Best of our wild blogs: 2 Apr 16

5 Jun (Sun): Balik Chek Jawa
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

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First two weeks of April to be ‘significantly’ warm and dry: Met Service

Today Online 1 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Warm and dry conditions in Singapore are expected to continue over the first two weeks of April, said Metereological Service Singapore (MSS) in a release on Friday (April 1).

The Met Service forecasts conditions to be “significantly dry and warm”, with some days expected to see the daily maximum temperature reach between 33°C and 35°C.

April is climatologically the warmest month of the year, said the weatherman. Rainfall in the next fortnight is likely to be below average, it added.

Last month, Singapore faced the second warmest March on record since 1929 — when temperature records started. And for 18 days in March, daily maximum temperatures exceeded 34°C — Thirteen of these days were in the second half of the month.

Choa Chu Kang experienced the hottest recorded temperature on March 11 at 35.3°C, which was also the highest temperature recorded so far this year.

The mean monthly temperature of 29°C for March was 1.5°C warmer than the long-term mean for March, the weatherman said.

Throughout March this year, rainfall across Singapore was significantly below average, the Met Service added. At the Changi climate station, the total rainfall recorded last month was 6.2mm (96 per cent below average), setting a new record for the driest March in Singapore since rainfall records started in 1869.

The weatherman said prevailing Northeast Monsoon conditions are weakening to give way to inter-monsoon conditions over the next two weeks. The prevailing low level winds during the outlook period are forecast to blow from the northeast and gradually become light and variable in direction.

March was Singapore's driest, 2nd warmest month on record: MSS
Significantly dry and warm conditions are expected to continue for the first two weeks of April, according to the Meteorological Service Singapore.
Channel NewsAsia 1 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Last month was the driest March in the Republic's recorded history as well as the second warmest month, according to the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).

At the Changi climate station, the total rainfall recorded in March was 6.2mm - 96 per cent below average - setting a new record for the driest March in Singapore since rainfall records started in 1869. The previous record was 18.5mm in March 1912.

For 18 days last month, daily maximum temperatures also exceeded 34°C, with 13 of these days in the last two weeks of March.

The highest daily maximum temperature recorded during the month, which was also the highest temperature this year, was 35.3°C at Choa Chu Kang on Mar 11.

The mean monthly temperature of 29°C for the month was 1.5°C warmer than the long-term mean for March, and ranks March 2016 as the second warmest March in Singapore since temperature records started 87 years ago. The warmest March ever was recorded in 1998 with a mean monthly temperature of 29.5°C.

MSS said that for the first two weeks of April, these prevailing dry and warm conditions are expected to continue. MSS forecasts significantly warmer temperatures with daily maximum temperatures of between 33°C and 35°C. April is traditionally the warmest month of the year.

However short-duration thundery showers are expected over parts of Singapore on four to six days in the afternoon.

- CNA/mz

Driest March, with little respite ahead
Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 2 Apr 16;

Singapore has just suffered its most parched March here in over a century, alongside some scorching weather. And the next two weeks will bring little respite, says the weatherman.

Rainfall will likely remain below average, and daily maximum temperatures could soar to a blistering 35 deg C on some days, with short afternoon showers bringing scant relief, said the Meteorological Service.

"The warmer and drier conditions are a direct consequence of El Nino, which some meteorologists have called a Godzilla or Monster El Nino because of its intensity," said Dr Erik Velasco, a research scientist from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology.

High temperatures and less rain in the region could contribute to more fires, and if the winds switch direction, blowing more frequently from the east and south-east, hazy conditions can be expected, he added.

The PSI here has already reached moderate levels, hitting 24-hour levels of 62-70 at 10pm yesterday.

Last month, Changi climate station, which is used as a reference station, collected just 6.2mm of rain, making it the driest March since 1869, when rainfall records started.

But the situation was not as dire as in February 2014 - the country's driest month on record, with just 0.2mm of rain recorded.

And on March 11, the mercury hit 35.3 deg C in Choa Chu Kang, making it the hottest day this year. Out of the 31 days last month, temperatures on 18 days exceeded 34 deg C.

The mean monthly temperature of 29 deg C was also 1.5 deg C warmer than the long-term mean for March, making last month the second warmest March here since temperature records started in 1929.

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Malaysia: Higher API recorded in Keningau, Sabah

The Star 1 Apr 16;

KOTA KINABALU: The air quality in Keningau, about 131 kilometres from here, is reported to be still moderate, although a higher Air Pollutant Index (API) was recorded as at 11am Friday.

