Best of our wild blogs: 9 May 17

Make a difference for Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin during Pesta Ubin!
wild shores of singapore

Night Macro Photography Workshop @ Pulau Ubin, 3 June 2017
Macro Photography in Singapore

Incidental Birding on a Singapore “Roadtrip”
Winging It

Sunny Sunday at Terumbu Semakau
wonderful creation

Sea fan garden at Changi
wonderful creation

New snail find at Kusu Island!
wonderful creation

First predawn at Tanah Merah shore
wonderful creation

Higher low tide at Big Sister's Island
wonderful creation

Read more!

Malaysia, Johor: Buffer Zones To Be Extended To Stop Water Pollution In Dam, Catchment Areas

Bernama 8 May 17;

ISKANDAR PUTERI, May 8 (Bernama) -- The buffer zones in 14 gazetted dam and catchment areas in Johor will be extended to solve the problem of water pollution.

Chairman of the Johor Public Works, Rural and Regional Committee, Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the buffer zones would now be extended to 500 metres from the current 50 metres.

"However, this extension is still in the proposal stage by the Johor Water Regulatory Body (Bakaj) and will be submitted to the state government soon," he said at the Johor State Assembly sitting in Kota Iskandar here today.

He was replying to a question from Dr Sheikh Ibrahim Salleh (PAS-Sungai Abong) who asked about the state government's proposal to extend the buffer zones in dam and water catchment areas as a way to solve the problem of pollution.

Hasni said the supply of raw water in the dams and catchment areas must be maintained so that the supply of raw water to the treatment plants always met the standards of raw water set by the Health Ministry.

Hasni added that Bakaj would implement the Integrated River Basin Management in Sungai Johor to improve the management of raw water sources and solve the problem of river pollution.

Replying to a question from Datuk Seri Adham Baba (BN-Pasir Raja), he said for a start, a study would be conducted in the third quarter of this year to identify and record the sources of pollution in the Sungai Johor buffer areas.

"The study will also determine the rate of pollutants which can be released in Sungai Johor so as to control pollution and improve water quality," he said. Hasni said in the second quarter of this year, Bakaj will install three water quality surveillance units in Sungai Johor to monitor pollution and as an early warning to water treatment plants to take action to prevent worse water disruption.

He said since early last year, the state government had frozen licences for all sand-mining activities in Sungai Johor.

The move was successful in reducing pollution in Sungai Johor in terms of turbidity and suspended solid wastes.


Read more!

Malaysia: No haze but expect floods this year - Wan Junaidi

The Star 8 May 17;

SUBANG: Malaysia will be haze-free this year due to the La Nina phenomenon, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said that recent Meteorological Department reports showed that the El Nino phenomenon - which brought extremely hot weather - would not occur this year, and Malaysia is expected to be free of cross border haze in 2017 because of this.

Wan Junaidi added that people living in low-lying areas need to be prepared following unpredictable heavy rain which may bring about floods this year due to the La Nina phenomenon.

He said that the Department's reports on rain distribution showed an unpredictable pattern with an unusually heavy downpour.

"It is raining every day, the situation is worrying, and it is feared the heavy rain could cause floods. As we are aware the El Nino effect is not strong this year, and the La Nina is taking place instead," he said.

Wan Junaidi said this to reporters after launching the second stage of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) Phase-Out Management Plan (HPMP) here.

It said there would not be abnormally hot weather as experienced in 2014 and 2015 which brought about the haze.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is targeting to reduce the usage of HCFCs by 35 per cent by 2020 in a effort to restore the ozone layer compared to 10 per cent in 2015.

Wan Junaidi said the second stage of HPMP would focus on technological change by using non HCFCs alternatives in the foam manufacturing sector and banned the consumption of HCFCs in fire extinguisher manufacturing.

The ban on HCFCs would give industries in Malaysia the opportunity to improve energy efficiency and expand the development of the green economy.

The plan is implemented by the Environment Department under the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry with the cooperation of the United Nations Development Programme.

HCFCs is an ozone destroying substance controlled under the Montreal Protocol on materials which thins the ozone layer.

The substance is mainly used as refrigerants and in the manufacturing of foam and solvent. - Bernama

No haze expected this year, but chances of flooding high: Wan Junaidi
TASNIM LOKMAN New Straits Times 8 May 17;

SUBANG JAYA: Experts agree that the chances for a recurrence of the haze are low this year, but concerns over flooding are rising as the country continues to experience unusually heavy and erratic rainfall.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said aside from assurances given by Indonesian authorities that Malaysia will not be affected by the haze, rainfall will also help ward off the annual problem.

He said the continuous rainfall being experienced in many parts of the country now will also combat air pollution.

