Best of our wild blogs: 28 Apr 17



Changi seagrasses four months after the oil spill
wild shores of singapore


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PUB looking for smart devices to monitor water usage during showers

Today Online 28 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB has called for proposals to mass produce devices that can provide real-time information on water usage during showers, as part of a demonstration project involving 10,000 households to show this method’s effectiveness in reducing water usage.

Through the request for proposals, which will close at the end of next month, PUB also aims to improve the features of current smart shower devices in the market, such as allowing data on water usage to be ported to personal smart devices, so that progress can be monitored over a period.

The Smart Shower Programme, set to begin in the first quarter next year, comes in the wake of a study conducted from July 2015 to March last year showing that each person uses five litres less water per day when there is real-time information on water usage during showers. Yesterday, PUB said such devices can potentially help households save about 3 per cent of their monthly water bill.

“Showering typically comprises 29 per cent of a household’s monthly water consumption. There is great potential to achieve substantial savings if we can change the user’s behaviour during his/her shower time,” said Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s director of Water Supply (Network).

Last year, households used 148 litres of water per capita per day. This figure is lower than the previous reported level of about 151 litres and just shy of Singapore’s target of 147 litres by 2020, although still a stretch from the 2030 target of 140 litres.

Water prices are scheduled to go up by 30 per cent over two rounds on July 1 this year and next year, with help being provided to most households.


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Malaysia: Six men jailed and fined for possessing 1,308 protected turtles

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 27 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Six fishermen were sentenced to six months’ jail and fined RM30,000 each by the Sessions Court here for possession of a protected species of turtle.

The six men were locals Rashed Delan, 38, and Alsadat Belog, 39; and Filipinos Madal Juldin, 37; Ibrahim Kahal, 44; Sidik Napaeh, 23; and Rasid Alain, 38.

They were found guilty of possessing 1,308 turtles illegally at Mengalum Island near here on Dec 7 last year.

Sessions judge Ainul Shahrin Mohamad handed down the sentence on Thursday after the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Each man’s jail term was to run from the date of conviction while failure to pay the fine will result in an additional 30 days in prison.

The court also ordered the Filipinos to be referred to the Immigration Department for deportation after they have served their sentence.

According to the facts of the case, the men were found in illegal possession of Malayan box turtles (Cuora amboinensis), which are listed in the CITES Appendix II (Convention), at 2.45am on Dec 7 in Mangalum Island waters near Pulau Gaya.

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, while Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.

The six men were convicted under Section 41(2)/34 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, punishable under Section 41(4) of the same Enactment, which provides for a jail term of up to three years, or a fine of up to RM100,000, or both.

Defence counsel Azhier Farhan Arisin, in applying for leniency for his six clients, urged the court to show compassion to the accused and their families as the men were only fishermen earning a minimal income.

He said his clients deserved a second chance.

Wildlife Department prosecuting officer Abdul Karim Dakog sought a deterrent sentence, saying the case involved public interest.

He said their crime was a serious environmental offence and possessing 1,308 turtles was not a small matter.

“Cases such as this always get the attention of domestic and international groups," Abdul Karim said.

He then applied for the surviving turtles, numbering about 100, to be released into the wild and the carcasses of the dead ones to be disposed of.


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Indonesia: Riau extends emergency alert status to maintain control of forest fires

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 11 Apr 17;

Riau province has extended its emergency alert status in order to maintain a tight grip on forest fires in the province, an official has said.

The decision was made following a meeting at the Riau administration office on Thursday. The meeting concluded that the measures taken by the government, including declaring an emergency alert status, had been effective in curbing forest fires.

“The measures to mitigate forest fires have been effective after the provincial administration declared an emergency alert status on Jan. 24, or a few days after Dumai and Rokan Hulu regency did so,” Riau administration secretary Ahmad Hijazi said.

The current emergency alert status was scheduled to expire on April 30. It has now been extended until Nov. 30, Ahmad said.

Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency head Edwar Sanger said the extension of the emergency alert status did not mean that forest fires were on the rise in the province. “This step was taken to prevent forest fires,” he said.

