Best of our wild blogs: 23 Feb 14

No ordinary walk in the park
from Love our MacRitchie Forest

Greenbeans Walks @ Macritchie
from The Green Beans

Life History of the Common Five Ring
from Butterflies of Singapore

Some Butterflies@Lower Peirce Reservoir Park
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Night Walk At Venus Drive (21 Feb 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

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Malaysia: Jumbos may be moved deeper into Sabah jungles

muguntan vanar The Star 23 Feb 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is deciding whether to move a herd of Borneo pygmy elephants deep into its central jungles in efforts to ensure the safety of villagers and also to protect the animals.

The translocation of two of the herd’s more aggressive elephants to Dermakot Forest Reserve was completed over the last two days.

Now, wildlife rangers are studying the possibility of relocating the remaining 17 jumbos.

According to State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, the relocation would protect the elephants as well as villagers and plantations that they encroached into.

A herd of about 30 elephants prowled into orchards and farms belonging to villagers at Kampung Bauto in Telupid, about 300km from here, last week.

Sabah Wildlife Department rangers were able to calm the herd after they tranquilised two “aggressive” females that were later restrained with chains.

The two females were relocated to the Dermakot forest 80km away after rangers fitted them with GPS collars.

Within the last week, at least 10 elephants returned to the Tangkalup forest, while 17 other elephants stayed around. (Tangkalup is linked to the Dermakot Forest Reserve.)

There have been concerns raised by conservationists over human-elephant conflict due to the shrinking natural habitat of the endangered pygmy elephants.

According to Datuk Laurentius Ambu, director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, human-elephant conflict had been on the rise over the last three years.

He also reminded villagers and plantations that they should not kill the protected elephants.

In January last year, a total of 14 elephants were found dead by poisoning in the Gunung Rara forest reserve area.

Marauding elephants sent back to forest reserve
Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 23 Feb 14;

TRANSLOCATION: Animals part of herd that entered Kampung Bauto, destroyed crops

TELUPID: TOURISTS and passers-by got a bonus wildlife sighting as they witnessed the translocation of elephants by the roadside near Kampung Bauto here.

The Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) of the state Wildlife Department translocated three elephants to the Deramakot forest reserve yesterday.

Bystanders watched in awe as rangers brought the elephants into a cage and transported them in a truck. Tourists who were passing by the area took the opportunity to snap photographs during the translocation.

The mammals were part of a herd of 30 that had repeatedly entered the village, 12km from here, and destroyed crops.

Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said WRU rangers were still in the area to monitor the movement of elephants.

"There is a smaller group of elephants in the village area. The animals may need to be translocated, too.

"More than half of the herd returned to the Tangkulap forest reserve, 15km from the village, which is connected to the Deramakot forest reserve, where they are originally from."

The presence of the 30 elephants had spooked Kampung Bauto villagers living near the forest reserve. The animals had been spotted roaming close to the villagers' houses over the past week.

On Monday, WRU rangers had approached the herd to chase it away.

Baby elephants adapting well to temporary home in Sepilok
ruben sario The Star 25 Feb 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Two male elephant calves rescued from plantations in Sabah’s east coast on Feb 12 are adapting well to their temporary home at Sepilok in Sandakan district.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said one of the calves, Jimbo, had gained 9kg and now weighed 88.6kg.

“Jimbo is now drinking 2.5 litres of milk at a time,” he said, adding that the navel of the recently-born calf was almost completely dry.

He said the other calf, Tun Tan, was consuming slightly more milk at three litres in one go.

Dr Sen said Tun Tan’s weight had increased by 7kg and it now weighed 117.8kg.

He said both calves had been placed in a new enclosure at the department’s rehabilitation centre in Sepilok as Jimbo had found a way to get out of the smaller holding area near the veterinary clinic.

The calves were found at separate locations in Kinabatangan.

Jimbo was found at an estate in Sg Lokan after wildlife rangers received a report from the plantation manager.

Tun Tan was found in a plantation near Sukau and followed a tractor driven by a plantation worker back to the kongsi area where it was picked up by rangers.

Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu had said they were uncertain of the fate of Jimbo’s and Tun Tan’s mothers.

Rangers have been scouring areas in Kinabatangan to locate the elephant cows but until now have not found any traces of them.

There were growing concerns that the calves’ mothers may have been poisoned as part of efforts to stop the herd from marauding in farms or plantations.

Another possibility is that the calves were separated from their herd when people or plantation workers tried to shoo them away.

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Malaysia: Air force on standby for cloud seeding exercise

Fazleena Aziz and Balqis Lim New Straits Times 23 Feb 14;

RAINFALL: Operation will commence once weather condition is right, says NSC

KUALA LUMPUR: THE cloud seeding plan to induce rainfall is set to go once the right atmospheric condition presents itself, said National Security Council (NSC) secretary Datuk Mohamed Thajudeen Abd Wahab.

He said the Royal Malaysian Air Force was on standby to begin the operation.

He dismissed claims that the NSC was waiting for a crisis to occur before embarking on the exercise.

"It is not true that the NSC is waiting for a full-blown emergency before going ahead with the cloud seeding."

