Best of our wild blogs: 6 Dec 13

14 Dec (Sat): Free evening tour for families at Pasir Ris mangroves
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Pulau Hauntu
from The annotated budak

Nectaring plants of butterflies
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Javan Myna takes a gecko
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Experts expect more rain for southern Southeast Asia from Dec-Feb

Sharon See Channel NewsAsia 5 Dec 13;

SINGAPORE: Experts expect more rain for southern Southeast Asia, and less for northern Southeast Asia from December to February as a result of the northeast monsoon.

This conclusion was reached at an inaugural regional climate forum hosted by Singapore.

Southern Southeast Asia includes Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Northern Southeast Asia covers Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The ASEAN Climate Outlook Forum (ASEAN-COF) was attended by about 40 meteorological experts from Asia, US and Europe.

At the three-day forum, participants discussed plans to improve long-range forecasts for the region, a statement from Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

It added there was also agreement among participants that more scientific research was needed to improve understanding of the predictability of rainfall in the region, as well as the key drivers of the region's climate, such as the El Nino and La Nina phenomena.

The forum was held at the Centre for Climate Research, which is run by Singapore's Meteorological Service.

"This inaugural session of ASEAN-COF brings together expertise from the leading climate modelling and prediction centres around the world, and marks an important milestone in advancing regional capabilities and collaboration in the area of seasonal climate prediction," Ms Wong Chin Ling, director-general of Singapore's Meteorological Service, said.

She added: "Long-range forecasts of rainfall, temperature and other weather parameters have numerous useful applications, such as risk assessment of transboundary smoke haze occurrences caused by regional land and forest fires during the dry season, as well as flooding caused by heavy monsoon rains during the rainy season."

Participants included representatives from the ASEAN countries, international experts from China, Japan, South Korea, USA and Europe as well as representatives from the
World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

The meeting was supported by WMO under a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

The statement said the climate outlook forum will meet annually in the fourth quarter of every year and will focus on issues including forecasting the Northeast Monsoon season.

Another forum will be held in the second quarter of every year to focus on forecasting the southwest monsoon season.

- CNA/nd

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Malaysia: One dead, two missing as flood situation worsens

The Star 6 Dec 13

KUALA LUMPUR: The flood situation in the east coast states has worsened with more being evacuated, one death from drowning and two people reported missing in Pahang.

Kemaman in Terengganu, meanwhile, has become virtually an island after being cut off in all directions.

A spokesman for the flood operations room at the Pahang police contingent headquarters said Mohamed Alif Khalid, 21, was found drowned at 4.15pm on Wednesday after he had gone fishing alone at Sungai Kampung Sepial in Kuala Tembeling, Jerantut.

Pekan Umno division committee member Jamali Jani, 45, and his son Megat Mohd Nazli Jamali, 17, are believed to be missing after they fell into the floodwaters in Sungai Isap village at about 7.30pm yesterday.

They were said to be removing some belongings from their submerged house into a fibreglass boat when they fell into the floodwaters. A search operation has been mounted.

In Terengganu, the state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) reported that the water level in most of the main rivers in Terengganu this morning was at the danger level.

Kemaman was one of the worst-hit areas with power and roads all cut off.

A road over a tidal gate in Bandar Chukai has sunk and was cut into two due to the rapid flow of floodwaters, while vehicles were seen submerged in many areas.

The flood situation in Kelantan has worsened and more people are being evacuated.

A state flood operations centre spokesman said the affected districts were Kuala Krai, Machang, Pasir Puteh, Tanah Merah and Pasir Mas.

The spokesman also said that the Meteorological Department’s prediction of continuous rain over the next few days was expected to affect more districts.

In Johor, state police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff said all district OCPDs were ordered to station mobile police stations near flood relief centres to make it convenient for evacuees to seek help in the event of mishaps.

Meanwhile, 246 electricity substations in Terengganu have ceased operations, up from 141 the previous day, affecting 11,034 consumers as at noon yesterday.

Floods: East coast situation worsening
The Star 6 Dec 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: The flood situation in the east coast of the peninsula has worsened with the number of victims evacuated to the relief centres reaching 42,626 Friday from 37,136 Thursday night.

