Best of our wild blogs: 5-6 Oct 13

Dugong and more at Chek Jawa!
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

The Least Remote Reef
from Pulau Hantu

More than 160 kg of rubbish found on Pulau Ubin shores [English news report]
from Peiyan.Photography

Stork-billed kingfisher casting a pellet as it was about to swallow a fish
from Bird Ecology Study Group

A Long Hike from Mandai Track 15 to Bukit Panjang
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Greening of Eco-Link @ BKE
from Butterflies of Singapore

100 Common Vascular Plants of the Nee Soon Swamp Forest
from Raffles Museum News

Here come the Garbage Men @ TNF 100 Singapore
from Running Sucks

Myanmar faces new conservation challenges as it opens up to the world
from news by Claire Salisbury

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Ecological Armageddon in Thai forest

Grace Chua, Straits Times, 6 Oct 13;

Around the world, tropical forests are being chipped away and fragmented by agriculture, dams and other developments.

But how fast do species disappear from these forest fragments, and how soon must people act to stop extinction?

National University of Singapore (NUS) doctoral student Luke Gibson and his colleagues have been tracking islands in a drowned Thai forest, hoping to answer this question.

The Chiew Larn Reservoir in southern Thailand, midway between Ko Samui and Phuket, is a natural experiment. In 1987, it was formed by damming a river and flooding 165 sq km of forest, producing tiny islands, some smaller than a football field.

Twenty years ago, biologist David Woodruff of the University of California, San Diego, counted the small mammals such as moon rats (shrew-like jungle rats, native to and relatively common in South-east Asian tropical forests) on a dozen selected islands by trapping, tagging and releasing them.

Over the past few years, Mr Gibson and colleagues repeated the work.

They were startled by the sharp crash in the number of small mammal species on the islands.

And after just 25 years, the islands were dominated by Malayan field rats. These animals live in secondary forests and farmland, and were not on the islands when the dam was built, so they must have swum there.

"It was like ecological Armageddon," Mr Gibson said. "Nobody imagined we'd see such catastrophic local extinctions."

Their research was published late last month in the journal Science.

It may be too late to save the native denizens of these tiny Thai islands, but the study sounds a warning to many other countries where forests are increasingly being sacrificed for development, said researchers.

Dr Chong Kwek Yan, an NUS plant biologist, commented that Singapore's forests, too, are fragmented by roads, reservoirs, pipelines and other features, but that the forest patches here are much larger than the ones in the Thailand study.

Still, there are core areas of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve - between Upper Seletar and Upper Peirce, and Upper Peirce and MacRitchie reservoirs, for instance - that serve as "bastions of biodiversity" and where no additional fragmentation should occur.

The study findings, Mr Gibson said, emphasised the need to protect large, intact forest areas.

"But we should not write off small forest fragments, because that is all that remains in many tropical landscapes.

"I think this is a warning of what is going to be increasingly common in the future."

See also: Luke Gibson et al.: forest fragments suffer small mammal community loss in just 5-25 years; invasive rat monoculture dominates from NUS Biodiversity Crew

Near-Complete Extinction of Native Small Mammal Fauna 25 Years After Forest Fragmentation
Luke Gibson, Antony J. Lynam, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Fangliang He, David P. Bickford, David S. Woodruff, Sara Bumrungsri, William F. Laurance
Science, 27 Sep 13;

Abstract: Tropical forests continue to be felled and fragmented around the world. A key question is how rapidly species disappear from forest fragments and how quickly humans must restore forest connectivity to minimize extinctions. We surveyed small mammals on forest islands in Chiew Larn Reservoir in Thailand 5 to 7 and 25 to 26 years after isolation and observed the near-total loss of native small mammals within 5 years from <10-hectare (ha) fragments and within 25 years from 10- to 56-ha fragments. Based on our results, we developed an island biogeographic model and estimated mean extinction half-life (50% of resident species disappearing) to be 13.9 years. These catastrophic extinctions were probably partly driven by an invasive rat species; such biotic invasions are becoming increasingly common in human-modified landscapes. Our results are thus particularly relevant to other fragmented forest landscapes and suggest that small fragments are potentially even more vulnerable to biodiversity loss than previously thought.

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Green waterfront for Tanjong Pagar

Sylvester Toh, Straits Times, 5 Oct 13;

Singapore is acclaimed around the world as a successful waterfront city and maritime nation (Dream Towns, Life!, Sept 28).

Yet, it does not have a world-renowned beach like Rio's Copacabana and Ipanema, Sydney's Bondi and those along the French Riviera to call its own. Instead, the ones at East Coast Park and Changi are poorly maintained, while those at Sentosa are blighted by a smorgasbord of attractions nearby.

The Lion City is also highly regarded for its urban planning capabilities.

Unfortunately, it has been outshone by the likes of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Songdo in South Korea as purveyors of futuristic eco-friendly townships.

Now that our Government has confirmed plans to consolidate all port operations along Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang at Tuas, we have a fantastic opportunity to reclaim our place in the sun.

As far as I know, no major global city has implemented an exclusively car-free zone in its central business district.

Above all, no major city can boast a sexy smoke- and food-free beach and lagoon manned by professional lifeguards in its CBD area.

It is never too late to execute a vision that allows stressed out office workers to get a quick tan on a beach during lunch, as well as a place to hold beach parties in the heart of the city.

Tanjong Pagar can be a cul-de-sac for the use of renewable energy, with a centralised waste-to-energy management system.

For example, planners may wish to line its perimeter along Keppel Road with sustainable commercial buildings and mixed developments that have ample pick-up and drop-off points, as well as parking space, so that those who are used to getting around by car will not be deterred from visiting it.

The Tanjong Pagar project will also provide our planners an excellent platform to close the loop for the Circle Line, by establishing a few new MRT stations in the precinct and linking them to those at HarbourFront and Marina Bay in an imaginative way that could potentially turn a regular trip on the train into a fun experience.

For example, part of this conduit can be a track along a wide footbridge above water that pays homage to kelongs from days of yore.

One of the stations may also be linked to the old Tanjong Pagar Railway Station when it is redeveloped, perhaps as a cultural foundation dedicated to the culinary arts, food heritage and technology.

Visitors may choose to either walk along the footpaths - at ground level, on elevated bridges and underground - ride a bicycle or hop on to electric trams, to get to key attractions, including the alluring beachfront.

The idea of building finger piers by the founder of Ministry of Design, Mr Colin Seah, would be most ideal for this section of the township. As the creative denizens of New York City have shown, finger piers and wharves can be used for a variety of events, from art exhibitions to fashion shows, and not just for berthing boats.

The Tanah Merah ferry terminal should be converted into a cruise hub that connects seamlessly to the expanded Changi Airport. Set aside the southern waterway for sea sports such as rowing, and hold annual international dragon-boat races there.

Above all, Tanjong Pagar should avoid being a location for mass entertainment such as mega theme parks. There are already Universal Studios and other attractions on Sentosa.

Beyond the green mixed developments and commercial buildings, a sizeable portion of Tanjong Pagar's land area should be devoted to waterfront residences, public squares for alfresco dining, beach and sports clubs, and perhaps a couple of aqua-based resorts and a family-oriented indoor beach resort catering to those who wish to avoid the sun.

A true waterfront city must first and foremost be about returning the sea and the land to the people, and not just for them to capture panoramic waterfront views on Instagram.

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More builders green up for extra space

Total 'bonus' area the size of Tampines Mall given to developers for green features
Daryl Chin, Straits Times, 6 Oct 13;

More developers are going green thanks to a scheme which gives them extra floor area if their buildings are built with environment-friendly features.

So far, builders have received extra space of more than 43,000 sq m - the size of Tampines Mall, allowing them to add extra residential or office units in their buildings.

These figures on the Green Mark Gross Floor Area Incentive Scheme were revealed by the Building Construction Authority (BCA) yesterday.

The scheme, which was put in place in 2009 as part of the Green Masterplan, gives private-sector companies as much as 2 per cent in extra gross floor area - capped at 5,000 sq m - if they achieve certain environmental standards.

These include the efficient use of energy and water, through, for instance, energy-saving air-conditioning systems, LED lighting and tap fittings.

From 20 applications in 2009, the number has since grown to 110 in total so far, including those from developments such as JCube and Up@Robertson Quay.

A City Developments (CDL) spokesman said the "welcome incentive" has been embraced by many in the industry.

"More developers have been encouraged... to promote sustainability in the built environment and raise environmental awareness for the overall good of the industry," she said.

But going green comes at a price.

To get the highest green rating, and be awarded the maximum extra space under the scheme, a commercial building might add up to 5 per cent to construction costs. It might take up to 61/2 years to recoup this extra expenditure.

Builders would also need to pay a levy, known as the development charge, on the extra floor area they are awarded through the scheme.

SLP International head of research Nicholas Mak added that due to several revisions to the green criteria, it was also getting harder for developers to get top marks.

The changes were part of the Government's drive to increase construction productivity while promoting sustainability.

"Builders have to balance going for green features like more prefab parts and solar panels, against their chances of getting more gross floor area. This will decide how bullish they are in their land bids, which will, in turn, also affect what costs are passed to the buyers," said Mr Mak.

EL Development managing director Lim Yew Soon noted that smaller developers need to be extra careful in pricing their products. "Customers might be willing to pay a premium for projects from the big boys but not for the smaller guys. In that case, it may not be justifiable to try for the extra floor area," he said.

Meanwhile, BCA also gave updates on the other initiatives undertaken in the 2009 masterplan, which is set to be revised later this year.

