Best of our wild blogs: 26 Oct 12

'Panda' of the mangroves discovered, Neil Humphreys writes on Chek Jawa and more from Celebrating Singapore's BioDiversity!

Huntsman Night
from Macro Photography in Singapore

Making A New Friend @ USR
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Leea indica
from The annotated budak

Unknown Damselfly – Amphicnemis gracilis or Amphicnemis bebar? from Dragonflies & Damselflies of Singapore

For NUS Students and Staff: An Invitation to NUSSU SAVE, Save3s’ Plant-A-Tree from Otterman speaks

Immediate Position for One Research Assistant
from Raffles Museum News

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Asia fuels illegal wildlife trade and Singaporeans have a role in it

TRAFFIC 25 Oct 12;

Conservation organisations call for governmental and public support against illegal wildlife trade in Singapore

Singapore, 25th October 2012 – World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore and TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia are calling for the Singapore public to make a pledge on WWF Singapore’s Facebook page ( and website ( not to purchase or consume illegal wildlife products.

The initiative is part of a joint global campaign by WWF and TRAFFIC calling for governments around the world to strengthen legislation and enforcement against illegal wildlife trade, and for consumers to play their part in reducing demand for illegal wildlife products.

Singapore’s trade network is believed to have been exploited by criminal groups in the illegal wildlife trade. For example, the world’s second largest seizure of illegal ivory was made in Singapore in 2002 while a July 2012 report identified Singapore as a key laundering point for illegally caught birds from the Solomon Islands.

Recent reports have seen Asia contributing significantly to the worldwide demand for illegal wildlife products. Rising affluence in Asia has resulted in an increase in Asian consumers with the means to purchase illegal products from highly threatened wildlife, such as tigers, elephants and rhinos.

An estimated 800 kilogrammes of illicit rhino horn reaches Asian markets annually mainly to feed a rising demand for its new-found but medically unsubstantiated use as a pick-me-up tonic and hangover cure. Ivory products can also be found in many Asian countries, including China, Thailand and Singapore – many are known to be from illegal sources.

Such demand has helped to fuel a dramatic upsurge of poaching and illegal trade of high value wildlife products. For example, rhino poaching in South Africa rose from 13 animals poached in 2007 to 455 to date in 2012 ; while tens of thousands of African elephants are estimated to be killed annually to supply the ivory markets in Asia.

“Illegally-sourced wildlife is laundered and smuggled into the global market on a very frequent basis. Large volumes of animals and plants are involved, many of which are threatened with extinction,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director of TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

“While some irresponsible consumers are knowingly sustaining this unlawful trade, the majority o others are inadvertently supporting it due to the lack of information and attention focused on the illegal wildlife business. Increased awareness and responsible purchasing is absolutely essential if threatened wildlife species are to survive into the future.”

In support of the WWF-TRAFFIC global wildlife trade campaign, the Singapore effort looks to raise public awareness around the issue of illegal wildlife trade. Beginning 25 October, members of the public will see outdoor advertisements at bus shelters located in the CBD area, Chinatown, Bugis, Holland Road and Bukit Timah, highlighting the severity of the illegal wildlife trade. The public can then view a short clip via the QR code to gain greater understanding of the illegal wildlife business.

“Through this campaign, WWF and TRAFFIC hope to shed light on Asia fuelling the demand that drives the brutal killing of important and endangered species. As we travel within Asia, especially to countries such as China, Thailand and Vietnam, where illegal wildlife products are in demand and readily available, we urge everyone not to purchase or consume these products. Any product that lists ingredients from the tiger and rhino is illegal,” said Ms Elaine Tan, CEO, WWF Singapore.

The public is encouraged to pledge not to buy products derived from illegally traded wildlife through WWF Singapore’s Facebook page ( and website ( Apart from products containing ingredients from the elephant, tiger and rhino, other products, such as those made from bear bile and pangolin scales, should also be avoided.

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Malaysia: Artifical Reefs Enrich Johor's Marine Heritage

Rohani Mohd Ibrahim Bernama 25 Oct 12;

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- A properly managed marine heritage and marine biodiversity that is well protected could help generate economic returns through tourism and fishing activities.

Based on the Marine Park Department's statistics, it is estimated that about 500,000 people visit Malaysia's marine parks annually.

Marine tourism activities could well provide additional income to locals and fishermen within marine parks.

The department is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the sustainability of marine biodiversity resources through regulation and enforcement, research, education and public awareness, habitat preservation, apart from keeping eco-tourism activities in check.

Currently, a total of 42 islands off the waters of Kedah, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor and the Federal Territory of Labuan have been gazetted as marine parks.


In the eastern waters of Johor, there are a total of 13 islands gazetted as marine parks; Pulau Harimau, Pulau Tengah, Pulau Mensirip, Pulau Goal, Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Besar, Pulau Hujung, Pulau Rawa, Pulau Mentinggi, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Sibu Hujung, Pulau Pemanggil and Pulau Aur.

Each island, including Pulau Besar that is located 42 nautical miles off Mersing, exudes its own profound uniqueness.

Pulau Besar, rich in green flora, is home to 25 families. The island boasts of a female village head, Rashidah Sulaiman, who took over the helm from her husband who passed away in 2010.

