Jurong West resident shocked by the sight of red water flowing in the drain

AsiaOne 28 Jul 15;

Photo: Shin Min Daily News

SINGAPORE - The sight of a "bloody river" on Sunday (July 26) got residents at Jurong West worried and shocked.

Stomp contributor, Shahira, noticed the sight of red water flowing in the drain along Jurong West St 62 and St 64 at around 3pm.

She said this was unusual as there were no factories nearby and called it both surprising and scary.

The bright red drain also caught the attention of many residents in the area.

When Shin Min Daily went to investigate later that evening around 7pm, the drain was still flowing with bright red water.

36-year-old resident Mr Min noticed the unusual waters when he was bringing his kids out for a walk. He was worried that the water supply might be affected.

Another resident, Mr Sun, told the Chinese daily that he has never seen such an occurrence in the five years that he has been living here.

He said the drain does get dirty but never to this state.

According to the Shin Min, the waters in the drain flowing along blocks 662D to 666A are affected.

Spanning around 800m in length, the "reddest" area is nearest block 664B which could be the point of origination.

Public Utilities Board (PUB) was alerted to the sighting at 3.15pm on Sunday.

It started investigations at 3.30pm and found the source to be at Jurong West St 62, near Jurong West Primary School. Sand bags were deployed to prevent the further flow of the red water.

PUB also discovered that the red water has also affected block 650B and a sample of the liquid has been taken for laboratory testing.

Serious action will be taken if the drain has been deliberately polluted. If the public have any information, they can call the 24-hour hotline 1800-2255-632 or 1800-284-6600.

- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/jurong-west-resident-shocked-sight-red-water-flowing-drain#sthash.BHLCTzfo.dpuf

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Malaysia: Wildlife trafficker trapped

SIMON KHOO The Star 28 Jul 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: They had set up a meeting at a hotel via social media, hoping to lure a trafficker of illegal wildlife into their trap.

To convince the 35-year-old mastermind of their keen interest in buying a pair of orang utan babies, the Perhilitan officers even flashed him the cash they were carrying.

Their ruse was worth it because the officers nabbed the man and his accomplices and rescued the babies.

Appearing dehydrated but otherwise in good health, the babies Bobby and Citra, which were supposed to end up as pets at a home, are now being cared for in a rescue centre in Perak.

When rescued during the undercover operation on Friday, both orang utan had been kept inside a bag by their captors and were supposed to be sold for a sum of RM40,000.

Peninsular Malaysia Perhilitan enforcement director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said four men were detained during the operation at a hotel in Bandar Bukit Tinggi, Klang.

Abdul Kadir said the mastermind had been active for the past two years, trading in protected species such as python, fox and birds via social media.

“Our officers pretended to be keen buyers and set up a meeting with him at the hotel through Facebook.

“We even showed him some cash to mean business before he led us to the orang utan, both less than a year old,” he said here yesterday.

Abdul Kadir said initial investigations showed that the orang utan were smuggled in by sea from Medan, Indonesia, adding that a special permit was required to keep these animals as pets.

“We have a special team to monitor social websites and chanced upon the offer to purchase orang utan. An operation dubbed Ops Taring III was activated to nab the syndicate members,” he said.

Abdul Kadir said besides the mastermind, they detained his accomplice, aged 54, and two Indonesians, both 29.

The four suspects would be investigated under the Wildlife Protection Act 2010 for hunting and keeping protected species, importing and exporting protected species without a special permit and abusing wildlife species.

All three offences carry a jail term and a fine.

“We will continue to work closely with Interpol to address cases of transborder wildlife smuggling, including sharing of information.

“It is an offence to trade illegally in wildlife species and stern action could be taken under the laws,” he said.

Buying protected animals just a screen tap away
TASHNY SUKUMARAN The Star 28 Jul 15;

PETALING JAYA: Owning a trafficked animal is just a Whatsapp message away in the age of smartphones and social media.

Checks by The Star showed that listings for ball pythons, Indian star tortoises and slow lorises – which are either protected or endangered – are posted on Facebook as well as buy-and-sell sites such as adpost.com.my, alibaba.com and mudah.my.

These transactions are usually carried out via e-mail or WhatsApp, with the animals being either transferred in person or, when possible, via PosLaju.

Often, these animals endure horrific conditions on their way to the buyer, including being packed into too tight spaces or being de-fanged or de-clawed.

A small ball python goes for as little as RM300 while larger females can sell for around RM700.

Asked on the availability of star tortoises, one seller asked: “If my supplier can find without a licence, do you want?”

Further questioning revealed that many sellers also have slow lorises for sale at around RM500.

