Best of our wild blogs: 12 Mar 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [5 - 11 Mar 2012]
from Green Business Times

25 Mar (Sun): Talk on "Nature outreach on the internet: does it work?" from wild shores of singapore

Very pregnant Papa seahorse at Sister Island
from wild shores of singapore

Collared Kingfisher caught a vinegar crab
from Bird Ecology Study Group

A lovely civet-y artwork!
from Life of a common palm civet in Singapore

from Monday Morgue

Read more!

Ban on live fishing bait may be lifted

Jessica Lim Straits Times 12 Mar 12;

THE National Parks Board (NParks) may lift a ban on the use of live bait for fishing at the Woodlands Waterfront Jetty.

This after an angler wrote in to MP for Sembawang GRC, Mr Vikram Nair, to lobby against it.

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan, who was copied in the letter, said the ban was not a good solution for keeping parks clean as 'it affects the fishing experience of anglers'.

'The best solution is for the community of anglers to take ownership of the jetty's cleanliness,' wrote Mr Khaw in his blog yesterday. 'This way, every one, anglers or non anglers, can enjoy the waterfront at all times.'

The use of live bait at the Woodlands Waterfront Jetty was banned in 2010, after anglers left a rotten mess in the area after preparing the live bait. It ignited a rash of comments online at the time. Some netizens questioned the need for such a drastic move. Others lamented that it was impossible to catch anything substantial without live bait.

Mr Khaw said NParks is working with anglers on adopting the correct way of preparing live bait so the ban will be unnecessary.

He said the solution to cleanliness cannot be foreign cleaners, adding that parks in Australia, Japan and Korea are 'wonderfully clean'. 'Park users (there) take their rubbish with them as they leave,' he said. 'Many Singaporeans are picking up such a good habit. But I think we are still not yet at the level of the Aussies, or Koreans or Japanese.'

Mr Khaw said the Government will continue to invest in parks because they 'add to our quality of life, besides promoting healthy living and community bonding'.

The next big thing in parks, besides the Rail Corridor, he said, is a seamless 150km-long Round Island Route to link up major natural, cultural and historical attractions here. 'If you have any ideas on how you can help keep our parks world class... NParks Facebook will be thrilled to hear from you,' he said.

More investment in parks but help keep them clean: Minister Khaw
Imelda Saad Aziz Today Online 12 Mar 12;

SINGAPORE - National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan (picture) has said that his ministry will do more to invest in parks and urged the public to help keep public spaces clean.

In his latest blog post, he wrote that parks add to the quality of life, promote healthy living and community bonding.

Mr Khaw pointed to two big projects - the Rail Corridor and the 150km-long Round Island Route which will link up the country's major natural, cultural and historical attractions.

But with such investments, Mr Khaw urged the community to play its part in maintaining public spaces.

He cited parks in Australia, Japan and Korea, which Mr Khaw described as being "wonderfully clean" and not because they have "foreign cleaners to pick up litter".

"The users do not litter in the first place. Park users take their rubbish with them as they leave. Pets are leashed and the owners (clean up after their pets). Many Singaporeans are picking up such good habits. But I think we are still not yet at the level of the Aussies, Koreans or Japanese," he said.

At the Woodlands Waterfront Jetty, NParks is working with regular anglers to self-police, and get everyone to adopt the correct way of preparing live bait.

Mr Khaw said this will then make the ban on live bait, which was imposed because of the mess left by anglers, unnecessary and irrelevant.

The move comes after a Woodlands resident and fishing enthusiast, Mr Abdul Rashid, emailed his Member of Parliament last month to lobby against the ban.

To submit ideas on how to keep parks here world-class, Mr Khaw encouraged the public to go to the NParks Facebook page at

Read more!

Malaysia: Cheer over tarsier rescue

Ruben Sario The Star 12 Mar 12;

KOTA KINABALU: The recent rescue of a male tarsier from an area in Sabah's east coast has enabled wildlife researchers to conduct more detailed studies on one of the smallest primates in the world.

The tarsier was found by villagers in Sikang in the Kinabatangan district, not far from the Gomanton caves that are renowned for swiftlet nests.

It was found by the father of Sarato Payar, a field research assistant at the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), a wildlife research NGO.

Tarsiers are a mere 10cm tall, weigh about 120gm, with a rat-like tail, bat-like ears and huge eyeballs, each as big as its brain.

“The forest had been cleared a while ago but the land was not used. When there were new plans for usage, the land was being cleared again when the tarsier was found and rescued,” Sarato said.

The little animal was taken to the field centre and given the moniker Lad (for ladang or plantation).

