Best of our wild blogs: 20 Aug 17

Happy 10th Birthday, BOS Blog!
Butterflies of Singapore

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Cancelled: Pulau Zombie role-play event on St John's Island

Jean Iau Straits Times 19 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE - Pulau Zombie did not have a chance to go live.

The anticipated role-play event to have been held next month on St John's Island was planned as a 13-hour adventure set amid a zombie apocalypse. It has been cancelled because its organiser Void Deck Games has not received the necessary permits for it.

It had already sold out all its 55 tickets and the organiser will issue full refunds to ticket holders. The wait list for the event had more than 500 names on it.

Co-founder of Void Deck Games, Mr Raihan Harun, told The Straits Times that organisers made the decision to refund ticket holders as they had not received official confirmation from Singapore Land Authority, which manages the island, or a Public Entertainment License. The applications are still under review.

He explained: "We didn't want to risk having to disappoint participants at the last minute. If the result was negative and too close to the day itself it would have been a big blow so we feel it was the more responsible thing to do to cancel the event now."

The 37-year-old added that they had made phone calls to apologise to some of the 55 ticket holders and will reach out to everyone eventually.

There are plans for a sequel event, Pulau Zombie: Bad Blood, to be held in October at Sarimbun Scout Camp but tickets for it have not been released for sale yet.

Mr Harun says: "Void Deck Games will do everything possible to create an island zombie experience. It will be a series of negotiations to make this happen. The October game will be crucial test bed for our ideas.

"We are in this for the long run to create a startling immersive experience entertainment for this region."

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Malaysia: Showing the way to stop the use of straws

The Star 20 Aug 17;

IN a bid to reduce plastic waste, some eateries have stopped serving single-use plastic straws with their drinks.

As an alternative, the Mockingbird Cafe in Kuala Lumpur serves their cold drinks with reusable stainless steel straws.

“Stainless steel straws not only look trendy but it is also a good start to being a bit greener. We have to start somewhere,” says the cafe owner, Elaine Lamb.

Lamb says that her customers would sometimes ask why she uses metal straws.

“Some of them ask about the hygiene of metal straws. I would tell them that we wash them very thoroughly and we soak them overnight,” she says.

“These metal straws are a great conversation starter and it is a good way to raise awareness and educate the public on the bad effects of plastic and plastic straws,” she adds.

Lamb says that she aims for Mockingbird Cafe to be plastic-free. It will soon stop giving away plastic cutlery for takeaways.

“Some people expect plastic cutlery and a plastic container with a plastic bag. They are not informed about the detrimental effects of these plastics,” she says.

Bubbles Dive Resort in Perhentian Island also stopped serving plastic straws at their restaurant on May 31.

“Earlier in March, we started promoting ‘No Straw Please’ at our restaurant by asking all our guests whether they really need a straw,” said Bubbles Dive Resort marketing director Peisee Hwang.

“In our nightly ‘turtle talk’ with our resort guests, we spread awareness of how much single use plastic product was being discarded and ended up in the ocean,” she says.

Hwang says that the staff have witnessed first-hand the amount of plastic that has been washed up ashore, besides dead sea creatures.

“We have seen how coral died of suffocation because it was covered by a big plastic bag,” she says.

Hwang says that the staff have rescued some aquatic creatures suspected of ingesting plastic.

“Our customers have been fully supportive and appreciative of our efforts,” Hwang says.

“A lot of them bought metal and bamboo straws from us so they can carry it with them on their travels.”

Hwang says that Bubbles Dive Resort would order paper straws and stocks bamboo straws from Bali. It plans to source their bamboo straws from the orang asli.

Spare that straw, please
VICTORIA BROWN The Star 20 Aug 17;

DRINK up, folks, but without the straw please.

Malaysians use up about 31 million plastic straws every day, based on conservative estimates, and these would likely end up in landfills.

Each plastic straw takes “hundreds of years” to degrade, says environment and solid waste management specialist Dr Theng Lee Chong, who estimates that one straw is used per person each day in Malaysia.

(Americans use single-use straws at an average rate of 1.6 straws per person each day. This equates to 500 million plastic straws being used every day in the United States alone.)

