Best of our wild blogs: 16 Aug 16

Tuas of Yesteryears – A Fishing Village and Seafood Restaurants
Remember Singapore

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Indonesia: Regional haze crisis may reoccur if strong action not taken

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 15 Aug 16;

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru, Riau, has said all related stakeholders must implement tougher measures to immediately extinguish land fires affecting several areas across the province. If not, he warned, haze problems similar to those of previous years might affect Indonesia’s neighbors.

“Currently, the wind tends to blow to the southeast. If smoke haze occurs, there is a significant chance it will be brought by the wind to our neighboring countries,” BMKG Pekanbaru head Sugarin said on Monday.

Based on data released by the agency, Terra and Aqua satellites detected 54 hotspots in Rokan Hilir on Monday morning, making it the area with the highest number of hotspots in Riau. Meanwhile, Dumai detected 15 hotspots, followed by Bengkalis (8), Rokan Hulu (5), and Meranti Islands, Indragiri Hulu and Siak, which recorded three hotspots each. Kampar reported only one hotspot.

“In total, 92 hotspots were detected in Riau this morning, 84 of which were in coastal areas with a significant amount of peatland,” said Sugirin.

“The number of hotspots in the province has increased significantly, as only 66 hotspots were detected on Sunday. This is because of the dry weather, which makes the land a lot more flammable.”

Residents in Duri, Mandau district, Bengkalis regency, claimed they could smell smoke since early Monday.

Several areas in Tanah Putih district, Rokan Hilir regency, have been blanketed with thick smoke since Monday morning. The smoke came from land fires in Putat village in Tanah Putih district and Siarang Arang village in Pujud district. (ebf)

Number of hotspots in Sumatra significantly up, now 159
Antara 16 Aug 16;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The number of hotspots across Sumatra Island has increased significantly to 159, from 92 the previous day.

Of the total 159 hotspots, 92 were found in Riau Province, Slamet Riyadi, the head of the Pekanbaru meteorology office, said here on Monday.

The information was released by Indonesias National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), based on the monitoring by the Terra and Aqua satellites.

Other hotspots were found in Bangka Belitung (330), South Sumatra (20), North Sumatra (six), Jambi (four), Bengkulu (two), Lampung (one), and Riau Islands (one).

In Riau, the hotspots were found in nine districts, including Rokan Hilir (54 hotspots), Dumai (15), Bengkalis (eight), and Rokan Hulu (five).

In the meantime, hotspots indicating forest, peatland and plantation fires have been detected in several provinces in Indonesia lately.

Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan have declared an emergency alert status in anticipation of land and forest fires, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

"The other provinces prone to land and forest fires are South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan and North Sumatra, but they have not declared an emergency status alert," Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, BNPB spokesman, stated.(*)

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Malaysia: Papaya planters’ income hit by weather, disease

The Star 16 Aug 16;

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Papayas are really not having good days of late.

Papaya farmers like Calvin Choo, 54, claimed that some of them would have to chop down all the trees in their farm due to the disease.

“The virus will take up to two years to clear up,” he said, adding that his farm had been spared so far.

Going by one definition, the disease is characterised by a gradual death of the twigs, branches, shoots, or roots.

Choo said the hot spell had caused his harvest to drop by 30% in the past two months.

“And when the durian season came, the papaya flowers dropped, causing my harvest to be affected again.

“Now the durian season is ending and I believe the supply will return to normal,” he said.

A check in George Town found that papayas had been missing from a number of supermarkets and markets since early last month.

Trader Christina Chin, 35, said the shortage of papayas was due to the durian season.

“We’ve stopped selling papayas for two months now,” she said.

Consumers Association of Penang education officer N.V. Subbarow said the bacterial virus had led to a drastic rise in the price of papayas.

“Two weeks ago, it was RM4 per kilo. Now it’s almost RM10 per kilo,” he said yesterday.

State Agriculture Department director Azahar Ibrahim could not be contacted for comment.

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Malaysia: Artificial method to help cockles spawn

TAN SIN CHOW The Star 16 Aug 16;

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia should attempt artificial spawning to address the dwindling number of cockles, said marine biologist Associate Prof Dr Aileen Tan.

Dr Tan, from Universiti Sains Malay­sia (USM), said this had been done successfully before at the university which also has the skills for the task. They would collect cockles from areas where there used to be abundant molluscs.

