Best of our wild blogs: 31 Jul 16

Life History of the Chocolate Royal v2.0
Butterflies of Singapore

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Malaysia: La Nina effects in September likely to be weak

The Star 31 Jul 16;

PETALING JAYA: There will likely be no major change in the weather pattern when the La Nina phenomenon occurs in September.

Science, Technology and Innova­tion Minister Datuk Seri Madius Tangau said the effects of La Nina, commonly known to bring wet and rainy weather, would be weak based on the latest climate forecast.

“The current weather condition is not associated with the phenomenon but is influenced by other factors, especially wind patterns,” he said.

Tangau was responding to claims that La Nina had arrived sooner with some reports saying that recent heavy rains were linked to it.

Malaysians should brace for drier weather and even haze instead.

“We are now experiencing the southwest monsoon that started in May and will last until mid-September.

“At this time, the atmospheric conditions throughout the country will be drier with less rain. As a result, haze associated with burning activities is expected to occur,” Tangau said.

He said the average daily temperature for August will be between 22°C and 34°C.

Despite this, Tangau said some coastal areas in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, west Johor, west Sabah and Sarawak will experience isolated heavy rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon during the current monsoon.

The public can get the latest weather information by calling the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment’s hotline at 1-300-22-1MET (638).

They can also visit its website at or its official accounts on Facebook and Twitter, or download its mobile app myCuaca.

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Malaysia: More turtles nesting at Cherating beach now

The Star 31 Jul 16;

KUANTAN: A total of 376 turtles have landed on Cherating beach from January to June compared to only 262 turtles last year.

Pahang Fisheries Department director Datuk Adnan Hussain said the number of turtle eggs had also increased, registering 34,869 in that period.

In comparison, there were 24,204 eggs last year.

“Turtles have landed along the 3.5km Cherating beach and 95% of them are of Green Turtle species.The rest are Hawksbill Turtles and Olive Ridley Turtles,” he told repor­ters at a Turtle Awareness and Con-ser­vation Programme launched by the son of Tengku Mahkota of Pahang, Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Tengku Abdullah at Cherating Turtle Sanctuary and Information Centre here on Friday.

However, he said that as of June, 25 turtle deaths were recorded compared to eight last year.

Adnan said the sanctuary managed to ensure more than 60% of eggs laid every year were hatched.

Its biggest achievement since it was set up in 2006 was getting 93% of eggs hatched, he said. — Bernama

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Malaysia: Sun bear back in its natural habitat

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 31 Jul 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A rescued orphaned female sun bear named Lawa is now back in the wild as conservationists called for more efforts made to protect this endangered species.

Lawa, which is about eight years old, was released back into its natural habitat in the rainforest of Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said it was another proud step in animal conservation efforts.

He said Lawa, fitted with a satellite collar, was flown from its centre in Sepilok to the wildlife reserve on Thursday.

“After veterinarian Dr Rosa Sipangkui made a final check on Lawa, she was let out of the cage and back into the wild.

“She was brought in to the centre as a cub back in 2008,” he said, adding that they had been preparing the bear for its return to the wild.

Wong said Lawa had undergone rehabilitation training for eight years, learning all essential skills to survive in the wild such as nest-building, foraging and looking for food.

“The training was made possible in the state-of-the-art natural forest enclosure at our centre,” he said.

Wong said the cost involved was around RM50,000, including the satellite collar and air transport.

“We need public donations to continue with our efforts,” he said, adding that they had some 40 sun bears at the centre and it cost about RM80,000 a month to maintain them.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya commended the latest effort of the centre and hoped more sun bears could be released back into the wild.

Sun bears are protected by law in Sabah under the Wildlife Conserva­tion Enactment 1997.

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Indonesia: Govt continues reforestation program around Lake Toba

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 30 Jul 16;

As part of a forest conservation program, the government on Friday planted thousands of trees of different varieties in the mountainous areas around Lake Toba, which have been severely deforested due to forest fires and illegal logging.

The tree planting, led by Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, was centered in Huta Ginjang, Muara district, in the regency of North Tapanuli.

