Best of our wild blogs: 31 Mar 17

Changi seagrasses with oil sheen and otters
wild shores of singapore

Mangrove madness in March with R.U.M.
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

UN launches campaign to take out ocean trash

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Singapore fish farms claim compensation limbo in wake of Johor oil spill

Justin Ong Channel NewsAsia 31 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: Fish farms affected by a major oil spill in January said they have yet to receive compensation, even as their businesses continue to reel from the damage caused by two container vessels colliding off the Johor straits.

About 300 tonnes of oil were spilled into the surrounding waters, affecting 12 fish farms near Pulau Ubin. A sales suspension imposed on the farms by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) was only fully lifted two months later.

But for Mr Peter Ong, the move has done little to alleviate the dire situation at his Sin Bee Fish Farm, where he estimates his losses due to the oil spill to be around S$1 million.

“My fish are still dying day by day,” he said in Mandarin. “When AVA came to help clean up, about 60 to 70 per cent of my farm could not be cleaned.”

AVA, however, said clean-up operations were completed to "internationally acceptable standards", with the expert guidance of international oil spill consultants.

Mr Ong also told Channel NewsAsia that AVA had promised that the shipping companies’ insurers would reimburse the farmers before Chinese New Year. "But there’s been nothing from them," he said. "Now, they don’t even pick up my calls.”

He said he could not afford to take legal action against the shipping firms, a point echoed by Philip Lim, who owns three fish farms.

“For small, old farmers like us, it’s costly,” said Mr Lim. “We don’t know the procedures in the first place. We don’t know the rules and regulations. We are not educated.

“How could we meet these people?” he lamented, referring to the shipping companies and their insurers.

Mr Dirk Eichelberger, the director of affected fish farm Singapore Aquaculture Technologies, said going through AVA was more effective, after earlier attempts to reach the shipping companies directly “led to nothing”.

“There is no clear ruling on who is at fault, so we ran into a wall,” he said, adding that he eventually sought legal action but was unsuccessful.

“At the moment, even AVA who is trying to help can't tell what additional input is required to settle the claims. The insurers take their sweet time - no communication, no feedback. This is all frustrating.”


In response to queries, AVA said in a statement that the farmers, as private entities, could directly submit claims for damages to the shipping firms' insurers.

"However, AVA has been helping affected fish farmers consolidate their claims, and is working closely with the insurers to expedite the claims process," it added.

“AVA helped the farmers to submit the consolidated claims to the insurers in early February 2017. The insurers informed us that the claims process will take time as they have to consult their principals based in the UK on all matters pertaining to oil spill claims.

"We will continue to liaise with the farmers and the insurers to expedite the claims process."

The authority added that it has assigned an account manager to every food farm, including coastal fish farms.

"Our AMs (account managers) proactively reach out to the farmers to enquire if they need any assistance on farm related issues. The farmers can also contact their AMs if they require assistance."


Meanwhile, Mr Timothy Ng, whose 2 Jays fish farm was nearest to the oil spill, said he will continue to meet directly with the shipping companies’ insurers.

“Some of my fish are still affected,” he said. “But we are trying to work out some method to give the insurers the information they need.

“I don’t see a need for legal action at the moment - until we have no way of discussion and it leads to a dead end.”

Mr Ng, who is also president of the Fish Farmers Association of Singapore, urged other fish farmers to give local authorities “reasonable time to act”.

But the likes of Mr Eichelberger and Mr Lim - who both said they are still cleaning up their farms - disagreed.

“There might be ways for the Government to apply pressure, yes,” said Mr Eichelberger. “And no one is asking for something unjustified. A first payment should have been made already, before Chinese New Year.”

Said Mr Lim: “If AVA is sincere, they should help us farmers with a token sum first, rather than make us wait for compensation.

“They can claim compensation easily as a Government body. But not us. We are just farmers.”

Mr Ong said he needs about S$300,000 to rebuild his farm, failing which he may shut down his eight-year-old business altogether.

“The situation is not good,” said Mr Lim. “There is not much confidence in continuing what we do, after the plankton bloom and now this.”

Earlier, when asked to place a figure on his losses, he simply laughed and said: “I cannot estimate that. My three farms, the effort put into them, the value behind them … I cannot estimate that.”

- CNA/cy

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Water inefficient taps to be phased out from April 1

Today Online 31 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — Taps that are not water efficient will be phased out from Saturday (April 1), the Public Utilities Board (PUB) announced on Friday.

A four-tier rating system, the Mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (MWELS), will also be introduced for washing machines at the same time, complementing the current maximum 3-tick ratings.

These new measures are aimed at encouraging usage of water-efficient fittings and household appliances.

The PUB said washing in the kitchen sink and showering were the two most water-consuming activities at home, taking up 22 and 29 per cent of the total household water usage, respectively.

Water fittings rated 3-ticks or more can save 54 per cent more water on average when compared to those with an 0-tick rating, it added.

The PUB also said the 0-tick models will no longer be sold or supplied. However, it added that the prices for the 1- to 3-tick rated models were not that much pricier than those with the 0-tick.

Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s Director of Water Supply (Network) said: “The phasing out of 0-tick taps and mixers, and allowing only those with 1-tick or more to be sold or supplied are part of PUB’s plans to eventually phase out water inefficient fittings and appliances.”

“By looking out for the water efficiency label affixed on the water fittings and appliances, consumers can purchase water-efficient fittings and appliances, save water in their daily activities, and reduce their water bill,” Mr Toh added.

“For example, they can save 43 per cent of water per wash when they use a 4-tick washing machine instead of a 2-tick washing machine.”

The statutory board also noted that the market share of 3-tick washing machines increased from 3 per cent in 2011 to 88 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 based on a market survey it commissioned.

Currently, washing machines that use 9 litres or less of water per kg load are awarded 3-ticks. Under MWELS, such washing machines will still be given 3-ticks, while machines that use 6 litres or less of water per kg load will be given a 4-tick rating.

As of Dec 2016, there are 79 “2-tick” models, 474 “3-tick” models and 41 “4-tick” models of washing machines available in the market.

The MWELS currently rates water fittings such as taps and mixers, dual-flush low capacity flushing cisterns (LCFCs), urinals, as well as appliances such as washing machines.

It will be extended to include dishwashers from Oct 2018.

Water-inefficient taps to be phased out from April
Channel NewsAsia 31 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: To encourage water conservation, less water-efficient taps and mixers will be phased out, while a four-tick rating will be introduced for washing machines, national water agency PUB said on Friday (Mar 31).

The new Mandatory Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme standards, which kick in on Apr 1, will see zero-tick water fittings disallowed for sale in Singapore.


inRead invented by Teads
The scheme was introduced in 2009 to help consumers make more informed decisions when buying water fittings and appliances. The more ticks a product has, the more water-efficient it is.

“Washing in the kitchen sink and showering are the two most water-consuming activities at home, taking up 22 per cent and 29 per cent of total household water usage, respectively,” the agency said.

Using a three-tick tap or mixer can save an average of 54 per cent more water compared to a zero-tick one, PUB said, adding that one- to three-tick fittings do not cost more than less efficient zero-tick models.


The agency also said that doing laundry takes up about 19 per cent of total household water usage. The market share of three-tick washing machines rose from 37 per cent in 2011 to 88 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 – an indication of an “increased consumer preference” for water-efficient models, it said.

Three-tick washing machines use 9L or less of water per kg load. With the introduction of four-tick washing machines, washing machines that use between 6L and 9L of water will be given a three-tick rating, while machines that use 6L or less will get a four-tick rating.

As of December last year, there were 79 two-tick models, 474 three-tick models and 41 four-tick models of washing machines available in Singapore.

Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s director of water supply (network), said the new standards are part of plans to eventually phase out water-inefficient fittings and appliances.

“Water is a precious resource, and everyone is encouraged to make water conservation a way of life. One way we can do this is through the use of more water-efficient fittings and appliances,” he said.

- CNA/cy

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Singapore shipping industry boosts efforts to meet emissions goals

RUMI HARDASMALANI Today Online 31 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s maritime industry is stepping up efforts to reduce the environmental impact of shipping and related activities, ahead of the 2020 target that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set for a 0.5 per cent global cap on sulphur emissions from marine fuels, from the current 3.5 per cent limit.

A spokesperson from the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) told TODAY that the carbon tax announced in Singapore’s Budget 2017 would not affect the marine industry as greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping are under the purview of IMO.

Among the raft of measures rolled out by the MPA under its green initiative, first announced in 2011 and extended last year to 2019, is the green energy scheme to adopt cleaner marine fuels, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Until recently, the maritime industry has relied heavily on highly polluting fuel oil, a residual distillate of the crude oil refining process, according to Mr Francis Kan, who writes for MPA’s publication Singapore Nautilus.

“One large vessel in one day can emit more sulphur dioxide than all the new cars that come onto the world’s roads in a year. That is reason enough to cap emissions,” Mr Kan cited Mr Thomas Koniordos, head of business line environmental solutions at Norwegian chemical company Yara International, speaking on the sidelines of the 19th Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition in October last year.

