Best of our wild blogs: 17-18 May 14

Response to “Devotees release bugs instead of animals for Vesak Day” from Hopping Around

Changi crowded with life
from wild shores of singapore

Night Walk At Lower Pierce Reservoir (16 May 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Life History of the Gram Blue
from Butterflies of Singapore

Pink-necked Green-pigeon and a Ficus species
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Squirrel licking up nectar of Gelam flowers
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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Poachers may have killed Barney

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 18 May 14;

The mystery of the 400kg crocodile found dead at Kranji Reservoir about a month ago may have been solved, at least partially.

Poachers could be to blame, and they are at large, said national water agency PUB.

The reptile, believed to be one of the largest wild specimens here, was found dead with a metal rod in its eye and a large fishing hook lodged in its mouth, according to the agency's authorised crocodile handler.

It is not known why the illegal hunters did not make off with their giant catch.

"PUB has been investigating this as a case of poaching but has yet to be able to identify the culprits," it said in a joint statement with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) yesterday.

The 3.6m-long saltwater crocodile, nicknamed Barney by anglers, was found dead on April 18.

Its body was disposed of at a nearby farm. Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm, the only crocodile farm here, said it did not receive the carcass.

A handful of wild crocodiles have been found living in the waters around Singapore's north-western coastline in recent years.

PUB said there has been a history of crocodile sightings at the Kranji Reservoir area.

Since 1989, PUB has authorised handlers to capture the reptiles alive and hand them to a crocodile farm for safekeeping.

This was done to prevent the crocodiles from endangering workers and visitors to Kranji Reservoir, said PUB's director of catchment and waterways Tan Nguan Sen. Twelve crocodiles have been caught in the area since then - the last one in 2006.

Following The Sunday Times' report on Barney's death and disposal earlier this month, readers and netizens questioned why the crocodile's cause of death had not been looked into earlier, and why its body had not been preserved and donated to a research institute or a museum, given its size.

Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai noted that an autopsy was especially important since the body had been found on reservoir grounds that double as a nature area, where poaching could cause serious harm to native wildlife.

"Having an autopsy and making the results public would have prevented wild speculation about the crocodile's death," he said.

And in a letter to The Sunday Times Letters page on May 11, Dr Edmund Lam asked for clarification on the authorities' usual procedure when faced with a carcass "of an animal belonging to a significant wildlife species".

PUB and AVA stressed that it is dangerous and illegal to hunt crocodiles and other wild animals.

The poaching of wild animals carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and forfeiture of the animal.

The public should call AVA's hotline at 1800-476-1600 to report any suspected poaching activities.

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Haze may return in coming months: Balakrishnan

Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 18 May 14;

SINGAPORE: Transboundary haze may return in the coming months, but Singapore will be better prepared this time.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said this on the sidelines of a community event on Sunday.

Dr Balakrishnan said the fact that Singapore was hit by the haze earlier this year is a warning sign that there could be another one coming.

It could be exacerbated by the El Nino effect -- a weather phenomenon which causes severely dry weather and high temperatures.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "People know what the situation is, we have got all the systems in place to keep people informed and up-to-date, literally on an hourly basis.

"There will not be a mad rush for masks, literally, because this time round, every household has masks.

"Furthermore, our work schedules and our preparations for work, if need be, for telecommuting; all these plans are in place."

He also lauded the move by Singapore Power, SingPost and Temasek Cares to distribute free N95 masks to households, and he hopes to see more of such initiatives from the private sector.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "This is the sort of mass participation that we want to encourage. On the environment front, it is not possible to make sure nothing ever happens.

"Whether it is haze or dengue, there will be these challenges. But the more our people are prepared, the more we work together, the more we are cohesive, the better it will be to confront whatever hits us."

