Best of our wild blogs: 9-10 Aug 14

Hypodermic needles and other trash found in Lim Chu Kang mangroves
from wild shores of singapore

Lionfish on Lion City's birthday at Pulau Hantu!
from wonderful creation and wild shores of singapore

The Wild Side of Singapore!
from Bugs & Insects of Singapore

Late Afternoon Walk At Venus Drive (08 Aug 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Plantain Squirrel collecting nesting material
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Oriental Pied Hornbill Family
from Bird Ecology Study Group

White-rumped Shama in Singapore
from Francis' Random Yaks, Articles & Photos and
Crimson Sunbird in Singapore

The threat of traditional medicine: China's boom may mean doom for turtles
from news by Morgan Erickson-Davis

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Sand exporter to Singapore lauded by Philippines Environmental Bureau

Lahar export firm lauded by DENR
Manila Standard Today 10 Aug 14

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau Region 3 Director Lormelyn Claudio has commended a lahar sand exporter.

Speaking over at radio station DZBB in the program ‘Boses Ng Balita’, Claudio said Bluemax radelink’s dredging and extracting lahar sand activity along the Zambales’ main Bucao river channel has decreased more incidences of floods.

It also deepens the channel and provides passage for overflowing flood waters, Claudio said.

“This project is supposed to be the work by the National Government with the participation of the local government, but now private companies like Bluemax assume all cost related to dredging,” explained Claudio. “It is now a very good opportunity to solve our problem with Lahar sand.”

“It is just right for the government to allow Bluemax to export the lahar sand for commercial purposes because government doesn’t need to pay private contractors to do the job and they even require Bluemax to pay taxes from the sales of the said sand,” added Claudio.

Claudio explained the positive impact of the project and that it went through Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) review and evaluation pursuant to the law (PD 1586).

For his part, Reynaldo Cruz, OIC of the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 3 said in the same radio program that Bluemax has obtained all the necessary legal procedures.

“Their permit to export the lahar sand is regularly cleared by our office. Suffice to say the whole operation is above board and legitimate,” Cruz said.

The lahar is graded, processed whenever required, and exported by Bluemax to Singapore for its massive reclamation project meant to sustain its fast economic growth.

The company was awarded the contract to provide lahar sand back in 2011, according to its president Clark Zapata in the same program.

“Before, Singapore used to import sand from other much nearer countries. But these countries stopped it due to lack of supply and issues. But blessing for us, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo left us an endless supply of lahar sand,” said Zapata.

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted, tons of lahar sand caused havoc in the provinces of Zambales, Pampanga, Tarlac and its surrounding areas. Whenever it rains, lahar would flow down from the mountains and would clog rivers, destroy properties and lives and bring down the local economies.

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Green groups hope haze law will check rogue firms

Mok Fei Fei And Wahyudi SoeriaatmadjaThe Straits Times AsiaOne 9 Aug 14;

Environmental groups and observers in Indonesia and Malaysia say Singapore's passage of a law to punish those responsible for transboundary haze pollution will put pressure on rogue firms to prevent open burning.

They say it will be difficult to enforce, but hope it will pressure the Indonesian authorities to also act tougher on those responsible.

Meanwhile, Singapore-listed palm oil companies and local stakeholders say they back the tough new measures.

The law passed on Tuesday penalises firms with fines of up to $100,000 a day, capped at a total of $2 million, for causing unhealthy haze, that is, a Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) value of 101 or greater for 24 hours or more.

It also grants individuals or organisations the option to sue and claim damages from polluters, with no limit set on the amount of damages they can ask for.

"It will give pressure to Indonesia. If one particular company were declared guilty of illegal burning in Singapore, but not guilty in Indonesia, it would make Indonesia look bad," said Mr Zulfahmi of Greenpeace.

Indonesian state prosecutors have lost most legal suits against errant firms because the indictments were weak or the court rulings were flawed, say observers.

Dr Helena Varkkey of Universiti Malaya said the new law may be a more effective way to address haze issues as it will bypass government channels trying to resolve the issue via diplomacy.

"Since the proposed law allows individual lawsuits against companies, it will be able to bypass any 'friction' that might occur between governments," she said.

Mr Sonny Keraf, a former environment minister who is advising President-elect Joko Widodo, said there must be some protocols agreed upon by Indonesia and Singapore that detail how the law can be enforced without infringing on Indonesia's sovereignty.

