Best of our wild blogs: 14 Aug 12

Independent Volunteers – registration is now open for coastal cleanups on Sat 29 Sep 2012! from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Registration for the ICCS Briefing is now open!
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

from The annotated budak

Singapore marine life in PictoLife marine guidebook
from wild shores of singapore

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Singapore Planning Authorities
from Green Future Solutions

Burning forests in Southeast Asia increases mortality rates in the region from news by Jeremy Hance

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Malaysia: Injured tapir wanders into fish pond

Michael Murty New Straits Times 14 Aug 12;

A SURPRISE: Fish breeder helps send animal to zoo

Workers at Malacca Zoo providing the tapir with care and medication after it was rescued from the fish pond.

SEREMBAN: A TAPIR, believed to have lost its way, fell into a fish pond belonging to Azli Md Mokhtar, 42, here, yesterday.

Azli said at first, he thought it was a pig in the pond struggling to get out.

"Only when I approached the animal, did I realise it was a tapir," said the fish pond owner.

Azli said he discovered the 100kg female tapir at 10.40am when he went to feed the fish in the pond as part of his daily routine.

The five-year-old animal was struggling in the pond located at Kampung Kapal, Lenggeng, that was 3m deep.

Azli said he couldn't see the animal clearly at first, which was why he thought it was a pig.

"My father was the one who corrected me and told me what it was."

Azli said he was saddened to see that one of the legs had been badly wounded by what he believed to be an animal trap.

"Some villagers tried to bring the animal out of the water but failed because the animal was in such a weak state."

He then reported the incident to the Department of Civil Defence which later brought the animal back to Labu before sending it to the Malacca Zoo -- where it is receiving treatment.

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Malaysia's second largest freshwater lake, Tasik Chini is ‘dying’

Ong Han Sean The Star 14 Aug 12;

PEKAN: The lotus flowers of Tasik Chini should be blooming this month but except for a few stalks, none can be seen on the waters of the lake.

Orang asli community leader Tok Batin Awang Alok blamed the demise of the once beautiful attraction of Malaysia's second largest freshwater lake on unchecked development around the area.

“The lake used to be so beautiful. Then, they put up a dam over 10 years ago and now the entire ecosystem is affected. Not to mention the iron mine which just opened nearby recently and the rampant logging all over the hills,” he said in an interview at Kampung Gumum near the lake here yesterday.

Sediment from the mine flowing into the lake could not be drained out because of the dam at Chini River, claimed Awang.

“The lake was so clear in my grandparents' days that we could even see the bottom.

“Now, it is so muddy and filled with ekor kucing (a type of water weed). We cannot find several species of fish any longer,” he said.

The 71-year-old said tourists would not return to Tasik Chini since there was now nothing to see after the lotus flowers stopped growing two years ago.

There are five orang asli villages comprising some 500 Jakun and Semelai people around the 12 lakes that make up Tasik Chini.

They recently set up an action committee to demand that the Government restore the lake and gazette the land around it as orang asli territory.

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Malaysia: 4,500 illegally felled mangrove logs seized

Stuart Michael The Star 14 Aug 12;

KLANG: About 4,500 mangrove logs, a 10-tonne lorry and a boat were seized during a raid on a storage shed in Kampung Pendamar, Pandamaran here.

The raid was carried out by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday.

Four workers ecaped by jumping into sea after MMEA officers seized the boat.

An MMEA officer, who did not want to be named, said the site had been under surveillance for the past two weeks.

“The act of stealing mangrove logs is rampant in the islands near Port Klang. There are many operators involved in felling the mangrove logs illegally.

“We are going on a major operation to catch the main operators and not just the workers,'' he said.

Each mangrove log sells for RM17 and is mainly used in the construction industry.

A state forestry department officer who was present at the site was also questioned by the raiding team.

An MACC officer, who requested anonymity, said it would send a letter to the department seeking an explanation on why mangrove logs were still being sold in the area despite a statewide ban since 2010.

“This operator was caught in 2010 and is still operating.

“We also want an explanation on why the state forestry officer was in the area,'' he said.

Selangor Forestry director Yusoff Muda said his officers had seized the logs and placed yellow tape over them and the vehicle.

MACC queries ranger over illegal logging
G. Surach New Straits Times 14 Aug 12;

DERELICTION OF DUTY: 2 men allowed to harvest mangroves without permit

KLANG: A RANGER with the Selangor Forestry Department was quizzed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for failing to discharge his duties during a sting operation in which two locals were detained at an illegal jetty in Kampung Nelayan Pendamar, here, yesterday.

'It is believed the ranger, in his 40s, had not prevented the two, aged 51 and 33, from loading mangrove logs onto a lorry when MACC officers arrived at the scene. The locals were detained later by other Forestry Department officials.

MACC senior assistant enforcement chief Mhd Yussof Zakaria, said the graft-busting body acted after receiving a tip-off by officials from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency following their operation on Sunday, when they seized several boats and discovered the illegal jetty.

