Best of our wild blogs: 5 Nov 11

the pulai tree @ chek jawa - Oct2011
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Bird smugglers caught at Woodlands checkpoint

Fiona Low Straits Times 4 Nov 11;

Checkpoint authorities have caught two men who tried to smuggle about 300 birds into Singapore.

The birds were hidden in cages under a black cloth in the boot compartment of a sports utility vehicle. The vehicle tried to enter the country at the Woodlands checkpoint on Tuesday at about 10pm.

The 38-year-old driver and his 40-year-old companion, both Singaporeans, were referred to the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority for further investigations.

There were 250 munia birds, 44 mata puteh birds and one shama bird uncovered.

The two men claimed that they had brought the birds in for religious purposes and not for commercial benefits. They had purchased the birds in Johor Bahru for RM1 (S$0.40) each.

The smuggling of animals, animal products, meat or meat products could introduce infectious diseases into Singapore.

The importation of any animals or birds without a permit carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.

ICA foils attempt to smuggle birds into Singapore
Vimita Mohandas Channel NewsAsia 4 Nov 11;

SINGAPORE : Officers from the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) have thwarted plans by two men to smuggle birds into Singapore in their car boot compartment.

On Tuesday, ICA officers at Woodlands Checkpoint inspected a Singapore-registered SUV's rear boot compartment which was partially covered by a piece of black cloth.

Upon removal, they discovered a loot of birds which included 250 Munia birds, 44 Mata Puteh birds and one Shama bird.

Upon questioning, the 38-year-old driver and his 40-year-old travel companion claimed they were bringing the birds in for religious purposes and not for commercial benefits.

They added that they had purchased the birds in Johor for RM1 each.

The case has been referred to the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) for further investigations.

Travellers are not allowed to bring live animals, birds and insects into Singapore without a proper permit.

The importation of any animals or live birds without an AVA permit is a violation of the Animals and Birds Act, which carries a maximum penalty of S$10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

- CNA/ms

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SPCA proposes increasing fine, jail term to curb animal abuse

Esther Ng Today Online 5 Nov 11;

SINGAPORE - If the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) had its way, animal abusers would be hit with heftier fines and jail terms, among other penalties.

The move to review the Animals and Birds Act comes as the SPCA sees more cases of pet neglect and an increase in reports of animal cruelty. Between July last year and June, it received 987 such complaints.

While the SPCA attributes the increase in the number of reported cases to growing public awareness, its executive director, Ms Corrine Fong, said: "The strong public sentiment towards animal welfare signals a need to transition the current legal framework towards a progressive approach that allows for legal intervention before acts of cruelty are committed and animal suffering occurs."

Under this approach, neglect would also constitute an offence. The SPCA proposes that the penalty under Section 4 of the Act, which deals with the prevention of cruelty to animals, be raised to a S$20,000 fine and a jail term of up to two years - up from the current S$10,000 and 12 months' jail. The last time the law was amended to raise the maximum fine and jail term for animal cruelty was in 2002.

The non-profit organisation also wants the sale of pets to those below the age of 16 to be prohibited, unless they have their parents' express consent.

To prevent recalcitrant offenders from having a chance to abuse animals again, they should be banned from keeping a pet, the SPCA said.

Other suggestions include a list of prohibited acts which specify actions that endanger animal welfare or are known to cause suffering amounting to cruelty to animals.

Members of the public have one month to give their feedback on the proposed amendments to the Act at before the SPCA submits its proposals to the Ministries of National Development and Law.

SPCA calls for review of laws to prevent animal abuse
Channel NewsAsia 4 Nov 11;

SINGAPORE: The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has called for a review of the Animals & Birds Act. It said this has become necessary because of a rise in the number of cases of animal abuse.

There is an average of 82 cases of animal abuse each month.

The recommendation relates to sections 42 and 44 of the Prevention of cruelty to Animals sections of the act. It wants higher fines of up to S$20,000, imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

This, it said, will serve as a greater deterrent than current penalties.

SPCA also wants duty of care to be stated clearly for persons responsible for or in charge of an animal. A breach of this "duty of care", it said, should be considered an offence.

This, it added, will target pet owners who are negligent in the care of their pets and will also help in cases where intervention is needed before an animal suffers cruelty. It is also recommending that offenders be banned from keeping pets.

SPCA is also calling for a ban on sale of pets to those below the age of 16, except with the knowledge and express consent of their parents.