- CNA/ir

Haze likely to return to Singapore from next month
NG JING YNG Today Online 19 May 14;

SINGAPORE — The haze is possibly returning to shroud our skies from next month and the El Nino effect — characterised by severely dry and hot conditions and anticipated in the second half of the year — could worsen the air quality. However, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is confident Singaporeans are better prepared to deal with the situation.

That the haze will hit Singapore earlier than usual this year signalled a warning that Singaporeans have to be prepared, he said.

However, pointing to developments since the Republic weathered its worst haze episode last June, Dr Balakrishnan said just being prepared makes a world of difference.

A new air-quality reporting system that better reflects visibility levels during a haze has been in place since last month and, earlier this month, free N95 masks were distributed to all 1.2 million households here, as part of a community programme by the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings to get Singaporeans better prepared for emergencies.

Commenting on the effect of these moves, Dr Balakrishnan told reporters on the sidelines of a community event yesterday: “We got all the systems in place to keep people informed, up to date — literally on an hourly basis. There won’t be a mad rush for masks this time because literally every household already has masks.

“If you are prepared, you are in a much stronger frame of mind to deal with whatever that comes our way,” he added.

When Singapore was in the throes of the haze last year — it hit a record-high Pollutant Standards Index reading of 401 on June 21 — many flocked to stores to buy masks, leading to a supply crunch.

Since then, the Republic has been pushing countries — including Indonesia — to share the land use and concession maps needed for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) haze-monitoring system to work, but to no avail.

The S$100,000 system, developed by Singapore, aims to identify responsible parties using hot-spot data and satellite images to pinpoint illegal burning activities.

However, it requires accurate concession maps that can specify the companies or entities with rights to carry out logging or plantation activities on a particular piece of land.

At a haze meeting attended by ASEAN environment ministers in Brunei last month, Dr Balakrishnan expressed his frustration over little headway being made on that front, adding that negotiations had been tough, with “contentious moments”.

Although outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyonohad, in March, given soldiers and local officials in Riau three weeks to extinguish forest fires — a move welcomed by Singapore — Jakarta has yet to ratify the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution.

Most recently, at the ASEAN Summit earlier this month, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam again urged Jakarta’s cooperation in ratifying the agreement.

Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore must make its own preparations despite all the efforts on the diplomatic front.

“On the environmental front, it is not possible to make sure nothing ever happens to Singapore. There will be problems from time to time, whether it is haze or dengue, there will be these challenges,” he added.

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Malaysia: ‘No need to save up on fish stock’

lee yen mun The Star 17 May 14;

PUTRAJAYA: Freshwater fish harvest may be affected by an increase in salinity brought about by the El Nino phenomenon but the Government has given an assurance that there will be enough supply for local consumption during the expected drought.

Consumers need not worry as pre-emptive measures to beef up fisheries stock have been taken to prevent drastic price increases that may be caused by insufficient supply, said Fisheries Department deputy director-general (development) Datuk Ismail Abu Hassan.

He said fisheries products would also be sourced from countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and India if the need arose.

“During drought, the salinity of the water may increase up to 40ppt (parts per thousand) from the usual 25ppt to 28ppt.

“Along with an increase in temperature, some species, particularly freshwater types such as tiger prawns and ikan siakap, have a higher risk of contracting disease, which may lead to a higher death rate,” Ismail said yesterday.

Malaysia produces 1.7 million tonnes of fish products annually, estimated at RM12bil, with local consumption of shrimps alone estimated at 100 tonnes per day.

Ismail urged aquaculture farmers and fishermen to take early measures to minimise losses that may be caused by the effects of El Nino and to carry out “break cycle” activities such as repair works during the dry season.

The World Meteorological Organisation has forecast that El Nino may occur from June to September. The Malaysian Mete­orological Department has said its effects may only be truly felt several months after that.

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Malaysia: Village reeling from pollution

mohd farhaan shah The Star 17 May 14;

Keeping a close eye: Kampung Air Masin chief Lim Thiam Hock (right, standing) observing his ‘kelong’ to check on the condition of his fish at Kukup in Pontian.