Siti said the planting the trees showed the seriousness of the government in dealing with Lake Toba conservation. She added that the government had allocated three million trees to North Sumatra, most of which are for the reforestation of the areas around Lake Toba.

“We want to replenish areas around Lake Toba to make it look beautiful because the tourist site has become a national destination,” Nurbaya said before starting the planting of some 7,700 trees in Huta Ginjang on Friday.

She called on the Batak people to save the environment around Lake Toba for the future generations. She added that the Batak people harbored philosophies and local wisdom that would enable them to conserve Lake Toba and its surroundings.

North Sumatra Forestry Office head Halen Purba said the planting of the trees would be continued in other areas close to Lake Toba. He said the trees planted around Lake Toba included pine, avocado and candlenut.

“The trees are planted in an area of 15 hectares in North Tapanuli,” Halen told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said the annual reforestation program around Lake Toba had been going on since the 1970s. However, reforestation has not been successful due to the rocky terrain in the area.

“We will keep planting trees around Lake Toba even though the location is prone to forest fires,” Halen said, adding that the government had prepared a budget for the reforestation of areas around Lake Toba.

“For this year, the reforestation budget for North Sumatra stands at over Rp 40 billion,” he said. Each regency or municipality will also receive money for the reforestation program.

Marandus Sirait, an environmentalist who received the Kalpataru Award in 2005 from the Toba Samosir regency, said the tree planting activities by the government in the areas around Lake Toba were useless and a waste of state funds because similar such programs had been proven to be unsuccessful.

“Reforestation has been organized many times in areas around Lake Toba. However, most of the programs have failed as the trees are caught in fires before they grow up high,” said Marandus.

Another conservationist, Hasoloan Manik, the recipient of the Kalpataru Award in 2010, sees the tree planting activities simply as a project to disburse the state budget.

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WWF calls for crack down on 'tiger farms'

AFP Yahoo News 29 Jul 16;

Geneva (AFP) - The World Wildlife Fund on Thursday urged Asian states to investigate all tiger breeding centres and crack down on any involved in black-market animal trade.

On the eve of the International Day of the Tiger, WWF said it was crucial for governments to identify and close so-called "tiger farms", which are distinct from zoos or breeding centres with a legitimate conservation mission.

Tiger farms have been linked to the highly lucrative and internationally prohibited trade in tiger parts.

The conservation group estimated that there remained 200 tiger farms in Asia, mostly in China, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.

"Closure of these operations... would significantly boost efforts to save the world’s remaining wild tigers," WWF said in a statement.

The tiger population in farms is about 8,000, more than double the estimated 3,900 living in the wild, WWF said in a statement.

The so-called Tiger Temple in western Thailand was closed in May after Thai wildlife officials discovered dozens of dead cubs inside a freezer.

"The shocking images from the Tiger Temple of tiger cubs frozen and prepared for the illegal trade provide clear evidence of what is really going on behind the scenes at these tiger farms and why they must be closed," said WWF tiger specialist Michael Baltzer.

Some tiger farm operators have insisted their aim is to provide tourists an opportunity to interact with exotic cats.

But WWF said the "incredibly high operating costs" of these farms made it more likely they were involved in black-market trade.

Tiger parts are sometimes used in Asian remedies which are claimed to boost virility or fight disease.

Tiger farms "undermine efforts to protect wild tigers and halt the illegal trade by complicating enforcement activities, and by normalizing and legitimizing the sale of tiger parts and products, which in turn drives up demand," WWF said.

A hastily-organised blanket closure of all tiger farms would however be disastrous for the animals, the organisation added.

Tigers living in farm-like captivity have become habituated to human presence and cannot simply be released in the wild, the group said.

It said a tiger resettlement plan needed to be in place before the farms were closed.

At a conference in St. Petersburg in 2010, 13 Asian countries agreed to double the number of tigers living in the wild on the continent by 2022, which is China's next Year of the Tiger.

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Plastic bag use plummets in England since 5p charge

Rebecca Morelle BBC News 30 Jul 16;

Plastic bag use has plummeted in England since the introduction of a 5p charge last year, the government has said.

In the six months after the levy was brought in last October, 640 million plastic bags were used in seven major supermarkets in England, it says.

