Best of our wild blogs: 12 Oct 16

Why these 5 wildlife species matter to Singapore

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Food waste gets second life as compost at international school

Lim Jia Qi Channel NewsAsia 12 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: Vegetable peels, fruit waste and coffee grounds – all this organic waste does not simply go down the garbage chute at the Dover campus of the United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA).

Instead, these are given a second life as compost for the school’s gardens. In 2012, UWCSEA started a composting project in a bid to reduce food wastage. Getting the project underway was not easy – it involved a few high school students setting up a composting site within the school and collecting pre-cooked waste such as vegetable peels and fruit scraps from the canteen daily.

“It's a lot of hard work to start with. I didn't realise how much natural waste we put away each day and having to carry that was a bit of a pain. But I think it's just a great way to reuse the waste that we have,” said 17-year-old student Hugh Crombia, who would collect compost from the bins once every two weeks to fertilise the school’s gardens.

The project was so successful that it was extended to all of UWCSEA's grade five students last year. The students will take turns to collect 50 litres of pre-cooked waste from the canteen every day and mix it with dried leaves and water in the designated compost bins.

However, the school faces limitations in composting cooked food and waste that was scraped off of plates. About 20 litres of such wastes are thrown away each day on campus.

“The problem with post-consumer waste is because we have a mixed dieting which includes meat and eggs. That is only compostable in an enclosed environment at a high temperature. We don't have that facility at the moment so everything has to be thrown away and we know that is not a sustainable solution," explained UWCSEA's director of Sustainability Nathan Hunt.

But come December, with the start of a district-level food-waste recycling trial in Clementi by the National Environment Agency (NEA), all this food waste will be collected and transported to a demonstration facility at the Ulu Pandan Water Reclamation Plant for co-digestion to generate energy.

The school will also work with NEA to segregate the food waste properly, said Mr Hunt.

“We have to make sure that at our tray return areas, where the waste is going to be collected, is feasible. Currently, the kids know how to segregate their waste properly but we just have to design that collection point to make it more obvious so they will know the plate goes here and food waste goes here, etc.,” he said.

UWCSEA’s Dover campus is part of the food-waste recycling trial which was first announced by then Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu during the Committee of Supply debate in 2015.

The aim of the trial is to identify the challenges premises owners and waste collectors would face in collecting and transporting food waste to an off-site treatment facility as well as to assess the economic viability of the project.

Besides UWCSEA’s Dover campus, other premises such as Bukit Timah Market and Food Centre, Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, the National University Hospital and National University of Singapore will also be involved in the trial which will end in June 2018. Veolia Environmental Services, the company that has been awarded the tender, will work with the organisations to implement proper food waste segregation and collection.


The Singapore Environment Council (SEC) lauded the programme as a meaningful one. But it also noted that large quantities of food continue to go to waste every year.

Singapore generated about 785,500 tonnes of food waste last year, slightly lower than 788,600 in 2014. This means each Singaporean contributes about 142kg of food waste yearly. Of the total food waste that was generated, only 13 per cent was recycled.

“Singapore manages to only recycle 13 per cent of its food waste, which is low and it consists mainly food waste from food manufacturers. This is an area we must improve,” said Ms Rachel See, an environmental engineer at SEC.

“Combating food waste is the responsibility of every individual and does not and should not rest solely on the Government. Buying what we need and taking only what we can finish are critical in the fight to reduce food waste.”

However, instead of recycling, Singapore should focus on reducing food waste from the source, said Mr Eugene Tay, executive director of Zero Waste, a local environmental group.

“We need to go upstream and look at reduction and redistribution of edible food. If there is edible food, it should be redistributed to food charities. And for food that is not edible, then it should be recycled. There should be a hierarchy to it … now you are going straight to recycling."

"In other countries, they have a Good Samaritans Act. That means companies would donate food to food charities and not be liable if anything happens. If we have a similar law or some guidelines, more companies will be encouraged to donate food to charities," he said.

- CNA/jq

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Malaysia: Prepare for high tides, Selangor folk told


PETALING JAYA: Selangor residents have been warned of high tides this Sunday but higher tides may hit next month.

National Space Agency (Angkasa) research officer Mohd Redzuan Tahar said the high tides were expected to occur on Oct 17 due to the perigee, when the moon is closest to the Earth.

But the distance between the moon and the Earth would be even closer on Nov 14, he noted.

“This means we can expect much higher tides that day,” he said, adding that it would be the closest the moon to the Earth this year.

However, Mohd Redzuan said the distance between the moon and the Earth would not be the only factor causing much higher tides.

“It also depends on other factors such as strong monsoon wind speed,” he added.