“We will do a strain selection by picking the ‘hardy’ ones; those with stronger genes among the pool of cockles. It is like carrying out an In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) to produce offsprings to be used for our aquaculture. Those selected will be used as brood stock and we want to multiply the numbers before releasing them to the habitat.

“These are the ones that can withstand the pollutants, stress in the environment or diseases. These strains will be able to tolerate most environmental pressures and most suitable to be farmed,” she said.

This was among the proposals that emerged at the World Congress of Malacology held here last month.

Attended by 300 scientists from 41 countries, the event was orga­nised by the Brussels-based Unitas Malacologica Society,

Dr Tan is Unitas Malacologica’s past president (2013 to 2016) and the first woman president in the 54-year-old society.

In May, The Star reported that the multi-million ringgit Malaysian cockle breeding industry was on the brink with just 16,000 tonnes harvested last year.

At its peak in 2010, Malaysia produced 80,000 tonnes of cockles for local consumption and export.

Asked about the dwindling numbers, Dr Tan said various external factors were suspected including pollution and habitat degradation.

The drastic drop in molluscs was seen in many other countries like Canada and United States.

“We feel it more because it contributes to the country’s economy,” she said.

Dr Tan said another method to stop the decline was to use the “off-bottom culturing method”, similar to that of farming oysters using wooden platforms that float in the sea without touching the seabed.

“We have done it for clams and I feel it can be done for cockles too. But we need to invest in the wooden platforms to keep the industry sustainable,” she said.

At present, she said cockles were usually cultured on the seabed which exposed them to pollutants.

Dr Tan also said Malaysians could opt for clams as replacements in dis­hes like curry mee or char kuay teow.

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Malaysia: Eye in the sky against logging

The Star 16 Aug 16;

PUTRAJAYA: A RM30mil light aircraft will be used to monitor illegal logging activities in Sarawak.

Natural Resources and Environ­ment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said his ministry had agreed to acquire the aircraft and had proposed the matter to the Finance Ministry.

Its minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the aircraft had advantages over drones which were operated by remote control.

“A drone can be used but it’s range is very limited.

“This light aircraft flies further and quietly and is manned.

“The cost is about RM30mil, but the amount that we lose due to illegal logging is much higher than this,” said Dr Wan Junaidi after chairing a session with palm oil mill owners.

The minister said although the state government, under chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s leadership, had gone all out to eradicate illegal logging, the illegal loggers continued to find different ways to avoid capture.

“These illegal loggers regularly change their modus operandi. They no longer transport the logs using lorries but float them on rivers and collect them once the logs reach the river mouths,” he said.

While the aircraft would be based in Kuching, the minister said it could also be used for surveillance in other states besides Sarawak, if necessary.

On the engagement with palm oil industry players, Dr Wan Junaidi said they were reminded to apply the best practices in milling to reduce pollution.

“The palm oil industry generates about RM65bil for the country a year and it remains a very relevant industry.

“However, the environment must be protected and I have reminded palm oil mill owners to use current technology and apply the best practices.

“The ministry will organise a workshop for palm oil mill owners soon, and we will also discuss regulatory measures that can be imposed in our aim to reduce pollution,” he said.

Dr Wan Junaidi also said some 320 palm oil mill workers had received “competent person” certification from the Department of Environment so far.

“Palm oil mills should have at least one “competent person” in charge of environmental care,” he said.

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Malaysia: Palm oil buyers hold off mending ties with Malaysia plantation giant

Palm oil has become one of the world's fastest expanding crops, but industry has been facing intense over deforestation and methods used to clear land
* Malaysia watchdog has reinstated IOI's green certification
* But firms such as Nestle, Kellogg say holding off on buying
* IOI says working to "re-engage" customers
Emily Chow Reuters 15 Aug 16;

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Leading global buyers of palm oil are holding off on mending business ties with Malaysian plantation giant IOI Group despite an industry watchdog's decision to reinstate the producer's green certification.

The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in April withdrew IOI's 'sustainability certification' after allegations the company had illegally chopped down rainforests in Indonesia and planted palm crops on peatland.

But earlier this month, it said IOI, one of the world's leading palm producers and traders, had satisfied conditions for the suspension to be lifted, a move that has sparked sharp criticism from environmental groups.

Palm oil, used in everything from chocolate to cosmetics, has become one of the world's fastest expanding crops, but the industry has been facing intense pressure over deforestation and methods used to clear land. That has driven many buyers to demand certification of environmentally sound behaviour.

Food companies Nestle, Kellogg, Mars Inc and Hersheys, along with healthcare product makers Johnson & Johnson and Reckitt Benckiser told Reuters they had no immediate plans to return to business with IOI despite the latest step by RSPO.

