Best of our wild blogs: 22 Oct 12

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [15 - 21 Oct 2012]
from Green Business Times

Surprises in sea anemones and wood at the Northern Expedition Day 7 from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

Mangrove Madness (Part 1)
from Darwin Shrugged

Ruddy-breasted Crake having a bath
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Daisy Sunday
from The annotated budak

Pink Mud Eel
from Monday Morgue

Read more!

Campaign Against Use of Dolphins in Indonesian Circuses Appears to Have an Impact

Firdha Novialita Jakarta Globe 12 Oct 12;

Nearly 90,000 people from around the world have backed a campaign by activist group Indonesia to ban traveling circuses in the country from using dolphins in their shows.

“It could reach 100,000 pretty soon. The traveling circus is ... really bad for the dolphins,” Arief Aziz, the group’s communications director, told a media conference on the campaign in Jakarta on Thursday.

Arief said many companies had joined the movement, including LotteMart, Carrefour, Coca-Cola, Hero and Garuda Indonesia. Celebrity supporters include Coki, a guitarist in band Netral; Riyanni Djangkaru from DiveMag; and Nadine Chandrawinata, a former Miss Indonesia.

“The petition was launched a few months ago with only about 5,000 in support. It grew to 10,000 after receiving support overseas,” Arief said.

He added that support grew as word of the petition spread. Signatories were later encouraged to target companies involved in the use of dolphins in circuses.

Human rights activist Usman Hamid said he will continue to ask the public to spread the petition.

The petition appears to have having some impact. The refusal by some major companies to offer space to traveling circuses with dolphins has apparently prompted managers to approach regional governments for performance space, and school teachers to boost crowds.

“In the past, if they received permission from sponsors, they would also secure a space [to hold the circus]. But now they can’t even secure permission, let alone space. They know that companies can no longer [grant permission] and that’s why they go to city administrations for [permission] to use city squares,” Coki told on Thursday.

Coki said that he and other signatories will approach the Forestry Ministry and the Maritime and Fisheries Ministry as well as schools to cooperate with the movement.

“Many traveling circuses offer packages to teachers. They receive a fee if they take students to see [the circus],” Coki said.

Coki said that teachers should not take students to see the circus, adding that many fellow musicians also supported the cause. Indonesia will promote the petition in this year’s social media festival, which runs starts today and runs until Sunday at the Senayan Aquatic Center in South Jakarta.

Previously Coki said that 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 Harzani from Jakarta Animal Aid Network said that the circuses put the animals’ health at risk. After enduring stress from long hours in cramped containers during transit and then resting in heavily chlorinated pools, the dolphins have to perform in several five shows a night.

“These dolphins are treated as a cash machine to cover circuses’ costs,” Pramudya said.

Read more!

Malaysia: Rubbish in drains and rivers are the main cause of flooding

Manjit Kaur The Star 22 Oct 12;

IT is clogged drains that usually cause flash floods in Ipoh.

Perak Drainage and Irrigation Department deputy director Juhaimi Jusoh said this was because drains had been turned into dumping grounds these days.

“People have always been advised not to discard rubbish into drains whether it is during the monsoon season or otherwise.

“This will help alleviate problems of flooding,” he pointed out.

Juhaimi was also concerned over the indiscriminate dumping of rubbish into the rivers although the waterways were not as badly polluted compared to those in other states.

“A television set was among garbage fished out from Sungai Kinta during a gotong-royong session recently,” he said, describing plastic bags, bottles and cans as the normal garbage retrieved during gotong-royong sessions.

Juhaimi said most of the rivers in the urban areas have been installed with gross pollutant traps (GPT) to prevent trash and silt from polluting the rivers.

“We have contractors to collect the trapped rubbish weekly,” he said.

In Kampung Temiang, Ipoh, villagers were disgusted by litterbugs whose behaviour were getting from bad to worse; and wooden planks were among garbage thrown into the drains.

Villager Harison Udoh, 60, said there were several clogged drains nearby.

“The JKKK (village security and development committee) members have conducted several rounds of gotong-royong, and we removed heaps of rubbish from the drains each round.

“We are fearful of floods whenever there is a downpour,” she lamented.

