Best of our wild blogs: 12 Dec 16

18 Dec (Sun) FREE Guided Walk @ Treetop Walk
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Singapore Bird Report- November 2016
Singapore Bird Group

Whimbrels flying from Eagle Point to Sungei Danga/Sungei Sekudai - 12Nov2016

Four-clawed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata) @ Tampines
Monday Morgue

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Malaysia: Environmentalists seek legal help to fight Tanjung Aru project

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 12 Dec 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Environ­mentalists in Sabah are calling on lawyers to fight for the cancellation or relocation of the multi-billion-ringgit Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project, which is set to commence in March next year.

Activist SM Muthu said the project was pushed through without taking public concerns into account.

“We are still in shock as to why the government needs to turn Tanjung Aru into a high-end area while there are still many locations in Sabah for that purpose,” he said.

He urged lawyers familiar with environmental and other related issues to come forward to fight for the cause and help Sabahans to voice out their concerns.

The redevelopment project includes a large public park, a 133ha golf course designed by Australian professional golfer Greg Norman, seven hotels with 1,800 rooms, and about 5,000 apartment and condominium units.

Meanwhile, other environmentalists felt that Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) was not sincere in listening to public concerns and views.

Online environmental petitioners Save Open Space Kota Kinabalu claimed the consultation and public forums were carried out in an unprofessional manner.

Its representative Annabelle Funk said in a statement that the consultation process showed conflict of interest, which was unprofessional and unethical.

The fact that members of TAED’s board of directors were also among the members of the project’s approval authority was unacceptable, she said.

“For the sake of public interest, such conflicts cannot be accepted because the commercial project sits on an open space in a gazetted foreshore reserve,” said Funk.

She was also doubtful of Kota Kinabalu mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai’s recent statement that the government had taken public interest into consideration.

She claimed that past consultation and meetings with DBKK showed that many of the issues and worries were ignored and whitewashed.

She noted that the city hall should have published all information on its official website and social media accounts for the convenience of those who were not able to visit the exhibition.

She warned that the public would suffer and “pay billions for additional cost” should the project fail to deliver its promises.

To date, the “Stop the Tanjung Aru Eco Development Sdn Bhd (TAED) Project” online petition has gathered over 2,500 signatures.

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Malaysia: Use advanced technologies to save rhinos

The Star 12 Dec 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Advanced reproductive and cellular technologies may be the only methods left to ensure the survival of the highly endangered rhinos in Sabah.

Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) executive director Datuk Dr John Payne said that given the nature of the evidence provided and collective fieldwork by various agencies, it is highly unlikely there are wild rhinos surviving anywhere in Sabah.

He said prevention of the extinction of this ancient genus, distinct from the African and Indian species, had gone beyond retaining a few individuals in the wild.

“Rescue from the brink will not entail protecting a few stragglers in the wild because for the past few decades there have been too few individuals in any one area to form a viable breeding population,” he said in a statement.

“Success can come only through implementation of a single programme that allows every remaining Sumatran rhino, whether in Malaysia or Indonesia, to contribute its genes to producing babies.”

He said even though about a quarter of the remaining Sumatran rhinos had significant reproductive pathologies, rapidly advancing reproductive and cellular technologies could be tapped to boost the rate at which embryos were made.

“We cannot just rely on hope to save this endangered species,” he said amid a possible discovery of a rhino footprint in a Sabah forest that was announced at a seminar on Danum Valley recently.

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Indonesia: Peat Land Restoration Agency (BRG) to restore 2.4 million hectares of damaged peat lands

Antara 11 Dec 16;

Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesias Peat Land Restoration Agency (BRG) said it hoped to restore 2.4 million hectares of damaged peat lands until 2020.

By 2020, around 2.4 million hectares of damaged peat lands would be restored, BRG chief Nazir Foead said here.

Nazir said the country has 14 million hectares of peat lands in 17 provinces, but President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) wanted to focus on restoration of 13 million hectares of damaged and burnt peat lands in seven provinces.

The seven provinces are Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, Papua, West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.

Approximately 875,000 hectares of peat lands in the seven provinces burned during forest fires and land in 2015.

"The president asked us to focus in the seven provinces. Of the 13 million hectares of peat lands there are only less than six hectares yet undamaged in the form of primary forests," Nazir said.

Short term attempt to restore the damaged peat lands is by utilizing existing water resources around that area, he said.

BRG, however, is still waiting for the result of mapping survey in the form of geospatial map of peat land from the state run Gajahmada University (UGM), he said.

He said further, BRG wanted the process of restoring the peat lands is carried out with integration, that a guideline is needed as a reference for application in all regions.

Nazir said BRG cooperates with a team of experts from UGM to prepare the guidance map for the protection of peat land.

The geospatial map with a scale of 1:20,000 would show the map of area around the peat lands having water resources.

"I hope UGM would wrap up the process of mapping by the end of this year that it could be disseminate in all district areas having peat lands for restoration. We hope the physical restoration next year could properly follow the planning," he said.

Concerned about the extensive damage to peat lands by big forest fires in Indonesia in 2015, President Joko Widodo formed BRG to coordinate and accelerate the restoration to preserve peat ecosystem health and biodiversity.

A recent Dialogue on Climate of the United Nations Development Program said that the restoration of peat lands in Indonesia has made progress with strategic planning, an action plan and the preparation of the indicative map of damaged peat lands.

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