Malaysia: Dugong carcass found off Kg Pendas Laut

KATHLEEN ANN KILI The Star 5 May 16;

Photo from AsiaOne attributed to The Star.

GELANG PATAH: A dugong carcass was found floating in the sea near Kampung Pendas Laut, here.

Johor Fisheries Department director Zamani Omar said a team of officers is at the scene to investigate.

“I have yet to receive a report from my officers," he said.

“I have also instructed them to determine the cause of death,” he said, adding that the department will investigate whether the dugong died from disease or was hit by a vessel.

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Best of our wild blogs: 5 May 16

Birdwatching in Pasir Ris Park (April 30, 2016)
Rojak Librarian

Singapore Bird Report-April 2016
Singapore Bird Group

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Fuel oil leaks from storage tank on island west of Pulau Bukom

Lin Yangchen Straits Times 5 May 16;

A storage tank containing fuel oil sprung a leak on April 29, flooding the surrounding area but stopping short of the sea.

Photo from Stomp

The leak occurred within a facility owned and managed by petro- leum storage company Tankstore on Pulau Busing, which is located off the south-western coast of Singapore, west of Pulau Bukom.

Fuel oil is a heavy oil used for power and heat generation.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it received a report on the oil spill at about 9.45pm on Saturday.

When contacted, Tankstore informed MPA that one of its tanks had leaked on April 29 at about 12.05pm. The leaked oil was contained within a pit wall around the tank and no oil had spilled into the sea.

MPA said it has not sighted any oil in the waters off Pulau Busing in its daily checks.

Clean-up operations were still in progress as of Tuesday, according to a report by marine fuels publication Platts Bunkerworld.

Tankstore did not respond to queries by press time.

On April 20, an oil tank on Jurong Island had caved in after catching fire. In 2014, a series of ship collisions south of Singapore released hundreds of tonnes of fuel oil into the sea, affecting the beaches and waters of Kusu Island and St John's Island.

Lin Yangchen

Related link
Oil spill at Pulau Busing on 30 Apr 2016 on wild shores of singapore

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Haze may be less severe due to La Nina rains

Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 5 May 16;

This year, Singapore may not experience haze as severe as last year.

This is because the El Nino weather phenomenon, which last year caused forest and peatland fires in Indonesia to burn harder and for longer, is expected to subside by the time the traditional dry season rolls in about next month.

Five ministers from countries in the region, who yesterday attended a haze meeting in Singapore, also noted that La Nina - a weather phenomenon associated with more rain this region - is also expected to kick in by the third quarter of this year.

While this could bring more rain to the fire-prone landscape in Indonesia during the dry season, meeting chair Masagos Zulkifli - Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources - told reporters at a press conference that there could still be dry spells in between bouts of rain.

"Whether the fires restart within this dry spell, and be put out quickly by the timely coming of rain, is something only God knows.

"But with more rain coming during that period, hopefully, the fires will abate," he said.

International climate expert Peter Hoeppe, who heads the Geo Risk Research division at German reinsurance firm Munich Re, said after a strong El Nino like the one experienced last year, there is a high probability that La Nina would kick in immediately.

In comparison, for El Nino years that are less strong, there would be a neutral phase for about a year or two before La Nina conditions set in, Dr Hoeppe noted.

The assumption of a La Nina following right after a strong El Nino is based on statistical analyses of events in the past 45 years.

Dr Hoeppe added: "This could mean relief for Singapore; I expect that the air quality would be better this year than last year as it is likely that there will be more rain in Indonesia, and less fires."

After the last major El Nino event in 1997, there was a strong La Nina event that followed in July 1998, pointed out Assistant Professor Winston Chow of the National University of Singapore's geography department.

He said: "The irony was that fires weren't the concern as the larger-than-average rainfall across Indonesia resulted in floods across the country.

"Likewise, my concern is that areas throughout the region that are currently experiencing drought due to El Nino will be subject to potential flood risk if La Nina occurs."

