Best of our wild blogs: 9 Feb 14

Life History of the Malayan Five Ring
from Butterflies of Singapore

Rare Dragonflies and Fallen Trees
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Night Walk At Lorong Halus (07 Feb 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Brown-throated Sunbird uses mandibles and foot to get at flower nectar of Costus woodsonii from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Malaysia: Johor dams still not affected by dry spell

abdul rahman embong The Star 9 Feb 14;

JOHOR BARU: The water level at the 15 dams in Johor is still able to sustain the needs of the people despite no rainfall over the past few weeks, Syarikat Air Johor Holdings (SAJ) Sdn Bhd corporate communication manager Jamaluddin Jamil said.

“If the water levels at the dams reach a critical level, SAJ will take immediate measures to ensure that the public will receive clean water without any disruption,” he said.

Several residential areas in Layang-Layang, Simpang Renggam, had faced water disruptions for about a week from the start of the Chinese New Year.

However, Jamaluddin said the situation was not caused by the decreasing water level at the dams but due to the high volume of consumption.

“During the festive season, we noticed that usage of water usually increases. Places such as Layang-Layang and nearby areas faced water disruption due to the low water pressure in the area,” he said when contacted.

LThe area suffered water disruption for more than seven days due to high water usage during the Chinese New Year celebration.

Checks by The Star at Taman Sri Layang in Layang-Layang showed that the problem had already been rectified. Housewife Loi Low Chong, 81, said her Chinese New Year celebration was affected as her house did not receive clean water for about seven days.

“I could not cook for my family reunion dinner. We had no choice but to spend money at a restaurant,” she said.

Another resident S. Krishnan, 45, said that the residents did not receive any notice from SAJ over the water disruption.

Stall operator Aminah Samsuddin, 40, said the situation had affected her business.

Johor DAP policy director Wong Shu Qi, who highlighted the matter, said the state government should inform the public of the water level at all dams and reservoirs so that residents could make the necessary preparations.

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Malaysia: Hot up north till March

Tharanya Arumugam New Straits Times 9 Feb 14;

SWELTERING DAYS: Northern states will record 34oC

KUALA LUMPUR: THE northern states are expected to experience hot weather that will last until early next month, said the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

Its central forecast office director, Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, said Kedah, Perlis and Penang would experience hotter weather compared with other states as the northeast monsoon came to an end.

"The hot and dry weather is a common occurrence when the northeasterly wind season ends. Usually it lasts until the end of March, but we expect it's going to be earlier this year," he said yesterday.

The northern states, he said, would record a maximum temperature of 34oC compared with 30oC recorded earlier this month.

Helmi said Perak and Selangor could be affected by the dry weather, which would record higher temperatures in the afternoon.

However, he said, it would not be dry throughout the season as there would be intermittent rain and thunderstorms in the inlands, mainly in the afternoons and evenings.

He said the number of rainy days would be less than 15 this month and in the next month, and it would be dry in most places. This, he said, was due to the light wind patterns that would not be conducive for the formation of rain clouds.

"We expect changes in the weather because the winds are getting lighter and droughts are starting to build up over the west coast states. There will be isolated thunderstorms in Perak, Selangor and southwestern Johor in the afternoon.

"Sabah and Sarawak will experience a change in weather pattern with isolated rainfall."

Helmi said the public should avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, especially at midday.

Commenting on the haze, Helmi said it was caused by local activities, such as open burning, emission from automobiles and industrial gas release, and was not due to the eruption of Mount Sinabung in Indonesia.

"The light wind and dry weather for a couple of weeks has caused the haze particles to accumulate in a particular area. The particles cannot disperse as there is no air movement and over time, it becomes hazy."

The Department of Environment portal recorded "moderate" levels in the Air Pollutant Index with (API) readings of between 51 to 100, in 24 areas in Johor, Kedah, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Sarawak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya at 5pm yesterday.

On Thursday, it was reported that the air quality in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan and Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, reached "unhealthy" levels with API readings of more than 100, and 23 areas recorded a moderate level.

Weatherman: The heat is on and is here to stay
zora chan The Star 9 Feb 14;

PETALING JAYA: Weather forecast by the Meteorological Department shows a low chance of rainfall in most parts of the peninsula in the next few weeks.

It was normal to have drier days towards the end of the northeast monsoon with daytime temperature hovering over 30°C, a weatherman said.

“Normally, we will have less rain in February and March. In peninsula, we expect total rainfall of between 50mm and 200mm this month, while in March it would be about 100mm to 300mm,” he said.

“This is normal rain distribution,” he added, saying it would be similar in Sarawak and Sabah.

Kuala Lumpur may see some rains next Thursday afternoon but other than that, it will be sunny and hot, according to the department’s website.

It will also be sunny in most parts of Selangor in the next few days.

Other states are expected to have fine weather till next week with temperatures ranging from 24°C to 33°C. On Friday, Alor Setar recorded a maximum 34.7°C, the highest in the country for the day.

