Best of our wild blogs: 8 Jul 15

11 Jul (Sat): FREE screening of "Birth of a Marine Park" by Victor Tang for Discovery Channel
wild shores of singapore

Back at Sekudu for coral rubble survey
wonderful creation

Singapore Bird Report – June 2015
Singapore Bird Group

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Following ACRES report, AVA conducts probe into local pet shops and farms

In unannounced inspections, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore looked into conditions such as the size and flooring of enclosures, availability of drinking water, and the display of a pet shop grade decal, the agency said on Tuesday (Jul 7).
Channel NewsAsia 7 Jul 15;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) conducted an investigation into pet shops and farms which allegedly exhibited poor licensing practices, in response to a Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) report in May which highlighted 31 pet farms and pet shops in Singapore that were said to have committed such offences.

AVA’s unannounced inspections took into account licensing conditions such as the size of enclosures or cages, flooring of cages, availability of drinking water, and the display of a pet shop grade decal, the agency said in a press release on Tuesday (Jul 7).

According to ACRES, nine pet shops and 10 pet farms infringed size conditions of enclosures or cages. AVA found one pet farm which failed to satisfy the size requirements and has recorded and issued a warning letter against the licensee, directing him to rectify the non-compliance.

ACRES’ video evidence also showed that two dogs were kept in cages that appeared to be too small for them. However, AVA’s investigation revealed that these cages were not used to display dogs for sale, but used for a short duration before or after their grooming sessions. AVA verified that dogs in another shop were allowed to roam freely in a display area and were only kept in cages for short periods during housekeeping.

ACRES observed that one pet shop and one pet farm did not provide drinking water for the puppies displayed in the enclosures. However, AVA found that both retailers gave water to the puppies at regular intervals, every 30 to 60 minutes.

In addition, AVA inspectors asked these retailers to provide water to random puppies to see if they were thirsty. The inspectors observed that the puppies did not drink the water immediately, suggesting that they were not thirsty or dehydrated.

AVA found that seven of the 13 pet shops identified by ACRES did not display their pet shop grade decal. At the point of AVA’s inspection, the other six pet shops highlighted in ACRES’ report displayed their decals prominently. The seven pet shops which had failed to do so now display their decals, said AVA.

In its press release, AVA thanks ACRES for its report on its discreet observations on the ground, and encourages such groups and the general public to ensure observance of proper standards by pet shops and farms.

“AVA will continue with our regular inspections on pet shops and farms, to ensure that they comply with our licensing conditions. We are exploring working with animal welfare groups to conduct mystery audits on pet retailers,” said AVA.

Any person with feedback to give can reach AVA at 1800-476-1600 if they come across any errant pet shop or farm.

- CNA/eg

AVA inspects 31 pet retailers after ACRES report
CONSTANCE YEO Today Online 8 Jul 15;

SINGAPORE — The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has conducted unannounced inspections of 31 pet shops and farms that allegedly breached or failed to meet licensing conditions, and found that most of them had satisfactory conditions, save for some “minor lapses”.

The inspections were in response to an investigative report by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) in May, following a two-month-long undercover operation. In its report, the society said several pet shops had failed to provide basic animal welfare, such as lacking adequately sized enclosures for dogs and cats, proper flooring conditions and sufficient clean drinking water.

ACRES highlighted nine pet shops and 10 pet farms with enclosures and cages that were too small for pets.

Of these 19 pet retailers, seven complied with size conditions set by the AVA, said the authority.

The other 12 had cages that were slightly smaller than required sizes, but except for one retailer, the rest provided sufficient room for pets to move around comfortably, lie down and stretch, said the AVA in a media release today (July 7).

ACRES had earlier submitted video evidence showing two dogs kept in cages that appeared to be too small for them.

The AVA’s investigation revealed that these dogs had not been not kept in these cages for prolonged periods, but for short durations before or after their grooming sessions. This is similar to the arrangement adopted by owners when transporting their pets in pet carriers.

As for flooring, ACRES had identified 14 retailers that did not provide floor mats as required under the AVA’s licensing conditions for pet cages, which might trap the animal’s feet.

In response, the AVA said it allows some variation with regard to alternative flooring, provided that it is firm and comfortable for the animals without potentially hurting their limbs. Two of the 14 retailers had failed to use acceptable alternative flooring, it said.

ACRES had also pointed out one pet shop and one pet farm that did not provide drinking water for puppies displayed in their enclosures. However, the AVA’s inspections found that both retailers had provided water for the puppies at regular intervals.

On the problem of some shops failing to display their grade under the AVA Pet Shop Grading Scheme, six of the 13 retailers identified by ACRES displayed their pet-shop grade decal at the time of the AVA’s inspections. The other seven that failed to do so now display their decals prominently.

Following its probe, the AVA said “one pet shop and two pet farms have been warned to rectify non-compliances that are more significant in nature as they may potentially impact animal welfare”.

In response to TODAY’s queries, ACRES said today that it is heartened that animal welfare in pet shops and farms has improved, and that those who had breached licensing conditions have been warned by the AVA.

ACRES’ chief executive Louis Ng said: “We will continue working closely with AVA ... If further breaches are found in the same pet shops or farms, we hope stronger penalties will be meted out, which will serve as a greater deterrence.”

ACRES will continue with undercover investigations to ensure animal-welfare standards are met, he added.

Animal abuse probed
Foo Jie Ying The New Paper AsiaOne 10 Jul 15;

Animal welfare group Acres’ undercover investigation revealed that some pet shops failed to meet the conditions for basic animal welfare by providing cages that are too small.

