Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jan 17

4 Feb (Sat): Celebrating World Wetlands Day with R.U.M.'s free Ubin mangrove walk
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

2017 schedule - Naked Hermit Crabs turn 10!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Return to Terumbu Selegie
wild shores of singapore

Driftnet at Semakau

Semakau South in the year of the Rooster

Button Snails (Umbonium vestiarium) @ Changi

Monday Morgue

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Stay on trails and don't feed birds, urges NParks

Photographers who use illegal methods to take shots may face fines of up to $50,000
Audrey Tan, Straits Times AsiaOne 30 jan 17;

It is the time of the year when photographers flock to immortalise migratory birds in Singapore to escape the winter chill of the Northern Hemisphere. But some resort to questionable practices to get good shots, with reports of photographers going off trail or baiting birds, said the National Parks Board (NParks), custodian of Singapore's nature areas.

Following its own observations, NParks put up signboards earlier this month in Venus Drive near the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, to remind people to remain on trails and not feed the birds.

Photographers go to the forested area near Upper Thomson Road to catch a glimpse of wintering visitors such as the Siberian blue robin.

When people go off trail, they damage the forest floor, and feeding wild animals may be a source of diseases and parasites, said NParks director for conservation Sharon Chan.

NParks' latest move follows two high-profile cases.

Orthopaedic surgeon Lee Soon Tai, 63, was fined $2,000 last October for littering and feeding live fish injected with air to endangered grey-headed fish eagles. He and his companions apparently did this to get a shot of the bird swooping down on its prey, which would be near the surface of the water.

In December 2014, another photographer who had tethered a tern chick's legs to a bush for a photograph was found guilty of animal cruelty and fined $500.

NParks officers have advised photography groups at popular bird- watching locations on proper photography etiquette, said Ms Chan. It also supports nature and photography communities in organising talks and participating in panel discussions on field ethics at workshops.

Earlier this month, the Nature Photographic Society (Singapore) launched a unique photo competition requiring participants to submit a short write-up on the subject in the photograph. This prompts photographers to consider other aspects of the bird's ecology, said society president Fong Chee Wai.

NParks is supporting the competition, and winning entries will be exhibited at one of its parks.

Those who go off trail in nature reserves may be fined up to $2,000. For offences relating to the unauthorised capture, disturbance and manipulation of any plant or animal, the penalties range from a maximum fine of $5,000 (if committed in public parks) to $50,000 (if committed in national parks or nature reserves).

• For more information on the NPSS photo contest, visit

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Body found off Changi Beach believed to be that of 19-year-old fish farmer who fell into sea and drowned

Jalelah Abu Baker, Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Jan 17;

Singapore - A 19-year-old fish farmer is believed to have fallen into the sea off Changi Beach on Friday (Jan 27)and drowned.

The Myanmar national was brought to shore by passers-by at about 6pm the next day.

Fish farm owner Phillip Lim, who happened to be in the area, said he saw the man on a pontoon with three of his colleagues when he left his farm at about 10am on Friday.

When he returned, Mr Lim, 55, found out that the man, who works at a neighbouring farm, had fallen into the water.

Mr Lim told The Straits Times: "I immediately got my diving gear and started to look for him. I spotted him, but the current was getting strong and I couldn't get to him. I ran out of oxygen."

Mr Lim stopped his search at noon, after an hour. He said that by the time professional divers arrived, it was about 3pm.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received a call at 11.20am on Friday about a person believed to be missing in the waters off Pulau Ubin. It dispatched a marine fire vessel, which arrived at noon, and conducted a surface search in the area till about 4pm.

Mr Lim said: "I felt so helpless. This is somebody's child we are talking about."

He activated 10 fellow members of a volunteer search team called Sea Angels and they searched for the man till 8pm on Saturday.

According to beach-goer Rohana M. D., a passer-by spotted the victim's body floating in the water on Saturday. Two other passers-by then pulled the body to shore. The police were alerted at about 6pm and the victim was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after.

Body of man 'with no eyes' found at Changi Beach
Shazalina Salim, Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Jan 17;

Many families chose to spend their long weekend with a picnic by the sea.

But for a handful of beachgoers, their picnic was interrupted on Saturday (Jan 28) when a body was fished out of the water at Changi Beach.

According to housewife Rohana MD, a man had spotted the body floating and he alerted another man who was fishing with a net.

The man with the net pulled the floating body to shore and a passer-by helped him drag the body to the beach.

"It looked like the dead man was missing his eyes," Madam Rohana told The Straits Times.

The police confirmed receiving a call from a member of the public at 6pm on Saturday, alerting them to the body found near Changi Beach Carpark 6.

Facebook user Indra Eth, who was also at the beach at the time, posted a picture of the body and recounted how he was approached by two men who had spotted the floating body.

As at 9.15pm, the body had yet to be removed by the authorities, said Madam Rohana. She added that the police had been talking to the people on the beach.

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Otter watchers reunite pup with family

Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Jan 17;

A pre-Chinese New Year dinner turned dramatic for a family of otters in Kallang Basin on Thursday.

When an otter pup was separated from its parents while frolicking in the waters, a group of otter watchers including Mr N. Sivasothi, a biological science lecturer at the National University of Singapore, grew concerned.

They scanned the area, increasingly worried.

Mr Sivasothi said the pup would not be able to fish for itself and, at an estimated 21/2 months old, would be vulnerable to predators such as large fish, herons and snakes.

