Best of our wild blogs: 11 Jun 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [4 - 10 Jun 2012]
from Green Business Times

Busy marine weekend!
from wild shores of singapore

Shoots and leaves
from The annotated budak

Pulau Semakau (10 Jun 2012)
from teamseagrass and wild shores of singapore

Asian Glossy Starling
from Monday Morgue

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Crossbows to cull wild boar

NParks looking at this and other options to curb animal population
Feng Zeng Kun Straits Times 11 Jun 12;

Wild boar sighted near a condominium in Old Upper Thomson Road. NParks estimates there are 100 wild boar in the Lower Peirce area. -- PHOTO: ONG SAY LIN

KILLING wild boar with bows and arrows may sound primitive, but the National Parks Board (NParks) is considering the method to curb the animal population.

The Straits Times has learnt that the agency met animal welfare groups last month to discuss using powerful crossbows against the animals.

It told the groups that the silence of the bows would avoid alerting the animals, which travel in groups.

In trained hands, a single bolt could also kill a boar instantly.

The method has been used in countries such as the United States, Canada and Thailand to curb their boar populations.

The Straits Times understands that most of the groups did not favour the method and considered it inhumane.

The agency said it would enlist the help of trained archers to do the job, should it decide to go with this culling method.

But it is also exploring other options.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) says it will meet the agency before the end of the month to present a plan that involves rounding up boar to sedate and euthanise them with chemicals.

The animal population has been on the rise in recent years, according to sightings by naturalists and those who live on the fringes of nature reserves.

Once thought to be extinct on the mainland, they have even been spotted around Kent Ridge - surprising researchers who believed expressways like the Pan-Island Expressway served as natural barriers.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, NParks estimated there are 100 wild boar in the forested spot in the Lower Peirce area alone.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, its director of conservation, said: 'They have been observed venturing out of the forest onto Old Upper Thomson Road and into the nearby residential area.'

The animals have been seen across the island in recent years, from Changi to Yio Chu Kang to Bukit Batok.

Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society, says boar are big and powerful animals which no longer have any natural predators, such as tigers, in the forests here.

'We have to cull them because otherwise, they will increase exponentially, and there will be more encounters between people and boars - which may not end well for either party,' he said.

He added that boar have a tendency to uproot and eat young vegetation, which could leave forests with older trees unable to regenerate themselves.

Mr Wong says that if the WRS plan is feasible, NParks will carry out a trial to ensure it can be carried out safely.

The agency is currently looking at curbing the population in the Lower Peirce area.

Other animal activists are not convinced culling is the answer.

Mr Louis Ng, executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), says NParks could sterilise the animals instead.

'Culling doesn't work because the animals breed every year. You would have to cull them every year,' he said.

Others advocate a mix of both methods to achieve the best and most humane results.

Mr Ong Say Lin, a National University of Singapore graduate who is researching the animals, says there is not enough data to know whether they constitute a threat.

A 2010 paper in the journal Nature In Singapore put the population here at 552, but the figure was derived by looking at boar population densities in Malaysia and Indonesia.

'There needs to be more information collected, both on boar numbers and their quantitative impact in the forests, before we resort to such culling methods,' he said.

In the meantime, NParks says the public should get away from the boar should they encounter the animals.

Acres' Mr Ng says a simple measure could prevent potentially nasty meetings between man and animal.

'Put up fences. Wild boar are big and powerful, but they can't jump,' he said.


We have to cull them because otherwise, they will increase exponentially, and there will be more encounters between people and boars - which may not end well for either party.

- Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society


Culling doesn't work because the animals breed every year.

You would have to cull them every year.

- Mr Louis Ng, executive director of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society. He recommends sterilising the animals instead.

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Malaysia: Reports lodged on Johor oil and gas hub to be investigated

Desiree Tresa Gasper The Star 11 Jun 12;

JOHOR BARU: The police have formed a special task force to look into the 45 reports lodged relating to the oil and gas hub in Pengerang here.

Johor Police Chief DCP Mokhtar Shariff said that the special task force would be headed by State acting CID chief Asst Comm Mohd Akhir Ishak.

“Among the reports we have received are those relating to protests against the projects, encroachment issues and those relating to incitement and threats connected to the project,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters during a press conference at the Johor Police headquarters here yesterday (June 5).

“I hope that residents will be responsible and not simply lodge police reports relating to the matter.

“We have even received reports from resident complaining that some quarters were distributing leaflets relating to the project in their neighbourhood,” he said adding that the leaflets were just educational material and it was unnecessary for a police report to be made.

DCP Mohd Mokhtar said that the police had many things to look into and this included keeping a check on actual criminal activities.

“Those who are not happy with the project should not act as they please or spread rumours that the project is unsafe,” he said adding that these parties should forward their concerns via proper channels.

The multi billion ringgit oil and gas hub is expected to be completed by 2016 but some quarters have voiced their dissatisfaction about the project stating that it is causing pollution and destroying the marine life in the area.

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Bleaching brought by El Niño threatens Philippines coral reefs – expert

Kristine L. Alave Philippine Daily Inquirer 10 Jun 12;

MANILA, Philippines — Coral reefs around the world are under threat from another round of bleaching as ocean surface temperature is expected to rise in the latter part of the year, according to a leading marine scientist.

According to Professor Terry Hughes, Australia’s foremost marine biologist on coral ecosystems, massive coral bleaching is “entirely likely” in some reef areas including Southeast Asia due to the El Niño phenomenon, which is forecast to occur in the latter part of 2012.

Hughes said the weather bureau in Australia has seen a “50-50” chance of El Niño, a weather pattern that results in dry spells, in 2012.

