Best of our wild blogs: 19 Jul 18



The Sharks of Singapore
Hantu Blog

International Conference on Plastics in the Marine Environment (IC-PME 2018), Singapore
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

The Guardian of the Zoological Reference Collection – Mrs. Yang Changman
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum



Read more!

Singapore takes pragmatic approach to sustainable development: Masagos

Channel NewsAsia 18 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore takes a pragmatic approach to policymaking, focussing on outcomes and not ideology, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Wednesday (Jul 18).

Speaking in New York at the United Nations' High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Mr Masagos said Singapore has "always put its people at the centre" of development policies.

"Singapore has always put its people at the centre of all its development policies," he said. "Our economic transformation is a story about uplifting our people’s lives, by providing good education, health, housing, employment and a clean environment."

"We take a pragmatic approach to policymaking and governance, focusing on outcomes, not ideology, to foster a harmonious, inclusive and prosperous society."

The HLPF is a global forum for providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - a commitment to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 worldwide - and its 17 sustainable development goals.

At the forum, 47 countries including Singapore presented their voluntary national reviews over three days of ministerial meetings from Jul 16 to 18.

Delivering Singapore's national statement, Mr Masagos highlighted three elements that he said were key to Singapore's development approach.

These include the balancing of economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion, said the minister, citing the example of the carbon tax.

"This year, we decided to implement an economy-wide carbon tax without exemption from 2019," he said. "This will accelerate innovation and energy efficiency, shifting our economy and society towards a sustainable, low-carbon future."

Secondly, Singapore pursues a "long-term, integrated approach to policy planning and implementation", he said.

He gave the example of Singapore's water needs, and said that the country has "worked hard and made heavy investments" to ensure water resilience and sustainability.

In addition, Singapore's policy formulation and implementation are underpinned by "collaborative multi-stakeholder partnerships", said Mr Masagos, adding that governments alone cannot tackle climate change and sustainability.

Touching on the 2018 Year of Climate Action in Singapore, Mr Masagos said that in six months, close to a quarter of a million Singaporeans, corporations and civil society organisations have pledged to take climate action and reduce their carbon footprint.

The minister also stressed Singapore's commitment to partner with and help other countries.

"The goals of the 2030 Agenda represent the collective aspirations of our global community," he said. "Their unprecedented ambition and scale require our unwavering commitment."

"Singapore will continue to work with our friends and partners to help uplift the lives of people around the world in this noble enterprise."

Source: CNA/nc(hm)

Singapore focuses on outcomes, not ideology, to foster inclusive society, says Masagos Zulkifli in New York
Nirmal Ghosh Straits Times 18 Jul 18;

WASHINGTON - Singapore takes a pragmatic approach to policy making and governance, focusing on outcomes, not ideology, to foster a harmonious, inclusive and prosperous society, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, told the UN’s 2018 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development on Tuesday (July 17) in New York.

“Our economic transformation is a story about uplifting our people’s lives, by providing good education, health, housing, employment and a clean environment,” Mr Masagos said in Singapore's National Statement.

The HLPF is a global forum for providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At the forum, 47 countries including Singapore are presenting Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) from July 16 to 18. Mr Masagos will deliver Singapore's on Wednesday.

There are 17 SDGs. Among the goals to be achieved by 2030 are no poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, and affordable clean energy.

“Ultimately, the 2030 Agenda is about transforming our people’s lives,” Mr Masagos said. “We also have the responsibility to work in partnership with our people, businesses and members of the international community.”

The minister outlined three key elements of Singapore’s strategy – balancing economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion; long-term integrated policy planning and implementation; and collaborative partnerships.

“Governments alone cannot tackle climate change and sustainability,” Mr Masagos said.

“Singapore has designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action, to increase awareness and spur nationwide action. In six months, close to a quarter of a million Singaporeans, business corporations and Civil Society Organisations have pledged to take climate action and reduce their carbon footprint.”

Singapore had avoided compromising its environment, and will implement an economy-wide carbon tax without exemption from 2019, he said.

“This will accelerate innovation and energy efficiency, shifting our economy and society towards a sustainable, low-carbon future,” the minister said.

Singapore had also made investments to ensure water resilience and sustainability, he said. “Today, we have a diversified water supply – imported water, local catchments, desalination and recycled wastewater.”

