Best of our wild blogs: 30 Apr 17

21 May (Sun)- Want to learn how to be a nature guide? Come join the Chek Jawa Familiarisation Tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Kusu Island, 龟屿岛

Kusu Island still reefy
wild shores of singapore

Favourite Nectaring Plants #10
Butterflies of Singapore

Read more!

Singapore has reached its end

Surekha A. Yadav Malay Mail 30 Apr 17;

APRIL 30 — Marina Bay used to have the best steamboat restaurants in Singapore. That line of hotpot spots are now replaced by… well, the entire city.

I had never really thought much about our expanding shoreline although I should have — considering coast lines that I knew growing up are now so deep in-land you cannot even see the water anymore.

Samat Subramaniam’s wonderful article in the New York Times recently got me thinking and reading up about this.

He delves into this matter in more exquisite and accurate detail but basically Singapore needs land.

From the moment our nation came into existence, our government has taken determined steps to manage the nation’s most scarce resource.

The scale of Singapore’s sand imports are such that vast swathes of our neighbours; Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar have been affected by sand mining.

Key eco-systems — dunes, beaches, forests — have been quarried away to be sold to Singapore for a few dollars a ton.

The problem is sufficiently significant that virtually every country in the region has enacted bans on the export of sand — and particularly the export of sand to Singapore.

Singapore is a small country. Barely 700 square kilometres, it ranks around 180 out of the world’s 196 or so countries and territories.

Single cities like New York or Beijing are far larger than our nation, yet our economy is larger than the economies of major and large-sized nations like Pakistan, New Zealand or the Philippines.

Our land area is tiny but our ambitions are vast and we are home to over five million people.

Resolving this conundrum with just a few hundred square kilometres of land is not easy — and the reality is that size has always been our enemy.

The government now owns over 90 per cent of the country’s land area — on which it works to maximise the productivity of every square foot.

Even the 10 per cent of land it doesn’t own outright it regulates tightly and reserves the right to acquire.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority co-ordinates across ministries and engages experts and academics to ensure that our land use is optimised.

But even with the some of the tightest planning in the world, we need to carve new land out of the sea.

To date, Singapore has reclaimed over 100 square kilometres of land or 10-20 per cent of our total land area.

Our airport, our industrial zones (Jurong), huge sections of the port, our finance centre from Beach Road to Marina Bay Sands, even the entertainment/casino hubs on Sentosa... all of these are built partly or entirely on reclaimed land.

Our ambitions may be limitless but the truth is we are hitting physical limit. We just can’t keep reclaiming.

Technology, costs, the physical supply of sand mean we can’t keep growing our land mass.

Even politically, if we keep growing we’ll begin encroaching on territory claimed by Malaysia and Indonesia and the South China Sea doesn’t need another territorial dispute.

This will be an enormous challenge for our governments, our planners and our population but well, we’ve overcome some seemingly insurmountable obstacles before and the chances are we will get over this.

Already we’re experimenting with high rise factories, multi-story farms and floating stages. The reality is that as a people we must get high, really high.

Sky parks, sky farms it may sound like science fiction but with the sand running out the sky will have to be the limit.

Born and bred in Singapore, Surekha A. Yadav is a freelance journalist in Southeast Asia.

Read more!

Malaysia: Johor converting sewage treatment plants into water reclamation facilities

Ahmad Fairuz Othman New Straits Times 30 Apr 17;

PASIR GUDANG: Plans are underway to convert 158 sewage treatment plants in the Pasir Gudang and Tebrau areas into water reclamation plants which can produce potable water for industrial use here.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang said the ministry will soon hold discussions on the plan with the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) at the authority's next meeting, to be chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

"Such a move has been (carried out) in Kuala Lumpur.

"Discharge from (sewage) treatment plants can produce potable water for industrial use. The 158 sewage treatment plants in the Pasir Gudang and Tebrau areas have a catchment area of 1.5 million people, which means (they) can supply up to 260 MLD (million litres per day) of water.

"This will be used for Pasir Gudang's industries," said Zaini after the My River, My Property programme launched by Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin at Pasar Nelayan, Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru, today.

Khaled urged the federal government to give priority to such a project, because Iskandar Malaysia is a big contributor to the country's economy.

Govt to replace 158 sewerage treatment plants in Johor
NELSON BENJAMIN The Star 1 May 17;

JOHOR BARU: All 158 sewerage treatment plants, which are treating waste water from 1.2 million people living in Pasir Gudang and Tebrau, will be replaced under a Federal Government plan.

