Best of our wild blogs: 11 Aug 16

Guided Walk @Treetop Walk!
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Massive bright green bloom at Kranji Reservoir: what impact?
wild shores of singapore

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War relic found on Singapore sand barge

Adrian Lim The Straits Times 9 AUg 16;

Unexploded 2m-long ordnance discovered three weeks ago finally deemed safe to handle

For three weeks now, crew on board a Singapore barge carrying sand for land reclamation have lived in fear of their accidental cargo - an unexploded 2m-long ordnance.

It was only yesterday morning that the war relic was finally assessed by experts to be safe to handle. This means that a private firm will now dispose of it.

The piece of ordnance is said to have been carried over from Vietnam, which supplied the sand. It was found on board the vessel KNB 1, a delivery barge that loads sand from another vessel before discharging it at the reclamation site.

While the barge was discharging the sand, the war relic was discovered as it became caught between the hatch and a conveyor belt that carried the sand, a source said.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Police Coast Guard were alerted to the incident on July 18. MPA said: "A safety zone was immediately established around the site of the barge."

The vessel, with the registration number SR 3498C, is involved in the land reclamation project for a new port terminal in Tuas.

On the advice of the Singapore Armed Forces Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, the barge was subsequently moved from the reclamation site to Sudong Explosive Anchorage, said MPA. The site is a designated anchorage for the loading or discharging of dangerous goods.

It is believed that in the past three weeks, ordnance disposal experts from the military and a private consultancy have made repeated trips to the barge anchored off Pulau Sudong. The barge is about 40 minutes away by boat from West Coast Pier.

"As the war relic is buried under sand materials on board the barge, time is needed to carefully remove the materials first," said an MPA spokesman.

Yesterday's green light for removing the war relic means relief could come soon for the crew of seven, who have been on board for the past three weeks.

"It has been three weeks. Why did they not evacuate us? I fear my life is still in danger," said a crew member.

The barge is chartered by Starhigh Asia Pacific, which specialises in sand supply. It could not reply to The Straits Times by press time on why the crew remained on board.

Weapons and equipment editor Kelvin Wong of military publication IHS Jane's said the typical procedure would be to clear civilians from the immediate area around the unexploded ordnance. He said: "While the authorities may have ascertained that the bomb is a dud, safety protocols would likely require the evacuation of civilians from the area, especially if the disposal experts are in the process of disarming or removing the weapon."

He said that if the bomb was from the Vietnam War, it was likely to be a free-fall explosive. Such bombs are usually triggered by a fuse, timer or by impact, Mr Wong said.

Additional reporting by Melody Zaccheus

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Indonesia: Haze blankets West Kalimantan

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 10 Aug 16;

Haze has reportedly affected Pontianak in West Kalimantan from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning, with dozen of hot spots detected in several regencies in the province according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites.

General manager of Angkasa Pura II’s Supadio Airport in Pontianak, Bayuh Iswantoro, said the haze had yet to disrupt air traffic at the airport.

"The haze appeared at 6 a.m. with visibility up to 200 meters. Conditions returned to normal at 7 a.m. and therefore no delays were reported,” Bayuh told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Duty weather forecast officer at the Pontianak office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BKMG), Mega Fitrihyawita, said the agency detected 17 hot spots in West Kalimantan, spreading to Sanggau (15 spots) and one each in Landak and Sambas regencies. (dmr)

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Asia must invest more in disaster risk reduction: Red Cross

BEH LIH YI Thomson Reuters Foundation 10 Aug 16;

JAKARTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From typhoons and earthquakes to floods, Asian nations must step up investment in disaster risk reduction before it is "too late for too many" in a region regularly battered by disasters, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

Asia-Pacific is the world's most disaster-prone region according to the United Nations, accounting for over half of the world's 344 disasters last year, with more than 16,000 deaths and 59 million people affected in the region alone.

The region has made improvements in tackling disasters but Asia can do more by boosting its investment in risk reduction, said Elhadj As Sy, IFRC Secretary General.

"If you compare with what you used to have five years ago, 10 years ago, the countries are getting better equipped and better prepared," Sy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview during a recent visit to Jakarta.