Procter and Gamble told Reuters it had ended its relationship with IOI, while Unilever said it was looking into the watchdog's decision.

"(We will not change our approach until) we see IOI's upgraded policies enacted, with improvements verified on the ground by an independent group of experts," Nestle said in an emailed statement.

IOI officials in Kuala Lumpur said the company remained committed to "engagement with all its stakeholders" and would be "working hard to re-engage with them in the coming weeks and months".

"Our focus will now be on the implementation of our commitments, and progress reports detailing delivery against them will be made public on a quarterly basis," said Surina Ismail, its group head of sustainability.

Meanwhile, major palm oil trader Cargill Ltd said it was sticking to its decision to suspend business with IOI. Rita Aspen, regional director of corporate affairs for Asia Pacific, said the company would "review IOI's sustainability policy ... before taking further action".

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace called RSPO's decision to lift IOI's suspension premature and counter-productive, and urged companies to put on hold buying from IOI.

RSPO, a body of consumers, green groups and plantation firms, said its decision to lift the suspension was recommended by its independent complaints panel, and that it stood by "the integrity of the panel" and its conclusions.

IOI is one of the RSPO's founding members.

"It sends the message that the RSPO is more concerned about helping a founding member regain its customers than ensuring its standards are upheld," said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Annisa Rahmawati.

Around 90 percent of the world's palm oil crop grows in Malaysia and Indonesia.

RSPO previously said the suspension would be reinstated if IOI fails to follow through on an action plan to correct environmental shortfalls.

(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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Indonesia: Politics slows fight against peatland fires

Yuyun Indradi Jakarta Post 15 Aug 16;

Understanding the nature of peatlands is crucial to resolving Indonesia’s forest fires crisis. Indonesia’s coastal peatlands have formed over the past several thousand years in tidal mangrove swamps, building up new, low-lying land comprising peat up to 15 meters deep.

There are also shallower inland peat areas, formed as part of swamp forest ecosystems. Draining, clearing and planting on both kinds of peatland dries it out and makes it prone to fire. It also causes it to collapse (subside), making it prone to flooding.

In coastal areas, where peatlands have built up on a base that is at or below sea level, hundreds of thousands of hectares of pulp and oil palm plantations planted on peat will become economically useless as these areas sink below sea level in the coming decades.

This has huge economic and social implications for provinces such as Riau.

This month last year, forest fires were leading Indonesia into an economic, health and environmental disaster. The hardest to extinguish fires took hold in peatlands, where they smoldered on, causing the most toxic smoke.

Since last year, the President has taken some steps to stop peatland damage and to address fires by establishing the Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG) and by stating there will be a halt to oil palm expansion into forest areas, including peat forests. However, a year on there are worrying signs that the disaster will recur if the actions taken by companies, the government and the BRG don’t fully address the current conditions in peat landscapes.

In this fight, winning means that we stop tomorrow’s fires, as well as ensure that yesterday’s fires don’t return. To achieve that, joined up thinking is needed across government. The peat agency’s restoration agenda must be married with a clear set of priority areas — those where extensive forest areas remain. In these areas, any expansion into peatlands by industry must be stopped, and the damage done by existing plantation development immediately addressed.

Unfortunately resources for restoration risk being wasted if they are spread across numerous areas that are already heavily degraded, or have only limited peat remaining due to subsidence through drainage and resulting fires.

The reality is that such areas have little potential for restoration and instead need to be the focus of other interventions.

The BRG’s restoration maps, focused on previously burned areas, suggest that that the wrong areas may receive the lion’s share of attention. The BRG recently conducted a consultation via Facebook, but it needs to send out a more serious call for deeper public, and especially scientific, reviews of its maps and plans, and revise them accordingly.

Priority peat landscapes should be rezoned for protection, regardless of tenure status. No peatland development is sustainable and preventing future fires means stopping all expansion and conserving the remaining forests in these areas. Plantations should be retired, forests restored and no-drainage buffer zones introduced.

In some locations no-drainage peatland production could permit continued economic use — particularly by local communities. However this requires a massive and urgent investment in alternative species, which unlike those used in pulp and oil palm plantations do not require drainage.

For existing plantations in peatlands outside priority areas, water levels must be maintained as high as possible to slow subsidence and to try and decrease the fire risk. It is important to note that the future is bleak for such areas. Subsidence and eventual flooding remain inevitable as long as drainage continues.

