Best of our wild blogs: 3 Oct 13

Seriously spotting squirrels!
from Otterman speaks

Butterflies Galore! : Common Palmfly
from Butterflies of Singapore

Indonesia, EU sign historic deal to end the illegal timber trade
from news by Diana Parker

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NHB launches commemorative effort of Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin's past 'worth preserving for future'
Melody Zaccheus, Straits Times, 3 Oct 13;

Long-time Ubin boat operators (above, from left) Mr Fang Ya Ba and Kit Kau Chye aboard a boat at the Changi Ferry Terminal. Photographers taking snapshots of the island's Pekan Quarry. -- ST PHOTOS: NEO XIAOBIN

SLEEPY Pulau Ubin was once a hotbed of rowdy gang activity in pre-war Singapore.

Initiation ceremonies by secret societies such as Sin Ghee Hin would take place on its shores.

This is one of several little-known facts uncovered by the National Heritage Board as part of its efforts to document the history of the 10.2 sq km, boomerang-shaped island in the northeastern corner of Singapore.

A team from the board, headed by group director of policy Alvin Tan, spent the last five months scouring academic texts, newspaper articles and conducting interviews with some of the island's 38 remaining residents to add to existing literature.

Mr Tan said publications about the island tend to focus on the island's flora and fauna and marine life. "Not a lot of research has been done on the lives of the people here, the occupations they held and how the land was used," he said.

He added that Pulau Ubin is worth documenting and preserving because it is the "last real kampung in Singapore".

There are plans to compile the information from the fact-finding exercise into an e-book and make it available to schools and heritage groups.

The island hit the headlines in April this year after a notice by the Housing Board led to confusion among islanders that 22 households would be evicted for the development of an "adventure park".

But the Government has since clarified that there are no plans for the time being to further develop the island, which is to be kept in a "rustic state for as long as possible".

Beyond the research effort, the board also launched a virtual tour of the island's main hub as part of its Walking Through Heritage series yesterday, while cooking classes organised by the Malay Heritage Centreat a Malay kampung house on the island will take place over the coming weeks.

By December, a documentary on Ubin's boat operators will also be uploaded on to the board's YouTube channel.

The video will be the final episode of the board's second season of Heritage In Episodes - a series of short documentaries aimed at connecting with the younger generation through social media.

The team's research further delved into detailing heritage sites such as the island's jetty, which was built by the Japanese during World War II, Singapore's oldest community centre and the Bin Kiang School, which was set up in 1952 and demolished in 2000.

Other interesting facts uncovered include how granite from the island was used in the construction of Fort Canning, Pearl's Hill Reservoir and the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca.

Islanders such as Mr Kit Kau Chye, 65, a boat operator and chairman of the Changi Point Ferry Association, said the island is worth documenting and conserving.

"Through these materials, I hope Singaporeans and other visitors will get to learn more about the island's rich history and make a visit here," he said.

More unearthed about Pulau Ubin’s heritage
NHB launches documentary, virtual tour, cooking workshops
Tiara Hamarian, Today Online, 3 Oct 13;

Photo: Ernest Chua

SINGAPORE — Back in the late 1950s, Pulau Ubin had enough residents to build its own maternity and child health clinic.

But demand for the clinic’s services has since dwindled along with its population — from 2,000 in 1957 to 38 last year — and the clinic closed after 30 years. It was then turned into restaurant, which operated from the 1990s till 2008.

Pulau Ubin was also where ex-political detainees, such as the former treasurer of the defunct Singapore Bus Workers’ Union, Lee Tee Tong, and former editor of the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Melayu, Said Zahari, were exiled.

These are among the many little-known facts of Ubin’s past that were unearthed by the National Heritage Board (NHB) during a five-month research and documentation of the 10.2-square-kilometre boomerang-shaped island.

To commemorate Pulau Ubin’s heritage, the board has added a documentary on the island to its Heritage in Episodes series on its website. The episode features the lives of two of the remaining 36 boat operators and their memories growing up in Ubin.

The board yesterday also launched a virtual tour of the island’s main hub on its website (, under the Walking Through Heritage series. And several cooking workshops, to be held in a Malay kampung house on this island, will be organised by the NHB’s Malay Heritage Centre this month and next month.

The NHB has also identified some places of interest which visitors might want to check out while hiking or cycling on the island, such as Wayang Stage at the jetty, Ho Man Choo quarry, Tua Peh Kong temple, as well as the Chinese and Malay burial sites.

The board said it might expand its efforts to make the information on Ubin more comprehensive online, and possibly set up guided tours in the future. “Pulau Ubin is worth documenting and preserving because it is the last real kampung in Singapore. For the present moment, we are focused on sharing our research findings and introducing commemorative efforts related to the island’s rich heritage,” said Mr Alvin Tan, the NHB’s Group Director (Policy).

Several Pulau Ubin residents TODAY spoke to said they were content with their village life and had no plans to move out of the island anytime soon. “The mainland is stressful and noisy. I prefer staying here, where the environment and the air is good,” said Mr Kit Kau Chye, a 65-year-old boat operator and head of the Changi Point Ferry Association.

Madam Samsiah Abdullah, 57, who lives on the mainland but whose more-than-a-century-old family home has been used for house visits and cooking workshops, missed the days when she was growing up in Ubin. “It was different in the past. There was a lot of togetherness … We can leave our house open and not worry about anything. I come back often because it’s peaceful here,” she said.

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Giving can inspire, transform you

Kevin Lee Today Online 3 Oct 13;

When the results of a study showing the link between giving and well-being were released on Monday, some asked: “What’s new?” To them, it’s intuitive, that giving time (volunteering), giving money (donating) or both is linked to happiness and satisfaction.

The study — done by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) and Professor David Chan, a Lee Kuan Yew Fellow, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Behavioural Sciences Institute at Singapore Management University — found that among people who volunteered and/or donated, two-thirds were satisfied and happy with their lives. That is, they had high levels of subjective well-being (SWB).

Among non-givers, less than half had high SWB. The pattern of findings remained after taking income status into account.

But the findings of the Individual Giving Survey are not intuitive — because giving can be costly to the giver.

Giving money has opportunity costs. The money could have been spent on, say, entertainment, “shopping therapy” or a holiday. Some people sell their belongings to raise funds for charity.

There might be a receipt for the donation made, perhaps a newsletter or annual report, but often little else to “show and tell” the donor how the money has helped someone else.

As for donor recognition, such as naming rights, if it happens, this is generally for larger amounts. Yet, there are donors of major gifts who give anonymously.


As for giving time, the volunteer activity may or may not be associated with happiness. For some volunteers, singing in a choir, reading to a child or teaching someone to play a sport makes them happy. For others, such as accountants, doctors, lawyers and board members, volunteering is like work, just that they receive neither fees nor salaries.

And for others still, the work might be something they would otherwise have avoided, such as cleaning cluttered, filthy, pest-ridden homes. The work might even be heartrending, with volunteers seeing poverty, misery, sickness and even death.

There are opportunity costs to volunteering too, in terms of time forgone which volunteers could have spent on themselves through rest, entertainment or family.

Volunteering sometimes even costs volunteers money.

For example, Food from the Heart volunteers not only spend their personal time delivering food, they also pay for their own transport costs such as petrol and parking.

The NVPC survey also found that almost all volunteers are donors. Sometimes, this happens when volunteers donate where they volunteer. For example, at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, volunteers have proposed activities such as outings for beneficiaries which they not only carry out, but may even bear the costs involved.


So given the costs and sometimes blood, sweat and tears involved, why do people give?

We asked people in our Individual Giving Survey 2010 what motivated them most to volunteer with or donate to specific organisations.

The top response: To help a cause they personally believed in. Reasons such as attractiveness of the volunteer-raising/fund-raising effort hardly figured at all.

Many people, grateful for what they have, talk about “giving back”. Others have said how volunteering is meaningful and time well-spent.

Giving inspires. Gerard Ee had accompanied his father Ee Peng Liang on many visits to voluntary welfare organisations.

Gerard said: “It was only natural for me to end up being an active volunteer myself. My siblings, too, are all very active volunteers and we inspire each other.”

Giving transforms. As Eunice Olsen said of her volunteering experience at a girls’ home: “There’s nothing that beats knowing that you’ve made someone’s day and that you’ve made a significant difference to someone’s life … It’s not the same as doing well for your O-Levels or getting a huge paycheque. It’s a level of satisfaction whereby when you feel it, you know it. And it stays with you for a long time.”

Lionel Jonathan Louis, who had received care from Children-at-Risk Empowerment Association (CARE), said of his volunteering experience there: “When I was in Secondary One, CARE came to my school … In my two years with CARE, I did really well in school, in life … That’s the reason I enjoy volunteering for CARE — I’m helping someone who may be going through what I went through.”

Give. It inspires, it transforms. And that is really something to be happy about.


Kevin Lee is a Director of Capacity Building at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre.