"Is it enough? Probably not," he added.

Citing successes in the Philippines, which is battered by typhoons every year, Sy said investing in disaster risk reduction was key to minimizing the number of casualties.

Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013, killed more than 6,300 people and uprooted over four million, but last year's typhoon season had only a minor impact in the country.

"Invest in disaster reduction, invest in preparedness ... We know it is harder for people to invest in something they do not see and where they do not measure the consequences.

"But if we wait until they see and measure the consequences, it is too late for too many," Sy said.

International aid for disasters stood at $28 billion from 2004 to 2013, but most of this was aimed at emergency response and rehabilitation, rather than prevention, according to the 2015 U.N. Asia-Pacific Disaster Report.

Asia-Pacific is particularly vulnerable to disasters partly due to a rapidly growing population and a large number of urban poor who tend to live in hazard-prone areas such as slums and riverbanks.

Currently, over 700 million people in the region live in areas deemed at "extreme" or "high" disaster risk, and the number could reach one billion by 2030, according to the latest U.N. data, in March.

"It is not enough just to respond when the shock arrives. What is most important is how can we work together in the spirit of risk reduction," the head of IFRC said.

(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi, Editing by Jo Griffin; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit

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Malaysia: Fish die by the thousands in man-made lake

The Star 11 Aug 16;

ALOR SETAR: The sudden appearance of thousands of dead fish and thousands more struggling to stay alive at a man-made lake in Taman Jubli Emas has brought a windfall to nearby villagers.

The villagers flocked to the lake to scoop up thousands of fish floating there.

The surrounding areas were scattered with dead fish, waiting for park workers to collect them for disposal.

Fish pellet seller Abdul Nasir Abdul, 46, said he found the various types of fish floating on the water since Monday while he was trading at the recreation park.

“They were floating as if they lacked oxygen and many of them died,” said Abdul Nasir when met near the lake.

“I have been selling fish pellets here since four years ago.

“This is the first time so many fish died at one go,” he said.

A visitor, Shahril Yaacob, 38, of Taman Wira Mergong, chose to catch ikan ubi as it fetched a good market price of about RM40 per kilo.

“I will provide oxygen for the fish at home and when they recover, I will sell them to my Chinese friends who like them.

“So far, I have brought back more than 100kg of various types of fish comprising lampam, tilapia, kap, udang kertas, jelawat and ikan ubi.

“I made about RM300 from selling the fish,” he said.

Halijah Ismail, 75, of Kampung Masjid, Kubang Rotan, has been going to the lake since two days ago to collect the fish.

She prefers lampam while her son-in-law likes ikan ubi and tilapia.

“I use the fish to prepare perkasam, fry or make a three-flavour dish for my family,” she said.

Halijah said she would give some of them to neighbours.

Her son-in-law sold ikan ubi and tilapia and had earned about RM180 so far.

Meanwhile, State Secretary Datuk Bakar Din said the cause of death could be lack of oxygen due to the huge number of fish in the lake and a malfunctioning water pump.

“I have directed the Fishery Department to find out the actual cause,” he said.

He also ordered the State Economy Planning Unit to monitor the recreation park and to repair the pump.

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Malaysia: Sabah tables bill for heavier penalties to enable wildlife protection

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 10 Aug 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A bill to amend the Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 was presented at the state assembly sitting here, today.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun tabled the motion, which seeks to set higher minimum and maximum penalties and include two new wildlife species as ‘fully protected’ under the enactment.

“The Enactment has been enforced for almost 20 years but sadly, the penalties for offences allocated under the Enactment have not been revised.

“It is time we amend the penalties to ensure that its enforcement puts an end to hunters not respecting and fearing the law.”

Masidi said the bill would involve the amendment of 48 Articles, where penalties will be increased by three to five times the current punishments.

Among the proposed amendments is to set a minimum RM50,000 and maximum RM100,000 fine, or minimum six-month imprisonment and maximum five-year imprisonment, or both, under Section 16 of the Enactment for hunting wildlife and harvesting plants within wildlife sanctuary areas.

The current penalty under the Section 16 is RM50,000 fine or a five-year imprisonment, or both.

