Humans not on crocodiles’ menu at Sungei Buloh

Tony O'Dempsey Today Online 16 Dec 13;

The letter, “Assess threat of crocodiles at Sungei Buloh” (Dec 12), cited crocodile attacks in Australia.

While I can understand the concern for public safety, I wish to point out that the crocodiles that have taken up residence at the wetland reserve over the past several years are small in size and number.

We are not on their menu, and the risk to the public remains within acceptable limits. Sensible precautions are, however, necessary.

Visitors should not approach the crocodiles or throw sticks or stones at them and should simply back away if one encounters the animal on a trail.

This also applies to monitor lizards, otters, snakes and monkeys, all of which may be encountered at Sungei Buloh. They are capable of inflicting injury when approached or abused.

We are fortunate to have a wildlife reserve like Sungei Buloh, where the coastal habitat has been restored through good management over the past 20 years, to the extent that native animals such as otters and crocodiles are prepared to make it their home.

I have visited it several times with my grandchildren for several years now and am at ease when it comes to their safety; none of them has been eaten by a crocodile.

Crocs at nature reserve don't pose major threat
Straits Times 17 Dec 13;

AS A birdwatcher, I have been a regular visitor to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for well over a decade, and can confirm that the presence of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles there is neither a recent occurrence nor a secret ("Crocodile threat underplayed" by Mr Shawn Low; Forum Online, last Thursday). And at no point have the crocodiles posed a significant threat to visitors.

In fact, prominent signs warning visitors of the potential presence of crocodiles have been in place since well before my first visit to the reserve in 2001, and several more have been put up recently.

Mr Low pointed out that crocodiles have attacked humans in Queensland, Australia. It is important to understand that Sungei Buloh and Queensland are different.

The riverine habitats of Queensland are much larger and more extensive than that of Sungei Buloh, allowing the crocodiles in Queensland to grow to a much larger size and form much larger populations.

In contrast, Sungei Buloh is much smaller, which means that while the crocodiles are able to find sufficient food, their size and population are likely to remain small, thus reducing the risk of attacks.

Most crocodile attacks occur when people are in the water. In Sungei Buloh, the raised gravel paths and boardwalks ensure that visitors are kept well away from the water, thus ensuring their safety.

This is not to say there is entirely no risk. It is important to remember that crocodiles are wild animals and will defend themselves when disturbed or provoked. Visitors to the nature reserve must remain respectful and keep their distance from wild crocodiles, even as they appreciate the animals' beauty in their natural habitat.

David Tan Jian Xiong

Sungei Buloh crocodiles unlikely to be a menace
Ben Lee Today Online 19 Dec 13;

I refer to the letter, “Assess threat of crocodiles at Sungei Buloh” (Dec 12).

Over the last 50 years, many wild animals in Singapore have become extinct, due to rapid urbanisation resulting in human encroachments on nature.

As a wildlife advocate since the ’80s, I have spotted several crocodiles in various parts of Singapore during my nature explorations.

Only some of the sightings were reported in the media.

Most notably, media attention on a crocodile at Pasir Ris led to its capture, due to the danger it might have otherwise posed to picnickers and park-goers.

However, in the case of Sungei Buloh, the park is gazetted as a nature reserve, which means more protection for its flora and fauna, as well as better facilities for the public to enjoy their visits.

The crocodiles there are usually found a safe distance from the walkway. Hence, the chance of an attack is almost negligible.

The small number of crocodiles in the reserve is another reason they are unlikely to be a menace. The warning signs that have been put up help to highlight their presence to the public and reduce danger.

Singapore does not have much wildlife left.

Still, we are perhaps fortunate to be able to see animals such as the Oriental smooth-coated otter, du-gong, slow loris, leopard cat, greater mousedeer, Malayan porcupine, wild boar and the estuarine crocodile (saltwater crocodile).

The re-emergence of crocodiles in recent years is a good sign that our rich biodiversity is attracting various fauna, and not only crocodiles.

I hope the ones in Sungei Buloh will be left alone in the wild for the public to enjoy as a learning session on our bio-heritage.

