Best of our wild blogs: 8 Jan 13

Our SG Conversation for the Green Community
from AsiaIsGreen

Where does garbage from ships in Singapore go?
from wild shores of singapore

Toddycats’ last event of 2012 – Nature Interpretation workshop
from Toddycats!

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Malaysia: All abuzz over pod of dolphins

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 8 Jan 13;

CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Mammals’ sighting goes viral on social media

KOTA KINABALU: PICTURES of dolphins swimming and frolicking at sea near Gaya Island near here went viral on Facebook and Twitter, attracting hundreds of comments.

The mammals were first spotted by Borneo Dream Travel and Tours staff and customers on Thursday while another pod was sighted two days later.

An expert on marine mammals, Dr Lindsay Porter, said her recent study in the proposed Tun Mustapha marine park showed that the presence of dolphins in Kudat waters occurred sporadically.

"They are largely visitors from further offshore. This appears similar to what occurs in Kota Kinabalu waters and Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP).

"As dolphins appear only sporadically, it is difficult to figure out what influences the dolphins' movements," she told the New Straits Times.

Porter, who works with the World Wide Fund for Nature, also deals with whales, porpoises and dugongs. She said that the dolphins' appearance in local waters was unlike the dugongs which rely exclusively on sea grass habitat that is located inshore.

According to her, dugongs (commonly known as sea cows) were seen relatively regularly off Kudat as well as Mantanani island where one or two species have lived for years.

"Two dolphin species are found in the waters off Kinabatangan, and it is possible to better understand how the mammals interact with the environment.

"Kinabatangan dolphins are influenced by the flow of the river which means they occur where fresh water and the sea converge."

Porter said that changing weather patterns would have a greater effect on Kinabatangan dolphins compared with "visiting" dolphins which occur in waters off Kota Kinabalu and Kudat.

Borneo Dream director and professional diver Joanne Cotterill, said any sighting in or near TARP was a surprise and "a very lucky one".

She said these mammals were normally found further offshore in deeper waters where there was ideally more abundant fish life for them.

"I am continually surprised by the amazing marine life we come across in TARP. Our staff and guests had the pleasure of watching a pod of around 20 dolphins near Gaya Island (on Thursday).

"They were swimming in two groups. We were indeed lucky to have a close encounter with the dolphins at the start of our snorkelling and diving trip."

As for whale sharks, Cotterill said the migration season along the West coast of Sabah was between January and March.

Many divers were now anticipating the presence of this slow-moving filter feeding shark where they were known to follow a typical migration path.

"How long they spend here is impacted by plankton blooms.

"We had three sightings last year near Sapi Island but most sightings occur on the north side of Gaya Island where the plankton congregates as a result of the underlying tides."

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Conflicts between wild elephants and humans on the rise in Riau

Antara 7 Jan 13;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Wild elephants often go on a rampage in several villages of Riau province, and the latest such incident took place in Rokan Hulu district.

"We feel terrorized by a herd of adult elephants that often wander into our plantation areas. This incident is not the first of its kind," Seroja village head Muhammad Dain said here on Monday.

On Sunday (January 6), a herd of seven elephants went on a rampage in the settlement and plantation areas of Kepenuhan Barat and Seroja villages in Kepenuhan sub-district, Rokan Hulu.

Tens of hectares of oil palm plantation were damaged by the herd, while three elephants entered human settlement areas.

"We have asked the local authorities to help us handle this problem," Dain stated.

Julianto, an inhabitant of Pasir Pandak, said he was worried about the elephants` rampage and was afraid to go to oil palm plantations.

"I am afraid because the elephants often come in the morning and afternoon. Therefore, I go to the plantation at noon," he noted.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) data, 15 elephants were killed in human-elephant conflicts in Riau last year.

Shrinkage of elephant habitat is considered to be one of the main factors that triggered human-elephant conflicts.

The population of Sumatran elephants (Elephant maximus sumatranus), the smallest of the Asian elephants, was estimated to be between 2,400 and 2,800 in 2007, down 35 percent from the 5,000 elephants recorded in 1992.

Among the factors that led to a decline in the elephant population were deforestation, poaching and human encroachment of the animal`s habitat.

Human-elephant conflicts also often occur in the Aceh, Lampung and Jambi provinces of Sumatra Island, claiming the lives of both humans and elephants. During the 2000-07 period, such conflicts led to the death of 42 people and 100 elephants in Sumatra.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Poachers kill 11 elephants in worst Kenyan attack

George Obulutsa PlanetArk 8 Jan 13;

Poachers killed a family of 11 elephants in the biggest single mass shooting of the animals on record in Kenya, wildlife officials said on Monday.

A gang of about 10 attackers hacked off the elephants' tusks in Tsavo East National Park on Saturday, officials said - the latest sign of a resurgence of mostly Asian demand for ivory jewelry and ornaments.

"(It) shows the great lengths these criminal cartels are ready to go to get ivory. It's really tragic," Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udo told Reuters via Twitter.

He said it was the worst single incident of its kind recorded in the East African country.

Elephant poaching in Kenya declined sharply after 1989 when the government banned trade in ivory.

But there has been a rise in the illegal practice in recent years.

Demand for ornamental ivory is rising fast in Asia, in tandem with growing Chinese influence and investment in Africa, which has opened the door wider for illicit trade in ivory and rhino horn.

The Kenya Wildlife Service said foot, dog and aerial units were hunting a gang.

"The entire family of 11 elephants have been confirmed poached and tusks chopped off. All the carcasses had bullet wounds," the service said in a statement.

In May, 359 tusks weighing 1.6 tonnes impounded in Sri Lanka were found to have come from Kenya's Mombasa port.

Police found 214 tusks worth $1.32 million hidden in a coffin and fertilizer bags in neighboring Tanzania in October. The force said smugglers had planned to transport the ivory to Kenya for onward shipment to Asia.

(Editing by James Macharia and Andrew Heavens)

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Jellyfish numbers aren't soaring

The University of Western Australia Science Alert 7 Jan 13;

Despite widespread belief that the world's jellyfish population is exploding, a new international study suggests that there is no real evidence of a global increase in jellyfish over the past two centuries.

The results of the study, "Recurrent Jellyfish Blooms are a Consequence of Global Oscillations", appear in the latest issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The research was led by Dr Rob Condon of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, US with experts from the Global Jellyfish Group, a consortium of 30 researchers including lead co-author Winthrop Professor Carlos Duarte of The University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute.

The key finding of the study shows global jellyfish populations undergo concurrent oscillations with successive decadal periods of rise and fall, including a rising phase in the 1990s and early 2000s that has contributed to the current perception of a global increase in jellyfish. The previous period of high jellyfish numbers during the 1970s went unnoticed.

"There are major consequences for getting the answer correct for tourism, fisheries and management decisions as they relate to climate change and changing ocean environments," Professor Duarte said.

"The important aspect about our work is that we have provided the long-term baseline backed with all data available to science, which will enable scientists to build on and eventually repeat these analyses in a decade or two from now to determine whether there has been a real increase in jellyfish.

"The more we know, the better we can manage oceanic ecosystems or respond accurately to future effects of climate change," Professor Duarte said.

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