Best of our wild blogs: 27 Aug 17

Terumbu Raya is alive
wild shores of singapore

Night Walk At Punggol (25 Aug 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

August National Day celebrations at the Marine Park

Sisters' Islands Marine Park

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Barn owl visits Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong again, for the third time in five years

Lydia Lam Straits Times 26 Aug 17;

SINGAPORE - A barn owl has visited Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana again - the third time an owl was spotted there, with previous sightings in 2015 and 2013.

PM Lee on Saturday (Aug 26) posted a photo online of the bird nestling in the overhang along the exterior of the Istana, with the caption: "#guesswhoo's back?"

PM Lee later posted a closer photo of the owl, and said the Istana "appears to be a regular stopover for owls".

"True to their reputed wisdom, they seem to have learnt not to fly into the Istana building (and then need help from Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore and Jurong Bird Park to extricate themselves)," he wrote.

"It is rather curious why they only visit every two years!"

The owl could be the same one that he photographed in previous years. In October 2015, PM Lee posted a photo of a similar owl at his Sri Temasek office.

"The owl came to visit us again today. Maybe he is taking shelter from the haze," he wrote.

He had first posted a photo of the same owl in November 2013.

In both cases, the AVA and Jurong Bird Park were called in to catch the bird and release it, unharmed, behind Sri Temasek.

Barn owls are native to Singapore, but are elusive and so are not often sighted, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal told The Straits Times on Saturday.

Barn owls became widespread in Singapore since the 1980s, according to Singapore's Nature Society's Nature Watch magazine.

They roost and nest in abandoned buildings and also make their home in trees, it said.

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Malaysia: 2 tapirs die after being run over by car

TN Alagesh New Straits Times 26 Aug 17;

KUANTAN: Three days after an elephant died when it was hit by a tour bus in Perak, a pair of tapir suffered similar fate along the Gebeng bypass road near here on Friday.

The endangered Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus) were attempting to cross the dual-carriageway not far from the Jabor toll plaza about 10.30pm when a car crashed into the animals.

The driver escaped unhurt but the impact of the crash resulted the front part of the vehicle to be severely dented.

Passing motorists informed the State Wildlife and National Parks department(Perhilitan) about the carcasses about 11.30pm before staff were deployed to the scene.

The tapirs, a male and a female aged between eight and 10 years, suffered severe injuries.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said the two tapir weighing between 250kg and 280kg were crossing the road to look for food when the incident occurred.

He said to date, a total of five deaths caused by collision with vehicles were recorded in Pahang in the first eight months of this year.

"There has been similar incidents in the past including along the nearby Kuantan Port bypass road where the animals usually occupies the jungle and go out during the night to look for food," he said, adding Perhilitan will put up more signboards for tapir crossings to remind motorist to be careful when they drive along certain roads.

Meanwhile, a Perhilitan staff described the incident as devastating as two tapir were killed simultaneously and such cases were rare.

"Land clearing activities has ruined their habitat and the increasing number of activities near Gebeng here has forced the animals to travel further to find for food. A quick solution has to be implemented or else similar tragic road deaths could become more frequent.

"In the past there were cases when the tapir dies in an accident, certain body parts including its tail, ears and tongue were removed by irresponsible individuals. In this case, the passing motorist were quick to alert Perhilitan," he said.

It is estimated that only between 1,100 and 1,500 tapirs remain in the wild in Peninsular Malaysia, and concentrated in protected areas, such as Taman Negara and wildlife reserves. They are classified as a totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

On Wednesday, a 10-year-old bull elephant was killed after it was hit by a tour bus along the Grik-Jeli Highway in Perak at about 5.30am. The animal collapsed and then got up and walked to the grass on the road shoulder before it died.

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Malaysia: KL food operators to abide by Sept 1 polystyrene deadline

The Star 27 Aug 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Most of the food operators in the city say they will abide by the ruling not to use polystyrene as takeaway food containers starting Sept 1.

