Best of our wild blogs: 29 May 15

Salvaging a Dead Sea Turtle at Changi Beach
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

‘Conserving our Corals' T-Shirt Design Competition
wild shores of singapore

Highlights of Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats, Season 4

Von Schrenck’s Bittern’s Breakfast: Dog-faced Water Snake
Bird Ecology Study Group

Notes on the Identification, Status and Distribution of Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo in Singapore
Singapore Bird Group

NTUC FairPrice takes the lead to measure and reduce food waste
Zero Waste Singapore

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NTUC FairPrice launches initiatives to cut food wastage

The supermarket chain plans to repackage items nearing expiry date and sell them at marked down prices, among other measures.
Nuranisha Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia 29 May 15;

SINGAPORE: Supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice on Thursday (May 28) introduced initiatives to discourage food wastage.

Last year, the total amount of food waste at FairPrice was 2,200 tonnes.

One of the initiatives is repackaging items nearing their expiry date and selling them at marked down prices at its hypermarkets. Another is developing an index, to measure food waste at its various stores.

Under The Great Taste Less Waste Selection initiative, fruits and vegetables that are not aesthetically appealing would be cut into smaller pieces and repackaged to make them more attractive to consumers. They would then be sold at lower prices at all FairPrice Xtra stores.

NTUC FairPrice said it hopes that consumers would be receptive to the initiative.

“You do not even see (the flaws) because it is so well packaged. It is very colourful. One thing is that it appeals, I would buy it,” remarked shopper Mr Gerald Tay.

NTUC FairPrice CEO Seah Kian Peng said: “Consumers would know that there is really nothing wrong with it. At the same time, you get better prices, they taste just as good and you are helping reducing food waste, which is something that we are concerned with and we can play a major role in reducing it.”

- CNA/xq

NTUC Fairprice champions food waste reduction in new initiative
LOUISA TANG Today Online 28 May 15;

SINGAPORE — In an industry first, the largest supermarket chain in Singapore has started an index tracking its food waste reduction efforts.

NTUC FairPrice’s index measures the annual total food waste it produces against the total retail space of all its stores.

Last year, FairPrice’s food waste came up to 11.9kg per sq m, which is the equivalent of 88 garbage trucks’ worth, or 2,200 tonnes.

At a launch of its food waste reduction framework today (May 28), FairPrice (Singapore) chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng said the chain aims to use the index as a benchmark to further reduce the food waste it generates in subsequent years, although no target has been set.

“Just as we want to drive productivity up, we want to drive the index down ... as far as possible,” he said.

Food waste makes up 10 per cent of Singapore’s total waste. Only 13 per cent of food waste was recycled last year, statistics from the National Environment Agency show, although the authorities are trying to push up the recycling rate, including announcing a pilot recently on placing food waste recycling machines at two of Singapore’s largest hawker centres.

As part of its food waste reduction framework, FairPrice has also started a campaign to raise public awareness of food waste.

Called “Great Taste Less Waste Selection”, fruits and vegetables at all seven FairPrice Xtra stores which are left unsold due to blemishes and bruises will be cut into smaller pieces and repackaged, then sold at discounted prices of up to 20 per cent. For example, a package of fruits that cost S$2.50 will cost S$2 under the selection.

Said Mr Seah: “We found that many customers tend to choose only fruits and vegetables that look perfect, resulting in wholesome foods going to waste. We are looking to raise awareness that wholesome products with imperfections, such as slight scratches and blemishes, are still perfectly safe for consumption.”

During a one-week pilot of the campaign, about 70 per cent of repackaged vegetables and 90 per cent of the fruits were sold.

FairPrice is looking at extending the campaign to other outlets in the future, as well partnering with external companies to process food waste into compost.

Responding to the campaign, retiree Gerald Tay, 66, said: “It’s well-packaged, presentable, very colourful and appealing. The combination is very good. You don’t have to buy many kinds (of fruits or vegetables) too. When you buy one packet, you can have the full complement.”

