Best of our wild blogs: 16 Apr 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [9 - 15 Apr 2012]
from Green Business Times

21 Apr (Sat): Earth Day at Pasir Ris mangroves with the Naked Hermit Crabs from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Diving in the Hot Season – Blog Log 15 April 2012
from Pulau Hantu

Orgy in the Sea: Mass coral spawning 2012!
from wild shores of singapore

How can we tell if a fish is a new species?
from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Easter Sunday at St John's Island
from wonderful creation

Yellow-vented Bulbul in my garden
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Sunda Pangolin
from Monday Morgue

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Malaysia: Greening project at sanctuary for turtles

Christina Chin The Star 16 Apr 12;

GEORGE TOWN: The Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation Sanctuary is the country's first to implement a shrub-planting project to restore the natural habitat of turtles along the coastline.

The initiative by the state Fisheries Department in partnership with the private sector was launched with the planting of 100 sea lettuce seedlings at the Pantai Kerachut beach.

Rantau Abang turtle education centre chief Syed Abdullah Syed Abdul Kadir who also advises the country's 22 turtle hatcheries, said the sanctuary's greening project was a crucial step in promoting 100% natural hatchlings.

Research has shown that eggs hatched on the beach rather than in a temperature-controlled incubator produced healthier hatchlings.

He said the natural conservation was challenging because a 24-hour surveillance was needed.

“You need workers to be on the beach round-the-clock to prevent the eggs from being stolen and people from disturbing the turtles.

“The beach must also be very clean and free from animals that prey on the eggs like crabs and ants,” he said during the project launch on Saturday.

Syed Abdullah, who has been working closely with hatcheries in the South-East Asia region for the last 15 years, said that with more sea lettuce shrubs, more turtles would lay their eggs here.

He said the turtle population here could increase by between 40% and 50% in the next 15 years if the sanctuary continued with its efforts.

In 2010, some 5,000 eggs were collected and 70% were successfully hatched and released into the sea.

Department licensing and resource protection officer Mansor Yobe said some 500 sea lettuce seedlings had been prepared for this project.

Giving turtles a chance
Christina Chin The Star 17 Apr 12;

THE Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation Sanctuary is calling on the private sector to help make its ambong-ambong (scientifically known as scaevola taccada) shrub-planting project a success.

Some 500 seedlings cultivated by the state Fisheries Department need to be planted along Pantai Kerachut, Pantai Teluk Kampi, Pantai Teluk Ailing and Pantai Teluk Ketapang along the island’s north-west coast to restore the Green Turtles and the Olive Ridley Turtles’ natural breeding habitat.

Department licensing and resource protection officer Mansor Yobe said volunteers were needed to help plant the shrubs as the department managing the sanctuary did not have the manpower.

“We have cultivated the seedlings ourselves but now we need people to help plant them as the sanctuary is largely dependant on the private sector’s assistance,” he said.

Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) senior research assistant Mohd Afendi Hussin said the ambong-ambong shrubs could grow up to 4m high and 4.6m wide.

“It will take four years for the shrubs to mature.

“If all the seedlings grow well, soil erosion won’t be a problem in Pantai Kerachut.”

Rantau Abang turtle education centre chief Syed Abdullah Syed Abdul Kadir who also advises the country’s 22 turtle hatcheries said Penang was very fortunate as the private sector here was supportive of the sanctuary.

“The sanctuary has progressed well.

“When the turtle conservation project started here in the early 1990s, turtle landings were very rare. Those that came had little chance to hatch their eggs.

“Thanks to efforts by the department and very strong support from the private sector, the eco-system had been restored and there is tighter security on the beach to prevent the eggs from being stolen.

“Better surveillance meant that turtles coming up to lay their eggs were not disturbed,” he said.

He said it was only in 1998 that the efforts bore fruit when 10 turtle nests were found.

By 2007, 80 turtle nests had been recorded.

“Optimally, we need to achieve a ratio of one male to two females.

“Yearly research and regular monitoring must be done to adjust the ratio because when the eggs hatch, we do not know the gender of the turtles.

“It will take about 20 years before we can see whether we have been successful in hatching the correct ratio to increase the population because that is the length of time needed for a female to return to the beach it was released from,” he said.

Syed Abdullah appealed to the public to donate generously to the national Persatuan Pecinta Penyu 1Malaysia fund set up last year for turtle conservation in the country.

