Best of our wild blogs: 7 May 14

Job Opportunity: Specialist Associate (AV/IT)
from News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

12-17 May: Traditional Wayang at Pulau Ubin with free boat ride
from wild shores of singapore

A burst of colourful leaves in Singapore’s Garden City
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Crab expert named chief of new natural history museum

Tan Dawn Wei The Straits Times AsiaOne 7 May 14;

Professor Peter Ng of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, standing infront of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum on 29 April 2014. A crab expert, he is one of the key figures behind the setting museum and has been appointed as its head for two years.

SINGAPORE - Singapore's first standalone natural history museum now officially has a chief, who will lead the museum under a new academic unit of the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Crab expert Peter Ng, one of the key figures behind the setting up of the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, has been appointed as its head for two years.

Professor Ng, who was for 16 years director of the natural history museum's predecessor, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, will take charge of about 40 staff members.

"We used to be a very successful mamak shop. We were small, 'family run', and we helped each other out. We're now evolving into something like an NTUC or Sheng Siong (supermarket). And that requires a different way of doing things," said Prof Ng, 54.

Meant to open late this year, it is now slated to open in the first quarter of 2015 to coincide with the university's 110th anniversary and Singapore's 50th birthday.

In 2010, Prof Ng and his mentor Leo Tan launched a bid to turn the Raffles Museum - which has one of the largest collections of South-east Asian animals in the region - into the first standalone natural history museum here.

By January last year, they raised $60 million to build a seven-storey building on the NUS campus, and bought three near-complete dinosaur fossils from the United States.

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan said Prof Ng was "uniquely suited" to be the museum's chief.

"He is a world leader in his field of research, an excellent and inspiring teacher, and a passionate proponent for conservation, biodiversity and science education," said Professor Tan.

He also acknowledged Prof Ng and Prof Leo Tan's contributions in making a South-east Asian natural history museum a reality.

Prof Ng's new mission will be to maintain the quality of research conducted; develop teaching programmes; and make sure the gallery reaches out to the public in the right way.

His teaching role will be reduced, and he will relinquish his duties as director of the Tropical Marine Science Institute.

He expects up to 900 visitors a day to the museum, which will be free for NUS students and staff. When the building is completed in July, an ambitious move costing nearly $1 million will follow.

The "military operation", as Prof Ng puts it, will involve moving 500,000 animal specimens in batches from the Faculty of Science into three containers for deep-freezing to kill off all pests. After two weeks, they would be thawed and ready for storage or display. The museum will raise another $50 million for operations.

Even before it opens, Prof Ng is already thinking of the next chief, who should ideally be a Singaporean and a professor interested in natural history, he said.

"I joined the university as a researcher, not an administrator," said Prof Ng. "The immortality I seek is in my science. I want to retire as a professor of crabs."

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Malaysia: Let Wong Ah Fook be a wake-up call

Chuah Bee Kim New Straits Times 6 May 14;

KICKER: Subhead summary At first, I was racing gas-powered RC cars but for the past few years, I have converted to racing electric-powered RC cars.

THERE are two lessons to be learnt from the recent demolition of Wong Ah Fook's former mansion.

Perhaps there are more, but I only know of two for now.

Lesson number one: Do not procrastinate.

I spoke to some of the residents and business operators near the site and some of them said that the place stuck out like a sore thumb.

The once majestic eight-room mansion became dilapidated over the years.

Squatters went in to occupy the premises. Two Taoist temples were also set up about 14 years ago.

No one really took much notice of the place. I think most of Johor Baru residents will know of the popular Kedai Makanan Jadi Baru (Botak) at Jalan Lumba Kuda better than they know of Wong Ah Fook's Old Mansion.

I say this because when the old mansion was facing demolition -- at that time the structure was still standing -- some actually didn't know what I was talking about.

Then I said: "The old house near Botak's restaurant."

And just like that, everyone knew the location.

Over the years, no one made much noise. In fact, I did not hear anything about preservation of the old mansion until the site was fenced up.

