Best of our wild blogs: 27 Nov 12

Random Gallery - The Harlequin
from Butterflies of Singapore

A Quiet Walk Along Mandai Park Connector
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

raptors @ tanah merah - Nov2012
from sgbeachbum

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Dolphin care excellent, says Philippines park exec

Robert Gonzaga Inquirer 25 Nov 12;

MANILA, Philippines—The furor over the death of a dolphin being transported from the Philippines to Singapore may have been excessive, said a theme park official whose facility at the Subic Bay Freeport housed the animals before their transfer to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) last week.

“While the loss of Wen Wen was a sad event, attacks upon the quality of care provided by RWS are unfounded. In my opinion, the level of care was excellent,” said Timothy Desmond, president of Ocean Adventure, in a statement.

Wen Wen was one of 25 dolphins shipped to a Singapore oceanarium despite protests from activists. The male dolphin, about 10 years old, died less than an hour before the plane carrying it landed in Singapore on Thursday.

Desmond urged animal welfare advocates to look at the facts surrounding the incident.

“Some facts can provide some perspective. The loss of one animal over four years in a population of 25 animals is one of the lowest mortality rates recorded in the wild or in display facilities,” he said.

He said “peer reviewed science” showed that a wild population of 25 dolphins would lose between four and five animals due to various causes over a four-year span.

“The average life span of the best studied, best protected population of wild dolphins is 21 years. This data was collected in [marine mammal researcher] Dr. Randy Wells’ study of over 300 dolphins off the Tampa, Florida, coast over a span 40 years. In that population, based on the data, there would be one mortality per year for every 25 animals,” Desmond said.

He said RWS’ record of one mortality in four years was “far better than that.”

He described the animal welfare advocates’ “assertions of premature mortality due to poor care” as a “self-serving invention which activists are using to whip up support and funds.”

Desmond said he had no information about the disease or other health issues that may have affected Wen Wen.

“However, despite a thorough pretransport check, it is possible that conditions can be present that can’t be detected. It is not common but it does happen. Everyone who has ever undergone surgery remembers the lecture on the risks that the doctor gives. Those risks exist because, even given advanced human technology, doctors can’t see everything going on inside the body of their patient before surgery,” said Desmond.

“Finally, with people and animals, death is a part of life. In the wild, dolphins and all wild animals die cruel deaths by our standards,” he said.

“Wen Wen’s death, while a loss to the people and animals that knew him, is no indication of wrongdoing on RWS’ part. Objective evaluation of its track record indicates exactly the opposite,” said Desmond.

Animal welfare activists, citing the death of Wen Wen, have threatened to file criminal charges against RWS for violation of the Animal Welfare Act and for disregarding Philippine courts.

The activists also faulted the government for giving the go-signal for the flight of the dolphins despite their pending appeal in a local court to stop it.

In October, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court issued a 72-hour temporary environment protection order preventing the reexport of the dolphins in the holding facilities of Ocean Adventure. The hold order, however, was not renewed.

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RWS accused of contempt of Philippine court over dolphins

Tan Weizhen Today Online 27 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE - Charges have been filed against Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) by a city court in the Philippines, for allegedly exporting 11 wild-caught dolphins to Singapore while the case was still being heard.

A joint statement issued by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), the Philippine Animal Welfare Society and the Earth Island Institute Philippines alleged that the integrated resort had disregarded the Philippines' laws by sending the 11 dolphins here on Nov 19 despite a motion filed and not informing the court about it.

The Philippine court had rejected an application for an extension of the Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) filed last month, clearing the way for the export of the dolphins.

However, on Nov 19, the groups in the Philippines had asked the court to reconsider the decision.

"This makes a mockery of the proceedings in this case and is in brazen and utter contempt of this Honourable Court and the entire administration of justice in the country," the groups said in another motion filed the next day.

The three groups also said that, despite the motion filed, RWS proceeded to transport the remaining dolphins to Singapore last Thursday. One died during the journey.

The charges of indirect contempt - a violation of a court order outside the immediate presence of the court - was filed by Earth Island Institute Philippines, Philippine Animal Welfare Society and CARE Welfare Philippines.

The statement said the judge had set a hearing in the Quezon City Court for Feb 15.

A spokesman from RWS' Marine Life Park said that the park had done nothing wrong as the Philippine court had rejected the application for an extension of the TEPO.

