Best of our wild blogs: 18 Aug 12

Red-legged Crake takes a snake
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Read more!

Viral infection kills stray dogs on Ubin

Pet owners advised against taking dogs there, urged to vaccinate them
Lim Yi Han Straits Times 18 Aug 12;

DO NOT take your dog to Pulau Ubin.

The advice comes from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) which said yesterday that several dogs were recently found dead on that island.

A post-mortem on one dog indicated it was afflicted with canine distemper virus (CDV), a contagious viral infection that affects the lungs, gut and nervous system.

Infection comes from contact with droplets, urine or faeces and objects contaminated with the discharge of an infected animal.

CDV is not known to affect humans.

AVA said it has not received information to indicate there are CDV cases on the mainland for now.

It is working with animal welfare groups - Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Animal Lovers League - and relevant agencies to tackle the issue in Pulau Ubin.

This includes working with the Residents' Committee to advise residents on taking precautionary moves such as keeping their dogs apart from other dogs.

Other animal welfare groups are also wary of the situation. Mr Ricky Yeo, president of Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), said: "We have to be more cautious when people call in these few weeks about stray dogs in Ubin."

He added that the likelihood of CDV spreading to dogs on the mainland is low "but there's still a possibility".

He added that ASD quarantines stray dogs and monitors them before letting them come into contact with other dogs.

In the early stage of infection, symptoms include eye and nose discharge, coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Later, the dog may be prone to fits and disorientation and their footpads become thicker.

AVA is advising owners to vaccinate their pets after they have reached six weeks old, and to keep the vaccinations up-to-date.

It also requires all puppies sold in pet shops and dog farms to be vaccinated against CDV.

Unvaccinated dogs, and those with a weaker immune system such as puppies as well as old and weak dogs, are at a higher risk of being struck by CDV, which can be fatal.

Owners should clean and disinfect the area the dog lives in and the objects it comes into contact with daily.

Infected dogs need veterinary and nursing care that may include the use of antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infection.

Those with feedback and queries can contact the AVA on 1800-476-1600.

Canine virus threat on Pulau Ubin
Today Online 18 Aug 12;

SINGAPORE - Dog owners are advised not to take their pets to Pulau Ubin.

This comes as the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) confirmed yesterday that the recent deaths of several dogs there were due to the canine distemper virus (CDV).

A post-mortem on a dog's carcass found that it had been infected with CDV, a contagious viral infection that is fatal in most unvaccinated dogs. It is not known to affect humans.

The virus affects the lungs, gut and nervous system. Unvaccinated dogs - as well as those with weaker immune systems, such as puppies and old dogs - are at a higher risk of infection. It is spread through urine or faeces of an infected animal or from contact with droplets when an infected dog coughs.

Early-stage symptoms include eye and nose discharge, coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea. In the later stages, the dog may display signs such as disorientation and fits, and its footpads become thickened.

Infected dogs need supportive veterinary and nursing care.

The AVA said it is working with residents' committees to advise pet-owners on preventive care for their dogs, such as avoiding contact with other animals, vaccination and seeking veterinary attention immediately if their pet is unwell.

Residents there are also advised to alert the AVA if they come across stray dogs showing symptoms of CDV.

Read more!

Malaysia, Johor: 100 police reports over relocation of graves for Rapid project

Desiree Tresa Gasper and Yee Xiang Yun The Star 17 Aug 12;

JOHOR BARU: Police have received more than 100 reports from Pengerang residents, fishermen and contractors relating to the relocation of graves in line with the Petronas refinery and petrochemical integrated development (Rapid) project there.

Kota Tinggi OCPD Supt Che Mahazan Che Aik said that police were still investigating the reports lodged.

“The most recent report is from a resident who claimed that the grave of his ancestor was removed and dumped in a disrespectful manner by the persons in charge of the relocation works,” he said.

He added that the investigation papers had been forwarded to the Public Prosecutor's office for further action and had been classified under Section 297 of the Penal Code for treating remains with indignity.

“Other than dissatisfaction on the relocation of graves, we also received reports of residents who are unhappy about land compensation issues and environmental pollution due to the Rapid project,” he said.

He added that most of the issues had been ironed out but there was still a small group of unhappy residents.

Meanwhile, a group of discontented residents are planning to gather at the graveyard in Telok Empang, Pengerang on Saturday (Aug 18) to show their dissatisfaction with the grave relocation plans.

The group will converge at the graveyard at 9am and will stay overnight while performing prayers and cleaning the graves.

The event coordinator Hong Thian Hwa said that the programme would coincide with the Hungry Ghost Festival. It was previously reported that some 11,000 Muslim graves had already been relocated to make way for the RM60bil Rapid project while the authorities are planning to move some 3,000 Chinese graves and 1,000 Muslim graves soon.

Johor MB clarifies issue on grave relocation
The Star 20 Aug 12;

JOHOR BARU: The Johor mentri besar has clarified there has been no relocation of Muslim graves to make way for the construction of the RM60bil Refinery and Petrochemical Intergrated Complex (Rapid) project in Pengerang.

In a statement issued here on Monday, Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman also clarified that the state government was working closely with the Chinese associations to find an amicable solution to the relocation of Chinese cemeteries.

