Best of our wild blogs: 16-17 May 15

Migratory Bird Collisions in Singapore
Singapore Bird Group

Help needed for bulk purchase of marine guidesheets
wild shores of singapore

Bukit Brown – an introductory tour (Sun 17 May’15 @9am)
a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (15 May 2015)
Beetles@SG BLOG

White-breasted waterhen bathing
Bird Ecology Study Group

Larval Food Plant for Butterflies: The Wild Cinnamon
Butterflies of Singapore

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3 in 10 marine, land species in Singapore could go extinct: Experts

Due to the warmer waters predicted in the near future, some of the marine species in Singapore such as the giant clams, sea-grass and mangroves could be at risk.
Monica Kotwani, Channel NewsAsia 17 May 15;

SINGAPORE: As many as three in 10 marine and land species in Singapore could become extinct when temperatures and sea-levels rise in the near future, according to biodiversity experts Channel NewsAsia spoke with on Saturday (May 16). This is over and above local species already vulnerable as a result of habitat destruction.

A global study found that up to 16 per cent of the world's species could be wiped out, if global carbon emissions go unchecked. The study also revealed limited data from Asia.

Beneath the murky waters off Singapore island, a reef ecosystem hosts about 250 coral species known to marine experts. Many are already under threat due to habitat loss, but climate change could have a devastating impact.

Experts said rising sea-levels could mean coral reefs will be submerged deeper than before and receive less sunlight, and those that thrive on the sunlight could disappear.

Another threat is warmer water temperatures. A recent local study predicted temperatures could rise by almost five degrees by 2070 if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed.

Experts are concerned that between 10 per cent and a quarter of the marine species here could go extinct because of warmer waters in the near future. Giant clams, sea-grass and even mangroves are some species at risk.

Dr Huang Danwei, an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore, said: "We are living in the tropics, so many species are already living at their upper temperature limits because it is already so warm. So, just a very small increase in temperatures in sea water can lead to species going above those limits and thus going extinct. A lot of coral reef species such as reef corals and giant clams rely on a stable temperature regime."

He said if coral species are wiped out or moved to cooler waters, entire marine habitats, such as fish, invertebrates and animals, could also be wiped out. Singapore's coastal areas will also be susceptible to erosion as coral reefs provide protection against strong waves.

On land, plants and animals are also living in very narrow comfort zones. "In addition to the temperature rise, we are going to see more severe dry periods, more intense rainy periods, and this seasonality is very worrying because more so than temperatures, these plants that we see around us are not adapted to drought conditions,” Dr Shawn Lum, president of the Nature Society (Singapore) said.

“And when this happens, we are going to see many of them just unable to cope with dry periods,” he added. Dr Lum also said Nutmeg, Kedongdong or Ambarella tree and the Meranti, which is a timber species, are especially vulnerable.

Many of the plants here have closely related species in places like Myanmar, Southern Thailand and even Northern Malaysia, he said.

Thousands of years ago, entire habitats from these locations may have been able to migrate and replace the plant species here. But Dr Lum said the pace of climate change and modern developments will prevent any large-scale migration from taking place.

He estimated that between 10 per cent and a third of plant species in Singapore will cease to exist and with them, animals that rely on them will also disappear.

The global report pointed out limited data from Asia, only four of the approximately 130 studies used by the report, looked at extinction risks. Both Dr Huang and Dr Lum agreed that more needs to be done in this region - to not just study the impact of climate change on species in the tropics, but also build up capabilities.

- CNA/xk

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SG50 celebration with Ubin 'wedding' for 1,000 Siglap residents

Chen Jingwen AsiaOne 15 May 15;

Planning a trip for 100 people can be a headache. But when you have to organise one for more than 1,000 people, you might have a huge logistical nightmare.

That's the challenge Siglap division grassroots leaders in East Coast GRC have to face when they decided to organise a trip to Pulau Ubin for residents on June 13.

As it's an event to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday, the leaders felt they should gather many residents to enjoy the unique charms of the island, which falls within the boundaries of the division.

An event of this magnitude at a mainland venue is not uncommon, but when you need to ferry so many participants to an island and back, it's a different story.

However, the community leaders, putting their brains and years of experience together, will ensure it will be smooth-sailing.

The $5 ticket promises the residents a rewarding, fun-filled experience that will take them beyond its flora and fauna, like the rich marine life of Chek Jawa Wetlands, said Mr Imhar Said, a main organiser.

The event will also offer them a slice of Malay culture and country life on the island, said the grassroots leader, who grew up in a kampong near Bedok South where he resides today.