He also pointed out that the groups have withdrawn their motion to ask for a reconsideration of this decision and is now pursuing a motion for indirect contempt charges instead.

He added: "The move of our dolphins to their permanent home in Singapore complied with all the international, Singapore and Philippines' regulatory rules."

However, ACRES Executive Director Louis Ng argued that the appeal against the export was still being heard when the first 11 dolphins were exported.

RWS faces contempt charges in Philippine court over dolphins
Channel NewsAsia 26 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE: Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is facing indirect contempt charges in a Philippine court.

A judge has set the hearing in Quezon City Court for 15 February 2013.

The charges stem from RWS exporting dolphins while the case was still being heard.

A motion was filed by Earth Island Institute Philippines, Philippine Animal Welfare Society and CARE Welfare Philippines on 20 November 2012.

It stated that even before and while the court was conducting a hearing on the motion for reconsideration, the respondents including Resorts World Sentosa had already flown out 11 dolphins from the country.

One dolphin died during the transport to Singapore.

Local animal rights group ACRES said there is hope that justice will be served for the dolphins.

Dolphins' export: RWS faces Philippine motion
Poon Chian Hui Straits Times 27 Nov 12;

ANIMAL rights groups in the Philippines have filed a motion against Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) for indirect contempt of its courts.

This centres on RWS transporting 14 captive dolphins to Singapore on Nov 19, even as an appeal to reconsider halting the export had yet to be heard in court on the same day.

The Earth Island Institute, Philippine Animal Welfare Society and CARA Welfare Philippines - which jointly filed the motion last week - said in a statement yesterday that the export "makes a mockery of the proceedings" of the country's courts.

The Quezon City Court has scheduled a hearing for Feb 15 next year for both sides to file their comments on the motion.

The appeal on Nov 19 involved extending a Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO), which would have prevented RWS from flying the bottlenose dolphins here.

A TEPO to temporarily stop the export was issued on Oct 13, but was valid for only 72 hours. After this expired, an extension was denied by the court the following week. A subsequent petition organised by the three animal welfare groups appealed to the court to reconsider its decision.

A Marine Life Park spokesman said yesterday the dolphin export complied with all international, Singapore and Philippine regulations. "With the court's denial of the TEPO extension, there was no prohibition for RWS to bring our dolphins home, and we have full confidence the hearing next February will bear that out."

Local animal group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society supports the move to level indirect contempt charges against RWS. Said its CEO Louis Ng: "They should not have exported the dolphins because the application for the protection order was still pending. They should have informed the court."

A representative for the Philippine groups said RWS will face a heavy fine if it is charged by the court. This comes after one of the dolphins died en route last week to the new Marine Life Park.

Animal rights activists are up in arms over the situation of the mammals, caught in waters off the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. They were later kept in Subic Bay in the Philippines from 2008, while the park was being built.

Activists to file charges over death of dolphin shipped to Singapore
Janvic Mateo The Philippine Star 27 Nov 12;

MANILA, Philippines - Environment and animal rights activists plan to file charges against the people responsible for the death of one of the 25 dolphins recently shipped from Ocean Adventure in Subic, Zambales to Singapore.

“We are studying possible violations of the Animal Welfare Act following the death of one of the dolphins,” said lawyer Mel Velasco, counsel of petitioners Earth Island Institute (EII), Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and CARA Welfare Philippines which earlier tried to block the transport of the dolphins.

In a press briefing in Quezon City yesterday, representatives of the three groups expressed outrage over the death of one of the dolphins while they were being transported to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) in Singapore.

“Wen-Wen, a 10-year-old male dolphin, died en route to Singapore despite their assurances that there were experts on the plane,” EII regional director Trixie Concepcion announced.

“Because of their haste to fly the animals out of the country, one dolphin died,” she added.

PAWS director Anna Cabrera likewise criticized the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for failing to provide information about the dolphins.

“We’ve been asking the DA and BFAR about the situation of the dolphins but we didn’t get a response,” said Cabrera. “All this time, we were in the court hearings, we didn’t know that they are already exporting the dolphins.”

Cabrera accused the agencies of negligence prior to the transport of the dolphins.

“BFAR did not conduct a welfare check, a health check of the animals before they left,” she said. “They just counted the animals.”