“Domestically, sulphur oxide emissions is not an issue for Singapore as all harbour craft operating in the Port of Singapore use marine gas oil, which contains less than 0.5 per cent of sulphur,” said the MPA spokesperson.

“Our domestic maritime sulphur oxide emissions contribute just 1 per cent of Singapore’s sulphur oxide emissions, with land-based industrial emissions contributing the bulk.”

Mr Yaw Yan Chong, director of oil research in Asia at Thomson Reuters, however, cautioned that the 0.5 per cent cap on sulphur marine fuels is likely to drive up costs in the shipping industry, as there is insufficient production of clean fuel globally to feed the world’s marine industry’s consumption.

Coming at a time when the shipping industry is just picking up from the global downturn, this will have an adverse impact on the recovery of the maritime economy, said Mr Yaw.

“We are working closely with the MPA, bunker suppliers, oil majors and other stakeholders to ensure there will be sufficient low sulphur fuel to meet projected demand come 2020. We are also in discussion with the IMO to ensure details for implementing the 2020 sulphur cap are practical and implementable, and that shipowners will not be penalised for factors beyond their control,” said Mr Michael Phoon, executive director of the Singapore Shipping Association.

According to the MPA, more than half of new Singapore-registered ships are built to a higher energy efficiency design index than mandated by the IMO.

“Our green initiatives are largely incentive-based, and we have seen encouraging results.

“For example, under the green port programme, more ships calling at our port now use fuel containing less than 0.5 per cent sulphur to qualify for the flat rate of 25 per cent concession in port dues,” said the MPA spokesperson.

Ms Elaine Ng, transport and logistics tax partner at PwC Singapore, however, cautioned that while there has been a steady increase in ships being registered that meet or exceed the energy efficiency design index, “the question is whether the fee reductions and annual tonnage reductions are substantial enough to offset the costs of converting existing vessels to meet these new requirements, especially in the current cyclical downturn.” Rumi Hardasmalani

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Singapore Botanic Gardens opens conservation-focused Learning Forest

Loke Kok Fai Channel NewsAsia 31 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: A new, conservation-focused section of the Singapore Botanic Gardens was opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Mar 31).

Located within the Tyersall-Gallop extension of the Gardens, the 10-hectare Learning Forest aims to restore the natural conditions of lowland forests and wetlands in the area, as well as bolster conservation efforts of local plant species.

Previously used for agricultural purposes in the 19th century, after which it was used for large residential estates, the site was carefully restored based on detailed site surveys and old maps.

The Learning Forest now forms part of the protective buffer zone around the UNESCO Heritage Site portions of the existing Botanic Gardens. It integrates with the Gardens' existing 6ha of primary rainforest - one of Singapore's last remaining tracts of such habitats.

The site features swamp orchids in their natural habitat, local plant species discovered and documented by several of Singapore’s pioneering botanists, a collection of wild variants of local fruits like lychees and mangosteens, as well as an elevated boardwalk among some of the tallest rainforest trees - several more than 100 years old.

It is also home to more than 600 plant species – many of them rare or endangered, as well as 200 species of wildlife including birds, mammals, reptiles and butterflies. It will serve as a reference for ongoing research work in the field of restoration ecology for the region.


Speaking at the opening event, Mr Lee said the Learning Forest builds on the Botanic Gardens’ "legacy of conservation and improvement".

"Ultimately, our Botanic Gardens thrive not because of the interesting mix of plants, but because within it, there's life," he said.

"It's teeming with activity, it's loved and nurtured by the community, by all age groups."

He also announced that National Parks Board (NParks) will launch a new Citizen Science programme, where volunteers can help monitor the long-term ecological health of the Botanic Gardens. This includes submitting sightings of animals spotted in the Gardens using the SGBioAtlas mobile app.

"This is NParks' version of Pokemon GO, with a purpose," said Mr Lee. "Real animals which you capture on your smartphone. And the data which you collect will help NParks to monitor animal populations and improve conservation and biodiversity."

The Learning Forest can be accessed from Tyersall Avenue, near the Gardens' Swan Lake. Its opening hours are from 5am to midnight.

- CNA/cy

New Learning Forest opens at Singapore Botanic Gardens
SIAU MING EN Today Online 31 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — From touching pieces of the white flaky bark from the Gelam tree, to strolling on a tree-canopy-level boardwalk, to wandering into the freshwater wetland habitats, visitors will get to experience these and more at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ new Learning Forest.

Officially launched by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (March 31), the 10ha secondary forest next to Tyersall Avenue houses more than 700 plant species and more than 200 species of fauna.

It is also linked to the main garden’s 6ha nature area — one of Singapore’s few remaining patches of primary rainforest — and contains some of the plant species found there.

Back in the 19th century, the forest site was used for cultivation and later, for large residential estates before it was set aside as part of the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ extension plans in 2009.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said that construction works for this secondary forest took slightly less than three years, and it involved restoring former habitats as well as regenerating certain species of flora.

Today, it features a lowland forest ecosystem at its southern end, and at its northern tip are a 1.8ha forest wetland, a collection of wild fruit trees, and a bamboo garden. The forest also forms part of the protective buffer zone against the urban development around the gardens, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Visitors will be able to trek past giant trees that can grow up to 60m tall along an 8m-high, 260m-long elevated boardwalk. Lining the boardwalk are trees such as the Sea Apple tree, which used to be planted by the British as firebreaks near the highly flammable lalang wastelands.

Other plant species include the forest palms such as the Ibul, which has seeds toxic enough to kill an elephant. The Gelam tree, which gave heritage district Kampong Glam its name, has a unique white flaky bark and visitors can get to feel the bark’s spongy texture.

Further up north of the forest, NParks also restored the wetland ecosystem that was already there in the 1860s. It now includes more than 200 plant species. There, visitors will find a freshwater swamp habitat, Pulai Marsh, that eventually feeds into Swan Lake, a natural water source in the main garden. They may also see flora species such as Pulai Basong — fewer than 20 of its kind are left in Singapore. Fauna such as the Red-legged Crake and the Black Marsh Terrapin are some of the inhabitants in the marshland.

Located near the wetlands are the man-made Orchid Islands, where native orchids thrive. Some of the species include the yellow and red Deer Antlered Phalaenopsis, which was once extinct but has been reintroduced by NParks.

Over at the wild fruit tree arboretum, there are more than 50 species of trees. One is the bright yellow-orange Asam Gelugor, a critically endangered species that has fruit which can grow up to 10cm in diameter, and another is the Redan tree, where the fruit is a hairless relative of the rambutan.

Another learning area is the the bambusetum, which features more than 30 species of bamboo found in Asia. Of note is the Giant Bamboo, which can grow up to 10 storeys, and its stems are wide enough to be used as buckets when cut.

Speaking at the official opening of the forest, Mr Lee said the gardens' was successful in its Unesco bid because for more than 150 years, Singapore took special care of the gardens.

Now, the Learning Forest builds on this legacy of conservation and improvement, he said.

While takes decades to plant a garden or forest, Mr Lee added that in the fullness of time, the new forest will be able to enrich Singapore's natural heritage.

Admission to the Learning Forest is free, and it is open from 5am to midnight daily. The wetlands and the boardwalk will be closed from 7pm to 7am to keep a conducive environment for the wildlife.

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Malaysia: Hundreds displaced by floods in Perak, Malacca

Bernama New Straits Times 31 Mar 17;

IPOH: Two relief centres were opened in the Perak districts of Larut, Matang and Selama, about 70 kilometres from here, following flash floods due to a non-stop downpour since Wednesday evening.

According to a statement from the Perak Disaster Management Committee secretariat, 118 people from 29 families affected by the floods were at the relief centres.

The statement said 96 people were placed at Surau Kelip-Kelip Kampung Dew, while 22 are at Surau Ar-Rahmahniah.

A survey of victims at the Kampung Dew relief centre found that most residents did not have time to move their belongings.

Kampung Air Puteh village headman, Rosli Ishak, 56, said floodwaters began entering their homes at 7pm on Wednesday after heavy rainfall caused Sungai Sepetang to overflow.

In Malacca, the number of flood victims increased to 154 from 19 families in Alor Gajah, compared to 54 people yesterday evening.

Malacca state Disaster Management Committee secretariat Lt Col. Effendy Ali said the victims were evacuated to two flood relief centres, namely Masjid Kampung Panchor and Balai Raya Kampung Panchor. -- BERNAMA

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Malaysia: Sheep-killer leopard caught

The Star 31 Mar 17;

A CLOUDED leopard (pic)that killed 10 sheep owned by villagers in Kampung Gamin Hilir, Negri Sem­bilan, was caught on Wed­nesday.

Kosmo! reported that the animal, an endangered spe­cies, was lured into a trap by Perhilitan (Department of Wildlife and National Parks) personnel using a live goat.

Negri Sembilan Perhi­litan director Wan Mat Wan Harun confirmed the catch but declined to reveal the age and weight of the leopard, and how it would be dealt with.

Villager Fauzi Ishak, 44, claimed he lost over RM3,000 when the leopard killed five of his sheep on Saturday.

Another villager, Aris Adam, 77, said he lost five sheep costing RM5,000 on March 15.

