Best of our wild blogs: 3 Sep 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [27 Aug - 2 Sep 2012]
from Green Business Times

Preparing for the October Northern Expedition!
from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Blog Log: Slugs, Snails & Seastars
from Pulau Hantu

Dead dugong washes up in Johor
from wild shores of singapore

International Vulture Awareness Day: Vultures in Singapore
from Lazy Lizard's Tales

rufous woodpecker @ ubin - Sept2012
from sgbeachbum

Birds visiting trees near common corridor
from Fahrenheit minus 459

Spotted Scat
from Monday Morgue

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Malaysian Nature Society: Respect rules on entry into parks and forests

The Star 3 Sep 12;

PETALING JAYA: People must be careful and abide by regulations when entering forests, be they state parks or forest reserves, to avoid any harm, said the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

Its communications head Andrew Sebastian said there was a reason why strict rules were in place.

“The laws are there to protect both wildlife as well as humans. That's why there are state parks for eco-tourism and guides to keep people safe,” he said.

He was commenting on the incident on Friday at the Royal Belum State Park where rubber tapper Musa Ismail, 56, was gored to death by a seladang.

Musa was believed to have illegally entered the state park along with two friends to lay fish traps.

The seladang had earlier charged at the tapper's two friends. One escaped unhurt while the other suffered broken limbs.

Sebastian urged the authorities to step up enforcement to deter and address poaching issues in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.

He said it was rare to hear of incidents regarding the seladang, despite it being an extremely large mammal weighing an average of one tonne.

The seladang is also one of the most endangered mammals in the world and is listed as totally protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

It is highly prized by poachers for its meat, skull and horns.

Meanwhile, the Jenderak Selatan Wildlife Conservation Centre, a seladang sanctuary in Pahang, is in the process of releasing the Malayan seladang back into the wild.

Seladang kills man, hurts another
Roshidi Abu Samah New Straits Times 3 Sep 12;

TRAGEDY IN ROYAL BELUM: They had gone into the forest on a fishing trip

GRIK: A FISHING trip on National Day by three men ended with one of them killed and another suffering serious injuries after a seladang attacked them in Hulu Air Pasir in Banding near here.

The third man escaped unhurt in the 6pm incident on Friday.

Grik district police chief Superintendent Abdul Manab Baharum said Musa Ismail, 56, from Felda Bersia, who suffered injuries to his abdomen, died 21/2 hours after the attack.

"Isa Abdullah, 24, from Kampung Kenayat suffered a broken left leg and left arm.

"Abd Mohd Sharifudin Abd Manas, 35, escaped unhurt."

Manab said Musa's body had been sent to the Grik Hospital for a post-mortem while Isa was being treated at the same hospital.

He said the men were descending a hill to go to a nearby river when they stumbled upon the animal coming from the opposite direction.

Manb said the seladang or Malaysan gaur, which can weigh up to a tonne, immediately charged at them and gored Musa.

The animal then chased Isa and trampled on him after he fell while trying to flee.

Manab said Isa called his friend, Arshad Din, about the incident at 8.45pm on Friday.

Arshad then reported the matter to the Bersia police station.

Manab said all the victims were brought out from the forest by a search and rescue team at 6am yesterday.

"Initial investigations indicated that the men had entered the Royal Belum Forest at 3pm on Friday via an illegal route at Km68.4 of the East-West Highway."

Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said under normal circumstances, a seladang would run away and avoid confrontation with humans.

He said based on the department's experience, the animal would become aggressive only if it had a young calf or when it felt threatened or injured.

"We will be conducting an investigation and would like to question the survivors.

"We also would like to know why the seladang attacked them and what they were doing in the forest."

Seladang is a protected wildlife under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

A Grik Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said Friday's incident was the second involving a seladang in the district in a decade.

"A few years ago, a man was killed after he was attacked by an injured seladang."

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Malaysia: Jumbos feel habitat loss

Sean Augustin New Straits Times 3 Sep 12;

CONFLICT MITIGATION: Need to find ways for human-elephant coexistence, say experts

PUTRAJAYA: HUMAN-ELEPHANT conflict (HEC) in the peninsula has been rising steadily since 1998 because of continued loss of elephant habitat, which force the pachyderm to encroach onto plantations in search of food, water and mates.

