Best of our wild blogs: 1 Feb 17

Pulau Tekukor Intertidal Trip
Offshore Singapore

Living shores of Seringat-Kias
wild shores of singapore

2 Feb (Tue): World Wetlands Day
wild shores of singapore

Singaporeans may be willing to pay $643.5 million/year for haze mitigation – 0.97% of annual income: Lin, Wijedasa & Chisholm (2017)
The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

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NUS sailing trip draws flak after students return with giant clam shell

Yuen Sin Straits Times AsiaOne 31 Jan 17;

Associate Professor Martin Henz (centre) with NUS students (from left) Darren Wee, Jonathan Yeo, Tan Fangning and Jeremiah Loke. The group is now working on returning the shells to the relevant authorities, having learnt that they are not supposed to be removed. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - A National University of Singapore (NUS) sailing trip, organised as an experiential learning initiative, has come under scrutiny after photos of students posing with giant clam shells collected during trip drew flak online.

Earlier this month, 12 NUS students and alumni had sailed out to Indonesia's Riau Islands on a 60-foot (18m) schooner for seven days with Associate Professor Martin Henz, who teaches at the university's School of Computing and Faculty of Engineering. The group, which included students from various faculties - such as business, geography and computing - had returned to Singapore with several shells and a giant clam shell as keepsakes from the seven-day trip.

But a photo of them posing with the shells in a Straits Times article on Monday (Jan 30) sparked a debate online.

Environmental groups and researchers pointed out that the giant clam is a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), and that proper permits are needed before any animal parts can be imported across borders, even if these are dead clam shells. Removal of other shells that had washed ashore could also be a threat to the eco-system.

Among those who had criticised the group's actions was Mr David Tan, 27, a researcher from the Evolutionary Biology Laboratory at NUS, who said that it was "alarming" to see that the group had brought the clam shell back.

"One of the stated objectives of the programmes was to encourage a love for nature... but this ran entirely counter to it.

"It's sad that there wasn't really anyone who was able to provide guidance (on conservation) for this trip, especially when it seemed like a ripe opportunity for this kind of education to occur."

Prof Henz, an avid sailor who has taken NUS students on sailing trips in the region since 2013, said that the sailing trip was initiated to "provide our students with a unique out-of-classroom learning experience".

"The voyage team had picked up a few dead shells that were washed ashore, and the team was not aware of the international guidelines on collection of shells which would be applicable even if they are dead shells.

"This has been a learning experience for all involved, and we will be more mindful of our actions in the future to not leave anything behind nor remove anything from nature."

Professor Peter Ng, head of Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, said that he has spoken to Prof Henz about the concerns raised and is working with the group to hand over the shells to the relevant authorities.

Be more thoughtful when visiting beaches
Visitors to beaches should not wear sunscreen that could damage coral, and should refrain from collecting seashells as "souvenirs", as they are important building blocks of the coastal environment.
The Straits Times 2 Feb 17;

As a National University of Singapore (NUS) alumnus, I was disappointed with the complete disregard the students on the sailing trip had for Indonesian laws, and their lack of environmental awareness (Outcry over students' giant clam shell photo"; Feb 1).

When I visited Tioman for an NUS course on appreciating nature, the group was informed not to wear sunscreen that could damage coral and also to refrain from collecting shells.

Unbeknownst to most, seashells are the building blocks of coastal environments.

They act as shelters for crabs, and fish hide in them to avoid predators.

They are also an important building material for birds' nests and provide a surface for sea grass, algae, micro-organisms and sponges to attach to.

Studies show that the extraction of shell fragments and large shells from shores can affect the rate of shoreline erosion.

Despite this, most of us might be tempted to collect "souvenirs" from our beach holidays and might not understand how every individual's action can add up when it is done collectively.

I hope that all faculty members in the university will consider this when taking their students out on any trip to enjoy nature.

Sumita Thiagarajan (Miss)

NUS project team has learnt to be more sensitive to conservation issues
The Straits Times Forum 4 Feb 17;

We thank Miss Sumita Thiagarajan for her feedback ("Be more thoughtful when visiting beaches"; Feb 2).

The Across the Equator team at the National University of Singapore shares similar concerns, including on the importance of environmental awareness and conservation.

We initiated the Across the Equator project to provide students with a unique out-of-classroom learning experience.

We regret that the voyage team was not aware of the international guidelines on the collection of shells and had picked up a few dead shells that were washed ashore.