According to Rashidah, the island has three resorts and homestay programmes with the visitors' activities there centered on the marine park.

The beautiful white sandy beaches of the island, the placid atmosphere and the subtle sound of the waves provide the perfect atmosphere to relax.

Pulau Rawa that is located half an hour boat ride from Pulau Besar also draws visitors and it is surrounded by colourful reefs that is clearly visible through the crystal clear waters.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment recently took a group of media persons from Kuala Lumpur to witness the launch of Pulau Besar's Recreational Reef Project and to witness the beauty of Pulau Besar and Pulau Rawa marine parks.


On Oct 12, 2012 a symbolic launch was held to anchor 200 units of square concrete reefs at the bottom of the sea. A total of 20 of these artificial reefs, measuring one foot by two feet each, are to be laid underwater in the shape of a big square.

These artificial reefs cost RM100,000 in total and are to be anchored 3.2 nautical miles from Pulau Besar, outside the marine park zone under the demarcation set by the department and the Johor National Park Corporation where fishing activities are allowed.

The recreational reef project is meant to help improve the economic standing of the Pulau Besar residents and those from nearby islands and lure visitors for fishing activities.

Mersing District Officer Mohd Nasir Ali Abdul Salam noted at the event that the artificial reefs would also help enhance fishery resources and in turn help improve the lives of the local communities.

"It is my hope to see that this effort will be emulated by other related government departments in Johor to collectively develop the islands and their communities.

"The recreational reef programme is a follow-up to the working visit by the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tan Sri Joseph Kurup to Pulau Tinggi in 2011," he said.


Johor Marine Park department's director Mohd Nizam Ismail noted that the artificial reefs would serve as a habitat for fishes with commercial value and generate better income for the locals.

"Based on the department's earlier findings, it takes only a week for smaller fishes to take refuge under this reef. The bigger ones, including economically valuable varieties, take up to a month to make their way there.

"The reefs are a fundamental asset to marine life. Other than artificial structures, decommissioned boats too can be anchored onto the sea bed to enhance the marine heritage and to woo divers," he said.

Mohd Nizam added that the reefs would not only entice anglers but would also help fishermen improve their income with bigger catches.

On the progress of the recreational reef, Mohd Nizam explained that so far 50 per cent of the artificial reefs have been anchored to the bottom of the sea.


Mohd Nizam said that the need to preserve the reefs and marine life forms should be relayed to the society as caring for the environment is everyone's responsibility.

"It is hoped that when the significance of the reefs is appreciated, the community and private companies will show interest in sponsoring recreational projects in preserving and enriching the marine biodiversity heritage," he explained.

He added that the department needs the support of all parties for maintaining and preserving the Malaysian marine heritage for the future generation.


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Support from Local Communities Needed to Protect Endangered Mekong Dolphins

WWF 23 Oct 12;

Kampi, Kratie town, Cambodia – Fishermen representing five Cambodian communities will publicly express their support for a ban on gillnet use in a ceremony highlighting the importance of the Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin.

The event organised by the Commission for Dolphin Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Eco-tourism Zone, the fishing Administration and WWF is expected to attract government officials, NGO’s, monks and locals and will see Cambodian fisherman commit to the protection of the critically endangered dolphin, the ceremony will also celebrate the importance of the Mekong dolphin as a national treasure .

His Excellency Touch Seang Tana, Chairman of the Commission for Dolphin Conservation and Development of the Mekong River Dolphin Eco-Tourism Zone, says that the Government recognizes the urgent need to protect the remaining population from extinction.

“The dolphins in the Mekong are sacred to the people of Cambodia and are an important source of income for communities involved in dolphin-watching tourism. The Royal Government of Cambodia promotes poverty alleviation through conservation activities,” he said.

“Dear communities along the Mekong River, the Irrawaddy dolphin needs your support for its survival. Commit to protecting dolphins and do not use gillnets within their habitat,” he added.

The dolphin population in the Mekong River has been declining due to human activities in the last few decades especially due to modern fishing practices. Gillnets are particularly dangerous to dolphins and could cause the extinction of this species in the Mekong in the near future.

In an effort to save the Irrawaddy dolphin, the Cambodian government issued a sub-decree in September banning the use of gillnets within the dolphin’s habitat, a 180-km stretch of river between Kratie town and the Laos border.

Mr Meas Min, Chief of Koh Pdao Village, intends to inform people in his village about the ban on the use of gillnets in dolphin habitat and encourage good fishing practices outside the habitat to avoid accidental catching of dolphins.

“Villagers must be aware that using gillnets in the dolphin habitat is against the sub-decree and can cause serious danger to the remaining dolphins that we need to protect for the benefit of our future generations,” he said.

The Cambodian Rural Development Team in partnership with the Cambodian Government and WWF has implemented an alternative livelihoods programme to reduce the dependence of local communities on fishery resources, in favour of activities such as aquaculture, livestock-raising, vegetable growing and community based ecotourism.

“The Royal Cambodian Government has taken a big step toward conserving this species and this is a great opportunity for stakeholders all across the country to join together to save the Mekong River dolphin – the smiling face of the Mekong,” says Ms Michelle Owen, WWF’s Acting Country Director.

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