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Malaysia: 6, including foreigners, to stand trial for illegal possession of 1,308 tortoises

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 31 Mar 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The sessions court here has fixed April 5 and 6 as trial dates for six men accused of possessing 1,308 tortoises without a valid permit.

Judge Ainul Mohamed Shahrin said the prosecution team succeeded in proving a prima facie case against all the accused, despite several technical issues.

Ibrahim Kahal, 44, Rashed Delan, 38, Alsadat Belog, 39, Madal Juldin, 37, Sidik Napaeh, 23 and Rasid Alain, 38, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the offence committed on Dec 7 on a boat headed for nearby Pulau Mengalum.

Rashed and Alsadat are locals, while the other four are Filipinos.

Rashed, Alsadat as well as Ibrahim, who is an IMM13 holder, had previously been granted bail of RM20,000 each, with RM10,000 to be deposited.

They are charged under Section 41 (2) of the 1997 Wildlife Conservation Enactment, which was read together with Section 41 (1) of the same Enactment, which provide for punishment according to Section 34 of the Penal Code.

Each could be fined a minimum of RM30,000 and a maximum of RM100,000, or receive between six months’ and three years’ imprisonment.

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Indonesia: MUI Lebong speaks out against tiger hunting

The Jakarta Post 29 Mar 17;

With the number of Sumatran tigers dwindling, the local chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in Lebong Regency, Bengkulu, has said it would step up the campaign against tiger hunting in the region.

The council issued a fatwa to protect endangered animals, including the tigers, in 2014. The fatwa, which declared tiger hunting un-Islamic, was part of the council’s support for the campaign, MUI Lebong chairman Amin Amir said.

“People keep hunting even though the law regarding this matter has been regulated,” he said as quoted by on Wednesday.

“We will tell our preachers who live in villages near the forest to spread the information about the protection of endangered animals,” he added.

(Read also: Tiger skin traders get four years in prison)

Lingkar Institute director Iswadi welcomed Amin’s support for the campaign to protect endangered animals, saying the MUI had a strategic role in raising people’s awareness about the issue. (rdi/ary)

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Indonesia: Snake eats human in Sulawesi, under pressure of deforestation -- Expert

Andi Hajramurni The Jakarta Post 29 Mar 17;

The incident of a large python eating a man in a West Sulawesi village has triggered new concern over “uncontrolled” deforestation across the country, which many believe to be responsible for the numerous incidents of animals attacking humans.

The body of Akbar, a 25-year-old palm oil farmer in Salubiro village, Karossa district, Central Mamuju regency, was found inside the belly of a 7-meter-long python near his palm oil plantation on Monday night.

Rahmansyah, an agriculture lecturer from Hasanuddin University in Makassar, said the killer snake might have had its habitat disturbed by the growing human activities in the area, such as palm oil plantations that have continued to expand.

“Because the habitat is destroyed, the snake’s natural food sources are also affected. Thus, the snake went out to the palm oil plantation to seek prey,” he said on Wednesday.

According to Rahmansyah, the forest was the python’s natural habitat but had continued to expand into a palm oil plantation. “It’s becoming more difficult for the animals to find their natural food,” he said.

Junaedi, the secretary of Salubiro village in West Sulawesi, said the last time such a large python was found in the area was in the 1990s, when the forests started to transform into palm oil plantations.

Shocked by the incident, farmers in the village had stayed at home over the past few days when it was actually time to harvest palm oil. (bbs)

Indonesian man found dead in belly of 7m-long python
The Jakarta Post 29 Mar 17;

An Indonesian man has been found dead inside the belly of a seven-meter-long python, a local media reports.

Akbar Salubiro had not been seen since setting off to harvest palm oil in a remote village on the island of Sulawesi. The 25-year-old man was missing since March 26.

A search found the giant python sprawled out next to his garden with the 25-year-old’s boots clearly visible in its stomach, according to

Villagers then used a large knife to cut open the snake’s belly slowly revealing the father-of-two’s body.

The horrifying footage shows the corpse being slowly removed from the killer reptile as the leathery skin is peeled away.

Akbar's neighbor Satriawan said: "He was found in the location of the garden.

"Initially Akbar set out from his home to go to harvest palm. After not returning to his home, people looked for him."

Akbar's wife, Munu, was away at the time and only found out when pictures and video emerged in the news, Tribun Timur said.

Village secretary Salubiro Junaidi said: "People had heard cries from the palm grove the night before Akbar was found in the snake’s stomach.

"When the snake was captured, the boots Akbar was wearing were clearly visible in the stomach of the snake.

"Resident cut open the belly of the snake and Akbar was lifeless."

Reticulated pythons suffocate their victims before swallowing them whole, reports said.

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Good news for elephants: China's legal ivory trade is 'dying' as prices fall

Elephant conservationists hopeful that demand for ivory in China is falling amid government clampdown on ivory sellers, but experts remain wary of poaching
Adam Cruise The Guardian 30 Mar 17;

The wholesale price of raw legal ivory has dropped by almost two thirds since China, the world’s largest ivory importer and trader, announced plans to close down its domestic market, according to new research.

Researchers working for the conservation organisation Save the Elephants visited Beijing and Shanghai, as well as six cities whose markets had never been surveyed before: Changzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shenyang, Suzhou and Tianjin. The researchers, Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin, concluded that the legal trade in ivory is dying.

In early 2014, the average wholesale price of tusks was $2,100 (£1,700) per kg, the researchers found. By late 2015, just months after China symbolically burned half a ton of stockpiled ivory and announced plans to end the domestic trade, the price had fallen to $1,100 per kg. By February 2017 it had reached just $730 per kg.

The research team also found that many retail shops were closed or closing with vendors trying to offload stocks. The legal shops have been sitting on old stocks of worked ivory trying to sell items for the same prices to recoup the high costs of purchasing raw ivory.

Some conservationists have welcomed the latest findings.

“We must give credit to China for having done the right thing by closing the ivory trade,” said Iain Douglas-Hamilton, president and founder of Save the Elephants. “There is now greater hope for the species.”

Elephant populations have been crashing in the last few years; a pan-African survey of savannah elephants published at the end of last year showed them down by a third of a total population – or 144,000 elephants – over seven years directly as a result of the ivory trade. A separate analysis by the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, which also included a survey of forest elephant populations, revealed a similar pattern.

The drop in the prices has been attributed, in part, to the Chinese government’s public commitment to close down the nation’s legal ivory trade. “With the end of the legal ivory trade in China the survival chances for elephants have distinctly improved,” said Douglas-Hamilton.

China’s ivory factories are to be officially shut down by 31 March 2017, and all retail outlets will be closed by the end of the year. There have been intensive public awareness campaigns that have involved celebrities such as actor Jackie Chan and shown Chinese consumers that buying ivory is having a negative impact on Africa’s elephant populations.

However, the main reason for the decline, says the report, is the Chinese economic slowdown. Late last year economic data suggested that growth prospects in the world’s second largest economy remain gloomy. Consumer spending, even though it had improved on the previous year, is not picking up as much as China would hope. Hardest hit are more expensive luxury materials such as raw ivory.

And the reduction in prices may not have as big an impact as many hope. Professor Alejandro Nadal, an economist from the Centre for Economic Studies, El Colegio de México, warned we must not jump to conclusions. “The key variable that will determine the effect on poaching is not prices. It is profits,” he said.

Nadal believes that selling ivory at low wholesale prices could spell higher profit levels at the retail end of the chain. So even though wholesale prices have dropped, ivory retailers therefore could see their profitability increase.

Nadal asks whether its these big retail traders who are driving the poaching:

“To get a better answer to that question, we need to know more about the links with the illegal trade: do the price reductions affect the prices in the illegal trade?”

In fact, the research found that illegal ivory traders, by contrast to the legal outlets, have indeed benefitted from falling prices. The researchers discovered that the illegal dealers have been buying raw illegal ivory for less and selling items quickly at much reduced prices compared with legal businesses, undercutting them. “While legal dealers have suffered, illegal traders have been enjoying a profitable business,” the report concludes.

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Malaysia: Dept expects more human-elephant encounters around Lahad Datu

RUBEN SARIO The Star 30 Mar 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Instances of humans encountering wildlife around Lahad Datu are expected to increase due to the opening of more forests in the area, said the Sabah Wildlife Department.

This follows an incident in Kampung Jawa, near Lahad Datu, on March 19 when when two bull elephants damaged oil palm crops and ate fruits grown by villagers.

The elephants were tracked down in a five-day search and were moved to the Kawag forest reserve last Sunday.

"We will likely see more of elephant intrusions closer to Lahad Datu town in time to come," said the department’s wildlife rescue unit acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez.

She said this is because it is easier for elephants to move around as more areas between the Danum Valley and Lahad Datu are being cleared.

Dr Ramirez said this was not the first human-elephant encounter in Lahad Datu as 10 elephants were translocated from Bikang in 2013.

Last year, 24 elephants were translocated after they were found roaming in an area between Kampung Sri Putatan and Kampung Binuang, less than 10km from Lahad Datu.

