Best of our wild blogs: 16 Jan 17

Oil spill at East Johor Strait: YOUR sightings part 2
wild shores of singapore

After the oil spill at Changi Creek, Changi Creek mangroves, Changi Beach, Changi seagrass meadows
wild shores of singapore

Pulau Hantu after chemical spill and other impacts
wild shores of singapore

Night Walk Along Punggol Road (13 Jan 2017)

Cuttlebone of Kisslip Cuttlefish (Sepia lycidas) @ Changi
Monday Morgue

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Indonesia: High fire potential predicted for West Kalimantan as rainfall drops

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 15 Jan 17;

A climatology station in Mempawah, West Kalimantan, has predicted high land and forest fire potential in the province as its climate analysis showed a decline in rainfall, especially in the western and northern coastal areas, in early January.

The lower rainfall was followed by a decline in humidity due to the disappearance of water vapor layers above the land surface. This situation can increase the potential for land and forest fires.

Mempawah Climatology Station head Wandayantolis said less rain, followed by a decline in humidity, had led to higher intensity sunlight reaching the land surface.

“It is predicted that the rainfall decline will continue. In the middle of January, the 10-day rainfall rate will be only around 21 to 100 millimeters, or in the low-to-middle category,” Wandayantolis said on Friday.

He said the higher potential for fires in plantations, forests and settlement areas must be anticipated because high temperatures and low humidity would make it easier for fires to spread.

The Supadio Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Pontianak said United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites detected seven hotspots in West Kalimantan on Jan. 12. They were located in four regencies and municipalities across the province, namely Pontianak city and Kubu Raya, Mempawah and Sintang regencies.

The West Kalimantan Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) said 1,575 hotspots were recorded in 2016, down from 2,721 in the previous year. The agency’s emergency division head Bosman Hutahaean revealed that 342 were detected in Sanggau last year, making it the regency with the most hotspots. (ebf)

Riau, Kalimantan get helicopters to prevent land, forest fires
Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 15 Jan 17;

The Environment and Forestry Ministry is set to dispatch helicopters to Riau and Kalimantan to help maximize ongoing efforts to prevent and control land and forest fires.

Riau Environment and Forestry Agency head Yulwiriati Moesa said the Riau administration’s request for the dispatch of helicopters to tackle land and forest fires had been fulfilled by the central government.

“We are waiting for the arrival of the helicopters they’ve promised us. Helicopters will also be sent to Kalimantan,” she said during a coordination meeting at the Riau gubernatorial office on Friday.

Yulwiriati hopes the helicopters arrive soon to aid in efforts to prevent land and forest fires in 12 regencies and municipalities.

“Forestry authorities have been handed over by regencies and cities to the provincial administration. That’s why we have more duties now. The helicopters will ease our agency’s task to prevent and control land and forest fires in locations difficult to reach via land routes,” she said.

“I observed fire locations in the Bukit Betabuh protected forests in Kuantan Singingi regency several days ago. Firefighting teams faced difficulties in reaching fire spots in hilly areas. That’s why we need helicopters.”

Yulwiriati said she planned to set up an integrated patrol team to anticipate fires in forest areas. The development of ditches and canals in peatland will also continue, for which the Riau administration has allocated Rp 984 million (US$73,873.89).

“A media center for hot spot monitoring will be set up to make it easier for us to detect and coordinate land and forest fire prevention,” she said, adding that the monitoring of the adherence of companies in managing the environment would also be heightened. (ebf)

Efforts ramped up to monitor fires in Riau, Kalimantan amid haze fears
Today Online 16 Jan 17;

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Ministry is set to dispatch helicopters to Riau and Kalimantan to help maximise ongoing efforts to prevent and control land and forest fires, amid growing concern that transboundary haze could soon return.

“We are waiting for the arrival of the helicopters they’ve promised us. Helicopters will also be sent to Kalimantan,” said Riau Environment and Forestry Agency head Yulwiriati Moesa during a coordination meeting at the Riau gubernatorial office on Friday (Jan 13).

Ms Moesa did not state the number of aircraft that they will soon receive.

Expressing hope that the aircraft will arrive soon, she said the helicopters will be used to help 12 regencies and municipalities to monitor and patrol areas that are prone to land and forest fires.

“The helicopters will ease our agency’s task to prevent and control land and forest fires in locations difficult to reach via land routes,” the Jakarta Post quoted her as saying. “I observed fire locations in the Bukit Betabuh protected forests in Kuantan Singingi regency several days ago. Firefighting teams faced difficulties in reaching fire spots in hilly areas. That’s why we need the helicopters,” she said, adding that plans are afoot to set up an integrated patrol team to anticipate fires in forest areas.

The Riau province is located in Sumatra, which is right across the Strait of Malacca from Singapore. The Kuantan Singingi regency is located in Riau. Last week, there were fears that the transboundary haze could return after up to seven hotspots were detected in several regencies in Riau.

Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency head Sugarin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, had warned that forest and land fires could plague Riau again, noting that the dry season from next month until March in Riau could make the province’s forests more prone to fire.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre, the number of hotspots in Sumatra rose to four on Friday before registering zero on Saturday. It also detected a hotspot in Kalimantan on Saturday.

Haze caused by Indonesian farmers who burn forests to clear their land for agriculture is an annual occurrence that sends smog wafting northward to Singapore and Malaysia.

In late 2015, Singapore, as well as Malaysia and parts of Thailand suffered a severe haze that affected tens of millions of people, forcing schools to close and causing thousands to fall sick across the region. And in June 2013, fires in Riau caused a haze that was behind Singapore’s record Pollutant Standards 
Index of 401, which is 100 points above the hazardous threshold. AGENCIES

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Residents go green for eco challenge

TOH EE MING Today Online 15 Jan 17;

SINGAPORE — Instead of switching on air conditioning in two bedrooms at night, training manager Corrine Ong, her husband and her three children slept together in one bedroom of their five-room flat for three months, so that they would only use the air-conditioning in one room.