Last year, Malaysians produced about 38,000 tonnes of waste daily.

Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation (SWCorp Malaysia) deputy chief executive officer (technical) Dr Mohd Pauze Mohamad Taha says that only 0.5% of the waste is incinerated. The rest is landfilled.

“Single-use plastics represent a huge threat to the environment if it not properly managed,” he says.

Dr Mohd Pauze says that single-use plastics are known for their interference in ecosystems. They also contribute to floods as they clogged up pipes and drains.

“This threat is not only related to the sheer volume of them ending up in landfills, but also to the resources needed to produce, transport and (occasionally) recycle them, and the emissions resulting from these processes improperly disposed,” he said.

According to a National Solid Waste Management Department’s 2012 report, plastic makes up 13.2% of Malaysia’s total household waste.

As for plastic straws, it is almost an automatic practice to consume cold drinks out of them. They are given to diners without a second thought.

Mareena Yahya Kerschot, a co-founder of the “Tak Nak Straw” campaign, says this habit was harming the environment.

“You consume your drink in less than five minutes, then you throw the straw away,” she says.

These straws, she says, are among the plastics making its way into the ocean, getting eaten by fish and trapping sea creatures.

“That video of a turtle who had a straw stuck in its nose left a big impact on me,” said Kershot, referring to a YouTube video which showed researchers pulling out a plastic straw from the turtle’s nose.

The video has had 12 million views. And the turtle has inadvertently become the poster child for the anti-straw campaign.

Plastic straws are not biodegradable. Instead, it breaks down into small pieces called microplastics.

“These microplastics keep accumulating in the oceans, and it affects the food chain and overall ecosystem. And it is highly harmful to the sea animals,” Dr Theng said.

“Many so called ‘biodegradable’ or ‘degradable’ plastics in the markets are actually not fully degraded, but only visually breakdown into smaller pieces of microplastics,” he said.

The UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which works in education and training, said in a report last year that there will be more plastic waste than fish by 2050.

Most plastic straws are made from polypropylene (PP).

Even though PP plastic can be recycled, it is hardly done due to its size.

“The straw is very small and hard to pick up or segregate for recycling purposes,” said Dr Theng.

“If a recycler finds a big bundle of plastic straws, he would definitely pick it for recycling. But if he has to pick it up piece by piece from the waste stream, he would rather spend time and focus on other larger plastic products,” he says.

Should people even use straws?

“We are grown adults. Do we really need a straw? Even my kids don’t need straws,” Tak Nak Straw co-founder Claire Sancelot says.

She says that the need for hygiene should not be an excuse to use straws.

“Some people say that a straw is needed because the restaurants don’t clean the glasses well. If you’re worried about hygiene, what about the plate and the cutlery?” she asks.

She points out that most people don’t use straws at home, “so why do we use straws when we are out?” Another co-founder of Tak Nak Straw, Carolyn Lau, says the campaign is just one of many ways to develop a consciousness of what we consume and how we consume it.

“What I find with people nowadays is that we take these conveniences for granted,” she says.

Tak Nak Straw wants Malaysians to start saying no to single-use plastic straws.

If you prefer to still use straws, buy a reusable one.

“You can buy a stainless steel straw. You can carry it in your bag. It’s washable and unbreakable,” she says.

Lau says that she is also looking to work with the orang asli community to make bamboo straws.

“We want to get all that information that is out there to Malaysians so that they can make informed choices.”

“We will get there, one straw at a time,” Lau says.

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Thailand: Experts warn of serious danger to Bangkok if efforts not made to check shoreline erosion

PRATCH RUJIVANAROM The Nation 20 Aug 17;

SUBSIDENCE CAUSED by human activities in Bangkok Metropolitan areas is the most important factor causing shoreline erosion in the Bay of Bangkok, followed by rising sea levels, a recent study has shown.

However, experts advise against constructing hard structures to prevent erosion, which could instead intensify the problem, and instead focus on mangrove reforestation to address the problem.

