Best of our wild blogs: 6 May 15

Red-whiskered Bulbul: 2. Incubation
Bird Ecology Study Group

Bishan Park
Life's Indulgence

Yellow-vented Bulbul juveniles visit our home!
My Nature Experiences

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Dolphins spotted in Singapore Strait as Nature Society's Bird Group captures them in action

CHEW HUI MIN Straits Times 4 May 15;

SINGAPORE - A group of bird watchers caught an exciting sight on Sunday morning - dolphins frolicking in the Singapore Strait.

They were at the Strait for a pelagic bird survey when they came across a small pod of six Indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins, the Nature Society's Bird Group wrote on their Facebook page.

They also posted a video of the dolphins seen at 7.20am on Sunday.

"We sighted a pod of six dolphins as we were on the lookout for seabirds that skim the water. They migrate around this time across the Singapore Strait," Mr Francis Yap told The Straits Times.

The avid nature photographer, who is a member of the Bird Group's Pelagic Bird Survey team, took the photographs of the dolphins.

This is not the first time they have spotted the dolphins, Mr Yap said.

In the past few years, he has seen them about five times in the 15 trips he took in the Strait, he said.

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Turning canals into oases

Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 6 May 15;

In 2006, national water agency PUB started a progranne to turn Singapore's drains, canals and reservoirs into recreational areas. PUB has completed 27 projects under its Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programme.

Audrey Tan highlights some of these projects.

Kolam Ayer ABC Waterfront

The first ABC Waters project officially opened in April 2008. It transformed a 250m stretch of Kallang River between Bendeemer Road and Kolam Ayer Pedestrian Bridge into a city oasis.

Kayaking and dragon boating are a regular feature along this stretch of water.

- Tiled pavements
- Floating Deck: An example of an interactive water feature that allows residents to get closer to the water.

Rochor Canal

One of the three latest ABC Waters projects officially opened by the PUB this year. The 1.1km stretch is the first official waterway improvement in the downtown area.

- Rain Gardens: They not only beautify the area but also act as a filter for rainwater run-off.
- Two pedestrian bridges improve the connectivity between neighbouring developments on both sides of the river.

Kallang River@ Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Unveiled in 2012, this is the flagship project of the ABC Waters programme. Costing about $76 million, work on the 3km-long waterway was done in collaboration with the National Parks Board.

- A concrete canal was turned into a meandering river, complete with gentle slopes and plant-covered banks.
- The river is designed for both dry weather and storms. In dry weather, the river flow will be confined to a narrow stream. But during a storm, the water level rises without flooding the whole park due to the gentle slopes next to the river.

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Neighbours to keep working closely on transport, water

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 6 May 15;

SINGAPORE — The two neighbours are working well together, and leaders of Singapore and Malaysia emerged from their annual retreat yesterday (May 5) saying that the friendship and cooperation would continue.

Aside from the “game-changing” high-speed-rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart, Mr Najib Razak, as well as their delegations discussed issues related to the Causeway and the Johor River Barrage.

Singapore is automating all motorcycle counters at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints by the end of next year, up from about a quarter of all counters currently, said both leaders in a joint statement.

Automated counters at the Singapore checkpoint will speed up motorcycle immigration clearance by up to 30 per cent and help reduce congestion for all checkpoint users, they said.

Malaysia also plans to introduce automated motorcycle counters, and is studying the introduction of radio frequency identification stickers in passports for Malaysian motorcyclists to allow for faster self-clearance at the Causeway.

Both sides are working towards increasing train services between Johor Baru and the Woodlands train checkpoint.

Singapore is also developing a BioScreen project to capture and tag biometric identifiers of visitors. The move is intended to facilitate immigration clearance at its checkpoints.

Both Prime Ministers, who held a joint press conference, stressed that security cannot be compromised.

Asked if the “Friendship Bridge” — a proposed third link between Singapore and Johor in addition to the Causeway and Tuas Second Link — was discussed, Mr Lee said it is something the Republic will study for the long term “as our existing links max out and the capacity needs to be expanded”.