State department deputy director Noraisyah Abu Bakar said the public wishing to donate to the sanctuary should issue cheques to ‘Persatuan Pecinta Penyu 1Malaysia (Penang)’ and hand them over to the state Fisheries Department.

“We need funds to buy food for the turtles and to run the sanctuary — it’s not cheap although we do receive some allocation from the state government.

“We also managed to build fences, a platform and staircases for the sanctuary,” she said.

She thanked Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Hotel and Golden Sands Resort staff for the sand replacement exercise which was carried out at the shaded hatchery.

“Because we could not get a tractor in, we need to manually dig out the sand and replace it to prevent the breeding of virus and bacteria in the ‘old’ sand which was filled with hatched turtle eggs.

“This exercise must be done once every two years,” she said.

Mansor said on the sanctuary’s wish list now were research equipment to monitor the impact of global warming on the hatchlings, microchips for tagging of the hatchlings, a satellite tracking system and a concrete pond to rehabilitate the turtles.

“The electronic gadgets cost up to RM100,000 but we need them for research purposes," he said.

During the launch of the shrub-planting project at Pantai Kerachut on Saturday, 60 employees from Sharp (Sungai Petani) were present to plant 100 ambong-ambong shrubs and bury the turtle eggs in the shaded hatchery.

S&O Electronics K. Asami director said the company would be back in June to release the hatchlings during a one-night stay programme.

“This programme is part of Sharp’s 100th anniversary.

“We hope to provide the sanctuary with audio-visual systems for its educational programmes and help with some refurbishment work,” he said.

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Indonesia: One Orangutan Rescued, Many More in Danger

Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 15 Apr 12;

An orangutan that spent 10 days trapped in a net is fighting for its life after being rescued by an animal rights group.

The orangutan, named Pelansi, after where it was found, is in critical condition. It had been trapped by a villager on a palm oil plantation owned by Kayong Agro Lestari in West Kalimantan.

International Animal Rescue Indonesia, which saved Pelansi, said this case highlighted the increased danger faced by orangutans as their forest home was cut down to make way for plantations, and the need to get companies involved in efforts to ensure orangutans did not disappear.

“We hope that Pelansi can make it through the critical phase so that we can release him back into the forest as soon as possible,” Adi Irawan, from IAR, said on Friday.

He said a villager had placed about 60 traps across the 400- hectare plantation, hoping to catch wild pigs and deer to be sold and eaten. “But he can end up trapping orangutans or even human beings,” Adi said.

According to the group, there are hundreds of orangutans in the area around the plantation, which used to be forest.

“That’s why we call on all plantation companies to commit to helping orangutans and other endangered animals,” Adi said.

A first step, he said, would be for plantation companies to follow international guidelines that would help avoid, or at least minimize, conflicts between humans and orangutans in and around the plantations.

Indonesian law says anyone caught hunting or trapping orangutans, which are protected, can face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to Rp 100 million ($11,000).

Forest fires and land clearing by palm oil firms could wipe out the forests home of orangutans within years, according to some environmental groups.

They say orangutans are being driven out of their ever-shrinking habitats, which are increasingly under siege from logging and plantation interests, or specifically targeted by poachers in the illegal wildlife trade.

Bornean orangutans are more numerous, with 45,000 of them left in their natural habitat. However the species is still listed as endangered.

On Friday, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said it would release six orangutans it had saved back into the wild his month.

The six orangutans have been at the foundation’s reintroduction center in Semboja Lestari, East Kalimantan, for several months, said the foundation’s communication officer, Ajeng Ika Nugraheni.

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Some Asian glaciers 'putting on mass'

Richard Black BBC News 15 Apr 12;

Some glaciers on Asia's Karakoram mountains are defying the global trend and getting thicker, say researchers.

A French team used satellite data to show that glaciers in part of the Karakoram range, to the west of the Himalayan region, are putting on mass.

The reason is unclear, as glaciers in other parts of the Himalayas are losing mass - which also is the global trend.

The region's glaciers are poorly studied, yet provide a vital water source for more than a billion people.

The response of Himalayan glaciers to global warming has been a hot topic ever since the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which contained the erroneous claim that ice from most of the region could disappear by 2035.

Although often regarded as part of the Himalayas, the Karakoram range is technically a separate chain that includes K2, the world's second-highest peak.

Much of the region is inaccessible, and there has been a general recognition that observations need to be stepped up in order to clarify what is going on.

The French scientists, from the National Centre for Scientific Research and the University of Grenoble, compared two models of land surface elevation derived from satellite observations, for 1999 and 2008, and report their findings in the Nature Geoscience journal.