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Malaysia: Second wave of floods likely to hit 3 states

Audrey Dermawan and Tharanya Arumugan New Straits Times 16 Dec 13;

WARNING: Heavy rain expected in Johor, Terengganu Pahang next week

KUALA LUMPUR: THE Malaysian Meteorological Department yesterday issued a yellow-level warning (heavy rain) for Terengganu (Dungun and Kemaman), Pahang (Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin) and Johor (Segamat and Mersing).

Its central forecast division director, Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, said the third episode of heavy rain expected to occur from Wednesday to Friday would cause a second wave of floods.

He said intermittent rain was expected and this may cause floods at low-lying areas.

"The department has predicted downpour in the three states. It is yet to be known whether there will be heavy rain in Kelantan.

"We will issue an advisory on the level of warning (yellow, orange or red) should there be heavy rain in other states.

"We advise the public to be alert and to be up-to-date with the latest developments through our website and Facebook page."

The public should heed the advice of local authorities on evacuation plans if the situation took a turn for the worse, he said.

Helmi said the downpour would coincide with the presence of the full moon on Tuesday. It would result in unusually high tides that may cause flooding.

Meanwhile, all enforcement agencies, tasked with assisting flood victims, would mobilise their assets when the time comes.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said police, Malaysian Civil Defence Department (JPAM), Rela and other agencies, such as the National Registration Department, were on standby.

He said he had spoken to the armed forces regarding the use of its high-capacity Tetra lorries.
"This time, we are better prepared. With the armed forces roped in, it will be an integrated operation," he said when commenting on preparations for the second wave of floods.

Zahid said they had also requested the use of mobile kitchens and to get JPAM volunteers to cook for victims.

Reports received by the National Security Council stated that high tides in the east coast were expected between today and Saturday.

Preparing for 2nd wave
T. N. Alagesh and Hashini Kavishtri Kannan New Straits Times 18 Dec 13;

YELLOW ALERT: Residents on east coast expecting more floods

KUALA LUMPUR: PEOPLE in the affected areas should be prepared for floods should the intensity of rainfall increase today.

This advice from the Meteorological Department added that the Yellow alert would shift to Orange, signalling the possible start of the second round of floods in the east coast.
"We can detect intensity on our radar only when the situation occurs from our observation and the meteorological stations," said weather forecast centre director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah.

"It is too early to predict how much rainfall to expect. Usually 24 to 48 hours prior to the event, the Yellow alert is set and we will maintain this based on the intensity of the rain."
The highest rainfall recorded was 300mm in a day, which occurred in two consecutive days.

Residents in Terengganu, Pahang and Johor have been advised to prepare for the second wave of heavy rain, from today until Friday. High tides and strong winds in the South China Sea were also expected during this period.

In Bandar Baru Bangi, Welfare Department director-general Datuk Norani Mohd Hashim said it was prepared for the worst based on reports the second wave of floods in the east coast was likely to begin today.

"We have replenished food and other basic supplies at 513 distribution bases and five depots nationwide."

She said more than 5,000 volunteers registered under the department would be deployed to help victims when the floods reoccur.

Norani said 30,000 flood victims had been identified for the RM500 cash aid. She said the department was updating data on those eligible for aid, and once completed, the list would be submitted to the National Security Council for the dispersion of aid.

Norani said the data update would be completed by the end of this week and the distribution of aid to follow.

"We need to make sure only those eligible receive the cash aid. We also have to be careful as one house may not be occupied by just one family but two or three families," she said after the 13th Convocation of the Bangi Industrial Training And Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled here yesterday.

In Kuantan, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deployed six helicopters to assist in relief and rescue efforts in the event of the second wave of floods.

Its director-general Maritime, Admiral Datuk Mohd Amdan Kurish, said the agency would station its helicopters -- three Agusta Westland 136 and three Eurocopter Dauphin -- on standby at the air operation branch in Subang to be deployed in case of floods.

"Two units will be used for the agency's routine duties, including patrolling the country's waters, and one will be deployed to flood- hit areas, if required.

"Four other helicopters will be on standby for mercy flights, humanitarian efforts, transporting aid to areas inaccessible by trucks and boats, and search and rescue operations.
"Our assets were involved in distributing aid to flood-hit areas during the first wave of floods that affected the east coast early this month.

