Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jul 11

15-17 Jul (Fri-Sun): More biodiversity talks this weekend!
from Celebrating Singapore's BioDiversity!

from The annotated budak

Juvenile Asian Glossy Starlings begging to be fed
from Bird Ecology Study Group

brittlestar @ punggol - July 2011
from sgbeachbum

New articles on Nature in Singapore
from Raffles Museum News

Wildlife Research, Protection, and Legislation: A discussion with Dr. Jane Goodall from The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

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SPCA sees more animal abuse cases

Evelyn Lam, Lynda Hong Channel NewsAsia 12 Jul 11;

SINGAPORE: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said the number of animal abuse cases it handled this year went up by 10 per cent, as compared to last year.

And the number of animal abuse complaints last month reached a six-month high of 90.

SPCA also deals with an average of 600 abandoned animals every month.

But its current home can only house 180 animals.

SPCA's upcoming home in Sungei Tengah will have the capacity for more abandoned animals.

Bigger space also means higher overheads and the SPCA already exceeds its budget by S$2 million every year.

More volunteers will also be needed.

The number of animals adopted from the SPCA has remained steady at 85 animals a month.

SPCA does not expect the number of animals adopted from its shelter to change, as animal welfare groups have to compete with pet shops for potential pet owners.

Deirdre Moss, outgoing executive director of SPCA, said: "I think the adoption rate has been pretty stable for the past couple of years, or few years.

"Actually, I don't think it's going to increase greatly as long as we have so many pet shops selling animals.

"There's no limit on commercial breeding, and so animal welfare groups, in general, have to compete with these establishments."

And to prevent owners from abandoning pets, SPCA is looking to introduce new services when its Sungei Tengah home is operational.

Deirdre Moss said: "If they have a problem with their pets, maybe they can come in and consult us.

"In future, I hope we are going to have canine behavioural counsellors and in-house dog obedience trainers, where we want to provide solutions for people, who are thinking of giving up their pets or struggling to discipline their pets in terms of training.

"We would like to be a resource and we would like to offer it as a service."

- CNA/ck

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Indonesia: Lampung needs funds to save turtle breeding grounds

Antara 12 Jul 11;

Liwa, Lampung (ANTARA News) - The regional government of West Lampung district, Lampung province, has not enough funds to re-green damaged coastal areas where turtles usually lay their eggs , a local marine affairs official said.

Head of the Marine and Fisheries Service of West Lampung Nata Djudin Amran said that because of the limited budget the regional government could not do much to re-green and repair areas damaged by abrasion.

He said that West Lampung had a stretch of 211.5 km of beaches, of which 100 km had so far become a place for turtles to lay their eggs. However, about 3.5 km of the 100 km stretches have been denuded and damaged due to abrasion.

It was recorded that there were four species of turtles that often landed on this beach to lay their eggs.

The four species are gray turtles, hawksbill turtles, green turtles and leather back turtles.

The number of the turtles has now declined to only165.

"Re-greening programs in the coastal areas must be carried out in order to attract turtles to lay their eggs. After all, the turtles would lay eggs on the site which is far from the conservation areas if re-greening is not conducted," H Ahyar (56), a turtle hatch activist in Sukamaju village, Ngambur subsdisrict.

He said that damage to the coastal areas threatened the population of turtles in West Lampung.

According to Nata Djudin, the regional government is now making its efforts to collect young mangroves to be planted in the coastal areas.

"This coastal areas are a turtle conservation location where all stakeholders should pay attention because otherwise turtle population in the area could become extinct," Nata said.

The coastal areas of West Lampung are designed to serve as a turtle conservation location for at least four species.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Indonesia: Lampung Turtles On Brink Of Extinction Due To Coastal Damage
Bernama 12 Jul 11;

LIWA, LAMPUNG, July 12 (Bernama) -- The turtle population in West Lampung district, Lampung province, is on the brink of extinction due to coastal abrasion and lack of re-greening programs, a turtle lover activist said.

"West Lampung's coastal areas are damaged due to abrasion and lack of re-greening programmes so that turtles are discouraged to land on the beach to lay their eggs," H Ahyar (56), a turtle hatch activist in Sukamaju village, Ngambur subsdisrict, West Lampung, told Antara news agency on Monday.

He said that besides the unfavourable condition due to damaged to the coastal areas, turtle eggs were also prone to theft. Now only a small number of turtle eggs could be found at the beach.