The method has been used before in other mountain ranges, but it is not as straightforward as it might sound.

"It's not been used more because these elevation models are quite difficult to acquire - you need clear sky conditions and reduced snow cover," said lead researcher Julie Gardelle.

Other factors that can change the height of the ice surface, other than changes to the ice itself, also need to be accounted for.

Having done all these calculations, the team found that between 1999 and 2008 the mass of the glaciers in this 5,615 sq km (2,168 sq miles) region of the Karakoram increased marginally, although there were wide variations between individual glaciers.

Foggy picture

Why this should be is not clear, though it is well known from studies in other parts of the world that climate change can cause extra precipitation into cold regions which, if they are cold enough, gets added to the existing mass of ice.

"We don't really know the reason," Ms Gardelle told BBC News.

"Right now we believe that it could be due to a very specific regional climate over Karakoram because there have been meteorological measurements showing increased winter precipitation; but that's just a guess at this stage."

Whatever the region, it is clear that the trend contrasts with other parts of the wider Himalayas-Hindu Kush region, home to an estimated 210 million people and where glaciers act as fresh water stores for about 1.3 billion living in river basins below.

Late last year, the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (Icimod) released data showing that across 10 regularly studied glaciers, the rate of ice loss had doubled since the 1980s.

However, it also made clear just how sparse data is from the region, finding only these 10 intensively studied glaciers among a total of more than 54,000.

Measurements by the GRACE satellite mission, which detects minuscule variations in the Earth's gravitational pull, have also shown a net loss of mass across the whole region.

Graham Cogley, the scientist from Trent University in Ontario, Canada, who first publicly questioned the IPCC's 2035 figure, comments in Nature that reconciling the different mass loss figures found by different methods of study "will keep glaciologists busy for some time".

No ice loss seen in major Himalayan glaciers: scientists
AFP Yahoo News 15 Apr 12;

One of the world's biggest glacier regions has so far resisted global warming that has ravaged mountain ice elsewhere, scientists reported on Sunday.

For years, experts have debated the state of glaciers that smother nearly 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq. miles) of the Karakoram range in the western Himalayas.

Straddling parts of China, Pakistan and India, the Karakoram's peaks include K2, Earth's second-highest mountain.

Its glaciers account for nearly three percent of the world's area of ice outside the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

In locations around the planet, mountain glaciers are shrinking in response to higher temperatures, contributing importantly to sea-level rise.

Yet the situation for the Karakoram has until now been sketchy.

Scientists have found it almost impossible to study the glaciers on the ground, for the region lies at great altitude in a border area, and access is hampered by snow avalanches and glacial debris.

But a French team, comparing 3-D satellite maps from 2000 and 2008, said the glaciers had not lost mass over this period and may even have grown a tiny bit, at 0.11 millimetres (0.04 of an inch) per year.

"Apparently, the situation in the Karakoram is a little different (from elsewhere), which means that the glaciers are stable for the time being," Julie Gardelle of the University of Grenoble in southeastern France told AFP.

"But it does not detract in any way from the evidence for overall global warming," she cautioned.

The paper, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, is based on satellite scrutiny of 5,615 sq. km. (2,167 sq. miles) of the central Karakoram, between the Yarkant River on the Chinese side of the border and the Indus River on the Pakistani side.

The study area lies outside the Siachen glacier, the scene of a military standoff between Pakistan and India, which according to the Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Islamabad has shrunk by 10 kilometres (six miles) in the past 35 years.

In a commentary also carried by Nature Geoscience, Graham Cogley of Trent University in Ontario, Canada, said it was unclear why the Karakoram had so far been spared the impact of warming.

"It seems that, by a quirk of the atmospheric general circulation that is not understood, more snow is being delivered to the mountain range at present, and less heat," said Cogley.

The health of the Himalayan glaciers is closely watched, for they supply water for more than a billion people in South Asia and China.

In February, a US-led study published in Nature found that ice loss from the Himalayas was significant but had been badly over-estimated.

It calculated loss of four billion tonnes a year, compared with previous estimates of up to 50 billion.

It said past estimates were based on runoff from lower-altitude glaciers -- which are worse hit by warming than higher-altitude ones -- and on drainage figures from the vast plains south of the Himalayas.

Much of this drainage came in fact from water that had been pumped from underground aquifers on the plains, not from meltwater from the mountains, the study said.

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