Best of our wild blogs: 18 Jun 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [11 - 17 Jun 2012]
from Green Business Times

FREE Pasir Ris Mangrove Boardwalk Tour on 23rd June 2012 (Saturday)
from Mangrove Action Squad

Arabian cowrie at Tanah Merah!
from wild shores of singapore

Nostalgia at Chek Jawa and Cyrene
from Nature rambles

A Masked Identity Found
from My Itchy Fingers

Sticking it in
from The annotated budak

Chek Jawa Guided Walk with Wild Boars, Otters, Hornbills and Snake
from Peiyan.Photography and wonderful creation and Lazy Lizard's Tales

Fascinating behaviour of (Neurobasis chinensis) Green Metalwing
from Everyday Nature

White-bellied Fish Eagle roosting
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Bakchang Festival
from Ubin

Purple-backed Starling
from Monday Morgue

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Malaysia: Alarm raised over haze

Regina Lee, Ong Han Sean, Gopiraj Nair and K. Ashok The Star 17 Jun 12;

PETALING JAYA: Authorities are stepping up vigilance nationwide against the haze that is expected to worsen in the next few days.

The Department of Environment (DOE) has imposed a blanket ban on open burning in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya while the Education Ministry is monitoring the situation. The Malaysian Medical Association is also advising the public on how to deal with the haze.

The ministry opened an operations room in Putrajaya yesterday to monitor the haze and keep schools informed on whether to stay open.

“We know the haze is becoming worse,” said Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud.

He added that the operations room would liaise with district education offices to keep them informed on how bad the haze is at the different locales.

The 2005 circular issued to school heads when Malaysia was hit with one of the worst incidents of haze remains in force.

Schools will be closed once the Air Pollutant Index (API) in their area reaches 400 while all sporting and outdoor activities will be cancelled once the API hits the “hazardous” level of 300.

Abd Ghafar said: “We want the principals to monitor the situation in their schools and to contact the district education office for the next course of action.”

As at 5pm yesterday, the air quality had deteriorated in Selangor with seven areas recording an unhealthy reading of more than 100 on the API up from Friday's four areas.

It was reported that the haze originated from peat and forest fires in the Riau district of central Sumatra. Yesterday morning, a Nasa satellite reported 591 hotspots in Sumatra.

Several parts of Selangor, however, got a brief respite from the choking smog after heavy rain in Hulu Selangor.

The DOE warned: “Those convicted of open burning will be fined up to RM500,000 or jailed up to five years or both. A maximum compound of RM2,000 may also be meted out.”

Its director-general Halimah Hassan said in a statement yesterday that cremation, burning of religious paraphernalia and barbecues were exempted from the ban.

However, the situation is not so bad as to require flight diversions, according to Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.

“So far, there are no abnormal operations,” said senior general manager of operations Datuk Azmi Murad.

Outpatient depts at govt hospitals put on alert
The Star 17 Jun 12;

KUANTAN: All outpatient departments at government hospitals have been directed to be on alert as respiratory and eye problems are expected to rise with the return of the haze.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the haze would affect those with breathing and eye problems.

“As such, the outpatient departments need to be more prepared and provide prompt services,” he said after a ceremony to hand over eight ambulances to the Pahang Health Department at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here yesterday.

He advised those with breathing problems to reduce outdoor activities, to drink more water and wear a mask if they were in the open.

He said the haze was a good reason for smokers to kick their habit.

“Smokers should realise that the haze is also not good for them,” he said after launching the Kuantan Health Carnival at Kampung Jawa.

On emergency medical services, Liow said the ministry had lowered the response time for every emergency case to 15 minutes from 30 minutes this year.

As such, he said the ministry would increase the number of ambulances from 1,861 now to 2,500 by next year.

In PETALING JAYA, pharmacists said they are expecting a spike in the sale of respiratory drugs and facial masks.

Several pharmacists said sales had already increased slightly yesterday.

A pharmacist based in Subang Jaya also said several asthma sufferers came to his store to buy respiratory drugs and inhalers.

Haze situation improves (Update at 5pm)
Regina Lee The Star 17 Jun 12;

PETALING JAYA: Klang Valley residents were given a respite from the haze after it rained on Sunday.

Coupled with strong winds, the haze which developed into unhealthy levels since Friday appeared to improve.

As at 5pm, the Department of Environment website showed only Kuala Selangor (109), Port Klang (114) and Shah Alam (103) having unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

Areas which returned to moderate air quality range are Petaling Jaya (90), Batu Muda (86) and Cheras (88).

