Best of our wild blogs: 9 Jun 16

Mass coral bleaching at Cyrene Reef
wild shores of singapore

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Surgeon accused of baiting rare birds to get good photo

Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 8 Jun 16;

An orthopaedic surgeon was yesterday charged with littering and feeding endangered birds with live fish injected with air.

Lee Soon Tai, 62, who runs a clinic at the Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, allegedly committed both acts on two occasions last year in Bukit Batok Town Park.

Lee, who faces a total of four charges, is accused of feeding an endangered grey-headed fish eagle with live fish injected with air, together with two other people - Sathiananthen Rasalingam and Tran Thuong Chung Linh - some time between 2pm and 5pm on July 19 last year.

The trio are also accused of littering by throwing three dying fish into a pond at the park, which is managed by the National Parks Board (NParks), on the same day.

About one month later, on Aug 16, Lee allegedly repeated both acts between 2pm and 5pm.

This time, he allegedly did so with three other people - Sathiananthen, Tran and V.V. Shanmuga Sundaram.

Feeding an animal and littering in a public park are offences under the Parks and Trees Act.

Those found guilty of littering or feeding an animal in a public park can be fined up to $5,000 for each offence.

No plea was taken by the accused and the case will be mentioned again on July 19.

In October last year, a video of three photographers allegedly baiting grey-headed fish eagles in Bukit Batok by using live fish injected with air made its rounds on social media.

They apparently did this so that the fish would remain afloat and attract the attention of the bird.

This would help the photographers snap an "action" shot of an eagle swooping down on its prey at the water surface.

NParks said at the time that it was investigating the case.

In 2014, a photographer was found guilty of animal cruelty and fined $500 for tethering the legs of a tern chick to a bush in order to take a picture of the bird.

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A rare glimpse into the processes behind Singapore's waste disposal

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 8 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: Last year, Singapore generated 7.67 million tonnes of waste, an increase of almost 160,000 tonnes compared to 2014. The amount is increasing with population growth and rising affluence.

In the 1960s and 1970s, landfills existed on the mainland, in places like Choa Chu Kang and Lorong Halus. Over time, the process has become more advanced, but also remote. Much of it takes place out of plain sight of the people who produce the vast amounts of waste.

On Wednesday (Jun 8) the National Environment Agency (NEA) offered a rare glimpse of what happens after rubbish is tossed down chutes, when it arrives at Tuas South Incineration Plant, and finally, at the Semakau Landfill.

At Singapore's largest incineration plant, the first stop for the truckloads of rubbish is at the refuse reception hall. The area is vast, with wide berths for each truck. These are connected to a discharge chute - a 32m-deep, cave-like structure that holds an incredible amount of waste - from washing detergent bottles and mountains of plastic bags, to rubber boots and paper. Many are items that could have been recycled instead of ending up here.

A few floors up, a staff member sits in front of a glass window overlooking the waste storage area. He controls two overhead grab cranes that collect a mound of rubbish each time, only to drop them back down. This happens three times.

The process is to "mix in" the different types of waste- plastic, paper and food. This is done as materials burn at different temperatures. A consistent mix of materials is needed in each batch for the furnace to operate efficiently.

The final grab, weighing about eight tonnes, is chucked into the mouth of the incinerator. Waste in the furnace burns at between 850 and 1,000 degrees Celsius. Emissions and pollutants from the burning process are treated before being released through the chimneys. And the heat produced during combustion is converted into electricity, 80 per cent of which is sold.

The entire process from start to finish is monitored at the plant’s nerve centre.

The incineration reduces the volume of waste by 90 per cent. Ferrous scrap metals are separated from the ash, and recycled.

The ash then takes a three-hour journey, by sea, to the Semakau Landfill, where excavators are on hand to transfer it from the barges in which it arrived, and onto dump trucks. The ash is then tipped into a cell - a sea space that has been enclosed within the landfill's bund, built with impermeable membranes to ensure the ash does not leak into the sea.

Since July 2015, the National Environment Agency has started to fill the cell that was built as part of the landfill’s Phase II development. It is expected to meet Singapore’s waste disposal needs until 2035.

