Best of our wild blogs: 23 Sep 17

Cyrene Reef Intertidal
Offshore Singapore

Day Trip To St John's Island (22 Sep 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Can the Javan rhino be saved before disaster strikes?

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Malaysia: RM260 million flood mitigation project causing more floods

MUHAMMAD MUSTAKIM RAMLI New Straits Times 22 Sep 17;

KANGAR: The RM260 million Timah Tasoh West Flood Diversion, which was supposed to solve floods in Tebing Tinggi area here, turned out to be the reason for a massive flood, forcing over 1,000 people to seek shelter at relief centres.

The project, which was scheduled to be completed in the middle of this year, has suffered a delay and the new deadline has been pushed to November.

Residents were left fuming as the final part of the 22 kilometer canal, which links a water tunnel from Tebing Tinggi to Bukit Wai, became the reason for the worst flood in recent years.

The canal is supposed to channel running water from Timah Tasoh Dam directly to the Straits of Malacca near Kuala Perlis river mouth.

The continuous rainfall over the past two days left some areas, which have never been flooded before, to be submerged up to 1.5-metre deep.

As at noon today, 1,008 people from 277 families, mostly from Tebing Tinggi, were forced to seek shelter at the flood relief centres.

Kangar member of Parliament Ir Shaharuddin Ismail said the project delay had left the area exposed to flood disaster every time there was a heavy downpour.

He said this had not happened before the project started.

"I am urging the state government, the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and the contractor concerned to expedite the project. If the contractor is unable to complete the project, might as well just terminate the contractor," he told reporters after visiting the site today.

Meanwhile, Tebing Tinggi residents who were taking refuge at SK Bintong, appealed to the relevant authorities to complete the project as soon as possible.

Mahidah Ismail, 40, said her house had never been flooded even during continuous rainfall like over the past two days.

"Since the project started my house has been hit by flash floods. The water used to reach up to knee-level but now it has reached waist-level," she said.

Her neighbour Norhidah Mohmad, 56, said she could no longer stand the hassle of having to abandon her home every time there was heavy rain and having to clean up the house several times.

The flood had also forced a trunk road linking Wang Ulu to Kuala Perlis to be closed to traffic while a petrol station in Arau has to suspend its operation.

It was reported that the project, which had been completed 80 per cent, was suffering a delay following a technical problem at Bukit Wai as the contractor was having difficulties in building a tunnel.

Be calm, perennial floods will be overcome in Tebing Tinggi, says Perlis MB
MUHAMMAD MUSTAKIM RAMLI New Straits Times 22 Sep 17;

ARAU: Flood woes in Tebing Tinggi are expected to be resolved in December when the Timah Tasoh West Flood Diversion project is ready, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man said.

He said the people affected by floods should be patient as the RM260 million project would be completed on time.

He said the flood in Tebing Tinggi, the worst affected area in the state, was caused by the construction of a bridge linking Kampung Wang Besar to Tebing Tinggi.

"The construction of canal has been completed but the problem is with the 500m bridge.

“We cannot speed up the bridge construction due to several problems including the rainy spell for the past several weeks.

"The bridge construction is progressing on schedule and expected to be ready by December," he said after visiting flood evacuees in Padang Nyu relief centre today.

The number of flood evacuees climbed to almost 1,500 this evening and is possibly the worst flood in Perlis in three years.

Tebing Tinggi residents have claimed that that the flood was caused by the delay in the Timah Tasoh West Flood Diversion project.

Azlan said water could not flow smoothly as the bridge was not ready.

“If we release the water through the tunnel, it may cause erosion to the concrete wall of the bridge,” he said.

"Another problem is that the project consultant has failed to carry out a full assessment on the condition of the area which forced changes to the original job scope.”

He said with the changes, the state government needed to give new approval before works could resume and this took time.

As of 7pm today, 1,491 people from 411 families sought shelter at 16 flood relief centres in Padang Besar, Arau and Kangar.

Earlier, Kangar member of parliament Shaharuddin Ismail called for the state government, the Drainage and Irrigation Department and contractor to expedite the project.

He said the service of the contractor should be terminated if the project was delayed for many times.

Mahidah Ismail, 40, said her house had never been flooded even during continuous rains before.

"Since the project started, my house has been hit by flash floods," she said.

Her neighbour Norhidah Mohmad, 56, said she was fed-up with the hassles of leaving her home every time there was a flood.

The today’s flood had also forced a road linking Wang Ulu to Kuala Perlis to be closed to traffic and a petrol station in Arau to stop its operation.

It was reported that the project, which is 80 per cent complete, was delayed following a technical problem at Bukit Wai as the contractor has encountered difficulties in building a tunnel.

1,200 evacuated in Perlis floods
The Star 23 Sep 17;

KANGAR: Floods in Perlis have displaced 1,200 people from 365 families, who are now staying at 16 evacuation centres.