"If you’ve noticed, it has been raining every day, everywhere now.

"(However), what worries me is that (the) El Nino (phenomenon) won't be so strong this year... (So) if there is too much rain, it may lead to flooding," he said during a press conference after launching the Hydroflurochlorocarbon Phase out Management Plan Stage 2 seminar here today.

Wan Junaidi said Indonesia changed its way of handling the haze in 2015, following diplomatic talks with Malaysia. Now, Jakarta does not need to wait for a province to declare a “state of emergency” before sending assistance to control forest fires.

"They have responded well to our concerns. They have given their assurance that there will be no fires that will (cause) haze," he added.

Read more!

Malaysia: Customs seizes over RM9mil worth of pangolin scales from Africa

AUSTIN CAMOENS The Star 8 Amy 17;

SEPANG: The Customs Department has seized 712kg of pangolin scales worth approximately RM9.18mil in two raids at the Customs KLIA Cargo warehouse.

Department assistant director-general (enforcement) Datuk Paddy Abd Halim said the scales were seized on May 2 and May 3 respectively.

He said that the Department received an alert on May 1 about an illegal shipment from Accra, Ghana.

"We checked eight gunny sacks at the cargo warehouse and found 408kg of the pangolin scales worth RM5.26mil which were listed as general products," he told a press conference at the KLIA Customs Complex on Monday.

He said on the same day, another similar shipment arrived at the warehouse here from Kinshasa, Congo.

"We checked 10 gunny sacks the next day and found 304kg of the scales worth RM3.92mil.

Paddy said that an investigation revealed that both shipments had fake company listings on the airway bills.

He said the case is being investigated under Section 135(1) of the Customs Act for importing prohibited items.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in China, Vietnam and in southern China.

They are also consumed as bush meat in many parts of Africa.

Their worth however comes from their scales, which are used in traditional medicine to cure everything from asthma to reproductive problems and even cancer.

There is, however, no scientific study to back these claims.

RM9mil in pangolin scales seized after tip-offs
AUSTIN CAMOENS The Star 9 May 17;

SEPANG: At least 1,400 adult pangolins must have been killed by poachers to yield the 712kg of scales seized by the Customs Department.

The scales, shipped from two locations in Africa, in 18 gunny sacks, were labelled “general products” and “dry herbs” in an attempt to escape detection by the authorities.

The pangolin is said to be the most trafficked mammal in the world, with its meat and scales fetching high prices on the black market.

Customs Department assistant director-general (enforcement) Datuk Paddy Abd Halim said the seized scales were worth at least RM9.18mil and constituted the largest seizure of pangolin scales so far.

“We were alerted on the evening of May 1, to a suspected illegal shipment which came in from Accra, Ghana.

“The next day, we inspected eight gunnysacks at the KLIA air cargo warehouse, listed in the airway bill as general products, and found 408kg of pangolin scales worth RM5.26mil,” he told reporters at the KLIA Customs Complex on Monday.

He said they received information the same day that a similar shipment had arrived at the warehouse here.

“We checked 10 gunny sacks the next day, which were labelled dry herbs, and found 304kg of the scales worth RM3.92mil. The shipment came from Kinshasa, in the Congo,” he said, adding that investigations showed both shipments had fake company information listed.

He said the case was being investigated under Section 135(1) of the Customs Act for importing prohibited items.

Paddy said the department was trying to find out the identity of the recipient.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) enforcement deputy director Rozidan Md Yasin said each full-grown pangolin has about 500g of scales.

“We estimate that it would have meant the slaughter of at least 1,400 of the animals to get 712kg. We are investigating the species of pangolin that was slaughtered,” he said.

Pangolin scales are popular as traditional medicine to aid in healing fever and malaria, and even to give strength, he added.

Rozidan said that in Malaysia, a full-grown pangolin could fetch at least RM1,000 for its meat.

“The scales of a full-grown pangolin can also be sold on the black market for upwards of RM1,000,” he said.

KLIA Customs Department director Datuk Hamzah Sundang said pangolin scales were prohibited from import under Schedule Three of the International Trade Act on Threatened Species 2008.

“Anyone convicted of importing the scales could face a fine not less than 10 times and not more than 20 times the value of the seizure, or three years’ jail, or both,” he said.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, eight species of pangolin are found on two continents, and their status ranges from vulnerable to critically endangered.

All eight species are protected under international laws and two are listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam and is also consumed as bush meat in many parts of Africa.

Read more!