PONTIAN: The future of Kukup, the state’s biggest fishing village, is under threat from the constant water pollution that had affected the daily catch of fishermen there.

Kampung Air Masin chief Lim Thiam Hock said pollution from passing vessels and land-based pollutant discharges from rivers all play a role in the dwindling catch.

He pointed out that the 150-year-old village has more than a 100 fishermen with 76 kelong (fishing stations built on stilts) spread across the Malacca Straits, which is the highest in Johor.

On a good day, Lim said the fishermen here could easily catch more than 100kg of fish in the open sea, however, due to pollution and other factors including weather, the number has dropped.

“Nowadays, we are lucky to get more than 50kg, and have to rely on our kelong to supplement our catch.

“The oil from passing vessels and agrochemicals from plantations nearby rivers have made life difficult for fishermen,” he said in interview.

Lim added that there have also been cases of oily sludge getting trapped in the kelong nets that resulted in huge losses for the fishermen, and that an episode in 2012 that affected kelong in Tanjung Piai and Kukup caused millions of ringgit in losses.

“Our hope is that the pollution will stop as measures must be taken to ensure the village continues to prosper for another 100 years to come,” he said, adding that the villagers have voiced their frustrations to the relevant agencies on the future of the village.

When contacted, state Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the state environment department would send a team to investigate claims made by the villagers.

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Malaysia: Environmentalists - We don't want to lose Tanjung Aru beach; latest zoning slammed

muguntan vanar The Star 18 May 14;

(From left) The current draft plan, the current view of Tanjung Aru and the overlay of the current document with Tanjung Aru as it is today.

KOTA KINABALU: Environmentalists are seeing red over the latest zoning for the city’s iconic Tanjung Aru beach.

Describing the second and final Draft Kota Kinabalu Local Plan 2020 as going against the wishes of the people, the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) said it was totally unacceptable as the plan reduces public space and allows for sea reclamation along Tanjung Aru beach for hotels to be built.

“We are shocked with the new draft plan produced by the Kota Kinabalu City Hall for Tanjung Aru beach area which shows three areas on water - zoned as ‘Hotels & Resorts’ - that will definitely leave a small patch of beach for the public,” said Sepa president Lanash Thanda on Sunday.

She said that the needs of Sabahans should come ahead of big business, tourists and the wealthy as the people had already lost so much of the state’s nature to huge businesses.

“This new reclamation areas and zoning for Hotel & Resorts such as those described in the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) for example is unacceptable and goes against the wishes of the people,” Lanash added.

Sepa also wants the city hall to extend the May 22 deadline for people to submit their views and objections to the new plan that was made public on May 8.

“The deadline must be extended, as all necessary documents are not ready for the public to view and they have nothing online, which would ease public access to all the documentation,” said Lanash.

She said that Sepa wants a proper stakeholder consultation to be held with all groups and concerned individuals, with all material and documentation be given ahead of the meeting.

“When Sutera Harbour was being built, the then Tourism and Environmental Development Minister promised all Sabahans that we would have a public park and a public beach, where is it?

"We refuse to lose Tanjung Aru beach, it’s the last of KK’s beaches and it belongs to all of us and not just the rich,” Lanash said, adding that Sepa together with many other non-governmental organisations and groups have also started a Facebook page, “Save Tanjung Aru Beach” to disseminate information to members of the public.

Lanash also questioned how the Royal Turf Club formerly used for horse racing was zoned for ‘Mixed Uses’’ when it was handed over for airport runway extension.

"Under the new plan, is it for development? This is just ridiculous and wrong,” she added.

Another issue was that members of the public were told to purchase a RM1 form from KKCH if they wished to lodge an objection.

However, the KKCH’s own brochure clearly states under clauses No. 9 and No. 13 that members of the public can lodge complaints via email, fax and letters.