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StarHub staff plant 23 species of trees on Pulau Ubin

Lim Yi Han, Straits Times, 2 Oct 13;

Over 80 staff from StarHub braved the rain on Wednesday morning to plant 100 trees on Pulau Ubin.

A total of 23 species of trees including native species Aquilaria malaccensis and Macaranga gigantea, commonly known here as Eaglewood and Giant Mahang were planted.

The initiative is part of the company's corporate social responsibility initiative and comes under the National Parks Board (NParks) 1963 Commemorative Tree Planting programme. Each tree costs $200 and the money will go towards the Garden City Fund, a charity under the NParks that engages people in conservation, research and education. Last year, StarHub staff planted 30 trees in Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve.

Ms Caitlin Fua, StarHub's corporate communications assistant vice-president, said: "We only have one planet so it is vital that we all take responsibility to protect it."

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Malaysia: Hornbill capital

New Straits Times, 3 Oct 13;

THE Belum Temenggor Forest Complex and neighbouring Aman Jaya Forest Reserve have been named the country’s new eco-tourism hubs and the hornbill capital of the world.

These were the conclusion made at the International Hornbill Expedition (IHE) 2013, held in Belum Rainforest Reserve in Gerik, Perak last month.

While Belum is reputed to be more than 130 million years old, the oldest in the world, Aman Jaya Forest Reserve is a newly gazette Permanent Forest Reserve. It is a 3km-wide development corridor flanking the East West Highway along Gerik and Jeli that separates Royal Belum State Park and Temengor Forest Reserve.

The two are home to 10 hornbill species including the plain-pouched, namely the white-crowned, bushy-crested, wrinkled, wreathed, black, oriental pied, rhinoceros, great and helmeted hornbills.

These birds are totally protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, and have made the Belum Temenggor Forest Complex an Important Bird Area (IBA) recognised by Birdlife International.

Birdlife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global bio-diversity, while also working with the public towards sustainability in the use of natural resources.

A joint-effort between the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and Tourism Malaysia, the IHE was held to coincide with the migration period of the globally threatened Plain- pouched hornbills found at the site.

The three-day expedition saw international participants, local bird watchers and nature guides taking part in a bird-a-thon while young adults were involved with the Hornbill Education camp.

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Malaysia: Male panther caught in trap in Kuala Pilah

Amran Yahya New Straits Times, 3 Oct 13;

KUALA PILAH: A male panther which is believed to have been terrorising the villagers in Kampung Parit Mungkal in Tanjung Ipoh here, was caught in a trap recently.
The animal weighing around 50kg was believed to have been responsibile in killing 11 goats belonging to a villager here last week.

On Tuesday, it got caught in a trap set by the Negri Sembilan Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) which later took it to its office in Jempol.

However, the villagers are still afraid as they believed there were more still out in the wild.

Villager Mohd Bakhtiar Nong Singah, 32, who claimed to have lost 11 goats to the animal, said they believed there was a second adult panther and two cubs living in the nearby jungle.

He said nine of his herd were found dead in their pen with bite marks on their necks, while the other two were believed to have been dragged into the forest.

Village head, Shamsuddin Zainal, 75, said this was the second time a dangerous wild animal was caught in the village, with the last being in 1986.

"The first one was a tiger and now it is a panther. We fear for our safety as we believe more are still lurking within these jungles," he said.

Meanwhile, state Women, Family and Community Development Exco member Datuk Norhayati Omar who is also the Pilah state assemblyman, said she would discuss the issue with Perhilitan.

"Among the things the authorities can do is is to continue placing traps to capture these animals while the villagers can keep safe by keeping the area around their homes well-lit," she said.

The male panther caught in a trap set by Negri Sembilan Perhilitan in Kampung Parit Mungkal in Tanjung Ipoh, Kuala Pilah. STR/Amran Yahya

Sheep breeders seek help over panther attack
New Straits Times 2 Oct 13;

KUALA PILAH: Sheep breeders in Kampung Mungkal here have asked the Department of Wildlife Protection and National Parks to step up patrols near the jungle fringe of the village following a panther attack on their livestock two days ago.

Villager Abdul Mujib Nong Singah, 30, said he feared the panther would continue to target the village despite traps having been set by the department.

"The department had advised us to light fires in the village at night to keep the panther at bay but we are afraid the predator may sneak in and devour the livestock," he said.

Abdul Mujib said all the sheep had been booked by people for the coming Aidiladha.

The sheep breeder was shocked to find nine of his sheep dead and two missing on Monday, and he spotted bite marks on the dead sheep and pug marks around the sheep enclosure. -- BERNAMA

A sheep breeder was shocked to find nine of his sheep dead and two missing on Monday. Bite marks were spotted on the dead sheep. -- STR/Amran Yahya

Villagers living in fear after livestock massacre
The Star 2 Oct 13;

KUALA PILAH: Villagers at Kg Parit Mungkal in Tanjung Ipoh near here are living in fear after nearly a dozen sheep were torn to pieces in what is believed to be the work of panthers.

Villager Nor Asiah Yunus, 61, believes that the large cats killed 11 of her sheep.

“Nine sheep were found dead in the pen while two others are missing,” she said, adding that her two sons made the gruesome discovery yesterday when they went to check on the animals at about 7am.

“The sheep had been brutally attacked and suffered massive bites all over their bodies,” said Nor Asiah, adding that both her sons then began searching for clues and were shocked to find paw prints all over the pen.

One of the sons, Abdul Mujib Singah, 30, said several family members had heard strange sounds coming from behind their house at about 4am but never thought it could be panthers.

“The geese and cows were hysterical, but we thought nothing much of it until we saw the carnage several hours later,” he said, adding that this was the first time their livestock had been attacked by wildlife since they moved there in 1989.

Abdul Mujib said he had sought the assistance of the Veterinary Services as well as the Wildlife and National Parks Departments to shed more light on the attack, adding that he estimated his losses at RM11,000.

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Malaysia: Video surveillance to record breeding of hornbills

Borneo Post, 2 Oct 13;

MIRI: In anticipation of new hornbill couple Juliet and Jimmy reproducing, a video surveillance system has been proposed to collect data for future reference and conservation purposes.

Chairman of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri Chapter, Musa Musbah said Shell had made this request to monitor the hornbills during their breeding period.

“I would like to set up video surveillance of the nest. We have done this in the past, manually. This time, I propose an online system we can logon. This video surveillance system will enable data to be captured 24/7 and recorded on a disk. We will have a complete courting at nest, making and sealing of nest and fledgling. This is valuable data at a place where all facilities are on hand,” he said yesterday.

Musa told The Borneo Post that Jimmy had stopped mourning and switched to survival mode after new love Juliet appeared on the scene.

His previous mate Faridah was found dead after she was captured by poachers on Sept 26.

Studies show that hornbills are partners for life, so Musa had worried that Jimmy might die from hunger if he keeps mourning for her.

He said the system is not expensive to install but sponsorship is required as MNS has limited funds like pro tem Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS) which he is vice-chairman of.

Musa is also Honorary Ranger of Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).

“Could someone sponsor this system and connect it to Shell’s telecommunication lines? Anyone can access the cameras via his/her handphone to see the area and the birds feeding without having to go there physically.

“They can see the streaming video in real time and can save it. We do not have to give them free but sell them the password for them to see via the cameras anytime they want. This access cost is from their line,” he stressed.

Musa said the new system is expected to cost over RM5,000, including cameras, two terabytes of hard disk and related gadgets, in addition to the setting up of a black plastic sun blocking sheet along the perimeter of House 58 to reduce disturbances from joggers and visitors and activities at Piasau Boat Club.

He is optimistic that if Juliet can produce more offspring, Piasau Camp will have many more hornbills.

Faridah produced 56 offspring since 2005 but many did not survive, probably due to rampant poaching.

As of Sunday evening, the family of four was spotted at the camp: Jimmy with new mate Juliet, and Ahkaw and Ahmoi — his youngest brood with Faridah.

Older brood comprising Utet and Nong were also spotted recently.

Jimmy finds new love who may give him new off spring
Borneo Post, 30 Sep 13;

MIRI: Mirians, particularly nature lovers, yesterday had another good news on the totally protected hornbills at Piasau Camp as Jimmy, Faridah’s widower, now has another female hornbill coming into his life.

They were spotted courting each other about 5pm yesterday in the camp by the Borneo Post reporter and a few others who had earlier joined the 5th Hornbill Walk held in memory of Faridah who was found dead on Sept 26 after being poached and brutally killed on Sept 24.

Also spotted were Jimmy’s two off-springs – Ahkaw and Ahmoi.

“It is unusual for hornbills; normally they are partners for life. But it does happen and Jimmy is in survival mode. He was seen very sad for about two days when Faridah was hunted by poachers at Piasau Garden on Sept 24 and found dead on Sept 26.

“Probably, Jimmy also reads the newspaper including The Borneo Post seeing that the government has decided to gazette Piasau Camp as a nature reserve,” said Musa Musbah in a joking but happy mood when contacted by The Borneo Post.