The reality today is that peatlands are being torn asunder by overlapping regulations and competing agendas within government. Incredibly, the regulatory regime appears to be based on the pretence that it is possible to develop some peatlands into plantations, as long as some parts are protected.

This needs to be called out for the nonsense that it is. Harmonized action is urgently needed, including revisiting stalled reforms to the Peat Ecosystem Protection and Management Regulation (PP 71/2014), which defies good science by permitting continued drainage in peat landscapes.

Fires and poor peatland management are not simply a health and environmental issue, they are also very much about economics. The World Bank estimated that US$16 billion was wiped off Indonesia’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year due to the fires. How much more will be wiped off permanently when, after years of fuelling fires due to poor management, hundreds of thousands of hectares of plantations in the coastal peatlands of Sumatra and Kalimantan inevitably flood due to a failure to listen to science and to reform industry practice?

The writer is political forest campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Indonesia.

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Indonesia: Water crisis hits Klaten — formerly the country’s rice bowl

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 15 Aug 16;

Once known as one of the country’s rice bowls, Klaten in Central Java, has been experiencing a water crisis that has started affecting rice fields in many districts across the regency.

Some 3,000 hectares of farm land in the regency are estimated to have suffered from drought during the second planting season this year. They are spread in the districts of Kemalang, Karangnongko, Jatinom, Pedan, Cawas and Bayat.

“For the last two months, people have been facing difficulties to get clean water as wells and water reservoirs are drying up. Some wells have even completely dried out,” Taryono, 57, of Tlogowatu, Kemalang, said.

The lack of rainfall in the last two months contributed to the drought in that area.

The impact of the water crisis was evident in the agricultural sector. Farmer Jarwanto, 45, of Deles subdistrict, Kemalang, said most of the rice plants in his region were currently about a month old so they need plenty of water for their growth.

Due to a shortage of irrigation water, farmers had to queue to get their turns for water from the local irrigation canals.

“Most of the irrigation canals have dried out because of a lack of rainfall so the water flow has to be well managed,” said Jarwanto, adding that local farmers could only irrigate their fields every Thursday and Friday and had to pay Rp 15,000 (US$1.14) to do it.

Moreover, Taryono said some wells belonging to locals still contain water in them, but they could not be used for drinking or cooking because they were smelly and brownish yellow in color.

“The water is dirty. If we use it to wash white clothes it turns them yellowish,” said Taryono, adding that people mostly used the water to take baths.

To meet with their need for clean water, people have to pay Rp 3,000 for a 20-liter jerrycan that usually lasts for two days, Taryono said.

Based on past experience, he added, people usually had to buy clean water for Rp 150,000 to Rp 200,000 per 5,000-liter tank to meet their needs.

“Usually clean water becomes expensive during the peak dry season, but people have to buy it because they cannot rely on water donations [from the local administration],” Taryono said.

Data at the Klaten Regency Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) showed that 32 subdistricts in five districts in Klaten always experienced drought during dry seasons. Most of them were located in the northern parts of the regency on the slopes of Mount Merapi.

The agency’s prevention and preparedness division head, Joko Rukminto, said that clean water donations had been a way to deal with water scarcity in those regions. He said water had been donated since early July this year.

“At least 60 tanks of water have been sent to the affected regions. Today six more tanks of clean water are going to Kemalang and Cawas,” Joko said, Friday.

He said water that had been dropped off by the BPBD, the regency administration, regency-owned tap water company PDAM and other institutions was only a temporary solution to the recurrent water crisis.

He expressed hope that the regency administration would dig artesian wells or build water reservoirs to deal with the problem.

“Water donations cannot be a permanent solution. There has to be a long term solution, for example, by creating clean water networks from the water resources on Merapi to the people’s residential areas and building lakes or embung,” said Joko, referring to artificial lakes or reservoirs.

Joko, however, predicted that this year’s drought would not be as severe as that of the previous year because of the long rainy season. Still, he said his agency was continuing to take anticipatory measures as necessary.

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Indonesia: Missing, 17 whale sharks, last spotted in Botubarani

Syamsul Huda M. Suhari The Jakarta Post 15 Aug 16;

Residents of Botubarani village in Bone Bolango, Gorontalo, have found that a school of 17 whale sharks had gone away after staying in the waters off the southern coast of Gorontalo for some months.

The huge docile fish attracted dozens, even hundreds of visitors to the village every day, allowing the residents to get some windfall profits from the tourism.

Now the village is deserted and residents who earned income from the visitors are at a loss.