According to the website of the Department of Environment (DOE), the air quality there recorded API of 61, from 59 about five hours earlier.

In Kota Kinabalu, the air quality was also moderate, with API reading at 53, from 55 earlier.

Meanwhile, Sandakan and Tawau recorded good API at 32 and 31, respectively, as at 11 am.

An API reading of 0 to 50 indicates good air quality; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous.

Members of the public can refer to the portal to obtain the current API reading. - Bernama

Perlis govt proposes water rationing as Timah Tasoh Dam level drops
ILI SHAZWANI New Straits Times 1 Apr 16;

PADANG BESAR: The state government is proposing to Syarikat Air Perlis (SAP) to consider water rationing for domestic users in the northern part of the state if the water level at Timah Tasoh Dam drops to 26.2 metres.

State executive councillor Datuk Mat Rawi Kassim said as of today, the water level was recorded at 26.49m, about 0.01m below the critical level.

Rawi however said the southern part of Perlis, such as Arau and Kangar, would not be affected as these areas were receiving water supply from the Pedu dam in Kedah.

Based on data from the state Drainage and Irrigation Department, Rawi said the current water capacity at the dam was expected to last for only a month, limited to only domestic usage, if the dry and hot weather persists.

On the other hand, he said padi farmers outside Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) would have to wait until it rains again before water from the dam could be released to their padi fields.

He said this in a press conference during his visit to the dam, accompanied by state Drainage and Irrigation Department deputy director Mohamad Nor Hafidz Nor Azmi today.

Free water in Selangor may run out for some
BERNAMA New Straits Times 1 Apr 16;

SHAH ALAM: The 20 cubic metres of free water now enjoyed by all Selangor households may run out soon for some.

The state government may restrict the benefit to low-income households once the restructuring of the water industry in the state has been completed, said Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

He cited the prohibitive cost of takeover of the water assets as the main reason for this consideration.

Mohamed Azmin (PKR-Bukit Antarabangsa) was replying to a supplementary question from Saari Sungib (AMANAH-Hulu Klang) in the Selangor state legislative assembly.

Saari had wanted to know whether the state government was considering giving the free water only to low-income households. --Bernama

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Indonesia: Govt Threatens to Deport Leonardo DiCaprio Over Mount Leuser Visit

Ratri M Siniwi Jakarta Globe 1 Apr 16;

Jakarta. The immigration service has threatened on Thursday (31/03) to deport Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio over his visit to the Mount Leuser National Park in Aceh during the weekend.

The actor and activist is accused of running a so-called "black campaign" against palm oil plantations in Aceh in an effort to discredit the Indonesian government and the country's palm oil industry, according to immigration service director general Ronny F. Sompi.

"If there are statements that discredit the government and the interests of Indonesia, he could be deported," warned Ronny, whose department is closely monitoring DiCaprio's activities in Indonesia.

Immigration authorities could deport the Oscar winner and his team, who are in the country on tourist visas, if they violate the terms of their visas, Ronny added.

"If [DiCaprio] is in Indonesia for other purposes, such as creating a public disturbance and harming the state's interests, immigration is ready to deport him," Ronny said.

This move was supported by Firman Subagyo, a member of the energy commission in the House of Representatives. The Golkar Party politician said he believes the actor's visit was facilitated by nongovernmental organizations wearing "environmental masks," that have been working to discredit the Indonesian government.

However, online environmental news portal EcoWatch confirmed with DiCaprio's team that the actor and his entourage have already left Indonesia on Thursday.

Leonardo DiCaprio is not the first Hollywood actor who faced deportation threats by the government for environmental activism. Actor Harrison Ford faced the same threat in 2013, after conducting a hard-hitting interview with the Indonesian forestry minister, urging him to take action against illegal logging in Sumatra.

Indonesia denies DiCaprio could be 'blacklisted' for pro-environment support
After an Indonesian government official said Leonardo DiCaprio could be deported for “provocative” comments made on social media, a minister has praised the actor for his efforts to highlight the plight of Indonesia’s rainforests.
Channel NewsAsia 5 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: Indonesia’s Minister of the Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya refuted talk that Leonardo DiCaprio could be blacklisted from the country following the actor’s comments on social media over the plight of various wildlife species in the Sumatran rainforests.