Earlier last week, Musa said Jimmy might die of hunger due to sadness over the loss of Faridah.

However, with the turn of events, Musa, Sarawak Forestry honorary ranger and chairman of the Malaysian Nature Society Miri Chapter, said Jimmy’s new partner, who had already been named Juliet (a name famous in Shakespeare’s book – Romeo and Juliet) could be fertile in a few days.

“They have been seen surveying Faridah’s old nesting area in the past few days and in no time Juliet will be producing babies in the camp, good news for the survival of Jimmy’s family,” revealed Musa, who is also pro tem vice-chairman of the Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS).

In view of this, he urged Mirians to cooperate in safeguarding the area in support of the government’s decision to make the camp a nature reserve by year end.

He also called for more financial sponsorship to build more artificial nests to encourage more hornbills and other birds to come and make the matured forest in the camp their home.

Yesterday, a well-known local marathon runner, Liew Joon Kien, donated B$100 for the nest.

Several others including PCNPS pro tem chairman Datuk Sebastian Ting, Miri MP Dr Michael Teo and three former elected representatives of Miri –Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan (ex deputy chief minister), Datuk Seri Peter Chin (former minister of energy, green technology and water) and Andy Chia (former Pujut assemblyman) also pledged to sponsor a nest each.

Musa said MNS Miri Chapter planned to set up about 20 artificial nests at the camp soon.

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Malaysia: Piasau nature reserve given the green light

People’s wish fulfilled, Chief Minister wants gazetting done fast
Antonia Chiam Borneo Post, 28 Sep 13;

KUCHING: Piasau Camp will be gazetted as a nature reserve by the year-end if there is no objection to the process.

Assistant Environment Minister Datu Len Talif Salleh said the state cabinet had approved the move and Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had asked him to speed up the gazetting process.

“All studies and documentations have been done and these will be our basis on gazetting the area. Usually the process takes a long time, but I do not foresee any objection that could cause delay.

“It can be done by the end of the year. Once gazetted, the area will be fenced up and turn into a botanical garden, similar to Stutong Nature Reserve. Petronas and Shell have also indicated their willingness to finance the running of the nature reserve,” he told reporters yesterday.

Len added that a maximum 60 days is required for public inquiry and if there is no objection, the gazetting can be sped up.
“In fact, we can start the public inquiry any time now. Besides protecting the wildlife there, it will be good for Miri to have a nature reserve in the middle of the city,” he said.

Len also expressed his sadness over the killing of Piasau Camp resident hornbill Faridah, whose carcass was recovered from a bulk bin on Thursday.

“Hornbills mate for life, so when one partner dies the other will be very sad. We don’t know how long he (Jimmy the hornbill) will last.

“We will let the law take its course. Whoever committed this crime will be taken action against by the law, a crime which carries the penalty of RM25,000 fine and three years’ imprisonment,” he said.

Regarding online speculation that the poachers were hired to kill the hornbills to stop the government from gazetting the area, he refused to comment without any evidence.

On the proposal to gazette Kuala Lawas in Limbang as a national park, Len said it is currently in the public inquiry process.

“I don’t have the full details on this, but currently it is in the public inquiry process to see if there are any public or stakeholder objections. We are trying to educate people living in the area that by putting the area as a Totally Protected Area (TPA), it does not deny them of the usage of the area.

“Instead it can be done better as the resources will be managed professionally to ensure sustainability. A good example is Loagan Bunut National Park where there is the Berawan community living there. We taught them not to overfish and only to fish at certain times. It is a long process to educate the local people but we will continue to engage them in discussions. There is no such thing as taking away the area from them,” he pointed out.

Mirians erupt in joy over Faridah’s last stand as mama
Cecilia Sman Borneo Post, 29 Sep 13;

MIRI: There was much rejoicing here yesterday after the decision to gazette Piasau Camp as a nature reserve, as mama hornbill Faridah etched a home in the hearts of all nature lovers far beyond Miri, including the corridors of power in Kuching.

The announcement by Assistant Minister of Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh on Friday in Kuching, came a day after nature lovers were united in grief over the tragic death of Faridah – the name given to the female hornbill, a totally protected species at Piasau Garden just metres away from Piasau Camp.

Datuk Lee Kim Shin, the Assistant Minister for Communications, thanked Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and Cabinet colleagues profusely for the strong support to turn the camp into a nature park.

“This is the government’s 50th Malaysia Day gift and also contribution from Petronas and Shell to the state and the people of Miri because they will also be part of the funding and development of the park,” said Lee when interviewed by The Borneo Post yesterday.

Lee said he had recently briefed the state’s Cabinet on the needs to preserve the camp for the conservation of the rich flora and fauna, including the hornbills and as heritage, adding that the camp is associated with the oil and gas industry in Miri.

He said ecological surveys conducted by Shell and Unimas respectively in May and June this year showed that Piasau Camp has at least four totally protected species of birds including hornbills and several protected mammals and plants.

He hoped the people of Miri will treasure the park and jointly with the enforcement authorities in protecting and conserving the area, which he said once gazetted will be another tourism destination for the city. It will also be the ‘first nature park in a city’ in Sarawak and likely, he said, in the whole of Malaysia.

The pro tem Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS) and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri Chapter were elated with the government’s timely announcement to gazette the camp as a nature park.

To which MNS Miri Chapter chairman Musa Musbah said: “Thank you, Sarawak Government and its leaders. This is really a good 50 Years Sarawak Merdeka gift. No gift is better than this to Mirians.”

Musa is also the society’s vice chairman and SFC honorary forest ranger.

Society chairman Datuk Sebastian Ting also thanked the chief minister and his Cabinet, Shell, Petronas and the relevant government agencies for the concerted efforts to make the park a reality.

“The media too played an equally important role in rallying the people’s support and getting the government’s attention to the call of the people to have Piasau Camp gazetted as a nature park.

“Faridah (the mama hornbill) may be gone but the good media coverage had aroused great interest and awareness among the people. Your reports too reached our top management (the government),” said Ting at a joint press conference attended by his members yesterday.

He urged the people in Miri to join the 5th Hornbill Walk today, starting 2pm, at Piasau Camp in memory of Faridah and also as strong support for the government’s decision to conserve Piasau Camp as a nature park for all to cherish.

As part of the walk, there will also be sale of limited edition t-shirts in memory of Faridah priced at RM10 each, while the usual t-shirt on Piasau Camp Hornbill is priced at RM20 each.

Meanwhile, he said the society will continue to work closely with MNS Miri Chapter and the authorities in creating greater public awareness on the conservation of wildlife and the environment.

Among other activities included are a petition campaign in both the mass media and going to the general public. So far he said, over 6, 400 signatures have been received.

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Malaysia: Hornbill killer pleads guilty

Stephen Then The Star, 1 Oct 13;

MIRI: The man who captured and killed the rare hornbill in Piasau Camp last Monday has been sentenced to three months’ jail and fined RM2,000.

Michael Rabai, an employee of an electrical appliance store here, will have to serve additional three months in jail if he fails to pay the fine.

The Magistrate’s Court here yesterday jailed the offender, who is in his 20s, after he admitted to killing the totally-protected Oriental Pied Hornbill at about 12.30pm on Sept 24, an offence under Section 29(1) of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.

Rabai was last Monday arrested along with two of his colleagues after they were seen capturing the hornbill and forcing it into a box before driving off in a lorry.

Yesterday, he was brought to court and sentenced by Magistrate Mohamad Radza Azhar Rezeli.

Rabai’s accomplices, Eliry Seman and Benny Jaba, however, were not brought before the court despite the fact that the charge sheet said all three had admitted to capturing the hornbill named Faridah by animal-lovers here.

They had also admitted to killing the bird using a slingshot and then dumping the carcass into a rubbish dump at an industrial estate.

SUPP information chief Datuk Sebastian Ting, calling The Star from Kuala Lumpur yesterday, expressed his surprise, saying: “Only one of the three was sentenced. The other two were let off. I do not know why.”

He said he was also surprised that the case was brought to court “so soon” and described the sentence imposed as “rather light”.

“The maximum jail term for killing such a rare and protected animal is two years and the maximum fine is RM25,000.

“The offender was jailed three months and fined RM2,000, in default another three months’ jail.

“I was informed that he could not pay the fine, so he may have to serve another three months in jail, making it a total six months.

“To me, that is considered a lenient sentence. Maybe this is because such a case is new to Miri. We have never had such a crime (of killing hornbill) being brought to court before. The court may have considered the fact that Rabai was a first-time offender.

“Nevertheless, I hope the message is clear — such senseless cruelty against animals must stop.”

Ting, the pro tem chairman of Miri Piasau Nature Park committee, said he was not informed that the police or Sarawak Forestry would be bringing the offender to court yesterday.

He said he was also not informed by the investigating officers in the case why the three men had killed the hornbill.

“I would like to know why they must kill it. I am sure the people of Miri would also like to know the real reasons why the hornbill was killed. It is a senseless act,” Ting said.

