Best of our wild blogs: 13 Oct 12

Sights Unseen (PURE Magazine Oct-Dec 2012 Issue, featuring Private Lives: An Exposé on Singapore’s Rainforests from Raffles Museum News

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Philippines: Re-export of 25 dolphins to Singapore barred

Rio N. Araja Manila Standard 13 Oct 12;

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court issued a 72-hour temporary environmental protection order directing Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez to prevent the re-exportation of 25 dolphins to Singapore.

The order of Judge Bernelito Fernandez of Branch 101 bars the shipment of the 25 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), which were caught in the waters of Solomon Islands, to the Marine Life Park at the Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore.

Fernandez said he saw the need to issue the TEPO “as this will result in grave and irreparable damage to the population of the dolphins from the Solomon Islands and generations yet to come and to the environment in general as the said activity has been scientifically shown to be detrimental to the survival of the species and in violation of domestic law and international conventions.”

The judge issued the TEPO after environmental and animal welfare groups filed a petition urging the government to stop the trans-shipment of the dolphins to Singapore. The cetaceans are now at the Ocean Adventure Park in Subic while Marine Life Park is being finished.

Marine Life Park, billed as the world’s largest oceanarium, is scheduled to open on Dec. 7 and will involve more than 60 million liters of water and 100,000 marine animals from over 800 species.

Trixie Concepcion of Earth Islands Institute said the importation of the dolphins should have been barred because it violates the country’s commitment under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species and Philippine Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, or Republic Act 9147.

Anna Cabrera, director of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society, said the import permits were issued without proper evaluation of the best scientific data, adding that the marine mammals were forcibly snatched from their families and will make shorten their natural lives.

She noted that dolphins, whales and other cetaceans are not suited to captivity since they are highly social creatures that are used to being in families or pods.

Other complaining groups include the Compassion and Responsibility to Animals, Welfare Philippines, Dolphins Love Freedom Network, Save Philippine Seas, Save Freedom Island Movement, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines and other individuals.

The groups asked Alcala and Perez to deny the re-export permit application and work for the release of the dolphins back to their natural habitat.

Philippine court halts dolphin export to Singapore
(AFP) Google News 13 Oct 12;

MANILA — A court has blocked the export of 25 captive dolphins trained in the Philippines to become show animals at a Singapore casino, a Filipino official and animal rights groups said Saturday.

A civil suit filed by the rights groups alleged the traffic in live Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins for sport or entertainment was illegal, cruel and would cause the extinction of the species.

The large marine mammals were shipped to a marine park in the northern Philippines between 2008 and 2011, said Anna Cabrera, head of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society.

"The dolphins, caught in the wild from the Solomon Islands, were forcibly snatched from their families and will live short, miserable lives in captivity as show animals for Resorts World in Singapore," Cabrera said in a statement.

The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the government office in charge of the dolphin permits, would formally respond to the court order on Monday, said bureau director Asis Perez.

He disputed the suit's allegation that dolphin trading would be detrimental to the survival of the species and thus not authorised by the Philippines' wildlife conservation law.

"These are regulated species that you can trade, and we are supposed to regulate the trade," he told AFP.

"They were sent here only for the purpose of training them," he said.

The importers had complied with all regulatory requirements, and have asked for government permission to ship them to Singapore after their training, Perez added.

The dolphins were to have been sent to Resorts World Sentosa, a giant casino resort in Singapore, according to a copy of the written order issued by regional trial court judge Bernelito Fernandez.

Fernandez said he was studying the animal rights groups' plea to ban dolphin traffic in the Philippines, said the court document, furnished to AFP by Earth Island Institute, one of the other plaintiffs.

Court officials were unavailable for comment Saturday.

Resorts World Sentosa's Philippine lawyers named in the suit could not be contacted.

Swiss-based conservation group International Union for the Conservation of Nature said on its website that there were many threats on local bottlenose dolphin populations.

However, "the species is widespread and abundant, and none of these threats is believed to be resulting in a major global population decline", it added.

QC court stops shipment of dolphins to Singapore
Julie M. Aurelio Philippine Daily Inquirer 14 Oct 12;

MANILA, Philippines—A Quezon City court on Friday barred the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) from reexporting to Singapore 25 captive dolphins held at Ocean Adventure Park in Subic, Zambales.

