Best of our wild blogs: 13 Jun 17

Pulau Semakau (East) after mass coral bleaching
wild shores of singapore

50 Shades of Spiders by Dr Linda S. Rayor
My Nature Experiences

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Fire breaks out at crude oil refinery on Jurong Island

Today Online 13 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE – A fire broke out at a crude oil refinery on Jurong Island on Tuesday (June 13).

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the fire occurred within a crude distillation unit at the Singapore Refining Company's (SRC) premises on 1 Merlimau Road.

Firefighters from SCDF and the company's in-house emergency response team took over an hour to put out the flames. No injuries were reported.

SCDF said they were alerted to the incident at 9.50am. The SRC’s response team was also immediately activated, and deployed water monitors and several large capacity fire extinguishers to fight the fire.

Several videos posted by Facebook users showed black plumes of smoke rising up beside refinery chimneys.

The SCDF said that the fire at the refinery was extinguished at around 11.10am.

The SRC has yet to comment on the cause of the incident.

Fire breaks out at Jurong Island, no injuries reported
Channel NewsAsia 13 Jun 17;

In a Facebook post, the Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received reports of a blaze at 1, Merlimau Road, where oil refinery Singapore Refining Company is located at about 9.50am. There were no reported injuries.

In a later update, SCDF said the fire occurred within a crude distillation unit. As of 11.10am, the fire had been extinguished by SCDF and the in-house emergency team, using ground monitors and several handheld jets. SCDF is carrying out foaming operations, it added.

SCDF added that company's emergency response team was activated when its fire alarm sounded. It also deployed water monitors and several large capacity fire extinguishers to mitigate the fire.

An eyewitness who declined to be named said he saw "thick black smoke" from Jurong Port at about 9.50am, but did not see flames. "The smoke subsided after awhile. Minutes later, it started again," he said.

Photos and videos of the incident have been posted on social media, which showed plumes of black smoke rising up next to refinery chimneys.

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Malaysia: Endangered wildlife in Sabah to get extra protection

The Star 13 Jun 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Following the death of one of its three Sumatran rhinos, Sabah will go all out to protect its remaining endangered animals, starting with the Sunda clouded leopard next.

The leopard is endemic to Sabah.

“We do not want to come down to a similar situation where we only start getting serious when there is only a few of a species left, it will be a bit too late then,” said Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming.

The state suffered a huge blow to its conservation efforts when one of the last three remaining rhinos was euthanised due to cancer earlier this month, he added.

The flora and fauna of Sabah were the gems that attracted visitors here, bringing in income, Pang said when opening a workshop on ways to protect the species here yesterday.

The workshop, which ends tomorrow, is organised by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

An action plan to protect the Sunda clouded leopard is expected to be drawn up following recommendations based on findings of a five-year extensive research on the animals conducted by DGFC and SWD.

Pang said DGFC – a collaborative research and training facility managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University – had identified the Sunda clouded leopard to focus on this time.

Pang said tourists from China (being the most number of visitors coming to Sabah) are showing more interest in nature and related tourisms.

He added that the Sabah Parks would be increasing its conservation tax “very soon” in view of its needs to have more programmes towards the protection of the environment.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the Sunda clouded leopard deserved its fair share of attention as there are only about 700 left in the wild.

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Mangroves, coral reefs could cut flood insurance premiums: Lloyd's

Reuters 12 Jun 17;

Natural coastal habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs and salt marshes protect communities more effectively against coastal storms than seawalls, and insurers should consider this when pricing flood risk, Lloyd's of London said.

Investment to conserve natural habitats also makes sense for insurers, a report written for Lloyd's said on Tuesday, as it is around 30 times cheaper than building seawalls.

Insurers have paid out more than $200 billion in claims for damages due to coastal floods in the past 10 years.

But they could reduce the amount they pay in claims and offer lower premiums if they considered the impact of natural infrastructure.

"If you are in a more resilient city, compared to a less resilient one, then those risk levels should be taken into account in pricing," said Trevor Maynard, head of innovation at Lloyd's.

Insurers should invest more in habitat conservation to reduce the risks from coastal floods, the report, by the Center for the Blue Economy, the University of California, Santa Cruz and The Nature Conservancy, said.

"Flood risk reduction should be undertaken before the flood occurs, but we currently spend much more on recovery efforts than on risk reduction."

Coastal wetlands remaining in the northeast of the United States saved more than $625 million in flood damages from Hurricane Sandy, around 1 percent of the total flood damages from the 2012 hurricane, previous research for Lloyd's has shown.

Public and private sector financing to support natural infrastructure is increasing, but "the availability is geographically uneven," the report said.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Louise Heavens)

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