Best of our wild blogs: 23 Jan 12

Year of the Dragon: Amazing Agamids
from Lazy Lizard's Tales

120120 Kampong Chantek
from Singapore Nature

Skipper Day @ Mandai Park Connector
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Seagrass surprise on Cyrene!
from wild shores of singapore

golden orb web spider @ bukit brown - Jan2012
from sgbeachbum

Changeable Lizard
from Monday Morgue

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India: 'Concretized beaches hasten erosion'

Paul Fernandes Times of India 23 Jan 12;

PANAJI: Quicker heating up of the coastal belt due to the capacity of concretized stretches to soak up heat contributes to enhanced beach erosion as the winds and waves batter the coast harder, a scientist has stated.

Tourism and development activities have triggered rapid urbanization of the coastal belt and, though it may sound unusual, they are a major factor causing faster beach erosion. "The concrete buildings, such as hotels, bungalows and tarred surface of roads and parking areas heat up faster because of high heat capacity, causing a phenomenon called heat island," says Alvarinho J Luis, a scientist at the national centre for antarctic and ocean research (NCAOR).

Speaking at a recently-held state-level seminar 'Weather and climate change in Goa after liberation', organized by department of physics, St Xavier's college of arts, science & commerce, Mapusa, the scientist said the heated surface in the coastal belt pushes the air into the upper atmosphere (convection) causing a low surface pressure below as compared to the similar conditions in the atmosphere over the sea.

The scientist, who is working on a paper to be published shortly, has compared data collected over a decade. He has used satellite-based data related to wind speeds and numerical models pertaining to sea level pressure and studied the contrasts between land and sea.

"This gradient (over a large area) between sea and land enhances the winds toward the land and increases the wave height via momentum transfer (tangential push) to the water," he said.

The increase in wind speed observed by satellites over the sea off Goa during the last decade (since 2000) has been significant (0.23±0.7 m/s per decade (r2=0.64, significant at 95% confidence level) (Figure 1).

An NIO scientist agrees, "The wind is a powerful agent for transportation of sand and even dry soil. In some African countries, the sand particles suspended in the air even block the sunlight," he said.

In Goa, water resources department has initiated various measures including erecting gabion structures to prevent denudation of beaches, but not with much success.

Coastal erosion is a worldwide phenomenon and many major centres of beach tourism, including Goa are expected to lose shoreline stretches in the future. But it was hardly known that higher wind speeds are triggered by heating up of the coastal belt due to development and concretization.

"The increase in the wind speed is a result of decrease in the sea level pressure trend over land when compared with that over the sea off Goa," Luis said.

In his assessment of the higher trend over land, the Luis states that it is a result of urbanization of Goa in the coastal belts due to a high demand for infrastructure, hotels, bungalows and tar roads.

The soaring waves crash on the sandy beach and carry away sand to the littoral zone. "Littoral currents flow parallel to the beach while rip currents flow perpendicular to the beach contour and move material out into the sea, altering the beach morphology" Luis said.

Sand bars are formed due to deposition of sand in the navigational channel due to high sediment load in monsoon. "The Aguada sand bar formation off the Miramar beach during monsoon is a typical example," Luis said.

Keri in Pernem, Anjuna in Bardez, Campal in Tiswadi and Talpona in Canacona talukas are some stretches which are heavily eroded. "About 20 years we could easily walk from Campal to Miramar beach, but now it is eroded and it is more visible near the light house," Agnelo Pinto, a resident said.

The eroded beach becomes vulnerable to further sea incursions. "As the topographic gradient of the beach decreases towards the land, it becomes easy for the sea water to intrude landward, thereby damaging sand dune vegetation, man-made structures," Luis added.

Though the rise in sea level is also increasing the influx of sea water once the coastline is eroded, wind-driven erosion is likely to be more dangerous. "Compared to the slow sea level rise (less than 1mm per year along the west coast), wind contributes a large chunk of mechanical energy to waves which are effective mechanism for coastal erosion," he further said.

The sea level rise has a time scale of century, but the wind forcing has a time scale of few years to a decade, Luis added.

Increase in sea level is another factor that contributes to influx of more water once the coastal line is eroded. Compared to sea level rise (less than 1mm per year along the west coast), wind contributes a large chunk of mechanical energy to waves which are effective mechanism for coastal erosion. Note that sea level rise is a slow process (time scale of century), while wind forcing has a time scale of few years to decade.

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Sabah Wildlife officials nurse injured pygmy elephant

Ruben Sario The Star 23 Jan 12;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife officials are ushering in the year of the dragon by nursing an abandoned Borneo pygmy elephant calf rescued at a plantation in the east coast Lahad Datu district.

