Best of our wild blogs: 17 Mar 16

Any dead fishes at Western Johor Strait? (16 Mar 2016)
wild shores of singapore

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walks April-June 2016
Love our MacRitchie Forest

A Spectacular Display of Fruits at MacRitchie Rain Forest
Flying Fish Friends

NTU Earthlink, Singapore Pools & Independents remove a ton of trash at Lim Chu Kang mangrove in two hours, hooray! [27 Feb 2016]
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

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Malaysia: More than 1,000 open burning cases recorded in Sabah this year

FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR New Straits Times 16 Mar 16;

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 1,164 cases of open burning were recorded in Sabah from Jan 17 to March 13 this year. U

rban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan the cases are expected to rise following the El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to last until the end of this month.

“In January alone, 188 cases of open burning were reported, compared to 14 cases in the same month last year.

A total of 541 open burning were recorded in February this year compared to 205 cases for the same month last year.

“From March 1 to 13, there were already 435 open burning cases. Last year, 853 cases were reported throughout March.

“From the statistics, bush fires recorded the highest cases with 47 cases and farm fires with 13 cases,” he said in a statement today.

Rahman, who is also Kota Belud member of parliament, said the most affected areas include Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Papar, Keningau and Tuaran.

On March 12, the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department received the most number of emergency calls on open fires with 60 cases.

“The latest case was in Kampung Bunang near the Mini Estet Sejahtera Bunang in Keningau district where open fires destroyed 500 hectares of forest.

“The blaze could not be controlled as the firemen had difficulty accessing the area, compounded by a lack of water sources.

The team received assistance from the Air Unit in the firefighting operation.” he said.

The public, especially those living in rural areas, are urged to cooperate with the firemen and not to throw their cigarette butts into open areas.

People in fire-prone areas get warning on open burning
The Star 17 Mar 16;

PETALING JAYA: The Fire and Rescue Department has cautioned people against open burning in the five most fire-prone forest areas in the country.

Assistant director-general of fire and rescue operations Zulkarnain Mohd Kassim said that “in most cases, the main reason for the fires is forest clearing”.

“It is largely the people, not the heatwave, that is to blame for any fires breaking out this season.”

The fire-prone areas are Kam­pung Sri Gombak Indah, Batu Caves, and Sungai Tinggi, both in Selangor; the North-South Express­way Central Link; Bunang, Keningau, in Sabah; and Baling in Kedah.

Zulkarnain said if there was any open burning that could not be avoided, it must be done on a moderate scale. “And don’t leave the area until you have seen the last spark snuffed out,” he said.

According to him, there were fewer cases of forest fires this year.There were 6,893 cases from January to March, compared to 23,253 cases in 2014 and 11,706 last year during the same period, he said.

He added that the department had sufficient manpower to handle any fires that may break out.

It was also running awareness campaigns to educate people against using fire to clear their land.

Forest fire prevention measures and fire safety tips are available at its website,

Read more!

Malaysia: Heatwave to abate by April

The Star 16 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The almost unbearably hot and dry weather brought by El Nino is expected to abate by April.

Malaysian Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the succeeding inter-monsoon season would restore humidity and lower the temperature.

El Nino, which swept over the country in December and January is a phenomenon caused by rising temperature over the east and central surface of the Pacific Ocean in the equatorial region, which occurs every two to seven years, he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), climatology and oceanography expert Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said the phenomenon is in the descending phase.

"We have an extraordinarily hot spell during this phase particularly this month," he said.

Fredolin who has been studying the phenomenon for 20 years said northern peninsula, northern Sarawak, Sabah and Southern Philippines would experience extremely dry and hot weather during the phase.

Meanwhile, the Science Technology and Innovation Ministry in a statement said the temperature could likely reach 40 degrees Celsius.

It cited Chuping district in Perlis, which recorded a reading of 39 degrees Celsius, two days ago.

However, the highest reading in the country's history was 40.1 degrees Celsius, recorded also in Chuping in 1998.

The statement also said the sweltering weather could trigger a heat wave which poses a health risk such as heatstroke.

Meanwhile, the water level at all main dams in the country is still holding out.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said current water production and consumption was not yet at a worrying stage.

"Currently, we have no plans to carry out water rationing," he told Bernama when contacted.