One of the watchers, Mr Nick Soo, located the pup circling in the water and alerted the otter-watching community.

The 15 otter watchers rushed over with torchlights, a laundry basket and a blanket.

The pup could not, well, otter its own rescue.

Using the laundry basket and the blanket, the rescuers took the pup back to its holt by 9.30pm.

The drama was too much for the little one and it went to sleep immediately.

The incident highlights what can happen when parents are distracted around bodies of water.

The 13 members of the koi-gorging Bishan otter family had made their way to Kallang Basin for their reunion meal and were busy munching the obligatory fish when two pups, each about 21/2 months old, wandered off.

Although one made its way back, the other went missing.

Mr Sivasothi said: "It was an unusual situation where the family was spread out quite far apart."

The otter watchers checked on the animals early yesterday morning and saw that the pup was reunited with its parents.

Last May, otter watchers saved a six-week-old smooth-coated otter pup named Toby that had fallen off a ledge into a canal near Fort Road.

Toby was sent to Wildlife Reserves Singapore for treatment and reunited with its family 10 days later.

Mr Sivasothi said: "It's nice to see how the otters have brought the kampung spirit back."

The smooth-coated otter, formerly thought to be extinct in Singapore, returned in 1998 as the island's waterways became cleaner.

There are estimated to be 50 such otters in Singapore now.

They are distinct from the oriental small- clawed otters that can be found on Pulau Ubin.

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Malaysia flood update: Pahang still worst-hit, Kelantan returns to normal

BERNAMA New Straits Times 29 Jan 17;

KOTA BARU: The situation in KELANTAN returned to normal this evening as remaining floodwaters receded, and the last relief centre housing 14 evacuees in Kuala Krai was closed.

According to the website, water levels of most of Kelantan’s main rivers have subsided to the alert or normal level, with the exception of Sungai Golok at Rantau Panjang, which had a reading of 9.26 metres, which is above the danger level of 9.00 metres.

Conversely, in worst-hit PAHANG, the number of flood evacuees stands at 6,187 people (from 1,633 families), being housed at 95 relief centres as of 5pm – although this is a drop from the 6,698 people taking shelter at 98 evacuation centres at noon.

The breakdown of affected districts and victims follows: Temerloh, 2,752 people (from 695 families); Pekan, 1,022 people (from 262 families); Bera, 767 people (from 179 families); Maran, 766 people (from 224 families); Jerantut, 550 people (from 190 families); Lipis, 238 people (from 59 families); and Rompin, 92 victims (from 24 families).

Badly-hit JOHOR has also seen a decrease in the number of victims, with flood evacuees dropping to 1,908 people from 530 families as of 4pm, from 2,304 people at noon. The victims are housed at 30 relief centres in three affected districts - Segamat, Tangkak and Muar.

Meanwhile, seven stretches of roads – encompassing Jalan Pogoh-Tekam, Section 5.2-5.9, Jalan Kuala Paya-Balai Badang, Tumang Batu Anam-plantation area, and Lubuk Lanjut in Segamat – are still closed to traffic.

In Pontian, Jalan Kampung Sungai Pinggan bridge; and in Muar, Km61 of Jalan Muar-Labis and Jalan Pagoh Tekam are still impassable to traffic.

In SELANGOR, the number of flood victims housed at three relief centres in Sabak Bernam dropped to 113 as of 5pm, from 210 at noon.

A Sabak Bernam District Disaster Operations Room spokesman said 43 evacuees (from 12 families) are still housed at Dewan Sri Bernam, Sungai Besar; 41 (from 15 families) are at Dewan Parit Baru, Sungai Air Tawar; and 29 (from eight families) are at Dewan Seri Nakhoda, Bagan Nakhoda Omar.

In PERAK, the number of flood evacuees dropped to 436 as of 5pm, from 467 at noon.

In Hilir Perak, the relief centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sungai Ara was closed, while 97 evacuees are still at SK Sungai Kerawai, and another 100 are at SK Changkat Jong Batu 8.

In Manjung, 208 evacuees are taking shelter at Sekolah Rendah Agama Rakyat Padang Serai, and 10 are at Dewan Kampung Tanjung Ara.

Finally, 21 evacuees are still being housed at Padang Serai Dalam surau in Larut.

Schools suffer RM10mil in damage from floods
The Star 30 Jan 17;

PADANG TERAP: The damage to school property during the first wave of floods in Kelantan, Terengganu and Sabah in December is estimated to be RM10mil.

The damage caused by the second wave of floods – which affected schools in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Perak and Sabah earlier this month – is still not known, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

He said this was because he had yet to receive a full report on the damage caused by the second wave.

“We expect the total value of damage to be higher for the second wave of floods compared with the first and will take immediate action to repair the affected schools.

“However, we are still unable to repair the damage caused by the first wave although we have sent out allocation warrants to the respective states,” he told reporters after launching the Felda Lubuk Merbau's golden jubilee celebration here yesterday.

Dozens of schools were closed and more than 15,000 students in Kelantan and Terengganu were affected by the recent floods.

Mahdzir, who is also Padang Terap MP, also suggested that a piece of land allocated for teachers’ quarters at Sekolah Kebangsaan Lubuk Merbau, be handed over to Felda.

This, he said, would be for building houses for second generation Felda Lubuk Merbau settlers.

“The quarters were built for the placement of teachers in the 1970s, but with today’s increasingly modern infrastructure many teachers have opted to live outside and it is only occupied by one or two tenants,” he said. — Bernama

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