Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jan 15

1 Feb (Sun): Free Guided Walk at Pasir Ris Mangroves
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Cave Nectar Bats visiting flowers of Musa ‘Cavendish’
from Bird Ecology Study Group

The Noble Octopus
from Hantu Blog

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Vanguard Mining supplies Vietnam and Cambodia sand to Singapore

Vanguard Mining Engages Logistics Partner for Shipping of Sand and Construction Aggregates to Singapore
Market Wired 13 Jan 15;

NEW YORK, NY and JAKARTA, INDONESIA--(Marketwired - Jan 12, 2015) - Vanguard Mining Corporation (OTC PINK: VNMC) (NASDAQ: VNMC) today announced that the Company has engaged PT Yudha Bahkti Menggala, an Indonesian logistics company, as an exclusive partner for logistics and sea transportation to handle shipment of construction sand, reclamation sand and other construction aggregates for the Singaporean construction market.

Vanguard Mining has partnered with several sand suppliers in Vietnam and Cambodia to provide construction and reclamation sands to Singapore and is currently working with Mega Kencana Persada (MKP), a company owning a 330-hectare limestone concession in Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, to supply limestone to the Indonesian domestic and neighboring export markets.

For limestone aggregate, in the first phase MKP plans to produce about 25,000 MT of crushed limestone per month during the first six months and 50,000 MT per month for the next six months, and generate approximately $11,250,000 in revenues and $2,812,500 net income during the first year. Beginning the second year, it can increase production capacity to 1.2 million MT per year for export markets, with projected revenues of $30 million and net income of $7,500,000 per year. The estimated limestone deposits of this concession are about 150 million MT.

While VNMC is in the process of acquiring or cooperating with other producing mines in Vietnam and continuing exploratory work at the PT Cendrawasih gold concession in North Sumatra, the Company will focus on working with MKP to go into production as soon as possible.

Jalani Haniffa, President of VNMC, stated, "We are very pleased to have PT Yudha Bhakti Menggala as our logistics partner as we are moving forward with our sand supply business with Vietnam and Cambodia and getting ready to have our own production at MKP," Jalani added: "We believe it is a win-win strategy and will create substantial benefits for shareholders of both companies."

About VNMC

Founded in 1987, Vanguard Mining Corporation, a Nevada corporation, is building and developing a portfolio of mineral assets in Southeast Asia, including gold, copper, limestone, gypsum, granite and sand. VNMC has signed an agreement to acquire 75% of PT Mega Kencana and an MOU to acquire 51% of the silica sand company in Central Vietnam.

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Malaysia: Logging Caused Unusual Flooding, Says NGOs

Kamarul Irwan Alias, Nik Nurfaqih Nik Wil and Ratcharathan A/L Rawe Shanggar Bernama 13 Jan 15;

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- The East Coast of Malaysia, last year, was struck by the worst flood in its history. It left in its wake a destruction and loss of property and afflicted victims with a host of psychological issues.

Kelantan was the worst affected, with over 100,000 victims relocated to relief centres. Many of them had lost their homes when it was swept away by strong currents.

It is not unusual for the East Coast states to be affected by the Northeast Monsoon, which occurs from November to March, every year.

The months of November, December and January typically records the highest amount of rainfall, causing floods in the lowlands.

However, last year's flood occurred on an unprecedented scale, resulting in destruction akin to that brought by the tsunami. It left many wondering how such a disaster could have happened.

To true cause of the unusual flooding has yet to be determined to this day. The Deputy Prime Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has stated that the government would conduct a post-mortem on the issue once the situation improves.

However, several environmental NGOs have pointed out that the disaster that happened was due to the massive environmental destruction that took place in the state.


Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) is one of the NGOs formed to stop the destruction of natural resources.

Its president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said the NGO had time and again reminded the state government and the media the importance of protecting the state's forests and natural resources, in order to prevent disasters like floods.

She said each state government was responsible for its own natural resources. It also needed to impress upon the importance of preserving its forests, instead of trading it for short-term gains and benefits.

"Perhaps they (the state government) may gain a RM20 million income from logging activities, but, it will cost them billions of ringgit in recovery costs when floods of this scale occur," she told Bernama, when contacted.

She said if logging activities were to take place, those responsible should incorporate with it ways of ensuring the conservation of the ecosystem in the affected area.