Looking through a thin layer of mangrove forest along the coastline of Samut Prakan’s Phra Samut Chedi district, observers can see a small temple situated on a bizarre seaside. The temple is Wat Khun Samutchin, a relic of an old community that has sunk into the sea, a clear sign of the danger that shoreline erosion poses to Metropolitan Bangkok.

Thanawat Charupongsakul, director of Thailand Global Warming Academy, outlined the challenges of coastal erosion on a field trip last Thursday to Wat Khun Samutchin in one of the worst-hit areas of coastal erosion. The inner Gulf of Thailand, especially the 120 kilometres of the northernmost shoreline of Samut Prakan, Bangkok, Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram, is particularly vulnerable to erosion and sinking into the sea, he said.

Thanawat added that the shoreline erosion rate of the area was as high as 30 metres per year. If no action is taken, 150,000 rai (24,000 hectares) of land could consumed by the sea over the next 50 years. With such rapid changes underway, this is a problem that everyone, especially residents of Bangkok, should consider, Thanawat said.

“From my study, subsidence contributes to 68 per cent of the current problem of shoreline erosion, along with 16 per cent due to the sea level rising, 6.8 per cent from a lack of sedimentation, and 2.4 per cent from river delta dredging,” he said.

“These factors are all the result of human activities, especially the subsidence, which is mainly a result of urbanisation of the Bangkok Metropolitan area.”

Surajit Chirawate, a former Samut Songkhram senator, said that if people were serious about preventing Bangkok from sinking into the sea, they needed to move away from using hard structures such as concrete sea walls, jetties and breakwaters. Not only would such structures fail to solve the problem, they would actually intensify the impact of coastal erosion on nearby areas, he said.

“We have a problem. Authorities do not understand nature and construct hard structures to protect the coastline, which has already proven ineffective in places such as Rayong’s Seangchan Beach and Songkhla’s Samila Beach.”

Hard structures make waves stronger, which then dig out the sediment from beneath the structure and intensify erosion, he said. However, there are alternatives including soft structural barriers such as bamboo fences that break the wave force and trap sediment behind the fence line.

“The entire coastline of Samut Songkhram uses bamboo fence as a wave breaker and we found that it is a cheap and effective way,” he said. “We found that the sediment built up rapidly behind the fence, and then we grew mangrove forests to hold together the land we reclaimed.”

Such solutions were cheaper than hard structures, he added.

“The budget for a bamboo fence is only about Bt8 million per kilometre, and we could significantly reduce the cost to Bt2 million per kilometre if authorities let local people build their own defensive bamboo fences. We just need to repair the fences every three years,” Surajit said.

According to the coastal erosion database compiled by the Thailand Coastal Spatial Database System of Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, Samut Prakan’s Phra Samut Chedi district has suffered the most erosion over the past 10 years, with up to 390 metres wide of shoreline lost since 2005.

In contrast, Tambon Klong Khon of Samut Songkhram reclaimed up to 270 metres wide from the sea since 2005.

Preserving a healthy mangrove forest also helps protect the coast from erosion, which can be demonstrated by Google satellite imagery. Images show a lush mangrove forest in Tambon Klong Khon, while in contrast the coast of Phra Samut Chedi district has been left with only a thin line of mangrove forest, where there is any at all.

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Best of our wild blogs: 19 Aug 17

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (18 Aug 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Businessman convicted of importing rosewood worth $68m takes legal issue to apex court

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 18 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE - A Singaporean businessman who was acquitted twice before he was found guilty of importing rare Madagascan rosewood logs is back in court.

On Friday (Aug 18), Wong Wee Keong, 56, was able to file a "criminal reference" application at the Court of Appeal.

Wong is asking the apex court to rule on what conditions need to be met before a controlled plant or animal, for instance, is "in transit".

The application for a hearing on two questions of law was heard by the three-judge court comprising Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, and Judges of Appeal Andrew Phang and Tay Yong Kwang.

The Chief Justice said permission should be given in this case "so that there is a clear pronouncement of what the applicable legal tests are".

In March 2014, 29,434 logs - weighing 3,235 tonnes and worth US$50 million (S$68.2 million) - were seized by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) from a ship berthed in Jurong Port. It was the "largest seizure of rosewood ever made", said a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Rosewood is a controlled species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which Singapore is a signatory.

Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act, rosewood cannot be imported without a permit from AVA.

Wong and his firm were first acquitted in 2015, and the case was dismissed in the middle of the trial. The judge ruled that the logs were not being imported but were in transit, as they were headed to Hong Kong.

The prosecution appealed but Wong and his firm were acquitted.

When the prosecution appealed a second time, the judge in March (2017) said under the law, a restricted species is considered to be in transit only if it is "brought into Singapore solely for the purpose of taking it out of Singapore".

He said there must be proof the species is certain to leave Singapore at a fixed date.

However, in this case, the logs were to leave Singapore on a date that was not confirmed. In fact, their departure date depended on Wong and his firm finding a buyer in Hong Kong.

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New tech tested at Sentosa can spot unattended objects, intruders at sea

Channel NewsAsia 18 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE: Hitachi Asia has completed its first tests for the urban safety and security solutions it is developing in Singapore, which involves technology that can detect intruders at sea as well as unattended items at a crowded station concourse.

The test, which was conducted at Sentosa island, achieved an accuracy rate of over 90 per cent, the company said in a news release on Friday (Aug 18).

Hitachi said that it applied its video analytics software to the existing infrastructure on Sentosa to detect intruders in the sea.

The same technique was also used to locate unattended objects in public through real-time monitoring and to alert relevant parties, for example by sending automatic alerts to command centres and security guards or to the public.

"This system minimises response time and the reduction in manual surveillance also increases productivity," Hitachi said.

"The data collected enables both analytics for investigation support, since a person's history can be traced, as well as business operation(s), given that human flow is tracked."

The tests are part of a project under the Safety & Security Industry Programme 2020, led by the Singapore Economic Development Board and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The project aims to grow Singapore into ASEAN's leading incubator for safety and security businesses, and was created in response to a call for collaboration by the Safety and Security Industry Programme Office (SSIPO) to develop safety and security solutions for agencies such as the Singapore Police Force and Singapore Civil Defence Force.

"Our safety and security agencies are continuously seeking to make use of new technologies and innovation to keep up with the challenges and maintain our operational excellence," Ng Yeow Boon, the senior director of MHA's ops-tech group, said in the news release.

Kosuke Horiuchi, managing director of Hitachi Asia, said that the company believed its "cutting-edge technology and advanced IT system can further increase Singapore's security levels".

"We are very excited to collaborate with the Singapore Government to make the country a safer place to live in," he added.

Source: CNA/nc

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More than 100ha of land in Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Tengah to be set aside for landscape nurseries

Loh Chuan Junn Channel NewsAsia 19 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE: Plots of land spanning more than 100 hectares will be set aside for landscape nurseries use in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced on Saturday (Aug 19).

For a start, about 40 hectares of land comprising more than 30 plots, will be progressively released for tender in tranches from November this year. They will be tendered on a mix of 1 hectare and 2 hectare plots.

NParks said around half of the 30 plots of land will be released in four tranches till end 2018. The land plots will be available in two forms of tenancy: A nine years model with renewal every three years, and a 10+10 year leases model for bigger land parcels.

Under this model, nursery operators pay an upfront amount of 10 years' land lease, with a renewal option for another decade after the first 10 years.

The land parcels will also come with basic infrastructure built up to the front gate, it added. This means that things like drainage systems and electrical connections will be available for nurseries to "quickly move in, kick-start operations, and defray upfront capital investments", NParks said.

This is also the first time that land has been allocated for landscape nurseries, as part of efforts to boost plant supply-chain security and to support Singapore's garden city vision.

"Currently, we don't have land specifically earmarked for nurseries. Our nurseries are now on land that had been tendered out for agriculture generally, and they have had to compete with other farming businesses," said Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

To qualify for the land tender, bidders must be on the Nursery Accreditation Scheme. NParks said it would conduct tender proposal workshops prior to the start of the tender period.

Source: CNA/rw

More than 100ha of land to be set aside for landscape nurseries in a first
Linette Lai Straits Times 19 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE - More than 100 hectares of land in northwest Singapore will be set aside for landscape nurseries, with the first plots open for tender starting November this year.