"Re-greening programmes in the coastal areas must be carried out in order to attract turtles to lay their eggs. After all, the turtles would lay eggs far from the conservation areas if re-greening is not conducted," he said.

While, head of the Maritime and Fisheries Services of West Lampung, Nata Djudin Amran said that the government had no enough funds to carry out re-greening programs in the coastal areas.

He said that the limitation of budget has caused the regional government unable to do much.

The regional government, he said, was now making its efforts to collect young mangroves to be planted in the coastal areas.

"This coastal areas are a turtle conservation location where all stakeholders should pay attention because otherwise turtle population in the area could become extinct," Nata said.

The coastal areas of West Lampung are designed to serve as a turtle conservation location for at least four species, namely gray turtles, hawksbill turtles, green turtles and leather back turtles.


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Indonesia: Gunung Kidul plans to export monkeys

Antara 12 Jul 11;

Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - Gunung Kidul district in Yogyakarta province, Central Java, plans to export long-tail monkeys (Macaca fascularis) to prevent their habitat in the region from becoming overpopulated.

The head of the district`s forestry and plantation service, Anik Indarwati, said in Wonosari here on Tuesday the district`s Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and administration had raised the issue of exporting the animals among others to China.

"The long tail monkey can be used in laboratory research and for experimental purposes," she said.

She said the BKSDA and the district administration still had difficulty exporting the animal because it had to be done through quarantines.

"The export destination country requires that the animal be quarantined first before being able to be used for research purposes and so the plan has not yet been implemented," she said.

Anik said the animal is not a rare animal and protected unlike orangutan of Sumatra.

She said the district administration had been overwhelmed by the fast increasing population of the animal and therefore had sought alternatives to solve the problem.

"The animal is not dangerous for men but damages agricultural plants," she said.

She said the Gunung Kidul district administration has taken efforts to reduce the population of the animal but its number was difficult to control.

"The animal is spreading in Tepus, Panggang, Purwosari, Paliyan, Semin, Girisubo, Ponjong and Wonosari sub-districts," she said.

She said the animal emerges during the dry season as water and food supply in their habitat drops and damages agricultural plants.

BKSDA veterinarian Yuni Tirtasari meanwhile said that the animal could produce polio vaccine.

"So far Biofarma Indonesia has been using the animal for research and test purposes," she said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Jail warning to save Philippine geckos

Sam Yeh AFP Yahoo News 12 Jul 11;

Geckos in the Philippines are under increasing threat as demand intensifies from the Asia-wide alternative medicine trade that ravaged lizard numbers in neighbouring Malaysia, the government said Wednesday.

Trapping, selling or exporting geckos, regarded by some Asians as cure-alls, is punishable by hefty fines and jail terms of up to four years, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje warned in a statement.

"The law expressly provides that the collection, trade or transport of geckos without appropriate permits... is punishable by imprisonment of up to four years and a fine of up to 300,000 pesos (about $7,000)," he said.

Paje said the 300-gramme (10.6-ounce) tropical reptiles, known for their flamboyant skin hues and sticky footpads, now sold for 50,000 pesos each in a lucrative Asian market.

Population declines in the wild in countries such as Malaysia have forced traders and suppliers to source the carnivorous, usually night-feeding lizards from countries such as Thailand and the Philippines, Paje said.

Some folk healers in the Philippines are known to advise asthma sufferers to drink tap water sprinkled with pulverised, fried geckos.

"They play an important role in maintaining our fragile ecosystems," Paje said of the lizards, which mainly feed on insects and worms as well as moss.

Twenty-six gecko species are found only in the Philippines, which also has eight other varieties that are also found elsewhere, he added.

Some of the larger species hunt small birds and rodents, the ministry said.

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Urban plants' role as carbon sinks 'underestimated'

Mark Kinver BBC News 12 Jul 11;

Plants in cities and towns make a major contribution towards removing carbon from the atmosphere, a study suggests.

The authors say the research is the first of its kind in Europe to quantify how much carbon is stored within this urban vegetation.

They add that the data are vital because local authorities are key in helping the UK reach its target of cutting CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

The findings will be published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

In this study, the researchers used information from satellite data and from field research to survey the amount of vegetation across Leicester - a city with a population of about 300,000 people.

The assessment included domestic gardens, public spaces, road verges and derelict industrial land.