On water cooperation, Mr Lee thanked Mr Najib for “good cooperation” between Singapore’s national water agency PUB and Johor’s water regulating body BAKAJ, and for the Malaysian Premier’s support of the Johor River Barrage project.

The barrage will keep out saltwater intrusions during dry seasons and allow Singapore and Johor to draw on the full capacity of the river.

The project has been delayed because of wet weather, said Mr Lee, but both leaders reaffirmed the importance of its timely completion to ensure reliable water supply from the Johor River, as provided for under the 1962 Water Agreement.

Both Prime Ministers also noted progress of the M+S projects in Marina South and the Ophir-Rochor area in Singapore, as well as of Iskandar Malaysia, which are seeing “good support from the market”.

M+S is a joint venture owned by Temasek Holdings and Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional.

The two leaders welcomed discussions on loan of artworks through the National Gallery Singapore and the National Visual Arts Gallery of Malaysia. The Titian Budaya Singapore-Malaysia Cultural Showcase will also be held this year in Kuala Lumpur to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

At the press conference, Mr Lee also noted how both sides have “been helping each other quietly in times of need”. Malaysia helped bring some Singaporeans back from war-torn Yemen recently, while Singapore helped some Malaysians return from Kathmandu in Nepal when a deadly earthquake struck over a week ago.

Singapore, Malaysia ink agreements on urban search and rescue, ferry services
Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid, Channel NewsAsia 5 May 15;

SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia will deepen their cooperation in urban search and rescue capabilities.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on this was inked between the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Malaysian National Security Council on Tuesday (May 5), as part of the Annual Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat.

The MOU seeks to further strengthen and promote cooperation between the two agencies in terms of training, techniques and information-sharing pertaining to urban search and rescue (USAR) and disaster management.


Additionally, Singapore and Malaysia are planning to provide more ferry services between the countries. The supplementary agreement was signed between the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore and the Johor Port Authority on Tuesday.

The supplementary agreement provides for the possibility of additional ferry services between Peninsular Malaysia and Changi Bay North.

Currently, under an agreement signed in 1993, there are ferry services between Changi Ferry Terminal and Tanjung Belungkor in southeastern Johor.

- CNA/xq

Summary of bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia
AsiaOne 5 May 15;

SINGAPORE - The Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia met on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations and partnerships during the annual leaders' retreat in Singapore.

Ministers from the neighbouring countries also met on the sidelines of the 6th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat to enhance bilateral co-operation.

The next 7th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat will take place in Malaysia next year.

Here are the key points that were discussed between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Najib Razak:

Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project

The Singapore HSR terminus will be sited at Jurong East, which fits with Singapore's overall plans to transform the area into its second Central Business District. The target date to complete the HSR project by 2020 will have to be re-assessed given the scale and complexity of the project, according to a joint statement released by both countries. Read more here.

Iskandar Malaysia - Transport

Besides the HSR project, the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia (JMC) is exploring measures to enhance connectivity between the two countries, such as reducing congestion at the Causeway and the Singapore-Malaysia Second Link.

Technology will play a big role to achieve this goal, with Singapore fully automating clearance for the motorcycle counters at the Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints by 2016, up from the current 25 per cent. This will speed up motorcycle immigration clearance by up to 30 per cent.

Train services between Johor Bahru and Woodlands Train Checkpoint will also be increased while biometric features will be added at checkpoints to facilitate immigration clearance.

Additionally, there are plans to increase the number of ferry services between Singapore and Malaysia.

Iskandar Malaysia - Economy

Singapore and Malaysia will work towards implementing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) measures by the end of this year and deepen economic integration beyond 2015.

The AEC seeks to transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital by 2015.

The Industrial Cooperation Work Group (ICWG) under the JMC will also look to enhance synergy between Singapore and Malaysia in certain sectors, strengthening the Singapore-Malaysia ecosystem in the process.

Defence and Homeland Cooperation

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and Malaysian National Security Council (NSC) inked a Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Developing Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) at the sidelines. This will strengthen and promote co-operation between the two agencies on USAR training, procedures and doctrines.

Earlier in March, Defence Ministers from both countries signed a letter of intent to step up co-operation through intelligence exchanges, and addressing common security concerns such as the threat of ISIS to the region between the two defence establishments.