“But quietly lah, don’t let people know,” one seller said.

Another method used is to ask which “gene”, the code for whether the buyer is looking for a captive bred or wild animal.

Besides live animals, animal by-products are also easily acquired.

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Indonesia: Riau firefighters extinguish 60 wildfires during January-July period

Antara 27 Jul 15;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - During the January-July 2015 period, Riaus firefighters have put out 60 fires that have razed forest, peatland, and plantation areas.

Of the 60 cases, two were very difficult, and it took days to extinguish them, Head of the Pekanbaru disaster mitigation and fire brigade office Burman Gurning stated here on Sunday.

The two reported wildfires gutted down peatland areas in Parit Indah and Payung Sekaki.

"The depth of peatland in the two locations reaches up to seven meters," he revealed.

In fact, the fire razing the 2.5-hectare peatland area in front of the Payung Sekaki sub-district heads office has not yet been totally put out, he noted.

In the meantime, Acting Governor of Riau Arsyadjuliandi Rachman earlier this week reported about the situation of the wildfires to Forestry and Environmental Affairs Minister Siti Nurbaya in Jakarta.

Rachman met the minister on July 24 to report about the condition of the wildfire-hit province, Darusman, the spokesman of the Riau Province administration, noted here, Sunday.

Over the past week, Pekanbaru city, the capital of Riau, was shrouded by haze arising from Jambi.

Some 200 hectares of peatland in Gambut Jaya Kumpeh village, Muarojambi District, have been razed down by fires, which are now approaching residential areas.

In Riau Province, more than one thousand hectares of forest area were gutted down by fires, and some 1,022 people fell ill due to air pollution.

Edward Sanger, the head of the Riau disaster mitigation office, stated that the number of hotspots in the province has decreased due to the rains and efforts to put out the fires.

A Sikorsky helicopter has arrived to assist in the efforts to extinguish the wildfires, he noted, adding that two major plantation companies have also provided assistance in tackling the blaze.

Russia-made helicopter deployed to extinguish Riau wildfires
Antara 27 Jul 15;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) has rented a Russian-made Sikorsky helicopter to strengthen its efforts to put out wildfires in Riau Province.

The helicopter arrived at Roesmin Nurjadin Air Force Base here on Saturday (July 25) and started dropping water bombs on the fires on Sunday, Edward Sanger from the Pekanbaru disaster mitigation office stated.

In addition to Sikorsky, the office has already deployed an MI-17 helicopter in an effort to extinguish the blaze.

Sikorsky has a capacity to carry up to four tons of water during each sortie.

In the meantime, the Terra and Aqua satellites detected 308 hotspots indicating wildfires on Sumatra Island, Sunday, Head of the Pakanbaru meteorology, climatology and geophysics office (BMKG) Sugarin stated.

Riau is the largest contributor, with 122 hotspots, followed by South Sumatra (59), Jambi (58), North Sumatra (25), West Sumatra (19), Bengkulu (10), Bangka Belitung (nine), Lampung (five), and Riau Islands (one), according to Sugarin.

In Riau Province, 44 hotspots were found in Pelalawan District, 17 in Bengkalis, 16 in Kampar, 14 in Indragiri Hulu, eight in Indragiri Hilir, seven in Dumai, five in Rokan Hilir, four in Kuantan Singingi, and two in Rokan Hulu.

Of the total 122 hotspots in Riau, 71 had the accuracy rate of above 70 percent, thereby confirming the emergence of wildfires in the province.

More wildfires are likely to occur in Riau as the temperature in Riau reached 34 degrees Celsius, and the humidity was 97 percent.

The visibility in Pekanbaru on Sunday, at 7 a.m. local time, reached only a kilometer, which is the minimal safety limit for operating flights.

Based on the Air Pollution Standard Index monitoring data, the air quality over Pekanbaru City was at a moderate level despite haze shrouding the capital of Riau Province.

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Indonesia: Prolonged drought hits areas in Java, Sumatra

Arya Dipa and Ganug Nugroho Adi, The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 15;

Prolonged drought has caused a number of regions on Java to suffer from water scarcity and has increased hot spots on Sumatra.

In West Java, drought has threatened 101,000 hectares of rice fields. The head of the provincial Agriculture and Crop Agency, Diden Trisnadi, said that 49,000 hectares of fields had already dried out, although the plants still looked green.

“If rain doesn’t fall within the next week [the plants] will eventually also dry out,” Diden said over the weekend.

Drought has also caused harvest failure in at least 121 hectares of rice fields in Subang and Cianjur. Unless something is done for the dried fields, the regions would suffer from losing the production of 35,537 tons of unhusked rice.