Cardiff University student Alice Miles, who leads a project on tarsier and slow loris ecology, put a radio collar on the animal before releasing it into the forest.

“The following night, we went back to the forest and looked for Lad using our telemetry equipment.

“He was found about 150m to 200m from where he was released, hunting on the ground,” added Miles.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goosens said the study on endangered tarsiers was crucial in understanding the primates' habitat needs, diet and social organisation.

The research, being carried out in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department, would help draw up conservation policies involving these animals, he added.

“So far, we have collared four tarsiers in the vicinity of the field centre. Two of them were females and the radio collars will enable us to identify their sleeping sites and map their home range,” said Goossens.

“We hope Lad will meet one of the two females soon,” he said, adding that the nocturnal primate project was funded by the Columbus, Cleveland and Phoenix zoos of the United States.

Rescued tarsier to provide info on home range
New Straits Times 12 Mar 12;

KINABATANGAN: A male tarsier (Tarsius syrichta), about the size of the palm of an adult, was rescued from a new oil palm plantation on Wednesday, and has since been fitted with a radio collar to identify its home range.

The nocturnal primate was found on land owned by villagers near the Gomantong area by the father of Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) field research assistant Saroto Payar, who then brought it back to the centre.

Cardiff University student Alice Miles, who is leading a project on the ecology of tarsier and slow loris at the DGFC, said the rescued animal was kept in a cage for a day and fed with insects before it was released into the forest.

"In the evening, we fitted him with a radio-collar and released him into the wild.

"We named him Lad, short for "ladang" or plantation in Bahasa Malaysia, and which also refers to males in English.

"The following night, we went back to the forest and looked for him using our telemetry equipment.

"Lad was found about 150 to 200m from where he was released, hunting on the ground."

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said understanding habitat needs, diet and social organisation of tarsiers were key to forming conservation policies for the unique creatures. Bernama

Read more!

Malaysia: Kuala Gula - Paradise for bird lovers

New Straits Times 12 Mar 12;

UNIQUE SANCTUARY: 193 bird species, including 93 from faraway lands, make Kuala Gula their home, writes S. ISTA KYRA

DZUL Zainon and Saadiah Kamarudin are at work -- he is fishing for sea bass and she, looking for crabs -- when those furtive glances turned into telepathy.

"One day, she helped to hold my boat steady as I collected the catch from the nets and we fell in love," he said, grinning.

Now, 50, and blessed with five grandchildren, Dzul is upbeat about the prospect of his beloved Kuala Gula, famed for being a bird sanctuary, filled with egrets, storks and herons.

Dzul still goes out to fish, but his wife operates a food stall and limits "crab-fishing" to once a fortnight excursions.

Her pursuits are now integrated with the sanctuary.

A member of Sahabat Hutan Bakau Kuala Gula, Saadiah is the association's head of arts and craft.

She is conducting art classes to students visiting the sanctuary. She teaches them to make handicraft out of cockleshells and fish scales.

The 48-year-old also assists in organising several mangrove replanting projects, aimed at tourists.

In her free time, she likes to carry out gardening experiments.

Saadiah has successfully planted two different mangrove species in a cylindrical tub in her front yard.

Kuala Gula, aligned to the East Asian-Australasian shorebird flyway, is an important staging and wintering site for migratory shorebirds.

While some villagers are not aware of its importance, people like Dzul, Saadiah and Tan Eng Chong, 46, -- the local tour guide -- will share interesting tidbits to those who care to listen.

In his six years as a guide, Tan said he had learnt to spot a variety of species, such as bee eaters, kingfishers, swallows, bulbuls, herons and egrets.

He had also spotted the endangered milky storks during his tours, but added: "However, I think I've seen fewer than 10."

Tan says as birds are "known to be shy", a binocular would come in handy.

Kuala Gula in Perak is one of the many fishing villages in the 40,000ha Matang wetlands and mangrove forest, which has been identified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by the Malaysian Nature Society.

According to MNS's book, Birds of Perak, Peninsular Malaysia -- and Where to See Them (2006), 193 bird species have been recorded in and around Kuala Gula, out of which 93 are migratory.

The migratory birds are from as far as Siberia in Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Japan and China.

Besides waterbirds, Kuala Gula is also a sanctuary for resident bird species such as Mangrove Pitta and Great Tit as well as pigeons, cuckoos, woodpeckers, babblers, flycatchers, tailorbirds and sunbirds.

Bulbuls, mynas, bee eaters and mynas are also known to frequent the open areas.

There are also nocturnal birds, among them owls and nightjars. However, the most commonly seen species are the Collared Kingfisher, Brahminy Kite, Chinese Pond Heron, Little Egret and Great Egret.

