Best of our wild blogs: 29 Jul 14

Creature of the Month – Peracca’s Land Crab (Geosesarma perracae) from Bugs & Insects of Singapore

Juvenile Collared Kingfishers
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Butterflies Galore! : Indigo Flash
from Butterflies of Singapore

Great Cormorant in Singapore
from Francis' Random Yaks, Articles & Photos

Over a million pangolins slaughtered in the last decade
from news by Jeremy Hance

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Yishun's Bottle Tree Park set to close in August

Khoo Fang Xuan Channel NewsAsia 28 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE: Bottle Tree Park in Yishun is set to close next month and most businesses there say they will be closing shop too as they were not able to come to an agreement on rent with the new operator. They will have to vacate by August 17.

Kang Weng Sang, who is in-charge of Bottle Tree Prawn Pond, said: "S$30,000 - it's not a fixed rate, you have to pay an extra 10 per cent... For example, if 50 people make a booking for prawning, for an hour, you'll have to pay the operator an extra 10 per cent... This model isn't very reasonable."

Neo Kee Huat ,who is in-charge of Bottle Tree Seafood Restaurant, said: "After painstakingly building up the place with its 'kampung' feel, it's all over. Those who are older say this is their second village because you can't find places like this in Singapore anymore."

It is understood that only the fishing pond business will stay on. The new operator - Chinese company Fullshare Group - had put in a bid of S$169,000 a month for the seven-hectare piece of land. This is more than double the S$68,000 the existing operator had put in for the site. It is understood there are plans to re-develop the place into a recreation centre, to be ready earliest by the end of 2014.

Members of the public, like Timothy Ng, hope the place will retain its rustic and 'kampung' feel. He said: "I just like the atmosphere, it's like very different, and then the people are more friendly as well and they help you."

- CNA/ac

Businesses not staying on at Bottle Tree Park
Today Online 29 Jul 14;

SINGAPORE — Bottle Tree Park in Yishun is set to close next month and most businesses there say they will also be closing as they were unable to come to an agreement on rent with the new operator.

The businesses will have to vacate by Aug 17. It is understood that only the fishing pond business will stay on.

The new operator — Chinese company Fullshare Group — had put in a bid of S$169,000 a month for the 7ha piece of land. It was more than double the S$68,000 the current operator had bid for the site.

It is understood there are plans to redevelop the rustic enclave — which has developed a loyal following since it opened 10 years ago — into a recreation centre, which is estimated to be ready from the end of this year.

Mr Kang Weng Sang, who manages the prawn pond at the park, said of the rents offered by the new operator: “S$30,000 — it’s not a fixed rate. You have to pay an extra 10 per cent. For example, if 50 people make a booking for prawning for an hour, (we would) have to pay the operator an extra 10 per cent. This model isn’t very reasonable.”

Currently, his boss is paying a percentage of their monthly gross turnover to Bottle Tree Park, averaging around S$10,000 to S$12,000 a month.

Lamented Mr Neo Kee Huat, owner of Bottle Tree Seafood Restaurant, in Mandarin: “After painstakingly building up the place with its kampung feel, it’s all over. Those who are older say this is their second village because you can’t find places like this in Singapore any more.”

Members of the public hope the place will retain its rustic feel.

Said Bottle Tree Park patron Timothy Ng: “I just like the atmosphere. It’s very different. Maybe the people are more friendly as well and they help you.”

Added another patron, Mr Albert Seah: “If the change is for the better, it’ll be good. But of course, cost is also a concern. If it maintains a reasonable fee, we’ll come more often.”

Located just opposite Yishun Stadium, Bottle Tree Park was an empty plot of land with old, unused ponds before its current operator transformed it into a much-loved park containing, among other things, bottle trees with interesting shapes, ponds for fishing, a seafood restaurant and paintball facilities.