The team estimated that 231,000 tonnes of carbon, equivalent to 3.16kg per square metre, was locked away in the city's vegetation - most of which was stored by trees.

"Large trees are particularly important carbon stores," said lead author Zoe Davies from the University of Kent.

"Most of the publicly owned land across Leicester is grassland.

"If just 10% of this was planted with trees, the existing carbon pool across the city could be increased by 12%."

Urban world

The researchers noted that during the past century, the planet's urban population grew ten-fold. Now more than than half of the world's population is living in urban areas.

As a result of this rapid expansion, urban areas continue to grow at a faster rate than any other land-use type.

Yet, the team observed: "Despite the importance of urbanisation as a major driver of land-use change, there have been surprisingly few attempts to explicitly quantify the provision of ecosystem services at a city-wide scale.

"This is likely to be a legacy of the perception that urban ecosystems have limited ecological value because they are heavily modified by humans and relatively small in size."

Dr Davies said current assessments hold that once land in the UK is classified as urban, its biological carbon density is assumed to be zero.

"Our study illustrates that this is not the case," she explained.

"There is a substantial pool of carbon locked away in the vegetation within a city - another reason why urban trees and green spaces should be valued."

The study is part of £2.5m project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), that is investigating the size of the urban carbon footprint.

The programme, involving five universities, is divided into four areas: domestic buildings, non-domestic buildings (offices, schools, factories etc), transport and biological sequestration.

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Malaysia: Air quality improves, thanks to strong winds

The Star 12 Jul 11;

PETALING JAYA: The haze continued to shroud major parts of the country but the condition improved slightly by evening, thanks to stronger winds throughout the day.

Areas with moderate air quality readings of over 80 on the Air Pollutant Index (API) jumped from two at 5pm on Monday to nine at 11am Tuesday. However, this was reduced to six areas at 5pm.

Air quality improved with 76% or 38 areas recording moderate API readings at 5pm compared to 42 areas (82%) at 11am.

(A good reading is from 0-50, moderate 51-100, unhealthy 101-200, very unhealthy 201-299 and hazardous from 300 and above).

The worst-affected area was Bukit Rambai in Malacca which saw its readings hit near unhealthy levels when its API was 93 at 7am but this dropped to 89 at 11am and 81 at 5pm.

Poor visibility and skies chocked with smog were evident earlier in the day with many complaining of a burning smell. However, this improved as winds picked up.

While visibility was back to normal (more than 10km) in most parts, some areas still recorded poor to moderate visibility as of 8pm Tuesday including Butterworth (5km), Ipoh (4km) and Sitiawan, Perak (3km).

Skies were also clearer in the Klang Valley with visibility improving from between 3km and 6km earlier in the day to almost normal levels. Visibility in Petaling Jaya dipped to as low as 2km on Monday.

The Meteorological Department's Central Forecast Office said stronger wind speeds, especially at the upper surface level, caused the haze to disperse slightly yesterday afternoon.

"Wind patterns in peninsular Malaysia had remained consistent from a south-westerly direction.

"The weather should improve today (Wednesday) with rain expected in the evening in areas northward of Kuala Lumpur,” said a spokesman, adding that isolated rain was expected in Johor and Malacca.

According to a regional hazemap, the smoke plumes had shifted slightly away from the peninsula compared with Monday when it was part of the peninsula.

A spokesman from the PLUS Traffic Monitoring Centre said visibility along highways in the Klang Valley and the North South Expressway towards the north was reduced in the morning but improved in the evening although the haze was still present.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport reported no delayed flights due to the haze while the Subang Airport control tower reported only one delayed flight due to haze and technical problems.

Indonesian news portal Media Indonesia reported Tuesday that the Kota Dumai area in Riau was still blanketed in smog from raging forest fires.

The southwest monsoons, which bring about drier conditions, will continue until September.

Rain to bring relief from haze
The Star 13 Jul 11;

GEORGE TOWN: Rain is expected over the next few days in Penang and that is good news as far as the haze is concerned.

A spokesman from the state Meteorological Department said the showers would help to clear the haze enveloping the state.

“Moreover, the numbers of hotspots has decreased in Indonesia,” he added.

He said visibility levels in the state yesterday improved from 8km at 8am to 9km from 1pm onwards in Bayan Lepas, and from 5km at 8am to 7km from 11am onwards in Butterworth.

