Best of our wild blogs: 29 Oct 11

Lost Coast: bountiful bonnets and awesome sand creatures
from wild shores of singapore

Deevapali @ SBWR (261011)
from Trek through Paradise

Catching up with old friends
from Life's Indulgences

111028 Venus Drive
from Singapore Nature

Semakau guided walk with SJI
from wonderful creation

Gardening for birds: 4. Plants for nectar-feeding birds
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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ACRES to RWS: Set the record straight

Letter from Christina Lee Jiawei Campaigns Officer, Animal Concerns Research & Education Society
Today Online 28 Oct 11;

I refer to the letter "Marine life parks both educational and inspirational" (Oct 26).

Resorts World Sentosa states its belief that "controlled collection of wildlife in well-run zoological facilities is essential" and that it complied with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

However, can RWS clarify if it conducted proper scientific studies into the status of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands prior to their capture?

Can RWS scientifically state that its capture of the 27 dolphins was not detrimental to the survival of this species in the Solomon Islands?

Lastly, does RWS agree with the statement that the preference for Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins as a captive, display species "makes them vulnerable to depletion from such catches"?

Due to the lack of scientific data, the world conservation union IUCN urged CITES parties in 2003 to not issue import permits for dolphins captured in the Solomon Islands (

RWS previously stated that it would be "gravely irresponsible" to re-introduce captured dolphins into the wild, indicating its position that re-introductions are not possible.

In its letter, RWS now speaks about how marine parks can help in the rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals in the wild. Has RWS changed its position?

The Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES) urges RWS to respond to all the concerns we raised in the letter "Swim at RWS or in the ocean?" (Oct 21).

ACRES supports the establishment of the Marine Life Park, but we hope that RWS opens a park that focuses on ethical acquisition of animals, the keeping of animals that can cope with captivity and a park that focuses on proper, in-situ conservation efforts.

Be consistent in conserving nature
Letter from Alfred Chia Yong Soong
Today Online 29 Oct 11;

AS WE celebrate the achievement of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve being declared as Singapore's second Asean Heritage Park, the first being Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, we must reflect, too, that dolphins caught from the wild will be performing soon at Resorts World Sentosa.

President Tony Tan had acknowledged that it was a privilege for Singapore to be recognised in the region for its nature conservation efforts.

Is it not ironic that as we embrace this new accolade, at the same time, we are condoning and allowing such wild creatures to be paraded for economic greed?

Many who object to this have raised their concerns and views, but it seems from RWS' letter "Marine life parks both educational and inspirational" (Oct 26) that it will go ahead with the venture.

Such stoicism on its part cannot go unchallenged and must be condemned by all who care genuinely for nature.

The Government, while accepting the endorsement bestowed on Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, must be seen to be consistent in nature conservation, lest we be miscontrued as conserving nature only on a selective basis.

Marine life parks both educational and inspirational
Research, breeding programmes in the works at RWS
Letter from Krist Boo Senior Vice President, Communications, Resorts World Sentosa
Today Online 26 Oct 11;

We thank Today readers for their letters last week on the Marine Life Park (MLP)and take this opportunity to state MLP's position, plans and clarifications regarding our 25 dolphins.

We at MLP believe that controlled collection of wildlife in well-run zoological facilities is essential. Propagation and knowledge gained from dolphins in human care have helped conservation efforts worldwide.

It is the responsibility of all marine facilities to support both scientific research and conservation. In fact, most efforts to rescue and rehabilitate marine animals in the wild call upon the expertise and equipment from marine parks today.

It is also a fact that millions of people each year visit aquariums and marine parks, which not only offer educational value but have also inspired numerous visitors to embark on careers dedicated to helping or working with animals.

One of the letters, "Swim at RWS or in the ocean?" (Oct 21), quoted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) casting doubt over the collection of wild Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins in the Solomon Islands.

