Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jul 13

An invitation to join us at the 2013 Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat Workshop! from Mandai Mangrove and Mudflat

Big rain on Big Sisters Island
from wild shores of singapore

Sea turtles nesting in Singapore
from Pulau Hantu

Frogfish at Pulau Hantu!
from Pulau Hantu

My first Chek Jawa intertidal survey trip
from Peiyan.Photography

Chek Jawa coral rubble survey after 4 years
from Chek Jawa Mortality and Recruitment Project

Night Walk At Macritchie Reservoir (26 Jul 2013)
from Beetles@SG BLOG and Short Recce Trip To Bukit Brown Cemetery (27 Jul 2013)

Sharing a birthday with the Royal Baby
from thelongtails

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Singapore to share new haze monitoring system with KL and Jakarta

Feng Zengkun Straits Times 28 Jul 13;

Singapore will share its new haze monitoring system with Malaysia and Indonesia for their experts to review and for feedback as part of a trial.

The move is aimed at helping all three countries decide on how best to use the system as part of a joint effort to identify and punish those responsible for the haze. But this only if the governments agree to share digitised land-use and concession maps.

The trial was agreed upon when the three countries met in Jakarta last Friday, ahead of the Asean Summit in Brunei in October.

The session was the first trilateral meeting between senior officials from the three countries on the haze, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) yesterday in a statement.

The Singapore delegation, which includes officials from the MFA, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, National Environment Agency and the Attorney-General's Chambers, was led by Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Mr Chee Wee Kiong.

At the meeting, Mr Chee renewed Singapore's offer to help Indonesia put out its fires, including an aircraft for cloud-seeding operations to artificially create rain.

He also provided high-resolution satellite pictures of the hot spots there.

Indonesia, on its part, said it was willing to share meteorological data through the World Meteorological Organisation, as well as data on air quality with the Asean Sub-Committee on Meteorological and Geophysics and the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre.

Senior officials from all three countries also agreed to update their foreign ministers on their discussion at the sidelines of the Asean Foreign Ministers' Retreat in Thailand next month.

Separately, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu said yesterday that the haze was unlikely to return to Singapore in the next few days.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a community event in Jurong, Ms Fu noted that Singapore has been helped by favourable wind directions and recent rain in Indonesia, where raging fires caused record levels of pollution here last month.

The number of hot spots in Sumatra, for example, rose to more than 250 at the start of last week but has fallen to fewer than 25 in the past few days.

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Monkey complaints up, so culling rises too

But high number of kills alarms animal activists who prefer containment strategy
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 28 Jul 13;

Almost 360 macaques were killed by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in the first half of this year, more than the combined total for the past two years and estimated to be one-fifth of the total population of not more than 2,000.

The AVA told The Sunday Times it had euthanised 357 monkeys from January to last month, compared with 204 in 2010, 151 in 2011 and 127 last year.

The animals were culled in response to complaints, which it is getting more of, said the AVA. Last year, it received 920 complaints about the "monkey nuisance", up from 730 in 2011.

External contractors are hired, or traps lent to residents to capture the monkeys, which are then released elsewhere or killed.

But the high number culled this year has shocked a macaque researcher and an animal welfare group, which is calling for a containment strategy that uses other methods.

"Culling one-fifth of the population seems like we're trying to exterminate the monkeys, not manage the conflicts between them and people," said chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) Louis Ng.

He said his group is in the midst of "very positive" discussions with the AVA on other ways to manage the conflicts.

For instance, smooth walls at least 3m high or electric fences would prevent the monkeys from climbing into condominium grounds, said Nanyang Technological University graduate student Amanda Tan, who is studying a troop of Bukit Timah monkeys.

She also recommended more aggressive monkey-proofing of trash bins and common dumpsters.

The monkey problem was highlighted at two separate meetings yesterday. At one, called by the Moulmein Watten Neighbourhood Committee, almost 40 people told representatives from the AVA and National Parks Board (NParks) how monkeys had entered their homes and bedrooms, stolen food, attacked pet dogs, broken lamps and roof-top lightning conductors, ransacked balconies, and pilfered fruit.

"I love animals. I love wildlife on my streets. But I draw the line when my personal or family's safety is threatened and there is danger to our property," said committee chairman Fong Kwok Shiung.

Residents appealed to the authorities to capture the animals more quickly.

An NParks representative said the agency was trying to move the animals' food sources deeper into the nature reserves, away from homes.

Problems with the animals were also among the issues raised at a community meeting between government agencies and about 15 residents of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and their MP Sim Ann. Several there, however, said they did not want the monkeys to be culled.

Acres said it has hired two full-time staff and trained them to shoo the monkeys away when they approach homes in conflict-prone areas. The staff also encourage residents to keep food out of sight.

"Shooing the monkeys away modifies their behaviour so they will learn that they cannot get into homes so easily, and they may stop trying," he said, but added that this process will take months.

