Best of our wild blogs: 11-12 Apr 15

'Dragon' at Chek Jawa!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

East Johor Strait water quality sightings
wild shores of singapore

Memories of our shores
wild shores of singapore

Night Walk At Upper Seletar Reservoir (10 Apr 2015)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Painted Jezebel caterpillars grazing on Malayan Mistletoe leaves
Bird Ecology Study Group

Black-headed Bulbul in Singapore
Francis' Random Yaks, Articles & Photos

Birdwatching in Tampines Eco Green (April 5, 2015) - Part II
Rojak Librarian

5th Annual Parrot Count 2015
Singapore Bird Group

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ACRES launches wild dolphin study in Singapore

Today Online 10 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE — Wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has launched a study of wild dolphins in Singapore waters so as to be able to protect them in their natural habitat, the group said today (April 10).

The study of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins will be conducted over two years and carried out in the Sister’s Island Marine Park and in the waters surrounding the Southern Islands. It aims to gather data on population numbers, distribution, home range, dolphin behaviours and the potential threats they face. The research permit for the study has been approved by NParks.

Dolphins in Singapore waters have not been studied in detail before, and ACRES’ dolphin researcher Isabelle Tan pointed out that not many Singaporeans know that there are dolphins in Singapore waters, although several sightings have been reported and shared on social media recently.

She said: “We hope that through this study, we can further increase awareness and understanding of these species. The data collected will also be vital in developing conservation strategies to protect these dolphins.”

Ms Tan is one of two full time ACRES researchers who will be conducting the survey. She has a degree in Zoology and Conservation Biology, while the other researcher, Ms Naomi Clark, has a Masters in Marine Biology.

Meanwhile, acknowledging that people “ultimately want to see dolphins”, ACRES said it is exploring setting up Singapore’s first wild dolphin-watching tours.

ACRES, which has launched an online fundraising campaign for the project, plans for the tours to see dolphins displaying natural behaviours in the wild, and “will follow strict ethical guidelines to ensure that the welfare of the wild dolphins is not compromised”, according to the statement.

Mr Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES said: “We are confident that if people learn about and see dolphins living freely in the wild, they will never want to see them in captivity.”

Wild dolphin-watching tours in Singapore a possibility: ACRES
Channel NewsAsia 10 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE: The Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES), which on Friday (Apr 10) launched a study on the animals in the Republic’s waters, said it is exploring the possibility of having wild dolphin-watching tours in Singapore.

“Recently, several sightings (of dolphins) have been reported and shared on social media. We hope that through this study, we can further increase awareness and understanding of these species,” said Ms Isabelle Tan, a dolphin researcher at ACRES.

ACRES said in a news release on Friday that two of its researchers will be studying Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in the waters surrounding the Southern Islands and the Sister’s Island Marine Park.

The society also said it is looking at bringing people to see dolphins in their natural habitat in Singapore’s waters, without compromising the welfare of the wild animals.

“We are confident that if people learn about and see dolphins living freely in the wild, they will never want to see them in captivity,” said Mr Louis Ng, Chief Executive of ACRES.

- CNA/xq

Wild dolphin tours planned for Singapore waters
NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 11 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE — More people in Singapore could encounter wild dolphins, if an animal protection group’s plans to offer the first-ever dolphin-watching tours here bear fruit.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) is exploring the idea as a way to raise awareness on issues surrounding keeping dolphins in captivity.

“We are confident that if people learn about and see dolphins living freely in the wild, they will never want to see them in captivity,” said ACRES chief executive Louis Ng, who will conduct the feasibility study with two of the advocacy group’s researchers.

ACRES also announced yesterday that its researchers would be studying the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin in the southern waters of Singapore over the next two years. The researchers, Ms Naomi Clark and Ms Isabelle Tan, have a Masters in Marine Biology and a degree in Zoology and Conservation Biology, respectively. They will be gathering data on population numbers, distribution, home range and behaviours and seek to understand the potential threats faced by the dolphins, ACRES said.

The studies are a development of its Save the World’s Saddest Dolphins campaign that began in 2011, in response to integrated resort Resorts World Sentosa’s capture of 27 wild bottlenose dolphins from the Solomon Islands for its Marine Life Park. Mr Ng said the latest announcement adds a positive element to the campaign, as well as the prospect of alternatives.

“Ultimately people do want to see dolphins ... What we’re trying to do is focus on finding alternatives (to) seeing a dolphin in captivity,” he said.