The Meteorological Department had earlier said that it was not suitable to carry out cloud seeding at the moment because of stable wind conditions. The best conditions for it are light and variable winds at a minimum altitude of 5,000km

Thajudeen said the authorities were focusing on catchment areas for the exercise.

"The cost for this exercise would be shared by the agencies involved, including the Meteorological Department, the Selangor Water Management Authority (Luas) and others."

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Bhd (Syabas) said the demand for water brought on by the dry spell was among the reasons for the shortage of supply to several parts of the capital and Petaling.

Its communications and public affairs department assistant general manager Priscilla Alfred said more consumers could be affected if the situation persisted.

"We have mobilised static tanks and water tankers to affected areas. However, the supply is limited and we may not be able to fulfil everyone's needs.

"We urge the public who are taking water from the tankers to be prudent and to use the supply wisely."

She said Syabas' role was to distribute treated water, which is bought from the treatment plant and not directly from the dams.

"The dams and rivers come under Luas. The treatment plant and balancing reservoir come under Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd and Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd while the pump house, service reservoir and pipes come under Syabas.

"Under the concessionaire's agreement, the state government is responsible for making sure there is enough water supply. Syabas is only the distributor."

Checks by the New Sunday Times revealed that while supply had resumed in some areas in Kuala Langat and Hulu Langat, many were still affected by the shortage.

Elfie Masrom, 25, who lives with his family of five in Kampung Bukit Changgang, Hulu Langat, said his area had been affected for almost two weeks.

His family waits in front of their house every day for the water tankers to come after dawn.

"We bought a water storage tank for RM400 just to store enough water for the family," he said, adding they were sharing the storage tank with relatives who live next door.

Muhammad Ikhwan Ridzwan, 24, said there was still no water supply in Cheras Perdana.

"It has been a week now and I have not seen any water tankers around my area."

Executive Shaun Dhwana from Sungai Long in Kajang said his family opted to stay at a relative's house.

"We could not cope with the situation so I suggested to my mum that we stay at my aunt's house in Cheras," he said, adding it had been a week since their water supply was disrupted.

Ticketing assistant Muhammad Shahir Noor Azman, 24, said water supply in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn had resumed but the pressure was still low.

In Seremban, Bernama reported that the National Water Services Commission (Span) had confirmed there was no water crisis in Negri Sembilan.

Syarikat Air Negri Sembilan Sdn Bhd (Sains) corporate services division head Norzita Ismail said the water supply situation in the state was under control.

"This was stated personally by Span chief executive officer Datuk Teo Yen Hua after a working visit to the Sains headquarters to check on the water supply in Negri Sembilan."

She said the hour-long discussion between Sains and Span officers was followed up by visits to the Sungai Terip Dam, Ngoi-Ngoi water treatment plant, Triang Dam and the water intake at Petasih.

The state government opened a disaster operations room last Sunday following the drying up of the source of raw water in Sungai Batang Benar, Pantai, which disrupted supply to Seremban Barat, particularly Taman Nusari Bayu, Taman Nusari Aman, Taman Sendayan Indah, Taman Cederawasih, Mambau, Taman Kelab Tuanku and Bukit Sendayan.

Supply to the area was restored after Sains activated its contingency plan by sending tanker lorries and stationing static water tanks in the affected housing estates and channelling water from the Kuala Sawah treatment plant.

Norzita said consumers who needed help could contact Sains' toll free line, 1-800-88-6982.

In Kuantan, Pengurusan Air Pahang Berhad (Paip) offered to send its tanker lorries to help distribute water in affected states.

Paip public relations officer Jaafar Abdullah said the corporation, which handles water treatment and distribution in Pahang, could dispatch at least five water tanker lorries to Selangor and Negri Sembilan

"We can help distribute water from the source to affected residents, especially those in critical areas. We can also send treated water to ensure consumers are not exposed to water-borne diseases."

He said Paip tanker lorries could also help provide clean water to important premises, such as hospitals and clinics.

"There are a lot of affected areas and I believe that they need more tanker lorries to distribute water. We are willing to help if there is a request from the state governments involved."

Jaafar said Pahang was not facing any water shortages. Additional reporting by Hamzah Jamaludin

Read more: Air force on standby for cloud seeding exercise - General - New Straits Times

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Indonesia: Riau forms task force to tackle haze-causing fires

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 22 Feb 14;

The Riau provincial administration has formed a forest and peatland fire mitigation task force to cope with the haze blanketing the province for the past month.

“Response remains sluggish and it must be accelerated in an organized manner,” Riau Governor Annas Maamun said on Friday.

According to him, the task force had prepared two mitigation plans, namely aerial and land firefighting. Aerial firefighting will be carried out through water bombing via helicopters or planes.

“The task force will continue coordinating with the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency [BMKG] to design an artificial rain program by using weather modification technology,” said Annas.

Land firefighting, on the other hand, will be carried out by a firefighting team consisting of members from the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Social Services Office, Indonesian Military (TNI) and police units. “I will immediately meet with the regents and mayors to discuss the plan that has been prepared by the task force,” said Annas.