Pahang was the worst affected during this monsoon season, with 34,235 evacuees still at the relief centres in eight districts, namely Kuantan, Pekan, Rompin, Maran, Jerantut, Lipis, Temerloh and Bera as at 9am.

A spokeman for the flood operations room at the state police contingent headquarters said several main roads were still closed to traffic after they were inundated up to more than a metre, among them at KM28 Jalan Sungai Lembing-Kuantan, KM72 Jalan Kuantan-Segamat and KM62 Jalan Kuantan-Rompin.

"Kuantan still records the highest number of evacuees with 27,391 housed at 48 relief centres," he said.

In Rompin, 2,865 flood victims were at 14 relief centres, Pekan 3,218 at 18 centres, Maran 49 (six), Jerantut 451 (11), Lipis 33 (two), Temerloh 167 (five) and Bera 61 (five).

In Kelantan, the number of flood evacuees in six districts rose to a total of 2,339 at 9am from 2,078, according to the state government's official portal.

In Rantau Panjang, the number of evacuees reached 1,345, and they were housed at 10 relief centres, while in Kuala Krai the 506 evacuees are placed at five relief centres. However, the number was expected to drop with the improving weather.

In Tanah Merah, the 222 evacuees were at 10 relief centres, the 219 in Pasir Puteh at three relief centres and eight in Tumpat at one relief centre.

With improved weather since Thursday, the water levels in several rivers were subsiding, but the water level in Sungai Golok at Rantau Panjang is at 10.34m, above the danger level of nine metres.

No main road has been closed to traffic and no loss of lives reported so far due to the floods while the weather now is clear.

In Terengganu, the number of flood victims remained at 6,052 from 1,559 families since Thursday night.

According to the National Security Council's portal, the affected areas in Terengganu were Kemaman, Dungun, Setiu, Marang and Hulu Terengganu.

As at 8am, Kemaman recorded 2,372 flood evacuees from 595 families, Dungun 2,668 (670 families), Hulu Terengganu 844 (242 families), Setiu 99 (32 families) and Marang 63 (18 families).

The 82 flood relief centres still operating comprise 31 in Kemaman, 29 in Dungun, 13 in Hulu Terengganu and four each in Marang and Setiu. - Bernama

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Malaysia: Taiwanese refiner CPC Corp shelves Johor petrochemicals project

The Star 5 Dec 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: Taiwan’s CPC Corp has shelved its plans for a multi-billion US dollar integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Pengerang, Johor, reports said on Thursday.

CPC unit Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Company’s move to scrap the project was because it was no longer competitive, Bloomberg quoted a spokesman with CPC.

The spokesman said the US shale gas boom was pushing down cost of petrochemicals production in the US and also due to an oversupply after expanding in China.

In August 2013, Platts reported Kuokuang scrapped plans to set up the complex in Pengerang due to poor project economics.

Platts reported the original plan was to use naphtha as a feedstock to produce ethylene.

However, the rise of shale gas as an alternative would make it too expensive to compete with other projects and Kuokuang would not be able to export the products, Platts reported.

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Whale sharks come back to Donsol, draw back tourists — WWF Philippines

DJ Yap Philippine Daily Inquirer 5 Dec 13;

MANILA, Philippines — Whale sharks are making a comeback in the tourist town of Donsol but it seems their schedule may have changed.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines on Thursday reported an unusual rise in “interactions” with the giant fish in Donsol in the last quarter of 2013, resulting in an increase in the number of tourists.

“For two years now, whale shark sightings in Donsol have been scant during the normal December to May season. In October 2012, however, we noticed they came early. This November, we have been posting more and more interactions,” Donsol boat association president Lambert Avisado said.

“It seems that our Butandings have returned – but that they have changed their schedules,” he said in a WWF-Philippines news release.

For years, Donsol has been identified as a “butanding” hotspot, hosting one of the largest aggregations of whale shark, the world’s largest fish, which feeds mainly on microscopic plankton. Jumps and dips in the number of sharks have dictated the success and failure of tourism, WWF said.

