Best of our wild blogs; 25 Jul 15



A carcass washed up at East Coast Park beach and what happened next got everyone excited from News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Bottlenose Dolphins at Singapore Strait
from Francis' Random Yaks, Articles & Photos

Yellow-vented bulbul preening and defaecation
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Common Flameback feeding on rambutan: Addendum
from Bird Ecology Study Group


Butterflies Galore! : Narrow Spark
from Butterflies of Singapore

Nanyang girls inspired to save the civets!
from Project LUWAK SG


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AVA seeks ideas to develop a more sustainable sea-based farming system

Amanda Lee Today Online 24 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE — The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is asking for fish farms and related companies to come forward to propose their ideas to develop better farm systems to withstand against adverse environment conditions.

Speaking at the opening of Lorong Halus Jetty today (July 24), Minister of State for National Development and Defence Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman said the AVA has received S$1.25 million from the Co-Innovation Partnership (or CI Partnership) to develop a “more sustainable sea-based farming system”.

“The CI Partnership encourages companies to co-develop innovative solutions with the Government,” said Dr Maliki. “With this funding, AVA will work with the fish farms and related companies to develop a closed containment aquaculture system”.

The system, Dr Maliki said, can help fish farms “mitigate against adverse environmental conditions”. The AVA is requesting for proposals at the end of next month.

Dr Maliki also said the AVA is extending help given to fish farmers in the wake of the massive fish deaths in February. The mass deaths are said to have been caused by a plankton bloom — brought on by hot weather or the neap tide — which can drain seawater of oxygen.

A neap tide is when the difference between high and low tides is at its lowest, leading to poor water exchange.

The AVA has devised an assistance package that co-founds 70 per cent of the cost of restocking the fish farms with fry, and 70 per cent of the purchase of equipment to deal with similar incidents in the future.

Dr Maliki revealed that almost all of the affected farms have taken up the package and more than 90 per cent are in the process of restocking their farms. The AVA’s funding support which was originally schedule to end next month will be extended till December as some fish farmers have requested for more time to purchase fry and equipment.

Official opening of the Lorong Halus jetty, July 24, 2014
In efforts to build on local production capacity, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has developed a jetty in the east to help fish farmers. Minister of State for National Development and Defence, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, graced the opening of the Lorong Halus jetty, and had a go at operating a lorry's mechanic crane arms. He also spoke to some of the fish farmers who were consulted during the project. Construction of the concrete platform, the floating jetty platform and other facilities was a year-long project that cost S$3.85 million.
Video: Christie Yeo

AVA seeks ideas for better farming systems
S$1.25 million funding aims to boost sustainable fish production in Singapore
Amanda Lee Today Online 25 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE — After February’s mass fish deaths, which has left some fish farms still reeling from the losses, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will be calling for proposals on better farming systems to help fish farmers withstand adverse environmental factors.

Speaking at the opening of Lorong Halus Jetty yesterday, Minister of State (National Development and Defence) Mohamad Maliki Osman said the AVA has received S$1.25 million from the Co-Innovation Partnership, which encourages companies to develop innovative solutions with the Government, to come up with a sea-based farming system that would be more sustainable.

With the funding, the AVA will work with fish farms and related companies to develop a closed containment aquaculture system, said Dr Maliki.

Such a system would help fish farms here mitigate against adverse environmental conditions, he added. The episode in February had left about 160 tonnes of fish dead in farms in the East and West Johor Straits.

The AVA is requesting for proposals at the end of next month.

Giving an update about the AVA’s assistance package to help farmers who had lost their fish stocks, Dr Maliki said almost all the affected farms had taken up the package and more than 90 per cent are in the process of restocking their farms.

The funding support, which was to have ended next month, will be extended until December, as some fish farmers have asked for more time to purchase fry and equipment, said Dr Maliki.

This would, hopefully, help farmers to resume normal production levels by early next year, he said.

Dr Maliki also urged fish farms to embrace technology, automation and the upgrading of farming systems.

During his visit to the Netherlands and Denmark last month, Dr Maliki visited two land-based fish farms that used Recirculating Aquaculture Systems for fish culture in controlled indoor environments. With those, he said, farms were able to grow fish on limited land and water supply and they were protected against adverse environmental conditions.

