Best of our wild blogs: 24-25 Jun 18

7 July (Sat) - Free guided walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Fun with R.U.M. on Ubin Day 2018
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Bringing back the giants – The True Giant Clam
Mei Lin NEO

World Oceans Day Singapore – A Plastic Nightmare
Hantu Blog

Beach Cleanup #1 & #2
Urban Forest

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Five new species of fauna recorded in Pulau Ubin

SIAU MING EN Today online 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE – A pair of white-and-greyish brown Little Stints, a species of shorebirds usually seen in South Asia which migrate southwards from the Arctic to escape harsh winter, were among five new species of fauna spotted in Pulau Ubin for the first time in the past year, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Sunday (June 24).

Shorebird experts had identified the pair among some 300 birds by their white-and-greyish brown patterned feathers and their upright posture during a survey at the Chek Jawa wetlands.

Along with a number of migratory birds that are regularly found at Chek Jawa, this suggests that the island off eastern Singapore is a possible stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, said NParks group director of conservation Adrian Loo during the annual Ubin Day.

Dr Loo said the new records could mean that the recent scientific surveys conducted by various group had helped identify species that were already present on the island, but had yet to be identified and recorded.

Likewise, it also suggests that Pulau Ubin is conducive enough for biodiversity to stop by or find a home here, he noted.

The new records include the sightings of two species of bats – the Long-winged Tomb Bat and the Big-eared Pipistrelle – that were identified during a field survey at Chek Jawa last December. The bats, which feed on insects, are usually found in the region.

An NParks staff also discovered the Arrow Emperor dragonfly last October when the insects flew into their office on the island. About 11cm long, this species has a distinct T-shaped mark on the area between the insect’s eyes.

The last new record on Ubin was the Racoon Pseudo-orb Weaver, which was discovered by NParks and the research community in a young secondary forest on the island last year. The long-legged spider, which has been seen in Indonesia and Malaysia, has patterns that resemble that of a raccoon tail.

Mr Joseph Koh, NParks Honorary Research Associate at the National Biodiversity Centre, said there are about 140 species of spiders on Pulau Ubin alone, compared to an estimated 800 species of spiders in Singapore.

The thriving community of spiders on the island also shows that there is a healthy biodiversity on the island, he added.

To date, the island is home to 730 native plant species, more than 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

In his speech at Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said some progress has been made in enhancing the facilities and services on the island since NParks became the central managing agency two years ago.

This includes improving the earth tracks and drains on the island and the board is in the process of setting up compact water treatment units to treat water from the taps at all public toilets, added Mr Lee, who is also the Minister for Social and Family Development.

NParks also completed the mangrove arboretum and nursery at the Ubin Living Lab, a learning facility set up two years ago for education and research. The lab will also host new outreach activities for the public.

A carpentry working space was also added to the lab to let community groups carry out preparation work for the various restoration projects.

For instance, students from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture are using the facility as they help rebuild a 23-year-old kampong drink stall on the island.

5 new species of fauna recorded at Pulau Ubin
Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: Five new species of fauna have been recorded for Singapore, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Sunday (Jun 24).

NParks discovered the species together with the research community during field surveys at Pulau Ubin last year. They include two types of bats, an insect, a bird and a spider.

Speaking at the opening address of the seventh Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said the discoveries are significant as they add to the diverse biodiversity at Pulau Ubin and "remind us of our role as stewards and guardians of our natural heritage".

The discovery of a migratory bird species called Little Stints is of particular significance, said NParks. The birds were spotted at Pulau Ubin’s Chek Jawa wetlands last September when they flew in to feed after the tide receded.

While Chek Jawa is no stranger to migratory shorebirds, NParks said that bird monitoring data collected in the past year has shown that certain species of migratory birds prefer the wetlands at Ubin over Sungei Buloh - Singapore’s other wetlands on the mainland.

“These are significant observations as they suggest that Pulau Ubin complements Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as another possible stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian - Australasian Flyway,” NParks said.

The flyway - among the world’s most important - stretches from the arctic parts of Siberia to as far south as New Zealand.

The other species recorded include insectivorous bats like the Long-winged Tomb Bat and the Big-eared Pipistrelle, which have previously been found in Southeast Asia.

The Arrow Emperor dragonfly, which was discovered only recently in Malaysia and India, along with the Raccoon Pseudo-orb Weaver spider, were also newly added to the Singapore records.

Ubin Day is part of Pesta Ubin, an annual month-long festival to celebrate the islands rustic charm, heritage and natural environment.

Source: CNA/hs

Five new species of fauna recorded for Singapore in Pulau Ubin
Calvin Yang Straits Times 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - Five new species of fauna have been recorded for Singapore, after they were uncovered during surveys done by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the research community in Pulau Ubin last year.

The new species recorded are the little stint shorebird, long-winged tomb bat, big-eared pipistrelle bat, arrow emperor dragonfly and the raccoon pseudo-orb weaver spider.

These add to Pulau Ubin's diverse biodiversity, said Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Sunday (June 24).

"They are testament to the biodiversity Ubin contributes to Singapore, and remind us of our role as stewards, custodians and guardians of our natural heritage," added Mr Lee, who was on the island to mark Ubin Day. The event had a myriad of activities such as kampung games and educational booths put together to celebrate the different facets of Pulau Ubin.

Of special significance is the identification of the little stint shorebird, which is a rare sighting in South-east Asia. Two little stints were identified by experts following a survey of shorebirds at the Chek Jawa Wetlands in September last year.

Two species of bats, which can only be found on Pulau Ubin, were also recorded for Singapore.

The long-winged tomb bat has wings that are long and narrow, while the big-eared pipistrelle has large, broad ears and whitish, translucent wings. Both insectivorous bat species were identified during a field survey at Chek Jawa in December last year.

The other newly recorded species - the arrow emperor dragonfly and the raccoon pseudo-orb weaver spider - were discovered last year. The dragonfly, which was discovered only recently in Malaysia and India, has a distinct T-mark on the front area of its head while the long-legged, medium-sized spider has patterns that resemble a raccoon tail.

