Best of our wild blogs: 13 Dec 12

New articles on Nature in Singapore website
from Raffles Museum News

Some Critters @ Bukit Brown
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Random Gallery - Blue Glassy Tiger
from Butterflies of Singapore

Sunbirds sipping nectar from flowers
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Endangered or not, RWS dolphins' welfare a concern

Louis Ng Chief Executive, ACRES Today Online 12 Dec 12;

I refer to the report "Genting Group chairman says bottlenose dolphins are 'not endangered'" (Dec 8).

Whether or not an animal suffers in captivity and whether it is ethical to remove an animal from the wild is not dependent on whether the animal is endangered. Nevertheless, the fact remains that some populations of this species are endangered.

Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) acquired its dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) despite information stating that the trade in these dolphins might be detrimental to the survival of this species in the Solomon Islands.

Researchers estimate that only 86 to 162 dolphins remain in Guadalcanal, from where the dolphins were removed. Based on a recent scientific study, it seems likely that a large portion of the resident T aduncus population was removed because of live captures.

Furthermore, RWS acquired 27 dolphins within a one-year period. According to the study, for the trade to be sustainable, no more than one dolphin every five years should be removed from Guadalcanal.

While the report stated that "the Singapore Government allowed their import", we should note that RWS is facing indirect contempt of court charges in the Philippines for exporting the dolphins while the case on their re-export was being heard.

Lastly, Genting Group's chairman stated that the dolphins were "part of the company's proposal when bidding for the integrated resort".

RWS was contractually obligated to have whale sharks but scrapped these plans in 2009, stating that it may not be able to care for the animals. It could do likewise now, having not lived up to its promise of providing the dolphins "with top-class care and to treat them with respect".

The deaths of three of its dolphins, the conditions they are housed in and the firework display allowed near the dolphins indicate that it is not caring for these animals.

RWS should make the right decision: Work with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) and Earth Island Institute to rehabilitate and release the dolphins back to the Solomon Islands.

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China development threatens wildlife: WWF

(AFP) Google News 12 Dec 12;

BEIJING — From tigers to dolphins, animal populations in many of China's ecosystems have plummeted during decades of development and urbanisation, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study said Wednesday.

The conservation group highlighted about a dozen species in different natural habitats across the country in its third China Ecological Footprint Report, saying numbers have fallen dramatically over the years.

"The populations of more than 10 flagship and keystone species in China have undergone marked decline that was particularly severe between the 1960s and 1980s," the report said.

According to findings compiled by WWF from various sources, the Yangtze river dolphin population crashed by 99.4 percent from 1980 to 2006, while that of the Chinese alligator fell by 97 percent from 1955 to 2010.

Amur tiger numbers slumped by 92 percent from 1975 to 2009 due to hunting, deforestation, habitat loss and intensified human activities, it said.

But the study noted that four animal types, including China's "star species" the giant panda, had seen gradual recoveries due to greater conservation and reintroduction efforts.

"You may know that the efforts to protect these four types have been much greater, and their numbers may have started to rise," said Li Lin, WWF's deputy country representative.

"But for the other animals you can see that, in a striking and sad way, their populations have gone down."

The study is part of a broader effort to compile decades of population data -- including size, density and capture rates -- for hundreds of species to build a "living planet index" for the country.

In a separate set of indicators updated from its latest report in 2010, the study said China was using resources such as cropland and forests at 2.5 times the rate than they could be regenerated.

This imbalance of China's ecological demand versus supply would impact the rest of the world, said Jim Leape, the director-general of WWF International, at a press conference in Beijing.

"That consumption is putting much more pressure on resources here in China than its resources can sustain" and on "resources on other continents than those continents can sustain", he said.

By comparison the world was using resources at a rate 50 percent faster than they could be regenerated, the study said.

The factors behind China's ecological footprint reflected its economic growth, urbanisation and spending on infrastructure, the report said.

The per capita ecological footprint in cities was double that of rural areas, and higher in the east -- which is more developed with greater population densities -- than in the rest of the country.

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