We appreciate the feedback received and we are now working with NUS' marine science and conservation experts to better understand this matter.

The affected shells were handed over to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore on Wednesday.

This has been a learning experience for everyone involved, and we will be more mindful of our actions in the future so as not to leave anything behind or remove anything from nature.

We are also working with our NUS marine science and conservation experts, as well as other organisations to improve future voyages.

Martin Henz (Associate Professor)
National University of Singapore

Sailing trip taught them to love nature
For 7 days, NUS students navigated a ship through storms and explored Riau Islands
Yuen Sin Straits Times 30 Jan 17;

Associate Professor Martin Henz and undergraduates (from left) Darren Wee, Jonathan Yeo, Tan Fangning and Jeremiah Loke, with mementoes of their trip, including a map charting their route and clam shells from the islands they visited.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Half of them had no sailing experience, and some could not even swim.

But for seven days this month, before the school semester started, a group of National University of Singapore (NUS) students headed off in a type of ship called a schooner to the Riau Islands in Indonesia on a remarkable voyage.

Armed only with tentative plans, they navigated through sudden storms, explored desolate islands and swam across the Equator, living and working together on the 60ft (18m) schooner despite being strangers at the start.

The trip - the first of its kind to be organised by NUS - was the brainchild of Associate Professor Martin Henz, who is from Germany and teaches at NUS' School of Computing and Faculty of Engineering.

An avid sailor with eight years of experience who has been taking NUS students on sailing trips to islands in Singapore and Bintan since 2013, Prof Henz approached a contact, Captain Warren Blake, a New Zealander in his 70s, around June last year.

The captain had taken students from international schools here on learning trips in the region on his schooner Four Friends, which is berthed in Batam.

"I was wondering if it would be possible to engage NUS students from all disciplines in a longer voyage, so that they can learn some of the methods used in other disciplines, and share their perspectives," said Prof Henz, 50, who has been in Singapore for two decades.

In the middle of last month, he called for students who were interested in sailing out at sea for a week to sign up for the trip, which cost $400 each after subsidies from NUS.

Twenty people expressed interest, and places were given out on a first come, first served basis.

Eventually, nine students from various faculties, including computing, business, and arts and social sciences, set sail from Batam on Jan 1 after two planning meetings, accompanied by Prof Henz, Captain Blake and his wife, three NUS alumni who saw posts about the trip online, as well as a crew member.

What set the voyage apart from other student exchange programmes, where one would usually be more passively introduced to experiences and new places, was how involved the students were in the whole process, said third-year student Jeremiah Loke, 23, an English literature and geography major.

Supervised by Captain Blake, the 12 students and alumni took turns to be at the helm of the ship when they sailed in the day.


Being immersed in nature was a new experience and helped me realise how we can work with nature to form a sustainable living system.

They were divided into groups of four and rotated through four-hour shifts each day, with each person assigned roles such as steering, plotting their course and being on the lookout for potential obstacles, including objects or fishing boats.

Said Mr Loke: "There is a degree of interactivity and consideration between you and the landscape, you and your peers, even you and yourself (that is required)... We had to look out for one another's well-being and always be ready to help out."

When the group was planning the route south to Pulau Lingga, existing information showed that a narrow channel through Pulau Sebangka that could save them from taking a longer route was apparently too shallow for the schooner to sail through, leading them to start out with a more conservative itinerary.

But using a depth sounder which uses sonar, the team did its own survey of the actual depth of the channel and corrected some of the maps after determining that it was, in fact, deep enough for them to pass through.

Despite "small emergencies", including a sudden and violent storm that woke them in the middle of the night, the group managed to visit the Indonesian islands of Benan, Pulau Sebangka, Pulau Lingga and Pulau Gojong, and dived off the ship to swim across the Equator, which lies between Pulau Sebangka and Pulau Gojong.

They also kayaked through mangroves and swam in a waterfall.

First-year accountancy student Jonathan Yeo, 20, who is a national sailor, said he has a deeper appreciation for nature after the trip.

"Some people say Singapore is a concrete jungle... Being immersed in nature was a new experience and helped me realise how we can work with nature to form a sustainable living system," he said.

Prof Henz, said that he was really happy with the students' accomplishments and is keen to take others on similar trips in the future, though plans are still tentative.

"I tried to scale back their expectations (initially) and we had a pretty conservative itinerary...