The S$3.85 million Lorong Halus Jetty, about the size of half a football field, will act as a new landing facility that is close to fish farming zones in the eastern Johor Straits.

Currently, 63 of 117 coastal fish farms operate in the eastern Straits of Johor with Changi Creek and Senoko Fishery Port, which are the only two approved landing points.

The new jetty will include facilities, such as a floating jetty platform, where up to 28 vessels can berth, and a refuse collection centre for farmers.

During its first three months of operations, farmers will be able to use the jetty without having to pay any fees. AVA officers will monitor its usage and gather feedback to improve the jetty’s operations, said Dr Maliki.

Farmers whom TODAY spoke to welcomed the new facility.

Mr Timothy Ng, president of Fish Farmers Association of Singapore, described it as a “purpose-built facility” and said unlike Changi Creek, which farmers used mostly in the afternoons, farmers could use the new jetty even at other times.

Long waits were also common at Changi Creek, said director of Marine Life Aquaculture Loh Tee Wee, who usually waited at least an half hour each time as the landing point would be overcrowded.

As for chief operating officer of Marine Life Aquaculture Frank Tan, the new jetty would shave about 20 minutes off his usually travelling time.

At the moment, he pays close to S$400 a month for waste disposal services, to use the facilities at Changi Creek and to berth his boats at Marina Country Club.

$1.25m for ideas to improve fish farming
Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 25 Jul 14;

TO HELP farmers here produce more fish, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is doling out $1.25 million to those who can work with the agency to develop better "closed containment aquaculture" systems that won't be so easily affected by pollutants and bad weather.

It is also coming up with good-aquaculture-practice guidelines for fish farms, said Minister of State for National Development Maliki Osman yesterday.

Closed containment systems are those that shield the fish from the external environment - using floating canvas bags and filtering and recirculating seawater, for example.

"Such a system in a coastal environment can, among others, help our fish farms mitigate against adverse environmental conditions," Dr Maliki said, speaking at the opening of a new Lorong Halus jetty for Singapore fish farmers whose farms are in the eastern Johor Straits.

He added that the agency would ask for proposals by the end of next month, and provide more details on its good aquaculture practices in September.

With more productive farming methods, the hope is to almost double fish yields to 15 per cent of that eaten here, for greater food security.

To this end, the AVA has also installed continuous online water quality monitoring systems at some fish farms; it calls and text-messages fish farmers in case of poor water conditions.

The moves come after thousands of fish died suddenly in January and February after being poisoned by plankton blooms brought on by high temperatures and low tides. Then, 39 coastal farms lost 160 tonnes of fish.

The new Lorong Halus jetty is another step to help local fish farmers, whose 4,200 tonnes of fish produced each year make up about 8 per cent of fish consumed here.

Sixty-three of Singapore's 117 coastal fish farms are based in the eastern Johor Strait, with most of the rest in the western end near Lim Chu Kang.

The $3.85 million jetty offers a higher mooring capacity and is safer than the alternative Changi Creek site, where farmers had to climb a ladder while weighed down with 100kg boxes. It is also dedicated for fish farm use so farmers do not have to jostle with other boats, saving them waiting time.

The jetty, which also has a proper waste disposal shelter, is free for farmers to use for three months. AVA will decide on the fees to be paid after this period and will inform farmers.

Mr Frank Tan, chief operating officer of fish farm Marine Life Aquaculture, said the new jetty cut his round-trip time from 21/2 hours to about 50 minutes.

"We will evaluate and see if it's safer and more convenient," he said, adding that the farm would "definitely consider" a permanent switch.

Speech by MOS Maliki at the Opening of Lorong Halus Jetty
Media release on the MND website 24 Jul 14;

Good afternoon. It is indeed my pleasure to be here today at the opening of the Lorong Halus jetty.

Role of local production in food security

As you know, Singapore imports more than 90% of our food. To ensure our food supply resilience, our key strategy is to diversify our food import sources as much as we can.

In addition, to supplement our import sources, we must build our local food production capacity, especially when there are supply disruptions and export bans by source countries from time to time.