Indonesian lawsuit against Thai firm to protect environment

The Nation The Jakarta Post, Asia News Network 8 May 17;

After nearly eight years, the government has finally filed a landmark lawsuit seeking Rp 27.5 trillion (US$2 billion) in compensation against a Thai company accused of being responsible for an oil spill in the Montara oil and gas field in the Timor Sea that destroyed marine resources and livelihoods of Indonesian fishermen in East Nusa Tenggara.

The government filed the lawsuit against the Thailand-based oil producer PTT Exploration and Production (PTTEP) Australasia at the Central Jakarta District Court on May 3 over sea pollution it allegedly caused from an oil spill following an explosion at the Montara oil rig in the Timor Sea in 2009.

“This is the biggest settlement we have sought from a company,” law enforcement director general at the Environment and Forestry Ministry Rasio Ridho Sani told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

“The lawsuits against parties [alleged] to have caused environmental damage are to create a deterrent effect and also to give justice for people affected. Our lawsuit against PTTEP is our effort to protect the environment and the Indonesian people.”

The government will use article 87 and 88 of the 2009 Law on Environmental Protection and Management as its legal basis as well as article 1365 of the Civil Code.

The previous highest settlement in an environmental destruction case was when the Supreme Court ordered PT Merbau Pelalawan Lestari (MPL) to pay Rp 16 trillion for illegal clearing of forests in Pelalawan Regency, Riau Province last year.

An estimated 300,000 liters of gas and oil from the rig gushed into the Timor Sea for 74 days from Aug. 21 to Nov. 3, 2009.

Arif Havas Oegroseno, the security affairs deputy at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Ministry said the government would be represented by the Attorney General Office and the Environment and Forestry Ministry. The government filed lawsuits against three corporations: PTTEP, The Petroleum Authority of Thailand Exploration and Production Australasia (PTTEP AA) and the Petroleum Authority of Thailand Public Company Limited (PTT PCL). The hefty compensation demanded by the government of Rp 27.5 trillion was for the alleged environmental catastrophe as well as for the coastal recovery of Tablolong Village in Kupang regency and Oenggaut Village and Daiama Village in Rote Ndao regency.

Arif Havas’ ministry claimed the oil spill had damaged 1,232 hectares of mangroves, 1,429 ha of seagrass and 714 ha of coral reefs in the aforementioned villages, in addition to devastating the livelihoods of the local fishermen.

The lawsuit is different from the class action suit being processed in Sydney’s federal court. The class action suit, led by Daniel Sanda, was filed by more than 13,000 Indonesian seaweed farmers last year against PTTEP for more than A$200 million to cover damages.

Kupang Regent Ayub Titu Eki welcomed the lawsuit, which he called was “a bold move against the Timor Sea pollution”.

“The case has been ongoing for almost eight years without certainty. The most affected victims are coastal communities who live on the shores of East Nusa Tenggara,” he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Hikmahanto Juwana, an International law expert from University of Indonesia, applauded the firm action taken by the government after previous talks between the companies did not bear fruit. He said the government needed to focus on the substance of the lawsuit.

“The government should focus on the substance of the lawsuit, that the incident polluted Indonesia’s ocean,” he added.

Read more!

Indonesia: Sawu Sea to be developed into whale attraction tourism

Antara 8 May 17;

Kupang (ANTARA News) - The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and East Nusa Tenggara Tourism Agency are working together to develop the attraction of whales in the Sawu Sea.

According to the head of the provincial tourism and creative economy agency, Marius Ardu Jelamu, the development of whales attraction will be focused in three areas such as Solor-Lewotobi in East Flores regency, Ile Ape-Lamalera in Lembata regency, and Paket Alor-Pantar in Alor regency.

In addition to offering the direct whales observation, the new kind of tourism will be combined with culture, marine, religion, as well as nature tourism.

"The provincial government of East Nusa Tenggara welcomes this initiative of tourism development that is expected to boost the local income," Jelamu stated here on Monday.

Sawu Sea, a migration corridor for whales and dolphins, is a promising spot to be developed into marine tourists attraction.

The survey of Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA) conducted by TNC in the last few years, identifies that at least 10 sea mammals, including 14 species of whales, 7 species of dolphins, and a species of sea cow are present in the Sawu Sea.

Whales and dolphins attraction is a rapidly growing maritime tourism that has been developed in 90 countries around the world. Globally, this kind of tourism can generate national income of Rp1.4 trillion.

Being categorized as a new tourism, whales and dolphins natural attraction can also be developed in the seas of Sunda Kecil, Banda, and Raja Ampat.

The Waters National Park of the Sawu Sea, the breeding spot for the whales, is referred as a "cafe" for the blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), where the tourists can directly observe their natural habitat and attractions.

(Reported by Hironimus Bifel/Uu.Y013/INE/KR-BSR/F001)

Read more!