Dr Adrian Loo, group director of conservation at NParks, said ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts may have had a part to play in the discovery of these species here.

He added that the next step will be to conduct studies to find out the species' population and distribution, among other things, to help conserve their habitats.

New plans to restore Pulau Ubin's north shoreline and support biodiversity on the island
On Sunday, Mr Lee, together with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, toured the improved facilities at the Ubin Living Lab, which supports various field studies and environmental education on the island.

A new working space, equipped with a work bench and wood-working equipment, will allow restoration work to be done onsite rather than having to bring completed pieces from the mainland. Water treatment systems, toilet and shower amenities will also make it more conducive for students and researchers to stay over at Pulau Ubin for various activities.

Throughout the island, earth tracks and drains have been improved to offer better accessibility. Fire extinguishers and litter bins have also been distributed to every household, so residents can enjoy a safer and cleaner environment.

Mr Lee said: "These small, little enhancements mean a lot to the people living on this island, and the people who work on projects on Ubin.

"We will continue to enhance Pulau Ubin in a way that respects the character and integrity of its built heritage, while ensuring that our residents can continue their way of life."

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Going green: HDB closer to 2020 solar power target as it awards tender to Sembcorp

SIAU MING EN Today Online 25 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE – More Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will be solar powered as the agency ramps up efforts to reduce Singapore’s carbon emissions and move closer to its target of having solar panels installed in 5,500 blocks by 2020.

The HDB has awarded its third solar leasing contract to Sembcorp Solar Singapore – subsidiary of industrial conglomerate Sembcorp Industries – and its appointed engineering, procurement and construction player, Kurihara Kogyo Co.

The project will see the company installing solar photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of 848 HDB blocks in West Coast and Choa Chu Kang, and 27 government sites by the second quarter of 2020, said the HDB in a press release on Sunday (June 24).

The government sites include two sites under the Institute of Technical Education, the Building and Construction Authority Academy, the Heritage Conservation Centre under the National Heritage Board, and a field under Sport Singapore.

This latest tender falls under the SolarNova programme, which aims to spur the growth of Singapore’s solar industry by encouraging government agencies to use solar power.

When completed, the total number of HDB blocks with solar panels will exceed 2,400, which will bring it closer to achieving its goal of having panels in 5,500 blocks by 2020.

The solar power generated from these rooftops can be used to power common services such as lifts, pumps and lighting in common areas in the daytime.

Singapore plans to achieve 350 MWp of solar capacity by 2020, and more than 60 per cent of that will come from HDB’s solar initiatives and programmes.

By that time, the solar panels at HDB blocks are expected to have a capacity of 220MWp, which can generate the equivalent energy to power some 55,000 four-room flats and reduce carbon emissions by 132,500 tonnes a year.


While this is a step in Singapore’s efforts to go green, Professor Subodh Mhaisalkar, executive director of the Energy Research Institute at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said more can be done, particularly if developers and large industrial estates join in the initiatives.

He noted that the Government's efforts at raising the adoption of solar energy has been picking up, and said it will be on track to meet the 2020 target capacity of 350 MWp.

For instance, national water agency Public Utilities Board had put up a tender in April to conduct engineering studies for the deployment of floating solar panels in Bedok Reservoir and Lower Seletar Reservoir.

However, Prof Subodh said there is still a big gap between the 2020 SolarNova target and Singapore's potential to generate two gigawatt-peak (GWp) of solar power – or 25 per cent of Singapore’s energy demands – by 2025.

"The next opportunity is for other large industrial estates or developers (with large rooftops) to join in... if we really are ambitious in putting up 2 GWp (of solar capacity)," he said.

Going forward, Prof Subodh expects more from the private sector to install solar panels on their rooftops as the cost of these systems continue to go down, along with the costs of batteries or energy storage solutions.

Mr Koh Chiap Khiong, Head of Singapore, South-east Asia & China (Energy), Sembcorp, acknowledged that Singapore’s solar energy market still has “a fair bit of room to grow”.

He said: “We have seen good momentum in recent years, with quite a few companies and industrial facilities exploring rooftop solar solutions. As a company, we’ve moved into this space aggressively.”

Mr Koh added that the Government’s push towards solar energy and its programmes to work with companies to install solar panels in HDB blocks and government facilities will “go a long way to accelerating even wider application of the technology here.”


The HDB’s contract with Sembcorp Solar Singapore and Kurihara Kogyo Co. is the third solar leasing tender under the SolarNova programme.

Sembcorp Solar and Kurihara Kogyo were picked from nine local and foreign companies.

A Sembcorp spokesperson said that the deal will make the firm a “major solar player in Singapore”.

“Sembcorp’s combined solar energy portfolio in Singapore now extends to 104 megawatts of capacity situated across more than 1,500 sites in the country. This is enough to power around 27,400 four-room HDB flats in Singapore per year,” said its spokesperson.

This project will be internally funded and is not expected to have a material impact on the earnings per share and net asset per share of Sembcorp for the financial year ending December 31 this year, said Sembcorp.

With the third tender, HDB will be able to harness 190 MWp of solar capacity from 2,400 HDB blocks – which already makes up more than 85 per cent of HDB’s commitment under the SolarNova programme.

The first was awarded to Sunseap Leasing in December 2015 to install solar panels with a capacity of 76 MWp on the rooftops of some 800 HDB blocks.

The second tender was awarded to Million Lighting Co in June last year, where solar panels with a capacity of 40MWp will be installed at 636 HDB blocks and 31 government sites.

On average, HDB blocks that are installed with solar panels are able to achieve net-zero energy consumption, where the excess solar energy is channelled back into the grid. About 4.1 GWh of solar energy harnessed from HDB blocks is currently exported to the grid each month.

HDB chief executive officer Cheong Koon Hean said the board is making steady progress in its solar initiatives.