"But I must say, every single day exceeded my expectations in terms of what we managed to accomplish and the places we saw," he said.

Second-year geography major Tan Fangning, 20, the only girl from NUS who went on the trip, said she conquered uncharted territory on the trip.

"I don't know how to swim, so there were definitely instances when I had a fear of the water.

"But being out there in the open sea showed me that we really know very little about what the earth has to offer," she said.

Voyage across the equator
NUS News 30 Jan 17;

"From left: Jonathan, Darren, Assoc Prof Henz, Fangning and Jeremiah and mementos from their trip, including seashells found on the pristine shores of Pulau Gojong, their map charting "Selat NUS", and watercolour sketches of the islands." This photo was originally posted on the NUS News article but has since been taken down.

Nine NUS students kicked off their new year earlier this month by sailing off on a ship for a week-long voyage across the equator.

Sailing aboard an 18-metre schooner, the students, together with three NUS alumni, one faculty member and the ship’s captain and crew, set off from Batam at the crack of dawn on 2 Jan for their destination Pulau Lingga, an Indonesian island on the Equator. Along the way, they learned how to sail, and picked up lessons in maritime navigation and geography, and a renewed perspective on nature and the environment. For half of the team, this was also their first time sailing.

The week-long 400-kilometre voyage started off from Batam, with stops on the islands of Benan, Sebangka, Lingga, Gojong, before anchoring at Pulau Telang on their return.

Their adventure on the high seas saw them through a range of new experiences, from keeping watch aboard the ship to navigating by the stars, and swimming across the equator. They also dealt head-on with an unexpected Sumatran squall.

Darren Wee, Year 2 student from NUS Computing, recounted, “It was a sudden and violent storm, and our first on the voyage. It was about 4 in the morning. Some of us were sleeping in hammocks on the deck when someone shouted ‘rain!’ I was barely awake at first, but the gusty winds just suddenly picked up.”

Jonathan Yeo, Year 1 student from NUS Business and a former national sailor, shared how the team scrambled to remove awnings and shelters on the deck as the rain beat down on them. “The wind was blowing the ship at an angle, going at 40 knots, or 80 kilometres per hour. Thankfully we were already anchored for the night, and our very experienced captain took charge, using the ship’s engine to counter the force of the wind”.

Another memorable point of the voyage was when the students charted their own course through a channel that existing maps showed to be too shallow for a ship to pass through. As they approached Pulau Lingga, they were faced with two choices: they could either take the longer route around the island, or take a shorter route across the narrow channel of uncertain depth. Under the captain’s guidance, the students chose the latter.

Using a depth sounder than runs on sonar, they charted the channel’s depth at one-minute intervals as the ship proceeded slowly. The actual depth turned out to be up to 20-metres deep, more than enough for a ship to sail through. They made it across the channel, and christened it “Selat NUS” — selat being the Malay word for channel or strait. They have also shared the data collected with the marina at Nongsa Point, Batam, which will be made available to others sailing in the area in the future.

The idea for this unconventional learning journey came from Associate Professor Martin Henz, from NUS Computing and Engineering, who is an avid sailor and had previously worked with students on various sailing-related projects. “We wanted not just a longer voyage, but one that encourages multi-disciplinary learning and cross-fertilisation of ideas and perspectives between students,” said Assoc Prof Henz.

For the students, it was a trip that took them out of their comfort zone, where their perspectives were challenged and new friendships were forged. Many were introspective as they recounted their trip.

Tan Fangning, a Year 2 NUS Arts student, was attracted by the sense of adventure when she first heard of the trip. It was a bold move to sign up for a voyage as a non-swimmer with no sailing experience. “This was literally uncharted territory for me," she said. "I have never had the experience of going out in the open seas. But I learned to push my fears to the back of my mind.”

Darren shared how he appreciated the opportunity to be off the grid for a week and learned to relax, while Jonathan developed a deeper appreciation for nature, and a curiosity in the bigger picture and the universe.

For Jeremiah Loke, Year 3 student from NUS Arts, the trip had "an ideal combination of physical activity and space for reflection”. He summed it up, “I came back feeling more relaxed. It uncluttered my mind, just by being out at sea with the regulating calm waves. I am more purposeful when I do things now.”

Related post
Not ok to take Giant clams and shells! from wild shores of singapore

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‘Noisy chickens’ in Sin Ming Avenue put down after residents’ complaints

TOH EE MING Today Online 1 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE — The authorities have put down chickens that had been roaming freely around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue, after receiving complaints about the noise they made.