The group launched an Indiegogo fundraising campaign yesterday to raise US$100,000 for the studies.

Wild dolphins have been regularly spotted off Singapore, most frequently between St John’s and Lazarus islands, with videos and photos generating excitement on social media.

But Dr Elizabeth Taylor, head of the Marine Mammal Research Laboratory at the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI), felt wild-dolphin watching tours were unfeasible here, due to difficulties in predicting when or where they would be seen. “In my opinion and experience, there’s no chance of making a dolphin-watching programme here,” said Dr Taylor, although she finds ACRES’ efforts admirable. A “95 per cent or 90 per cent” chance of dolphin sightings is required to conduct such tours — otherwise participants could want to ask for refunds — and that is not the case here, she said.

At least 50 sightings were reported to the TMSI in 2012 and at least 169 dolphins were spotted between 2008 and 2011. The laboratory has designed smart underwater listening and recording devices to track the dolphins, but has not been able to secure funding to use them, said Dr Taylor.

ACRES will look at ventures in other countries, such as Hong Kong’s Dolphinwatch ecological tours, in its feasibility study and is open to collaborations, said Mr Ng.

Acres launches dolphin research
Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 12 Apr 15;

An animal welfare group here has launched a two-year study of wild dolphins in Singapore waters so as to better understand how to protect them. It is also exploring the possibility of setting up wild dolphin- watching tours here, as an alternative to seeing the animals in captivity.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) yesterday announced that it will devote two full-time researchers to study the Indo- Pacific bottlenose dolphins and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, because they are the two most commonly seen dolphin species here.

The humpback dolphin is regarded as near- threatened, or almost vulnerable, by conservation groups, while there is not enough data on the bottlenose dolphin to categorise it.

The Acres researchers will focus on the Republic's southern waters, namely, the areas surrounding the Southern Islands and in the Sisters' Islands Marine Park, the country's first marine park.

The project will gather data on the dolphins' population and distribution, movement patterns and behaviour, as well as potential threats.

"We hope that, through this study, we can further increase awareness and understanding of these species," said Ms Isabelle Tan, one of the researchers, who has a degree in zoology and conservation biology from the University of Western Australia in Perth. "The data collected will be vital in developing strategies to protect the dolphins."

The other researcher, Ms Naomi Clark, has a master's degree in marine biology from Plymouth University in Britain.

Acres chief executive Louis Ng said the two researchers will head out to sea at least three times a week. Acres also wants to recruit volunteers to help with the work.

The group is not the first to attempt this task.

The National University of Singapore's Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) has been studying the dolphins intermittently for the past 20 years.

Based on sightings reported to TMSI, at least 169 dolphins were spotted between 2008 and 2011, in the waters between Singapore and Batam, near St John's Island and Pulau Semakau, and as close to shore as the Marina Barrage.

At least another 50 of the mammals were sighted in 2012 - the most recent year that proper records were kept before TMSI's work was cut short when the conservation arm of Wildlife Reserves Singapore stopped funding a three-year study. Sporadic reports of sightings have continued since then.

Dr Elizabeth Taylor, head of TMSI's Marine Mammal Research Laboratory, warned that the Acres project could be very time-consuming and expensive. "It's very difficult because there is absolutely no way to know when the dolphins are coming or where they will be, and hiring a good boat alone will cost us about $1,000 a day."

Her team has designed a special underwater listening device and a flying drone to track dolphins, and is seeking funding to produce and deploy them. As for the wild dolphin-watching tours, Mr Ng said his organisation is studying how such tours are done in other places, for example, in Hong Kong.

"We are confident that if people learn about and see dolphins living freely in the wild, they will never want to see them in captivity," he said.

But Dr Taylor noted that a tour that guarantees dolphin sightings may not be feasible, given the uncertainty of the mammals' movements. "If you offer a scenic tour with the chance of seeing a dolphin, that might be possible," she suggested.

Acres has launched an online fund-raising campaign for the project, at

ACRES will ensure dolphin-watching tours are feasible before any launch
Letter from
Today Online 13 Apr 15;

I refer to the article “Wild dolphin tours planned for Singapore waters” (April 11) and Dr Elizabeth Taylor’s comments in the article.

There is now greater awareness in Singapore about conservation issues but the reality is that most people are familiar only with nature reserves such as the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and terrestrial animals. There is significantly less awareness about the marine ecosystem and we want to help change that.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) is also concurrently studying the wild dolphins in Singapore with the aim of using the data collected to develop conservation strategies. Implementing these strategies will undoubtedly require public support — which we are confident of obtaining if there is greater awareness about these issues.