Zahidah Mat Yazid, 59, who is also the JKKK’s welfare bureau chief, said some people were still littering despite several gotong-royong sessions to clean up the place and educate the public on the need to maintain cleanliness in the surroundings.

“When they throw rubbish into drains, the villagers staying in the low lying areas will suffer because these areas will be the ones hit by floods,” she said, adding that those who found littering a convenience was doing it at the expense of others.

Over at Kampung Seri Kinta in Pasir Puteh, Zakiah Md Shaid, 70, said a flood gate installed in Sungai Kinta a few years back had helped to reduce the severity of flood in the area.

“Floods occurred just before the fasting month this year but the situation was not as bad as compared to previous years,” she said.

Zakiah complained there were people who dumped rubbish into the river and drains nearby

“The drains get clogged, and the conditions worsen when it rains, resulting in flash floods,” said Zakiah who has been staying in the village for over 30 years.

Read more!

Malaysia: Elephant herd helps researchers identify new sanctuaries

Ruben Sario The Star 22 Oct 12;

KOTA KINABALU: A herd of elephants is helping researchers identify areas that need to be set aside as wildlife forest corridors in Sabah's lower Kinabatangan region.

Since 2008, researchers from the Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and non-governmental organisation HUTAN, have tracked nine elephants eight cows and a bull using satellite collars.

Data from the satellite collars on four of the nine elephants is providing crucial information on suitable and available elephant habitats in the region, department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said.

“One of the four elephants has already provided two years of data made up of 24 positions per day which will allow us to prioritise areas where landscape connectivity along the Kinabatangan river has to be rebuilt,” he added.

Of the four elephants providing data, three are female. On Oct 19, researchers replaced the satellite collar on the fourth, a male elephant named Gading.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goosens said Gading was collared in July 2008 and October 2011, but the device fell from its belt in May 2012.

The researchers also collared one of the three females named Puteri by Nurzhafarina Othman, a Malaysian PhD student at Cardiff University conducting research on the social behaviour of the Bornean elephant.

Nurzhafarina said the satellite collars allowed researchers to track the herd and study how the elephants adapted their social behaviour in the degraded and fragmented landscape of the Kinabatangan floodplain.

“I am also able to understand how social units work, how females are associating within and between family units,” said Nurzhafarina, who had been following the herd of elephants for more than two years.

The collaring exercise was funded by the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund under the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the Elephant Family charity, Houston Zoo and Columbus Zoo.

Four members of the London-based Elephant Family also took part in the collaring exercise.

Wildlife veterinarian Dr Diana Ramirez from the department's Wildlife Rescue Unit, who led the tagging operation, said the exercise was a team effort.

“Tracking, sedating and collaring an elephant is not an easy task. We are concerned about the health of the elephant and the safety of the members of the team,” she said.

Helpful info from collared elephants
Roy Goh New Straits Times 22 Oct 12;

SATELLITE TRACKING: Data enable Sabah officials prevent human-wildlife conflicts

KOTA KINABALU: THE survival of Borneo pygmy elephants in Sabah is brighter with data collected from pachyderms fitted with satellite collars.

Since 2008, nine elephants had been fitted with such collars in the Kinabatangan area, allowing wildlife officials to gather crucial information.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said of the nine elephants, the satellite collars of four were still emitting their location points, providing data on their habitats and movements.

"A female has already provided two years' of data and 24 positions per day.

"This data will allow my department to pinpoint crucial areas in order to establish connectivity along Sungai Kinabatangan."

Senior veterinarian of the department, Dr Sen Nathan, said with the data, they could take preemptive steps to avoid human-wildlife conflicts and re-route the elephants' path to avoid plantations or villages.

Last Friday, two elephants were fitted with satellite collars -- a male named Gading and a female named Puteri -- near Danau Pitas at the Lower Kinabatangan Sanctuary.

The exercise was part of a joint project between the department, a non-governmental organisation called HUTAN and the Danau Girang Field Centre.

The project was funded by the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Mohamed Zayed Species Conservation Fund, a London-based charity organisation called Elephant Family, Houston Zoo and Columbus Zoo.

Danau Girang director Dr Benoit Goosens said the male elephant was being collared for the third time. It had been collared in 2008 and last year.

The department's Wildlife Rescue Unit veterinarian Dr Diana Ramirez led the latest exercise.