More than $90 million in cash incentives have been committed to existing building owners who retrofit their premises to meet specific green criteria. This has helped commercial buildings cut back energy expenses by 20 per cent a year on average.

There is also a target to build a workforce of 20,000 green specialists by 2020, to improve the design, construction and maintenance of green buildings.

BCA said that around 6,000 professionals have either been trained so far or are currently undergoing courses.

All these efforts to encourage sustainable buildings make Singapore one of the leading nations when it comes to going green, according to green consultancy ZEB Technology managing director Lim Jit Seng. "Our system relies on attractive incentives coupled with strict auditing procedures. Hopefully, this will be enough to achieve better sustainability."

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50 native trees planted to kick-start greening of Eco-Link@BKE

To kick-start the greening of Eco-Link@BKE, representatives from government agencies and civil organisations came together on Saturday to plant 50 native trees at the site.
Monica Kotwani, Channel NewsAsia, 5 Oct 13;

Minister of State for National Development Mr Desmond Lee (R) and NParks CEO Mr Poon Hong Yuen, planting a tree at the Eco-Link@BKE. (Photo: NParks)

SINGAPORE: The seeds have been sown for a unique ecological bridge, the Eco-Link@BKE, that will connect two nature reserves in Singapore.

Staff and representatives from government agencies and civil organisations on Saturday planted 50 native trees at the bridge, which is described as the first of its kind in Singapore.

Greening of the connector is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The Eco-Link@BKE runs over and across the Bukit Timah Expressway.

National Parks Board (NParks) said the bridge will allow wildlife to move between the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves.

NParks said insects, butterflies and birds will make use of the bridge, and over time, animals like the pangolin, flying squirrel, palm civet and porcupine are expected to make use of the extension as well.

The crossing of wildlife will also benefit native plant species.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said: “The BKE built in the 80s segmented two areas of wildlife and plant life, and it is hoped that with this eco-link bridge, we'll be able to see and record a growth in the various species that nature groups are concerned about.

“I think this represents at the symbolic level, a commitment by Singapore and Singaporeans to preserve what is precious about our biodiversity, because of itself and because of the importance of nature."

- CNA/ac/nd

Greening of first-of-its-kind eco-bridge starts
Animals such as the pangolin and porcupine are expected to use the bridge to move between two nature reserves
Today Online, 5 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE – To kick-start the greening of a first-of-its-kind eco-bridge, representatives from Government agencies and civil organisations came together this morning (Oct 5) to plant 50 native trees at the site.

Connecting two nature reserves over the Bukit Timah Expressway, the bridge, named Eco-Link@BKE, will allow wildlife to move between the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. The S$16 million bridge is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said it expects insects, butterflies and birds to cross the bridge. As more wildlife gets used to Eco-Link@BKE, other animals like the pangolin, flying squirrel, palm civet and porcupine are expected to use the bridge as well.

Animal crossings are expected to benefit rare native plants, such as the Singapore Walking Stick Palm, which is pollinated and dispersed by animals.

NParks said that with the connector, an exchange of the palm’s genetic materials can be expected between the two nature reserves. That would reduce inbreeding and boost the chances of the plant’s survival.

Public access to Eco-Link@BKE will be restricted during the initial years to reduce human disturbance. However, NParks is working closely with nature groups to organise guided walks, where feasible, in the future.

Greening of wildlife bridge begins
Ian Poh, Straits Times, 6 Oct 13;

The "greening" phase of Eco-Link@BKE, a bridge built to allow wildlife, such as monkeys, to move between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment area separated by the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE), has started.

About 80 people from nature groups, schools, non-government organisations and other agencies were on the 62m-long linkway yesterday to help plant trees.

They were also there to get a first look of the $16 million project developed by the National Parks Board (NParks) and Land Transport Authority. Construction on Eco-Link@BKE began in 2011. Native species of trees, shrubs and plants will gradually be introduced on and around the bridge to simulate a natural habitat, NParks said.

Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, the guest of honour at the event, said the project "represents a commitment to preserving what is precious about our biodiversity". There was a lot of potential for future collaboration between government agencies, passionate volunteers and nature groups, he added.

The bridge is located about 600m north of Rifle Range Road, between the Pan-Island Expressway and Dairy Farm exits.

Wildlife is expected to be able to move between the two nature reserves by the end of this year, said NParks in a statement. Public access will be restricted during the initial years to reduce human disturbance.

Mr Tony O'Dempsey, a council member of the Nature Society (Singapore), said he was happy with the project coming together. "Nature groups have always been uncomfortable with the separation of the two reserves.

"The eco-bridge shows initiative on the part of the Government to promote biodiversity."

Greening of Eco-Link@BKE begins
Close partnership between government agencies and the community turns Eco-Link@BKE from vision to reality
NParks media release, 5 Oct 13;

Singapore, 5 October 2013– To kick-start the greening of Eco-Link@BKE, representatives from government agencies and non-governmental organisations came together this morning to plant 50native treesat the site. First of its kind in Singapore, the Eco-Link@BKE is an ecological bridge that connects two nature reserves over an expressway. Greening of Eco-Link@BKE is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

From the start of the project, nature groups, non-governmental organisations, tertiary institutions, schools, volunteers and government agencies have worked closely with the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to conduct feasibility studies and ecological monitoring surveys. The baseline data collected will be used as a comparison against the findings of future surveys to evaluate the effectiveness of Eco-Link@BKE.

“The tree-planting this morning represents the contributions of various stakeholders in making Eco-Link@BKE a reality. This project has brought together Singapore’s wildlife experts, nature enthusiasts, and government agencies in an unprecedented effort to connect two nature reserves. As we commemorate 50 Years of Greening Singapore in 2013, the development of Eco-Link@BKE shows us how Singapore’s City in a Garden vision can be achieved – through working in close partnership with the community. We want to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to all who have contributed to the project; we also look forward to the continued support and involvement of NGOs and volunteers for future surveys,” said NParks Chief Executive Officer, Mr Poon Hong Yuen.

Wildlife will be able to move between the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves by the end of the year. At the onset, NParks expects insects, butterflies and birds to cross the bridge. As more wildlife gets used to the Eco-Link@BKE, other animals like the pangolin, flying squirrel, palm civet and porcupine are expected to use the bridge as well.

Animal crossings will also benefit rare native plants. For example, the Singapore Walking Stick Palm (Rhapaloblaste singaporensis) is pollinated and dispersed by animals. With the Eco-Link@BKE, an exchange of the palm’s genetic materials can be expected between the two nature reserves. This will reduce the occurrence of inbreeding, and increase its chances of survival.

Public access to the Eco-Link@BKE will be restricted during the initial years to reduce human disturbance. NParks is working closely with nature groups to organise guided walks where feasible in the future.

Read more!

More than 160 kg of rubbish found on Pulau Ubin shores

A recent clean-up found more than 160 kilogrammes of rubbish on the northern shores of Pulau Ubin.
Evelyn Lam, Channel NewsAsia, 4 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: A recent clean-up of the beaches at Pulau Ubin led by Outward Bound Singapore saw more than 160 kilogrammes of waste being collected.

Volunteers found fishing nets and abandoned barrels among the usual plastic bags and bottles in the rubbish deposited at Pulau Ubin's northern shores.

Chua Li San, head of character and curriculum development at Outward Bound Singapore, said: "We don't know what is actually being contained in those barrels. Is it petroleum or is it some other petrochemical waste?

"The fishing nets... we don't know if any fishes or birds will be trapped by the nets.

"Is cleaning the beach the only solution? We need to do something more extensively... to educate people."

Fishermen said they usually bring their rubbish to the collection point at the nearby Marina Country Club and added that some of the waste could have floated over from kelongs at the opposite shores of neighbouring countries.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority said it is an offence for fish farmers to dispose waste into sea waters.

- CNA/ec

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Myanmar: Sharing the gift of water

Charlene Poon, Today Online, 5 Oct 13;

Mr Soe Tint, a 59-year-old general worker in Ma Kjee Kan village, used to have to walk 10 minutes to collect water from a shallow 12m well.

He did this with two recycled plastic bottles attached to a pole — and as these could not hold more than 4 litres of water, he had to make several trips daily for his family’s drinking, washing and bathing needs.

Mr Soe Tint is one of nearly 40 million people in Myanmar who live in the countryside, where limited access to water sources, clean water and basic health facilities poses implications for health and livelihoods.

Villagers typically rely on ponds or shallow wells where water collects during the monsoon season. Over the hot dry months from March to May, these water sources get depleted and become heavy with sediment.

“My children fall sick with diarrhoea if they drink the water without boiling it,” he says. “It costs about 10,000 kyats (S$13) per trip to the Kaw Hmu Hospital. Buying firewood costs us 100 to 500 kyats.”

For Mr Soe Tint’s family, which has a combined daily income of 2,000 kyats, the costs add up.

When Cyclone Nargis hit in 2008, villages in the Irrawaddy Delta suffered — water, sanitation, electricity and communication were cut off. According to a 2010 survey by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), less than 30 per cent of the population in the delta region had access to safe drinking water.

Mr Soe Tint’s situation changed in April this year, when a 122m-deep community tube well was installed in Ma Kjee Kan village with the help of volunteers from Singapore.

Now, the villagers need only turn on a tap for clean drinking water that does not need to be boiled — it comes from deep groundwater reserves which are purer than surface water. The well operates with an electric pump, which the villagers share the cost and maintenance of.

Thirty-six such wells are being installed over three years in the townships of Kaw Hmu and Kungyangon under the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Water for Life (Yangon) programme in partnership with local non-government organisation Mingalar Myanmar and sponsored by Keppel Land and the Singapore Red Cross.