In 2013, Singaporeans consumed about 54,000 tonnes of live and chilled fish, of which more than 90% were imported from 46 countries. Our local fish production of over 4,200 tonnes caters to the remaining 8% of our total fish consumption. The Government is doing our part to help our fish farmers improve their yields. Since the inception of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) Food Fund in 2009, about $8.2 million has been committed to fish farmers to upgrade their farm capabilities and conduct R&D projects.

Metropolitan Fishery Group (MFG) for example, a local fish farm, is one of the beneficiaries. MFG received about $570,000 for investments in solar powered aerators and water monitoring systems to enhance its operations. The investment paid off as the farm was not adversely affected by the mass fish deaths earlier this year.

Development of Lorong Halus jetty

Beyond the Food Fund, AVA has also invested $3.85 million in this new Lorong Halus jetty to support the fish farming industry. Currently, 63 of our 117 coastal fish farms operate in the eastern Straits of Johor, with Changi Creek and Senoko Fishery Port as the only two approved landing points. Many fish farmers have given feedback to AVA that Changi Creek is not suitable as they have to hoist their fish and supplies over a steep sea wall to and from their vessels. In addition, a ladder is needed to embark and disembark from the vessels, and there are also no proper mooring facilities.

Senoko Fishery Port is likewise not ideal, as farmers will have to travel about 15 km or 45 minutes from their farms to reach the port. The longer distance adds to the farms’ operational cost, although the port has facilities for mooring, loading and unloading.

I understand that since 2011, AVA has worked with fish farmers and the relevant agencies to identify a new landing facility that is close to the fish farming zones in the eastern Johor Straits. Several fish farmers were involved in the design of this new jetty at Lorong Halus, including the layout and types of facilities required. Compared to the Changi Creek landing point, this new jetty will be easier and safer to load and unload goods. It has a higher mooring capacity, enabling up to 28 boats to be berthed at the same time. Besides these facilities, there is also a waste collection centre to help farmers dispose of fish waste properly.

I am pleased to announce that AVA will allow fish farmers to use the new Lorong Halus jetty without any fees during the first 3 months of operation. This will give our fish farmers ample time to make adjustments with their suppliers of farm materials or their buyers. During the 3-month period, our AVA officers will monitor the usage of the jetty by farmers and gather their feedback to further improve jetty operations. I hope our farmers will make good use of this new jetty.

Assistance to affected farmers

The Government is committed to grow the local fish farming industry. Hence, when the massive fish deaths occurred in February this year, with losses of about 500 tonnes of fish, I told AVA that we had to do something to help the affected farmers. Let me now provide a brief update on AVA’s assistance package to-date.

First, to assist affected farmers re-stock their farms and restart operations; AVA has devised an assistance package toco-fund 70% of the cost of restocking their farms with fry, and 70% of the purchase of equipment to deal with similar incidents in the future. As of today, almost all of the affected farms have taken up AVA’s assistance package, and more than 90% are in the process of restocking their farms. Close to 40 fish farms have been successful in their applications to upgrade their farming equipment to include water treatment systems, air blowers, aerators, oxygen generators and water quality monitoring systems.

AVA’s funding support was originally scheduled to end in August this year. However, as some fish farmers have requested for more time to purchase fry and equipment, AVA has extended its funding support till December 2014. We hope this will help our farmers resume normal production levels by early next year.

Second, AVA has stepped up its monitoring of real-time water quality around the fish farming areas as part of its routine surveillance. AVA has installed continuous online water quality monitoring systems at some of the fish farms. In the event of impending poor water conditions, AVA will send alerts through phone calls and text messages to fish farmers so that they can take the necessary precautions to safeguard their fish stocks.

The industry can also do its part in this early warning mechanism. I hope our farmers will look out for one another by notifying AVA of observations of unusual fish behaviour or water conditions. This will alert all fish farmers early, and help all to cope better with any future incidents.

Third, I am pleased to share that AVA has received $1.25 million from the Co-Innovation Partnership (or CI Partnership) to develop a more sustainable sea-based farming system. The CI Partnership encourages companies to co-develop innovative solutions with the Government. With this funding, AVA will work with the fish farms and related companies to develop a closed containment aquaculture system. Such a system in a coastal environment can, among others, help our fish farms mitigate against adverse environmental conditions. AVA will be requesting for proposals by end August 2014.

