Best of our wild blogs: 18 Oct 16

Huge barges grounded on Pulau Hantu, 16 Oct 2016
wild shores of singapore

Public Forum on Plastic Disposables
Zero Waste Singapore

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Singapore: Preparing for drought

Cecilia Tortajada For The Straits Times 18 Oct 16;

Singaporeans have yet to embrace water conservation and that needs to change
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations in September last year, is a "plan of action for people, planet and prosperity".

High on the agenda is addressing the impact of climate change. Droughts and floods are expected to become more frequent and intensive, with the potential to disrupt a country's economic and social fabric.

Singapore has a strong record of preparing for change, and looks well into the future for development planning. On climate change, its ambitious Climate Action Plan aims at a 36 per cent reduction of emissions from 2005 levels, stabilising them by 2030.

The objectives to improve energy efficiency in power generation, industry, buildings, transport, household, waste and water are very comprehensive. Examples include low-carbon technologies, new waste-to-energy plants that will optimise resource and energy recovery, better protection of coastal areas in the long term, fire probability index, impact of higher temperatures and strong winds on buildings, and innovative underground drainage and reservoir system.

Since the industry sector is responsible for 50 per cent of the emissions in the city state, plans include improving its energy efficiency by 1-2 per cent per year between 2020 and 2030. The Government has also developed a "whole-of-government" strategy that will focus on coastal protection, managing water supply and improving food supply resilience.

Overall, the plan seeks to reduce long-term emissions, build capabilities for adaptation, develop opportunities for green growth and establish partnerships for implementation purposes.

Partnerships are essential as without participation of the public and private sectors and the population as a whole, no initiative would ever become reality. However, Singapore's people sector still has a long way to go on water conservation.


Singapore's per capita daily water consumption is one of the lowest in Asia, but is significantly higher than many cities in western Europe. Last year, after eight years of declines, daily water consumption increased from 150 litres to 151 litres. One litre per person a day may not seem much, but it equates to a daily increase of 5.5 million litres.

In contrast, in Europe, daily average consumption per person in Denmark as a whole is less than 110 litres, as is the case in Hamburg and Leipzig in Germany, and Tallinn in Estonia.

Water conservation is especially relevant in times of scarcity. In Spain, for example, water conservation efforts were triggered by serious droughts from the 1980s. At present, cities like Madrid, Seville, Barcelona and Zaragoza have achieved a significant reduction in their daily use. Consumption of water per capita per day is 128 litres, 113 litres, 102 litres and 96 litres respectively.

A point to note is that in all cases, water conservation strategies have included an increase in prices. For example, in Zaragoza, tariffs increased by 56.31 per cent between 2002 and 2016.

Public response in Australia during, and after, the so-called "Millennium Drought" has also been positive. In Sydney, per-capita water consumption decreased by 35 per cent. It is reported that the city uses less water in total at present compared with 30 years ago, even with two million more people.

Experiences in California during the ongoing five-year extreme drought have been mixed. According to the State Water Resources Control Board, in the 12 months to June this year, 2.4 billion cu m of water was saved, "enough water to supply 10 million people for a year".

However, when comparing August this year with August the previous year , it was found that water savings declined to 17.7 per cent from 27 per cent the previous year, raising concerns again on public engagement.


In Singapore, the public still has to embrace water conservation and adopt new practices, not only during normal times, but also during drought conditions.

According to the American Meteorological Society, in Singapore, there were 40 days with less than 1mm of rain in January-February 2005, 42 days in the same period in 2009, and 62 days between Jan 13 and March 15, 2014, the longest and driest period from 1929 when official records started.

During the dry period in 2014, daily water consumption was reported to have increased by 5 per cent. The solution does not depend on prices, which have not increased from the year 2000, but on a change in societal behaviour, education and awareness.

In 2015-2016, a prolonged drought in Johor also affected one of the sources of water for the city state. Of especial concern has been that water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir dropped to 36.9 per cent, a historic low.

Impacts of climate change, dry periods in Singapore, and prolonged droughts in Johor seem to be becoming the norm rather than the exception.

The question is whether the public in the city state is ready to confront the challenges of achieving resilience by changing behaviour and reduce water consumption. Plans in Singapore are to reduce water consumption to 147 litres per person by 2020 and 140 litres by 2030. This will be achieved only with more emphasis on water demand management and social awareness, education and behavioural changes, issues on which the public has a major role to play.

It is not about pricing alone. It is about the understanding of the importance of water conservation for the resilience of the city state and society as a whole.

The writer is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore; and editor-in-chief of the International Journal Of Water Resources Development.

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Temperatures could reach 35°C in next fortnight: Met Service

Channel NewsAsia 17 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: Warm weather conditions are expected in Singapore in the next fortnight, said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) on Monday (Oct 17). In a media advisory, it said the maximum daily temperature on most days is forecast to be around 33°C or 34°C, and on a few days could reach a high of around 35°C.

MSS said that during the second fortnight of October, short-duration thundery showers can be expected on four to six days, mostly in the late morning and early afternoon. In addition, widespread thundery showers with occasional gusty winds are forecast on two or three days between the pre-dawn hours and morning.