To date, solar panels have been installed or fitted in close to a quarter of 10,000 HDB residential blocks. In two years, more than half of these blocks will be fitted or identified for solar installation, added Dr Cheong.

HDB is expected to call for a fourth tender in the fourth quarter of 2019.

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Malaysia: NGOs calls for actions to save Ulu Muda forests without further delay

Audrey Dermawan New Straits Times 24 Jun 18;

GEORGE TOWN: Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have joined in the chorus against logging in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve (UMFR) and for the Federal government to compensate Kedah for the loss of revenue caused by the logging ban.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) also welcomed the move by the Penang government to initiate a top-level meeting between the Federal government and the state governments involved, to find an amicable solution to the logging activities so that the water catchment forests in the UMFR and its surrounding areas (known as the Greater Ulu Muda Forest) are well protected.

SAM and CAP president S M Mohamed Idris said, under the previous government, logging had damaged areas in the UMFR.

“There should be no logging permitted in the area, which extends to extractive activities such as mining or quarrying.

“We are deeply concerned by the statement of Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa, that at the rate of logging in Ulu Muda, the forests would be finished in about 12 to 15 years and that we would face a serious water crisis.

“We therefore urge the newly-elected Kedah state government to urgently gazette the Ulu Muda Forests as water catchment forests and immediately review and revoke any logging licenses that have been approved by the previous government and halt all such activities within the forests area which threaten its life-supporting functions,” he said today.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang would initiate a top-level meeting between Putrajaya and the northern states to find an amicable solution to logging in Ulu Muda, which threatened the most important water catchment area in the north.

He had said that it was a serious matter as continuous logging in Ulu Muda would affect the water catchment area, triggering a potential regional water crisis involving four million people in the three states and thousands of businesses.

Chow had also said that they would work together with Kedah to request for Federal compensation in lieu of ‘forest premiums’ for logging as well as Federal assistance to gazette, manage and protect Ulu Muda as a regional water catchment area.

Idris said he agreed that measures must be taken to compensate the Kedah state government for keeping its forests intact for the larger public good, in exchange for the loss of revenue from logging or other activities.

“Apart from making available national resources for compensating Kedah, there are also funds available internationally such as from the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility for the protection and conservation of our precious forests.

“The Federal and state governments must avail themselves of these resources urgently,” he said.

Idris also stressed that the Ulu Muda forests were critical in meeting the water needs of Perlis, Kedah and Penang.

He added that raw water originating from Ulu Muda was also essential for double cropping in the rice fields of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, which included the nation’s rice bowl.

“The forests also play a major role as a ‘carbon sink’ critical for addressing climate change.

“We call for no further delay acting to saving and protecting the Ulu Muda forests,” he noted.

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Malaysia: Terengganu's beautiful beaches littered with rubbish

Bernama New Straits Times 23 Jun 18;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu is famous for its beautiful beaches that has turned the state into a favourite holiday destination for both local and foreign tourists alike.

However, due to poor civic-mindedness among the visitors, the stretch of beach is often littered with garbage despite rubbish bins being provided.

Bernama checks at the Kuala Ibai beach revealed that there were visitors who intentionally left their rubbish including disposable diapers indiscriminately around even though there were bins provided.

One of the visitors, Nor Akhmar Mohd Dagang, 37, said the lack of concern for maintaining the cleanliness and the environment among local visitors were seen as main contributors for such incidents.

“People come to the beach then leave their rubbish – water bottles, plastic and disposable diapers – indiscriminately, regardless how many more bins will be provided it will make no difference due to poor civic-mindedness,” said Nor Akhmar, a civil servant, when met by Bernama.

Elsewhere, trader Asrol Hisyam Mohd Alias, 37, said that it would be useless if the government provided various facilities and campaigns should parents fail to educate their family members about the responsibility of maintaining cleanliness in public places.

Meanwhile, Kuala Terengganu Member of Parliament Ahmad Amzad Mohamed @Hashim said the culture of garbage disposal on the beach should be rectified as it had not been addressed for a long time.

Hence, he and two state assemblymen, namely, Ahmad Shah Mohamed (Bandar) and Wan Sukairi Wan Abdullah (Wakaf Mempelam), took the initiative to collect rubbish with members of the public at the beach as a way to foster civic-mindedness among visitors. --Bernama

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Indonesia taking steps to prevent haze during Asian Games

Andi Abdussalam Antara 24 Jun 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia, which will host the 18th Asian Games, has since recently been making efforts to prevent forest fires, in order to prevent haze from hindering the major sporting events.

The Asian Games will be held in the capital city Jakarta and South Sumatra`s provincial capital Palembang from Aug 18 to Sept 2. Therefore, many of the efforts to fight haze are being made in South Sumatra.

The provincial government of South Sumatra continues to maximize the efforts to prevent forest and land fires by preventing the occurrence of hotspots, especially in flammable areas, ahead of the 2018 Asian Games.

Head of South Sumatra`s Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Iriansyah, stated in Palembang on Friday that it regularly monitors the possibility of the emergence of hotspots by maximizing patrols in the hope that the Asian Games would not be disrupted.

Land and air patrols continue to be maximized, so that hotspots would not occur, he noted.

He added that that if hotspots arise, especially in the peatlands, it would be difficult to prevent fires.

Moreover, if the peatlands are burnt, it would be difficult to extinguish fires. Hence, prevention must be maximized, he remarked.

In this regard, the disaster management agency continues to monitoring the development of hotspots, so that haze, similar to that in 2015, would not happen.

Moreover, participants from various countries must experience a pollution-free atmosphere, he explained.

He added that the impact of haze not only disrupts health but also tarnishes the image of the nation.

In addition to monitoring the hotspots, it also regularly carries out weather modification, such as modifying the weather by dispersing salt into the air to induce rain, he elaborated.

Therefore, more efforts continue to be made to prevent forest and land fires during the 2018 Asian Games.

