Best of our wild blogs: 16 Jul 14

Singapore's first Marine Park: a look with special guests
from wild shores of singapore

People love nature, they just don’t know we have it.
from Diary of a Boy wandering through Our Little Urban Eden

The forgotten stars of Singapore
From The Long and Winding Road

stonefish exposed @ terumbu semakau - July 2014
from sgbeachbum

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Malaysia: Coastal reclamation work not hampering vessels - Johor Port

SIM BAK HENG New Straits Times 16 Jul 14;

PASIR GUDANG: The Johor Port Authority (JPA) has alleviated fears that the recent coastal reclamation work along the Johor Straits will affect the navigation of vessels along the waterway.

JPA general manager Muhammad Razif Ahmad said all port operations are going on as usual and no vessel operators have complained of any obstacles caused by reclamation work along the straits.

His comment came at a time in view of the rapid coastal development involving land reclamation along the Johor Straits.

It was reported such reclamation may narrow the waterway, and hamper navigation of commercial vessels.

‘Reclamation had no impact on Johor ports’
New Straits Times 17 Jul 14;

PASIR GUDANG: The Johor Port Authority (JPA) has allayed fears that the recent coastal reclamation works along the Johor Strait will affect the navigation of vessels in the waterway.

JPA general manager Muhammad Razif Ahmad said all port operations were going on as usual and no vessel operators have reported obstacles caused by reclamation work along the straits.

“There have been no reports that port operations at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), Pasir Gudang Port and Port of Tanjung Langsat are affected. We are also hoping that such a problem will never occur,” he said after the launch of the Port Development Policy Blueprint for Johor here yesterday.

The ceremony also saw the signing of memoranda of understanding on the setting up of a Port Centre of Excellence between JPA and government agencies.

Muhammad’s comment came in light of recent reports on the rapid coastal development involving land reclamation along the Johor Strait, especially the controversial Forest City project.

It was alleged that reclamation work for the Forest City project could cause problems for ships entering PTP, which is located west of the project site, as reclamation work could increase sedimentation and eventually raise the height of the seabed leading to PTP.

The shallower waters could also cause a navigational barrier for vessels trying to reach the port and eventually affect businesses that depend on shipments via PTP.

Muhammad said JPA’s challenges ahead were to expand existing port facilities to cater to the increasing needs of investors and manufacturers.

He said investors would soon lose interest if the port facilities they were currently using did not contain room for expansion.

“The Port Development Policy Blueprint will be the beacon to chart the path for us over the next 32 years,” said Muhammad.

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Malaysia: Long-held belief driving sea turtles to extinction

New Straits Times 15 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: A long-held belief is slowly but surely driving the tourist-drawing turtles to extinction in Malaysia, according to marine biologist Dr Juanita Joseph.

Dr Juanita, who is with the Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, said it was the belief that consuming turtle eggs cured one of asthma and impotence.

“This is just a belief and it has yet to be scientifically proven,” she told Bernama.

Dr Juanita said it was difficult to get people to discard the belief and perception they had inherited for ages.

However, such a belief would remain a threat to the existence of the turtles, she added.

Dr Juanita was responding to a question regarding the senseless killing of a Green Turtle, with tens of its immature eggs scattered all over, at a leased turtle nesting area of the Kijal beach last week.

She said the habit of eating turtle eggs could be hazardous to health as it could lead to kidney disorders and impact the growth of the foetus.

Turtles, which were reptiles, came ashore to lay their eggs and human beings took advantage of this to seize the eggs, she said.

On the average, a turtle was capable of laying eggs five times in a year during a nesting period, she said.

Research had shown that some turtles could lay eggs as many as 12 times in a year, and they usually laid up to 100 eggs each time, she said.

Dr Juanita said turtles laid many eggs because of the large number of turtle egg predators, and data showed that only one in every 100 turtle eggs developed into an adult turtle.

“Ants and crabs are the major predators. Even a baby turtle is prone to becoming a victim of fishes and birds,” she said.

Dr Juanita suggested the introduction of legislation in peninsular Malaysia banning the sale of turtle eggs, as was done in Sabah and Sarawak.

She said it was not enough just banning the sale and consumption of turtle eggs so long as the awareness among the people on the importance of the eco-system was still at a low level.


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Malaysia: Baby elephant responding well to treatment

T.N. ALAGESH New Straits Times 15 Jul 14;

TEMERLOH: The three-month-old elephant, which was found roaming alone in an oil palm plantation near Lanchang Estate here last week, has been responding well to treatment and its new surroundings at the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation centre here.

Two caretakers from the centre have been tasked to provide the calf with 24-hour intensive care, including feeding and monitoring its health condition, as the next few weeks is described as crucial for the mammal to improve its health and survive.

Conservation centre chief Nasaruddin Othman said the male calf was coping well to a dietary programme designed to meet its nutritional requirements so that it would grow up to be a strong and well developed adult.

"Kept in an enclosure, the calf is fed milk using a rubber hose three to four times daily. At first it was a little reluctant to drink but now it is gulping as much and as often as it wants.

"The calf is also fed fruits, including papayas. We need to ensure the enclosure and rubber hose used to feed the calf is cleaned regularly as at this stage it can be easily exposed to diarrhoea and other illnesses," he said, adding the calf consumes about 16 litres of milk daily.

Nasaruddin described the next few weeks as crucial for the 98kg elephant saying if the calf can blend well with its surroundings and eat well then it has a better chance to pull through.

"Usually, calves feel secure and comfortable by the presence of its mother, and in this case, it could take between three to six months for the animal to be assured that it is in good hands. Our caretakers are providing full attention and pampering it like a baby.