By setting the emergency standby statuses early, regions can ask for aid from the central government to tackle very small fires to prevent them from growing into bigger ones when the dry season begins. (ary)


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Vietnam: Southern provinces face subsidence

VietNamNet Bridge 27 Apr 17;

HCM City districts and Mekong Delta provinces are facing risks of soil submersion, studies have shown.

A group of researchers from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, led by Prof. Le Van Trung of HCM City Polytechnic, compared remote sensing images between 1992 and 2010, which were updated in 2016.

They said the ground in the city’s Binh Chanh District, southern areas of Binh Tan District and District 8, as well as the northwestern area of Nha Be, has been sinking at 5 mm to 10 mm annually.

Human impact on the natural environment such as urbanisation, exploitation of underground water, and ground vibration from road traffic were the main causes of ground submersion, the studies said.

Trung said the soil for several years had been sinking and was now below the national height limit.

In low-lying zones, soil depression plus rising sea levels (an average of 3mm a year due to climate change) has enlarged inundated areas and created new ones, Trung said.

In coastal areas, the over-exploitation of underground water has caused saltwater intrusion, which negatively affects growth of plants and trees as well as sustainable agricultural development.

“Necessary measures should be taken to limit ground submersion,” Trung warned. “Without efforts to reduce it, the region could face stronger soil sinking, like that encountered by Shanghai, causing a number of areas in the region to sink into the sea.”

Ecologist Nguyen Huu Thien said that soil depression plus rising sea levels would cause the Mekong Delta and HCM City areas to submerge faster.

However, authorities have focused more efforts on rising sea levels than on soil submersion, which is more urgent.

Sea levels are rising about 3mm per year, while the region has faced soil sinking 10 to 20 times higher. Therefore, the most urgent effort should be focused on ground submersion, he added.

Funding

A study from the Norwegian Geo-technical Institute (NGI) released in 2012 – 2013 said that ground submersion extends from the Mekong Delta to Ca Mau Cape at the southern tip of the country.

In Ca Mau Province, the soil is sinking at 2cm to 5cm per year, while most of the ground in the locality is less than 1.5m above sea level.

This means the entire province could submerge into the sea in the next few decades if local residents continue to use underground water.

Substantial evidence shows that most Mekong provinces would face similar risks of soil submersion because of underground water exploitation, which has been affecting 24 million residents in the region, according to the NGI study.

Meanwhile, a report released by the Ca Mau’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said there were 141,226 underground water wells (30 wells on each sq metre of land) in Ca Mau, the largest number in the Mekong provinces.

The wells allow Ca Mau residents to pump out nearly 400,000 cubic metres of underground water per day.

Being over-exploited, many underground water wells in Ca Mau have become exhausted. More than 2,100 wells in the province have been left unexploited due to exhaustion of underground water.

A source from the Ca Mau Department of Natural Resources and Environment said these abandoned wells posed risks of underground water pollution.

He said 1,500 of these abandoned wells had been filled and the remaining wells would be filled with cement by the end of the year.

To Quoc Nam, deputy director of Ca Mau’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Ca Mau planned to reserve fresh water, including irrigating water from Hau (Posterior Mekong) River to the province.

In the near future, the province will build a 100ha reservoir to supply fresh water to three northern districts of U Minh, Thoi Binh and Tran Van Thoi.

The reservoir project will require investment of VND200 billion (nearly US$9.7 million).
VNS


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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Apr 17



13th May 2017 (Sat): FREE Guided Herp Walk @ Macritchie Reservoir
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Festival of Biodiversity 2017 – May 27 & 28 @ Serangoon NEX
biodiversityconnections

Otters and crocs @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – Toddycats gear up for Festival of Biodiversity in May
Toddycats!

Nesting of an Olive-winged Bulbul
Singapore Bird Group

Shiny Dollars & Yellow Bills at Lorong Halus
Winging It

Singapore convicts rosewood trader in historic CITES seizure
Conservation news on mongabay.com

First Meeting of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore Zone Captains, 5th Apr 2017
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore


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Photographer fined for baiting birds

He gets $3,800 fine for feeding three birds at Botanic Gardens, venturing off-trail
Audrey Tan Straits Times 26 Apr 17;

A nature photographer was yesterday fined $3,800 in total for flouting the law just to get good pictures of birds - the second time in seven months that a nature enthusiast has been rapped for unethical photography practices.

