Best of our wild blogs: 20 Apr 15

Mutant Javan Myna
Bird Ecology Study Group

Painted Jezebel: 3. Pre-pupation behaviour
Bird Ecology Study Group

China to Sumatra via Singapore: The Journey of the Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher
Singapore Bird Group

The Cockatoos of Singapore
Singapore Bird Group

Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) @ Chek Jawa
Monday Morgue

Read more!

'SG50 triplets': Baby otters spotted at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Channel NewsAsia 20 Apr 15;

SINGAPORE: Possibly the cutest SG50 additions: Three otter babies spotted at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

“The otter couple at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park is now a family of five!” the National Parks Board (NParks) announced in a Facebook post on Sunday (Apr 19). “The female otter recently retreated from frolicking in the river to give birth to SG50 triplets.”

YouTube channel Otters Watch @ riverParkBishan said the female otter gave birth about two months ago, and the young animals can now walk and swim.

Photos and videos showed the young animals following their parents along the canal at the park.

NParks advised members of the public to observe the otters quietly from a distance and avoid flash photography to avoid frightening them. NParks also urged people not to feed the otters.

Otters are native to Singapore and more sightings have been reported in recent years, at areas including Lorong Halus Wetlands and Serangoon Reservoir in Punggol.

- CNA/xq

Antics of female otter and her babies caught on video at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
AsiaOne 20 Apr 15;

The pair of otters that have made the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park their home has new additions to their family. Three baby otters were spotted in public with their mum.

The National Parks Board (NParks) posted photos and links to videos on their Facebook page of three baby otters and their mother on April 19.

In less than a day, the post had been shared almost 900 times and liked by at least 2,500 people.

Those who had commented on NParks' Facebook post had only nice things to say about the otter family.

Many found the sighting to be "adorable" and "cute" and some commended NParks for allowing the otters to make Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park their home.

NParks also had words of advice for the public.

They said: "If you ever encounter the otters, observe them from a distance, stay quiet and avoid flash photography as we don't want to frighten them."

The public is also reminded not to feed the otters as they have "plenty of fish from the river to feast on", NParks said.

Videos of the otters in action can be watched on the Otters Watch @riverParkBshan YouTube channel.

In the latest video that was uploaded on April 17, Otters Watch managed to capture the whole family of otters in action.

Otters Watch said the triplets were born about two months ago.

Read more!

Indonesia: Peat fires in Riau continue despite conversion moratorium

Rizal Harahap, The Jakarta Post 20 Apr 15;

A moratorium on land conversion begun during former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s administration in 2011 has not yet been effective to save peat forests in Riau, as slash and burn practices to clear areas for plantations in the province have continued to occur.

In Sumber Jaya village, Siak Kecil district, Bengkalis regency, more than 100 hectares of peat forests included in the moratorium area have been set on fire in the last three months.

Tarpan, 59, a Sumber Jaya villager, said some of the burned peat forests had been cleared a few years ago.

“During the last three months, our village has had rain only three times. Peatlands are really dry and they burn easily,” he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Tarpan said a joint team comprising Society Concerned about Fires (MPA) volunteers and fire officers from an industrial forest permit (HTI) holder operating in the area had once managed to extinguish fires in peat forests located around 4.5 kilometers from people’s settlements.

“But within only days, they burned again. It seemed that the fires had continued to spread under the soil surface,” he said.

According to Tarpan, burned peat forests in Sumber Jaya are part of 6,000 hectares of land allocated for 700 households that participated in transmigration programs in 1980. Many families lost their land ownership letters when a huge flood hit the village in 1984, however.

“Working with officials in the Bengkalis regency administration, many village officials took advantage of the situation and illegally confiscated land initially allocated for the transmigrants. They sold the land to plantation businessmen and this was the beginning of a situation where land fires were able to easily occur here,” said Tarpan.

The Bengkalis Police were reported to have apprehended three Sumber Jaya village officials for their alleged involvement in land clearing and burning.

Illegal land buying and selling practices as well as excessive conversion triggering fires in peat forests listed as moratorium areas have also occurred in Tanjung Layang, Tanjung Kuras village, Sungai Apit district, Siak regency.

Concerning the situation, Greenpeace SEA Indonesia’s forest political campaigner, M. Teguh Surya, urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to take action to stop deforestation in primary forests and peatlands included in the moratorium area.

He said Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 6/2013 on a moratorium on the issuance of new conversion permits on primary forests and peatlands, which would expire on May 13, must be extended and strengthened.

“After its four-year implementation, Jokowi should be able to read what are the weaknesses and loopholes of Inpres No. 6,” said Teguh. (ebf)

Read more!