Mandatory fines and jail are also proposed under the Section 25 for hunting protected animals; Section 41 for possessing protected animals and animal parts; Section 53 for smuggling protected animals; Section 62 for possessing protected plants; Section 63 for smuggling protected plants; and Section 87 for collecting or possessing turtle eggs within the traditional collecting areas.

Meanwhile, under Section 41, the penalty for the offence of possessing a fully protected animal and animal parts without permission is a minimum of RM50,000 and maximum RM250,000 fine and jail term of not less than a year, and not exceeding five years.

The proposed Article 44 involves an amendment to the Section 101, which gives jurisdiction to the State Wildlife Director to issue compounds of not more than 50 per cent of the maximum fine penalty for anyone found to have carried out offences under the Enactment.

At the same time, Masidi also announced that Article 47 would include the Olive Ridley Turtle as a new fully-protected species while under Article 48, the White-Browed Shama bird is to be listed as protected animal. The motion was supported by all representatives.

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Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife Dept awaiting green light to pursue turtle eggs case against minister

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 10 Aug 16;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is awaiting the green light from the deputy public prosecutor to pursue a case involving a Federal Minister who allegedly consumed turtle eggs in Sandakan last year.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the case report has been forwarded to the DPP.

“I am sure everyone knows who we are referring to.

There must be permission and approval from the DPP (before the department can proceed further). “I am here to remind everyone that we have not been keeping quiet.

We meant what we said,” he said at the state assembly sitting, when tabling a bill to amend the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

The bill seeks to impose higher minimum and maximum penalties to deter individuals from hunting and possessing fully protected animals and plants as well as to include two new wildlife species as fully protected under the enactment.

Among the proposed amendments are to impose mandatory fine and jail penalties under Section 25 of the Enactment for hunting protected animals; Section 41 for possessing protected animals and animal parts; Section 53 for smuggling protected animals; Section 62 for possessing protected plants; Section 63 for smuggling protected plants; and Section 87 for collecting or possessing turtle eggs within traditional egg collection grounds.

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Malaysia: Captive breeding hopes up with fully-sequenced Sumatran Rhino genome

RUBEN SARIO The Star 10 Aug 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife researchers are hoping to have more success in future captive breeding of the highly-endangered Sumatran rhino after successfully fully sequencing the genome of the animal.

This will enable the scientists to identify the genes causing health issues to rhinos in captivity and preventing them from breeding.

These include iron overload disease and reproductive tract problems, said Dr Love Dalen of Swedish Museum of Natural History (SMNH).

SMNH was involved in the genome sequencing together with the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) using the blood sample from Tam, one of the three remaining Sumatran rhinos in captivity.

"Identification of candidate genes and mutations will enable comparisons to human counterpart diseases, thereby leading to a better understanding of the causes and consequences of these diseases in rhinoceroses," she said.

"We can then directly apply this information to captive breeding programs and rhino management with the hope of saving this species from extinction," said Dalén in adding that the information would be available to anyone once it was published.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said apart from Tam, they had also collected blood sample from other rhinos in captivity – females Puntung and Iman – as well as Gelugob before she died in 2014.

"We were ready to do everything we could to save the Sumatran rhinoceros from extinction and understanding the reasons behind their lethal pathologies was something we wanted to investigate," he said.

Dr Sen, however, added that the sequencing the genome would not lead to any immediate possibility of cloning the Sumatran rhinoceros.

"Other technologies that would so called save the Sumatran rhinoceros from extinction are at a theoretical stage and there are several reasons why these technologies may not work at all," he said.

"Therefore, using cloning or genome editing are not substitutes for the current captive breeding efforts and advanced reproductive techniques being carried out by Bora and the department," Dr Sen added.

Danau Girang director Dr Benoit Goosens said the genome sequencing initiative would enable scientists to better understand the pathologies that have decimated the Sumatran rhinoceros population in the wild and in captivity.

"Even if it is probably too late to save the species in Sabah, this research can hopefully assist our friends and Indonesian colleagues in Sumatra and Kalimantan in their endeavour to save this emblematic species from extinction," he added.