Adopting technology and automation

Given the challenges faced by our farmers, I would like to encourage our fish farmers to embrace technology, automation and upgrading of their farming systems. Last month, I visited the Netherlands and Denmark together with MND, AVA and representatives from our food fish farming and vegetable farming industry to learn about Dutch and Danish food security approaches and initiatives. Through the extensive use of technology and automation, both Dutch and Danish farmers are able to adopt innovative and creative solutions for their farms to maximise productivity while guarding against environmental challenges.

For example, we visited two land-based fish farms which use Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) for fish culture in controlled indoor environments. This means that the farms are able to grow fish on limited land and water supply, and are protected against adverse environmental conditions. Although there are higher initial investments in their systems and machinery, the farms there are reaping the benefits of higher productivity and manpower efficiencies in the longer term. In some of these farms, we saw only one, at most two, workers operating the farms.

Adopting good farming practices

Besides dealing with environmental challenges, I believe that it is equally important for farmers to adopt good farming practices as part of efforts to improve farm productivity and ensure good quality and safe products for consumers. AVA will be launching the Good Aquaculture Practices or GAP scheme, which is a set of guidelines to help farms improve in key areas such as farm infrastructure management, farm husbandry, fish health management and farm environment management. AVA will share more details on the GAP scheme in early September.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I urge all of you to continuously raise farm productivity and build up your farming capabilities and resilience. To this end, AVA will work closely with you, and will render support, be it funding incentives or provision of basic infrastructure.

On this note, I am pleased to declare the new Lorong Halus jetty open.


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New Lorong Halus Jetty a boost for fish farmers

Amanda Lee Channel NewsAsia 25 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: The new S$3.85 million Lorong Halus Jetty was launched on Thursday (July 24). The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said it was developed as part of efforts to bolster Singapore's food supply resilience - the location and surrounding infrastructure will enable fish farmers to easily load and unload their produce in Singapore's East.

Farmers will also get a boost as they will be allowed to use the jetty for free during the first three months of operation. The jetty will also help them land their fishes and moor their vessels.

Previously, they used Changi Creek and Senoko Fishery Port, which were considered too far from the fish farms off Pasir Ris. These were also smaller in size and lacking in facilities.

Fish farmers say the new jetty has facilities that make it safer and easier for them.

"You can moor boats at this so-called concrete platform and jetty, which is specially designed so that it is safe to use a lorry crane to move even heavy goods up and down," said Mr Timothy Ng Keat Seng, president of the Fish Farmers Association of Singapore.

Long waits were also common at Changi Creek, said director of Marine Life Aquaculture Loh Tee Wee, who usually waited at least half an hour each time as the landing point would be overcrowded.

As for chief operating officer of Marine Life Aquaculture Frank Tan, the new jetty would shave about 20 minutes off his usually travelling time. He currently pays close to S$400 a month for waste disposal services, to use the facilities at Changi Creek and to berth his boats at Marina Country Club.

- CNA/by


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S$14 million awarded to advance solar energy research

Channel NewsAsia 25 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: A total of S$14 million in grants was awarded to five research teams by the Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO), said the Economic Development Board (EDB) on Friday (July 25).

The monies was awarded under the third grant call of the Energy Innovation Research Programme (EIRP), and the focus of this round was on the cost reduction via innovations in materials and manufacturing processes for solar wafers, cells and modules.

The five research proposals that received funding in this latest round belonged to: National University of Singapore's Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N), and REC Solar, the EDB said in its statement.

Mr Yeoh Keat Chuan, Managing Director of the EDB and co-Executive Director of EIPO, said: "We believe that these give projects will lead to further cost reductions in the solar manufacturing value chain and critically strengthen the competitiveness of solar energy in relation to conventional energy sources."

EIPO announced in 2011 the allocation of S$195 million in research and development (R&D) budget under the national Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2015 cycle, which ends on March 31, 2016.

Of this, S$140 million was assigned to the EIRP. Since 2012, six EIRP calls focusing on solar energy, clean energy systems, smart grid technologies, power generation and energy efficient buildings had been launched by various Government agencies.