The BPBD is conducting weather modification by dispersing one ton of salt over the clouds every day to prevent forest and field fires. The efforts have been made since mid-May. The agency has continued to disperse one ton of salt on an average.

Salt is dispersed over the clouds to create potential rain clouds that are more effective, he stated. This step is part of the precautionary measures against forest and land fires.

Iriansyah could not specify the exact quantity of salt used for conducting cloud seeding, although it is about a ton per operation. Dispersing salt is, at times, conducted twice a day, so that the amount cannot be calculated in detail.

Indeed, the agency is currently maximizing the efforts to prevent forest, garden, and land fires since South Sumatra will receive thousands of guests, who will attend the international sporting event, in August.

Moreover, the Governor of South Sumatra, Alex Noerdin, revealed that there was no smoke haze similar to 2015. Therefore, fire must be prevented early.

Besides that, water-bombing helicopters have also been deployed. Two additional water-bombing helicopters have been sent to Palembang, South Sumatra Province, for anticipating wildfires during the 18th Asian Games. The two units of water-bombing helicopters are now being assembled in Palembang City.

The helicopters, with a capacity of 600 liters and 500 liters, respectively, will be operated to extinguish the wildfires and to conduct patrols in the fire-prone areas in South Sumatra.

These two units of water-bombing helicopters are part of the 10 additional units that will be used during the Asian Games. Besides the two units, four other helicopters have completely been assembled to be ready for operation. The choppers will play a critical role in putting out fires in isolated areas, mainly in peatlands and forests.

According to Iriansyah, his office is committed to preventing the wildfires and hazes from occurring, in accordance with the instruction from Noerdin.

Additionally, the Ogan Komering Ulu district fire department of South Sumatra has readied 10 fire trucks ahead of the Asian Games to fight any forest fires or other blazes that may break out.

"The step was taken as we are entering the dry season, which may trigger forest and land fires," the chief of the fire department, Himda Faruzal, remarked.

Six of the fire trucks would be deployed in sub-districts that have a fire fighting command post, namely Kecamatan Ulu Ogan, Pengandonan, Peninjauan, Lubuk Raja, Semidang Aji, and Lengkiti. "The other four fire trucks would be deployed in a command post in Baturaja city," he noted.

To support the fire trucks, the fire department had also prepared four tank cars and 12 floating machines and stationed 21 fire fighters in each of the command posts. "The officers will work in three shifts, and each shift will have two drivers," he pointed out.

Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jun 18

Invitation to ask LTA questions on Cross Island MRT Line development
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Life History of the Banded Yeoman
Butterflies of Singapore

Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (22 Jun 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Water pressure: F&B outlets face pushback from customers as more charge for drinking water

CHEN LIN Today Online 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE — Dine at an eatery here these days and there could be a chance that you will have to pay for a glass of water to go along with the meal.

Citing rising business costs, some food-and-beverage (F&B) outlets are charging diners as high as S$1 for a glass of plain water.

Responding to TODAY’s queries, the Restaurant Association of Singapore noted that serving free water “used to be the norm several years ago”, but practices may have changed due to the rising cost of operations. It added that typically, the price for a glass of water ranges from 50 to 80 cents.

A random check by TODAY at 13 eateries in VivoCity mall found that eight of them charged between 30 cents and S$1 for a glass of tap water, while one of them sells bottled water at S$1.50 and does not provide drinking water for free.


Among the eight who charge for drinking water, six offer refills, while two do not.

At Ion Orchard, Bugis Junction and Plaza Singapura, there was also a mix of F&B establishments which offer free flow of drinking water and those who charged between 50 to 80 cents for it. One eatery, for instance, provides complimentary water with a minimum spending of S$10 per diner, while others do not serve tap water but sell bottled water at S$1.50 to S$1.90 each.

Recently, a customer at Kim Gary Restaurant in VivoCity took to social media to air his grievances about having to pay S$1 for a glass of water.

When contacted by TODAY, businessman Wilson Wong, 49, said that Kim Gary’s service crew told him the price went up because of the water tariff hike.

“To be fair, the staff would usually mention the price when the customer orders a glass of water. Usual price is $0.60,” he said. “I have always been paying that when I dine there, but due to the noisy environment that day, I did not pay attention to the waitress. I thought it was the same old price, until the bill came.”

Mr Wong then tried to argue with the crew that the price increase was excessive in relation to the tariff hike, but he was told that “it was the reason passed down by the management”.

In response to TODAY’s queries, a spokesperson from Kim Gary clarified that the restaurant’s decision to raise the price of drinking water is “certainly” not related to the water tariff hike, even though the price increase was introduced in March 2017 — just a month after the Government’s announcement of the hike during Budget last year.

“The cost of a cup of water is very complicated,” the spokesperson said. “It involves the filter maintenance, manpower, rental, electricity cost, and many more.”

From next month, water prices in Singapore will be raised again, completing a 30 per cent hike that was carried out in two phases. The first round of increase was in July last year.

The Government had warned businesses against profiteering from the move, but eateries interviewed by TODAY insisted that their decision to charge customers for tap water had nothing to do with the tariff increase, and is a matter of business overheads.

Bali Thai restaurant manager Jairus Parreno said that all its outlets serve complimentary water to diners, except the branch at Sentosa, which charges 30 cents due to the high rental cost there.

An owner of an Indonesian eatery in the eastern part of Singapore, who did not want to be named, said that instead of serving complimentary tap water, he started charging S$1.30 for bottled water a month after he took over the business, because he noticed that customers tend to ask for more than what they need, and there is cost to cleaning the cups as well.

“Charging for water has got nothing to do with the water tariff hike… customers have the tendency to abuse that privilege and that's costing manpower and resources,” he added.


When diners have to pay for tap water, some said that they find it hard to put money down for something so basic and may choose to order other beverages instead, and this would usually be soft drinks.

With the Government driving a campaign to battle the public health problem of diabetes among the population, consumers are pointing the finger at businesses, saying they have a part to play — or at least not discourage customers from drinking water by charging for it.