It noted that the prevailing southwest monsoon is expected to weaken towards the end of October as the region enters the inter-monsoon period. It noted that warmer conditions are common during the inter-monsoon season, when there is strong solar heating and the winds are generally light.

MSS also said that Singapore saw a few warm days in the first two weeks of October. The highest daily maximum temperature recorded at the Changi climate station was 34.6°C on Oct 11. As of Oct 16, the mean monthly temperature for October was 28.8°C, 1.2°C warmer than the long-term mean for October.

During the first fortnight of October, rainfall was below average in the northwestern half of Singapore, and above average in the southeastern half of the island. The highest rainfall of 139.2mm was recorded around the Tanjong Katong area. Rainfall was lowest in the western part of the island around the Choa Chu Kang area, where 65.8mm was recorded, said MSS.

- CNA/ms

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3,000 bacteria-carrying mosquitoes released at Braddell Heights

Angela Lim Channel NewsAsia 18 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Oct 18) began its six-month trial in using bacteria-carrying mosquitoes to tackle the mosquito population in Singapore.

The agency released 3,000 male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at Braddell Heights on Tuesday as part of a six-month field study to learn more about the species. This will also be done at Nee Soon East and Tampines West next month.

Over the next six months, an average of one to three male mosquitoes per person will be released weekly at multiple points in Tampines West, and monthly from a single point in Nee Soon East and Braddell Heights.

They will not be released directly into homes, but instead at stairwells, void decks and other open spaces, NEA said.

While the male mosquitoes may fly around and enter homes to seek out females and find shelter, they will not bite or transmit disease. Eggs produced from the male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito and a female urban Aedes aegypti mosquito will not hatch.

The study aims to find out if mosquitoes behave in the same way in the urban environment as they do in the laboratory. This will be done by studying how far and high they fly, how long they live, and how well they compete in the urban environment.

Dr Ng Lee Ching, who heads the study, said: "The key important data we're collecting is flight range. So we only release at one point and we have traps all over in the community.

"We're very happy to have residents to host fan-traps, and they'll be collecting data for us," she added.

The study will run till March next year, according to NEA.

- CNA/kk

3,000 infected mosquitoes released in Braddell Heights under NEA’s population study
Today Online 18 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — About 3,000 male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released in Braddell Heights on Tuesday (Oct 18), kicking off the second phase of a study to curb disease-bearing mosquito population.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said this is the first batch of mosquitoes infected with the naturally-occuring Wolbachia bacteria to be released under a small-scale study in three locations. 

The Braddell Heights area (see below) comprises predominantly landed homes in and around Jalan Riang and Jalan Sukachita. There are 216 houses in this cluster. 

The first release of the mosquitoes in the other two locations — Tampines West and Nee Soon East (see locations below) — will commence Oct 28 and Nov 15 respectively. 
One to three mosquitoes per person will be released regularly at public spaces – such as stairwells and void decks – around each of the three housing estates as part of the study which will last six months.

Currently, releases are planned for every four weeks at a single point at Braddell Heights and Nee Soon East, and weekly at multiple points at Tampines West.

The study will allow NEA to move towards using these infected male mosquitoes to suppress the population of the dengue-transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the community. As male mosquitoes do not bite, the mosquitoes released in the trial will not transmit any diseases.

“This field release today is critical to help us understand its effectiveness in the Singapore context, through close monitoring of the trial results. The results will help to calibrate the strategy for maximal mosquito suppression and reduction of dengue in Singapore,” said Dengue Expert Advisory Panel member, Assoc Professor Vernon Lee of the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

The NEA also said a comprehensive risk assessment of Wolbachia technology has been undertaken, which has determined it to be safe, with no risk to human health and insignificant risk to ecology. 
The majority of residents at the selected sites are supportive of the study, said NEA, which added that it had conducted more than 100 engagement sessions with stakeholders and members of the community to generate awareness and understanding of the Wolbachia-Aedes technology.

Wolbachia study: What you need to know
Today Online 18 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Oct 18) kicked off the second phase of a study into how Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can help curb disease-bearing the mosquito population. It released about 3,000 male Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Braddell Heights on Tuesday.

Here are some information on the study, which will span six months.

What is Wolbachia?

Wolbachia is a naturally-occurring bacteria found in over 60 per cent of insect species, but not in the dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito. Wolbachia has not been shown to infect humans or other mammals, even when carried by biting insects.

How does this study work?

The local Aedes aegypti mosquito does not carry Wolbachia naturally. The National Environment Agency’s Environmental Health Institute managed to rear Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying the Wolbachia in their laboratories, and will be releasing only the male Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes to mate with female Aedes mosquitoes.

Eggs produced from their mating will not hatch because they are biologically incompatible.

Over time, it is hoped that this will reduce and suppress the Aedes aegypti mosquito population, as well as the potential spread of diseases such as dengue.

Why these three sites?

The NEA said they were selected because:

- They represent a cross-section of typical housing estates in Singapore;

- They have seen dengue outbreaks previously and/or have Aedes aegypti mosquitoes present in the environment;

- The NEA has been monitoring the mosquito population in these sites for up to three years, so there is a baseline from which to make comparative studies.

Where else?

Countries that have tested Wolbachia technology similar to what NEA is using include the United States, Thailand and China.