ACRES is studying whether wild dolphin-watching tours are possible and we feel these tours are crucial in our efforts to heighten awareness, deepen appreciation and increase protection for marine life and the marine ecosystem in Singapore.

The concerns with regard to whether these tours are feasible are valid and ACRES shares the same concerns. Based on our preliminary research, there appears to be significant sightings of the dolphins in our waters. We agree with Dr Taylor’s previous comments in 2014, when she said she was optimistic their numbers were healthy as sightings of them were “greatly” under-reported. Also, sightings of groups of adult dolphins with calves were common, she said, and as dolphins are an apex predator, this was an indication of the health of the marine environment.

Dr Taylor’s colleague Dr Tan Koh Siang similarly stated that the dolphin sightings were common and “scientists at the institute’s laboratory on St John’s Island have regularly seen dolphins since 2002.

While this appears promising, ACRES is committed to exploring the proposed wild dolphin-watching tours in detail and ensure that they are feasible before we consider launching them. We thank Dr Taylor for her feedback, which we will use to improve our project.

New data on dolphins vital to conservation efforts
Straits Times Forum 14 Apr 15;

THE Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) agrees with Dr Elizabeth Taylor that the study we have embarked on is time-consuming and difficult ("Acres launches dolphin research"; last Saturday).

However, the study on the wild dolphins in Singapore is essential and critical, as the data we are collecting is data we have not had for the past 50 years.

This data is vital in developing strategies to conserve and protect the dolphins in our waters.

We want to ensure that the dolphins we see in our waters today will remain there and continue to thrive in our waters for generations to come.

We are also currently studying the feasibility of wild dolphin-watching tours, which will be crucial in our efforts to heighten awareness and deepen appreciation for marine life and the marine ecosystem in Singapore.

We note the concerns about whether these tours are possible.

Based on our preliminary research, there appear to be significant sightings of the dolphins in our waters.

We agree with Dr Taylor's past comments ("Dolphins frolicking in S'pore's backyard"; Nov 15, 2014) of being optimistic that the number of dolphins was healthy "as sightings of them are 'greatly' under-reported".

The report added that sightings of groups of adult dolphins with calves are common, and Dr Taylor was quoted as saying that dolphins are an apex predator, and that this is an indication of the health of the marine environment.

Dr Taylor's colleague, Dr Tan Koh Siang, similarly stated in the same report that dolphin sightings were common.

While this appears promising, Acres is committed to exploring this proposed wild dolphin-watching tour idea in detail and to ensure that it is feasible before we consider launching it.

We thank Dr Taylor for her feedback, which we will use to improve our project.

Louis Ng
Chief Executive
Animal Concerns Research and Education Society

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From beaches to beans: Time and material in 4 shows

MAYO MARTIN Today Online 9 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE — It’s been a while since I’ve gone gallery hopping, but I’ve finally managed to catch four at one go. Incidentally, they’re all shows by female artists, and their themes and subjects form a nice symmetrical dialogue with one another — Juria Toramae (in collaboration with Jerome Lim) and Tay Wei Leng’s respective investigations on time, memory and place, and Grace Tan and Lavender Chang’s forays into material and process.


The main set of works comprising Toramae’s Points Of Departure (POD) at the National Library Building are composite photographs combining folks from old photos at the beach (the earliest from the `40s) superimposed on present day images of said places (Sentosa, Changi Beach, Pulau Semakau, East Coast Beach, et cetera). You’ve got a group of men striking a pose on rocks and driftwood or a group of children making sandcastles, for instance, while oil tankers ply the waters in the background.

Based on the personal memories of the subjects she interviewed, Toramae then allows you to specifically situate these photographs geographically (by way of QR codes that let you see where these moments from the past are found on Google Maps).

And yet, visually, they’re less easy to place. Part of the reason is that they aren’t quite seamless composites. Not only are you aware of the disconnect between the modern oil tankers and, well, the hairstyles and clothing of the folks in the photo, you’re also conscious about the difference in quality between the old and new elements of the photographs, whether it’s the tint, light, or even the cropping. (It’s less subtly reiterated in the exhibition’s video installation of Singapore’s shoreline, juxtaposed with sound recordings of the interviewees’ recollections — which extends the (light/sound/actual) “wave” metaphor, in a way, too.)