Then the noise started, and it grew louder and louder.

To be fair to the new owner, he had fork out a big sum of money to buy the land for development.

I do not know if he knew about the state government's plan to have the house turned into a museum or heritage site when he signed on the dotted line to buy the land, but he must have grown desperate when he eventually found out.

The second lesson here.

He probably acted in haste which resulted in the demolition at night, which to some had seemed like he had acted like a "thief in the night".

But isn't that his land now? His intention was to develop the land which had not enjoyed much notice over the years until now.

I want to switch to another subject concerning an issue that may seem like nothing now but could become an even bigger issue than Wong Ah Fook's old mansion.

This concerns the reclamation works in Tanjung Kupang, Gelang Patah which is believed to have covered up half of the Merambong seagrass meadow in Sungai Pulai.

It's just grass, right?

To an environmentalist, this seagrass is a national treasure. It stretches 1.3km and has been accorded Environmentally Sensitive Area status.

It provides nutrients to the marine life in the vicinity and the Straits of Tebrau.

The destruction of this seagrass meadow will alter the marine environment and may even cause floods in the villages nearby.

To an economist, the fishery industry is a multi-billion investment.

Any possible threat to the fishery industry is going to affect those in the business as well as consumers.

Let the Wong Ah Fook issue be a wake-up call.

Don't procrastinate but don't act in haste, either.

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Indonesia: 100 Countries Convene in The World Coral Reef Conference

Antara 6 May 14;

Jakarta, May 6, 2014 (ANTARA) -- The first World Coral Reef Conference (WCRC) 2014, which will be attended by at least 200 participants from 100 countries representating the governments and regional and international organisations, NGOs, as well as scientists and academics, will be held on May 16, 2014 in Grand Kawanua International City (GKIC) Manado. WCRC is a conference dedicated to respond the coral reef damage on the global basis. The Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Sharif C. Sutardjo, will serve as The Coordinator for the National Organizer of the WCRC 2014.

Sharif said that by organizing the WCRC, it's expected to be able to yield the Manado Communique, an agreement aiming the realization of the sustainable coral reef management. Furthermore, the event can drive the coastal countries to initiate their own coral reef saving and protection programs. "The Conference will be jointly coordinated by the central and regional government urged by the concerns on the increasingly degradated world coral reef," explained the Minister.

The Director General of Marine, Coastal and Small Islands, Sudirman Saad which act as the Chief Coordinator for the National Organizer of WCRC 2014, explained that the event aims a few things; to formulate the government's efforts in managing the sustainable global coral reef; to be a insight and experience sharing platform in the local coral reef management; to assess the global coral reef condition and its connection with the sea's role regarding to the global climate change; to compile the togetherness values, equate the interpretation, and the purpose of the coral reef ecosystem management.

Sudirman added that as the series of event of WCRC, there will be other events held, such as International Blue Carbon Symposium (IBCS), World Ocean Business Forum (WOBF), Extra Ordinary Senior Official Meeting (SOM) CTI-CFF and CTI – CFF Ministerial Meeting (MM). IBCS is designed to bridge the reseachers and the stakeholders of the blue carbon within the scope of the coral triangle region. WOBF aims to promote the Indonesian marine and fishery business potency and investment opportunities in the international forums. While the SOM and MM CTI-CFF is an agenda of the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI).

On 2007, the countries located throughout the coral reef triangle region initiated the Coral Triangle Iniative on Coral Reef, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF) to promote the global collaboration on the sustainable coral reef ecosystem. All of the scientists convened in the Coral Reef Symposium 2012 stated that the coral reef suffered the degradated condition, quantitavely and qualitatively. "The coral reef condition has increasingly threatened particularly by various human activities causing the sedimentation and the pollution, habitat damage, and overfishing. Therefore, WCRC is held, one of which, to urge the countries' governements to act," Sudirman concluded.

For more information, please contact:

Anang Noegroho
Head of Statistic and Data Center
The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries

Editor: PR Wire

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