Johnson Chua, 51, who works in the information technology industry, was fined $3,000 for feeding birds with live mealworms at the Singapore Botanic Gardens without authority. He was fined $800 for venturing into an area of the national park which is closed to the public.

Last October, orthopaedic surgeon Lee Soon Tai, 63, was fined $2,000 for feeding endangered grey-headed fish eagles with live fish injected with air at Bukit Batok Town Park, a public park.

Under the Parks and Trees Act, national parks and nature reserves are accorded greater protection than public parks. Those guilty of unauthorised entry into closed areas of all parks and nature reserves can be fined up to $2,000. The penalty for unlawful feeding of animals in national parks and nature reserves is a fine of up to $50,000, up to six months' jail, or both.

In what is believed to be the first case of baiting for a photo in a national park to be brought before the courts, Chua was photographed by other visitors going off-trail at the Rainforest Trail within the Singapore Botanic Gardens - one of the remnants of Singapore's primary rainforests - on Jan 14.

One photo taken by a witness seen by The Straits Times captured him peering through a camera set up on a tripod. He was on the wrong side of a rope barrier, despite a signboard warning people against climbing over or feeding animals.

A white plastic bag was hanging from the tripod. According to court documents, the bag held a container filled with mealworms.

Chua went off-trail at about 4.30pm. He grabbed a handful of live mealworms and scattered them on a fallen tree log before returning to his camera. The bait attracted a silver pheasant, which ate the mealworms as photographers snapped away.

Chua did this three more times within the next half an hour, attracting two other species of birds - an orange-headed thrush and a red-legged crake.

All three species are not commonly sighted in Singapore. The red-legged crake, a Singapore native, is considered locally vulnerable to extinction. The silver pheasant was likely brought to Singapore via the pet trade, while the thrush seasonally migrates here from northern South-east Asia.

Photographers use bait to lure birds closer to the camera to obtain highly sought after "food in mouth" shots , said National University of Singapore bird scientist David Tan.

And with the number of amateur nature photographers here growing, the uptick in the number of baiting incidents could lead to more severe consequences, warned Mr Tan.

Other than potentially causing imbalances in the animals' diet, baiting also alters their natural behaviour, which can lead to negative side effects, as in the case of macaques in Segar Road, he noted. People fed the monkeys there, and they started entering residents' flats, stealing food and biting humans.

"Baiting could also result in a loss of fear of humans, which can lead to animals being more easily poached, or killed by vehicles. It can also heighten the risk of disease spread and vermin abundance at baiting sites, since these are hardly ever cleaned," said Mr Tan.

Dr Nigel Taylor, group director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, said members of the public should practise proper etiquette when taking photos and avoid manipulating any flora or fauna.

Additional reporting by Elena Chong


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Indonesia: Hot spots detected in Jambi

Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 27 Apr 17;

Jambi province is stepping up monitoring for fires to prepare for the upcoming dry season following the recent detection of hot spots by the Sultan Thaha Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Station.

The hot spots are located in Muarabulian district, Batanghari regency and Tungkal Ilir district in West Tanjung Jabung regency by the Terra and Aqua satellites.

An agency forecaster, Kurnia Ningsih, said that based on observation the hot spots were suspected to be burning land. The hot spots, however, disappeared after rains.

“We need to raise awareness of forest and land fires in anticipating the emergence of hot spots,” she said, adding that the dry season is predicted to start in May.

Jambi Governor Zumi Zola called on all palm oil companies and industrial forests operating in Jambi to be more alert to any possible land and forest fires.

“Based on the BMKG’s prediction, the dry season this year could be similar to the dry season in 2015,” he said. (rin)


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Indonesia: Locals suffer clean water scarcity as drought hits Wonogiri

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 26 Apr 17;

Dry season has begun to hit areas across Java.