Stressing the importance of collaboration, Mr Masagos added: “The goals of the 2030 Agenda represent the collective aspirations of our global community.”

“Their unprecedented ambition and scale require our unwavering commitment. Singapore will continue to work with our friends and partners to help uplift the lives of people around the world.”

Masagos tells UN of S'pore's pragmatic way of governance
Nirmal Ghosh Straits Times 19 Jul 18;

WASHINGTON • Singapore takes a pragmatic approach to policy making and governance, focusing on outcomes, not ideology, to foster a harmonious, inclusive and prosperous society, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, told a UN gathering in New York.

"Our economic transformation is a story about uplifting our people's lives, by providing good education, health, housing, employment and a clean environment," Mr Masagos said in Singapore's national statement to the UN's 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on Tuesday.

The forum aims to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and affordable clean energy.

At the forum, 47 countries including Singapore are presenting voluntary national reviews from July 16 to 18. The minister outlined three key elements of Singapore's strategy - balancing economic development with environmental protection and social inclusion; long-term integrated policy planning and implementation; and collaborative partnerships.

"Governments alone cannot tackle climate change and sustainability," Mr Masagos said.

"Singapore has designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action, to increase awareness and spur nationwide action. In six months, close to a quarter of a million Singaporeans, business corporations and civil society organisations have pledged to take climate action and reduce their carbon footprint."

Singapore had avoided compromising its environment, and will implement an economy-wide carbon tax without exemption from 2019, he said.

"This will accelerate innovation and energy efficiency, shifting our economy and society towards a sustainable, low-carbon future," the minister said.

Nirmal Ghosh


Read more!

Future HDB estates to be ‘nature-centric’

CHEN LIN Today Online 18 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE — Residents of new Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats – starting with Punggol Northshore District – will get to go home to “nature-centric neighbourhoods” that include features such as dragonfly ponds, bird sanctuaries and butterfly gardens.

While green spaces have been part of public housing in recent years, this is the first time the HDB is creating a landscapes in a “holistic manner” as part of the Biophilic Town Framework that outlines strategies needed to plan and design urban landscapes.

And having refined and validated the framework over three-and-a-half years through a research collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), and National Parks Board (NParks), it is now ready for implementation in new HDB projects.

The first estate to experience these nature-centric landscapes is Punggol Northshore District, which comprises about 5,700 flats that will be completed progressively from 2020.

Other HDB projects that will also be adopting the Biophilic Town Framework are Woodleigh Glen and Woodleigh Hillside in Bidadari Estate.

Designing the environment under this framework takes into consideration five key elements - soil, flora and fauna, outdoor comfort, water and people. Architects assess how these elements can be incorporated into the neighbourhood landscape from the outset, and put forth an optimal design that harmonises the habitat and its inhabitants.

For instance, with Singapore’s hot and humid weather, footpaths are placed along key wind channels to offer a pleasant walk, while playgrounds and garden trails where residents linger are shielded from direct sunlight and glare. With such designs, HDB aims to encourage residents to immerse in nature and mingle with their neighbours.

Vegetation in Punggol Northshore will also be specially selected for their effectiveness in sequestering excess carbon and removing air pollutants from the environment. For example, Mimusops elengi (Tanjong Tree) will be planted at the end of the wind corridors as they are effective in removing air pollutants and enhancing the overall air quality, while Filicium decipiens (Fern Tree) is effective in sequestering excess carbon from the environment.

In addition, stormwater management measures will also be deployed to achieve good water quality. A district-wide network of vegetated bioswales and rain gardens were incorporated into the designs to filter out sediments and treat the rainwater runoff naturally.

To offer a multisensory experience and promote residents’ well-being, ecological ponds such as dragonfly ponds will be introduced to encourage residents to draw closer to nature. As dragonflies are predators, it would also be useful in controlling mosquito breeding.

Although these new features under the Biophilic Town Framework will be taken into consideration in its pricing, HDB told TODAY it is “not expected” to have a “significant impact” on the pricing.

This is because pricing of HDB flats takes into account several other factors such as the prevailing market conditions at the time of offer, location, amenities, lease period, ownership restrictions, design features and unique attributes, HDB said.