Mr Koh Liang Lin, 23, student, said: “If water is chargeable at the restaurant, it will push me to top up a dollar more to get a canned drink.”

Similarly, student Mohammad Taha Irfan, 24, said: “I would rather buy sweet drinks than plain water. It’s not worth it to get plain water if the price of plain water and a sweet drink is about the same.”

He added that most food outlets he patronises sell bottled water instead of serving free water, and each bottle is usually just 20 cents cheaper than canned drinks.

For diabetes sufferer Lee Chon Poh, 68, a human resource manager, he has no choice but to pay for plain water at restaurants even though it is “super not worth it”, he said.

Apart from the water tariff hike, he believes that restaurants are raising the price of drinking water because “they want people to order other drinks” which is “more lucrative” for their earnings.

Mr Lee’s daughter, student Lee Mei Ying, 21, is one of those who would like F&B businesses to join the nationwide effort to fight diabetes.

“For diabetic patients like my dad, it would be a lot more convenient and appreciated if complimentary water is being served at restaurants, especially for those who need to take medication straight after their meals.”

She added: “Providing free water can be a good step to get people to drink more water — at least it’s better than charging a high price for it, which is a turn-off.”

Art teacher Goh Yi Xuan, 22, suggested that more restaurants can have self-service water dispensers on their premises as some have done, to save time and effort.

On this, the Restaurant Association of Singapore acknowledged that businesses have a role to play, and it encourages F&B establishments to “consider making some adjustments” such as lowering sugar content in desserts, and making non-sugary drinks the default beverage at catering events. It reiterated that it “does not encourage (or) discourage” charging for tap water as this is down to the business decisions of each eatery.

Despite the concerns over rising costs, some F&B businesses such as Eighteen Chefs, Swensen’s and Ola Beach Club have no plans to put a price tag on drinking water.

Swensen’s spokesperson said: “We are offering free water because this is what our customers want. Our objective is always to make our customers’ dining experience an enjoyable one.”

At Cedele cafe, a regular patron, who did not want to be identified, noticed that its outlets at Raffles City and Novena Square have stopped providing complimentary water to customers in recent months. A waiter then told her that she would have to buy bottled water sold at the eatery.

When TODAY contacted Cedele, its manager Janice Yong said that it was a “miscommunication” and the waiter got the instructions wrong. Cedele provides bottled water because there are many customers “who prefer bottled water over tap (water)”, she said.

“Should guests decide not to purchase the bottled water, all our stores still offer complimentary water in cups,” Ms Yong added.

Ms Neeta Lachmandas, executive director of the Institute of Service Excellence at Singapore Management University, said that restaurant operators need to be aware that while some customers may not mind paying for water, there may be some who feel that offering complimentary water is “basic hospitality”, especially if this is offered by other restaurants they have visited.

Ms Lachmandas, who has experience in leading service improvement strategies and initiatives, also pointed to the Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore last year and its third-quarter study on the F&B sector.

She noted that the “ability to accommodate to (customers’) needs” was identified as an important driver of customer loyalty for the restaurants sub-sector.

“In light of this, restaurant operators may wish to assess if offering complimentary water would help them better connect with their customers’ need, thereby building customer loyalty in a competitive F&B landscape.”

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Malaysia: Sabah drafting law to protect sharks, stingrays

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 22 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The state government is drafting fisheries management legislation, with a particular focus on the protection of sharks, stingrays and other endangered marine species.

State Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong said his ministry wanted to be the governing body on fisheries.

Speaking at the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 here, he said the state’s Park Enactment 1984 and Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 did not specifically provide protection for sharks and stingrays, which were in decline.

He said the new legislation would give the state better control on areas such as trade and protection of marine species.

“Should the ministry become the governing body on fisheries, we will work hand-in-hand with the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to strike a balance (between fisheries and tourism),” he said, adding that he hoped the process, which required the approval of the Attorney-General and collaboration with stakeholders, would not take too much time.

Wong said he was also looking forward to the amendment of the national Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species of Fish) Regulations 1999 and Fisheries Act 1985 to allow the state to provide better protection for sharks and stingrays.

Earlier at the forum, state Fisheries Department assistant director (marine resource management) Lawrence Kissol said six species – great hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, winghead shark, reef manta, giant oceanic manta and oceanic whitetip shark – would be included in the amendments to the federal laws, pending the approval of the Attorney-General by year’s end.

There are 50 shark and 66 stingray species in Sabah waters. Sharks and stingrays are usually caught unintentionally by trawlers, which account for up to 70 per cent of catches, followed by gill nets, longline and handline fishing.

Last year, Lawrence said, 697 metric tonnes of shark (0.43 per cent) and 1,507 metric tonnes of stingray (0.93 per cent) catches were recorded by the department.

“The state government does not allow sharks and stingrays to be listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora for export,” he said.

“Since 2000, no new trawling licences have been issued and the government stopped giving fishing licences to vessels from five countries in 2015.”

Sharks are worth more alive than dead, as they contribute RM220mil yearly to Sabah's economy via dive tourism
fatimah zainal The Star 22 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sharks are worth more alive than dead as they contribute some RM220mil to Sabah's economy, and traditional eating of shark meat should be balanced with conservation and tourism, a major forum here was told.

Semporna, a town in eastern Sabah, is a world famous diving haven and revenue from diving activities reached about USD55.3mil (RM221.85mil) a year, Dr Johanna Zimmerhackel of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) told the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 in Kota Kinabalu on Thursday (June 21).

Of this, shark diving made up USD16.6mil (RM66.6mil) and taxes collected from this amounted to USD3.6mil (RM14.44mil), she said.

The balance comes from various economic spin off activities such as hotels, restaurants, transport etc


"Protecting sharks and rays or maintaining their state or increasing them is the key message of the study," said Dr Zimmerhackel.