In response to TODAY’s queries — following reports of the move by the Chinese media — the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said that it received 20 complaints from residents about the free-ranging chickens last year, most of them related to noise.

The chickens were probably from the nearby forested area, and TODAY understands the chickens euthanised were not the red junglefowl, which resemble chickens and have been identified as an endangered species.

“The chickens are humanely euthanised, as relocation options are not available in land-scarce Singapore,” said an AVA spokesperson yesterday.

The spokesperson also noted that the authority “conducts surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues”.

It would also carry out checks on private residential premises in response to feedback on the keeping of pet chickens, to determine if they are kept in accordance with its guidelines.

Under the AVA’s Animals and Birds Act, people are not allowed to keep more than 10 non-commercial poultry, including chickens, in private residential premises.

“AVA will take enforcement action on owners who keep more than 10 poultry. We will also advise owners on responsible pet ownership, and to adopt measures that would help mitigate noise nuisances caused by pet poultry,” said the spokesperson.

TODAY’s interviews with 10 residents at Sin Ming Avenue yesterday drew a mixed response, with seven lamenting the chickens’ demise, while three felt that the free-roaming fowl were indeed noisy.

Polytechnic student Marc Loh, 18, said he had been hearing the chickens’ crows since he was a little boy, but they had never bothered him or his family.

“I don’t have any complaints about them,” he told TODAY as he and several friends tried to take a picture of a crowing chicken perched on a tree.

Housekeeper Stella Lourdes, 62, expressed disappointment when told of the news, adding: “It’s so nice to see them, with the little chicks following them. The kindergarten (even) brings the children here sometimes to show them the chickens.”

Ms Agnes Choy, who has lived in the area for about 20 years, said neither the chickens nor their crows bothered her. “I think it’s sometimes quite cute to see them. It’s quite like the kampung days,” said the 36-year-old, who works in the real estate industry.

For taxi driver John Lee, 63, the chickens are “quite interesting” and “make the place more colourful and lively”.

However, 63-year-old Ms Stella Hosoucheng was among those residents who said they were not fond of the chickens.

“The noise and they fly! I can hear them crowing early in the morning … and obviously I don’t like them,” said Ms Hosoucheng, who works in customer service.

Expressing similar sentiments, a 71-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Early in the morning, (they are) crowing, sometimes in the afternoon ... I think they should be removed, because they disturb the environment. Sometimes, in the evening, they keep on crowing, making a nuisance (of themselves).”

Although the chickens did not really bother Ms Jenet Tan, 40, she still felt that they should be removed.

“It’s sad to know (that the chickens had been put down), but I think it’s good to actually put some of them down. If not, the (fowl) population will get bigger and bigger, and it has to be controlled,” said Ms Tan, who also works in customer service.


Culling of 24 chickens in Sin Ming ruffles feathers
TOH EE MING Today Online 2 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE — As a debate flared up yesterday over free-ranging chickens that were put down by the authorities in the Sin Ming area, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) revealed that it received 250 complaints islandwide on free-ranging chickens last year, and they were mostly about noise-related nuisances caused by the birds.

Some of the areas in which chickens were found roaming include Pasir Ris Street 52 and Riverina View near the boundary of Pasir Ris Park.

The authority also disclosed that it put down 24 chickens that were wandering around Thomson View and Blocks 452 to 454 Sin Ming Avenue, after getting 20 complaints last year from residents there, also mainly about noise.

Responding to queries from TODAY, the AVA added that the free-ranging chickens that are sometimes seen on mainland Singapore are not red junglefowl — an endangered species — though some may resemble them.

“Free-ranging chickens can pose a potential threat to public health, especially if their population is left unchecked. There is a likelihood of an incursion of bird flu into Singapore, as bird flu is endemic in the region,” the AVA said.

The news of the culling in Sin Ming sparked an outcry yesterday, with some residents chiming in online to say that the chickens there had not caused any major disturbances.

Facebook user Pang Jun Heng said that he has been living in the area for 16 years, and “the chickens there just mind their own business and roam around”. “I walk past them almost on a daily basis, they don’t attack anyone or make lots of noise.”

Mr Louis Ng, founder of Animal Concerns Research & Education Society, echoed the views of many online users to say that the killing was the “worst solution”. He warned against such a “knee-jerk” response and added that other measures could have been taken, such as getting people to adopt the chickens, relocating them to Pulau Ubin for rearing, or mediating with the residents.