In the village of Zee Kone, their own new tube well has enabled provisions seller Ma Maw, 39, to plant and sell betel leaf all year round, instead of for only a few months. It also helps in watering the livestock.

“My income and livelihood have improved,” she says. “We are so thankful for the well.”

Water for Life (Yangon) will also conduct community education programmes on basic hygiene and nutrition for villagers, and refurbish five rural health centres and two district hospitals. Medical staff will be trained by specialist volunteers recruited via the SIF.

The foundation’s Chairman Euleen Goh describes it as “stretching out many hands of friendship ... between the people of Myanmar and Singapore, and between the villagers and volunteers”. Five Keppel Land employees gave their time for the April launch of the project and regular volunteering opportunities are now offered to the company’s staff and the Keppel Group.

Indeed, Keppel is not the only corporation that has taken to offering employees volunteering opportunities overseas as a way of giving back to the community.

Deutsche Bank Asia — which has sponsored the SIF’s Water for Life project in Siem Reap, Cambodia, since 2010 — recently called for applications from staff for a volunteer trip there, as part of the Deutsche Bank Asia Foundation’s 10th anniversary. It received 200 applications, of which 22 made the cut.

Over the two-day trip, 20 bio-sand filters were built and installed in villagers’ homes, giving more than 200 Cambodian villagers access to clean drinking water — a matter of life and death in a country where infant mortality rates are among the highest in Asia, largely due to water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, Hepatitis A and typhoid.

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Malaysia: Marine turtles get a lifeline

New Straits Times, 5 Oct 13;

KOTA KINABALU: An agreement signed here yesterday has extended a lifeline towards the preservation of four marine turtle species.

Under it, three parties will be in charge of hatcheries and turtles' relocation and incubation.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia initiated the agreement between the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), The Reef Dive Resort and Tours and Sipadan Pom-Pom Island Resort and Tours.

Its signing took place yesterday at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, in conjunction with World Animal Day and SWD's 50th anniversary.

A total of 785 Green and 171 Hawksbill turtle nests had been recorded in the northeast island of Semporna between June 2006 and December 2012.

The head of marine for WWF Malaysia, Carol Phua, said: "This joint effort means long-term protection of sea turtles around Semporna. It is an example how sustainable tourism can contribute to their preservation. Hopefully, this agreement will increase their hatching rate."

Agreement Strengthens Turtle Conservation Work in Semporna
WWF Malaysia; 4 Oct 13;

4 October 2013, Kota Kinabalu: Turtle conservation in Sabah reached a milestone today with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), The Reef Dive Resort and Tours, and Sipadan Pom-Pom Island Resort and Tours.

The agreement is a significant step towards the protection of the four marine turtle species in Malaysia, especially the endangered Green turtle and critically-endangered Hawksbill turtle which are predominantly found in the northeast islands of Semporna, specifically at Mataking and Pom-Pom Islands.

Under the agreement, the three organizations are responsible to ensure that the hatcheries are regulated and well-operated, and that the nests will be relocated to the hatchery should there be threats such as poaching, natural predators and erosion of nesting. Data will also be compiled and shared on quarterly basis for further improvements of turtle population management in the area.

The agreement also looks into the implementation of ‘in situ’, which means natural incubation of nests to increase hatching rates and balance sex ratio of population.

The signing, which culminated years of work that was initiated by WWF-Malaysia, was held at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, in conjunction with World Animal Day and SWD’s 50th anniversary celebration. The national conservation organization played a key role in facilitating the need for collaboration among parties for the protection of turtles in the area.

Between June 2006 and December 2012, a total of 785 Green and 171 Hawksbill turtle nests were documented in the northeast islands of Semporna based on monitoring surveys and interviews with local communities conducted by WWF-Malaysia, Sabah Wildlife Department and resort operators. The activities also provided a baseline for further researches.

“Today is a momentous day. Marine turtles have long been the flagship species for marine conservation in Malaysia, and today is the dawn of a new era of private-public partnership in Malaysian marine conservation. This joint effort means long-term protection of suitable nesting and foraging grounds for sea turtles around Semporna, and a great example of how sustainable tourism can contribute to conservation,” said WWF-Malaysia’s Head of Marine, Carol Phua.

In September 2012, as a mid-term measure, a turtle management body was formed, comprising members from all the three organizations. The body, led by SWD, acts as a platform for stakeholders to collaboratively manage sea turtles in Semporna.

SWD is the government agency responsible for sea turtles in Sabah under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997; The Reef Dive Resort and Tours manages Mataking Island, while Sipadan Pom-Pom Island Resort and Tours manages Pom-Pom Island of Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA).

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Malaysia: Fish for life

The Star, 6 Oct 13;

WHEN local marine fish farming company Aquagrow Corporation Sdn Bhd was setting up in 2008, it received only one Malaysian applicant to join the company.

In Malaysia, fish farming is still perceived as a small-scale rural activity, says its CEO Mohd Razali Mohamed.

“What many don’t realise is that aquaculture (fish farming) is now a RM380bil global industry with some 160 million tonnes of fish being traded all over the world each year. Fish production is already the biggest food production sector in the world - bigger even than chicken, beef, dairy or pork. And the pay is fantastic and is on par with other industries,” he says.

Crucially, aquaculture is becoming increasingly high tech, requiring extensive research and development to spur its growth, and experts in related specialisations from marine biologists to feed specialists, geneticists and food technologists.

Seeing the potential in the field, Mohd Razali decided to turn his “side project” - a fish farm in Adelaide, Australia - into a fulltime career.

Mohd Razali decided to walk away from his high tech career in Geographical Information System and Remote Sensing to pursue aquaculture fulltime.

“I entered the aquaculture industry at 36 years old. Initially, it was just for diversification of business portfolio. After five years, I gave up everything else and concentrated on fish farming, having seen how big the industry is.”

Along with his business partners, Mohd Razali decided to test the waters here.

“We had a bit of a culture shock! Compared to when we were in Australia, we got so much support from the government here and there were even funds available through various grants.”

Through BiotechCorp, Aquagrow received the BioNexus Status, which gave them various incentives and guarantees to develop their aquaculture enterprise.

“With BioNexus, we got help at all stages of our development, even with petty issues,” says Mohd Razali, describing BiotechCorp as a “nurturing” agency.

After studying the market, they decided to focus on Tiger Grouper, Giant Grouper, Barramundi and Red Snapper.

They started with a farm in Langkawi and another in Tok Bali, Kelantan. To reap optimum “catch”, they invested in research and development (R&D) at their facilities and hatcheries, says Mohd Razali.

“The biggest problem in fish farming is the high mortality (about 50% for Barramundi and Snapper, and 70% for Grouper) due to viruses, diseases, parasites and bacteria. We apply aquaculture biotechnology in fish farming at all three stages of our operations - from hatchery, nursery to grow-out - to reduce the mortality and to increase profitability.”

Through aquaculture technology, they are working to develop a long term Broodstock Enhancement Programme using a DNA-marker assisted family selection method to reverse the declining quality of their broodstock and a commercial scale Copepod production for first feeding in all their hatcheries.

Another initiative is to develop high-density poly ethylene (HDPE) materials to make sea cages to allow them to keep their brood in deeper and higher quality waters.

According to Mohd Razali, the more common wooden cages restrict the fish farmers only to shallow, near shore and sheltered areas which have lower quality sea water. “HDPE cages are also designed to withstand monsoons,” he adds.

Previously, they would have to import HDPE cages which are usually too expensive. “We are designing our own cages with assistance from a Danish aquaculture engineering company. We ordered the fabrication equipment from Europe and will start to fabricate the HDPE cages in Tok Bali soon, at a lower cost than the fully imported models.”

It helps that they are given exemption for import duty as a BioNexus company, says Mohd Razali.

Having a BioNexus status has also made it easier for them to hire the foreign specialists they need.

“Being in the BioNexus programme gives us the freedom to hire any foreign expert we need, which in our case is in almost all departments as we are lacking talents in this field in Malaysia at the moment,” he says.

All of Aquagrow’s farm managers now are Europeans as there are not many Malaysians who have the experience in large scale commercial fish farming, says Mohd Razali.

“But we make sure that we also hire young Malaysian graduates to become their assistants, with the view to have mostly Malaysian managers in the near future.”

Aquagrow also tries to tap into the local community for manpower.

“Both farms are located in very rural areas and we usually give employment preference to locals. We want the farms to have direct positive impacts on the local economies and employment of Langkawi and Tok Bali.” Their first harvest is expected this December.

While all their focus has been on R&D, Mohd Razali is confident of their sales and marketing with their Australian connections.

“Our Barramundi and Snapper will be airflown to Sydney and Melbourne on a weekly basis. When the production increases, we will export to Switzerland and France.

“Our live grouper will be exported to Hong Kong and China. There are many ‘well boats’ from Hong Kong that ply the South China Seas and Malacca Straits to purchase live Grouper directly from farms, to bring back to Hong Kong and China.”

He says it was the global aspect of aquaculture that attracted him to the field.

“And virtually there is no limit to the size of the fish. The bigger the fish, the more profit you make.”

Ultimately, it is an area with a demand. “Everyone needs fish!” quips Mohd Razali.

Aquaculture is also Malaysia’s answer to the sustainability of its fishes.

According to experts, Malaysia has lost 92% of its fishery resources due to overfishing.

Mohd Razali points out this is because Malaysians are one of the world’s largest consumers of seafood at 52kg per capita, which is more than double that of US and Europe’s 20kg.