There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 elephants in Sabah.

Wild elephants moved to forest reserve after wreaking havoc in village
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 31 Mar 17;

LAHAD DATU: Two bull elephants had been moved to the Kawag Forest Reserve after they wreaked havoc at Kampung Jawa here.

Sabah Wildlife Department’s wildlife rescue unit received a report on the presence of the two elephants last week at the village located about 2km from the town.

The unit acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez said a team of officers were dispatched to the location to capture the elephants to prevent further damages.

It was reported that the elephants have been destroying and feeding on the villagers’ crop and even went near the houses.

“This is the first time wild elephants from the Danum Valley elephant population made their way so close to Lahad Datu township.

“This is probably because much of the land area between Danum Valley and Seri Perdana has been opened for human dwellings, fruit orchards and oil palm plantations,” she said in a statement.

Ramirez added that there were possibilities of more elephant encroaching into the town as many areas between the valley and town had been cleared.

The team, assisted by villagers and stakeholders, managed to capture and translocate the elephants to the forest reserve on Sunday after intensive tracking for five days.

In 2013, the unit had translocated 10 elephants from Bikang here, and in 2015, 24 elephants were also moved from Kg Sri Putatan. Both areas were located less than 10km from town.

Sabah may see more jumbo conflicts
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 2 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Elephant-human conflicts are increasing in Sabah’s east coast with more land being opened up for agricultural purposes.

There is growing concern among wildlife officials because the latest case last week happened barely two kilometres away from Lahad Datu town.

“We expect to see all areas from Sandakan towards south Kalabakan up to Sapulut, Maliau Basin, becoming hotbeds for such encounters,” said Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga.

On March 19, two bull Borneo pygmy elephants damaged oil palm crops and ate fruits grown by villagers.

The elephants were tracked down in a five-day search and were moved to the Kawag forest reserve last Sunday.

Tuuga said such encounters between man and animal often result in loss of crops and even injuries involving both parties.

“We have records of such incidents with the animal or human injured or attacked. We are still compiling the cases in each district,” he said.

The situation, he said, would worsen if the animals had nowhere else to go due to rapid development.

To address the problem, Tuuga advised estate and plantation operators to install electric fences.

In 2013, 10 elephants were translocated in the Bikang area of Lahad Datu.

Last year, 24 elephants were translocated after they were found roaming in an area between Kampung Sri Putatan and Kampung Binuang, less than 10km from Lahad Datu.

There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 elephants in Sabah.

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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Mar 17

People’s Expedition to Experience Peat in May
People's Movement to Stop Haze

Beting Bemban Besar
Offshore Singapore

Conservation of Giant Clams – Part 2
Neo Mei Lin

Seawater desalination: issues that you don't read about in the papers
Water Quality in Singapore

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Robot kayak joins fight against algae

Dr Sandric Leong and his team from the Tropical Marine Science Institute are using technology to track and monitor algae with higher efficiency. They use a machine which can identify the algae species within a few hours, instead of days.
Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Mar 17;

If you chance upon an empty canoe moving by itself off Seletar Island, do not be alarmed.

The yellow robot kayak roaming the Strait of Johor looking for signs of trouble is the latest weapon in the war against killer algae.

It is armed with sensors that measure water temperature, salinity and chlorophyll, among other things.

Scientists are using it to monitor waters for harmful algal blooms which have killed fish and marine life en masse here in the past.

Scientists simply programme the robot to survey a designated area and collect data in real time that can then be used to map out patches of algae so scientists know how they are spreading.

Since 2010, scientists from the Tropical Marine Science Institute (TMSI) at the National University of Singapore and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (Smart) Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling (Censam), have been harnessing advanced technologies to monitor environmental stressors, including algal blooms.

The project is funded by the National Research Foundation.

"The sea, as a research field, is a very challenging environment to collect data. Autonomous fleet of vehicles are able to collect relatively more data, more accurately as opposed to traditional methods," said Mr Tawfiq Taher, a senior research manager at Smart Censam.

"Due to the harsh nature of the sea, the robots are required to be robust and resilient to the extreme weather conditions."

Local fish farms here have been badly hit by algal blooms in recent years. Just two years ago, 77 farms were affected by the blooms which wiped out 500 to 600 tonnes of fish - about one-tenth of local farms' yearly produce that year .

There are 118 Singapore coastal fish farms in the East and West Johor Strait, and the southern waters, where most rear fish in net cages in the sea. There are another seven fish farms on land.

Last year, the farms produced about 5,000 tonnes of fish, accounting for about 10 per cent of the fish eaten here.

Dr Sandric Leong, a senior research fellow with TMSI who is co-leading the project, noted that algal blooms are linked to many factors, including slower or warmer water, high nutrient levels and discharge from land agriculture.

"Advanced technologies assist in finding the blooms which are still in the early development stage so that the public can be alerted," he said.

Dr Leong and his TMSI team are also using other technologies to help track and detect algal blooms with greater efficiency.

They include a machine which can identify algae species in a few hours instead of days.

An underwater camera is also able to operate at depths of up to 2km, to capture images of algae lurking deep in the sea.

National water agency PUB is also using technology to monitor reservoirs and waterways. It has developed a life-sized robot swan, with the NUS Environmental Research Institute and TMSI, to measure chlorophyll levels and water quality in reservoirs.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said it monitors the water quality around the nation's fish farming areas.

"The use of autonomous surface vehicles (ASV) is relatively new in Singapore but such technologies can help to complement AVA's monitoring efforts," added a spokesman.

"On some occasions, we have tapped on the water quality data from NUS' ASV trials to assist in our assessment of water quality in the East Johor Strait."

Harmful algae in nearby waters

There are 270 known algae species found in coastal waters off Singapore. Here are some:


Commonly found in the Johor Strait, it has toxic compounds that are known to cause massive fish kills during blooms.

During the mass fish death in 2015, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore found elevated levels of Karlodinium veneficum in seawater samples.


The genus consists of more than 40 species and a third of them are toxic.

Four Alexandrium species occur in Singapore waters. One produces a toxic compound that kills young sea bass and seahorses, while another causes paralytic shellfish poisoning, which can be fatal.


This genus is known to have 12 species and can release toxins into the environment as aerosols, which can cause respiratory problems in humans.

Recreational beaches have been forced to close due to blooms caused by such species.

Eating shellfish contaminated with the algae may also result in neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, which causes headaches and aching muscles, among others.

An undetermined species was observed in the Singapore Strait in a study published last year.

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First Zika cluster of 2017 reported in Hougang

Today Online 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — Some three months after the Zika transmission in Singapore tapered off, two members of the same household at Simon Place have been found to have contracted the Zika virus, making the area in Hougang the first Zika cluster to be reported this year.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Wednesday (March 29) that it was notified of the cluster on Tuesday.

That afternoon, the NEA started vector control operations and outreach activities, such as distributing information leaflets and insect repellents to households, at the cluster.

Ten mosquito breeding habitats — seven in homes and three in other premises — were detected and destroyed. By Wednesday, the NEA had inspected about 120 out of some 400 premises in the Simon Place cluster for mosquito breeding. It also conducted ground checks in the area.

Singapore had its first locally transmitted case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in August last year. The virus is known to cause abnormally small heads in babies whose mothers were infected while pregnant — a condition called microcephaly.

Around mid-October, the NEA said that the first and largest locally transmitted Zika cluster at the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive area, which had seen nearly 300 cases since August, had been closed.

By December, the number of Zika cases had tapered off.

Several residents at Simon Place told TODAY that they were concerned about the Zika cluster in the area.

Financial services consultant Patrick Lim, 55, said: “All my neighbours are worried. We have started precautions only now, since we got to know of this. We usually check for mosquitoes , but we are concerned that NEA hasn’t done enough for the common areas.”

Echoing a similar sentiment, Mr Brendan Goh, 21, who is doing his National Service, said: “I’m quite surprised, it is worrying. We haven’t been taking precautions, except for the usual, such as checking for stagnant water. This area has a lot of dengue cases though, especially in recent years.”

Residents told TODAY that they had received a letter from the NEA informing them that there will be thermal fogging done today, between 9am and 12.30pm.

The areas to be fogged are Kang Choo Bin Road, Poh Huat Road, Da Silva Lane, Simon Lane, Simon Place and Florence Road, according to the letter.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Leong Hoe Nam attributed the new Zika cases to a rise in temperatures.

“Dengue cases would be rising or have risen, and the seasonal dengue period is coming. And Zika parallels dengue,” he told TODAY.

He added that Singapore had taken the right steps during the Zika outbreak last year, and the usual measures should be continued.

“The numbers are small ... we aren’t seeing as many cases as I expected. This means Singapore is doing something right,” Dr Leong added.

The NEA on Wednesday urged residents to allow its officers to carry out inspections and indoor spraying of their homes if required.

“Most people infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms, which heightens the risk of a Zika resurgence as it may take some time before a reintroduced Zika virus is detected. With the presence of the Aedes mosquito vector here, everyone must therefore continue to maintain vigilance and play his part to prevent future localised transmission through eradicating mosquito breeding habitats in our neighbourhoods,” it said.

