Best of our wild blogs: 7 Dec 13

Night Walk At MacRitchie Reservoir (06 Dec 2013)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Birdwatching in Bidadari - Jambu Fruit Dove ( December 6)
from Rojak Librarian

Toddycats The Next Generation! at the 20th anniversary of Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve! from Otterman speaks

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Human-animal conflict a complex issue to manage

Today Online 7 Dec 13;

We thank the contributors of the recent Voices letters on human-monkey conflict. These reflect differing sentiments on how such conflicts could be managed.

While some believe that more direct forms of management, via population control such as culling, should be adopted, others prefer a longer-term approach of education and greater public awareness of how to co-exist with monkeys.

The management of human-animal conflict is a complex issue, with many stakeholders holding differing views. We must acknowledge the differing views and work together to find appropriate, feasible solutions for both the short and longer term.

In managing human-animal conflicts, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority’s (AVA) priority is to ensure that public safety and health are not compromised. Monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases transmissible to humans that are harmful to our health.

We have received feedback on monkey nuisance and aggression. For the latter, the AVA would act immediately to prevent further threats to public safety. For instance, earlier this year, a monkey dislodged glass window panes repeatedly from a school chapel. Fortunately, no one was injured.

In September, a monkey entered a condominium unit and injured an infant. In both cases, the AVA carried out surveillance and targeted control operations upon receiving the feedback.

Residents, too, can help minimise human-monkey conflict by making their premises less attractive to monkeys. Simple, immediate actions such as keeping food items out of sight and practising good refuse management, like disposing of rubbish in bins with secured lids, can be practised.

While residents do their part, the AVA is working with the National Parks Board to study the feasibility of sterilisation as a long-term measure to manage the monkey population.

However, irresponsible feeding by some members of the public remains a problem. It alters the monkeys’ behaviour, resulting in them venturing out of their natural habitats in search of human food sources.

The monkeys rummage through rubbish bins and approach humans boldly, including grabbing plastic bags and other belongings.

The public should refrain from feeding monkeys and keep food away from them. It should be noted that it is an offence to feed monkeys in the nature reserves. Members of the public who have feedback on monkey-related issues may contact the AVA at 1800 476 1600.

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Wilmar to require suppliers to implement ‘no-burn’ policy

Neo Chai Chin Today Online 7 Dec 13;

SINGAPORE — In a new policy that observers say could transform agricultural production, Wilmar International — the world’s biggest palm oil trader — will require its suppliers to stop deforestation and development on peatland, and implement a “no-burn” policy on all their plantations.

It has also pledged to ensure both its own plantations and companies from which it sources will “provide only products that are free from links to deforestation or abuse of human rights and local communities”.

The Singapore-listed firm expects its suppliers to be fully compliant with its new No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation policy by Dec 31, 2015.

Palm oil companies have been accused of destroying rainforests and burning carbon-rich peatlands to clear land for plantations. Some of them came under the spotlight after thick haze blanketed Singapore and parts of Malaysia and Indonesia in June.

A Wilmar spokesperson said some commitments had already been made previously, in line with standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an industry body.

But, with greater expectations for more responsible sourcing, “this policy is to ensure our supply chain meets stakeholder aspirations and expectations”, said the spokesperson. Wilmar Chief Executive Kuok Khoon Hong said the firm believes the palm oil sector “can provide a sustainable and affordable source of vegetable oil to meet rising global demand” for products produced in a “responsible” manner.

Given its central role in the palm oil industry, the firm’s commitment could “transform agricultural production to a responsible basis”, said Mr Glenn Hurowitz of Climate Advisers, which worked closely with Wilmar to develop the new policy.

On Thursday, Wilmar signed a Memorandum of Understanding with consumer-goods firm Unilever to spur the palm oil industry towards sustainability. Unilever — which buys about 3 per cent of the palm oil produced globally, or about 1.5 million tonnes annually — announced last month that all the palm oil it purchased will be traceable to known sources by the end of next year.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said the success of Wilmar’s policy depends on how it is implemented and enforced. Now, it is up to other palm oil traders, such as Cargill, Musim Mas and Sime Darby, to release similar policies, said Bustar Maitar, Head of Greenpeace’s Forest Campaign in Indonesia.

Wilmar said it would provide quarterly public updates in the first year of the policy’s implementation, with regular updates given thereafter.

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Malaysia: East coast may be hit by second flood wave

New Straits Times 7 Dec 13;

WARNING: Four states could face the brunt

A SECOND wave of floods is expected to hit the east coast in the third week of December, the Malaysian Meteorological Department said yesterday.