Australia, Vietnam and Indonesia have tested a different type of Wolbachia technology to replace the Aedes population to block the transmission of diseases, though its impact on dengue has not been proven.

The other approach involves releasing both male and female Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. As Wolbachia is passed on from the female Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to their offspring, this method is used to rear subsequent generations of Wolbachia-carrying Aedes aegypti.

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Largest Zika cluster in Singapore closed

Channel NewsAsia 18 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: The first local Zika cluster located at Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive area was closed on Oct 9 after no new cases were reported there for two weeks, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Tuesday (Oct 18).

Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive was Singapore's biggest Zika cluster with a total of 298 infections since the first case came to light on Aug 27.

NEA said it is keeping the area under close surveillance, and will continue to do so until Oct 31, three weeks after the cluster closure date.


Two active Zika clusters remain at Ubi Avenue 1 and Jalan Chengkak/Jalan Raya. These were recently declared cluster on Oct 13 and Oct 17 respectively. Additionally, sporadic cases continue to be reported in Singapore, indicating the presence of the Zika virus within the community, NEA stated.

"NEA urges all residents and stakeholders to maintain vigilance and continue to eliminate mosquito breeding habitats, as there could still be asymptomatic or mild, undiagnosed cases which might fuel further transmission of the virus if there are mosquitoes in the vicinity," it said in a media release.

Professor Duane Gubler, founding director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme at Duke-NUS Medical School said: “The collective effort by NEA and the community has managed to rapidly contain what could have been a major epidemic. The Singapore holistic approach to controlling Aedes-transmitted diseases, involving intensified active surveillance, intensified adult and larval mosquito control, community outreach and clinical management, can serve as a model for other countries affected by these diseases.”

The World Health Organisation had praised Singapore's response to the Zika outbreak, saying it was a "role model" in terms of transparency and quick reporting of infections.

- CNA/ly

Singapore's first and largest Zika cluster closed, 2 more remain: NEA
Today Online 18 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE – The first and largest locally-transmitted Zika cluster at Aljunied Crescent / Sims Drive area has been closed, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday (Oct 18).

This Zika cluster was first notified on Aug 27 and a total of 298 Zika cases were reported. Since the cluster was notified, the NEA had conducted inspections in residential premises and outdoor areas, including common areas in the estate.

Altogether, 128 mosquito breeding habitats – comprising 60 in homes and 68 in common areas/other premises – were detected and destroyed.

The NEA said the cluster was closed on Oct 9 after no new cases were reported there for two weeks. The agency will, however, continue to keep the area under close surveillance until Oct 31, some three weeks after the cluster closure date.

Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said the closure of the cluster demonstrated that “if all residents and stakeholders play their part by being vigilant and preventing mosquito breeding within their premises, we can keep Zika cases at bay”.

Mr Masagos Zulkifli, the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, added that Singaporeans still needed to "continue to maintain vigilance". "(We need to) ensure that we do not breed mosquitoes at our homes and other premises, as there may still be people in the area who do not display the symptoms of Zika and can fuel the further spread of Zika, if there are mosquitoes in the vicinity," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Two active Zika clustersb still remain: Ubi Avenue 1 and Jalan Chengkak / Jalan Raya. The NEA also said that sporadic cases of Zika continue to be reported in Singapore, “indicating the presence of the Zika virus within the community”.

Meanwhile, the NEA the surveillance period at the Aljunied Crescent / Sims Drive takes into account the incubation period of the Zika virus and the lifespan of the Aedes mosquito. The NEA said it would continue to inspect the common areas to remove any potential breeding habitats and carry out premises inspection based on data collected from the Gravitraps deployed.

For more information on Zika and details on current clusters, visit NEA’s website.

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Malaysia: Johor Baru gears itself for tomorrow's dreaded 'supertide'

HALIM SAID New Straits Times 17 Oct 16;

JOHOR BARU: The Civil Defence Force (APM) is ready to face any contingency when the forecasted supertide hits parts of the city tomorrow.

Johor Baru APM lieutenant Mohd Aziz Jupri said preparations for the supertide are underway at coastal areas along Johor Baru, including increasing manpower to monitor the three most at-risk areas, namely Sungai Segget, Lido beach and the Causeway.

"Since Sunday, a team of 10 personnel has been closely monitoring the city's coastal area. But with the latest information that a flash flood could hit the city, we’ve decided to increase manpower by four people to prevent or foresee any crisis."

"The team will be moving in groups of five to check affected areas each time the tide is supposed to change. The groups will be rotated," Mohd Aziz said.

It was reported yesterday that Johor Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat warned Johor Baru folk of possible flash floods in areas such as Sungai Segget, Lido beach and the Causeway during the forecasted high tide phenomenon tomorrow.

A check with the Johor Mapping and Survey Department’s online portal revealed that tide levels forecasted for Johor Baru could reach 0.7 metres around midnight tonight, 2.19 metres at 7.24am tomorrow, 1.55 metres at 12.50pm, and 2.23 metres at 5.52pm.

Meanwhile, Johor Baru mayor A. Rahim Nin said the council will be monitoring the four floodgates located along the Lido beach during the supertide period.