Public feedback can be given online at

Ban under-16s from buying pets, says SPCA
Changes to law sought as more cases of animal cruelty are reported
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 5 Nov 11;

CHILDREN aged under 16 should be banned from buying pets, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said yesterday.

These youngsters may not have the maturity or money to take care of them properly, the group added.

They are also more prone to impulse buying, which could lead to pets being abandoned once the novelty wears off.

The recommendation was one of several proposed changes to the law contained in a draft document released by the society yesterday. Others include doubling the maximum penalty for people who abuse animals, banning them from keeping pets in exceptional cases, and publishing a list of what counts as animal cruelty.

The public is being asked to give feedback on the proposals online.

The society said it was motivated by a rise in the number of reports of animal cruelty. It received 987 between July last year and June this year, 15 per cent more than in the preceding 12 months.

Banning the sale of pets to under-16s without parental consent could be one way to deal with the problem, said the society. It noted that teenagers in Europe are not allowed to buy animals unless a parent is present.

Tougher penalties for animal cruelty offenders are another possible solution. The society wants the maximum punishment to be doubled to two years in jail, a $20,000 fine or both.

To help give the authorities extra teeth when prosecuting abusers, it called for greater clarity on what exactly constitutes animal cruelty. This could include practices such as using electric collars and other painful aids to train pets, shortening their tails for cosmetic reasons and keeping animals prone to fighting, like Siamese fighting fish, in close quarters.

It could also include causing mental suffering to animals, which the society said is not covered sufficiently under the current law. For example, dogs are sometimes tied up or confined in cages for long periods, a practice which made up a third of the recent cases. This would be counted as causing 'unnecessary suffering' under the current law, which the society said is not specific enough. 'It is necessary to recognise that brutal cruelty is not the only way to harm an animal,' it said in its draft.

It added there have been cases of abusers avoiding prosecution due to uncertainty about what counts as mental suffering.

The society also recommended a committee separate from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) be set up to advise the Government on animal welfare matters. It said this should include businesses, welfare groups and veterinarians. Fines imposed on pet cruelty offenders should be funnelled into a fund to take care of animals.

Animal welfare groups welcomed the recommendations. Mr Ricky Yeo, president of Action for Singapore Dogs, said: 'There are a lot of grey areas in the current law. For example, if a dog is chained up, how short does the chain need to be before it's considered cruel?' He said a more specific definition would allow different groups such as the police and AVA to follow the same standards.

To give feedback, visit before Dec 4.

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Johor ready to face floods

The Star 4 Nov 11;

JOHOR BARU: Johor has learned bitter lessons from the disastrous floods of 2006 and 2007 and believes it is better prepared now if the big floods return this year.

The state government has asked all relevant authorities to stand by and has also earmarked food distribution centres, which have been stocked with foodstuff and other essential items.

“We also have enough volunteers, fire engines, boats and relief centres to accommodate flood victims,” Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said yesterday after officiating at the ground-breaking ceremony of a low-cost housing project at Taman Bukit Tiram here yesterday.

“I believe the preparations by the state government are enough to face the floods,” Abdul Ghani said.

In 2006, Johor Baru and Segamat became the worst-hit districts when flood waters rose with surprising speed state-wide and claimed 12 lives.

Close to 100,000 people from about 25,000 families were evacuated from their homes.

In BALING, Kedah, Putera 1Malaysia Club said it had signed up 1,000 volunteers, including doctors, nurses and paramedics to help flood victims in the country should disaster strike.

Club president Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said the focus would be on states that were usually the worst hit Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Pahang, Terengganu and Johor.

“The medical volunteers will be assigned to mobile clinics and relief centres,” he said here yesterday.

Abdul Azeez said the club had also started preparing foodstuff and essential items to be distributed to flood victims.

They included blankets, mattresses, personal care products and diapers.

Farmers fear monsoon
New Straits Times 4 Nov 11;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The 64 participants of a collective farm project in Batu Rakit here are worried that the upcoming monsoon season can threaten their livelihood, again.

They suffered losses totalling RM471,000 when the 46-hectare collective farm planted with watermelons was inundated for about three weeks during the last round of floods in March.

They are worried that their current crop of chillies, sweet corn and brinjals will also face the same predicament this time around.

Kampung Pecah Rotan collective farm project head Mohd Amin Abdul Razak, 50, said the crops were planted after the watermelon project ended in September and will only be ready for harvesting in January.

"If the floods hit in January, we can perhaps harvest them early to lessen our losses. However, there is nothing we can do if they arrive earlier."

He said the floods' effects could be mitigated if the drainage system around the farm was upgraded.