He was commenting on reports that the high-tide phenomenon, which comes with big waves and strong winds, is expected to hit the west coast of the peninsula from Oct 17 to 20.

Selangor Environment Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong said RM4.3mil was released by the state last month to repair damaged barriers and to fortify bunds in the low-lying areas.

“We can’t say there will be floods as it depends on a number of factors.

“But if there is heavy rain, then the high-tide occurrence will be compounded,” she said.

Meanwhile, residents in the 17 coastal areas in Selangor have been advised to seek temporary shelter earlier at evacuation centres.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee secretary Kol Ahmad Afandi Mohamad said high tides were expected at 6am on Oct 16 and residents should not wait to evacuate.

He said that a total of 414 evacuation centres across the five coastal districts in the state – Klang, Sabak Bernam, Kuala Selangor, Kuala Langat and Sepang – would be opened from 2pm on Oct 15.

“We are prepared,” Kol Ahmad Afandi said.

Areas that are expected to be affected in Klang include Sungai Serdang, Bandar Klang, Taman Melawis, Kampung Tok Muda, Pan­da­maran, Taman Selat Damai, Kampung Sungai Pinang, Kampung Sungai Lima and Pulau Ketam.

In Sabak Bernam, it’s Kampung Sungai Air Tawar and Sungai Tengar while in Kuala Selangor, Pasir Penambang, Bagan Pasir and Pantai Remis.

Pesisir Pantai Bagan Lalang in Sepang and Pantai Kelanang and Pesisir Tanjung Sepat in Kuala Langat may be affected too.

Kol Ahmad Afandi noted that the broken sea bunds in Kampung Tok Muda in Kapar last month that had been repaired were strengthened with an additional 350m stretch of sand bags.

“The additional sandbags were placed to prevent flood waters from seeping into the power station nearby,” he said.

He urged residents to stay calm and be cautious at all times, and co-operate with res­cuers.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Mohd Sani Harul said all 32 fire stations throughout the state would be on standby.

He also called on residents to keep themselves updated on the latest developments by verifying with the relevant authorities instead of believing in information spread on social media.

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Indonesia: Chopper to douse forest fires in W. Sumatra finally arrives

The Jakarta Post 11 Oct 16;

A helicopter that the West Sumatra provincial administration had waited four days for finally arrived on Saturday to extinguish forest fires that had been razing two conservation areas in Limapuluh Kota regency for almost two weeks.

West Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Forest Police Unit head Zulmi Gusrul told The Jakarta Post the helicopter, deployed by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, landed in Padang on Saturday afternoon and resumed its journey to Limapuluh Kota.

“Tonight, we will hold a briefing in Limapuluh Kota to start fire extinguishing on Sunday,” he said on Saturday.

Zulmi said the fires have been occurring since Sept. 26 almost simultaneously in two conservation areas under the management of West Sumatra in the regency.

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Indonesia: Anti-poacher fishing policy works, but govt told to do more

Fedina S. Sundaryani and Hans Nicholas Jong The Jakarta Post 11 Oct 16;

Although Indonesia’s fish stocks may be improving due to tighter regulations against illegal fishing, the future may not be so rosy for local fishermen operating in the country’s seas.

The government has long called for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing to be categorized as a crime by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and has taken the opportunity to push its agenda once again as it is the host of the second International Symposium on Fisheries Crime, which ends Tuesday.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reiterated the need for such recognition during the opening of the event, underlining that illegal fishing also entailed other transnational organized crimes such as human trafficking and arms and drug smuggling.

“The negative impacts are not just limited to the fishing industry, but also affect the environment. Our oceans make up 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and is threatened by IUU fishing practices,” he said.

Illegal fishing poses a serious problem for the economies of coastal states and the sustainability of their fisheries and has also threatened the stability of various marine ecosystems.

In Indonesia, IUU fishing has also contributed to annual economic losses of up to US$20 billion because several fishing grounds have been heavily depleted.

Jokowi said in 2014 the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ranked Indonesia as the second largest producer of ocean fish, with 6 million tons, the equivalent of 6.8 percent of total ocean fish production worldwide. “We are sure that these numbers are below our maximum potential because there is still a widespread practice of IUU fishing.”

Stricter regulations have been implemented on a national level for the past two years. The government has since captured and sunk a total of 236 ships found guilty of IUU practices.

The country’s efforts have apparently borne fruit, with exploitation levels dropping to between 30 and 35 percent. This resulted in an increase of fish stocks to 9.9 million tons at the end of last year from 7.3 million tons in 2013.