Last month, the three groups asked a Quezon City court to order the DA, BFAR, and RWS to stop the transport of the 25 dolphins that were imported into the Philippines from the Solomon Islands in 2008, 2009, and 2011.

A 72-hour Temporary Environment Protection Order (TEPO) was initially issued on Oct. 12.

After the order expired, however, Quezon City Judge Evangeline Marigomen of Branch 101 decided not to re-issue another one, saying that the “petitioners have not proved any violation of law committed by the concerned government agencies.”

The groups have filed a motion for reconsideration, which has yet to be resolved.

After learning of the transport of the 11 dolphins last week, the petitioners filed a very urgent motion and manifestation urging the court to stop any move to re-export the remaining dolphins.

They also asked the court to cite for indirect contempt all those who were responsible for the re-export of the first batch of dolphins.

“They moved the dolphins despite the urgent motion that we filed last week,” Velasco said. “This is a brazen disregard of the judicial system.”

Velasco noted that with the transport of the dolphins, the case that they filed against DA, BFAR, and RWS is now moot and academic.

“With their departure, the Philippines now has no jurisdiction over the dolphins,” he said, adding that they would pursue the contempt charges to hold those who were responsible accountable.

The recent development may lead to further violation of the rights of endangered animals, said Velasco.

“We are saddened with state of environmental justice here in the country,” she said. “The judiciary was not given a chance to act on the case.”

The activists said that the harvest of the dolphins from the Solomon Islands was not sustainable and in violation of the Wildlife Conservation and Resources Act.

Louis Ng, chief executive of environmental group ACRES, said that public outrage in Singapore over the death of the dolphin is very high.

“We urge Resorts World not to give us the dolphins but to help in their rehabilitation so that they can be released back to the wild,” he said, adding that they will hold a candle lighting activity on Sunday to condemn the incident.

Cabrera said that a similar activity would be held here in the country also on Sunday.

“They’re citizens of the world. They belong to our children, our children’s children. They don’t belong to us,” she said, referring to the dolphins.

Singaporeans, too, angered by dolphin’s death
Julie M. Aurelio Philippine Daily Inquirer 27 Nov 12;

Not only animal welfare advocates but the public in Singapore are outraged over the death last week of a dolphin in transit to the city-state from the Philippines despite pending court motions.

Louis Ng of the Animals Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) in Singapore said the public outrage on social media was so intense netizens filled the Resorts World Sentosa Facebook page with angry comments.

Resorts World Sentosa was to use the dolphin in its water shows.

“It’s not just us animal advocates but the public is very angry. They are also demanding the release of the captive dolphins back into the wild,” said Ng in a press conference in Manila yesterday.

Ng flew to the Philippines following the death of Wen Wen, a 10-year-old male dolphin that was one of 25 sea creatures transported to Singapore by plane despite motions filed in a Quezon City court.

Acres is the Singaporean partner of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), Earth Island Institute (EII) and Cara Welfare Philippines. The Philippine groups had sued Resorts World Sentosa and two government agencies in court in a bid to stop the export of the dolphins.

The Indo-Pacific bottle-nosed dolphins which originally numbered 27 were imported from the Solomon Islands in 2010. Two died in Malaysia before they could be brought to the Philippines where they were to be trained in Subic before being exported to Singapore.

Died on the plane

“There was a dead dolphin on the plane. All the airplane ground staff would have seen that,” said Ng.

“If conservation is taking animals from the wild and they die in captivity then that is the biggest con in conservation,” he said.

On Monday, Judge Evangeline Marigomen of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 101 ordered Resorts World Sentosa, the Philippines Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Aquatic Resources to answer the advocates’ motion to have them cited in contempt for transporting the dolphins despite the court proceedings.

But since all the dolphins were now in Sentosa, the animal rights advocates said their efforts all went to waste with Resorts World’s “blatant, outright disregard for the Philippine courts.”

“Our main case was to stop the transport of the dolphins, and they did that without informing us or the court. It’s now moot and academic,” said lawyer Mel Velasco, counsel for the animal rights groups.

Last month, the Quezon City court issued a Temporary Environment Protection Order blocking the export of the dolphins but only for 72 hours. The court did not extend the Tepo but was hearing the animal advocates’ appeal for its extension.

With the death of Wen Wen, Velasco said they will go after the government agencies involved and Resorts World Sentosa.