The show is, of course, a commentary on the changes in Singapore through the years and the uneasy relationship between past and present. It’s linked to the Singapore Memory Project and irememberSG (and while we’re at it, we should probably be mindful that the chosen images are of a specific group of people who had the ability to indulge in leisure activities like a regatta and had easy access to cameras).

But what struck me most actually was the presence of the sea, which Toramae has rightfully pointed as the constant (along with the islands that serve as markers). While land reclamation has somewhat made questionable the idea of islands as completely immutable, the sea retains its ahistorical, featureless presence around which everything else — the land and people that give these images a semblance of place and history — revolves and evolves. You could very well link this exhibition to other strong investigations into Singapore’s relationship with the sea, such as those by Charles Lim and Zai Kuning — the former’s maritime maps and the latter’s recent makeshift boats find resonance in the show’s Google Map tracking feature and a centrepiece “boathouse” sculpture, respectively.

Over at the nearby Chan Hampe Galleries is another show that seems the complete opposite of POD, beginning with its very title — Tay Wei Leng’s photography exhibition How did we get here.

In contrast to POD’s open seaside vistas and scrutiny of the past in Singapore, Tay’s assortment of images dwell on the present, urban and cramped situation of Hong Kong’s denizens.

Playing the role of voyeur (albeit willingly accepted into the subjects’ private spaces), the show is a continuation of her series documenting the lives of friends and acquaintances (she’s been based in HK for a long time now). Mostly interior shots, there’s a loose, intimate, and unforced quality to her images — a family gathered around a table in mid-party, a woman lounging in bed checking her laptop, a couple who are both lost in their respective thoughts. The images seem “ordinary”, taken in moments that seem uninteresting at first. But that, perhaps, is the point — the title implies a jolt, a heywaitaminute subtle sensation of unfamiliarity. In these shots, Tay seems to consciously frame the commonplace precisely as moments.


Meanwhile, the remaining two artists’ shows are preoccupied with specific materials as they look at states of things and the processes involved in them.

To create the photographs that comprise I am a seed though a different one from you, which is currently up at Galerie Sogan & Art, Lavender Chang hung out not with people but with… beans.

Her MO is simple: For one year, she tried growing different kinds of beans in a variety of mediums and conditions, such as milk, Chinese ink, a watermelon, Fanta Grape, rock music, her own blood. She then records the results as photographic still lifes awash in white. These are poetic records of growth and decay.

Because of the beans, I initially thought I am a seed was an extension of one of her series that deconstructed hawker food dishes into its many ingredients. But actually, it’s more in line with her works about time, such as Unconsciousness: Consciousness’ time-lapse portraits tracking single bodies through a single night.

I am a seed seems like a scientific experiment, but it’s not — Chang says she’s not concerned about, say, the chemical reactions that occur when beans come into contact with blood. Rather, blood seen as a metaphor for life. The photographs of these elegant tendrils sprouting up (or wilting), therefore, can be regarded as conscious (but random) artistic commentaries rather than scientifically valid findings. While the various liquids contribute to the beans’ reactions to a point, the absence of context in the predominantly white photographs (apart from the titles that describe the kind of bean and the liquid) mean it doesn’t really matter whether it’s in coffee or milk — except as some metaphorical device.

In Grace Tan’s exhibition, however, the poetry is *in* the materials she uses. In The truth of matter at FOST Gallery, she meticulously grapples with various types of paper and pigments to create sculptural works. Actually, “grapples” is the wrong word to use — Tan not so much shapes and struggles with her materials as respectfully work with these to create the final product, whether it’s steel, fabric or loop pins (which make a cameo here courtesy of a version of her familiar “cloud” sculpture that was also at the 2013 Setouchi Triennial in Japan).

Stacks of paper are painstakingly sliced piece by piece to create slivers of paper, or brushed or sanded, and then dipped into or brushed with different pigments. She allows the materials themselves to partially dictate the shape and colour of the final product — whether they be delicate pieces that seem like wood shavings, or paper discs that seem precariously stacked one over the other, or rough blocks of paper.

The titles themselves — just numbered — hint at extreme detachment and the final sculptures are highlighted as pure objects that seemingly float suspended on plinths so that you could even see its bottom, a pure three-dimensional view of a three-dimensional object.

