatening marine wildlife.

Singer-songwriter and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Jack Johnson pledged to engage with fans and encourage venues for his 2017 Summer Tour to reduce single-use plastics. Johnson is also promoting a new documentary The Smog of the Sea, which highlights the issue of microplastics permeating the world’s oceans.

"I support the Clean Seas campaign because I believe there are better alternatives to single-use disposable plastics, and that we as consumers can encourage innovation and ask businesses to take responsibility for the environmental impact of the products they produce," said Jack Johnson.

"We can all start today by making personal commitments to reduce plastic waste by carrying reusable shoppings bags and water bottles, saying no to straws and choosing products without microbeads and plastic packaging. We can also support the efforts of the emerging youth leaders around the world working for healthy and plastic free oceans."

Globally recognized brands are also joining the fight. DELL Computers unveiled today a commercial-scale supply chain using plastic which has been fished out of the sea near Haiti. The computer giant will use the recovered ocean plastic in its product packaging.

"DELL is committed to putting technology and expertise to work for a plastic-free ocean," said Dell's Vice President for Global Operations Piyush Bhargava. "Our new supply chain brings us one step closer to UN Environment's vision of Clean Seas by proving that recycled ocean plastic can be commercially re used."

All these actions will be crucial to stemming the tide of marine litter. Today, we are producing twenty times more plastic than in the 1960s. Around one third of all plastic is used for packaging. By 2050 our plastic production will have to grow three to four times to satisfy our demand. A large portion will end up in oceans where it will remain for centuries.

Actor Adrian Grenier, known for his role in hit TV show and film Entourage, and founder of Lonely Whale Foundation has joined the #CleanSeas campaign, asking people to re-think their daily choices.

"Whether we choose to use plastic bags at the grocery store or sip through a plastic straw, our seemingly small daily decisions to use plastics are having a dramatic effect on our oceans," said Adrian Grenier. "We have the power to effect change.

"Today I take this public pledge to do my part to refuse single use plastics, starting with the plastic straw, and also reaffirm my commitment to work with leaders such as Dell to reduce plastic packaging. If we start with one small change and hold each another accountable, I believe that together we can inspire global action for the health of our oceans."

Major announcements are expected during The Ocean Conference in New York at the UN Headquarters 5 – 9 June, and the December UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya.


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Five on Friday: 5 unusual natural world sightings in Singapore

In our regular light-hearted look at what has been making the headlines, Ramesh William recalls some other rare sightings apart from the "fire rainbow" that set tongues wagging this week.
Ramesh William Channel NewsAsia 24 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE: Folks on this sunny isle did not know what to make of a swirl of colours which emerged from behind some innocuous-looking clouds on Monday (Feb 20).

Was it a UFO? A sign from the heavens, perhaps?

Most people, however, just marvelled at a unique optical phenomenon known as a circumhorizontal arc, or - to the layman - a “fire rainbow”.

Looking suspiciously like a Tycho album cover (it would have been nice had it appeared during Laneway), people gave it all sorts of names from Paddle Pop rainbow to the Southern Lights.

Oh, the wit.

Speaking of optical phenomena, here are examples of the opposite: Sightings that are becoming familiar mainstays in various parts of the island to the point of boredom.

Rats (Bukit Batok), wild boars (Punggol), otters (Bishan, Marina Bay) and monitor lizards (no fixed abode) hardly elicit a second glance these days.

With that in mind, we thought we would go to the other end of the spectrum and showcase five rare natural world sightings that got us all in a tizzy.

DOUBLE RAINBOW DELIGHT

Two for the price of one. It is a bargain few Singaporeans can resist. Which is why when a double rainbow appeared last September, many whipped out their phones and set social media alight.

The science: A double rainbow occurs when the light is reflected twice in a raindrop - leading to two different reflections, coming from different angles.

Believed by some cultures to be a sign of good fortune, double rainbows are not altogether once-in-a-blue-moon rare.

There was one in July 2015 and also during the auspicious Chinese New Year period this year. But still, rare enough to cause a stir.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on his Facebook fans to share their pics of the unique event during Chinese New Year festivities.

WELCOME BACK MALAYAN TAPIR

“If that’s a wild boar, why is it wearing diapers?” the driver asked, squinting.

“Erm, I dunno dear … maybe it has a weak bladder,” said her husband. “Taking precautions I guess. It’s so hard to find a loo around here.”