Mr Khairul Anwar, the mayor of Dumai city in Riau province that was worst affected by last year's haze, supports the law. "Our police here can help find out who burnt the land," he said.

In Singapore, Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources, which own huge swathes of plantation land in Indonesia, say they do not fear the new law.

These major industry players told The Straits Times yesterday that they back efforts to prevent or mitigate the haze.

They said they adopt a strict no-burn policy. This refers to owners who burn off forest to free up land for palm oil plantations, a practice that generates smoke haze across the region.

"Our 'No deforestation, no peat and no exploitation' policy further reinforces our commitment to sustainable palm oil," a Wilmar spokesman said. "We will continue to engage and provide assistance to stakeholders such as suppliers and smallholders in preventing fires because we believe that a collective effort will benefit the entire industry."

Golden Agri-Resources said a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach is the best way to find solutions for the haze issue.

"Sustainable practices have been embedded in our day-to-day operations for years," it noted, claiming to be the first palm oil producer to establish a zero burning policy in 1997.

Neither firm commented on how much it could cost to comply with the new law. Costs could rise and add to the complexity of the landscape in which the firms operate, especially as they work in different nations with varying degrees of strictness on haze.

Environmental groups in Singapore have also welcomed the new law, though some questioned how effective it can be.

The Nature Society Singapore said the law is a step in the right direction to get to the main culprits, but added: "(We) will not have the financial resources to take up a civil lawsuit to go up against the polluter."

Farmer Ivy Singh-Lim, whose business was affected when the PSI hit a record 401 last year, asked if the law has bite overseas. "Can they summon the fellow when they don't even have an extradition treaty?"
- See more at:

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Green cars cost $155m in tax breaks

Christopher Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 8 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE - A scheme to encourage consumers to buy "greener" cars has resulted in tax breaks for far more cars than the Government expected.

In the first 18 months of the Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme (CEVS), nearly 60 per cent of new cars sold qualified for the tax breaks.

Cars are entitled to the tax breaks if their carbon emissions fall under a certain level.

The rebates, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, translated to more than $155 million in taxes forgone - three times more than envisaged.

When the scheme started in January last year, the Government expected only 20 per cent of cars to qualify, which would have translated to $34 million in cost a year. That amount is double what the preceding Green Vehicle Rebate scheme cost.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA), close to 20,000 cars registered between January last year and June this year - out of a total of about 34,000 - were eligible for carbon incentives.

Given these higher-than-expected numbers, motor industry players expect the LTA to tweak the scheme soon.

An LTA spokesman said the current scheme ends in June next year. "We will need to observe the full impact of CEVS before making refinements, but a review will be conducted before then."

Observers said the scheme should be changed to make it more meaningful and stricter.

Motorist Ng Tzong Sheng, 36, said the current incentives were not always tangible or transparent to consumers because they were "packaged" in the car's selling price.

"As a motorist, I prefer rebates in the form of a road tax discount or waiver," he said.

In other countries, green vehicles are accorded benefits such as exemption from congestion pricing, use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes, and even income or corporate tax breaks.

Dr Park Byung Joon, an urban transport management expert at SIM University, said he was not surprised by the high number of models qualifying for CEVS. "Efficient technology is expensive, and most of the cars sold today are premium or luxury brands."

Indeed, all of Mercedes' new C-Class cars qualify, as do many of its E-Class executive models. Even the S-Class limousine has two variants which qualify.

Dr Park added that the current scheme was "too lax".

"The intention of the Government is good, but is the scheme meaningful enough?" he asked, adding that the scheme should be reviewed.

Mr Vincent Ng, product manager at a Honda agent, noted that some car models are declared with identical emission levels despite having material differences such as wheel and tyre sizes. Larger wheels and tyres are usually less efficient than smaller ones.

"While it is hard to ensure end users do not modify their cars after taking delivery, the authorities should be more stringent at the point of registration," he said.
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Egg prices up by 5 per cent as supply from Malaysia falls

Several wet market stalls and supermarket chains here have raised egg prices because of a supply shortfall as well as higher costs.
Cheryl Faith Wee The Straits Times AsiaOne 9 Aug 14;

Prices of fresh eggs from Malaysia have gone up by about 5 per cent because of a supply shortfall after two farms were suspended for health reasons, although higher costs are also playing a part.