“We called just to make sure and we were informed that it is mandatory to purchase the form if you want to make a objection. How can you call this public consultation?” asked Lanash.

Sepa urged members of the public to visit the Save Tanjung Aru Beach Facebook page to see how they could lodge an objection to the KKCH.

Sabah may lose public beach to private development
New Straits Times 19 May 14;

KOTA KINABALU: The latest zoning for Kota Kinabalu Local Draft Plan 2020 will see city folks losing more public space, including beaches, to make way for new hotels and resorts, said Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA).

Yesterday, SEPA President Lanash Thanda said the new draft planned by City Hall for Tanjung Aru beach near here showed three areas zoned as hotels and resorts.

"This leaves an extremely small patch of beach for members of the public. We are extremely shocked when we saw the draft."

Describing it as unacceptable, Lanesh said the needs of the majority of people should come first instead of big businesses and wealth.

"These new reclamation areas and zoning for hotels and resorts, such as those described in the Tanjung Aru Eco Development, for example, go against what the majority of people want."

SEPA wanted an extension to the timeline for feedback to be obtained from the public, non-governmental organisations and other quarters.

"All necessary documents are not for public viewing and they have nothing online that could ease our worries."

Lanash said a stakeholder consultation should also be held.

"When Sutera Harbour was built, we were promised that there would be a public park and a beach, but where are they?"

"We do not want to lose Tanjung Aru beach as it is the last of Kota Kinabalu's beach and it belongs to all of us, not just the rich.

"We would also want to ask why is the area in Tanjung Aru, where the Royal Turf Club used to have horse races, is now zoned as 'mixed uses'?

"The public was told that this space was being handed over for an airport runway extension and safety, but now, it is earmarked for development?"

Lanash urged the public to visit the Save Tanjung Aru Beach Facebook page to find out how they could lodge objections to the City Hall.

Sepa sees red over Kota Kinabalu plan
The Star 19 May 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Environmentalists are seeing red over the latest zoning plans for the city’s iconic Tanjung Aru beach.

Describing the second and final Kota Kinabalu Local Draft Plan 2020 as going against the people’s wishes, Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) said the plan would reduce public space and allowed for sea reclamation along Tanjung Aru beach so that hotels could be built.

Sepa president Lanash Thanda expressed shock with the new draft plan for the Tanjung Aru Eco Development area produced by Kota Kinabalu City Hall (KKCH).

“It shows three areas on the water, zoned as hotels and resorts, that will definitely leave the public with just a small patch of beach,” she said.

She said the needs of the people should come first instead of business.

Lanash said Sepa also wanted KKCH to extend the May 22 deadline for the public to submit their views to the new plan that was made public on May 8.

“Tanjung Aru beach is the last of Kota Kinabalu’s beaches, and it belongs to all of us and not just the rich,” she added.

Lanash also questioned why the public had to pay RM1 for an objection form from KKCH.

“KKCH’s own brochure stated that complaints can be sent via e-mail, fax or letter.

“We called up and found out that it is mandatory to purchase the form if you want to make a objection.

“How can you call this public consultation?” she asked.

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Indonesia: Three key problems encountered in preservation of coral reefs

Antara 16 May 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Peoples Coalition for Fishery Justice (Kiara) highlighted the three key issues of illegal fish catching equipment, coastal reclamations, and mining activities being encountered in the preservation of coral reefs.

"The problems being faced in preserving the coral reefs in Indonesia are the three points mentioned above. The government has to handle the problem well," Kiara Secretary General Abdul Halim reiterated here on Friday.

He pointed to the widespread use of trawlers and explosives, which played a significant role in destroying the coral reef life.

Abdul Halim also emphasized that illegal land reclamation was rampant in coastal areas. It has occurred in 22 districts and can have a damaging effect on the ecosystem.

In the meantime, illegal sand mining in the sea is believed to produce materials that affect the respiratory and photosynthetic capabilities of the coral reef life.

