Best of our wild blogs: 12 Aug 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [5 - 11 Aug 2013]
from Green Business Times

Updates on Security Barrier at Tanjung Rimau, Sentosa
from Peiyan.Photography and wild shores of singapore

Wet recce trip at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
from wild shores of singapore

Sherman’s Lagoon’s Jim Toomey talks about Marine Litter in two minutes (w/UNEP)
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Singapore 48th National Day celebration in Bukit Brown
from Rojak Librarian

Feeding behaviour of butterflies
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Blue-speckled Shrimp-goby
from Monday Morgue

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Two underwater sites to be studied for Singapore's power needs

Feng Zengkun Straits Times 12 Aug 13;

SOME homes in Singapore could be powered by the sea in future - if scientists manage to prove that tidal turbines in nearby waters can help meet the country's growing electricity needs.

From next month, researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will survey two sites, one near St John's Island and another near Pulau Sebarok.

The two locations are believed to have strong current speeds of about 1.2m to 3m per second - enough to generate power from turbines placed on seabeds.

Based on estimates by other researchers, the two spots could house enough tidal turbines to power about 6,700 flats here, said project leader Michael Abundo from the Energy Research Institute at NTU.

The project will involve confirming the estimated tidal current speeds. Sensors will also be left on the seabed for a month to collect data, which will allow the scientists to forecast long-term current speeds.

"Wind and solar energy may be affected by the weather, but tidal currents are very predictable. If you have data from one lunar month or 29.5 days, you can forecast the current every hour for the next year," said Dr Abundo.

The two sites were selected after ruling out other areas which had maritime traffic, or were aquaculture zones and marine protected areas.

Results from the survey will be ready by the end of the year, and will be used to fine-tune the turbine designs.

Turbines in other countries have been designed for higher current speeds of about 4m per second. The survey will also include a sonar scan to profile the seabed's slopes, as steep slopes are not suited for most tidal turbines.

This is all part of a larger plan by the institute to map areas where Singapore can tap renewable marine energy. The scientists believe the project is critical because renewable energy from the sea can help quench the country's growing thirst for electricity.

Singapore consumed about 41,730 gigawatt hours of energy in 2011, up about 10 per cent from 2009. About 80 per cent of its fuel mix for electricity generation today comes from natural gas.

The NTU team had previously estimated that tidal currents in several spots south of Singapore could meet 1.5 per cent of the country's electricity needs in 2011.

But there are challenges ahead.

The Energy Market Authority has said that marine renewable energy is limited in Singapore as much of its sea space is used for ports, anchorage and shipping lanes. Most funded projects here are also focused on solar energy.

"Singapore should not disregard any energy option that is tappable," argued Dr Abundo.

"Even if the technology may not yet be widely deployed in Singapore, it could still be used elsewhere in the region, and this would boost Singapore's reputation for renewable energy research and development."

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Dog welfare group hopes poll will stop trapping of strays

David Ee Straits Times 12 Aug 13;

COMPLAINTS about stray dogs barking in the forested area near Bukit Batok Street 24 have led to the authorities preparing to trap them.

But a dog welfare group, indignant that complaints from just a few people may cause many dogs to be trapped and culled, is trying to block the move with a survey of over 300 residents.

The survey by Save Our Street Dogs found that 94 per cent were not bothered by the barking, while 92 per cent were against the dogs being trapped and culled by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

More than 70 per cent did not know what happens to stray dogs after they are caught.

The AVA euthanises most stray dogs it catches. It works with animal welfare groups to re-home suitable ones.

While most residents have seen the strays around, none had been hurt by them, added the survey, believed to be the first in Singapore to gauge people's attitudes towards stray dogs.

In an e-mail, an AVA spokesman said that the agency had received complaints from four residents over the past year.

The AVA has long maintained that stray dogs can threaten public safety when in a pack. Some have been known to chase and attack people.

It did not comment on the survey results nor say when its trapping operation would begin.

The most persistent complainant, who did not respond to queries from The Straits Times, first made his grievances known a year ago. He recently directed these to Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan and Jurong GRC MP Halimah Yacob.

The incident came to a head when the AVA decided last month to catch the strays after meetings involving it, Jurong Town Council, the complainant and a volunteer mediator from an animal welfare group failed to find a solution satisfactory to all.

According to the volunteer mediator, who wanted to be known only as Irene, a vote was held at the latest meeting on July 10.

"No one wanted to cull the strays" but the complainant "kept pressing" the AVA on the issue, she said.

Save Our Street Dogs president Siew Tuck Wah told The Straits Times that the survey results bore out what animal welfare groups have long suspected - that "most people do not want to see the (stray) dogs dead".

"There's been talk that the 'silent majority' are ambivalent," said Dr Siew, who backs the idea of a wider, independent survey to understand the population's sentiments towards stray dogs.

"But this tells us that most Singaporeans are actually compassionate, that the majority are willing to work towards a solution rather than culling."

A wider sterilisation effort would be an effective and more humane long-term solution, as animal groups have said before.

In her 13 years living opposite the forested area, resident Irene Ong, 39, said she had never seen the dogs "disturb" anyone. "I was pretty upset when I heard that the dogs were going to be trapped. If you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone."

