Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jun 13

Southern Expedition in the news
from Mega Marine Survey of Singapore

If moonlight could be heard
from Hopping Around

Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini – Spider Galore #5
from My Itchy Fingers

Tigers, orangutans, rhinos: Sumatra's big mammals on the edge of extinction from news by Jeremy Hance

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AVA and NParks studying feasibility of sterilisation to manage monkey population

Channel NewsAsia 12 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE: Monkeys have been making headlines for behaving badly and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) is working with NParks to study the feasibility of sterilisation as a long-term measure to manage the monkey population.

The furry critters have been making their presence felt in some neighbourhoods by helping themselves to food from kitchens and from unsecured dustbins.

Residents in Old Upper Thomson Road, having lived alongside monkeys for years, have become used to them.

Ng Tien Chung, a resident living in the area, said: "I see monkeys every day and I have no problems with them whatsoever. We are just a few metres away from the forest and it is a nature reserve so the monkeys are entitled to be here. Right now, the immediate thing is, we do not have monkey-proofed bins. That will go a great way to solving the problem. Removal of fruit from prayer altars would be another great step."

Another resident, Jacqueline Marshall, said: "Well, I wish something could be done about them because they seem to have multiplied since we have lived here. My first experience was when they came inside my kitchen and took some candy, and quickly shot out and proceeded to open and eat the candy. They have been next door, taken eggs, taken the inhaler, and they have been seen with Tiger beer cans."

Casuarina Curry owner Subramaniam Ramanan has taken an innovative approach to stop the monkeys from disrupting his business.

"Once or twice they come inside my shop and sometimes they sit inside. We have to chase (them away). Other times, they snatch when people buy our takeaways. Sometimes they disturb the dustbins, take out all the rubbish and throw it out. We closed the dustbins and tie it with a string. That is how we make sure we don't leave food for them."

Shops located near the forested areas have taken steps to keep the bolder monkeys out. This means making sure food items like bread, biscuits, and bananas are kept in display cases and away from open windows.

The AVA said that between January and April this year, it received 516 complaints and feedback about monkeys.

In 2012, the total number of complaints and feedback was 922, and in 2011 it was 729.

On June 9, monkey nuisance was highlighted as an issue faced by some residents living within Jurong GRC - in condominiums near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Animal rights group ACRES was invited to give its input by a taskforce formed to tackle the problem there.

Instead of trapping the monkeys, animal welfare activists say electric-fencing the perimeter of a property could be a way to keep them out.

Currently, AVA conducts trapping operations in response to monkey nuisance complaints and threats to personal safety from residents of condominiums and commercial establishments.

AVA said it works with relevant organisations to relocate monkeys which are rounded up in trapping operations.

"However, as relocation options are limited, most will eventually be humanely euthanised," said a spokesman, adding that AVA works with relevant agencies to educate the public on preventing monkey nuisance.

Louis Ng, executive director of ACRES, SAID: "I think the general consensus is that the residents don't want the monkeys killed. At the same time they don't want this problem as well of monkeys raiding their houses. I think people obviously get a bit alarmed when we say electric fencing, but bear in mind this is a non-lethal option. So when a monkey touches it, the monkey doesn't die. When we as humans touch it, and I've touched it before, you don't get burnt. You get a bit of a shock but you don't die from it. And obviously, you have to put signs up that there's electric fencing there."

Mr Ng added that electric-fencing is already done in countries like South Africa to prevent wildlife from entering the property and suggested that the electric fence approach should be paired with monkey-proofed dustbins and stepped-up enforcement for those who insist on feeding these animals.

"With the human-macaque conflict that we're looking at now, we need to look at the root of the problem. The root of the problem is that now there is a food source for monkeys that is away from the forest. They realise now they can raid our bins to get food from there, it is easy food. Second thing is, people have been feeding them, so we've altered the monkey's behaviour quite significantly," said Mr Ng.