Areas like Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands, Bukit Bendera and Bukit Fraser are expected to have fine weather but cooler with temperature ranging from 14°C to 29°C next week.

On Wednesday, National Weather Forecast Centre director Muham­mad Helmi Abdullah explained that the dry spell was caused by regional wind patterns that were not conducive for rain. Muhammad said a lack of clouds in the region meant that cold nights and hot afternoons would be common these days.

With the rare bout of cool weather ending recently and the scorching heat returning, some are yearning for cooler days again.

It is the talk among netizens.

Facebook user Max Ong claimed that it was so hot and dry in Kedah that water would evaporate within minutes.

Another, known just as Winny tweeted: “Malaysia is so hot. Where’s the cold weather two weeks ago?”

In mid-January, the meteorological station in low-lying Kuala Krai, Kelantan reported a minimum temperature of 17.2°C.

On Friday, Kuala Krai reported a minimum temperature of 18.5°C while the maximum was 32.3°C.

During the same period last month, the lows recorded at some places such as Petaling Jaya, Kuantan, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, were well below 25°C.

The Meteorological Department had attributed the drop in temperatures in Peninsula Malaysia to strong north-easterly winds from mainland China, which is going through winter.

Brace for a long dry spell, Kedah folk warned
embun majid The Star 10 Feb 14;

ALOR SETAR: Kedah is in for a long dry spell and the people have been advised to brace for a shortage of water supply.

State local government, water supply, water resources, energy, housing and human capital committee chairman Badrol Hisham Hashim said the dry spell would last until next month.

“As such, I would like to advise consumers not to waste water,” he told reporters after visiting the Shahab Perdana bus terminal here yesterday.

“Those living in areas frequently hit by shortages should buy large containers to store water.”

Badrol Hisham said state water corporation Syarikat Air Darul Aman (Sada) had been told to be alert and put its water tanks on stand-by for a possible shortage.

He was commenting on a meteorological department weather forecast that had reported a “low chance” of rainfall in most parts of the state and peninsular Malaysia in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) general manager Datuk Abdul Rahim Salleh said the state’s three dams would be able to provide enough water to support the agriculture and domestic needs of the people during the dry spell.

He said water storage was an average 70% at the dams, with the current readings at Pedu dam at 92.05m (mimimum level 61.5m), Ahning dam at 105.7m (72.8m) and Muda dam at 95.7m (82.2m).

“I believe we can get through the dry spell with the supply,” said Abdul Rahim, adding that Mada would not release any water for padi cultivation until the next planting season starts at the end of March.

Sada public relations officer Rofedi Sulaiman said all 37 water treatment plants in the state were operating as normal.

“We did receive complaints of low water pressure in certain parts of Kedah, This is due to high water usage and not low water supply.” he said.

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Malaysia: Conserve rest of Gunung Kanthan

isabelle lai, julia khaw, and audrey lye The Star 9 Feb 14;

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is lobbying for the entire southern portion of Gunung Kanthan in Ipoh to be conserved as a unit, said president Prof Dr Maketab Mohamad.

Following the discovery of new flora and fauna species there, he said it was clear that Lafarge Malaysia Berhad should not extend its limestone quarrying activities into Zones C and D.

“The whole area must be preserved. Lafarge may divide the areas for administrative purposes but th­­ey are interconnected ecosystem­- wise,” he said when contacted.

Dr Maketab said that MNS had no issue with Lafarge’s Kanthan cement plant nor its existing quarrying activities.

“But it must source limestone from other locations once the resources are finished, which will not be for many years. Zones C and D cannot be touched,” he added.

Dr Maketab said MNS would propose to Lafarge that it could help run Zones C and D as a conservation area and visitors centre, so people could go in and understand the karst system in the Kinta Valley.

Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) plant taxonomist Dr Ruth Kiew, whose team discovered two new flora species on Zone C, described the area as containing “extremely sensitive biodiversity”.

“It is critical to conserve the entire ecosystem intact, in particular the unique limestone forest that is a refuge for plants and animals because Gunung Kanthan is already an island surrounded by inhospitable farms and plantations,” she said.

They found a herb with purple flowers (Gymnostachyum sp. nov.) of the Acanthaceae family and a tree (Vatica sp. nov.) of the Dipte­rocarpaceae family in one of several plant surveys there last year.

A new species of gecko, named the Gua Kanthan bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus guakanthanensis), was discovered in Zone D by American herpetologist Dr Lee Grismer and his team in July last year.

This discovery marks the second endemic fauna species found in the area, with the first being the Liphistius Kanthan trapdoor spider.

When contacted, the Malaysian Karst Society urged Lafarge to allow visitors and scientists into the caves so they could experience the beauty of limestone caves for themselves.

“We used to organise trips into the caves but have been restricted recently as the property is now private,” said a spokesman who declined to be named.

Lafarge is expected to announce the results of its biodiversity study of the area by March.

The study was done by a team from Universiti Malaya’s Institute of Biological Sciences together with Lafarge’s International Biodiversity Panel.

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