Best of our wild blogs: 17 Jul 15

Checking up on Pulau Semakau South
wild shores of singapore

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats (Aug-Sep 2015)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Celebrating Our Rain Forest: My SG50 Tree Alangium ridleyi
Flying Fish Friends

Plastic bottles, plastic straws, plastic bags: How we celebrated Youth Day
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Getting the message across at the Festival of Biodiversity
Project LUWAK SG

Emperor Ovipositing
Bird Ecology Study Group

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Campaign launched to raise awareness of haze and its causes

Organisers aim to get 50,000 pledges of support for companies that go “haze-free”
JORDON SIMPSON Today Online 16 Jul 15;

SINGAPORE — A new campaign was launched today (July 16) to raise awareness of Singapore’s annual haze problem and what can be done to stop it.

The haze, which is largely caused by the unsustainable clearing of land, is fuelled by the growing global demand for pulp/paper and palm oil. Palm oil is the world’s most widely used vegetable oil, and commonly found in about 50 per cent of consumer products, such as lipsticks, toothpaste, pizza and ice-cream. The campaign aims to educate Singaporeans on sustainable practices in the production of palm oil.

The campaign, jointly organised by WWF-Singapore, People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM.Haze), and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), will include educational outreach programmes such as school talks and roadshows. There will also be ads at bus stops, nature walks, exhibitions at malls and social media content driven by social influencers such as Benjamin Kheng and Jasper Lai.

The campaign aims to collect 50,000 pledges from people in Singapore to support companies that go “haze-free”. With public support, WWF-Singapore will engage companies here to work on long-term transformative solutions that will encourage the adoption and use of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO).

European companies are leading the charge internationally, setting the target to achieve 100 per cent Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) by 2020.

WWF communications director Kim Stengert said: “First of all, we want 50,000 pledges, the more the merrier. We have already started to identify the key players in the region and we can then engage with them. We will tell them that their customers demand this, show us what you are doing, and we will be there along the way to help them check their supply chain and to switch to sustainable palm oil as soon as possible.”

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Malaysia: Injured orang utan rescued from estate

The Star 17 Jul 15;

KOTA KINABALU: An injured orang utan, believed to have been slashed, has been rescued from a plantation in east coast Sandakan.

The adult male orang utan is being treated at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre as wildlife rangers investigate whether it was attacked by hunters or other groups.

The orang utan had slash wounds and other injuries on its body, but was recovering, said Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya.

“It seems to be OK and is responding to treatment,” he said, adding that rangers rescued the orang utan after an oil palm estate owner saw it in his plantation at about noon on Tuesday.

A police report was lodged that evening.

Orang utan are among fully protected animals in Sabah.

On Aug 18, 2003, three orang utan – named Mambo, Terry and Mary – were found dead with stab wounds at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Nature Resort in Tuaran, about 40km from here.

Two other animals were injured in the attack but to date, no arrests have been made.

Help protect the orang utan, Sabah govt urges communities
The Star 20 Jul 15;

KOTA KINABALU: The communities here have been urged to help the state authorities in protecting the orang utan.

“Sabah is a very big area. We cannot have enforcement officers everywhere. We need the people to play a role in the conservation of orang utan,” said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

Referring to last Wednesday’s incident in which an adult male orang utan was found stabbed at an oil palm plantation, Masidi said local communities must also make an effort in wildlife conservation.

“We have so few orang utan left. All of us have a role to play to protect the orang utan,” he said at the Hari Raya open house of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Cabinet members yesterday.

Conservationists estimate that the number of orang utan surviving in Sabah number about 11,000 to 15,000.

The injured orang utan, which suffered multiple stab wounds, is under the care of veterinarians at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabili­tation Centre in Sandakan.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said the 20-year-old primate was responding to treatment and was now eating on his own.

“He is still not out of the woods. He was stabilised before our team dealt with the 7cm-deep stab wound on his arm,” he said, adding that the head injuries were not as serious as initially thought.

The Sabah Wildlife Department is carrying out an investigation into the attack that might have occurred elsewhere in the area before the primate was discovered by workers at the oil palm estate.

The orang utan is listed as a totally protected and an endangered species under the Wildlife Conser­vation Act.

Man held for hurting orang utan
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 22 Jul 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wildlife officials have detained a foreigner whom they believed had stabbed an orang utan found in a plantation in Beluran, located at the state’s east coast.

Wildlife Department director William Baya said the arrest came following detailed investigations including interviews with several plantation workers.

“We have detained the suspect who holds a valid passport,” he said.

William said the 20-year-old male orang utan that was found with multiple stab and slash wounds had since been name Gedau, taken from the name of the area where he was found.

He said Gedau was responding to treatment and had started eating in larger quantities.

However, he added that Gedau still had a long way to go to fully recover.

“All I can say for now is that Gedau is showing positive signs of improvement, though we still consider him to be in critical condition. He is also interacting well with our vets who are treating him,” he said when contacted.

William said they were now feeding Gedau with bananas, watermelon, oranges and milk to speed up his recovery.

Some plantation workers first noticed Gedau resting under a tree at the estate on July 14, but only informed their employer a day after when they saw the wounds on his body.

The plantation owner then immediately called the Wildlife Depart-ment, and Gedau was given emergency treatment before he was brought to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan.

Jailed for attacking orang utan
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 25 Jul 15;

KOTA KINABALU: An estate worker will spend a year in jail for attacking an orang utan in an oil palm plantation in Sandakan.

Magistrate Suhaila Selag found Syam bin Sul, 38, an Indonesian, guilty of stabbing and slashing the primate while on his way back from work on July 13.

Syam was charged under section 37 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, under which offenders could be fined a maximum of RM20, 000 or jailed up to two years or both.