"All participants will be invited to a traditional Malay 'wedding' to be held at an old Malay kampong. They will enjoy a biryani feast, just like in a real wedding. The food will be cooked by a popular Malay wedding caterer. The occasion will come complete with a couple who have volunteered to play the bride and groom sitting in state, kompang performances and celebration music," he said.

Guests making their way there are unlikely to get lost as the traditional bunga manggar - wedding tree decoration - will line the paths leading to the village.

Considering that the ticket price covers the boat trips, a foldable hat, the biryani lunch (with both chicken and vegetarian options) and drinks, it's quite a steal. No wonder many tickets have been snapped up.

The outing will also feature tree planting, traditional kampong games, and possibly a tasting of tropical fruits in season.

The organisers are chartering boats exclusively for the Siglap residents at the Changi Village jetty so that they need not have to compete with the weekend visitors for the short passage across the sea. Call Siglap CC at 64498040 for more information on the event.

Island attractions

Although it is off the main tourist radar, the island has been highly recommended by international and local visitors on TripAdvisor website, who awarded it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The island continues to draw cyclists, trekkers, fishing enthusiasts and international visitors seeking the rustic charms of a bygone era in Singapore. And those looking for durians and rambutans, or 'hair-raising' encounters.

Most of them prefer to explore the island on bicycle, which takes them through lush environs of forests, plantations and villages. Along the way are stops to marvel at picturesque areas like the aquamarine lakes of old granite quarries, coastal scenery at boardwalks around Chek Jawa, and sprawling ponds with a profusion of lilies.

You are likely to chance upon monkeys, boars and dogs, which have become so used to mingling with visitors. Look hard enough, and you'll see spiders trapping their victims on large gossamer webs.

Bird and plant enthusiasts will have a field day spotting unusual species. And do quench your thirst with visitors' favourite drink - the island's huge coconuts - and savour a taste of the 'terroir'.

If you're intrigued with spirituality or the unknown, ask the island residents such as the bicycle rental people for directions to small Chinese shrines and the cemetery. One shrine, dedicated with a doll to a young German girl, who apparently perished in an accident on the island during the WWI era, is reportedly visited by those seeking lucky lottery numbers.

The small Da Bo Gong temple nearest to the main jetty has a wooden Chinese opera stage, where shows are staged during the Hungry Ghost Festival around August and on the deity's commemoration days.

The island is indeed a melting pot of vestiges from the past. You would think you've have walked into an English countryside at one corner of the arrival area of Chek Jawa. Still managing well is a dignified Tudor-style holiday cottage, which was built in the 1930s and now serves as a visitors centre.

It even comes with a chimney and fireplace, which of course, is no longer in use. Afternoon tea, anyone? Just spread a picnic mat on the lawn outside as it's crowded inside.

Do look out for the sneaky monkeys. Prawn crackers and bottled orange juice, among other things, have been known to have been snatched in a flash.

And please don't pat the cutesy baby boar as mom won't be too happy if you do. Just leave them alone as they rummage for food among the parked bicycles of visitors.

Accommodation on the island is basic, chalet-like with campsites for those who want to rough it out. Otherwise, a wider array of room categories, from modern hotels to holiday bungalows will appeal to the spoilt at Changi Village, which looks like a snazzy mainland cousin.

Explore the leafy Changi enclave, where the colonial, war and heritage sites, magnificent trees, sandy beaches and scenic boardwalks should keep you occupied. It's also a food haven offering bountiful choices, from local and Asian fare to western cuisines and trendy artisanal concoctions of ice cream, coffee and pastries.

Going to Ubin and Changi: Take Bus No. 2 from the stop opposite Tanah Merah MRT station to Changi Village (the last stop). Walk a short distance to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal and queue in the line for Pulau Ubin. Check the bus guide for more services at Changi Village.

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More rain, slight haze expected for rest of May

Singapore can expect short thunderstorms in the late morning and early afternoon for some days in the next fortnight, while slightly hazy conditions can also be expected on a few days, according to NEA.
Channel NewsAsia 15 May 15;

SINGAPORE: It’s going to be a wet rest-of-May, with thunderstorms expected in the late mornings and early afternoons for the next two weeks, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

In an advisory on Friday (May 15), NEA said “Inter-Monsoon conditions are expected to prevail” during the next fortnight.

"For the fortnight, Singapore can expect four or five days of short-duration showers with thunder in the late morning and early afternoon. In addition, one or two days of showers with gusty winds due to Sumatra squalls are likely in the pre-dawn and morning," NEA said.