"The farm is on lower ground compared with the surrounding areas and without sufficient drainage, it will turn into a large lake as flood waters tend to collect there easily."

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Floodwaters in Bangkok threaten metro stations

Business Times 5 Nov 11;

THAILAND'S worst floods in half a century reached the edge of downtown Bangkok yesterday, threatening some underground railway stations and forcing the closure of a major shopping centre.

Thai officials built more barriers around Bangkok as floodwaters edged closer to the city centre. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said a 6km wall of sandbags being completed along a canal north of Bangkok will help ease flooding in eastern parts of the capital.

The water is now just a few kilometres away from business and tourist districts, despite reassurances from the government that central Bangkok would be spared. Rising floodwaters in the city's northern suburbs forced the closure yesterday of the Central Plaza Ladprao shopping mall, close to the city's famous Chatuchak weekend market.

About 20 per cent of the capital is now submerged in floodwaters contaminated by rubbish, dead animals and industrial waste, raising fears about outbreaks of disease in the densely populated metropolis of 12 million people. A spokesman for the Bangkok metro said that three subway stations - Lat Phrao, Phahon Yothin and Chatuchak Park - were at risk and might have to be shut down if the water rose to 40cm outside.

The floods - caused by unusually heavy rains and failure to release enough water from dams in the early days of the monsoon - have killed 442 people and damaged the homes and livelihoods of millions around the country.

The authorities have issued an evacuation order for eight Bangkok districts out of a total of 50 in the capital, and for certain areas in four others.

The 12 districts have a combined official population of 1.7 million people - far more than government shelters can accommodate. Many have chosen to stay in their homes despite risks including electrocution, disease and lack of food and drinking water, complicating relief efforts.

The waters have swamped Bangkok's No 2 airport Don Muang, which usually serves mostly domestic destinations, but the kingdom's main air gateway Suvarnabhumi is operating as usual. The main airport is surrounded by a 3.5m high flood embankment monitored around the clock. -- AFP, Bloomberg

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Vietnamese authorities confirm more than a tonne of ivory pieces seized on Chinese border

TRAFFIC 4 Nov 11;

Officials have cofirmed more than a tonne of ivory seized last month in VIet Nam was from African Elephants Click image to enlarge © Folke Wulf Ha Noi, Vietnam, 4th November 2011—Following scientific analysis, Vietnamese officials have confirmed that all 211 items seized during a raid in northern Viet Nam last month were, as suspected, African Elephant ivory.

Weighing more than a tonne and hidden inside bundles of cloth, the ivory was confiscated on 22nd October from a river boat near the city of Mong Cai, close to the country’s border with China.

Three people, all Chinese citizens, were arrested and taken into custody for further questioning.

“TRAFFIC commends Vietnamese Customs on this important seizure, which is indicative of the increasing illegal trade of ivory within Southeast Asia. It is imperative that the origin and destination of the shipment be identified by authorities,” said Chris Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

“It is vitally important that officials investigate the movement of ivory from Viet Nam into China and prosecute those involved. This will require a co-ordinated effort among enforcement agencies in Asia and Africa. Only through joint co-operation between producer and consumer countries can the trafficking of ivory be effectively tackled.”

Officials believe that the shipment was intended for buyers in China and it is believed to have originated from Africa. Globally, illicit trade in ivory has been escalating since 2004 and demand from Asia is considered to be the leading driver of elephant poaching in Africa.

“Since 2009, Vietnamese authorities have seized 9.3 tonnes of elephant ivory and earlier this year Chinese authorities apprehended another 2.2 tonnes of ivory moving across the Vietnamese border into a remote area of China,” says TRAFFIC's ivory trade expert, Tom Milliken.

“These grim figures are testimony to just how active this illegal trade route is.”

This incident comes shortly after Vietnamese authorities seized more than 200 kg of ivory being smuggled in the north central province of Nghe An in September. Three men connected to the shipment were arrested by local authorities and are currently being held awaiting prosecution.

In 2007, a TRAFFIC report presented to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) warned that Asian-run organized crime syndicates based in Africa were increasingly using Viet Nam as a conduit for ivory moving on to China.

Vietnamese law enforcement officers have recently met some of their counterparts in southern Africa, to strengthen international collaboration on tackling international, organized wildlife crime.

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Millions of birds migrating to Spain face painful deaths in glue-filled traps

Up to 4 million birds trapped illegally this year face a slow, sticky end before being sold to restaurants for tapas, say campaigners
Giles Tremlett 4 Nov 11;

Up to four million migrating birds will be killed by illegal Spanish hunters this year, with many dying a slow, sticky death in traps that literally glue the animals to the ground, according to campaigners.