Earlier this week, several wet market stalls and supermarket chains here raised egg prices.

Long Chong Provision Shop in Bukit Timah, for instance, is charging $2 for 10 eggs, up from $1.90. Another stall nearby, Feng Lai Provision Shop, also raised its price from $1.90 to $2.10.

At FairPrice stores, fresh eggs now cost between $1.75 and $5 for a pack, up from between $1.65 and $4.70 last week. From tomorrow, Prime Supermarket will raise prices for a box of 10 eggs by between five and 10 cents.

Importers said the price hike is mainly due to two chicken layer farms in Malaysia being suspended in March and last month from exporting eggs to Singapore. According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), their eggs were found to have Salmonella enteritidis - a bacterium which causes food poisoning.

The two farms provided less than 6 per cent of Singapore's supply of 1.68 billion eggs last year. About three quarters were imported from Malaysia last year, with the rest produced locally. There are currently 21 Malaysian chicken layer farms approved by the AVA.

Around four million eggs are imported daily from Malaysia. Industry players estimate that the daily supply fell by 30,000 eggs following the suspension of one of the farms last month.

Mr Tan Lau Huah, chairman of the Eggs Import/Export Trading Association, said: "We had to raise prices in order to make up for the fall in supply. The market prices of eggs from Malaysian suppliers also went up after the Hari Raya period." He said Malaysian suppliers also face increasing costs. These include higher wages for drivers, costlier petrol and, since last Friday, higher Causeway toll charges.

Since two weeks ago, some importers have been getting surplus from other chicken layer farms in Malaysia to compensate for the drop in supply. Mr Tan Han Meng, who runs Meng Suppliers in Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre, has decided to maintain his egg prices for now. He said: "It is okay as long as I do not make a loss. Egg prices rise and fall quite a lot. During school holidays when canteens are closed, supply goes up and prices fall."

Senior executive assistant Ng Bee Kheng, who buys about a dozen eggs every week, said prices are still manageable.

"I can still accept a change of one to five cents for an egg," said the 36-year-old mother of three. "After all, fresh eggs are something I must still buy even if they are costly; there are no alternatives or substitutes."

The impact is more acute for some eateries, such as Hatched in Holland Village. The cafe, which specialises in eggs, cooks up 30,000 each month. Owner Gerald Tan said: "I get quite a sizeable quantity and one cent more for each egg translates to about $300 extra every month. We are absorbing this for now."
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Expect hotter, drier months ahead: Met Services

Channel NewsAsia 8 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has been spared from transboundary haze in recent months, with winds in its favour, and relatively wet weather conditions because sea surface temperatures have been warmer than normal, the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) says.

But it says to expect hotter and drier weather ahead as the Southwest Monsoon continues to prevail till October. It is also warning of the possibility of transboundary haze from land and forest fires in the region.

"Singapore could be affected if the prevailing winds blow the smoke haze from Sumatra or Kalimantan toward us," the MSS said in a news release on Friday (Aug 8).

There were occasional periods of dry weather in June and July that led to an escalation of hotspot activities in Sumatra, it noted, and this saw western parts of Malaysia affected from smoke haze from Indonesia's Riau province. There was also a sharp increase in hotspot activities in western Kalimantan due to drier weather in the second half of last month. However, Singapore was not affected as southerly winds helped keep the haze away.

The MSS also says development of El Nino conditions have slowed as tropical Pacific Ocean surface temperatures, though continuing to warm, have gradually eased in recent weeks. The risk of drier weather conditions due to El Nino in Singapore is therefore expected to be lower towards the end of the year.

Meantime, expect a wet National Day weekend, with short thundery showers in the late morning and early afternoon.

- CNA/xk

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Malaysia: Hotspots in country and Indonesia reduce significantly

KOI KYE LEE New Straits Times 7 Aug 14;

PUTRAJAYA: The number of hotspots recorded in the country and Indonesia have reduced significantly.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said a total of 10 hotspots were identified in Sumatra and 15 in Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Previously, 48 and 32 hotspots were recorded in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, respectively as identified on satellite images by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC).

Palanivel said in a statement today that there was only one hotspot that was identified in the country, and it was at Sarawak.

He added that this hotspot would be investigated and necessary enforcement action would be taken.

As of 3pm, only 10 areas recorded moderate air quality on the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

Among these areas were Bakar Arang, Sungai Petani, Kedah (56); Kampung Air Putih, Taiping, Perak (53); ILP Miri, Sarawak (63); Sri Aman, Sarawak (67); and Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur (64).