HDB’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Cheong Koon Hean said: “The Biophilic Town Framework, which we have developed, provides a strong foundation for holistic planning and design of neighbourhood landscapes, so that our residents can enjoy a strong sense of place and well-being.”

“From this month, the framework will be progressively applied to new housing projects. This marks a new milestone in our journey towards well-designed, sustainable and community-centric towns under our Roadmap to Better Living in HDB Towns.”


All new HDB projects to feature nature-centric designs
Wendy Wong Channel NewsAsia 18 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: Residents of new public housing projects launched from July onwards will live in more nature-centric neighbourhoods, with greenery to reduce heat and noise, as well as space for community farming.

Under the Biophilic Town Framework, all new precincts will be developed with the aim of allowing residents to connect better with nature, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Wednesday (Jul 18).

“(The framework) provides a strong foundation for holistic planning and design of neighbourhood landscapes, so that our residents can enjoy a strong sense of place and well-being,” HDB CEO Cheong Koon Hean said in a speech at the International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress.

The framework, which was first developed in 2013, comprises five key elements of the neighbourhood landscape - soil, flora and fauna, outdoor comfort, water and people.

Town planners and architects will take into consideration several guiding principles when planning and designing precincts. This includes planting trees which are more effective at providing shade and absorbing heat, and constructing vegetated bioswales to treat rainwater runoff naturally.

Biodiversity surveys will also be conducted before construction to study existing natural habitats, and new habitats such as dragonfly ponds, bird sanctuaries and butterfly gardens built to attract diverse species.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who was present at the event, also stressed the importance of nature-centric design in light of rapid urbanisation worldwide. “It’s easy for cities to neglect their greenery and natural assets. We’ve seen this time and again - trees are cut down and removed, rivers are abused and covered over.

“The result is that we end up with a harsh concrete jungle, and a living environment that is stressful and alienating for all,” said Mr Wong. “So we have to change our mindsets - don’t think about urban areas as being separate from nature, but reimagine cities as being part of our natural ecosystem, and coexisting in harmony with nature.”

Punggol Northshore was the first nature-centric district when its first HDB project was launched in 2015. So far, eight Build-to-Order (BTO) projects have been launched in the precinct, comprising about 5,700 flats, which will be completed progressively from 2020.

Source: CNA/cy


Nature to play bigger role in HDB estates
Greenery to be used in ways that enhance natural environment, residents' well-being
Derek Wong Straits Times 19 Jul 18;

New Housing Board (HDB) projects will incorporate greenery in a more deliberate way than before, using the landscaping to provide not just green spaces, but also to enhance the natural environment and the well-being of residents.

Under the Biophilic Town Framework introduced in 2013, natural ecosystems are part and parcel of town planning and design, going beyond aesthetics to thinking about how nature can be intertwined with the built environment to promote a greater sense of place and create even more liveable spaces.

For example, trees planted in new projects may be chosen for how effective the species is in removing air pollutants.

Biodiversity studies will also be carried out before site works so that existing flora and fauna can continue to flourish. For instance, if a certain butterfly species is found in the native site, "host plants" that attract such species will be planted in habitat zones in the development.

Biophilia refers to an innate affinity for and connection with the natural world. The Biophilic Town Framework was first adopted in 2015 by the Punggol Northshore District, whose 5,700 flats will be ready from 2020.

Since then, it has been refined through collaboration with the National University of Singapore and will be applied to all new projects launched from this month.

HDB announced the updated framework yesterday at the International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress held at Marina Bay Sands.

HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said: "(It) provides a strong foundation for holistic planning and design of neighbourhood landscapes so that our residents can enjoy a strong sense of place and well-being."

Nature advocates like Ms Chloe Tan were encouraged by the move. "If development must happen, then habitat enhancement is the best thing that can be done," said Ms Tan, an ecologist who specialises in biodiversity. "By knowing what kinds of species there are, planners will have a better idea of how to restore their habitats."

The key elements considered under the framework are soil, flora and fauna, outdoor comfort, water, and people.

This results in strategies such as nutrient recycling using decomposing organic matter such as fallen leaves to provide nutrients for plant growth, where previously it might have been cleared away.

Pest control can also be achieved through natural means, such as creating dragonfly ponds that provide natural predators for mosquitoes.

Under the guidelines, measures were also introduced in Punggol to draw residents outdoors.

