Best of our wild blogs: 27 Apr 17

13th May 2017 (Sat): FREE Guided Herp Walk @ Macritchie Reservoir
Herpetological Society of Singapore

Festival of Biodiversity 2017 – May 27 & 28 @ Serangoon NEX

Otters and crocs @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – Toddycats gear up for Festival of Biodiversity in May

Nesting of an Olive-winged Bulbul
Singapore Bird Group

Shiny Dollars & Yellow Bills at Lorong Halus
Winging It

Singapore convicts rosewood trader in historic CITES seizure
Conservation news on

First Meeting of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore Zone Captains, 5th Apr 2017
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Read more!

Photographer fined for baiting birds

He gets $3,800 fine for feeding three birds at Botanic Gardens, venturing off-trail
Audrey Tan Straits Times 26 Apr 17;

A nature photographer was yesterday fined $3,800 in total for flouting the law just to get good pictures of birds - the second time in seven months that a nature enthusiast has been rapped for unethical photography practices.

Johnson Chua, 51, who works in the information technology industry, was fined $3,000 for feeding birds with live mealworms at the Singapore Botanic Gardens without authority. He was fined $800 for venturing into an area of the national park which is closed to the public.

Last October, orthopaedic surgeon Lee Soon Tai, 63, was fined $2,000 for feeding endangered grey-headed fish eagles with live fish injected with air at Bukit Batok Town Park, a public park.

Under the Parks and Trees Act, national parks and nature reserves are accorded greater protection than public parks. Those guilty of unauthorised entry into closed areas of all parks and nature reserves can be fined up to $2,000. The penalty for unlawful feeding of animals in national parks and nature reserves is a fine of up to $50,000, up to six months' jail, or both.

In what is believed to be the first case of baiting for a photo in a national park to be brought before the courts, Chua was photographed by other visitors going off-trail at the Rainforest Trail within the Singapore Botanic Gardens - one of the remnants of Singapore's primary rainforests - on Jan 14.

One photo taken by a witness seen by The Straits Times captured him peering through a camera set up on a tripod. He was on the wrong side of a rope barrier, despite a signboard warning people against climbing over or feeding animals.

A white plastic bag was hanging from the tripod. According to court documents, the bag held a container filled with mealworms.

Chua went off-trail at about 4.30pm. He grabbed a handful of live mealworms and scattered them on a fallen tree log before returning to his camera. The bait attracted a silver pheasant, which ate the mealworms as photographers snapped away.

Chua did this three more times within the next half an hour, attracting two other species of birds - an orange-headed thrush and a red-legged crake.

All three species are not commonly sighted in Singapore. The red-legged crake, a Singapore native, is considered locally vulnerable to extinction. The silver pheasant was likely brought to Singapore via the pet trade, while the thrush seasonally migrates here from northern South-east Asia.

Photographers use bait to lure birds closer to the camera to obtain highly sought after "food in mouth" shots , said National University of Singapore bird scientist David Tan.

And with the number of amateur nature photographers here growing, the uptick in the number of baiting incidents could lead to more severe consequences, warned Mr Tan.

Other than potentially causing imbalances in the animals' diet, baiting also alters their natural behaviour, which can lead to negative side effects, as in the case of macaques in Segar Road, he noted. People fed the monkeys there, and they started entering residents' flats, stealing food and biting humans.

"Baiting could also result in a loss of fear of humans, which can lead to animals being more easily poached, or killed by vehicles. It can also heighten the risk of disease spread and vermin abundance at baiting sites, since these are hardly ever cleaned," said Mr Tan.

Dr Nigel Taylor, group director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, said members of the public should practise proper etiquette when taking photos and avoid manipulating any flora or fauna.

Additional reporting by Elena Chong

Read more!

Indonesia: Hot spots detected in Jambi

Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 27 Apr 17;

Jambi province is stepping up monitoring for fires to prepare for the upcoming dry season following the recent detection of hot spots by the Sultan Thaha Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) Station.

The hot spots are located in Muarabulian district, Batanghari regency and Tungkal Ilir district in West Tanjung Jabung regency by the Terra and Aqua satellites.

An agency forecaster, Kurnia Ningsih, said that based on observation the hot spots were suspected to be burning land. The hot spots, however, disappeared after rains.

“We need to raise awareness of forest and land fires in anticipating the emergence of hot spots,” she said, adding that the dry season is predicted to start in May.