Describing the rescue as a Chinese New Year miracle, state Wildlife Department director Lauerentius Ambu said the several-weeks-old elephant was suffering from massive dehydration as well as numerous cuts and abrasions when it was pulled out from a moat yesterday.

“Our Wildlife Rescue Unit veterinarian and rangers managed to give it a massive amount of fluid and treated the wounds,” he said.

“Though the baby elephant's condition seems to have improved, it is still not out of the woods yet.

“It will still need critical and constant care for it to further improve and survive.

“Presently we have a veterinarian and four staff giving round-the-clock intensive care.

“If the baby can survive for the next 72 hours, its chances of pulling through will also be better,” Lauren- tius added.

He said the rescue of the calf was a significant event as in Sabah there were only some 2,000 of the elephants left in the wild.

Laurentius said the elephants faced severely fragmented habitat due to agricultural and human activities.

“Human-elephant conflict has increased with more of these mammals being killed and orphaned elephants rescued,” he added.

Wildlife Department veterinarian Dr Sen Nathan said the calf was likely to have been left behind by its herd after it was unable to pull itself out from the moat.

Baby elephant rescued
Sabah rescue unit monitoring animal
Kristy Inus New Straits Times 23 Jan 12;

AN abandoned male baby elephant, believed to be a few weeks old, was rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Department's Wildlife Rescue Unit at a plantation, about 40km from here, on Saturday.

Calling it the "Chinese New Year miracle", the team said it was alerted by the plantation workers who found the baby elephant in a deep moat and unable to move.

"Elephants are one of the best mothers in the animal kingdom. They do not abandon their babies.

The baby elephants are not only cared for by the mother but also by older siblings and other adult females in the herd," said unit head Dr Sen Nathan.

"The baby elephant was found to be severely dehydrated and had cuts and abrasions on its body.

"Veterinarian Dr Diana Ramirez and the rangers administered large amounts of intravenous fluids and treated the wounds."

Dr Sen said although the baby elephant's condition had improved, "it is still not out of the woods yet".

"It would still require constant care to improve in health and survive.

"A veterinarian and four staff are providing the baby elephant with 24-hour intensive care.

"If the baby elephant can survive for the next 72 hours, it has better chances of pulling through."

The population of Borneo Pygmy elephants in Sabah is dwindling fast, with only 2,000 left in the wild.

Its habitat is affected by agricultural and human activities, hence an increase in cases of elephants being killed and orphan elephants rescued.

The Wildlife Rescue Unit focuses on rescuing and translocating wildlife in Sabah. Last month, the team members assisted in the helicopter rescue of a rare female Sumatran rhinoceros here.

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Malaysia: Hunt on for rampaging herd of elephants

The Star 23 Jan 12;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The hunt for rampaging elephants is on.

The Terengganu Wildlife and National Parks department has deployed a team of six officers to capture wild elephants which have destroyed oil plam trees near Kampung Air Putih in Kemaman.

“We believe a group of wild elephants might have wandered into the village,” director Yusoff Shariff told The Star yesterday.

“Initial investigations revealed that the elephants might have rampaged through the plantation late at night.”

Yusoff said the animals would be relocated to the Ketiar Elephant Sanctuary in Hulu Terengganu once they were captured.

“So far the elephants have not injured any villager but I advice people to be vigilant,” he said.

The Star reported that rampaging elephants destroyed more than 50 oil palm trees in a villager Maizanah Abdullah's 2.8ha plantation.

The elephants have been using the village as a route to a nearby jungle.

The last “attack” at the plantation occurred some two years ago, where some 200 trees were destroyed.

Elephant problems have been a norm for the state and the department has conducted several successful operations to relocate them.

Jumbo woes for estate owner
The Star 22 Jan 12;

KEMAMAN: An oil palm estate owner has a problem the size of many elephants.

Rampaging elephants have des-troyed more than 50 oil palm trees in Maizanah Abdullah's 2.8ha plantation.

“Besides destroying the trees, the elephants also chewed on the fruits and leaves of the bigger oil palm trees.

“I believe the elephants came at night because we found remnants of the trees the following morning,” said the 55-year-old owner.

She added that the elephants would destroy about 10 trees on a single night and to date, the number had climbed to over 50 trees.

“The last attack occurred some two years ago, when I lost around 200 trees and suffered thousands of ringgit in losses.

“I hope the attack this time around will not reach such devastation,” she said.

Maizanah claimed that the elephants had been using the oil palm plantation as a route to get to a nearby jungle.

She hoped the state Wildlife and National Parks Department would act as soon as possible.

“I also fear the elephants might injure some unlucky individual,” she said.