In fact, a random survey by Bernama found that most of them are no longer using polystyrene and have switched to biodegradable containers such as brown paper or boxes.

Kuala Lumpur City Centre Food Truck Club president Shiraj Shah Subahan said most of its 200 members had begun using paper bags and boxes since last year.

“We had long prepared ourselves for it as we know that using polystyrene is bad due to its negative impact on the environment, and in terms of how the food is presented to customers,” he told Bernama.

Shiraj, who runs a benggali bread business, felt that using paper would enhance the presentation of the food.

Nasi kerabu seller Nor Farhana Sulaiman, 32, who chose to use brown paper, said it was more environment-friendly.

“It costs more or less the same. Storing them is also simpler compared to polysterene. It is the responsibility of traders to support the green initiative,” said Nor Farhana, who has been in the business for more than five years.

Retired teacher S. Vijaya Letchemi, 52, said the enforcement of the Sept 1 deadline was in line with environmental sustainability efforts, and elevated Malaysia to be on par with developed countries.

“On my part, I make it a habit to bring my own container whenever I buy takeaway food,” she said.

Private sector worker Desmond Lim, 26, hoped suppliers would provide more choices of biodegradable takeaway containers.

“Some of the containers are not appropriate for packing liquid food, which necessitated the continued use of plastic containers,” he said.

Jurisdictions under the Federal Territories Ministry including Labuan and Putrajaya have stopped using polystyrene and switched to biodegradable food containers since June last year.

Traders and hawkers face a maximum compound of RM1,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year if they are found to violate the regulation. — Bernama

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Indonesia: N Maluku to boost maritime sector through fishing tourism

Aria Cindyara Antara 24 Aug 17;

Ternate, N Maluku, (ANTARA News) - With an eye on foreign, as well as domestic tourists, the Provincial Government of North Maluku has continued to heighten its effort to develop its tourism industry.

The Indonesian province of North Maluku is one of the countrys outer-most areas that houses more than a thousand islands and is home to the longest coastline.

The province often reminds people of its infamous island of Morotai, and its undeniably beautiful marine tourism. The island has been included in the list of 10 new seeded tourism destinations, put together by the Ministry of Tourism, known as the lost 10 new Balis.

Beyond the beauty of Morotai, however, there are numerous undiscovered treasures in the province of North Maluku that are yet to be exposed to both foreign and domestic tourists.

Governor of the North Maluku Province Abdul Ghani Kasuba said that his office was making serious efforts to raise the provinces tourism sector, one of which was by hosting events at both national and international levels.

"There are a lot of changes that are happening in the national tourism sector, and our province is just starting to emerge in this field. We do that by initiating a number of events in the province," he said.

He then revealed that his office was focusing on preparing an international event, scheduled to be held in the Widi islands of North Maluku, named Widi International Fishing Tournament (WIFT) 2017.

The event, which aims to focus on a particular aspect of tourism, is believed to be able to introduce the provinces potentials and its wealth in sea resources, at the same time placing it as one of the worlds best fishing tourism and industry destination.

There are over one million tonnes of fishery standing stock in the province per annum, while the number for maximum sustainable yield reaches 517,000 tonnes per year. These numbers indicate just how rich the Eastern Indonesia waters are in fishery resources, and they include the North Malukus seeded fish types which are skipjacks and tuna.

The local governments efforts to boost fishing tourism in the Widi islands is part of the measures taken to promote East Indonesias fishery wealth, all in line with President Joko Widodos effort to turn Indonesia into the worlds maritime axis, Head of the North Maluku Maritime and Fishery Offices Muhammad Buyung Radjiloen remarked.

"There are plenty of fish species that attract anglers, and they are all found in the waters of North Maluku, which is also part of the migratory path of the fish," he stressed.

With such rich resources, Radjiloen believes that North Maluku has the opportunity to be the pioneers in exploring the maritime tourism sector.