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ASEAN haze meeting ends on ‘disappointing, bewildering’ note

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 5 May 16;

SINGAPORE — A meeting of five Association of South-east Asian (ASEAN) nations here on Wednesday (May 4) to discuss transboundary haze pollution ended on an unexpected note, when a senior Indonesian official declined to take questions at a media conference after the meeting, saying there would be a separate press conference in Jakarta.

The five countries had earlier agreed to conduct a new study to assess the impact of the 2015 haze on the region.

The Indonesia official’s move prompted Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to issue a media reply in the evening, calling it “disappointing and bewildering”.

MEWR said it was “just as surprised as everyone else” when Mr Arief Yuwono, senior adviser to the minister for energy at Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said a press conference would be held in Jakarta.

This was not disclosed earlier and MEWR “agreed that it was a disappointing and bewildering development, but did not want to speculate as to what this meant for cooperation on haze among the (five) countries”.

Indonesian Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar did not attend the meeting, which was held at the Marina Mandarin hotel.

Last month, Ms Siti Nurbaya told Singapore to focus on its own role in addressing the haze issue instead of “making so many comments”.

Her comments — the latest in a series of critical remarks by an Indonesian minister — were in response to Mr Masagos’ statement that agro-forestry companies should take full responsibility for fire prevention and mitigation in their concessions, and that there must not be a repeat of last year’s forest fires which caused the haze.

Besides Mr Arief and Singapore’s Environment Minister Masagos Zulkifli, the 18th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee on Transboundary Haze Pollution was attended by Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Surasak Karnjanarat, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Hamim Samuri, Brunei’s Deputy Minister of Development Suhaimi Gafar and ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.

The new study on the economic, health and social impact of last year’s haze episode will be conducted to obtain baseline data to understand its impact, stated a media release after Wednesday’s meeting.

The ministers tasked the ASEAN Secretariat to collate information from the five countries “in accordance with their national laws and regulations”.

Mr Masagos hoped the study would be done “quickly” and expected to have “something substantive” within a year. Countries collect different data, he said.

Singapore has figures on the haze’s impact on tourism. Figures from Indonesia could include the reduction in the crop yield.

The 2015 forest fires — caused by the rampant torching of peatland and other areas in Indonesia — were a “very important incident and very instructive for us to learn from”, Mr Masagos said.

An expert had estimated that between September and Oct 26 last year, daily greenhouse gas emissions from Indonesia’s fires exceeded daily emissions from the United States economy — 20 times the size of Indonesia’s — on 38 days.

One development at the meeting cited by Mr Masagos was the agreement by the five countries to share hotspot information, as specified in the ASEAN Standard Operating Procedure for Monitoring, Assessment and Joint Emergency Response.

The ministers tasked a technical task force to work out the mode in which information would be shared. They also agreed to continue working towards operationalising the sub-regional haze monitoring system.

From May 30 to June 1, a peat fire management workshop to “train the trainer” will be held in Pontianak in West Kalimantan. It will be co-hosted by Indonesia and Singapore.

Mr Minh said the Secretariat’s priorities include the effective implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution to be hosted by Indonesia, and work on a roadmap towards a haze-free ASEAN by 2020.

Dry weather conditions are expected for Sumatra and Kalimantan between June and early October this year, but the region could expect normal or above-normal rainfall in the third quarter.

The five ASEAN countries pledged to remain vigilant and step up haze prevention efforts to minimise the chances of transboundary haze.

Last month, the head of Indonesia’s Peatland Restoration Agency, Mr Nazir Foead, had said at a conference in Singapore that there is “zero chance” that any haze this year will be as severe as last year’s episode, given how seriously Indonesia is taking action to prevent fires from happening.

For instance, Indonesian President Joko Widodo had announced a moratorium on new permits for oil palm plantations, and had vowed in January to sack local military and police chiefs for uncontrolled fires in their provinces.

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Malaysia: Seven dams nationwide at critical levels: Wan Junaidi

ESTHER LANDAU New Straits Times 4 May 16;

KUCHING: Seven dams nationwide have recorded critical readings with water levels below 50 per cent as of today, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said the water storage at several of the dams can only sustain supply up to a month.