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'Keruing paya' now extinct: Last natural habitat cleared for oil palm

Jaspal Singh New Straits Times 28 Jul 13;

PRICE OF DEVELOPMENT: Last natural habitat in Bikam forest reserve in Perak cleared for oil palm cultivation

BIDOR: WITH its last natural habitat totally wiped out, the Dipterocarpus coriaceus tree species, known locally as keruing paya, is now regarded as extinct in the peninsula.

A finding made by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) on Wednesday found that trees from the species could not be found at their last remaining bastion -- the now de-gazetted Bikam permanent forest reserve near here.

The state government had this year fully de-gazetted what remained of more than 400ha of the forest reserve to make way for the cultivation of oil palm.

A team of FRIM officers, led by forest botany expert Dr Lilian Chua, visited the former forest reserve for a site inspection for the species following a report that was published on July 22 in the New Straits Times.

In that report, Sahabat Alam Malaysia's field officer Meor Razak had expressed his fear that the keruing paya trees were facing threat of extinction following logging and land clearing activities in the area.

The NST reported that 175ha of the forest had been cleared by a timber contractor for an oil palm plantation, while another 175ha was being cleared by a different timber contractor for the same purpose.

The remaining area of the excised forest, believed to be more than 100ha, is expected to be cleared by another timber contractor after October.

Malaysian Nature Society's president Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed said he was informed of the team's finding by FRIM director-general Datuk Dr Abd Latif Mohmod.

"It is indeed a shocking find but this phenomenon did not happen overnight.

"The extinction was caused by the act of the state which de-gazetted forest reserves for oil palm plantations over a long period of time.

"The keruing paya is a species that is exclusive to the southern Perak region.

"It is a highly valued species for timber. The Bikam forest reserve was identified as the last largest natural habitat for the trees.

"But even that habitat is now gone; becoming a victim of exploitation of the forest for oil palm cultivation."

He said internationally, the keruing paya was ranked as a "critically endangered" species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).

However, with the last keruing paya forest already cleared in Bikam, he pointed out that the same species could be ranked in Peninsular Malaysia as "extinct in the wild" category of IUCN.

When asked if there was a likelihood of obtaining saplings of the species, Dr Maketab said saplings were available at FRIM.

"But these saplings should be planted in their original habitat and not where they don't belong.

"MNS is prepared to undertake planting of the saplings at the same site, that is, the Bikam area.

"We will undertake the exercise provided the state government can provide land to grow the species," he said, adding that MNS would work with FRIM in the replanting exercise.

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Indonesia haze: Activists demand environment minister’s transparency on concession maps

The Jakarta Post 28 Jul 13;

Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya’s remark made on July 17 that he would not publish the concession had sparked criticism from environment activists.

The remark Balthasar made was a response to Singapore Minister of Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who had asked him to reveal to the public the name of any individuals or companies that had been allowed to exploit Indonesian forests.

Carole Excell of the World Resource Institute said Balthasar’s remark had contradicted Indonesian government’s commitment in practicing Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Within the OGP platform, Indonesia has pledged to provide a map portal which would support efficiency in forestry management and support transparency, accountability and public participation in the environment, natural resources and special data management.

“As we know, the statement is [also] against the spirit of the free information era in Indonesia, as stipulated in Public Information Law,” Carol said.

Echoing Carol, executive director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) Henri Subagiyo said that the government has made a commitment to provide good environmental management and therefore was expected to comply with it wholeheartedly.

“Balthasar and Forestry Ministry Zulkifli Hasan [and also other ministers] should act transparently as part of the commitment,” Henri said.(hrl/dic)

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Convention on Biological Diversity launches the Global Taxonomic Initiative

Taxonomy, a dying profession
Business Mirror 27 Jul 13;

TAXONOMY, the science of describing, naming and classifying living things, is dying.

The profession of taxonomy is on the verge of extinction as it cannot compete with high-paying professions. Thus, all over the world, very few students are taking up taxonomy as a course.

The world needs taxonomists to identify and classify species before they can be protected. Recording, studying and inventory of species provide an essential basis for the conservation, development and management of species. What we don’t know, we can’t protect and conserve.

The Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) discusses the relevance of strengthening taxonomy in “Save the Taxonomists, Conserve the Web of Life,” the first in a series of policy briefs on promoting the role of taxonomy in biodiversity conservation.

ACB Executive Director Roberto V. Oliva said the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) stresses the dwindling number of taxonomists as an impediment to biodiversity conservation.

“The CBD launched the Global Taxonomic Initiative in the hope of increasing the number of taxonomists all over the world. ACB recommends that taxonomy be integrated in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans of countries. Taxonomists should be consulted in planning and decision-making in biodiversity conservation strategies to develop fully informed and strategic decisions in conservation,” Oliva said.

The new Policy Brief on Taxonomy may be downloaded from

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