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Canal to ease flooding on Orchard Road to be completed by 2018

The Stamford Diversion Canal will channel water from Stamford Canal to the Singapore River, supported by a new detention tank on Tyersall Avenue which will be in operation by early next year.
Angela Lim Channel NewsAsia 9 Jun 16;

SINGAPORE: A new diversion canal to prevent flash floods on Orchard Road will be completed by early 2018, national water agency PUB said on Thursday (Jun 9).

The Stamford Diversion Canal will channel water from Stamford Canal to the Singapore River, supported by a new detention tank on Tyersall Avenue which will run by early next year.

Speaking at a media visit to the worksite on Thursday morning, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said the project will alleviate flooding along Orchard Road during heavy rain.

"The Stamford Detention Tank project that you see over here is both to mitigate and help out with possible flooding in the Orchard Road area. But more importantly in the longer term, we hope that we also help to mitigate the variable weather pattern that we're going to see. More frequent, intense rainfall in between," he said.

Flooding on Orchard Road occurs when the Stamford Canal overflows with rainwater.

The new 2-kilometre-long Stamford Diversion Canal will channel water from the upstream section of Stamford Canal to the Singapore River. It will run from Tanglin Road, along Grange Road and past Hoot Kiam Road, Irwell Bank Road and River Valley Road.

The diversion canal aims to reduce the load on Stamford Canal during heavy rain by about 30 per cent.

A detention tank is also being built on Tyersall Avenue, to reduce pressure on the new diversion canal in the event of heavy rainfall.

Excess stormwater in Holland Road drains will overflow into the tank for temporary storage, and will be released again into the diversion canal only when the water level in drains fall. Rainwater collected through the diversion canal will eventually flow from the Singapore River into Marina Reservoir.

The Stamford Detention Tank will be completed by early next year, and the diversion canal by early 2018.

To further protect buildings in Orchard Road from potential floods, PUB is also working with developers to invest in flood protection features like flood barriers, as well as crest and platform levels.

On top of flood prevention measures, the PUB has also completed drainage projects at 256 locations since 2013. These include drainage works at Cashew Road and Alexandra Canal.

- CNA/cy

Slight delay to Orchard Road flood mitigation works

SINGAPORE — Works to better protect Orchard Road from floods, which include a new Stamford Detention Tank and Stamford Diversion Canal, will be completed only in the first quarters of 2017 and 2018 respectively, a few months later than originally announced.

The anti-flood measures were introduced after the popular shopping belt was hit by a series a flash floods between 2010 and 2012. Flooding occurs when the Stamford Canal, the main drainage artery in Orchard Road, overflows with rainwater.

The detention tank, which will temporarily hold stormwater from existing drains along Holland Road, was originally slated to be completed by this year. The diversion canal, which will divert stormwater in the upstream section of the Stamford Canal catchment towards the Singapore River and eventually into the Marina Reservoir, was supposed to be completed by next year.

Commenting on the delay during a visit to the construction site yesterday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said soil conditions were “variable and challenging”, and changes had to be made to the original schedule to ensure the works would not disrupt traffic or pedestrians.

Describing the projects as “complex”, national water agency PUB said hard rock encountered during the tank’s construction required more time and effort to break it down.

Works for the diversion canal are also being carried out in densely built-up areas and require “detailed investigation” to ensure services such as cables and pipes would not be affected by tunnelling. When completed, the detention tank and diversion canal will ease the rainfall load on Stamford Canal by 30 per cent, PUB said in a progress update briefing yesterday.

The S$158 million, 2km diversion canal, stretching from Tanglin Road to Grange Road and off Kim Seng Road, will divert stormwater in the upstream section of the Stamford Canal catchment — about one-third of the entire 630ha catchment area — away from the Stamford Canal.

The stormwater will instead flow down the diversion canal towards the Singapore River, and eventually into the Marina Reservoir.

The first phase of the diversion canal construction in Tanglin and Kim Seng areas, involving the construction of covered box drains, is about 60 per cent complete.

Tunnelling works for a 1km stretch beneath Grange Road for the second phase of construction will begin next month. Construction of the S$69 million detention tank is also underway beneath Singapore Botanical Gardens’ coach park, where excess rainwater in drains along Holland Road will overflow into a chamber with two pipes to channel the water into the tank using gravity.

When sensors detect that water levels in drains have subsided, the tank will automatically release water back into the Holland Road drains and flow into the diversion canal.

Besides improving flood protection for Orchard Road, the two projects also serve to mitigate the effects of more variable weather patterns due to climate change, such as more frequent intense rainfall, said Mr Masagos.

