Best of our wild blogs: 4 May 17

Amazing April at the Sisters Islands Marine Park
Sisters' Island Marine Park

Singapore got sea turtles, dolphins: April sightings
wild shores of singapore

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Malaysia: Whale found stranded on Miri beach

Mohd Radzi Bujang New Straits Times 4 May 17;

MIRI: A villager made a startling discovery when he stumbled upon a beached whale near Kampung Siwak Bakam here this morning.

The villager said the whale was still alive when he found it about 6am today.

He immediately alerted the Fire and Rescue Department for help. It is understood that the authorities are on the scene to assist the mammal.

Whale stranded on Miri beach
STEPHEN THEN The Star 4 May 17;

MIRI: A 10m long whale, estimated to weigh about 1.5 tonnes, was found stranded on the beach at Kampung Siwak Bakam, some 30km south of the city.

Villagers and Fire and Rescue Department personnel are currently trying to push the huge creature back into the ocean.

Miri Fire chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said the villagers alerted his office about the incident at 7.10am on Thursday.

"The whale is still alive. We have a team of personnel there now.

"Together with the villagers, they are trying to help the whale back into the South China Sea," he said.

The seas off Miri are used by whales, sharks and dolphins during their annual migration from the northern hemisphere to the southern oceans off New Zealand and Australia.

Stranded whale on Miri beach freed
STEPHEN THEN The Star 4 May 17;

MIRI: The 10m-long whale that was stranded on a beach 30km south of Miri has been freed.

Miri Fire and Rescue Department chief Supt Law Poh Kiong said the gallant effort to free the whale paid off.

"The firemen and villagers (from Kampung Siwak Bakam) put in a good effort to gently push back the whale into deeper waters.

"The effort paid off. The whale is free. It swam away," he said.

Supt Law added that he is glad his department managed to mark World Firefighters' Day by successfully saving an endangered whale.

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Indonesia: Natural disasters inflict Rp30 trillion loss per year in Indonesia

Antara 4 May 17;

Padang, W Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Indonesia suffers an average of Rp30 trillion in economic losses per year due to natural disasters, Head of the National Natural Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei said.

"The losses are well above the governments mitigation fund reserves, amounting to Rp4 trillion per year," he stated in his general lecture before students of Padang State University (UNP) on Tuesday.

In 2016, the country suffered Rp3.159 trillion in material losses due to an earthquake in Pidie Jaya, Aceh province; Rp94 billion due to floods in Pangkal Pinang, Bangka Belitung province; Rp1.479 trillion due to floods in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara province; and Rp100 billion due to floods from Bengawan Solo River.

"Many other disasters also caused huge losses in other areas, including floods in Limapuluh Kota district," he noted.

Overall, natural disasters increased in Indonesia from 2003 to 2016, and 95 percent of these were dominated by hydro-meteorological disasters such as floods, landslides, droughts, whirlwinds, and forest and land fires.

On a national scale, the material losses caused by land and forest fires in 2014 reached Rp221 trillion, he remarked.

"Most of the hydro-meteorological disasters are caused by natural factors," he revealed.

Therefore, he called on all segments of the society to continue to improve their knowledge on disasters.

"When disasters cause economic losses, we may recover from them. But this is not the case with the loss of lives, which may traumatize the local residents and have an impact on their future," he pointed out.(*)

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Indonesia: Government allows fishermen to use trawlers until year-end

Antara 4 May 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said the government has finally decided to allow fishermen to use trawler or cantrang as a fishing tool until the end of 2017.

The minister made the remarks after meeting President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the Presidential Palace here on Wednesday.

"I met the president. I have been requesting an extension period and directives from the president since Sunday. We have extended the period of cantrang use until the end of 2017. This is mainly for fishermen in the Central Java region," she stated.

Cantrang is a kind of fishing equipment (API) which belongs to a group of boat or vessel seines.

The minister promised to distribute fishing tools to replace cantrang to the fishermen soon.

"Ships under 10 GT will receive the replacement during this time but not the bigger ones. Hence, we would provide assistance to banks," said Susi.

Previously, the Regulation of Pudjiastuti had caused conflict between the fishermen and law enforcement officers.

The regulations that invite pros and cons are the Regulation of the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Number 1 / PERMEN-KP / 2015 concerning the Prohibition of the Use of Trawl Fishing and Pukat Tarik in the Fishery Management Area of the Republic of Indonesia.

The regulation states that fishermen are prohibited from using cantrang for fishing.

Instead, the ministry distributed a replacement tool that was considered more environmentally friendly.

But the problem was that the ministry of maritime affairs had not been optimal in the distribution of the cantrang replacement fishing tools in the two years since the policy was launched.(*)

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Indonesia: Young orangutans find sanctuary in Pulang Pisau

Moses Ompusunggu The Jakarta Post 4 May 17;

At the verdant Salat Island orangutan pre-release site in Pulang Pisau, Central Kalimantan, Romeo, a 10-year-old male orangutan, was busy trying to open a coconut using a rock in a scene reminiscent of the ape-like men’s actions in the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 magnum opus 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The coconut was supplied by workers of the facility — run by local conservation group the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) — who also beckoned Romeo’s fellow orangutans, 24 in total, to have lunch with him under the lush rainforest canopy.

“He [Romeo] needs to be familiar with life in the wild. That’s why we don’t feed him, but merely provide him with the fruits, letting the orangutans open them up by themselves,” BOSF CEO Jamartin Sihite told The Jakarta Post during a recent visit to the site.

The BOSF, the biggest orangutan rehabilitation foundation worldwide, currently takes care of around 700 orangutans in its facilities on Salat Island and in Nyaru Menteng in Central Kalimantan and Samboja in East Kalimantan. The group members describe themselves as “teachers, as well as mothers” for the apes and aim to rehabilitate them before releasing them in the wild.

Workers in Nyaru Menteng lead a school forest program for the orangutans that teaches survival and food gathering skills, among others. After they are deemed mature enough to face situations in the wild, they are relocated to the pre-release site and spend six months to a year there before being released to the wild.

In order to provide more prerelease sites for the orangutans, BOSF has teamed up with publicly listed palm oil company PT Sawit Sumbermas Sarana, which bought 1,434 hectares of land around the current Salat Island site. “We hope to go from being the biggest rehab foundation in the world for orangutans to the smallest. Something must be wrong if we are still the biggest,” Jamartin said.

Just an hour’s drive from Salat Island, a delta in the Kahayan River, dozens of infant orangutans played with women acting as their surrogate mothers after concluding their daily reintroduction training at a sekolah hutan (forest school) at BOSF’s rehabilitation center in Nyaru Menteng.

One of the women, Sri Rahayu, an employee at the facility since 2007, spends most days taking care of the orangutans. She said she would always “burst into tears” when any of the arboreal apes “passed the training,” which typically lasts six to seven years.

“But the tears are not a form of sadness. Rather, I cry because finally they are a step closer to becoming real orangutans,” said Sri.

Orangutans are dependent on their mothers for seven years before they fend for themselves, but rampant deforestation driven by land clearing for industries, such as palm oil, timber and mining, has threatened the species and its natural bonding process.

With forests shrinking at an alarming rate, orangutans are forced to seek new homes, such as in plantations. Locals, meanwhile, often capture the infants as pets, leaving the mothers behind.

Nyaru Menteng rehabilitation center manager Denny Kurniawan said around 40 percent of the orangutans in the foundation’s facilities in Central Kalimantan were rescued from plantations, thanks to tip-offs from citizens. The remaining 60 percent come from locals who previously kept them as pets.

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