Best of our wild blogs: 29 Dec 12

from The annotated budak

九月双溪布洛华语导游 Madarin guide walk@SBWR,September(XXXIII)
from PurpleMangrove

Lineated Barbet - Preening and Stretching
from Bird Ecology Study Group

The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement No. 26
from Raffles Museum News

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NEA to step up anti-littering enforcement on New Year's eve

Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 12;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) is stepping up its anti-littering enforcement at year-end celebratory events, including those in Marina Bay, Orchard Road and other such event sites around Singapore.

NEA says it will deploy nearly 157 enforcement officers at 10 major countdown locations across the island to take action against littering offenders and illegal hawkers.

This is approximately 20 percent more than last year's deployment.

More than 40 officers will patrol countdown events held at the Marina Bay area.

NEA says it will also work with event organisers to implement litter-free initiatives during the countdown celebrations.

At the Marina Bay area, event organisers will be placing more than 280 additional refuse bins on New Year's Eve to encourage party goers to throw their litter responsibly.

The Esplanade Co Ltd will also have their emcees remind the crowd to throw their rubbish into the bins, and deploy about 350 cleaners to restore the area after the events.

Members of the public are reminded to help keep the public areas clean by disposing of their litter into the refuse bins.

From January to November 2012, NEA says it had issued more than 7,800 tickets to littering offenders.

First-time littering offenders who discard minor litter such as sweet wrappers, cigarette butts, parking coupon tabs and others improperly are liable for a $300 composition fine.

Repeat littering offenders and first-time offenders who throw larger items such as plastic bags, food wrappers, drink cups will be sent to court where they may be imposed with a Corrective Work Order (CWO) and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000.

The CWO will require them to carry out public cleaning works for a maximum duration of 12 hours.

- CNA/de

NEA out to stop litterbugs at party spots
But revellers doubt extra patrols will curb littering on New Year's Eve
David Ee Straits Times 29 Dec 12;

REVELLERS at New Year's Eve celebrations may find themselves rubbing shoulders with some unexpected partygoers.

To guard against yet another Jan 1 dawn breaking over littered streets from Orchard Road to Sentosa, the National Environment Agency (NEA) is deploying 20 per cent more plain-clothes officers than last year to patrol party venues.

The 157 officers will be spread out across 10 countdown locations including hot spots like Orchard Road and Marina Bay, but also more far-flung Khatib, Woodlands and Tanjong Rhu.

As in previous years, they have the authority to issue on-the-spot fine tickets to litterbugs.

First-timers may be fined at least $300, while repeat offenders will be summoned to court where they may receive Corrective Work Orders and a fine of up to $1,000.

More than three dozen officers will be monitoring the Marina Bay area alone, where some of the island's biggest countdown parties will take place.

But with record crowds predicted, few expect the measure to make much of a dent in the behaviour of litterbugs.

NEA figures show that just 70 tickets were issued during last year's New Year's Eve - when 300,000 people filled the streets - compared with 74 tickets the year before, despite there having been more trash collected.

"You will never have enough officers," said Mr Liak Teng Lit, head of the Keep Singapore Clean Movement. Just last month he remarked that calling Singapore a clean city was a joke, as the island relies on an army of cleaners to stay that way. "We shouldn't rely on officers... Ten thousand officers would not be enough either. What we need is enough Singaporeans to say that littering is unacceptable behaviour."

He added that if Singaporeans who care set a good example and speak up to chastise the litterers, others would feel pressured to bin their trash responsibly.

Last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on Singaporeans to apply social pressure on litterbugs.

Noting the cleanliness in Japan and South Korea, PM Lee said: "It's most impressive when you go and see their cities - how they have kept it clean. They don't have as many cleaners or foreign workers as we have."

Conversely, said Mr Liak, bad behaviour is contagious: "If people see someone else get away (with littering), they will follow."

This situation is exacerbated at events with large crowds, as litterers believe they are unlikely to be caught, said Mr Jose Raymond, executive director of the Singapore Environment Council.

At recent K-pop and Jennifer Lopez concerts, audiences left the arenas strewn with rubbish.

But stricter enforcement, despite its limitations, does have its merits. "You do need officers to enforce the law and watch the 'ugliest' people," said Mr Liak.