“That means that with a population of more than 27 million, we consume more than 1.4 million tonnes of fish per year while we produce 1.5 million tonnes,” he says.

In 10 years, we will need another 260,000 tonnes to feed ourselves and in 2048, the predicted doomsday for global fisheries, we will need to double our current production.

“Our wild catch has already reached the maximum yield, so unless we act now, we will run out of fish sooner. Where is the fish going to come from in the future? The answer is aquaculture, of course!”

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Malaysia: Sabah keen to tap agricultural waste for energy

The Star, 6 Oct 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is keen to develop a biogas sector to tap into fuel that can be harvested from millions of tonnes of waste generated yearly by the agriculture industry.

A move to diversify the state’s energy sources is always a good idea, said state tourism, culture and environment minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

“We will look into this further with the Natural Resources and Envi­ronment Ministry,” he said after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Sabah Environmental Depart­ment and Natural Resources and Environment Ministry as well as 22 other agencies and companies.

Masidi urged all those involved in the signing of the MoU to be committed to promoting green living.

He added that an annual report should be done to analyse what environmental activities had been carried out and to monitor progress.

Among those present at the event was Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dr James Dawos Mamit who said that biogas could be an effective fuel.

Dr James said this method could help rural folk because they have larger land areas as well as resources such as animal and human waste.

He also said this method could be implemented in Sabah because of the huge number of oil palm estates here.

SESB may look at biogas
Jenne Lajiun, Borneo Post, 5 Oct 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) may consider biogas as an alternative to the coal-fired power plant in the generation of electricity for Sabah.

There is a big opportunity for the production of biogas in Sabah due to the presence of many oil palm mills and their effluents.

Deputy Natural Resource Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said the sludge produced by oil palm mills could produce biogas, which in turn could be used to generate fuel for the production of electricity as well as for cooking and so on.

“The operators refuse to treat the sludge so anyone who wants to generate biogas can collect it. I hope they don’t sell it because if they don’t treat it, they will be penalised by the DOE (Department of Environment),” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between 28 organisations to make way for a collaboration in implementing environment awareness programmes.

James added that the oil palm mills would realise the value of the sludge when people started using them to generate biogas and fuel.

“It is all about balancing an act on how to utilise our waste,” he said.

He also said he was willing to help SESB by giving it advice and even designing a bio-digester for them.

Earlier in his speech, James also provided a glimpse on the benefits of biogas.

He explained that biogas could be produced by waste generated by people, and that included human excrement.

“Two schools with 150 students have been adopted, and the 75 cubic meters of biogas produced has the potential of producing more heat. It is also free so it is better than LPG (Liquefied petroleum gas)…we don’t need LPG,” he said.

He also said the bio-digestor he designed had been adopted by companies in Japan, Myanmar and in Korea.

Meanwhile, a total of 22 agencies in Sabah and eight from the Federal Territory of Labuan yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to embark on a smart partnership to raise awareness of conserving the environment in Sabah.

The MoU shall also act as a medium for the agencies to implement, encourage and raise the membership in its Friends of the Environment programme.

James said if the agencies were successful in protecting and conserving the environment, they would encourage others to follow suit.

Also present to grace the event was Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

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Malaysia: Sarawak Tourism Board to incorporate tree planting in all events

Anthony Joseph, Borneo Post, 5 Oct 13;

MIRI: Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) will incorporate tree planting in all of its events as part of the board’s philosophy and environment conservation efforts.

Its chief executive officer Dato’ Rashid Khan and mayor Lawrence Lai yesterday led performers, sponsors and committee members of Asia Music Festival at a tree planting ceremony held at Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club here.

Also joining in the ceremony, which incorporated Miri City Council (MCC) programme – Miri Go Green – were councillors as well as students and teachers from Tenby International School.

Rashid believed that every human activity including the festival has some impact on Mother Earth directly or indirectly.

“Environment particularly global warming is now becoming a major concern and issue around the world including we here in Malaysia.

“We as part of global citizens, we must do our part to minimise impact to environment contributed by human activities,” said Rashid.

Saying that tree planting is just a small part of the board’s contribution and to create awareness of the importance to conserve Mother Nature, Rashid said: “The greening project we are undertaking with Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club represents the opportunity for all of us to come together as one and to cultivate especially among younger generation that Borneo’s greenery is one of precious national treasures and the tree-planting we are carrying out goes some way to balancing carbon footprint.”

He further said that Miri has also been very supportive of environmental practises with its emphasis on environmental practices such as ‘No Plastic Bag’ which has the support of major shopping outlets and has proven to be very successful.

Rashid hoped that the programme will help develop a group of young people with ambition, passion and compassion for the environment that will define future Malaysia.

“Sarawak and its people are proud to have the world’s oldest tropical rainforests and they along with our sustainable forest management are valuable tourism assets and a legacy which we are custodians of,” he added.

The inaugural Asia Music Festival kicked off yesterday in a wonderful setting at Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club, which is among the top ten golf courses in the country.

“The venue no doubt is befitting, with its splash of greenery and the forest looming on the horizon. This is really the place where the stress of life will be overtaken by the sound of nature and the smell of fresh air from the countryside,” he added.
The festival brought in electrifying eclectic mix of live music on stage comprising bands from the Asian region.

“With its objective of attracting Asian expatriate community living in Brunei, Bruneian themselves, Sabah and peninsular as well as those in Indonesia, Singapore and the region, the atmosphere is that of a carnival as apart from the night shows, there will also be fringe events starting in the afternoon,” he added.

Although the performance commenced at 4pm, live music and singing fans and enthusiasts were seen at the venue at 2pm for the big bikers, tattoo and handicraft exhibition.

Local Miri singing talents Starlets Band and The Mountain Wind Band and Iban band Hevance and Iban singing session Melissa Francis were given the honour to share the stage with Bob Yusuf also known as Bob AF from Malaysia, Soesah Tidoer (Indonesia), Tritha (India), Bembol Rockers (Philippines), V. Star Band (Korea) ft Kamal Mussalam.

The other performers were Fakhrul Razi featuring Camouflage (Brunei), Boy Thai Band (Thailand), Antoney Dassan Yen Party (India) and Foxy Girls (Indonesia).

Also present was Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club chief executive officer Kueh Chie Tiong.

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Malaysia: Govt to persevere in saving rhinos from extinction – Masidi

Borneo Post, 5 Oct 13;

LOK KAWI: The state government will not give up on saving the Bornean Sumatra rhinoceros from going extinction.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidin Manjun said among the efforts that had already been undertaken was to ensure that the species was protected at its natural habitat.

At the same time, the government has also begun a breeding programme which is being carried out at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin.

“We have forged international collaborations to help us with the breeding programme and we hope it will help to increase the population in the future,” Masidi said during the 50th anniversary celebration in the protection of wildlife in Sabah at Lokkawi Wildlife Park near here yesterday. He was presented by his deputy minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi.

It is estimated that Sabah presently has 10 rhinoceros left in the wild.

According to Kamarlin, Sabah was now faced with the possibility of losing its Borneo Sumatra rhinoceros as its population was now at a worrisome level.

The state government, represented by Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, attended the First Asian Rhino Range State Meeting at Bandar Lampung, in Indonesia recently.

Dr Laurentius, during the meeting there, said Malaysia risked losing the only Asian rhino that she has, the Sumatran rhino, unless a concerted global effort to save it was achieved by the end of this decade.

He said it was believed that there were probably as low as 10 individual rhinos left in the wild in Sabah presently.

“Doing nothing except increasing habitat protection would be the final nail in the coffin of the Sumatran rhinos’ extinction. There are just too few number of individuals coupled by infertile rhinos, old rhinos, skewed sex ratio and insufficient breeding to just leave them to their own devices in the wild,” he said.

He added that the only consensus was that we have to act quickly to boost Sumatran rhino births and Sabah had decided that there was now an urgent need to get as many (if not all remaining) rhinos into fenced, managed conditions as soon as possible so that every rhino can be closely monitored and treated as necessary, to get them producing embryos.

“The exact location where the rhinos are kept is not a paramount concern for the programme. It does not necessarily be in Sabah. We can move rhinos between facilities as long as the care is always world class and the intention is to breed rhinos. I do believe that at this stage, both Malaysia and Indonesia can and should take lead roles on this. Besides this we should leave no stones unturned; and all scientific options available to save the Sumatran rhino must be explored no matter how controversial,” he said.

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Malaysia: 20 protected insect species in Sabah

Jenne Lajiun, Borneo Post, 5 Oct 13;

LOK KAWI: Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has gazetted 20 species of insects to be protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Its deputy director, Augustine Tuuga, said the move had to be made as foreign tourists were bringing the state’s insects out of Sabah as they fancied.

“And we don’t have an enactment that disallowed them from doing so,” he said.

He added that with the inclusion of the new lists of insects in the enactment, individuals caught bringing out the insects from Sabah can be fined up to RM30,000 or jailed three years.

The amendment to the enactment would be enforced in the nearest future, he told reporters during the 50th anniversary celebration in the protection of wildlife in Sabah at Lokkawi Wildlife Park near here, yesterday.

Earlier, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, who was represented by Assistant Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi, explained that the listing of the insects in the protected list was geared to stop irresponsible individuals from exploiting the natural resources in Sabah and bringing them out of the state easily.

In his speech, he also mentioned that the state government was aware that wildlife were natural assets that had high potential in the development of the tourism industry in Sabah.

He said after 50 years in conserving wildlife, Sabah was still proud as her natural resources continued to be looked after.

He added that the natural resources had attracted tourists to continuously visit the state and expressed that it was the vision of his ministry to turn Sabah into an esteemed destination in nature tourism.