Wind and sunlight simulation studies were done so that community facilities and footpaths could be located in suitable places. A district-wide network of vegetated bioswales and rain gardens were also added to the design to filter out sediment and treat rainwater run-off naturally.

Associate Professor Fung John Chye of the National University of Singapore School of Design and Environment said: "Retaining the ecological value of the original land is definitely encouraged."

He added: "Research shows the therapeutic effect of nature and the biophilic practice should in the long run lead to better quality of life, if not health benefits."

Ms Christine Leong, 32, a civil servant, is considering applying for a Build-To-Order flat in Tengah. The first flats there will be launched in November. The estate, dubbed as Singapore's first "Forest Town", will feature the framework's recommendations.

"It would be interesting to see how the natural elements interact with the built environment," said Ms Leong. "It would be nice to live amid such greenery that also serves a purpose."


Read more!

NParks unveils smart roadmap to improve efficiency in tree management and nature conservation efforts

Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 18 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) will progressively tap on more technologies to improve its operational efficiency and processes over the next three years.

Under its digitalisation masterplan, which was unveiled at the International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress (IFLA) on Wednesday (Jul 18), NParks said it will focus on leveraging technologies to improve three main areas – arboriculture, horticulture and nature conservation and biodiversity management.

To improve the inspection and management of the 2 million trees under its purview, the agency is currently piloting an electronic sensor that can detect early signs of structural instability in trees. This could help identify potential tree failures earlier so that measures can be taken.

To allow more timely interventions, the agency is also currently working with various researchers to make use of data models and environmental sensor data for tree analytics.

One such project is a model that will allow NParks to study the impact of environmental conditions, such as wind on a tree's stability.

Called the Finite Element Model, it can estimate how force is needed to break or uproot the tree. This will provide arborists with an additional tool to determine maintenance needs of a tree.

To improve its efficiency in nursery management processes, NParks is piloting a smart irrigation system that can automatically trigger the watering of plants during dry weather conditions.

It is also testing an RFID inventory system to consolidate information such as species name and location on all plants in its nurseries. This will allow NParks to track how the plants have been distributed more efficiently.

Finally, to coordinate and strengthen nature conservation efforts, NParks is currently developing a prototype system that can detect forest fires and automatically activate a drone to provide real-time information of a fire.

Called the Forest Fire Detection System, digital cameras will be installed at various locations to provide continuous monitoring of Singapore's nature reserves.

At the same time, statistical modelling techniques are also being used to better understand ecosystems.

This includes hydrology modelling which will be used to study the impact of changing climate conditions on the Nee Soon Swamp Forest as well as an agent-based modelling to determine marine organism movements in coastal waters.

Source: CNA/na

NParks to step up use of technology in greenery management
It unveils masterplan to improve inspection, maintenance and conservation methods
Deepanraj Ganesan Straits Times 19 Jul 18;

The inspection and maintenance of Singapore's two million trees along roads and in parks and gardens by the Government is set to become more rigorous and efficient in the next three years, with the greater use of technology.

For instance, the National Parks Board (NParks) is testing an electronic tilt sensor placed on mature trees to help detect any signs of a tree leaning too much, which could cause it to become unstable and topple. With the sensor data, NParks officers can take better measures to prevent accidents.

This was one of the projects NParks unveiled yesterday under a digitalisation masterplan that seeks to use more technologies in greenery management and nature conservation in the next three years.

Under the plan, announced at the International Federation of Landscape Architects World Congress, NParks will consolidate its technology and research initiatives in one database. The database, dubbed Maven, stores information such as park planning and facilities data, tree information, biodiversity data, vegetation maps and satellite maps.

The information can then be accessed by NParks officers on mobile devices to get data on trees, parks and gardens on the go.

NParks will focus on using technology to improve three main areas - tree management and inspection, nursery management, and nature conservation and biodiversity management.

The tree management and inspection thrust also focuses on analytics and modelling. One project in development is a model which will provide arborists with an additional tool to determine the maintenance needs of a tree.

A fleet management system is also in development and will consist of global positioning system trackers, sensor devices and video camera recorders installed on vehicles used by NParks contractors performing greenery work.