This was the result of an updated study to assess the current economic value of the shark-diving industry in Semporna, following the 2012 Shark Tourism Economic Valuation Study, that was led by the AIMS.

"There are many different conservation strategies, and setting up a shark sanctuary is one of them," said Dr Zimmerhackel.

She said while a study is needed to see whether a shark sanctuary would be the most feasible conservation strategy for Sabah, it could improve the diving experience of shark divers who are at risk of taking their tourism receipts elsewhere if the shark situation in Sabah continues to dwindle.

However, the situation is not so simple, as sharks and rays are part of the diet of traditional communities around Semporna, and are often the by-catch by fishermen.

Research at Pulau Mabul by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) found that the Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) traditionally dry shark meat and turn them into salted fish for their own consumption.

UTM tourism research head Prof Amran Hamzah said rays have also been traditionally part of the Suluk community's diet in a dish called tiyula itum (black soup).

"The general reaction from the locals is denial, general apathy, or saying that (killing of sharks and rays) is a 'one-off' spectacle and that it did not involve protected species," said Prof Amran.

He said there is a need to educate local communities on the importance of conserving sharks and rays and also to elevate responsible tourism as an alternative source of income for them.

Other groups at the forum also underlined that the new government should review existing laws on shark protection.

WWF-Malaysia marine policy manager Shantini Guna Rajan said the review could mean regulating sustainable exploitation or completely protecting a species by including it in the list of legislation.

"Most importantly, the federal and Sabah state government must sit together to discuss how to review the regulations," said Shantini at.

The forum saw local, regional and international top campaigners discussing legal advances in protecting these sea creatures plus research and awareness raising efforts in Sabah.

Semporna is the most important hotbed in Sabah for both tourism and fishing of sharks, and the east coast district has been a focal point for researchers and campaigners.

Youth NGO Green Semporna co-founder Adzmin Fatta said it is crucial to empower the youth to change the culture in their communities.

"This doesn't mean banning eating shark meat entirely but there needs to be a balance between conservation, livelihood and culture.

"Green Semporna has been doing awareness raising work and shark education projects in Semporna.

"We have appointed 32 young shark ambassadors from secondary schools there to promote shark conservation among their peers and communities," said Adzmin.

The forum happening on June 21 and June 22 in Kota Kinabalu carries the theme "Exploring Synergies between Fisheries, Conservation and Tourism".

It is jointly organised by Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA).

It is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Fisheries Department and Kota Kinabalu City Hall.

Review of laws needed to protect sharks in Sabah
fatimah zainal The Star 23 Jun 18;

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need for the new government to review existing laws on shark protection as they are an important capital, say top campaigners.

WWF-Malaysia marine policy manager Shantini Guna Rajan said the review could mean regulating sustainable exploitation or completely protecting a species.

“Most importantly, the Federal and Sabah governments must sit down together to discuss how to review the regulations,” said Shantini at the Sabah Sharks and Rays Forum 2018 on Thursday.

The forum saw local, regional and international top campaigners discussing legal advances in protecting these sea creatures plus research and raising of awareness efforts in Sabah.

Semporna is the most important hotbed in Sabah for both tourism and fishing of sharks, and the east coast district has been a focal point for researchers and campaigners.

Semporna is a world-famous diving haven and revenue from diving activities reached about USD55.3mil (RM221.85mil) a year, said Dr Johanna Zimmerhackel of Aims.

Of this, shark diving made up USD16.6mil (RM66.6mil) and taxes collected from this amounted to USD3.6mil (RM14.44mil), she said.

“Protecting sharks and rays is the key message of the study.

“There are many different conservation strategies, and having a shark sanctuary is one of them,” said Dr Zimmerhackel.

She said while a study was needed to see whether a shark sanctuary would be the most feasible conservation strategy for Sabah, it could improve the diving experience of shark divers who are at risk of taking their tourism receipts elsewhere if the shark situation in Sabah continues to dwindle.

The forum also called for new methods of managing sharks that become by-catch by fishermen, noting that Semporna residents traditionally consumed shark meat.

A research concluded in March this year at Pulau Mabul by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) found that the Bajau Laut (sea gypsies) traditionally dried shark meat and turn them into salted fish for their own consumption.

Meanwhile, UTM tourism research head Prof Amran Hamzah said rays had been traditionally part of the Suluk community’s diet, which uses its meat in a dish called tiyula itum (black soup).

“The general reaction from the locals is denial, general apathy, or saying that it did not involve protected species,” said Prof Amran.

He said calls to action included interventions to elevate the role of responsible tourism as an alternative source of income and educating local communities on the importance of shark and rays conservation.

Youth NGO Green Semporna co-founder Adzmin Fatta said towards this end, it was crucial to empower the youth to change the culture in their communities.

“This does not mean banning eating shark meat entirely but there needs to be a balance between conservation, livelihood and culture.

“Green Semporna has been doing awareness-raising work and shark education projects in Semporna.

“We have appointed 32 young shark ambassadors from secondary schools there to promote shark conservation among their peers and communities,” said Adzmin.

The forum, which ended yesterday in Kota Kinabalu, carried the theme “Exploring Synergies between Fisheries, Conservation and Tourism”, and was jointly organised by Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), WWF-Malaysia and Sabah Sharks Protection Association (SSPA).

It is supported by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Fisheries Department and Kota Kinabalu City Hall.

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Some rare good climate news: the fossil fuel industry is weaker than ever

From Wall Street to the pope, many increasingly see fossil fuels as anything but a sure bet. That gives us reason to hope
Bill McKibben The Guardian 21 Jun 18;

If you’re looking for good news on the climate front, don’t look to the Antarctic. Last week’s spate of studies documenting that its melt rates had tripled is precisely the kind of data that underscores the almost impossible urgency of the moment.

And don’t look to Washington DC, where the unlikely survival of the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, continues to prove the political power of the fossil fuel industry. It’s as if he’s on a reality show where the premise is to see how much petty corruption one man can get away with.