Singapore's first Zika cluster of 2017 reported at Simon Place
Channel NewsAsia 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: Two cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infections have been confirmed at Simon Place in Hougang, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Wednesday (Mar 29).

This is the first Zika cluster reported in Singapore this year.

Both cases are residents from the same household, NEA added in a media release.

The Zika cluster was confirmed on Tuesday and vector control operations are being carried out in the area.

“As of Mar 29, NEA has inspected about 120 premises out of about 400 premises in the Simon Place cluster to check for mosquito breeding and also conducted ground checks in the vicinity," said the agency.

"Ten breeding habitats - comprising seven in homes and three in common areas/other premises - have been detected and destroyed."

NEA added that it has carried out indoor spraying of insecticides, as well as thermal fogging and misting in the outdoor areas. In addition, outreach efforts are being conducted by NEA officers and grassroots volunteers in the area to distribute Zika information leaflets and insect repellent to households.

NEA also urged residents to allow officers to carry out inspections and indoor spraying of residents' homes if required.

"Most people infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms, which heightens the risk of a Zika resurgence as it may take some time before a reintroduced Zika virus is detected. With the presence of the Aedes mosquito vector here, everyone must therefore continue to maintain vigilance and play his part to prevent future localised transmission through eradicating mosquito breeding habitats in our neighbourhoods," said NEA.

Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Lim also urged residents to cooperate with NEA's operations. "I urge all residents to cooperate fully and to exercise personal vigilance to prevent the spread of Zika, including using repellent and preventing breeding," the Aljunied GRC MP wrote on her Facebook page.

Singapore’s first confirmed locally transmitted case of Zika was first announced on Aug 26, 2016. As of Dec 21, 2016, 17 pregnant women were confirmed to have contracted Zika. The disease has been linked to microcephaly in other countries.

- CNA/ek

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Malaysia: Sabah wildlife rescuers save injured sun bear

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 29 Mar 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife rangers helped save a sun bear that was injured by a poacher's snare within the fully protected Maliau Basin forest conservation area.

The rangers were alerted by conservation officers, who spotted the injured bear roaming around the Maliau Basin Studies Centre on March 25.

The Sabah Wildlife Department rescue unit’s quick response team and Maliau Basin officers rushed to the area and launched a search through the night before spotting the bear within the forest area.

They managed to tranquilise the injured sun bear.

Rescue unit acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez said Wednesday that the sun bear was found to have a severely infected injury on its back, most probably caused by a sharp pointed object, likely to be a spear (known locally as bujak), and a deep wound from a snare trap with the nylon rope still strangulating its right forelimb.

She said the animal has been brought to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park near Kota Kinabalu where it is being treated.

Borneo Sun Bear Conservation director Wong Siew Ti expressed concern over the poaching of animals within the world-renowned Maliau Basin.

“Poaching poses a threat not only to sun bears but other endangered wildlife. We have to improve our security in such areas because such snares will eventually wipe out the many protected species in our forests,” he said.

He said the snare traps could have been set for smaller animals, including wild boar, but many other animals including elephants could be injured, sometimes seriously.

Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said it is important for all to join forces to increase enforcement in Sabah’s forests to reduce poaching in protected areas.

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Malaysia: Health Ministry releases Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes in Keramat

Bernama New Straits Times 29 Mar 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry yesterday released mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia micro-organism at dengue hot spots in AU2 in Keramat here.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the new method in preventing the spread of dengue is being conducted by the Institute for Medical Research to replace the population of wild Aedes mosquitoes.

"A total of 16,000 male and female Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes were released at 300 dengue hotspots in Keramat AU2 areas," he said in a statement.

Subramaniam said various anti-dengue activities involving residents are also being intensified in Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor, before Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes will be deployed there.

He added that the deployment of such mosquitoes, monitored by IMR, will take place on a weekly basis, until 60 per cent of the population of wild Aedes mosquitoes in Keramat are replaced with the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.

He said studies have shown that Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes could prevent the spread of the dengue virus among humans.

The Wolbachia technique, as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is the latest method being applied by countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.

For detailed information on the method being carried out by the Health Ministry, members of the public can log on to -- Bernama

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Indonesia: Fatal floods blamed on deforestation

Apriadi Gunawan, Syofiardi Bachyul Jb and Panca Nugraha The Jakarta Post 29 Mar 17;

Rampant illegal logging and the conversion of protected forests around the upstream area of the Batang Ayumi River are being blamed for flash floods that left five people dead in Padang Sidempuan regency, North Sumatra.

The director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in North Sumatra, Dana Prima Tarigan, said protected forests in Marancar, South Tapanuli regency, were in a critical condition because of illegal logging and land-conversion activities.

As a result the barren land can no longer accommodate a high water debit during heavy downpours, quite apart from the poor condition of the Batang Ayumi River caused by sedimentation.

“That’s why the flash floods hit people’s houses along with mud and logs,” Dana told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Dana said flash flooding triggered by forest damage was very dangerous because it was usually accompanied by mud and logs capable of devastating a village and dragging victims to their death.

Five people were reported to have died in the flash floods on Sunday while four others were injured. The floods hit five subdistricts in Padang Sidempuan, with Batunadua Julu the worst hit. The financial cost of the floods was estimated at Rp 4.5 billion (US$338,300).

Dana blamed local administrations for not providing people with warnings during heavy rains, especially considering the critical condition of the forests in the upstream area.

Syamsir, 32, of Lubuk Raya subdistrict said the flash floods hit his region at 7 p.m. on Sunday, following heavy rain since 5 p.m. the same day. “We promptly fled our home. None of our belongings could be saved. Everything was carried away by the flood,” he said.

North Sumatra Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rina Sari Ginting said her office would set up a special team to investigate the cause of the flash floods in Padang Sidempuan, including the forest damage in the river’s upstream area.

In West Sumatra, hundreds of houses and a number of public facilities in three regions of Sijunjung regency, Solok regency and Solok city were inundated in floodwater up to 1 meter deep on Tuesday following heavy rain since 11 p.m. on Monday.

West Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD West Sumatra) emergency and logistic division head R. Pagar Negara said the flood hit five districts in Sijunjung and two each in Solok regency and city.

“No fatalities have been reported so far. The situation is secured and officers from the BPBD, Social Affairs Agency and the Indonesian Red Cross have been deployed to the affected areas,” Pagar said.

Flash floods were also reported to have hit Bima city in West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) on Sunday afternoon following heavy downpours over the region.

BPBD West Nusa Tenggara recorded that the flooding affected at least 22 subdistricts in five districts in the city, forcing over 2,500 people to flee their homes.

BPBD West Nusa Tenggara head Muhammad Rum said heavy rain started to fall over the city at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and stopped only at 11:30 p.m. that night. The high rainfall caused the city’s main rivers of Padolo and Salo to overflow and flooded nearby housing complexes and agricultural land.

“Residents were taken to safer places such as mosques, school buildings and the city hall,” said Rum.

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Fears for Indonesian park's rare species as Trump town rises

Stephen Wright, Associated Press Jakarta Post 29 Mar 17;

Shrouded in mist and cloud, the twin volcanoes of the lushly forested Gunung Gede Pangrango national park are the brooding guardians of nature's last stand on teeming Java island. Indonesia's overflowing, polluted capital is a couple of hours north, and with Trump-branded properties being built next to this protected area, Jakarta may soon feel even closer.

Over the next four years, a sprawling "Trump Community" will be built in this pocket of Indonesia's most densely populated island, with a new road leading to it. It's part of broader plans, including a massive theme park, that have alarmed conservationists who fear development will overwhelm a refuge for some of the archipelago's most threatened species.

The 3,000-hectare (11.6-square-mile) project is the brainchild of President Donald Trump's Indonesian partner, billionaire and presidential hopeful Hary Tanoe.

Gunung Gede Pangrango is one of the last virgin tropical forests in Java, where only 2 percent of original forest remains. It nurtures a dazzling variety of flora and fauna: more than 2,000 species of ferns, mosses and flowering plants and 250 species of birds. Endangered species include the Javan slow loris (the world's only venomous primate), the Javan leaf monkey, the Javan leopard (whose total population numbers less than 250), and the Javan hawk-eagle and Javan silvery gibbon.

The park has a rehabilitation center for silvery gibbons that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. The gibbons, known for practicing lifelong monogamy and their distinctively small, intense faces, number fewer than 4,000 in the wild.

Tanoe's MNC Group will build a six-star Trump hotel along with a golf course, country club, luxury condominiums, mansions and villas. Together with a theme park, hotels, shops, homes and a dining and entertainment district that MNC is developing on its own, this first stage of "Lido City" will occupy between 800 and 1,000 hectares.

A visualization on the company's website shows a valley filled with a man-made lake and a fantastical theme park. Tanoe plans to fill out the remaining 2,000 hectares and has told The Associated Press he wants to expand further.

MNC is also building a toll road that improve access to nearby cities and Jakarta. The Lido City project does not require an environmental impact assessment, though some parts such as the theme park will, according to Tanoe.