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Indonesia’s bird life plundered to supply Javan bird markets

TRAFFIC 11 Aug 16;

Jakarta, Indonesia, 11th August 2016 — A thriving trade in Indonesia’s native birds exists, well beyond the notorious bird markets of Jakarta, reports a new TRAFFIC study which turns the lens on eastern and central Java.

Nearly 23,000 birds were recorded in five markets in Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Malang during a three-day survey, with clear indication that the vast majority were illegally taken from the wild.

In the market for extinction: eastern and central Java (PDF, 3 MB) reports that 28 of the 241 species were fully protected under Indonesian law, which means all hunting and trade is prohibited. They included seven Black-winged Mynas Acridotheres melanopterus, a Critically Endangered species found only on Java and Bali, and a single Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush Garrulax rufifrons, an endangered species found only in Java.

Native birds can only be collected according to quotas allocated by the Indonesian authorities. However, no such quotas have been set except in select cases for use as breeding stock for commercial breeding operations.

“The sheer scale of trade is staggering. Almost all of the birds were native to Indonesia, 15% of them found nowhere else on earth—the outlook for some of the country’s wild bird populations is very bleak,” said Serene Chng, Programme Officer and co-author of the new report

This survey follows a similar inventory in Jakarta in 2014, which documented 19,036 birds for sale over a three-day period, and amplifies the threats to wild birds in Indonesia, the country with the highest number of threatened bird species in Asia. There were more Indonesian endemic species and subspecies, particularly from eastern Indonesia, recorded in the eastern and central Java markets compared to Jakarta.

“Most of the birds observed openly for sale in these markets should not be there,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “The Indonesian Government should take strong action against the traders involved—it’s time to shut down the illegal bird trade in Indonesia for good.”

TRAFFIC also urges the Government of Indonesia to provide stronger legal protection for species threatened with extinction. This includes the Sumatran Laughingthrush Garrulax bicolor which should be listed as a protected species in the ongoing revision of Indonesia’s wildlife legislation. Another species of concern is the Greater Green Leafbird Chloropsis sonnerati, which was discovered in large numbers in both this study and the previous survey in Jakarta while over a thousand were recorded in a spate of seizures late last year.

Bird Markets in Java Threaten Indonesia's Wildlife: Traffic
Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 11 Aug 16;

Jakarta. The wildlife trade watchdog Traffic has expressed criticism of the large number of bird markets in East and Central Java, especially those that openly sell critically endangered species.

The joint program of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) recorded nearly 23,000 birds in five markets in Yogyakarta and the East Java cities Surabaya and Malang during a three-day survey.

Traffic revealed that 28 of the 241 species of birds it encountered in these markets were protected under Indonesian law.

Trading or hunting of these birds, or any wildlife species protected by law, is illegal.

The endangered birds include the black-winged myna (Acridotheres melanopterus), which can only be found in Java and Bali, as well as the rufous-fronted laughingthrush (Garrulax rufifrons), which is endemic to Java.

"The outlook for some of the country's wild bird populations is very bleak," Traffic Southeast Asia program officer Serene Chng said in a statement on Wednesday (10/08). "Fifteen percent of all the birds native to Indonesia are found nowhere else on earth."

A similar survey was conducted in Jakarta in 2014, where Traffic documented 19,036 birds displayed for sale in the city's bird markets over a period of three days.

"Most of the birds observed openly for sale in these markets should not be there," Traffic Southeast Asia regional director Chris R. Shepherd said. "The Indonesian government should take strong action against the traders involved — it's time to shut down the illegal bird trade in Indonesia for good."

The organization has urged the government to provide stronger legal protection for the endangered birds, including the Sumatran laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor) and the greater green leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati).

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Thailand: Four Chumphon islands closed for coral regeneration after bleaching

AMNART THONGDEE Bangkok Post 10 Aug 16;

CHUMPHON — Part of Mu Koh Chumphon National Park has been closed indefinitely to allow coral damaged by bleaching to recover, provincial governor Somdee Khachanyangyuen said on Wednesday.

Mr Somdee said the Department of National Parks (DNP) ordered the closure at Koh Ngam Noi, Koh Maprao, Koh Kula and Koh Rad, which are popular dive and snorkelling spots.