About 15,000 residents of eight villages in the southern area of Wonogiri regency in Central Java have reportedly been suffering from severe drought for the last several weeks. As a result, villagers have had to collectively pay between Rp 70,000 (US$5.3) and Rp 100,000 for a 6,000-liter tank of water.

“Rain has been extremely rare lately. Farmers have been hit the hardest. They need up to two tanks of water for a week,” Waluyo, 39, a resident of Johunut village in Paranggupito district said on Wednesday.

Wells, ponds and water springs, which were villagers’ source of water, are reportedly going dry.

Villagers who cannot afford to buy water have had to walk for kilometers to find other sources of water.

“There are ponds and rivers not far away that are still watered but the flow is very little. It could take half an hour to fill up a 10-liter bucket. We don’t have other options,” said 57-year-old Sunarni.

Paranggupito district official Dwi Hartono said almost half of the residents in the district began to order water tanks about a month ago.

“Some residents have big water tubs to catch rainwater. Since there is no more rain, they buy tank water to fill up the tubs,” Dwi said.

Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) Wonogiri head Bambang Haryanto said the agency had prepared 70 6,000-liter water tanks to be deployed to five villages in Paranggupito. (bbs)


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Indonesia: 6 more orangutans released into Kehje Sewen forests

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 11 Apr 17;

Conservation group Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) released six orangutans into the Kehje Sewen forests in East Kutai, East Kalimantan, on Tuesday.

“This is our 12th release, conducted via land route. The team drove from Samboja Lestari to Muara Wahau and then continued traveling to a location near the forests,” said BOSF spokesperson Paulina Laurensia.

East Kutai is located around 850 kilometers north of Balikpapan. Every two hours, the team stopped to check the condition of the East Kalimantan orangutans and give them food and water.

Paulina said the orangutans, two males and four females, were rehabilitated at the BOSF Forest School in Samboja Lestari. Each orangutan has a name to make it easier for their keepers to identify them.

“The two male orangutans are Justin, 10, and Robert, 11, while the females are Ung, 14, Reckie, 9, Tree, 11, and Heli, 9,” said Paulina. She said the six orangutans were released in the southern part of Kehje Sewen, where 24 orangutans had been previously released.

Before releasing them fully into the wild, BOSF will first make sure that the orangutans are able to live independently in their natural habitat, Paulina said.

BOSF chose the Kehje Sewen tropical forests as the location to release orangutans in 2012. In total, 69 orangutans have been released into the forests. Two baby orangutans have been born from the orangutans released there. (ebf)


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Indonesia can profit from private management of conservation areas

Moses Ompusunggu The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 17;

Ecotourism in Indonesia could flourish more if the operation of conservation areas like national parks is managed by the private sector, a top researcher said on Wednesday.

University of Indonesia professor of conservation biology Jatna Supriatna, who chairs the university’s Research Center for Climate Change, said privatizing the management of national parks was an ideal move to make national parks “profit centers” like in foreign countries, notably in the United States.

“In Indonesia, conservation areas are not prepared to serve as profit centers for the state. Ideally, the government should act merely as a regulator, while the development of national parks should be managed by the private sector,” Jatna said in a public lecture.

In Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten, a home to the near-extinct Javanese rhinoceros, a lack of adequate infrastructure such as roads has prevented tourists from visiting the site. Jatna said the situation would change if the government could give business players a chance to manage conservation areas because this would lead to their improvement, which would eventually attract more tourists.

“Generating profit does not always lead to destruction. It has been globally agreed that national parks could serve as sources of profit for the state,” Jatna added.

A 2011 government regulation allows public-private partnerships for managing conservation areas. In 2016, the Environment and Forestry Ministry signed an agreement with timber company APRIL to manage the newly launched Zamrud National Park in Riau, but it was eventually canceled because of what the ministry called an “indication of infringement”, Antara reported. (ebf)


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Indonesia: Tourists to Raja Ampat must pay additional fee

Otniel Tamindael Antara 26 Apr 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Local as well as foreign tourists visiting the tourism attractions of Raja Ampat in West Papua Province are required to pay an additional fee for environmental maintenance services.

