Best of our wild blogs: 20 Jul 12

What a Good Outing to USR !
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Common Tailorbird Gathering Nesting Material
from G33k5p34k's Blog

Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker feeding on Myrmecodia fruits
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Indonesia: Activists Urge a Boycott of Circus Shows That Use Dolphins

Nandra Galang Anissa Jakarta Globe 20 Jul 12;

After urging Garuda Indonesia to rethink its transport of dolphins for traveling circuses, activists from the Jakarta Animal Aid Network are calling on other companies to end their support for circuses.

“We strongly urge companies such as Hero [supermarkets] to no longer provide their parking lot for the traveling shows,” Coki, the guitarist with the band Netral, said in a petition released on Thursday on behalf of the JAAN.

The petition had received more than 470 signatures as of Thursday evening.

Coki said he was moved to join the movement after witnessing the condition of the dolphins.

“They were in containers that exactly fit the width of their body, and rubbed with Vaseline to keep them moist,” he said.

Pramudya Hazani from JAAN said that the circus performances put the animals’ health at risk. After enduring stress from the long hours in cramped containers and then being placed into heavily-chlorinated pools, the dolphins have to put on at least five shows a night.

“Sometimes they run until 9 or 11 o’clock in the evening,” Pramudya said.

“These dolphins are treated as a cash machine to cover this circus’s costs.”

Other companies urged to pull their support for the circuses are supermarket chains LotteMart and Carrefour, as well as bottled tea producer Sosro.

Carrefour has already responded.

“From now on, we will not lease the parking lots of our stores to these circuses,” said Joko Arif, Carrefour’s sustainable-development manager.

Coki welcomed the statement, saying “We really hope other corporations will follow Carrefour’s steps.”

Garuda, which until recently transported dolphins, was threatened with a boycott and said it would review its policy on transporting live animals.

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Malaysia: WWF to help Kedah govt gazette state park

Elan Perumal The Star 21 Jul 12;

PETALING JAYA: WWF Malaysia is working closely with the Kedah Government to gazette parts of the Pedu forest reserve as a state park.

An official said no logging activities would be allowed in the area once it was gazetted as a state park.

The state government, she said, had expressed interest to gazette parts of the Pedu forest reserve and the Ulu Muda forest reserve as state parks.

“We are working with the state government to protect the Greater Ulu Muda forest,” she said.

The official said once an area was gazetted as a state park, the forest within it would be managed mainly for the purpose of biodiversity conservation and recreational activities.

“No logging would be allowed in a state park,” she added.

The Star had on Tuesday reported on logging activities being carried out at the Pedu forest reserve and Gunung Inas in Kedah, supposedly to clear the land for the state’s Ladang Rakyat rubber plantation scheme.

The official explained that an area gazetted as a permanent forest reserve (PFR) could either be categorised as a production forest or a protected forest.

“A production forest may be selectively logged according to sustainable forest management guidelines while protected forests cannot be logged.

“If the state decides to do so, the PFR status must be degazetted or reclassified,” she added.

She said degazetted PFRs would normally be clear-felled and converted to other land use such as agriculture.

“Unfortunately, the National Forestry Policy and the National Forestry Act 1984 do not prohibit the clearing of natural forests within PRFs for the establishment of plantation,” she said.

She said the classification of a forest or an area as a high conservation value forest (HCVF) also did not protect it against logging.

“The classification is only meant to encourage better forest management to promote the conservation of important, unique or endangered flora, fauna and ecosystem which the area hosts.

“However, only 2ha of the 15,299ha Pedu forest reserve has been identified as HCVF,” she said.

Kedah given deadline to correct weaknesses in Ladang Rakyat project
Embun Majid The Star 21 Jul 12;

ALOR SETAR: The Kedah state government has been given three months to correct weaknesses in the Ladang Rakyat project which involved the felling of timber at Gunung Inas forest reserve.

Kedah Mentri Besar Incorporated (PMBKed) chief executive officer Datuk Shahbudin Shafie said the agency has received a letter from the Forestry Department stating that the logging activities had been halted.