“If we get severe El Niño, there would be more bleaching, that is the expectation,” he said in an interview.

Hughes, a convenor of the 12th International Coral Reef symposium to be held in July in Australia, was in Manila and Dumaguete last week to talk about the Coral Triangle Initiative and meet with local marine biologists.

Hughes noted that climate change has been one of the main causes of stress on coral reefs, although some species might be more prone to bleaching than others.

Coral bleaching happens when zooxanthellae, the protozoa that gives it coloration, dies—an indicator that the reef is under stress or dying. A change in temperature is often the main cause of bleaching.

Even after the cause of the stress ends, bleaching still tends to continue, which makes the recovery of corals a hard and long process, according to scientists. The last time the Philippines had massive bleaching was reported in 2010, an El Niño year.

Aside from climate change, overfishing and land runoff were also seen as major threats to the existence of coral reefs around the world.

Deforestation and mining activities have been leading to the runoff of chemicals and soil, which, in turn, has been contaminating fringe reefs on the coast, he said. Destructive fishing practices could also destroy coral reefs, he added.

Hughes stressed the necessity of protecting of coral reefs, particularly in the Coral Triangle. Preserving the biodiverse marine area is not just a boon to conservationists, but to ordinary citizens in countries surrounding the triangle.

The Coral Triangle, recognized as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity, refers to a roughly triangular area of the tropical marine waters of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste that contain at least 500 species of reef-building corals.

Hughes explained that the health of the Coral Triangle has been directly impacting on the lives and livelihoods of millions who have been depending on corals and marine resources for a living, including from fishing and tourism.

“The Philippines has very rich marine biodiversity that is intrinsically linked to all other marine ecosystems in the Pacific and elsewhere. They face grave threats right now and Filipino marine biology students have their work cut out for them even before they venture out of school,” said Hughes.

Hughes capped his first visit to the Philippines on World Oceans Day, June 8, with a lecture at the Silliman University, a “Scientists in Schools” initiative of the Australian Embassy in Manila. Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said that the science program has been supporting the Philippine priority of raising appreciation for science education and research as a path to sustainable development.

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Attenborough issues plea to 'save UK seas'

Acclaimed broadcaster warns the Government it is running out of time to protect marine habitats
Sarah Morrison The Independent 10 Jun 12;

Sir David Attenborough, whose natural history films are considered among the best ever to be produced by British television, has joined a campaign urging the Government to protect the country's marine habitat and wildlife, arguing that "time is running out to save our fragile seas".

The 86-year-old presenter and former controller of BBC2 is asking the Government to immediately designate 127 marine conservation zones covering around 37,000 square kilometres of English and Welsh offshore waters, and almost 12 per cent of the sea bed, drawn up by consultation with more than a million stakeholders last year.

The list of zones was trumpeted as one of the country's most significant natural protection initiatives in decades, but conservationists are now accusing the Government of "dragging its feet" over their implementation, with month-long delays announced and indications that only a small proportion will initially be designated.

Sir David, who is vice president of the Wildlife Trusts, said: "Charles Rothschild and his colleagues identified some of our finest wildlife sites in 1915, most of which are, or would now be, national nature reserves.

"Nearly a century on, we have the first countrywide list of marine sites needing protection, this time based on much more science – costing over £8m to draw up. I urge the Government to designate the full list of 127 sites now, for day by day the wildlife in these sites is being destroyed and damaged. Time is running out for us to save our fragile seas."

The Wildlife Trusts launched a campaign this weekend to recruit advocates of the proposed zones, which range from small stretches of coastline to huge areas of the sea floor. Some are home to rare species including the short-snouted seahorse, cuckoo wrasse, and poor cod. Others cover chalk reefs and feeding grounds for passing whales and dolphins.

Simon King, president of the Wildlife Trusts, said the health of England's marine environment was at "crisis point", with many habitats and creatures brought to the brink of extinction. He added: "Shamefully, in the UK we have only a few tiny areas which are truly protected, making up less than 0.001 per cent of our waters... This is our chance to leave the natural balance sheet better off than the one we inherited."

A Defra spokesperson said the first zones were likely to be designated next year – around six months later than initially planned. He added that the Government was committed to "creating a network of marine conservation zones but must ensure that these zones are created in the right places and in the right way". He said "gaps in the evidence" were causing the delay.

The proposals result from the 2009 UK Marine Bill. The Scottish Executive is in the process of determining its network. Northern Ireland is consulting on its own Bill.

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Global alliance aims to tackle forest crime

Mark Kinver Environment reporter BBC News 8 Jun 12;

Interpol and the United Nations have joined forces to launch an initiative to tackle global forest crime.

Project Leaf will target criminals involved in illegal logging and timber trafficking.

The scheme will also provide support to enforcement agencies in countries with the biggest problems, Interpol said.

It is estimated that more than a quarter of the world's population relies on forests for their livelihoods, fuel, food and medicines.

David Higgins, Interpol's Environmental Crime Programme manager, said that illegal logging was no longer a issue that was restricted by national boundaries.

"The international legislation to protect forests and curtail illegal logging demonstrates this," he commented.

"Project leaf will ensure these global laws are supported by global enforcement and that the criminals responsible are brought to justice - no matter their location, movements or resources."

Project leaf (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests) is a partnership between the UN Environment Programme (Unep) and Interpol, with funding provided by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.

Interpol said: "Collusive corruption and fraud in the forestry sector undermines the rule of law and... significantly hampers efforts to tackle poverty among the world's poorest people."

It added that, in order to be an effective force against criminal activity, it would be necessary for any action to be "coordinated, collaborative and transnational".

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