FairPrice began a long-term partnership with Food from the Heart last month, where 55 FairPrice stores donate unsold but still wholesome canned food products to the community. So far, they have donated about S$20,000 worth of canned food.

NTUC FairPrice launches initiative to discourage food wastage at stores
SAMANTHA BOH Straits Times 28 May 15;

SINGAPORE - Consumers can now buy packages of sliced fruit and vegetables at marked down prices, as part of supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice Great Taste Less Waste Selection initiative.

The initiative is aimed at reducing instances where such produce are discarded because they do not look good or are near expiry.

Before this, marked down prices only applied to seafood and chilled meats after they have been displayed for a day.

This initiative will start off at its seven hypermarkets before eventually being rolled out to its other supermarkets.

It was piloted over the last week with encouraging results. Ninety per cent of repackaged fruit and 70 per cent of repackaged vegetables were sold.

"I believe we are on the right track and I believe also with all these public education going out consumers will realised that there is nothing wrong (with these blemished products)," said Mr Seah Kian Peng, chief executive of NTUC FairPrice.

FairPrice also launched the industry's first Food Waste Index on Thursday, which will be used to measure the total food waste produced at its stores across the island.

The new index is part of its Food Waste Framework, which was announced in October 2014. It was introduced to combat food waste through 3Ps - public education, processes, and partnerships.

It is meant to help FairPrice track its progress on its various food waste reduction initiatives under its Food Waste Framework.

Mr Seah said the index will provide a more structured and sustainable approach to tackling the food waste problem. Beyond this FairPrice will explore the possibility of processing food waste into compost.

According to National Environment Agency statistics, 788,600 tonnes of food waste was generated in 2014, which accounted for 10 per cent of total waste.

In 2014, FairPrice produced 2,200 tonnes of food waste, which is equivalent to 88 garbage trucks. This made up about 0.3 per cent of total food waste generate here.

FairPrice has also started a partnership programme with voluntary welfare group Food from the Heart in April, where it will donate unsold but still wholesome canned food products to the community.

Currently 55 FairPrice stores donate to the Food from the Heart and the aim is to get all 126 stores to do so by July.

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PUB to delve deep into 10 Singapore reservoirs

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 May 15;

Singapore will be looking at what lies beneath its reservoirs to find out how to better maintain them.

National water agency PUB plans to conduct a soil study of 10 reservoirs around the island to better understand how water moves between the reservoirs, and the groundwater system immediately beneath them.

In tender documents outlining the first-of- its-kind project, the agency said the work would help improve the management, maintenance and long-term planning of Singapore's reservoirs.

Experts told The Straits Times that the agency would be able to estimate, for example, how quickly and how much water seeps from the reservoirs into the groundwater system.

In response to queries, PUB said it carries out routine samplings of sediments at the reservoir bed surfaces every three to five years.

"This is the first time we are conducting the soil studies at depths below the bed surfaces, to have a more comprehensive mapping of the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil sediments," a spokesman said.

The project is expected to start in August and be completed within six months.

According to the tender documents, the agency wants a total of 21 boreholes dug at the reservoirs.

These are the Kranji, Pandan, Sarimbun, Lower Seletar, Punggol, Serangoon, Marina, Poyan, Tengah and Jurong Lake reservoirs.

The samples will be taken from the reservoir beds, at 0.9m, 1.9m, 2.9m below the bed, and, if possible, at every 3m, up to a depth of about 30m.

Laboratory tests will be run on the soil samples to find out their moisture content, the size of the particles in the soil, and other characteristics.

Assistant Professor Ku Taeseo, from the National University of Singapore's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said: "In terms of the natural water cycle, groundwater is a kind of long-term reservoir.

"Basic soil characterisations are important to understand seepage issues, such as the flow pattern, speed and amount."

He added that PUB might also want to check the water's movement by extensive monitoring of the groundwater.


This is the first time we are conducting the soil studies at depths below the bed surfaces, to have a more comprehensive mapping of the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil sediments.

