Best of our wild blogs: 20 Aug 11

Fun with biodiversity during army
from Urban Forest

Chek Jawa August Walk with the Naked Hermit Crabs
from wonderful creation

Muddy Changi
from Psychedelic Nature and Tanah Merah a little oily lah

Phase IV – Execute! The 4th ICCS Otters meeting this Sat
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

This mess, not by monkeys
from Otterman speaks

More Dinosaur Bones Arrive!
from Raffles Museum News

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Malaysia: American bullfrog may wipe out local species, says MNS

Josephine Jalleh The Star 20 Aug 11;

GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is worried that the American bullfrog, which has been released into the Penang Botanic Gardens, may decimate local frog species.

MNS member Mohd Abdul Muin Md Akil said most scientists had claimed that the bullfrog was the main carrier of the deadly disease chytrid fungus.

“Our local frog species are more prone to be infected by the disease. Infected frogs will have discoloured and excessive shedding of skin, and they will eventually die,” he said during an interview in Universiti Sains Malaysia here yesterday.

Mohd Abdul Muin, a science officer at the university's Centre for Drug Research, said a post-doctorate student had recently spotted a bullfrog measuring some 15cm at the garden.

He said these bullfrogs were found in Malaysia in farms where they were reared for commercial purposes as well as in pet shops.

“People will buy young bullfrogs to keep as pets because they are cute when they are small. But when its bigger, the owner may not want to keep it and will release it into the wild.

“The bullfrog will also eat smaller frogs. It can even eat up its own kind,” he said.

Mohd Abdul Muin also said a reptile, known as the Indo-Chinese water dragon, which is a type of lizard, had also been spotted in Sungai Rusa and Titi Kerawang in Balik Pulau.

“It will compete with local reptiles for food and habitat. With its bigger size, it will start to eliminate local species.

“Once established in the wild, our own species may be extinct in five or 10 years,” he warned.

Mohd Abdul Muin said he believed that a turtle species, the red-eared slider, could also be the culprit behind the eating of water lilies in the garden.

“Pet owners could have released the turtles into the garden's ponds. We need to have them removed,” he said.

The garden's chief controller Datuk Tengku Idaura Tengku Ibrahim appealed to the public not to release any exotic animal within its premise.

State Wildlife and National Parks director Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim said those who did not want to keep their pets anymore should hand the animals over.

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Indonesian Haze Spreads as Forest Fires Continue to Burn

Nurfika Osman Jakarta Globe 20 Aug 11;

Thick haze from forest fires has blanketed much of Kalimantan for the past week, affecting major cities like Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan, and threatening flights in the area.

Kalimantan is known for its rain forests and wildlife, as well as an annual haze from fires set to clear land for planting.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said on Friday that a total of 26 hot spots, or areas in satellite imaging indicating high temperatures and the likelihood of fire, were found across the region.

According to the BMKG, eight hot spots were found near Palangkaraya on Friday, down from 40 on Tuesday.

It said the number of hot spots found each day changed because of factors like temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind speed and direction.

On Wednesday, there were no hot spots detected near Palangkaraya after rain had fallen on the city overnight.

Erni, an official at the city’s Tjilik Riwut Airport, told the Jakarta Globe on Friday that the haze had not had a significant impact on operations at the airport.

“The haze has been thick through to today, especially in the afternoon,” she said. “But so far the airport has been able to operate normally.”

Erni said the haze was particularly bad on Tuesday, when several flights were delayed by up to two hours. “But conditions got better on Wednesday when we experienced some rain,” she said.

The BMKG had previously warned that as the peak of the dry season approached in July and August, when high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds are common, choking haze from forest fires could pose a major health problem for people across the region.

The Environment Ministry said it was training local governments and community members to respond to the fires. If the fires were to get out of control, however, it said it would cooperate with the Forestry Ministry and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to manage the problem.

Experts have said that the annual haze from fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra is an ongoing issue because forests continue to be burned as a cheap method of clearing land.

The practice is illegal but enforcement has been poor, in part because of the lack of law enforcement in remote regions and the vast areas of land involved.

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Indonesian Ministry allocates Rp164 billion for forest fire handling

Antara 19 Aug 11;
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Forestry Ministry has allocated funds amounting to Rp164 billion to tackle forest and plantation fires, the ministry`s spokesman said.

Of the total funds, Rp9 billion has been allocated as a deconcentration funds in 33 provincial forestry offices to increase the regional forest fire fighting capability, Masyhud, the Forestry Ministry`s public relations head said in a press statement here on Friday.

During January-July 2011, the number of hotspots in Indonesia 8,082, much lower than 24,767 hotspots in Myanmar, 12,577 hotspots in Cambodia, 11,076 hotspots in Laos, 10,031 hotspots in Thailand, 7,037 hotspots in Vietnam, and 1,102 hotspots in Malaysia during the same period, he said.

The data on the hotspots in ASEAN member countries was obtained from the monitoring by a satellite of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), he said.

In Indonesia, hotspots were detected in six provinces which are prone to forest fires - Riau with 2,159 hotspots, West Kalimantan ( 809 hotspots), North Sumatera (600), Central Kalimantan (543), Jambi (455), South Kalimantan (259 hotspots).

Most of the hotspots or 77 percent occurred in agricultural and plantation areas, and 23 percent in forest area mainly ignited by illegal loggers.

In general the fires are man-made. Fire is usually seen as a cheap, easy and rapid way to clear land for agriculture and plantation activities, but it is uncontrolable. Forest and plantation fires occur every year in dry season.(*)

Editor: Heru

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