Giving the example of good logging practices, she said in Canada, every tree felled needed to be replaced with the planting of eight to 10 new trees to preserve the ecosystem.

"We should not wait until disaster strikes to implement such measures," she said.

Meanwhile, the president of Sahabat Alam Sekitar Malaysia (Friends of the Earth Malaysia),Datuk Abdul Malek Yusof, said widespread and indiscriminate logging created a ripple effect in the long run.

"Logging would usually result in erosion, causing mud to flow down from the highlands during rain, eroding hills and destroying water catchments and causing lowlands to become flooded," he said.


A huge cause for concern is the logging activities detected in Tasik Chini, Pahang and several areas in Kedah, which could lead to floods of a similar scale.

"Last week I visited Tasik Chini in Pahang and saw for myself the illegal logging taking place which has now resulted in muddy water in the lake," said Abdul Malek.

He said the surrounding area was at in high risk for flooding if the lake became shallower due to mud flowing in from logging activities.

In fact, he said, the hills in the area have become bald as no trees were replanted after logging activities took place.

Abdul Malek said there were also massive logging taking place in areas like Padang Terap in Kedah and along the slopes at the Titiwangsa range.

He said the issue of indiscriminate logging should not be politicised or regarded as something normal because it was a real problem with dire consequences.

"I am urging for political inclinations to be set aside and for the federal and state governments to work together to solve the issue of logging.

"If it is possible, a commission should be set up to overlook logging activities," he suggested.

He however said it was not the only underlying cause for the flood, as poor irrigation and garbage disposal systems could also lead to the disaster.


Meanwhile, the president of the Environmental Protection Society of Malaysia, Nithi Nesadurai said public awareness on environmental issues were still very low, leading to a number of environmental abuse.

He said Malaysians needed to understand the importance of natural forests and the effects of logging and illegal land clearing.

"When trees are felled, it causes rain to flow down the soil instead of being absorbed into the earth by trees (and later slowly released into water catchments). This causes rainwater to flow down at a faster rate into the rivers. Rivers will not be able to contain such an amount of water in a short time, and this causes floods.

"Almost everyone is aware of the phenomenon, but no one gives it due attention," he said.

Nithi said there was also a need for the state government to review the destruction of forests for the purpose of urbanisation as the usage of concrete in the soil could also lead to floods.

Meanwhile, Shariffa Sabrina wanted the public to become bolder in protecting nature and the environment by resorting to public protests if there were logging activities in their areas.


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Malaysia Floods: New landfills to dispose post flood rubbish

AUDREY DERMAWAN New Straits Times 12 Jan 15;

KUALA KANGSAR: A whopping 200,000 tonnes of rubbish have been collected from flood affected states nationwide to date.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the figure may double when the post-floods operation wrapped up.

"There are still areas which are flooded and we have yet to begin the clean-up operations.

"Once that is done, we can expect the amount of rubbish to reach until 400,000 tonnes," he told reporters after visiting Arena Square, one of the areas affected by the recent floods.

Abdul Rahman said the ministry was also facing great challenges to dispose the rubbish as some of the landfills were also damaged in the floods.

"We have built three landfills in Temerloh, Pahang.

"If other states feel there is a need to build such a landfill, they can do so," he added.

Flood waste up to 200,000 tonnes
The Star 13 Jan 15;

KUALA KANGSAR: Trash and debris collected from the floods that ravaged parts of the country have reached a staggering 200,000 tonnes.

And authorities are not quite finished yet as there are places still submerged under water.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan estimated that the final count might climb up to between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes.

“This is going to be particularly challenging for the ministry and local authorities because many landfills have been rendered unusable by floodwaters.

“We will have to look into the opening of temporary landfills to accommodate this much waste just as we did recently in Temerloh,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Based on an early estimation, Abdul Rahman said total repair and cleaning costs for public infrastructure and common areas would come up to around RM100mil.

“Seeing the extent of the damage in flood-ravaged areas, I would not be surprised if the cost would perhaps even reach RM200mil and this is excluding private homes,” he added.

Since Kuala Kangsar, the royal town, was expected to host the coronation of Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah in a few months, Abdul Rahman said it would prioritise the infrastructure involved in the ceremony for remedial works.