Mr Ng also stressed the need to get an “accurate sense of sentiments on the ground” to find out if there is an overwhelming majority that still want the chickens there, a point also made by online users.

Mr Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker, said that unlike the culling of wild boars, which uproot soil, and aggressive monkeys, which might attack people, the culling of chickens is less justifiable here because they did not cause any serious issues.

However, Assistant Professor Frank Rheindt, from the National University of Singapore’s department of biological sciences, believed that the authorities did the right thing from an environmental perspective.

He explained that it would not be feasible to relocate the chickens to Pulau Ubin — which has a population of red junglefowl — because it would result in a “contamination of the gene pool of the wild stock of junglefowl that we’re lucky to still have”.

“Wild junglefowl are still very precious, and conservationists want to preserve them in their wild state as best as they can. If you create a situation where domesticated or hybrid chickens can inter-breed or hybridise wild junglefowl, it would certainly have a giant effect on the native junglefowl roaming (in Pulau Ubin).”

He added: “Every day in Singapore and across the world, hundreds of thousands of chickens are killed for human consumption, so I do not believe there is a valid ‘animal rights’ argument against the culling.”

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New pet dog licensing rules to kick in from March 1: AVA

Individual owners who sell or give away their dogs must also inform AVA that they are no longer keeping the dogs
Today Online 2 Feb 17;

SINGAPORE – From March 1, pet businesses must ensure that all dogs intended for sale are licensed by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) before they are sold, the authority said on Tuesday (Jan 31). Pet businesses include pet importers, dog farms and pet shops.

To ensure that pet dogs continue to be licensed and traceable when they are sold, pet businesses must also transfer the ownership of the dogs to their new owners upon sale, which can be done using the AVA’s online Pet Animal Licensing System (PALS).

In addition, individual dog owners who sell or give away their dogs will have to inform AVA that they are no longer keeping the dogs. These owners will also be required to provide AVA with the particulars of the dog’s new owners, which can also be done using PALS.

The AVA announced plans last year to enhance the pet dog licensing regime. The authority said the relevant regulations had been amended on Tuesday and that the new measures would take effect from March 1.

The objective of these measures, said the AVA, is to improve the traceability of pet dogs in Singapore, especially in the event of a disease outbreak such as rabies. The new regulations could also help discourage pet abandonment and assist in reuniting lost dogs with their owners.

“We have received encouraging feedback thus far. Our stakeholders are receptive to, and are ready for this change,” said Ms Jessica Kwok, Group Director of AVA’s Animal Management Group. “Some of the businesses said that the change will reduce the amount of paper work and help them keep track of their sources, which is important for disease control. We will continue to engage our stakeholders and provide assistance where required, to ensure that the transition is smooth.”

According to the AVA, pet businesses will be able to register multiple dogs which are intended for sale under a single “group” dog licence. The licence fees will be tiered according to the number of dogs intended for sale by the pet business.

For example, the licence fee for one to 10 dogs is S$50 per annum, while the fees for having 101 to 200 dogs is S$1,000 per annum.

For more information, visit the AVA’s website at or call the 24-hour hotline at 1800 476 1600.

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Malaysia: Heavy rainfall during flood season fills up Johor dams

CHUAH BEE KIM New Straits Times 1 Feb 17;

JOHOR BARU: Continuous rainfall during the recent floods has greatly improved the water levels at three Johor dams that had faced critically low levels last year.

SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Abdul Wahab Abdul Hamid said the water level at the Layang dam in Pasir Gudang stands at 24.3m today compared to its critical level of 23.5m. He said the Lebam dam in Kota Tinggi is 13.7m against its critical level of 12.27m. Meanwhile, the Congok dam in Mersing registered 5.40m against its critical level of 4.5m.

"The water levels of all the dams in the state have stabilised due to continuous rain.

The levels at three dams that had been most critical last year have improved. "For instance, the storage level of water in the Layang dam is 60 per cent filled up.

"This enables us to store more water in times of drought," he said after flagging off a team of 20 SAJ staff on a three-day humanitarian mission and flood technical survey heading to Segamat from the SAJ Holdings headquarters here today.

