Best of our wild blogs: 5 Dec 16

Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus) @ National University of Singapore Faculty of Science
Monday Morgue

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Malaysia: Call to adopt Libaran shoreline to encourage turtle landings

The Star 5 Dec 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Turtle conservationists on Libaran Island off Sabah’s east coast are hoping for companies or individuals to adopt its shoreline in an effort to keep the beaches clean and encourage nest landings.

Friends of Sea Turtles Education and Research (Foster) president Alexander Yee said the 3km long coastline had been divided into 60 lots measuring 50m each that could be adopted for RM100 monthly or RM1,200 annually.

These funds, said Yee, would then be given to the villagers who would actually carry out the cleaning.

“A dirty shoreline means unhygienic living environment for the villagers and prevents the turtles from coming to shore to lay their eggs,” he said.

Yee said there were some 450 people living on the island, whose main livelihood was fishing.

The move to clean up the island’s beach started in 2015 after rubbish, ranging from plastic bags to diapers and even the occasional television set, washed ashore.

He said that following public dialogues, the villagers had started to maintain their compound and fenced up their livestock, mainly cattle.

A clean beach would increase the frequency of nest landings, he said, adding that this year, several environmentally conscious companies as well as the Tourism and Culture Ministry had chipped in with the funds.

Those interested can e-mail for further details of the programme.

Yee said the community beach cleaning was part of Foster’s action plan for next year, adding that it was also expected to work out more collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department in conserving and protecting sea turtles.

Between 2012 and June this year, the hatchery has collected 20,262 green turtle eggs and 10,598 hawksbill turtle eggs.

Of these, 23,808 hatchlings have been successfully released into the sea.

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Malaysia: Man tries to cart RM100,000 worth of agarwood into the country, caught

ZULIATY ZULKIFFLI New Straits Times 4 Dec 16;

BUKIT KAYU HITAM: The Border Security Agency has foiled an attempt by a local man to smuggle 14kg of gaharu or agarwood worth RM100,000 into the country today.

Its state commander Abdul Latif Abdul Rahman said the 49-year-old man and his Vietnamese girlfriend, aged 22, were travelling back from Thailand, when they were flagged down at the agency’s check-point about 3.15pm. Abdul Latif said upon inspection, his men found the precious and endangered wood in the man’s Kia Sorento sport utility vehicle.

“We believe the high value wood is meant for fragrance production and we have handed over the case to the Forestry Department for further action,” he said.

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Malaysia: Monsoon season brings bountiful harvest, fishermen gets an alternative source of income

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 4 Dec 16;

BESUT: The monsoon season is bringing in hordes of migratory ikan pulutan here, as coastal fishermen in Beting Lintang and Kuala Besut have discovered.

Pulutan is a type of thorny fish, also known as mayong and is a favoured alternative to ikan patin (catfish) to make tempoyak (a Malay condiment made from fermented durian).

The arrival of pulutan in abundance has offered the fishermen an alternate source of income, as they are unable to go deep fishing due to the adverse weather.

Some fishermen in large vessels were able to harvest up to 30 tonnes per catch out at sea, revealed Besut Fishermen’s Association chairman Tengku Harun Tengku Ismail.

The fishermen, he added, readily sold each kilogramme of pulutan at around RM6 to wholesalers, as demands in large towns have been good. A catch of 30 tonnes (or 30,000kg) can fetch a cool RM180,000!

“It is not unusual for ikan pulutan to appear during the monsoon season, from October to December. Some large ones can weigh up to 10kg each.

“When ikan pulutan appears, the fishermen know that the monsoon season has arrived,” said Harun.

The species, he added, often came to the coastal areas to lay eggs and breed.

“Thus, it is fattened and appears like the glutinous rice, the pulut, from which it derives its name, pulutan.”

Harun said the fishermen often pooled their resources together as a majority did not have large vessels.

“Therefore, these fishermen in smaller boats summon the help of larger boat operators to ferry their catch to the jetty and share the profits,” said Harun.

Fishermen, Khairul Hisham Che Harun, 38, from Beting Lintang said luck also mattered as not all the fishermen were always able to make a good catch.

“Many like me only make two catches a month, between two and six tonnes each time. Sometimes, the ikan pulutan escape from our nets which break owing to the mass weight of the fish.

“At other times, we came back empty handed without any catch at all,” said Khairul.

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Malaysia: Floods worsen in Perak, Kelantan

The Star 4 Dec 16

IPOH: The number of flood evacuees in Perak increased to 88 on Sunday morning from 74 a day earlier.

