Best of our wild blogs: 19 Dec 13

Let’s #KeepSGClean!
from Green Drinks Singapore

Malayan Birdwing @ Pulau Ubin
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Morning Walk At Dairy Farm Nature Reserve
from Beetles@SG BLOG

False Head in Lycaenid Butterflies
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! Silver Forget-Me-Not
from Butterflies of Singapore

Beehive hangs from Woodlands bus stop
from Lazy Lizard's Tales and Dangerous-looking bug with hundreds of spines found at foot of Hougang block

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Monsoon surge expected to affect region over next few days

Patwant Singh Channel NewsAsia 18 Dec 13;

SINGAPORE: According to the Met Service, a steady strengthening of winds over the South China Sea known as a monsoon surge is expected to affect the region over the next few days.

The surge is likely to bring intermittent rain, heavy at times, between December 19 and 22, 2013.

High tides of 3.1m are expected during this period.


December 19, 2013 2.8m at 12.54am 3.1m at 11.46am
December 20, 2013 2.8m at 1.24am 3.1m at 12.20pm
December 21, 2013 2.8m at 1.52am 3.0m at 12.52pm
December 22, 2013 2.8m at 2.20am 3.0m at 1.26pm
The National Environment Agency said heavy rain coinciding with high tides could lead to localised flash floods, especially in low-lying areas.

In the past few weeks, short thundery showers affected Singapore in the afternoon and early evening due to the Northeast Monsoon.

As of December 17, the wettest areas were in the northeast with rainfall of around 85 to 98 per cent of the long-term monthly average, and the driest parts were in the south and west where 30 to 40 per cent of the long-term monthly average rainfall was recorded.

The public is advised to exercise caution during the monsoon season when flash floods may occur in the event of heavy rainfall.

The public can obtain the latest weather reports, including heavy rain warnings, at NEA's website.

They can also access the mobile weather service at Weather@SG, or by calling the NEA's weather forecast hotline at 6542 7788.

In the event of flash floods, the public can log on to PUB's Facebook page or PUB's Twitter, or tune in to radio broadcasts, to find out locations of flash floods.

Additionally, they can download national water agency PUB's free mobile app "MyWaters" for updates on water levels in key drains and canals, as well as receive flash flood alerts.

PUB said heavy rain fell in several parts of Singapore on Wednesday.

Intense rain caused flash floods at the following locations:
• Jalan Seaview
• Slip road from Yishun Ave 5 to Yishun Ave 2
• Road shoulder near centre median of PIE 14.5km toward Changi (Near Woodsville Flyover)

The flash floods at Jalan Seaview and along a short stretch of PIE road shoulder towards Changi (near Woodville flyover) subsided within 20 minutes, while the flash flood at the slip road from Yishun Ave 5 to Yishun Ave 2 subsided within 10 minutes.

PUB said Jalan Seaview is a known low-lying area, and ongoing drainage improvement works are expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2014.

Drainage works scheduled at Yishun Ave 2 and Yishun Ave 5 will start in the second quarter of 2014.

Drainage openings at the centre median drain of the affected stretch of PIE will be enlarged.

- CNA/gn

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Collaborating to preserve the Singapore story

Terence Chong and Yeo Kang Shua Today Online 19 Dec 13;

Balancing heritage with development, especially on a little island with global-city aspirations, is never easy even in the best of times.

But the Singapore Story, if nothing else, has always been about maximising whatever the fates have left us and forging new pathways. It is a story that we tell ourselves, our students, our citizens, and stories are important because they give meaning to our lives.

The recent release of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Draft Master Plan 2013 is yet another hint of how the Singapore Story will unfold.

Unlike the Concept Plan, which is a long-term vision of the country’s urban and physical development as well as land allocation, the Master Plan is a more detailed imagination of zoning and density areas. It is a statutory document, which means it has to pass through Parliament and can be revised.

The current Draft Master Plan focuses on green townships as well as shortening the distance between work and home. And while narrowing the distance between workplace and home is generally positive and cost-effective, it is a phenomenon that should invite social researchers to interrogate the socio-cultural impact this may have on our life patterns and everyday culture.


One positive turn has been the launch of the My Conservation Portal by the URA in October. The portal brings together heritage maps, photographs and write-ups, and invites public submissions on the more than 7,000 conserved buildings around the island. This innovative use of technology will allow not only local but also global users to familiarise themselves with our heritage sites and buildings.

Similarly, we should also applaud the decision to make public the list of 75 buildings proposed for conservation gazette in the launch of the Our Future, Our Home — Draft Master Plan 2013 exhibition. The Singapore Heritage Society has long kept an eye on any development to these buildings and championed the gazetting of some, such as the five Singapore Improvement Trust housing blocks at Kampong Silat. It is indeed a pleasant surprise that the Government intends to gazette them.