Downpours help to fill Johor dams
ZAZALI MUSA The Star 2 Feb 17;

JOHOR BARU: Heavy rain during the current monsoon season has brought relief as three dams in Pasir Gudang, Kota Tinggi and Mersing are now filled to the brim.

SAJ Holdings Sdn Bhd corporate communications head Jamaluddin Jamil said they were Sungai Layang dam in Masai, Pasir Gudang, Sungai Lebam dam in Kota Tinggi and Congok dam in Mersing.

“If we can store more raw water in the three dams ahead of dry months, we could avoid the scheduled water rationing (SWR) exercise practised back in 2015 and 2016,” said Jamaluddin when contacted on Tuesday.

He said downpours in the last week of last month also resulted in higher water levels at most rivers in the state; hence SAJ could conduct raw water transfer project from the rivers into the dams.

Jamaluddin said that there were 44 water intakes in the state comprising dams and rivers and that all water levels at the dams and the rivers had stabilised.

“In fact, some of the dams and the rivers overflowed during the downpour and we had to release the water,” he added.

Jamaluddin said SAJ was fully prepared in case the water level at the dams and the rivers was low during the dry season and would ensure minimum inconvenience to consumers.

SAJ implemented the SWR exercise for 641,495 domestic and industrial consumers in three districts from Aug 16 to Sept 15, 2015.

The one-month long exercise was implemented following the water levels at the Sungai Layang dam in Masai, Pasir Gudang and Sungai Lebam dam in Kota Tinggi reaching critical levels.

The Sungai Layang dam supplies water to 575,000 users in Pasir Gudang and Masai, mostly industrial users, and parts of Johor Baru.

The Sungai Lebam dam channels water to about 664,495 users in Mukim Tanjung Surat, Mukim Pantai Timur and parts of Kota Tinggi.

The month-long SWR was extended until Dec 30, 2015 due to the critical water levels at both dams and normal water supply resumed on Dec 31 that year.

The SWR started in Kota Tinggi and Mersing on April 18, 2016, affected 85,000 consumers after water levels at the four water treatment plants in the two districts reached critical stage.

The plants involve those in Lok Heng and Sungai Gembut in Kota Tinggi, and Sungai Mersing and Tenglu in Mersing.

The month-long exercise was extended until end of the third week of October last year and normal water supply in the two districts resumed on the last week of October 2016.

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Malaysia: North-east monsoon season to continue until next month

The Star 1 Feb 17;

PETALING JAYA: Expect a wet month ahead as the north-east monsoon season continues in February, says the weatherman.

Between now and Monday, moderate-to-heavy rain is expected in the coastal states of Kelantan and Terengganu in the mornings.

Rain is also expected in some parts of the west coast with thunderstorms in the coastal areas of the north and west coast in the mornings.

States in the west coast, north and interior peninsula are also expected to get rain and thunderstorms in the evenings.

The Meteorological Department said in a statement that “medium-heavy rain” will fall in areas in the middle and east of Sarawak in the mornings.

The state will also experience rain and thunderstorms in several places at all districts in the evenings.

Meanwhile, rain is expected to hit only one or two places in the coastal area of eastern Sabah in the mornings while rain and thunderstorm will be at concentrated places in eastern Sabah in the evenings.

The north-east monsoon is characterised by heavy rain spells. The season is expected to end in March.

Twenty schools in Pahang – 13 in Pekan, six in Maran and one in Bera – will be closed today due to the flood disaster in the state.

State Education Department director Datuk Rosdi Ismail said that 4,087 students and teachers would be affected.

The schools in Pekan are SMK Paloh Hinai, SK Paloh Hinai, SK Padang Rumbia, SK Kampung Aceh, SK Pulau Rusa, SK Tanjung Medang, SK Belimbing, SK Serambi, SK Temai, SK Mambang, SK Pelak, SK Pulau Manis and SK Kincir.

In Maran, the schools are SK Paya Pasir, SK Serengkam, SK Pesagi, SK Kuala Wau, SK Kertau and SK Chenor while SMK Mengkarak is the school affected in Bera.

Pekan recorded the highest number of flood victims staying at relief centres in Pahang yesterday.

Malaysian Civil Defence Force state director Zainal Yusoff said the number of victims at the centres dropped to 3,162 people from 883 families at noon yesterday compared with 4,122 victims from 1,115 families in the morning.

Pekan recorded the highest number with 1,116 victims from 309 families.

Maran recorded 1,055 victims (314 families), Temerloh 515 victims (140 families), Bera 438 victims (107 families) and Rompin 38 victims (13 families), he said.