Diden said drought was threatening 20 regencies and cities across the province, with the most suffering areas being 5,041 hectares in Indramayu, followed by Bogor (1,000 hectares), Subang (584), Cianjur (573) and Bekasi (475).

According to Diden, only some 25 percent of the affected rice fields could possibly be saved. The situation, he added, was similar to what happened in 2012 when the province could only produce 11.2 million tons of unhusked rice, a decrease from 11.63 million tons the previous year.

The problem was, Diden said, the areas suffering from drought this year are twice as large compared to those of 2012.

Erma Yulihastin of the climate variability team of the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space’s (Lapan) atmosphere technology and science center predicted that the drought would last until the end of this year.

“El NiƱo will continue strengthening until December 2015. Mitigation on the prolonged drought is needed,” she said, adding that mitigation could be done by, among other things, conserving water use for daily needs.

She also warned that prolonged drought could cause a significant drop in agricultural harvest yields, which later might influence the national food stocks.

“We recommend that no new planting is conducted at this point of time.”

In Wonogiri, Central Java, drought has caused 29,233 residents of 30 subdistricts in seven districts in the regency to suffer from clean water scarcity for the last two months as springs and other water resources, including dams, are drying up.

The 30 subdistricts are located in the southern parts of Wonogiri in the districts of Giritontro, Pracimantoro, Paranggupito, Manyaran, Eromoko, Giriwoyo and Nguntoronadi.

Wonogiri Regent Danar Rahmanto said the regions had indeed been recurrently hit by drought. “We will prioritize on clean water aids, especially to regions that have been completely dried such as the Paranggupito, Pracimantoro, Eromoko, Manyaran and Giritontro districts,” Danar said, Sunday.

Meanwhile in Riau, more than 100 hotspots are reported to have appeared in the province by the last week of July.

Data obtained by the Pekanbaru station of the Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) from the Terra and Aqua satellites showed that 122 hotspots were detected in 10 regencies and cities across Riau.

The most number of hotspots, 44, were detected in the Pelalawan regency, followed by 17 in Bengkalis, 16 in Kampar, 14 in Indragiri Hulu, eight in Indragiri Hilir, seven in Dumai, five each in Rokan Hilir and Siak, four in Kuantan Singingi and two in Rokan Hulu.

“Of the hot spots, 71 were identified as fire spots with a reliability level of over 70 percent, indicating that there were already forest and land fires,” BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin said.

Sugarin said that the hot spots in Riau were the highest in number across Sumatra Island where a total of 308 hot spots had been detected. Hot spots were also detected in South Sumatra (59), Jambi (58), North Sumatra (25), West Sumatra (19), Bangka Belitung (9), Lampung (5) and Riau Islands (10).

Rizal Harahap also con-tributed to the article from Pekanbaru.

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Indonesian environment minister concerned about dolphin show in Bali

Antara 27 Jul 15;

Photo document of dolphin kiss the audience at the show dolphins swimming around in a plastic tub. (ANTARA/Rivan Awal Lingga)
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya has expressed concern over the dolphin show organized in Bali, which is discussed worldwide and has been petitioned on change.org.

"Today, Minister Nurbaya commented on change.org to express her concern for four dolphins in Bali. The petition was created three weeks ago," Communications Director of Change.org Indonesia Desmarita Murni said here on Monday.

The petition was created by an Australian surfer, Craig Brokensha, with the title, "Free four wild dolphins contained in a tiny resort pool."

Till Monday, the petition had received more than 290 thousand signatures.

According to Murni, Brokensha protested the four captured dolphins being kept in a small, chlorinated pool in Keramas district, Bali.

In her comment, Nurbaya pointed out that she had noticed the petition. She also offered her gratitude for the publics concern for environmental conservation and animal rescue issues such as the case of the dolphins in Bali.

"I have been aware of this petition since it was created and have been following its updates," she remarked. "Thank you for voicing your concern through this petition. Your support and reports will help us conserve and protect the environment."

The minister further noted that the petition had been taken very seriously, and an investigation on the matter was underway.

"If the resort carries out any prohibited acts, regardless of whether it is violence or negligence towards the dolphins, we will take firm action," she emphasized.

In addition, Nurbaya admitted that the petition had promoted the dolphin show extensively, due to which a public discussion on the subject was needed with the involvement of numerous parties.

With regard to this idea, she added that in the next few weeks, the Environment Ministry will invite experts on conservation, animal protection, education, and psychology, as well as from non-governmental organizations, to a public discussion on the protection of dolphins.

"We will hold an open discussion to find a win-win solution," she said.