It is the first time that land has been specifically set aside for these businesses, said Second Minister for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee on Saturday (Aug 19) morning.

"Currently, we don't have land specifically earmarked for nurseries," Mr Lee said. "Our nurseries are now on land that had been tendered out for agriculture generally, and they have had to compete with other farming businesses."

He was speaking at the National Parks Board's (NParks) Landscape Industry Fair, held at HortPark.

The news comes two days after the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) announced that 12 plots of Lim Chu Kang farmland are being put up for tender.

The new land parcels will be located in Lim Chu Kang and Sungei Tengah, and will come with basic infrastructure in place so that nurseries can move in quickly.

For a start, about 40 hectares - comprising around 30 one and two-hectare plots - will be released. Half of these plots will be put up for tender between November and the end of next year.

The move is part of the Landscape Productivity Roadmap to develop the industry, which has been progressively rolled out since 2012.

The smaller plots will have a nine-year tenure period, with monthly payments and renewal every three years so that operators can avoid paying large sums upfront.

The larger plots will be leased out for 20 years, with businesses required to pay an upfront amount of 10 years' worth of land lease fees.

Tender proposals will be evaluated based on both price and quality.

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Malaysia: Foreign vessel collision causes oil spill in waters off Tompok Utara, DoE orders clean-up

Ahmad Fairuz Othman New Straits Times 18 Aug 17;

Two foreign-registered merchant vessels collided 32 nautical miles off Tompok Utara near Pengerang, Kota Tinggi last night, causing an oil spill. Pic by NSTP/ courtesy of Marine Department

JOHOR BARU: Two foreign-registered merchant vessels collided 32 nautical miles off Tompok Utara near Pengerang, Kota Tinggi last night, causing an oil spill.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said there were no injuries involving crew members during the 10.30pm incident, which involved Panama-registered oil/chemical tanker Chemroad Mega and Marshall Islands-registered Sinica Graeca bulk carrier.

"The (Royal Malaysian Navy fast attack craft-missile's) vessel KD Pendekar received information on Chemroad Mega colliding with Sinica Graeca vessel on July 17 at 10.30pm.

"The position of the Chemroad Mega and Sinica Graeca were at 01 28.50 N, 104 30.30 E, 3.2 nautical miles northeast off Tompok Utara.

"Both vessels are now anchored at a location seven nautical miles southeast of Tompok Utara," said Ayub in a statement today.

He said crew on board Chemroad Mega and Sinica Graeca told authorities that there were no injury among crew members and the extent of damage has not been evaluated.

"Agents from both vessels arrived at the anchored location on Aug 18 to assess the damage on the vessel," said Ayub in a statement.

He said the Johor Department of Environment (DoE) has instructed owners of both vessels to post a total of RM5 million in bond pending completion of the oil spill clean-up works.

"The Johor DoE instructed the owners to post RM5 million in bonds to the government for both vessels.

"The two vessels will be detained until the bond is handed over and immediate action is taken for clean-up of the oil spill," said Ayub.

He said authorities were investigating the cause of the collision, adding that checks were being made on the extent of the oil spill, which was likely flowing northward to Pulau Tioman.

Oil spill off Johor after merchant tankers collide
BEN TAN Malay Mail 19 Aug 17;

The damage to the hull of the ‘Sinica Graeca’ bulk carrier which was reported to have collided with the ‘Chemroad Mega’ tanker off Johor’s eastern strait. — Picture courtesy of Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee

KOTA TINGGI, Aug 19 — Two foreign-registered merchant tankers collided near Johor’s eastern straits, 3.2 nautical miles off Tompok Utara near Pengerang, Kota Tinggi on Thursday night, causing an oil spill.

The two vessels have been identified as a Panama-registered oil/chemical tanker Chemroad Mega and Marshall Islands-registered Sinica Graeca bulk carrier. There were no injuries or death reported.

Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the Royal Malaysian Navy’s boat KD Pendekar received information of the collision about 10.30pm.

“The position of Chemroad Mega and Sinica Graeca were 3.2 nautical miles northeast off Tompok Utara.

