Best of our wild blogs: 26 Apr 12

WBSE eaglet @ nest 2 @ pasir ris - 22Apr2012
from sgbeachbum

Thalassia makes three at Sentosa, Tanjung Rimau
from teamseagrass

Wild shores in the city: Berlayar Creek
from wild shores of singapore

Welcome, Twinky!
from Raffles Museum News

Giant clams featured in ST papers
from Psychedelic Nature

Indian Peafowls on Sentosa
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Malaysia: Iskandar Malaysia set to be Asia's gateway for tourists

New Straits Times 26 Apr 12;

JOHOR BARU: Iskandar Malaysia’s diverse landscape, coupled with some key iconic tourism projects that will be opened to the public shortly, is expected to further boost the region's economic growth and tourism industry, as a whole.

According to Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) chief executive Ismail Ibrahim, Iskandar Malaysia is poised to be Asia's gateway for tourists arriving in Malaysia and the Asean countries.

"With the participation of Cities and Corridors Lab by Pemandu and other state agencies, the target tourist numbers in Iskandar Malaysia are expected to hit seven million people per year by 2020," Ismail announced in a statement here today.

A tourist is defined here as a visitor who spends at least one night in the area, he explained, adding that IRDA is very excited to declare 2012/2013 as a banner year for Iskandar Malaysia.

According to Ismail, this declaration follows IRDA's focus on and facilitation of the opening of world-class, iconic tourist projects, including Legoland Malaysia, the Puteri Harbour Family Entertainment Center and Austin Heights Water Theme Park, to name a few.

In tandem with tourism development, Ismail added, the region will also be promoted as a shopper's haven, with the enhancement of existing shopping complexes and hotels and the introduction of new projects by the end of 2013.

"We are also pleased that Johor has increased its tourism product offerings, particularly with the new developments in the Mersing Laguna and Desaru beach tourism. We believe this will result in an Iskandar Malaysia tourism spillover effect and enhance the region’s economic vitality and excitement," he said.

It was recently reported that Johor was slated to become like Orlando, Florida, with at least 11 leisure attractions in the state, thus making it a major theme and amusement-park destination of Southeast Asia.

In addition to the new attractions, Ismail said, Iskandar Malaysia is already an area full of vibrancy and charm, given the rich heritage, art and culture that can be found in the Johor Baharu city centre.

Most notable of these, he added, is the Puteri Heritage Trail, which tempts the senses by offering an exquisite experience of old coffee shops and charcoal-oven bakeries, in addition to the souvenir-laden Plaza Seni.

For the nature-loving eco-friendly tourist, Ismail pointed out, Iskandar Malaysia offers visits to the Ramsar site in Tanjung Piai, the southernmost tip of mainland Asia, and to the world's largest uninhabited mangrove island of Pulau Kukup.

"The truly iconic thing about Iskandar Malaysia is the entire experience of being in it. I urge everyone to invest in holidays to Iskandar Malaysia, for truly the time is here and now," said Ismail. -- BERNAMA

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Hong Kong to return rare Philippine turtles

(AFP) Google News 25 Apr 12;

MANILA — Thirty-six turtles seized from smugglers, including 20 of one of the world's rarest species, are to be returned from Hong Kong to the Philippines, an official said Wednesday.

It will mark the first time a protected Philippine species seized from the illegal wildlife trade abroad has been returned, Philippine environment department deputy chief Luz Corpuz told AFP.

Wildlife authorities in Hong Kong will hand the 20 pond turtles and 16 South Asian box turtles to Philippine enforcement officers on Friday, she said.

"They are Philippine species, and returning them back to their natural habitat is a big accomplishment for our conservation efforts," Corpuz said of the Philippine pond turtles, which are found only in the island of Palawan.

"In the past we had routinely allowed protected wildlife confiscated abroad to be turned over to their local shelters because we do not have money.

"This time we're lucky because we have a little money left and we would like to enhance our enforcement activities."

Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the 21-centimetre (8.3-inch) pond turtle, Siebenrockiella leytensis, as "critically endangered" and "one of the rarest and least known turtles in the world".

The 20-centimetre box turtle, Cuora amboinensis, is listed by as "vulnerable" in the Philippines, though it is also found in other tropical countries of Southeast Asia.

Corpuz said airport authorities in Hong Kong seized the 36 turtles in February after a flight from Manila.

They will be released back into the wild in Palawan, she added.

Trafficking in pond turtles is punishable by a six-year prison term and a million-peso ($23,447) fine in the Philippines, but Corpuz admitted the government did not have enough resources to enforce the law.

"We don't know who were responsible for smuggling them to Hong Kong, but the turtles could have most likely ended up as medicine, as pets, or as food in Chinese restaurants," she said.

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Rio Summit must address population growth: scientists

Richard Ingham (AFP) Google News 26 Apr 12;

PARIS — A top scientific academy on Thursday called on June's Rio Summit to tackle population growth and voracious consumption that are placing Earth's resources under intolerable strain.

"The 21st century is a critical period for people and the planet," the Royal Society, the world's oldest science academy, said in a report ahead of the June 20-22 UN gathering.

Demography, it said, can no longer be sidelined or treated as separate from the environment or the economy.

"The world now has a very clear choice," said leading British scientist Sir John Sulston, who led the report.

"We can choose to rebalance the use of resources to a more egalitarian pattern of consumption, to reframe our economic values to truly reflect what our consumption means for our planet and to help individuals around the world to make informed and free reproductive choices."

"Or," he said, "we can choose to do nothing -- and to drift into a downward vortex of economic, socio-political and environmental ills, leading to a more unequal and inhospitable future."

Earth's population is expected to roughly triple by 2050 compared to a century earlier.