ITE Education Services (ITEES), which is owned by the Institute of Technical Education, will be collaborating with Malaysia's Ministry of Youth and Sports to promote Technical and Vocational Education and Training, with the aim to create a skilled labour force.


The Sarawak State Government and Singapore are currently working on the Sematan Riviera cruise project.


Works are underway to ensure the timely completion of the Johor River Barrage. This will ensure a reliable water supply to Singapore from the Johor River as provided under the 1962 Water Agreement.


Malaysia and Singapore, which are both affected by the recurring haze pollution, will continue to exchange information to prevent and suppress land and forest fires. Both countries will also seek to strengthen the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.


To mark fifty years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Malaysia, there will be a Titian Budaya Singapore-Malaysia Cultural Showcase held in Kuala Lumpur in 2015.

The National Gallery Singapore and the National Visual Arts Gallery of Malaysia will also be exchanging artworks as part of arrangements to deepen arts and culture collaboration.

Malaysia awaiting Singapore nod on rail project and friendship bridge
Mergawati Zulfakar The Star/Asia News Network AsiaOne 5 May 15;

SINGAPORE - Malaysia and Singapore leaders started their sixth retreat yesterday to review current co-operation and explore new initiatives amid the backdrop of the best level of bilateral ties in recent years.

Malaysia's High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected to announce today the Singapore terminal for the High Speed Rail Project between the republic and Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia has already announced Bandar Malaysia in Sungai Besi as the country's terminal during the leaders' retreat last year.

The HSR will reportedly cost RM40bil and cut rail travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singa-pore from six hours to just 90 minutes.

The 330km rail line is expected to be completed by 2020 with five transit stops spread out across Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.

This year also marks the 50th year of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and Singapore.

The retreat kicked off with Lee hosting a private dinner for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

During their four-eyed meeting today, the Malaysian-proposed friendship bridge, which is to replace the Causeway, is expected to be discussed.

Najib has proposed for the bridge last year and so far there has been no official response from Lee.

"I believe the bridge is to be discussed but can't anticipate the outcome of the meeting because it is still in the initial stage.
"This speed train project involves two countries, a lot of issues need to be discussed, so we can expect more details to be announced at the retreat," Husni added.

Both leaders will witness the signing of an MoU between the National Security Council and Singapore Civil Defence on Co-Operation in Developing Urban Search and Rescue Capabilities and Supplemental Agreement to the Agreement for the Construction and Operation of a Ferry Terminal and the Operation of a Ferry Service between Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.

He said the connectivity between Johor Baru and Woodland will be better as KTM Berhad is increasing the frequency from four to 16 times.

"Each trip can easily accommodate 300 passengers and it is a popular mode of transportation for Malaysians and Singaporeans," Husni told reporters here.

Najib is also scheduled to meet the representatives of the Malaysian Association in Singapore and attend a dialogue session with top business leaders and others in Singapore.

Before departing, the Prime Minister will deliver a keynote address at the Economic Society of Singapore annual dinner.

Read more!

Singapore's High Speed Rail terminus will be located at Jurong East

Imelda Saad, Channel NewsAsia 5 May 15;

SINGAPORE: The Republic's terminus for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail will be located at Jurong East.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this on Tuesday (May 5) after the Leaders' Retreat with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak.

Jurong East was chosen as it dovetails with Singapore's overall plans to transform the area into a second Central Business District, according to a statement.

Mr Lee said: "From the train's point of view, of course the city centre is the best. Then you go from city centre to city centre, then you arrive at the place that you want to be. But from the point of view of cost as well as engineering feasibility, it will be the hardest because it will bring a train all the way from Tuas into the city centre above ground, there's a lot of space left.

"Underground, frankly there's also not a lot of space left because underground in Singapore, anywhere you dig, you will find a cable or a tunnel or a pipe or somebody is going to put one there. And so it's very difficult.

"To put it in Tuas, it's (the) easiest but quite far away in the city centre and it's not a centre of activity and business as such. It's an industrial area. (There are) factories there, refineries, shipyards, but there's no business."