During Sunday's operation, three men, believed to be Indonesians, jumped off the boats that were carrying the logs and escaped.

"We have been monitoring the illegal jetty since Friday, and investigations with our counterparts at MMEA revealed that the mangrove smuggling syndicate had been operating for at least three months.

"It is learnt the ranger had been posted to patrol the area for several months, and we questioned him why he did not report the syndicate to his superiors much sooner," he said at the scene.

Yussof said the mangrove trees were estimated to be worth more than RM100,000.

During yesterday's operation, Forestry Department officials, who arrived later, seized some 4,500 freshly felled mangrove logs worth up RM27,000. Each mangrove log is worth between RM3 and RM6. If sold on black market they could fetch up to RM10 per piece.

Yussof said MACC would obtain further details from the state Forestry Department director on why the ranger did not act.

"They say justice delayed is justice denied. So is delayed enforcement, as it can lead to rampant smuggling and all enforcement agencies must be strict when discharging their duties. Forestry officials must be more vigilant," he said.

According to sources from the MMEA, the suspected mastermind behind the illegal logging syndicate was believed to have been caught for trying to bribe a Forestry Department officer recently.

Meanwhile, a Forestry Department officer said the two suspects claimed they had permits to harvest the mangrove logs for exmport.

However, checks revealed they had no permit as the Selangor Forestry Department had stopped issuing permits to harvest mangroves since July, 2010.

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Malaysia: Keeping haze in check

Yuen Meikeng The Star 14 Aug 12;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is taking pro-active steps to stop the haze from worsening with the increase in the number of hotspots in the region, especially Sumatra in Indonesia.

With the southwest monsoon wind blowing smoke into the country, the authorities are determined to prevent the situation from deteriorating with our own open burning.

The Department of Environment (DOE) is deploying more enforcement officers to check open burning and look out for motor vehicles emitting excessive smoke.

The officers will be “busy” in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Johor, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas.

“But the main issue here is transboundary haze, which is why I will make a strong appeal to Indonesia to reduce the number of its hotspots when I attend the meeting (of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution) next month,” he told The Star yesterday.

The preparation to tackle the haze followed the poor air quality in several areas in the country, especially Port Klang, Alor Setar, Langkawi and Kangar which all recorded unhealthy levels on Sunday.

The situation improved only slightly yesterday.

In Port Klang, for example, the Air Pollutant Index (API) was 106 at 7am, 117 at 11am and 115 at 5pm on Sunday, compared to 84, 78 and 76 respectively yesterday, according to the DOE website.

DOE director-general Halimah Hassan said the unhealthy API level in Selangor was partly due to open burning in Cyberjaya and Klang as well as peat soil fires in Bestari Jaya.

“The dry spell compounds the problem,” she added.

She reminded the public that the ban on open burning imposed in June for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and parts of Miri was still in force.

She urged anyone coming across open burning to contact the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or call the DOE hotline 1-800-88-2727.

Hot spell to go on until October
New Straits Times 14 Aug 12;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Meteorological Department expects the hot and dry spell in the region to prolong until October and urges the public to avoid open burning so that the air quality can be maintained at a healthy level.

The Department of Environment yesterday said several small fires in the country had caused the air quality to deteriorate, including that at the Selangor Science Park in Cyberjaya, Jalan Kebun and Johan Setia in Klang, and near the Kesas highway.

The department stated that a prohibition on open burning was still in force for Selangor, Federal Territory and Putrajaya as well as Tudan, Permai Jaya and Kuala Baram in Miri, Sarawak.

It said air quality at 51 monitoring stations nationwide recorded healthy levels until 11am yesterday.

The department has also mobilised and activated the National Haze Action Plan and the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan nationwide to monitor the status of air quality.

The public is urged to report any cases of open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or the DOE at 1-800-88-2727. Bernama

Air quality over Penang at moderate level
Christopher Tan The Star 14 Aug 12;

GEORGE TOWN: After touching the unhealthy level, the air quality in Penang has improved and is now hovering just below the mark in one area and lower in other parts.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre's website, 310 hotspots were detected in Sumatra at 3.55pm yesterday, almost double the 163 spotted on Sunday.

At 7am yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Seberang Jaya 2 was 101, the only area out of the 51 stations to record an unhealthy API.

However, it dropped to 100 at 11am and 98 at 5pm. It had risen from Sunday when it was a steady 96.

The API at Universiti Sains Malaysia was 84 at 7am and 11am yesterday before going down to 81 at 5pm. In Prai, it was 84 at 7am and 11am before dropping to 83 at 5pm.

Moderate API readings with slight improvements in air quality were recorded in other areas in the northern states, including Alor Setar in Kedah and Kangar in Perlis, which recorded unhealthy levels yesterday.

Alor Setar recorded API of 82 at 7am, 76 at 11am and 74 at 5pm yesterday compared to 104, 108 and 98 respectively on Sunday.

In Kangar, the API was 82 at 7am, 73 at 11am and not recorded at 5pm yesterday, compared to 97, 103 and 101 on Sunday.