It had been due to close in 2012, but the authorities extended its lease upon request. KHOO FANG XUAN

Bottle Tree Park to get new features
My Paper AsiaOne 29 Jul 14;
er new management: Fullshare Group, a Chinese company, secured the lease for Bottle Tree Park's site with a bid of $169,000 a month. The firm will invest $5 million in a redevelopment.
Things will never be the same at the iconic Bottle Tree Park.

For one thing, it may have a new name.

Furthermore, its management is being taken over by a Chinese company that has offered to pay a far higher rental than any of the other bidders.

It plans to develop a leisure park after Bottle Tree Park is shuttered next month, Lianhe Zaobao reported yesterday.

Apparently, the rustic character of the area will be retained, the report said, but several new features will be added. The redeveloped attraction is to start operation at the end of this year, or the beginning of next.

After the lease was extended many times, the site in Lorong Chencharu was finally put up for redevelopment.

Fullshare Group secured the lease with a bid of S$169,000 a month.

This amount is more than double the guide rent of S$72,200 listed on the tender specifications issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and S$47,000 more than the next highest bid of S$122,000 by Sinflora (S).

The tenure is three years, with an option to extend it until April 2020.

The company is planning a leisure park on the 51,500 sq m Bottle Tree Park site, with a variety of food-and-beverage outlets, and activities such as camping, fishing and prawning.

It will invest S$5 million in the redevelopment, but intends to retain the kampung flavour of the site.

However, the park is likely to be renamed.

Fullshare could use one of the current brands under the company, or create a new brand for the park.

According to its website, Fullshare Group is one of the top 500 private enterprises in China, and it has been expanding its overseas market since 2008. Its interests are in "tourism real estate, health care, medical technology and high-end tourism business development".

The website says the firm has investments in China, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore, and it was established here in 2011.

The company intends to set up an overseas headquarters in Singapore, and is investing in several ventures here, it told Lianhe Zaobao.

My Paper reported last month that Bottle Tree Park was going to close. Its last day is Aug 10 and its lease expires on Aug 18.

Bottle Tree managing director Alex Neo told My Paper it had taken part in the tender exercise, but put in a bid of only S$68,000.

Crowds bid Bottle Tree Park farewell
My Paper AsiaOne 12 Aug 14;

Some 2,000 fans turned up during Bottle Tree Park's last weekend to bid a fond farewell to the bucolic attraction.

Chinese company Fullshare Group won the lease to the site in Lorong Chenchuru with a bid of $169,000 a month in July, and will be re-developing the park.

This marked the end of efforts by Bottle Tree's owners to save the rustic enclave which first opened 10 years ago. Apart from its interestingly shaped bottle trees, the place has ponds for fishing, several restaurants, and paintball and other recreational facilities.

On Sunday night, nearly 100 patrons dined at the seafood restaurant, Shin Min Daily News reported.

A regular customer, Mr Luo, who visited the place once a month, said the closure was a pity, as he enjoys the atmosphere there.

Bottle Tree managing director Alex Neo said the park welcomed 2,000 people on Saturday and Sunday, about 20 per cent more than usual.

At 11pm on Sunday, there were still at least a dozen people fishing for prawns.

Retiree Ms Chen, 72, told Shin Min that she spent five to six hours at the pond each day. She arrived at 11am on Sunday, and was reluctant to leave even when it was late in the night.

"I don't know how I will kill time in future," she said.

The prawn-fishing facilities will be moving as the rent has been raised, a supervisor told Shin Min. Rents will be raised from $10,000 to $30,000 a month, the report said. The new location has yet to be confirmed.

The Bottle Tree Seafood restaurant will be moving to Marina Barrage and will re-open in November or December, according to Bottle Tree's website.

Operations manager Neo Siong Hoon, 34, told The Straits Times the restaurant had been in talks with the new management for a space about a quarter of its current size and at more than twice its existing rental. In the end, it decided against it.

Meanwhile, the site in Yishun is likely to be transformed, as Fullshare is expected to invest $5 million to revamp the place.