Partygoers The Straits Times spoke to were sceptical that the increase in patrols would make any difference. Ms Linda Jeffri, 38, who works for a home-moving company, said: "It won't stop people littering. The officers can't be everywhere at the same time."

The problem, she said, lay in lazy Singaporeans who "take it for granted that cleaners will clean up after them".

To fix this, start drumming a sense of ownership into children from a young age, said national serviceman Chew Hong Kiat, 18, who intends to celebrate at Clarke Quay.

What will the morning of Jan 1 next year reveal?

"I don't think it is going to change very much," said Mr Liak. "I hope it will improve a little."

Litterbugs nabbed at countdown parties
Kimberly Spykerman Channel NewsAsia 1 Jan 13;

SINGAPORE: Getting a ticket for littering was not the best start to the new year for some party-goers as they were caught in the act.

The party is over and someone has to clean up after the litterbugs.

Some litterbugs got away but some didn't and were nabbed by officers from the National Environment Agency.

They issued 59 tickets to litterbugs this time, mostly for throwing cigarette butts. This was down from the 70 caught in the previous year.

Director of Operations at The Esplanade, Ravi Sivalingam, said: "The large majority of them actually make an effort to clean up after themselves. But of course, you know with any large-scale event, sometimes if the bins are full or if people can't find a bin, it still gets bagged quite neatly but then the bag gets left behind."

Most party-goers said all it takes is a little effort to stay litter-free.

Agnes Tan, who works in the banking industry, said: "We're all well-known for the cleanliness and all, and everyone just takes it for granted that someone will clean up after them."

Siti Salamah, who works as a nurse, suggested that placing more dustbins can help to reduce littering.

Jessica Koa, a secretary, said: "I think there are not many dustbins around here also. That's why people just anyhow put their rubbish over here."

Those caught littering could end up with a fine or a corrective work order slapped on them.

- CNA/fa

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Once in a lifetime bloom at Botanic Gardens

Grace Chua Straits Times 29 Dec 12;

A TALIPOT palm takes 30 to 80 years before it bears its first flowers - which turn into fruits - and then dies.

This quiet drama involving an 80-year-old palm is taking place at a small lawn behind the Botany Centre, near the Singapore Botanic Gardens' Tanglin entrance.

In October, a member of the Gardens' horticultural staff noticed a stump emerging at the very top of the 10m-tall palm, one of several in the Gardens.

Then, side branches developed from this stump and flowers began to bloom.

It is not known how long this palm has been at the Gardens, said a National Parks Board spokesman.

There are no particular environmental triggers for it to bloom - it is part of the palm's natural lifespan, she added.

The slow-growing talipot palm is native to India and Sri Lanka where its leaves are used for thatching and its sap for palm sugar and wine.

It can grow up to 25m tall before it flowers, and its leaves stretch up to 5m across on a stalk 4m long.

Its main flowering shoot, one of the world's largest, can be more than 6m tall and bears millions of tiny, cream-coloured flowers.

This plume of flowers, visible now, will last for several months before fruits begin to develop.

The green golfball-size fruits will take about a year to mature, then fall.

The Gardens team will collect viable seeds from the ripe fruits.

Some will be planted while others will be sent to botanical gardens overseas for conservation and research.

Other talipot palms last flowered at the Botanic Gardens in 2004, 1996 and 1985.

In fact, fruits from the 1985 flowering were collected and about 20 were planted at the Botanic Gardens.

Other rare and unusual plants have bloomed at the Botanic Gardens before.

In December 2010, a titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum), more colourfully nicknamed "the corpse flower" for its odour, produced a single, spectacular blossom.

It was the first time the giant plant - the height of a grown man - had bloomed in Singapore.

The Gardens is also home to a tiger orchid, the world's largest orchid plant, and the unusual double coconut (Lodoicea maldivica), which flowered and is now bearing fruit after being hand-pollinated two years ago.

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Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme kicks in 1 Jan

Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 12;

SINGAPORE: The new Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS) will apply to all new cars, taxis and newly imported used cars registered with effect from 1 January 2013.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said car buyers are advised to look out for the mandatory Fuel Economy Labelling Scheme (FELS) labels with the LTA's logo at car showrooms.

The label is required to be put on cars that have been LTA-approved.

The label provides the carbon emissions and fuel efficiency performance of the car model to help buyers make informed decisions.