These six areas are the worst affected with API reading of over 100 (unhealthy range) since Friday.

In Perak, however, Jalan Tasek (90), Seri Manjung (96) and Tanjung Malim (95) showed little change the whole day.

Most other areas in the country recorded moderate to good API reading.

The API denotes air quality as good (zero to 50), moderate (51 to 100), unhealthy (101 to 200), very unhealthy (201 to 300) and hazardous (above 301).

DOE's 24-hour surveillance on 10 areas showed good API levels, 37 areas with moderate readings while no areas were deemed unhealthy.

Poor levels of air quality was reportedly caused by cross-border haze being blown in from Sumatra, Indonesia, it added.

A satellite image issued by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) showed 80 hotspots located in Sumatra compared with nine on Friday.

The satellite image also showed that movement of haze carried by southwesterly winds at hotspots in Riau, central Sumatra will move to the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia covering the Klang Valley.

The department said they have mobilised the National Haze Action Plan and activated the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan in all states to monitor air quality nationwide.

The public have also been reminded that prohibition of open burning in Selangor, the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya is still enforced. - Bernama

Haze goes from bad to worse in Penang
Andrea Filmer The Star 18 Jun 12;

GEORGE TOWN: The haze in Penang has worsened, leaving the state at the brink of the “Unhealthy” Air Pollutant Index (API) level.

At 7am yesterday, the API reading recorded in Seberang Prai was 88 but it inched to 90 by 11am before hitting 98 at 5pm just three points short of the “Unhealthy” category which begins at 101.

The situation was only slightly better in Prai where the API went from 82 (7am) to 83 (11am) and 88 at 5pm.

On Penang island, the API at Universiti Sains Malaysia started off at 73 at 7am and rose to 80 by 5pm.

According to the Department of Environment, most of the recorded pollution in the air at all three locations was made of particulate matter, also known as PM10.

The NOAA-18 satellite, which hovers over Borneo Island, recorded a total of 163 hotspots in Sumatra, widely seen as a cause of the worsening haze, as of 4.15pm yesterday.

A check with the Meteorological Department showed that visibility in the state had also worsened during the day.

In Bayan Lepas, visibility was at 6km from 8am to 1pm, then fell to 5km (1pm) and worsened to 4km (2pm to 5pm).

On the mainland, visibility was recorded at 6km (8am to 4pm) before dropping to 5km around 5pm.

According to the department's official, no rain is forecast for the whole week.

Meanwhile, Penang Water Supply Corporation corporate affairs manager K. Jeyabalan said the state would not suffer a shortage as the two main dams had enough water to last up to three months.

He said the Mengkuang and Air Itam dams were full due to the constant rainfall last month but Penangites should still conserve water because the country was currently facing a hot spell.

Haze fears grow as Sumatra hot spots double
Zakir Hussain Straits Times 18 Jun 12;

JAKARTA - The authorities yesterday detected twice the number of hot spots in Sumatra, raising fears that the haze is about to surface again.

In Singapore, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) - a measure of air quality - crept up into the moderate range for the first time this month, hitting 51.

Singapore's National Environment Agency last week issued an update that brief periods of slightly hazy conditions could be expected over this fortnight.

Residents in Malaysia's Klang Valley also encountered some relief from the haze when it rained yesterday morning, and by 5pm, only Port Klang, Kuala Selangor and Shah Alam had Air Pollutant Index readings in the unhealthy range, at slightly over 100.

The Pekanbaru office of Indonesia's National Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency told The Straits Times that a total of 163 hot spots were detected throughout Sumatra yesterday, more than double the 80 on Saturday.

Of the hot spots identified yesterday, 77, or close to half, were in Riau, which reported just 44 hot spots a day earlier.

Another 22 hot spots were in Aceh, 16 in Jambi, 14 in North Sumatra and 17 in South Sumatra, with the rest spread across four other provinces on the island.

Haze was also reported in Medan and motorists in Pekanbaru had to drive with their headlights on yesterday, although flights at the airport were not disrupted.

'The haze appears to be getting thicker to a point where people feel irritation in their eyes and visibility is affected, especially in the early morning,' climate analyst Aristya Arditama told local media.

Local officials handed out masks and advised residents to refrain from outdoor activities. They also repeated reminders to farmers to stop burning fields.