Musa Masbah, the division’s Malaysian Nature Society chairman, could not be contacted.

Ting said that apparently, Musa also did not know that the hornbill killer was brought to court yesterday.

The Miri Piasau Camp, covering about 150 acres, is located along the beach fronting the South China Sea.

It is home to Shell expatriates but the area is being proposed to be turned into a nature park because the expatriates are moving out of the area into residential estates nearby.

Hundreds join 5th Hornbill Walk with tears shed for Faridah
Borneo Post, 1 Oct 13;

MIRI: Hundreds of nature lovers from all walks of life, including from Bintulu and neighbouring Brunei, joined Mirians on Sunday for the 5th Hornbill Walk at Piasau Camp in memory of Faridah, one of the totally protected hornbills at the camp that was found dead on Sept 26.

It was also in appreciation of the government’s decision to gazette the camp as a nature reserve by the year-end if there is no objection.

The announcement by Assistant Environment Minister Datu Len Talif Salleh on Friday in Kuching came a day after nature lovers were united in grief over the tragic death of Faridah at Piasau Garden just metres away from Piasau Camp.
The pro tem Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS) chairman Datuk Sebastian Ting and his vice chairman and chairman of the Miri Chapter of Malaysian Nature Society, Musa Musbah, jointly addressed the crowd.

Ting, while thanking the government for the decision, urged the people to continue supporting all efforts to make the nature reserve a reality and a success.

“We thank everyone involved including Musa who is the prime mover and among those who dedicatedly carried out survey of the flora and fauna here and had given so much information on the study.

“The media, particularly newspaper reporters, had managed to gain the people’s attention, Shell, Petronas and the state government especially in highlighting the death of Faridah, which led the government to gazette this camp as nature reserve by December 2013,” said Ting. Meanwhile, when acknowledging the strong support of the authorities and the people, Musa reminded that there was much more to be done for the conservation of the flora and fauna in the camp.

“The people too must understand the respective roles of the relevant agencies, the police, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and the government. Let them do their work and we do our roles as citizens,” he said.

During the gathering, eulogies for Faridah were read by Robiah Tani, Polycarp and Zainuddin Ibrahim, which touched the hearts of many, with several people seen shading tears for the doting mama bird.

The moment was both solemn and happy although most of those who came either donned the specially-designed T-shirt in memory of Faridah or Save Piasau Camp T-shirt, while Piasau Animal Welfare Support (Paws) distributed black ribbons with a portrait of Faridah and gave away free limited edition of photographs of the hornbills.

Others came with banners applauding the government’s decision as well as condemning poachers.

To further enlighten the participants on hornbills, there was a quiz session where six lucky winners received special cut-out hornbills besides a tree planting event and visit to the artificial nests.

At the same time, there were sales of t-shirts and collection of petitions. Several others later joined in the walk to watch the hornbills and other wild birds.

Meanwhile, the 6th Hornbill Walk at the camp will be held on October 19 at 4pm, with the starting point at the car park fronting the former Tenby International School.

All are welcome and entrance is free.

Nature lovers united in grief over Faridah
Cecilia Sman Borneo Post, 28 Sep 13;

MIRI: The death of Faridah, the hornbill which made Piasau Garden its home, has touched the hearts of people here and through social media those throughout the state.

Nature lovers here are united in grief as they mourn the death of a bird which had been so familiar with them that they called her and her mate, Jimmy, by name.

A cross section of the society interviewed as well as Facebook (FB) users expressed anger and grief that the poachers, who were arrested on Thursday, killed the mother bird in their attempt to capture it.

Most of them called for stiff penalties for the three men who were seen catching the bird and subsequently arrested by the police.

Miri MP Dr Michael Teo said the punishment should be significant and widely reported to deter potential offenders and raise more awareness.

“The Department of Wildlife and National Park must come up with preventive measures to stop repeat of this crime in future,” Teo said.

He added that those who killed or capture protected species did so because they felt they could get away with it.

Yii Shi Yiing, a butcher, suggested that NGOs, schools and religious bodies take a leading role in increasing awareness on the need to protect and conserve the state’s protected wildlife.

Naturalist Lucas Johny said he was shocked to hear of Faridah’s death despite intensified public awareness programmes being held to help save the hornbills at Piasau Camp.

In the social media, FB users went ‘ballistic’ over the death of the hornbill.

Among those who posted their opinions was Sue Abdullah who said, “The poachers and the “murderers” deserve both punishment, RM25,000 and 3 months imprisonment, and perhaps, 3 strokes of rotan. Let them feel how Faridah felt when she was tortured by them….some people have no compassion for nature.!

SFC deputy general manager, (Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division) Oswald Braken Tisen said poaching cases in the state were worrying.

He cited the sale of turtle eggs and wild boar meat in cities and towns as examples of rampant poaching.

“Some people think that turtle eggs bought from neighbouring Indonesia especially at the border town Serikin is not against the law. They are mistaken, as long as it is brought into Sarawak the penalty is under the Wildlife Ordinance,” said Braken.

He added that the capture and death of Faridah, was the first major poaching of hornbills reported in the division.

Meanwhile, Musa Musbah, SFC honorary forest ranger while thanking the police and the SFC on the success in detaining the three suspects and the mass media for highlight the case, hoped that the people would join in the effort to get the authorities to turn Piasau Camp into a nature park.

He said Faridah and her mate Jimmy had produced an estimated 56 chicks since 2005 but regretfully only five hornbills including Jimmy were currently spotted at Piasau Camp.

The other four which split into pairs like their parents are so familiar with visitors to the camp they too have been given individual names – Nong and Utet, and Ahkaw and Ahmoi.

“The youngest one – Ahkaw and Ahmoi will survive without Faridah. They can feed themselves but they are too human friendly and the risk being poached is high.

Jimmy on the other hand being partners for life, and might gotten fed up of searching for Faridah and become sad and will not eat and die of hunger,” said Musa.

Call for full brunt of law on Faridah’s killers
Borneo Post, 28 Sep 13;

SIBU: The full weight of the law should be imposed with maximum penalty meted out to the poachers for killing of the people’s hornbill ‘Faridah’.

Assistant Minister of Youth Development Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who made the unequivocal call yesterday, said only tough uncompromising action could deter an atrocious act such as this.

“I read The Borneo Post article about the Hornbill ‘murder’ at Piasau Garden, Miri, with anger and sadness and I know I am not alone when feeling this way.

“The Hornbill which is the pride of all Sarawakians and synonymous with Sarawak should not have been hunted and killed this way.

“The act of the three poachers is despicable and has aroused much anger from the public. The full weight of the law should be imposed on the guilty parties and I hope the court gives them the maximum of penalty!” Abdul Karim, who is Asajaya assemblyman, told The Borneo Post, unequivocally.

According to the report, police arrested three men suspected of poaching the hornbills, a totally protected bird in the state at Piasau Garden, on Tuesday.

The captured bird, affectionately known as ‘Faridah’ by frequent visitors to the park, was reported to have died on the same day it was caught.

The suspects later led the police to recover the carcass of the bird from a rubbish bulk bin at Jalan Datuk Edward Jeli in Piasau.

It was also reported that Sarawak Forestry Corporation spokesperson who was also present when the dead bird was recovered, said the suspects would be placed under police custody until investigation had been completed.

Hornbills are totally protected under Ordinance and the penalties for keeping one as a pet, killing, hunting, capturing, selling, trading or disturbing them, or possessing any recognisable parts of these birds, are severe – a RM25,000 fine and three years’ imprisonment.

The killing of hornbill Faridah comes as a strange twist to the lobbying of many naturalists and Mirians alike for the government gazette of Piasau Camp as a nature park.

Hornbill poachers arrested
Protected bird found dead in rubbish bin, 3 men suspected of capturing it in police custody
Cecilia Sman Borneo Post, 27 Sep 13;

MIRI: The three men suspected of poaching hornbills, a totally protected bird in the state, at Piasau Garden here on Tuesday were arrested by police yesterday evening.

Although their arrest assuaged the anger and pain of people here, their prayers and hope that the captured bird affectionately named Faridah by frequent visitors to the park would be found alive were dashed, when the suspected thieves confessed it died on the day they caught it.

They led the police to recover the carcass of the bird from the rubbish bulk bin at Jalan Datuk Edward Jeli in Piasau.

Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS) pro tem chairman, Datuk Sebastian Ting and several other committee members were present when the carcass of the bird was recovered.

A distressed Ting said, “This should not have happened, we are trying hard to protect these birds and they hunted them at Piasau Garden. We appeal to the public not to kill or hunt the totally protected wildlife to prevent their extinction,” he said.

Ting said in memory of Faridah the society would organise the 5th Hornbill Walk at 2pm Sunday at the camp.

He urged the public to support the walk and called on the government to gazette the camp as permanent nature park for the conservation of the hornbills and wildlife.

A Sarawak Forestry Corporation spokesperson who was also present when the dead bird was recovered said the suspects would be placed under police custody until investigation had been completed.