The publication of this list is significant because the last time such a list was included in the Master Plan was in 1958. One could speculate why such a list was not published between then and now — perhaps for fear of real estate speculation or the destruction of buildings by owners who do not want to bear the onerous burden and obligations that sometimes come with gazetting.

As such, both the introduction of the My Conservation Portal and the publication of this list bode well for the increasingly consultative and transparent approach of state agencies.


There could, nonetheless, be clearer and better defined evaluation criteria for building conservation.

The current criteria that buildings should possess “special architectural, historical, traditional or aesthetic interest” (Planning Act) is just too broadly worded.

Indeed, how is this different from the Preservation of Monuments Act, which calls for the protection of buildings that possess “historic, cultural, traditional, archaeological, architectural, artistic or symbolic significance and national importance”? This is not a question of semantics, but one that has real consequences on the way we decide what to keep and what to demolish. It is a matter of what we want to include in our Singapore Story and what we want to expunge.

The difference between the conservation of buildings and national monuments used to be clear. Now, it is getting less so. For example, could Leong San See Temple (which is on the list of 75 buildings) qualify as a national monument when, say, the Hong San See Temple does? Why is the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (another on the list of 75) not considered a national monument when the Sri Mariamman Temple is included as one?

The writing of the Singapore Story is a collective effort. With the Draft Master Plan 2013, the URA has made small but positive steps towards co-authorship with civil society, academics and ordinary citizens.

This is not to say that co-authorship will always be smooth. Indeed, as the Bukit Brown saga has shown, tensions and disagreements continue to linger. It is thus important for civil society and the state to set aside differences of opinion over issues where there is no reconciliation in sight, and move on to other challenges and issues where collaborative effort will bear fruit.


Terence Chong and Yeo Kang Shua are Vice-President and Executive Committee member of the Singapore Heritage Society, respectively.

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Malaysia: 'Sabah' turtle eggs flooding the peninsular markets

Daily Express 18 Dec 13;

Kota Kinabalu: Turtle eggs from Sabah continue to flood the Peninsular Malaysia market, particular Terengganu and Kelantan, which Sabah authorities said actually came from neighbouring Philippines.

Rantau Abang Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre (Tumec) Chief, Syed Abdullah Syed Abdul Kadir said about 50 per cent of the turtle eggs sold in the market in Terengganu and Kelantan were from Sabah.

Presenting his paper on the population of turtles in Peninsular Malaysia at the Seminar on Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) Goal 5: Threatened Species Status Improving at Ming Garden here Tuesday, he said Terengganu and Kelantan were the only two states in the country where selling of turtle eggs is legal.

According to him, one of the retailers of turtle eggs told him that the turtle eggs could not be detected by the scanners in the airport, hence it was relatively easy to send them from Sabah to Semenanjung Malaysia and later to the two east coast states.

However, Sabah Parks Director, Paul Basintal who chaired the session responded that Sabah is actually a transit point for the turtle eggs that originated from the islands in the Philippines.

Basintal said near the three islands in the Turtle Parks in Malaysia waters are six other Philippine islands, which are also nesting sites for turtles.

These six islands produced around one million eggs annually and the Philippines government only gazetted one of them as protected.

But, he said it was difficult for the government's decree to be imposed in view of the unique situation in Mindanao, the southern Philippines, which is an autonomous governed region.

In this respect, Basintal said the eggs were then smuggled into Sabah and some ended in the market in Sandakan while the others went to the peninsula market.

He agreed that more efforts were needed, such as on the detection of turtle egg consignments.

Meanwhile, Syed Abdullah said some of the turtle eggs were also from Indonesia because he had been told that fishermen from Malaysia and Indonesia even conducted barter trade in the middle of the sea - fish for turtle eggs.

On the other hand, he said a total of 190 million turtle hatchlings have been released into the sea in the country since 1995.

In Malaysia, four species can be found namely Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherback Turtle.

Egg harvesting hurting Coral Triangle turtle conservation
Ruben Sario The Star 19 Dec 13;

KOTA KINABALU: Turtle conservation efforts in the biodiversity rich Coral Triangle are being hampered by the harvesting of eggs for human consumption, especially in southern Philippines.

The Coral Triangle is the sea surrounded by Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It has an abundance of marine life, including several species of turtles.

Other than egg harvesting, scores of turtles are also killed in waters off the state’s east coast partly due to collisions with tourist boats.

According to Sabah Parks director Paul Basintal, turtle eggs from the Philippines were smuggled to Peninsular Malaysia through Sabah.