Only cars that are approved by LTA under FELS can be registered for use from 1 January and low emission models will qualify for CEVS rebates.

Buyers can also access the FELS online database and fuel cost calculator at the ONEMOTORING website to compare the carbon emissions and fuel efficiency performance data across car models that are LTA approved.

Under the new scheme, registered cars with low carbon emissions of less than or equal to 160g carbon emissions per kilometre (CO2/km) will qualify for rebates of between S$5,000 and S$20,000.

This will be given as an offset against the vehicle's Additional Registration Fee.

Cars with high carbon emissions equal to or more than 211g CO2/km, will incur a registration surcharge between S$5,000 and S$20,000.

The surcharges will only take effect six months later, from 1 July 2013 to give consumers and the motor industry more time to adjust.

The CEVS will be applicable till 31 December 2014.

- CNA/ck

Emissions-based car rebates from Jan 1
Straits Times 29 Dec 12;

A SCHEME that favours less-pollutive cars will kick in from Jan 1, with buyers enjoying up to $20,000 in rebates.

Under the Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme for new cars, taxis and newly imported used cars, those with emissions of 160g or less of carbon dioxide for every kilometre travelled will attract rebates of between $5,000 and $20,000.

The money will be used to offset a vehicle's Additional Registration Fee, which is based on a percentage of its open market value. This includes expenses like freight and insurance in bringing the car to Singapore.

Taxis, new cars or newly imported used cars with emissions of 211g or more will face registration surcharges of between $5,000 and $20,000.

The surcharges will take effect from July 1 to give consumers and the motor industry more time to adjust, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Rebates and surcharges for taxis will be 50 per cent higher than those for normal cars as taxis clock higher mileage.

Non-Euro V compliant diesel-driven vehicles will not get rebates under the scheme even if they fall within the rebate emission bands, as these models are less environment-friendly than petrol-driven cars. Diesel models that fall within the surcharge bands will face a registration surcharge, even for those that meet the Euro V emission standard.

Buyers can refer to fuel-economy labels on cars at showrooms to find out a model's carbon emissions per kilometre and fuel consumption.

Only cars approved by the LTA under the fuel-economy labelling scheme can be registered for use from Jan 1.

The LTA said it had been working with motor associations to encourage members to seek early approval for such labels, to facilitate transition to the new scheme.

Visit the OneMotoring website at for more information

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Tigers Making Comeback in Asia

Becky Oskin Yahoo News 28 Dec 12;

Camera trap images reveal tiger numbers rebounding across Asia, especially in southwestern India, where young tigers are leaving protected reserves due to population pressure, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The WCS attributes the rise in different tiger groups to better law enforcement and protection of additional habitat. For example, a notorious poaching ring was busted in Thailand last year, and the gang leaders have been given prison sentences of up to five years — the most severe punishments for wildlife poaching in Thailand's history, the conservation group said in a statement.

Tiger numbers have been rising steadily in Thailand's Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary since 2007, with a record 50-plus tigers counted last year, the WCS said. The sanctuary is part of the country's Western Forest Complex. This core spans 7,000 square miles (18,000 square kilometers) and is home to an estimated 125 to 175 tigers.

In India's mountainous landscape of Nagarahole and Bandipur national parks, tigers have reached saturation levels, with more than 600 individuals caught on camera trap photos in the past decade. Young tigers are leaving the parks along protected corridors and entering a landscape with a population of a million people, the group said. [In Images: Tigers Rebound in Asia]

Conservationists also worked with government officials in Russia to create additional protected areas for tigers. The country declared a new corridor, called the Central Ussuri Wildlife Refuge, on Oct. 18. The refuge links the Sikhote-Alin tiger population in Russia — the main group of endangered Amur tigers— with tiger habitat in China's Heilongjiang Province in the Wandashan Mountains. The refuge ensures that tigers can move across the border between Russia and China in this region.

An estimated 3,200 tigers are living in the wild, with only 2,500 breeding adult pairs, according to TRAFFIC, a monitoring group funded by the World Wildlife Fund and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Tigers have lost 93 percent of their historical range, which once sprawled across Asia from Turkey to Russia and south to Bali, according to the group.

"Tigers are clearly fighting for their very existence, but it's important to know that there is hope. Victories like these give us the resolve to continue to battle for these magnificent big cats," Cristián Samper, WCS president, said in a statement.

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