Jambi Governor Zumi Zola called on all palm oil companies and industrial forests operating in Jambi to be more alert to any possible land and forest fires.

“Based on the BMKG’s prediction, the dry season this year could be similar to the dry season in 2015,” he said. (rin)

Read more!

Indonesia: Locals suffer clean water scarcity as drought hits Wonogiri

Ganug Nugroho Adi The Jakarta Post 26 Apr 17;

Dry season has begun to hit areas across Java.

About 15,000 residents of eight villages in the southern area of Wonogiri regency in Central Java have reportedly been suffering from severe drought for the last several weeks. As a result, villagers have had to collectively pay between Rp 70,000 (US$5.3) and Rp 100,000 for a 6,000-liter tank of water.

“Rain has been extremely rare lately. Farmers have been hit the hardest. They need up to two tanks of water for a week,” Waluyo, 39, a resident of Johunut village in Paranggupito district said on Wednesday.

Wells, ponds and water springs, which were villagers’ source of water, are reportedly going dry.

Villagers who cannot afford to buy water have had to walk for kilometers to find other sources of water.

“There are ponds and rivers not far away that are still watered but the flow is very little. It could take half an hour to fill up a 10-liter bucket. We don’t have other options,” said 57-year-old Sunarni.

Paranggupito district official Dwi Hartono said almost half of the residents in the district began to order water tanks about a month ago.

“Some residents have big water tubs to catch rainwater. Since there is no more rain, they buy tank water to fill up the tubs,” Dwi said.

Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) Wonogiri head Bambang Haryanto said the agency had prepared 70 6,000-liter water tanks to be deployed to five villages in Paranggupito. (bbs)

Read more!

Indonesia: 6 more orangutans released into Kehje Sewen forests

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 11 Apr 17;

Conservation group Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) released six orangutans into the Kehje Sewen forests in East Kutai, East Kalimantan, on Tuesday.

“This is our 12th release, conducted via land route. The team drove from Samboja Lestari to Muara Wahau and then continued traveling to a location near the forests,” said BOSF spokesperson Paulina Laurensia.

East Kutai is located around 850 kilometers north of Balikpapan. Every two hours, the team stopped to check the condition of the East Kalimantan orangutans and give them food and water.

Paulina said the orangutans, two males and four females, were rehabilitated at the BOSF Forest School in Samboja Lestari. Each orangutan has a name to make it easier for their keepers to identify them.

“The two male orangutans are Justin, 10, and Robert, 11, while the females are Ung, 14, Reckie, 9, Tree, 11, and Heli, 9,” said Paulina. She said the six orangutans were released in the southern part of Kehje Sewen, where 24 orangutans had been previously released.

Before releasing them fully into the wild, BOSF will first make sure that the orangutans are able to live independently in their natural habitat, Paulina said.

BOSF chose the Kehje Sewen tropical forests as the location to release orangutans in 2012. In total, 69 orangutans have been released into the forests. Two baby orangutans have been born from the orangutans released there. (ebf)

Read more!

Indonesia can profit from private management of conservation areas

Moses Ompusunggu The Jakarta Post 25 Apr 17;

Ecotourism in Indonesia could flourish more if the operation of conservation areas like national parks is managed by the private sector, a top researcher said on Wednesday.

University of Indonesia professor of conservation biology Jatna Supriatna, who chairs the university’s Research Center for Climate Change, said privatizing the management of national parks was an ideal move to make national parks “profit centers” like in foreign countries, notably in the United States.

“In Indonesia, conservation areas are not prepared to serve as profit centers for the state. Ideally, the government should act merely as a regulator, while the development of national parks should be managed by the private sector,” Jatna said in a public lecture.

In Ujung Kulon National Park in Banten, a home to the near-extinct Javanese rhinoceros, a lack of adequate infrastructure such as roads has prevented tourists from visiting the site. Jatna said the situation would change if the government could give business players a chance to manage conservation areas because this would lead to their improvement, which would eventually attract more tourists.

“Generating profit does not always lead to destruction. It has been globally agreed that national parks could serve as sources of profit for the state,” Jatna added.

A 2011 government regulation allows public-private partnerships for managing conservation areas. In 2016, the Environment and Forestry Ministry signed an agreement with timber company APRIL to manage the newly launched Zamrud National Park in Riau, but it was eventually canceled because of what the ministry called an “indication of infringement”, Antara reported. (ebf)

Read more!