Reporting by Ricky Prayoga



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Indonesia: Elephant relocated from housing complex

The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 15;

After a long and risky effort, the Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) on Saturday evening managed to relocate a wild Sumatran elephant from a residential area in the provincial capital of Pekanbaru.

The male elephant, whose age was estimated to be between 16 and 20 years, was first seen loitering in areas near the Primadona residential complex in Tenayan Raya district on early Friday.

“The people were scared because the elephant did not want to leave,” local resident Sugianto said, as quoted by Antara news agency.

A group of BKSDA personnel later arrived at the area. They, however, found it difficult to calm and remove the elephant, as hundreds of residents swarmed the location to watch the operation.

On Friday evening, the team finally managed to put a chain on the elephant in a secondary forest near the residential area, which is also home to many brick makers.

The relocation effort continued the next day with help from two tame elephants — a 51-year-old male named Seng Arun and a 43-year-old female named Indah — from an elephant training center (PLG) based in the neighboring Siak regency.

Police and military personnel were also deployed to secure the relocation, which again attracted hundreds of curious residents.

The wild elephant initially refused to be led by Seng Arun and Indah onto a truck. It also made an attempt to fight back, forcing the agency officers to give it an additional tranquilizing shot.

At around 7 p.m., after two hours of trying, the officers finally managed to put the wild elephant onto the truck.

“I have to admit that this evacuation process is very difficult, mainly due to a large number of residents. The wild elephant, meanwhile, has become very sensitive due to stress. There was a potential for the elephant to go on a rampage because of the noise or lights,” BKSDA official Supartono said.

Supartono said the wild elephant would be temporarily kept at the Siak PLG before it was sent back to its natural habitat in the Giam Siak Kecil Wildlife Reserve in Siak.

“We will examine its health. We hope we can immediately release the elephant so it can return to its group,” he said.

On July 13, an elephant was also reportedly spotted roaming briefly around a neighborhood area in Pekanbaru’s Rumbai Pesisir district.

“There is a big possibility that this wild elephant is the same elephant that was earlier spotted in Rumbai Pesisir. Male teenage elephants, in nature, are loners. They can get disoriented after they are kicked out by their herds,” Supartono said.

Besides entering residential areas, many wild elephants have reportedly destroyed residents’ plantations. Observers have said the cases occurred because of the damage done to the animal’s original habitat because of illegal logging and forest conversion to oil palm plantations.

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Worldwide strengthening El Nino giveth and taketh away

SETH BORENSTEIN and FRANK BAJAK Associated Press Yahoo News 28 Jul 15;

WASHINGTON (AP) — In California, they're counting on it to end an historic drought; in Peru, they've already declared a pre-emptive emergency to prepare for devastating flooding. It's both an economic stimulus and a recession-maker. And it's likely to increase the price of coffee, chocolate and sugar.

It's El Nino — most likely, the largest in well over a decade, forecasters say. A lot more than mere weather, it affects lives and pocketbooks in different ways in different places.

Every few years, the winds shift and the water in the Pacific Ocean gets warmer than usual. That water sloshes back and forth around the equator in the Pacific, interacts with the winds above and then changes weather worldwide. This is El Nino. Droughts are triggered in places like Australia and India, but elsewhere, droughts are quenched and floods replace them. The Pacific gets more hurricanes; the Atlantic fewer. Winter gets milder and wetter in much of the United States. The world warms, goosing Earth's already rising thermometer from man-made climate change.

Peruvian sailors named the formation El Nino — the (Christ) Child — because it was most noticeable around Christmas. An El Nino means the Pacific Ocean off Peru's coast is warm, especially a huge patch 330 feet (100 meters) below the surface, and as it gets warmer and close to the surface, the weather "is just going to be a river falling from the sky," said biophysicist Michael Ferrari, director of climate services for agriculture at the Colorado firm aWhere Inc.

Around the world, crops fail in some places, thrive elsewhere. Commercial fishing shifts. More people die of flooding, fewer from freezing. Americans spend less on winter heating. The global economy shifts.

"El Nino is not the end of the world so you don't have to hide under the bed. The reality is that in the U.S. an El Nino can be a good thing," said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

This El Nino officially started in March and keeps getting stronger. If current trends continue, it should officially be termed a strong El Nino early in August, peak sometime near the end of year and peter out sometime next spring. Meteorologists say it looks like the biggest such event since the fierce El Nino of 1997-1998.

California mudslides notwithstanding, the U.S. economy benefited by nearly $22 billion from that El Nino, according to a 1999 study. That study found that 189 people were killed in the U.S, mainly from tornadoes linked to El Nino, but an estimated 850 lives were saved due to a milder winter.

