Best of our wild blogs: 20 Jun 11

21 Jun (Tue): "The Sea Anemone Lecture" by Dr Daphne Fautin
from Celebrating Singapore's Biodiversity

Virgin trip to Terumbu Selegi
from wonderful creation and Psychedelic Nature and wild shores of singapore and Singapore Nature

Weavers (SubFamily: Ploceinae) in Singapore
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Chasing the Mantidflies.. and a mozzie incident
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Strange bee-haviour: Thousands gather at altar for no reason
from The Lazy Lizard's Tales and Bishan Park canal stinks: Is sewage being discharged into canal?

Reticulated Python
from Monday Morgue

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More Than Half Of Borneo's Carnivores Face Extinction

Bernama 19 Jun 11;

KOTA KINABALU, June 19 (Bernama) -- More than fifty percent of Borneo's many carnivore species could become extinct, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which lists them on its red list of threatened species.

In disclosing the findings, Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Dr Laurentius Ambu said as such, there was a need for action plans and long-term solutions to the declining number of Borneo's carnivores.

Speaking at the launching of the 1st Borneo Carnivore Symposium, here, today, he said the need to strengthen knowledge was crucial in efforts to protect the 24 species of carnivores found in Borneo such as the amazing Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), which is only found in Borneo.

"Last year, scientists even rediscovered the world's most endangered otter species here in Sabah at Dermakot (near Sandakan), so it's obvious we have to work harder to protect these amazing wildlife," he said.

The symposium, aimed at developing action plans to ensure the survival of the carnivores in Borneo, was attended by almost 200 scienties from 15 countries including Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.

"The conservation of carnivores is important because they are what we call the keystone species as their presence maintains a healthy ecosystem within the forests of Borneo," said Laurentius who was also the organising chairman of the Symposium.

Besides the Sunda Clouded Leopard (harimau dahan), the threatened carnivores of Borneo refers to mammals including civet cats like the Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga), otters and badgers such as Teledu.

Laurentius said carnivores were on the top of the food chain and maintained ecological balance within the forests as well as agriculture plantations in Borneo.

The symposium was organised by the SWD, IUCN's Cat, Small Carnivores and Otter Specialist Groups of the Species Survival Commission and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research of Germany.


Saving carnivores to save ecosystem
New Straits Times 20 Jun 11;

KOTA KINABALU: Animal experts will put their heads together for the next few days to find ways to better protect carnivores that are threatened with extinction in Borneo.

Focus will be on 24 species in the 1st Borneo Carnivore Symposium, with the theme "Road Towards Conservation Action plans" which started yesterday and will end on Friday.

Jointly organised by the Sabah Wildlife Department, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Leibniz Institute from Germany, some 200 participants from 15 countries are expected to participate in the event.

State Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu, in launching the symposium, said it was important to strengthen knowledge on the endangered species as this would allow for better conservation plans.

"Last year, scientists had even discovered the world's most endangered otter species here in Sabah at Dermakot, so it's obvious we have to work harder to protect these amazing wildlife," he said referring to the hairy-nosed otter Lutra Sumatrana.

"The conservation of carnivores is important because they are what we call the keystone species as their presence maintains a healthy ecosystem within the forests of Borneo," said Laurentius who was also the organising chairman.

Carnivores are on the top of the food chain and maintain ecological balance within the forest as well as agriculture plantations in Borneo.

"Survival of the carnivores would be of great global relevance as Borneo has more species of endemic carnivores than any other island in the world except for Madagascar," said Dr Andreas Wilting of Cat, Small Carnivores & Otter Specialist Groups of the Species Survival Commission of the Leibniz Institute Specias Survival Conversation.

"The theme was chosen because we are aiming to gather what scientific information we have now and develop conservation management plans that can be applied across Borneo," he said.

Save Borneo carnivores
Ruben Sario The Star 23 Jun 11;

KOTA KINABALU: Countries in Borneo must cooperate on conservation efforts for the island's diverse but highly endangered carnivores, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Man-jun.

He said Malaysian wildlife experts and their Indonesian and Brunei counterparts should share technical know-how and information on the conservation of these animals.

“While we rejoice in the fact that Borneo has one of the most diverse carnivore species, this is also a challenging time for conservationists,” he said when launching the Borneo Carnivore Symposium here yesterday.

He said the biggest threat to wildlife in Borneo was poaching and loss of habitat due to clearing of forests for agriculture.

Some 200 international scientists attended the conference aimed at mapping out plans to stave off the extinction of the carnivore species.

The symposium was held amid International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that about half of these species could eventually go extinct. The IUCN has placed these animals in its Red List of Threatened Species.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said conservation of carnivores was vital be-cause their presence maintained a healthy ecosystem within the forests of Borneo.

“Carnivores are at the top of the food chain and maintain ecological balance within the forest as well as agricultural plantations in Borneo.

“Last year, scientist even rediscovered the world's most endangered species, the otter, in Sabah at Derma-kot,” he said, adding that 24 species of carnivores unique to Borneo such as the Sunda Clouded Leopard had to be protected.