Indonesia's Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya had, a day earlier, said taskforces on the ground were working with forestry and agriculture officials to detect and snuff out hot spots, and appealing to local communities not to adopt slash-and-burn methods to clear land.

No detailed information on hot spots in Kalimantan was available, but thick haze blanketed Pontianak and parts of West Kalimantan. Satellite images, however, showed 115 hot spots across Borneo, including in Sarawak.

Malaysia's Bernama news agency also reported satellite images showing that the haze carried by south-westerly winds at hot spots in Riau will move to the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the Klang Valley.

Malaysia's environment department reminded the public of a ban on open burning in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

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Australia: Turtles turned away as Cairns rehabilitation centre in crisis

Bianca Keegan The Cairns Post 18 Jun 12;

A CAIRNS turtle rehabilitation centre has reached capacity and is being forced to turn away starving turtles after an increase in strandings.

Paul Barnes, from Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, said the centre was at capacity with a large number of adult turtles found floating in the Coral Sea.

Mr Barnes said sea grass stocks were depleted and had been only gradually recovering after cyclone Yasi ripped through north Queensland.

"The number of adult turtles (brought to the centre) have increased dramatically," he said.

"Last year was the largest stranding event in Queensland on record. There was a 500 per cent increase last year."

But with feeding grounds slow to recover, Mr Barnes said the centre was seeing stranding numbers return to last year’s levels.

Twelve turtles are being treated at the centre with most rescued over the past three months after the nesting season.

"We have another large (turtle) coming in this afternoon. We are starting to double them up (because) we have run out of tanks," Mr Barnes said.

Christian Miller, also from the organisation, said a turtle had to be euthanased recently because of the lack of tanks.

"Last week we had to knock back a large turtle," he said. "It’s the saddest story but you can only do as much as you can."

A 120kg male green turtle is being treated with antibiotics at the centre in the hope he will battle an infection and start eating again.

Mr Barnes believed the turtle was about 50 years old.

"He appears to have a gut blockage," he said.

"This one was found on June 1 floating off Dunk Island. It’s still too early to tell (if he will survive). The large green turtles can take three months before they feed."

Mr Barnes said a turtle of its size, in a healthy condition, should weigh 150kg and eat about 3kg of food a day.

The rehabilitation centre is the largest of its kind in Queensland and is run by a group of 30 volunteers.

Turtles found starving, with fishing and spear injuries or infected with papillomavirus are often taken to the centre.

Mr Barnes said the centre runs mostly on donations.

"Without raising more money we won’t be able to accept more turtles. It costs around $100-150 a day just for food."

Fisheries Queensland principal scientist Rob Coles said a reprieve could be in sight with sea grass slowly recovering.

"It’s a mixed picture. There’s definitely been an increase (of turtle strandings) because of no food (but) we are seeing some signs of sea grass recovery," he said.

"There is no evidence (sea grass) is in decline. We are hopeful it will keep growing if we keep getting sunny days and clear water.

‘‘As long as we don’t get any cyclone Yasis or Larrys."

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NGOs urge RIO+20 to back new treaty on oceans protection

(AFP) Google News 18 Jun 12;

RIO DE JANEIRO — Non-governmental organizations on Sunday called on RIO+20 summit leaders to back a new treaty to protect the high seas.

"A new Treaty for High Seas protection will be a game changer for the future of our ocean and the millions dependent on it for their survival," said members of the High Seas Alliance and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition attending the UN conference on sustainable development here.

The High Seas Alliance, launched in 2011 as a united voice for the protection of the high seas, groups 23 NGOs plus the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It stresses the need for a change in governance on the high seas, to address the impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss as well as increasing interest in fisheries exploitation, marine genetic resources and mineral extraction.

"Rio+20 is the moment to finally create effective protection for the high seas and stop its uncontrolled destruction," said the groups as they hailed Brazil's decision as conference host to include an ?ocean' section in the new negotiating text to be submitted to the upcoming Rio+20 summit.

"Brazil should be applauded for making ocean conservation one of the four priorities for this meeting and we commend its leadership in steering a challenging process," the groups said.

The issue will be hotly debated when world leaders meet here from Wednesday to Friday to mull prospects for steering the planet toward a greener and more sustainable future.

Many developing nations want sustainable fisheries to ensure food security and livelihoods.

"However the (US) administration is currently blocking this critical measure. We can only hope that Secretary of State (Hillary) Clinton will deliver the change needed to secure a potential win for our ocean here in Rio," the NGOs said.

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