We will never know for sure if such a conversation took place along Changi Coastal Road on a balmy June night last year.

But one imagines it cannot be far from the incredulous chatter that would have occurred upon the sighting of a Malayan tapir - one that looked as if it was on a late-night mosey after a particularly heavy supper. Hey, we have all been there!

The Malayan tapir's biggest claim to fame in Singapore is that it is among the first animals you will see upon entering the zoo in Mandai (on the left, after the gift shop). And as for a sighting in the wild? Well, you would have to go back all the way to 1986 - on Pulau Ubin.

Forget the double rainbow, or even unicorns - this is a rare sighting. Goodness only knows when the last wild Malayan tapir made it to our mainland. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has said there are anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 left in Malaysia.

And then after a fleeting glimpse, the Changi Malayan tapir vanished. Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) said it most likely swam back to Malaysia.

Well, till next time then. Jumpa lagi.

WATERSPOUTING ABOUT

Do not be fooled by its innocent sounding name. Waterspouts can do some real damage and the video above can attest to its might.

Thankfully not much mayhem (apart from getting people all uber-excited) was caused when a larger-than-usual version turned up off East Coast Park in August 2016.

According to the National Environment Agency, there is an average of three waterspout occurrences reported over Singapore waters every year.

Singapore’s thunderstorm-prone climate makes it all the more susceptible to waterspouts, but one as massive as this is extremely rare.

Still, if you are hanging about Bedok Jetty chasing fish and you see something similar heading your way, you best be on your skates sharpish.

DOLPHINS, SWIMMING WILD

An Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin spotted off St John's Island in August 2015.

Dolphins in captivity have been in the spotlight in recent years in Singapore, with questions asked about their living conditions.

So when footage or photos appear of dolphins freewheeling with joy off Singapore’s shores, it definitely calls for beers all round.

The Wild Singapore site has, over the years, blogged about dolphin sightings in the vicinity of the Southern Islands. Wild dolphins were sighted off Raffles Lighthouse in 2006, and off St John’s Island and off Sisters Island in 2007. Dolphins were also seen near Singapore’s landfill island Pulau Semakau in 2009.

The most recent sighting of wild dolphins was in August 2015 when four Indo-Pacific humpback pink dolphins were seen off St John’s Island. Joseph Chng, who spotted the dolphins while out at sea, said he had to perform an emergency stop to prevent his boat from running down the cute things.

SUPERMOON

Nov 14, 2016: A date that will live long in infamy. That was when the moon was at its closest to Earth in nearly 70 years.

Why infamy? Well, because the supermoon was a damp squib for many of us. Although the moon was 35,400km closer, cloud cover that night meant there was very little big lunar action to be had.

Yet, from photos that did emerge, we know that there were plenty who lucked out and managed to snag photos of the swollen moon - except that it was early the next morning.

Most of us were still in bed. I was quite exhausted after spending most of the previous evening like a demented maniac, opening my bedroom window, peering out and then shutting it again every 10 minutes or so.

Skygazers will not be able to see the moon this big again until Nov 25, 2034. At least there is some breathing space before we are all left disappointed again.


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Chestnut Nature Park, Singapore's largest, fully opens

Channel NewsAsia 25 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE: The northern portion of Chestnut Nature Park was opened on Saturday (Feb 25) - marking the completion of Singapore's largest nature park.

Together with the southern portion opened last year, the park now totals 81 hectares – nearly the size of the 82-ha Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Located near the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the park is the first in Singapore to have separate hiking and mountain biking trails. With the opening of the northern portion, the park’s biking trail has been extended from 1.6km to 8.2km, while the hiking trail has been extended from 2.1km to 5.6km.

Hikers can trek directly from Chestnut Nature Park to Dairy Farm Nature Park, while mountain bikers have access to trails with different levels of difficulties, ranging from moderately difficult to extremely difficult. The park also has a pump track where cyclists can attempt stunts.

Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee officiated the opening of the park’s northern portion on Saturday morning and accompanied about 200 residents and volunteers on the hiking trail.

Mr Lee also announced that another two parks will be opened over the next two years. Windsor Nature Park, located near Upper Thomson Road, will open later this year, while Thomson Nature Park will open by end of next year.

"Nature parks are special and they play a unique role in our ‘City in a Garden’," said Mr Lee, adding that the parks provide opportunities for Singaporeans to experience biodiversity, and act as green buffers to protect the reserves from the impact of urbanisation.

- CNA/cy


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