Best of our wild blogs: 27 Dec 12

Slugful day at Ubin shore
from wonderful creation

Random Gallery - Common Rose
from Butterflies of Singapore

Rooftop habitat gardening, organic farm
from Everyday Nature

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Thousands flee Malaysia floods, dam wall broken

(AFP) Google News 26 Dec 12;

KUALA LUMPUR — Floods triggered by torrential monsoon rains in Malaysia forced almost 14,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter at relief centres, the official Bernama news agency said Wednesday.

Heavy rain coinciding with high tide flooded hundreds of homes in three northeastern states -- Terengganu, Pahang and Kelantan -- with some 13,746 people moved to evacuation centres, it said amid forecasts of more downpours.

Bernama said the flood situation was deteriorating as the number of evacuees continued to rise and some major roads in Pahang were closed as rivers burst their banks.

Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, the meteorological department's weather forecast director, warned that there could be more rain in Terengganu, Pahang and southern Johor state in the next few days.

"We expect intermittent rain to heavy showers in (some parts of) the states," he told AFP, adding that the northeast monsoon season would last until March and the affected states could experience at least three more "heavy rain" episodes.

Part of the $108 million Paya Peda irrigation dam wall under construction in Terengganu had to be broken to release pressure, according to Bernama.

The move caused flash floods in some parts of the oil-rich state.

Bernama also reported that a 36-year-old woman had drowned in Terengganu after she slipped and fell into a rain-swollen river on Tuesday while fishing in a water-logged area. No other deaths from the floods have been reported so far.

In the Pahang state capital Kuantan, thousands of people and some businesses were affected by flash flooding after three days of continuous rain, forcing around 3,000 people to relief centres housed in schools and community halls, where hot meals and blankets were provided.

Hundreds of motorists were caught in the floods which caused massive traffic jams, while hundreds of cars in parking lots and underground parking areas were submerged by fast-rising water.

Nagandran Bangariah, 31, from Kuantan said the floods he had seen there were the worst he had experienced in ten years.

"It was a terrible sight. There was rubbish floating everywhere. Motorists struggled to get their cars to high ground," he told AFP.

"Today, a major clean-up is going on. Furniture showrooms in Kuantan were dumping their damaged sofa sets and cabinets. My neighbour is busy cleaning his house after water and mud entered his home," he said.

Razali Sulong, a 52-year-old flood evacuee in Pahang state said he had sought shelter at a school along with his wife and five children.

"Floods are an annual affair for us but this time the water rose very fast.

"We have been staying for two days at the evacuation centre where food and blankets were provided," he said.

Razali said the family was preparing to return home Wednesday as flood water has receded but knew that from past experiences there would be at least two more rounds of flash floods before the monsoon season ends.

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Malaysia: Egging on the terrapin revival

The Star 27 Dec 12;

KUALA LUMPUR: WWF-Malaysia’s conservation efforts of the painted terrapins have produced significant results, said its executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma.

A “buy back” scheme where the organisation purchases terrapin eggs and turtle eggs from the collectors has led to the conservation of terrapins and turtles by preventing a large number of eggs being eaten, he said.

He said that about 10 nesting locations were handed over to WWF-Malaysia in 2009 by egg collectors in Kuala Baru Utara and Mengabang Sekepeng.

Since last year, WWF-Malaysia had been in charge of 101 terrapin nesting locations.

“Our efforts have increased the population of terrapins by around 78%,” he said.

Setiu, located in the east coast, has the largest area of natural wetlands.

This is where a large number of painted terrapins live.

The terrapin, also known as the painted batagur or the saw-jawed turtle (Batagur borneoensis), is a species of turtle that belongs to the Geoemydidae family.

The wetlands comprise the brackish water ecosystems of Setiu, Chalok, Bari and Merang rivers, and a 14km long lagoon.

That ecosystem has a number of species of marine life, including shellfish and commercial fish such as ikan kerapu (grouper or garoupa).

Setiu’s lagoon is a breeding ground for terrapins and it has the most number of painted terrapins in the country.

It is also home to the southern river terrapin (Batagur affinis) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Terrapins and turtles are endangered species.

Dr Sharma said the Fisheries Department, WWF-Malaysia and locals were involved in the conservation of painted terrapins.

In 1993, around 200 painted terrapins’ nests were discovered, but two years later, this number dropped to 154.

The figure dropped to 114 in 2009 and only 67 nests were found in 2010.

WWF-Malaysia began its conservation efforts in 2009. The efforts led to an increase in the number of nestling locations. A total of 165 painted terrapins’ nests were discovered last year.

Terrapins are herbivores. However, they sometimes feed on fish and small invertebrates. They usually come to the shore at night (between June and August) to lay eggs.

Baby terrapins are allowed to grow in the hatchery until they are six months old. Then, microchips are inserted into the bodies of the baby terrapins before the animals are released into various water bodies.

As of September, WWF-Malaysia has released 80 young terrapins into the wetlands of Sungai Setiu. — Bernama

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Indonesia: Toxic waste pollutes waters off northern coast of Batam

Antara 26 Dec 12;

Batam (ANTARA News) - Toxic and harmful (B3) waste is polluting the waters off the northern coast of Batam, Riau Islands, and damaging the mangrove ecosystem of Putri Island.

The hazardous pollutant, in the form of black sticky oil, covered up the leaves and stems of mangrove saplings recently planted by the environmentalists on the island.

"Some of the mangrove saplings that we had recently planted withered and died due to it," said Evy R. Syamsir, an environmental activist, here on Wednesday.

He noted that the saplings were planted last week and had already taken root, before the pollutant had a destructive effect on them.

"The black oil has also tainted the rocks, the floating seaweeds and the beaches around the island, which will have a negative impact on the tourism sector," Evy stated.

Meanwhile, Barelang district resident Sukmawati said: "The oil sticks to my son`s shirt, and it is hard to clean."

She was not aware that the clear seawater of Putri Island was contaminated with pollutants.

Marine observer Eddiwan stated that approximately 365,000 tonnes of waste were disposed of in Riau Islands waters.

"The figure comes from the assumption that 10,000 ships passed by Riau Islands everyday and each of them disposed of 10kg of waste in the year 2010," he explained.

Eddiwan noted that the number of ships passing by Riau Islands had significantly risen over the past two years.

"The toxic waste, generated from offshore ship-cleaning activities, cannot dissolve and will eventually reach the shores," he continued.

"A lot of waste substances are not dissolvable, but people treat the sea as a garbage bin," Eddiwan said.

He stated that mangrove plantation was necessary to protect the island from environmental damage.

"The tree and the bacteria living around it can process and dissolve harmful pollutants," Eddiwan added.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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