"Slightly hazy conditions can be expected on a few days, in particular in the early morning, due to accumulation of particulate matter under light wind conditions," it added.

Singapore had experienced wet weather conditions on most days during the first two weeks of the month, with thunderstorms occurring mostly in the afternoon, the agency said.

NEA added that the moderate and heavy thunderstorms experienced in the afternoon and evening of May 3 was due to the convergence of winds and “strong daytime heating of land areas”. The highest total rainfall recorded that day was 119.6mm over the Bukit Panjang area.

The western part of Singapore around Chua Chu Kang and Nanyang Avenue received the highest rainfall of 164mm to 210mm (110 per cent to 150 per cent above average), while the lowest rainfall of 11mm to 24mm (50 per cent to 90 per cent below average) was recorded over the eastern part, around Changi, the agency said.

- CNA/ek

Rest of May to see more rain, slight morning haze
Late morning, early afternoon thundery showers to continue; rainfall likely to be near normal

SINGAPORE — Thundery showers in the late mornings and early afternoons are expected to continue in the second half of this month, with slight early morning haze on some days, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in its fortnightly forecast released yesterday.

On four or five days, short-duration thundery showers in the late morning and early afternoon can be expected, while pre-dawn and morning thundery showers with gusty winds because of Sumatra squalls are likely to happen on one or two days.


The NEA also said it expects “slightly hazy conditions” on a few days, in particular in the early morning, due to accumulation of particulate matter under light wind conditions.

Rainfall for the month is likely to be near-normal, it added.

In its review of the first half of May, the NEA said most days saw wet weather conditions with thundery showers occurring mostly in the afternoon.

In particular, moderate to heavy thundery showers on May 3 affected many areas of Singapore in the afternoon and evening due to “convergence of winds and strong daytime heating of land areas”.

Bukit Panjang recorded the highest total rainfall of 119.6mm for that day.

Overall, about two thirds of Singapore received above-normal rainfall in the first half the month.

The western part of the island around Chua Chu Kang and Nanyang Avenue received the highest rainfall of 164mm to 210mm, which was about 110 per cent to 150 per cent above average.

The lowest rainfall of 11mm to 24mm was recorded over the eastern part of the island around Changi and was 50 to 90 per cent below average. Laura Philomin

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Botanic Gardens a step closer to become UNESCO site

SIAU MING EN Today Online 16 May 15;

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Botanic Gardens cleared the first hurdle in its bid to become a Unesco World Heritage Site when the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) gave the garden its endorsement yesterday (May 15).

The non-governmental organisation is recommending the Botanic Gardens for inscription without reservation – the best recommendation possible – so it stands a good chance of being inscribed by the World Heritage Committee (WHC).

But WHC will still assess the recommendation and make the final decision, which is expected to be announced in Bonn, Germany in July, said the National Parks Board (NParks) and National Heritage Board in a joint media release yesterday.

Speaking to reporters after the School of the Arts Awards Day yesterday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said that while he was delighted at the recommendation, it was “not time to pop the champagne”.

“But this positive recommendation by Icomos will be a very positive step forward for our bid, and we will go into the World Heritage meeting in Bonn in July with much greater confidence.

“We certainly hope to come back with a birthday present for Singapore’s Jubilee year,” said Mr Wong, who noted that the Icomos process took about one and a half years, half the average time a country takes to go through it.

This shows that the Botanic Gardens has “intrinsic value” not only for Singapore but also for the world, and attests to Singapore’s commitment to preserve and manage the garden, he added.

A feasibility study was first conducted in 2010 before Singapore ratified the World Heritage Convention and submitted its World Heritage Tentative List to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Having indicated its interest in inscribing the Botanic Gardens as a World Heritage Site, Singapore held a four-month public consultation and submitted its nomination dossier to Unesco in January last year. In September, Icomos came for an on-site inspection.

To be successfully inscribed, sites have to meet at least one of the 10 selection criteria.

Icomos found that the Botanic Gardens fulfilled two of the criteria used by the WHC in determining which properties should be inscribed as heritage sites, stated the joint media release.

For one, it exhibited an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture of technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design.

The Botanic Gardens had helped change the rubber landscape through its experimentation with techniques for scoring tree trunks for latex, noted Singapore Botanic Gardens director Nigel Taylor in an earlier media briefing.

The other criterion the Botanic Gardens fulfilled is that it is an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape that illustrates a significant stage in human history.

