Best of our wild blogs: 17 May 12

Beautiful Lacewings
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Pollutive petrochemical plant may be relocated near our Northern shores
from wild shores of singapore

How to foster good science in Singapore?
from The Biology Refugia

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Changi Motorsports Hub contract terminated

Patwant Singh Channel NewsAsia 16 May 12;

SINGAPORE: The construction of the Changi Motorsports Hub may finally be called off, after the final termination papers were signed on Wednesday.

The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) will take back possession of the land from the SG Changi consortium on Thursday.

SG Changi could not complete the Changi Motorsports Hub as the company had run into various financial difficulties.

The next step for SSC will be to see if there are any parties interested in taking up the project.

The Request for Information phase will last from August up to the end of 2012.

A decision on whether a re-tender will be called will be made in the third quarter of 2013, SSC elaborated.

SSC CEO Lim Teck Yin said there could have been more stringent criteria in place when it came to examining the financial strengths and organisational ability of the bidding consortiums.

"We could have gone further to require a level of assurance about being able to finance the entire project, maybe through the likes of a bankers guarantee for the entire project, and not just the ability to buy the land," he said.

"That could have benefitted the project, since we were also trying to achieve other national objectives, not least trying to get the hub up on time and ready."

"But those are the lessons learnt," he added.

SSC said it welcomes both local and overseas investors and is also keeping its options open to both motorsports- and non-motorsports-related concepts.

In informal sessions, it has already met five or six interested parties and will be engaging the services of a consultancy to help it with the feedback process.

- CNA/wm

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WWF and partners celebrate Coral Triangle Day on June 9

WWF 16 May 12;

WWF and its partners are celebrating the first-ever Coral Triangle Day on June 9 at several locations around the Coral Triangle region to highlight the importance of marine conservation and to raise awareness on this global center of marine biodiversity.

An interpretation of World Oceans Day in this part of the world, the Coral Triangle Day brings together individuals, organizations, and establishments from different parts of the region on one special day to celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of this region and to promote the importance of oceans through varied activities including: beach clean-ups; sustainable seafood dinners; educational exhibitions; marine-themed bazaars; and beach parties.

“WWF, along with its partners are encouraging everyone to do one special thing, no matter how small, that will contribute to saving the Coral Triangle and let the world know how we care about it by sharing it on the Coral Triangle online platform,” says Dr Lida Pet-Soede, WWF Coral Triangle Programme Leader.

The Coral Triangle is a six million square-kilometer ocean expanse that contains the highest number of reef building corals on the planet. Its spectacular coral reefs systems are home to thousands of whales, dolphins, rays, sharks, and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles.

Spanning across six countries in Asia and the Pacific including Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands, the Coral Triangle is also a nursery ground for highly valuable tuna species and much sought-after reef fish species. It directly sustains the lives of more than 120 million people who heavily depend on marine resources for food and income.

However, coastal development, destructive fishing, overfishing, unsustainable tourism, the illegal harvest and trade of endangered species, and climate change, among many others, are taking a heavy toll on this fragile marine ecosystem.

The Coral Triangle Day, envisioned to be an annual, open-sourced event, hopes to empower individuals to take specific action to help protect and conserve this globally-significant marine ecoregion.

“This unprecedented event aims to build a critical mass of supporters for the Coral Triangle on different levels of society by using a fun and exciting way for people in this part of the world to learn more about the significance of oceans,” adds Pet-Soede.

Individuals, organizations, and establishments celebrating the Coral Triangle Day are encouraged to post their videos or photos on to show the world what they are doing for the oceans during this day and to help create a truly regional community of Coral Triangle supporters.

For more information on the Coral Triangle, visit For more information on the Coral Triangle Day, visit

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Malaysia: Logging results in river pollution and displaced elephants

Garbage, waste pollute river
Sharifah Masrinah Abdullah New Straits Times 17 May 12;

NEW PROBLEM: Villagers highlight adverse effects of logging activities

KOTA BARU: LESS than 24 hours after the elephant rampage problem was reported in the New Straits Times, villagers living near Bukit Bakau forest reserve yesterday highlighted another adverse effect from logging activities.

They claimed that garbage and other waste from the logging projects had polluted a river near their villages in Machang.

A resident, who only wanted to be known as Ismail, said villagers discovered the pollution last year before raising the issue with the village's security and development committee.

Following this, Ismail said the committee members inspected the area and found rubbish and other items which they suspected had been dumped by loggers.