In 2014, the waste reduction charity Wrap estimated the same shops had used 7.64 billion bags over the full year.

If that trend were to continue over the year this would be a drop of 83%.

It follows the pattern seen in the rest of the UK since the introduction of charges for bags.

'Life is safer'

Wales introduced a levy in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014. They saw reductions in bag use of 76%, 71% and 80%, respectively, in the first year after the fee was established.

The charge means all retailers with more than 250 full-time employees are required to charge a minimum of 5p to customers for single-use, plastic carrier bags, but paper bags are exempt.

Over the six months since the charge was introduced, the government said:

A total of 1.1 billion single-use carrier bags were sold by large retailers who registered and reported data
The net proceeds from the levy came to £41.3m

At least £29.2m was donated to good causes, such as environmental, education, health, arts, charity or voluntary groups

Just over two-thirds of retailers voluntarily provided information on the amount donated and the type of good causes it spent the donations on

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said the reduction in the number of bags being used was "fantastic news".

"It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won't be saddled with mountains of plastic taking hundreds of years to break down in landfill sites."

This reduction in plastic could benefit the environment, especially the oceans.

A report published in the journal Science in 2015 estimated that about eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in global waters each year.

Dr Sue Kinsey, from the UK's Marine Conservation Society, said: "Every year we survey our beaches, and last year we found over 5,000 bags over one weekend."

She said that birds and marine mammals ate plastic, and bags were also breaking down into smaller pieces and being consumed by tiny marine organisms.

However she said that England could do more to further reduce plastic pollution.

'Administrative burden'

She said she wanted to see the exemption for small businesses on charging the levy removed.

"There's no exemption in Scotland and Wales, for instance," she told BBC News.

"If that exemption was removed, we'd see even more plastic bags removed from the environment, which has only got to be good news."

But extending the 5p charge would be too much of an administrative burden for smaller businesses, the government has previously said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Pendleton from climate change action group Friends of the Earth said plastic bags were only part of the problem.

He said that attention should now turn to the "millions of non-recyclable coffee cups that go to landfill, and to oversized boxes and excess packaging as a by-product of online shopping".

England's plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced
Number of single-use bags handed out dropped to 500m in first six months since charge, compared with 7bn the previous year
Rebecca Smithers The Guardian 30 Jul 16;

The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers in England has plummeted by more than 85% after the introduction of a 5p charge last October, early figures suggest.

More than 7bn bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in the year before the charge, but this figure plummeted to slightly more than 500m in the first six months after the charge was introduced, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

The data is the government’s first official assessment of the impact of the charge, which was introduced to help reduce litter and protect wildlife - and the expected full-year drop of 6bn bags was hailed by ministers as a sign that it is working.

The charge has also triggered donations of more than £29m from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to Defra. England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Retailers with 250 or more full-time equivalent employees have to charge a minimum of 5p for the bags they provide for shopping in stores and for deliveries, but smaller shops and paper bags are not included. There are also exemptions for some goods, such as raw meat and fish, prescription medicines, seeds and flowers and live fish.

Around 8m tonnes of plastic makes its way into the world’s oceans each year, posing a serious threat to the marine environment. Experts estimate that plastic is eaten by 31 species of marine mammals and more than 100 species of sea birds.

The environment minister, Therese Coffey, said: “Taking 6bn plastic bags out of circulation is fantastic news for all of us,. It will mean our precious marine life is safer, our communities are cleaner and future generations won’t be saddled with mountains of plastic taking hundreds of years to breakdown in landfill sites.

“It shows small actions can make the biggest difference, but we must not be complacent, as there is always more we can all do to reduce waste and recycle what we use.”

The charge was introduced to try to influence consumer behaviour after the number of carriers bags given out by seven major supermarkets in England rose by 200min 2014 to exceed 7.6bn - the equivalent of 140 per person and amounting to a total of 61,000 tonnes of plastic.

Matt Davies, chief executive of the UK’s largest retailer Tesco said: “The government’s bag charge has helped our customers [in England] reduce the number of bags they use by 30m each week, which is great news for the environment.”

Tesco expects its Bags of Help scheme to provide more than £20m in the first year to local environmental projects.