“There were at least 91 fishermen who changed jobs from catching fish to renting their boats and relying for their income on the tourism, not to mention the women who opened food stalls and others who became parking attendants,” Yansur Pakaya, the head of tourism group Botubarani, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Since Saturday, the villagers could no longer spot the fish and they did not know the explanation.

Residents spotted only one whale shark near the village. It remained about five minutes and then it was gone.

“We hope they would come back,” Yansur said.

Mahardika Rizki Himawan, a researcher at Whale Shark Indonesia (WSID), said that the fish were of the migrating kind. He said the time when the sharks were gone from Botubarani should be recorded to track the migration pattern.

Mahardika said there was a possibility the fish left the area to search for food because the food in Botubarani was depleted.

Scientists have advised against humans feeding whale sharks after learning some tourist sites feed the fish to keep them from migrating.

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Indonesia: Population of Sumatran Tigers in Jambi declining

Antara 15 Aug 16;

Jambi (ANTARA News) - The population of Sumatran Tigers (Panthrea Tigris Sumatrae) in the forest areas of Jambi has declined due to several factors, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) Jambi Province.

"The population of Sumatran tigers in Jambi has declined due to decreased forest cover and also as a result of rampant poaching in the forest areas, so their habitats are being increasingly affected," Head of BKSDA Jambi Syahimin stated in Jambi on Monday.

Data released by the IUCN World Conservation Society has placed the Sumatran tigers on the red list of threatened species and classified them as critically endangered species.

The population of Sumatran tigers, which have been included in the list of 25 endangered animal species, should be increased in line with the medium-term plan of the BKSDA, Syahimin noted.

"According to the plan, the number of tigers should be increased by at least three percent of the current population in the next five years. For instance, if the current population is one hundred tigers, the number should be increased by three," he explained.

The Sumatran tiger, or commonly known as the king of the jungle, gives birth to two or three cubs every year.

"Not all cubs necessarily survive or even reach adulthood. Occasionally, natural selection comes into play, and some are also killed by humans," he pointed out.

In an effort to protect Sumatran tigers from various threats and to increase their population, the BKSDA has made efforts, such as monitoring the population in their habitats.

"We are monitoring all tigers on a regular basis. Moreover, patrols are being conducted to avoid poaching by rogue elements, who act irresponsibly," he explained.

Syahimin noted that the tiger population was observed to currently reach only some 150.

"It could be less or more," he remarked.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Forum Harimau Kita Jambi Yoan Dinata has stated that the Sumatran tiger is the last surviving tiger species in Indonesia after the Bali and Javan tigers became extinct.

Yoan affirmed that concrete efforts must be made by all parties, including the public, to preserve tiger habitats.

"It means that rescue efforts should be made by the government to protect the Sumatran tigers from becoming extinct and to ensure that their habitats are safe and sustainable," Yoan added.(*)

Saving remaining Sumatran tigers
Fardah Antara 18 Aug 16;

Sumatran Tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) ANTARA FOTO/Maulana Surya/foc/16. ()
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is one of the 13 countries in the world that have tigers living within their borders.

India has the largest number of tigers, currently estimated to be be 2,226 in numbers, followed by Russia (433), Indonesia (371), Malaysia (250), Nepal (198), Thailand (189), Bangladesh (106) and Bhutan (103), according to data from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

In Indonesia, Sumatran tigers (Pantera Tigris Sumatrae) are the only tigers surviving, as the country has already lost two sub-species of tigers to extinction, namely the Bali tiger which went extinct in 1937 and the Javan tiger in the 1970s.

Sumatran tigers, the smallest of all tigers, are currently a critically endangered species only found on Sumatra Island, Indonesias second largest island.

The tigers are on the brink of extinction because of deforestation, poaching and conflicts between the wild animals and local people as their habitats are shrinking.

The exact number of Sumatran tigers left in the wild is uncertain but latest estimates range from under 300 to possibly 500 in 27 locations, including in the Kerinci Seblat National Park, the Tesso Nilo Park and the Gunung Leuser National Park.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), their numbers have dwindled from about 1,000 in the 1970s. The biggest threat to conservation is conflict with humans, according to the 2009 report by the forestry ministry. On an average, five to 10 Sumatran tigers have been killed every year since 1998, the report said.

To observe the Global Tigers Day on July 29, 2016, a public awareness campaign was organized by WWF Indonesia in Senayan City, Jakarta.