The DA and BFAR, as well as the Singapore-based Resorts World in Sentosa, Singapore, were also ordered not to import any more dolphins into the Philippines while the temporary environment protection order (Tepo) was in effect.

QC Regional Trial Court First Vice Executive Judge Bernelito Fernandez granted the 72-hour Tepo sought by several animal rights groups that raised the alarm over the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins’ plight.

Extreme urgency

“After a thorough review of the allegations in support of the prayer for the issuance of a Tepo, this court finds that there exists extreme urgency and that the subject 25 captive dolphins and the petitioners will suffer grave injustice and irreparable injury should the reexporting of the captive dolphins and the importing of additional dolphins into the country be undertaken at this time,” the two-page order read.

Fernandez issued the Tepo on Friday afternoon as Executive Judge Fernando Sagun was in Bacolod City on official business. Fernandez ordered the personal serving of the Tepo on the three respondents.

The petition filed by the Earth Island Institute (EII), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and Compassion and Responsibility to Animals Welfare Philippines et al. will be heard by RTC Branch 101.

Fernandez said this branch was the “only designated environment court” in Quezon City that could act on the petition.

The petitioners sought the Tepo after learning that the dolphins—which were imported from the Solomon Islands in 2008, 2009 and 2011—were to be reexported to Singapore.

The EII said it received a notice from the BFAR seeking its comment on the reexportation of the dolphins on Oct. 4.

Trained to perform

The dolphins had been kept in Subic where they were trained to perform in aquatic shows while the Singapore marine attraction was being built.

The petitioners noted that other countries had banned the dolphin trade altogether.

Aside from the Tepo, the animal welfare groups asked for the nullification of dolphin import permits dating back to 2008 and the voiding of all such permits from the Solomon Islands.

The importation and exportation of the marine creatures violates the country’s international agreements and the Wildlife Preservation and Conservation Act.

The petitioners also asked the court to direct the respondents “to hold in custody the dolphins currently at Ocean Adventure at their expense until they are rehabilitated for release back to the wild.”

This is aside from the periodic reports the respondents must make before the eventual release of the dolphins.

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Indonesia Falls to 33rd in World Risk Index on Disaster Vulnerability

Jakarta Globe 12 Oct 12;

The destruction of protective reefs, mangroves, wetlands and forested slopes has seen Indonesia drop five spots to 33rd place out of 173 countries on the World Risk Index for vulnerability to disasters.

The report, released in Brussels on Thursday by the German Alliance for Development Works, the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security and The Nature Conservancy, examines the risks of and solutions for natural disasters and determines the risk of becoming the victim of a disaster as a result of natural hazards.

“The new World Risk Report gives us a vivid picture of how environmental destruction on a global scale is increasingly becoming a direct threat to human beings as well,” said Alliance director Peter Mucke.

He added that where slopes had been deforested, where protective reefs, mangroves and wetlands had degenerated or even completely disappeared, the forces of nature hit with far more intense force on inhabited areas.

The top 15 most at-risk nations are all tropical and coastal where coastal habitats like reefs and mangroves are incredibly important for people’s livelihoods. Reefs, for example, can reduce wave energy approaching coasts by more than 85 percent.

Abdul Halim, TNC Indonesia’s marine program director, said that Southeast Asia, and in particular Indonesia, had by far the greatest number of people in low elevation areas and its reefs were the most threatened.

“We must strive to inspire government and local stakeholders for higher engagement in marine conservation and sustainable use of resources,” he said.

The countries with the greatest number of at-risk people who may receive risk reduction benefits from reefs (people living at elevations below 10 meters and within 50 kilometers of coral reefs) are Indonesia and India, with more than 35 million people in danger in both nations.

Next is the Philippines with more than 20 million and China with more than 15 million, while Brazil, Vietnam and the United States have more than seven million each.

The report was launched to coincide with the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

It noted that the recorded number of disasters and casualties worldwide for the decade from 2002 to 2011 was alarming: 4,130 disasters, more than a million deaths and economic losses of at least $1.195 trillion.

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