“The best way to move forward would be to hold them liable for Wen Wen’s death under Philippine laws or under the Animal Welfare Act,” he said.

Anna Cabrera of PAWS said the dolphins were shipped out of the country on Nov. 17, 19 and 22. Wen Wen was in the last batch and died en route to Singapore.

“All this time we were going to court to follow the process and behind our backs the dolphins had already been spirited way,” she said.

Trixie Concepcion of EII refuted claims that species of dolphin normally died at the age of 10.

“That age is a juvenile age for them. They normally reach the age of 70 in the wild,” she said.

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Monkey found dead inside cage trap in MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Sharon See Channel NewsAsia 26 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE: Some visitors to MacRitchie Reservoir Park were greeted with an unpleasant sight on Monday when they found two wild monkeys trapped in a cage.

One of the monkeys laid dead inside the cage.

Responding to email enquiries, the National Parks Board (NParks) said it has been setting cage traps in strategic locations within the park since last week to capture monkeys following reports of monkey aggression against park visitors.

It said NParks officers check the cages twice a day including weekends to see if any monkeys are captured.

At 10am today, its officers found the cages empty.

NParks said there were fresh bite marks on the dead monkey, and it believes one of the monkeys was killed while they were fighting for food in the cage.

Both monkeys were removed from the park at 5pm and brought to the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority. It is understood that the other monkey will be put down.

Channel NewsAsia understands that reports of monkey aggression are not uncommon and may include incidents of scratching and grabbing visitors' plastic bags.

NParks has often warned park visitors not to feed monkeys, as it may encourage them to grab visitors' food and plastic bags.

- CNA/de

Related links
Why we should not feed monkeys

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Malaysia, 5 other countries to share maritime data to curb overfishing

Joseph Sipalan The Star 26 Nov 12;

PUTRAJAYA: Plans are in place for Malaysia and five other countries to share their data on maritime movement under the Coral Triangle Initiative-Coral Reefs Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) to keep tabs on overfishing.

Science,Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Maximus J Ongkili, who currently chairs the initiative, said Monday that top representatives from each of the six CTI-CFF member countries acknowledged the need to share information to tackle issues such as encroachment by foreign fishing vessels.

“I must stress that in terms of databases and monitoring (maritime movement), this not only involves governments but also the private sector and the people on the ground.

“With such cooperation, we can capture each ship passing through the area in real time using satellites. We are already doing that with Indonesia in the Straits of Malacca,” he said after the 8th CTI-CFF Senior Officials Meeting and 4th Ministerial Meeting that ended Monday.

Aside from Malaysia, which currently holds the CTI-CFF chairmanship from 2011 to 2013, other member countries include Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.

Coral triangle nations plan regional office
New Straits Times 27 Nov 12;

KUALA LUMPUR: The fourth ministerial meeting of the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF), which started on Nov 22 and ended yesterday, pledged to deliver new and innovative ideas, tools, modalities and recommendations in addressing issues facing the region.

These would include strategies on CTI-CFF's sustainable financing and communication, criteria development for admission of new partners and a transitional and operational plan for the regional secretariat.

The CTI-CFF group comprises Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Timor Leste and Solomon Islands.

Its Council of Ministers (CTI-COM) is chaired by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry said the ministerial meeting was held together with the 8th CTI-CFF senior officials meeting.

The ministry also said a declaration, known as the Putrajaya CTI Joint-Ministerial Statement 2012, would be the key document guiding the CTI-CFF towards realising its objectives and aspirations.

The CTI-CFF meeting, among others, reaffirmed the commitment of member countries to agree to the establishment of a permanent regional secretariat.

The CTI-CFF was formed to address critical threats to coastal and marine resources in one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically rich regions on earth, with the greatest extent of mangrove forests in the world.

The CTI-CFF complements the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals, particularly on environmental sustainability, and reaffirmed the principles of sustainable development adopted at the Rio Earth Summit. Bernama

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NZ joins Australia in court against Japanese whaling

Reuters 27 Nov 12;

New Zealand has joined Australia in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a case against Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said on Friday.

McCully said New Zealand would support Australia's case in the ICJ after diplomatic initiatives have failed to halt Japanese whaling in the region.

"New Zealand has worked hard with Japan for over three years to try and find a permanent solution to whaling in the Southern Ocean," he said in a statement.