Its central forecast division director, Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, said there would be a series of heavy rainfall between the third week of December and February, next year.

He said the second wave of floods would likely hit Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor.
The prolonged heavy rainfall, he said, would coincide with the presence of the full moon on Dec 17, which would result in unusually high tides.

"Heavy rainfall is common during the monsoon season, but it is the combination of high tides and strong winds that cause severe flooding in flood prone areas."

He advised the public to be on alert and keep themselves updated with the latest developments to ensure they were prepared.

National Security Council secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abdul Wahab said alerts would be sent out to government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and volunteers to be prepared for the second wave of floods.

"We have to prepare food supplies and other relief items."

Thajudeen said various NGOs and government agencies, including police, Rela and Civil Defence Department, would be notified to prepare the relief items, including dry food.

Meanwhile, Helmi said the second wave of floods would be caused by "monsoon surges" (strong bursts of cold air from Siberia).

"Cold air will flow out of Siberia towards the coastal waters of China before heading towards the peninsula.

"Winds from the Pacific will combine with the northeasterly winds, creating rain clouds which will bring about heavy rainfall."

He said there may be two more widespread flooding episodes in January and February next year due to heavy rainfall.

He said the east coast of Sabah and west and central Sarawak may be affected by the rainfall next year.

On the worsening flood situation every year, he said it was because of "extreme weather" conditions.

"We have not seen notable changes in the amount of rainfall in Malaysia. The more severe thunderstorms and rainfall these days could be due to climate change."

Helmi said the department would issue an advisory on the level of warning (yellow, orange or red) should there be prolonged heavy rainfall.

The yellow alert is to make people aware of the weather condition and to take preventive action.

The orange alert implies that floods are already occurring and to warn those in affected areas to prepare to act if the situation worsens.

The red alert is issued when there is severe weather and major floods.

Helmi added that these warnings were only based on the rainfall pattern and not on the severity of flood conditions.

He said there had been two episodes of heavy rainfall so far.

The first occurred between Nov 18 to 22 and the second ended on Thursday.

"After the first period of heavy rainfall, the river levels rose, leading to a yellow alert in Kelantan and Terengganu.

"The second episode was quite severe because it occurred together with high tides."
He said there were many factors that caused floods.

"The first wave was due to the presence of a new moon, high tides and strong winds that pushed the sea water up to the shores.

"The strong northeasterly monsoon winds over the South China Sea pushed the sea water, causing it to rise to its highest level, covering much of the shore and into the river mouth and this caused the water to overflow."

This, together with high tides, worsened the condition as the water could not flow out into the river and sea, he added.

Flood situation getting worse
The Star 7 Dec 13;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The number of evacuees in the flood-hit states is continuing to rise as the flood situation continues to worsen.

In Terengganu, the number of flood evacuees rose to 7,337 yesterday evening with Dungun registering the biggest increase among the districts.

Up to 4,340 people have been evacuated in Dungun, from 2,668 in the morning. The National Security Council (MKN) portal reported that Kemaman also registered an increase of over 100 evacuees to 2,472.

The number of evacuees dropped in the districts of Marang and Hulu Terengganu to 42 (from 63) in Marang and 483 (844) in Hulu Terengganu.

The portal said the floods in Besut and Setiu districts receded completely and all the evacuees were allowed to return to their homes yesterday.

Three people have been confirmed drowned in Pahang even as the number of flood evacuees began to drop.

The bodies of Pekan Umno committee member Jamali Jani, 45, and his son, Mohd Nazli, 17, were found yesterday after they went missing on Wednesday when they fell into the floodwaters in Sungai Isap.

Mohamed Alif Khalid, 21, drowned on Wednesday while fishing alone at Sungai Kampung Sepial in Kuala Tembeling, Jerantut.

A spokesman of the Pahang police flood operations room said the number of evacuees had dropped to 32,808 from 34,235 in the morning.

He said the evacuees were from eight districts, namely Kuantan, Pekan, Rompin, Maran, Jerantut, Lipis, Temerloh and Bera.

Kuantan district continues to have the highest number of evacuees, at 27,385, who are being housed at 48 relief centres.

The spokesman said Rompin district had 1,167 evacuees at 14 relief centres; Pekan, 3,218 at 18 centres; Maran, 49 at two centres; Jerantut, 472 at 11 centres; Lipis, 33 at two centres; Temerloh, 419 at five centres and Bera, 65 at five centres.