The decision followed a survey of coral reefs at marine national parks in the Gulf of Thailand that discovered large areas of coral bleaching.

The four islands are part of Mu Koh Chumphon National Park, which covers 317 square kilometres with a sea area of 165,969 rai.

Bleaching, or the whitening of coral as it loses its natural pigment, is caused by a rise in sea temperature, which has been linked to global climate change.

The four sites will be closed until further notice to prevent further damage from human activities and enable the corals to fully recover, Mr Somdee said.

Rakpong Boonyoi, head of Mu Koh Chumphon marine park, said all fishing and tourism activities will be banned at the islands, where bleaching of staghorn corals is widespread. The closure may affect tourism in the area, but visitors can still visit other popular dive and snorkelling sites in the park, such as Koh Ngam Yai and Hin Pa.

Staghorn corals are especially sensitive to bleaching and are among the corals most vulnerable to anthropogenic stressors, he said.

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Agriculture and overuse greater threats to wildlife than climate change – study

Efforts to address climate change must not overshadow more immediate priorities for the survival of the world’s flora and fauna, say researchers
Jessica Aldred The Guardian 10 Aug 16;

Agriculture and the overexploitation of plants and animal species are significantly greater threats to biodiversity than climate change, new analysis shows.

Joint research published in the journal Nature on Wednesday found nearly three-quarters of the world’s threatened species faced these threats, compared to just 19% affected by climate change.

It comes a month before the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) hosts its annual summit in Hawaii to set future priorities for conservation.

The team from the University of Queensland, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the IUCN assessed 8,688 near-threatened or threatened species on the IUCN’s “red list” against 11 threats: overexploitation, agricultural activity, urban development, invasion and disease, pollution, ecosystem modification, climate change, human disturbance, transport and energy production.

It found that 6,241 (72%) of the studied species were affected by overexploitation – logging, hunting, fishing or gathering species from the wild at rates that cannot be compensated for by reproduction or regrowth.

These included the Sumatran rhinoceros, western gorilla and Chinese pangolin – all illegally hunted for their body parts and meat – and the Bornean wren babbler, one of 4,049 species threatened by unsustainable logging.

Some 5,407 species (62%) were threatened by agriculture alone. The cheetah, African wild dog and hairy-nosed otter are among the animals most affected by crop and livestock farming, timber plantations and aquaculture.

At the same time, the analysis showed, anthropogenic climate change – including increases in storms, flooding, extreme temperatures or extreme drought and sea-level rise – is currently affecting just 19% of species listed as threatened or near-threatened, and was ranked seventh among the 11 threats.

Hooded seals are among the 1,688 species affected. These have declined by 90% in the north-eastern Atlantic Arctic over the past few decades as a result of extensive declines in regional sea ice, and the availability of sites for resting and raising pups. The common hippopotamus and leatherback turtle are also being affected by climate-related droughts and high temperatures.

The analysis comes a month before representatives from government, industry and NGOs meet in Hawaii for the annual IUCN World Conservation Congress. High on the agenda will be defining a sustainable path for translating climate and development agreements – including the 2015 Paris agreement – into conservation actions.

The common hippopotamus is one of 347 species affected by drought as a result of man-made climate change. Photograph: Thomas Mukoya/Reuters
But the authors say it is crucial that efforts to address climate change do not overshadow more immediate priorities for the survival of the world’s flora and fauna. Delegates must focus on proposing and funding actions that deal with the biggest threats to biodiversity, they urge.

“Addressing these old foes of over-harvesting and agricultural activities are key to turning around the biodiversity extinction crisis,” said lead author, Sean Maxwell of the University of Queensland, Australia. “This must be at the forefront of the conservation agenda.”

But the authors say there are solutions to alleviate the harm caused by overexploitation and agricultural activities, such as sustainable harvest regimes, hunting regulations and no-take marine protected areas, international forums such as Cites and public education to reduce demand.

Dr James Watson, co-author of the study from the WCS and the University of Queensland, said: “History has taught us that minimising impacts from over-harvesting and agriculture requires a variety of conservation actions but these can be achieved.