Thrushes flying south for a warm Mediterranean winter this week will, as usual, run a gauntlet of illegal hunters who kill some two million birds in their peak hunting season: the six late autumn weeks in which Spanish skies fill with migrating birds.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of hunters in Castellón, eastern Spain, and neighbouring areas will have already set their so-called parany traps – copses filled with glue-covered twigs and spikes.

Most of the illegally trapped birds will end up as tapas in Spanish bars, fried tidbits that locals claim are part of a cultural heritage stretching back to Roman times. "There are pictures of parany traps in the mosaics of Pompeii," said Miguel Angel Bayarri of the trappers' Apaval association. "This is a tradition that has existed for centuries and that we will continue to fight for."

Hunting of song and mistle thrushes and their cousin the redwing is not illegal, but the methods used are, despite attempts by legislators to introduce exceptions.

Campaigners say the painful deaths suffered by the birds, whose wings are glued together before their necks are broken or their heads squashed, contravene European wildlife laws.

"There have been sentences against this in the courts in Madrid and at the European court in Luxembourg," said Mario Giménez, head of SEO/Birdlife in the eastern region of Valencia.

Up to two of every five birds that fall into the parany traps will not be thrushes. Hundreds of thousands of other migrating insectivores such as robins, blackcaps, chiffchaffs and black redstarts will die. Local birds, including warblers and owls, also fall prey to the parany trick.

"That only happens if the trap is badly operated," said Bayarri. "Our members only catch thrushes. This is just banning for banning's sake."

But Giménez said few parany operators went through the laborious process of cleaning glue off birds that may not be hunted.

"Even those cleaned up with dissolvent often don't survive," he said.

Campaigners say it is time politicians, whose attempts at legalising the traps in Valencia's regional parliament have been stymied by Spain's higher courts, publicly disavow a tradition that contravenes EU law. But protecting local traditions wins votes in rural areas where setting and emptying traps may also involve evenings or weekends of food, drink and partying.

Hunting continues, even though Apaval has this year asked its members not to set the traps, where recordings of birdsong are used to lure passing birds into thickets of trees. Unable to use their glued wings, the birds fall to the ground and are killed by hand.

At least 340 functioning parany traps have been identified in the past few weeks, according to Spain's Association of Environmental Officers. "They are only the first ones discovered so far this year," said a spokesman. "In previous years we have found some 2,000 traps."

"The hunting continues, it is just not so flagrant," said Giménez. "We have seen the traps and heard the birdsong recordings that they use. Now when they hear a car, they do at least turn the machine off."

Those caught using the illegal parany method can be fined up to €200,000 (£170,000) and may also end up with a criminal record.

Previously, special whistles were used to attract the birds, but these were replaced by tape-recordings and, now, digital devices.

While the thrushes were once an important food source in the countryside of eastern Spain, birds are now mostly sold secretly to bars and restaurants. Many are stored in freezers to be sold later.

Campaigners fear that with a change in Spain's government due after a general election on 20 November, authorities will once more turn a blind eye to illegal hunting of migratory birds.

"The People's party is expected to win, and that is the same party that has tried to legalise this in Valencia," said Giménez. "We don't want a new government turning the clock back."

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Biggest spike ever in global warming gases: US

AFPBy Kerry Sheridan AFP Yahoo News 5 Nov 11;

The amount of global warming gases sent into the atmosphere made an unprecedented jump in 2010, according to the US Department of Energy's latest world data on carbon dioxide emissions.

"It's big," said Tom Boden, director of the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center Environmental Sciences Division at the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

"Our data go back to 1751, even before the Industrial Revolution. Never before have we seen a 500-million-metric-ton carbon increase in a single year," he told AFP.

The 512 million metric ton increase amounted to a near six percent rise between 2009 and 2010, going from 8.6 billion metric tons to 9.1 billion.

Large jumps, measured from C02 emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of burning coal and gas, were visible in China, the United States and India, the world's top three polluters.

Significant spikes over 2009 were also seen in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia, Poland and Kazakhstan.

Some countries, like Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Spain, New Zealand and Pakistan actually showed slight declines from 2009 to 2010, but those nations were uncommon. Much of Europe showed a moderate uptick.

The figures could indicate economic recovery from the global recession of 2007-2008, according to Boden.