Plastic bags can take hundreds of years to break down, but plastic drinks bottles and disposable coffee cups are now being seen as a huge challenge in protecting the environment.

The results of the Marine Conservation Society’s annual beach cleanup in 2015 showed that the amount of rubbish dumped on UK beaches rose by a third compared with the previous year. The number of plastic drinks bottles found were up 43% on 2014 levels.

“There is always more that we can do,” said Dr Sue Kinsey, a technical specialist for waste at the Marine Conservation Society. “We encourage everyone to join in on our Great British Beach Clean this September to help keep our coastlines clean.”

Andrew Pendleton, of Friends of the Earth, said: “The plummeting plastic bag use demonstrates the huge benefits just a small change in our everyday habits can make. It means less damaging plastic finding its inevitable way into our waterways and countryside. This is a massive boon for nature and wildlife.”

He added: “With attention now turning to the millions of non-recyclable coffee cups that go to landfill and to oversized boxes and excess packaging as a by-product of online shopping, the government and forward-thinking businesses have a golden chance to cut waste and reduce resource use in a sensible way that consumers welcome.”

At the time of the launch, the government forecast that the charge would reduce use of single-use carrier bags by up to 80% in supermarkets and 50% on the high street. It is also expected to save £60m in litter cleanup costs.

Plastic facts
6bn single use plastic bags would cover an area of about 900,000,000m2, over three times the area of Birmingham.
6bn bags laid end-to-end it would stretch about 3m km, or 75 times around the world.
6bn bags are approximately equivalent to the weight of 300 blue whales, 300,000 sea turtles or 3m pelicans.

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A peek into underwater wonderland

The waters around Singapore may be murky but they teem with colourful life
Audrey Tan Straits Times 30 Jul 16;

Singapore is known for being a Garden City and it lives up to its name - both on land and underwater.

Colourful coral colonies can be found blooming in the waters off the Republic's southern coast, providing refuge for animals such as butterfly fish, nudibranchs (sea slugs) and even sea turtles.

Many may find this hard to believe, considering how murky the waters surrounding the country are - a far cry from the crystal clear waters of popular beach destinations such as the Maldives, or Tioman in Malaysia.

Yet last year, scientists here made two whale-related finds. In July, a whole carcass of a female sperm whale was found floating off Jurong Island. Later that year in November, a sperm whale tooth was found in a lagoon within the Sisters' Islands Marine Park.

It is not clear how the whale or the tooth came to Singapore, but finds like these show that when it comes to the marine life here, out of sight should not be out of mind.

Here is how you can learn more about Singapore's thriving marine life.


The Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, located within the National University of Singapore (NUS) in Clementi, will enthral both divers and non-divers alike.

Other than learning more about Jubi Lee - the whale which washed up in Jurong last July - visitors to the museum also get the rare chance to gaze upon a specimen of the Neptune's cup sponge, an animal thought to be globally extinct since the early 1900s.

In 2011, the wine glass-shaped sponge - which can grow large enough for a child to sit on - was rediscovered off St John's Island, south of mainland Singapore. Scientists spotted another specimen here in 2014, and its location is being kept under wraps - not surprising, considering the sponge was driven to extinction due to overfishing.

The museum's specimen is housed in its Marine Cycles Zone, where guests can view other interesting marine specimens, such as sea stars.

For a geographical perspective, pay attention to a map depicting the location of the Coral Triangle - an area widely considered the world's richest underwater wilderness - which sits just south of Singapore.

Tickets to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum can be bought at the door - at $16 for adult Singapore residents, and $9 for children. For more details, go to


It may sometimes be difficult to see past an outstretched arm, but those certified to scuba-dive should take a leap of faith and hop off a dive boat.

Many dive companies here organise dive trips to sites such as Pulau Hantu every weekend.

It is also possible to dive at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park - Singapore's first and only marine park. The National Parks Board (NParks) last year launched two dive trails - one shallow, one deep - there to encourage greater appreciation of Singapore's marine treasures.

The trails have 20 underwater markers - 10 on each - which tell divers where to look for marine life. Station Four of the Shallow Dive Trail, for example, says a live giant clam is nearby, while Station Two of the Deep Dive Trail alerts divers to the variety of sea fans and sea whips. From first-hand experience, the ropes that mark the length of the trail are also useful visual tools for navigation.