“Actions such as well-managed protected areas, enforcement of hunting regulations, and managing agricultural systems in ways that allow threatened species to persist within them, all have a major role to play in reducing the biodiversity crisis. These activities need to be well funded and prioritised in areas that will reduce threat.”

Guns, tractors 'threaten wildlife more than climate'
AFP Yahoo News 11 Aug 16;

Paris (AFP) - The main driver of wildlife extinction is not climate change but humanity's rapacious harvesting of species for food and trophies, along with our ever-expanding agricultural footprint, said researchers pleading for a reset of conservation priorities.

In an analysis of nearly 9,000 "threatened" or "near-threatened" species, the scientists found that three-quarters are being over-exploited for commerce, recreation or subsistence.

Demand for meat and body parts, for example, have driven the Western gorilla and Chinese pangolin to near extinction, and pushed the Sumatran rhinoceros -- prized in China for bogus medicines made from its horn -- over the edge.

And more than half of the 8,688 species of animals and plants evaluated are suffering due to the conversion of their natural habitats into industrial farms and plantations, mainly to raise livestock and grow commodity crops for fuel or food.

By comparison, only 19 percent of these species are currently affected by climate change, they reported in a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature.

Conservation budgets, the researchers argued, must reflect this reality.

"Addressing the old foes of overharvesting and agricultural activities are key to turning around the biodiversity extinction crisis," said lead author Sean Maxwell, a professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.

These threats, rather than climate change, "must be at the forefront of the conservation agenda," he said in a statement.

A group of 43 top conservation experts, meanwhile, issued a public appeal recently to save the world's dwindling terrestrial megafauna, from big cats to elephants to giant apes.

"They are vanishing just as science is discovering their essential ecological roles," they wrote in BioSciences. Unless funding to save them increases at least tenfold, they "may not survive to the 22nd century," they added.

The provocative appeal in Nature -- which elicited sharp reactions -- comes a month before a crucial meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a policy-oriented umbrella grouping of governments, industry and NGOs that meets every three or four years.

The IUCN also manages the gold-standard Red List of endangered species, tracking and cataloguing the health of Earth's flora and fauna.

- Mass extinction event -

Climate change has overshadowed more traditional conservation priorities over the last decade, siphoning limited resources -- and cash -- away from more urgent needs, the authors argued.

In December, 195 nations inked the Paris Agreement, the first global pact to curb greenhouse gas emissions and help poor countries cope with global warming impacts such as rising seas, drought and superstorms.

The agreement -- which could be ratified as early as this year -- calls for the mobilisation of hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming decades.

The Nature analysis acknowledges global warming could become an increasingly dominant menace for biodiversity in the coming decades.

"But, overwhelmingly, the most immediate threat comes from agriculture and over-exploitation," said co-author James Watson, a biodiversity expert at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

"Unless we tackle these problems now, many species may disappear by the time the full impacts of climate change really kicks."

Earth, he pointed out, has now entered a "mass extinction event" in which species are disappearing 1,000 to 10,000 times more quickly than a century or two ago.

There have only been six such wipeouts in the last half-billion years, some of them claiming up to 95 percent of all life forms.

"It is hard to exaggerate just how dramatic the threat to Earth's species really is," Watson said.

Other conservationists were critical of both the Nature analysis, and the accompanying appeal.

"There is no need to see tradeoffs among different conservation priorities -- we need them all," Peter MacIntyre, an expert on the ecology of fresh-water systems at the University of Wisconsin, told AFP.

MacIntyre illustrated that very point in a study, published this week, that fingered climate change, as well as over-fishing and pollution, for the depletion since 1950 of fish stocks in central Africa's Lake Tanganyika, a vital source of protein for millions.

"What good is it protecting a habitat that becomes oxygen-deprived or too hot for its current species due to climate warming, or where lake levels drop due to changes in precipitation patterns?", he asked.

It does not, in other words, makes sense to look at different problems in isolation.

Christopher Wolf, an expert on large carnivores at Oregon State University, agrees with the Nature analysis, noting that hunting and habitat loss are -- at least for big cats and wolves -- much greater dangers in the near term.

But all the pressures closing in on Earth's biodiversity do have one thing in common, he added: "all threats faced by species are caused by man."

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