Best of our wild blogs: 24 Mar 15

Sharing Singapore's last natural western reefs with agencies
from wild shores of singapore

11 Apr (Sat) morning: Free guided walk at the Chek Jawa Boardwalk
from Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Birds bathing in the rain
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Painted Jezebel’s post-eclosion behaviour
from Bird Ecology Study Group

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NTU develops mobile app to help reduce its energy usage

AsiaOne 23 Mar 15;

SINGAPORE - Nanyang Technological University has launched a new Eco-App to cultivate environment-friendly behaviour among students.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources, launched the new app today during the opening of NTU's annual Greenfest, the flagship event of NTU's environmental student club Earthlink.

The new app, POWERZ, enables students and staff to earn points through environmentally-friendly behaviours such as using fans instead of air-conditioning in residential halls, or switching off lights in lecture theatres when not in use.

Through its EcoCampus initiative, NTU aims to achieve a 35 per cent reduction in its energy and water usage, carbon footprint and waste output by year 2020.

The app also allow users to redeem rewards in real time. Students who use the app can redeem rewards like lucky draw coupons or food vouchers.

Associate Professor Yohanes Eko Riyanto, Principal Investigator for the POWERZ project said: "Simple everyday actions, such as switching off the lights and taking the stairs instead of the lift, can go a long way in creating a more sustainable future. The app provides a fun and exciting way to nudge people to be more environmentally conscious".

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Malaysia: Structural encroachment is one of the cause for flood in Cameron Highland

NURADZIMMAH DAIM New Straits Times 23 Mar 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: The occurrence of mud floods in Cameron Highlands was due to prolonged medium downpour, high sediment at the Sultan Abu Bakar hydro-electrical dam, structural encroachment on water channels, and the drastic increase in farming development using agriculture plastic houses, Parliament was told.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said among the measures taken to counter this include the flood mitigation projects at Sungai Bertam and Sungai Ringlet, a national-level long-term comprehensive study on flash floods which was completed in 2013, preparation of the Cameron Highlands' environmental-friendly irrigation system master plan and the proposed implementation of the rain water harvesting.

"The rehabilitation efforts also include replanting of some 6,000 trees at the affected areas, so far. We aim to plant one million trees by 2020. The Sungai Bertam and Sungai Ringlet mitigation projects, which include the riverbank rehabilitation, cost RM40million and RM58million, respectively," he said.

The recurrence of floods at Cameron Highlands which claimed lives had prompted the government last year to launch a war against illegal farm operators who were found encroached on some 6,000 ha of land there.

A Cameron Highlands' special meeting in January has set a six-month deadline for the relevant agencies to review and prepare a long-term local plan for the area as part of rehabilitation efforts.

The efforts also include ongoing enforcement on the encroached land and illegal immigrants.

The floods in Kampung Raja near Ringlet and Lembah Bertam here on Nov 5 last year claimed the lives of five people and caused more than 90 victims evacuated.

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Elephant poaching crisis unchanged a year after global pledge

Poaching of elephants in Africa still exceeds natural rate of population growth a year after 46 countries pledged to control illegal ivory trade
Karl Mathiesen The Guardian 23 Mar 15;

The number of elephants being killed by poachers in Africa remains unchanged a year after 46 countries pledged to control the illegal ivory trade.

A representative of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), the UN body dedicated to fighting the global poaching crisis, told a conference in Botswana on Monday poaching still exceeds the natural rate of population growth.

Cites estimated that in 2013 more than 20,000 African elephants were killed for their ivory tusks. Last year the numbers were virtually the same. More than 60% of carcasses surveyed across the continent in 2014 died at the hands of poachers. According to Cites, anything more than 50% sends elephant numbers into decline.

The bad news comes a year after 46 countries signed the London declaration on the illegal wildlife trade. Former UK foreign secretary William Hague said the deal would “mark the turning point in the fight to save endangered species and to end the illegal wildlife trade”. But wildlife experts and the UK government said on Monday it was too early to judge the effectiveness of the accord.

A UK government spokeswoman said “significant progress” had been made since the meeting in London.
“But there is clearly no ‘quick fix’ for the complicated issues involved in the illegal wildlife trade, and the London declaration commitments were for the long term. The Kasane statement will identify possible gaps and areas that need strengthening. We are all dedicated to fighting this vicious trade,” she said.

Heather Sohl, chief adviser on species for WWF-UK, said some African governments had passed tougher anti-poaching laws and important demand reduction programmes have begun in China, the destination for much of the world’s illegal ivory.

Cites secretary general John Scanlon said the actions initiated by the London declaration needed more time to come to fruition.

“The momentum generated over the past few years is translating into deeper and stronger efforts to fight these crimes on the front line, where it is needed most – from the field, to police and customs, to illicit markets – and this enhanced frontline effort gives us confidence that if we persist with, and deepen this collective effort, we will reverse the devastating poaching trends of the past decade,” he said.

A spokesman for anti-poaching group Traffic said “incremental progress” had been made to combat poaching.

“Clearly action is being ramped up, but we will only be able to say things are getting better after we see evidence of a significant drop in poaching levels sustained over a period of years,” he said.

Scanlon said the Africa-wide numbers disguised regional successes and failures. Numbers in west Africa were at their worst since reliable record-keeping began. The smaller population of elephants in the west makes the species particularly vulnerable. In east Africa, poaching continued to decline from its peak in 2011, the continent’s worst year for elephant poaching.

“African elephant populations continue to face an immediate threat to their survival from high-levels of poaching for their ivory, especially in central and west Africa where the situation appears to have deteriorated. We are however also seeing some encouraging signals in parts of east Africa where the overall poaching trends have declined, which shows us all what is possible through a sustained and collective effort,” said Scanlon.

Sohl said: “The key thing that we have to keep coming back to is that the poaching rates are greater than the natural birth rates and that means that we are seeing a decline in African elephant populations. If this continues along the current rate we certainly could see the extinction of elephants in central Africa, where the current poaching rates are twice that of the continental average. That could be seen in our lifetime, so we are in a very desperate situation that needs to be addressed effectively.”

In recent years poaching has been driven by the increasing involvement of international criminal gangs, attracted by lucrative ivory prices. Between 2013 and 2014 the price of ivory in China tripled. This has lead to thousands more elephants being killed each year.

On Wednesday countries will meet again in Botswana to report their progress in fighting the international poaching crisis for all endangered species.

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