The seven dams include Timah Tasoh dam in Perlis (27.6 per cent); Bukit Merah dam in Perak (20.2 per cent); Beris dam (25.9 per cent); Muda dam (30.45 per cent) and Padang Saga in Kedah (33.9 per cent); Labong dam in Johor (12.43 per cent); and Bukit Kwong in Kelantan (6.9 per cent).

He said the Bukit Merah dam has enough water for another 20 days; Timah Tasoh and Padang Saga up to a month; while Labong and Beris dams have up to three months supply.

"We urge the public to not waste water and use it when needed during this hot and dry season.

"The decreasing water level at the dams are not only affecting the domestic usage, but also the agricultural sector," said Wan Junaidi at the Sungai Buntal Coastal Erotion Control and Conservation programme in Kampung Buntal here today.

Among those present at the ceremony were Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahadzir Khalid and Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi.

7 dams in Malaysia less than half-filled with water: Ministry
The water in each dam may last from 20 days to three months without rainfall, says the country's Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
Channel NewsAsia 4 May 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Seven dams across Malaysia have water levels that are less than 50 per cent of their full capacity, following the heatwave and dry conditions that have hit the country, said its Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) on Wednesday (May 4).

The Timah Tasoh Dam in Perlis, Bukit Merah Dam in Perak, Bukit Kwong Dam in Kelantan, Labong Dam in Johor and the Beris, Muda and Padang Saga Dams in Kedah were those listed in the ministry's news release.

The drying up of Bukit Merah Dam, has greatly impacted residents of the Kerian district - known as the "rice bowl" of Kedah. The dam, which is also known as Bukit Merah Lake, is the area's main water source for agricultural and domestic use.

As a result, the Perak state government decided to stop supplying water to rice fields to focus on domestic users. Even then, the water in the dam which is currently at 20.23 per cent of its full capacity, is only expected to last 20 days, according to the news release.

The water in Timah Tasoh and Padang Saga Dams may last up to a month, while that in the Beris and Labong Dams are expected to be able to provide water for up to three months before drying up.

There are 12 other dams across the country being run by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage and these contain water ranging from 54.5 per cent (Pedu Dam in Kedah) and 79.76 per cent (Sembrong Dam in Johor) of their full capacity, said NRE.

While it did not announce measures in direct response to the dire water situation, NRE said it continues to work together with agencies such as the Department of Environment in preventing outdoor burnings that have the potential to worsen the situation, for example by causing haze.

- CNA/hs

Better weather over next few days
The Star 5 May 16;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians can expect better weather over the next few days.

The weather forecast until May 10 is expected to be “generally good” in most places in all states, except for rain in one or two places on the coastal area of Sarawak in the morning, said Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail.

“For afternoons and early evenings, rain and thunderstorms in one or two places are expected in the peninsula’s west coast, all areas in Sarawak, and the west coast and interior of Sabah.

“For late evenings, rain is expected in one or two places in the middle and interior of Sarawak only,” she said in a statement yesterday.

The department had earlier issued an advisory on the maximum temperature recorded between May 1 and May 3.

Batu Embun, Chuping, Kuala Krai, Temerloh and Mersing were the hottest places during the three days with temperatures recorded above 37°C.

The hot weather slowly cooled down after it rained on May 3.

On May 3, 24 main meteorolo­gical stations have recorded the highest amount of rain in Alor Setar with 44.0mm, followed by Sri Aman (36.8mm), Subang (35.2mm), La­­buan (32.0mm), Bayan Lepas (30.0mm), Batu Pahat (24.2mm), Keningau (21.4mm) and Mulu (20.0mm).

“Other stations recorded less than 20mm of rain. Only Kuala Krai meteorological station recorded a maximum temperature reading above 37°C, which was at 37.7°C.

“Other maximum temperature recorded at other stations are normal,” said Che Gayah.

Meanwhile in Kota Baru, a local company has taken up the role as a “rainmaker” and will spend some RM300,000 to conduct cloud seeding activities to induce rain.

AF Jets Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Amrul Nizar Anuar said such operations would be borne by the company as a contribution to the Kelantan people who were now facing hardship with rivers, lakes and wells fast drying up.

