Best of our wild blogs: 20 Dec 15

Smart and Deadly Killer Shrike
Singapore Bird Group

Life History of the Spotted Judy
Butterflies of Singapore

Publication updates and leopard cat featured in a children’s book
Through the Eyes of the Leopard Cat

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More should be done to assess suitability of those looking to buy a pet: Cat Welfare Society

On top of pet licensing conditions, pet retailers should be required to make house visits or meet up with family members to examine whether the customer can care for the pet responsibly, said the Cat Welfare Society.
Faris Mokhtar Channel NewsAsia 19 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: More should be done to further assess the suitability of customers before they can purchase a pet animal, said the Cat Welfare Society. This, it added, would help deter pet abandonment.

The animal welfare organisation said pet retailers should be required to make house visits or meet up with family members to examine whether the customer can care for the pet responsibly. It said this should come on top of the pet licensing conditions put in place last year by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

These include making it mandatory for retailers to conduct pre-sale screening through a pet purchase declaration form.

"I find that if anytime people find it as easy to purchase an animal - be it at a regulated pet shop where you can enforce, and you also have the additional problem of unregulated places - unlicensed breeders who you can't track and because you can't track them, you can't regulate them," said Ms Thenuga Vijakumar, president of the Cat Welfare Society

Meanwhile, the Cat Welfare Society has also launched a commemorative book on the furry felines titled Society of Cats. The aim is to educate and create awareness among the public, including those who may not be actively involved in the cat activism scene.

Discussions on animal welfare was also held as part of the book launch, attended by animal activist and Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng. Some issues discussed included how parties, including Government agencies, can work together more effectively.

"It's like the cat killings in Nee Soon, AVA is actively working on this and with the assistance of the police. We have volunteers coming in past midnight patrolling the ground. I think that is where we are going to make progress,” he said.

“If we work in isolation, we can only go this far. But with more collaborations, more synergy, we can really progress much further and much faster."

- CNA/ek

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More roads to become car-free on weekends from next year

Starting next year, a section of Baghdad Street will be closed to traffic during specific times from Friday to Sunday. This is to open up the space for pedestrian activities.
Channel NewsAsia 20 Dec 15;

SINGAPORE: Starting on Jan 1, a section of Baghdad Street, between Arab Street and the service road behind Unit 21 Bussorah Street, will be closed to traffic on Friday nights from 6pm to midnight and weekends from noon to midnight.

This follows the successful weekend closures of other roads, the latest being Liang Seah Street. The three-month trial of weekend road closure at Liang Seah Street started in early December and will last till the end of next February.

According to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the first two weekends of road closure have been well-received by the public. With the closure, pedestrians can dine outside and even walk along the road. Some tenants say the road closure has also worked to their advantage.

"With the closure, the tenants can come together and organise activities, and with Christmas and Lunar New Year coming up, I think we can do more and attract people from other parts of Singapore to come and join us over here," said Mr Khoo Siow Kiat, director of Chinese restaurant Zhong Guo Feng. "We're quite fortunate that we have our unit at the front of this whole street, so I think we saw about 15 to 20 per cent increase in our sales over the weekend."

Currently the closures are at:

Circular Road - 6pm to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Club Street - 7pm to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Liang Seah Street - 7pm to midnight on Fridays to Sundays
Bussorah Street, Bali Lane, Haji Lane - 6pm to midnight on Fridays and noon to midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.

- CNA/ek

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Malaysia: Orang Asli’s way of life threatened


GUA MUSANG: For centuries, the jungle and rivers have provided everything for the Temiar people, the orang asli who have always lived in this part of the country.

But the modern world has come calling, and ecroaching into their space. Now, the Temiar’s very existence is under threat.

Their way of life – harvesting and hunting all they need, and sharing what they have with the whole community – is dying out.

Villager Dendi Johari, from Kampung Penad, said outsiders have been exploiting the easy going nature of his community.

He pointed out that Temiar culture dictates that the community share what they have with each other.

“Even when we hunt or fish, what we get is shared among everybody,” said Dendi, who is the Kelantan Orang Asli Youth network chairman.

Limat Belias, 35, from Kampung Sedal remembered a time where the jungle was virtually their supermarket.

Limat said everything they needed, from the bamboo to build their houses or to make blowpipes to food and medicine, could be found around them.

But extensive logging, legal or otherwise, have stripped large tracts of jungle bare.

“Now, it’s difficult to find the animals which used to be plentiful, and also edible plants,” he said.