- A PUB spokesman, on the soil study project

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More cameras to nab high-rise litterbugs

Feng Zengkun The Straits Times AsiaOne 28 May 15;

THROW litter like tissue paper and cigarette butts out of your flat's window and you may be nabbed on camera.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has been ramping up its use of electronic eyes to catch high-rise litterbugs.

Now, it wants to continue the practice and hire a contractor to deploy high-definition cameras paired with video analytics to catch offenders in the act.

According to tender documents seen by The Straits Times, the cameras will be deployed temporarily to monitor housing units with suspected litterbugs.

The NEA estimated that there will be an average of 70 to 110 deployments each month, and about 1,080 a year, for the next two years.

Last year, the agency received 2,500 cases of feedback about high-rise littering, up from 1,600 in 2013.

It took action against offenders 206 times last year, compared with 458 times in 2013.

The NEA has already been using surveillance cameras in areas where complaints about high-rise littering persist. Last year, cameras were deployed at 600 locations, compared with about 500 places in 2013.

In January, a smoker who repeatedly chucked his cigarette butts out of his flat window was fined a record $19,800 and sentenced to five hours of corrective work, after he was nabbed with the help of surveillance cameras.

The new camera deployments will be at public housing estates and other locations, and the NEA said they should be able to help it identify perpetrators both during the day and in low-light conditions.

If this cannot be achieved, the system should at least be able to tell the agency which unit in an HDB block the high-rise litter came from, it said.

The tamper-proof cameras will be able to be mounted on rooftops, along common corridors of residential buildings, and at staircase landings, multi-storey carparks and other locations.

They will be able to record even the littering of small items like cigarette butts and tissue paper, and video analytic software will trigger an alert when such litter is captured by the cameras.

The NEA said the video clips might be submitted to court as prosecution evidence. Video or images that do not show any littering will be destroyed after three months.

Public Hygiene Council chairman Liak Teng Lit said the rise in feedback showed that people are becoming more vocal about such littering. He said: "In some of the cases, people have been putting up with the littering for months.

"This technology will help the NEA do its job, especially against the serial litterbugs, more efficiently."

Some high-rise littering cases

January 2015: A 38-year-old smoker who threw 34 cigarette butts out of his flat window in Sengkang over four days was fined a record $19,800 and sentenced to five hours of corrective work.

June 2013: A 28-year-old woman was fined $400 for throwing a bag of rubbish out of a window at her home in MacPherson.

In the same month, another woman, aged 20, was fined $800 for tossing a cigarette butt from her home in Hougang.

April 2013: A 60-year-old man living in Toa Payoh was fined $800 for chucking a cigarette butt out of his window.

January 2013: A woman who threw a bag of rubbish from her Punggol flat was fined $950.

August 2012: A 29-year-old man was fined $1,000 for throwing a cigarette butt from the window of a sixth-storey flat in Bukit Batok.

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Singer-songwriter Inch Chua draws inspiration from quiet kampung life on Pulau Ubin

Straits Times 28 May 15;

Since March, singer-songwriter Inch Chua has been staying mostly on Pulau Ubin by herself.

A typical day for her starts from between five and seven in the morning, when the sound of roosters crowing wakes her. She goes for a morning jog and then heads down to the coffee shop near the island's jetty to have breakfast as well as use the Wi-Fi connection there to do administrative work on her laptop for an hour or so.

For the rest of the day, she hikes around the island, takes mid-day naps and works on her music.


She pumps water from a well daily and, once a month, has to empty the toilet's sceptic tank.

Such has been her inspiration for the 20 new songs she has written so far while living on the island.

She says: "I always find it particularly funny that my peers will always say, 'Oh no, if you want to find inspiration, you must go overseas, somewhere far away.' I think that's a lie, there's got to be a place. And Pulau Ubin came to mind because it's so out there."

Chua, also known by the stylised moniker iNCH, plans to stay at a three-bedroom kampung house on Pulau Ubin until the middle of next month.

There is solar power available in the house, but because the wattage is so low, she uses electronic gadgets sparingly and turns on her mobile phone only occasionally.