“Sabah is home to various wildlife species … but the natural habitats of these must be managed well in order to continue being attractive,” he said.

Masidi also said many changes had occurred in the last 50 years and cited that among them had been the clearing of more forest areas for agriculture.

“Such activities have impacted on the wildlife and their habitats. They have also resulted in human-animal conflicts … nevertheless, my ministry has tried to ensure the impacts are minimised,” he said, further adding that Sabah has 20 per cent of its area gazetted as protected areas.

He said although certain parties had criticised the state, Sabah had continued to be a strong fortress for the orang utan population.

“Conservation efforts since 50 years ago have ensured that there are still 13,000 orang utans living in the wild in Sabah and we will ensure they will continue to thrive here forever,” he said.

Meanwhile, a collaboration was yesterday signed between Pulau Pom-Pom and Pulau Mataking with SWD for the protection of turtles and their habitats.

The collaboration is to boost the population of turtles in Sabah.

20 more families of insects to come under protection
Daily Express, 5 Oct 13;

Penampang: Twenty families of insects, including several types of butterflies, beetles and stick insects, would be added to the list of protected species soon to safeguard the State's interests as well as its tourism industry.
"Once the list is announced, it would be an offence to bring these insects out of the country and offenders can be fined up to RM30,000. Currently, there are only two families of insects under the list," said State Wildlife Department Deputy Director, Augustine Tuuga.

"We need to do this because there are many foreign tourists who come to Sabah, they see some rare insects in the forests and they bring them back to their own countries.

There is no law against this, so we need to stop them."

Regarding the recent discovery of a Sumatran rhino in Kalimantan, Tuuga said both the Malaysian and Indonesian government would be working together to ensure the safety of the critically endangered species.

"These animals would surely cross the borders into our country at some point.

If that happens, then it would be our duty to protect them," he said, adding that currently, there are only about ten rhinos in the State not including those in captivity.

Earlier, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah remains a stronghold to the orang-utan population as proven by its large number in the wilderness.

"Although many condemned us claiming that the decrease of wildlife in Sabah was due to agricultural development and logging, we still have more than 13,000 orang-utans in our jungles.

"Regarding the population of rhinos, the Government through my ministry will not give up in our efforts to save this species from extinction.

"Other than protecting them in their natural habitat, we are also trying to breed them in a semi-natural facility in Borneo Rhino Sanctuary," he said during the opening ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of Wildlife Conservation in Sabah at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, here, Friday.

His speech was read by his Assistant Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi.

Masidi added that in the 50 years of wildlife conservation effort in the State, the Government worked closely with various parties including NGOs, research institutes, universities, private companies as well as domestic and international corporate sectors.

"The conservation and protection of wildlife in its natural habitat would not succeed merely through the enforcement of laws. The public also should be aware of the importance of wildlife conservation," he said.

The event also saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Wildlife Department and two tour operators in Semporna; The Reef Dive Resort and Tour Sdn Bhd at Pulau Mataking and Sipadan Pom-Pom Island Resort and Tours Sdn Bhd.

The MoU showed the cooperation between all parties in conserving turtles in Semporna, particularly in Mataking and Pom-Pom islands. This is because turtles flock to beaches in Semporna due to the suitability and food availability in the area.

All parties will be responsible for the management of turtle eggs such as building hatcheries according to the guidelines set by the department, which would also monitor the implementation of the projects.

Data such as the quantity of nests, eggs and hatchlings will be recorded and shared for analysis.

The department is also welcoming other parties interested in turtle conservation to work together with the department to increase the population of the species in the State.

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Indonesia: Sea turtle egg smuggling on the rise

Severianus Endi, Jakarta Post, 6 Oct 13;

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia says the smuggling of sea turtle eggs in to Malaysia from West Kalimantan has drastically increased, triggered by the high prices of turtle eggs.

“In Malaysia, each turtle egg can fetch 80 ringgit cents or about Rp 2,600 [23 US cents]. Meanwhile, at local markets, they cost only Rp 1,500,” said turtle conservation coordinator of WWF-Indonesia for West Kalimantan program, Dwi Suprapti, in Pontianak, on Sunday.

Sea turtles can live for more than 150 years. A sea turtle begins reproducing between 30 to 50-years-old. In West Kalimantan, sea turtles can be found in coastal areas in Paloh district, Sambas regency, which is known as the longest turtle nesting spot in Indonesia: Stretching for 63 kilometers.

“Unfortunately, such a long beach is monitored by only 21 activists, as such it’s relatively easy for eggs to be stolen,” said Dwi.

No data is available on the total number of turtle eggs smuggled in to Malaysia.

In Paloh beach, there are around 2,000 green turtle nests every year. In 2009, 2,146 turtle nests were ransacked. Only 26 percent of all nests were looted in 2011 and 22 percent in 2012 thanks to local communities, Jimmy said

But during the nesting period peak in 2013, egg hunting in Sebubus village and Temajuk village increased by 40 percent and 95 percent respectively.

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Indonesia commits to rhinoceros conservation programs

Indra Harsaputra, Jakarta Post, 5 Oct 13;

Five Asian countries, including Indonesia, have endorsed a joint resolution to launch rhinoceros conservation and breeding programs in national parks in Java and Sumatra as part of international efforts to save critically endangered Asian rhino populations from extinction.

The joint resolution was issued by representatives from Bhutan, India, Malaysia, Nepal and Indonesia after they attended the First Asian Rhino Range State Meeting in Bandar Lampung from Wednesday to Friday.

“One of the points in the resolution regards an agreement to form a joint conservation area for three rhino species, namely the Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus), Sumatran rhinoceros and Indian rhinoceros, also called the greater one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis),” Indonesia Rhinoceros Foundation (Yabi) director Widodo Ramono told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the event Friday.

Widodo said that the meeting’s four other members urged Indonesia to stop sending Sumatran rhinos to other countries.

According to data from the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, of the three rhino species in Asia, the Javan rhinoceros is regarded as the most at risk of extinction, as only around 50 remain, all located in Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten province.

The Sumatran rhinoceros, of which fewer than 100 remain, is found in Mount Leuser National Park in Aceh and in the Way Kambas and Bukit Barisan Selatan national parks in Lampung.

Meanwhile, Indonesian delegate and director of the Indonesia Safari Park Tony Sumampauw said the agreement between the five states was a sign of progress after the World Conservation Union’s Asian Rhino Specialist Group initiated a Sumatran rhinoceros breeding program in 1984.

“This indicates that Indonesia is not the only state compelled to save the Javan and Sumatran rhinos, but also other stakeholders, including other Asian countries and the global community through collaboration with Interpol in dealing with the illegal trade in rhino horns in Vietnam and China,” said Tony.

He added that in the meeting delegates had agreed to form a joint rhino protection unit, to conduct research on the spread of rhinos and to create a rhino sperm bank in Asia.

“Indonesia will further expand ex-situ semi-natural conservation in the form of a breeding program and the development of the Javan rhino study conservation area at the Ujung Kulon National Park. It will also conduct rhino protection unit activities in several national parks,” Tony said.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Asian Rhino and Elephant Program manager Christy Williams said the international community had paid significant attention to the plight of rhino species across Africa, but relatively little focus had been given to Asian species.

“There are far fewer rhinos remaining in Asia. As of March 2013, there were only 3,500 rhinos in Asia [compared to over 25,000 across Africa],” Christy said.

However, she said there were proven examples of rhino populations bouncing back from the edge of extinction.

“Committed action by governments has resulted in the rhino population more than doubling in the Indian state of West Bengal over the last 13 years,” Christy said.

Strong action against rhino poaching in Nepal and India have helped rhino numbers recover, she added.

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Indonesia: Activist Slams Killing of Endangered Javan Leopard

Dyah Ayu Pitaloka, Jakarta Globe, 6 Oct 13;

Malang, East Java. The population of the Javan leopard in Bromo Tengger Semeru national park is estimated to be less than 10 due to persistent illegal hunting and habitat destruction, an environmentalist has said.

“The number of Javan leopards continues to drop,” ProFauna Indonesia chairman Rosek Nursahid said.

He slammed the shooting of a leopard on Wednesday by authorities when the big cat invaded a house in a village in the East Java regency of Lumajang and attacked three officers who were attempting to have it evacuated.

The leopard, believed to be from the forest-covered slopes of nearby Mount Semeru, ran into the house in Sumber village after being spotted and subsequently chased by locals who were attempting to drive it away, according to Taman Safari Indonesia director Tony Sumampauw.

The big cat invaded a house belonging to Mulyadi, who immediately fled along with his family.

The villagers asked for help from the local authorities, and a team from Taman Safari II in Prigen, East Java, was sent to evacuate the animal.

“It was a premature to shoot the animal,” Rosek said.

The prominent activist said the leopard left its habitat after becoming disoriented following a change in its boundaries due to illegal logging.

He urged authorities to boost their monitoring efforts to prevent more illegal loggers destroy the wild animal’s habitat.

“Besides leopards, the national park is also inhabited by deer, monkeys and other rare animals,” he said.

Official Ayu Dewi Utari, however, dismissed suggestions that the leopard attacked villagers because its habitat was destroyed, arguing that the animal was only separated from its mother and got lost.

“There is nothing wrong with the animal’s habitat. They have plenty of food and water within the park to consume during the dry season. The leopard was just lost. The shooting was also in compliance with the regulations,” she said.

The Javan leopard, Panthera pardus melas, is a subspecies of leopard confined to the island of Java.

It has been classified as critically endangered animal by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2008, with a population estimated to consist of 250 mature individuals in the wild. It is protected under Indonesian law.