A United Nations-backed study said that El Nino cost Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela nearly $11 billion. Flooding in Peru destroyed bridges, homes, hospitals and crops and left 354 dead and 112 missing, according to the Pan-American Health Organization. The mining industry in Peru and Chile was hammered as flooding hindered exports.

Though this year's El Nino is likely to be weaker than the 1997-1998 version, the economic impact may be greater because the world's interconnected economy has changed with more vulnerable supply chains, said risk and climate expert Ferrari.

Economic winners include the U.S., China, Mexico and Europe while India, Australia and Peru are among El Nino's biggest losers.

On average, a healthy El Nino can boost the U.S. economy by about 0.55 percent of Gross Domestic Product, which would translate more than $90 billion this year, an International Monetary Fund study calculated this spring. But it could also slice an entire percentage point off Indonesia's GDP.

Indonesia gets hit particularly hard because an expected El Nino drought affects the country's mining, power, cocoa, and coffee industries, said IMF study co-author Kamiar Mohaddes, an economist at the University of Cambridge in London.

Graphic shows economic impact of El Nino on GDP of 20 economies

The expected El Nino drought in parts of Australia has started and may trim as much as 1 percent off of the country's GDP, said Andrew Watkins, supervisor of climate prediction services at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

Tony Barnston, lead El Nino forecaster at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University, cautioned that while El Nino has predictable effects and this one is strong, what happens next is not exactly certain.

But Peruvians are worried. Abraham Levy, director of Ambiental Andina, which advises businesses on meteorology- and hydrology-related issues, believes this El Nino could lead Peru into recession. Important export crops such as mangos and asparagus that grow in coastal valleys are already being adversely affected by the unseasonably high temperatures, said Levy.

"The export mango crop has not yet flowered," he said. "And if we don't have flowers we don't have fruit."

And then there's the flooding. Peru declared a pre-emptive state of emergency this month for 14 of its 25 states, appropriating some $70 million to prepare. Hipolito Cruchaga, the civil defense director in Peru's northern region of Piura, said authorities are clearing river beds of debris, reinforcing river banks with rock and fortifying reservoir walls. Sandbags and rocks are also being piled on some river banks.

"If the sea stays this hot at the end of August I'm afraid we're doomed," he said.

Bajak reported from Lima, Peru.
Online: NOAA's El Nino page: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/precip/CWlink/MJO/enso.shtml

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Only 100 tigers left in Bangladesh's famed Sundarbans forest

The population in the mangrove forest is far less than believed, officials say, after a census uses cameras hidden in trees to record numbers
Agence France-Presse The Guardian 27 Jul 15;

Only around 100 tigers remain in Bangladesh’s famed Sundarbans forest, far fewer of the endangered animals than previously thought, according to a census.

Some 440 tigers were recorded during the previous census in 2004 in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest and one of the last remaining habitats for the big cats.

But experts said better methodology was the reason for the huge drop in the numbers, saying hidden cameras used this time around, rather than pugmarks, gave a much more accurate figure.

Tapan Kumar Dey, the government’s wildlife conservator, said analysis of camera footage from the year-long survey that ended in April found numbers ranged between 83 and 130, giving an average of 106.

“So plus or minus we have around 106 tigers in our parts of the Sundarbans. It’s a more accurate figure,” Dey told Agence France-Presse about the survey, which has not yet been publicly released.

About 74 tigers have previously been counted on the Indian side of the Sundarbans, which makes up nearly 40% of the forest straddling both countries over 10,000 sq km (3,860 sq m).

Bengal tigers live mainly in India, where nationwide there are 2,226, with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

Monirul Khan, a zoology professor at Bangladesh’s Jahangirnagar University and the nation’s foremost tiger expert, said the survey confirmed his worst fears.

“It seems the population has declined more than we had feared,” Khan said, saying his studies showed the figure was no more than 200.

Khan said the government needed to do more to protect the animals, whose numbers were shrinking because of poaching and rapid development on the edge of the forest.

The World Wildlife Fund says tigers worldwide are in serious danger of becoming extinct in the wild. Their numbers have fallen from 100,000 in 1900 to around 3,200 now.

Officials have conceded that the pugmark tracking system used in 2004 was unreliable and cameras were installed in trees throughout the forest for the latest survey.

YV Jhala, professor at the Wildlife Institute of India, told AFP the new figure was the “reality”.

“The 440 figure was a myth and an imagination. Bangladesh parts of the Sundarbans with its prey size can support up to 200 tigers,” he said, also urging authorities to act to better protect the cats.

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