"There has been no relocation of Muslim graves. As for Chinese cemeteries, the state government is working closely with Chinese associations to find an amicable solution to the relocation of the graves," he said.

He was responding to media reports on the Rapid project and the relocation of Chinese graves by Johor MCA deputy chairman Datuk Hoo Seong Chang on Sunday.

Hoo, when met by reporters, said the Johor MCA would meet family members linked to the 3,000 Chinese graves, which would be affected by the relocation.

Abdul Ghani also clarified Sunday's news reports that stated that 100-odd police reports had been received by the Kota Tinggi police from Pengerang residents on the issue of the grave relocation.

According to him, the police reports were not exclusively on the grave issue, but also included cumulative reports covering other matters, pertaining to the Pengerang oil and gas developments. - Bernama

Rapid: Muslim Graves To Be Relocated
Bernama 21 Aug 12;

JOHOR BAHARU, Aug 21 (Bernama) -- Muslim graves would be relocated to make way for the construction of the RM60 billion Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Complex (Rapid) project in Pengerang.

A statement issued by the office of Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman here today, said the new site of the graves has been identified.

"Although the new site has been identified, the relocation has not commenced and we're still in discussions with the local Muslim community," it added.

The Rapid project by national oil and gas corporation, Petronas, is part of the government's Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

It is expected to draw a follow up investment of RM100 billion into the country's oil and gas industry.

Today's statement was to clarify the one issued by the Menteri Besar's office yesterday.


Read more!

Two New Owl Species Discovered in the Philippines

Megan Gannon Yahoo News 18 Aug 12;

Two new owl species have been identified in the Philippines, and researchers say the birds' songs led them to the discovery.

Photo By Oriental Bird Club: original painting by John Gale 13 hrs ago

"More than 15 years ago, we realized that new subspecies of Ninox hawk-owls existed in the Philippines," zoologist Pam Rasmussen, of Michigan State University (MSU), said in a statement. "But it wasn't until last year that we obtained enough recordings that we could confirm that they were not just subspecies, but two new species of owls."

In fact, the researchers found that the Philippine hawk-owl (Ninox philippensis) consists of seven allopatric species, or those that emerge as a consequence of individuals being isolated geographically, or temporally. They also identified one subspecies.

Two of the species had never been described nor officially named, until now. One of the newly identified owl species, now called the Camiguin hawk-owl, lives only on the small island of Camiguin Sur and has a very different voice and set of physical features than other owls in the region, the researchers said. It has blue-gray eyes and sings a long solo song at night that builds in intensity with a low growling tone. Pairs of Camiguin hawk-owls, meanwhile, sing short barking duets that kick off with a growl.

The researchers, who reported their findings in Forktail, the Journal of Asian Ornithology, also identified the Cebu hawk-owl after studying its structure and vocalizations.

"The owls don't learn their songs, which are genetically programmed in their DNA and are used to attract mates or defend their territory; so if they're very different, they must be new species," Rasmussen explained in a statement from MSU. "When we first heard the songs of both owls, we were amazed because they were so distinctly different that we realized they were new species."

Read more!

Another Illegal Wildlife Trading Ring Uncovered in Jakarta

Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 17 Aug 12;

Authorities have uncovered a second illegal wildlife trading operation in the space of less than a month, seizing endangered animal pelts during a raid on a house in Cilandak, South Jakarta, on Tuesday night.

Darori, the Forestry Ministry’s director general of nature conservation and forest protection, said his office had managed to scupper an attempt to sell the pelt of a Sumatran tiger and a Javan leopard.

Officers also arrested four people at the house. One of them, identified only as R.S., has been identified as an illegal wildlife trafficker and named a suspect by the police.

He has been charged with trading in protected animal parts under the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law, for which he could get up to five years in prison and up to Rp 100 million ($10,500) in fines.

Tuesday’s raid comes just four weeks after police seized dozens of stuffed rare animals and pelts from a suspected taxidermist in Depok.

The stuffed animals confiscated in the July 17 bust included 14 tigers, two leopards, one clouded leopard, a lion, three bears and a tapir. There were also two sacks full of tiger pelts, as well as a stuffed tiger head and four mounted deer heads.

The Sumatran tiger and Javan leopard are classified as critically endangered species, one step away from being extinct. Trading in or possession of these protected animals or their parts is a criminal offense.

The suspect, Feri, has also been charged under the Natural Resources Conservation Law and faces up to five years in prison.

His arrest came a day after Greenpeace Indonesia reported that the Sumatran tiger, one of the most threatened of the remaining six tiger subspecies in the world, was disappearing from the wild at a rate of around 51 animals a year.

The World Wide Fund for Nature recently identified Indonesia as a key country of origin for tiger parts and elephant ivory in the illegal trade of wild animal parts.

In its “Wildlife Crime Scorecard” released last month, it rated the government as “failing on key aspects of compliance or enforcement.”

“Although Indonesia has increased its efforts to protect wild tiger populations and detect illegal trade, there remains a significant enforcement gap for tigers at the retail level, with Sumatra having a significant illegal domestic market for tiger parts,” the report said.

Additional reporting from Antara

Read more!