“Both vessels are now anchored at a location seven nautical miles southeast of Tompok Utara,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Ayub said representatives from the two tankers were at the location yesterday to assess the damage.

He said the state Department of Environment (DoE) ordered both the owners to post RM5 million as bond, pending completion of the oil spill clean-up.

The maritime authorities have detained the two vessels until the clean-up is completed. It is investigating the cause of the collision, as well as the extent of the oil spill.

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Malaysia: Elephant relocated to a bigger forested area

Ahmad Fairuz Othman New Straits Times 18 Aug 17;

KOTA TINGGI: A seven-year-old female elephant was captured and relocated to a bigger forested area in a 10-day operation conducted by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) yesterday.

Found on the fringes of the Mawai jungle, the elephant was coaxed by two other female elephants which were brought in from the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary in Pahang.

Johor Perhilitan director Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim said the female elephant was transported on a truck at about 9am with the help of a10-member team from Johor Perhilitan and the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary.

"The recent operation began on Aug 9. Operations are carried out every year as we capture and relocate elephants to better habitats. This operation led to the capture of a seven-year-old female elephant near Mawai.

"Operations are also carried out when there are complaints of elephant encroachments in human settlements," Jamalun told the New Straits Times.

He said the population of elephants in Johor currently stood between 140 to 150, and occurences of them entering human settlements were likely due to destruction at the elephants' natural habitat.

Jamalun urged residents in the area to refrain from taking any drastic action whenever they encountered the mammals and to contact the state Perhilitan to handle such cases.

A 33-year-old Indonesian plantation worker died in an incident where he was believed to have been trampled to death by elephants in Ladang Tunjuk Laut, Tanjung Sedili almost on two months ago.

Since that incident on June 21, there have other sightings of the mammals along the Kota Tinggi-Mersing trunk road.

There were another six encounters with the jumbos in nearby Kampung Lukut, Kota Tinggi.

Residents in Mawai also claimed that human conflicts with elephants were more frequent in the past three years.

Badrul Zaman Abu Samah, 51, said that while it used to be common to see herds of elephants once or twice a year in his village in Mawai, the encounters were getting more frequent now.

"When I was growing up in the area, herds of elephants will roam the village twice a year. It used to be an uncommon sight, but is now getting more common as we see elephants several times each month.

"Residents fear for their safety as the elephants destroyed banana trees, oil palms and other crops. Once, the mammals damaged a plantation manager's house till a metal beam was dented. It scared the manager's family," said Badrul Zaman who works with the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra).

He urged the authorities to look into the matter, and ensure that the upcoming elephant sanctuary slated to be built in Panti, Kota Tinggi would be able to accommodate a large number of elephants that were native to the area.

Malaysian Nature Society vice chairman Vincent Chow said there was always a risk of elephants entering human settlements if humans continued to encroach into the animal's natural habitat.

He said Mawai and its surrounding areas were known as migratory routes for elephants, while the forests along Sungai Panti were places where the mammals obtained food and water.

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Turtle hatchlings sighted at East Coast Park: NParks

Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE: Hawksbill turtle hatchlings that were trying to find their way to the sea at East Coast Park received a little help from National Parks Board (NParks) and members of the public.

The turtle hatchlings had been spotted on Wednesday evening by several park visitors, NParks said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 17).

Bright street lights were distracting the baby turtles, which were trying to find their way to the sea, the agency said.

Working together with members of the public, NParks staff moved the hatchlings to a more suitable location. Video on NParks' Facebook page shows them helping to guide the baby turtles into the sea using the light from their mobile phones.

Said NParks: "We are encouraged by the community's efforts in helping these 32 young hatchlings start on their life journey!"

NParks urged the public to contact their helpline (1800-471-7300) and to keep their distance and "speak softly" when a turtle is sighted.

"Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. Similarly, one should not handle the eggs as that might damage them," it said.

32 Hawksbill turtle hatchlings guided into sea at East Coast Park

Lydia Lam Straits Times 18 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE - A couple getting ready to leave East Coast Park on Wednesday (Aug 16) evening were surprised to see small moving creatures at their feet, which they later discovered were baby turtles.