“Once the investigation is completed we will forward it to the Forest Department. SFC is assisting because the case had been referred to us, and the Forest Department has a prosecuting officer to handle the case.

The IP (investigation papers) will be sent to the State Attorney General for further action and the case is punishable under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance (1998),” a spokesman told reporters.

Hornbills are totally protected under Ordinance and the penalties for keeping one as a pet, killing, hunting, capturing, selling, trading or disturbing them, or possessing any recognisable parts of these birds are severe – a RM25,000 fine and three years’ imprisonment.

Musa Musbah, the honorary wildlife ranger of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and one of the onlookers on the day of the incident at Piasau Garden, said the death of Faridah would not be in vain.

He noted the bird’s capture by poachers had stirred up interest on the hornbills and birds in Piasau Garden among the public here and raised awareness of the need to protect the state’s wildlife.

Hornbills have lifelong mates and Faridah’s mate Jimmy has been missing since she was captured.

The pair of hornbills played a big role in maintaining the population of the birds in the park having produced about 56 offspring.

Everybody condemns hornbill hunters
Borneo Post, 26 Sep 13;

MIRI: An all round condemnation is directed at the alleged hunters of hornbills at Piasau Garden here Tuesday.

Miri MP Dr Michael Teo even urged the police to intensify their efforts to catch the culprits and bring them to the book.

“This is very sad, sad after every effort is taken to protect and conserve the iconic bird species,” he said through SMS yesterday.

He also urged the public to be more aware of the need not to harm or compromise the lives of totally protected and protected animals.

“Everybody and Mirians in particular are all shocked by the incident. Spread the news around so that the perpetrators will return the birds.”

Nature lover Dr Teo was among the many people who took part at the 4th Hornbill Walk at Piasau Camp as part of activities marking Malaysia Day celebrations here last Saturday.

The walk was also part of efforts to call on the state government to gazette Piasau Camp as a permanent nature park smack in the city centre.

In the incident on Tuesday, three men brazenly defied the law by hunting the totally protected hornbills at Piasau Garden in full view of horrified onlookers.

Police hot on trail of hornbill hunters
Philip Kiew Borneo Post, 26 Sep 13;

MIRI: The police are hot on the trail of three men who hunted down a relatively tame hornbill at Piasau Garden, defying even an honorary wildlife ranger, the conservation and the state wildlife protection law.

Senadin assemblyman Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the police were working closely with Sarawak Forestry Corporation on the case, and the book would be thrown at the culprits whose brazen act horrified onlookers and nature lovers.

“The police are taking action. There is no excuse of people not to know that hornbills are protected species,” he said when met yesterday after officiating at the opening of Curtin University’s Petroleum Week.

He said that Miri police chief ACP Mun Kock Keong had briefed him on the case following a report made soon after the (shocking) incident.

“I have also spoken to Petronas vice-president who was here recently and Shell MD and chairman on a few occasions and both have indicated their corporate social responsibility commitment to develop and fund the nature park.”

Lee also said he would take up the proposal to have Piasau Camp turned into a park to the state government and wildlife authorities.

“Piasau Camp will make an excellent heritage and nature park and Miri needs more parks and green areas.

“There is no other place in this country where you find hornbills in their natural environment, and not in cages, in the middle of a city. Hornbills are indeed gems for tourists,” he said.

Hornbill hunters disregard law
3 men hunt totally protected hornbills at Piasau Garden, ignore calls by wildlife ranger to return the birds
Cecilia Sman Borneo Post, 25 Sep 13;

MIRI: Three men brazenly defied the law by hunting the totally protected hornbills at Piasau Garden in full view of horrified onlookers.

Even the presence of Musa Musbah the honorary wildlife ranger of the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) did not deter them from catching at least one of the birds.

Musa told The Borneo Post yesterday he rushed to the camp after former Pujut assemblyman, Andy Chia called him about the trio hunting the hornbills there.

“I went there and they were still there. According to a couple they saw one of them holding the head and tying the leg of a hornbill before putting it in a van.

“I confronted them and asked them to give me the bird but they refused and drove off in the van,” he said.

Musa added that he had made a police report against the three men for catching the hornbills.

It should be easy for the police to nab the hunters because they did not bother to cover their faces and were photographed near their van.

Musa, also the chairman of the Malaysian Nature Society, (MNS) Miri Chapter and the pro tem vice chairman of the Piasau Camp Nature Park Society (PCNPS) said that because the hornbills were human friendly it was easy for the men to catch them.

Meanwhile deputy general manager, (Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division) of Sarawak Foresty Corporation (SFC), Oswald Braken Tisen said there would be no compromise on those defying the State’s Wildlife Protection Ordinance (1998).

He also warned that ignorance of the law was no excuse for the people who caught the hornbills at Piasau Camp.

“Ignorance of the law does not mean you can be above the law,” said Braken when contacted by The Borneo Post to comment on the alleged hunting of the hornbills yesterday.

He said his staff here had been directed to investigate the case and to take the necessary legal actions against the culprits.

Datuk Sebastian Ting (pro tem Chairman of PCNPS) and Andy Chia ( pro tem Secretary of PCNPS) voiced their anger on those hunting the hornbills.

“It is terrible and unacceptable act and I hoped that SFC and the police will catch the culprits,” said Ting.

Chia commented “it is very sad that these guys hunt our state’s totally protected birds, in our own backyard in Piasau Garden.”
Hornbills are totally protected in the state under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance (1998).

Penalties for keeping one as a pet, killing, hunting, capturing, selling, trading or disturbing them, or possessing any recognisable parts of these birds are severe – a RM25,000 fine and three years’ imprisonment.

The Piasau Camp, a forested area cleared in the 1950’s to build 175 wooden houses for Shell’s employees is home to a flock of Oriental Pied Hornbill which had made the area their homes.

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Malaysia: Three firms pitch in to save Sabah wildlife

The Star, 3 Oct 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Three companies are doing their part to help in conservation efforts of Sabah’s wildlife such as the Bornean elephants and orang utan.

They have set aside their forested land as corridors to enable the wildlife to move about from one fragmented jungle to another in the Lower Kinabatangan region at Sabah’s east coast.

One of them – Myne Resort – had designated 64ha of its land in Kam­pung Bilit as a wildlife corridor.

Myne Resort managing director Ouh Mee Lan said they were supportive of the Sabah Wildlife De­­partment and the Borneo Conser­vation Trust (BCT) to enhance the ecological corridor for the Bornean elephants in Lower Kina­batangan.

Mynes’ tract of land was launched as an ecological corridor by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun on Sept 19.

Masidi had commended Myne as well as Syarikat Yu Kwang Develop­ment and Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi for supporting the Bornean Elephant Conservation Plan.

Yu Kwang and Proboscis Lodge had also pledged to set aside part of their forested land for wildlife corridors.

Myne Resort establishes ecological corridor for Bornean Elephant at Lower Kinabatangan
New Sabah Times, 2 Oct 13;

KINABATANGAN: Myne Resort has set aside 160 acres of land at Kampung Bilit, Lower Kinabatangan as an ecological corridor for the Bornean elephants.

Myne Resort managing director, Ouh Mee Lan said that the Myne Resort was supportive of the effort undertaken by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) to enhance the ecological corridor for the Bornean elephants at the Lower Kinabatangan.

“I hope this will provide protection for the land from any threats, including encroachment of plantation activities and subsequently improve and secure the ecological connectivity of the Wildlife Sanctuary at the Lower Kinabatangan,” he said.

On Sept 19, the land was officially launched as an ecological corridor by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Masidi recognized the value of the contribution made by the resort and expressed his hope for other agencies and stakeholders in Kinabatangan to continue supporting the initiative for the survival of the Bornean elephants in Borneo.

He also commended two more companies – Syarikat Yu Kwang Development and Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi – for supporting the Bornean Elephant Conservation Plan. The two companies have also pledged to support the conservation plan by providing and protecting the Bornean elephants’ ecological corridors at their own forested land.

SWD director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu commended the efforts by Myne Resort, Syarikat Yu Kwang Development Sdn Bhd and Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi for their support and trust and for joining the effort to conserve the Bornean elephant in Sabah for the future generation.

BCT’s conservation and research head, Raymond Alfred explained that BCT aimed to link all the key habitats not just for the Bornean elephants but also the orangutans in Sabah.

He explained that habitat fragmentation has been identified as one of the key issues that needs to be addressed for the long-term survival of the Bornean Elephants and orangutans.

“This critical missing link will ensure the long term survival of wildlife in Sabah, particularly the Bornean elephants and the Orangutans,” he said.

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Malaysia: Bats forced from caves

Steven Daniel The Star, 3 Oct 13;

THE company managing Cave Villa, a tourist attraction in Batu Caves, has hired a pest control company to get rid of the bats in two of the caves.

The move has caused an uproar among environmentalists.

According to a source, the management had hired the pest control company several months ago to get rid of the bats.

He said this was because the bats were carriers of various diseases and the operators did not want to endanger visitors’ health.