In Shah Alam, the water level at the seven dams in Selangor remained, as of yesterday, at more than 70 per cent.

Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (LUAS) in its portal stated that the water level at Langat dam stood at 70.16 per cent while that at Sungai Selangor dam, 86.51 per cent.

The water level at Semenyih dam was at 85.32 per cent while Klang Gates dam, 80.98 per cent; Sungai Tinggi dam (88.21 per cent); and Tasik Subang dam (97.51 per cent).

The water-level reading on March 11 showed the Sungai Labu off river storage (ORS) to be at 57.66 per cent, and Batu dam, at 83.36 per cent.

In Johor Baru, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry exco chairman Ismail Mohamed said the state government had implemented various measures to alleviate the situation.

"Among others, we acquired 'deep wells' costing RM1mil from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry for 66 farmers in Johor's largest vegetable cultivation at Sengkang Batu 18, Bukit Gambir," he said.

He said the farmers were also encouraged to use fertigation and hydroponics to ensure that they could at least meet the minimum demand during the dry spell while increasing production.

In Kuala Terengganu, an academician said the drastic sea temperature rise due to El Nino would impact adversely not only on coral reefs but also marine life and biodiversity.

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar said fish for instance, need the coral reefs to thrive and if the latter die or coral bleaching occurs, the marine resources would deplete.

"On the other hand, El-Nino provides an advantage to marine life and biodiversity researchers and scientists.

"It allows them to find out how the coral reefs or marine life could still survive and sustain despite the threats," she told reporters after launching a Natural Resource Product Conference 2016, here Tuesday. - Bernama

Inter-monsoon season in April will bring reprieve
The Star 17 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The almost unbearably hot and dry weather caused by El Nino is expected to ease by April.

Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the inter-monsoon season then would restore humidity and lower temperatures.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) climatology and oceanography expert Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said the El Nino phenomenon, which swept over the country in December and January, was in the descending phase.

“We have had an extraordinarily hot spell during this phase, particularly this month,” he said.

Fredolin, who has been studying the phenomenon for 20 years, said the north of the peninsula, northern Sarawak, Sabah and southern Philippines had been experiencing extremely dry and hot weather.

In a statement, the Science Tech­no­logy and Innovation Ministry said temperatures in the country could reach 40°C, pointing out that Chuping in Perlis hit 39°C two days ago.

The highest reading in the country’s history was 40.1°C, also in Chuping in 1998, during the last severe El Nino.

The sweltering weather, said the ministry, could trigger a heatwave, posing health risks such as heatstrokes.

Despite the heat, water levels at all main dams in the country are still holding out.

National Water Services Com­mission (SPAN) chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said current water production and consumption was not at a worrying stage.

Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said there was sufficient water supply at dams nationwide. The dams are being monitored daily.

“The sensitive areas are usually Johor, Selangor, Kedah and Penang,” he added.

Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas) said the water level at the seven dams in Selangor remained at more than 70%.

The water in Penang’s dams are also above 70% with enough supply until the rains next month.

In Johor Baru, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry exco chairman Ismail Mohamed said the state government had implemented various measures to alleviate the situation.

“We have acquired ‘deep wells’ from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry for 66 farmers in Johor’s largest vegetable cultivation at Sengkang Batu 18, Bukit Gambir,” he said.

Farmers, he said, were also encouraged to use fertigation and hydroponics to ensure that they could at least meet the minimum demand during the dry spell.

In Kuala Terengganu, an academician said the drastic sea temperature rise would adversely impact not only coral reefs but marine life and biodiversity as well.

Fields and canals drying up
The Star 17 Mar 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The scorching weather is drying up irrigation canals and turning fields brown in the north of the peninsula, where the current hot spell is at its worst.

In Balik Pulau, Muhammad Ihsan Tarmizi, 14, who used to catch fish at a canal near his village, Kampung Perlis, found the waterway dry and its bed parched.

“I thought I could fish there since I’m back home from boarding school for the school holidays,” said the boy, adding that his family liked the freshwater fish.

In the city, the Esplanade field has turned brown due to the prolonged hot and dry weather.

Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said there had been very little rainfall over the past 30 days with daytime temperatures soaring to 35°C.