International level tournament

The Widi International Fishing Tournament (WIFT) 2017 is scheduled to be held from October 25 to 29 in the Widi Island of the Provinces South Halmahera sub-district, in which a Presidential Trophy will be the reward for the team that wins the tournament.

Widi Island is one of the seeded tourism destination, as set by the Provincial Government, which is why it was chosen to host the WIFT 2017. Not only is it home to an exquisite natural landscape, the waters around the island also house numerous types of fish that are often hunted by anglers.

There will be at least 300 professional anglers participating in the event, 60 percent of whom will come from Indonesia, and the remaining 40 percent will be made up of foreign nationals, including Malaysians, Singaporeans, Filipinos, Thais, Japanese, Australians, Americans and Spanish.

Bearing a bigger mission

Joe Gesta, Managing Director of Jawara Indonesia Communication, which acts as the WIFT 2017s creative consultant, explained that there were four values that the Provincial Government would be focusing on through the event, the first one being education.

"Indonesians need to be aware of our wealth in sea resources, and they need to know that we need to maintain its sustainability," he noted, adding that this value would then be introduced through a maritime seminar and workshop around the industry.

Economic transaction is the second element that is being elaborated in the mission of the event, in which there will be a series of fishery expos and investment forums.

Thirdly, he maintained, Indonesia was extremely rich in cultural values, and this would be the next component in the event. "The provinces arts and cultural wealth will be exhibited through a showcase and exhibition event during the opening and closing ceremonies, which will be held in the Babang harbour of Bacan island," he mentioned.

As the event itself brings forward a particular interest, it then became the fourth value that would be elaborated during the event, through the fishing tournament itself, as well as underwater photography competition.

Furthermore, Joe revealed that the WIFT 2017 would be opened by Indonesias President Joko Widodo and would involve several central government departments, including the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Fishery and Maritime, Ministry of Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Communication and Informatics, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Works and Public Housing, Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Home Affairs.

Meanwhile, Governor of North Maluku Abdul Ghani Kasuba stated that his entire staff was focusing on preparing the Widi Island, ensuring its readiness to host the international fishing tournament that would boost the provinces economic growth.

"From today onwards, we will be focusing on the Island of Widi," he stated.


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Indonesia: 2,000ha of educational forest developed for Rafflesia conservation

Antara 25 Aug 17;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - As many as 2,000 hectares (ha) of educational forest managed by Muhammadiyah University of Bengkulu (UMB) in Central Bengkulu district, Bengkulu province, was established as a conservation area for the rare Rafflesia flower.

"One of the focus activities in the educational forest is to conserve Rafflesia arnoldii, an endemic rare flower of the Sumatra regions forest," Sunaryadi, Director of Educational Forest of UMB, stated here, Friday.

He said the educational forest located within the protected forest of Bukit Daun had been granted a management permit from the Minister of Forestry in 2015.

The campus group worked with the Bengkulu Provincial Environment and Forestry Office to map and manage the educational forest boundaries.

"We started with mapping, boundary management and description of conditions in the forest," he remarked.

For the conservation of Rafflesia flowers, the university cooperated with the Natural Resources Conservation Center of Bengkulu and Lampung, and designed several joint activities, including mapping of Rafflesia arnoldii flower habitat in the region.

Sunaryadi stated that the educational forest located on the border of Kepahiang and Central Bengkulu districts had partly been converted into a coffee plantation area.

"We will first identify and carry out some activities for the recovery of the area, in accordance with the designation of the protected forest," he mentioned.

In the long term, he stressed, the area would be developed to provide eco-tourism services and to become a research area.

Head of the Natural Resources Conservation Center of Bengkulu and Lampung Abu Bakar noted that preserving the Rafflesia flowers in the educational forest area would support the efforts being made to conserve the rare flower Rafflesia, which has been categorized as a protected flora.

"We appreciate the efforts made by UMB to develop research on Rafflesia arnoldii, because knowledge about the reproductive ecology of this plant is still lacking," he observed.

Bakar said the educational forest area was an essential habitat for Rafflesia arnoldii.