For meals, she cooks or buys food from the island's coffee shop or hops on a boat and heads to the hawker centres at Changi Village.

"That's the interesting thing about living on the island, you get conscious of how much food and water you consume, so I realise I do things like conserve a lot of water when I shower," says the 26-year-old.

She will also be performing at Barber Shop by Timbre on June 27 as part of the Singapore International Festival of Arts' public engagement initiative, The O.P.E.N.

Some of the new songs she has written will be in an EP she plans to release in September; the rest will go to a full-length album expected to be completed next year.

In a joint project with The Artists Village, National Art Council and Lee Foundation, she has also conducted workshops in which participants get to spend time with her on the island and see how the rural environment affects the music she makes.

Adapting to a new environment for the sake of her music is nothing new to Chua, whose discography includes an EP, The Bedroom, in 2009; as well as two full-length albums, Wallflower (2010) and Bumfuzzle (2013).

In the past few years, she has lived in Los Angeles and New York, gigging and doing music work. She has plans to return to the United States, possibly to Chicago.

But for now, she is enjoying the simple life. The kampung is next to a cemetery, but Chua is not in the least spooked. In fact, she relishes the quietness of the area and even goes for night walks there.

"The solitude really affects me in a good way. I do find that because of the pace of life here, putting myself in an environment like that has altered my thinking. It calms me down, which is something I have been wanting because I am a nomadic person and it's good to practise the art of stillness for a while."

Singer-songwriter Inch Chua conquers the world inch by inch
HON JING YI Today Online 1 Jun 15;

SINGAPORE — To say Inch Chua leads an interesting life would be quite the understatement.

She is only 26 years old, but the bold-as-brass Singaporean singer-songwriter has lived a life that is fuller, more closely examined and more action-packed than most of her peers.

In the past few years alone, she has published a collection of her writings, paintings and drawings, released well-received and highly adventurous EPs such as Wallflower and Bumfuzzle, driven all by her lonesome across the United States in 11 days and, to her mother’s chagrin, gone on a solo expedition up Mount Everest last December.

And her adventures, Chua says, have been crucial in shaping her perspectives, work and even goals.

“I would say I am less ambitious (now) than I was before,” said Chua, as she spoke of what she hoped to achieve in the music industry. “The shift happened during my trip to Nepal, when I was climbing Mount Everest. While you are climbing up, it’s really tiring, and you get less and less oxygen. When you finally get to the glaciers, you think they look amazing. But more than anything else, it all felt very dead because nothing lives at that altitude. There was something very silent about the place, like you were on an alien planet. The texture of the mountain was very dark and rough — but it also had a personality. If I were to describe Everest as a human being, the first words that pop into my mind would be ‘unforgiving’ and ‘bitter’. That was the energy I felt.”

She continued: “You kind of realise that it needs to be that way because it’s the tallest mountain in the entire world. But the best part of the trip wasn’t climbing up — it was climbing down. Not because you get to go home, but because when you are walking down, life introduces itself to you again. The shrubs, trees and animals come out again. (And then you realise,) being at the top is overrated. When you look at it from the outside, it seems amazing and grandiose. But when you are actually doing it, you need a certain kind of personality and calibre — and it’s something that doesn’t sit well with me.”


For Chua, the goal is not to be at the top — it is about finding out where the “sweet spot” is. And right now, it’s currently at sea level. More specifically, Pulau Ubin.

Since March, Chua, who was previously based in New York and Los Angeles, has also been living on the offshore island to write and record her brand new Ubin-inspired EP, which will be released in September.

And while most of us pampered souls would bemoan the loss of modern luxuries such as air-conditioning, hot water and proper sanitation facilities, Chua seems quite taken with her new home.

“Oh, it’s awesome, I love it! I love my life in Pulau Ubin so much more than urban life,” Chua revealed. “There is more stillness and calmness. And I do love the solitude more than anything else.”

That said, she admitted that living on Pulau Ubin is no walk in the park. Chua lives in an old kampung house, which not only has no electricity or running water, but also occasionally admits the odd (and

very unwelcome) visitor or two.