He said the floodgates will be closed three hours before each scheduled high tide and reopened an hour after the tide recedes.

"However, if it rains heavily, the floodgates will be opened to allow overspill from the river to flow into the sea," he said.

The floodgates are located at Sungai Segget, Sungai Ayer Molek, Jalan Abd Samad, and Sungai Chat.

Village near Kuching inundated by flood water after king tide, heavy rain
GOH PEI PEI New Straits Times 17 Oct 16;

KUCHING: Heavy rain compounded by the king tide phenomenon has triggered flooding in Kampung Bako Lama near here today.

Kuching Fire and Rescue Department Chief Tiong Ling Hii said seven houses and a grocery store at the low-lying areas in the village were inundated with water coming from nearby overflowed rivers.

"The water level here rose to about knee-high but it has started to recede now (7.30pm)," he said.

The flood was believed to have been caused by the king tide phenomena which led to the increase in volume of water from nearby rivers," Tiong said.

"The situation is under control with our volunteers keeping an eye on things around the affected areas," he added.

The next high tide is expected to occur at 7.12am tomorrow, and estimated to reach about 6.5 meter high.

Other areas to be affected by the high tide included Kabong, Saratok, Sebuyau, Simunjan and Belawai.

Kedah prepares for possible flood, 500 relief centres can accommodate 900,000 victims
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 17 Oct 16;

ALOR STAR: There are over 500 relief centres identified throughout Kedah to accommodate about 90,000 displaced persons in the event of a big flood happening in the state.

State Welfare Department director Md Noor Chik said the department also has over 500 staff and 600 trained volunteers ready to be deployed during emergencies and natural disasters.

These volunteers, he said have made the necessary preparations to face any eventualities. "We have made all the necessary preparation should disasters such as flood or high-tide phenomenon occur.

This includes preparation in terms of food supplies and other basic necessities such as mats and blankets.

"Nearly 70 suppliers throughout the state including supermarkets have also been appointed to provide us with food and other basic necessities during these incidents," he said.

Md Noor added that among the high-risk areas identified for flood include in Alor Star, Bandar Baru, Langkawi, Kuala Muda, Kubang Pasu, and Yan.

"We understand that disasters such as flood give negative impact on the victims, hence we urge those staying at risky areas to make necessary preparation such as moving their valuables to higher ground," he said.

Md Noor was speaking to reporters at the launch Pr1sma@Community in conjunction with the National Counseling Month celebration at Taman Seri Gemilang flat in Mergong here today.

High tide phenomenon: Perak villages inundated by 3.5 metre-high waters
INTAN BAHA New Straits Times 18 Oct 16;

PARIT BUNTAR: Villagers in Kampung Sungai Megat Aris, Kuala Bagan Tiang had a rude awakening this morning when flood waters began inundating their houses as a result of the high-tide phenomenon.

Bagan Tiang Headman Shahrul Nizam Razali said the high-tide water level rose to 3.5 meters as of 1.30am.

"This caused the Sungai Megat Aris to overflow and flood most of the villagers’ houses in ankle-deep water.

"The JKK will carry out a census for all 50 houses affected to determine those in need of aid," he said.

In spite of the flood, no evacuation order was made as the water subsided two hours later.

The Mentri Besar (MB) of Perak’s Special Officer Datuk Abu Bakar Mat Ali visited the village at 3am.

"I surveyed the damage on behalf of MB Datuk Seri Diraja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and the district officer, and we will assist the affected villagers in terms of food and financial aid.

"The state government will take a follow-up measure to erect bunds, including an L-shaped bund in Ban Pecah," Abu Bakar said, adding that the L-shaped bund is in progress and 80 per cent completed.

The bund will be the main barrier against the high-tide phenomenon and will help avoid major overflow that would flood the villages.

A small restaurant owner and flooding victim, Jaliah Hasan, said this is the highest the water level has risen in the past three days. "I was awoken by other villagers at 1.30am. They were shouting that the water was rising.

"With the help of my neighbours, I only managed to lift my washing machine, refrigerator and some other furniture to a higher level," she said.

Jaliah said she has been unable to run her business as usual since the high-tide hit on Saturday.

"I hope the local authority can build bunds to avoid the same incident happening again," she added.

High tide phenomenon: Villagers in Kuala Muda fear for their safety
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 17 Oct 16;

ALOR STAR: Many villagers living in Kuala Muda expressed fear over their safety following the high tide phenomenon which hit their villages for the second time this year.

One of the victims, Mat Tahir Hassin, 58, said this is the second time his village Kampung Padang Salim been affected by the high tide phenomenon within three weeks.

“My family and I have been living here for about 30 years now but this is only the second time that we have been affected by the high tide phenomenon. The first incident took place last month.

“There was heavy rain together with strong winds during the high tide phenomenon.

We have faced the tsunami years ago in 2004 and now this. Of course we are worried,” he said.

Mat Tahir, who lives with his wife and two children, said the water level was only about 8 to 10cm deep yesterday but they decided to take shelter at the nearby relief centre, fearing that the situation would get worst.

“I believe the high tide will occur around 12.30am or much later. We have already moved our belongings to higher places earlier yesterday, so we have no problem rushing to the nearby relief centre,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kampung Sungai Meriam Village Development and Security Committee member, Abdullah Mat Usop, 44, said the water level in his village beginning to rise around 12am yesterday and reached below knee-level around 1am.

