Best of our wild blogs: 30 Apr 16

14 May (Sat): Chek Jawa boardwalk tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Night Walk At Tampines Eco Green (29 Apr 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Slow loris finds itself stranded far away from home... at Yishun carpark

AsiaOne 30 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE - It has a permanent look of surprise on its face, but this slow loris was probably really afraid when it found itself surrounded by a concrete jungle instead of the lush greenery she is used to.

Earlier this month, officers from the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres) were notified of a slow loris stranded in a multi-storey carpark at Yishun Central. The resident who found the nocturnal animal recognised it immediately and knew that it was not in a place it belonged.

One of Singapore's critically endangered creatures, slow lorises are usually found deep in the nature reserves of Singapore where they enjoy a diet of fruit, sap, nectar, bird eggs and insects.

In a video uploaded on Acres' YouTube account, the slow loris can be seen perched on the ledge three storeys above ground.

With thick gloves to protect himself from the the animal's strong and toxic bite, an Acres officer grabs hold of it and brings it carefully to safety.

Manager of Acres' wildlife department, Kalai, told AsiaOne in a phone interview that the Sunda slow loris, which is native to Singapore, is usually not found near residential areas.

So how exactly did this "young adult" female slow loris get to a carpark in Yishun Central?

Kalai says there are just two possible scenarios. One possibility was that it had been sold as part of the illegal pet trade and escaped from captivity, while the other possibility was that it could have accidentally 'hitched' a ride out of the nature reserve on the car of an unsuspecting visitor.

If the small animal was indeed smuggled into the heartlands illegally, it could have gone through lots of hardship and would have difficulty adjusting in the wild, Kalai said.

To ensure it was ready to be released back into the wild, Acres officers fed the slow loris a small piece of guava from a height. When the slow loris reached for its treat, it revealed a lovely set of teeth, including its canines. This, Kalai says, was an important sign as illegal traders usually clip the teeth of slow lorises to prevent them from biting. This cruel action also makes it almost impossible for the animal to adapt back to the wild.

After spending just over a day with Acres, the slow loris found in Yishun was microchipped and determined fit for re-entry into its natural habitat.

Video footage shows Acres officers opening up its cage in an undisclosed forested area. While it seemed slightly confused at first, the slow loris soon noticed the greenery around and began to crawl out (slowly, of course) into its new home.

Hopefully this furry little animal gets to enjoy the rest of its days roaming free in the reserves, undisturbed by human activities. Remember - illegal trade causes these exotic animals lifelong pain and suffering. They might be cute, but they don't belong in the confines of your home.

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Warm and wet conditions expected in first half of May: MSS

The Meteorological Service Singapore adds that this April is set to be the warmest April since temperature records started in 1929.
Channel NewsAsia 29 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: The warm weather Singapore experienced in April will continue into the first half of May, with maximum temperatures during this period expected to range between 33°C and 35°C on most days, according to the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).

In a media advisory on Friday (Apr 29), MSS said the rainfall for the first fortnight of the month is expected to be near average.

Short-duration thundery showers are expected, mostly in the afternoon, on seven to nine days during the fortnight due to "strong solar heating of land areas coupled with wind convergence", and thundery showers with gusty winds can be expected in the pre-dawn and morning on one or two days due to a Sumatra squall, said MSS.

It added that inter-monsoon conditions are expected to persist over the region in May, and prevailing low-level winds will continue to be light and variable in direction.


MSS said that Singapore experienced "significantly warmer temperatures over many parts of the island" in April, with the highest daily maximum temperatures exceeding 34°C on most days, despite thundery showers on many days.

As of Thursday, the mean monthly temperature for the month is 29.5°C, 0.3°C above the highest ever mean monthly temperature for April recorded in 1998. April 2016 is thus on track to be the warmest ever April in Singapore since temperature records started in 1929, MSS said.

In addition, the daily maximum temperature of 36.7°C recorded at Seletar on Apr 13 this year was the second highest ever recorded temperature in Singapore. For the month to date, the highest daily maximum temperature reached 35°C or above on 13 days.