- CNA/kk


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Malaysia: Haze Expected To Persist Until September

Bernama 24 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 (Bernama) -- The haze over certain areas in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and Klang Valley as a result of open burning activities in Central Sumatra, Indonesia is expected to persist until September, according to the Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Ministry.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite imagery map released by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Center (ASMC) yesterday showed moderate smoke haze swirling from the Riau province in Central Sumatra towards the central and northern part of the peninsula," it said in a statement today.

The statement said NOAA detected 42 hotspots in Sumatra, eight in Sarawak, three in Pahang and one in Selangor.

A total of 4,400 open burning cases, of which 1,435 involved agricultural land and 897, forests, were detected in the first seven months of this year.

Based on investigations conducted by the ministry, 1,011 cases involved bush fires, construction sites (136), garbage dumping sites (70), industrial areas (34) and small fires (817), said the statement.

-- BERNAMA

Haze: No area with unhealthy air
New Straits Times 25 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The air quality in the country has improved with no area recording unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) reading as at 8 am today.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE), 39 areas recorded moderate API readings, including Seri Manjung, Perak (76), Port Klang, Selangor (89) Tanah Merah, Kelantan (57), Muar, Johor (59) and Kuching, Sarawak (52).

Eleven areas recorded good air quality.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above, hazardous. The public can refer to http://www.doe.gov.my for updates on API readings - BERNAMA

Haze clearing up in all states
EUNICE HO New Straits Times 25 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Thursday appeared to be a good day for Malaysians as API readings proved that the haze was clearing up.

It was earlier reported that all states in the country recorded good and moderate Air Pollutant Index (API) reading except for Seberang Jaya 2 in Perai which recorded a 101 API reading at 10am yesterday.

The air quality in Seberang Jaya 2 improved and reached moderate levels (100) at 12pm.

The last API reading at 3pm was 98.

The other regions in the country continued to experience haze-free air with most of them recording API between 55 and 80.

Taiping and Ipoh, which both recorded unhealthy API levels on Wednesday, continued to record moderate API readings.

At press time, the last reading at 3pm were 88 for Taiping and 68 for Ipoh.

The API reading for Taiping at 6am yesterday was 94 whereas the reading for Ipoh was 74.
Both towns had a 6-point drop at 3pm from their 6am readings.

When asked if the haze will continue, DOE’s Director of Air Division Kalsom Abd Ghani said that as API reading was determined based on 24 hours average, they would need to monitor the situation for the next 24 hours ahead any concrete conclusion could be made on the situation.

Kalsom mentioned that another crucial factor that affected the severity of haze was the hotspots in the source country.

“If the forest fires are persistent, the haze might be prolonged,” she said.

The public can visit the DOE’s web site at http://www.doe.gov.my for hourly updates on API readings.


Hot and dry days for next two months
The Star 25 Jul 14;

PETALING JAYA: There will be hot and dry days over the next two months, with limited rainfall across the country till September.

The meteorological department says the isolated rainfall in certain parts of the country now was no indication of milder weather to come.

A department spokesman said the hot dry spell was due to the south-west monsoon winds which began in the middle of May, indicating drier weather than normal with less rainfall and cloud formation.

“We expect the hot and dry weather to continue with limited isolated rain across the country,” he said.

On the El Nino phenomenon – the prolonged warming of surface temperatures that happens over the eastern Pacific Ocean every two to seven years for six months – the department had yet to establish that it had started, but noted many prediction centres around the world expected it to develop within the next few months.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment portal showed 11 areas with good quality readings while 41 areas recorded moderate readings as at 4pm yesterday.

An Air Pollutant Index (API) of up to 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above hazardous.

Bakar Arang and Sungai Petani in Kedah had the highest API reading of 99, followed by Seberang Jaya 2 and Prai in Penang, which recorded an API of 98.

Various areas in the Klang Valley recorded moderate API readings from 53 (Putrajaya) to 66 (Kuala Lumpur).


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Sea lions’ deaths spark concerns about level of care

Joy Fang Today Online 25 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE — Two sea lions from the Singapore Zoo have died in the span of three months, most likely from an infection, while three of the five remaining sea lions have developed skin conditions. This has sparked concern among the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), while the authorities have requested for more information on the deaths.

TODAY was alerted by a reader, who sent some pictures of the animals’ holdings areas, one of which showed four sea lions cramped into a small pool. One appeared to have a reddened wound on its belly.