Urging Penangites to conserve water, Jaseni said there was no immediate danger of a water crisis or a need for rationing. However, the public, he said, should avoid using a hose to wash their vehicles and reduce the frequency of car washes.

“Hosing wastes water. Avoid using a hose at all costs,” said Jaseni.

No plans to extend school hols because of heatwave
The Star 17 Mar 16;

KULIM: The Education Ministry does not find it necessary to extend the school holidays for now in view of the hot weather, said Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon.

“We do not wish to interrupt the teaching and learning just because of the hot weather but we will moni­tor the situation closely.

“We have empowered principals and headmasters to stop outdoor activities to prevent students from being exposed to the sun,” he said.

It is the holidays now and schools will restart on March 20 in Kedah, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu and March 21 in other states.

Meteorologists have warned that it is going to get hotter by March 20 and the pummelling heat can last until the first week of April.

Meanwhile, Chong gave the thumbs up to the school board of SJK(C) Khai Min in Karangan here for taking the initiative to go high-tech.

It may not be a big school but all 57 students in the school’s six classrooms are going through their lessons electronically from interactive slides and notes shown on projector screens.

Chong, who launched the multimedia classrooms, praised the school's initiative to keep up with the times.

“The school board sourced for the system and installed it themselves, saving a lot on cost,” he said at the school yesterday.

The school’s headmistress Yap Soon Chin said the system comprised seven sets of projectors, laptops and screens, installed at a cost of about RM50,000.

Year Six pupil Julita Ayuni Zakaria, 12, said the system made learning more interesting and effective.

“There is a lot of content and some are multimedia which make the subjects easier to understand.

“It is definitely better than reading textbooks,” she said.

Chong, who is MCA Youth chief, earlier opened the basketball court and witnessed the swearing-in of the board of directors of SJK(C) Chio Min A and SJK(C) Chio Min B.

He was accompanied by Kulim assemblyman Chua Tiong Gee and Padang Serai MCA division chairman Dr Chin Tung Leong.

Education Ministry awaiting guidelines on school closure in the event of extreme hot weather
AZURA ABAS New Straits Times 17 Mar 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry is waiting for the guidelines that will give a clear indication when schools would be advised to close during the extreme hot and dry weather.

Its deputy minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said it was just a matter of getting the guidelines from the experts. "We will alert schools immediately once we get the guidelines.

Schools in some states reopen this Sunday.

"Since we are dealing with children, we are very worried about the extreme heat, especially during the equinox phenomenon (starting this Sunday)," he told reporters at his office here today.

Until such guidelines are available, schools have been notified to take measures to reduce children's exposure to heat including limiting outdoor activities and by conducting noon assembly indoors, Kamalanathan said.

He was upbeat to learn that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry had such guidelines that were awaiting Cabinet approval.

On the Pupils' Own Language (POL) classes, Kamalanathan said schools that have yet to conduct such classes would start immediately.

"Due to some financial issues, some schools cannot have the POL classes.

Schools that have such issues should get in touch with the ministry to resolve the matter," he said, adding that the ministry had neither stopped nor abolished POL classes as claimed via social media.

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Malaysia: Dams in five states record water levels of less than 50 per cent

AZURA ABAS New Straits Times 16 Mar 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The hot and dry weather has seen dams in five states record water levels of below 50 per cent. The dams are the Labong dam in Johor at 14.4 per cent; Gemencheh dam in Negri Sembilan (22.2 per cent); Bukit Kwong dam in Kelantan (31.5 per cent); Padang Saga in Kedah (35 per cent) and the Timah Tasoh dam in Perlis (40.8 per cent).

Announcing this today, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the Environment Department also recorded 617 opening burning cases between January and March 14 (Monday).

He said ministry will table to the cabinet this Friday the proposed formation of a special committee that will address issues related to extreme hot and dry weather.

Wan Junaidi said the cabinet would have to decide whether the special committee would be parked under his ministry or the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

“At the same time, we will also present to the cabinet a list of proposed guidelines similar to what we have for haze," he told reporters after chairing a two-hour special meeting today to discuss steps to be taken over the hot and dry spell.

Wan Junaidi, however, declined to disclose the details of the guidelines and only hinted that it would cover a wide range of measures to be taken including at what clime degree should schools be advised to close.