Worse still, Limat said floods and landslides happen more often now.

These not only endanger their lives but leave orang asli villages which dot the hills surrounding Gua Musang isolated and cut-off from supplies such as fuel or non-traditional foods like cooking oil or noodles which they have now come to rely on.

The supply of fish, which is a major source of protein for the Temiar, is also dwindling out due to river pollution, also a result of the logging.

“It used to be very easy to get fish before the logging started. Now we get sick just by drinking the river water,” said Limat.

Salim Tegau, 35 from Kampung Bering, remembers a time when they would bathe in the river.

“The river is still there but the colour of the water is like teh tarik,” said Salim.

He said the areas surrounding his village now had rubber and oil palm trees, not the natural forest vegetation that used to be there. But they (rubber and palm oil plantations) don’t belong to us,” he said, adding that their staple food now were bananas, sweet potatoes and hill rice.

Herry Boy Angah, 20, from Kampung Penad, said even finding leaves for their animistic rituals are difficult and they now need to go deeper in the jungle.

He said their villagers were also much hotter now compared to before when it was so cold that cooking oil would harden overnight.

Herry said outsiders have tried to bribe villagers to allow them to log or encroach into ancestral land but they refused to accept the money.

“We now realise how important this land is for our children and grandchildren.We are prepared to defend our ancestral land,” he said.

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Malaysia: Sabah task force makes life hard for poachers

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 20 Dec 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Authorities in Sabah are breathing down the necks of poachers, with some being caught recently and jailed up to three years.

Various efforts have been drawn up to trace and catch offenders including the setting up of anti-poaching task force by the World Wide Fund (WWF) Malaysia.

The task force comprising wildlife officials and WWF members to work together to fight poaching was first set up for Lahad Datu in December last year while a second task force was established in Tawau last month.

The first task force has seen a number of joint anti-poaching exercises as well as the successful capture of four poachers in Ulu Segama Forest Reserve.

These culprits were actually caught in the act during a special joint operation led by the Assistant District Forestry officer, Augustine Alling and also forest rangers from the Ulu Segama-Malua District Forestry Office, with active participation from Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia on Sept 11.

The poachers were sentenced to 36 months in jail – the maximum jail sentence for illegal possession of sambar and barking deer carcasses, both which are protected animals here.

The second task force comprised enforcement agencies such as Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department, Yayasan Sabah, and Royal Malaysia Police, and assisted by WWF-Malaysia.

Through these task force also, a man was given the maximum fine of RM50, 000 or a year in jail by the Kota Kinabalu Sessions Court in November for possessing a clouded leopard.

The ruling was made by judge Ainul Shahrin Mohamad on Muhd Rizduan Ibrahim, 24, who was found guilty of possessing a Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), a totally protected species in Sabah’s Wildlife Con­servation Enactment 1997.

Rizduan was arrested following a long period of monitoring and undercover works by the Sabah Wildlife Department after he was suspected of carrying out online sales of the species.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said it was important to impose the maximum penalty in wildlife crime cases, especially if it involved a totally protected species.

Baya said it was also crucial for adequate resources to be made available to increase enforcement efforts and bring offenders to justice and reduce wildlife crime.

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Indonesia: Monsoon begins to take toll

Antara 19 Dec 15;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia has been hit by changing climates of extreme degree. Monsoon began to take toll on the country when it barely recovered from the devastating impact of lengthy drought.

Lengthy drought worsened by weather phenomenon El Nino inflicted heavy damage with big forest fires spewing thick smokes causing breathing difficulty and disrupting flight schedules.

Now, over the past two weeks report coming in from various regions about heavy rain triggered floods washing away buildings including houses and damaging crops.

Report from West Lombok said landslides buried alive people on Friday with four dead bodies recovered so far until Saturday.

In Aceh , five districts in the western part of the province were hit by floods. Houses were destroyed or washed away and landslides blocked roads isolating a number of villages.

The regional disaster control agency (BPBD) warned the local people of potential heavier rains causing worse damage.

Head of the West Aceh BPBD Endi Alfian said heavy rain continued to pour causing floods inundating 31 villages with water as deep as 70 to 150 centimeter in the sub-districts of Panton Reu, Pante Ceuremen, Kaway XVI, Woyla Timur, Meureubo, Bubon and Johan Pahlawan.

Many villagers had to take shelters in the house of friends and relatives in safer areas.

In Central Java, landslides hit and destroyed tens of houses in the district of Cilacap in southern part of the province.