These incidents are “disappointing” and suggest that “the level of care seems to be declining”, said ACRES executive director Louis Ng, adding that ACRES was open to working with the zoo on making improvements.

When approached by TODAY, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which runs the zoo as well as other wildlife parks here, clarified that the photos are outdated and the area has since undergone some renovations. However, they confirmed that a sea lion died in May from a severe infection that was confirmed as necropsy.

Another died this month, with veterinarians there suspecting that it also died from an infection, and are awaiting further laboratory test results for a definitive diagnosis.

“The animal’s housing facilities and water qualities meet standard parameters and are not thought to be related to the cause of death. As a preventive measure, our team is closely monitoring the other sea lions in our collection,” a WRS spokesperson said.

WRS Chief Life Sciences Officer Dr Cheng Wen-Haur said there have been “gradual and consistent improvements in the sea lions’ housing facilities” over the years. These include building two large pools for sea lions, resurfacing the flooring, improving ventilation facilities, and ensuring sea lions have access to salt pools at all times.

On the three sea lions which are being treated for skin conditions, Dr Cheng said these conditions are caused by a combination of multiple factors.

“Our veterinarians advise that modifying the water quality could help improve the skin conditions. As part of our ongoing process to improve the healthcare of our animals, we are in the process of upgrading the filtration system to manage the issue.”

When contacted, a spokesman for the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority) said it is aware of the deaths of the two sea lions. “We have requested WRS to provide more information on the sea lions’ deaths,” the spokesman said.

When asked whether living conditions for the animals could have been lacking, Dr Cheng said their exhibit space — where the sea lions spend the bulk of their time when not engaged in the animal presentations — exceed the minimum requirement for sea lions, based on international husbandry standards for the species. The same goes for the back-of-house holding areas and pools.

Wildlife and zoo experts TODAY spoke to were hesitant to pinpoint reasons for the deaths. “Unfortunately, as in the wild, disease can occur and spread from one individual to the next,” said one, who declined to be named.

Ms Liz Romer, executive officer with the Australiasian Society of Zoo Keeping, said they were unable to comment on the sea lions but their experience with the Singapore Zoo is that “they are highly professional and very highly regarded in the zoological industry”.

But Mr Ng noted that two sea lions have died and three are sick. “Whether the photos were old or new, the fact is that the sea lions were housed in those conditions, which are obviously sub-optimal. (The zoo should) improve the conditions of the back of house so they are equivalent to the conditions in the public enclosures,” he said, adding that ACRES is grateful the zoo has taken steps to boost water quality.


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Indonesia: Bush fires feared to hit Sumatra

Antara 25 Jul 14;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Bush fires are a growing threat in Sumatra with Terra and Aqua satellite detecting more hot spots mainly in the province of Riau.

Terra and Aqua satellite detected 346 hot pots in Sumatra and 148 of which are in Riau causing a threat of forest fires, head of the data and information division of the National Agency for Disaster Control (BNPB) Agus Wibowo said here on Friday.

The latest data showed an increase of 87 in the number of hot spots on Friday morning from the number on Thursday, Agus said.

Haze caused a drastic cut in visibility at 07.00 local time in a number of areas in Riau, he said.

"The cities of Dumai and the district of Pelalawan are blanketed with thick smoke this morning that we could not see anything beyond 1 kilometer away in Dumai and 4 kilometers in the district of Pelalawan," he added.

In Pekanbaru the visibility is limited to three kilometers because of haze, but aircraft could still take off and landing in the citys Sultan Syarif Kasim II airport.

In Sumatra only the provinces of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and West Sumatra are free from the threat of bush fires, Agus said.

In Riau, 148 hot spots are spread in 10 of its regencies and the one having largest number of hot spot is the regency of Rokan Hilir, where there are 73 hot spots.

The districts of Bengkalis and Kampar each has seven spots, the municipal city of Dumai 14 spots , Kuantan Singingi six spots Pelalawan 12 spots, Rokan Hulu 14 spots, Indragiri Hulu nine spots, Indragiri Hilir five spots and Siak a spot.

The risk of forest fires in Riau is still high in the dry season with rain expected only in the eastern and western parts of the province, Agus said.

The provincial administration of Riau has warned of the impact of long dry season and the weather phenomenon El Nino.