A good API reading is 0-50, moderate 51-100, unhealthy 101-200, very unhealthy 201-299, and hazardous 300 and above.

According to the Meteorological Department, visibility in Bayan Lepas was 3.5km at 8am and 9am before improving to 4km at 10am.

The department's weather forecast centre director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said the weak El Nino phenomenon over the Pacific Ocean, expected between now and September, would have minimal impact on rainfall.

Penang Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh cautioned against open burning and advised the public to drink more water to keep themselves hydrated.

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El Nino emerges, raising fears over food prices

Risa Maeda PlanetArk 13 Aug 12;

An El Nino weather pattern is underway and will last until winter, Japan said on Friday, foreshadowing disruptive conditions that could harm crops from Australia to India at a time of rising fears about global food supplies.

Corn prices have surged more than 60 percent in the past two months as the United States reels from the worst drought in more than 50 years, while global soy supplies are also tight after drought in South America.

Data suggested the El Nino phenomenon had emerged, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, referring to conditions in the equatorial Pacific.

"The chances are high that the El Nino phenomenon will be maintained until the winter," the agency said in a statement.

Adding to worries, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization said on Thursday the world was closer to a repeat of a 2008 food crisis because of a spike in food costs.

The big unknown is how intense and how long the developing El Nino phenomenon will be. An intense El Nino can cause widespread drought in Australia, parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and India, but also bring rains to other parts of the globe.

While it can boost corn and soy crops in South America, wheat harvests can be devastated in Australia. Coffee, cocoa, rice and sugar output in Southeast Asia can also be hit.

Officials said El Nino could kick in at the end of the Indian monsoon in September, hurting winter wheat, rapeseed and chickpea crops.

Drier weather would be good for China's autumn grain growing period, mostly corn and soybean, which accounts for more than 70 percent of the country's total grain output, a senior Chinese meteorological official said.

El Nino is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that occurs every four to 12 years. It is the opposite of the very closely related La Nina pattern, which often triggers floods in Australia and parts of Asia. Intense back-to-back La Nina episodes occurred during 2010-12.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), also warned on Thursday that an El Nino was almost certain to occur over the next two months.

The last severe El Nino in 1998 caused drought in Australia and Southeast Asia, withering crops and triggering forest fires.

El Nino can also bring warmer, wetter winters in Japan and parts of North America, but any rains might be too late for the parched U.S. corn crop.

Concepcion Calpe, senior economist at the FAO, said she expected a mild El Nino to develop but it could bring "some bad weather which could jeopardize crops in the coming months".

"We expect more rain in the United States in the coming months, but it will be too late for the maize crop. It is impossible now (for it) to recover," Calpe said.

"But there is still time for the rains to boost soy yields. We are looking forward to having rain in August and September, that would be great for the soya crop."


Indonesia's weather bureau said on Friday any El Nino would have limited impact on the country.

"A weak El Nino will reduce rainfall in eastern and central Indonesia, but not significantly," weather bureau head Sri Woro B. Harijono told reporters.

But in India, one of the world's largest food producers and consumers, with a population of 1.2 billion, El Nino will likely mean a drop in rainfall from September after an erratic monsoon.

Lower than average rains have threatened cereal and lentils production, although rainfall has picked up in the past week.

El Nino typically causes drier weather over much of the country during the northern hemisphere summer, forecasters say.

"El Nino is likely to reduce rainfall during the last month of the monsoon season," said D.S. Pai, lead forecaster of the Indian weather office, referring to September. That could cut winter crop production.

Three years ago, an El Nino slowed monsoon rains, sparking a rally in sugar prices to 30-year highs as India, the world's second biggest producer, harvested a poor cane crop.

In China, little impact was expected.

"The influence of El Nino on Chinese crops will help postpone frost in northern China at the later part of the autumn months, which will be beneficial for crops," said Tu Xuan, an analyst at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co. Ltd.

Elsewhere, the phenomenon raises the chances of favorable planting conditions in South America for corn and soy.

"There may be areas that are adversely affected, but no two El Nino are the same. It is certainly a risk but it doesn't mean that we are going to have a disaster," said Luke Mathews, a commodities strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

He said the bank was expecting good crops in South America over the next six months and there was enough soil moisture in eastern Australian cropping zones to buffer against a drought.

El Nino also generally leads to a decrease in storms in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, potentially good news for the oil industry whose installations are vulnerable to hurricanes.

The U.S. government forecaster said on Thursday El Nino would bring near-normal to above-normal storm activity. The hurricane season runs to November 30.

El Nino means "little boy" in Spanish and was first used by anchovy fishermen in Ecuador and Peru in the 19th century to refer to the arrival of unusually warm ocean waters around Christmas.

(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Ratnajyoti Dutta in New Delhi, Tracy Zheng and Sabrina Mao in Beijing,; Yayat Supriatna in Jakarta and Catherine Hornby in Rome; Editing by David Fogarty, Robert Birsel, Clarence Fernandez and Giles Elgood)

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