Elephants living on the fringes of forests which border oil palm, rubber and banana plantations are the most affected.

The conclusion was reached in a paper published by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) biodiversity and conservation division officer Salman Saaban and University of Nottingham School of Geography Assistant Professor (tropical conservation ecology lab) Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz last year.

Elephants raiding crops have caused huge financial losses to plantation owners and statistics suggest an increase in the number of cases between 1998 and 2009.

In 1998, 791 cases were recorded while 1,108 incidents occurred in 2009 or an average of 898 cases a year in the period.

Nine people lost their lives to elephants in the peninsula between 2001 and last year.

Campos-Arceiz, who also heads the research group, Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants, said HEC was inevitable when people and elephants occupied the same landscape.

Elephants, he said, preferred to live in the borders of forests, which were near human settlements or plantations and the conservation of elephants would always lead to some degree of crop raiding and conflict with people.

"The only way to eradicate completely the conflict is by removing all the elephants or all the people. Neither option is desirable," he said, adding that the tolerance to damage by elephants was lower in Malaysia than in countries like India and Sri Lanka.

"If we want to conserve elephants in Peninsular Malaysia, we need to transform HEC from 'human-elephant conflict' to 'human-elephant coexistence'."

The mitigation of the conflict, he said, required action on both the elephant and the humans.

Understanding the behavioural and ecological factors that led elephants to destroy crops could reduce the amount of damage caused, he said, citing the example of people living near Kaziranga National Park in Assam, India, who avoided planting crops in corridors heavily used by elephants.

"We have to find our own model as the agriculture here is different. That is why the University of Nottingham and Perhilitan are working together to understand the local characteristics of HEC."

He added that alternative methods to mitigate the conflict, such as insurance schemes that could provide compensation to farmers whose crops were destroyed by elephants, should also be considered.

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Indonesia: A Community Struggles With Jakarta’s Water Quality

Jonathan Vit Jakarta Globe 2 Sep 12;

Muhammad Taher’s modest one-story home in North Jakarta’s Cilincing subdistrict is a short walk from the colorful fishing boats moored along the shore of Jakarta Bay. Discarded mussel shells crunch under foot as he navigates the narrow maze-like alleys, turning sideways to squeeze between people standing outside food stalls and tin-roofed shacks.

The streets of Cilincing are still dirt, but the main road leading into the slum was just recently paved with rough concrete. It’s one of the few signs of development in a place seemingly untouched by Jakarta’s wealth.

Taher walks through a blizzard of buzzing black flies as he approaches the bay. The pungent smell of fish is overpowering. Dozens of people — men, women and children — are huddled around piles of black mussels. Cilincing is a community devoted to a single cause. Some 12,000 households work to harvest mussels, one of the few creatures that can survive the pollution of the Jakarta Bay.

Taher points out the children squatting around a pile of mussels, their thin fingers separating meat from shell.

“Children at these ages are not supposed to work,” Taher says. “They are not supposed to worry about money. They should just play with their friends and not think about their family’s income.”

It wasn’t always this way. Taher recalls growing up in Cilincing, back when the water was still clear and his father could cast a net and catch fish from the shore.

“It was not a life of the rich, but we never felt any hunger,” he says.

Today, fishing boats bob on the dark waters of Jakarta Bay, a body of water so polluted by solid waste and industrial runoff that the bay is rapidly becoming eutrophic — or so depleted of oxygen that large fish can no longer survive, according to a Unesco report.

“The government really does not want to know about the problems in Jakarta Bay,” Taher says.

Taher is one of the 7,000 traditional fishermen still living in the capital. His livelihood, like the 7.8 million impoverished fishermen living along the coasts of Indonesia, depends on the sea. Most of Indonesia’s traditional fishermen live on $1 a day. Twenty-eight percent survive on even less, says Slamet Daroini, the manager of education and public fund-raising at the Fisheries Justice Coalition.

According to experts, decades of unchecked pollution, rampant overfishing and inadequate infrastructure have taken a serious toll on the nation’s waters, hampering fishermen’s ability to earn a living.