"We were told that several companies hold licences to log near the forest reserve over the past few years and we believe their workers have thrown the rubbish into the river," said Ismail, a 43-year-old rubber tapper from Kampung Cherang Hangus in Machang.

Kampung Cherang Hangus is among 10 affected villages near the forest reserve.

Other villages include Kampung Pek, Kampung Pangkal Petai and Kampung Lepan Rambai.

NST reported yesterday that the state Wildlife and National Parks Department had said rampant logging at the forest reserve had driven elephants into the villages.

Department director Rahmat Topani had said they received about 80 reports from villagers whose rubber smallholdings and fruit orchards were damaged by elephants this year.

Kampung Cherang Hangus village security and development committee head Zulkifli Mat Nor said the villagers also suspected that widespread logging had caused soil erosions in certain areas of the jungle.

"Apart from forcing elephants to flee their habitat, we also suspect that the erosion is brought about by the logging activities.

"The river has become so shallow that four-wheel-drive vehicles can easily pass across it," said Zulkifli.

Meanwhile, state Department of Environment director Ruslan Mohamad said the department had yet to receive any report from the villagers on the matter.

"The villagers can lodge a report with us but they must support it with evidence for us to carry out our investigation properly," he said.

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Indonesia: Second Sumatran Elephant Found Poisoned

AFP Jakarta Globe 16 May 12;

A villager watches the carcass of an elephant without its head and trunk, which was believed to have been killed by poisoning in Pante Kuyun Village, Aceh Jaya, Indonesia on Wednesday. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak) A villager watches the carcass of an elephant without its head and trunk, which was believed to have been killed by poisoning in Pante Kuyun Village, Aceh Jaya, Indonesia on Wednesday. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Banda Aceh, Indonesia. An official says a second endangered Sumatran elephant has been poisoned in western Indonesia, apparently by villagers trying to protect their crops.

Forestry Ministry official Harmidi says the carcass of the 20-year-old male elephant was discovered Wednesday near a plantation in Aceh province.

Harmidi, who uses only one name, says a group of elephants had been wandering in the area in recent days, roaring and destroying crops.

An 18-year-old female died in Aceh after being poisoned in late April.

As forests disappear, elephants stray into inhabited areas in search of food.

Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are left in the wild and environmentalists warn that they could be extinct within three decades unless steps are taken to protect them.

Associated Press

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Indonesia: Deforestation Makes East Kalimantan Third Largest Carbon Emitter

Tunggadewa Mattangkilang Jakarta Globe 16 May 12;

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. The fast rate of deforestation in East Kalimantan over the last few years has made it the country’s third largest carbon emitting region.

According to the East Kalimantan Climate Change Council (DDPI), the province emitted 255 million tons of carbon dioxide last year, behind only Riau (358 million tons) and Central Kalimantan (324 million tons).

Daddy Ruchiyat, chairman of the DPPI, said that just five years ago the province was the bedrock of the country’s natural forests and helped minimize the impact of carbon emissions.

“Now, we are the third largest emitter because more and more forests are turned into mines and residential areas,” he said in Balikpapan on Monday.

Daddy said the province’s carbon emissions increased by 1.4 percent annually because the local administration had allowed more forest conversion in recent years in a bid to make more money.

“The biggest contributor to the province’s emissions is forest conversion; we have fewer green forests. Aside from the legal conversion into mines and residential areas, we also have rampant illegal logging across the province,” he said.

Daddy urged the provincial administration to enforce a regulation requiring companies intending to open mining sites by clearing forests to implement adequate reclamation and reforestation programs.

“So, the companies must conduct a study on how much carbon is released, and accordingly, plant trees to absorb back the same amount of carbon released. All along, the administration is reluctant to enforce the regulation while the companies just play dumb,” he said.

Niel Makimuddin, the Nature Conservancy’s program manager, agreed with Daddy, saying that forest destruction in East Kalimantan had reached an alarming level because of unregulated conversion.

“We have raised deep concerns because the destruction continues, and nothing is done to stop it,” he said.

Niel also expressed alarm about the illegal logging that he said seemed unstoppable in the province.

“The combination of legal and illegal logging has created high deforestation levels, and created more carbon emissions,” he said.

East Kalimantan only has 4 million hectares of forest cover out of the province’s total size of 14.8 million hectares. Meanwhile, Fathur Roziqin, director of East Kalimantan’s Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi), said that carbon emissions had begun to create extreme weather and unpredictable changes in climate.