He added: "In Jurong East, you have business, you have population, you have a regional centre which is already developing and this will add to the regional centre, because it will make it a very attractive place and people will come in, you are there, at a place you want to be.

"And if you want to be somewhere else, rather than Jurong East ... Well, Jurong East is going to be connected to the rest of Singapore with three, four MRT lines in the long term. So you can get on an MRT line, you can be anywhere else including Changi Airport within half an hour."

Malaysia had earlier identified five terminus stations: Kuala Lumpur (at Bandar Malaysia), Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat, Nusajaya and the final stop in Singapore.

In a joint statement, both leaders noted "steady progress" on the High Speed Rail project and that agreements have been reached on the dual co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) configuration, the frequency bands to be reserved for High Speed Rail operations, as well as on locating the depot and stabling facilities in Malaysia.

The High Speed Rail project, which was agreed upon in 2013, has been described by both leaders as a "game changer". It aims to cut down on travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to just 90 minutes.

"You can go up to KL in a day, have lunch and return to Singapore or you come down to Singapore for a day, do business ... and go back to KL again," said Mr Lee.

The Prime Ministers also noted that the initial target of completion of the project - which was the year 2020 - needs to be re-assessed due to the scale and complexity of the project. No new time frame has been provided.

Both leaders said they hope to come to an agreement on the new date by the end of the year, and will give an updated timeline on when the trains will start running then. Mr Najib pointed out that construction will take five years, on top of one year for designing the project, and one year for the tender process.

Said Mr Najib: "I concur with what Prime Minister Lee said, our original deadline as we mentioned, was 2020. But realistically speaking, this project is a very complex project. There are many dimensions to it. It has to be studied very very carefully but expeditiously."

Mr Lee noted: "There are many engineering details which need to be worked out. How is the line going to be designed, there are many operational details which need to be worked out. Who is going to operate the company, how the company is going to be structured. Is it one company, multiple companies? One side, two sides?

"There is also the financial issue to be solved, worked out. Which means where is the funding going to come from? Debt, equity, Government?"

He also noted: "How is it going to be divided between the two parties? There are also structuring issues to be worked out. For example, do we have Singapore build our part and Malaysia build your part and we join together in the middle? Or to have one company build both sides?

"Do we have the same company operating the trains and owning the trains? Or we have the company owning the trains and somebody else operating. What happens to the tracks, how does that interface? What are the control arrangements? Where will the trains be controlled, and what are the arrangements in case of contingencies?"

Mr Lee added: "There are solutions to all these problems because there are other rail projects which cross borders and which involve more than one government. The Channel train from London to Paris. There are many other trains in Europe which cross borders.

"China to Hong Kong, there's a High Speed train going to come. So there are precedents, but there are issues which we need to work through and resolve and we have to discuss and apply our minds and decide what is best for our own circumstances and this takes some time."

"Hopefully, when our two governments can agree on a bilateral arrangement, as mentioned by Prime Minister Lee and if Singapore builds their side, as we build our side, hopefully the two lines will meet at some point," said Mr Najib, to which Mr Lee replied: "At the same point," inciting laughter from the audience.

Mr Najib continued: "At the same point, then we will get our high speed rail."

Both Malaysia and Singapore have been in active discussion on the technical, operational, security and other aspects of the High Speed Rail. Both leaders reaffirmed that both countries are fully committed to the success of the project.

They look forward to "further progress on this game-changing iconic project, which will boost connectivity, facilitate travel between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, enhance business linkages, and improve people-to-people ties", the leaders said in the joint statement.

"We are working hard at it. Papers have to be written and consensus reached, after considering all the relevant factors, to make sure that the project runs well. So I don't see them as insoluble problems. We are getting there. We just need a bit more time to work everything out," Mr Lee said.


At the retreat, the leaders also touched on how both sides are working to reduce congestion at the two land checkpoints. Singapore is automating all motorcycle counters at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints by 2016.

In a joint statement, the leaders said this will help to speed up motorcycle immigration clearance by up to 30 per cent and reduce congestion for all checkpoint users, while Malaysia is studying the introduction of RFID stickers in passports for Malaysian motorcyclists to allow for faster clearance at the Causeway.