Park officials worry construction will cause wildlife to flee and that the mini-city MNC touts as "fulfilling the dream of the people of Indonesia for world-class entertainment" will bring an uncontrollable influx of people and rubbish. They question how the development will meet its substantial water needs in an area that's a crucial catchment for the 30 million people of greater Jakarta.

But nor can they afford to antagonize MNC or the Trump Organization, which will manage the Trump-branded properties. The project is going ahead whether they like it or not and the main access road to the park, which has a controlled 50,000 visitors a year, cuts through MNC's land. The park, which is part of the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, has signed a memorandum of understanding with MNC concerning the development of eco-tourism; neither it nor the company would provide a copy.

"We are still discussing with them about how to avoid a massive exodus of wildlife while they are working on construction," said the park chief, Adison, who goes by one name. "Before they start construction we want them to adapt to how the wildlife exists in this national park. You can open your business here but you have to respect your neighbors."

Adison said park officials believe company executives are beginning take conservation more seriously, possibly because the Trump Organization's involvement has given the project a higher profile.

MNC's corporate secretary said its executives were too busy to be interviewed and did not respond to emailed questions about how the company planned to mitigate environmental damage. The Trump Organization redirected questions to a public relations company that did not provide any response.

In a January interview, Tanoe said developing the whole 3,000 hectares will take more than a decade and cost $2 billion to $3 billion. The Trump properties will cost more than $300 million. Getting the construction permits for the first phase was "easy," Tanoe said. The golf course, designed by former world No. 1 golfer Ernie Els, is already under construction.

Tanoe teamed up with the Trump Organization about three years ago; they also plan to redevelop an existing Tanoe hotel and golf course overlooking a sacred temple on the tourist island of Bali into a luxury Trump property.

Elan Juanda, an environmental activist involved with education in the park, said he is "very pessimistic about forest conservation in this region when the project is built."

"It's impossible that their project will not cause damage to the environment as well as changes in the behavior of animals," he said.

More than a decade of camera-trap images show how sensitive wild animals are to human activity, he said. They show wildlife including the Javan leopard in remote parts of the park, but almost never in areas frequented by hikers. Experts also say that construction noise will be stressful for the gibbons at the rehabilitation center.

Though a private development, Lido City suits the Indonesian government's ambitions to create more tourist destinations it hopes will be as popular as Bali. With more than 250 million predominantly young and poor people, Indonesia has a pressing need for jobs.

Anton Ario, a program manager for Conservation International, said the park cannot withstand an influx of people and needs a substantial buffer zone between it and the development, especially the theme park.

Wild gibbons are particularly vulnerable because they are homebodies and rather than move to a new range will stay put and suffer potentially lethal stress, he said.

To be effective, the memorandum of understanding needs to be upgraded to a binding technical agreement, he said. Even then, water use will be a major concern because it will inevitably come at least in part from Gunung Gede Pangrango.

In a broader sense, ongoing development has immense implications because the national park is a crucial water catchment. Jakarta already experiences annual flooding, and degrading the national park could make it much worse, said Ario.

"Honestly I hope they can build a sustainable development," he said. "I really, really hope for that. Because the area is very close and there can be an impact for the environment. Honestly I'm worried about it."

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Food trade drains global water sources at 'alarming' rates

Many of the crops imported and exported from the US are grown with non-sustainable water supplies
Matt McGrath BBC 30 Mar 17;

The global market for foodstuffs is depleting water sources in many parts of the world quicker than they can naturally be refilled.

The complex trade is increasing pressure on non-renewable groundwater, mainly used for irrigating crops such as rice, wheat and cotton.

Pakistan, the US and India are the countries exporting the most food grown with unsustainable water.

Researchers say that without action, food supplies with be threatened.

Around 43% of the water used to irrigate crops around the world comes from underground aquifers, as opposed to rivers and lakes. Many of these sources are being used up quicker than they can be refilled from rainfall.

Back in 2000, experts believed that non-renewable resources sustained 20% of global irrigation. In the 10 years to 2010, this increased by more than a fifth.

While scientists have long known about the depletion of groundwater, this new study sets out to understand how supplies are impacted by the booming international trade in food and crops.

The vast majority of the world's populations live in countries that source nearly all their staple crop imports from nations who deplete significant amounts of groundwater to irrigate these foodstuffs.

The researchers found that some 11% of the non-renewable groundwater used for irrigation is embedded in the the global food trade. Two-thirds of this are accounted for by Pakistan, the US and India.

Over the decade from the year 2000, the use of non-renewable groundwater has doubled in China and increased significantly in India and the US. The crops using the biggest amounts of this water are wheat, rice, sugar crops, cotton and maize.

However, the web of responsibility is a complex one.

The US, Mexico, Iran, Saudi Arabia and China are among the top 10 users of unsustainable water in agriculture. However, they are also among the top importers of crops grown with these dwindling resources.

So, Iran, for example, mainly imports rice from Pakistan irrigated by the Upper Ganges and Lower Indus aquifers. These water sources have extraction rates up to 50 times higher than required for sustainable use. Iran in turn exports perennial crops irrigated by the Persian aquifer that has being extracted at a mere 20 times the rate that is sustainable.

"The depletion rate is alarming - we have these clusters of countries that are at risk both from domestic production and imports," said lead author Dr Carole Dalin from University College London.

"If the reserve of water runs out the price of food will be affected and it will affect almost all the world's population."

Many developed countries are aware of issues in the depletion of groundwater and have put measures in place, such as urban water restrictions in California during the recent years of drought. However, in developing nations, the mechanisms to restrict water may not exist.

"Pakistan for instance is quite complex," said Dr Dalin. "They can make good money out of exporting rice, but the framework is not really there to account for the impact on the environment. It is true that eventually it will affect the production there."

The researchers argue that while governments need to have greater awareness about the impacts of production on water resources, consumers in richer countries should also think about water when considering the foods that they buy.

"The products that consumers buy at a supermarket may have very different environmental impacts depending on where they are produced and how they are irrigated," said co-author Yoshihide Wada, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

"In order to help consumers make more sustainable choices about their food, producers should consider adding water labels that make these impacts clear."

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Cyclone Debbie: Storm likely to add to Great Barrier Reef's woes, scientist says

Peter Hannam Sydney Morning Herald 29 Mar 17;

Cyclone Debbie appears to have added another blow to the Great Barrier Reef, hammering a region that had escaped the worst of the coral bleaching over the past 15 months, a senior researcher says.

The slow-moving category four tropical storm, which crossed the north Queensland coast on Tuesday afternoon, is likely to have left a trail of extensive damage to reefs in its path, much like Cyclone Yasi in 2011, said David Wachenfeld, director of reef recovery at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

"The primary concern will be the immediate physical damage in that central part of the storm with high wind speeds," Dr Wachenfeld said. "It's had lots of time for the wave energy to be built up by the winds and for that wave energy to hit the tops of the reefs."

Cyclones can be a mixed blessing for corals. While reefs near the storm's centre can be badly damaged, the tempest can also bring much-needed mixing of relatively hot, stagnant waters.

The rain and subsequent cloud cover can also help relieve the heat stress that causes the bleaching that has hit the Great Barrier Reef for an unprecedented two years in a row.

Cyclone Debbie's arrival, though, has interrupted the aerial surveys the park authority is conducting with James Cook University to determine the extent of this year's bleaching. Another summer of abnormally warm waters prompted many corals to expel the algae that gives them both colour and the bulk of their energy.

"We've got two different styles of extreme weather events delivering different coral impacts - but nonetheless killing corals in two different parts of the reef," Dr Wachenfeld said.

"There is some overlap between them but essentially, each of the three events [the 2016 and 2017 bleaching and Cyclone Debbie] is covering a different large area of the Great Barrier Reef," he said. "The three of them in conjunction will have delivered a really serious impact in just over a year."

Last year's bleaching was worst in the relatively pristine northern third of the reef, with two-thirds of the corals dying - a subject raised by the Greens in the Senate on Wednesday.

Climate, other risks

Dr Wachenfeld said there are reports of bleaching again this year "right through to the Torres Strait", of varying severity.

"Way up there, this cyclone is going to make no difference at all to the temperatures of the water," he said.

Reefs closer to the area hit by Cyclone Debbie, such Orpheus Reef near Townsville, could do with cooler conditions.

The need to do more to protect the reef - such as curbing greenhouse gas emissions and investing to reduce other threats including nutrient-rich run-off from farms - is "only reinforced by the current events", he said.

Global warming is increasing the background temperatures of the world's oceans, increasing the likelihood that natural weather fluctuations will push corals beyond heat-stress thresholds. Longer term, rising acidity from the increased absorption of carbon dioxide in the oceans also threaten corals and other creatures such as shell-fish.

Climate change is also increasing the likelihood of more intense cyclones even if - at least in the Australia region - the number of cyclones will probably be reduced, according to scientists such as Jonathan Nott of James Cook University.

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Mar 17

Tall Oldgrowth Coastal Forest of Marsiling
Flying Fish Friends

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Kallang River set to get a facelift

SIAU MING EN Today Online 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — The Kallang River, Singapore’s longest natural river that stretches from Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin, is set to undergo a facelift, as the authorities on Wednesday (March 29) revealed some initial ideas to build spiral ramps across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) and waterfront housing developments.