But from somewhat less likely quarters, there’s been reason this month for hope – reason, at least, to think that the basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly under way.

At the Vatican, the pope faced down a conference full of oil industry executives – the basic argument that fossil fuel reserves must be kept underground has apparently percolated to the top of the world’s biggest organization.

And from Wall Street came welcome word that market perceptions haven’t really changed: even in the age of Trump, the fossil fuel industry has gone from the world’s surest bet to an increasingly challenged enterprise. Researchers at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis minced no words: “In the past several years, oil industry financial statements have revealed significant signs of strain: Profits have dropped, cash flow is down, balance sheets are deteriorating and capital spending is falling. The stock market has recognized the sector’s overall weakness, punishing oil and gas shares over the past five years even as the market as a whole has soared.”

The IEEFA report labeled the industry “weaker than it has been in decades” and laid out its basic frailties, the first of which is paradoxical. Fracking has produced a sudden surge of gas and oil into the market, lowering prices – which means many older investments (Canada’s tar sands, for instance) no longer make economic sense. Fossil fuel has been transformed into a pure commodity business, and since the margins on fracking are narrow at best, its financial performance has been woeful. The IEEFA describes investors as “shell-shocked” by poor returns.

The second weakness is more obvious: the sudden rise of a competitor that seems able to deliver the same product – energy – with cheaper, cleaner, better technologies. Tesla, sure – but Volkswagen, having come clean about the dirtiness of diesel, is going to spend $84bn on electric drivetrains. China seems bent on converting its entire bus fleet to electric power. Every week seems to bring a new record-low price for clean energy: the most recent being a Nevada solar plant clocking in at 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, even with Trump’s tariffs on Chinese panels.

And the third problem for the fossil fuel industry? According to IEEFA, that would be the climate movement – a material financial risk to oil and gas companies. “In addition to traditional lobbying and direct-action campaigns, climate activists have joined with an increasingly diverse set of allies – particularly the indigenous-rights movement – to put financial pressure on oil and gas companies through divestment campaigns, corporate accountability efforts, and targeting of banks and financial institutions. These campaigns threaten not only to undercut financing for particular projects, but also to raise financing costs for oil and gas companies across the board.”

Hey, the movement against Kinder Morgan’s pipeline got so big, the Canadian government had to literally buy the thing in order to try and ram it through. Protesters will die, a former Bank of Canada governor predicted this week – though he added the country will have to muster the “fortitude” to kill them and get the pipeline built.

For activists, the best part of the IEEFA report is a series of recommendations for precisely how to hurt the industry the most, from creating delays that “turn a marginal project into a cancelled one” to “strategic litigation” to “changing the narrative”.

The report’s authors write: “The financial world is just beginning to understand the fundamental weakness of the fossil fuel sector, and barely acknowledges the global climate movement’s growing power and reach. This has created a powerful opportunity to develop and foster a new storyline on Wall Street: that the oil and gas industry is an unstable financial partner just as it faces its greatest test.”

That’s work we’re capable of. If a few years of campaigning is enough to convince the pope we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, a few more quarters might finally persuade the suits that there’s more money to be made elsewhere. But speed is clearly of the essence. If massive losses of money loom over Wall Street, massive losses of polar ice loom over us all.

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Best of our wild blogs: 22 Jun 18

Abandoned net at Pulau Seduku (17 Jun 2018)
Project Driftnet Singapore

E-poll on proposed amendments to the Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA), Singapore
Psychedelic Nature

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Pregnant wild boar killed in accident on BKE

Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: A pregnant wild boar was killed in an accident involving three cars on the Bukit Timah Expressway towards Woodlands on Thursday evening (Jun 21).

The accident, which took place near the Mandai Road exit, left the boar's insides exposed and its litter of unborn piglets on the road.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the three cars were travelling on the right-most lane when the wild boar crossed the expressway from left to right. Two of the cars ran over the wild boar, while the third car collided into the second car.

The police said they were alerted to the accident at 7.40pm and that investigations are ongoing.

Photos circulating on social media show a dead wild boar with its unborn piglets lying nearby after an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway on Jun 21, 2018.

The incident comes after a wild sambar deer was euthanised after it suffered severe injuries in an accident along the same expressway last Sunday. Three vehicles were involved in the accident and a taxi driver was injured.

There were several other accidents involving wild boars on Singapore's roads last year.

In September, five people were injured in two separate accidents on Lentor Avenue and on the Ayer Rajah Expressway involving wild boars. In November, a wild boar was shot by police for endangering public safety at the Punggol West Flyover. A month after that incident, a wild boar caused an accident between two vehicles along the Pan Island Expressway.

The Ministry of National Development said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by MP Sun Xueling in November last year that it is working with stakeholders to "manage the wild boar issues" in Singapore.

The Government also said it will step up public education efforts on what to do if members of the public encounter animals such as wild boars.

Source: CNA/cy

Mandai area roadkill: Developer takes protective measures but wildlife experts call for more
Fann Sim Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: More can be done to prevent roadkill in the Mandai area, where an eco-tourism hub is being developed, wildlife experts told Channel NewsAsia.

A pregnant wild boar was killed in a traffic accident along Bukit Timah Expressway on Thursday (Jun 21), the fifth reported roadkill in the area since development on the project started last year. Last Sunday, a wild Sambar deer was killed along the same stretch of road.

The developer of the project, Mandai Park Development (MPD), said speed bumps were put in place along Mandai Lake Road in 2016. The process of installing hoardings started at the end of 2016 before development works started in the first quarter of 2017.

But wildlife experts said more can be done to prevent roadkill.

"They need to be far more efficient and urgent than they are doing now. At the area where a pangolin and leopard cat died, there are still no hoardings even till today," said veteran wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai.

The hoardings, which prevent animals from getting onto the roads and guides them to a safer crossing, are still being installed in phases up to this year, said wildlife experts.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the hoardings are added in phases as the project progresses.