“We have a total of 114 families in the village and most of them are living in one-story village houses.

Fortunately only three families were badly affected by the high tide phenomenon this time.

“The first incident which occurred in September affected a total of 75 families as the water rose up to about 2 metres deep.

“Thanks to the early alert provided by the authorities, many of the villagers have made early preparation to face the situation including moving their belongings to higher places.

Our only hope is that the incident would not be repeated,” he said.

As at 4pm today, a total of 85 people from 24 families in six villages in the Kuala Muda district were evacuated to the relief centres beginning 12am following the high tide flooding.

Kuala Muda district Civil Defence Force (APM) officer Lieutenant-Major Azahar Ahmad said the villages affected are Kampung Masjid, Kampung Ujung Matang, Kampung Padang Salim, and Kampung Paya in Kota Kuala Muda , and Kampung Sungai Yu and Kampung Sungai Meriam in Bukit Meriam.

Azahar, who is also the committee member of disaster management of the district, said four relief centres have been opened so far to accommodate all the victims.

The centres are SK Seri Kuala (29 victims), Kampung Paya Public Hall (20 victims), Haji Yusof Bukit Kecil Mosque’s Hall (24 victims) and the home of Sungai Meriam’s Village Development and Security Committee chairman (12 victims).

The high tide phenomenon has hit several areas in the district since Saturday and is expected to continue until Thursday.

Based on the statement release by the Meteorology Department, the readings of the wave level is expected to reach between 2.8m and 3m, with the highest reading forecasted on Tuesday at 1.47am and Wednesday at 2.24am.

Six Kedah villages flooded, relief centres take in almost 100 evacuees
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 18 Oct 16;

ALOR STAR: The number of high tide flooding evacuees from six villages in Kuala Muda district here rose to 94 today.

Kuala Muda district Civil Defence Force (APM) officer Lieutenant-Major Azahar Ahmad said the six affected villages were Kampung Masjid, Kampung Ujung Matang, Kampung Padang Salim, Kampung Paya, Kampung Sungai Yu and Kampung Sungai Meriam.

Azahar, who is also the secretariat committee member of disaster management for Kuala Muda district, said four relief centres were opened to accommodate the victims who come from 27 families.

The relief centres are SK Seri Kuala (29 victims from 12 families), Kampung Paya Public Hall (20 victims from four families), Haji Yusof Bukit Kecil Mosque's Hall (24 victims from five families), and the house of Sungai Meriam Village Development and Security Committee chairman (21 victims from six families).

"The high tide phenomenon hit several areas in the district on Saturday and is expected to continue until Thursday.

"But the relief centres were only opened at 12am and 1.30am on Monday, when the phenomenon resulted in flooding in some parts of the villages," Azahar said.

Based on a statement released by the Meteorology Department, wave levels are expected to reach between 2.8 metres and 3 metres, with the highest reading forecasted to occur at around 1.47am today and at around 2.24am tomorrow.

High tide, rain trigger floods across Perak, but waters receding

MANJUNG: Access to Kampung Bagan Panchor here was partly blocked as water rose due to the high-tide phenomenon today.

About 3 kilometres of the village road was inundated with water, and flooding was exacerbated by a downpour since midnight.

Manjung district Drainage and Irrigation Department engineer M. Sasitharan said the water level started rising at 1.30am and reached 3.4 metres, but began receding at about 5am.

"The situation is still under control, as the water did not reach housing areas.

The sandbags placed in high-risk areas also helped prevent water from spilling over,” he said.

In Parit Buntar, about 20 houses at Kuala Bagan Tiang were inundated with water after a downpour since 1.30am yesterday.

The water rose to 0.35 meters, but started to recede at 4am. Resident Mohd Nizam Jamaluddin, 44, said the water rose in less than an hour during the downpour, causing villagers and the authorities stationed in the area to go on alert for the possibility of flooding.

In Taman Kuala Sepetang, the water rose ankle-high and flooded some 30 houses.

Villager Lee Kang Chai, 70, said the housing area frequently experiences such conditions due to the high-tide phenomenon, as it is located merely 500 metres from Sungai Kapal Changkol.

He said some residents had installed steel barricades around their house compounds and in front of doors.

"The water level started rising since 4.30am due to non-stop rain, but we had expected it to recede quickly," Lee said.

Mohd Tahir from Kampung Menteri said he is grateful for the assistance by the Larut Matang and Selama District Offices, which had distributed sandbags as additional measures to prevent water from spilling over to the village area.

"The Civil Defence Department and Kolej Komuniti had set up the sand bund earlier.

If not for that, the village could have been flooded like what happened last month (due to the high-tide).

"But we might need to add more sandbags if the water level gets higher," said Tahir.

Additional reporting by and FARAH SUHAIDAH OTHMAN.

High tide in Klang forces evacuation
ALLISON LAI The Star 18 Oct 16;

KLANG: The entire Kampung Sementa at Batu 5 in Jalan Kapar here is off-limits after it was inundated by a second round of flooding brought on by high tide.

