Malaysia: Efforts mooted to save rare monkey

The Star 28 Sep 17;

JOHOR BARU: The lack of awareness of a rare monkey species – presbytis femoralis – which is unique to Johor and Singapore is threatening its existence.

The monkey, commonly known as Raffles’ Banded Langur or Lotong Cenekah, is black in colour and its features often cause it to be confused with another similar-looking species – trachypithecus obscurus or Dusky Langur.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) vice-president Vincent Chow said a collaboration between MNS, Nature Society Singapore, Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group, Iskandar Regional Development Authority and other non-governmental organisations was initiated to come up with a long-term action plan to protect this species.

“These monkeys can be found in Kluang, Kota Tinggi and Pulai in Johor. The long-term plan is also to find out the monkeys’ lifespan and habits so that they could carry out conservation measures as needed.

“There are no such studies on this species in Malaysia and there were overseas groups that came but they wrongly identified it as the Dusky Langur because of their colour,” Chow, who is also Johor MNS chairman, said at a roundtable discussion held yesterday.

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Singapore's population size remains stable at 5.61m, with fewer non-residents

Channel NewsAsia 27 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: There was little change in Singapore’s population size from 2016 to 2017, with total population growing by 0.1 per cent to 5.61 million.

This is because of a fall in the non-resident population, which dropped 1.6 per cent to 1.65 million, according to statistics released on Wednesday (Sep 27) by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) in its annual Population in Brief report.

Non-residents include dependants, international students and those who are here to work, and the fall in these numbers was mainly attributed to the decrease in work permit holders in the construction as well as marine and offshore engineering sectors. This reflects the weakness in these sectors, NPTD said.

As a result of the decline in the non-resident population, Singapore total population growth was almost flat at 0.1 per cent last year compared to the 1.3 per cent in the previous year, said the report.


At the same time, the statistics showed that citizen population grew by 0.9 per cent to 3.44 million due to citizen births and immigration.

Coupled with a slight rise in the number of permanent residents (PRs) from 520,000 to 530,000, there were 3.97 million residents - Singaporeans and PRs - as of June.


Singapore grants between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizenships every year to "individuals who are committed to making Singapore their home", NPTD said in the report.

"Immigration helps to moderate the shrinking size and pace of ageing of our citizen population," it added.

There were 22,102 new citizens last year, the highest in at least 10 years. The majority (62 per cent) were from Southeast Asian countries, with 32.2 per cent from other Asian countries and 5.8 per cent from countries outside Asia.

About 1,500, or 7 per cent, of the new citizenships were granted to children born overseas to Singaporean parents, NPTD stated in its report.

The number of PRs granted was also slightly higher last year at 31,050, compared to 29,955 in 2015.


Of the new PRs, 62 per cent were from Southeast Asian countries, 29.6 per cent from other Asian countries and 8.4 per cent from countries outside Asia.

The report also noted that the citizen population continues to age, and at a faster pace compared to the last decade. Between 2016 and 2017, the proportion of citizens aged 65 and above increased from 13.7 per cent to 14.4 per cent.

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Singapore's first electric car-sharing programme to launch in December

Calvin Hui Channel NewsAsia 27 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: The first electric car-sharing programme in Singapore will be launched in December with 30 charging stations and 80 electric cars being rolled out progressively, operator BlueSG said on Wednesday (Sep 27).

BlueSG, a subsidiary of French conglomerate Bollore Group, signed an agreement with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Economic Development Board in June last year to develop an electric car-sharing programme that will see 1,000 electric cars being deployed in stages.

The plan is to roll out a total of 500 charging stations equipped with 2,000 charging points, of which 400 will be open for public use, BlueSG said.

The first batch of 125 electric cars and 250 charging points was originally scheduled to be introduced in towns like Ang Mo Kio, Jurong East and Punggol by mid-2017.

Ms Marie Bollore, the managing director of Blue Solutions – the Bollore Group subsidiary overseeing electric vehicle-sharing programmes – said the delay of the launch was because working with the authorities was "a bit more complicated" than expected.

"In Singapore, it is a bit complicated because it's not like the other cities - we have a lot of different agencies to build the stations," she explained.


LTA chief technology officer Lam Wee Shann said BlueSG's one-way car-sharing service will provide the public with another transport option and reduce the reliance on private vehicles.

The first 30 charging stations, with a total of 120 charging points, are located in a range of parking lots. This includes 18 stations in public housing estates such as Bishan and Punggol, 10 stations in the city centre and city fringes, and two within industrial and commercial estates in one-north and Science Park.

Earlier, LTA said these charging stations will adopt the Type 2 charging standard, which is a European charging interface. This is compatible with both single-phase and three-phase power supplies, and will allow the public to tap on these stations if their own vehicles comply with such standards.

Wednesday's announcement comes after BlueSG unveiled its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Singapore, which will oversee its e-mobility, energy management and system integration business for the region.

The hub will house more than 30 employees by the end of the year, comprising technical staff, on-field technicians as well as an electric vehicle workshop and IT support specialists.