Almost all parts of Singapore received below average rainfall in April this year, with the lowest rainfall of 80.6mm recorded around Seletar and the highest rainfall of 243.2mm recorded around Ang Mo Kio, MSS added.

- CNA/mz

First two weeks of May will be warm and wet: Met Service
Today Online 29 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE — Expect the first half of May to be just as warm as April, with daily maximum temperatures expected to hover between 33°C and 35°C on most days.

Besides warm weather, Singapore will also experience short-duration thundery showers on seven to nine days of the upcoming fortnight, the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said in a statement on Friday (April 29).

Thundery showers with gusty winds can be expected in the pre-dawn and morning on one to two days.

April 2016 is on track to becoming the hottest April on record since 1929, when temperature records were first kept. The daily maximum temperature of 36.7°C recorded at Seletar on April 13, 2016 was the second highest ever recorded temperature in the Republic.

Rain brought little respite this month, with the MSS reporting that almost all parts of Singapore received below average rainfall.

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White spots on prawns not due to viral disease: AVA

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) issued a clarification on an earlier reply which mistakenly attributed white spots on prawns to a viral disease. It says the spots are actually part of the reproductive organ.
Channel NewsAsia 29 Apr 16;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) on Friday (Apr 29) clarified that white spots found on prawns purchased by a consumer were not caused by a viral disease, but are actually part of its reproductive organ.

This comes after a Facebook post by Ms Winnie Tan on AVA's initial reply to her made its rounds on social media. On Wednesday, Ms Tan posted a photo on Facebook showing white spots on prawns, with AVA stating that the spots were caused by "the infection of white spot disease".

"This is a viral disease which attacked the shrimp. You may wish to discard the shrimp away," AVA told Ms Tan.

As of Friday night, the post has been shared almost 3,000 times.

In its clarification, AVA apologised for providing the wrong information before investigations had been completed.

"The initial assessment was based on photographic evidence provided by the consumer. However, subsequent investigations based on samples collected have determined that the white spots are actually part of the reproductive organ, and are not due to a viral disease," AVA said, adding that it would like to assure the public that there is no cause for alarm.

AVA has also reached out to Ms Tan to inform her of the clarification.

- CNA/dl

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Malaysia: ‘Crack the whip to stop open burning’

NICHOLAS CHENG The Star 30 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: While there are ample laws in place to penalise open burners, the enforcement of these laws is lacking, according to the former director-general of the Fire and Rescue Department Datuk Dr Soh Chai Hock.

He said this resulted in irresponsible people continuing to carry out open burning every year without fear of fines and firemen having to repeatedly deal with situations that could have been avoided.

Soh, who led the agency through the 1997 haze crisis, said that the strict enforcement which helped stop the pollution then was not being carried out now.

While he did not name the government agency responsible, it is understood that enforcing open burning laws came under the purview of the Department of Environment (DOE).

Those found guilty of open burning could be fined up to RM5,000 or jailed for up to five-years or both under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

Soh said the agency concerned had to start cracking the whip to stop the open burning that was contributing to the current widespread forest fires and haze.

“Or else the message will never work,” he said.

“If the law is under the agency, it is their duty to enforce it. If they don’t and things go wrong, they are liable too.”

“Bomba does not have the power to enforce, we can only help extinguish the fires but we are always the ones at the forefront.

“Do you know how much money and manpower have to be put down for something that could have been controlled by just making sure people keep to the law?” a frustrated Soh said.

He also suggested that the DOE rope in other agencies like the police, local councils, Rela and the Department of Civil Defence to help it enforce its laws against open burning.

Open burning cases have spiked in the country since the heatwave began in February.

This month alone, firemen responded to 6,831 open burning cases, with Selangor and Johor accounting for the highest number.

Soh said that firefighters were “going beyond the call of duty and putting themselves at great risk” when it comes to forest fires, claiming that officers here were mostly trained to handle structural fires rather than those in forests.

Doctors reportedly said firemen were exposing themselves to health risks like cancer and heat stroke.

Soh also called on locals to be first responders to help put out smaller fires that had just started instead of letting it build into a bigger problem.