Asked about the flood risk during the monsoon period, he said there is “more risk now than ever”, and Singapore is particularly vulnerable with many built-up and concreted areas.

“So, we have to mitigate that (flood risk) and make sure that in the event that heavy intense rainfall happens … we have enough measures where we can detain the water before it flows into the river or canals, as well as widening our canals and drains so that it can take up the volume,” he added.

Orchard's anti-flood works 50 per cent complete
Jalelah Abu Baker, Straits Times AsiaOne 10 Jun 16;

Major works by PUB to improve flood protection along Orchard Road are about halfway done, the national water agency said yesterday.

The Stamford Diversion Canal and Stamford Detention Tank will reduce the load of the Stamford Canal - which flanks Orchard Road on both sides - by 30 per cent, a spokesman said.

The diversion canal, which will relieve the Stamford Canal of a portion of water, is close to 50 per cent completed.

The detention tank, which will hold water temporarily so that less flows into Stamford Canal during heavy rainis more than 50 per cent completed.

The 2km diversion canal will divert rain water from 240ha of the total 630ha of catchment into the Singapore River through two underground tunnels and drains 6m to 14m wide, said Ridzuan Ismail, PUB's director of the Catchment and Waterways Department.

He was speaking at a media briefing at the Environment Building in Scotts Road.

The diversion canal is expected to be completed by the first quarter in 2018. It will stretch from Tanglin Road to Grange Road and off Kim Seng Road.

For 1 km of the stretch, works for two tunnels under Grange Road - measuring 4.5m in internal diameter - will start next month.

Stamford Canal, which stretches 4.7km under the Orchard Road shopping belt which includes malls such as Ion, Wisma Atria and Lucky Plaza, could not cope with heavy rain in several instances in 2010 and 2011, leading to floods in the area.

"Through these projects, the flood risk for the main Orchard Road area will be reduced, because we are diverting the flows from the upstream areas," Mr Ridzuan said.

He also pointed to data covering 35 years that shows that rainfall has become more intense, and heavy rainfall is more frequent.

The detention tank, the second in Singapore after one in Opera estate, can store as much water as that of 15 Olympic size pools, or 38,000 cubic metres.

It will sit 28m under the Singapore Botanic Gardens coach park.

Water flowing towards Stamford Canal from Holland Road will overflow from a drain along the road into a chamber where two pipes measuring 2.5m in diameter internally will channel the water into the tank.

Water sensors will alert the automated system to release the collected water when rainfall has subsided. The water will flow both ways by gravity.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli visited the construction site of the tank yesterday.

The tank is expected to be ready by the first quarter of next year.

Mr Masagos said that by law, developers now have to include detention tanks in buildings over 0.2 ha, and that more than 30 buildings are now equipped.

PUB attributed a slight delay in the completion of the detention tank to a hard rock that needed time to break down.

As for the delay in the diversion canal, a spokesman said:"We did a detailed investigation of the services, for example, cables and pipes alignment to ensure that the tunnelling depth will not affect the services above."

In an update on the drainage improvement programme, Mr Ridzuan said that projects at 256 locations have been completed since 2013, 92 are ongoing, and 24 more are planned to start this year.

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Malaysia: Water shortage in Pahang

300 account holders facing water disruption in Pahang
NOR AIN MOHAMED RADHI New Straits Times 9 Jun 16;

KUANTAN: About 360 account holders in the Temerloh district will continue to face water disruption following the prolonged hot and dry weather due to the El Nino phenomenon.

Pahang Water Management Bhd (PAIP) public relations and corporate communications officer Nurul Farhana Abdul Hamid said the account holders, mainly in Temerloh, Mentakab and Lancang, are still facing water disruption, which had been occurring since April.

“The drying up of Sungai Pahang due to the phenomenon has caused low water pressure at the Lubuk Kawah plant.

“Therefore two water tankers and 19 static water tanks have been deployed by Paip to help residents,” she said when contacted today.

She said the affected areas in Mentakab, involved 200 account holders namely in Taman Saga Indah, Mentakab Hopital’s clinic, quarters, nurse hostel, hemodialysis building and Mentakab police station and quarters.