The proposal is to replace all these aging sewerage treatment plants with one centralised system known as water reclamation plant (WRP), which not only treats the water but also can produce about 260 million litres of water per day for industries.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the project was vital for the growth of Iskandar Malaysia.

“Phase 1 of the project itself will cost more than RM1bil. We hope this treated water can be channel­led to industries in Pasir Gudang,” he said, adding that the Energy, Green Technology and Water Minis­try would undertake this project.

“This will be good for Iskandar. WRP can help to supply water to industries instead of them relying on treated water from Syarikat Air Johor,” he said at the launch of the Sungaiku Hartaku programme along Sungai Masai here.

Mohamed Khaled said the WRP was not cheap as the Government spent RM250mil to build a plant to treat Sungai Segget in Johor Baru.

Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Zaini Ujang said he would discuss the matter with the Iskandar Regional Development Authority soon.

Many of the sewerage treatment plants were between 20 and 30 years old, he said.

“They are not able to process all the sewerage and this is channelled into our waterways,” he added.

On another matter, Mohamed Khaled reminded the public not to discard rubbish into waterways as 229 rivers out of the 473 rivers nationwide are polluted.

Read more!

Malaysia: Steps taken to preserve Malayan tiger habitat

The Star 30 Apr 17;

PETALING JAYA: The Government has identified over 600,000ha in Peninsular Malaysia as a special protection area to preserve the habitat of the endangered Malayan tigers.

Perhilitan director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said proactive measures had been taken by the fede­ral and state governments to gazette a few areas for this purpose.

“The preservation of forest reserves other than the special protected areas, especially at the central forest spine, must be managed sustainably to ensure that Malayan tigers will conti­nue to be protected from the threat of extinction,” he said in statement.

Perhilitan signed a memorandum of understanding with Malay­sian Na­­tio­nal Animal Welfare Foun­dation, World Wide Fund for Nature Ma­­lay­sia, and Wild­life Conser­vation Society Malaysia to assist in conducting the first National Tiger Survey (NTS) aimed at identifying the exact population and habitat of the dwindling species in the peninsula.

Currently, the Malayan tiger subspecies, which was first formally re­­cognised in 2004 after genetic tests, is listed as endangered by the Interna­tional Union for Conserva­tion of Nature Red List.

The survey is the first covering all forest reserves in the peninsula and will take at least two years.

Abdul Kadir said there were about 250 to 340 Malayan tigers based on a study conducted by Perhilitan and other NGOs at three of its main habitats – the National Park (Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan), Belum-Temengor (Perak) and Endau-Rompin (Johor).

He said the moratorium on deer hunting, which was introduced last November, would be enforced until Nov 30, 2021.

Read more!

Indonesia's yellow-crested cockatoo population threatened

Markus Makur The Jakarta Post 30 Apr 17;

The populations of the yellowcrested cockatoo on several islands are in critical danger due to massive exploitation, researchers say.

Anna Reuleaux from Manchester Metropolitan University said recently that she had been conducting research and compiling population data.

According to the data, there are around 200 birds on Sulawesi, 18 birds on Masalembo, 107 birds on Sumbawa, 40 birds on Flores, 70 birds on Rinca, 218 birds on Komodo, 258 birds on Alor and 288 birds on Pantar.

Approximately 2,000 birds still exist on Sumba and 200 to 300 birds on Timor and Timor Leste. On Tanahjampea, it is estimated that there are still 15 birds and there are eight birds on Tukangbesi.

Reuleaux conducted this research for conservation purposes, including to study the breeding of the birds, so that she could provide recommendations for stakeholders in Indonesia on how to preserve the species.

“I have been conducting research about the breeding of yellow-crested cockatoos on several islands since August last year and will continue until July next year,” the Germany native said.

She has been researching on Flores, starting from West Manggarai in Golomori, Rinca and Komodo and went further to Adonara and Alor. She also went to Sulawesi and Java.

“I traveled in East Nusa Tenggara for three months to Sumba, Flores, Alor, Timor and Rote. This is a conservation effort for Indonesian endemic birds, together with Burung Indonesia and the Bogor Agriculture Institute.”

Reuleaux explained that the yellow-Crested cockatoo is listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the highest category of threat, “critically endangered,” due entirely to its massive exploitation as a cage bird. Seven subspecies are distributed in and just outside Wallacea, although the Sumba subspecies, known as the citron-crested Cockatoo, to aviculturists is probably a separate species. The population status of each of these subspecies is believed to be very serious.