Head of the Cilacap BPBD Tri Komara Sidhy said landslides in the village of Jambu, sub-district of Wanaredja damaged six houses.

Tri said 13 roads were cut or blocked with piles of earth in landslides.

A number of wooden bridges were smashed and washed away by big rolling water from hilly areas, he said.

BPBD , police and military officers cooperated with villagers to repair damaged houses and bridges, remove piles or earth and stones from roads.

Report from Lampung said heavy rain has caused landslides in four locations along the Krui-Liwa highway of the district of West Pesisir.

"The landslides closed the road over the past several days. It took at least four hours to clear the road from piles of earth, uprooted trees and big rocks," a police office said last week.

West Lampung police chief Adj. Sr. Comr Andi Kemala said 30 kilometers of the Krui-Liwa highway were right on the hill foot that landslides could block the road any time in rainy days.

"Car drivers or motorists are warned to watch out," he said.

He said the district administration has been ready with heavy equipment to clear the road.

In West Java, the Citarum river overflowed its banks sending water to inundate the villages in that area.

The Cimeunteng village , in the regency of Bandung had been covered with flood water over the past week.

The village has always been the first to be hit by floods in rainy season, a villager Bukhori said on Tuesday.

"We have no intention of leaving our house. We have been used to flooding. We go up upstairs waiting until the flooding in over," he said.

He said last week the flooding was worse with water surface as high as two meters.

He said in the past floods came only once a year but now the village is hit by flooding twice a year.

"Many families have abandoned the village, but many other including us decided to stay as we have no place to go, " he said.

He said the population of the village has been reduced to 500 from around 1,000 a few earlier.

Those staying in the villages are ready with wooden boat to be used in case of flooding that come suddenly, he said.

BMKG warns of La Niña for 2016
The Jakarta Post 19 Dec 15;

JAKARTA: The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) warned on Friday that the country could experience another episode of extreme weather caused by La Niña.

BMKG spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the La Niña weather phenomenon, which could cause flooding, landslides and gales, would peak in the middle of 2016. “So the potential for floods, landslides and gales will increase during that period,” Sutopo said as quoted by

He said at least 315 regencies and municipalities were expected to experience flooding, affecting more than 63.7 million people.

Landslides will pose risks to 274 regencies and municipalities.

Earlier this year, the country experienced the El Niño weather phenomenon, which experts said was one of the worst in history.

The severe weather phenomenon caused drought and forest and peatland fires throughout the country.

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Philippines: Death toll climbs as more floods threaten

The death toll after a week of devastating weather has risen to 35, according to confirmed reports from national and local disaster monitoring agencies.
Channel NewsAsia 19 Dec 15;

MANILA: Heavy rains pummelled the entire Philippines on Saturday (Dec 19), threatening to aggravate flooding that has prompted the government to declare a state of "national calamity".

The death toll after a week of devastating weather has risen to 35, according to confirmed reports from national and local disaster monitoring agencies. A tropical depression that has weakened into a low pressure area brought rains to the central Visayas islands and Mindanao, the main southern island, according to the government weather station.

Cold monsoon winds blowing from the northeast brought rains to Luzon, the main northern island, where large farming communities have been submerged in mostly waist-deep floods from Typhoon Melor, which hit at the start of the week. Areas inundated by Melor have barely recovered from floods brought by Typhoon Koppu in October.

"Almost the entire Philippines is experiencing rains. More floods are possible," state weather forecaster Robert Badrina told AFP. "We expect the rains to peak today. The weather will start to improve tomorrow."

President Benigno Aquino declared a state of national calamity to "hasten the rescue, recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts," according to his spokesman, Herminio Coloma. The weather bureau issued a warning of up to 30 millimetres of rain per hour in the central islands of Cebu, Negros and Bohol, while residents were advised to be on alert for possible evacuation.

The three Visayas islands, with a combined population of 7.4 million people, are home to major tourism, trading and agricultural hubs. Close to 10,000 people were evacuated from the poor farming region of Caraga in Mindanao before the latest storm, locally named Onyok, made landfall Friday night, the national disaster agency said.

There were no immediate reports on the effects of the storm early Saturday. In Luzon, 140,000 people displaced by Melor remained in evacuation centres.

The Philippines, a nation of 100 million, is battered by an average of 20 typhoon per year, many of them deadly. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan wiped out entire fishing communities in the central islands, leaving 7,350 people dead or missing.

- AFP/rw

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