Palanivel reminded the public that open burning was prohibited with the exception of religious activities, cremations or barbecues.

He added that the Department of Environment (DOE) had detected 4,436 open burning in the country from January to Aug 6, and 324 cases were compounded while 115 cases were issued with warning notices.

It was also learnt that 45 open burning cases would be referred for further action.

Five of them have been registered in the Sessions Court.

Dam level nears critical point
p. aruna The Star 9 Aug 14;

PETALING JAYA: The water level at the Sungai Selangor dam has dropped even closer to its critical point.

Yesterday, the level dropped to 31.9% of its capacity. A dam capacity of 30% is deemed critical.

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) corporate communications and public affairs general manager Priscilla Alfred said while there was still enough water to supply to households at the moment, water disruptions might occur if the dry season continues.

“The usage of water has also gone up – this happens during every dry season as people tend to use more water.

“If this high usage as well as the dry season continues, there may be unscheduled disruptions to the water supply in some areas,” she said yesterday.

The amount of water used by Malaysians per person per day was about 220 litres, she said.

“Since the beginning of the dry season, the usage has increased to about 250 litres per person per day now,” she said.

This, she said, was very high compared to the usage of water in neighbouring Singapore, where they used about 160 litres per person per day.

When the water rationing exercise was imposed in the Klang Valley between February and March, the water level at the Sungai Selangor dam was at 37%.

The dam supplies about 60% of Klang Valley’s raw water needs.

An expert from the industry, who declined to be named, said low water tariff in Selangor contributed to the high usage and waste of treated water. Currently, the tariff for the first 20 cubic metres is 57 sen per cubic metre.

He said the state government should not just rely on water from former mining ponds as these ponds would dry out, too.

“The decision to allow licensed car wash outlets to operate only six hours daily is a good start but why does this only apply to these operators?

“The public should be made to conserve water, too. Hosepipe bans can be imposed to prevent residents from using hoses to water their plants or wash their cars. They can use pails instead – this will save a lot of water,” he said.

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Malaysia: Return flood-prone land, firms told

muguntan vanar The Star 9 Aug 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Over 15,000ha of flood-prone plantation land within Sabah’s Lower Kinabatangan wetlands area should be handed back to the state for conservation, said Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu (pic).

He said the land located along the Kinabatangan River and its tributa­ries would best be conserved because it was unsuitable for cultivation.

“I would now like to see plantations return the land identified as being unsuitable for cultivation, particularly those close to the wetlands, as part as their corporate social respon­si­bility (CSR),” he said.

“This is the most logical solution that will be a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

“The companies will be applauded for CSR and we will be able to reduce human-wildlife conflict and, hopefully, prevent the popu­lation of the Bornean orang utan, proboscis monkeys, Bornean pygmy elephant and hornbills from declining further in Lower Kina­batangan, which is a global biodiversity hotspot.”

He said the state government had previously given large tracts of land to encourage agricultural expansion, and it was only fair that the companies “give a little back to the state” now for conservation.

The flood-prone areas were identified following a study carried out by Living Landscape Alliance (LiLA), the lead organisation for the project now known as Spatial Planning for Conservation and Sustainable Development.

Head researcher Nicola Abram was surprised to find that over 15,000ha of oil palm land in the flood-prone areas was simply not commercially viable.

LiLA worked together with the Wildlife Department, the Sabah Forestry Department and also NGOs Hutan-Kinabatangan Orang Utan Conservation Programme, the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent, Imperial College London and the Danau Girang Field Centre.

“We used satellite images from 2010 to 2011 and did six months of ground work to understand and ensure that the satellite data matched the reality on the ground,” said Abram, the founder and co-director of LiLA.

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Malaysia: Return of the river monsters

Kristy Inus New Straits Times 10 Aug 14;

THE shark-like fish, characterised by a long, tooth-shaped snout, may well seem like a creature from the past for fishermen in Sabah, as the singular fish has not been seen for nearly two decades.

The last sighting of the sawfish was in the interior near Sukau, along Sungai Kinabatangan in 1996. The species was long feared extinct.

But in recent months, hopes have been renewed that the sawfish population in Borneo is bouncing back from the brink, as a 5-metre sawfish weighing 300kg was reported to have been caught by fishermen in Bruit, Sarawak in June.