Several stretches of road remain closed, among them Jalan Sungai Lembing-Kuantan at Km28, Jalan Kuantan-Segamat at Km72, Jalan Kuantan-Rompin at Km62 and Jalan Temerloh-Bahau at Km14. —Bernama.

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Malaysia: Poachers breach forest reserves

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 7 Dec 13;

ILLEGAL TRADE: Wildlife study cameras in Sabah catch them in the act

KOTA KINABALU: ILLEGAL hunters are prowling even protected forests in Sabah.

Poachers have been found to be encroaching crucial sites, such as the Crocker Range National Park, Tawau Hills National Park, Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Malua BioBank and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Footage of their activities was caught by camera traps set up at specific locations by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) for wildlife study purposes.

Describing the hunting within forest reserves as serious, DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens stressed on the need for the government and relevant agencies to sit down and tackle the problem.

"It is paramount that the millions of ringgit invested in our protected forests are used for wildlife protection and enforcement against wildlife trade and poaching.

"Shall we wait for another iconic species, such as the Sumatran rhino, to disappear in Sabah before reacting?"

Speaking at the recent Wild Animal Rescue Network (Warn) conference, Goossens said a report by the trade monitoring network, Traffic, revealed that 22,200 pangolins were traded in the state by syndicates within 13 months.

The figure was derived from logbooks seized by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) from syndicates in 2009.

The report also revealed that eight of 21 shops surveyed in 2010 sold bear bile products, while 10 of 24 shops sold similar products last year.

SWD director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the department would look into setting up an enforcement unit to tackle wildlife trade and illegal hunters.

"This unit will focus on wildlife trade, illegal hunting and bushmeat trade, using the best tools against wildlife smuggling and poaching.

"It will have a permanent presence in all protected areas in Sabah.

"We are looking for institutions keen on supporting the unit."

More than 100 wildlife experts participated in the two-day conference, organised by SWD and DGFC.

Among the participating countries were India, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Warn is a network of wild animal rescue centres, wildlife law enforcement groups and officials, and animal protection groups in East and Southeast Asia.

The conference was aimed at boosting the capabilities of East and Southeast Asian wildlife rescue centres to rescue and conserve wildlife and providing conservation awareness education for the public, as well as advocating minimum standards practised by wildlife rescue centres.

SWD assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said Warn would bring Asian countries together in matters pertaining to wildlife conservation and assist government authorities in each country to monitor illegal wildlife trade.

Sabah to ensure wildlife safety
The Star 8 Dec 13;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department will set up an enforcement unit following reports of illegal poaching activities at pristine conservation areas including the Maliau Basin and Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the Wildlife Enforcement Unit would work in a similar way with the Wildlife Rescue Unit, but would focus on wildlife trade, illegal hunting and bush meat trade.

“Our aim is to deploy the best existing tools against wildlife smuggling and poaching and having a permanent presence in all protected areas in Sabah.

“We are looking for institutions interested to support this unit,” he said yesterday.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah would use all means to stop illegal hunting and the sale of protected animal species’ parts.

“We might seem to have lost many battles, but I can assure you, the buck stops here and the war for wildlife conservation is being fought hard by a very dedicated group of people in Sabah in whom I place all my trust,’’ he added.

At the Fifth East and Southeast Asian Wild Animal Rescue Network (WARN) conference held in Tuaran on Nov 26 and Nov 27, wildlife researchers reported that there was ample evidence of illegal hunting in several forest reserves and national parks in Sabah.

These included iconic areas such as the Crocker Range National Park, Tawau Hills National Park, Maliau Basin Conservation Area and Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Other affected conservation areas include the Malua Bio Bank and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

“This is extremely serious and the state government, NGOs and research institutions need to tackle this issue as quickly as possible if we don’t want to see our wildlife ending up in bowls and as medicinal products,” said wildlife research NGO Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goosens.

Conference delegates were also briefed about recent data from surveys carried out by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic on pangolin and sun bear bile trade.

“The results were astonishing. Out of 21 shops visited in December 2010 in Kota Kinabalu, eight were selling bear bile products,” Goosens said.

In a survey carried out in Sabah last year, 10 out of 24 shops surveyed were found to be selling sun bear products.

Goosens said a Traffic report published in 2010 on pangolin trade in Sabah, including an analysis on trade syndicate’s logbooks seized in 2009, showed that 22,200 pangolins were traded by the syndicate in 13 months.

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