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WWF: Sabah marine park has much to offer

The Star 20 Jun 11;

KOTA KINABALU: The proposed Tun Mustapha Park on a conservation area in northern Sabah is a treasure trove for eco-tourism.

Its limestone caves at Balambangan Island and its pristine beaches are prompting environmentalists to pitch the tourism possibilities with tour operators in the state.

WWF Malaysia organised a trip for Sabah tourism operators to see the potential sites in the proposed park for the development of eco-tourism programmes.

WWF-Malaysia Sulu-Sulawesi marine eco-region manager Robecca Jumin said the trip on Thursday was aimed at increasing the profile of the proposed park as well as to highlight the Balambangan, Maliangin and Berungus islands.

“Exposure to these sites is intended to initiate eco-tourism development that will generate a sustainable livelihood for local communities and garner support to fully protect Balambangan Island,” she said in a statement.

She added that the proposed park within the Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Area (PCA) is one of three globally significant PCAs in Malaysia within the Sulu-Sulawesi marine eco-region.

The area has Malaysia’s second largest concentration of coral reefs linked to complex habitats including primary rainforest, mangroves, and seagrass beds and is home to 252 species of hard corals, 350 species of fish, endangered green sea turtles and dugongs.

Once gazetted, the proposed park, measuring over one million hectares with 50 islands and over 80,000 inhabitants, will become Malaysia’s largest marine park.

Balambangan Island, she said, had over 20 limestone caves with archaeological findings that date back 11,000 years to 1.75 million years.

The cave system houses intriguing chambers and limestone formations that have the potential to attract local and foreign tourists.

Researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Malaysian Archaeological Research Centre found three prehistoric human bones and 36 items made from animal bones believed to be tools from the Pleistocene era.

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China food prices spike as floods ruin farmland

Reuters 19 Jun 11;

ZHUJI, China, Jun (Reuters) - Torrential rain across southern and eastern China which has killed more than 100 people and triggered the evacuation of half a million has left large areas of farmland devastated as food prices surge, state media said on Sunday.

Weeks of rainstorms in the stricken province of Zhejiang in the Yangtze delta have caused nearly 5 billion yuan (447 million pounds) of damage, reducing vegetable production by 20 percent and pushing prices in the provincial capital of Hangzhou up by as much as 40 percent, Xinhua said.

China is hit by flooding and drought every year.

The rain is expected to continue for the next two days, stretching from the financial hub of Shanghai in the east to rural Yunnan on China's southwestern border.

Villagers on the outskirts of the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang returned to their homes on Sunday as flood waters began to recede.

"Right now, I am just clearing up the things in my store," said 37-year-old shop owner Peng Gao. "It's not about whether the floods will come again. If we don't clear the things, we will not be able to use them again."

Two towns were flooded and thousands were evacuated following the breach of two dykes in Zhuji on Thursday.

China has mobilised troops across the region to rescue stricken farmers and distribute food, but some villagers said the local government could have done more to prevent the flooding.

"When it first started, the breach (in the flood protection dyke) was not that huge -- we could have easily fixed it," said 22-year old villager Shou Qiongdan.

"But the government did not do anything. None of the local officials tried to salvage the situation. That's why we have such huge economic losses and so many people being affected by the flooding."

In neighbouring Jiangsu province, the city of Suzhou was hit by more than 200 mm of rainfall on Friday night, and water at the Tai Lake had already exceeded flood alert levels, the China News Service said.

In central China's Hubei, two people were killed after the Yangtze river and its tributaries burst their banks, with as many as 3 million people affected, Xinhua said in a separate report. Further downstream in Anhui province, three died and another 120,000 were evacuated as a result of floods.

In southwest China's Sichuan province, five people were killed and another seven remain missing after a water diversion tunnel was flooded on Friday, the China News Service said. ($1 = 6.471 yuan)

(Additional reporting by Sabrina Mao and David Stanway; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Afforestation will hardly dent warming problem: study

Yahoo News 19 Jun 11;

PARIS (AFP) – Schemes to convert croplands or marginal lands to forests will make almost no inroads against global warming this century, a scientific study published on Sunday said.

Afforestation is being encouraged under the UN's Kyoto Protocol climate-change treaty under the theory that forests are "sinks" that soak up carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air through photosynthesis.

But environmental researchers, in a new probe, said that even massive conversion of land to forestry would have only a slender benefit against the greenhouse-gas problem.

This is partly because forests take decades to mature and CO2 is a long-lasting molecule, able to lurk for centuries in the atmosphere.

But another reason is that forests, even as they absorb greenhouse gas, are darker than croplands and thus absorb more solar heat -- and in high latitudes, this may even result in net warming.

Vivek Arora of the University of Victoria in British Columbia and Alvaro Montenegro of St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia modelled five scenarios in which afforestation was carried out over 50 years, from 2011 to 2060.

They used a Canadian programme called CanESM1 that simulated the impacts on land, sea and air if Earth's surface temperature rose by some 3.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 compared to 1850.