“BNPB [National Disaster Mitigation Agency] will disburse the budget only after the regencies and municipalities have set an emergency response status, hence the need for coordination with regents and mayors,” he added.

Riau BPBD head Said Saqlul Amri said the task force would effectively start working on Saturday. It will be divided into three teams and assigned to seven regencies and municipalities where hotspots have been detected over the past several weeks.

Besides relevant agencies in the province, private companies operating in the respective regencies and municipalities will also help put out the fires.

“Should there not be enough firefighting equipment, the governor and regents will request companies to supply more equipment so action can be taken immediately on the field,” said Amri.

According to the latest observations by the Pekanbaru BMKG on Friday morning, hundreds of hotspots were still detected in seven regencies and cities across the province.

As many as 88 of them were found in Bengkalis regency, 30 on the Meranti Islands, 17 in Pelalawan, 16 in Indragiri Hilir, nine in Siak, six in Rokan Hilir and three in Dumai city.

“Today, rain fell in a number of areas in Riau, including Pekanbaru and the eastern coastal areas, but there won’t be much rain. The sun will be out tomorrow so the chance of rain is small,” said Pekanbaru BMKG Data Analysis Section staff member Ibnu Amiruddin.

Meanwhile, the Riau Health Office is running low on dust masks and has asked the central government for an additional supply of 100,000.

“We currently only have 3,000 dust masks,” said Riau Health Agency’s Environmental Health and Disease Control and Prevention Division head Erdinal.

“We will continue to ask for dust masks as long as the haze is present in Riau. The air quality in a number of regions is poor so we must be prepared for the impact on residents,” added Erdinal.

One of the areas that was in need of additional masks was Dumai city, he continued. Over the past couple of days, air polllution in the port city has reached alarming levels of between 437 PSI and 503 PSI.

“Yesterday we distributed 25,000 dust masks and the local health office only has a reserve of around 30,000 dust masks, far from the ideal number of 100,000 masks,” said Erdinal.

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Australia: Marine heatwaves continue decimating corals in the Pilbara with climate change

takver Independent Media Centre Australia 22 Feb 14;

Marine heatwaves are having a marked impact on coral reef systems off the Pilbara coast. A CSIRO and University of Western Australia study in progress found bleaching and decimation of ancient porite corals - many up to 400 years old - in a recent visit to Barrow Island. The oceans around Australia were unusually warm in 2013. Globally the deep oceans are also continuing to warm.

“We suspect this bleaching event was due to marine heatwaves that occurred in the region over the past few summers, and to see it up close was sobering,” said Dr Russ Babcock, CSIRO lead scientist, “But to offset this loss, some reefs only a short distance north showed much less damage and will continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem."

A marine heatwave extreme bleaching event ocurred in 2011 that was widely spread along the Western Australian coast. Preliminary results from the study show that further damage was done in the 2012-2013 summer with elevated water temperatures.

"There had been coral bleaching in the region that occurred in, not just 2011 when there was an extreme heatwave, but also earlier this year and we found that virtually all of the staghorn and tail corals had been killed and even some of the extremely old giant mass of porites corals had died. So these recent conditions have probably been some of the most extreme experienced there for several hundred years." said Dr Babcock.

Porite corals were thought to be resiliant to variations in the marine climate and are regularly buffeted by tropical cyclones that hit the Pilbara.

"This region in the West Pilbara is right in the middle of an area of very high biodiversity value." said Dr Babcock.

The West Pilbara region is also a focus of major industrial development from oil and gas, and exporting of iron ore. The study is funded by the Gorgon Project’s Net Conservation Benefit Fund, which is administered by the Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife. The Gorgon Project is a joint venture of the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron (47.3 per cent), ExxonMobil (25 per cent), Shell (25 per cent), Osaka Gas (1.25 per cent), Tokyo Gas (1 per cent) and Chubu Electric Power (0.417 per cent).

“To see them badly damaged, or completely dead, as a result of bleachings that happened over previous years, and likely the one in 2013, was surprising,” lead scientist Dr Babcock said in a Guardian report.

University of Western Australia professor Malcolm McCullough comented, “It’s almost unprecedented. These corals were living for hundreds of years. And they died in the summer of 2012-13.

Corals already need to battle ocean acidification, nutrient pollution, as well as warming waters. High sea surface temperatures damage the algae that lives in symbiosis with the coral polyp, which is then ejected from the coral, turning it white.

“Bleaching is not unusual, it’s been occurring now for about 20 years,” McCullough said. “But by looking at the longer records the bleachings appear to be more common.”

Sea surface temperatures continue to be unusually warm around Australia in 2013.

The future does not bode well for coral reef ecosystems. Controlled experiment show coral reefs are in peril in a high CO2 world. Scientific modelling shows that atmospheric warming of 2 degrees celsius is too much for nearly all the world's coral reef ecosystems.


CSIRO, 13 February 2014 - Pilbara marine health check - good and bad news
Michael Safi, The Guardian, 13 February 2014 - Coral off WA suffers shocking damage from marine heatwaves, scientists say
Image: CSIRO - Dr Tim Langlois, UWA, with a 400 year old Porites coral head that has succumbed to coral bleaching, off Montobello Island.

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