DiCaprio, who visited Indonesia in March, incurred the ire of the Indonesian immigration director-general Ronny Sompie after making statements on the impact the palm oil industry was having on the populations of rhinos, tigers, orangutans and Sumatran elephants in the Leuser rainforest ecosystem.

“If there are statements that discredit the government and the interests of Indonesia, he could be deported,” said Mr Ronny to news portal Republika. “We can blacklist him from returning to Indonesia at any time if he keeps posting incitement or provocative statements.”

Dr Siti told on Saturday (Apr 2) said that DiCaprio’s concerns were “sincere” and “substantial” and that he acted in good faith. “I am open to working together with DiCaprio in a joint effort whereby both of us can have our concerns addressed, including those that pertain to the Leuser Ecosystem.”

She added: “It’s really not relevant to link the concerns conveyed by DiCaprio with immigration matters.”


The actor, an ardent supporter of environmental causes, was pictured accompanied by local environmentalists and flanked by two critically endangered Sumatran elephants.

The elephants are among a dizzying array of rare animals who live in Leuser's dense rainforests.

DiCaprio said on his Instagram account that his foundation, which supports numerous environmental projects, was backing local groups to establish a "mega-fauna sanctuary" in the area.

He described the area as "the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants coexist in the wild".

Local green activist Farwiza Fahan, who met DiCaprio on his visit, said the sanctuary was aimed at giving more protection to the area, but the plan was still in the early stages.

Like much of Indonesia's rainforests, the area is under threat from the aggressive expansion of palm oil and pulp and paper plantations, while endangered animals are targeted by poachers and locals who view them as pests.

But the area faces an additional threat after authorities in the province of Aceh - which includes much of the Leuser ecosystem - pushed through a plan to open up new swathes of virgin forest for commercial exploitation and lay roads.

The central government in Jakarta, which must approve such locally-made plans, has asked Aceh to revise it, but activists claim that local authorities are pushing ahead with it.

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Indonesia: E. Manggarai looks to bamboo, mangroves to prevent erosion

Markus Makur Jakarta Post 2 Apr 16;

The administration of East Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara is stepping up the planting of bamboo and mangroves to prevent erosion in river basins and coastal areas across the regency, which has reached a critical point.

Working together with nature conservation group the Flores Bamboo Foundation, the regency administration has increased efforts to plant bamboo in several large river basin areas, such as Waebobo and Waelaku, and cultivate mangroves along coastal areas in southern and northern East Manggarai.

Rokus Jumpa, secretary of the Environmental Management Agency (BPLHD) in the regency, said the administration had last year planted 830 young bamboo trees in the Waemokel river basin area in Rana Mbata village, Kota Komba district.

He said various environmental issues in East Manggarai, including erosion in river basins and coastal areas, were continuing to worsen.

“Thus, we are also stepping up mangrove planting in coastal areas along the Flores Sea and in the Sawu Sea National Park. We are cooperating with the local forestry agency to move forward mangrove planting efforts in coastal areas, which are facing erosion,” Jumpa told in a recent interview.

He further explained that planting trees in river basin areas, coastal areas and on critical land owned by local people in nine districts across East Manggarai were part of the East Manggarai BPLHD's nature conservation programs this year.

“Based on our temporary data, there are 20 river basin areas across East Manggarai. We are still updating the data. We are also still in the process of collecting data on environmental issues and business activities with high potential of environment pollution, such as garages and hotels,” said Jumpa.

Flores Bamboo Foundation staff member Jefrianto said the foundation had planted around 1,000 young bamboo trees in the Waelaku river basin area in 2016, after a similar number were planted in the Waebobo river basin area last year.

“Our foundation has coordinated with the East Manggarai administration to jointly encourage bamboo planting in river basin areas. Bamboo planting is one of main priorities of the Environment and Forestry Ministry,” he told

Jefrianto said Flores was widely known as the “Bamboo Island” because of the prevalence of the trees, both wild and cultivated. Denizens of Flores used to use bamboo as a building material before they knew about stone and wood, he added.

“The government should continue to encourage local people to plant bamboo. Currently, they use bamboo but fail to replant it," he said.

An environmental activist from Mbengan village, Norbertus Ndolu, told that he had routinely and independently planted bamboo in a river basin area in his village. The activist also claimed he had planted thousands of eaglewood trees, which produce prime timber known locally as "gaharu".

“[...] I’m ready to work with local people in Mbengan village to plan bamboo trees. I hope the government will support us by providing young bamboo trees,” said Ndolu. (ebf)

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