Best of our wild blogs: 28 Oct 12

More sea anemones at the Northern Expedition Day 13
from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore and Northern Expedition on Channel NewsAsia

Butterfly of the Month - October 2012: The Orange Emigrant from Butterflies of Singapore

Damselfly (30) – Libellago Lineata
from Dragonflies & Damselflies of Singapore

Read more!

Marine biodiversity expedition finds new records, rediscoveries in Singapore

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 27 Oct 12;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's largest marine biodiversity expedition is unearthing new records and rediscoveries of marine fauna.

Experts say the three-week expedition will go a long way towards future policy planning.

The expedition involves some 170 renowned local and international scientists, as well as conservation officers and volunteers.

They have set up base at Pulau Ubin's Outward Bound School.

The mammoth task involves dredging and trawling through murky waters to collect samples, sifting through gravel, mud and sand and finally photographing and identifying the thousands of specimens.

For Dr Daphne Fautin, a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with the University of Kansas, the results have thrown up a few surprises.

She said: "I was very reluctant, because I knew Singapore has changed so much since I was here, including all of the expansion of the land. So I thought, 'I'm not going to find anything on the shores because it's all been filled in and extended'. And I was just astonished at the diversity.

"Species that previously were known only from India, we're finding them here. That's not so far away, and that's not too surprising, but I think we're getting a meeting of the Pacific fauna and the Indian fauna, which makes Singapore particularly rich and wonderful and very diverse in the marine realm."

The expedition is part of Singapore's first Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey (CMBS), launched in 2010, and which aims to take an inventory of the island's marine ecosystem.

Since the expedition started on 15 October, about 30 dredging and inter-tidal surveys have been conducted, with 12 more expected until the expedition ends on 2 November.

NParks, which is facilitating the survey, says about 1,000 specimens have been collected. Five new specimen records and two rediscoveries have also been documented.

With the expedition expected to amass a rich amount of data, experts hope the information will go a long way.

Professor Peter Ng, director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity at the National University of Singapore, said: "What this survey will do, at least for these three weeks, is add a new layer of information that we didn't previously have.

"One of the missions here, not overly declared but definitely in the pipeline, is we want to build this baseline so that we can make more coherent decisions down the road."

The biodiversity survey should be completed by 2015, at a cost of between S$3m-S$4m. This includes funding received from the government as well as corporate sponsors.

- CNA/ir

Read more!

Malaysia: Residents resigned to co-exist with crocodiles

Vanes Devindran 27 Oct 12;

KUCHING: When Sujana (not her real name) went house hunting at Cahaya Permai in Bandar Baru Samariang, she was mesmerised by the dark green mangrove forest with Mount Santubong as the backdrop.

The calmness of nature compelled her to sign on the dotted line and soon she was the happy owner of a corner lot.

However, serenity came with a price, for the river, Sungai Bodo, which flows in front of her house is said to be infested by crocodiles.

Last Tuesday, a 2m crocodile was spotted inside a monsoon drain a couple of houses down the lane from Sujana’s house.

It is said that the crocodile had attacked a cat and possibly also responsible for a string of missing cats before that.

Speaking to The Star in her gazebo facing the river and Mount Santubong, Sujana said no doubt the crocodile population had struck fear among the residents of Bandar Baru Samariang but there was nothing much that could be done about it.

“We have to acknowledge that the crocodiles were here first and they are part of the natural environment surrounding us,” she said.

“We fear that they might become bold and come up to the housing area, but so far they have not reached that stage of intrusion apart from the incident with the cat.”

She said the residents were so used to seeing crocodiles swimming by and lazing among the mangroves on the opposite bank of the river.

She said the river was about 6m deep. When the tide comes in, anglers would line up the bank fishing for prawns and crabs or just enjoy the view of Mount Santubong.

“The crocodiles tend to shy away from people. Some nights, my husband used a torchlight to check the surrounding and he could see the eyes of the crocodiles, which reflected the light. The crocodiles quickly go underwater when they see people.

“What’s scary about the whole thing is that children being children — they love playing by the river. We fear for them,” she said.

Asked if she wanted the Government to get rid of the crocodiles, Sujana doubted if anything could be done about them.

She said given that the river was the natural habitat of the crocodiles, there seemed to be nothing much that could be done except perhaps having wildlife guards patrol the area.

“I think a good way to solve the problem to a certain extent is to build a concrete wall along the bank. It would prevent any crocodile from climbing up to the housing area and at the same time prevent soil erosion.

“I do not regret buying what is now my house here. My husband used to tell me that we got a bonus, which is the view of Mount Santubong and the peaceful surrounding of the mangrove forest. In fact, I hope there would not be any more project here so as not to ruin the greenery. There must be some form of control or we will end up losing our natural surroundings and the animals and plants in our swamps,” she said.

Earlier on, another resident who wished to be known only as Aminah, said the crocodiles in the neighbourhood were practically like stray dogs in Bandar Baru Samariang.

“I see them almost everyday in the river and sunbathing on the banks. This is their habitat and we knew about it even before we bought our houses.

“This has not deterred locals from the nearby area from fishing in the river. So far, no untoward incident has occurred.

The reptiles are scared of humans too and they’ll just swim away when people or vehicles approach,” she said.

Aminah believed the food stock in the river was getting less, thus depriving crocodiles of sustenance.

As such, the crocodiles now look for food on land, she pointed out.

“They are God’s creations too, and deserve to live. We are scared no doubt but I guess we have to learn to live together. We don’t disturb them, they don’t disturb us,” Aminah said.

Read more!