The first flood hit at dawn on Sunday when a portion of the bund collapsed, flooding more than 10 houses and damaging eight cars.

A broken river bund in Sungai Keramat, next to the village, compounded the situation yesterday morning. The tide was 5.7m high at 6.35am.

A earlier check by The Star found that the water was still rising at about 5.50am yesterday.

Sounds of the river water gushing in through the broken bund could be heard some 100m away.

By 6am, Jalan Kebun Baru, one of the main roads to the village was only accessible by four-wheel drives or bigger vehicles.

Fifteen minutes later, firemen stationed at the village ordered the villagers to evacuate the place, as the flood waters rose quickly.

The waters only began to recede at 7.30am.

Halim Bahar, 38, who waded through the flood waters to check on his home, said the water level rose up to his waist.

While the adults showed concern, youngsters were seen playing in the flood waters.

“Villagers at Batu 5 were told to evacuate due to safety concerns after the bund broke,” said Selangor Disaster Management Committee chairman Ahmad Fairuz Mohd Yusof.

“As for Kampung Tok Muda in Kapar, seawater overflowed at four spots this morning,” he said yesterday. “However, no houses or roads were flooded,” he added.

“Sand bags placed near the jetty successfully prevented the river from overflowing.”

In Sabak Bernam, seven coastal areas were inundated. The situation was the same at Pantai Remis and Sungai Sembilang in Kuala Selangor and the beach areas in Pantai Kelanang and Morib in Kuala Langat.

However, no major damage was recorded.

As at 1pm, 26 evacuation centres were activated in the state with 92 families being displaced.

The Dewan Kg Tok Muda evacuation centre in Kapar here recorded the most number of evacuees with 236 victims. This was followed by 63 people in Dewan Sg Air Tawar in Sabak Bernam and 60 others in Dewan Dewan Dato Ahmad Razali here.

Coastal village endures third day of floods
ALLISON LAI The Star 18 Oct 16;

KLANG: Loud siren wails went off as early as 6am when the overflowing waters of Sungai Keramat began flooding Kampung Sementa at Batu 5, Jalan Kapar, here, for the third consecutive day Tuesday.

By 7am, the small coastal village just north of Klang was inundated by the flood waters brought on by high tide.

The water rose faster than the day before and by 7.30am, several roads to the village became inaccessible.

Ten minutes later, it started to rain.

It would have been worse, had it not been for the temporary measures taken over the weekend - recently built bunds and hastily gathered sand bags managed to slow the first wave of floods at dawn on Sunday.

That was the day a portion of a bund collapsed, causing water from the 5.6m-high tide to flood into more than 10 houses, damaging eight cars.

The second round of floods on Monday left the village in 5.7m-high flood waters.

Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said Monday evening that 4,000 sand bags to temporarily strengthen a bund had been installed by the Drainage and Irrigation Department to prevent flood waters from flowing over borrow pits and into nearby villages.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee's coordinator for Sementa Mohd Azmi Mat Sangir said the temporary measures had somehow abated the full impact of the flood waters.

“The repaired bund helped to withstand the high tide for about half an hour before it gave way again.

“This bought us some time as the tide then started receding, taking with it the flood waters.

“Compared to the day before, the water level was lower and fewer places were flooded," he said.

At 9am, when the flood waters began to recede, 26 evacuation centres had been activated, with 482 victims from 115 families being displaced.

The Dewan Kg Tok Muda evacuation centre in Kapar here had the most number of evacuees - 236.

This was followed by 63 at the Dewan Sg Air Tawar in Sabak Bernam and 39 at the Dewan Dewan Dato Ahmad Razali here.

High tide inundates six Kedah villages, 85 residents evacuated
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 17 Oct 16;

ALOR STAR: A total of 85 victims from 24 families in six villages in Kuala Muda district were evacuated to relief centres beginning at 12am today due to high tide flooding. Kuala Muda district Civil Defence Force (APM) officer Lieutenant-Major Azahar Ahmad said the villages affected were Kampung Masjid, Kampung Ujung Matang, Kampung Padang Salim, Kampung Paya, Kampung Sungai Yu and Kampung Sungai Meriam.

Azahar, who is also a committee member of disaster management of the Kuala Muda district, said four relief centres have been opened so far to accommodate all the victims, namely SK Seri Kuala (29 victims), Kampung Paya Public Hall (20 victims), Haji Yusof Bukit Kecil Mosque's Hall (24 victims) and the house of Sungai Meriam Village Development and Security Committee chairman (12 victims).

"Three of the relief centres – SK Seri Kuala, Kampung Paya Public Hall and Haji Yusof Bukit Kecil Mosque's Hall – were opened beginning 12am today, while the house of the Sungai Meriam Village Development and Security Committee chairman began welcoming victims since 1.30am.

"Four of the villages affected, namely Kampung Masjid, Kampung Ujung Matang, Kampung Padang Salim and Kampung Paya, are located in Haji Kudong in Kota Kuala Muda, while the remaining two villages are located in Bukit Meriam,” Azahar said.

The high tide phenomenon hit several areas of the district on Saturday and is expected to continue until Thursday.

Based on a statement released by the Meteorology Department, wave levels are expected to reach between 2.8m and 3m, with the highest reading forecasted to occur on Tuesday at 1.47am and on Wednesday at 2.24am.