“The first day I got there, I was like, all right, I am ready for insect genocide. I was just murdering everything I saw non-stop, from cockroaches to mosquitos,” said Chua, whose legs bear visible scars of insect bites. “There are also snakes and scorpions that wander into my house. Step one is to calm down. Step two is to calm down again. And step three is to gently direct it out of the door.”

She continued: “The truth is, if you get bitten by a snake or stung by a scorpion, you probably deserved it. That is how I feel. Because they are naturally not antagonistic. They bite only when they feel threatened. As long as you make sure you let it know you are in its territory, they back off.”

Chua was also once chased by a pack of stray dogs, which had been startled by her presence.

“That was a sensation I had never felt before — fear. It’s a sensation you don’t normally feel unless you have seven dogs chasing you,” she quipped.

However, in the face of all these obstacles, Chua has fallen in love with her life on the little island. Although she conceded that she misses her 17-year-old dog, which lives with her parents while she is away.

“I genuinely went into (this Pulau Ubin project) wanting the experience to be a total immersion,” she said, adding that she wished she did not have to return to the mainland at all. “What I enjoyed most about it was that it was Pulau Ubin. It’s something very close to our identity as Singaporeans. And, at the same time, it feels so detached from us — it feels so rural, undeveloped and so different. It’s great to be able to find a place where you can practise the art of stillness and just immerse yourself in something new.”

But for Chua, the biggest adventure of all is not one that takes you across countries or up mountains, but one you take into your own heart and mind.

“I really believe in taking trips on your own because if you travel with someone, it’s about you and that someone, more so than the experience,” she said. “When you actually do it on your own, it’s the process that goes through your brain. Where does your brain go normally when there is no one else? There is so much more time to deeply think about life.”

Catch Inch Chua at the House Of Riot concert on Saturday, June 6, at 7.30pm at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets at S$50 from SISTIC. Chua will also perform at the Singapore International Festival of Arts’ The O.P.E.N on June 27 at 9.30pm at Barber Shop by TIMBRE. Admission is free with O.P.E.N. Pass. Limited single entry tickets also available at the door.

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Singapore-registered fishing vessel detained by Malaysian authorities

The vessel is alleged to have been fishing illegally in Malaysian waters.
Channel NewsAsia 29 May 15;

SINGAPORE: A Singapore-registered fishing vessel and its four crew members have been detained in Malaysia for alleged illegal fishing in its waters.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Thursday (May 28) confirmed the incident.

“We are aware that an AVA-licensed fishing vessel, SMF1195, has been detained by the Malaysian authorities,” an AVA spokesperson said, in response to queries from Channel 8 News.

“Singapore understands that the fishing vessel was in Singapore waters when it was first approached by the Malaysian authorities. Singapore has registered our concerns with Malaysia over this incident and is in contact with the Malaysian authorities.”

The vessel's owner, Lian Yak Fish Merchant, said the boat was about four nautical miles off Pedra Branca at 6am on Tuesday, when it was approached by a Malaysian patrol boat. The fishing vessel was later detained at Kota Tinggi in Johor.

Lian Yak Fish Merchant also said the three Malaysian officials had boarded the fishing vessel and told them to head towards Sedili in Kota Tinggi. “We arrived the next day, and the crew members were detained without bail,” the company said.

Lian Yak Fish Merchant added that the vessel was probably not in Malaysian waters, as it had been fishing in the area for more than 40 years, and even though it had misunderstandings previously, they were resolved.

“Our vessels are equipped with global positioning systems so their locations are clearly indicated. The crew wouldn’t enter Malaysian waters. They also recorded their position at that time, and they are very clear of where they are,” the company's business development manager explained.

The four crew members are foreigners between the ages of 36 and 62, and they are slated to appear in court next Tuesday, the firm added.

- CNA/fs

Singapore-registered vessel detained in Malaysia, AVA confirms
CHITRA KUMAR Straits Times 29 May 15;

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it is aware that an AVA-licensed fishing vessel, SMF1195, was detained by the Malaysian authorities.