A check with the Department of Environment website showed that the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in Prai was 51 at 7am, increasing to 55 by 5pm.

The API reading in Seberang Jaya was recorded at 58 at 7am and rose to 61 by 5pm.

The reading at Universiti Sains Malaysia also showed a rise from 39 at 7am to 42 by 5pm.

Haze disrupts several flights
Roy See Wei Zhi, Ahmad Fairuz Othman and Jassmine Shadiqe
New Straits Times 12 Jul 11;

JOHOR BARU: The haze played havoc with flights at Sultan Ismail International Airport here yesterday morning when visibility on the runway dropped to a mere 20m.

A combination of haze and high moisture levels was identified as the cause for the low visibility which affected several flights.

Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Firefly flights were delayed for almost two hours.

A spokesman for Sultan Ismail International Airport said the overall visibility was about 300m and the Department of Civil Aviation Malaysia had directed the airport to temporarily cease operations.

The first flight from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang to here, which was scheduled for take-off at 7.30am, was delayed for about two hours.

"Pilots reported that they could not see beyond 20m from the cockpit," said the spokesman.

"The haze lingered on the tarmac for almost two hours before it cleared and flight operations resumed."

Both AirAsia flights AK5442 to the Penang International Airport and AK5271 to the Low-Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) were scheduled to take off at 8.40am but were delayed until 10.20am and 10.24am respectively.

Firefly's FY2140 to Subang Airport was also grounded from 8.45am to 9.20am.

MAS flight MH1038, which was scheduled for departure at 8.50am, took off at 10.21am while flight MH1037 from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to here was delayed for more than an hour.

AirAsia flight AK5443 from Penang landed at Sultan Ismail International Airport at 9.50am instead of 8.15am while flight AK5270 from the LCCT was delayed for almost 11/2 hours.

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Al Gore returns with new climate campaign

Climate Reality Project aims to expose reality of global warming crisis and kicks off with a 24-hour live streamed event
Suzanne Goldenberg 12 Jul 11;

It should almost be called Inconvenient Truth 2.0. Five years after Al Gore launched his original documentary project, the former vice-president returned on Tuesday with a new campaign aimed at exposing the full scale of the climate crisis.

Gore's Climate Reality project announced it would kick off with a 24-hour live streamed event on 14 September. The day's events will include a new multimedia presentation by Gore that will "connect the dots" between extreme weather events and climate change, a statement said.

The campaign represents a modest comeback for Gore who has reduced his public profile on climate action in the past few years – probably out of consideration for the political consequences to his fellow Democrat Barack Obama.

It is being launched four years after Inconvenient Truth, based on Gore's climate change slide-show, won an Oscar for best documentary.

The project made Gore the most visible advocate for action on climate change in the US – but it also made him an even greater target for the oil and coal lobby and Republicans.

Republicans attacked Gore's calls for climate action as a symbol of government excess. In recent years, the new conservative majority in the house of representatives has gone even further, casting almost any sort of environmental issue – including even a move to energy-saving bulbs – as an assault on personal freedom.

But Gore came back into the spotlight last month in an essay in Rolling Stone in which he also accused Obama of failing to fight hard enough for climate action.

Tuesday's announcement, which echoed some of the themes in Gore's Rolling Stone piece, suggests the former vice-president thinks the time has come for a broader fightback.

"As the impacts of climate change are growing more prevalent, so is the resistance to finding the truth and implementing solutions. Just like the tobacco companies that spent decades in denial that smoking causes cancer, oil and coal companies are determined to sow denial and confusion about the science of climate change, ignore its impacts, and create apathy among our leaders," the release said.

"This event is the first step in a larger, multifaceted campaign to tell the truth about the climate crisis and reject the misinformation we hear every day."

Gore gave further details of the project in an interview with the climate blogger Joe Romm, saying the event would feature a new 30-minute slideshow with video on extreme weather events. Gore will host the event from New York City, but new content will be added to the slide show for the 24 locations used in each time zone.

"Each site where a presentation originates will have basically the same 30-minute slide show, but with slides used in each time zone that illustrate particular impacts and particular efforts towards solutions at the venue representing than that time zone. And then the second 30 minutes of each hour will include a panel discussion focused on the climate crisis and the solutions to it from the perspective of leaders and scientists and others in that particular location. So it will be a 24-hour event," he told Romm.

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