Best of our wild blogs: 12 Dec 13

A Reply
from Gamefish And Aquatic Rehabiliation Society

Butterflies Galore! : Long Banded Silverline
from Butterflies of Singapore

Environmentalists call for recognition of orangutan, rhino habitat as heritage site from news by Rhett Butler

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Assess threat of crocodiles at Sungei Buloh

Shawn Low Today Online 12 Dec 13;

The recent presence of saltwater crocodiles at Sungei Buloh raises concerns that I feel are not being communicated appropriately to the public. They are some of the most protective and aggressive predators in the world.

I have journeyed through Australia as a travel writer, and their threat is taken seriously in far north Queensland. There are ample signs to indicate crocodile territory, and tour operators and guides often urge caution with regard to approaching the crocodiles.

Attacks by saltwater crocodiles on humans have been documented regularly in Australia. I do not mean to be alarmist, but my worry is that media reports have not suitably conveyed the fact that these crocodiles are capable of killing people.

I am especially concerned because Sungei Buloh is visited by children. The National Parks Board should consult zoologists and experts to assess the potential threat and take measures to ensure that visitors do not end up as croc bait.

Crocodile threat underplayed
Straits Times Forum 12 Dec 13;

THE recent sightings of saltwater crocodiles at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve have raised some concerns that have not been appropriately communicated to the public ("Croc spotted on Sungei Buloh reserve's path"; Dec 2).

Saltwater crocodiles are some of the most protective and aggressive predators in the world.

I have travelled through Australia as a travel writer, and in far north Queensland, their threat is taken seriously. There is ample signage indicating crocodile territory, and tour operators and guides will often urge caution when approaching these creatures.

Attacks by saltwater crocodiles on humans have been regularly documented in Australia.

I do not mean to be alarmist but my worry is that the media and National Parks Board (NParks) are not conveying the fact that these crocodiles are capable of killing humans.

What gives me real cause for concern is that Sungei Buloh is visited by children.

I would recommend that NParks consult zoologists and experts to assess the potential threat, and take measures to ensure the safety of park visitors.

Shawn Low

Beef up safety measures, focus on conservation
Straits Times Forum 12 Dec 13;

IT IS rare to come across a 3m-long saltwater crocodile on a path at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve ("Croc spotted on Sungei Buloh reserve's path"; Dec 2).

With Singapore looking to expand its green spaces, the public needs to be educated about the importance of wildlife conservation and safety measures in nature reserves.

The footpaths in the Sungei Buloh reserve should have warning signs to inform visitors about areas where crocodile sightings are more frequent. It is good that the National Parks Board is stepping up patrols to ensure the safety of visitors.

Other safety measures could include emergency phone booths or hotlines to alert park rangers of any crocodile sightings or incidents.

Schools should hold briefings to educate children on the potential dangers and safety protocols when visiting the nature reserve. Visitors should also look out for one another and be proactive in ensuring their own safety.

Education is needed to teach visitors to appreciate the flora and fauna of the reserve. Through school excursions, children can learn many things about nature that are not found in textbooks.

Conservation is an important area that the reserve can look at in keeping track of the many types of wildlife found there. A partnership with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society and National Geographic to study the crocodiles could help in our understanding of their population growth and prevent them from becoming extinct.

It is important that such studies be done humanely. These could be documented in projects that schools can let their students take part in, to help them appreciate and respect wildlife.

Darren Chan Keng Leong

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73 caught on camera for high-rise littering

Ng Lian Cheong Channel NewsAsia 11 Dec 13;

SINGAPORE: Seventy-three people were caught on camera for high-rise littering as of December 4, since an initiative by the National Environment Agency (NEA) saw some 880 surveillance cameras being installed in 581 locations last year.

The locations chosen were where residents complained of high-rise littering problems.

NEA said the cameras have helped to address the high-rise littering problems in 81 per cent of the locations.

The Public Hygiene Council believes that there are repeat offenders of high-rise littering.

The highest court fine issued to a repeat offender of high-rise littering was S$4,800.