The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has set up a ranger station in the area, to carry out enforcement and research on the large number of waterbirds and several threatened species.

Dzul who is from Selinsing, Bagan Serai, says he is staying put and is in fact looking for better prospects.

"I hope to save up enough money for a licence to take tourists out on my boat.

"That is more lucrative these days, especially during the school holiday season," he said.

Read more!

Climate change threatens Seychelles habitat

Ella Ide (AFP) Google News 12 Mar 12;

VICTORIA — Bursts of torrential rain lash the idyllic white beaches of the Seychelles, where conservationists fear that rare species such as the giant tortoise are at severe risk from climate change.

As changing season patterns bring harsher storms and much longer dry spells, international organisations are helping fight climate change in the tiny nation, the only one in the world where 50 percent of the land is a nature reserve.

"The seasons are merging, there's more rain but in short bursts, with long dry periods. Drinking water dries up and the climate plays havoc with breeding and feeding patterns," said Seychelles climate change expert Rolph Payet.

Recognising the risks, the United Nations Development Programme and Global Environment Facility have approved $8.7 million (6.6 million euros) this year for climate change adaptation projects in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

While part of the funds will go to tackling issues affecting Seychellois people such as drought, the rest is earmarked for further research into protecting the vast array of species from the fallout from global warming.

"We have a range of animals at risk, from the rare turtles and tortoises which lay their eggs on our beaches, to mountain frogs and birds such as the Black Parrot, which are endemic to the Seychelles," Payet said.

On the remote Aldabra atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site more than 1,100 kilometres (685 miles) from the main Seychelles islands, more than 100,000 wild giant Aldabra tortoises lumber and doze together in groups in the baking sun.

One of the biggest tortoises in the world, the Aldabra is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as at risk of extinction, and small but notable shifts in the climate have sparked concern among experts.

"Climate change causes storm surges and higher tides, both of which erode the coast. As the sea warms up, it also kills off the coral reefs, which provide food for fish but also protect the coast from the waves," Payet said.

The Aldabra atoll lies only a few metres above the turquoise waves of the Indian Ocean and the fear is that rising sea levels and tropical cyclones may eventually swallow it up, taking the giant Seychelles tortoises with it.

"It's not only the Aldabra which is at risk," said David Rowat from the Seychelles marine conservation society, which heads up a programme to tag and monitor critically endangered Hawksbill sea turtles on Mahe Island's beaches.

"Hawksbills have always been hunted for their shell to make tortoiseshell jewellery. Their numbers are low but we have the fifth largest population in the world here, and it's imperative we act to protect them," he said.

Changes in temperature play havoc with breeding patterns because the Hawksbills, which live in tropical coral reefs and have prominent hooked beaks, tend to produce only females if the eggs are left in a very warm nest, he said.

"The warming also means there are violent and more frequent storms. The turtles lay their eggs in the sand, but if you have a bad storm surge, you can lose big tracts of sand and a whole season of nesting turtles," Rowat said.

"We move the nests we come across to above the high water line on the beach, but even doing that cannot always protect them from a flash surge," he added.

A significant part of the new funds will go to projects aiming to protect and restore the coral reefs and shore up the coastline against storms.

"The ideas we're testing include using wooden poles as a barrier to protect the coast and replanting trees to help prevent erosion, as well as attempting to regrow coral or transplant and grow more resilient coral," Payet said.

The Seychelles Islands Foundation which manages the Aldabra atoll also works to conserve the rare species at the Vallee de Mai, a national park on Praslin island home to Bulbul birds, fruit bats and Seychelles Skink geckos among others.

Black Parrots swoop above a canopy of towering palm trees with vast leaves, feasting on fruit while brightly coloured tree frogs and geckos lurk near the park's streams and dart over large moss-covered boulders in the gorge.

"The Black Parrot is only found on Praslin. It is a beautiful bird, but is at risk because changing seasons can lead to a decrease in food," Payet said.

Rising temperatures also bring another danger to this picturesque island -- the palm leaves covering the forest floor could catch alight.

There's a real risk of forest fires," Payet said.

Read more!

Water crunch looms without action on waste: UN report

Richard Ingham AFP Yahoo News 12 Mar 12;

Water problems in many parts of the world are chronic and without a crackdown on waste will worsen as demand for food rises and climate change intensifies, the UN warned on Sunday.

Issued on the eve of a six-day gathering on world water issues, the United Nations, in a massive report, said many daunting challenges lie ahead.

They include providing clean water and sanitation to the poor, feeding a world population set to rise from seven billion to nine billion by 2050 and coping with the impact of global warming.