However, he could not say if there had been complaints of people falling ill due to contact with the bat droppings.

“The bat droppings are an eyesore and tourists are often put off by the sight,” said the source.

He said the pest controllers had sprayed chemicals at the nests to get rid of the bats.

He admitted that no experts or environmental groups had been consulted prior to hiring the pest control company.

He said, however, that the bat population had decreased.

The source said the pigeon population in Batu Caves was also being kept under control by trapping about 50 pigeons every two weeks.

“There are just too many here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Friends of Batu Caves coalition spokesman Lim Teck Wyn said they were appalled by the operator’s actions.

He said under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, it was an offence to harm indigenous wildlife in any location, adding that at least 10 species of bats were living in some of the 20 caves in Batu Caves.

“The area where Cave Villa is located was gazetted in 1930 for public use and should not have been converted for commercial use in the first place.”

“The Batu Caves temple committee has abused its powers,” he said when contacted.

He urged the Wildlife Department (Perhilitian) to take stern action over the matter.

Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) officers, led by licensing director Affendei Samingan, also visited Cave Villa yesterday morning following a recent StarMetro report on Tuesday titled “National icon in shambles”.

It was reported that many visitors were unhappy over the deplorable condition of the Cave Villa and questioned its relevance in a place of worship as well as its effects on the environment.

MPS found the operators of Cave Villa guilty under the Entertainment and Entertainment Premises regulations (Selangor,1996), for failing to apply for an entertainment licence and fined them RM1,000.

The operators only have valid licences to sell food, beverages and souvenirs.

Affendei said the operators were cooperative and had claimed they were unaware of the need to apply for an entertainment licence.

He said they would be applying for one soon.

Later, MPS also inspected 21 business premises in Batu Caves and issued three compounds of RM1,000 each to three premises for not having valid licences.

On reports of alleged abuse of animals kept in Cave Villa and bats, Affendei said they would notify Perhilitan to investigate the claims.

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Malaysia: Help raise funds to rescue turtle eggs from being sold in markets

The Star, 3 Oct 13;

Online social e-commerce site, LivingSocial Malaysia, has launched a nationwide three-month-long campaign aimed at raising funds to protect the country’s marine turtles.

The campaign, part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, is a collaboration with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) — Malaysia.

The campaign was launched on Aug 27 and has since generated overwhelming contributions from the public.

With a contribution of RM10, one can help WWF-Malaysia rescue five turtle eggs from being sold in the markets, thereby protecting the endangered marine turtles as well as keeping Malaysia’s marine ecosystem healthy.

LivingSocial subscribers are being engaged for this campaign via social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter along with the e-newsletter blast.

By simply donating RM10 at until Nov 28, the public can help safeguard one of Malaysia’s iconic heritage.

Malaysia is host to four species of marine turtles: Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill and Olive Ridley turtles.

These gentle reptiles of the sea, known for their longevity and pre-historic existence swim great distances and come on land to nest.

Sadly, the number of marine turtles nationwide has drastically declined and some species are on the brink of extinction.

LivingSocial and WWF-Malaysia share the same purpose of mobilising individuals from all walks of life to improve the environment through collective support and action.

“LivingSocial runs a social e-commerce site and prides itself on offering services and experiences at the best price.

“However, it is also vital that the influence of social e-commerce goes beyond building a successful business platform.

“With this CSR initiative with WWF-Malaysia, individuals can come together to make a significant impact for our marine turtles and ensure that they are still around for generations to come,” said LivingSocial Malaysia and Philippines regional CEO Jérémy Fichet.

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Malaysia: Teachers pitch in to clean up in vicinity of Satang Island

Borneo Post, 3 Oct 13;

PROTECTING THE REEF: (From left) Junaidi Pauzan, Mohamad Rizamry, Bobby Tiang Ming Chung, Ting Suk Eng, Alice Andrews, Dominic Mochan doing the clean-up on Satang Island.

KUCHING: Beyond the call of education duty, two teachers from Tunku Putra School recently rolled up their sleeves to join forces with Aquabase, a dive centre located at Damai Puri Resort, to clean up the vicinity of Satang Island.

Aquabase operations manager Ting Suk Eng arranged the ecological endeavour in collaboration with The Clipperton Project ( who financially supported the group of divers.

The divers channelled their effort into freeing the reef from stray fishing nets and lines.

“We are blessed with this naturally beautiful area, and we want to protect and conserve it for locals and tourists to continue to enjoy the beauty of the Sarawak coastline for years to come,” Ting said in a press statement yesterday.

This endeavour will not only protect the reef from further damage, but prevent sea creatures from being entangled.

“This is the first time in two years that such a rejuvenating initiative has taken place, and our hope is for the activity to perpetuate to sustain coral life.”

According to Tunku Putra School teacher Alice Andrews, they participated in the clean-up dive of Satang Island to ensure future generations get to enjoy the wonderful corals and coast of Satang Island.

“We wanted to show to our students at Tunku Putra School the importance of protecting the environment and how each one of us can make a difference,” she said.

Tunku Putra School is committed to delivering quality education and authentic opportunities for children to become successful, independent and self-directed learners.

The school has established their overall reputation in quality in a relatively short period of time. Public examination results in the shape of Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and IGCSE are among the best and TPS students are recognised as being well-rounded future citizens endowed with character traits including honesty, loyalty, reliability, determination and perseverance.

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Malaysia: Advances in mariculture

David Tan The Star, 1 Oct 13;

PENANG-BASED Texchem Resources Bhd is looking to add another venture to its portfolio. The company is in a race to develop the world’s first commercial crab hatchery. The hatchery, already beyond the experimental stage, is being developed in collaboration with Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

Texchem chairman Tan Sri Fumihiko Konishi is confident that the project will position the group ahead in the race as most of the crab hatcheries in Asia are still in the experimental phases.

Texchem is also collaborating with the Fisheries Research Agency in Japan for the hatcheries project in Penang.

“We are now operating a pilot crab hatchery in collaboration with USM’s Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) at Muka Head in Teluk Bahang. We will sign and extend the collaboration for one more year, which will carry the joint effort to develop the world’s first commercial crab hatchery into its fourth year,” Konishi said.

Should the project be successful, the crab hatchery will give an added boost to Texchem’s food division.

The company also has interests in the industrial, polymer engineering and restaurant sectors.

Konishi said the group first started an experimental crab hatchery with SeaPack Food Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Texchem, in Penang more than four years ago.

“A successful commercial crab hatchery will ensure a steady supply of crabs for the group’s soft-shell crab business and reduce our sourcing from fishermen. This will also allow the natural environment to replenish its stock of crabs, ensuring that there will not be a shortage of wild crabs.

“Once successful, the hatchery will boost our positioning as the world’s leading soft-shell crab producer in the world,” he said.

In Myanmar, Texchem’s food business division harvests 50 to 60 tonnes of soft-shell crab a month for the global market.

The project with USM studies the various aspects of cultivating crabs outside their natural environment.

“Our aim is to find a way to reduce mortality rates at the hatchery so that we can commence commercial production. One of the objectives is to grow crablets to the desired size of around 100g for the soft-shell shedding process,” said Konishi.

At Cemacs, Texchem has a research team comprising specialists in marine biology who are working with USM’s marine biologists on improving the quality of plankton, the foodstuff of crabs and the environment of the hatchery so that it is conducive for the commercial farming of crabs.

Konishi pointed out that, within the region, there are also government research centres such as the South-East Asian Fisheries Development Center (Seafdec) in the Philippines and the Fisheries Research Agency in Japan that are trying to develop similar crab hatcheries.

Nonetheless, most efforts have been relatively unsuccessful as the mortality rate of the crabs is still high.

Under the terms of collaboration with USM, Texchem provides a RM100,000 research grant to USM annually. The group is also spending RM300,000 a year on the project. The collaboration with USM will certainly benefit Texchem in the long run.

Additionally, Texchem is also working with USM’s Usains Holdings Bhd to develop a type of wrinkle-free and fire-resistant cotton fabric for its customers.

Another collaboration with the university’s School of Material and Mineral Resources Engineering will help the group develop bio-based material from agricultural waste.

“We are also carrying out on-going research with USM’s etymology centre to improve our range of insecticides.

“Texchem works with the centre to breed different families of flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches found in Asia so that we can test the effectiveness of our insecticide spray,” Konishi said.

Konishi is pushing for more collaboration between the private sector and local universities.

“This is to ensure that the products of research and development activities from the university are relevant to the needs of the industries. The local universities have abundance of qualified human resources and research and development equipment upon which the industries can tap.

“They also obtain Federal Governments grants to invest in research and development equipment and human resources, which the private sector is unable to do so on a regular basis. Tapping on such local sources will help the private sector to save substantially on research and development activities,” he noted.

For his contribution to the field of science, Konishi, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmaceutical Science from Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, was recently awarded by USM an honorary doctorate degree.