Negri residents to know next week if water rationing will begin
NUR AQIDAH AZIZI New Straits Times 16 Mar 16;

SEREMBAN: Negri Sembilan residents will know next week whether they will have to endure water rationing.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said a meeting would be held next week to decide on the next course of action, in view of the current dry spell.

The decreasing water level in the majority of the state’s dams, he said, needed immediate action.

He said the meeting would include Syarikat Air Negeri Sembilan (SAINS), the Meteorological Department and other relevant government agencies.

"We will discuss all water-related issues including strategies to ensure water in the dams can last longer.

A decision on whether we can proceed with water rationing too will be decided in the meeting," said Mohamad after chairing the state exco meeting at Wisma Negeri today.

In addition, a decision on whether the state government would release water from the Talang dam in Kuala Pilah to Sungai Muar and Sungai Terip will also be made in the meeting.

"The water level in both rivers have recorded a decrease due to the hot weather.

We will also review whether there's a need to purchase water from other states to help us cope with this problem," he said.

Penangites urged to conserve water to weather the dry spell
ANTHONY TAN The Star 16 Mar 16;

Pak Lah most likely to get Petronas adviser’s post
GEORGE TOWN: Penangites have been urged to conserve water although there should be enough in the state’s dams to last through the current hot and dry season.

Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa (pic) advised consumers to avoid using a hose to carry out cleaning activities and to wash their vehicles less frequently.

“Hosing wastes water. Avoid using a hose at all costs,” he said in a press statement on Wednesday.

He also said the public could visit for more water saving tips.

Jaseni said there has been very little rain in Penang over the last 30 days while daytime temperatures have soared to 35 °C.

“However, there is no immediate danger of a water crisis or water rationing,” he added.

He said PBAPP has been implementing programmes since the fourth quarter of last year to avoid rationing in this 2016 “Super El Niño” season.

Jaseni said this includes optimising Penang’s dam reserves by drawing as little water as possible each day so that there is adequate storage during the dry season and expediting repairs for burst pipes.

He said PBAPP had also increased extraction of water from the Muda River for treatment at the Sungai Dua treatment plant on the mainland, which has been producing about 900 million litres of treated water per day, to meet Penang’s daily needs.

Jaseni said water in Penang’s dams should be sufficient to last until the rains arrive next month.

The capacity of the Air Itam Dam is at 75.7%, which is enough to last 74 days; and Teluk Bahang Dam is at 72.3%, which is enough for 220 days of supply.

On Jan 1, the capacities of the Air Itam Dam and the Teluk Bahang Dam were 89.3% and 84.2% respectively, he said.

He also said PBAPP can still extract around one billion litres of water per day from the Muda River daily for treatment at the Sungai Dua plant although the river level has dropped to 2.41m.

Jaseni said if there is any shortfall, there is a standing agreement that the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry will ask Kedah to release water into the river from the Muda Dam.

Penang’s Mengkuang Dam is temporarily decommissioned to facilitate the RM1.2bil upgrading works by the ministry.

Jaseni said the Muda River is Penang’s primary source of raw water.

Water situation still under control despite heat wave, says SPAN
JAMES SIVALINGAM New Straits Times 17 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Water Services Commission Malaysia (SPAN) has yet to receive applications by state water operators for water rationing, as the dam levels are still at manageable levels.

This is despite the current hot and dry conditions that the country is currently facing, said SPAN Chief Executive Officer Datuk Mohd Ridhuan B Ismail.

“The El Niño is effect is seen in most of the Northern states, as we are made to know, such as Penang, Perlis and Kedah with the highest recorded temperatures over there.

“But we are still managing and the dam levels are under control,” he told a press conference here today.

In the Klang Valley, all the dams in Selangor are at 80 per cent capacity, which is much higher that the drought season of 2014, said Ridhuan, adding that SPAN is currently monitoring all dams closely.

On Tuesday, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar announced that the hot and dry weather has seen dams in five states record water levels of below 50 per cent.

The five dams were the Labong dam in Johor at 14.4 per cent; Gemencheh dam in Negri Sembilan (22.2 per cent); Bukit Kwong dam in Kelantan (31.5 per cent); Padang Saga in Kedah (35 per cent) and the Timah Tasoh dam in Perlis (40.8 per cent).