A 29-year-old salesman, who gave his name only as Mr Chia, told The Straits Times on Thursday that he was at Bedok Jetty with his wife when they saw a tiny creature on the ground around 10.30pm.

"After a closer look, we realised it's a baby sea turtle," he said. "To our surprise and astonishment - because it's the first time we've spotted this sort of thing at East Coast Park - we actually found more and more of them. We figured they were a bit lost, because they kept circling."

Mr Chia said there were some joggers and cyclists there so he and his wife stood there to prevent them from getting run over.

They also called the National Parks Board's hotline, and an officer arrived about half an hour after.

About 10 people had gathered by then. Together with NParks staff, the group transported the 32 Hawksbill turtle hatchlings to a more suitable location, where they were released at about 1am.

"We are encouraged by the community's efforts in helping these 32 young hatchlings start on their life journey," said NParks in a Facebook post on Thursday night.

Dr Lena Chan, group director at the National Biodiversity Centre, told The Straits Times that the group consulted the Marine Turtle Working Group in releasing the hatchlings.

"We would also like to take this opportunity to remind members of the public to contact the NParks helpline (1800-471-7300), and to keep their distance and speak softly when a turtle is sighted," she said. "Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. Similarly, one should not handle the eggs as that might damage them."

Hawksbill turtles, which are sea turtles with mottled shells, have been regularly sighted along the Singapore Strait, according to NParks' website.

They are found in the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, and females have been spotted coming ashore at East Coast Park to lay eggs.

Hawksbill turtle hatchlings crossing a pedestrian path

Female turtles typically do this at night, laying up to 200 eggs at a time. The eggs hatch after about two months, and the hatchlings make their way instinctively to the sea.

NParks on its website gives the following guidelines when encountering a turtle:

- Call NParks at 1800-4717-300.

- Keep your distance from the turtle and the eggs. Touching the turtle may scare or provoke it. Handling the eggs may damage them, or introduce bacteria into the nest.

- Talk softly and stay out of sight. Do not shine lights at the turtle or use flash photography. Light and noise may scare the turtle, and cause it to leave without laying any eggs.

- Keep clear of tracks left by the turtle. Researchers use the tracks to identify the species of the turtle and to locate the nest.

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More spaces on mainland Singapore to be used for OBS activities

Loke Kok Fai Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE: Students of Catholic High and Woodlands Ring Secondary tried their hand on Thursday (Aug 17) at paddling rafts in Punggol Reservoir, the first time that Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) is conducting adventure activities there.

It's part of the programme's expansion on mainland Singapore. OBS said it is looking to conduct more activities at Park Connector Networks (PCN) and water spaces in Punggol and Pasir Ris.

Together with the National Parks Board and national water agency PUB, OBS will organise cycling and kick-biking activities along the PCNs, as well as paddling activities such as rafting in areas like Punggol Reservoir.

Trekking and kayaking activities - currently held only out of OBS' main campus on Pulau Ubin - will also be explored.

This is to cater to the new Ministry of Education (MOE)-OBS Secondary 3 programme. The five-day, expedition-based, multi-school camp that kicked off in January is aimed at encouraging students to take on a more active lifestyle.

MOE had announced an expansion of the OBS programme in 2016, to promote the holistic development of students through outdoor education. To allow more students to benefit from OBS, a new campus on Coney Island, larger than the one on Pulau Ubin, is being built and will be completed in 2020.


Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu joined students on Thursday at the paddle before a subsequent kick-bike ride with members of the National Youth Council (NYC).

"The beauty about Singapore is that although we think that it is a very small country, with effective use of our water bodies, our reservoirs, our rivers, our park connectors, our beautiful parks – actually we can do a lot more,” Ms Fu said.

She added that creative use of equipment, the environment, and the missions and tasks assigned could also test the values of “resilience, teamwork, cooperation and courage” that the programme hopes to inculcate in students.

A total of 4,300 students from 22 schools have taken part in the MOE-OBS Secondary 3 programme since January. Of these, 180 students have participated in the programme’s mainland expansion.

Source: CNA/mz

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