A sawfish caught in Bruit, Sarawak in June.

Dr Mabel Manjaji Matsumoto from Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s (UMS) Borneo Marine Research Institute, had identified the carcass as belonging to a largetooth sawfish, one of three types of sawfish known to be found in rivers in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Based on a newspaper report on the incident, the fishermen accidentally caught it in their trawl net. Looking at its size, we believe it was a mature adult.

“However, we could not get any more information as we were told the fish was cut up and divided among the villagers.

“We hope the fish had given birth to young, so there might still be several sawfish in the waters there.

“It also proves that the species has not gone extinct. They probably have a very low population and have settled far from human settlements.”

Matsumoto, who specialises in marine bio-diversity and fish taxonomy, said he has been researching the species for nearly 20 years.

She also compared the difference that 40 years could make to the sawfish population.

“When we interviewed elderly villagers near Sungai Kinabatangan, Sungai Segama and Labuk Bay back in the 1990s, they told us that in the 1960s and 1970s, it was common to accidentally catch sawfish in their nets, as the fish was abundant.

“Their numbers started to dwindle in the 1980s, and we only started coming in to do research work on the species in the mid-1990s.

“However, we have yet to come across a live sawfish specimen, as even the ones we examined in 1996 were carcasses.

“We had left disposable cameras and a tank for the villagers there in the event they came across a sawfish.”

Their snout, or rostra, was known to be used for cultural purposes, and Matsumoto said her team also discovered some stored in jars in Chinese medicine shops in Sandakan, although it had never been ascertained if the snout has any medicinal properties.

Sawfish fins are also much sought after, much like shark’s fin, and can reach up to a few thousand ringgit, she said.

“Sawfish move only within a limited area, which makes them vulnerable to obstacles such as gill nets.

“There are limited records about the species, so we are not sure how big they can grow.

“But from records gathered more than 20 years ago, we know sawfish can give birth to almost a dozen pups,” she said, adding that their research included looking at snouts preserved or kept by villagers along the Segama, Labuk and Kinabatangan rivers.

Matsumoto said besides accidentally netting the fish, another reason for the declining sawfish population was pollution from oil palm plantations.

“Their snouts are full of sensors to help them catch fish and hunt prey. When they detect dirty water, they will try to move elsewhere.

“However, sawfish are a riverine species and cannot escape to the sea. Their very survival is in question.”

She said the country could learn from other regions facing similar challenges with the species, such as the United States and Australia.

“Awareness is high there, and some communities have managed to reverse the species’ dwindling population.

“We think that this is also achievable here, although we really need to work harder to achieve that.”

She said what is needed are new initiatives, in which sawfish conservation is included in existing or new coastal development initiatives.

“Since all sawfish species are already legally protected in Malaysia, it is important to ensure that in states where sawfish range, the strictest national wildlife protection legislation should be applied.

“This includes a prohibition on targeted take, retention and sale,” she said.

Matsumoto is already a local contact for the Sawfish Network, comprising international researchers and volunteer experts, which aims to mobilise a coordinated global group to play roles in the implementation of recommended strategies for sawfish conservation.

But for now, she can only hope that the initiative is not too late.

Not seen in 20 years
New Straits Times 10 Aug 14;

AS a young boy, fisherman Mohd Salleh Anifah remembered seeing sawfish caught by villagers in Kampung Tempurung in Kuala Penyu.

“I am nearly 60 years old, and I have not seen any brought up in my adult life,” said Salleh, who has been a fisherman all his life.

“We call it ikan parangan here, but there are two types. One with the saw-like fangs and another without.”

Researchers believe the other type of ikan parangan referred to by the locals is the shovel-head shark, which can still be found at sea.

The sawfish are normally caught in estuaries, rivers or close to the sea shore.

Another fisherman who identified himself as Gaman, from Menggatal, said sawfish could be found near rivermouths.

“Sawfish flesh is less pungent compared with other types of sharks when cooked,” he said.

“As for the jurung (sawfish snout), people would keep it as decorative items or use it for rituals,” he said.

Like Mohd Salleh, Gaman too has not seen any for more than 20 years now.

He showed two such snouts, dried and preserved, which served as a personal collection. Gaman said that was probably the only evidence he could show to point to the existence of the exotic fish.