The cameras can stream live and record videos so that managers can gain critical, time-sensitive information when needed. Video footage can also be used to verify that greenery tasks have been completed, reducing the need for staff to do physical verification. These pro-jects will complement NParks' existing technology initiatives for tree inspection and management.

One project involves tree inspection microdrones. Since last year, the lightweight drones have been used as quick and effective tools to inspect tree crowns from the air.

This allows NParks to get valuable images and videos from perspectives which would not have been possible without a trained arborist physically climbing the tree.

The health of trees was in the spotlight last year after a 40m-tall tembusu heritage tree at the Singapore Botanic Gardens crashed onto unsuspecting visitors, leaving one Indian national dead and four other people injured. NParks later completed an inspection of all the trees in the area and found that they were safe from collapse.

Under the masterplan announced yesterday, NParks is also using technology for nursery management. It is testing a system linked to weather and soil humidity sensors that can trigger the watering of plants during dry weather.

On the conservation side, it is developing a prototype forest fire detection system to continuously monitor Singapore's nature reserves.

The system is expected to be able to differentiate between varying fire conditions, to pre-empt changing weather patterns.The use of such a system cuts the manpower needed for patrolling nature reserves, especially during the dry seasons, and allows the timely deployment of resources for fire-fighting.

• Additional reporting by Derek Wong


Read more!

Malaysia: More than 10 firms suspected of logging in Sabah's forest reserves

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 18 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: More than 10 companies are suspected of being involved in illegal logging in the state’s forest reserves.

During a recent operation, the Illegal Logging Crackdown Committee under the Chief Minister’s Department recorded 40,161 logs that it suspects were processed without paying the timber tax.

The massive crackdown, which started early this month, focused on the Sungai Pinangah Forest Reserve (Yayasan Sabah concession) in Tongod, Trusmadi Forest Reserve (Forest Management Unit 5) in Ranau, and Gunung Rara Forest Reserve (Yayasan Sabah concession) in Kalabakan.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said reports had been lodged with police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

“We believe these logging activities violate the provisions of the Forestry Enactment 1968,” he said.

“This is one of the measures taken to prevent our forestry resources from being exploited because, in certain areas, there were almost 20,000 abandoned logs without timber tax.

“The wood size is also doubtful and believed to have violated the provisions set by the Forestry and the logging activities also involved the cutting of protected belian trees.”

Mohd Shafie said he did not know how long the logging companies had been operating.

“For sure, the approval was not given by the current state government. However, I don’t want to make any assumptions.

“I hope people are mindful that we are very firm in insisting that action be taken against (the companies).”

Mohd Shafie urged logging companies operating in the state to comply with the logging licence requirement, Forestry Enactment 1968 provisions and Forestry Rules 1969.

At the moment, there are 9,300 logs at a sawmill and forest reserve in Tongod, 549 logs at a sawmill in Sandakan and 5,091 logs in forest reserves in Ranau.

In Kalabakan, 6,221 logs were discovered in the forest reserve and 19,000 logs were found at two sawmills.

On July 16, Mohd Shafie announced that the government had reactivated the Illegal Logging Crackdown Committee to strengthen enforcement to protect the state’s forestry resources.


GLCs among firms probed in forestry case
The Star 18 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Government-linked and public-listed companies are among more than 10 concessionaires investigated for breaching forestry laws in Sabah.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the companies were identified recently after he banned the export of timber in Sabah.

“Following this decision, we have reactivated a special task force to investigate illegal logging activities and have seized over 40,000 logs from various locations since then,” he said yesterday.

He said the logs were worth millions in taxes alone and were seized in Tongod, Sandakan, Ranau and Kalabakan between July 5 and 14.

Asked whether any politicians were involved in these companies, he said to wait for the outcome of the probe into the cases.

On whether Sabah Forestry Dep­artment director Datuk Sam Man­nan knew about the illegal activities, Mohd Shafie said he may have known since Mannan had been overseeing the industry for years.

More than 10 GLCs and PLCs investigated for breaching forestry laws in Sabah
stephanie lee The Star 18 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Government-linked and public-listed companies are among more than 10 concessionaires investigated for breaching Forestry laws in Sabah.

Chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said these companies were identified recently after he banned the export of timber in Sabah.

“Following this decision, we have activated a special task force to investigate illegal logging activities, and have since then seized over 40,000 logs from various locations,” he said during a press conference here Wednesday (July 18).

