Best of our wild blogs: 18 Aug 15

Satin of the Stream
Saving MacRitchie

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Malaysia: Green turtle lays eggs at Batu Ferringhi

The Star 18 Aug 15;

GEORGE TOWN: The green turtle laboured out of the sea, made its way up the beach, made a dry nest and then followed up with its primary nest about 2m away.

It was nature taking its course but it left many awestruck.

The beach was in the thick of the Batu Ferringhi tourism belt and it was the first time in 20 years that a turtle had laid eggs there.

The reptile surfaced at about 5am yesterday and crawled till it was less than 3m from the edge of Golden Sands Resort before making its dry nest, a ruse to trick scavengers. It then laid 140 eggs in its primary nest.

Resort workers who were alerted by a dog’s incessant yelping went down to the beach and were struck with wonder.

“The dog wouldn’t stop barking but luckily, the turtle didn’t seem to care,” said Golden Sands Resort service leader Azmin Afu Hasan.

He took a video of the turtle burying its eggs before it returned to sea.

“It was so big! The head was as large as a watermelon, and I saw the turtle shed tears after laying the eggs,” Azmin said after giving his video recording to The Star.

Green turtles are actually brown with whitish undersides but get their name because their body fat is the colour of jade.

M. Gandhi, 50, who has been working at the Batu Ferringhi beach for over 20 years, claimed to have seen two false crawls in the last two weeks.

“I haven’t seen this here for about 20 years. When I was a child, we would go early to the beach for many days after seeing the first turtle tracks.

“The turtles will make a few false crawls before they finally lay eggs,” he said.

About 140 green turtle eggs recovered from the nest in front of golden sand resort at batu ferringhi. starpic by GOH GAIK LEE/The Star/ 17 A ug 2015.

Resort communications director Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman reported the turtle nest to fisheries officer Mohd Syahrulnizam Ismail, who arrived at 11am with two team members.

The fisheries team used coconut shells and gingerly dug a narrow pit just 20cm in diameter and almost a metre deep before locating the eggs.

They quickly transferred the eggs into a polystyrene case, taking care to envelop each egg in sand. Three eggs were damaged in the process.

The team will incubate and hatch the remaining eggs at the Pantai Kerachut Turtle Sanctuary on the northern edge of the island.

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Myanmar farmers need help replanting rice after floods: U.N.

Timothy Mclaughlin PlanetArk 17 Aug 15;

Farmers in flood-hit Myanmar face a scramble to replant damaged paddy fields in the next two weeks to avoid food shortages, and aid efforts in some of the country's hardest hit areas remain a challenge, the United Nations said on Saturday.

More than 1.3 million people have been critically affected and at least 106 people have died since heavy monsoon rains coupled with a cyclone last month caused floods across the country, according to the government.

Water has receded in many areas, allowing farmers to assess the damage to their crops and also to seed stocks as the end of planting season nears.

"If farmers aren't able to get rice seeds and plant in the next two weeks the window for the next season is pretty much over," said Pierre Peron, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs(OCHA) in Myanmar.

"If they are not able to replant they will miss out completely on this season and the impact on food security will be much larger than if we can provide them with support to replant."

Myanmar is a rice exporter, but has halted exports to stabilize prices.

The U.N. and NGOs have supplied emergency food assistance to 386,000 people impacted by the floods, OCHA said in its latest situation report on the flooding.

Over 1.4 million acres of paddy was flooded, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. The crops in over 500,000 acres have been destroyed in what has been the worst natural disaster in Myanmar since Cyclone Nargis killed nearly 140,000 people in May 2008.

The government has provided $1.2 million for paddy seeds in Rakhine State, one of the hardest hit areas, but, "further support will be needed to help farmers and rural communities rebuild", OCHA said.

In Chin State, a mountainous region bordering Bangladesh and India, where heavy rains caused major landslides, aid workers were still struggling to access some of the state's more remote regions.

"Access to areas in Chin State has been difficult and continues to be difficult," Peron said on Saturday.

In the capital of Hakh five out of six townships experienced landslides that damaged hundreds of homes.

Zung Hlei Thang, an MP representing Chin State, said the prices of rice and other commodities had risen sharply since the landslides made many state roads largely impassable, stemming imports.

"The living conditions are difficult," he said.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Simon Webb and Susan Thomas)

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