"The government will continue to use all avenues possible to try to bring a halt to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean."

Australia filed a complaint against Japan at the ICJ in 2010, arguing that Japan was violating the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling by killing whales for research purposes. A decision is expected in 2013 or later.

In December 2010, the New Zealand government decided in principle to intervene in the case. Intervention is a procedure that enables a non-party to the case to put its legal views before the court.

Japan, Iceland and Norway are the only countries to engage in whale hunting. Japan introduced what it described as scientific whaling to skirt the commercial whaling ban under a 1986 moratorium and argues it has a right to monitor the whales' impact on its fishing industry.

Anti-whaling activists regularly harass Japanese vessels in their annual whale hunt in the Southern Ocean off Australia and Antarctica, with the two sides sometimes clashing violently. At least one activist boat has sunk in recent years. (Reporting by Mantik Kusjanto;

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

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What Can Climate Talks in Doha Accomplish?

Wynne Parry Yahoo News 26 Nov 12;

The international community's attempts to address global warming, and its potentially devastating consequences, resume in earnest today (Nov. 26), as delegates gather in Doha, Qatar.

This is the latest round in two decades of U.N. climate talks that have sought to stem rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which climate scientists warn will lead to devastating sea-level rise, changes in weather and other natural systems.

In 2009, at talks in Copenhagen, negotiators established a goal: Cut emissions enough to cap warming at 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above the pre-industrial average, and so avert the worst repercussions.

Over the next two weeks, negotiators will, once again, take a crack at closing the gap between this target and current emissions trajectories, which some worry have placed the planet on a track for considerably more warming and more devastating effects. [How 2 Degrees Will Change Earth]

Here are some of the main points negotiators are expected to tackle in Doha:

Cutting emissions before 2020 & beyond

In Copenhagen, three years ago, some nations made pledges to cut emissions by 2020. The United States, for instance, said it would cut its emissions to 17 percent below the level in 2005. However, as three successive U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) reports have pointed out, even if nations meet these pledges, global emissions are on track to surpass the target in 2020.

There are several potential ways to raise the level of ambition toward meeting this short-term goal, said Niklas Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at the independent research and consulting company Ecofys and a UNEP report author.

These include agreements by pledged countries to deepen their reductions; reductions from areas outside the realm of current national pledges, such as international transport; and pledges from new countries, including those in Middle East, Höhne said.

(Qatar, which is hosting this year's talks, emits the most carbon dioxide per capita in the world, according to World Bank figures. It did not make a pledge.)

Separately from these pledges, the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that required developed nations to cut emissions, may get new life in the short term. A small group of nations, including the European Union and Australia, may sign on to a second commitment period under the treaty.

The Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires this year. While the United States never signed on, other nations, including Canada, Japan and Russia, pulled out of the treaty.

And finally, there is a long-term agreement on the horizon. At Durban, a year ago, negotiators looked further into the future, laying the groundwork for a new agreement to be set up by 2015 and implemented in 2020. Many important details of this agreement remain to be resolved.

What needs to be done?

The nongovernmental group Climate Interactive has performed model simulations of the global energy system to look at possible pathways toward the warming cap. Their work has shown all successful pathways tend to include three components: more energy efficiency, more use of renewable energyand some kind of cost attached to carbon-dioxide emissions, Beth Sawin, the group’s co-director told LiveScience. [Top 10 Craziest Environmental Ideas]

Limiting carbon-dioxide emissions from deforestation and successfully limiting other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, are also important, Sawin said.

"Without those elements, our model has difficulty producing pathways to 2 degrees [the cap on warming]," she said, adding, however, "if we are smart and start soon, the 2-degree goal seems to be within reach."

Part of the solution may come from outside the U.N. negotiation process, Höhne said.

He and colleagues, writing in the journal Nature Climate Changein an article published online in June, list 21 greenhouse-gas reducing initiatives for companies, cities and other entities, that cumulatively could put the 2-degree warming cap within reach.

These include emissions cuts by companies spearheaded by an association such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; and a coalition-led effort to reduce major cities' emissions.

"It has to be a combination of both," Höhne said of the top-down U.N. negotiation process and the sort of bottom-up efforts described in the paper. "Each one individually will not work."

The climate talks are scheduled to end Friday, Dec. 7.

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