Rafflesia arnoldii is one of the four types of Rafflesia flowers that have been identified in the Bengkulus forest.

In addition to Rafflesia arnoldii, the Bengkulus forest is also the habitat for Rafflesia bengkuluensis, Rafflesia gadutensis and Rafflesia hasselti.(*)

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Indonesia: Baby turtles at Sukamade sign of better conservation efforts

The release of baby turtles into the waves at Sukamade Beach in East Java is a daily ritual as part of a turtle conservation programme intended to bolster the prospects of the endangered creatures.
Jack Board Channel NewsAsia 26 Aug 17;

SUKAMADE, Indonesia: The run of freedom to the open sea is the most dangerous time in the life of a baby turtle.

Still, it is a spectacularly heart-warming moment to witness – an instant where pure incorruptible instinct is put on display, as nature always intended.

Out of a thousand hatched green sea turtle youngsters, maybe just one or two will survive to become fully mature reproducing adults. It is a sobering realisation as dozens of day-old green sea turtles begin the most fraught passage of what will be a precarious life.

On cue, an eagle emerges from the clouds and begins making ominous circles over the rough jade waters the baby turtles will, from now on, call their home. And the winged hunter will not go hungry this morning.

The release of turtle infants into the waves at Sukamade Beach in East Java is a daily ritual as part of a turtle conservation programme intended to bolster the prospects of the endangered creatures. Turtles in Indonesia have seen their habitats rapidly degrade in recent decades and poaching threatens their behaviours and future populations.

“It’s better for us to treat the turtles as naturally as possible. If the egg hatches, the baby turtle’s instinct is only to think about going to the water,” said Adrian Hepta Poniman, a ranger at Meru Betiri National Park, charged with overseeing the local turtle-hatching programme.

“There are two kind of releases. The first one is for education; the other one is for conservation,” he said. “The education one is for the visitors. It’s very limited. We only give them 10 to 15 turtles in a bucket.

“But for conservation, we could release hundreds of them. So, if this morning there are 500 eggs hatched, we will release all of them at night – all of them,” he said.

A few hundred metres from the beach, which is one of 10 natural nesting sites for turtles in Indonesia, is a small sheltered building where eggs are being prepared for the moment of awakening, a few feet below the surface.

Row upon row of carefully signposted artificial nests have been buried into the sand. Rangers carefully supervise the 52- to 60-day incubation process, after which the babies will bury their way out and up.

How these eggs got there is another part of the magical process that unfolds nearly every day at Sukamade.

With the moon covered by fast moving clouds, it is almost pure darkness on the beach as a handful of rangers and tourists gather and wait in silence.

Turtles have a remarkable ability to return to their birthplace when the time comes to lay eggs. The long sandy expanse of Sukamade is a point of pilgrimage for many of the mature turtles that once hatched here over the previous decades.

For visitors, there are no phones allowed, no flashing cameras or any device that emits artificial light. This is a special, sensitive time and the rangers enforce strict measures to make sure the adult females are not disturbed.

It is part of an effort to ensure sustainable eco-tourism can be a real force of change, raising awareness of the turtles’ plight without intruding too far into wild animals’ space.

The guides spot a welcome visitor who has crawled out of the surf and 20m up to the shore – an enormous green sea turtle. Indonesia is home to six out of seven species of turtles in the world, but greens are the most common at this site.

She is old, the guide says. Green turtles will continue laying their entire lives, from when they are 25 to 30 years up until their old age; they can live for a century, it is believed. In that time, they will lay thousands of eggs.

“After they lay their eggs for the first time, they will come back again in the next 15 to 20 days to lay another batch of eggs,” Adrian said. “During one season, sea turtles can lay their eggs five to six times.”

Tonight, she has dug a deep hole and lays 93 eggs, all while the group stands close behind her watching in a hushed awe. Two of the guides are quick to jump right into the burrow to collect the eggs as they fall, placing them carefully into a hessian bag.