Perlis Disaster Management Committee spokesman Mohd Farid Ishak said the centres were located in Arau (five), Kangar (five) and six in Padang Besar.

Many places were submerged in knee-deep water after intermittent rains throughout the day yesterday.

Among the worst-hit areas were Titi Tinggi, Beseri, Chuping, Mata Ayer and Santan in Padang Besar.

Other places affected were Bintong, Sena, Indera Kayangan, Kuala Perlis and Kayang in Kangar and Pauh, Tambun Tulang, Guar Sanji, Simpang Empat, Sanglang and Pekan Arau in Arau.

Housewife Roslaini Ibrahim, 41, said her house at Kampung Jarak in Bintong had been inundated by flash floods twice this month.

“I expect the situation to get worse if the rain continues,” she said.

Self-employed Fikry Izwan Abdul Rahman, 23, said his village in Kampung Tebing Tinggi was flooded on Thursday.

“The water rose to a metre deep in an hour. My family was evacuated to SK Bintong,” he said.

He said his village had been flooded more than 10 times after a bridge in his village was built.

“I hope the authorities will look into this as my village had never been flooded before the bridge was built,” he added.

Yesterday, two rivers – Sungai Jarum and Sungai Repoh – were at danger levels of 34.07m and 5.22m respectively.

The warning signal was raised for three rivers – Sungai Chuchoh (37.86m), Sungai Kampung Bakau (3.26m) and Sungai Pelarit (38.67m).

In Kedah, 149 families comprising 669 people were evacuated to five relief centres in Kuala Muda, Kota Setar and Kubang Pasu.

Flood mitigation projects prevented need for massive evacuation in Kedah
ADIE SURI ZULKEFLI New Straits Times 23 Sep 17;

SUNGAI PETANI: The floods in several parts of Kedah were caused by an unusually heavy rainfall.

However, flood mitigation projects at the main rivers in the state have helped to keep the number of evacuees low when compared to statistics from previous years, even though records show that the amount of rainfall over the past several days had exceeded the average monthly rainfall.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said the unusual rainfall had caused water levels at the main rivers to rise dramatically.

However, he said, thanks to the hefty investment by the federal government in flood mitigation projects, there had been a reduced impact to those living in low-lying areas.

Bashah said the number of flood evacuees in the state could have been much higher if not for the federal government initiative in approving an allocation of over RM1 billion to carry out flood mitigation projects in the state over the past years.

He said, even though Kuala Muda was the worst affected district in the state with some 500 evacuees, the number was marginal.

“I remember that the number of flood evacuees in Kuala Muda district used to be way bigger but things have improved a lot following the full completion of a massive Sungai Muda Flood Mitigation project costing RM1.4 billion two years ago.

“This district used to be severely affected as the whole Pantai Merdeka up to Kota Kuala Muda would be easily flooded during continuous heavy downpour, but the number has significantly reduced.

“Except for several low-lying areas like Bukit Meriam, which is located on just such an area near a swamp, many other areas are no longer affected by floods,” he said after visiting Pantai Merdeka flood evacuees at a relief centre at SK Bukit Kecil.

It was the second flood disaster for the victims in a span of two weeks.

Bashah said all the government departments and agencies involved in flood management had been ordered to continue monitoring the situation.

“The overall situation in the state is under control but we have ordered all the departments and agencies concerned to continue monitoring the situation as water flowing down from rivers to the sea might cause more flood.

“It is compounded by the high-tide phenomenon which is expected to last for at least another two to three days,” he said.

Bashah said the RM641 million Sungai Kedah-Anak Bukit flood mitigation project is expected to reduce flood risk in Kuala Kedah area upon its completion soon.

He commended all the government departments and agencies, assemblymen and others for their hard work in ensuring that the flood evacuees are well taken care of.

Kuala Muda District Officer Md Nordin Yahya said based on Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) records, the rainfall in the district over the past several days was unusually high.

He said the average monthly rainfall recorded in the district was about 200mm but the downpour over the past several days was recorded at over 200mm per day.

“The same amount of unusual rainfall was recorded here when the affected areas were flooded last week,” he said.

Nordin said the weather was improving and two flood relief centres in the district — SK Bukit Kechil and Dewan Kampung Jilid 8 — were closed today.

Three other flood relief centres in the state — one in Kota Setar district ad two in Kubang Pasu district — were also closed earlier in the morning.

However, the number of flood evacuees soared to 1,781 people as of 5pm.

Kedah Civil Defence Force Disaster Management Committee coordinator Saifuddin Abdullah said 13 flood relief centres were still operating and the authorities were bracing for more evacuations following a forecast of heavy downpour later this evening.