When Channel NewsAsia visited the area, the hoardings were largely limited to the Mandai Lake Road area and not along Mandai Road, which flanks the northern region of the reserve.

"Due to forest clearing as part of the development, wildlife which inhabit these areas will be forced to move around and are at risk of getting on adjacent busy roads or highways where hoardings are not present," said Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society's (ACRES).

"More speed calming measures and complete barriers must be in the right places, not just with the development but the surrounding areas where the displaced animals could move to along the main roads to prevent animal crossings and roadkill," she added.

On slowing the traffic along Mandai Lake Road, Dr Lee Hui Mien, MPD's vice president of sustainable solutions, said that a series of speed reduction measures has been put in place.

The speed limit for most parts of the road has been reduced to 40kmh. This is further reduced to 20kmh at a stretch near the nature reserve that has been identified as a temporary crossing area for wildlife.

MPD said in January this year, an additional speed radar was installed and the number of speed humps and wildlife crossing signs increased. Road markings to indicate wildlife crossing areas were also added.

A rope bridge has also been installed along Mandai Lake Road to help arboreal animals such as squirrels and macaques move across safely, with another set currently underway, it added.

Drivers of vehicles such as taxis, private hire cars and buses that regularly ply the Mandai area have also been engaged to raise awareness on speed calming measures, said Dr Lee.

However, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum's research associate Sivasothi N said that the hoardings and traffic calming plans have been up for "a very short time".

He noted that plans for the eco-tourism park were first announced in 2014 but work only started in 2017. "That is very soon for an entity unfamiliar with development next to protected forests and the entire process has been hasty. The mitigation I've observed is slow and inadequate," said Mr Sivasothi.

"The mitigations that are needed are not yet implemented," said the vice-chair of Nature Society's conservation committee, Mr Ho Hua Chew.


Mr Ho was referring to a planned Eco-Link wildlife bridge to help animals living in the forested areas of Mandai cross roads without danger, similar to the existing Eco-Link@BKE crossing built between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Experts said that the bridge, which will only be ready by the end of 2019 ahead of other components of the project, could have helped prevent roadkill incidents.

Mr Subaraj, who provided consultancy on the Mandai project, said various local wildlife groups had submitted recommendations to mitigate its impact on the local fauna.

"None of the mitigation measures recommended, including wildlife crossings ... to proper hoardings, everything was not in place when the developer started developing the area which shouldn't be the case. It should all have been in place then you start the development," said Mr Subaraj.

"That's the normal procedure for anywhere where there is nature even more so when there is a nature reserve. That's really unfortunate," he added.

While the Eco-Link bridge is a "great solution" and can be used by most animals, Mr Subaraj added that installing more rope bridges will help arboreal animals that live in the rainforest tree canopy move across.

National University of Singapore's wildlife biologist Joanna Coleman said that the most effective strategy of mitigating wildlife affected by building works are overpasses.

"Signage is probably the most common and cheapest mitigation measure implemented worldwide," said Dr Joanna Coleman. But a recent study showed they are ineffective, the wildlife biologist at the National University of Singapore added.

"If drivers in Singapore are generally more cautious or more likely than drivers elsewhere to obey road signs, then perhaps signage could work better here than elsewhere," Dr Coleman added.


"When a large mammal strays onto a road, there's always a chance that it will cause a collision, resulting in human injury or death," Dr Coleman said.

Three cars were involved in the accident with the pregnant wild boar. Last Sunday's incident where a wild Sambar deer had to be euthanised involved a taxi, motorcycle and a car as they tried to avoid the deer. The taxi driver suffered cuts and was taken to hospital.

In May, a Malaysian motorcyclist took the Land Transport Authority and National Parks Board to court for negligence after a wild boar roadkill accident.

Mr Vicknesh Morthy suffered serious head injuries resulting in permanent disability after crashing into the carcass of a wild boar that was left along the BKE, near Eco-Link@BKE.

Apart from Sambar deer and wild boars, the reserve is also home to pangolins, Banded Leaf Monkeys, Common Palm Civets and leopard cats.

"I think we will definitely see more encounters of this nature but what is scary is that ... if you're not very careful, it could lead to a fatality of a person on the roads. If a car hits a big Sambar deer at full pace, someone could get killed," Mr Subaraj said.

"We need more wildlife crossings. We need speeds to be slowed down on certain roads especially along Mandai Road and Upper Thomson Road. And we need to have better understanding among the public that you are moving adjacent to a nature area and there is always a possibility of wildlife being around so let's be a little bit considerate and alert," he added.

Source: CNA/fs

Pregnant wild boar killed after accident on BKE near Mandai Road
Straits Times 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - A pregnant wild boar was killed in an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway near the Mandai Road exit on Thursday night (June 21).

In response to queries, the police said three cars were involved in the accident. There were no injuries reported.

The Straits Times understands that the wild boar was run over by two cars travelling on the right-most lane of the expressway. A third car then collided with the second car that had run over the animal.

Facebook user Alex Soo posted photos of the aftermath which showed the dead animal lying on the road.

The bodies of several of its babies were also seen nearby.

This is the second accident in a week along the same stretch of expressway near Mandai Road that has seen a wild animal end up as roadkill.

On Sunday, a rare sambar deer that wandered onto the BKE caused a three-vehicle accident. A taxi driver was injured and taken to hospital.

The deer was later put down as its injuries were found to be too severe.

Due to the large size of the deer, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore was alerted and a team was able to safely contain the injured animal at about 7.30am, on June 17, 2018.
Related Story
Wild sambar deer put down due to severe injuries after 3-vehicle accident on BKE
The last reported accident involving a wild boar was in December last year, when one of the animals caused a two-vehicle accident on the Pan Island Expressway.

ST reported in March of several cases of rare animals ending up as roadkill in Mandai since development for the Mandai hub of five wildlife parks began in January last year.

Works are ongoing to clear secondary forests in the area near the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari to accommodate two more parks - the relocated Bird Park, and new Rainforest Park.

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