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Indonesia: Greenpeace Launches Interactive Map to Track Deforestation, Fires

Ratri M Siniwi Jakarta Globe 16 Mar 16;

Jakarta. Environmental group Greenpeace has launched an interactive map to track forest fires and acts of deforestation in near-real time across Indonesia.

The Kepo Hutan (Curious About Forests) platform was created in the wake of massive fires that raged in parts of East Kalimantan and Riau last year, resulting from the large-scale draining of peat land and clearing of forests for new plantations, Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Teguh Surya said at the launch in Jakarta on Tuesday (15/03).

The interactive map was also created in support of President Joko Widodo's plans to resolve deforestation issues in the country, and the One Map Policy, which was imposed by the president last year.

Kepo Hutan shows the borders of land concessions and who controls it; lets users see where the burning originates; and provides deforestation alerts for the affected areas.

The map also provides comprehensive data on palm oil and pulpwood plantations, selective logging and coal mining.

Members of the public can access the map on Greenpeace International's official website.

Related data is also made available on the Kepo Hutan platform for community organizations and researchers to carry out analyses.

Bambang Widjojanto, former deputy chief of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), stated that the map would allow members of the public to prevent another crisis by monitoring fires in forests and peat lands.

Greenpeace Indonesia launches map to track haze-causing fires
Developed in just six months, the map is the first of its kind in the country
Sujadi Siswo Channel NewsAsia 16 Mar 16;

JAKARTA: Greenpeace Indonesia has launched what could be the first interactive real-time digital map of the archipelago's forests.

Developed in six months, the map has been named “Kepo Hutan”, which literally translates to “nosey about forests”.

The data on the map is compiled from various official sources and presented in a shape-file format that is useful for providing data on a specific location. For example, the map has the potential to identify the owners of the plantations where the fires are burning.

Some of the data in the map will be made available to the public for the first time.

“For example the names of concession holders are not available publicly,” said Longgena Ginting, Director of Greenpeace Indonesia. “We have to search the data from the environment and forestry ministry and include them in the map.”

Currently, the country uses numerous forest concession maps, which results in overlaps and confusion that blunted the efforts of law enforcement agencies to prosecute alleged perpetrators. The haze last year was one of the worst on record, with more than 130,000 hotspots detected, coming at a cost of US$16 billion to Indonesia.

However, this might soon change, with legal experts saying Greenpeace’s map can be used as evidence in court.

"This map is based on other maps that are legitimate because they are produced by the government,” said Bambang Widjojanto, a law expert and former Indonesian Anti-Corruption Agency Commissioner. “This map is structured, over-laid and presented in one format. Therefore it is can be used as evidence."

For almost two decades, the haze created by Indonesian forest fires has periodically choked the air of neighbouring countries, affecting millions of people in Singapore, Malaysia and even Thailand.

- CNA/yt

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Indonesia: Thin haze blankets Riau region

The Jakarta Post 17 Mar 16;

Forest and land fires that have been burning for the past two weeks began on Wednesday to blanket some regions in Riau with a thin smoky haze.

The haze appeared every morning for the past three days in Dumai, but vanished in the afternoon and evening.

“It’s not yet worrying. The haze came here because of the wind direction,” Dumai Deputy Mayor Eko Suharjo said on Wednesday.

Eko said the smoke originated from Bengkalis and the Meranti Islands, as according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency the hot spots were found in those two regencies.

However, he admitted that although there were no hotspots in Dumai, land and forest fires have still occurred in his area recently.

Based on the latest reports, the fires destroyed a total of 314 hectares of forest and land in the Medang Kampai and East Dumai districts.

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Indonesia can maintain palm oil plantations: Minister Nasution

Antara 16 Mar 16;

Denpasar (ANTARA News) - Indonesia, as the largest palm oil producer, should anticipate challenges and opportunities as well as maintain palm oil plantations in the future, according to Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution.

"Indonesia should identify unique ways to solve these challenges," Nasution noted here on Wednesday.

The 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP 21) agreed to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial temperatures and to strive for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, if possible.

"Therefore, the developed nations should help developing countries to support these efforts," he emphasized.

Nasution stated that the competitive countries could eradicate poverty and protect their people.

"In addition, the competitive countries could protect the environment and economic interests," the minister pointed out.