He said there were three Philippine islands located near Sandakan’s Turtle Island Park, consisting of another three islands, that form a huge nesting ground for the turtles.

An estimated one million eggs are laid at these six islands yearly, but the Philippines had only designated one of its islands as a conservation area, which also lies in an area difficult to manage as it falls under an autonomous region.

Speaking at the Coral Triangle Initiative seminar here yesterday, Basintal said that there was a sharp drop in turtle eggs coming from southern Philippines during the Malaysian security forces’ offensive against the Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu and Semporna districts in February and March this year.

However, he said that intrepid smugglers could also be using courier services to send turtle eggs to the peninsula as these could not be easily detected by airport scanners.

Earlier at the seminar, Rantau Abang Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre chief Syed Abullah Syed Abdul Kadir said about half of turtle eggs sold in Terengganu and Kelantan were from Sabah as well as from Indonesia.

Malaysian fishermen could also have been trading their catch for the turtle eggs with their Indonesian counterpart at sea.

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks had recorded 225 turtle deaths over the past 12 years.

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Malaysia: Second wave of rains expected

The Star 19 Dec 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Meteorological Department has issued a warning that a second wave of monsoon rains that will cause floods is expected to occur from Friday to Monday.

A National Security Council statement said the areas that are expected to be affected are Terengganu (Dungun dan Kemaman), Pahang (Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin) and Johor (Segamat and Mersing).

“People living in low-lying areas should adhere to instructions given by the authorities. They can go online at to get the latest information on floods nationwide,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, flood victims whose MyKad had been lost or damaged in the recent floods here can apply for a replacement at the National Registration Department (NRD) without having to lodge a police report, said its director-general Datuk Jariah Mohd Said.

She added that they also need not have to pay for the replacement.

“However, they will have to answer several questions posed by NRD officials to verify that they are flood victims,” she said in Kuantan yesterday.

Jariah said that the process to replace the identity cards would take a week.

In Kota Baru, Kelantan Disaster Relief Committee deputy chairman Datuk Makhtar Mustapha said government departments and agencies are gearing up for the possibility of the next wave of floods.

He said 729 evacuation centres had been identified while essential supplies were being stockpiled.

In Kuala Terengganu, families affected by the floods in Terengganu will receive up to RM1,500 aid from the state government, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said.

The maximum RM1,500 aid will be given to victims whose houses were totally inundated by the flood while other flood victims will get RM500, he added.

“The state government is expected to spend RM15mil for the aid. The state’s annual aid for families with schoolgoing children affected by the floods will be increased,” he said after chairing the weekly state exco meeting at Wisma Darul Iman here yesterday.

Ahmad also said the state departments and agencies are fully prepared for the next wave of floods which is predicted to hit the state again this weekend.

Meanwhile, the state Agriculture Department director Md Yusof Maidin said the floods in Terengganu had damaged about 700ha of crops and had caused 856 farmers to lose about RM4.7mil.

He said the crops affected were padi, vegetables, fruit trees and cash crops such as corn, tapioca, mushroom and sweet potatoes as well as nurseries.

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Malaysia: Sun bear trapped in snare freed

New Straits Times 19 Dec 13;

GRIK: Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) officers rescued a sun bear, trapped in a snare near a hilly area at Km52 of the East-West Highway in Banding near here on Monday.

State Perhilitan director Fakhrul Hatta Musa said the adult bear, weighing 50kg, was spotted 250m from the road by villagers who informed the authorities.

He said Perhilitan personnel from Grik and Jeli (Kelantan), including four armed personnel, were involved in the rescue operation that started at 5pm.

"The personnel used a sedative before cutting the trap to set the bear free.

"The operation ended at 6.45pm and the bear was brought to our office in Grik for inspection."
Fakhrul said the bear was in good shape and had been sent to a wildlife protection centre in Sungkai.

"Sun bear is a protected species and action can be taken against those responsible under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010."

"They can be fined up to RM100,000 or jailed up to three years, or both, if found guilty."

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Indian capital blanketed in thick smog, transport disrupted

Sruthi Gottipati PlanetArk 19 Dec 13;

Indian capital blanketed in thick smog, transport disrupted Photo: Anindito Mukherjee
People cross railway tracks on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi December 18, 2013.
Photo: Anindito Mukherjee

Residents of the Indian capital woke on Wednesday to a third day of thick gray smog in one of the worst episodes this year, which disrupted dozens of flights and train services and caused a rash of health complaints.

New Delhi is among several Asian cities, including Beijing, that are suffering from toxic levels of pollution fuelled by industrial growth and a surge in the numbers of vehicles crowding their roads.

The cloak of fog draping much of north India forced dozens of flights to be diverted or canceled, disrupted train schedules and led to a doubling in the number of medical emergencies caused by breathing difficulty, officials said.