Indonesias coral reefs cover an area of 25 thousand square kilometers, which are about 50 to 60 percent of those found in Asia and the Pacific, or about 25 percent of the worlds coral reefs.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Coral reefs as sustainer of food security
Otniel Tamindael Antara 16 May 14;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coral reefs, the major topic of discussion in the World Coral Reef Conference (WCRC) in Manado, on May 14-16, 2014, are being looked at for sustaining food security and saving the world from global warming.

Officially opened by Indonesian Vice President Boediono, the conference in Manado, North Sulawesi, was attended by marine and coral reef experts from a number of countries, including Australia, Japan, South Korea, China, Britain, and the United States.

In his opening remark, Vice President Boediono said WCRC was expected to yield an agreement on sustainable coral reef management for peoples welfare.

"All relevant parties in this conference should work together to reach an agreement on sustainable coral reef management," the vice president noted in his opening address here on Friday.

He remarked that all participating countries will discuss their plan of action in their efforts to save the coral reef ecosystem and ways to promote sustainable management of coral reefs.

The Indonesian vice president reiterated that coral reefs were part of the worlds ocean ecosystem with a rich biodiversity, and therefore, they should be protected in a sustainable manner.

"Indonesias coral reefs are home to schools of fish, different species of fish and other marine biota of various types that have to be protected for the welfare of all people in this country," Boediono affirmed.

He pointed out that the Indonesian waters have a rich variety of reefs, including fringing reefs, barrier reefs and patch reefs that need to be well protected.

According to the vice president, around 60 million people of Indonesia live alongside the coastline and entirely depend on the coral reefs for their livelihoods.

"With such a condition, it is understood that Indonesia is vulnerable to the degradation of the coral reefs on which it is highly dependent," the vice president emphasized.

Therefore, he said as part of Indonesias commitment to the coral triangle initiative, the country in 2010 declared part of its territorial waters as marine resources conservation areas.

Meanwhile, Marine and Fisheries Minister Sharif C. Sutardjo, a coordinator for the National Organizer of WCRC, said the conference is also expected to deliver the Manado Communiqu, an agreement aiming for the realization of sustainable coral reef management.

Furthermore, the event can drive the countries with long coastlines to initiate their own coral reef protection and conservation programs.

He said the conference was jointly coordinated by the central and regional governments following rising concerns about the degradation of coral reefs throughout the world.

The conference is important, specifically to take stock and compile the synchronization and establishment of policies and actions in the management and utilization of coral reef resources, WCRC national committee Chairman Sudirman Saad said.

The summit also aims to collect and formulate shared values, perceptions and purpose in the management of coral reef ecosystems as treasured natural resources to be inherited by future generations.

Moreover, the event also provides an opportunity to inform and adopt best practices, methods, approaches, knowledge, science and the latest technology to be applied to coral reef resources management, particularly of local coral reef ecosystems.

"WCRC is expected to lead to sustainable coral reef management, an action plan from coastal countries to save coral reef ecosystems and steps towards a sustainable coral reef management convention," Sudirman reiterated.

Manado city administration spokesman Haefrey Sendoh stated that WCRC is a summit of countries with coral reefs to highlight the importance of coral reef ecosystems to human life and ways to preserve them.

"We have made all the necessary preparations to host this prestigious international event in a bid to save the coral reef ecosystems," Haefrey stated in Manado recently.

He claimed that they were ready to ensure security and to make the city of Manado clean and comfortable for this international event.

The appointment of Manado to host this international event was inseparable from its extensive marine potential with the diversity of coral reefs that covers one third of the worlds coral reef areas.

In addition, naming Manado as the base of Permanent Regional Secretariat for Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI - CFF) on May 15, 2014, has confirmed Manado as world coral reef capital city.

CTI-CFF is a multilateral partnership of six countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Island, and East Timor, established on 2009 with the mission of eradicating the real threats faced by the Coral Triangle.