Points Of Departure runs until April 28 at the National Library Building, Level 10 Promenade. Free admission.
How did we get here runs until May 3 at Chan Hampe Galleries, Raffles Hotel Arcade. Free admission.
I am a seed though a different one from you runs until April 11 at Galerie Sogan & Art, 16 Mohamed Sultan Road. Free admission.
The truth of matter runs until May 3 at FOST Gallery, Gillman Barracks, #01-02, 1 Lock Road. Free admission.

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Malaysia: Moving elephants

PATRICK LEE The Star 12 Apr 15;

THE villagers of Kampung Durian Badori in Kuala Berang, Terengganu watched as the huge elephant that had been raiding their orchards for over a year lay sedated in a jungle swamp just 20m away.

Now chained to a tree, the wild bull was awake as he lay in chest-deep mud.

Carefully, men from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) approached him, leading three tame elephants linked with chains to bring him out.

As the villagers moved closer, one of the officers warned them to stay back. Even sedated, a wild elephant could easily kill.

Mohd Suhaimi Sulaiman, 35, of the National Elephant Conservation Centre said the bull was found a week before the capture, and tranquilised that day for the removal.

“We have to be careful with wild elephants. This guy, we’ve been following him for more than a year, on and off. It’s (been) difficult to catch him,” he said.

Pointing at the oil palm trees and the thick foliage beyond, he said once-thick jungles turned into plantations saw elephants coming in and raiding them.

“So we have to come in,” he said.

This is elephant translocation, where those in conflict with humans are moved from rural Malaysia and taken elsewhere.

It is a process that has seen nearly 700 attempts in the Peninsular since 1974, with 398 elephants trespassing into human territory shifted elsewhere.

There were 8,583 complaints on human-elephant conflict recorded from 2004 to 2013, though the number has dropped in recent years.

A number of these came from Kampung Durian Bador’s bull, said village chief Wan Rozali Wan Ismail, 54. On each visit, the bull would destroy half a football field’s worth of fruits, trees and some fences.

“He likes to eat (oil palm) saplings. Sometimes he goes for cempedak, durian and langsat.

“When he sees us (in the jungle), he runs. But sometimes he comes (to our village). This is his area,” he said, adding that the land there was once part of the forest.

Nottingham University Malaysia’s Associate Prof Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz said elephants were drawn to the edges of forests as there was more food there than in the deep jungle.

“Elephants are edge specialists. They live between the forest and the open areas. (So) when we clear (more) patches of forest, we are increasing this interface (area).

“We are creating ecological conditions that elephants favour, but humans don’t tolerate them,” he said.

Unlike countries such as Sri Lanka, where elephants are revered, here they are seen as very large pests.

Damage by elephants amounted to RM18.8mil between 2005 and 2010 nationwide, with more than 70% being crop damage.

Plantations appear to be the most commonly hit, followed by farms. In one example, over RM78mil losses were recorded in oil palm areas from 1975 to 1978.

To reduce elephant induced losses, the Federal Government has erected electric fencing. About 262km were set up under the 9th and 10th Malaysia Plans.

However, fencing and translocation have certain limitations. It is understood that Perhilitan only has 1,500 officers nationwide, barely enough to handle elephants alone, let alone other animals.

Even Perhilitan has admitted that translocation should be a last resort.

In its National Elephant Conservation Action Plan (NECAP) document, it says that the effects of removing elephants from the jungle are still poorly known.

Translocation itself may not even be effective, Ahimsa said, as some elephants were known to move back to the places where they were captured, though little data is available on this.

In one example, he said, six elephants moved to the Endau-Rompin National Park were found to have left it, possibly to return to where it came from.

Not every translocation is a success, however. Some 149 have died during the process, many due to stress. About 40 were gunned down by rangers in self-defence, and there have been some cases of rangers killed.

Still, translocation is better than the earlier method to solve the problem. Before 1974, offending elephants were gunned down, with some 120 shot dead between 1960 and 1969.

It is not known exactly how much money has been spent to keep elephants and people apart. Each translocation attempt itself --whatever the result-- costs up to RM40,000 each.

Proper land use, said experts, play a big role in making sure that forests do not become fragmented, or even lost.

Former Perhilitan Kelantan assistant director Zaharil Dzulkafly said few state officials think of wildlife when they allowed forests to be cleared.

He said developers were required to submit Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports to state governments when clearing jungles but based on his own experience, few did.

“There are some who have never submitted EIA reports, while others submitted only after forests and habitats were destroyed,” he said.

For those who did submit, complying was another story, Zaharil said.

He added that the authorities, especially in Kelantan, did not seem to care about wildlife.