Hundreds of firemen assisted by three helicopters dropping water bombs and an airplane to produce artificially made rain were sent to cope with bush fires in the province.


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Best of our wild blog: 24 Jul 14



Dead fishes at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
from wild shores of singapore

29 Jul (Tue): Talk on "Singapore’s Overlooked Marine Biodiversity"
from wild shores of singapore

Quiet But Still Have Stuff To See @ Pulau Hantu
from colourful clouds

All at sea
from The Long and Winding Road

You’ve come to the Jong place
from Diary of a Boy wandering through Our Little Urban Eden

spotted black flatworm @ terumbu semakau - July 2014
from sgbeachbum

Congratulations to Nexia TS for their fine effort of removing of 4,500 marine trash items on Changi Beach!
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore


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Malaysia: Houses, cars thrashed as storm hits Malacca

New Straits Times 24 Jul 14;

MALACCA: A thunderstorm, which hit several districts of the state yesterday, damaged at least 100 houses and 10 vehicles when they were blown away or hit by trees which were uprooted by the strong winds and heavy downpour.

Durian Tunggal in Alor Gajah was worst hit by the 5.45am thunderstorm, but there were no casualties reported. Many of the occupants of the affected houses had just finished their sahur and were waiting to perform their morning prayers.

Durian Tunggal health clinic security guard Ramli Haron, who was patrolling, related how he took refuge in the toilet of his security booth when he saw a whirling storm pass him.

Poultry dealer Ngow Dou Fa, 48, said his whole house was damaged by the storm.

“I was getting ready for work when I heard a loud thunder and 10 minutes later, strong winds ripped my house apart. All my belongings were destroyed, including two cars and a motorcycle,” he said, adding that the estimated loss amounted to more than RM30,000. Ngow said this was the second time he encountered a storm. The first was in 1989.

SJKC Sin Wah in Durian Tunggal was also damaged, with 40 per cent of its roof ripped off.

Alor Gajah member of parliament Datuk Koh Nai Kwong said 117 houses were affected in Durian Tunggal, 18 of them badly damaged.

“We will source for aid to help those affected repair their damaged homes.”

In Melaka Tengah, uprooted trees caused minor damage to roads in several areas, including Kampung Lapan, Bukit Baru, Duyong, Bukit Beruang, Bachang and Cheng.

In Temerloh, Pahang, 200 families from 12 villages face a bleak Hari Raya after a freak thunderstorm on Tuesday evening wreaked havoc when it blew away roofs and damaged their belongings.

In the 6pm incident, described as one of the worst in recent years, two people were injured.

Temerloh district officer Datuk Taarif Abdul Rahman said 11 of the 228 affected homes were badly damaged.

He said 178 houses were damaged in Mentakab, 28 in Lanchang and 22 in Kuala Krau. Among the worst-hit villages were Kampung Batu Kapor, Kampung Sungai Buloh, Kampung Tanjong Kerayong, Taman Saga and Felda Jenderak Utara.

Tengku Mahkota Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, who visited two villages here yesterday afternoon, promised the victims that the state government, Welfare department and Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council would provide immediate assistance.


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Malaysia: Haze API readings in Taiping and Ipoh unhealthy

The Star 24 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Two areas in Perak – Kampung Air Putih, Taiping, and SK Jalan Pegoh, Ipoh, – registered unhealthy air quality.

As of 1pm yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading for Kampung Air Putih was recorded at 131 and SK Jalan Pegoh was recorded at 101.

This was an improvement from morning when three areas were found to have unhealthy air quality.

According to the Department of Environment, 33 areas recorded moderate API, including Pasir Gudang (62), Alor Setar (53), Sungai Petani (76), Nilai (58), Jerantut (57), Seri Manjung (88), Perai (69) and Bintulu (60).

An API reading of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; between 51 and 100 (moderate), between 101 and 200 (unhealthy), between 201 and 300 (very unhealthy) and over 301 (hazardous).

The public can refer to the department’s portal at www.doe.gov.my to find out about the API reading for their areas. — Bernama

Good API readings recorded nationwide
EUNICE HO New Straits Times 24 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: All regions in the country recorded good and moderate Air Pollutant Index (API) reading as of 10am except for Seberang Jaya 2 in Perai.