He said these logs, worth millions in taxes alone, were seized from forests and forest reserves in Tongod, Sandakan, Ranau, and Kalabakan in operations against illegal logging between July 5 and 14.

Shafie said they suspect that these companies have been conducting illegal logging and breaching laws, including logging protected trees, processing oversized trunks and evading logging tax for quite some time.

Asked whether he thinks politicians were involved in these companies, he said he "does not want to speculate", and to wait for the outcome of their probe into the cases.

He said police reports have been lodged, and it was only a matter of time they get answers.

“Action will be taken accordingly. We hope to solve illegal logging activities and forestry law breaching in Sabah,” he added.


Read more!

From cloud seeding to vehicle curbs, Indonesia fights pollution ahead of Asian Games

Reuters 17 Jul 18;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - As Indonesia prepares to host thousands of competitors and fans at next month’s Asian Games, pollution concerns have flared following a spell of unhealthy air in Jakarta and forest fire hotspots near the second venue, Palembang in South Sumatra.

Traffic congestion in Indonesia’s sprawling capital of 10 million consistently ranks among the world’s worst, and it has long struggled to boost air quality, regularly rated as unsafe by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Organizers of the Asian Games, set to run from August 18 to September 2, drawing nearly 17,000 athletes and officials and more than 100,000 spectators, said they were working with city officials to tackle the pollution.

“It is expected that there will be better air quality at Asian games competition venues,” the organizers said in a statement on Tuesday.

Strategies being considered include wider curbs on private cars depending on whether their license-plate numbers are odd or even, creating special lanes for the sports event, and building gardens.

Indonesia is following a path blazed by other large Asian cities, such as Beijing, which adopted traffic curbs and closed factories to improve air during the 2008 Olympics.

Jakarta’s average score on the Air Quality Index (AQI) had exceeded 100 in the last week, said Budi Haryanto, an environmental health expert at the University of Indonesia.

“Air quality is unhealthy, and this with the odd and even vehicle plate policy,” he told Reuters.

By 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the air quality in Jakarta stood in the “unhealthy” range at 171, the Real-Time AQI Index showed.

“Since athletes need to give their maximum performance for the competition, a better AQI is a must,” said Haryanto, who felt the optimum would be less than 50.

Lung function is affected after over two months of daily exposure to an index reading below 200, Haryanto said, but gasoline emissions, a frequent pollutant in Jakarta, can be linked to cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, besides cancer.


Read more!

Indonesia, Malaysia collaborate for conservation of Sumatran Rhinoceros

Yashinta Difa Pramudyani Antara 18 Jul 18;

Jakarta, July 18 (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Malaysia are collaborating to conserve the Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), a joint effort to prevent the species from extinction.

The environmental cooperation will be among the topics to be discussed by Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Malaysian counterpart Saifuddin Abdullah at a bilateral meeting held in Jakarta on Monday (July 23).

"Malaysia has only two rhinoceros alive, while we still have some, although their population is decreasing," Foreign Ministry`s Southeast Asia Director Denny Abdi noted during a press briefing in Jakarta, Wednesday.

The challenge faced in conserving Sumatran rhinos is technology, so both countries have hired experts from Germany and the United States to find a breakthrough, so that this Asian two-horned rhinoceros can breed naturally.

"The experts are working together. Indonesia has a conservation center in Lampung, while Malaysia has one in Sabah," Abdi remarked.

Perhaps no issue underscores just how absurd the Sumatran rhino conservation has become than the fate of a vial of sperm sitting in a freezer at the Suaka Rhino Sumatera (SRS) Way Kambas, Lampung. The sperm comes from a rhino named Andalas, and Malaysia has been requesting for it for two years, Mongabay reported in November 2017.

Only two Sumatran rhinos are left in Sabah, in the Malaysian Borneo, both held in captivity. Tam is an old bull, with a low sperm count, while Iman is suffering from uterine cancer. However, technology may make it possible to conceive a new rhino.

A plan to combine Andalas` proven sperm with Iman`s viable oocytes to produce a rhino embryo that could then be implanted into one of the females at the SRS, if successful, could produce a rhino with a super shot of genetic diversity. Iman comes from a population that has been separated from the populations on Sumatra for eons. The rhinos of Borneo were once considered a distinct subspecies.