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90 dead elephants in Zimbabwe are proof that the ivory trade has gone industrial

Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, 1 Oct 13;

One of Hwange's poisoned elephants. Reuters/Philimon Bulaway0

China’s demand for luxury knickknacks lies beneath some spectacular carnage of late. As we highlighted in August, the illegal ivory trade funds al-Shabaab, the terrorist group behind the Westgate Mall massacre in Kenya late last month. Al-Shabaab finances as much as 40% of its operations this way.

The supply of ivory for al-Shabaab and other militant groups is, obviously, dead elephants. As demand for ivory continues to surge in China and other Asian countries, the slaughter is growing industrial in scale and efficiency, fueling a trade worth $7 billion to $10 billion a year. Take for instance what’s going on in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. In what may be the single worst poaching incident in Africa in recorded history, so far, official data says 90 elephants have died from cyanide used to poison salt licks at watering holes. The actual death toll could be as high as 100.

“Poisoning is not really common as a means to kill elephants but, unfortunately, in recent years we have seen more instances. The Hwange massacre, however, is on a scale not previously witnessed,” says Tom Milliken, an expert on poaching and the illegal ivory trade at Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network.

And the brutality isn’t limited to elephants. The cyanide has killed “large though at this stage untallied numbers” of lions, cheetahs, zebras wildebeest and scores of other species caught in the proverbial crossfire, reports the Independent Online. Vultures, which typically feed on animal carcasses, are dying too.

“This is the worst ecological disaster we have seen, and the fallout is going to be massive,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told the Independent Online.

The Hwange mass slaughter reflects a larger trend of “industrial” killing carried out by heavily armed groups, not just impoverished local hunters. As many as 50,000 elephants were killed for ivory in 2011, the last year with reliable data. That means poachers are wiping out 7.4% of the elephant population a year at a minimum, faster than the rate at which they reproduce.

​The red line reflects the average; the shaded-in area shows the upper and lower bounds."Elephants in the Dust," Traffic

A Zimbabwe court has found three men responsible for the Hwange slaughter, sentencing them to 15-16 years in prison and fining them heavily. (It’s not clear whether they had any ties to terrorist militias.)

The weird thing is that, as far as enforcement goes, it’s illegal to kill elephants and sell their tusks. But not necessarily to buy their tusks. (Here are some examples on Taobao, a leading Chinese ecommerce site.) That’s because, in 2008, international regulators let China buy a 60-tonne ivory stockpile that can be legally traded.

That loophole fuels the elephant-killing that is arming terrorists and ravaging ecosystems; after all, it’s hard to tell legal from illegal ivory. But that’s even assuming China’s trying. And it’s not, the Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-governmental organization, reports (pdf, p2). “[I]vory is widely available throughout” China, found the EIA, and “there is no evidence of any control or enforcement in place.”

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Hong Kong: Customs seize 769kg of ivory tusks

The haul, which came from West Africa, is the third in three months
Clifford Lo, South China Morning Post, 3 Oct 13;

The ivory tusks were found in three containers, wrapped up and hidden beneath bags of soya beans. Photo: David Wong

Traffickers are using new methods to smuggle illegal ivory tusks into the city, a senior customs official said yesterday as he announced the third seizure of tusks in three months.

The 769kg haul of 189 pieces was hidden in three 20-foot containers labelled as soya beans that came from Ivory Coast, West Africa, via Malaysia on September 14 and 19. The banned tusks would have fetched HK$11.5 million on Asia's black market.

The Customs and Excise Department ports and maritime command head Vincent Wong Sui-hang said the containers were picked out for X-ray inspection because soya imports from the country were rare and hence raised officers' suspicions.

The haul was discovered after the officers opened the containers. Upon inspection, the tusks - some whole and some in pieces - were found wrapped in linen and nylon bags in the innermost part of the containers, hidden under bags of soya beans.

Officers believe an international smuggling ring is behind the three shipments because the shipper was the same.

"Instead of one shipment, the smugglers broke the consignment into three shipments and used different vessels and different consignees in an effort to evade customs detection," Wong said, adding that it was the first time in recent years that banned tusks were found being smuggled into the city from Ivory Coast.

He believes the consignment was destined for an Asian country. No one has yet been arrested in the operation.

Some of the tusks found in the haul measured more than two metres in length.

They were believed to have been removed from slaughtered bush African elephants, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said.

The department's endangered species protection officer Azaria Wong Kam-yan said the haul of tusks probably cost the lives of tens of mature, young African elephants.

Although this seizure was the city's third in three months, customs officials denied that Hong Kong had become a regional hub for the illegal trade.

The authorities intercepted two shipments of ivory totalling 4.4 tonnes in July and August. Officers also seized 1.3 tonnes of smuggled tusks in January.

"We don't have intelligence or concrete information showing that there is an increasing trend of ivory smuggling," Wong said.

The senior superintendent said the customs department was determined to and capable of smashing the smuggling activities in the city,

Last year, customs officials intercepted three shipments with a total seizure of 5.1 tonnes of illegal ivory tusks.

Hong Kong nabs $1.5M in ivory in 3rd big bust since July
Associated Press, 3 Oct 13;

Elephant tusks are displayed after being confiscated by Hong Kong Customs in Hong Kong Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. Hong Kong customs agents have seized nearly a ton of illegal ivory worth about $1.5 million in the third big bust of endangered species products in three months. Officials said Thursday that they found a total of 189 elephant tusks weighing 769 kilograms (1,695 pounds) at the southern Chinese city's busy port. The ivory, shipped from Cote d'Ivoire and transited through Malaysia, was wrapped in linen and nylon bags and hidden in large bags of soybeans in containers on three separate ships. Officials said the likely final destination was mainland China. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong customs agents have seized nearly a ton of illegal ivory worth about $1.5 million, officials said Thursday, in the city's third big bust of endangered species products in three months.

Customs officials said they found a total of 189 elephant tusks weighing 769 kilograms (1,695 pounds) at the southern Chinese city's busy port in anti-smuggling operations carried out in late September.

The ivory was wrapped in linen and nylon bags and hidden in large bags of soybeans in containers on three separate ships, said Vincent Wong, head of Ports and Maritime Command.

The shipments came from Cote d'Ivoire and transited through Malaysia. Officials said the likely final destination was mainland China.

No arrests have been made and authorities are looking for the smugglers, Wong said.

It's the latest in a string of illegal ivory shipments uncovered by Hong Kong authorities over the past few years.

Wildlife activists say China's growing presence in Africa has led to a huge surge in poaching of elephants for their tusks, most of which are believed to be smuggled into China and Thailand to make ivory ornaments.

Wong said the smugglers changed their methods after three other big shipments from Africa were confiscated in Hong Kong this year.

"The smugglers tried a different modus operandi," Wong said. "Instead of one shipment they packed the bulk into three shipments for different consignees. They used different vessels on different voyages to try to evade customs inspections."

In August, Hong Kong officials seized illegal ivory, rhino horns and leopard skins worth $5.3 million in a shipment that came from Nigeria. In late July, they found two tons of tusks worth $2.25 million in a container from Togo. In January, a shipment of ivory worth $1.4 million from Kenya was confiscated.

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Rhino horn poaching hits new record in South Africa

Jon Herskovitz, Reuters, 2 Oct 13;

(Reuters) - The number of rhinos killed by poachers has hit a new annual record in South Africa, raising worries of a downward population spiral in a country that is home to almost all of Africa's rhinos.

As of the end of September, 704 rhinos had been killed by poachers in South Africa, exceeding the annual record of 668 set in 2012, according to data provided by the Environmental Affairs ministry on Tuesday.

If the trend keeps at its current pace, more than 1,000 rhinos would be killed in 2014, putting the species on the brink of a population decline that the ministry has said could lead to the end of wild rhinos in about a decade.

The greatest threat to the estimated 22,000 rhinos in South Africa comes from those trying to cash in on the black market value of their horn, which sells at prices higher than gold.

Many of the poachers come from neighboring Mozambique and sell the horn to crime syndicates to feed rapidly rising demand in Southeast Asia, where the horn is thought by some to cure cancer and tame hangovers.

"We need people to be ashamed of this. The fact that our rhinos are killed is because there is a market out there. There are people who are coming to steal our heritage," said Fundisile Mketeni, a top biodiversity official at the ministry.

He said a baby boom among rhino stocks is softening the blow, while the ministry has mounted a global campaign to shut the doors for illegal exports to places such as Vietnam, China and Thailand, which are the main consumers of the contraband.


Most of the killings are taking place in the flagship Kruger National Park, which borders Mozambique. The park covers an area about the size of Israel and has been the focus of an arms race between poachers and rangers.

The park service has been turning its rangers into soldiers, using drones to patrol airspace and sending out crack units by helicopter once suspected poachers have been sighted.

"The poaching syndicates are determined to carry on with their nefarious acts, using the poverty that is prevalent in Mozambique and South Africa to recruit poachers," said Ike Phaahla, a spokesman with South African National Parks.