That was actually sourced from a presentation to the IUCN, edited by R R Reeves and R L Brownell Jr, with a preface from IUCN stating that the presentation did not "necessarily reflect the views on IUCN".

Regardless, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, managed by the United Nations Environment Programme, is the recognised agreement that governs trade involving wild fauna and flora.

The acquisition of all MLP marine animals, including our dolphins, adheres to its standards.

There is much to learn about bottlenose dolphins. Through our team of experienced staff, we have identified and begun participating in research programmes regarding marine mammals.

Once our dolphins are in Singapore, we will begin a breeding programme modelled after other programmes that have been successful in marine parks throughout the world. We invite readers to visit our blog ( to know the MLP better.

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Migratory birds at Sungei Buloh: Have wings, will travel

Straits Times 29 Oct 11;

It is now the annual migratory bird season at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, with thousands of birds flying in and out of Singapore. The annual epic journeys of billions of birds worldwide are among the most breathtaking and intriguing phenomena in the animal world. The Straits Times embarks on a long-haul flight with these winged marvels to uncover the facts about avian migration.

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Megafloat oil storage in the works

Ronnie Lim Business Times 29 Oct 11;

THE first 'megafloat' at Pulau Sebarok - a pilot project to store oil on very large floating structures (VLFS) here - will be government-led, but private sector-run, as part of ongoing efforts to develop alternative facilities for oil traders in land-scarce Singapore.

It is to be built and owned initially by JTC Corporation but operated by Royal Vopak, one of the biggest terminal operators here, sources said. Under the plan, Vopak will have the option to take over ownership of the floating storage later.

Vopak has apparently indicated its intent to do so, although company officials were not available to confirm this.

The Dutch tank farm operator is reportedly the logical choice to run the Sebarok megafloat as the VLFS site is just behind its existing surface tank farm there.

It is one of four oil and chemical tank farms which Vopak operates on Jurong Island, the others being at the Banyan, Penjuru and Sakra sectors.

JTC's lead in the project will help promote floating oil storage which has no proven track record yet, as far as its commercial viability is concerned, the sources said.

It is not unlike the Jurong Rock Cavern (JRC) project to store oil underground, with the $850 million first phase currently being built by JTC expected to be ready by the first half of 2013. JRC has already found its first customer in Jurong Aromatics Corporation which is building a US$2.4 billion petrochemicals complex on the island.

BT understands that JTC is set to call a tender for an operator to run the JRC soon.

The shortage of storage capacity here with no more land available for building more surface tank farms, has led many international oil traders based here to resort to using tank farms sprouting up in neighbouring Johor. These include those at Tanjung Langsat, Pasir Gudang, Tanjung Bin and Pengerang - with Vopak building with Malaysia's Dialog a huge US$1 billion tank farm at Pengerang.

On the megafloat project here, sources said that while no additional sites have been identified for more such VLFS yet, these will likely be contiguous to, or touching or joining, land which require no sandfill.

Final-stage engineering for the Sebarok VLFS is being done by a consortium comprising Jurong Consultants and British Maritime Technology Group and will include input from the user, in this case, Vopak. The consultants are expected to prepare and call for the engineering, procurement and construction tender for its construction in the coming months.

The megafloat will have a minimum storage capacity of 300,000 cubic metres, or equal to that of a very large crude carrier. It would comprise two rectangular modules, each with 150,000 cu m capacity.

Earlier estimates were that the project would cost at least $180 million, although this will depend on the materials, such as whether steel or concrete, used.

JTC studies on the project started back in 2007, with phase one covering a preliminary conceptual design of an attached-to-land VLFS. This progressed to phase two covering areas such as environmental impact, marine soil investigation and sea current monitoring, which was completed last year.

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Indonesia: Only four female Javan rhinos left in the wild

The Jakarta Post 28 Oct 11;

JAKARTA: Among the approximately 40 Javanese rhinoceroses in Ujung Kulon, West Java, only four are female, prompting more headaches for the government and conservationists in their decades-long work to save the animal.