Weather in Kedah improving but flood victims soar to over 1,000
ADIE SURI ZULKEFLI New Straits Times 23 Sep 17;

ALOR STAR: After being pounded by continuous heavy rain over the past three days, the weather is finally improving in Kedah.

However, the number of flood evacuees has risen to over 1,000 as of this morning.

State Civil Defence Force (APM) Disaster Management Committee coordinator Captain Saifuddin Abdullah said as at 10am today, the total number of evacuees in the state climbed to 1,104 people from 259 families.

He said 669 new evacuees from 149 families moved into relief centres last night and the numbers are expected to increase today.

As of today, 14 flood relief centres have been opened in five affected districts; Kuala Muda, Kota Setar, Kubang Pasu and Pendang.

Three relief centres are operating in Kuala Muda, the worst affected district.

"The SK Bukit Kechil relief centre is housing 390 people from 83 families while the other evacuees in Kuala Muda are seeking shelter at Dewan Kampung Jilid 8 (44 people) and Dewan Kampung Sungai Pial (112 people)," he said in a statement.

In Kota Setar, five relief centres have been opened in SK Titi Gajah (55), Seberang Perak Welfare Department (6), Surau Assyakirin, Kepala Batas (53), and SK Alor Mengkudu (26).

Saifuddin said four relief centres have been opened in Kubang Pasu district; SMK Changlun (148), Surau kampung Kubang Betong (108), SK Kodiang Lama (46) and Dewan Kampung Lahar (43).

"In Pendang, 41 people have moved to Dewan Cenderawasih flood relief centre while 12 others are seeking shelter at Bukit Hijau relief centre," he said.

Authorities said the raging water from upstream in Padang Terap and Jitra flowing down to the sea is causing rivers and irrigation canals near low-lying areas to overflow, leading to the flood.

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Malaysia: 10 cases of illegal logging since beginning of year

Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah New Straits Times 22 Sep 17;

KOTA BARU: The Kelantan forestry department is upping its surveillance capabilities with the use of drones and motorcycles in a bid to protect logs and check other illegal activities in the state’s forest reserve.

Director, Datuk Zahari Ibrahim said the drones and motorcycles will be used in areas of the forest that are difficult to access by other means. The department has prepared three drone units and four teams to conduct surveillance in the forest reserve.

"Illegal logging activities in the forest reserve are still alarming, especially in Gua Musang. With the use of better technology we hope to put a stop to illegal logging and any activity that is against forest regulations,” he said.

The department has recorded more than 10 cases of illegal logging since the beginning of this year and a majority of the cases, according to Zahari, involved timber companies. Last year the department had also seized logs valued at more than RM300,000, he said.

Zahari has also instructed the department’s enforcement officers to double their operation.

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Indonesia on rhino emergency status

Antara 23 Sep 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia is in Rhino emergency status after this protected animal habitat declined to three from eight locations which all are conservation areas.

"We are racing against time to save Indonesian rhinoceroses, so that their fate would not be the same as that of Javanese Tiger," Indonesian WWF (World Wildlife Fund) Conservation Director Arnold Sitompul said in Jakarta on Friday (Sept. 22).

Sumatran Rhino, or Dicerorhinus Sumatrensis is under critically endangered status after their habitat reducing from eight locations to three which are Way Kambas, Bukit Barisan Selatan, and Leuser.

And for Javan Rhino or Rhinoceros Sondaicus, which is under the same condition have also been threatened due to natural factors such as possible Anak Krakatau Mountains eruption, diseases from cattle and invasive plants which affect its habitat in Ujung Kulon.

Arnold urges the Indonesian Government to put more effort to handle this issue so those rhinos would not become extinct like Javan tiger.

"Habitat conservation and letting them breed naturally are still not enough to ensure those rhinos well being. They need to be moved to a safer place and given more semi-natural breeding and better place management," he said.

Other than their location which is prone to tsunamis that may be possible due to Anak Krakatau eruption for example and shift of continental plates, census data of cattle belonging to people living around Ujung Kulon National Park shows that 90 percent of local buffalo have been found positive carrying with tripanosoma bacteria.

Those cattle which are not caged could enter the national park area and could spread the bacteria towards the rhinos and those bacteria could be lethal as well.

Continuous survey and monitoring in the last several years, according to him, showed reduction of their population. Their number is predicted at less than 100 in the last five years for Sumatran Rhino.

In connection with International Rhinoceros Day (Sept 22) he reminded that the Government should develo a second habitat for Javan Rhino. As for Sumatran one, he urged extending their currenthabitat and promoting the breeding program to increase its number.

(Reported by Virna P. Setyorini/Uu.Ian/KR-MBR/H-YH)

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Indonesia: Susi reminds Central Java fishermen to stop using seine nets

Suherdjoko The Jakarta Post 22 Sep 17;

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti has reminded Central Java fishermen that she is adamant on her decision to enforce a ban on the use of cantrang (seine net), which has been identified as destructive to coral reef and the seabed ecosystem.