Unlike the Pulau Hantu dive site, which is accessible all year round, this is not possible at the Sisters' Islands Marine Park as currents may not be suitable for diving at times. NParks will make available dive windows based on this and the conditions of the marine habitat. This is estimated to be two to four days a month.

To protect marine biodiversity and avoid overcrowding, NParks has imposed a cap of eight divers on each of the two dive trails at the park at any given time.

The trips are conducted by six approved dive operators, who offer packages priced at different rates, depending on the type of package and the services offered.

Divers who wish to explore these trails must have at least 20 dives, with one local dive experience within the past two years.

Those interested can find out more at


For non-divers who want to learn about Singapore's marine life by going out and about, there are options which do not require the donning of a wetsuit.

NParks and marine conservation groups conduct free guided walks to various intertidal areas - places which are not submerged during low tide.

NParks conducts walks at the intertidal area of the Sisters' Islands Marine Park, where visitors can expect to see anemone shrimps and seahorses. For more information, visit

Marine life also thrives in other parts of Singapore. The northern coast, for example, is characterised by mangroves, mudflats and sandy shores, and these habitats are home to a rich diversity of species.

Volunteer groups like the Naked Hermit Crabs conduct free guided walks to places such as the Pasir Ris Mangroves or the Chek Jawa wetlands in Pulau Ubin. Details can be found at

Although they may not look it, the waters around Singapore are home to a surprising amount of marine life. More than 250 species of hard corals - representing more than 30 per cent of hard coral species found around the world - have been recorded here. In addition, it has 12 of the 23 species of seagrasses in the Indo-Pacific region, about 200 species of sponges and over 100 species of reef fish.

So the next time you have the opportunity, take a peek into our waters. You may find that the biodiversity on our shores is worth protecting.

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Malaysian tigers becoming extinct, minister calls for greater public awareness

BERNAMA New Straits Times 29 Jul 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Only about 240 to 350 tigers are still living in the main habitats in Malaysia, according to a survey conducted by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN).

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the survey was conducted from 2010 till 2013 in the Endau Rompin and Belum Temenggor National Parks.

He said there must be greater public awareness about the efforts to conserve tigers in this country, especially among youths.

“The perception of the older generation about the benefits and medicinal values of tiger body parts must be eliminated and there must be greater awareness of conservation issues concerning wildlife, especially tigers,” he said in a statement here today.

Wan Junaidi said the government had also renewed its commitment in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aimed to combat and end illegal hunting and smuggling of wildlife.

As a commitment to increasing the number of wild tigers, he said the government had introduced the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan 2008-2020.

He added that among the strategies which have been identified included habitat and species protection, research and conflict management.

“The government has also allocated RM18.7 million for the 1st National Tiger Survey which covers tiger habitats in Central Forest Spine (CFS) jungles,” he said.

Wan Junaidi also said the government would continue with its commitment in taking steps to combat crimes involving cross-border wildlife crimes with collaborations between national and international agencies.

Each year, July 29 is the date for the celebration of the International Tiger Day which is aimed at fostering awareness of tiger conservation throughout the world The annual event was announced in 2010 through an agreement between 13 “tiger range states” at the Global Tiger Summit in St Petersburg, Russia.

This year, the theme for the World Tiger Day is ‘Giving Wild Tigers a Future“, which mirrors the need for every level of society to play a part in ensuring that wild tigers flourish in their natural habitat and stop their extinction. --BERNAMA

Ministry aims to debunk myths to save tigers
The Star 30 Jul 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The Natural Resour­ces and Environment Ministry is on a mission – to debunk myths – so that the killing of endangered species, including tigers, will come to a stop.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the dwindling tiger population worldwide, including in Malaysia, was due to loss of habitat, illegal poaching and trade, as well as man-tiger conflict.

“And it also doesn’t help that there are superstitions on the advantages and benefits of eating tiger meat or other exotic meat.

“There is a need to create public awareness, especially among the young, on the importance of preserving tigers.