On the progress of the Rapid Transit System (RTS) linking Singapore and Johor Bahru, Mr Najib said both sides are hoping to move into Phase two of the project. "By the time we meet again, we will probably have resolved the RTS issue," he said.

Singapore has said that it will site its RTS terminus at Woodlands North Station, along the Thomson-East Coast MRT line.

Both sides also want to enhance economic integration. Singapore was Malaysia's second-largest trading partner in 2014. Total trade in 2014 was in the region of US$60 billion (S$80 billion).

Singapore is also Malaysia's second-largest source of foreign investment in 2014, with total investment reaching about USD$2.23 billion.

"As leaders, we have given a very strong political signal with respect to the close ties we enjoy, and given the new premise between the two countries, a lot of things can happen. We would like to see greater economic integration between our two countries," said Mr Najib.

Other issues discussed include cooperation on water, with both sides reaffirming the importance of the completion of the Johor River Barrage, to ensure reliable water supply from the Johor River, as provided under the 1962 Water Agreement.

The project will see a barrage built on the Johor River to keep salt water intrusions during dry seasons. Mr Lee said this will "allow Singapore and Johor to draw the full capacity of the river even during dry seasons".


In a Facebook post on Tuesday evening, PM Lee said "Jurong is set to be transformed", and the High Speed Rail project will draw Singapore and Malaysia closer. "The terminus will stimulate developments all around it. Jurong East will become a second Central Business District," he wrote.

PM Lee added: "It was a good Retreat. Our bilateral ties are warm and we are working well together. Long may this continue."

- CNA/eg/av/xk/dl

Experts suggest possible sites within Jurong East for High Speed Rail terminus
Olivia Siong, Channel NewsAsia 5 May 15;

SINGAPORE: After Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore’s High Speed Rail terminus will be located at Jurong East, experts have suggested several possible sites within Jurong East where the High Speed Rail terminus could be located.

They said it is no surprise that Jurong East was chosen as the place to house Singapore's High Speed Rail terminus as it is set to become Singapore's next Central Business District (CBD), and plans to develop the general area had been announced previously.

A transport expert suggested that a possible location is the site of the former Tang Dynasty City theme park, along Yuan Ching Road. Another option is the area carved out after a portion of the Ayer Rajah Expressway is realigned. A housing analyst also suggested the reserve site along Jurong Town Hall Road.

Wherever the site is located, experts stressed that connectivity will be the key. They noted that many had hoped the terminus could be connected with the current Jurong East MRT station and bus interchange.

Professor Lee Der Horng, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore, said that even though many expect the High Speed Rail station to be located near the Jurong East MRT Station and bus interchange, there will challenges and limitations to make that happen.

Prof Lee also said he expects that one of the Government’s biggest considerations will be integrating Singapore’s transportation infrastructure with the High Speed Rail line.

He said: “In the future, we will have the Jurong Region Line and the Cross Island Line in the Jurong East area, so there will be the different stations from the different MRT lines.

"Since we are all bringing the passengers, commuters to the Jurong East area, and the High Speed Rail station is one of the transportation infrastructure which is not within Singapore - it is (considered) international infrastructure - (how do we) facilitate the connection between this High Speed Rail line with our internal, inland transportation infrastructure, so that the commuter can really receive the benefits to travel conveniently? I think is going to be the major consideration by the Government authorities."

Prof Lee also said that while building underground may be less disruptive to existing developments, it will be more costly and time consuming. So a combination of having a station at the surface level with elevated High Speed Rail tracks could be a solution.

“(Having it) underground will be less disruptive to the neighbouring developments. But if we choose the station to be at the ground level, we would be able to shorten the construction time. In the long-term, looking at maintenance and security, (having the station) at the ground level may be easier to manage,” said Prof Lee.

Experts said the next step will be for Singapore and Malaysia to decide on the financing model for the project. For example, if it should be directly funded by both governments and if so, how much of the bill each side should foot, considering not only the distribution and maintenance of the High Speed Rail, but the benefits brought to both sides as well.