"Singapore understands that the fishing vessel was in Singapore waters when it was first approached by the Malaysian authorities. Singapore has registered our concerns with Malaysia over this incident and is in contact with the Malaysian authorities," a AVA spokesman said.

The vessel and its four crew members were detained in Malaysia for alleged illegal fishing in its water, reports said.

The boat was about four nautical miles off Pedra Branca on Tuesday morning when it was approached by the Malaysian authorities. The fishing vessel was later detained at Kota Tinggi in Johor, according to reports.

Singapore claims M’sian held fishing vessel was in its waters
New Straits Times 29 May 15;

SINGAPORE: Singapore has registered “our concerns” with Malaysia over the latter’s detention of a Singapore-registered fishing vessel that the republic claims was in its waters when first approached by the Malaysian authorities.

Channel NewsAsia (CNA) television quoted the Singapore Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) as having confirmed the incident on Thursday and saying that Singapore was in contact with the Malaysian authorities.

CNA quoted an AVA spokesman as saying that the AVA-licensed fishing vessel, SMF1195, and its four crew were detained for alleged poaching in Malaysian waters.

The report quoted AVA as saying that “Singapore understands that the fishing vessel was in Singapore waters when it was first approached by the Malaysian authorities.

“Singapore has registered our concerns with Malaysia over this incident and is in contact with the Malaysian authorities.

” The vessel’s owner, Lian Yak Fish Merchant, reportedly said the boat was about four nautical miles off Pedra Branca at 6 am on Tuesday when it was approached by a Malaysian patrol boat. The vessel was later detained at Kota Tinggi in Johor.

Lian Yak Fish Merchant also said that three Malaysian officials had boarded the vessel and told the crew to head towards Sedili in Kota Tinggi.

“We arrived the next day, and the crew members were detained without bail,” the company was quoted as saying.

Lian Yak Fish Merchant said the vessel was probably not in Malaysian waters, as it had been fishing in the area for more than 40 years, and even though it had misunderstandings previously, they were resolved.

The four crew are foreigners between the ages of 36 and 62, and they are slated to appear in court next Tuesday, the firm said. – BERNAMA

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Survey finds medicines from bear parts widely available in Malaysia

TRAFFIC 29 May 15;

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29th May 2015—A new TRAFFIC study has found that the illegal trade in bear bile and gall bladder for traditional medicine is open and widespread across Malaysia and is potentially a serious threat to wild bears.

In a survey of 365 traditional medicine shops across Malaysia, 175 (48 percent ) claimed to be selling bear gall bladders and medicinal products containing bear bile, according to the study Hard to Bear: An assessment of trade in bear bile and gall bladder in Malaysia.

Every State in Malaysia had bear products for sale, especially Peninsular Malaysia, where bear bile pills were the most common item sold, with the States of Kelantan and Johor topping the list.

Nearly 60 percent of 298 bear gall bladders observed for sale were claimed to be from wild Sun Bears killed locally through either opportunistic or deliberate poaching.

Whole bear gall bladders were more frequently observed in Sabah and Sarawak—almost all vendors here claimed that gall bladders observed for sale were sourced locally, as have some Peninsular Malaysia traders.

“The fact that so many traders revealed that gall bladders were sourced locally for trade, points to a potentially significant impact on wild bear populations throughout Malaysia,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

Staff in more than half of the shops surveyed admitted to knowing that trade in bear parts and products was illegal under the country’s Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, and carries stiff penalties. The vast majority of shops selling bear products claimed to have ongoing supplies of at least some of the items; there are no known captive bear breeding facilities in Malaysia.

“Domestic and international trade is prohibited, yet parts and products continue to be locally sourced or imported from elsewhere. With health being the foremost motivation for continued illegal trade, this study has paved the way for platform for engagement with key players from the health sector to influence change”.

TRAFFIC is engaging with the Federation of Chinese Physicians and Medicine Dealers Association of Malaysia and the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau of the Ministry of Health to drive home the urgent need to end the illegal trade in bear products.