“We must tell them that there is no truth behind these myths,” he said during a gathering to comme­morate his first year in office, which also coincided with Interna­tional Tiger Day, on July 29 every year.

Dr Wan Junaidi said correcting misconception that consuming exo­tic meat had benefits would help to bring down the number or even stop wild animals from being killed.

According to a survey conducted by the Wildlife and National Parks Department, there are three main areas where tigers roam – Taman Negara in Pahang, Endau-Rompin National Park and Belum, Perak.Between 2010 and 2013, some 240 to 350 tigers were found in these areas.

“Our activities and what we do has effect on the environment and wildlife. We must not be excessive in our action and consider other living beings in our surroundings,” said Dr Wan Junaidi.

The Government’s commitment to preserve tigers was reflected in the introduction of a national tiger conservation action plan which identified several strategies, including protecting its habitat and species, research and conflict management.

A sum of RM18.7mil had been allocated under the 11th Malaysia Plan to conduct the first national tiger survey.

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Malaysia: Sabah can ban shark hunting

NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 30 Jul 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Seven new types of sharks and rays will be included in the endangered species list of the Fisheries Act but the rest of Malaysia’s 67 shark species are still free to be caught and consumed.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek also announced that Sabah was free to totally ban shark hunting if the state government so wished.

This comes amid mounting pressure from international and Malaysian conservationists and even from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Sabah government to amend the Fisheries Act to totally ban shark hunting.

In an interview yesterday, Ahmad Shabery said Sabah would have to revise its own laws to ban shark hunting but federal regulations on sharks would remain the same.

He also explained that out of the 67 shark species, of which 48 could be found in Sabah waters, only two were considered endangered - the whale shark and the sawfish.

The ministry plans to gazette the oceanic white tip shark, four hammerhead shark species, the giant oceanic manta ray and the reef manta ray as endangered species, too.

“Not all sharks are endangered. They try to generalise sharks but there are 67 types. These are common species that you can see in the market every day, so you cannot generalise sharks as a whole.

“I agree that endangered species have to be protected. If Sabah wants a total ban on shark hunting, they have the right to do so. There is no problem with us. We don’t get the profit, only Sabah,” he said.

Sabah’s Fisheries Department exists separately from the Federal Government’s jurisdiction, he said, making it possible for the state to enact its own laws on shark hun­ting.

“But to have a blanket ban on all sharks under the Fisheries Act, that is not possible.

“ It’s not to say I don’t love sharks. Because if you want to do total banning, it has to fit international standards,” he said, explaining that total protection on an apex predator could lead to an ecological imbalance in marine life.

Ahmad Shabery disagreed with shark conservationists who claimed that 80% of Malaysia’s shark population had depleted since 1989, saying that studies were being done to sustainably manage the population – though no results can be announced yet.

According to ministry statistics, shark products make up 0.1% of Malaysia’s total fisheries output with 1,466 metric tonnes to the 1.45 million metric tonnes of seafood caught from 2008 to 2014.

According to wildlife conservation group TRAFFIC, Malaysia ranked 10 in the world for shark hunting, behind countries Indonesia, India, Mexico, Taiwan, the United States and Japan.

On Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s proposal to have sharks protected under a planned Protected Marine Animals Act, Ahmad Shabery said discussions were ongoing.

“I don’t want people to think there is a clash between two ministries. That is not the way we work. We will iron out between us,” he said.

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Indonesia on Global Tiger Day: Only 371 Sumatran Tigers Left in the Wild

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 29 Jul 16;

Jakarta. The Indonesian arm of international environmental conservation agency, World Wildlife Fund, has revealed that there are only 371 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, or less than 10 percent of the total number of tigers left in existence.

“This is an important reminder to us all that our [Sumatran] tigers are severely at risk of extinction. Before this, we had 3 species of tigers in Indonesia, two of which are already extinct – the Balinese tiger and Javanese tiger,” Nyoman Iswarayoga, WWF Indonesia director of communication and advocacy, said on Friday (29/07).

According to Nyoman, the critically endangered Sumatran tiger is the only species left in Indonesia and is at constant risk of the illegal wildlife trade and hunting and is suffering from habitat loss due to the loss of forest coverage around Sumatra.