It stood at three billion in 1950, reached seven billion in 2007 and is likely to reach around 9.5 billion by 2050, according to UN estimates.

Despite this surge, the issue of population growth is dormant in international politics. In the "zero draft" communique being prepared for the Rio summit, there are few references to demography.

The Royal Society report, People and the Planet, said population growth rates were slowing or going into reverse in many countries but were predicted to remain high in least-developed economies.

Rich nations are by far the biggest users of resources per capita, and their wasteful practices are spreading to emerging economies with giant populations, it said.

This combination of a growing global population and an accelerating pattern of consumption has alarming implications, the report warned.

"The Earth's capacity to meet human needs is finite," it said.

For example, a child in the developed world uses between 30 and 50 times as much water as his or her counterpart in a developing country.

Per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in rich countries are up to 50 times higher than in poor ones.

Average consumption of food has risen on average by 15 percent in calorie terms over the past four decades, yet nearly a billion people remain poorly nourished.

The report put forward nine recommendations for tackling the intertwined problems.

It demanded that 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 (about one euro) a day -- be brought out of absolute poverty.

"The most developed and the emerging economies must stabilise and then reduce material consumption levels," through investment in energy efficiency and clean technologies, steering them onto a path of sustainable development, it said.

Leaders should urgently commit to programmes of voluntary contraception and education, which are big factors in bringing down fertility rates.

And they should consider the impact of demography when they come to making economic or environmental decisions.

"Demographic changes, and the influences on them, should be factored into economic and environmental debate and planning at international meetings, such as the Rio+20 conference," it said.

Around 100 heads of state or government are expected for the conference, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit that declared the environment a priority, according to Brazilian sources.

Scientists call for rethink on consumption, population
Chris Wickham Reuters Yahoo News 26 Apr 12;

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have called for a radical rethink of our relationship with the planet to head off what they warn could be economic and environmental catastrophe.

In a report published on Thursday by the London-based Royal Society, an international group of 23 scientists chaired by Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston called for a rebalancing of consumption in favor of poor countries coupled with increased efforts to control population growth to lift the estimated 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day out of poverty.

"Over the next 30-40 years the confluence of the challenges described in this report provides the opportunity to move towards a sustainable economy and a better world for the majority of humanity, or alternatively the risk of social, economic and environmental failures and catastrophes on a scale never imagined," the scientists said.

The 133-page report, which Sulston describes as a summary of work done over the last two years, comes against a backdrop of austerity-hit governments reducing subsidies for renewable energy, global car companies falling over themselves to meet demand for new cars in rapidly growing economies like China and Brazil, and increasing pressure to exploit vast reserves of gas locked in rocks around the globe through the controversial process known as ‘fracking'.

But the scientists insist the goals in the report are realistic. They argue lifestyle choices, human volition and incentives enshrined in government policy can make a significant difference to patterns of consumption.

They cite the growing appetite for recycling in the developed world, Britain's policy-driven switch to lead-free fuel in the 1980s, and the seemingly prosaic example of air traffic control as examples of where international cooperation can work.

Sulston said governments realized quickly that the consequences of not managing air traffic could be catastrophic: "They said 'this is dangerous; we've got to cooperate'."

The scientists say developed and emerging economies should stabilize and then start reducing their consumption of materials by increased efficiency, waste reduction and more investment in sustainable resources.

Carbon dioxide emissions are 10 to 50 times higher in rich countries compared to poor nations, they say. Rising greenhouse gas emissions are almost certainly responsible for increasing global average temperatures, leading to rising sea levels and more extreme weather, climate scientists say.

Voluntary programs to reduce birth rates, education for young women and better access to contraception urgently need political leadership and financial support.

Professor Sarah Harper of Oxford University, another of the authors, said the issue of population had fallen off the development agenda in the last 10-15 years but it should be reinstated and coupled closely with environmental challenges, starting at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development to be held in Rio in June.


The trend to urbanization remains intact. Some 50 percent of the world's population, which surpassed 7 billion last year, is living in cities. The world's population is forecast to rise to 10 billion before flattening off and the urban proportion is forecast to increase to 75 percent by the end of the century.

Eliya Msiyaphazi Zulu, a report author and Executive Director of the African Institute for Development Policy research group, said the need for education about family planning and improved access to contraception was most acute in Africa, which is forecast to contribute 70 percent of the average population growth.

He said all the evidence points to African women wanting fewer children and argued the main reason for high fertility in a country like Niger was the fact that half of all women are married at the age of 16.

The scientists also supported growing calls for a revision in how we measure economic growth. "We are extremely wedded to the idea that GDP increases are a good thing," said Jules Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex and another of the authors.

He argued that GDP measures many of the ‘bads' in terms of the well-being of the planet as well as the ‘goods', adding: "There is an urgent need for policy change."

The scientists present some startling statistics. A child from the developed world consumes 30-50 times as much water as one from the developing world. Global average consumption of calories increased about 15 percent between 1969 and 2005, but in 2010 almost 1 billion people did not get their minimum calorie needs.

Minerals production rocketed in the 47 years up to 2007; copper, lead and lithium about fourfold and tantalum/niobium, used in electronic gadgets, by about 77 times.

For developed countries, Sulston said the message of the report boils down to something quite simple: "You don't have to be consuming as much to have a healthy and happy life".

But will politicians and consumers respond?

"It is a brave politician who is prepared to tell Western consumers to consume less to let the developing world consume more," said Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University in London. "But we need such bravery now, urgently."

Lang, who was not involved in the study, welcomed it saying: "The West over- and mal-consumes its way to diet-related ill-health from a diet with a high environmental impact. The evidence is there but will politicians and consumers listen and change?"

(Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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