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Malaysia: Why sun bears are still under threat

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 17 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Sun bears are counting on stronger laws and greater awareness among the public to survive in the wild in Sabah.

A recent recovery of sun bear parts from poachers indicated a demand in the black market and lack of awareness among those who consume it.

Illegal hunting activities had put pressure on the survival of sun bears, and their low density population in the wild is a cause for concern.

On Aug 8, the Sabah Wildlife Department arrested two brothers and recovered mutilated parts that were likely from two adult sun bears.

Less than two weeks later, on Aug 20, two more men were nabbed and parts likely from one sun bear were found in their possession.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the four arrests and seizures had kept the department vigilant for poachers and illegal traders.

“In one of the cases, the parts were ‘advertised’ on social media and we were fortunate to seize them,” he said.

But Augustine knew the fight was far from over because of the demand for the parts and people’s cravings for exotic dishes.

But he believed a recent amendment to the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 would make would-be offenders think twice.

With the amendment, those found guilty of possessing a fully protected wildlife species, like sun bears, or its parts would face a mandatory one-year minimum jail-term and could be fined up to RM250,000.

It was passed unanimously by the Sabah Legislative Assembly in the last sitting in August.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre founder Wong Siew Te said the arrests and recovery could be viewed positively or negatively.

“The good thing is that the authorities are working hard on the ground to catch offenders, but at the same time, the arrests also indicate a problem on illegal hunting.

“The government has introduced stronger penalties over the years, but habitat destruction is also a big concern,” he said.

Wong agreed, however, on the need to push for more awareness to make people realise that there were no medicinal benefits from consuming bear parts, as well as stronger enforcement.

“In ancient times, bear paws were served to the Chinese emperor and they became a delicacy for the rich because of its purported medicinal benefits. All that is not true.

“It is the same with the bear’s gall bladder, which was seen as a traditional medicine to cure illnesses like internal injuries and rheumatism.”

All these fuelled the illegal activities, from hunting to trading, putting more pressure on the species, whose population Wong estimated was about 13,000 in Malaysia.

He revealed he had found parts sold illegally in a medicine shop in Sandakan, the same district where he founded the conservation centre for the species in the Sepilok area.

He said the bears’ gall bladders were sold at about RM550 per serving, while bear paws could fetch up to RM2,000.

“The reproduction level of a sun bear is very slow. A female having three or four cubs is considered very productive.

“So, we need to take all these into account when thinking of their future.”

Wong said there was a need to include the wildlife, particularly sun bears, conservation issue in the school curriculum and have it covered more on television, newspapers and radio.

Sun bears are the smallest among the bear species and are strong tree climbers. They are also known as honey bears (beruang madu).

There are two subspecies of sun bear in Malaysia; the Malayan sun bear found in the Asian mainland and Sumatra, and the Bornean sun bear found only in Borneo.

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Indonesia police seize tiger skin, deer genitals

Channel NewsAsia 17 Oct 16;

MEDAN, Indonesia: Three Indonesian men have been arrested for allegedly trading in protected species, with police seizing animal parts including a tiger skin, deer genitalia and pangolin scales, an official said Monday (Oct 17).

The suspects were caught over the weekend after an undercover police operation at a hotel in the city of Medan on Sumatra island, which is close to national parks that are home to a panoply of exotic animals.

Police posing as buyers met one of the men, who agreed to sell a tiger skin for 70 million rupiah (US$5,350) before he was arrested.

Indonesian wildlife officials show off seized animal parts, including a tiger skin, deer genitalia, snake skins and pangolin scales, in Medan. (Photo: AFP/Gatha Ginting)

Authorities later found three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of scales from critically endangered pangolins in his car, which he said he planned to sell for 36 million rupiah to two friends.

Pangolins, known as "scaly anteaters", are the world's most heavily trafficked mammal and a global wildlife conference last month voted to ban all trade in the creatures.

The two friends were then caught, and were found to be in possession of genitalia from protected deers, snake skins, and turtle shells, police said.

The men are accused of breaking laws on possessing and trading in protected animals.

Indonesian wildlife officials show off seized animal parts, including a tiger skin, in Medan. (Photo: AFP/Gatha Ginting)

"They face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 100 million rupiah," Toga Habinsaran Panjaitan, from the local police special crimes unit, told reporters.

Indonesia, the world's biggest archipelago of over 17,000 islands, is one of the world's most biodiverse nations and its vast expanses of jungle are home to numerous endangered animals.

But many are under threat as poachers increasingly target them for their body parts, which are regarded as edible delicacies and used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Their habitats are also being obliterated by rapid expansion of palm oil and pulpwood plantations.

- AFP/hs

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Indonesia: Endangered animals smuggled

The Jakarta Post 18 Oct 16;

Endangered species are smuggled abroad via Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, using school backpacks, suitcases and children’s toys to fool airport officers, an official said on Monday.

The Agriculture Ministry’s Quarantine Agency chief, Banun Harpini, said as many as 58 snakes, two turtles and a lizard that were intended to be delivered to Australia, China, Malaysia and the Philippines had been seized by the airport’s officials from July to October.