The 10km river – about three times the length of the Singapore River – passes through several housing estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, Bendemeer and Kallang Bahru, and houses some 800,000 people living within 2km of the river.

Another 100,000 residential units are expected to be built within the next 20 years and the area will be served by 20 MRT stations when the new lines are up by 2023.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (March 29) officiated the launch of an exhibition on the preliminary conceptual plans for the river held at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Centre.

The URA is gathering public feedback for the ideas put up at the exhibition, which it noted are “conceptual and aspirational in nature”. The authority will spend the rest of the year engaging stakeholders and the public before revealing more details next year.

The move to spruce up Singapore’s waterfront is not new and has been ongoing since the 1980s, after the clean-up of both the Singapore River and the Kallang Basin. While such efforts have largely been focused on the Singapore River, Marina Bay and the Kallang Basin, a URA spokesperson said the “time is ripe” to start a discussion to “further rejuvenate” the Kallang River.

One of the key ideas put forward by the URA is to improve the connectivity and allow users to walk, jog or cycle along an uninterrupted route from Bishan to the city.

Currently, the Kallang Park Connector is obstructed by major roads and expressways, such as the Central Expressway (CTE), PIE and Sims Avenue, where users will have to use traffic crossings or overhead bridges to get to the next stretch of the park connector.

Initial ideas include building spiral ramps across the PIE so users can skip the long flight of steps leading to the overhead bridge, while the existing CTE underpass could be widened to become a gathering or event space. Underpasses could also be built along Kallang Bahru Road, Upper Boon Keng Road and Sims Avenue.

There are also ideas to redevelop the residential and industrial estates on both sides of the Kallang River.

For instance, the Kallang Industrial Estate – made up of several smaller industrial estates at the Kallang Basin, Kallang Bahru and Kallang Avenue – could be developed into a mixed-use precinct, which includes new industrial developments for the future economy.

Across the river, the Kallang Distripark, a private industrial estate bordered by the river, Kallang Bahru and Geylang Bahru, could be converted to a greener residential neighborhood with waterfront parks and recreational spaces.

Further south from the Kallang Industrial Estate is the Kampong Bugis site, which will be turned into a car-lite residential precinct, including pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly paths that connect users to nearby amenities and communal spaces.

The 17.4-ha site between the river, Crawford Street and Kallang Road has been earmarked for private residential use.

At the Ministry of National Development’s budget debate earlier this month, Mr Wong said the site will be piloted under a master developer concept to give private developers the freedom to create a masterplan and urban design plan for the district, subject to broad planning parameters set by the URA.

Other ideas are to improve the waterfront areas, including ongoing works for an Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters and drainage upgrading project between Bishan and Braddell Road.

To be completed by the last quarter of next year, this 1.8km stretch will be lined with a meandering stream, planter islands, cascading waters and a rain garden, which collects and cleanses rainwater runoff before discharging it into the river.

On the southern end of the river, the Kallang Basin area around the Sports Hub will be turned into an inclusive sports and recreational venue. For instance, running trails, and facilities such as a new football hub and free-to-play courts will be built around Jalan Benaan Kapal.

Stretches of the river can be naturalised or have wider green setbacks to increase its biodiversity. More parks or greenery could be added along the river banks as well.

Members of the public are also invited to share their memories and history of the Kallang River, where the Kallang Basin area used to be polluted by the surrounding pig and duck farms and cottage industries before the clean-up in the mid-80s.

100,000 housing units could be built next to Kallang River in next 20 years
Andrea Saadan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Mar 17;

Good news for those who have always wanted to live near a river: A total of 100,000 new residential units may be built next to Kallang River over the next 20 years.

Minister for National Development Mr Lawrence Wong said the new home units will be within 2km of both sides of the Kallang River, with Kampong Bugis being one of the key residential precincts.

He made the announcement Wednesday (Mar 29) at the launch of 'A River Runs Through It', an exhibition on the rejuvenation of Kallang River by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The Kampong Bugis area is about 17 hectares in size, and is envisioned as a new residential precinct "that is people-centric and car-lite", said Mr Wong.

Also primed to be developed into a new waterfront housing area is Kallang Distripark, said the URA in a statement on Wednesday.

As such, URA said it will introduce "vibrant commercial and recreational nodes along the river to provide more avenues for both work and play."

For example, within the Kallang Basin itself, Singaporeans will be able to enjoy greater access to water sports.

One such idea that is being developed for implementation is an eventual stream, cascading waters and rain gardens between Bishan Road and Braddell Road, according to the URA.

Older industrial estates can be transformed into new mixed-use areas, said Mr Wong in his speech this morning.

The minister said: "This will provide more opportunities for businesses seeking to leverage on the area's proximity to the city centre and its good connectivity."

Future residents within the Kallang River area will also have more jogging and cycling paths along the river promenade.

However, Mr Wong did point out the fact that the park connectors that run along the river are over twenty years old and "are not entirely seamless".

This includes an intersection at the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) where pedestrians and cyclists need to cross an overhead bridge that extends across the 16-lane expressway.

But there are possible solutions to create a more seamless inter-town cycling route, said Mr Wong.

One idea is to have elevated cable bridges. More of such ideas to overcome major obstacles along the river bank can be viewed at the Kallang River exhibition, URA said.

Rejuvenated Kallang River to raise appeal of neighbouring properties
ANGELA TENG Today Online 30 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE —With the rejuvenation of the Kallang River area, real estate experts say the properties along the river are likely to draw greater appeal through its lifestyle concept — car-lite, healthy living and amenities — and will no longer be just a waterfront housing.

Overall, property prices are also expected to increase in value following the revamp, they added.

The Kallang River, Singapore’s longest natural river that stretches from Lower Peirce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin, is set to undergo a revamp, the authorities said on Wednesday. Some initial ideas include building spiral ramps across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), a comprehensive pedestrian and cycling network to reduce reliance on cars, and waterfront housing developments.

The 10km river — about three times the length of the Singapore River — passes through several housing estates such as Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Toa Payoh, Bendemeer and Kallang Bahru.

About 800,000 people live within 2km of the Kallang River, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) believes there is potential to add another 100,000 dwelling units into the area in the next 20 years. Analysts expect the new homes to be located close to the river, on vacant land or to take over some industrial areas.

Mr Ong Kah Seng, director at R’ST Research, said: “For Kallang River areas on the whole, there will be enhanced accessibility through a seamless active mobility route from Bishan to the city. It could be indeed a unique, uplifting place and perhaps an improved version of Punggol’s waterway-living concept.

“The Kallang River area is set to be the bolder, more exciting and sophisticated version of Punggol, especially in landscaping, being car-lite and with its amenities. Being car-lite also sets it apart from all estates or localities in Singapore that have yet to offer such a unique living (and commuting) experience.”

Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at Suntec Real Estate Consultants, added that the properties by the Kallang River will rise in value. “Where previously they only have a view of the river, they will now have recreational facilities along it.”

JLL head of research Tay Huey Ying sees the proposal to transform the Kallang Industrial Estate into a vibrant mixed-used precinct as an opportunity to implement the Committee on the Future Economy’s recommendation for greater flexibility in land use.

“Strategically located at the fringe of the CBD (central business district), there is potential for this locality to be developed to serve the rising e-commerce needs for flexible warehouse-retailing use in light of the blurring of lines between retailing and warehousing in an environment of explosive growth in e-commerce,” she noted.

JTC’s director for land planning division Tang Hsiao Ling said in a statement yesterday that the JTC will work closely with the URA to transform the estate into a vibrant mixed-use precinct with high-rise facilities to meet the evolving needs of industry.

Ms Tang added that the revitalisation plans for the estate are still under discussion, and could potentially include integration with future residential developments along the waterfront and parks, which will bring jobs closer to home.

“In order to provide more social and recreational spaces for the community, we are also looking at the possibility of introducing a comprehensive pedestrian and cycling network, which will enhance walkability within the estate and connectivity to the Kallang River,” she shared.

Property developer UOL Group’s deputy group CEO Liam Wee Sin said in a statement that they are “excited about this opportunity to be part of the rejuvenation of this river.”

The developer is completing the sale and purchase of the en-bloc sale site of Raintree Garden in May, and the development will blend seamlessly with the waterfront promenade, and contribute to place-making and injecting vibrancy along the Kallang River.

“We will be preserving as many of the existing raintrees lining the riverfront to create a distinct identity for this enclave along the river,” Mr Liam said. Angela Teng

URA to develop Kallang River into lifestyle hub
Samantha Boh, The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Mar 17;

At Kallang Distripark in Geylang Bahru Road sits the dull, boxlike shape of a disused rubber factory that has been converted into a warehouse.

But a plan to breathe life into the waterway and its surroundings has been put in motion, to transform it into a place where sportsmen kayak in the nearby Kallang River and residents cycle along seamless park connectors.

The 15ha private industrial estate has been identified as a potential site, among several others, that can be redeveloped as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) ambitious plan to turn the area along the 10km river - almost three times longer than the iconic Singapore River - into a lifestyle hub.