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Malaysia: Drastic drop in air quality

SHARANPAL SINGH RANDHAWA New Straits Times 28 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Hazy conditions caused a drastic drop in air quality with some areas showing Air Pollutant Index (API) readings ranging from moderate, unhealthy and very unhealthy.

Sibu Sarawak recorded very unhealthy reading of 221 at 6pm. The readings at 7pm showed the situation had worsened to 242.

As at 7pm, API readings displayed at the Department of Environment which recorded unhealthy readings were Shah Alam, Selangor (104); Port Klang, Selangor (146); Kuala Selangor, Selangor (105); Banting, Selangor (113).

In Sarawak, apart from Sibu which recorded very unhealthy reading, Samarahan recorded 109 (unhealthy) while Sri Aman was at 107 (unhealthy).

Thirty-eight areas in the country recorded moderate readings while seven other areas recorded good readings.

The areas which recorded good readings were Kota Tinggi, Larkin Lama in Johor; Langkawi, Kedah; Jerantut, Pahang; Limbang, Sarawak; Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan in Sabah.

The API readings at noon which surpassed the 100 markwere Samarahan (104), Sibu (188) and Sri Aman (109), Kuala Selangor (118), Port Klang (144) and Shah Alam (102).

HAZE: Unhealthy air quality in nine places
New Straits Times 29 Jul 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: Air quality was at unhealthy level in nine areas in the country as at 7 am, according to the Department of Environment (DOE).

The affected areas are Samarahan (126), Sibu (191) and Sri Aman (114) in Sarawak; Banting (137), Port Klang (135), Petaling Jaya (102); Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur (123), Cheras (121) and Putrajaya (124).

Twenty other places recorded moderate air quality.

An air pollutant index (API) reading of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; between 51 and 100, moderate; between 101 and 200, unhealthy; between 201 and 300, very unhealthy and over 301, hazardous. Members of the public can refer to the DOE portal at to find out the API reading for their areas. - BERNAMA

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Pangolins being eaten to extinction, conservationists warn

Scaly anteaters are now the most illegally-traded mammal in the world, with all eight species listed as threatened
Adam Vaughan 29 Jul 14;

Pangolins are being "eaten to extinction" due to a demand for their meat at banquets in China and Vietnam and their scales for use in Chinese medicine, conservationists have warned.

In an update last week to the authoritative Red List of endangered animals, all eight species of the scaly anteaters were upgraded to threatened status.

Resembling a pine cone on legs, they are the world's only scaly mammal, using their scales for armour to protect against predators and their long, sticky tongues to catch prey.

According to experts at the Zoological Society of London, the demand for the animals in Asia has been so great that poachers are now turning to Africa, where four of the species are found. Conservationists say there is already evidence of an underground, intercontinental trade in pangolins between Africa and Asia.

More than a million are believed to have been illegally caught in the wild over the last decade globally, giving them the unenviable record of being the most illegally-traded mammal in the world.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, conservation programmes director at ZSL, said: “All eight pangolin species are now listed as threatened with extinction, largely because they are being illegally traded to China and Vietnam. In the 21st century we really should not be eating species to extinction – there is simply no excuse for allowing this illegal trade to continue.”

Over £4m needs to be spent to address the problem, according to the Pangolin Specialist Group at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which on Tuesday published an action plan on saving pangolins.

The plan says that cutting demand is the "single most important activity to address the decline in pangolins", and proposes a £1m campaign to raise awareness of the species' plight and £2m for a strategy to cut demand in China and Vietnam. It also calls for funding to support patrols at pangolin strongholds, and better understanding of their ecology.

The Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) and Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) are now listed as critically endangered, the worst listing on the Red List before a species is declared extinct, with the Indian pangolin (Manis crassicaudata) and Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis) upgraded to endangered.

The four African species, which were previously listed as "least concern" or "near threatened" are now all classed as the more serious "vulnerable" listing.

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