Fifty-nine temporary relief centres were still operating with 20 in Maran, Pekan (17), Bera (12), Temerloh (nine) and one in Rompin.

In Johor, the number of flood victims in the state continued to drop to 1,390 yesterday compared with 1,473 victims on Monday.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said they comprised 384 families who were still staying at 22 temporary relief centres in three districts affected by the floods, namely Segamat, Tangkak and Muar.

A total of 982 victims from 264 families in Segamat and 25 victims from six families in Tangkak had yet to be allowed to return home.

“In Muar, there were 383 victims from 114 families who are still staying in four relief centres,” he said in a statement.

Five roads were still inaccessible. They are the Pogoh-Tekam and Balai Badang-Mensudut Lama roads in Segamat; Jambatan Jalan Kampung Sungai Pinggan in Pontian; and in Muar, the 61st kilometre of the Muar-Labis road and Jalan Pagoh Tekam.

Flood update: Over 1,000 evacuees in Johor; Perak and Selangor on the mend
BERNAMA The Star 1 Feb 17;

JOHOR BARU: The number of flood victims in Johor dropped to 1,010 people this morning, from 1,020 people last night.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the flood victims were from 269 families and they were being accommodated at 17 evacuation centres in Segamat, Muar and Tangkak.

A total of 683 victims (174 families) are at 14 evacuation centres in Segamat, while in Muar, there are 302 people (89 families) at two centres and in Tangkak, a centre remains opened to accommodate 25 people from six families, he said in a statement today.

Ayub said Jalan Felda Kemelah was still closed due to a landslide and also Jalan Kampung Sungai Pinggan in Pontian due to a bridge collapse.

Meanwhile in PERAK, the number of flood victims remained at 255 people at three evacuation centres as at 8am.

According to the Social Welfare Department's flood portal, 34 of the victims are in the Hilir Perak district and they are at the evacuation centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sungai Kerawai.

A total of 208 others are at Sekolah Agama Rakyat Padang Serai in Manjung district, while the remaining 13 at Surau Padang Serai Dalam in the Larut Matang district.

In SELANGOR, only 199 people were still at relief centres as at 8am compared to 216 people last night.

They are at three evacuation centres in the Sabak Bernam and Sepang districts, said a spokesman at the Selangor Disaster Management Unit.

A total of 117 of the victims (27 families) are at the evacuation centre at Dewan Taman Gemilang and 77 people (20 families) are at Dewan Orang Ramai Kampung Ampar Tenang, both in Sepang.

The remaining five victims, from two families, are at the evacuation centre at Dewan Sri Bernam, Sungai Besar, in Sabak Bernama, he said when contacted by Bernama here. -- BERNAMA

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Indonesia: Bengkulu to Open Veterinary Facility, Rehabilitation Center for Sumatran Tigers

Helti Marini Sipayung Jakarta Post 31 Jan 17;

Jakarta. Lampung and Bengkulu's Natural Resources Conservation Agency, or BKSDA, will open a veterinary facility for Sumatran tigers victimized by human conflict.

“The clinic will treat tigers that became victims of human conflicts such as tigers trapped in snares set up by hunters,” agency head Abu Bakar said on Monday (30/01), as reported by state-run news agency Antara.

The facility will be built within Kerinci Seblat National Park in North Bengkulu, around 100 kilometers away from the provincial capital.

Medical attention for the tigers was usually handled by the Bengkulu BKSDA veterinary team. However, due to the lack of equipment, they were sent to Taman Safari Indonesia in Bogor, West Java instead.

Bengkulu and Lampung have the highest incidences of tiger deaths, recording two deaths in 2016.

According to Abu, by the end of last year, there were only 17 Sumatran tigers left in Bengkulu, mostly in Mukomuko, North Bengkulu, Lebong, Kaur and South Bengkulu districts.

“We have a responsibility to increase the tiger populations in the wild,” Abu said.

The clinic will be similar to a veterinary hospital, as it is equipped with full veterinary equipment and tiger cages. The facility also has a rehabilitation center, supported by the United States conservation group, US Fish and Wildlife Service, through Animal Sanctuary Trust Indonesia.

“We have an ultimate goal of releasing the tigers back into the wild after they receive full treatment at the rehabilitation center,” BKSDA Bengkulu wildlife doctor, Erni Suyanti Musabine said.

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