“We will conduct this exercise starting this Sunday and over the next 10 days

“As a local, I am obligated to give back to the people even though my base is in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Draw raw water from rivers, water authorities urged
SARBAN SINGH The Star 5 May 16;

SEREMBAN: Water authorities in all states should draw raw water from rivers instead of relying solely on the dams.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said the water stored in dams should be used during a prolonged dry spell when the levels of rivers recede.

“We have managed to avoid water rationing in Negri Sembilan because almost all the raw water we need is drawn from rivers.

“Since we had enough water in our dams, we were able to release some to replenish supply in rivers, where most of our treatment plants are located,” he said, adding that only two water treatment plants in the state received raw water supply from dams.

Negri Sembilan has seven dams. They are Sg Terip, Kelinchi, Talang, Teriang, Sg Beringin, Ulu Sepri and Gemencheh.

Mohamad said he had proposed this mea­sure at last week’s National Natural Disaster Committee meeting and it was well accepted by representatives from other states.

“For the past two weeks, we have been releasing some 90mil litres of raw water daily from the Talang dam into Ulu Sg Muar, where we have five suction pumps supplying water to different plants.

“We were fortunate that we had sufficient water in our dams as we have been storing it for some time,” he said.

Mohamad has also proposed that states build bunded facilities to store rain water at downstream areas so that this could be pumped back into dams in times of need.

“Statistics show that we harvest less than 5% of the rain we get and one way to increase this is to build bunded facilities,” he said, adding that these could also be an effective flood mitigation option.

Mohamad said since Malaysia was blessed with a high rainfall, the authorities should find more ways to harvest rainwater.

“Since it’s been raining the past few days, I have already instructed the water authorities in Negri to pump more water into our dams.”

On Tuesday, the National Water Services Commission said it was monitoring dams in five states and some of which had fallen to critical levels. These dams were in Perak, Perlis, Pahang, Kedah and Johor.

Sunken vessel ‘rises’ as Sungai Pahang water level drops
The Star 4 May 16;

PEKAN: The dwindling water level of Sungai Pahang due to the dry weather brought on by the El Nino phenomenon has uncovered what is claimed to be a British merchant vessel that had sunk under mysterious circumstances 100 years ago.

Villagers of Kampung Tanjung in Paloh Hinai noticed the emergence of the vessel over the past month, said Kampung Paloh Hinau Development and Security Committee chairman Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman.

"The story of the shipwreck is popular among the villages, having been handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation.

"It is said that the vessel sank due to the arrogant attitude of the captain and after the 'spirits' were disburbed," he told reporters Wednesday.

Abdul Rashid said it was only recently that the villagers were approaching the vessel to take photographs as they had been frightened by the stories narrated over time.

The vessel had a funnel, anchor rope, propeller and engine combustion chamber characteristic of ships of the 1900s, he said.

Abdul Rashid said he hoped that the history of the vessel would be compiled if it actually was the British merchant vessel that sank 100 years ago. - Bernama

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Indonesia: Forest fires blamed for coral reef bleaching

Syofiardi Bachyul Jb The Jakarta Post 4 May 16;

An environmentalist has warned of the impact of forest fires on the sustainability of coral reefs.

Coral reef biotechnologist Indra Junaidi Zakaria of Padang’s Andalas University cited that forest fires in Sumatra had whitened coral reefs in waters around the island. Coral reef bleaching has been occurring since February and continues to worsen, affecting 90 percent of the coral reefs along the western coast of West Sumatra. The condition is predicted to continue until June, with western parts of Sumatra the worst
hit to date.

Indra said massive forest fires in Sumatra last year released carbon dioxide into the sky, blocking sun rays from reaching the earth and increasing the temperature of the sea.

“This is what caused coral reef bleaching, especially on the Acropora family,” said the doctoral degree holder from Christian Albrechts Universitat Zu Kiel, Germany.

He said the temperature increase had created a domino effect on the eastern parts of the country.

Other causes of coral reef bleaching, according to Indra, include a decrease in the area of primary forests or conversions of primary forests into homogenous forests, such as oil palm plantations, as well as the use of fossil energy in factories and motorized vehicles.