Susi made the remarks while distributing fishing equipment deemed more environmentally friendly, such as gillnets, blue crab traps and guiding barriers, to fishermen along the northern coast of Central Java's Semarang on Wednesday, calling on the fishermen to start using the new equipment and altering their fishing habits.

"[We all] have until Dec. 31 [to replace cantrang with other sustainable fishing equipment]," Susi said.

Cantrang, along with trawl, is in fact grouped under the category of instruments banned in a 2015 ministerial regulation. However, cantrang remains popular among fishermen across Java, some of whom continue to oppose Susi who seeks to fully implement the policy by the end of the year.

In its bid to promote sustainable fishery habits among small-scale fishermen, the government has distributed fishing equipment to 2,000 owners of boats measuring less than 10 gross tons. The government has promised to reach out to 7,255 fishermen eligible for the program nationwide. (ipa)

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Indonesia: Maritime sector can overcome impact of drought

Antara 22 Sep 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Various maritime resources can be utilized to help overcome the impact of drought in various regions, an activist stated.

"Fish catch can help to cover the losses incurred in the agricultural sector due to drought," Executive Director of the Center of Maritime Studies for Humanities Abdul Halim noted in Jakarta on Friday.

Halim believes the fish catch will be helpful in coastal areas affected by the drought.

Several regional governments, such as that of the island province of Bangka Belitung, are optimizing efforts to monitor drought-prone areas to tackle harvest failures during the dry season.

"We have not yet found or received reports of agricultural areas that have experienced drought that could affect the farmers," Head of Agricultural Service of Bangka Belitung Toni Batubara remarked in Pangkal Pinang on Tuesday.

Batubara said his office is conducting cross-sectoral coordination in a bid to take precautionary steps against harvest failure in the current drought season.

In the face of the drought, the central government has outlined precautionary measures to tackle the natural disaster in some regions in Indonesia.

"I have urged all ministers and related institutions as well as governors to evaluate the condition on the field and take necessary precautionary measures to handle the drought," President Joko Widodo stated at the start of a closed-door meeting to discuss drought countermeasures at the Presidential Office in Jakarta recently.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman, Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, National Development Planning Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro, East Java Governor Sukarwo, and Central Java Minister Gandjar Pranowo, among others, attended the meeting.

The president admitted to having received a report from the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) indicating that the drought that hit Indonesia in 2017 would not be as bad as that in 2015 when the El-Nino phenomenon had occurred.

"However, in some regions, no rains were received for more than 60 consecutive days, or over two months. Parts of Java Island have borne witness to the peak of the drought season. According to the BMKG, most regions will receive rains by the end of November or October 2017," the president disclosed.(*)

Drought dries out several springs in South Karawang
Antara 23 Sep 17;

Karawang, W Java (ANTARA News) - Several springs in South Karawang near Pangkalan Sub-district, Karawang District, West Java, have dried up during the current drought.

"Not only springs but rivers in our region have also dried up. The local inhabitants have been facing a shortage of clean water," Usep Supriatna, the Pangkalan sub-district head, said here, Saturday.

Eight villages have been hit by the drought, and some 10 thousand people have been affected over the last several weeks, he revealed.

The Pangkalan authorities have urged the Karawang district administration to supply clean water to the drought-hit villages.

"The BPBD (local disaster mitigation office) has provided clean water to our regions several times," he noted.

According to data of Karawangs BPBD, the drought has affected 30 villages in the district, an increase from 25 villages last year.

Karawang is annually hit by drought during the dry season.(*)

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Indonesia: Surabaya City calls on residents not to burn trash during dry season

Antara 23 Sep 17;

Surabaya (ANTARA News) - The Surabaya City Fire Department, East Java, has issued a circular calling on city residents not to set fire to trash during the dry season this year.

Chief of the fire department Candra Oeratmangun said here on Friday the number of fires increased particularly during the peak of the dry season.

"The number of fires in Surabaya reached 300 last year and this year until September the figure was recorded at 420," he said.

Most of the fires happened in idle land and paddy fields, he said.

In August 2017 alone, the department recorded 138 cases of fires, 120 of which were found in idle land.

"Hence, we have issued a circular to village-level administration heads and sub-district heads to pass it on residents. In the circular, we call on the residents not to set fire to trash. In the rainy season, there are many cases of fires, much less in the dry season," he said.

In addition, he also suggested that the city residents sort the garbage into organic trash and dried trash. The organic trash can be made into compost, while the dried trash can be recycled.

"It is dangerous to set fire to trash in open land. The fire can spread to residential areas. If that happens, it is difficult to put out the fire," he said.

(Reported by Abdul Hakim/Uu.S012/B/KR-BSR/H-YH)

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