Indonesia: Tourists to Raja Ampat must pay additional fee

Otniel Tamindael Antara 26 Apr 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Local as well as foreign tourists visiting the tourism attractions of Raja Ampat in West Papua Province are required to pay an additional fee for environmental maintenance services.

Raja Ampat district government has determined that every tourist is obliged to pay an environmental maintenance service fee of Rp500 thousand for local tourists and Rp1 million for foreign tourists per person.

The money will be used to finance local people who are in charge of maintaining the cleanliness of the environment and marine ecosystems in the tourist destinations islands.

Raja Ampat comprises of four big islands and hundreds of dots and specks off the fragmented western corner of the land of Papua, the worlds second largest island.

According to the head of Raja Ampat Regional Public Service Board for Water Conservation Area, Adrian Yusuf, the local government has tightened its supervision to track tourists visiting the islands without paying the environmental service fees.

The supervision is tightened in the waters which become the main route of tourists visiting the islands by speed boats directly from the city of Sorong.

Recently, there are travel agents who use speedboats to transport their guests from the City of Sorong directly to the tourist islands without stopping at the Raja Ampat district town of Waisai to pay the fee.

"Hence, every tourist who uses speedboat from Sorong City to visit Raja Ampat must stop at Waisai to pay the fee before heading to the tourist destinations," Yusuf remarked in Sorong on Tuesday.

In order to increase supervision, the local government will build security and service payment posts on every island of the tourist destination, he said.

In addition to supervising the tourists, the local government will also oversee the community activities in conservation areas to prevent undersea ecosystem damage.

The Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat is known to be the most bio-diverse habitat on earth and is considered an ideal destination for both local and foreign tourists to relax and unwind.

Hence, the government is implementing a sustainable tourism development program in Raja Ampat. To make the program work, the human resources in the local community must be improved.

According to Ranny Iriani, Raja Ampat Tourism Offices local partner for sustainable tourism development, the local communities must be empowered to help them preserve the natural resources and environmental sustainability there.

Situated in the Coral Triangle, which stretches from the Philippines to Timor and extends to Papua, Raja Ampat has three quarters of the worlds coral varieties, 10 times that of the Caribbean.

The high-definition visibility means that in one glance, without having to swim a stroke, visitors can see a multitude of corals resembling Murano vases or bunches of baby corn, marbled plumbing fittings, peanut brittle, cobwebs, and an oversized cabbage patch.

Visitors to Raja Ampat can witness a multitude of marine habitats and coral reefs at one glance without having to swim a stroke.

Therefore, public awareness on maintaining the cleanliness in the sea and avoid catching fish using hazardous materials must be increased, so that the beautiful natural wealth is not damaged and can be enjoyed by the visitors and the next generation, remarked Iriani.

In addition to improving the tourism infrastructure and facilities in Raja Ampat, Iriani maintained that the central and local governments should encourage the local communities to communicate and serve the visitors in a friendly and courteous manner.

"If the local communities are empowered to serve the visitors in a friendly and courteous manner, the development of sustainable tourism in Raja Ampat will be realized and maintained for generations in the future," she asserted.

Raja Ampats natural potential and culture are beautiful and unique. Therefore, the local people must be encouraged to improve their work ethics and adopt clean habits to attract even more local and foreign tourists, she added.

Most visitors arrive in Raja Ampat through Sorong, a city on the far west coast of Papua, which has an airport, army barracks, and a karaoke bar called Happy Puppy.

In less than two hours from Sorong, the visitors can reach Raja Ampat, where they can indulge in activities such as swimming, diving, and snorkeling, or just relax.

Raja Ampat is home to a multitude of attractions and experiences.

With thousands of people visiting Raja Ampats marine and natural attractions, visitors can skip the crowds and experience it all.

Every day, many tourists from different countries go to Raja Ampat, where they can enjoy not only the beautiful marine biodiversity but also the scenic beaches and gain local insights into its history.

In terms of historic relevance, the Raja Ampat Archipelago, in the 15th century, was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Maluku Islands.

To run its government, the Sultanate of Tidore appointed four local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, which are the fourth largest until this day.

The term "Four Kings" who ruled the islands became the basis for the name Raja Ampat, which comprises some 610 islands, with a total length of 753 kilometers of coastal line.

Foreign tourists visiting Raja Ampat are enthralled by its beauty found nowhere else in the world.(*)

Read more!