Relief centres to have solar panels and rainwater systems
The Star 13 Jan 15;

JOHOR BARU: Flood evacuation centres will be equipped with solar power panels and rainwater harvesting systems, said Deputy Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

He said the centres would have constant supply of power and water when people take refuge there during major floods.

“The recent major floods in the east coast states has taught us to look at alternative ways of supplying power and water to victims at relief centres.

“There is no time frame for us to implement these measures, but we will ensure that this proposal will be carried out,” he said after launching the operation of a solar power panel system at Masjid Jamek Bandar Baru Uda here yesterday.

Mahdzir said that in the event of major floods, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) would usually cut off power supply at its sub-stations for safety measures.

“Water supply pumps will stop functioning at treatment plants, and this disrupts the water supply at the evacuation centres,” he said, adding that the solar panels and rainwater harvesting system installed at flood evacuation centres would help to provide the needed water and power for the people.

During the major floods in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, floods victims were cut off from the outside world as they could not contact their family members on their mobile phones as there was no power supply to charge them.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) said it will send a mobile testing laboratory to Kelantan to help ensure clean water supply and prevent disease outbreaks.

UTM’s Institute of Environment, Water Resources Management deputy director Prof Dr Mohd Razman Salim, claimed that most of Kelantan’s wells were currently polluted by waste water.

He said the mobile laboratory would head for Kuala Krai and Gua Musang this week.

“These two Kelantan districts were among the worst hit,” he said.

The laboratory can measure levels of metal and organic elements in water, as well as foreign particles and bacterial content.

“The mobile lab could provide results within two to three hours, compared to having to send the samples back to the university’s laboratory,” Mohd Razman said in a press conference on Sunday.

Getting villagers to help themselves during floods
The Star 13 Jan 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Communities from nine flood-prone villages in three states will soon be trained to become disaster-resilient under a Red Crescent Society (MRCS) programme.

MRCS’s Dr S. Selva Jothi said the society would introduce “Adoption of Village” programme to ensure that if these villages were to suffer disasters again, people there would be able to help themselves.

“The programme is to adopt the village (to the floods) and train them to be safe and resilient,” the MRCS national organisational development committee chairman said yesterday.

This, he said, meant that such villages would be able to deal with health and water safety risks, and also have early disaster warning systems.

Villages would also adopt a “culture of coping with crisis”, taking hygiene sanitation into account and making sure that local economies were resilient in such events.

He said of the nine villages to be chosen, four were in Kelantan, three were in Terengganu and two were in Pahang.

One Kelantan village, Kampung Pasir Tumbok, has thus far been earmarked for this programme, he said, adding that it was currently going through a second phase of assessments.

Another eight, he said, were in the pipeline with some villages being assessed.

He expected that this sort of training to take at least a year per village (two years at the most), with a total cost of RM5mil.

Some RM3.2mil, he said, donated from sponsors and others had been collected so far for this purpose.

He added that MRCS would not be in charge of physically rebuilding the village itself, adding that it would either be left to locals or contractors.

Dr Selva said it started with an Orang Asli village in Johor known as Kampung Peta that had been destroyed by floods there in 2006.

He said that MRCS trained people there in disaster preparedness, so much so that they became experts of it, going to even Kedah to help out when floods struck there in 2009.

Over 200,000 people in Malaysia became refugees when floods swept through Malaysia’s East Coast, with some villages completely destroyed by the waters.

In a related matter, MRCS national chairman Tunku Tan Sri Shahriman Tunku Sulaiman thanked The Star and Firefly for working with the society to collect flood relief donations.

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Indonesia: Police arrest Kalimantan palm-oil tycoon Budiono Tan

The Jakarta Post 12 Jan 15;

The West Kalimantan Police have arrested palm-oil tycoon Budiono Tan, who allegedly misappropriated 1,535 land certificates of oil-palm farmers in Ketapang, West Kalimantan.

The businessman, who runs a plantation through PT Benua Indah Grup (BIG), was caught on Friday night in West Jakarta after being sought for five years.

“The dossier [for his case] has been completed and he has been arrested but has not responded to summonses,” West Kalimantan Police chief Brig. Gen. Arief Sulistyanto said on Sunday.

The West Jakarta Police worked with the West Jakarta Police to find Budiono. He is currently in the process of being transferred from Jakarta to Pontianak, West Kalimantan, for prosecution.