Raja Ampat district government has determined that every tourist is obliged to pay an environmental maintenance service fee of Rp500 thousand for local tourists and Rp1 million for foreign tourists per person.

The money will be used to finance local people who are in charge of maintaining the cleanliness of the environment and marine ecosystems in the tourist destinations islands.

Raja Ampat comprises of four big islands and hundreds of dots and specks off the fragmented western corner of the land of Papua, the worlds second largest island.

According to the head of Raja Ampat Regional Public Service Board for Water Conservation Area, Adrian Yusuf, the local government has tightened its supervision to track tourists visiting the islands without paying the environmental service fees.

The supervision is tightened in the waters which become the main route of tourists visiting the islands by speed boats directly from the city of Sorong.

Recently, there are travel agents who use speedboats to transport their guests from the City of Sorong directly to the tourist islands without stopping at the Raja Ampat district town of Waisai to pay the fee.

"Hence, every tourist who uses speedboat from Sorong City to visit Raja Ampat must stop at Waisai to pay the fee before heading to the tourist destinations," Yusuf remarked in Sorong on Tuesday.

In order to increase supervision, the local government will build security and service payment posts on every island of the tourist destination, he said.

In addition to supervising the tourists, the local government will also oversee the community activities in conservation areas to prevent undersea ecosystem damage.

The Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat is known to be the most bio-diverse habitat on earth and is considered an ideal destination for both local and foreign tourists to relax and unwind.

Hence, the government is implementing a sustainable tourism development program in Raja Ampat. To make the program work, the human resources in the local community must be improved.

According to Ranny Iriani, Raja Ampat Tourism Offices local partner for sustainable tourism development, the local communities must be empowered to help them preserve the natural resources and environmental sustainability there.

Situated in the Coral Triangle, which stretches from the Philippines to Timor and extends to Papua, Raja Ampat has three quarters of the worlds coral varieties, 10 times that of the Caribbean.

The high-definition visibility means that in one glance, without having to swim a stroke, visitors can see a multitude of corals resembling Murano vases or bunches of baby corn, marbled plumbing fittings, peanut brittle, cobwebs, and an oversized cabbage patch.

Visitors to Raja Ampat can witness a multitude of marine habitats and coral reefs at one glance without having to swim a stroke.

Therefore, public awareness on maintaining the cleanliness in the sea and avoid catching fish using hazardous materials must be increased, so that the beautiful natural wealth is not damaged and can be enjoyed by the visitors and the next generation, remarked Iriani.

In addition to improving the tourism infrastructure and facilities in Raja Ampat, Iriani maintained that the central and local governments should encourage the local communities to communicate and serve the visitors in a friendly and courteous manner.

"If the local communities are empowered to serve the visitors in a friendly and courteous manner, the development of sustainable tourism in Raja Ampat will be realized and maintained for generations in the future," she asserted.

Raja Ampats natural potential and culture are beautiful and unique. Therefore, the local people must be encouraged to improve their work ethics and adopt clean habits to attract even more local and foreign tourists, she added.

Most visitors arrive in Raja Ampat through Sorong, a city on the far west coast of Papua, which has an airport, army barracks, and a karaoke bar called Happy Puppy.

In less than two hours from Sorong, the visitors can reach Raja Ampat, where they can indulge in activities such as swimming, diving, and snorkeling, or just relax.

Raja Ampat is home to a multitude of attractions and experiences.

With thousands of people visiting Raja Ampats marine and natural attractions, visitors can skip the crowds and experience it all.

Every day, many tourists from different countries go to Raja Ampat, where they can enjoy not only the beautiful marine biodiversity but also the scenic beaches and gain local insights into its history.

In terms of historic relevance, the Raja Ampat Archipelago, in the 15th century, was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Maluku Islands.

To run its government, the Sultanate of Tidore appointed four local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, which are the fourth largest until this day.

The term "Four Kings" who ruled the islands became the basis for the name Raja Ampat, which comprises some 610 islands, with a total length of 753 kilometers of coastal line.

Foreign tourists visiting Raja Ampat are enthralled by its beauty found nowhere else in the world.(*)


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