An official previously said the leopard likely entered the village to search for water or hunt for goats reared by villagers, as the dry season made water and prey scarce on the mountain.

In August, several families living in Seluma, Bengkulu province, were forced to flee their homes after receiving reports that a tiger was seen close by.

A local community leader in the village of Puguk said the tiger remained in the area for eight hours after the sighting before disappearing again into the forest.

Habitat destruction has led to a large decrease in the population of big cats across the archipelago.

The Sumatran tiger has had much of its habitat destroyed as lands are cleared for palm oil and paper plantations.

Read more!

Indonesia: Dayak Wehea, DSN Group team up for forest project

Nurni Sulaiman, Jakarta Post, 5 Oct 13;

As part of an effort to maintain its existence as well as to preserve its culture, the Dayak Wehea traditional council is working with plantation company PT Dharma Satya Nusantara Tbk. (DSN Group), through its subsidiary, PT Dewata Sawit Nusantara, in East Kalimantan.

The Dayak Wehea traditional council, represented by Ledjie Taq, the Dayak Wehea community leader in Nehas Liah Bing village and DSN Group's Agro business unit I Safety Health and Environment Department head Dadam Saefulbahri signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently in the framework of managing the Melnyie/Estate Melenyu 4 conservation area in Muara Wahau district, East Kutai regency, East Kalimantan.

"Through the agreement, DSN Group will involve the Wehea traditional community to help protect and manage the conservation area in Melnyie/Estate Melenyu 4, an oil palm estate owned by PT Dewata Sawit Nusantara spanning 1,465 hectares," said Dadam.

The Dayak Wehea ethnic community is the first and oldest tribe living in Muara Wahau. The community manages the Wehea forest through generations.

In the conservation program, the Dayak Wehea traditional council, through Wehea forest protection group Petkuq Mehuey, will conduct patrols to oversee and maintain the area.

DSN Group will contribute by providing various training programs related to conservation.

In managing the conservation area, DSN Group has collaborated with a number of institutions, such as Yogyakarta's Gadjah Mada University (UGM), since 2008.

A team from UGM's School of Forestry has took inventory of potential flora and fauna inside the conservation area in DSN Group's Muara Wahau oil palm plantation, surveyed endemic wildlife and has set up an animal corridor in which animals can move freely and subsist comfortably in their habitat.

The conservation area is still home to plants and trees of high conservation value, such as ulin, red meranti and keruing gajah, which is endemic to Kalimantan.

Dayak Wehea community member Wang Bit Betung said the collaboration was the first of its kind carried out and that it was regarded as rare for the private sector to get involved with members of a traditional community.

"Hopefully, this will be sustainable and have a positive impact on the existence of the Dayak Wehea traditional community," said Wang.

Read more!

Indonesia: Local Businesses Get Help Kicking Their Plastic Habit

Olga Amato, Jakarta Globe, 6 Oct 13;

The resort island of Bali produces 890 metric tons of garbage every day. Imagine five blue whales or 222 elephants of pure trash washing up on the shores of Bali every 24 hours.

But rather than throw up their hands in defeat, a group of four die-hard environmentalists based in Sanur, 30 minutes from Ngurai Rai International Airport, banded together in 2012 and launched PlastikDetox, an educational effort to turn the tide on the island’s excessive use of plastic, which accounts for 10 percent to 12 percent of Bali’s trash.

To critics, the campaign might seem like a drop in the ocean. But PlastikDetox is determined all those drops will add up.

Adopting a warm and personal approach, Anna Sutanto along with the other co-founders of PlastikDetox, visit cafes and small businesses to propose that owners and managers take into consideration the amount of plastic they use and encourage them to adopt an environmentally conscious practice.

“Our biggest victory is when we see a ‘new normal’ taking hold,” says Anna. “[That means] more responsible, environment-friendly habits such as not automatically placing orders in single-use plastic bags, only giving customers straws when they [ask for them], and so on.”

There are plenty of encouraging statistics, she says, “Like Peek-a-Boo Play cafe saved 158 straws in a month, or the Fair Trade Shop, which saved 41 plastic bags in a month.”

“Now, multiply that by the number of businesses in Sanur, and multiply it again by the number of months, and we get quite a big figure. You need to attack the problem in parts and start with the easy changes,” Anna says.

The PlastikDetox campaign, which includes cafes, restaurants, a fair-trade shop and a laundry service in the area of Sanur, is very simple. Organizations willing to reduce plastic are praised on PlastikDetox’s website and Facebook page and also featured on a map of Bali highlighting eco-friendly establishments.

“We provide free training and technical support to businesses whose owners or managers are committed to reducing their use of plastic,” Anna says. “When these businesses succeed, we try to reward them through placement opportunities in local media so they get exposure for their efforts.”

PlastikDetox’s comprehensive training program provides educational material for both staff and customers.

“Our campaign is not only about putting stickers with our logo on a shop window,” Anna says. “Every year we evaluate our partners to see their progress. Sometimes there are hiccups, and in a couple of cases we have had to terminate the partnership when a partner was not following up on the agreed commitments. At the end of the day, we need to see results.”

Nadine Zamira, Miss Indonesia Earth 2009, agrees with PlastikDetox’s step-by-step approach, saying the personal touch of the campaign gives it a charming community-based approach.

“PlastikDetox is very relevant in Bali,” she says. “The island is full of small shops, cafes and restaurants.”

PlastikDetox doesn’t advocate for a 100 percent plastic-free way of life and Anna says it’s just raising awareness about cutting needless plastic use. The idea now is to scale up the Sanur campaign in bigger cities like Jakarta.

Tiza Mafira, who initiated a petition on this year to pressure Indonesia’s leading supermarkets to charge a small fee for plastic bags, says Jakarta is a tougher market to tackle but is confident that the time is right for change.

“Jakarta is bigger than Bali in size and complexity,” Tiza says.

“On the plus side, there will be more targets to convert… The network of volunteers for approaching retail outlets and implementing plastic detox training will need to be wider.”

Campaigners for a similar cause in the capital, Clean Up Jakarta, who will be doing their part on Nov. 10 to tackle the waste problem, say “there’s always hope” that ground movement like PlastikDetox can gain wider traction.

“Jakarta is filled with thousands of small businesses, which, if shown the way, would jump at the opportunity to stop using plastic bags and promote their company as a more eco-friendly business to the rest of the city,” says Angela Richardson, the Clean Up Jakarta organizer.

“PlastikDetox requires the business to do nothing but stop giving, or start charging for plastic bags, placing a sticker on their premises to showcase this, and in return get promoted to the media as a company who cares. Jakartans are hungry for a way to make a change.”

Read more!

Indonesia: Electronic Road Pricing to Hit Jakarta Streets in 2014

Lenny Tristia Tambun, Jakarta Globe, 4 Oct 13;

The Jakarta transportation agency plans to implement an electronic road pricing scheme that will automatically charge toll fees on cars using roads in the city during certain hours.

The scheme, announced on Monday, will require drivers to place transponder in their car that automatically deducts money from a prepaid card.

The system is expected to ease traffic congestion by making it prohibitively expensive for people to drive in downtown Jakarta.

Police said last week they expect the transponders to be able to track any car moving through Jakarta at any time or speed.

The electronic road pricing scheme replaces earlier plans to apply odd-and-even plate number restrictions.

Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo ordered the transportation agency to implement the ERP scheme within the first quarter of 2014, agency chief Udar Pristono said.

“It is not possible for us to commence the system in January because we still don’t have enough buses as a public transportation alternative. We have to procure the buses first,” he said.

Udar said the first stage of the ERP scheme will be implemented on Rasuna Said, since the area has three busway corridors, thereby offering alternatives.

Udar said his office is still waiting for revision of a 2009 bylaw on regional taxes to authorize the system.

He also criticized plans to exempt motorcycles from charges under the electronic road pricing scheme, saying such an exemption would not significantly reduce traffic congestion.

“We want [motorcycles] to also be subject to ERP charges. Otherwise, more people will buy motorcycles and traffic congestion will not significantly change,” he said.

Jakarta City Council Deputy Speaker Triwisaksana said the ERP scheme should be implemented immediately.

“For the ERP system, the regulations needed to implement the policy are sufficient and we hope the system can be implemented immediately,’ he said.

Electronic traffic surveillance and road pricing systems, such as envisaged by the Jakarta administration and police, are exceptionally rare anywhere in the world.

Almost all cities that have implemented such a system did so only after rigorous protections for civil liberties were codified in written regulations following a period of public debate.

Civil rights groups have yet to weigh in on how the administration and police’s plans fit with existing privacy laws.

Deputy Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama said the electronic road pricing scheme was crucial entry point for the an Electronic Registration and Identification system that the administration hopes to unroll by 2015.

This system will aid vehicle tax collection and police efforts to crack down on vehicle-related crime.

Police said last week it will give them vast new capabilities to assess fines for traffic violations and track vehicles’ movements.

Jakarta police traffic director Sr. Comr. Chrysnanda Dwilaksana said the Electronic Registration and Identification system will be a game changer, radically overhauling the national vehicle registration system.

Basuki added that the odd-even traffic scheme announced last March would be dropped if the electronic road pricing scheme is accelerated, along with the procurement of new TransJakarta and local buses.

Deputy Minister for Transportation Bambang Susantono previously said odd-and-even plate number restrictions were not an ideal solution.

Bambang favored using the money and manpower required to enforce such a scheme to build better public transportation instead.

The electronic road pricing scheme will likely appeal to lawmakers with an eye on revenues, as elsewhere such schemes have been a tax boon to cities.