According to Dr Taylor, the 156-year-old garden could be one of the last examples of the 18th-century English Landscape style, which was not typically found in the tropics.

Despite the positive recommendation, Mr Wong noted that Icomos also suggested the Botanic Gardens look into strengthening conservation efforts and the protective buffer zone. The site for inscription is 49 hectares, with a buffer area of 137 ha.

“So even if we were to get the World Heritage Site inscription, it won’t stop there. We’ll continue to do whatever we can to strengthen our conservation efforts in the Botanic Gardens and to strengthen our heritage efforts in Singapore,” he said.

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Malaysia: RM2.5b project to revitalise Sungai Danga

The Star 17 May 15;

JOHOR BARU: Johor has allocated about RM2.5bil for major restoration and revitalisation works of the heavily polluted Sungai Danga.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the development would turn the polluted river into a new recreational spot for Malaysians and foreign tourists.

“This is not an ordinary project as the comprehensive and integrated development would turn Sungai Danga into a new landmark and attract more tourists.

“The huge revitalisation cost includes the cleaning up, beautification and transformation works for the 6km-long river,” he said during the launching and ground-breaking ceremony of the project here on Friday.

“We will make Sungai Danga come alive with river cruises, boardwalks, street sculptures, lifestyle malls, food, entertainment and other water sports facilities,” he said.

The project called The River City @ Danga Bay will be undertaken by Riverside Terra Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iskan­­dar Waterfront Sdn Bhd. It will be mo­­delled after major riverfront projects in South Korea, the United States, Australia and Canada.

Meanwhile, Iskandar Waterfront Hol­dings Sdn Bhd executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo said the project would be the first of its kind in the country.

Sungai Danga to undergo RM2.5 billion makeover
AHMAD FAIRUZ OTHMAN New Straits Times 15 May 15;

JOHOR BARU: Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the RM2.5billion project to clean up and transform Sungai Danga into a new riverside attraction will become a new landmark for the state capital.

Known as The River City@Danga, the riverside attraction will comprise 6km boardwalk and other mixed developments along a 21ha site from Taman Perling to Danga Bay.

"The RM2.5billion development involves the cleaning up, beautification and transformation of Sungai Danga.

"Under the project, the river will be turned into a new tourist destination. It is no ordinary project but one that will become a new landmark," said Khaled in the launch and ground breaking ceremony for the project, here today.

The project is spearheaded by Riverside Terra Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH).

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Malaysia: Sarawak to proceed with RM4bil Baram Dam construction

STEPHEN THEN The Star 16 May 15;

MIRI: The Sarawak state government announced that the construction of the RM4bil Baram Dam in interior northern Sarawak would proceed.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem (pic) announced on Saturday that he had secured the support of the majority of the community leaders in Baram for the project that will drown an area half the size of Singapore Island and uproot more than 20,000 people.

"I have secured pledges of these community leaders that they will support the state government in this Baram Dam project.

"The majority of the Baram people want the project to start. It is only the minority who opposed it.

"The construction will commence as soon as possible," he told a press conference after a closed-door dialogue with representatives of the Baram Orang Ulu groups at a hotel here.

Asked on the massive process of relocating the 20,000 or more affected folks in 25 longhouses, Adenan said that it would be dealt with in the best possible manner.

The Baram Dam is to be located at a site between Long Kesseh and Long Naah some 200km inland from Miri.

Based on the proposed construction plan, the dam project will flood some 34,000 hectares of forests - equal to roughly half the size of Singapore.

Asked how the state government will handle the massive relocation exercise, Adenan said the state will use internationally accepted procedures to resettle the affected residents after carrying out dialogues with them to discuss the compensation and resettlement plans.

Baram Dam will be about half the height of the 210 metre tall Bakun Dam in Belaga district in central Sarawak.

Baram Dam will generate some 1000Mws of electricity to be channelled for the use of the industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy belt.

Most community leaders support Baram Dam project, says CM
The Star 17 May 15;

MIRI: The construction of the RM4bil Baram Dam in interior northern Sarawak will proceed following support from most of the community leaders for the project, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said.

The project is expected to drown an area of 34,000ha of forests, which is about half the size of Singapore and uproot at least 20,000 villagers.

“I have secured pledges from these community leaders that they will support the state government in the Baram Dam project. The majority of the Baram people want the project to start.

“The construction will begin as soon as possible,” he told a press conference after a closed door dialogue with representatives of the Baram Orang Ulu groups here yesterday.

Asked about the relocation of the affected people in 25 longhouses, Adenan said this would be dealt with in the best possible manner.