Meanwhile, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam, an animal rights advocate, posted an adoption appeal on his Facebook page last Saturday on behalf of an abandoned mongrel.

It has been nicknamed the "Tampines Hachiko" for waiting for its owner at the park connector where it was abandoned. In the 1920s, a dog named Hachiko became a national icon in Japan after it kept showing up at a train station to wait for its owner, nine years after the man's death.

Additional reporting by Audrey Tan

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Malaysia: Johor Sultan backs big waterfront project

Yee Xiang Yun The Star 12 Aug 13;

JOHOR BARU: Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar believes that the mega Country Garden Danga Bay property project will be a success.

The Sultan assured investors that the project would receive fruitful returns.

“Based on my own observation, I am sure that with the expertise and ability of the company’s employees, the project will be implemented well,” he said at the launch of the project and its clubhouse and sales gallery at Danga Bay yesterday.

“The show units will also be a landmark, decorated with beautiful and attractive landscape as well as fitted with five-star facilities.”

Sultan Ibrahim thanked Country Garden Holdings Ltd, one of China’s top 10 property developers, for choosing Johor as its first overseas market for the project.

He also encouraged more foreigners to invest in property development in Johor as it would boost the state’s economy and create more job opportunities for Johoreans.

Country Garden Holdings founder and chairman Yeung Kwok Keung said that the multi-billion integrated development was aimed at providing “five-star standard living and building high-quality products to suit the client’s needs”.

“I hope that the project will encourage more enterprises from China to invest in Malaysia to contribute to better bilateral ties between the two countries,” he added.

Country Garden Danga Bay Sdn Bhd will develop the project after purchasing a 23.06ha seafront land eight months ago from Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd for RM900mil.

The project will include 9,000 condominium units and commercial development such as a shopping mall and a commercial boulevard with a gross development value of RM18bil.

It is slated to be completed in three phases and to be launched simultaneously by 2017.

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Malaysia: 'Catching rampaging elephants takes time'

T.N. Alagesh New Straits Times 12 Aug 13;

NOT EASY: It takes planning to carry out task, says Pahang Perhilitan

KUANTAN: The Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has brushed aside claims that it was dragging its feet in capturing elephants that had destroyed oil palm plantations and fruit trees in villages here over the past several months.

State Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff said the department had acted swiftly after receiving reports from villagers by deploying rangers to check on the elephant sightings at the villages or forests.

She said the two methods used by the department was by chasing the elephants further into the jungle into its original habitat or by conducting translocation, a last step to ensure the elephants did not return to disturb the villagers.

"Perhilitan will usually seek help from the state Elite Elephant Capture Unit in Lanchang, which will send rangers to track the animals.

"We have to be careful with the ground conditions where the operation is carried out and study the landscape in the surrounding areas before moving in to capture the elephants.

"For example, when the elephants gather near a river, our rangers cannot just shoot them without proper consideration, as they may fall into the river and drown."

She said Perhilitan had responded to the villagers' complaints as the elephant attacks were described as harmful and posed a threat to humans.

A Perhilitan ranger said it was impossible for the department to trace and capture the elephants in a short span of time as it required planning.

"Some villagers expect the department to tranquilise the elephants and complete the task overnight but what they fail to understand is that it could lead to untoward incidents.

"Capturing an elephant is not an easy task.

"Rangers will have to track down the elephants and before firing the tranquiliser dart guns, they need to check on the landscape and weather as this could make the operation tricky.

"If the location is surrounded by trees, then the rangers will have to lure the elephant to a certain distance before they can bring it down.

"Sometimes, a path has to be cleared in the forest to allow a lorry, which will later transport the animal, to come closer," he said, adding that it takes between five and 10 days to complete the translocation operation.

Recently, some villagers had complained that they suffered heavy losses after several hectares of plantations were destroyed by elephants.

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Malaysia: Bikam forest clearing prompts calls to save trees

New Straits Times 12 Aug 13;

IPOH: In the wake of the destruction of the Bikam Permanent Forest Reserve near Bidor and the threat faced by other forest reserves, environmental group Sahabat Alam Malaysia has proposed measures to safeguard endangered tree species.

Expressing the organisation’s worry about permanent forest reserves in Perak, SAM president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the state authorities and the Forestry Department should take full responsibility over the extinction of the critically endangered keruing paya (Dipterocarpus coriaceus) at the Bikam Forest Reserve.

Among the measures to protect forest reserves and preserve tree species categorised as critically endangered include improving the enforcement of the National Forestry Act 1984 (Amendment 1993).

“There should be public consultation and participation in the event a forest reserve is proposed to be excised,” Mohamed said.

He said the state government should not endorse or approve applications to exploit forest resources and harvesting of timber in selected areas. These include reserves covering fewer than 1,000ha.

He said another measure that merited action was categorising forest reserves that had critically endangered species as “high conservation value forest”.

“Areas outside of reserves that have been identified as having endangered species should be gazetted as protected areas.”

He said the excise of the 495ha Bikam Forest Reserve was inconsistent with the statements and implementation of the National Forestry Policy.

Mohamed said a study by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia found that there were three endangered tree species in the Bikam Forest Reserve and one of them, the keruing paya, is categorised as critically endangered.

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