At a joint press conference today, the Federation today issued a call to its 43 member associations to stop using parts or products of protected wildlife in their practice and retail outlets.

It also said the continued use of endangered wildlife parts such as bear bile and gall bladder, showed a lack of respect for local and international laws and was not necessary in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine as herbal alternatives were available.

In its dialogue with TRAFFIC, Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) of the Ministry of Health, that registers all medicines for sale in the country, has assured that the use of ingredients from wildlife parts or derivatives in the formulation of a registered product would be made to comply with wildlife laws.

Since the meeting, the NPCB has also taken action to ensure there are no registered products containing bear bile for sale in Malaysia as it is prohibited under these Acts.

“While the Wildlife Department and the Ministry of Health are to be congratulated for their continued enforcement efforts arising from this study, it is clear there is a long way to go to stamp out the illegal trade in bear parts and products within Malaysia,” said Dr Shepherd.

More frequent checks and prosecution of traders selling bear products and those who supply them was the only way to send a strong deterrent message to illegal traders, poachers and consumers, he added.

“Assistance from within the traditional Chinese medicine community is also essential to end this trade, and TRAFFIC is delighted to have the support and co-operation of the Federation of Chinese Physicians and Medicine Dealers Associations of Malaysia,” said Dr Shepherd.

Hundreds of traditional medicine shops selling products made from endangered bears
PATRICK LEE The Star 29 May 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Roughly half of over 300 Malaysian traditional medicine shops surveyed in 2012 were found selling illegal items made from endangered bears.

Wildlife monitoring group Traffic found that some 175 of 365 shops surveyed here were selling medicine made from bear gall bladder or bile.

"The rate was highest in Peninsular Malaysia, where 51% of the shops surveyed were found to sell bear products (or 148 shops)," the report named "Hard to Bear" said.

Products sold in these shops were found in many forms including whole bear gall bladders, bear bile pills, bile extract and many more.

Some of these are likely to have been sourced from Asiatic black bears found across East Asia and sun bears found in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia.

Bear gall bladders reportedly sourced from ‘domestic’ bears within Malaysia, found at an unknown traditional medicine shop. Photo courtesy of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

Prices, Traffic found, ranged from RM0.40 a pill to RM3,360 for a whole gall bladder weighing 38g.

While many of these items appear to have been imported, some gall bladders were supposedly sourced from Malaysia.

"Nearly 60% of all bear gall bladders observed for retail were claimed to have been sourced from local bears," the report said.

Some shop owners admitted to Traffic that main sources of bear bladders included native Orang Asli and aborigines from Sabah and Sarawak.

Poachers, the group said, may have also been involved in the killing of bears here, though TRAFFIC said it did not have numbers of how many were hunted.

It is not known how many bears are being killed every year for their body parts, though the number may be anywhere from the hundreds to thousands.

Xiongdan (bear bile) pills up for sale at an unknown traditional medicine shop in Malaysia. Photo courtesy of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

The report added that more than 13,000 bears were likely held in bear farms across China, Laos, Myanmar, South Korea and Vietnam.

According to Malaysian law, the sun bear is a "totally protected" species in the Peninsular and Sabah. It enjoys a lesser "protected" status in Sarawak.

Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which makes trade of the Asiatic black bear and sun bear illegal.

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Indonesia: Dynamite fishing, trawl-nets ravaging Tomini Bay

Syamsul Huda M.Suhari, The Jakarta Post 28 May 15;

The Gulf of Tomini, which will play host to two international maritime events later this year, continues to suffer from environmental destruction due to illegal fishing and the absence of law enforcement.

Tomini, which is bounded by three provinces in Sulawesi Island, has suffered mightily from dynamite fishing and trawl-net fishing. Environmental activists have reported that in Pohuwato regency in Gorontalo, fishermen still employed the destructive method to ensure larger catches.