Yopie Hidayat, the spokesman for Vice President Boediono, revealed the daunting information after Boediono held a meeting with the secretary general of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on Wednesday.

“The Vice President met with the IUCN secretary general, and they discussed their plan to help preserve the Javanese rhinoceros, whose population was only 35 to 45,” Yopie said as quoted by Antara news agency.

“The problem is that only around four or five [of the Javanese rhinos] are female,” he added.

According to Yopie, the threat of extinction for the single-horned rhino became more serious than ever with the gender imbalance. Moreover, the female rhinos experience a 16-month gestation period, Yopie said.

Javanese rhinos are typically poached for their horns, which are extremely valuable on the black market. Last week, conservation group the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) said that Vietnam lost its battle to save the rare Javan rhino, after the country’s last animal was reportedly shot and killed for its horn.

There are no Javanese rhinos in captivity, and the 40 wild rhinos at Ujung Kulon are the only left on the planet.

Survey of Rare Javan Rhinos Finds Few Females
Jakarta Globe 28 Oct 11;

A survey of endangered Javan rhinos in an Indonesian park has found far fewer females than males, a potential setback in efforts to save the species.

Video cameras set up in the eastern half of Ujung Kulon National Park recorded 17 rhinos this year. Just four were female.

Park official Arif Junaedi said on Friday that the cameras have now been moved to the more remote western half of the park, and that “hopefully many more females remain” there. The results should be known in November.

Only 40 to 60 Javan rhinos remain in the park, which is the animal’s original habitat. They are the last known living members of the species, with none in captivity.

The last known Javan rhino in Vietnam was found dead in April, apparently after poachers killed it for its horn.

Associated Press

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Swooping out of sight: Bats in need of greater protection

IUCN 28 Oct 11;

Nocturnal, furry and known for their spooky reputation around Halloween, bats are not only the mysterious mammals that haunt the dark; they are also an important part of nature and in need of greater protection. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, 20% of bats are threatened.

“Bats are disappearing at an alarming rate, due largely in part to ignorance and a misunderstanding of the benefits they provide,” says Paul A. Racey, Co-Chair IUCN SSC Bat Specialist Group. “We need to build capacity for bat conservation and we must educate young people about the value of these animals.”

Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera whose forelimbs form webbed wings, making them the only mammals capable of flying. Bats are also the second largest order of mammals—numbering about 1,250 species. The smallest bat in the world is the Hog-nosed Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) measuring around 30 mm in length. It is probably the smallest species of mammal that exists. The largest bat is the Golden-capped Fruit Bat (Acerodon jubatus), which is around 340 mm long and has a wingspan of 1.5 m.

Crucial to the environment, bats carry out the important ecological services of pollination, seed dispersal and reduction of pest insects. In South East Asia, bats, specifically the Dawn Bat (Eonycteris spelaea), pollinate durian, a high-value fruit, and also pettai, a vegetable used in curries. In Madagascar, endemic fruit bats pollinate some of the six endemic species of baobabs, including Adansonia suarezensis, only a few hundred individuals of which survive around Diego Suarez.

About 70% of bats depend on insects for the main part of their diet, while the remainder are essentially fruit eaters. Bats dietary needs are mutually beneficial to farmers and crop growers. For example, in Texas, Mexican Free Tailed Bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) eat the pests that plague cotton and tobacco crops, reducing the insect population and the number of pesticide applications needed.

Around the world, bats can be found making their home in almost every environment available. Bats will inhabit caves, tree hollows, foliage, and even man-made structures, as they require only two things: a place for foraging and a roost where they can sleep. The main threats to bats are the loss of their roosting and foraging habitats.

Bats have the most sophisticated ultrasonic obstacle avoidance and prey detection system in the animal kingdom—they emit high frequency sounds above the range of human hearing that allow them to localize obstacles and food. Attempts have been made replicate bat echolocation in order to produce aids for visually-impaired humans.

