Best of our wild blogs: 17 Aug 14

Sun 24 Aug’14 : The Descendants Stories
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

upside down jellyfish @ pulau semakau shore - Aug 2014
from sgbeachbum

Life History of the Palm Bob
from Butterflies of Singapore

49th National Day @ Mandai Track 15
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Night Walk At Lower Pierce Reservoir (15 Aug 2014)
from Beetles@SG BLOG

Historical Singapore Birds Illustration Part 1
from Singapore Bird Group

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Tackling monkey problem

Channel NewsAsia 16 Aug 14;

SINGAPORE: A new volunteer group has been set up to deal with the monkey problem faced by residents living near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The monkeys break into homes as well as snatch plastic bags or food from people.

The long-tailed macaques have been a headache for residents in the area. And now members of the new Bukit Timah Wildlife Network make it a point to be at the nature reserve every weekend to remind visitors not to feed the monkeys and not to litter.

Authorities have taken control measures from time to time but one MP said public education is still a better way forward. Ms Sim Ann, an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said: "It is about letting people know that we should not encourage the monkeys to acquire a taste for human food, because that just changes their diet and also their behaviour. There really is absolutely no need for visitors to feed the monkeys. The monkeys have enough food in the forests."

Mr Jason Kok, organising chairman of Bukit Timah Wildlife Network, said: "We did some research and realised that monkey-related problems can be traced back to human behaviour, which is littering. So we wanted to do a programme to educate the public on non-littering (and) not to leave rubbish in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, so as not to leave an additional food source for the macaques."

- CNA/ir

Don't feed the monkeys in Bukit Timah
David Ee The Straits Times AsiaOne 19 Aug 14;

Humans do, monkeys do more.

That is why a group of volunteers has decided to tackle the simian problem facing Bukit Timah homes at the source. Since a few weeks ago, the new Bukit Timah Wildlife Network has been urging visitors to the nature reserve there not to feed the monkeys.

The aim is to prevent the animals from getting overly acquainted with human food and being fed, which emboldens them to approach residences.

Last year, The Sunday Times revealed how the authorities increased culling efforts after a rising number of resident complaints about monkeys getting into their homes.

According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), it euthanised about 570 long-tailed macaques last year, and another 100 so far this year.

This is a third of the estimated islandwide population of around 2,000 monkeys.

The culling appears to have been effective. AVA said there have been 420 complaints about monkeys so far this year, compared with 1,860 last year and 920 in 2012.

Mr Balasupramaniam Krishna, the neighbourhood committee chairman of Mayfair Park, a private estate of 1,000 homes in Upper Bukit Timah, also said he gets just one complaint a month now, compared with four to eight last year.

But the deaths of so many monkeys worried some residents, researchers and animal welfare groups.

Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information, and one of the MPs for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said that the monkey issue has been "a vexing one" for her area. Many residents complain about the animals, yet others are upset about the culling, she said.

"Even though residents may disagree over what to do about the monkeys... on both sides (they) tend to agree that public education remains very important," she said, adding that a "multi-pronged" approach is still necessary.

Under the new network, led by the Bukit Timah Community Club Youth Executive Committee, about 40 residents, students and others will spend weekend mornings at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve approaching and educating visitors.

One volunteer, Hwa Chong Institution student Joanne Ong, 17, said that in her experience, macaques were unlikely to approach people unless they were enticed.

Ms Sabrina Jabbar, campaign executive at the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres), said that the root of the problem is at the reserve.

"That's where the monkeys get used to human food and they start to venture out. So if we can control this... it will gradually improve the situation," she said.

Added Ms Sim Ann: "The idea is to, over time, reset human and monkey interactions in the nature reserve."

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Malaysia: Sabah rehabilitating 250ha of degraded mangroves

ruben sario The Star 17 Aug 14;

KOTA KINABALU: Some 250ha of degraded mangroves in Sabah are to be rehabilitated over the next five years by the state Forestry Department with contributions from a Japanese company.

This would be the second phase of a collaboration between the department and the International Society for Mangrove Ecosystems (ISME) that had so far restored nearly 152ha of Sabah wetlands over the past four years.

Under the second stage that was also funded by the Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co Ltd, about 50ha of Sabah mangroves would be rehabilitated yearly until 2019.

“Another aspect of the project is to develop cost effective methods of mangrove rehabilitation,” said Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan after receiving the Japanese company’s initial RM169,235 contribution for the mangrove rehabilitation project.

The work was an addition to the 1,000ha of wetlands that have been restored by the department over the past eight years with funding from the Sabah and Federal governments.

Mannan said the work to restore the wetlands had been carried out in the east coast of Semporna, Sandakan, Beluran and Kunak district and Beaufort in the west coast.

Some of the rehabilitation work was carried out in mangroves that had been illegally cleared for squatter settlements or plantations. Illegal prawn and fish farms contributed to the damage too.

“The biggest area we have seen cleared so far is about 150ha. They come in with excavators and other heavy equipment to build bunds that disrupt the flow of water in those areas,” he said.

He said the challenges facing the mangrove rehabilitation efforts included seedlings being eaten by crabs as well livestock such as cattle and goats.

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US: Manatees could lose their endangered species status

Louis Sahagun LA Times 15 Aug 14;

About 2,500 manatees have perished in Florida over the last four years, heightening tension between conservationists and property owners as federal officials prepare to decide whether to down-list the creature to threatened status.

Conservationists say the deaths are evidence of the vulnerability of the walrus-like mammals, which were included on the endangered species list in 1967 because of boat collisions and destruction of sea grasses in the shallow coastal inlets they inhabit.

But owners of waterfront property and businesses filed a lawsuit in April in federal court accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of failing to adhere to its own 2007 recommendation that down-listing is warranted because there are now more manatees than ever.

Most of the 4,800 pudgy sea-grass-munching mammals in the U.S. gather in each year in Florida, where warm, temperate coastal water, power plant discharges and warm-water springs act as buffers to the lethal effects of icy winters.

The agency’s delay in implementing the recommendation prompted the Pacific Legal Foundation to sue on behalf of a group called “Save Crystal River Inc.”

The group takes its name from the Crystal River, a destination about 100 miles north of Tampa, known for sport fishing and manatee tours in the vicinity of its headwaters.

“Environmentalists want to turn the entire Crystal River into a sanctuary, which would hurt our clientele,” said Christina Martin, a Pacific Legal Foundation lawyer representing property owners in the case. “Our clients simply want the federal government to pay attention to what its own biologists are saying and down-list.”

Opponents of down-listing argue that the agency’s recommendation came before two major mortality events. They also fear that decreasing protection would leave manatees more vulnerable to potentially catastrophic die-offs.

In 2010, 766 of an estimated 5,077 U.S. manatees died, largely due to cold stress. In 2013, 830 manatees died amid red tide blooms. In the meantime, dozens of manatees are killed each year in boat collisions, despite rules and regulations enacted to safeguard the animals.

“We’re up against an antigovernment group that wants to roll back the very protections that have prompted a comeback of a species once hunted to near extinction,” said Pat Rose, executive director of the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club. “Then they could run their boats where they want, when they want and as fast as they want.

“We’re trying to get as many people as possible to put pressure on the Fish and Wildlife Service before the public comment period on this matter ends,” he said. “We want the agency to base its final decision on the most up-to-date scientific information available.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to take comments until Sept. 2, then make a final decision with a year.

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