Photo: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) released an explosive report in May detailing infringements in the pet trade here.

The animal welfare group found that 31 out of 41 pet retailers flouted pet shop and farm licence conditions.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) says that the situation is not as dire and it has warned just a pet shop and two pet farms.


What Acres found: Nine pet shops and 10 pet farms with enclosures or cages infringed the size conditions.

Under AVA's pet shop licence conditions, the length of the cage must be at least two times the length of the animal.

The width should be at least 1½ times the length of the animal, and the height must allow the animal to comfortably stand upright on its hind legs.

Acres also had video evidence of two dogs kept in cages that looked too small for them.

What AVA found: Out of the 19 pet retailers identified by Acres, 12 had cages "slightly smaller than the required sizes".

A pet farm licensee was served a warning letter as AVA found the cages did not allow the animals to move around and stand comfortably.

As for the video released by Acres, AVA found that the pet shops had only housed the animals for a short period, either before or after their grooming sessions, or during housekeeping.


What Acres found: Five pet shops and nine pet farms failed to provide floor mats for the pet cages as prescribed in the licensing conditions.

AVA requires pet shops to line cages with floor mats that provide firm and comfortable support for the animals.

If the cage floor is made of thin wire, or if the wire mesh has gaps bigger than 1cm by 1cm, the mats must cover at least half the floor.

What AVA found: Only one of the pet shops and one of the pet farms identified by Acres used "unacceptable alternative flooring".

This may potentially impact the welfare of animals, and the licensees involved have been served warning letters, AVA said.


What Acres found: A pet shop and a pet farm did not provide drinking water for the puppies displayed in the enclosures.

An Acres investigator previously told The New Paper that he saw the puppies panting heavily, an indication that they were not given enough clean drinking water.

AVA requires clean drinking water to be provided at all times.

What AVA found: Both the pet shop and pet farm gave water to the puppies at ½-hour to one-hour intervals. When AVA inspectors asked the retailers to provide water to random puppies, they did not drink the water immediately, suggesting that they were not thirsty.


What Acres found: AVA introduced a Pet Shop Grading Scheme in 2007 to raise standards in the pet retail industry.

Pet shops are graded from A to D based on their compliance with licence conditions and their adoption of best animal welfare practices.

Acres investigators observed that no pet shop decal was displayed in 13 pet shops.

What AVA found: Only seven pet shops out of the 13 that Acres identified did not display their pet shop grade decals. The decals in these pet shops are now displayed.

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As El Nino looms, cloud seeding gets tailwind

COLIN PACKHAM Reuters 7 Jul 15;

Circling thousands of feet above Tasmania's farmland in a light aircraft, Christina Nebel prepares to release tiny chemical particles as part of a cloud-seeding scheme estimated to have helped boost rainfall on the Australian island by over 10 percent.

The program is one of a handful globally riding a wave of renewed interest in the decades-old technology as drought hits places from the United States to the Philippines, with the specter of a strong El Nino weather pattern later this year threatening worse to come.

"We are looking for fronts crossing Tasmania," said Nebel, cloud seeding officer at renewable energy producer Hydro Tasmania.

If the conditions are right, she releases a small amount of silver iodide, which attracts water particles, encouraging clouds to grow and, she hopes, rain on the land below.

But Tasmania is blessed with near-perfect conditions for the process with clouds containing a large amount of cold water vapor whipping in off the Southern Ocean, meaning the scale of success of its program, which has its roots in the 1960s, could be difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Nonetheless atmospheric experts say the technology is enjoying a renewed emphasis as governments fret over scorching weather and as populations grow, while falling costs could increase its use in future.

"What is driving the attention is that winter cloud seeding holds some promise and in many places, including the western U.S., water shortages are becoming severe," said Professor Terry Deshler from the University of Wyoming's atmospheric science department.

Research suggests cloud seeding in winter produces better results than in other periods.


While many of the world's cloud-seeding programs are small and unlikely to have more than a limited impact, China has a large-scale scheme in place.

The nation launched its "human affected weather" program in 1958, and has done extensive research in cloud seeding. It aims to induce more than 60 billion cubic meters of additional rain each year by 2020 using the technique, as it looks to fight chronic water shortages.

That figure is equivalent to more than one-and-a-half times the volume of the Three Gorges reservoir, one of the largest in the country.

On a far smaller scale, the government in the Philippines, one of the world's biggest rice consumers, is spending a record 15 million pesos ($330,000) this year on cloud-seeding operations and could allocate another 15 million pesos in the face of El Nino, which can bring crop-damaging dry weather to many regions.

"We of course don't want to be caught unprepared, especially now that weather experts are predicting a prolonged El Nino," said Silvino Tejada, director of the Philippines Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

The cost of cloud seeding has traditionally been one of the main hurdles to usage. Fuel costs are often the biggest drag on budgets, researchers said, with some seeding operations often requiring multiple flights.

But the Nevada-based Desert Research Institute has recently started testing drones that could be used in cloud seeding that it says could cut costs substantially. Drones would also be able to fly closer to mountains, where clouds offer the best potential for seeding.

Back in Tasmania, Nebel is busy, with 10 seeding operations so far in the season that runs from May to October, more than double the number at the same point in 2014.

That water falls into irrigation channels and onto pasture and feed crops, helping boost the state's dairy sector, where milk production is up about a tenth so far this season.

($1 = 45.1350 Philippine pesos)

(Additional reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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