Best of our wild blogs: 20 May 15

Save our native munias and weavers!
Singapore Bird Group

29 May (Fri) Green Drinks: Networking Night
Green Drinks Singapore

Close Encounter With A Lovely Beetle (19 May 2015)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Red-whiskered Bulbul: 3. The egg hatched… then tragedy
Bird Ecology Study Group

Oriental Magpie-robin bathing and an Eurasian Tree-sparrow with crooked leg
Bird Ecology Study Group

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Kayakers spotted near crocodiles in Sungei Buloh

Nature photographer Ben Lee says he saw at least three adult crocodiles between 8 and 10 feet long in waters near the kayakers on Sunday (May 17). NParks has since confirmed the incident.
Channel NewsAsia 19 May 15;

SINGAPORE: A couple and a young child were seen kayaking in waters where crocodiles were spotted at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve on Sunday afternoon (May 17), which was confirmed by National Parks Board (NParks) on Tuesday.

The agency said: "NParks officers noticed two adults and a child kayaking within Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Sunday afternoon. When advised by our officers, they were cooperative and immediately left the boundaries of the reserve."

Nature photographer Ben Lee, who was conducting a nature photography session at the time shared pictures of the incident captured with telephoto lens. He said he spied the family near the reserve's main bridge.

Nearby them were att least three adult crocodiles, each between 8 and 10 feet long, he said. The nearest crocodile was just 30 metres away near the mangroves, where the kayak was parked for a break.

At one point, he snapped shots of the man, who was not wearing a life vest, dangling his legs outside of kayak. "The blackish mangrove river that they took refuge at for their short break is infested with crocodiles, and one will never know when any of these crocodiles will make a surprise grab at the man’s leg," he said.

The founder of conservation group Nature Trekker said he has been going to Sungei Buloh for 15 years, and has seen crocodiles eat water monitor lizards, as well as a failed attempt to devour an otter.

Mr Lee told Channel NewsAsia that the kayakers were too far away to hear him yell out a warning.

"The other more worrying factor is what would happen if a canoe were to capsize," he said.

NParks said members of the public are reminded to keep within the designated land trails when visiting the reserve.

- CNA/fs

Trio spotted kayaking in Sg Buloh reserve
Audrey Tan The Straits Times AsiaOne 19 May 15;

NATURE photographer Ben Lee was in the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Kranji on Sunday afternoon when he zoomed in on an unusual sight: a couple and child kayaking in an inlet in the reserve.

The man, who was not wearing a life jacket, was dangling his legs over the side of the boat.

"It is not just the illegal trespassing that worries me - there is also a safety concern," said Mr Lee, 52, the founder of outdoor exploration group Nature Trekker.

The area is home to a number of wild saltwater crocodiles.

Male saltwater crocodiles generally grow to 5m from snout to tail, and weigh about 450kg.

Last April, a 400kg giant, probably one of the largest to have roamed wild here in decades, was found dead on the Kranji Reservoir grounds.

It is believed to have been killed by poachers.

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, director of Strix Wildlife Consultancy, stressed that the reptiles will not attack humans unless provoked.

"But feet dangling in the water could look like fish, which is a crocodile's natural prey," he warned.

Mr Lee spotted the trio while he was conducting a photography session at about 2.30pm.

When contacted, the National Parks Board (NParks) said it was aware of the incident.

Said NParks' deputy director of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Mr How Choon Beng: "NParks officers noticed two adults and a child kayaking within Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Sunday afternoon.

"When advised by our officers, they were cooperative and immediately left the boundaries of the Reserve."

He also reminded visitors to keep within the designated land trails when visiting the reserve.

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Malaysia: Many paddy farmers have health problems due to improper use of pesticide

MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 19 May 15;

ALOR STAR: Many of those working in the agriculture sector, especially paddy farmers, were found to have signs of health problems due to improper use of pesticide.

Department of Occupational Safety and Health and Health (DOSH) director-general Ir Mohtar Musri said the findings were based on a recent research on the exposure of agriculture chemicals among paddy farmers in the Peninsular Malaysia by researches from Universiti Utara Malaysia.

"The research also revealed that a large number of paddy farmers were found to have not received any kind of training on the proper use of pesticides.

"Among the farmers, information on the proper use of pesticide was usually obtained from the pesticide sellers or other farmers.

"The farmers were also found to be unaware of the hazard and risk of not using the pesticide properly and many ignore the importance on the proper and complete clothing and protective equipment. As a result, they are exposed to various health risks," said Mohtar.

He noted that the agriculture sector recorded the second highest in the country on cases involving industrial accidents, after manufacturing.

"Last year, there were a total of 42 deaths, nine cases involving permanent disability and 441 cases involving temporary disability throughout the country in the agriculture sector alone.

"Meanwhile, up until February this year, there were a total of two deaths reported, two cases involving permanent disability and 69 cases involving temporary disability throughout the country.

"In Kedah alone, there were seven cases involving temporary disability last year and five cases this year (up until February)," he added.

Mohtar was speaking to media after officiating state level Compliance Support in the Agriculture Sector Programme and the Work Improvement Neighbourhood Development (WIND) Programme which was held at the Keriang Hill Resort.

The one-day programme was held to provide the farmers and breeders with the knowledge on the research done and the proper use of pesticide, among others.

Nearly 200 farmers, breeders, agriculture officers, MADA and Bernas officers participated in the programmes.

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Organic farming 'benefits biodiversity'

Helen Briggs BBC 20 May 15;

Organic farms act as a refuge for wild plants, offsetting the loss of biodiversity on conventional farms, a study suggests.

Fields around organic farms have more types of wild plants, providing benefits for wildlife, say scientists.

The research is likely to fuel the debate over the environmental benefits of organic farming.

Studies suggest that organic farming produces lower yields than conventional methods but harbours more wildlife.

The new study, by researchers at the University of Swansea and institutes in France, looked at fields sowed with winter wheat in the region of Poitou-Charente.

They found that organic farming led to higher weed diversity on surrounding conventionally farmed fields.

"Wild plants are important for birds, bees and other farmland species," said Dr Luca Borger of the department of biosciences at Swansea University.
"Organic farming has advantages in maintaining these, but even a mixture of organic and non-organic farming in an area can help maintain this biodiversity.

"Even only 25% of fields being organically farmed can make a difference."

Food security

Farmland provides essential habitat for many animals but intensification of agriculture has led to a loss of biodiversity.

However, in order to provide the extra food needed by the bigger human population of the future, without destroying forests and wetlands, farming needs to be made more intensive.

Supporters of organic farming say the method could be a potential compromise between meeting food security needs and providing habitat for bees, birds and other wildlife.

The researchers say land-sharing between organic farms and non-organic farms could have benefits for both crop production and biodiversity.
This theory needs to be tested in follow-up studies, they say.

The study is published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B- Biological Sciences.

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