Rasio Ridho Sani, the director general for law enforcement at the Environment Ministry, explained that conserving the environment — especially Indonesia’s forests — is imperative to the protection of tigers.

“By protecting our tigers, we will also protect our forests and if our forests are gone the tigers will be too,” Rasio said.

Rasio further contended that by protecting the environment, it will help secure Indonesia’s natural resources which can be used as a source of medicine and food for future generations.

“The future of the world lies in the hands of Indonesia,” he added.

Rasio said that the risk of extinction of protected wildlife — including tigers and fauna — has seen an increase every year, while he shared that his team is in talks of revising the current laws on environmental crimes.

“Our idea is to impose criminal sanctions on perpetrators for crimes against wildlife such as prison terms or fines, especially [when they involve] protected wildlife so that it will have a deterrent effect,” Rasio said.

The director general emphasized the importance of awareness through education as many are still unaware that preserving wildlife is important for people's livelihood and maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

However, Rasio did note that awareness of the importance of wildlife protection has improved over the years.

“[Wildlife protection] has improved, but it hasn't been easy. We must continue to teach people that buying products that use protected wildlife parts is illegal and that a heavy penalty awaits if they are caught [contributing to] the crime,” Rasio said.

Global Tiger Day is celebrated worldwide on July 29.

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Indonesia: Environmental group challenges reclamation project in South Sulawesi

Andi Hajramurni The Jakarta Post 29 Jul 16;

Local residents and activists will continue to challenge land reclamation around Losari Beach, South Sulawesi, after a court rejected a lawsuit against the issuance of a permit for the project.

“The panel of judges did not have an environmental perspective,” Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) executive director Nur Hidayati said after a hearing on Thursday.

She emphasized that Walhi did not talk about the direct impacts from the reclamation project, but the long-term impacts in the future.

The Makassar State Administrative Court (PTUN) on Thursday turned down a lawsuit filed by Walhi against the South Sulawesi governor for the issuance of the permit to reclaim areas on the province’s famous waterfront, to be developed into residential and commercial areas.

Presiding judge Tedi Romyadi said the permit granted to PT Yasmin Bumi Asri would not cause pollution or damage the environment around the site, as claimed by Walhi. The lawsuit, therefore, was considered formally flawed.

“[The panel of judges] declares the lawsuit was not accepted and the plaintiff has to pay court expenses of Rp 2,963,500 [US$225.23],” said Tedi, who is also head of the Makassar State Administrative Court.

One member of the judging panel, Joko Setiono, had a dissenting opinion.

In its lawsuit, Walhi said the permit issued by the governor on Nov. 1, 2013 for the reclamation project would trigger pollution and environmental damage in the reclaimed area, including to the ecosystem, coral

“Before the reclamation, the environment in the area, including the coral reefs, was already severely damaged.”

The reclamation permit was initially granted to PT Yasmin Bumi Asri but last year part of the area, spanning around 100 hectares, was handed over to Ciputra Surya Tbk. for the development of a business center, hotel and luxury residential complex.

The remaining 57 ha were handed over to the South Sulawesi administration for the development of the Center Point of Indonesia (CPI), comprising a state guesthouse, convention building and open
green area.

Citing an explanation from an expert witness during trial, Tedi said environmental damage had been done before the reclamation occurred.

“Before the reclamation, the environment in the area, including the coral reefs, was already severely damaged,” said Tedi, adding that according to the expert witness, there was no mangrove forest at that time but only some mangrove trees.

He added that of the 157 ha area, some 20 ha had been reclaimed, saying the reclamation had not polluted the area.

Walhi promptly rejected the ruling and said it would appeal to the South Sulawesi State Administrative High Court.

The group also expressed its objection to the panel of judges, who left the courtroom immediately after reading out the verdict, without providing the plaintiff or its lawyer a chance to respond.

Nur Hidayati said the lawsuit was filed because the environment had to be preserved and grassroots communities, especially in coastal areas, had to be given space.

Hundreds of people from coastal areas around the reclaimed location who attended the trial similarly rejected the court’s ruling. They expressed support for Walhi to continue with the lawsuit.

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