The odd-even scheme would have replaced the current “three-in-one” policy that restricts cars’ access to certain streets based on their number of occupants. It is unclear whether the “three-in-one” policy will continue under electronic road pricing.

Separately, Basuki said this week that the city administration plans to take all privately registered vehicles older than 10 years off the streets, as part of the governor’s plans to cut back private vehicle ownership.

Yoga Adiwinarto, who directs the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, said he supports authorities’ plans to impose vehicle age limits. Vehicle age limits had proven effective elsewhere in reducing exhaust emissions and car use, he said.

Yoga added that the idea had long been discussed by city officials but never implemented.

Jakarta’s traffic costs on the city Rp 35 trillion for pollution-related health problems alone, according to Ahmad Safrudin of Transportation Demand Management.

City mulls ‘manual’ ERP method
Fikri Zaki Muhammadi, Jakarta Post, 7 Oct 13;

In the latest effort to reduce the city’s frustrating traffic problems, the Jakarta administration says it is studying the feasibility of implementing “manual road pricing”.

The implementation of electronic road pricing (ERP) will have to wait until the first quarter of 2014 at the earliest as the procurement of the onboard units — electronic detectors — is still in process.

The City Council is currently preparing the legal work for the move.

Deputy Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama said the administration acknowledged the possible delay, but still wanted to take measures immediately to cut the use of private vehicles.

The odd-even license number policy thought to reduce the number of cars on the road has been almost certainly cancelled as administration and police studies show its implementation is not feasible, instead only promoting the purchase of more cars.

“We’re discussing the possibility of implementing a manual ERP before the onboard unit procurement finishes. But we’re still in talks,” Ahok told reporters over the weekend.

Ahok said the proposed system would be similar to ERP, yet the supervision would be done manually. It will require car owners to paste a hologram sticker, which is obtained after paying the “road price”, on their cars in order to be allowed access to certain roads prone to traffic congestion.

“The sticker can be sold for between Rp 1 million [US$87] and Rp 2 million,” Ahok said. “It may be paid monthly, or annually. We will see.”

The system, if approved, will be implemented in early 2014, after the administration finishes procuring 800 new Transjakarta buses to act as alternatives to using private cars.

To check the validity of the hologram stickers, Ahok said the administration would deploy field officers from the Transportation Agency, with assistance from the police.

“Supervision can be carried out through visual observations or random sweeps. We can use scanners on the cars at parking spots,” the deputy governor said.

As for those unable to pay for the stickers, Ahok said he would provide free buses, making it easier for citizens to access the area. The deputy governor was certain this system could gradually push car owners to use public transportation.

To show the administration’s commitment to promoting the use of public transportation, Ahok also said he was discussing the option of using rented cars for his civil servants.

He said there was an option to sell the existing cars.

“In really urgent matters, we can rent cars. Otherwise, use buses,” he said. “This way, the administration is free from maintenance and depreciation charges too.”

In another move, the administration will increase the vehicle-ownership transfer fee (BBNKB) next year, thus upping the price of secondhand cars.

Owning more than one car will also become costlier as the progressive tax will be raised, despite the recently-introduced low-cost green car (LCGC) policy.

The BBNKB will be increased to 20 percent of a secondhand vehicle’s value, from the current 10 percent, while the progressive tax code will be set at between 2 and 8 percent of the vehicle value, rising from 1.5 percent to 4 percent.

This will impose a 1 to 2 percent tax rate on the first vehicle owned by any individual and 2 to 10 percent on subsequent vehicle purchases.

It has been predicted the LCGC policy will boost car sales by 50,000 in the city, out of a nationwide target of 1.1 million, this year.

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Indonesia: Call for Moratorium on New Roads, Car Sales as Traffic Worsens

Lenny Tristia Tambun & Fana FS Putra, Jakarta Globe, 4 Oct 13;

The Jakarta administration is being urged to implement a moratorium on private vehicle sales and road construction to prevent the city from suffering gridlock.

“We have issued two recommendations to ease the traffic congestion, suggesting there should be a push and pull strategy,” Ahmad Safrudin, a member of the coalition Transportation Demand Management (TDM) said on Thursday.

The “push” strategy, he said, should be done by restricting the number of private vehicle sales in Jakarta.

Ahmad said the Jakarta administration should be brave enough to take drastic measures to stop congestion from worsening.

He said the government should reconsider the low-cost green car project (LCGC) because it would exacerbate the city’s traffic problems.

The administration should also stop building more roads because it encourages residents to buy more vehicles.

“There should be real action to restrict private vehicles for the next few years while an electronic road pricing system [ERP]should be implemented immediately,” he said.

Ahmad also called on the city to increase parking tariffs

Regarding “pull” strategies, Ahmad said the government needs to provide a reliable mass public transport system while at the same time building more sidewalks.

Ellen Tangkudung, secretary general of the nongovernmental Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI), said an ERP system was a much better proposition than the odd-even traffic scheme that had been suggested.

Ellen said the ERP system was more comprehensive. Not only would it limit the amount of vehicles entering the zones it covered, the money raised could be used to improve public transport.

However, she said, the ERP system by itself would not be enough. It must be supported by an electronic registration and identification system (ERI), a real-time data system which could be used to overcome traffic-related problems in the capital, such as congested roads, violations, accidents and vehicle-related crimes.

An ERI system would be able to limit the number of vehicles through electronic law enforcement. The system entails installing a series of gantries that carry a sensor platform of cameras, scanners and digital detectors to monitor traffic flow.

Ellen also echoed Ahmad’s sentiment that the city should stop building more roads because the policy doesn’t work.

A survey conducted by MTI found the 5-kilometer elevated road stretching from Antasari to Blok M in south Jakarta had not eased traffic in the area, especially during the rush hour.

“So it’s obvious building elevated roads is not the solution. On the contrary, it has created new choke points,” she said.

Meanwhile Jakarta’s efforts to crack down on illegal parking by using pliers to pull out the air valves of vehicles obstructing traffic has been gaining support.

Jakarta Transportation Council (DTKJ) chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan praised the move, saying deflating tires would be a much more effective measure to prevent illegal parking compared to wheel padlocking.

Azas said the policy should be vigorously imposed on public and private vehicles.

City officials have also been revoking permits of public minivan drivers who had been breaking the law by parking and stopping for passengers in prohibited areas.

Udar Pristono, head of the Jakarta city transportation agency, said that now, as a first warning, officials would deflate the tires of minivans which violated regulations and record the driver’s details.

Repeat offenders would have their licenses revoked, he added.

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Indonesia: Electric cars idle as charging stations cannot be operated

Bagus BT Saragih, Jakarta Post, 6 Oct 13;

The government's plan to operate electric vehicles to transport delegates during the 2013 APEC Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, as part of its "green" commitment, failed to follow through.

Only four locally made electric cars-much fewer than the earlier promised of 20 cars -- are available inside the Nusa Dua complex but they do not have access to the newly built charging stations due to poor coordination between institutions.

State-owned electricity company PLN has actually installed 10 electric vehicle charging stations to support the government's plan to use the electric cars as part of the summit's operational vehicles.

But the area surrounding the charging installations is being used as a parking lot for VVIP cars. As a consequence, the area is tightly secured by personnel who are preventing any irrelevant persons from entering the area, as well as the electric cars.

Therefore, the charging equipment, currently still wrapped in plastic, cannot be used.

"We are just following orders," said a military officer guarding the area. The four electric minivans made by the "Kupu-Kupu Malam" team from Yogyakarta named "Gendhis", are still parked across the street. "We had planned to use them as supporting vehicles but we ran out of time to deal with everything, including administrative permission from the summit's organizing committee," the team's coordinator, Ricky Elson, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Ricky refused to explain why the charging facilities had been put inside a restricted area. "Ask PLN," he said.

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Thailand: Wild gaur brings cross-breed hope

The sighting of the rare creature in Chumphon has locals excited at the prospect of it mating with domesticated cows
Bangkok Post, 5 Oct 13;

Ever since the sighting of a rare wild gaur in Chumphon's Thung Tako district three months, villagers have been abuzz at the prospect of it mating with domesticated cows.

Wildlife authorities and local people say that a cross-bred animal would produce a new hybrid of cattle that would yield more economic benefits. The cross-bred cattle would be larger than the domesticated ones and produce more meat. Also, the new breed would attract tourists.

The appearance of the huge animal in Moo 8 in tambon Tako drew the attention of Khlong Saeng Wildlife Research Centre based in Surat Thani. With sightings of the gaurs so rare in Thailand these days, the centre immediately sent more than 30 wildlife officials to work with local authorities and villagers to closely monitor the animal around the clock.

The centre is under the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.

They want to protect the animal from possible harm from local villagers and particularly from poachers as well as to handle crowds of curious residents and visitors who have flocked to catch a glimpse of the rare creature.

Gaurs, or krating, are a protected species under the Wildlife Preservation and Protection Act. They are under constant threat from poachers.

Kriangsak Sribuarod, head of the research centre, said the gaur that was sighted is a young male about four to five years old and weighs about 600 kilogrammes. A fully-grown gaur bull can weigh more than a tonne.

Mr Kriangsak believes it may have drifted away from its herd roaming in protected forests which are part of the Ngao Waterfall National Park covering areas of both Chumphon and Ranong provinces.

A recent survey showed that 40 to 50 gaurs live in small separate herds of between four and five in the national park.

Mr Kriangsak said gaurs usually live and forage in sparse forests with large trees mixed with small trees, rather than in open grasslands exposed to strong sunlight.

In the three months since it was sighted, the stray gaur has stayed close to Moo 8 and appears to have become familiar with local people as well as domesticated cattle.