“In Lancang, 100 affected account holders are at the 5th Mile Camp, Desa Bakti, Desa Jaya Batu 7, Jalan Karak, Kampung Bongsu Lancang, Kunia Setia Farm, Kampung Bongsu, Kampung Sungai Kepong, Kampung Paya Siput, Kampung Rantau Panjang, Kampung Bukit Licin, Kampung Sempadan, Kampung Pongsoi and Kampung Sempadan.” In Temerloh, 60 account holders at Kampung Paya Mengkuang, Kampung Baru Sanggang, Kampung Tualang Hulu, Kampung Paya Petai, Desa Murni Kerdau, Desa Murini Sanggang, Kampung Baru, Kampung Tan Sri Yahya and Kampung Baru Belenggu were affected by the water disruption.

Asked on plans to assist the residents especially during this fasting month and if it will prolong until Hari Raya, Farhana said Paip would continue to deploy their water tankers and static water tanks to the affected areas.

As for Lipis, Nurul Farhana said no water disruptions were reported since operations at the Jelai treatment plant resumed on June 1.

For enquiries and updates, the public can contact the Paip hotline at 09-573-999 or visit

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Malaysia: 'King Tide' phenomenon to blame behind collapsed school incident

ADIB POVERA New Straits Times 8 Jun 16;

BETONG: The high tide phenomenon, also known as the “King Tide”, unleashed its fury, triggering a landslide at a primary school with wooden structures in Spaoh here today.

A building, housing preschool classes and a surau at SK Kampung Buda, were destroyed when the buildings collapsed into the Batang Saribas river in the 3.30am incident.

The landslide also damaged other buildings at the school, which housed its Jawi, Quran, Arabic and Fardhu Ain (JQAF) classes; Standard Four to Standard Six classes; text books store room and nine units of teachers’ houses.

No one was injured in the incident.

The school was built along the embankment of Batang Saribas.

According to a preliminary report, posted by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas on his Facebook page today, security guards on duty noticed several building structures falling into the river.

The security guards alerted the police, who in turn notified the state Fire and Rescue Department.

A spokesman from the Betong District Education Office said there were 13 teachers and 73 pupils at the school. “The school session will not be affected.

Some of the classes will be carried out in the school’s computer lab,” the spokesman said.

Sarawak Fire and Rescue assistant director (operations) Farhan Sufyan Borhan said eight firemen were deployed to the scene, located 58km from the Betong Fire and Rescue Station.

Douglas, in a short video also posted on his social media account, said the state government is working with the District Education Office to ascertain the damage to enable assistance.

“Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem is concerned about the matter and has instructed and Saribas assemblyman Mohd Radzi Sitam and I to check on the situation and provide the necessary assistance to lessen the woes of those affected,” he said.

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Indonesia: King tides feared to hit bali until September -- Expert

Antara 9 Jun 16;

Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - An expert in environment has said sea water flooding (Rob) is feared to hit the southern coastal areas of Bali until September this year.

"Rob is a natural phenomenon that could happen from year to year not only in Bali," Dr Made Mangku said here on Wednesday.

Rob could come in three days after full moon in the next four months or until September, Dr Made, the coordinator of the secretariat of Environmental Preservation of Bali, said .

He said the southern coast of Bali is more likely to be hit by Rob when the tide rises as it faces an open sea.

Rob already hit the Kuta beach of Badung, and the Sanur beach of Denpasar over the past several days with rolling big waves.

He said the rob this time was more devastating, as it was possible to have been triggered by earthquake in other areas coming almost at the same time , he said.

"I hope the people would not be wrong in thinking that Rob has occurred only now and it is related to reclamation plan in Teluk Benoa," he said.

Made Mangku said Rob could have occurred in the Kuta beach in earlier years but not as big as now as there was no earthquake when the tide was high.

He said in fact Balinese have experienced Rob flooding in earlier years known as thief tide.

The people in Bali did not feel the impact of Rob in earlier years as the residential areas are quite far from the beach and the rob flooding hit only farm lands.

"Now the impact of Rob flooding is stronger as the people began to build their houses close to the beach. If the people obeyed the regulation banning them from building houses beyond the limit of 100 meters from the rim , they certainly not suffer the impact of the Rob flooding," he said.