The Government aims to redevelop certain plots and put in place new infrastructure so that it will one day be possible for residents to walk, jog or cycle from Lower Peirce Reservoir, where the river originates, to Gardens by the Bay and the Central Business District.

Among the URA's suggestions is building a cycling bridge that spirals over and across the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE), which would make it more convenient for cyclists and joggers to cross the PIE.

They currently have to use an overhead bridge.

It also hopes to build underpasses across Kallang Bahru Road and Upper Boon Keng Road so that people using the park connector will not need to navigate a traffic crossing.

The agency's ideas for improvements are on display at the URA Centre in Maxwell Road, in the A River Runs Through It exhibition. It was launched by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong yesterday and will run till May 2.

The URA hopes to get public feedback through the free exhibition, which is open from 9am to 6pm on weekdays.

Consultations with residents, landowners and other stakeholders will continue for the next couple of years, though more details can be expected next year, the URA said.

The budget for the project has not been finalised.

Ms Tang Hsiao Ling, director of JTC's Land Planning Division, said it will work closely with the URA to transform Kallang Industrial Estate into a vibrant mixed-use precinct with high-rise facilities to meet the evolving needs of industry.

"The revitalisation plans for the estate are still under discussion, and could potentially include integration with future residential developments along the waterfront and parks, which will bring jobs closer to home," she said.

Ideas for transformation of Kallang River area, better connectivity get widespread approval
SIAU MING EN Today Online 30 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — A transformation of the Kallang River holds the potential for exciting developments, such as expanding the car-lite model to the waterfront area, and would encourage more people to commute along that corridor, said experts, interest groups and residents.

Assistant Professor Raymond Ong from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said yesterday that these initial ideas for more car-lite waterfront areas near the river were “refreshing”.

“It’s a good initiative to treat this as a case study or a prime example of how we can do similar things for other waterfronts,” he told TODAY.

Previously, car-lite initiatives were mostly confined to certain housing estates, said Dr Ong.

But he also noted that improving the connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians along the 10km-long river would be different from building regular park connectors, such as the need to plan for infrastructure to get across the river, instead of just moving up and down the corridor.

The cycling path from Bishan to Kallang Basin would also take users along housing developments, industrial estates and a sports area.

Planners will then have to consider the different requirements of these areas, such as wider roads and more bicycle parking spaces near sporting facilities, or more greenery and fewer storage spaces for bicycles and personal mobility devices near residential areas, added Dr Ong.

Associate Professor Yu Shi-Ming, from NUS School of Design and Environment, also noted that given the mixed-use developments along the river, planners could have a problem pinning down a theme or identity for the area.

In the case of the Singapore River, people can identify the area as a place for leisure and entertainment, he noted.

Cycling group Love Cycling SG’s co-founder Woon Tai Woon also welcomed the ideas to improve the connectivity of the paths along the river.

Noting that members in the group used to joke about how the flight of 83 steps up the overhead bridge near the Pan-Island Expressway was a “standard obstacle course” for cyclists, he said the idea of having a spiral ramp would help make the journey smoother.

Mr Woon also suggested building lifts near these ramps so that the elderly can easily access such crossings.

Potong Pasir resident Kao Shu Lian, 28, said these new ideas would make the Kallang River area “more inviting and pleasant”.

The architect added that she would also be more inclined to explore parts of Singapore through these networks.

A Bishan resident, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tiaw, felt that the area would become livelier if the ideas were implemented.

“I don’t usually do sports, but I will attend more events there (in future), and go for a stroll if my children are willing to go along,” said the 63-year-old retiree. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ANGELA TENG

5 ideas floated to give Kallang River a facelift
Channel NewsAsia 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: Five broad key ideas to rejuvenate Kallang River were introduced on Wednesday (Mar 29), when the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched the A River Runs Through It exhibition.

The exhibition is a call for public feedback and ideas on a preliminary conceptual plan to rejuvenate the Kallang River, and revitalise the areas around the river, and was officiated by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, the URA press release said.

According to the agency, the Kallang River is Singapore's longest natural river. There are now about 800,000 people living within 2km of the river and, in the next 20 years, there is potential to inject around another 100,000 housing units in the area, it added.

As such, the Government is proposing the following:

1. Activate the waterfront, and enhance Kallang Basin as a sports and recreational venue
One idea being developed for implementation is an eventual stream, cascading waters and rain gardens between Bishan Road and Braddell Road. Studies are being carried out to see if more facilities are needed at the area around the Sports Hub to strengthen it as an inclusive sports and recreational precinct.
2. Inject new waterfront housing developments in park-like settings and renew old industrial estates
Kampong Bugis and Kallang Distripark are primed for the development of quality green residential neighbourhoods, and the Kallang Industrial Estate has the potential to be renewed into a mixed-use precinct with new industrial developments.
3. Enhance accessibility by providing a seamless active mobility route along Kallang River between Bishan and city centre
The exhibition presents some ideas to overcome major obstacles along the river bank, such as new underpasses and a cycling bridge across the Pan Island Expressway.
4. Enrich the biodiversity of Kallang River
Current habitats along the river can be complemented with the naturalisation of more stretches of the waterway, and wider green setbacks, to allow biodiversity to flourish even more, URA proposed.
5. Celebrate and incorporate the river’s rich heritage
The public will be invited to help capture the memories and heritage associated with the river to enrich future development plans, said URA.

The agency is calling on the public to share their feedback on ideas to revitalise the river, and will also be inviting grassroots and residents living along the river and other shareholders to the exhibition for their views.

The ideas and proposals will be exhibited at The URA Centre Atrium from Mar 29 to May 2, 9am to 6pm, Mondays to Fridays, it said.

- CNA/kk

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Pet shops, farms to face tighter licensing conditions

Today Online 29 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE — The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has revised its licensing conditions for pet shops and farms to “tighten existing regulations and raise animal welfare standards in Singapore”.

With effect from next month, changes will be made to improve the housing and management of animals, enhance traceability of animals and accountability of pet businesses, and improve healthcare.

For example, dogs kept together must be compatible and there must be enough space for each dog to move, turn around and stretch. Puppies must be microchipped by nine weeks old and kittens, by twelve weeks old.

All breeding dogs must undergo an annual health check by a licensed veterinarian. They must also be kept separately from retired breeding dogs.

The AVA said on Tuesday (March 28) that the revisions to the licensing conditions were finalised after consultation with various parties.

“We sought feedback from key stakeholders such as pet businesses, animal welfare groups and the Pets Enterprises & Traders Association, Singapore (PETAS), to seek suggestions and understand concerns,” said Ms Jessica Kwok, group director of the AVA’s Animal Management Group.

The AVA said it will continue to work closely with the pet industry to ensure smooth implementation of the revised conditions.

In January, the AVA announced that all dogs intended for sale by pet businesses must be licensed before they are sold. Individual dog owners who sell or give their dogs away will also have to inform the AVA that they are no longer keeping the dogs.

The AVA had said then that the moves are aimed at improving the traceability of pet dogs in Singapore, especially in the event of a disease outbreak such as rabies. They are also meant to discourage pet abandonment and help reunite lost dogs with their owners.

Apart from dogs and cats, other animals that are allowed for sale include rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, chinchillas and red-eared terrapins. A shop needs to obtain an AVA licence before it can display, sell, distribute or export pets.

While the AVA has been taking various steps to raise animal welfare standards in Singapore, it noted on Tuesday that safeguarding animal welfare is a shared responsibility.

“The public can play an important role by being AVA’s eyes and ears, and provide feedback to AVA if they come across any animal welfare issues,” it said.

Members of the public can contact the AVA via its 24-hour hotline, 1800-476-1600.

Tighter licensing conditions for pet shops and farms to take effect in April: AVA
Channel NewsAsia 28 Mar 17;

SINGAPORE: All pet shops selling dogs and cats must meet tighter licensing conditions from April as part of efforts to raise animal welfare standards, announced the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) on Tuesday (Mar 28).

It added that this would also apply to pet farms which breed and house dogs.

Some of the revised regulations include:

- If two or more dogs are kept together, they must be compatible, and each dog must be able to move, turn around without hitting the sides of the kennel, stand upright, lie down and stretch.
- All retired breeding dogs must be kept separately from breeding dogs and segregated according to their gender.
- Puppies must be microchipped by nine weeks old and kittens microchipped by 12 weeks old.
- All breeding dogs must undergo an annual health check by a licensed veterinarian.
The changes, which take effect from Apr 1, were made to improve the housing, healthcare and management of animals, enhance their traceability and improve the accountability of pet businesses, said AVA.

It added that the revisions were finalised after consultation with the pet industry, including animal welfare groups and the Pets Enterprises and Traders Association, Singapore (PETAS).

"AVA will continue to work closely with the pet industry to ensure smooth implementation of the revised conditions," it said.

The authority has been taking steps to tighten existing regulations. In January, it announced that all dogs intended for sale by pet businesses must be licensed before they are sold. In addition, individual dog owners who sell or give their dogs away will have to inform AVA that they are no longer keeping the dogs.

- CNA/gs

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