Nimmi Zulbainarni, a resource economist at the Bogor Agricultural Institute, agreed with Indonesia’s bid to make IUU fishing a crime and applauded the government’s tough anti-poaching policy. The secretary-general of the Fisheries Community of the Archipelago (MPN) also said the war against illegal fishing had taken a toll on the local fish-processing industry, which employed thousands of largely manual workers, as they had to face shortages in supply caused by the rigid anti-IUU policy, particularly the ban on transshipment.

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Indonesia: Weekend downpours inundate several parts of Java

Suherdjoko, Ganug Nugroho Adi and Agus Maryono The Jakarta Post 11 Oct 16;

Heavy rains in nearly all parts of Java over the weekend have resulted in flooding, forcing hundreds to seek temporary shelter while one remains missing.

Three Semarang State University students were swept away by a flash flood in a river near their campus in Semarang, Central Java, as they took part in a student activity on Sunday afternoon. Two students were rescued, but a student named Dwi Wahyu Kurnia, 18, remained missing as of Monday afternoon.

Semarang National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas Semarang) head Agus Haryono said on Monday that the students were in the middle of the Curug River in Banaran, Gunungpati, Semarang, for the activity when the flash food occurred. Initially 11 students were swept away by the swift currents, but eight of them saved themselves, while three were swept away.

“Currently, the search and rescue team, assisted by a community group of around 90 people, are looking for the missing. We combed along the river estuary,” said Agus.

Heavy rains from Sunday evening also triggered floods in Cilacap, Central Java, on Monday. The floods hit at least 10 villages in Kedungreja, Patimuan and Sidareja districts in Cilacap regency. No casualties were reported, but hundreds of homes were engulfed by floods and forced residents to take shelter.

In addition, the main road in Patimuan district, Cilacap, was also inundated, causing congestion going toward Pangandaran, West Java, due to the overflowing Pelimpahan River to the nearby highway.

“The water level on the highway is currently 40 centimeters,” said Cilacap Disaster Mitigation Agency (Cilacap BPBD) head Tri Komara Sidhy on Monday.

Patimuan district chief Muji Utomo said the flooding cut off road access in the district at 8 a.m. on Monday.

“Water gradually increased from 40 cm to 1 meter and eventually cut off access to the road connecting the border of West Java, between Pangandaran and Cilacap regencies,” said Muji.

Downpours in Wonogiri regency, Central Java, on Saturday and Sunday triggered flooding in Eromoko and Giriwoyo districts, located in the southern part of the regency. At least six villages were engulfed by flood waters of up to 1-m-high.

Inundation occurred in Sindukerto, Baleharjo, Minggarharjo and Pucung villages, where dozens of homes and hundreds of hectares of rice fields were effected. As of Monday, hundreds of residents were evacuated as flood waters had yet to completely recede.

“Besides rain, flooding in the southern region caused drains to clog with garbage and mud,” said Wonogiri Disaster Mitigation Agency (Wonogiri BPBD) head Bambang Haryanto.

Around 30 residents in Tameng hamlet, Girikikis village in Giriwoyo district were trapped by 1-m-high flooding. The Wonogiri BPBD has dispatched medical supplies and food using bamboo rafts.

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Indonesia: Wild Aceh elephants guided back to forest

Hotli Simanjuntak The Jakarta Post 11 Oct 16;

Human’s friends: Three domesticated elephants are taken on a patrol near oil palm plantations to drive away a parade of wild elephants in East Aceh on Monday. The wild elephants sometimes attack villages in the area.(JP/Hotli Simanjuntak)(JP/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Three trained elephants named Bunta, Lilik and Midok are being used to drive away their wild cousins that have been rummaging through farms and homes in Seumanah Jaya village, East Aceh regency, Aceh.

The regency administration deployed the three bull elephants from the East Aceh Serbajadi Conservation Response Unit (CRU) and others from the Saree Elephant Training Center (PLG) on Monday after receiving a report that a herd of wild elephants had often been trespassing into human settlements in the area.

The Serbajadi CRU program, a cooperation effort between Flora Fauna International, the forestry office, the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and the regency administration, was initiated as a way to use trained elephants to stop wild elephants from rampaging through human settlements.

Aceh BKSDA Regional 1 head Dedi Irvansyah said the deployment on Monday was aimed at minimizing elephant rampages that have often occurred in the area over the past decades.

“The ushering efforts we are carrying out are in response and reaction to the demands of residents who are victims of a prolonged human-elephant conflict,” said Dedi.

The efforts are to take place for a week and to be carried out by the Aceh BKSDA together with the East Aceh Forestry and Plantation Office, Leuser Conservation Forum, Wildlife Conservation Society, Directorate General of Law Enforcement on Environment and Forestry, KRPH Peunaron and mahouts from the Serbajadi CRU.

