Best of our wild blogs: 7 Mar 15

Distressed and dead fishes at Sungei Buloh
from wild shores of singapore

Birdwatching in Bidadari (February 2015)
from Rojak Librarian

14-15 March 2015: D’Kranji Farm Fair in the Kranji countryside
from The Tender Gardener

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Malaysia: Fish found dead at Straits

The Star/Asia News Network AsiaOne 7 Mar 15;

JOHOR BARU - An estimated six tonnes of wild and cultured fish were found dead along the Straits of Johor in the past four days.

Johor Fisheries Department director Munir Mohd Nawi said that the department will be conducting a thorough investigation to identify the cause for the bad water quality that contributed to the death of the fish at the Straits.

He said the fish were found dead around Johor Port, Puteri Harbour, Kampung Pendas and Kampung Sungai Melayu areas.

"Some six tonnes of fish including five tonnes of cultured fish had died due to toxic effect as the water quality has deteriorated tremendously," he said yesterday.

Munir added that the department started receiving reports on the dead fish some three days ago.

He said the dead fish were first spotted floating in the water near the Johor Port vicinity before similar reports from other affected areas were received.

Oriental Daily News 7 Mar 15;
鱼群大量死亡 柔渔排损失70万

鱼群大量死亡 柔渔排损失70万















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Dry spell: Contingency plans already in place, says Vivian Balakrishnan

Eileen Poh Channel NewsAsia 6 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE: Contingency plans for dry weather are already in place, with authorities stepping up desalination and NEWater production about a month ago, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan to reporters on the sidelines of a community event on Friday (Mar 6), where he was asked about plans to deal with the ongoing dry spell.

"We are running at about 70 per cent of our maximum capacity right now. And we are using that to maintain the levels of our reservoirs,” he said. “If we didn't do that, you would have noticed that the water levels in our reservoirs would be much lower than it is now. So in a sense, the contingency plans have been implemented."

Dr Balakrishnan also reminded Singaporeans about the importance of water conservation.

"We cannot control the weather, we cannot take things for granted, so please don't waste, be careful, be mindful about the way we use water at home, at work and also for the industries,” he said.

To cut down the demand for water, he said the Government is working with companies to leverage technologies and explore innovative methods to reduce their use of water.

In February, all areas of Singapore received below-average rainfall. The dry phase is expected to continue into next week, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in its latest forecast.

NEA added that there may be occasional windy conditions and showers.

- CNA/ek

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More help given to town councils to address rodent problems


SINGAPORE — On the back of rodent infestation problems that have been in the news in recent months, more help will be given to town councils to tackle the problem.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) will engage pest control operators to target rats in housing estates, and maintenance and management of bin centres and refuse chutes will be improved so as to deny rodents easy access to food sources.

This comes after the NEA received 4,000 cases of feedback on rodent sightings last year, 1,000 more than in 2013.

Announcing these enhancements to the Rat Attack programme yesterday (March 4), Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu said: “As rodents have adapted well to our urban environment and multiply quickly in poorly managed or maintained bin centres and refuse chutes, NEA will provide more assistance to the town councils.”

Ms Fu was responding to a parliamentary question from Member of Parliament (Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC) Dr Teo Ho Pin on updates on the rodent situation and measures to eradicate them.

Rodent infestation has been in the public spotlight. In December last year, a weeks-long extermination operation had to be carried out at a mound in Bukit Batok, with more than 230 rats caught by the end.

In January, a rat carcass found in a dish in a Marina Square restaurant led to the uncovering of rodent activity at 14 of the mall’s F&B establishments.

Noting that rodents thrive in places with poor food storage and waste management practices, Ms Fu said NEA has implemented an island-wide rodent surveillance programme since 2011 to identify potential food sources, harbourages and burrowing activity for pre-emptive measures against infestations.

Food establishments and shopping malls are also inspected regularly, she added. Shopping malls are required to have rodent control programmes and proper waste management practices, while food establishments with rodent problems can have their licenses suspended or revoked with a downgraded food hygiene grading.

Ms Fu said that the NEA conducted a total of about 140,000 inspections island-wide in relation to rodent activity last year. An NEA spokesperson said the majority of these inspections were at food retail establishments.

Ms Fu added that NEA will not hesitate to take strict enforcement action against premises owners for lapses in rodent management. Last year, NEA took enforcement action against 82 errant premises owners for rodent infestations.

Stressing that the key strategy is to remove food sources and areas of harbourage, she added: “Ultimately, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including land owners, building management and foodshop operators, to put in place a good system of housekeeping, refuse management and routine pest control checks and treatment to ensure that the rodent population is kept under control.”

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Malaysia: GM mosquito project shelved

LOH FOON FONG The Star 6 Mar 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government’s plan to release genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes as a way to fight dengue has been shelved.

Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that after the field trials in 2010 and 2011, the ministry did not proceed further as it was not cost effective to be implemented.

“We did not proceed further after the initial study,” he told The Star yesterday.

The purpose of GM mosquito dengue control was to reduce the Aedes Aegypti population – the GM mosquito would mate with the females in the wild and the eggs would hatch but the offspring would die before reaching adulthood.

In the field trial undertaken by the Institute of Medical Research and British-based biotech company Oxitec Ltd, about 6,000 male GM Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released at an uninhabited forested area near Bentong, Pahang, on Dec 21, 2010.

An equal number of unmodified male mosquitoes were released at the same time for the purpose of studying and comparing the GM mosquitoes under natural conditions against their wild counterparts.

The study ended on Jan 5 and the area was fogged to destroy the mosquitoes the following day.

In response to public outcry over safety concerns at that time, Medical Entomology Unit & WHO Collaborating Centre for Vectors IMR head Dr Lee Han Lim said that the exhaustive studies lasting four years confirmed that the biology, behaviour, mating competitiveness and the capacity to transmit disease of the genetically modified Aedes aegypti were not altered.

Health Ministry vector-borne disease sector head Dr Rose Nani Mudin said Brazil, which had carried out a large-scale GM mosquito testing there, had announced that they would not implement the dengue-control method.

GeneWatch UK director Dr Helen Wallace wrote in the New York Times recently that computer model­ling of the findings showed that 2.8 million genetically engineered adult male mosquitoes would need to be released per week to suppress a wild population of only 20,000 mosquitoes, which was impractical on any scale.

“There is no evidence of any reduction in the risk of dengue fever, which can continue even if the number of mosquitoes is reduced,” she said.

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