"Pressures on freshwater are rising, from the expanding needs of agriculture, food production and energy consumption to pollution and the weaknesses of water management," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the report.

"Climate change is a real and growing threat. Without good planning and adaptation, hundreds of millions of people are at risk of hunger, disease, energy shortages and poverty."

The World Water Development Report is issued every three years to coincide with the World Water Forum, opening in this southern French city on Monday.

Written by experts in hydrology, economics and social issues under the aegis of UNESCO, it aims to be the world's reference manual for water.

The document, the fourth in the series, made these points:

-- Population growth and a shift to more meat-intensive diet will drive up demand for food by some 70 percent by 2050. Using current methods, this will lead to a nearly 20 percent increase in global agricultural water consumption.

Farming today accounts for around 70 percent of water use, ranging from 44 percent in rich countries to more than 90 percent in least developed economies.

-- Abstraction of aquifers has at least tripled in the past 50 years, supplying nearly half of all drinking water today. "In some hotspots, the availability of non-renewable groundwater resources has reached critical limits," says the report.

An aquifer is an underground layer of water-bearing rock or soil.

The report calls for an overhaul in water management and a massive effort to curb waste. Better irrigation systems, less thirsty crops and the use of "grey," meaning used, water to flush toilets are among the options.

-- The bill for coping with climate-induced water problems will be between 13.7 billion and 19.2 billion dollars annually between 2020 and 2050. This is based on the assumption UN climate talks limit global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

"The current areas with water stress will be suffering more," said Olcay Unver, who coordinated the report, pointing as examples to the Middle East, South Asia and the southwestern United States.

-- About 2.5 billion people have no access to decent sanitation, a figure meaning that a key Millennium Development Goal for 2015 is likely to be missed. In contrast, UN estimates last week said a goal for improving access to clean water would be met.

The report places the spotlight on competition for water between cities, farmers and ecosystems, and between countries as well. An estimated 148 states have international water basins within their territory and 21 countries lie entirely within them.

Even so, there seems no major risk of water wars, Unver told journalists in Paris last week. "Countries have shown great success in cooperating in water resources than fighting over them."

Emerging as a worrying phenomenon is the acquisition of farmland in Africa by western economies, Middle Eastern states and the emerging giants China and India to provide food or biofuels.

The risk is of simply transferring a wasteful water "footprint" elsewhere, possibly at the expense of a local ecosystem.

"The amount of water required for biofuel plantation could be particularly devastating to regions such as West Africa, where water is already scarce," says the report.

Climate, Food Pressures Require Rethink On Water: U.N
Author: Gus Trompiz PlanetArk 13 Mar 12;

The world's water supply is being strained by climate change and the growing food, energy and sanitary needs of a fast-growing population, according to a United Nations study that calls for a radical rethink of policies to manage competing claims.

"Freshwater is not being used sustainably," UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said in a statement. "Accurate information remains disparate, and management is fragmented ... the future is increasingly uncertain and risks are set to deepen."

It says that demand from agriculture, which already sucks up around 70 percent of freshwater used globally, is likely to rise by at least 19 percent by 2050 as the world's population swells an estimated 2 billion people to 9 billion.

Farmers will need to grow 70 percent more food by that time as rising living standards mean individuals demand more food, and meat in particular.

The report will be debated at the World Water Forum, which starts in the French city of Marseille on Monday.

A "silent revolution" has taken place underground, the report warns, as the amount of water sucked from below the surface has tripled in the past 50 years, removing a buffer against drought.

And just as demand increases, supply in many regions is likely to shrink because of changed rainfall patterns, greater droughts, melting glaciers and altered river flows, it says.

"Climate change will drastically affect food production in South Asia and Southern Africa between now and 2030," the report says. "By 2070, water stress will also be felt in central and southern Europe."

Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population but only around a third of water resources, it points out.

A separate water study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released last week forecast world water demand would rise by 55 percent by 2050, with more than 40 percent of the global population likely to live in water basins facing water stress.

The report says with limited supply, policymakers will have to better manage the competing demands of farmers, energy producers and humans demanding drinking water and sanitation.

"The lack of interaction between the diverse communities of users, decision makers and isolated water managers has caused serious degradation of the water resource," it says.

The World Health Organisation said last week the U.N. target to raise the proportion of people with access to safe drinking water by 2015 had actually been reached at the end of 2010.

However the figure was contested by French charity Solidarites International, which said 1.9 billion people remained without safe drinking water, not the 783 million estimated by the United Nations.

The charity is among groups planning to challenge official messages at the Forum, with some associations holding an alternative event in Marseille.

(Additional reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet)

Read more!