Director of Communications and Advocacy of WWF Indonesia Nyoman Iswarayoga said only 371 Sumatran Tigers are left in the country.

"The number of Sumatran tigers from Aceh to Lampung region is now only 371, while worldwide, there are 3,871 such tigers," he stated.

He pointed out that the Sumatran Tiger remains an animal in high demand, making it vulnerable to poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

WWF Indonesia recorded 19 tiger deaths between 2010 and 2014 due to natural mortality, conflict with humans and poaching.

"If not protected, the Sumatran tiger will be extinct, and it is estimated that the world will lose this part of the history of the tiger population in the next five years," he underlined.

For that, WWF came up with the #DoubleTigers campaign, aimed at inviting the community to support the efforts to conserve Sumatran Tiger.

Conflict between the wild animals and human beings are rampant due to encroachment of the tigers� habitats in Sumatra.

Recently, Sumatran Tigers were reportedly seen wandering around Kambang Timur Nagari, West Sumatra Province, recently.

The head of Area III Conservation Section of the Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of West Sumatra, Surajiya, said the agency found two sets of tiger tracks after receiving reports of tiger sightings from the villagers.

The first track was found near a mushala (small mosque), while the second one was found at farming field.

Kambang Timur Nagari Village Chief Sondri said the tigers were suspected to have mauled two dogs belonging to the villagers in the last one month.

They believed that at least four tigers are wandering around the village.

"In the course of one day, four residents reported having seen a tiger at almost the same time and we believe there were four tigers," Sondri said.

The authority has been working to track down the tigers to prevent any tiger-human conflict in the region.

Previously, in May, a Sumatran Tiger was rescued after it became entangled in a boar snare in Nagari Mandeh Village of West Sumatra.

The front right paw of the tiger was severely wounded by the snare and the team doctor had to amputate it on June 1.

The Sumatran tiger population has continued to decrease due to several factors.

In Jambi Province, for instance, the tiger population has declined due to deforestation, and also as a result of rampant poaching in the forest areas, as their habitats are being increasingly affected, Head of the Jambi Natural Resources Conservation (BKSDA), Syahimin, stated.

The population of Sumatran tigers, which have been included in the list of 25 endangered animal species, should be increased in line with the medium-term plan of the BKSDA, Syahimin noted.

"According to the plan, the number of tigers should be increased by at least three percent of the current population in the next five years. For instance, if the current population is one hundred tigers, the number should be increased by three," he explained.

The Sumatran tiger, commonly known as the king of the jungle, gives birth to two or three cubs every year.

"Not all cubs necessarily survive or even reach adulthood. Occasionally, natural selection comes into play, and some are also killed by humans," he pointed out.

In an effort to protect Sumatran tigers from various threats and to increase their population, the BKSDA has made efforts, such as monitoring the population in their habitats.

"We are monitoring all tigers on a regular basis. Moreover, patrols are being carried out to avoid poaching by rogue elements, who act irresponsibly," he explained.

Syahimin noted that the tiger population in Jambi was estimated to reach about 150. (*)

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Myanmar monsoon floods kill eight, disrupt lives of 400,000

Weeks of torrential rains have flooded more than 400,000 acres of paddy fields, Agriculture Ministry official says
Aung Hla Tun and Wa Lone Reuters 15 Aug 16;

YANGON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Floods caused by monsoon rains have killed at least eight people and disrupted the lives of 400,000 across Myanmar, the government said, a year since the worst floods in decades left thousands homeless and inundated vast tracts of farmland.

Weeks of torrential rains have flooded more than 400,000 acres of paddy fields, exacerbating last year's damage, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said on Monday.

With a per capita gross domestic product of $1,244, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in East Asia and the Pacific. Parts of Myanmar are flooded annually at the peak of the monsoon season, but the damage this year is being watched closely because reconstruction from last year is still under way.

The reaction of the newly elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi is also being closely monitored.

"So far as we can confirm through respective government departments, a total of eight people have been killed in the floods as of Sunday," Phyu Lei Lei Tun, director of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, told Reuters.

She said the Ayeyarwady delta, Myanmar's major rice producing area, was one of the most badly hit. Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, has not experienced serious flooding.

Some 174 people were killed and over 1.6 million affected last year. The floods were the worst natural disaster in Myanmar since Cyclone Nargis killed nearly 140,000 people in 2008.

"We're mainly focusing on providing healthcare to the victims and ensuring their access to clean drinking water and non-food items," Aung Kyaw Htut, deputy general secretary of Myanmar Red Cross Society, said.

(Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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