"This has never happened before. The area around the village, which is peaceful and has enough grass and water, may have been a factor in attracting the animal," Mr Kriangsak said.

The centre has reported the sighting of the gaur to the department's head office and has asked for advice on how to deal with it.

"It is too risky to use a tranquilliser gun to sedate and capture the gaur and take it back to its original habitat.

"If the tranquilliser is too strong, the animal could be at risk of a heart attack, but if the sedative is too mild, chances are the gaur will resist and flee deep into the forest," Mr Kriangsak said.

He said it was unclear what the department's senior officials will do about the gaur.

Capturing and relocating such a huge wild beast requires careful planning and preparations, necessary equipment and vehicles that can move the animal fast enough, Mr Kriangsak said.

However, while the gaur is still roaming and foraging near the village, Mr Kriangsak hinted at the possibility that the gaur bull may mate and crossbreed with cows kept by local villagers.

The mating and crossbreeding of gaurs and domesticated cows has been reported in Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, though there has been no record of that in Thailand, Mr Kriangsak said.

"In terms of wildlife conservation, such a mating could have a downside as it would taint a pure breed of wild animal. But speaking in terms of agribusiness, it is possible that crossbreeding might yield economic benefits as it would produce a new breed of larger cattle yielding more beef," he said.

Mettha Kapitathai, deputy director of Chumphon College of Agriculture and Technology, said the gaur is roaming and foraging for food in the college's oil palm plantation which covers 600 rai.

The plantation is an ideal feeding ground for the gaur as well as local cattle as it has plenty of water and vast verdant fields.

Mr Mettha said the college's executives are willing to work with related agencies to protect and preserve the gaur and, if possible, find ways to crossbreed the gaur with local cattle.

The stray gaur was sighted at the college's area in June. But when officials and locals were trying to monitor it, it fled into the forest on the mountain and hid there for a while before coming out and roaming near the village.

The villagers are now letting their cows forage in the college's area, hoping that if the cows are on heat they could possibly mate with the gaur bull, Mr Mettha said.

Samrit Rungchuang, chief of Thung Tako tambon administrative organisation, said a meeting of the TAO agreed that a fence should be built around the area where the gaur is roaming to prevent it from wandering away from the village and to prevent the animal from being killed by poachers.

He said local villagers are happy to have the gaur as the area has now become a tourist spot with visitors turning up in droves to see the animal.

He said an observation platform will probably be built for the tourists to watch the gaur. More than 100 people from the village and visitors from elsewhere come to see the animal each day.

Chumphon governor Pirasak Hinmuangkao said the local residents have been essential in providing the vital effort needed to conserve the gaur. He has ordered local officials to regularly track the gaur's movements near the village and in the wild.

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Thailand: Protected animals seized from pickup

Bangkok Post, 5 Oct 13;

A truckload of protected animals, including more than 350 turtles and 100 snakes, was seized in in Muang district of Khon Kaen on Friday.

Highway police arrested driver Phumin Thanamai, 56, and Wallop Naruemitprachakorn, 41, after stopping their vehicle for a search in front of the second Khon Kaen bus terminal at 1am.

Police found 359 turtles, nine soft-shelled turtles and 100 monitor lizards as well as more than 100 king cobras, water snakes and pythons.

Pol Lt Col Padol Jandon, a highway police officer, said the suspects tried to bribe officers not to take action against them.

The pair told officers they were hired for 60,000 baht to transport the animals from a market in Bangkok to Nong Khai province, Pol Lt Col Padol said.

The animals were to be transported across the Mekong River and sold abroad, and their sale could have fetched more than 1.5 million baht, the officer said.

Police have not yet found out where the animals were taken from.

The animals will be taken to a national park office in Khon Kaen pending further investigation, Pol Lt Col Padol said.

Wildlife smuggling ring busted
National News Bureau of Thailand, 4 Oct 13;

KHON KHAEN, 4 October 2013 (NNT) - Police have busted a wildlife trafficking ring in Khon Khaen and saved hundreds of animals from being shipped to buyers.

The highway police in the northeastern province of Khon Khaen yesterday stopped a suspicious-looking pickup heading for another province. Upon the search they found hundreds of rare turtles, snakes, and monitor lizards hidden under the cover in the back of the truck.

Police then arrested the driver and a passenger. They confessed that they were hired 60,000 baht to take the animals from a big market in Bangkok and deliver them to Nongkhai province.

According to the police, the smuggled animals are destined for China, where they will be used as ingredients for traditional medicines or served as gourmet dishes. The confiscated animals would fetch no less than 1.5 million baht if they got through.

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Philippines: Ship owners told to pay P41.7 M for damage to mangroves

Rhodina Villanueva, Philippine Star, 6 Oct 13;

MANILA, Philippines - The owners of the sunken MV St. Thomas Aquinas and MV Sulpicio Express Siete would have to pay P41.7 million for the damage to 328 hectares of mangroves caused by the collision of the two ships off Lawis Ledge in Cebu last Aug. 16.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for policy and planning Demetrio Ignacio said the amount was determined by the DENR Region 7.

The DENR Region 7 already sent a demand letter to 2GO Group Inc., owner of Thomas Aquinas, and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., owner of Sulpicio Express, urging the companies to pay the amount by Nov.15.

DENR Central Visayas executive director Isabelo Montejo warned that if the two shipping firms would ignore the demand letter, the DENR would file charges against the ship owners in court.

“We are demanding such amount to the owners as we would like to proceed with providing alternative livelihood options to those people’s organizations who have been affected by the incident and carefully draw out reconstruction programs like rehabilitation and reforestation efforts,” Montejo said in a statement.

The demand letter of DENR Region 7 signed by Montejo noted that P5,935,000 worth of mangroves planted between 2009 to 2012 were destroyed, while the amount of fish lost in a year for every hectare of mangroves destroyed was P35,769,600.

“A hectare of mangrove produces up to 3.6 tons of litter fall per year per hectare, thus providing a lot of food for marine life. Also, in every hectare of mangrove destroyed, some 1.08 tons of fish per year per hectare will be lost,” DENR Region 7 spokesman Ed Llamedo explained.

The collision also resulted in an oil spill that affected Cordova town and Lapu-Lapu City. Local officials declared a state of calamity over the entire province. – With Evelyn Macairan, Marigold Lebumfacil/Freeman

Shipping lines fined P41M for oil spill following crash
Philippine Inquirer, 4 Oct 13;

The owners of the two vessels that collided off Lauis Ledge near Talisay City last August were ordered to pay P41 million as compensation due to the resulting oil spill that affected coastal barangays in Cordova town and Lapu-Lapu City.

Dr. Eddie Llamedo, spokesman of the regional Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said they sent demand letters to Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp.(PSACC) and 2GO Group Inc. where they were given until Nov. 15 to pay the fine or else risk facing a civil suit.

2GO Assistant Vice President Lito Salvio said their Cebu office has yet to receive the demand letter from the DENR.

The oil spill caused by the collision damaged 443 mangrove plantations in 12 barangays in Cordova town and Lapu-Lapu City.

Llamedo said a conference will be held with the owners on Oct. 9 to discuss compensation issues.

“Ideally, it will be divided into two. However, we will still wait for the agreement of both companies,” Llamedo said.

Financial plan

A financial plan will be set up for the activities and programs to rehabilitate the affected coastal areas.

It would include coastal clean-ups, mangrove planting and alternative livelihood.

The demand letter dated Oct. 1 signed by DENR Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo placed the damage on 328 hectares of mangroves at P5,935,000.

The mangroves were planted from 2009 to 2012 and were funded by the DENR’s integrated coastal resource management project (ICRMP) with funding support sourced from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The collision between 2GO’s MV St Thomas Aquinas and Philippine Asia Span Carrier Corp.’s Sulpicio Express Siete resulted in the deaths of 116 passengers.

A total of 21 passengers remain unaccounted for. /Reporter Joy Cherry Quito and Correspondent Michelle Joy L. Padayhag

Shipping firms charged environmental damages
Phoebe Jen Indino, Manila Bulletin, 3 Oct 13;

Cebu City, Cebu — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has slapped the owners of two vessels which figured in a sea mishap resulting to an oil spill with a total of P41.704 million in environmental damages.

To recall, last August 16, 2013, passenger ship M/V Thomas Aquinas and cargo ship Sulpicio Siete Express collided at the Lawis Ledge, off the coast of Talisay City, resulting to the drowning of several passengers and causing a massive oil spill which caused damages to the environment in Cordova town and Lapu-lapu City, Cebu.

The oil spill ruined some 443 mangrove plantations in 12 barangays in Cordova and Lapu-lapu City. It also badly affected the livelihood of fishermen in those two areas.

DENR-7 sent demand letters dated October 1 to Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC) Chairman of the Board Mr. Enrique Go, owner of the cargo ship and 2Go Group Inc. Chairman of the Board Mr. Francis C. Chua, operator of the passenger ship that sunk, to settle said P41,704,600 on or before November 15, 2013. “We are demanding such amount to the owners as we would like to proceed with providing alternative livelihood options to people’s organizations (POs) who have been affected by the incident and draw out such reconstruction programs as rehabilitation and reforestation efforts,” said DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo.

An Oct. 1, 2013 demand letter signed by Montejo, indicated that mangroves covering some 328 hectares worth at least P5,935,000.00 were destroyed. Montejo was referring to mangroves planted in 328 hectares from 2009 to 2012 under the DENR’s integrated coastal resource management (ICRMP) under Component B (Resource Management – Mangrove Reforestation and Rehabilitation) program with funds from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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