During the hearing at the magistrate’s court, Syam claimed that the orang utan had chased him and that he attacked it in self-defence.

The male orang utan was found in a critical condition more than a week later.

Named Gedau by his rescuers, the ape is being closely monitored by veterinarians at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya urged plantation workers and their employers to avoid hurting wildlife.

“It was unfortunate that the worker chose to injure the orang utan when he could have easily outrun the animal if it was true that it was trying to chase him,”

“The penalty imposed by the court should be a reminder to would be offenders of the serious consequences of injuring protected animals, more so with a totally protected species such as the orang Utan,”

“To prevent future incidents such as this, all managers and owners of plantation should inform the wildlife officials if they come across protected species in their estates,” said William.

He said plantation owners should also take the initiative to advise their foreign workers against hunting or injuring protected animals.

On Gedau’s condition, he said some of the wounds were very deep.

“After a week of emergency treatment and monitoring, he was sedated once again yesterday,” to further treat the wounds.

He said the orang utan’s air sac, a loose pouch located around the throat suffered a slash wound, resulting in a severe infection.

“The air sac is used for vocalising,” explained William, adding that the primate would be returned to the wild when fully recovered.

Orang utan dies after two weeks of battling severe injuries
The Star 28 Jul 15;

KOTA KINABALU: After almost two weeks fighting for its life, the severely injured orang utan found at an oil palm estate in Gedau, Beluran, finally succumbed to his injuries.

The 20-year-old orang utan which was later named Gedau by wildlife officials died from the slash and stab wounds and blood poisoning due to infections 13 days after it was rescued.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said the orang utan died at about 4.30pm on Sunday due to severe complications caused by the savage attack by an Indonesian plantation worker on July 13.

“For the first few days the orang utan seemed to be improving,” he said in a statement.

Unfortunately when the orang utan was further monitored at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Quarantine and Clinic facility, William said it became obvious that the parang wound to the back was so deep that it had punctured the air sac (a loose pouch located around the throat used for vocalising), causing severe infection.

“The results of the post mortem confirmed that the orang utan died of acute and severe septicaemia (commonly known as blood poisoning) caused by the initial wound and also smaller secondary wounds,” he said.

Gedau was discovered by plantation workers at the estate not far from east coast Sandakan district on July 13.

The 38-year-old attacker, Syam Sul, who claimed to have attacked the orang utan after it chased him, will be spending a year in jail after he was found guilty of hurting the primate.

William said they would be appealing for a heavier sentence to be imposed on Syam.

“Since this case has escalated to a killing of a fully protected species and not just injuring it, I have directed my prosecution officer to appeal for a much heavier punishment,” he said.

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Malaysia: Bornean sun bear struck by lightning dies

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 16 Jul 15;

SANDAKAN: A young female Bornean sun bear here died when she was struck by lightning on Monday.

The four-year-old sun bear, named as Bongkud, was found dead when Bornean Sun Bear Conservation centre staff checked upon her after a stormy rain. The centre chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said Bongkud was resting on her favourite tree of about 20-metre high when the incident happened. H

He added the weather was fine throughout the day, but it suddenly turned dark at about 4pm.

“She was an energetic sun bear that was always seen climbing up the trees in the forest enclosure.

“We are deeply saddened that Bongkud died due to natural disaster,” he said, adding Bongkud was rescued from getting sold to buyers in 2012 when she was only 10-month-old.

The sun bear was named after Bongkud village at the west coast of Sabah which the Sabah Wildlife Department had saved her.

Wong said Bongkud was also one of the few sun bears at the centre that knew how to build nests on the trees.

Other 34 sun bears at the centre were uninjured as they were at the houses during the incident.

The sun bear is the smallest of the world’s eight bear species and is found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra and Borneo.

The animal has been classified as “vulnerable” on The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

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Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists

Seas will continue to warm for centuries even if manmade greenhouse gas emissions were frozen at today’s levels, say US government scientists
Suzanne Goldenberg The Guardian 16 Jul 15;

The warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists said on Thursday.

The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of 2014 as the hottest year on record.

Global sea-level also reached a record high, with the expansion of those warming waters, keeping pace with the 3.2 ± 0.4 mm per year trend in sea level growth over the past two decades, the report said.

Scientists said the consequences of those warmer ocean temperatures would be felt for centuries to come – even if there were immediate efforts to cut the carbon emissions fuelling changes in the oceans.

“I think of it more like a fly wheel or a freight train. It takes a big push to get it going but it is moving now and will contiue to move long after we continue to pushing it,” Greg Johnson, an oceanographer at Noaa’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, told a conference call with reporters.

“Even if we were to freeze greenhouse gases at current levels, the sea would actually continue to warm for centuries and millennia, and as they continue to warm and expand the sea levels will continue to rise,” Johnson said.

On the west coast of the US, freakishly warm temperatures in the Pacific – 4 or 5F above normal – were already producing warmer winters, as well as worsening drought conditions by melting the snowpack, he said.

The extra heat in the oceans was also contributing to more intense storms, Tom Karl, director of Noaa’s National Centers for Environmental Information, said.

The report underlined 2014 as a banner year for the climate, setting record or near record levels for temperature extremes, and loss of glaciers and sea ice, and reinforcing decades-old pattern to changes to the climate system.

Four independent data sets confirmed 2014 as the hottest year on record, with much of that heat driven by the warming of the oceans.

Globally 90% of the excess heat caused by the rise in greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by the oceans.

More than 20 countries in Europe set new heat records, with Africa, Asia and Australia also experiencing near-record heat. The east coast of North America was the only region to experience cooler than average conditions.

Alaska experienced temperatures 18F warmer than average. Spring break-up came to the Arctic 20-30 days earlier than the 20th century average.

“The prognosis is to expect a continuation of what we have seen,” Karl said.

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