According to Nilmawati of Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia, while fishermen in Lemito and Popayato said dynamite fishing net them at least 700 kilograms of fish per day and trawl-netting 200 kilograms of fish per trip, fish populations were steadily declining.

“Bombings destroy corals, which function as reproduction sites for fish,” Nilmawati said Wednesday.

Fishermen who used more environmentally friendly tools like fishing rods or spears, meanwhile, catch less than 70 kilograms of fish each day.

According to DFW research, satellite imaging revealed a massive reduction in the coral coverage in waters off Lemito, one of the best and most important coral reefs in the world.

In 1990, coral coverage was recorded over 883,620 hectares off Lemito. In 2014, the reef had been reduced by 134 hectares.

Nilmawati said the situation would deteriorate further if nothing was done. “Coral growth is very slow. We are only seeing around a centimeter of growth each year,” she said.

The two international maritime events, the Sail Tomini and the Boalemo Festival, are expected to boost protection efforts by local administrations and raise awareness among fishermen, specifically by providing a solution for dynamite fishing.

The Gulf of Tomini is known as a center of marine diversity, home to 819 species of reef fish. Based on 2007 data, 4 million people make a living from the gulf.

Ansar Akuba, an environmental activist in Tomini, said that the economic drivers of dynamic fishing were exacerbated by the lack of monitoring by law enforcers.

The annual Sail Indonesia event in Tomini, scheduled to be held in Central Sulawesi on Sept. 18-20, aims to accelerate economic growth and developing marine tourism in Indonesia.

The central government expects Sail Tomini 2015 to benefit the regions in many ways, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

According to government data, domestic and international tourists to the province rose by 10.53 percent during the fourth quarter of the year compared to the same quarter last year. The sail is expected to help increase the number of travelers to the province by the in the third quarter of 2015.

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Philippines: UNDP, DENR undertake new P352-million biodiversity project

BusinessMirror 28 May 15;

IN the lead-up to the World Environment Day on June 5 and to mark the Month of the Oceans this May, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) has launched a new partnership to help strengthen the protection, conservation and management of marine key biodiversity areas in the Philippines.

The Marine Key Biodiversity Areas (MKBA) Project, with a P352-million ($8-million) funding from the Global Environment Facility, will be implemented in five sites, namely, the Verde Island Passage, Lanuza Bay, Davao Gulf, Southern Palawan and Tanon Strait.

The Philippines ranks third in terms of marine biodiversity in the world, and hosts a total of 464 reef-building coral species, or nearly half of all known coral species. The Philippine waters are estimated to harbor an estimated 10,000 species, or approximately one-fifth of all known species. The country’s marine waters are also widely regarded by marine biologists as the epicenter of marine biodiversity—having 123 key marine biodiversity areas.

“We all know, however, that these are at significant risk threatened by over exploitation and unsustainable practices,” UNDP Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra said at the launch. “The argument for conservation is not just about preserving natural beauty and diversity—the country’s biodiverse species also have significant income generating potential.”

“If biodiversity management becomes effective, it produces revenue, which, in turn, provides the financing for biodiversity management and then provides further impetus for enabling policies and practices for marine biodiversity. It can also provide for sustainable livelihoods for the coastal poor—encouraging them to conserve biodiversity,” Mitra added.

“Moreover, if the condition of the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems are improved and enhanced, their contribution to resilience building of coastal communities to the effects of anthropogenic and natural pressures like climate change is better and their ability to provide ecological goods is increased.”

The five-year MKBA Project will assist in accelerating establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Marine Protected Area Networks (MPANs) to include more key marine biodiversity areas. The project will also help improve management effectiveness and financial sustainability of MPAs and MPANs and establish an enabling policy framework for marine biodiversity conservation.

The launch, held at the Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center in Ortigas, Pasig City, was also attended by DENR-BMB Executive Director Vincent Hilomen and DENR – BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim. Also present were project partners, including National Fisheries Research and Development Institute of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Conservation International-Philippines, World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, RARE Philippines, Haribon Foundation, FishBase Information and Research Group Inc., University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, and the local government units in the involved sites.

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