He said the state would follow internationally accepted procedures to resettle the affected residents after carrying out talks with them on the compensation and resettlement plans.

Malaysian dam project opposed by tribes gets green light: report
AFP Yahoo News 16 May 15;

A banner reading "Stop Baram Dam" is seen atn the main entrance to a blockade camp opposing the proposed dam on the Baram River in Long Lama, in Malaysia's Sarawak state on the island of Borneo, on November 16, 2013

Construction of a Malaysian dam that will flood a rainforested area half the size of Singapore and displace 20,000 tribespeople was given the green light Saturday by the state government, local media reported.

"The construction will commence as soon as possible," Adenan Satem, chief minister of the state of Sarawak on Borneo island, was quoted by The Star as saying.

The announcement will be a major disappointment for indigenous groups who have staged increasing demonstrations and road blockades in the rugged region to stop rampant logging and dam-building in the state, and have made blocking the dam on the Baram river a priority.

Peter Kallang, head of Save Rivers, a coalition of Sarawak NGOs and environmental groups, dismissed Adenan's claim that the project had been blessed by local tribal leaders.

Activists allege authorities in the state have a history of buying off or pressuring community leaders to approve unpopular projects.

"How can the community leaders give their support when there has been no news on compensation and resettlement? They always will say yes to the government and there's no transparency at all," he said.

"Adenan should go and listen to what the poor indigenous people have to say, not the community leaders."

Occupying northern Borneo island, much of Sarawak is a jungled landscape crossed by untamed rivers.

It is one of Malaysia's poorest states despite being rich in natural resources, but authorities have plans for around a dozen hydroelectric facilities as they seek to accelerate economic development.

Three already have been built.

Critics call the projects destructive white elephants that will create far more electricity than the state needs.

But authorities say the power capacity is required to lure industry to Sarawak.

Former British premier Gordon Brown once called the destruction of Sarawak's rainforests "the biggest environmental crime of our times."

Construction of Baram Dam in northern Sarawak slammed
STEPHEN THEN The Star 18 May 15;

MIRI: Human rights organisations and environmental groups have blasted the Sarawak government's decision to go ahead with the construction of the mega Baram Dam in northern Sarawak.

The project - located between Long Kesseh and Long Naah, some 200km inland from Miri - is expected to uproot more than 20,000 people and drown huge traits of forests.

Kuala Lumpur-based Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) and Miri-based Save Sarawak Rivers criticised the decision by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem over the greenlight given to Sarawak Energy Bhd to proceed with preparations for ground construction.

JOAS president Thomas Jalong and Save Sarawak Rivers chairman Peter Kallang both described the approval of the dam project as an act of gross injustice to the affected natives living in the 25 settlements.

Jalong told The Star on Sunday that the decision by the state government was "shameful".

"It is a shameful attempt by the state government to force this massive project on defenceless poor natives.

"Global organisations had already carried out so many studies that showed that energy needs can be met through less destructive micro projects, and yet the Sarawak government is going ahead with the Baram Dam that will cause massive environment destruction," he said.

Kallang, who is also Orang Ulu National Association chairman for Miri, said the 20,000 affected people had never been consulted.

"Those community leaders who said they support the project are actually government servants as they receive salaries from the state government.

"The state government has committed a serious injustice against the natives who have been living for centuries in the Baram forests," he said.

Kallang said Save Sarawak Rivers would continue to protest and block the access road into the Baram Dam site to prevent construction work from proceeding.

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Indonesia: WWF fears trade of bird of paradise

Antara 15 May 15;

Jayapura (ANTARA News) - International non-governmental organization devoted to nature conservation, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), is concerned about the bird of paradise (Paradisaeidae) trade that is prevalent in Papua.

The bird of paradise is traded as a souvenir of a preserved animal even though the bird, which is locally known as cendrawasih, is on the verge of extinction, Director of WWFs Papua Program Benja Victor Mambai said here on Friday.

"The trading of this bird has increased as people visiting Papua want a preserved cendrawasih as a souvenir. This is devastating," he remarked.

According to Mambai, if the trade and practice of giving preserved cendrawasihs continue, it will provoke people to keep hunting the bird of paradise.

"This is saddening because cendrawasih is a protected animal and Papuans are very proud having this beautiful bird," Mambai stated, adding that hunting the bird will soon lead to it vanishing.

He hopes people never give a preserved cendrawasih as a souvenir to anyone, such as the one that is placed on the traditional Papuan hat.

"The hunting of the bird of paradise threatens its existence. We must put an end to it right away," Mambai emphasized.

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