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Indonesia: Audit finds companies responsible for haze

The Jakarta Post 8 Aug 14;

A preliminary finding by a compliance audit conducted by a government-sanctioned team has uncovered several irregularities involving local governments and agroforestry companies in Riau province that are likely to have caused rampant forest fires in the area.

The REDD+ Management Agency, the Forestry Ministry and the Riau Police jointly conducted the audit, which was executed between July 1 and Aug. 30 this year.

The audit examined 18 agroforestry firms operating around potential hotspot areas in Riau.

Bambang Hero Saharjo, the team leader who is also a professor at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) in West Java, said that eight of the companies being audited were found to be located on peatland.

The eight companies were identified by their initials; PT JJP, PT SRL, PT DRT, PT RUJ; and PT AA, PT SSL, PT ME, PT TFDI. The first group of firms are located in Rokan Hilir regency, and the latter grouping are located in Siak regency.

The team discovered that many of the companies had submitted bogus environmental impact analysis (Amdal) in order to exploit peatland that had a depth of more than three meters.

“Presidential Decree No.32/1990 on protected areas management as well as the spatial planning law clearly states that peatland can only can be exploited if the depth is less than three meters,” Bambang said on Thursday.

Another finding of the audit was that the majority of the audited firms were also embroiled in land disputes with local residents, conflicts that played a role in triggering forest fires. The team has also found evidence that the Riau provincial government and the firms have failed to perform their duty to protect the fire-prone areas.

One example of such neglience occurred in Siak regency, where the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), which is tasked with carrying out fire management efforts, lacked adequate facilities and infrastructure.

In the neighboring Rokan Hilir regency, the regional BPBD had in fact only been inaugurated earlier this year.

“Rokan Hilir regency is one the regencies which has the most hotspot areas,” Bambang said.

The team also found that the regional government had failed to perform its role in monitoring fire-prone areas.

In June, there were 386 hotspots across Sumatra, with 221, or some 95 percent, located in Riau’s regions of Rokan Hilir.

According to data from the REDD+ Management Agency’s forest and land fire monitoring system, 1,643 hot spots were found in Riau between June 1 and July 1 of this year.

Achmad Santosa, the deputy of law enforcement in the Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) said that based on the audit, the government could revoke the business licenses issued to companies responsible for the forest fires.

“But we have to wait for the complete result from the audit,” he said. (ask)

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Indonesia: Greater effort needed to oppose Benoa Bay reclamation

Luh De Suriyani, The Jakarta Post 9 Aug 14;

Customary villages, members and leaders of communities have been called on to stage major protests against the planned massive project to reclaim Benoa Bay to make way for the development of world-class entertainment and tourist-related facilities.

Huge posters and banners are being placed in villages adjacent to Benoa Bay urging the Bali provincial government and investors to stop their development plans.

Initiated by ForBali, which stands for Forum Rakyat Bali Tolak Reklamasi (Balinese Forum Against Reclamation), hundreds of community members, NGOs, university students as well as musicians staged a rally at Puputan Renon public park on Friday morning.

Carrying posters and banners with bold designs and colors, the protesters started their speeches saying that the reclamation project, supported by the Bali government and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration, would badly affect the living conditions of the local people, as well as the environment.

“We need a more concerted effort and movement to act against the investor’s plan,” said a representative from the group.

Nyoman Wada, a resident of Kelan village in Benoa and chair of Benoa Fishermen’s Club, said his village was located near Benoa Bay.

“We will be the first village to be affected by any natural disaster when the reclamation takes place,” Wada said.

PT Tirta Wahana Bahari International (TWBI) had earlier proposed the reclamation of the Benoa Bay conservation area covering around 838 hectares. The company commissioned a team from Udayana University to conduct a study on the project that found it unfeasible. Another study conducted by Conservation International (CI) also revealed that the planned project would cause environmental disasters, including flooding.

Located under the jurisdiction of Badung and Denpasar, Benoa Bay has a bright business future.

Despite the numerous protests, President Yudhoyono issued Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014, which permitted the reclamation.

The regulation has twisted spatial planning by redesignating Benoa Bay as a business site from previously being designated as an environmental buffer zone and green-belt area.

I Wayan “Gendo” Suardana, coordinator of ForBali, said villagers and community leaders should put up a strong front against reclamation.

“It was such a pity that SBY [President Yudhoyono] issued the presidential regulation in the last months of his tenure to smoothe this reclamation project,” Gendo said. A business tycoon reportedly owns PT TWBI.