AVA also noted that the public can play an important role in preventing monkey nuisance. It said that residents should deny monkeys of potential food sources by keeping food out of sight and practicing good refuse management, such as the double knotting of garbage bags and disposing of garbage in bins with secured lids.

- CNA/fa

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Searching the coast for marine life

Don Wong Today Online 13 Jun 13;

SINGAPORE — From scooping for living specimens with a simple nylon net in the mudflats off Singapore’s coasts to peering through a high-powered microscope to determine whether a rare species is thriving in our waters once again, international and local scientists, aided by enthusiastic volunteers and students, tirelessly surveyed marine flora and fauna in the Straits of Singapore and the Southern islands over three weeks.

The expedition, which concluded last week, is part of the ongoing five-year Comprehensive Marine Biodiversity Survey by the National Parks Board and the National University of Singapore’s Tropical Marine Science Institute, which has identified 30,000 specimens of interest since 2010.

Data on marine fauna are collected through scuba diving, coral brushing, hand-collecting during low tide, using specialised equipment such as dredges and otter trawls. The specimens collected are then sorted and examined, and some are preserved for record.

Full slideshow online.

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Fishermen's catch of the day: A 270kg grouper

Straits Times 13 Jun 13;

It took a forklift and seven men to lift this 2m-long Queensland grouper, which was caught near Pedra Branca. Seafood restaurant owner Johnny Tan forked out more than $6,000 for the fish. -- PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

A 2M-LONG Queensland grouper weighing 270kg has been caught by fishermen off Singapore's eastern-most point.

It took a forklift and seven men to lift the beast into the kitchen, and more than 10 hours of cleaning before Mr Johnny Tan, 52, owner of seafood restaurant Grouper King, could serve the giant to customers yesterday.

Mr Tan told The Straits Times that he received a call from fishermen, who caught the fish near Pedra Branca, at about 1am on Tuesday and went down to the Senoko fishing port personally to witness their catch.

He said it was the biggest grouper he had seen in his 20 years in the business, adding: "I was shocked to hear that such a big fish could be caught so close to Singapore.

"They're usually closer to Indonesia and I wanted to see it for myself."

He said the "good" parts of the fish, such as the head and the throat, were snapped up by customers almost immediately.

He added that the rest of the fish is enough to feed at least 700 customers, and is going for about $90 a kg.

"I won't have problems selling the fish, as almost all its parts are edible and we can even make dessert with it," said Mr Tan, who paid more than $6,000 for the catch.

"Even the groupers that weigh 100kg are rare. How could I not jump at this one?"


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Malaysia: 'Beef up wildlife conservation efforts'

New Straits Times 13 Jun 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: Protection and conservation efforts should be stepped up to prevent wildlife from being killed by illegal traders in the country.

Natural Resources and Environment minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel raised the issue at the ministry's post cabinet meeting following the increase in illegal wildlife trade involving Malaysians.

Palanivel was concerned as Malaysians were playing a big role in the international trafficking trade.

He suggested creating more wildlife conservation parks and wildlife sanctuaries throughout forest areas.

He said currently, there was only one conservation park at Taman Negara and a tiger rescue sanctuary in Sungkai, Perak, which was doing a good job protecting and rehabilitating tigers.

"More wardens should be recruited to supervise the forest with 24-hour patrolling at hot spot forest areas where there high levels of poaching activities have been recorded."

Palanivel said suspected poachers spotted in forest areas should be arrested by game wardens and have their weapons seized.

He said efforts to educate the public on the wildlife conservation, especially of endangered species, should be beefed up.

He added that those who believed parts of wild animals had medicinal value, such as as an aphrodisiac, should be taught that their actions were doing more harm than good.

He said recent reports on illegal wildlife trade involving Malaysians had caught the attention of the ministry and reminded officers to be more proactive in curbing the problem.

"Poaching is a serious issue and I urge for continuous discussion on ways to prevent the problem from becoming more dire."

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