"Once it is comfortable with the surroundings, the caretakers will take the calf for daily walks in the nearby jungle before allowing it to mingle with the other elephants in the centre. I believe the other elephants will accept the newest member in the centre but it might take some time," he said, adding the calf may have come from a big herd from a nearby forest before it lost its way.

The pachyderm was spotted roaming by an Orang Asli man about 12.30pm on July 11 before a team from the centre was deployed to capture the animal.

The three month old calf is now the youngest mammal at the sanctuary which currently has a total of 28 elephants.

The oldest is Lokimala, a 70-year-old female elephant which arrived at the sanctuary in 1978 to help in the relocation of wild elephants.

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Malaysia: Sabah's conservation effort a Unesco model

The Star 16 Jul 14;

KOTA KINABALU: The conservation of the Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve inhabited by over 1,000 orang utan, the highest concentration in Malaysia, has become a model in forest conservation by Unesco.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said all logging activities in the area were terminated in 2007 to make way for the setting up of an orang utan sanctuary.

Replying to a question from Datuk Joniston Bangkuai (BN-Kiulu) at the state assembly sitting yesterday, he said the state government would not budge from its decision for the sake of the future of forest reserves and wildlife in Sabah.

This was despite the state government having to forgo revenue in logging royalty and upsetting many loggers, he said.

Musa said the conservation of the Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve, covering 240,000ha, was just part of the conservation initiatives carried out by the state government, which was in line with Malaysia’s commitment to preserve at least 50% of its forests.

He said one of the conservation efforts carried out by the Sabah government was the Kinabatangan Corridor of Life, involving the conservation of a 150,000ha river riparian area as a wildlife zone for the purpose of restoration.

This conservation effort is supported by funds from the private sector such as Nestle.

The other conservation areas noted are the Lower Kinabatangan and Segama Wetlands, the biggest Ramsar site in Malaysia with 79,000ha, Trusmadi Conservation Area (74,736ha), Danum Valley Conservation Area (43,800ha), Maliau Basin Conservation Area (105,443ha) and Imbak Kanyon Conservation Area (30,000ha).

“With the gazetting of the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve as a protected area, the passage or connectivity for Maliau, Imbak, Malua-Ulu Segama and Danum has been created into a block of totally protected area covering more than 500,000ha, the biggest in Malaysia,” he said.

Musa said the Sabah government was also determined to increase the totally protected areas from 1.35 million hectares (including state parks and wildlife sanctuaries) to 2.1 million hectares or 30% within the next 10 years.

The state government, he said, through the Forestry Department, was also identifying areas to be gazetted or reclassified as Class 1 Forest Reserve (protected) and to increase the Class 1 Forest Reserve areas to one million hectares this year.

To a supplementary question from Datuk Wilfred Bumburing (PKR-Tamparuli), Musa said the annual revenue from logging royalty had dropped from RM1bil to RM100mil. — Bernama

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El Nino increasingly likely not be a strong event: Australian Bureau of Meteorology

Colin Packham PlanetArk 16 Jul 14;

Cooling of the Pacific Ocean over the last month means the El Nino forecast to hit later this year is increasingly unlikely to be a strong event, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday.

The BOM maintained its forecast for an El Nino to arrive over the next several months, but said climate models had eased their predicted strength.

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World Bank review shows flaws in social, environment safeguards process

Anna Yukhananov PlanetArk 16 Jul 14;

The World Bank has systemic defects in its procedures to ensure that people and the environment are not harmed in development projects, according to an internal review obtained by Reuters.

The global development lender is undergoing the first major update to its social and environmental protections in decades, which are likely to influence other international institutions.

Non-profit groups fear the bank may weaken its protections to speed up lending approval and better compete with development rivals, although it has said it aims to keep the safeguards as strong as ever in its efforts to combat poverty worldwide.

But even the current management of safeguard risks has problems, according to the review, conducted by the bank's internal audit department.

Employees who focus on reducing social and environmental damage from projects lack independence or incentives to do a good job, and the World Bank has little oversight over how well their advice is followed and how much money is devoted to safeguards. The most experienced specialists are not necessarily assigned to the riskiest projects, according to the review.

One employee wrote that safeguards are treated as a "check the box" measure rather than an integral part of designing projects.

The person's comments jibed with 77 percent of surveyed World Bank specialists, who believed the bank's management did not value their safeguards work.

The audit, dated June 16, relied on a survey of 138 World Bank employees and interviews with key staff, as well as an analysis of the bank's projects and procedures.

World Bank rules stipulate that every new project must comply with social and environmental safeguards, after facing criticism for displacing people and harming the environment with massive projects in the 1980s and 1990s. But the safeguards have not changed in more than a decade, and the bank in October 2012 launched a process to update them according to new global standards.

World Bank spokesman Frederick Jones said the bank's management requested its internal auditor to review current practices as part of the update to its policies.

"We are assessing our staff skills, accreditation, and management of staff working on environment and social safeguards," he said. "We are also improving our data collection and better calibrating our support to different levels of risk."

He declined to comment further on the leaked report.

The bank's board is due to hold a technical briefing on the updated safeguards Thursday, according to an online calendar.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim just finished a major reorganization of the institution to make it more efficient and attuned to countries' needs.

Long criticized for a slow bureaucratic process for approving lending, the World Bank has more recently had to contend with greater competition for development funds. Many middle-income countries, for example, can rely more on private funding and bilateral loans as they grow.

The BRICS emerging market nations are launching their own development bank and China is pushing a $50-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is unlikely to have the World Bank's strict loan conditions. [ID:nL4N0PB0IW]

(Editing by James Dalgleish)

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