Damage by abrasion would open wider areas to be hit by Rob flooding onshore, he said, adding abrasion is caused not only by global warming but also caused by human misbehavior.(*)

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Indonesian Marine Life Still at Risk

Ratri M. Siniwi & Donny Andhika Mononimbar Jakarta Globe 8 Jun 16;

Jakarta. Indonesia's marine life is firmly in the global spotlight as environmental conservation efforts became one of the top trending topics on social media in the lead-up to World Oceans Day.

"As a nation surrounded by the ocean, it must fulfil all the requirements to be a dignified maritime country," the tweet said by the National Scouts, managed by the communications and technology ministry.

Despite the growing international attention, environmental activists and wildlife experts are still fighting to protect threatened marine life across the archipelago.

Indonesia sits on the Coral Triangle marine area, which has 600 different species of reef-building corals and more than 2,000 species of reef fish.

The region is a common migratory route for more than 30 species of marine mammals, especially in the eastern region of Papua.

More than 30 percent of whale and dolphin species are found there, including the rare Blue Whale, and even the Whale Shark.

It is also home to six of the world's seven marine turtle species that are listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Illegal wildlife trading and habitat destruction are the biggest threats to the turtles.

World Wildlife Fund Indonesia revealed last Thursday (02/06) that turtle eggs and meat are widely traded on the black market for consumption, handicrafts, medicine and lifestyle accessories.

The Bali Water Police and Karangasem District Police uncovered a turtle-smuggling operation in April.

They rescued 45 endangered turtles that were intended to be sold for their meat. Bali Police spokesman Heri Wiyanto told BBC Indonesia on April 6 that they had arrested five crewmen.

"As suspected, these turtles are from Madura waters. Once they have recovered, they will be released back to the ocean," Heri said.

Despite the success of operations such as this one, Indonesian turtle expert Windia Adnyana, of Udayana University, said the turtle population was still declining.

"They used fishing nets or 'ghost nets' for trapping these turtles, resulting in their death," Windia told news outlet Republika on Saturday.

Leatherback sea turtles and hawksbill turtles are the most threatened because of habitat damage by predators such as wild pigs, wild dogs and lizards, she said. Meanwhile, various reef fish species are also at risk as their coral habitats in Sekotong, Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, are damaged by coral bleaching.

The bleaching kills the coral, ultimately leading to the extinction of fish species. Up to 40 percent of Sekotong's corals have suffered from coral bleaching – even corals living 15 meters below the surface – according to research published on the Mongabay Indonesia environmental website by Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries researcher Ofri Johan.

The researcher called for urgent action, citing the coral system in Padang, West Sumatra, as a warning. Ofri said the ecosystem there was still struggling to recover from bleaching that occurred 17 years ago.

Sixty percent of the world's major marine ecosystems have been degraded due to unsustainable methods, such as tourism, according to WWF.

It warns that Indonesia is facing a major threat of deterioration in the quality of marine and coastal habitats, which is mainly due to human activity, including littering the waters.

The tweet shared by Danish ambassador to Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Asean sheds light on the growing issue of plastic waste in oceans, which was highlighted by Maritime and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti.

World Oceans Day is celebrated worldwide on June 8.

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Annual monsoon arrives in drought-hit India

The department had earlier forecast an above-average monsoon this year and a start date of Jun 7, offering hope for the struggling agricultural sector.
Channel NewsAsia 8 Jun 16;

NEW DELHI: Annual monsoon rains arrived in southern India on Wednesday, easing fears of millions of desperate farmers after two straight years of drought, the weather department said.

Farmers rely on the monsoon rains, which hit the Kerala coast every year and then sweep across the country, to water their crops and replenish dams and reservoirs.

But India is in the grip of its worst water crisis in years, with 330 million people, or a quarter of the population, suffering from drought after two weak rainy seasons.

"Southwest monsoon hit Kerala today," the Indian Meteorological Department tweeted, adding that conditions were right for the rains to advance across the rest of southern India.

The department had earlier forecast an above-average monsoon this year and a start date of Jun 7, offering hope for the struggling agricultural sector.

About 60 per cent of the workforce is employed in the sector, mainly as poor labourers. Farmers plant many of their crops from June with harvesting from October. The arrival of the monsoon is always keenly watched in India, but even more so this year as much of the country reels from the drought.

Drinking water is running short in many states and poor rains have prompted extreme measures, including stationing armed guards at reservoirs and sending water trains to the worst-affected regions.

- AFP/ek

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