“The changes have been felt by our farmers and fishermen. They can no longer correctly predict the season and it negatively affects their ability to cope with climate behavior and to earn a living,” he said.

Fathur said the government should enforce the law, and join forces with civil society groups and local communities to protect the forests.

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Solomon Island dolphin stock assessment report to be released

Solomon Star 16 May 12;

A report on the national assessment of dolphin stock in the country will be presented this week.

This will happen during a two days workshop which starts tomorrow in Honiara.

The workshop will bring local and international participants and will be held at the Heritage Park Hotel.

The Solomon Islands government through the ministry of environment, climate change, disaster management and meteorology and the ministry of fisheries and marine resources will be presenting this report on the national dolphin assessment and survey 2009-2011.

A statement from the ministry of environment said the workshop will lead to the development of a national management plan for dolphin (Cetaceans) based on the report and collective views of interested and important sectors which involved both local and international.

"This will be important for the future of dolphin management in the country taking into account its traditional implication, national effort to manage this species as required under relevant regional and international obligations."

Delegations from overseas have started arriving yesterday with more today for the workshop tomorrow.

A number of local and international speakers will also be making presentations at the workshop.

Objectives of the workshop are;

To report on the population status of dolphin in Solomon Islands from the national assessment 2009-2010;

Outline and draft the national management and development plan for dolphins in the country;

Provide specific recommendations for the sustainable management of dolphins through national quota and captive breeding management in the country;

To identify priority activities for the implementation of management plan, including development of work plan, timely reporting to relevant authorities, resource mobilization and identification of the ministries' needs and priorities;

Provide overview of dolphin takes history in Solomon Islands, specifically on traditional drive-hunts, live capture for export, general biology of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin; Tursiops aduncus and general threats to cetaceans important for future dolphin conservation and management.


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Common Fungicide Wreaks Havoc On Freshwater Ecosystems

ScienceDaily 16 May 12;

Chlorothalonil, one of the world's most common fungicides used pervasively on food crops and golf courses, was lethal to a wide variety of freshwater organisms in a new study, University of South Florida researchers said.

Biologists Taegan McMahon and Jason Rohr, co-authors of the study published in the journal Ecology Letters, report that chlorothalonil killed amphibians, snails, zooplankton, algae, and aquatic plants below estimated environmental concentrations previously deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The loss of these herbivores and plants freed the algae from predation and competition, which eventually resulted in algal blooms that were similar to the effects of eutrophication.

"Some species were able to recover from the chemical assault, but the ecosystem was fundamentally changed after its exposure to chlorothalonil," Rohr said.

The four-week study was conducted in a series of 300-gallon tanks used to mimic pond conditions.It follows a 2011 laboratory study conducted by McMahon and Rohr that found that ecologically-relevant concentrations of chlorothalonil killed four species of amphibians.

"Although our new study is the only reported community- and ecosystem-level experiment on chlorothalonil, our results are consistent with several direct toxicity studies conducted in the laboratory and with observations in the field," McMahon said.

Chlorothalonil kills molds and fungus by disrupting cellular respiration, an essential process for most multicellular organisms on the planet. Like the infamous DDT, chlorothalonil is a member of the organochlorine chemical family.

Fifty years after the book "Silent Spring" led to a ban on most forms of the pesticide DDT, chlorothalonil is one of a few organochlorine pesticides still registered for use in the U.S., Europe and Australia.

"In addition to reducing biodiversity and altering ecosystem functions, chlorothalonil reduced the decomposition of waste, an important service that freshwater ecosystems provide to humans," McMahon added.

"Interest in the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functions stems at least partly from the concern that anthropogenically-driven declines in biodiversity will reduce or alter the benefits offered by ecosystems," Rohr said."Surprisingly, however, this is one of the first studies to actually manipulate an anthropogenic factor and link it to changes in ecosystem functions mediated by declines in biodiversity."

"This is important because many species in ecosystems might contribute little to ecosystem functions or are functionally redundant with other species, and thus declines in biodiversity do not always affect the functions and services of ecosystems," Rohr said.

McMahon and Rohr encourage further research on effects of anthropogenic factors on ecosystem functions in systems with complex food webs and the re-evaluation of the safety of chlorothalonil.

Funding for the project was provided by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Journal Reference:

Taegan A. McMahon, Neal T. Halstead, Steven Johnson, Thomas R. Raffel, John M. Romansic, Patrick W. Crumrine, Jason R. Rohr. Fungicide-induced declines of freshwater biodiversity modify ecosystem functions and services. Ecology Letters, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01790.x

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