According to the head of the East Aceh Forestry Office, Iskandar, more animals, especially elephants, are coming into conflict with humans because their natural forest habitat in East Aceh is being converted into oil palm plantations.

“Widespread illegal logging and forest conversion have great impact on human-elephant conflicts in Aceh,” said Iskandar.

According to Iskandar, 26 plantation companies have permits to cultivate about 70,000 hectares of oil palms in East Aceh.

The presence of wild elephants on farms and in human settlements has caused public anxiety.

“The presence of feral elephants in our farms has a direct impact on our livelihood as farmers,” said oil palm plantation worker Abu Namin in Seumanah Jaya village.

According to him, elephants often damage farms and homes in the area.

“We’re always overwhelmed with fear when the elephants invade the village, but we cannot do anything except report them to the government,” said Namin.

Based on his experience, Seumanah Jaya residents have been in conflict with wild elephants for decades. He said in the 1990s as many as 60 elephants at a time would invade the village.

“They usually trespass into the village in herds at certain times, but now they come almost every year, although in smaller numbers,” said Namin.

On Nov. 18 last year, a 6-year-old male elephant was found dead on a piece of farmland in Pucok Turue village in Mane district, Pidie regency, allegedly after being poisoned by eating pesticides stored by a farmer in a hut in the middle of the field.

A week earlier, a female elephant was found dead in Seumanah Jaya subdistrict, Ranto Peureulak district, apparently as a result of electrocution.

The current population of Sumatran elephants is estimated to be between 2,400 and 2,800, a 50 percent decline since 2007, when between 3,000 and 5,000 elephants were recorded.

Wild elephant with GPS tracker wanders to oil palm plantation
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 11 Oct 16;

A wild elephant with a GPS tracker on its neck wandered to an oil palm plantation, damaging some plants in Anak Talang village in Batang Cenaku, Indragiri Hulu regency, Riau.

Indragiri Hulu Police spokesperson First Insp. Yarmen Djambak said Tuesday the male elephant had been entering residents' plantations since Sept. 29. After eating young palm kernels, the elephant went in the direction of an acacia plantation. He was spotted in the oil palm plantation again in search of food.

“The last time we spotted him was last Friday at 11 a.m. local time,” Yarmen said.

He said the elephant likely came from a conservation area in Tebo regency in the neighboring province Jambi.

He warned residents working on the plantations to be on alert and to try their hardest to avoid conflict with the protected animal. To anticipate its movements, the elephant is being monitored by four employees at Frankfurt Zoological Society in Jambi, in coordination with the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BBKSDA) in Riau and the Forestry Agency in Indragiri Hulu.

An employee at BBKSDA Riau, Parmohonan Lubis, said the animal entered the village due to its shrinking habitat. “In the Bukit Betabuh protected forest, we prepared 40 square kilometers of fields for wild elephants. But now, many residents have opened fields there,” he said.

Local media have reported for years that besides residents, companies had also entered the conservation area and opened plantations in Bukit Betabuh, Indragiri Hulu regency. (evi)

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Indonesia says it’s ready for first nuke power plant

Haeril Halim The Jakarta Post 11 Oct 16;

As the government completes preliminary studies and prepares human resources to build and operate the country’s first nuclear power plant, it is keeping its options open for countries to invest in the project.

The country established the Nuclear Law in 1997 as a legal basis to build a nuclear power plant, but attempts to realize it have been hampered by environmental concerns, especially following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

A recent visit by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in mid-September boosted Indonesia’s confidence after the agency concluded that the country had a high level of readiness to carry out the environmentally friendly program.

The National Nuclear Energy Agency (BATAN) said it had studied two strategic locations for the plant — in Bangka Belitung province and in Jepara, Central Java — both of which are low earthquake risk areas compared to other regions in Indonesia, also known as part of the Pacific Ring of Fire that is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis

Bangka is considered strategic to meet electricity demand for both Sumatra and Java, while Jepara is another option, should the plant be designed only to support Java.

Nuclear plants, if finally built in Jepara and Bangka, could each produce more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power.

“Nuclear power plants [PLTN] are a political decision. We will stick to the President’s decision [on the matter],” BATAN chief Djarot Sulistio Wisnubroto told The Jakarta Post.

BATAN has briefed President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo with regard to which country Indonesia should work with to establish its first nuclear power plant. The countries on the table are Russia, South Korea, France, China, the US and Japan.

