Best of our wild blogs: 28 Apr 17

Changi seagrasses four months after the oil spill
wild shores of singapore

Read more!

PUB looking for smart devices to monitor water usage during showers

Today Online 28 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB has called for proposals to mass produce devices that can provide real-time information on water usage during showers, as part of a demonstration project involving 10,000 households to show this method’s effectiveness in reducing water usage.

Through the request for proposals, which will close at the end of next month, PUB also aims to improve the features of current smart shower devices in the market, such as allowing data on water usage to be ported to personal smart devices, so that progress can be monitored over a period.

The Smart Shower Programme, set to begin in the first quarter next year, comes in the wake of a study conducted from July 2015 to March last year showing that each person uses five litres less water per day when there is real-time information on water usage during showers. Yesterday, PUB said such devices can potentially help households save about 3 per cent of their monthly water bill.

“Showering typically comprises 29 per cent of a household’s monthly water consumption. There is great potential to achieve substantial savings if we can change the user’s behaviour during his/her shower time,” said Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s director of Water Supply (Network).

Last year, households used 148 litres of water per capita per day. This figure is lower than the previous reported level of about 151 litres and just shy of Singapore’s target of 147 litres by 2020, although still a stretch from the 2030 target of 140 litres.

Water prices are scheduled to go up by 30 per cent over two rounds on July 1 this year and next year, with help being provided to most households.

Read more!

Malaysia: Six men jailed and fined for possessing 1,308 protected turtles

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 27 Apr 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Six fishermen were sentenced to six months’ jail and fined RM30,000 each by the Sessions Court here for possession of a protected species of turtle.

The six men were locals Rashed Delan, 38, and Alsadat Belog, 39; and Filipinos Madal Juldin, 37; Ibrahim Kahal, 44; Sidik Napaeh, 23; and Rasid Alain, 38.

They were found guilty of possessing 1,308 turtles illegally at Mengalum Island near here on Dec 7 last year.

Sessions judge Ainul Shahrin Mohamad handed down the sentence on Thursday after the prosecution proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Each man’s jail term was to run from the date of conviction while failure to pay the fine will result in an additional 30 days in prison.

The court also ordered the Filipinos to be referred to the Immigration Department for deportation after they have served their sentence.

According to the facts of the case, the men were found in illegal possession of Malayan box turtles (Cuora amboinensis), which are listed in the CITES Appendix II (Convention), at 2.45am on Dec 7 in Mangalum Island waters near Pulau Gaya.

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, while Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may become so unless trade is closely controlled.

The six men were convicted under Section 41(2)/34 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, punishable under Section 41(4) of the same Enactment, which provides for a jail term of up to three years, or a fine of up to RM100,000, or both.

Defence counsel Azhier Farhan Arisin, in applying for leniency for his six clients, urged the court to show compassion to the accused and their families as the men were only fishermen earning a minimal income.

He said his clients deserved a second chance.

Wildlife Department prosecuting officer Abdul Karim Dakog sought a deterrent sentence, saying the case involved public interest.

He said their crime was a serious environmental offence and possessing 1,308 turtles was not a small matter.

“Cases such as this always get the attention of domestic and international groups," Abdul Karim said.

He then applied for the surviving turtles, numbering about 100, to be released into the wild and the carcasses of the dead ones to be disposed of.

Read more!

Indonesia: Riau extends emergency alert status to maintain control of forest fires

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 11 Apr 17;

Riau province has extended its emergency alert status in order to maintain a tight grip on forest fires in the province, an official has said.

The decision was made following a meeting at the Riau administration office on Thursday. The meeting concluded that the measures taken by the government, including declaring an emergency alert status, had been effective in curbing forest fires.

“The measures to mitigate forest fires have been effective after the provincial administration declared an emergency alert status on Jan. 24, or a few days after Dumai and Rokan Hulu regency did so,” Riau administration secretary Ahmad Hijazi said.

The current emergency alert status was scheduled to expire on April 30. It has now been extended until Nov. 30, Ahmad said.

Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency head Edwar Sanger said the extension of the emergency alert status did not mean that forest fires were on the rise in the province. “This step was taken to prevent forest fires,” he said.

By setting the emergency standby statuses early, regions can ask for aid from the central government to tackle very small fires to prevent them from growing into bigger ones when the dry season begins. (ary)

Read more!

Vietnam: Southern provinces face subsidence

VietNamNet Bridge 27 Apr 17;

HCM City districts and Mekong Delta provinces are facing risks of soil submersion, studies have shown.

A group of researchers from the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, led by Prof. Le Van Trung of HCM City Polytechnic, compared remote sensing images between 1992 and 2010, which were updated in 2016.

They said the ground in the city’s Binh Chanh District, southern areas of Binh Tan District and District 8, as well as the northwestern area of Nha Be, has been sinking at 5 mm to 10 mm annually.

Human impact on the natural environment such as urbanisation, exploitation of underground water, and ground vibration from road traffic were the main causes of ground submersion, the studies said.

Trung said the soil for several years had been sinking and was now below the national height limit.

In low-lying zones, soil depression plus rising sea levels (an average of 3mm a year due to climate change) has enlarged inundated areas and created new ones, Trung said.

In coastal areas, the over-exploitation of underground water has caused saltwater intrusion, which negatively affects growth of plants and trees as well as sustainable agricultural development.

“Necessary measures should be taken to limit ground submersion,” Trung warned. “Without efforts to reduce it, the region could face stronger soil sinking, like that encountered by Shanghai, causing a number of areas in the region to sink into the sea.”

Ecologist Nguyen Huu Thien said that soil depression plus rising sea levels would cause the Mekong Delta and HCM City areas to submerge faster.

However, authorities have focused more efforts on rising sea levels than on soil submersion, which is more urgent.

Sea levels are rising about 3mm per year, while the region has faced soil sinking 10 to 20 times higher. Therefore, the most urgent effort should be focused on ground submersion, he added.


A study from the Norwegian Geo-technical Institute (NGI) released in 2012 – 2013 said that ground submersion extends from the Mekong Delta to Ca Mau Cape at the southern tip of the country.

In Ca Mau Province, the soil is sinking at 2cm to 5cm per year, while most of the ground in the locality is less than 1.5m above sea level.

This means the entire province could submerge into the sea in the next few decades if local residents continue to use underground water.

Substantial evidence shows that most Mekong provinces would face similar risks of soil submersion because of underground water exploitation, which has been affecting 24 million residents in the region, according to the NGI study.

Meanwhile, a report released by the Ca Mau’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said there were 141,226 underground water wells (30 wells on each sq metre of land) in Ca Mau, the largest number in the Mekong provinces.

The wells allow Ca Mau residents to pump out nearly 400,000 cubic metres of underground water per day.

Being over-exploited, many underground water wells in Ca Mau have become exhausted. More than 2,100 wells in the province have been left unexploited due to exhaustion of underground water.

A source from the Ca Mau Department of Natural Resources and Environment said these abandoned wells posed risks of underground water pollution.

He said 1,500 of these abandoned wells had been filled and the remaining wells would be filled with cement by the end of the year.

To Quoc Nam, deputy director of Ca Mau’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Ca Mau planned to reserve fresh water, including irrigating water from Hau (Posterior Mekong) River to the province.

In the near future, the province will build a 100ha reservoir to supply fresh water to three northern districts of U Minh, Thoi Binh and Tran Van Thoi.

The reservoir project will require investment of VND200 billion (nearly US$9.7 million).

Read more!