Reuleaux said this research aimed to conduct extensive surveys of remaining cockatoo populations across its entire range, to produce accurate estimations of local population sizes and to determine their ecological and management requirement.

It is also intended to identify areas, which have or could have the right conditions to be local sites for future management interventions or re-introductions, and to generate in-depth information on the ecology of the citron-crested cockatoo on Sumba and possibly another subspecies in order to inform management practices for all populations. The research would also provide training and qualifications for one European and one Indonesian researcher in order to build capacity for cockatoo research and conservation.

The research is sponsored by Zoologishe Gesellschaff fur Arten-Und Biotopschute (ZGAP Germany) and Loro Porgue Fundacion in Spain.

She explained that the previous research, including in 1993, found there were 6,000 birds. However in 1994, there were cases of illegal trade of the species. Since then, the population has continued to dwindle more and more each year.

“We can find this bird in East Nusa Tenggara, Sulawesi and East Java. People are interested in this bird because of its unique yellow crest.”

The outcome of the project will be conservation relevant information on the size of remaining cockatoo populations, identification of new populations and explanations of why some areas retain cockatoo populations and others do not.

Romi Lungga Dangolimu, a field researcher from the Lembaga Burung Indonesia (Indonesian Bird Institute) on Sumba, who accompanied the German researcher, said the population of the bird on the island was quite good.

In 2000, there was a massive hunting of this bird. Then in 2013, Burung Indonesia stepped in to raise awareness to protect the endemic species.

He explained that the awareness program from Burung Indonesia had shown good results, with local people establishing groups to campaign about the protection of the species.

“Overall, there is no more yellow-crested cockatoo hunting on Sumba, although some people still attempted to set up traps in trees to catch the birds. But thanks to the monitoring groups, their attempts failed. The groups removed the traps and cleaned up the trees from the glue.”

Read more!

Indonesia: Hungry elephants in Sumatra destroy local plantations

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 30 Apr 17;

Locals have called on authorities to take action to drive away three wild elephants, which came close to residential areas in Bengkalis regency, Riau province and destroyed palm and crop plantations.

The herd of the endangered animal had visited Jl. Rangau, Pematang Pudu subdistrict, Mandau district, in the past two weeks, but it was only in the past week that they began eating the local’s plantations, local Nimrot Sinaga said.

“They also destroyed an 8-hectare 3-year old palm plantation, which belongs to my parents,” he said on Friday.

The elephants usually came at night, he said, adding that he and the other residents tried to drive the elephants away using firecrackers. However, the elephants remained circling the area as other residents also tried to cast them away from the opposite direction.

He predicted that the three elephants are one family as they comprised of two adults and one calf around five years old.

“We expect the Riau Natural Resource Conservation Agency [BKSDA] will soon deploy a tamed elephant to lead the wild elephants away from the plantations and residences,” he said.

Tamed elephants are usually used to mitigate conflict between wild elephants and humans.

Nimrot said if authorities did not take swift action, he feared the local people would not be able to contain their anger as their palm plantations were eaten by the elephants. He said the elephants ate the palm shoots, which will kill the trees.

Besides palms, the elephants also ate other crops including sweet potatoes, beans and many other kinds of vegetables.

“If they keep causing restlessness among locals, I fear for their safety. They are protected animals, but their lives could be at risk,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mandau district head Djoko Edy Imhar said he had contacted Riau BKSDA to report the incident.

“BKSDA must lead the wild elephants away from local residences and plantations to prevent any possible conflicts,” he said.

Agency official R. Hutajulu said his office had assigned a team to monitor the wild elephant’s movements. It was detected that they were around the Jambon public cemetery and the team would try to lead them to Talang Forest at night.

From this monitoring, it was known that the herds’ movements were slow as one of the adult elephants could not walk properly. The elephant’s leg was wounded from a trap, which struck it some time ago. The agency’s team had treated the wound, but he said the healing process might take a while as the wound was on the elephant’s foot.

Hutajulu urged people not to get panicky if the three wild elephants passed their yards while they were herded to the Talang Forest.

“People must remain calm as Riau BKSDA is following their movements. It is better for people to stay at a safe distance so the elephants do not feel threatened and chase people instead,” he said.

The rampant conversion of forests into plantations has increased the rate of human-elephant conflicts in the country. Data from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia in 2015 showed that Indonesia had the highest number of human-elephant conflicts in Asia.

Read more!