The Secretariat, which is to reside on a 1.5 hectare new complex in Manado, will act as the control centre and the main coordinating board to implement the CTI-CFF regional action plan.

Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Sutardjo said the action plan covers the establishment of seascapes towards the focus of the marine resource management, the development of the water conservation zones, the sustainable fishery management building, the adaptation reinforcement of the coastal areas to the climate change and the conservation of the endangered marine species.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Indonesia Approves Blue Swimming Crab Harvest Control Rule

Antara 17 May 14;

Bogor, W Java (Antara News) - Indonesias blue swimming crab stakeholders have approved an adaptive harvest control rule to ensure a sustainable fishery in the country, an Indonesian Blue Swimming Crab Processing Association (APRI) official said.

The harvest control rule has regulated the minimum harvest size, fishing gear restriction and habitat protection for nursery and spawning ground, APRI Executive Director Arie Prabawa said in his written statement made available to Antara here Saturday.

The minimum harvest size that the trade association, fishers, the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fishery, and the marine affairs and fishery offices had agreed was 10 centimeters while the escape vent size applied in fishing gear restriction using crab pot was 5,0 cm x 3,5 cm, he said.

The approval was recently made by the blue swimming crab stakeholders in a workshop and socialization of blue swimming crab harvest control rule in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi Province, he said.

Prabawa said the harvest control rule was widely needed by fishery management strategy toward to sustainability.

"The Marine Stewardship Council, an international Eco labeling certification, will recognize the sustainable fishery through sustainable fishery stock, fishery habitat and fishery governance," he said.

In supporting an effective harvest control rule, the management controls were needed by making such efforts as forming fishery management body; conducting public awareness campaigns, community education, and monitoring and surveillance; pushing government support with budget and creating alternative livelihood for the fisheries, he said.

About the demand of blue swimming crab (Portunus pelagicus), Arie Prabawa said that it has been increasing significantly in the last two decades.

Quoting the 2013 statistical data, he said the fishery of blue swimming crabs value amounted to over 360 million US dollars or the third position after shrimp and tuna.

"This fishery is intensively sourced across Indonesia by thousands of fishers, and supported by thousands more women at

home industries as pickers. It has become the largest artisanal fishery involving most of fishery communities in Indonesia," he said.

In ensuring the fishery sustainability, APRI has launched a long term sustainability program, called Fishery Improvement Project (FIP). The FIP will be conducted by the Marine Stewardship Councils indicators and principles," he added.
(Tz.R013/f001 )

Editor: Fardah

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Indonesia: Littoral Nations Endorse Arafura Plan

Jakarta Globe 16 may 14;

Indonesia’s Marine Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif Cicip Sutardjo, Timor-Leste’s Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Mariano Assanami Sabino and the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty on Thursday signed a declaration on the sustainable management of the marine and coastal ecosystem in and around the Arafura and Timor Seas.

The three officials endorsed a regional effort called the Strategic Action Program that will promote the restoration, conservation and management of marine and coastal ecosystems for the Arafura and Timor Seas — known as the ATS region, in recognition of the vital role the tropical region plays in the circulation of the world’s oceans.

The area is responsible for the livelihoods of millions of people and makes a substantial contribution to domestic food production and exports.

These seas contain the most pristine — and highly threatened — coastal and marine ecosystems in the world, underscoring the urgent need for trans-boundary management.

The waters also play an important economic and ecological part in the three countries bordering them as the area is extremely rich in marine resources as well as oil and gas reserves.

“This kind of regional cooperation and collaboration is so important to protect and manage this valuable global resource,” said Beate Trankmann, the country director of the United Nations Development Program in Indonesia, which is working closely with relevant ministries and providing technical expertise for the effort.

The declaration includes plans to recover and sustain fisheries, by restoring degraded habitats and reducing land-based and marine sources of pollution to allow sea life to flourish.

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