Up until about 2010, only a handful of rhinos were poached but the number shot up when rumors circulated at about that time that a Vietnamese minister's relative was cured of cancer by the horn. There is no basis in science to support the claim.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the horn was used to treat maladies from rheumatism to devil possession. Now, many newly rich Vietnamese consume it after a hard night of partying.

Rhino horn, once seen as a treatment only for royalty, is being swallowed by a small segment of the Vietnamese population who can afford prices of about $65,000 a kilogram, conservation groups say.

Due to the high costs, much of the so-called rhino horn sold at pharmacies in major cities is fake, with buffalo horn the main substitute.

"There is a small group who have the money for rhino horn. We need to get out scientific evidence to show the people of Vietnam that it doesn't work," Vo Tuan Nhan, vice chairman of the Vietnamese parliament's science and environment committee, told a seminar in Johannesburg last month.

(Additional reporting by the Hanoi Bureau and Christine Kim in Pretoria, editing by Gareth Jones)

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How an Indonesian Peatland Project Is Offering a New Way to Curb Forest Fires

Erwida Maulia, Jakarta Globe, 30 Sep 13;

Farmers close a water gate after riding their sampan through a ditch next to a rubber plantation in Jabiren village, Pulang Pisau district on Sept. 26, 2013. (JG Photo/Erwida Maulia)

Pulang Pisau, Central Kalimantan. The residents of Jabiren faced a nervous wait in October last year as fires raged in the peatlands around their village.

“Fire stormed this area — including that land across from here,” said Muhrizal Sarwani, the head of the Agricultural Land Resources Agency (BBSLDP), pointing at an abandoned field across a nearby ditch. “All other places were affected by the fire, except for this site.”

While other tranches of land in the area — peat, mostly — were degraded by a particularly uncompromising fire in 2005 that laid waste to the forest covering, this five-hectare plot is still standing. Now, the government and environmentalists believe that the lessons learned here can be put to work at lessening the impact of one of the world’s most pressing environmental problems — Indonesia’s ticking carbon time bomb.

The Sustainable Peatland Management project began in 2010 across five different pilot sites in the archipelago after it was proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and had its funding approved by the Indonesian Climate Change trust Fund (ICCTF). Jabiren was one of the locations chosen — the Central Kalimantan arm of the project is scheduled to run until 2014.

“[Peatlands] here have been degraded for quite a long time, and have repeatedly fallen victim to fires,” Muhrizal said during a visit to the project site in Jabiren last Thursday.

He puts the success of this project, so far, down to three focuses that depart from the status quo— raising the level of the water table, the use of peat ameliorants and inter-cropping.

Fahmuddin Agus, a soil expert with the BBSLDP, places a particular emphasis on addressing the level of water below the ground.

“We need to keep the water table at a level as shallow as possible,” Fahmuddin said. “If it’s too deep, more soil will burn when fire strikes.”

Project staff installed a water gate on an edge of the ditch encircling the site to keep the water table at a depth of between 50 and 85 centimeters, Muhrizal said. The Jabiren peat layer is around six meters deep.

In addition to fertilizers commonly used as nutrients for plants, the project used peat ameliorants to reduce acidity — peat frequently registers around 3pH. A level of at least 5.5pH is required for plants to grow.

While the healthy water table and use of ameliorants are largely invisible to the untrained eye, the third factor that sets this project apart is easier to spot. In contrast to the usual mono-cultural assembly lines, the rubber plantation columns here are punctuated by rows of pineapple trees.

In addition to making the land more productive, intercropping makes the land less flammable.

“Planting the pineapples also means weeding the rubber plantation, which minimizes competition for water and nutrients between rubber trees and weeds,” Fahmuddin said. “But it also minimizes the ‘fire bridge’ where weed grows between rubber trees, as often happened in the conventional system.”

Planting pineapples between rubber trees denies water and nutrients to more flammable plants that would otherwise fill the space. (JG Photo/Erwida Maulia)

Probable cause

While the branches of Indonesia’s peat problem are now well established, the roots were planted in a previous era.

The New Order regime rolled out the One Million–Hectare Peatland program in 1996 with the aim of converting peatland in Central Kalimantan into paddy fields by draining the ground.

The project fell apart as the government failed to apply the correct technology to allow rice — or any other plant for that matter — to grow on the land. It succeeded only in cutting down forests and draining the soil. The result was vast tracts of wasteland.

The loss of water and the growth of shrub made the lands highly susceptible to fire. Large fires have, indeed, struck the degraded peatlands numerous times since the failed conversion attempt. The blazes in Jabiren in 2005 and 2012 were not without a cause.

Developing peatlands for agricultural use has the added benefit that those who steward the land tend to look after it.

Fahmuddin cites an example on another side of the village, where the ICCTF project is being replicated across 100 hectares of lands run by 42 farmers, who frequently patrol the area.

“Whenever they see fire, they quickly put it out,” he said.

The replication project, beginning last year, is managed by the Central Kalimantan office of the Agricultural Technology Assessment Agency (BPTP), and is funded through Indonesia’s REDD+ scheme. Aside from the Jabiren site, ICCTF is running similar sustainable peatland management projects in four other locations in Indonesia — in Riau and Jambi (both are palm-oil projects), West Kalimantan (corn) and Papua (sago).

Indonesian firefighters tackle a blaze in Riau during the 2013 haze crisis. (EPA Photo)

Quitting smoking

Fires and unproductive agriculture are important issues at a local level, but the issue of Indonesia’s peatlands also holds profound global significance.

Peatlands contain twice as much carbon stock as the entire forest biomass of the world (550 gigatons of carbon). Wetlands International, a Netherlands-based NGO focusing on wetland conservation and restoration, says Indonesia has the dubious honor of being responsible for the highest CO2 emissions from peatlands due to logging and drainage — amounting to around 900 megatons per year.

The country’s Ministry of Environment says peat fires contributed 25 percent of the country’s carbon emissions between 2000 and 2005, second only to deforestation.

Reducing emissions from peat and forest destruction is the highest priority on the government’s pledge to cut the country’s emissions by 26 percent by 2020. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a presidential regulation on this target in 2011.

A 2011 study by the Ministry of Agriculture says Indonesia has a total of 14.9 million hectares of peatlands spread across Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. More than three million of these lands are degraded because of logging, fires or failed attempts to convert them into farms.

Environmentalists have called for tough sanctions against those disturbing peatlands, including farmers who try to convert them into, now-ubiquitous, palm-oil plantations.

But the ICCTF and Ministry of Agriculture have agreed that the best way to protect peatlands is by engaging local farmers instead, by encouraging them to adopt more sustainable ways of managing the land.

“What can we do with the more than 3 million hectares of peat shrubs?” Fahmuddin said. “As most peat shrubs are under the influence of drainage, converting it to agriculture will almost certainly reduce carbon emissions from fires.”

He added that planting trees on degraded peatlands over the existing shrubs would also reduce emissions through CO2 uptake by “high-biomass” trees.

A new leaf?

A 2007 joint study by the World Bank, the British Department for International Development (DFID) and Pelangi Energi Abdi Citra Enviro (PEACE) — a local NGO — placed Indonesia as the world’s third-largest carbon emitter after China and the United States, although the Indonesian government’s own figure was less than half the size.

“When I saw the [project] proposal, I saw it included collecting data of emissions from peatlands,” chairwoman of the ICCTF secretariat, Syamsidar Thamrin. “This is very useful research because we may now learn the real situation: How much exactly are emissions released by Indonesian peatlands.”

The project monitors other key indicators — water table levels, carbon emissions, even the surrounding weather patterns.

“That is where we’ve got accurate conclusions, such as at which depth we need to maintain the water table and which treatments can reduce emissions,” Muhrizal said. “These are scientific data and facts, not just some random guesses.”

ICCTF says it expects other institutions, be they local or international, to replicate the sustainable peatland management in other areas.

Lastyo K. Lukito, director for environmental and social performance at the Millenium Challenge Account – Indonesia (MCAI), a body set up jointly by the Indonesian and US governments to support the two countries’ partnership, applauded the project for having proven that there was a way to make degraded peatlands economically beneficial to local farmers while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is not exactly a new thing; I’ve read about this kind of project before,” Lastyo said after visiting the site in Jabiren. “But we’d never seen the proof of its success before. And [the Jabiren project] is proof. This is something positive.”

Lastyo said MCAI would further study the project to examine the economic benefits before deciding whether to fund any replica project.

“There’s a very big possibility we can implement this in other regions by bringing in the results… and the findings of [the ICCTF project].”

Iwan Tricahyo Wibisono, forestry specialist at the Indonesian office of Wetlands International, said he welcomed the project because it “optimized” the condition of the degraded peatlands.

Iwan was unsure about the merit of the project in combating the bigger issue of greenhouse gas emissions, but expressed hope that this form of land management could be used to preclude the all-too-familiar site of clouds of smoke rising up from Indonesia’s forests.

“This sounds like a positive project to me,” said Iwan. “They’re optimizing the existing conditions, allowing farmers to benefit from that while introducing sustainable farming that can prevent fires. We’re supportive to things like this.”

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