He said a May 2014 notice requiring areas of 500ha or more to have Detailed EIAs did not mention wildlife.

“From what I see in Kelantan, most do not comply (with EIAs) especially when it comes to wildlife and biodiversity.”

He said a former state forestry director (from another state) once asked in a conference why people needed to be bothered about wildlife going extinct, given that the dinosaurs themselves went extinct.

There is little information on what would happen to a forest if elephants were to be taken out of them.

Some, like Ahimsa, believed that plants and smaller animals that depend on them might just disappear.

“Elephants are a keystone species. They’re like gardeners. With elephants, you have geckos and lizards that live in the branches they break. Flies and beetles are attracted to their dung,” he explained.

Forestry consultant Lim Teck Wyn said forests with less biodiversity could easily “bounce back” after they were damaged, be it by storms, or fires.

“A monoculture such as an oil palm or rubber plantation is very susceptible to disturbance,” he said.

He said the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s saw over a million people in Ireland die, after a disease spoiled potatoes, a monoculture there then.

However, conflict between humans and elephants is doomed to carry on as Malaysia’s shrinking jungles are cleared for development.

Environmental group Mongabay estimates that 4.7 million ha of primary forest cover were lost nationwide, larger than the size of Pahang, from 2000 to 2012.

An additional 393,500ha - nearly half the size of Selangor- are expected to used as plantations by 2020. Half of this might be in the Peninsular.

In 2011, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry proposed 13,000ha of new rubber area each year.

Today, there may be fewer than 1,700 wild elephants left in the Peninsular.

Perhilitan (biodiversity conservation) director Salman Saaban said conflict would normally occur when forests were cleared for development.

“Human population and development keep increasing, while natural resources are diminishing.

“It’s an uphill task and and very difficult to change public perception. But we should somehow have a balance between human and elephant needs,” he said.

He advised the public to be more tolerant of elephants.

But as far as Wan Rozali and his villagers were concerned, moving away the elephants was the best thing for the village.

“We are very happy that Perhilitan has come to take the elephant away,” he said, before the bull was taken out of his village.

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Malaysia: More than 100 protected birds confiscated

ZAFIRA ANWAR New Straits Times 11 Apr 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: More than 100 protected birds and a deer were confiscated by The Department of Wildlife and Natural Parks (Perhilitan) during Ops Akar recently.

Its enforcement director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said its department, under the Wildlife Crime Unit, had nabbed a man in his 40s, believed to be the mastermind behind the smuggling of local protected birds to a neighbouring country.

"The suspect was caught transporting 105 white-rumped shama or burung murai batu and two blue-rumped parrots or Bayan Puling which were found in Toyota Hiace he was driving.

"The price of one white-rumped shama in Indonesia ranges between RM800 to RM1,000," he told reporters here today.

The dead Barking deer was found skinned with its head severed, believed to be for consumption.

He said the case was being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) which carries a maximum punishment of RM700,000 or a jail term no longer than 10 years or both.

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Malaysia: Sabah firefighters battled one bush fire every hour last month

The Star 11 Apr 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Firefighters are faced with the challenge of controlling and putting out bush and forest fires occuring almost on an hourly basis in the state.

Sabah Fire and Rescue Department director Nordin Pauzi said according to their call records, the department received 759 calls on wildfire last month.

That amounted to at least 25 cases per day or one incident per hour, he said.

The figure did not include cases of buildings or properties that caught fire, he added.

“This is extremely worrying and wearing our men down as they have to be on standby every second to ensure that each call is attended to for the safety of the community,” said Nordin.

Of the incidents, he said the worst was on a 24ha land in Tuaran recently, where the fire control operation lasted for four days.

“Imagine what would happen if such cases continued and worsened, there might even be loss of lives,” he said.

Nordin said the spike in wildfires was a result of the dry spell in the state for more than a month now.

“We hope the weather improves soon. People must stop open burning or throwing cigarette butts everywhere,” he said.

Those who spot a bushfire could do their bit by putting out the flames before they spread, he advised.

759 bush and forest fire cases received last month
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 10 Apr 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Fire and Rescue Department received 759 bush and forest fire cases in last month alone.

Its director Nordin Pauzi said on average the department had to deal average 25 cases a day.

"Firemen have to spend between two hours to four days to put out fire.

"Fire areas could have spread from two acres to as big as 60acres," he added.

In January there were only 16 cases and in February 175 cases.

Nordin added the department would work closely with Meteorology department to monitor the situation.

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