“Bats are among the most underappreciated groups of mammals in the world and major steps are needed to safeguard them,” says Simon Stuart, Chair of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission. “Protection for bat roosting and foraging habitats, as well as effective response to specific threats, such as wind farms, is imperative.”

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‘Protect Coral Triangle’ Move Gets Nod

Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 28 Oct 11;

Officials from the six countries that make up the Pacific Coral Triangle have agreed to set up a permanent secretariat in Manado, North Sulawesi.

Indonesian Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Sharif Cicip Sutarjo said on Friday at a summit of the Coral Triangle Initiative that the building of the headquarters would allow the six governments to pursue “pro-development, pro-environment, pro-jobs and pro-growth policies” in managing their shared maritime area.

“It will give us a chance to prove that we are really paying attention when it comes to environmental issues,” he said.

The six countries whose maritime borders delineate the Coral Triangle are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

The area has been dubbed the “Amazon of the Seas” for the sheer wealth of marine life sustained by the various coral species there.

The Asian Development Bank also lauded the plan to set up a secretariat in Manado.

“The establishment of a permanent secretariat is an important step toward ensuring the success of the initiative and for implementing the regional plan of action,” Jon Lindborg, the ADB country director for Indonesia, said in a statement.

“Improved management of coastal and marine resources ... is critical for ensuring food security, employment, sustainable economic development and increased regional cooperation.”

The Coral Triangle holds 76 percent of all known coral species and its resources provide daily sustenance and employment for over 120 million people, according to the ADB. However, it warns that harmful fishing practices and climate change are threatening the future of this global epicenter of marine biodiversity.

The ADB has worked with the CTI member states to raise funding for various programs linked to the initiative since it was started in 2007. To date, the ADB and Coral Triangle countries have been working together to develop five new projects with funding of about $230 million.

Sharif, who was appointed maritime minister last week, said the ongoing summit in Jakarta would discuss offers of funding for the CTI from other countries interested in the long-term benefits of protecting the area.

“The world needs the Coral Triangle,” he said. “It already has Brazil and the Amazon forest, and it also has Africa and its diverse flora and fauna. For maritime biodiversity, there’s the Coral Triangle.”

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Climate change damage to mangroves feared

Gulf Times 28 Oct 11;

The devastating cyclones Sidr and Aila had destroyed over 1,000mn taka ($13.5mn) plants, animals and infrastructures in the world’s biggest mangrove Sundarbans located in Bangladesh, State Minister for Land Mustafizur Rahman informed parliament yetserday.

“Natural disasters like cyclone and tidal surge are increasing in the Sundarbans area due to climate change,” he said replying to a question from a lawmaker.

He said the Sundarbans has been able to overcome its losses due to the timely initiatives taken by the present government.

Referring to a survey of Integrated Resources Management Project (IRMP) funded by USAID in 2009, the state Minister said regeneration of Sundari trees in the forest has increased by 70% in comparison with that of 1983.

The resources in the forest including other plants have also been increased, he said.

The state minister expressed his fears that the intensity of natural disaster and salinity might increase in the forest due to climate change in future when habitations of Royal Bengal Tiger and other aquatic animals would be affected.

But, he said, all-out efforts at the national and international levels are on to protect the world heritage.

Improving the management of the Sundarbans is the first step at the national level to this effect, the minister said, adding that the other measures are inclusion of the adjoining villagers in the forest management, provision of compensation to the victims of animal attack for reducing the rate of tiger killings and improving the skills of foresters.

Besides, the projects including Integrated Protected Area Co-Management (IPAC), Sundarbans Livelihoods Security Project, Strengthening of Regional Co-operation of Wildlife Project, and Biodiversity Conservation and Ecotourism Development in Bangladesh- are being implemented with the assistance of World Bank, European Union and USAID, he added.

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