"At least from an energy consumption standpoint, companies were back to manufacturing levels that rivaled pre-2008 levels, people were traveling again so emissions from the transportation sector rivaled those of pre-2008," he said.

But the data also raised concerns about the health of the environment.

"This is very bad news," said John Abraham, associate professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering in Minnesota.

"These results show that it will be harder to make the tough cuts to emissions if we are to head off a climate crisis."

The data is derived from United Nations statistics gathered from every country in the world about fossil fuel energy stockpiles, imports, exports and production, as well as energy data compiled by oil giant BP.

"If you know how much of a fuel is consumed and you know the oxidation rate and you know the carbon content of the fuel, you can derive the emission estimate, so it is a pretty straightforward algorithm as far as the calculation," said Boden.

The US team has been calculating the data in the same way over the past two decades, so the hike in 2010 was initially viewed with disbelief by Boden and some if his colleagues.

"We were a bit shocked. Our first reaction was, 'Gee, there must be some problems in the underlying energy data,'" he said.

"Then, when we actually started to explore other data streams, like the population data, like GDP data, and when we started to look at the actual atmospheric data, all of it paints a consistent picture and we believe it."

China alone was the biggest polluter with a spike of 212 million metric tons in 2010 over 2009, compared to 59 million metric tons more from the United States and 48 million metric tons more from India.

"Science tells us that we are driving in a fog headed toward a cliff but are unsure just how far away it is," said climate scientist Scott Mandia.

"Given this warning, it is quite foolish to be stepping on the accelerator."

Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases
Seth Borenstein AP Yahoo News 4 Nov 11;

WASHINGTON (AP) — The global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide jumped by the biggest amount on record, the U.S. Department of Energy calculated, a sign of how feeble the world's efforts are at slowing man-made global warming.

The new figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.

"The more we talk about the need to control emissions, the more they are growing," said John Reilly, co-director of MIT's Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change.

The world pumped about 564 million more tons (512 million metric tons) of carbon into the air in 2010 than it did in 2009. That's an increase of 6 percent. That amount of extra pollution eclipses the individual emissions of all but three countries — China, the United States and India, the world's top producers of greenhouse gases.

It is a "monster" increase that is unheard of, said Gregg Marland, a professor of geology at Appalachian State University, who has helped calculate Department of Energy figures in the past.

Extra pollution in China and the U.S. account for more than half the increase in emissions last year, Marland said.

"It's a big jump," said Tom Boden, director of the Energy Department's Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center at Oak Ridge National Lab. "From an emissions standpoint, the global financial crisis seems to be over."

Boden said that in 2010 people were traveling, and manufacturing was back up worldwide, spurring the use of fossil fuels, the chief contributor of man-made climate change.

India and China are huge users of coal. Burning coal is the biggest carbon source worldwide and emissions from that jumped nearly 8 percent in 2010.

"The good news is that these economies are growing rapidly so everyone ought to be for that, right?" Reilly said Thursday. "Broader economic improvements in poor countries has been bringing living improvements to people. Doing it with increasing reliance on coal is imperiling the world."

In 2007, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its last large report on global warming, it used different scenarios for carbon dioxide pollution and said the rate of warming would be based on the rate of pollution. Boden said the latest figures put global emissions higher than the worst case projections from the climate panel. Those forecast global temperatures rising between 4 and 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century with the best estimate at 7.5 degrees.

Even though global warming skeptics have attacked the climate change panel as being too alarmist, scientists have generally found their predictions too conservative, Reilly said. He said his university worked on emissions scenarios, their likelihood, and what would happen. The IPCC's worst case scenario was only about in the middle of what MIT calculated are likely scenarios.

Chris Field of Stanford University, head of one of the IPCC's working groups, said the panel's emissions scenarios are intended to be more accurate in the long term and are less so in earlier years. He said the question now among scientists is whether the future is the panel's worst case scenario "or something more extreme."

"Really dismaying," Granger Morgan, head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University, said of the new figures. "We are building up a horrible legacy for our children and grandchildren."

But Reilly and University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver found something good in recent emissions figures. The developed countries that ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gas limiting treaty have reduced their emissions overall since then and have achieved their goals of cutting emissions to about 8 percent below 1990 levels. The U.S. did not ratify the agreement.

In 1990, developed countries produced about 60 percent of the world's greenhouse gases, now it's probably less than 50 percent, Reilly said.

"We really need to get the developing world because if we don't, the problem is going to be running away from us," Weaver said. "And the problem is pretty close from running away from us."

Government carbon dioxide info center:

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