Numerous artists grouped under Nosstress and the Bull Head performed with their bands, voicing their protests against the reclamation, the government and the investor.

Posters voiced people’s aspirations in creative ways. One poster designer, Alit Ambara, created a huge poster that said “Batalkan Perpres 51/2014” (revoke Presidential Regulation No 51/2014).

Students from the Indonesian Hindu Institute (UNHI) in Denpasar performed a kecak dance that told the story of the fight against the reclamation.

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UK: Gangs raking in thousands from the rising tide of wildlife crime

Report reveals the extent of poaching and poisoning and calls for tougher sanctions
Tracy McVeigh The Observer The Guardian 9 Aug 14;

Hare-coursing, which is illegal in the UK, can generate thousands for criminal gangs.
Hare-coursing, which is illegal in the UK, can generate thousands for criminal gangs. Photograph: Alamy

Poaching, poisoning and the theft of animals may sound like activities from Britain's past, but modern gangs are muscling in on the act.

A new report claims the scale of the problem is being hidden and that gangs are making large sums of money from illegal activities such as hare-coursing, raking in up to £10,000 a month in one case, while poaching of fish and deer is common and as likely to happen in urban parks as in the countryside.

In the report published this week – the first such work to look at the broad range of wildlife crime in the UK – the charity World Animal Protection (WAP) says it presents a worrying picture of how the problem is affecting not only the individual animals and fish but also our biodiversity.

The fact that statistics on wildlife crime, from badger-baiting to disruption of habitats, are not being collated by police forces is a major stumbling block to tackling the crimes, says the charity.

While people will pay high prices for creatures and wildlife products smuggled in from abroad – powdered rhino horn is worth more than cocaine or gold at £40,000 a kilo – a large live carp can fetch £12,000 for a poacher and a deer £200, and the government is being urged to get its own house in order and look after British wildlife.

Alyx Elliott, campaigns manager at WAP (formerly the World Society for the Protection of Animals), said polling by the charity on public awareness of the issue had been startling. "It really brought to life for us how low awareness is in the UK; 86% of the public didn't know that the police had wildlife crime officers. If they don't know that – if they don't know that this is a crime – then the big worry is that they won't be reporting it."

Currently, police forces are not required to keep separate statistics on such incidents.

The poisoning of animals such as foxes and rabbits or birds of prey is also a public health issue, with substances potentially lethal to humans being used.

"There is a big question about carbofuran [a pesticide which has been linked to poisonings], which is turning up in a few cases. This is a deadly substance banned right across Europe that can kill a human being, let alone a dog or other animal which happens to come across it," Elliott said. "There are questions to be asked about where this is coming from. Is it imported illegally or are there stockpiles?"

The charity is calling for a more consistent approach to wildlife crime across the UK and for tougher sanctions. While most police forces have a wildlife crime officer, often it is someone who does most of that work in his or her spare time.

"A significant percentage of police intelligence reports relate to poaching of UK species – which includes hare-coursing, fish and deer poaching. All of these result in terrible suffering for the animals, as well as often being linked to other criminality, such as antisocial behaviour and organised crime," said Elliott.

The report has been endorsed by the charity's celebrity backers – actor and writer Stephen Fry, Deborah Meaden of Dragons' Den and zoologist Charlotte Uhlenbroek – who all signed an open letter thatcalled poachers in the UK just as morally reprehensible as people who shoot endangered animals abroad.

"People who carry this out in Africa when poaching elephants or rhinos, or in India when shooting tigers are roundly condemned as unscrupulous criminals," it reads. "Individuals who know the price of everything, but the real value of nothing at all. But morally, nothing separates someone who kills a swan by throwing rocks at it in our country from someone shooting a wild animal for fun on the plains of southern Africa. Both are reprehensible and our perspective and condemnation of each should likewise be the same.

"And if we are to do that, then the public has a hugely powerful role in playing its part – a potential army of eyes and ears who can report and watch out for people engaged in this sort of soulless activity, many of whom we know are already engaged in other types of criminality.

"So although this report is by degrees shocking and sad," the open letter continues, "it could act as a clarion call to those concerned about our wildlife and to send a timely message to those who either enjoy or profit from harming it: the world has woken up to the seriousness of wildlife crime, people will no longer tolerate your actions, we're taking a stand."

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