However, the two governments still follow different approaches, with Indonesia largely focusing on natural breeding, while Malaysia, out of sheer necessity, is now prioritizing high-tech IVF.

In addition to rhino conservation, both foreign ministers will discuss various bilateral issues including migrant workers and education for their children, palm oil industry, and border area management, which will then be followed up at the working level between the related ministries and agencies.
EDITED BY INE/H-YH
(T.Y013/B/KR-BSR/A/H-YH) 18-07-2018 17:39:37
Editor: Fardah Assegaf


Read more!

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help

Sweden worst hit as hot, dry summer sparks unusual number of fires, with at least 11 in the far north
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 18 Jul 18;

At least 11 wildfires are raging inside the Arctic Circle as the hot, dry summer turns an abnormally wide area of Europe into a tinderbox.

The worst affected country, Sweden, has called for emergency assistance from its partners in the European Union to help fight the blazes, which have broken out across a wide range of its territory and prompted the evacuations of four communities.

Tens of thousands of people have been warned to remain inside and close windows and vents to avoid smoke inhalation. Rail services have been disrupted.

The Copernicus Earth observation programme, which gives daily updates of fires in Europe, shows more than 60 fires burning across Sweden, with sites also ablaze in Norway, Finland and Russia, including in the Arctic Circle.

Norway has sent six fire-fighting helicopters in response to its neighbour’s request for assistance. Italy is sending two Canadair CL-415s – which can dump 6,000 litres of water on each run – to Örebro in central southern Sweden.

In western Sweden, fire-fighting operations were temporarily halted near an artillery training range near Älvdalen forest due to concerns that unexploded ordnance might be detonated by the extreme heat.

Residents in Uppsala said they could see the plumes of smoke and have been banned from barbecuing in national parks, after 18 consecutive days without rain.

“This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires. Whilst we get them every year, 2018 is shaping up to be excessive,” said Mike Peacock, a university researcher and local resident.

There have been huge fires in the past in Sweden, but not over such a wide area. This appears to be a trend as more and bigger blazes are reported in other far northern regions like Greenland, Alaska, Siberia and Canada.

The sparks come from a variety of sources: BBQs, cigarettes and increasingly lightning, which is becoming more frequent as the planet warms.

Swedish authorities say the risk of more fires in the days ahead is “extremely high” due to temperatures forecast in excess of 30C. Much of the northern hemisphere has sweltered in unusually hot weather in recent weeks, breaking records from Algeria to California and causing fires from Siberia to Yorkshire. Ukraine has been hit especially hard by wildfires.

The European Forest Fire Information System warned fire danger conditions were likely to be extreme across much of central and northern Europe in the coming weeks.

EU officials said many of this year’s fires are outside the traditional European fire zone of the Mediterranean, and are increasingly taking place at unexpected times of year. 2017 was the worst fire year in Europe’s history, causing destruction to thousands of hectares of forest and cropland in Portugal, Spain and Italy, as late as November. “There are clear trends of longer fire seasons and frequent critical periods in Europe that are leading to dangerous fire situations,” said a European commission official.

Climate scientists said the Arctic and other areas that were once relatively fire-free are likely to become more vulnerable.

“What we’re seeing with this global heatwave is that these areas of fire susceptibility are now broadening, with the moors in north-west England and now these Swedish fires a consequence of that,” said Vincent Gauci, professor of global change ecology at the Open University.

“Both these areas are typically mild and wet which allows forests and peatlands to develop quite large carbon stores,” he added. “When such carbon-dense ecosystems experience aridity and heat and there is a source of ignition – lightning or people – fires will happen.”


Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 18 Jul 18



Some bleaching at Pulau Semakau (East)
wild shores of singapore


Read more!

Ship fire near Marina Barrage put out after 5 hours, no injuries reported


Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 16 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - A fire on a ship on the waters off Marina Barrage was put out by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) on Monday afternoon (July 16), after five hours of firefighting operations.

No injuries were reported, and all crew members of the ship were accounted for.

Damping down operations to cool down the ship and prevent a rekindling of the fire were still ongoing as of Monday evening around 10pm, the SCDF said in a Facebook post.

In the accompanying video to the post, two vessels were filmed firing jets of water at a towering ship.