Budiono was placed on the police’s most-wanted list in 2009 after committing fraud and embezzling money from hundreds of oil-palm farmers who worked for BIG. But his case was abandoned when he allegedly obtained strong support from police officers.

The latest hunt that involved the joint police team was started on Jan. 7. A team of seven police officers was deployed to check potential hiding places for Budiono.

“The suspect was not cooperative during investigations. He didn’t even show up to confirm a witness testimony that defended him,” said the West Kalimantan Police’s special crime unit division director Sr. Comr. Widodo.

He added that it was only Budiono’s lawyer who came to the police, demanding that they open up a frozen bank account in the Ketapang branch of Bank Danamon, containing Rp 7 billion (US$553,513).

Budiono was reported to the police in July 2009 for embezzling Rp 300 billion from the farmers. The money was supposed to be paid to the farmers for harvests during the year as well as the farmers’ savings.

Budiono has been charged with embezzlement and fraud.

The West Kalimantan Police have admitted that the case is hard to resolve due to intervention from “certain groups”.

Amid the country’s reliance on the palm-oil sector, many practices of palm-oil businesses have hurt local communities, as well as ruining the environment.

Since 2012, the ministry has investigated and filed lawsuits against a number of plantation companies.

Last year, Meulaboh District Court found PT Kallista Alam guilty of burning peatland in the Leuser conservation area in Nagan Raya regency, Aceh, and ordered the firm to pay a fine of $30.5 million.

The year also saw PT ADEI Plantation & Industry, a unit of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhard, found guilty of violating the 2009 Environmental Protection and Management Law.

The Pelalawan District Court in Riau handed down a fine of Rp 1.5 billion. If the fine is not paid, the company’s director, Tan Kei Yoong, must serve five months in jail. The court also ordered ADEI to pay an additional Rp 15.1 billion to repair environmental damage caused by forest fires it had caused.

Furthermore, the court sentenced ADEI general manager Danesuvaran KR Singam to one year in prison, plus a Rp 2 billion fine or an additional two months’ imprisonment.

After auditing agroforestry companies in Riau, the government has planned to run its next audit in Central Kalimantan.

- See more at:

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Human development and biodiversity conservation can go hand in hand, study finds

IUCN News Release 12 Jan 15;

A development scenario involving reduced meat consumption and crop waste, as well as less energy-intensive lifestyles can help us reach global development goals while also protecting biodiversity, according to a new study.

The paper, Projecting global biodiversity indicators under future development scenarios, co-authored by 10 institutions including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sapienza University of Rome and BirdLife International, is published in the journal Conservation Letters.

The study assesses the impact of future human development scenarios on the conservation of the world’s terrestrial carnivores and ungulates (hoofed mammals). It reveals that a business-as-usual development scenario would bring increased deforestation and carbon emissions, putting one in four species of carnivore and ungulate at a higher risk of extinction by 2050.

“Today’s growing global demand for food, water and energy is satisfied by increasing agricultural productivity and the use of fossil fuels and other resources,” says co-author Thomas Brooks, Head of IUCN’s Science and Knowledge Unit. “This comes at a high environmental cost.”

“In the paper we demonstrate for the first time that human development goals and biodiversity conservation do not need to compete,” says lead author Piero Visconti of the IUCN Red List Global Mammal Assessment Program at Sapienza University of Rome, and Microsoft Research. “We found that an alternative scenario exists that can eradicate hunger and poverty and improve overall human well-being while enhancing the status of biodiversity globally.”

In this ‘Consumption Change’ scenario, access by the poor to food, energy and water is increased to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals while per capita consumption – and meat consumption in particular – in the developed world is reduced, together with crop waste. These actions should result in reduced wildlife habitat loss and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby decreasing species extinction risk, according to the paper.

Alongside changes in consumption and more efficient production practices, other measures would be needed. These include reduced logging, progressive environmental legislation such as carbon taxation, strategic placement of protected areas and the use of sustainable agricultural practices to increase crop yields.

The study shows how biodiversity indicators can be used together with social, economic and environmental scenarios to help develop sustainable development policy.

“This kind of study is key for the work of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, whose aim is to inform global policy making to address the current biodiversity crisis,” says co-author Rob Alkemade of PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and Head of the Technical Support Unit for the IPBES assessment on scenarios and modelling.

The third session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Plenary is taking place from 12 to 17 January 2015, in Bonn, Germany.

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