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Vietnam: The fishing village that vows to protect the sea

VietNamNet Bridge 22 Jan 12;

Cuong, Chim, Phuong, Phi and many other residents of Van Hung Commune of Khanh Hoa province have been trying to protect coral reefs – the “lung of the sea”, because, as Cuong said, they want to reserve the sea for the next generations.

The overexploitation of corals in Van Hung Commune of Van Ninh district in Khanh Hoa once destroyed the ecological environment, while the aquatic sources got depleted. The Ran Trao coral reef was left as the only “forest” in the hurt sea bed. Ten years ago, local residents of the Van Hung Commune vowed to protect Tran Tao. Thanks to their great efforts, the forest has nearly revived.

Just covering an area of 90 hectares, but Ran Trao contained 82 coral varieties, 69reef fish species, six species of sea grass and five mangrove plant species. Ran Trao is one of the places which provide natural sources of valuable marine species, such as lobster, grouper, sea cucumbers, snails to the whole Van Phong Bay.

Nguyen Cuong, one of the fisherman, who voluntarily joined the team of protecting the sea, said that unlike the 15 years ago, 85 percent of local residents have been aware of the importance of the coral reefs to their livelihood and they understand that it is necessary to protect the natural resources.

Overexploitation nearly killed coral reefs

Nguyen Van Chim in Xuan Tu 2 hamlet, recalled that in 1990s; people flocked to the commune to breed lobsters for profit, which then seriously devastated coral reefs. Fishermen also killed coral reefs during their trips to the open sea. Several years before, people once came there to exploit coral reefs to bring to the Central Highlands, where corals were used as fertilizer for the coffee plants. As a result, a vast area on the ocean bed got ravaged.

Aquatic resources got depleted. People tried to exploit corals not only by hands, but they also used mines, toxic substances which killed small fishes as well. The Van Hung Commune witnessed 3-4 people losing their legs and hands because using mines to exploit aquatic products. Two people were killed also because of the same reason.

Cuong and other fishermen in the sea village felt sorry for the overexploited sea. Many years ago, it took them just four hours to catch 30-40 kilos of lobsters, while they could catch 2-3 kilos at maximum now.

“I am afraid that one day, my grandchildren would ask me: “What was the fish like?” because they never can see that kind of fish,” Cuong said.

In 2000, a group of experts from the central marine conservation and community development (MCD) arrived in Van Hung. They said coral reefs are considered the green forests that protect the sea. Cuong, Chim and many other people realized that coral is a diverse ecosystem, the lung and the life of countless species. Therefore, keeping coral species means keeping the aquatic resources for the region.

From that day, Cuong and many other local residents have been trying to protect the sea and prevent people from devastating coral reefs. Three months later, a nucleus team in charge of protecting Ran Trao was officially established. As such, the model of preserving the sea with the management of the community, has been established with the technical support of MCD.

Coming back to life

Recalling the first days of implementing the task of protecting coral reefs, Cuong said these were very tough days. All the fishing and aquaculture activities are prohibited in the area. No one can bring anything to the area, and they cannot take away anything from there.

However, no one has given up the game, even though every of them could get 300,000 dong a month, and the money for fuel.

Not only trying to protect coral reefs, local residents have been trying to cultivate coral reefs. 80-90 percent of corals developed by local residents can live, the achievement that no one could imagine before, even scientists.

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Malaysia and Indonesia boost marine and coastal ties

Nurhidayah Ramli The Star 22 Jan 12;

JAKARTA: Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed on a permanent regional secretariat to look into issues of sustainable marine development, resources management, research and development projects and income improvement of coastal communities between the two countries.

The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) regional secretariat will be set up in Manado, Indonesia.

Malaysia's Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and the republic's Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Cicip Sutarjo met here on Friday.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry said the meeting also paved the way for Dr Ongkili to take over as CTI Council of Ministers (CTI-COM) chairman from Sharif.

Malaysia was chosen to head the CTI-COM during the third ministerial meeting in Jakarta last October.

During their discussions, Dr Ongkili and Sharif touched on the challenges facing CTI and the plan to set up the regional secretariat.

Dr Ongkili also held meetings with high-level officials of the interim CTI regional secretariat (CTI-RS), led by Dr Gellwyn Jusuf, the secretary-general of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Regional secretariat executive chairman Dr Sudirman Saad said the meeting between the regional secretariat and the new chairman was an important milestone.

Dr Ongkili called on Indonesia's Research and Technology Minister Prof Gusti Muhammad Hatta, with whom he discussed existing cooperation in science and technology.

Both ministers agreed to closely collaborate and carry out joint researches in natural products, biotechnology, cyber security, marine and fisheries as well as food security.

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