“Among the 58 snakes, there were rattlesnakes, which could endanger flights if they escaped,” Banun said as quoted by, adding that most of the animals were identified as protected and critically endangered species.

Following the findings, Banun ensured that the agency, in cooperation with other relevant agencies including airport management, would tighten supervision of live animal shipments.

Schoolbags and Toys Popular Methods for Smuggling Animals Overseas
Andri Donnal Putera Jakarta Globe 17 Oct 16;

Jakarta. As the authorities step up efforts to detect and prosecute wildlife crimes, smugglers turn to ever more creative methods to disguise their shady dealings. This includes smuggling animals through postal services and hiding them inside suitcases, schoolbags, toys and even speakers.

"Based on the data from July to October this year, we found 58 snakes, two tortoises and a lizard, mailed to China, Australia, the Philippines and Malaysia," Banun Harpini, head of the Agriculture Quarantine Agency at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, told on Monday (17/10).

"Among those was a venomous snake, which could easily have disrupted a flight because [the smugglers] just used a schoolbag," he said.

This has become a popular method for smugglers because of the tighter regulations imposed at the airport.

After identifying the confiscated animal, Banun said the agency must determine if it belongs to a species that is protected under the law, or listed as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES).

The Agriculture Quarantine Agency has also confiscated 1.7 kilograms of vegetable seeds originating from Incheon, South Korea, 3.7 kilograms of rice seeds from China, and 25 date seedlings from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Banun said his office will continue to tighten monitoring activities, as well as coordinate with institutions involved in the prevention of the illegal wildlife trade.

A snake was discovered on a Garuda Indonesia flight from Jayapura, West Papua to Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport on Oct. 11, according to

The airline's senior public relations manager confirmed the incident, but said it was quickly handled by the cabin crew."

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Indonesia: Eight districts in West Aceh flooded

The Jakarta Post 18 Oct 16;

Eight districts in West Aceh are inundated amid heavy rains in the last five days. Floodwater levels range from 30 centimeters to 1 meter in people’s homes.

“Rain is still pouring,” Teuku Syahluna Polem, head of the West Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said on Tuesday as quoted by

Teuku said flooding had hit 54 villages in eight districts. He said no fatalities had been reported and residents had either remained in their homes or taken shelter in the homes of relatives.

The rains caused Ujong Kalak and Woyla rivers to overflow. The BPBD had deployed heavy equipment to dredge the river.

The eight affected districts are: Johan Pahlawan, Arongan Lambalek, Woyla Timur, Woyla Barat, Meurebo, Kaway XVI, Bubon and Sama Tiga. (evi)

Floods hit two districts in Aceh Province
Antara 17 Oct 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Floods have affected at least nine sub-districts in Aceh Jaya District and six sub-districts in West Aceh District in Aceh Darussalam Province, following incessant rain in the past few days.

Aceh Jaya District authorities declared an emergency after floodwaters touched the 30-70 cm mark, Rimbawa from Aceh Jaya disaster mitigation office said on Monday. The heavy downpour caused Krueng Teunom river to overflow.

In West Aceh District, more than 20 villages in six sub-districts were flooded. The flood-hit sub-districts are Johan Pahlawan, East Woyla, West Woyla, Arongan Lambalek and Meureubo dan Kaway XVI, said Teuku Syahluna Polem from the West Aceh disaster mitigation office. Of these, West Woyla is the worst affected, with floodwaters reaching a height of up to 80 cm.(*)

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Warm water in Gulf of Mexico blamed for sanctuary's bleached coral

Associated Press ABC News 17 Oct 16;

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Experts blame lingering warm water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico for significant bleaching of coral in a marine sanctuary 100 miles off the Texas coast.

Researchers this month determined that nearly half of the coral colonies in the East Flower Garden Bank were bleached or paling, according to the Galveston County Daily News ( ). This year's bleaching problem is considered the worst in the marine sanctuary's history, with the next highest from 2005, when about 45 percent of the corals paled during a similar incident.

Flower Garden Banks Superintendent G.P. Schmahl said the bleaching is caused by the coral's expulsion of the algae that gives it pigmentation.

Experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who attribute the bleaching to climate change, said sea surface temperatures were recorded at more than 86 degrees for 85 days over four months. The water temperatures should be between 68 and 84 degrees for coral to grow comfortably, according the Flower Garden Banks' website.

Schmahl said the algae should return when water temperatures cool in the winter. Even with the optimism, Schmahl said, the long period of bleaching could result in corals to starve and die off.

"In recent decades there has been a documented general increase in seawater temperatures associated with climate change and it's putting coral reefs throughout the world under stress," Schmahl said.

In July, the Flower Garden Banks experienced a huge die-off. Researchers are still trying to figure out what may have killed many of the sanctuary's coral and sea creatures, but Schmahl related the event to the fact that heavy rains earlier in the year caused more freshwater from rivers to flow into the Gulf.

The Flower Garden Banks were discovered by a group of fishermen in the late 1800s. They were officially designated as a sanctuary in 1992. The sanctuary, according to its website, is comprised of three banks — East Flower Garden Bank, West Flower Garden Bank and Stetson Bank — about 70 miles to 115 miles off the Texas-Louisiana coast.

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