According to the Department of Environment web site, the reading at 9am for Seberang Jaya 2 increased to 101 from its 7am reading of 98.

Seri Manjung continued to record moderate API of 76 at 10am, a slight increase from its 9am reading of 74.

Ipoh and Taiping recorded moderate API of 71 and 92 respectively as at 10am.

Firefighters battle blaze around Bukit Gasing jungle
NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 24 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Firefighters battled blazes in and around the Bukit Gasing jungle in a tiring five-hour operation.

City Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Azizan Ismail said the fire, believed to have been caused by dry weather, engulfed about a 3000sqm area of jungle near the Lembah Pantai Community Centre, Jalan Pantai Permai and Taman Bukit Angkasa.

Around 14 Fire and Rescue Department personnel and four firetrucks were dispatched at 10.19am Wednesday.

“The fire began at the foot of the hill and slowly razed everything uphill. Officers were forced to use ropes to haul the hoses and other equipment up to put out the fires.

“With their bravery and dedication, we successfully put out the fires at 3.30pm. An aerial check on the area confirmed that the fire had been extinguished,” he said.

The Department of Environment (DOE) said 4,385 open burning cases were recorded involving forests, agricultural areas, industry, construction, landfills and bushland last week, as the dry season is expected to continue until August.

The number of hotspots detected via images by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-18 satellite rose to 50 last weekend.

Taiping and Tanjung Malim recorded unhealthy Air Polutant Index (API) readings yesterday, while 33 areas around the country recorded moderate levels of air quality.


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Thailand: Situation in haze-stricken Yala improves

National News Bureau of Thailand 23 Jul 14;

YALA, 23 July 2014 (NNT)-The situation in haze-stricken areas continues to improve with no areas registering an unhealthy Air Pollutant Index.

Haze from forest fires on Indonesia's Sumatra Island has moved over Thailand's lower Southern Region.The haze has drifted over Yala from its origins in Sumatra in Indonesia.Wildfires are a frequent occurrence in Indonesia, and the lower portion of Thailand's southern region is frequently affected by the Indonesian haze, mostly in June to August every year.

The haze has caused reduced visibility and a large amount of dust. The predicted rains and a change of climatic conditions will help sweep away the haze. It is not yet affecting the public’s health.

The director of the Yala Office of Natural Resources and the Environment, Mr. Saman Satae said that the authorities had been keeping a watchful eye on the situation to maintain the safety of air quality. According to the Office of Natural Resources and the Environment, the area recorded a moderate particulate matter measurement. The measurement reading is categorized as only moderate, PM-10 which maintains the health-based national air quality standard.

However, villagers who are sensitive to the haze and those with allergies will likely suffer from physical irritations. Health masks should be used to cover the nose when out in the open. All health offices are encouraging people to put on damp masks in the more heavily dusty areas.


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U.S. scientists urge 'national vision' to curb coastal risks in report

Jonathan Kaminsky PlanetArk 24 Jul 14;

A group of top scientists has called for a fundamental change to how the United States deals with risks to its Atlantic and Gulf coasts from storms and climate change in a National Research Council report released Wednesday.

Urging a "national vision" toward addressing coastal risks, the report comes on the heels of a Reuters analysis published earlier this month showing that coastal flooding along the densely populated Eastern Seaboard of the United States has surged in recent years, with steep financial consequences.

The great majority of money - most of it federal dollars -spent on coastal risks goes toward recovery after a disaster rather than on planning for and mitigating against storms, climate change and sea-level rise, the report said.

Instead, the federal government should push for a national coastal risk assessment to identify best practices and uniform measures of progress, and move away from the current decentralized approach to coastal management, the report said.

Such a shift would help the U.S. "move from a nation that is primarily reactive to coastal disasters to one that invests wisely in coastal risk reduction and builds resilience among coastal communities," a statement accompanying the report said.

Since 2001, water has reached flood levels an average of at least 20 days per year in six eastern U.S. cities, including Atlantic City, New Jersey and Charleston, South Carolina - which has more than $200 million in flood-control projects underway, the Reuters analysis found.

The National Research Council study is part of a five-year effort to advise the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on scientific, engineering and water resources planning issues.

(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky; Editing by Paul Tait)


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