"We will continue to work with government agencies, including police and military, to assist during the floods," he said after the passing-out parade of 53 MMEA trainee officers at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Maritime Academy in Gebeng yesterday.

Amdan said MMEA's involvement in providing logistic support in flood-stricken areas did not affect the agency's existing responsibilities in deploying its assets and personnel to patrol the country's waters.

Present yesterday was Eastern Region MMEA enforcement chief, First Admiral Datuk Nasir Adam.

Additional reporting by Fazleena Aziz

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'Every little helps' is a dangerous mantra for climate change

Plastic bag charges may seem a step forward but nudging and tweaking behaviours will never address climate change; a fundamentally different economic system is needed
Adam Corner Guardian Professional 13 Dec 13;

In 2014, England will follow the example set by Wales and Scotland and introduce a carrier bag charge. If the Welsh and Scottish experiences are anything to go by, the policy will drastically reduce the number of bags in circulation, keeping unnecessary waste out of landfill and removing a little polythene from the diet of our cities' seagulls.

Like recycling, re-using carrier bags has become something of an iconic "sustainable behaviour". But whatever else its benefits may be, it is not, in itself, an especially good way of cutting carbon. Like all simple and painless behavioural changes, its value hangs on whether it acts as a catalyst for other, more impactful, activities or support for political changes.

The evidence from Wales is not encouraging. My colleagues at Cardiff University analysed the impact of the introduction of the carrier bag charge. Although their use reduced dramatically, rates of other low-carbon behaviours among the general public remained unaffected.

To be clear: fewer plastic bags would be a small, good thing. But as a major two-day conference at the Royal Society headquarters in London this week made clear, "every little helps" is a dangerously misleading mantra when it comes to climate change.

The Radical Plan meeting featured contributions from across the physical and social sciences, as well as civil society. The organisers – Professors Kevin Anderson and Corinne Le Quere of the Tyndall Centre – posed contributors a brutally simple question: what would need to happen if we were to do more than simply pay lip service to the idea of avoiding dangerous climate change?

The answers were undeniably radical – and none mentioned re-using plastic bags.

Scientists and engineers described the unprecedented scale of energy system change necessary to decarbonise rapidly. Social scientists argued for a transformation in the way we view ourselves, our consumption, and our role in society. Economists demolished the idea that economic growth could be maintained forever in a fossil-fuel driven, finite world. Policy experts questioned whether our current carbon targets were fit for purpose.

But across almost all of the papers presented at the conference, there was an inescapable consensus: a fundamentally different economic system is required, if we are serious about avoiding dangerous climate change, based on nurturing wellbeing rather than stoking corporate profit.

This is, of course, not a new idea. But what was striking was the convergence across contributors from the breadth of the physical and social sciences. The clear message was that unrestrained capitalism is incompatible with decarbonisation: the sums simply don't add up.

Many sceptics see the issue of climate change as no more than a figleaf for ushering in a new era of socialism. The conclusions of the Radical Plan conference are unlikely to convince them otherwise. But for the vast majority of us – who say we "get" climate change, but still somehow cling on to the idea that small, incremental behavioural changes will be sufficient – the conference should be a wake-up call.

Nudging, tweaking, or cajoling people into piecemeal behavioural changes like re-using plastic bags is not a proportionate response to climate change. Engaging the public through their personal carbon footprints is really only a means to an end – and that end is a political and economic system that has sustainability as its central organising principle.

And if these sound like radical statements, unbecoming of the stately, reserved sentiments associated with the Royal Society, then consider the prospect of a world that is four or even six degrees hotter and the havoc and suffering that would be inevitable. This is also a radical choice.

Clearly, economic systems do not overhaul themselves – and in a democracy, majority support is a prerequisite for any significant societal shift. Politicians do not take risks if they don't think the electorate will support them. And civil society cannot function without a diverse supporter-base.

This means that public engagement still lies at the heart of the challenge of climate change, but it is a form of public engagement that goes way beyond plastic bags. And any public campaign that treats minor behavioural change as a valid goal in itself is also taking a radical stance: complicity in a dangerously warmer world.

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