Liak Teng Lit, chairman of the Public Hygiene Council, said: "It can't be helped -- there's a small minority of the population, in any population, (of which) about 3 or 4 per cent of the people have personality disorders.

“They are the people who can't relate to other people, they don't care about other people. So they will always be doing these kinds of things."

- CNA/nd

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Philippine fishers and fish farmers facing immense damage to sector

FAO calls for prompt and sustainable rebuilding of livelihoods in regions affected by Typhoon Haiyan
FAO 11 Dec 13;

11 December 2013, Manila/Rome – Philippine fishers face immense damage to the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in regions affected by Typhoon Haiyan, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said today, calling for prompt and sustainable actions to help rebuild livelihoods.

“Even though we still only have a partial picture, it is clear that the damage caused to the fisheries sector is immense and spans the entire value chain, from catch to market,” said Rodrigue Vinet, acting FAO Representative in the Philippines. “In the context of livelihoods, these losses are crippling.”

According to preliminary assessments by the Philippines’ Department of Agriculture, small-scale fishers were the worst affected when the typhoon tore through the country in November, destroying or damaging tens of thousands of small boats and fishing gear in its path, while larger commercial boats suffered less damage.

Around 16 500 seaweed farmers – mostly women – also lost their livelihoods.

The typhoon flattened crucial infrastructure including jetties and landing ports, onshore ice and cold storage facilities, boat repair and maintenance facilities, processing factories and markets.

Key aquaculture infrastructure was also destroyed including oyster rafts, crab, shrimp and mussel farms, as well as inland tilapia cages, hatcheries and fish ponds.

Economic losses

Economic losses to the sector are still being quantified, but the worst-hit regions – Eastern, Central and Western Visayas and Mimaropa – are major producers in both aquaculture and fisheries, according to the Philippines Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.

In 2011, marine and inland fisheries in these affected regions supplied 21 percent, or 514 492 tonnes, of the total output from the Philippines’ municipal and commercial fisheries combined. Municipal marine fishing is carried out from the shoreline to 15 km offshore, and only boats below three tonnes are authorized to fish in these waters.

Aquaculture, including seaweed, from the four regions is responsible for 33 percent of total national aquaculture production.

Sustainable rehabilitation

FAO cautioned that coordination is crucial in rebuilding the sector so as not to jeopardize the lives and livelihoods of fishers and fish farmers, as well as people directly and indirectly dependent on the fishing sector.

“The Philippines Government has made important efforts to support small-scale fisheries, and we need to ensure that the response to this disaster does not reverse that good work,” Vinet said.

“Experience from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and other large-scale disasters has shown that inadvertent oversupply of fishing boats and equipment during the recovery can deplete fish stocks, reduce catches, harm ecosystems and damage the livelihoods of the remaining fishers,” he said.

“Boats need to be rebuilt and replaced, but this needs to be done in a coordinated manner to ensure that existing fishing capacity is not exceeded. We need to make sure that in time there are not more boats than fish.”

Vinet underscored that replacement fishing gear should be legal and non-destructive and that boats should be built and repaired with quality materials, taking no short-cuts. “The safety of fishers is a top priority,” he said.

Plan for recovery

FAO is currently working with the Philippines Government to prepare a recovery and reconstruction plan that includes short- and medium- to long-term recovery for all agriculture subsectors, including fisheries.

The Organization is calling for an initial $5 million to restore the livelihoods of fishers and coastal communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

In addition to repairing boats and selective fishing gear, short-term rehabilitation efforts must include providing processing tools for women, demarcating community-managed fish sanctuaries and promoting cash-for-work programmes to assist in the clean-up efforts.

Rehabilitation of lost mangroves will also be important as they act as buffer zones against storm surges and as a refuge and habitat for spawning of many species.

In addition, FAO plans to support the recovery of seaweed farmers, usually women, whose work can bring returns within 60 days, ensuring access to vital income following the typhoon.

The Organization stressed that any fisheries and aquaculture response effort in the Philippines must follow sustainable and good management practice, and that coastal management and zoning must also be respected.

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