BATAN has also carried out a capacity building program with Rusatom Overseas, a subsidiary of Russian state corporation Rosatom to assist the country in preparing the project.

A nuclear power plant takes around seven to 10 years to build and Indonesia risks missing its target to fulfill 19.6 percent of its total energy demand by 2025 with new and renewable energy, as recorded in the country’s national energy plan, if it fails to start building its first nuclear plant by 2017, at the latest.

Nuclear is one of several new energy options that will contribute to achieving the 19.6 percent target.

By 2025, the government hopes 50.3 percent of electricity generation will be fueled by coal, 29.4 percent by gas, 0.7 percent by petroleum-based fuel and the remaining 19.6 percent by new and renewable energy sources. “If we assume that the establishment of the PLTN will take around seven to 10 years, then the nuke decision has to be made soon,” Djarot said.

Funding will be a huge barrier for Indonesia to kick off its first nuclear project, as it is estimated that a nuclear power plant would cost around Rp 60 trillion (US$4.62 billion) to Rp 70 trillion for a 1,400-MW power plant.

Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten) deputy for permits and inspection Khoirul Huda said the IAEA had concluded that Indonesia had the adequate regulations and infrastructure to build its first nuclear power plant.

“The response [from the IAEA] is positive. It only suggests that all relevant institutions in Indonesia increase coordination and communications with regard to the nuclear plan,” Khoirul told the Post.

Bapeten said there were several technologies considered by Indonesia to materialize its nuclear plan, including a light-water reactor (LWR), advanced heavy-water reactor (AHWR) and nuclear coolant reactor.

Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) geologist Benyamin Sapiie said Bangka and Jepara were located in regions that had strong terrains, making them less prone to earthquakes. “According to current data on long-term stability of the regions, there is nothing that could potentially cause a big earthquake in those places. Jepara is located near a volcano, but there is no earthquake risk in the region,” Benyamin said.

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Australia: Coalition urged to regulate Indigenous hunting of endangered animals

Warren Entsch tells party room dugongs and sea turtles are being subjected to cruelty and being hunted commercially
Gareth Hutchens The Guardian 11 oct 16;

The Turnbull government is considering greater regulation of Indigenous Australians’ hunting of dugongs and sea turtles.

Malcolm Turnbull has asked the environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, to investigate serious complaints that vulnerable and endangered animals are being subjected to great cruelty by some Indigenous families and killed merely for commercial purposes, not cultural purposes.

The Coalition MP Warren Entsch raised the matter in the Coalition party room on Tuesday.

He showed the partyroom a photo – since seen by Guardian Australia – of a green sea turtle lying upside down on a beach, its flippers cut off and its breast plate removed, its innards exposed.

He told his Coalition colleagues the turtle had not been killed before it was mutilated, and it had been left to die in agony because its intestines were found to be inflamed (a sign the animal was diseased).

He referred to scores of other incidents involving dead baby dugongs and boatloads of dead sea turtles that he said were killed by Indigenous hunters.

He said some Indigenous families were killing the animals for commercial gain and selling the meat to all parts of the country.

He called for a moratorium on the hunting of the animals in areas where they were deemed vulnerable so authorities could determine how many were left.

He said vulnerable animals should only be allowed to be eaten where they were hunted, rather than flown around the country to be sold for a profit.

Frydenberg has accepted Turnbull’s request to investigate the matter.

“I’m an absolute supporter of native title rights for traditional hunting for ceremony and cultural reasons,” Entsch later told Guardian Australia.

“But there is a very small number of family groups that has commercialised it, so under the guise of traditional hunting they’re taking significant numbers of animals and flogging them off.

“We make a lot of noise about the Japanese whaling, but all these conservation groups, when it comes to this sort of thing, are absolutely mute.

“These families should not be allowed to be packing those animals up in cryovac packs and flying them around the country. They should be consumed where they’re killed.”

He said Indigenous rangers working on the far north Queensland coast were trying to protect the animals, and many of the communities in which they worked had put their own prohibition on hunting the animals, but they lacked the authority to enforce the prohibition.

“What I’ve said that rather than duck-shove it from one department to another, what we need to do is to look at it collectively and put in appropriate checks and balances to stop this nonsense.”

Colin Riddell, a conservationist from a group called Animal Coalition, has supplied Entsch with many of the photos.

He told Guardian Australia he had been promoting the issue for seven years, working with everyone from the former environment minister Greg Hunt to the former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, and the new federal senator Derryn Hinch.

“I’m hoping Josh Frydenberg will do something,” Riddell said. “Greg [Hunt] said he would have a moratorium all around Australia for a minimum of two years when he was opposition environment spokesman but he didn’t do it.”

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