Mr Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research for Singapore and Southeast Asia, said the choice of Jurong East for the High Speed Rail terminus makes the "most economical sense", and one that is most convenient for commuters, given its links to major MRT lines and the upcoming Jurong Region Line.

"This could be the most important and final piece of the puzzle to seal Jurong Gateway’s status as a regional commercial hub, the same way that Tampines has the airport, and Woodlands, the Causeway to link Malaysia with Singapore," he said. "Firms with a high exposure to Singapore’s northern neighbours will also find Jurong Gateway particularly attractive."

Cushman and Wakefield's research director, Ms Christine Li, said Jurong East is a "highly attractive" location for the terminus, as not only does it have three MRT stations and a bus interchange, it is also connected to the CBD and Changi Airport by major expressways.

“Vacant land is still available for development, so construction cost is relatively low as compared to city centre due to minimal tunnelling. It is also the biggest commercial hub outside the Central Business District, boasting retail, office and hotel offerings, which beats the far-flung industrial area Tuas West," she said.

Cushman and Wakefield predicts that Jurong Gateway could emerge as "a new urban centre in the greater Singapore-KL megacity", once the High Speed Rail is in operation. "Its strategic location could complement that in the CBD and over time, it will become a mini-city on its own with work, live and play in the bustling regional hub," Ms Li added.

- CNA/dl

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Indonesia: Six hotspots detected on Sumatra Island

Antara 5 May 15;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Six hotspots indicating forest and plantation fires were detected on Sumatra Island, according to the Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency.

Most of the hotspots were detected in Riau province by the Modis Terra and Aqua satellites, Head of the Pekanbaru Meteorology Station Sugarin said here on Tuesday.

In Riau province, two of the hotspots were detected in Pelalawan district, one in Bengkalis and one in Kampar.

Minister of Environmental Affairs and Forestry Siti Nurbaya was slated to visit Riau province on May 5 to monitor the efforts being undertaken to prevent forest fires predicted to reoccur in mid 2015.

The minister has frequently visited Riau province to discuss efforts to fight forest and plantation fires that have occurred repeatedly in the province over the last 17 years.

She suggested that acting governor of Riau Arsyadjuliandi extend the provinces forest fire emergency status that expired on March 31.

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94 pangolins released in Sumatra following huge illegal wildlife seizure

Trafficked pangolins are freed as Indonesian ministers urged harsher penalties to deter illegal wildlife trade, reports Mongabay
Ayat S. Karokaro for Mongabay, part of the Guardian Environment Network 5 May 15;

Following a major seizure of illegal wildlife goods in North Sumatra, the Indonesian authorities released 94 pangolins into the wild last week, including a newborn whose mother died shortly after the authorities caught up with the traffickers.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya flew to the provincial capital of Medan to witness the burning of five tons of pangolin meat which had been confiscated along with 77 kilograms (169 pounds) of pangolin scales and the live animals.

The minister urged judges to hand down harsher punishments to serve as a deterrent.

“In Palembang (the capital of Jambi province), the prosecutor demanded the maximum penalty of five years and Rp500 million ($38,000),” she said. “We expect the same for this network in Medan.”

At present, offenders get an average of eight months behind bars and Rp10 million. “That’s the reason illegal wildlife networks stay in business,” said Irma Hermawati, a legal advisor from the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society.

Besides the newborn’s mother, two other pangolins died in the wake of the raid. A team of veterinarians nevertheless decided that all of the animals, even the baby, were fit enough to return to the wild.

“If we keep [the baby] first, it’s not necessarily better,” said Tata Jati Rasa, an official from the provincial Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BBKSDA). “Let us release it. We believe it can survive. Let nature determine whether it will live.”

Pangolins are critically endangered and highly sought after in East Asia for use of their body parts in traditional medicine and cuisine. One of them can sell for Rp500,000-800,000, according to Didit Wijanardi, a deputy at the Indonesian National Police’s detectives’ unit (Bareskrim).

“This is the driving factor pushing people into the woods to hunt,” he said. “We need to fight this because pangolins are a protected species.”

Read more!