A spokesman of the state disaster management secretariat said said 38 people from nine families were moved out of their homes in Kampung Pengkalan Ara near Sungai Manik to Sekolah Kebangsaan Pengkalan Ara.

Fifty people from 13 families in Kampung Padang Serai were evacuated to Sekolah Rendah Agama Rakyat in Kampung Padang Serai, he added.

The spokesman said the floodwaters in Kampung Padang Serai increased to between 0.5m and 1.4m Sunday morning and in Kampung Pengkalan Ara, up to 1m, he added.

"The floods were caused by incessant heavy rain, and the floodwaters were stagnant," he said, adding that the drainage had to be improved.

In Kota Baru, the number of flood victims in Kelantan rose to 75 people Sunday morning from 45 last night, according to the portal of the state government.

It said 29 people from seven families were evacuated from Kampung Tiong here to a relief centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Tiong last night.

Twenty-six evacuees were being housed at SK Wakaf Raja in Pasir Puteh and 19 at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Jelawat and SMK Beris Panchor in Bachok.

The portal said the level of the Kelantan river in some areas dropped to normal Sunday morning. - Bernama

Terengganu embarks on flood mitigation works

KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government has embarked on several short-term and long-term flood mitigation projects since 2013 when half of the villages in Kemaman and the entire town of Chukai were submerged.

Mentri Besar Ahmad Razif Abd Rahman said the state had completed two projects – the building of water passages from Kampung Padang Bual mosque to the Sungai Angga bridge in Besut and flood mitigation works in Taman Rakyat in Hulu Terengganu.

“The works we have embarked on include deepening, widening and straightening the curves of the rivers that have been identified as slowing down the flow of water to the sea,” he said.

Besides these, Ahmad Razif said there were nine projects costing some RM154mil that involved flood mitigation in Dungun, Bukit Payong and Besut.

“Some of the projects have started, three others have been completed and some will be finished in 2018. We have also included the Chukai-Kemaman Phase 2 flood mitigation project under the 11th Malaysia Plan which cost over RM340mil.”

Ahmad Razif said the state government incurred losses amounting to millions of ringgit each time there was a major flood.

“Taking into account the severity of the floods in the past and public interest, there is definitely a need to give priority to such projects,” he said, admitting that some low-lying areas would be affected during the north-east monsoon.

Council workers have been seen cleaning and clearing rubbish from clogged drains around the city in preparation for the monsoon.

Meanwhile, in Kuantan, images and “news” about floods are flooding the social media, giving the Fire and Rescue Department in Pahang a headache.

Its director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim appealed to Malaysians not to be too quick to believe or panic over what were being circulated via social media.

They should also avoid posting photographs and information quoting irrelevant sources, he said.

“Some pictures of floods posted on social media turned out to be images from years before. Or it was something that did not happen in our country,” he said after closing the East Coast Zone Integrity Inspection Forum in Indera Mahkota, Kuantan, yesterday.

Wan Mohd Nor said Malaysians should verify information from the relevant authorities.

“Members of the public should only liaise with the authorities for a clearer picture of any situation,” he said.

He also lamented cases where people made light of actual floods, assuming the occurrence was akin to a “festival”.

“Floods are a serious matter. We have been on the alert and we are prepared to do what is necessary,” he said, cautioning parents to be mindful of their children to ensure no drowning.

On another matter, Wan Mohd Nor said there were one or two cases of corruption involving the department’s personnel who accepted personal contributions.

“The department will keep doing what is necessary to curb corruption.

“We want to close the loopholes and opportunities that tempt our officers into committing corruption,” he said.

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Vietnam: Floods kill at least 13 people in central Vietnam

Reuters 4 Dec 16;

Floods brought by torrential rain since late November have killed at least 13 people in central Vietnam while more heavy rain is expected in coming days, the government and state media said on Sunday.

Six people have died in floods in Binh Dinh province since Thursday and another four were killed in Quang Ngai province, while more than 10,000 homes in the two provinces were submerged, the government said.

Three children aged between four and 13 were swept away in flood waters in Quang Nam province on Saturday, the Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper cited a provincial report as saying.

A cold snap now moving southward is forecast to bring heavy rain to central provinces between now and next Thursday, the government report said.

Floods killed 65 people since October in central provinces, submerged 200,000 homes and damaged railway and roads, with losses valued at more than 7 trillion dong ($309 million), the government said on Friday.

The flood-stricken areas are in the north, outside Vietnam's Central Highlands coffee belt and Mekong Delta food basket.

(Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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