It seems a sad form of interference being inflicted on the near-exhausted turtle, but Adrian explains that harvesting the eggs is a necessity to save the species.

He says that the eggs collected by the programme have a 75 to 80 per cent hatching success rate, which he admits is significantly lower than in the wild.

“Those numbers are still better than nothing at all. Because if we just left them in the natural habitat, it will be worse.”

Animals, particularly wild boars, are a constant threat to the vulnerable eggs. But humans have been the biggest destructive force against turtle survival.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimates that some turtle species have dropped in population by 90 per cent compared to the past, mostly due to egg harvesting and consumption by humans.

At Sukamade, tourism is being used as the trigger to change human behaviour around turtles.

“(It) is considered an alternative to change the way Indonesian society takes advantage of sea turtles, from extractive means into a sustainable practice,” said Dwi Suprapti, the Marine Species Conservation Coordinator for WWF Indonesia.

“Sea turtle based ecotourism in Sukamade has successfully driven coastal community practices from egg poaching into tour guides and coast guards.”

During the visit, Channel NewsAsia was made aware of a black market that still operates for turtle eggs. But the spate of such practices is swiftly reducing, according to Adrian.

“Nowadays, the number of black markets for turtle eggs is very low.
We almost can’t find them anymore,” he said. “It’s different than it used to be, when they were sold openly."

“Over the years, everyone has increased awareness of the conservation issue. We all know that sea turtles are an endangered species now.”

WWF says there is a “strong outlook” for turtles in Indonesia, with conservation programmes like Sukamade a key priority for the national government.

The delicate balance of life and death for turtles is clear, but especially comes into perspective as the baby turtles make their dash to the waves.

They will survive on instincts, but a little help along their journey could be just what they need.

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Thailand: Phuket officials charge boat captain, crew member for dropping anchor on reefs

The Phuket News 26 Aug 17;

PHUKET: The captain and a crew member of a chartered fishing tour boat were brought in by Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) officials yesterday (Aug 25) to be notified of charges they would face after photos and videos of them dropping anchor and damaging coral reefs off Koh Racha Noi were circulated on social media.

After the images were published, Director of the DMCR Phuket Marine and Coastal Management Department, Mr Watcharin Thintalang, ordered Director of the DMCR’s Conservation Department, Mr Suchart Rattanareangsri, to prosecute the two offenders.

Mr Suchart reported that the main offender was Mr Tossaporn Jansengsri, 46, who was the boat’s captain, but that Mr Niran Nuisue, 30, a crew member, was also to be prosecuted.

On Thursday (Aug 24), Tossaporn and Niran took foreign tourists on a fishing trip off Koh Racha Noi on the chartered vessel ‘Nichakorn 6’ departing from Chalong Pier, reported Mr Suchart.

“According to the investigation, at 1pm the pair anchored the boat at Banana Bay, Koh Racha Noi while they served the tourists food,” he said.

“The boat was then moved into an area with coral reef, where the anchor got caught and dragged the coral reef, causing substantial damage,” he added.

Mr Suchart assigned fisheries officer Mr Naree Choophung as the competent official to make a record of the accusations against Tossaporn and Niran who advised them of the offences they have been charged:

1. Conspiring to hunt protected wildlife without permission, guilty under the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act 1992, Section 16, which prohibits any person from hunting wildlife or protected wildlife, unless for reasons permitted by the government.

2. Taking a fishing boat to a site and dispatching the anchor in a protected area, causing the coral to be destroyed and damaged in accordance with the Notification of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment regarding Area and Environmental Protection Measures in Phuket Area, dated 19 July 2010 (as amended), Clause 12. In the area under Clause 4, the following activities shall not be carried out or engaged in: (9) the collection or destruction of corals, coral stones, dead coral, Coralline algae or seagrass; or actions which cause danger or has an affect on corals, coral stones, dead coral or seagrass damage or damage.

“The offenders were sent to Chalong Police Station where they were to be charged,” said Mr Suchart.

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