"Sedating and collaring an elephant is not an easy task. We have to take care of the health of the elephant and safety of the team members.

"Experience is important and my unit has more than 15 trained workers to assist in such projects."

Read more!

India: Whale, dugong washed ashore

The Hindu 21 Oct 12;

A Whale ashore at Vadakadu sea shore in Rameswaram. Photo: L. Balachandar

For the first time a sperm whale has been found near the Palk Strait

A 14-metre-long male whale, which has been dead for at least 10 days and a dead dugong (Kadal pasu), measuring two metre long, were found washed ashore in the Vadakadu and Panaikulam seashore, respectively, off the Palk Strait in Rameswaram on Saturday morning.

Additional Conservator of Forest T. Rajendran, who inspected the carcasses, along with N. Nagarajan, Ranger, Tuticorin, said the whale’s circumference measured 10-metre.

The front fin was 1.5 metre long and the head measured 3.5 metre. He identified it as Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus).

Citing records, he said this was for the first time, a sperm whale, which live in deep sea, has been washed ashore off the Palk Strait.

The carcass was highly decomposed and tail portion got severed and found washed ashore 200 metres away in the coast, he told The Hindu.

Sei whales (Belaenoptera borealis) have earlier been washed ashore off the Gulf of Mannar, he said.

Due to seasonal changes, especially during the withdrawal of the southwest monsoon and setting in of northeast monsoon, the mammal would have lost its way.

It could have either crashed into rocks or died of starvation, he said. The exact reason for its death, however, could not be ascertained, he added. The carcass would be buried in the coast after post-mortem on Saturday evening or Sunday morning, Mr. Rajendran said.

Earlier, on being informed by the local fishermen, S. Venkatachala Boopathi, Forest Ranger and M, Jafer Forester, also visited the carcass.

Mr. Nagarajan said the dead Dugong at Panaikulam seashore was buried after post-mortem. Its width measured 134 cm and it weighed 400 kg, he said. It had no injuries and could have died after hitting against rocks, he said.

Read more!

UN Biodiversity talks move forward but nature needs more - IUCN

IUCN 20 Oct 12;

Hyderabad, India, 20 October 2012 – Despite good progress towards achieving the 2020 targets to halt the loss of biodiversity, efforts to conserve nature must be urgently scaled up if we want to meet the 2020 deadline to save all life on earth - says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

The UN Biodiversity talks closing today in Hyderabad, India, saw an overall consensus on the urgent need for more and better managed funds to reach the targets but countries have failed to agree on the exact amount needed to ensure their successful implementation.

“The lack of agreement on public funds required to conserve biodiversity and save the natural world highlights the need for innovative ways to seek support from other sources,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “We’ve seen good progress towards achieving the targets we set two years ago. These efforts now need to be urgently scaled up with adequate funding from all sources if we want to avoid failure.”

Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity met in Hyderabad to evaluate progress towards the implementation of decisions taken at the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in 2010, including the 2020 Aichi Targets to save and restore nature. The meeting saw examples of concrete conservation action and a strong focus on turning the decisions taken in Nagoya into action on the ground.

Some key issues have been agreed in Hyderabad, such as the recognition of marine ecologically and biologically significant areas, including those in the international waters, which should largely increase their chances to be protected under international law.

“This is good but it’s not enough,” says Jane Smart, Global Director of IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group. “If we want to respond to the growing biodiversity crisis, we need more concrete action. We must engage with all levels of society, including the private sector, and look into conserving all levels of biological diversity: the diversity of genes, species and ecosystems. Two years into the International Decade of Biodiversity, this is now more urgent than ever.”

According to the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ released during the meeting, 20,219 of the 65,518 species listed are threatened with extinction, including 83% of Madagascar’s palms, putting the livelihoods of many people at risk.

Addressing the ministers gathered in Hyderabad, IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng highlighted the need for new sources of funds to conserve nature, such as the private sector, and stressed the importance of including the protection of the natural environment in national development policies.

“The government of India has done a fantastic job in organizing this meeting,” said IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng. “In two year’s time we’ll be looking at a mid-point towards the 2020 deadline to save the natural environment. We look forward to working with the government of South Korea to make sure that at the next meeting of the Convention, we see more positive progress. We’re up against a crisis that’s threatening all life on earth - we cannot afford to lose this race.”

Read more!