Indra maintained that although the sea temperature would decrease come the rainy season, it would
not be easy for the bleached coral reef to recover.

He said the damage to coral reefs due to bleaching may reach 90 percent in a number of locations in West Sumatra. Bigger coral reef families, however, were more resistant than smaller ones, allowing them to recover within two years. Smaller ones such as Acropora, on the other hand, would need between five and 10 years to recover.

“Even then it won’t necessarily be optimal,” he said.

Among the impacts of coral reef damage is a decrease in the number of fish species in the respected areas. Quoting research conducted by his students, Indra said coral reef bleaching had decreased the number of fish species in West Sumatra, from 123 in 1992 to 98 in 2015.

“The disappearing species included those of economic value that were usually caught by fishermen,” he said.

Indra said the planting of trees capable of absorbing carbon in the air would be a good move to anticipate coral reef bleaching in the future.

Diver Indrawadi of the Proklamator Student Diving unit of Bung Hatta University in Padang said bleaching had hit coral reefs on a number of waters in West Sumatra since May 2015 and reached its peak in March this year.

“Coral reel heavens like Marak Island in the Mandeh tourist resort, South Pesisir regency, and Pieh Island in Padang Pariaman regency, have been seriously damaged due to bleaching,” he said.

Mentawai Islands Tourism Agency head Desti Seminora echoed his sentiments regarding the impacts of coral reefs bleaching in the region.

“We have been encouraging tourists to explore coral reefs. But coral reef bleaching has hit nearly all coastal locations, leaving only a few to survive,” Desti said.

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Indonesia: Fate of reclamation project hinges on environmental study results

Antara 4 May 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Jakarta provincial government is awaiting the results of a study conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry concerning the continuation of the Jakarta Bay reclamation project.

"With regard to the continuation of the reclamation project, we are still waiting for the results of the study conducted by the Environment and Forestry Ministry," Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, remarked while visiting the D Island in Jakarta Bay on Wednesday.

The governor noted that the study was important as some reclamation work on D Island was found to not be in line with the environmental impact assessment.

"Soon after the results of the study by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry on the environmental impact assessment of the implementation of reclamation are issued, we will immediately follow it up," Ahok affirmed.

Furthermore, the governor stated that the developer had also sent a letter to the Jakarta provincial government, saying it was ready to temporarily halt the construction work on the island.

"Two weeks ago, the developer had sent a letter to us, expressing willingness to suspend its development activities on the reclaimed island," Ahok stated.

Meanwhile, on the same occasion, Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya admitted that there were some issues related to the development on D Island.

"There are still several aspects that have not been examined. Among other matters are issues related to water supply, gas pipelines or cables under the sea, and the condition of the underwater ecosystem. They should be studied further," Nurbaya noted.

Earlier in the day, Ahok, along with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli, Minister Nurbaya, and Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, visited D Island, one of the reclaimed islands.(*)

Jakarta bay reclamation to increase coastal area: Minister
Antara 4 May 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pujiastuti has opined that the Jakarta Bay reclamation project was not to form new islands but to expand North Jakartas coastal area, instead.

"From what we have seen, some of the 17 small islands in the bay are no longer in the form of islands but have been connected to the mainland," Susi remarked here on Wednesday.

Further, the minister affirmed that reclamation was not being carried out to create a new island but to expand the coastal area in North Jakarta.

According to Susi, the C and D islands have been fused into a single landmass.

Earlier in the day, Susi and Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, and Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, reviewed the Jakarta bay reclamation site.

They visited the site in the bay of Jakarta to gain firsthand information on the reclamation project that had been halted temporarily.

"We have come to see the real condition here and in the other reclamation sites," Ramli remarked, adding that despite the risk, reclamation work was common across the world.

The government had earlier decided to temporarily suspend the reclamation project in the Bay of Jakarta, which covered 17 islands, until all the requirements, laws, and regulations were met by the developer.

On April 18, Ramli announced the governments decision to impose a moratorium on the Jakarta Bay reclamation project until the pros and cons of the multi-billion reclamation deal were evaluated.