“If fires are now a regular occurrence in forest areas, the formation of first responders and volunteer fire prevention squads is vital to overcome these hazards,” he said.

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Malaysia: Start water rationing now or be sorry, SPAN tells Perak govt

T. AVINESHWARAN The Star 29 Apr 16;

KERIAN: Better be safe than sorry, says the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) as it urged the Perak government to consider water rationing in areas that receive supplies from the Gunung Semanggol and Jalan Baru water treatment plant.

SPAN commissioner Prof Datuk Dr N. Marimuthu, who visited the Gunung Semanggol water treatment plant on Friday, said the rationing would extend available water at the Bukit Merah dam.

He said it also reduces the risk for the dam drying up which can be of grave impact on consumers.

"We are taking this issue seriously. SPAN will make recommendations to the state government to take drastic action.

"If we have to do water rationing, we have to do it. Based on the Meteorological Department's prediction, this phenomenon could go on till September."

Marimuthu urged consumers in the areas to be mindful when using water as the El-Nino phenomenon will go on for a while.

The Bukit Merah Dam has less than 6m of water at its deepest point and only 14% of water remains despite having a catchment area of 480 sq km.

According to SPAN, the dam can only last for 30 days if no water rationing is done and there has only been 20cm increase in the last few days.

Perak govt: No water rationing in Kerian for now
M.HAMZAH JAMALUDIN New Straits Times 29 Apr 16;

IPOH: The Perak government will not implement water rationing in the Kerian district as the water level at Bukit Merah dam has improved from 6.1m on Monday to 6.2m today.

State Public Utlities, Infrastructure, Energy and Water Committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said the improvement was due to intermittent rain in the area over the past few days.

"We will stick to our earlier statement that water rationing will only be implemented if the water level at Bukit Merah dam drops to 5.1m," he said after co-chairing a special meeting on the issue with State Secretary Datuk Seri Abdul Puhat Mat Nayan here today.

While acknowledging the proposal made by the National Water Services Commission (Span) on water rationing, he said the state government decided against it after receiving feedback from the Irrigation and Drainage Department (DID) and Perak Water Board (PWB).

During the meeting, he said they had also discussed the reports tabled by DID, PWB, Meteorological Department and the Agriculture Department.

Zainol said water from the Bukit Merah dam would only be channeled to the water treatment plants for domestic and industrial use.

"The supply for agricultural irrigation has been temporarily halted until the water level reaches the normal range of at least 7m," he said.

For the Bukit Merah dam, the water level is considered "critical stage one" when it drops below 7m while "crtitical stage two" when it reaches 6.7m and "critical stage three" when it breaches 6.4m.

The maximum level at the dam is 8.55m while the minimum, which should trigger the water rationing and other contigency measures, is at 5.1m. Built in 1906, the Bukit Merah dam is located upstream of the confluence of Sungai Kurau and Sungai Merah and drained about 480 square kilometeres, with a storage capacity of 92.8 million cubic metres.

Span: Start water rationing
The Star 30 Apr 16;

KERIAN: Do not wait for disaster to happen, and consider water rationing now in areas supplied by the depleting Gunung Semanggol and Jalan Baru water treatment plants, the National Water Services Commission (Span) is urging the Perak government.

SPAN commissioner Prof Datuk Dr N. Marimuthu, who visited the Gunung Semanggol plant yesterday, said if rationing was done, it would extend available water at the Bukit Merah dam.

He added that it also reduced the risk of the dam drying up, which could gravely impact consumers.

“If we have to do water rationing, we have to do it. Based on the Meteorological Department's prediction, this phenomenon could go on till September,” he said.

However, the state government is maintaining its stand not to start water rationing in those areas.

Perak Water Committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin said the trend in the past one week showed there were some showers in Bukit Merah, which led to an increase in the water level at the Bukit Marah dam.

On Monday, the level was at 6.06m but this has now increased to 6.21m.

“I have already said, if the water level drops to 17 feet (5.18m), we will have to do water rationing,” he said.

The Bukit Merah Dam has around 6m of water at its deepest point and only 14% of water remains despite the catchment area of 480sq km.

According to SPAN, the dam can last for only 30 days without water rationing.

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