“We were told to correct any weaknesses in the Ladang Rakyat project. We have met with the Department of Environment and have prepared a report on the project,” he said when contacted yesterday.

PMBKed is an agency with the Mentri Besar’s office and has been tasked to carry out the project.

Yesterday, The Star reported that logging activities for Kedah’s Ladang Rakyat rubber plantation scheme at the Gunung Inas forest reserve near Baling has stopped and that no more felling of trees would be allowed until a detailed environmental impact assessment (EIA) was submitted.

Shahbudin said he had taken officers from the Kedah DOE to visit the project.

“During the visit we showed them the area where we planted the rubber trees and rivers allegedly polluted by the project,” he said.

Shahbudin stressed that the project did not pollute rivers in the area as claimed.

He said the Ladang Rakyat project was carried out on 400ha land, below the requirement for an EIA report which is compulsory for projects of more than 500ha.

“PMBKed only handles the Ladang Rakyat project and not the logging activity. So we prepared the EIA based on the project,” he said.

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak when contacted declined to elaborate on the issue.

He reiterated that logging projects in Gunung Inas was being carried out according to rules and regulations.

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Indonesia: Sulawesi Biodiversity Haven Yields Up New Species

Hayat Indriyatno Jakarta Globe 20 Jul 12;

Meet Margaretamys christinae. Like her three sisters, she lives in the wilds of Sulawesi, but is distinguishable by her home high in the Mekongga mountains, her smaller build and her white-tipped tail.

While she may be a rat, she is not just any rodent. She is one of the newest species to be discovered in Indonesia, and the latest in the biodiversity haven of the Mekongga region in Southeast Sulawesi.

The discovery of M. christinae, the fourth species in the genus Margaretamys, all of which are endemic to Sulawesi, has “important zoogeographical and conservation implications,” says Dr. Alessio Mortelliti, the Sapienza University of Rome researcher who found her during an expedition from December 2010 to March 2011.

“Mine was one of the few mammalogical expeditions in the Mekongga mountains since 1932,” he told the Jakarta Globe in an e-mail.

The expedition, funded by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, was mounted to gather data on species first described 80 years ago by German explorer Gerd Heinrich. Although not all the species being sought were sighted, Mortelliti did manage to find the new rat species at an altitude of 1,537 meters.

He says there are several differences between M. christinae and the three previously known Margaretamys species — M. beccarii, M. elegans and M. parvus.

“The final segment of the tail is white, it differs [in terms of] several craniometrical and dental characteristics, [and has a] small body size,” he says.

And as for the name? “The species is dedicated to Christina, my girlfriend, who shared with me the experience of the Sulawesi expedition,” Mortelliti says.

His paper on the discovery will be published in the upcoming volume of the peer-reviewed journal “Tropical Zoology.”

Mortelliti notes that the discovery of a new mammal species is very uncommon.

“Scientists estimate that something like eight to 10 million species are yet to be discovered,” he says. “Even if the discovery of invertebrates is a relatively frequent event … the discovery of a new mammal species is quite a rare event.”

Still, he believes the Mekongga mountains could hold even more surprises.

“I strongly believe that it is very likely that several other undiscovered species may be present in the area, including other Margaretamys species,” he says.

“These are all forest species, so are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation. The Mekongga mountain range is threatened by logging and by expansion of cocoa plantations. The establishment of a protected area will surely help to conserve these rare endemic species,” he adds.

During his expedition, Mortelliti was also able to confirm the existence of Prosciurillus abstrusus, aptly known as the secretive dwarf squirrel and one of the many species endemic to the Mekongga region.

He also found a specimen of Maxomys dollmani, or Dollman’s spiny rat, one of the four rodent species that the expedition had initially set out to study.

“The other three species may either have been undetected or could be extinct. Further research is mandatory,” he says.

M. christinae is the latest new species to be discovered in the Mekongga area. In March, US and Indonesian scientists published a paper describing a massive new wasp species named Megalara garuda.

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