Runway visibility has been dropping to as low as 50 m. (164 ft) in Delhi over the past few days.

"Both departures and arrivals were stalled," said airport spokesman Kapil Sabarwal, as planes hovered in holding patterns, waiting for conditions to clear.

Two passenger trains were canceled on Wednesday, while 60 trains were running late and 25 had been rescheduled on the third straight day of disruptions, said railways spokesman Neeraj Sharma.

The fine particles suspended in the fog ranged as much as seven times beyond the concentration that India considers safe, to reach a level the United States Environmental Protection Agency calls "hazardous".

At that point, the agency urges that all outdoor physical activity be avoided and that victims of heart or respiratory ailments stay indoors, along with children and the elderly.

The fog mingled with high pollution was an extreme event "when the air quality goes from very poor to dangerous," said Gufran Beig, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Calm wind conditions and a smaller gap between extreme temperatures helped trap pollutants in the air, Beig said. The frequency and duration of such events have been rising every year since government records started in 2010, he added.

The only time this year that Delhi has choked in such severe air pollution was during traditional fireworks celebrations of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in November, which coincided with a foggy cold snap.

The number of patients seeking treatment for respiratory and cardiac diseases has risen by about a quarter since the fog descended on Monday, said Dr. Randeep Guleria, head of the pulmonary department at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, a leading hospital in the city.

Particle pollution is linked to many health problems, ranging from breathing difficulties to heart attacks, strokes and early death.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez)

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Saving Fiji's Coral Reefs Linked to Forest Conservation Upstream

Science Daily 17 Dec 13;

The health of coral reefs offshore depend on the protection of forests near the sea, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society that outlines the importance of terrestrial protected areas to coastal biodiversity.

In a study conducted by WCS and the University of Queensland evaluating the effects of terrestrial protected area designs on Fiji's coral reefs, it turns out that what's best for land ecosystems is also best for coastal corals.

The study appears in the online edition of Marine Policy. The authors are: Carissa Klein of the University of Queensland; Stacy Jupiter of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Matthew Watts and Hugh Possingham of the University of Queensland.

"When designing terrestrial protected areas, the key is to consider not only how much they benefit terrestrial biodiversity but also how much they benefit coral reef ecosystems," said lead author Dr. Carissa Klein. "Thinking about the connections between the land and sea is rarely done when designing protected areas -- Fiji is leading the way globally."

Most managers realize how downstream ecosystems such as coral reefs can be negatively affected by land-based activities that cause increases in runoff and associated sediments, nutrients, and chemicals. Yet, there have been very few on-the-ground cases where protected area networks have been designed using truly integrated planning to minimize such external threats.

This matters in small island developing states like Fiji, where selection of the locations of terrestrial protected areas have been mostly ad hoc, and based more on the cultural or timber value of forests than on any desire to protect biodiversity. Fiji's current terrestrial protected areas, which cover less than 3 percent of land area in the country, neither adequately protect Fiji's sensitive island habitats and species nor contribute much to minimize runoff to adjacent coral reefs.

In 2008, a national Protected Area Committee was created by the Fiji government, in part to achieve the goals of protecting 20 percent of the country's land and 30 percent of its coastal waters by the year 2020. Looking to support the committee's efforts to land-sea planning initiative, the study authors systematically analyzed six scenarios for expanding Fiji's network of terrestrial protected area networks, with the aim to uncover how well each approach did to protect different forest types and minimize land-based runoff to downstream coral reefs. One scenario evaluated included all of the priority forests for conservation identified by the committee based on field data and rules of thumb.

"We're pleased that the results of our study confirm that the forests that the committee was considering for protection can offer significant downstream benefits to coral reefs," said Dr. Stacy Jupiter, Fiji Country Program Director and co-author on the study. "However, we were surprised to find that these priority places for management actually did not include a lot of the key threatened forest vegetation types. We therefore recommended to the committee to add some additional forests to their national register of priority places for protection."

This advice was taken by the committee, and additional forest areas were added to the final register of priority places for management endorsed by the Fiji government National Environment Council in October 2013.

"Fiji is to be commended for their constructive response to the findings of this important scientific research," said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of the WCS Marine Program. "Their decision to take action and link land to sea conservation helps to ensure the long term security of their globally important coral reef ecosystems while supporting the livelihoods and resilience of coastal communities."

Journal Reference:
Carissa J. Klein, Stacy D. Jupiter, Matthew Watts, Hugh P. Possingham. Evaluating the influence of candidate terrestrial protected areas on coral reef condition in Fiji. Marine Policy, 2014; 44: 360 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2013.10.001

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