Ms Ong would also remind her children, aged 3, 9 and 11, to cut down on their energy usage such as by switching off the main power if they are not watching the television.

Steps like these helped the family shave off about 10 per cent of their utility bill. “After some time, it’s (become) a (habit) that is ingrained in us… But of course, for the children, you need the constant reminders for them to do it,” said the 39-year-old, who is also chairman of the Boon Lay Zone J Residents’ Committee.

Ms Ong’s family was among the 700 households who took part in an energy-saving challenge called Power Savers-for-Charity @ South West, a joint initiative by the South West Community Development Council (CDC) and Singapore Power (SP).

Spanning between July to September last year, the 17 participating blocks managed to save about 50,000 kilowatt hours of energy — enough to power more than 160 three-room Housing Development Board flats for a month.

South West CDC and SP matched the energy savings with a S$50,000 donation to Touch Home Care and vulnerable residents in the district.

To get residents involved, volunteers at Boon Lay division for instance, which achieved the highest energy savings, put up large posters at lift landings to remind residents to go green. They also went door-to-door to educate residents about the initiative, and conducted monthly visits to each household to check their progress.

Electricity meter readings of each household were monitored between July and September, and compared against their June readings of electricity consumption, said a SP spokesperson. Residents could also track their progress on the SP Services mobile app.

While the challenge has ended, Ms Ong said she plans to continue with her green efforts, and will look into which are the most energy-consuming areas in the household and cut the family’s usage from there.

Another Boon Lay resident Nyeow Ai Hui, 40, reduced her electricity consumption by setting her air-con on a timer mode so it would switch off automatically after three or four hours. When the weather became too warm, they would turn on the fans. The payoffs from changing her habits were worth the 30 per cent of savings off her utility bill, she felt.

Speaking at the Eco Day Out 2017 @ South West event on Sunday (Jan 15), Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources and Health Amy Khor shared other ways through which residents could adopt “environmentally conscious” habits, like increasing the air-con’s temperature to 25 degrees, switching off lights and mains of all electrical appliances when they are not in use and using energy-efficient lights.

“Saving the environment is not some airy-fairy ideology… By conserving the environment, we are creating a better environment for ourselves and future generations and saving costs as well,” she said.

The pilot initiative will now be expanded to involve some 750,000 residents in the South West District, said Ms Low Yen Ling, mayor of the South West District. It will start on Earth Day in April.

To ramp up on education and outreach to encourage eco habits, the initiative will have community roadshows and residents are encouraged to pledge to save on resources, such as conserving water, minimising wastage and recycling more.

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Malaysia: After tapir sighting, Wildlife Dept says more signboards needed on LPT2 to warn motorists

ZARINA ABDULLAH New Straits Times 15 Jan 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) has been urged to set up more signboards along the East Coast Highway 2 (LPT2) to alert motorists about the presence of the protected animals on the highway.

State Wildlife and National Parks Department director Mohd Hasdi Husin said the signboards are important to ensure safety of both motorists and the protected animals.

Hasdi said moreover, the department also discovered there are some parts of the fencing along the highway that were damaged by unknown parties.

"The fencing is in dire need of repairs. This is to avoid wild animals in encroaching into the LPT2 area," he said.

Hasdi was commenting on the sighting of a tapir at KM321 of the LPT2 yesterday evening.

"We have been informed about the sighting of the animal by LLM around 7pm and our team arrived at the location one hour later," he said.

"Our officers were only able to stumble upon the animal's tracks leading into the jungle nearby," he said, adding that five officers went to the area again today to monitor the situation.

"We hope that the public will inform us immediately, if they spot any protected animal such as tiger, elephant, bear, or tapir along the LPT2." he said.

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E-waste rising dangerously in Asia: UN study


Electronic waste is rising sharply across Asia as higher incomes allow hundreds of millions of people to buy smartphones and other gadgets, with serious consequences for human health and the environment, according to a UN study released Sunday.

So-called e-waste in Asia has jumped 63 percent in five years, the report by the United Nations University said, as it warned of a need for most nations across the region to improve recycling and disposal methods.

"For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern," said Ruediger Kuehr, the report's co-author and head of the UN University's Sustainable Cycles Programme.

For many years, China and some other parts of Asia have been a dumping ground for discarded electronics from the developed world, recycling the waste in often unsafe but ultracheap backyard factories.

But the report said that in recent years, Asia has rapidly emerged as a major source of electronic waste, due to increasingly affluent consumers buying items such as phones, tablets, refrigerators, personal computers and televisions.

China more than doubled its own generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015, the period of the study, according to the report.

Per capita the worst-offending economy in the region was Hong Kong, with each person in the Chinese territory generating an average of 21.7 kilograms (47.8 pounds) of e-waste in 2015.

Singapore and Taiwan were also big e-waste dumpers, with just over 19 kilograms per person generated in 2015, according to the study.

Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines were among the lowest e-waste generators with an average of about one kilogram for each person.

Meanwhile, improper and illegal e-waste dumping means increased exposure to extremely toxic chemicals, leading to severe health and environment consequences.

Acids that are used to separate the metals in the electronic products are a particular concern, with inhalation or exposure to them causing serious health problems.

In the Chinese town of Guiyu, which built its economy on recycling waste from overseas, heavy metal contamination has turned the air and water toxic, according to a 2014 study by researchers at Shantou University Medical College.

Children in the town also had high lead levels in their blood, the university study found.

When an AFP team visited Guiyu in 2014, electronic remnants were strewn in a nearby stream, and the air was acrid from the burning of plastic, chemicals and circuitboards.

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