All thirteen rivers running into Jakarta Bay are heavily polluted by human waste, which, due to the capital’s inadequate sewage treatment facilities, carries bacteria-laden feces directly into the bay, according to the Unesco report and environmental experts.

Industrial manufacturers also dump dangerous liquid waste into the rivers, Slamet says. A survey of Jakarta’s waterways conducted by the Jakarta Office of Urban Environmental Study in 1997 found high levels of heavy metals — including lead, mercury and copper — and polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs) in Jakarta Bay. The contaminants, known to cause cancer and heavy metal poisoning, were found in sea life, birds and people at the time of the study.

Pollution of Jakarta’s rivers and bay had steadily increased since 1983, the study found.

In the nearly three decades that followed, the situation has failed to improve, Slamet says. He details reports of companies secretly dumping industrial waste into the river during the rainy season, when the rivers, and many of Jakarta’s low-lying neighborhoods on their banks, are overflowing with water.

The dumping is illegal, Slamet says, but enforcement is lax.

“The government cannot — or does not want to — penalize these companies,” Slamet says.

The pollution has driven Cilincing’s fishermen further out to sea, where they have to compete with anglers from Jakarta’s Thousand Islands for an increasingly limited stock of fish.

On Panggang Island the impact of overfishing is so extreme its effects can be seen from a plane. Marine biologist Elizabeth M.P. Madin has observed the lack of algae “halos” around the island’s coral reefs in satellite images.

In a study on the effects of overfishing of coral reefs, Madin explained that in reefs with a healthy population of predatory fish, smaller plant-eating fish only travel a short distance from the safety of the reef to feed. Their feeding habits produce halos around the reefs.

The halos are no longer visible on reefs near Panggang Island, according to the report published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

“What our results show is that fishing can have surprising, but very clear, effects throughout coral reef ecosystems,” Madin said in a press release announcing the findings.

For Taher, traveling nearly 13 kilometers to cleaner waters no longer makes economic sense. He used to charter a larger boat with other local fishermen and head out for three days at a time. But the fuel, food and supplies needed for a fishing trip to the Thousand Islands could cost the men more than Rp 2.5 million ($261).

On good trips, Taher was able to take home Rp 150,000. During lean times, he brought home Rp 50,000. He now fishes on a “bagan” — a wooden platform suspended above open water — to save money.

“It is really difficult now to go fishing and there is no balance between the costs and the [money] made,” he says. “That is why there are so many who stopped being traditional fishermen.”

Only 25 percent of Cilincing’s men still fish, Taher said. And most of the remaining fishermen are drowning in debts owed to the loan sharks who started to circle once the community fell on hard times.

They offer the men predatory loans at 25 to 30 percent interest rates, Taher says. It’s a dangerous system, but one that many fishermen turn to when they cannot afford to feed their families, he explained.

“We sometimes can only pay the interest,” Taher says. “Many of the traditional fishermen who once had houses lost them.”

Taher sees hope in the community’s mussel harvest. He walks through the bustling community, proudly explaining how the shellfish have allowed his neighbors to survive.

But the mussels, like much of the sea life found in Jakarta Bay, have been contaminated by heavy metals. The local government stopped issuing permits to farm mussels from Jakarta Bay last year, explaining that the filter feeders absorb the toxic chemicals found in the bay.

But the residents of Cilincing have few other options, Taher says.

A weathered 55-year-old man interrupts Taher’s tour talk with a slight handshake. Mansyur used to be a fisherman, but he now harvests mussels. The changes, he said, are heartbreaking.

“I feel very sad seeing these bad changes,” Mansyur says. “I cry inside my heart because all of the changes are so extreme and none of them bring any good.”

Mansyur has lived through the regimes of Sukarno and Suharto, the economic collapse and the ensuing recovery. But it is Indonesia's economic growth, and the population and manufacturing boom it fuels in Jakarta, that may prove to be too much.

If Jakarta, and the rest of the nation, fails to curb pollution and dumping, traditional fishermen may become a thing of the past, Slamet says.

"In my opinion, the fishermen do not have any future in Jakarta," he says.

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