Even if all the cropland in the world were afforested, this would reduce the warming by only 0.45 C (0.81 F) by a timescale of 2081-2100, according to the study, which appears in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Fifty-percent afforestation would brake it by an even tinier 0.25 C (0.45 F).

Both scenarios are, of course, wildly unrealistic because of the need to grow food.

Fifty-percent afforestation would require at least a doubling in crop yield to feed the human population because half of the crop area would be taken out of use.

The other three scenarios found that afforestation in the tropics was three times more efficient at "avoided warming" than in northerly latitudes and temperate regions.

The study said that afforestation does have other benefits, for the economy and the ecoystem.

"There's nothing wrong with afforestation, it is positive, but our findings say that it's not a response to temperature control if we are going to be emitting (greenhouse gases) this way," Montenegro told AFP.

The study said bluntly, "Afforestation is not a substitute for reduced greenhouse-gas emissions."

In forest programmes, policymakers would be advised to focus afforestation efforts in the tropics but also push hard against deforestation, which accounts for 10 to 20 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions globally.

Avoiding deforestation is under discussion for post-2012 climate action under the UN flag.

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Hopes Fading For Climate Agreement

Alister Doyle PlanetArk 20 Jun 11;

Ask for a camel when you expect to get a goat," runs a Somali saying that sums up the fading of ambitions for United Nations talks on slowing climate change -- aim high, but settle for far less.

Developing nations publicly insist the rich must agree far deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, but increasingly believe that only a weaker deal can actually be achieved to keep the existing Kyoto Protocol, or parts of it, alive beyond 2012.

"They have to ask for a camel ... but will settle for a goat," Mohamed Adow, of Christian Aid, said of poor nations' strategy at a just-ended session of 180 nations in Bonn.

Hopes for a treaty have dimmed since U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders failed to agree a binding pact at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

Rich economies are reluctant to make substantial cuts in their emissions beyond 2012 without commitments from big developing economies like China and India to also curb their fast-rising emissions.

At issue now is what can be salvaged from the talks.

"This process is dead in the water," said Yvo de Boer, the former head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat who stepped down last year to work at KPMG, a consultancy and auditing firm.

"It's not going anywhere," he said during the June 6-17 talks in Bonn among negotiators trying to avert more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

Disputes between rich and poor on sharing curbs in greenhouse gases mean gridlock over the Kyoto Protocol, the existing U.N. plan which obliges about 40 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions until 2012.

Kyoto risks collapse due to lack of support beyond 2012 from rich nations, which are meant to take the lead in fighting climate change since they have burned carbon-emitting fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century.


Christiana Figueres, de Boer's successor in 2010 as head of the U.N. Secretariat, says the process of agreeing new terms to tackle climate change will be a long haul, despite worries that disasters such as floods in China's Yangtze basin this month are getting more frequent.

"Governments, businesses and civil society cannot solve climate with one meeting, with one agreement," she said at the end of the talks of ministers' scaled-down ambitions.

Bonn made progress on technical issues such as designing a scheme for sharing clean energy technologies, and to help poor nations adapt to impact to impacts of climate change.

But the buzz in the corridors was about details. "There has been no advance in the substantive issue of pledges for reductions in emissions" by developed nations, said Pablo Solon, head of Bolivia's delegation in Bonn.

Environment ministers will meet in Durban, South Africa, in November and December to try to agree Kyoto's fate.

Developing nations' current demand is an extension of Kyoto, which obliges almost 40 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels from 2008-12.

But Japan, Canada and Russia insist they will not extend their Kyoto cuts, arguing a new pact is needed for big emitters including China and India which have no 2012 curbs under Kyoto.

And Washington never ratified Kyoto, arguing it wrongly omitted 2012 goals for emerging economies and would cost U.S. jobs. Emerging economies in turn argue that their first priority is to end poverty, requiring higher energy use.

Delegates say that the minimum "goat" deal envisioned by developing nations is for a core group, led by the European Union, to extend Kyoto. The EU says it will not go it alone since it accounts for just 11 percent of world greenhouse gases.

"I wonder how wise it is to criticize the party that without comparison delivers the most, instead of trying to help us put pressure on all the big players who do not commit," European Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

De Boer said the main hope was now to recast the battle against global warming as part of a broader fight to spur economic growth that does not damage the environment, backed by much greater involvement by the private sector.

Even environmental activists are pulling back from trying to influence government negotiators at U.N. talks, in a strategic shift to focus lobbying on national policies at home.

In past years, activists have staged colorful protests outside the Bonn meetings, for instance dressed as polar bears at risk of melting Arctic ice. Most have now disappeared.

Figueres said talks had made progress -- ministers last year agreed a package of measures in Cancun, Mexico, that included a goal of limiting any temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

But a group of scientists estimated that existing plans for cutting greenhouse gases so far put the world on a path to a rise of 3.2 degrees Celsius. Emissions rose last year to a record high, the International Energy Agency said.

(Editing by Jan Harvey)

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