"We request to suspend the construction work until all requirements and legal regulations are fully met," Ramli, who was accompanied by Nurbaya and Ahok, informed the press at the time.(*)

Three ministers review Jakarta bay reclamation site
Antara 4 May 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Three ministers, in the company of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, reviewed the Jakarta bay reclamation site on Wednesday.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya, Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, and Ahok visited the island in the bay of Jakarta to gain firsthand information on the reclamation project that had been halted temporarily.

"We have come to see the real condition here and in the other reclamation sites," Ramli remarked, adding that despite the risk, reclamation work was common across the world.

The government had earlier decided to temporarily suspend the reclamation project in the Bay of Jakarta, which covered 17 islands, until all the requirements, laws, and regulations were met by the developer.

On April 18, Ramli announced the governments decision to impose a moratorium on the Jakarta Bay reclamation project until the pros and cons of the multi-billion reclamation deal were evaluated.

"We request to suspend the construction work until all requirements and legal regulations are fully met," Ramli, who was accompanied by Nurbaya and Ahok, informed the press at the time.

President Joko Widodo had later emphasized that the reclamation project in Jakarta must not break any existing laws or regulations.

"There must not be any violation of the existing laws and regulations in the implementation of this project," cabinet secretary Pramono Anung noted.

To this end, the president has urged all concerned ministries/state institutions, including the Ministry of Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Agrarian Affairs, and Spatial Order/head of the National Land Agency to synchronize their work, so as to avoid legal problems in future.

He said the president had also requested to formulate a key master plan to anticipate any environmental problems that may affect the sea biota, mangroves, and other aspects.

"The president emphasized that the project would not serve any purpose if it did not benefit the people, especially the local fishermen," he added.


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Indonesia: Illegal trade pushing Helmeted Hornbills towards extinction

TRAFFIC 4 May 16;

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 4th May 2016 — Researchers are sounding the alarm for the Helmeted Hornbill after a new study of seizure figures revealed 2,170 hornbill heads or casques had been confiscated from illegal trade in just three years.

The figures were obtained from enforcement actions in Indonesia and China between March 2012 and August 2014, with Indonesia accounting for over half the parts seized.

Trade in the Helmeted Hornbill Rhinoplax vigil: the ‘ivory hornbill’ warns that the high numbers of casques in illegal trade point to a significant demand for the keratin-filled structure or casque on the bird’s bill, which is carved into luxury decorations and jewellery, akin to elephant ivory.

The hornbills are poached on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia and often then shipped to China, where their casques are carved are sold as status symbols, said the report published in Bird Conservation International.

The authors also highlighted several other indications of a mounting threat from the trade such as the discovery of Helmeted Hornbill casques in multiple-species seizures that included tigers, rhinos, elephants and pangolins - other threatened wildlife species highly desired by traffickers.

Investigations by conservation groups in Sumatra and Kalimantan have shown the hornbill trade is being orchestrated by organized criminal gangs, with syndicates commissioning teams of poachers to hunt the birds.

The 2015 IUCN Red List assessment notes the species has apparently almost disappeared from habitats where it was previously abundant on Sumatra and cautions that poaching efforts could shift to Malaysia from Indonesia, where illegal capture is now focused.

“If this problem isn’t dealt with very soon, the Helmeted Hornbill may be wiped out in Indonesia and seriously threatened elsewhere,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia whose work on the report was funded by Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

"The health of the rainforests will suffer and the forests will fall silent."

Hornbills are essential to rainforest ecosystems as they help with seed dispersal through their droppings. The call of the Helmeted Hornbill is also one of the most charismatic sounds of the region's rainforests.

The study calls for a slew of urgent measures to arrest the problem including greater patrolling and monitoring, far-reaching investigations into the criminal networks controlling the trade and increased vigilance at hotspots in China and Indonesia.

The Helmeted Hornbill is found in parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia, southern Thailand and the tip of southern Myanmar, in low densities. It is protected by local laws throughout its native range, and is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which prohibits its commercial international trade. Hunting continues despite these protections.

In 2015, due to the severe increase in poaching for the illegal trade, the Helmeted Hornbill was reclassified from Near Threatened to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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