Therefore, each country should try to figure out a competitive product and develop it.

Nasution emphasized that developed countries should also provide funds to reduce global carbon emissions.

"A boycott of products will not be a win-win solution," he noted.

The minister affirmed that Indonesia had successfully launched Biodiesel B-20 in 2015. This initiative is a major boost to the energy mix.

"The additional demand for crude palm oil (CPO) has increased the price of the commodity. The price of CPO rose slightly to US$565 per ton from US$535 per ton following the implementation of the biodiesel program," the minister claimed.

Earlier, the Indonesian government had taken steps to encourage the downstream palm oil industry as part of its efforts to maintain the price of CPO.

"We continue to encourage and develop the downstream palm oil industry. The exports of CPO have reduced as it was absorbed by the derivative industries," Industry Minister Saleh Husin explained here.

The minister noted that CPO production had generated US$21.7 billion in foreign exchange from exports in 2014, while the production reached US$18.6 billion in 2015.

The palm oil industry has absorbed six million workers.

"We must continue to develop the industry. CPO has become a strategic sector in Indonesias economic development," the minister remarked.

All stakeholders should find a way to utilize palm oil production, particularly from independent plantations.

"Independent plantations only produce 2.5 tons, which is lower than the production of plasma plantations," the minister pointed out.

The existing public service agency (BLU) for palm oil should be optimized to replant palm oil.

"The price of palm oil is not too cheap. The BLU can maintain the price by increasing the absorption of biodiesel," the minister explained.

The absorption of biodiesel should be increased to raise the price of palm oil.

With regard to the French governments policy, the minister affirmed that the country was keen to protect its CPO products. As a result, Indonesias CPO products could not compete with their French counterparts.

Read more!

Indonesia: Flores eagle attracts international bird-watchers

Markus Makur, 16 Mar 16;

More international bird-watchers, especially from the US and European countries, are visiting Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, to observe the Flores eagle, an endemic bird species on the island.

Yohanes B. Fua, head of the conservation section for regional division III at the East Nusa Tenggara Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said areas popular for bird-watching included the Ruteng Ecotourism Park, especially on the southern side of Ranamese Lake in Kampung Phinisi, Ranamese district, East Manggarai regency. The peak of Mount Ranaka was also considered an ideal place to watch Flores eagles.

“We have often spotted eagles in those areas. Many international bird-watchers stay overnight in guesthouses in Ranamese to observe eagles and other endemic bird species. Staff members of [non-profit bird conservation organization] Burung Indonesia have all this time accompanied international bird-watchers and tourists interested in visiting the Ruteng Ecotourism Park in areas around Ranamese Lake,” said Yohanes.

He added that the population of Flores eagles was threatened but they were not yet categorized as endangered. “Recently, two researchers from Burung Indonesia observed Flores-endemic species in areas around Ranamese Lake,” he said.

Burung Indonesia staff member Samuel Rabenak, who is also a member of bird-watching group ABI Birding, said Puar Lolo Forest in Mbeliling, West Manggarai regency, Flores, was one of most beautiful places for observing Flores eagles.

He said forest areas in Puar Lolo were still well-preserved, so many birds still could be found there. Tourists with special interests and domestic and international bird-watchers came to observe and enjoy the uniqueness and beauty of Flores eagles.

“Hundreds of domestic and international tourists with special interests had a tour to Flores to observe Flores eagles and other endemic bird species on the island, such as the Flores corvus and Flores scops owl,” said Rabenak.

He explained that trips offered to tourists interested in observing the eagles usually began in Labuan Bajo, the capital of West Manggarai regency, before moving to Puar Lolo Forest, Sano Nggoang Forest and Golo Lusang Forest and ending in forest areas around Ranamese Lake. Visitors could later observe endemic birds in the Kisol valley, Poco Ndeki and Nangarawa forest areas, among other places. “They will also be taken to watch Flores eagles in Kelimutu National Park in Ende regency,” said Rabenak.

“Only a few bird guides operate in Flores. Guiding bird-watching activities needs special skills such as knowledge on bird species and of course, special interest in bird-watching,” he added.

Rabenak said it was hoped that local administrations would encourage travel agents to promote special tourist programs, including bird-watching of endemic species. (ebf)

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