“We saw this drop in numbers once before – about 12 or 13 years ago,” according to Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) association president Joel Briones.

“Since there were few whale sharks that year, tourist numbers plummeted. Since early November, however, we have recorded almost daily sightings. Word is getting around. Tourists are starting to arrive,” he said.

Historically, Donsol’s whale shark season coincided with “planktonic blooms,” WWF said.

“Each summer, plankton and swarms of tiny shrimp lure the giant filter feeders to linger near the surface – well within range of most skin divers and snorkelers,” it said.

Under normal circumstances, peak season tours promise from four to six assured interactions per trip, prompting Time Magazine to dub Donsol as the “Best Animal Encounter” in Asia in 2004.
“Whale sharks congregate in Donsol because of all the food,” WWF-Philippines Project Manager Raul Burce said.

“Plankton blooms occur when nutrients are discharged by Donsol’s rivers. To ensure that the Bay remains healthy, we must protect Donsol’s rivers,” he said.

WWF said it has been studying the composition and range of food in and around the bay.
The group is also performing computer-assisted whale shark photo identification and has doing satellite tagging since 2008, “to establish the number of sharks visiting Donsol, and to better understand where they go, and when.”

Three hundred eighty (380) whale sharks have been identified in five years of research in Donsol, WWF said.

“The habits of migratory pelagic creatures like whale sharks are naturally dynamic and hard to predict,” Burce said. “Given the volatility of depending on migratory creatures, Donsol and the greater area of the Ticao Pass, must find alternative ways to attract and retain visitors.”
Most famous for its whale sharks, Donsol boasts of other attractions – including afternoon mangrove tours and evening firefly cruises, according to the group.

“We should not solely rely on the whale sharks. Already we’re exploring alternative tourist destinations and are seeking sustainable livelihood programmes,” Donsol Mayor Jo Alcantara-Cruz said. “Whether guests see whale sharks or not, our aim is to have visitors leave our little town with a smile.”

“While still offering whale shark tours, WWF is looking into how Donsol can position itself as a jump-off point to explore Masbate, and the other attractions of the Ticao Pass,” Burce said.
“Tourists will have the best of both worlds – whale sharks, manta rays, firefly and mangrove tours, plus island-hopping. Ticao Pass and Donsol are part of an ecosystem that WWF has decided to invest in, and integrating management maximizes benefits for both areas, and for its people,” he said.

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Indonesia: 44 countries support sumatran tiger conservation

Antara 5 Dec 13;

Pekanbaru, Riau Province (ANTARA News) - The environmental organization Greenpeace pointed out that at least 44 countries have shown support for saving the Sumatran tiger from extinction through a conservation effort.

"We have chosen Indonesia as the host for Tiger Manifesto, this years conservation program," revealed Putri Bulan, a member of Greenpeace, here on Thursday.

Putri had conducted a theatrical rally, using tiger costumes, in front of the Governors office at Pekanbaru City.

Putri and other members of Greenpeace held a banner that read, "Bali Tiger extinct in 1937; Java Tiger in 1980. So, when will the Sumatran Tiger get extinct?"

She noted that the Sumatran tiger has become the moral responsibility of the Indonesians.

"The Tiger Manifesto program is supported by 44 countries and will be held on Dec.15, 2013, in ten regions of Indonesia such as Padang, Pekanbaru, Jakarta, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Bali, Manokwari, and in another place in Papua," explained Putri.

The Riau WWF noted that the Sumatran tiger population is at 400.

The WWF stated that the population is decreasing due to oil palm and industrial plantations that have been occupying the habitat for the last two years.

The Forestry Affairs Ministry data revealed at least 1.24 million hectares of forests, including two-thirds of the Sumatran Tigers habitat had changed between 2009 and 2011.

The WWF urged the government to decrease deforestation and avoid poaching Sumatran tigers.

The Greenpeace License to Kill noted that the land clearing for oil palm plantations and forest destruction in Tesso Nilo National Park lead to the extinction of the tiger.
Editor: Priyambodo RH

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