The SCDF was alerted to the fire at around 3.10pm on Monday, and the fire had involved contents of the crew cabin on the upper decks of the ship.

Four firefighting vessels from the SCDF Marine Command were deployed in response to the incident.

"Upon arrival, SCDF Marine firefighters adopted a two-pronged approach namely, boundary cooling on the exterior of the affected ship using two water monitors from the Rapid Response Fire Vessel and deploying two water jets to penetrate into the cabins to mitigate the deep-seated fire," said the SCDF.

"After approximately five hours of firefighting operations, the fire was extinguished."



Read more!

Malaysia: Elephant found dead in Ulu Segama's oil palm plantation

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 17 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A male elephant, with a badly wounded foot, was found dead in an oil palm plantation at Ulu Segama, Lahad Datu, yesterday.

Plantation workers discovered the elephant's carcass in the Low Woo Thien oil palm plantation at 5.10pm and alerted the Lahad Datu wildlife office.

Sabah Wildlife Department officer Siti Nurain Ampuan Acheh, in a statement, said a team of rangers from the district wildlife office was immediately dispatched to the location.

She said the team found no criminal element in the elephant’s death but noted its rear foot was wounded by snare trap.

“The height of the elephant was measured at 5 feet 10 inches and it was believed to be four to five years of age.

“The cause of death was due to septicemia from the severely injured leg caused by the wound, concurrent with severe helminthiasis (gastrointestinal parasites infection),” she said.

This was the third reported incident of wildlife carcass discovery thus far, this month.

On July 11, a semi-adult male orangutan was found dead in an orchard adjacent to Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.

The Wildlife Department was alerted of the discovery by a staff of a nearby resort.

A team from the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre found no sign of infliction or physical injury.

This follows the discovery of a carcass of an adolescent male proboscis monkey the following day in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

A Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) research team, which found the remains near their research centre, performed a post-mortem on it recently.

Sabah Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga had said the proboscis monkey had an open abscess on its right hip and right lung, which might have caused the death.

Nonetheless, Augustine said the department would further investigate the death of these totally protected animals.


Trapped young jumbo found dead at plantation
The Star 19 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A young elephant has been found dead at the Low Woo Thien oil palm plantation area in Ulu Segama Lahad Datu after it apparently stepped on snare traps.

Sabah Wildlife Department public relations officer Siti Nur’Ain Ampuan Acheh said the carcass of the male juvenile jumbo was discovered by plantation workers at about 5.10pm on Monday.

She said a team of rangers from the Lahad Datu Wildlife Office was immediately sent out to check.

“Upon inspection, the team found that the elephant only had an injured foot, believed due to stepping on snare traps,” she said in a statement.

There were no signs of foul play, she added.

The elephant, said to be between four and five years old, is believed to have succumbed to its infected wound and parasitic infection.

At least eight elephants have been reported dead due to various reasons in Sabah, including in the east coast and Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here between April and this month.


Read more!

Malaysia: New home for elephants in Kota Tingggi to be completed next year

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 17 Jul 18;

JOHOR BARU: The construction of a 100-hectare elephant sanctuary in Kota Tinggi, which will be home to around 30 elephants, is expected to be completed and fully operational by next year.

Johor Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim said construction work, which began in the middle of last year, is about halfway complete.

“We expect the sanctuary to be completed and become operational by next year,” said Jamalun Nasir, although he declined to reveal the exact date for the completion.

The sanctuary is located along Jalan Lombong in Kota Tinggi, near the Kota Tinggi waterfalls.

”The project will cost about RM15 million in total. It is a joint project between the Federal and state governments,” said Jamalun Nasir.

He said the exact number of elephants which can be housed at the sanctuary have not been finalised yet.

“However, we expect between 20 to 30 elephants can be housed at the sanctuary.”

The proposal to establish the sanctuary was first mooted in 2014 as an effort to reduce the conflict between wild elephants and humans. It will also serve as a tourism attraction for nature lovers.

Former state Health, Environment, Information and Education Executive Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat had previously said that Johor’s forests are home to about 140 wild elephants, with the majority of them in Segamat, Kluang, Mersing and Kota Tinggi.

Ayub also said that between 2008 and May last year, state Perhilitan had transferred 48 wild elephants out of Kluang, with each transfer process costing about RM50,000.


Read more!