BlueSG will also establish a global innovation centre in Singapore to undertake research and development work in the areas of mobility and energy management solutions, it said.

Bollore Group runs electric vehicle car-sharing programmes in other cities such as Paris, Los Angeles and London.

Ms Bollore said the company was committed to making Singapore the second-largest electric car-sharing service worldwide after Paris.

"We are on a good trajectory to build a world-class electric vehicle infrastructure both on the development and innovation front, where we aim to create 250 jobs at the end of our first five years," she added.
Source: CNA/mz

Electric car-sharing service to hit roads in December
KENNETH CHENG Today Online 27 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE — The Republic’s first large-scale electric car-sharing service will begin in December with a smaller roll-out than initially planned, with operator BlueSG acknowledging that it was “behind schedule”.

About 80 electric cars and 30 charging stations — offering 120 charging points — will be rolled out progressively from December, BlueSG announced on Wednesday (Sept 27). This is fewer than the 125 vehicles and 250 charging points previously planned to launch by the middle of this year.

Managing director Franck Vitte said streamlining the process for authorisation to build the charging stations — new to the market here — took slightly longer than expected. Various parties, such as the parking agencies and energy company SP Group, also had to be brought together. But he was quick to add: “Things have been streamlined, ironed out with the various parties, and we see a significant acceleration in terms of process.”

The company said groundbreaking work to install the first 30 charging stations will start by the end of this month. Eighteen stations will be rolled out in public housing estates including Tampines, Bishan and Punggol. Ten stations will be situated in the city-centre and its fringes, and the remaining two at one-north and the Science Park.

Drivers will first pair an ez-link card — their mode of identification to book and collect a car — with the service via a charging kiosk. Users without an ez-link card can request a BlueSG card.

BlueSG commercial and network director Jenny Lim said the company was working to possibly integrate other cards with its system after December.

At the charging kiosk, users are required to enter a four-digit personal identification number and confirm they have a valid driver’s licence, among other things. Tapping their ez-link cards near the side-mirror will unlock the car. Users may book their cars in advance via avenues such as BlueSG’s mobile app or call centre, and reserve a parking space at their destination, which will be held for 1.5 hours.

“Even if you (are stuck in a) traffic jam, (there’s) more than enough time … to arrive at your destination,” said Mdm Lim.

The four-seat cars can run for about 200km with air-conditioning after a full charge. The company declined to disclose its rates, saying these will be unveiled several weeks before the December launch.

TODAY previously reported that the service will run on a subscription basis and members could be charged less than S$10 for a 15-minute journey. Pressed yesterday, Mr Vitte said the rates would be “around there”.

Mdm Lim said users can take up either an annual premium plan — which comes with lower per-minute rates — or an ad-hoc one.

A subsidiary of the Bollore Group, which operates the world’s largest fully electric car-sharing programme, BlueSG signed an agreement with the authorities in June last year to operate the service here for a decade.

Under the programme, 1,000 electric cars will be rolled out in Singapore by 2020, on top of 500 charging stations with 2,000 charging points — 400 of them for non-BlueSG users. When rolled out fully, it is set to be the world’s second-biggest electric car-sharing service. Paris-based Autolib’ service, which was launched in 2011, is the world’s largest. Also run by the Bollore Group, it boasts 4,000 electric vehicles and 6,200 charging points.

On Wednesday, BlueSG also officially unveiled its Asia-Pacific headquarters at the Science Park. The focal point of its e-mobility, energy management and system integration business in the region, the hub will house more than 30 employees by the end of this year. The company, which will also set up a global innovation centre here for research and development in mobility and energy management solutions, aims to create about 250 jobs in Singapore by 2021.

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Tuas Power-ST Marine consortium to build 5th desalination plant

Channel NewsAsia 27 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's fifth desalination plant will be built on Jurong Island by Tuas Power-Singapore Technologies Marine (TP-STM) consortium, national water agency PUB said on Wednesday (Sep 27).

The consortium will form a concession company to enter into a Water Purchase Agreement with PUB by October, the agency said.

The new desalination plant, expected to be operational by 2020, will add 30 million gallons or about 137,000 cubic metres of water a day to Singapore's water supply.

"The seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant will be co-located with Tuas Power’s existing Tembusu Multi-Utilities Complex to derive synergies in resources such as seawater intake and outfall structures, and energy from the in-plant generation facilities," PUB said.

PUB shortlisted four potential applicants for the project in February who had suitable land and facilities on Jurong Island that "demonstrated synergies".

Eight bids were submitted by three of the applicants, namely TP-STM, Keppel Infrastructure Holdings and Sembcorp Utilities – SUEZ International Consortium.


TP-STM offered the most competitive tariff among the three bidders, a first-year price of S$0.91, PUB said. It will supply desalinated water to PUB over a 25-year period from 2020 to 2045.

“Desalinated water is a key part of Singapore’s water supply portfolio. As a weather-independent source, it strengthens the reliability of our water supply against droughts," said Mr Young Joo Chye, PUB’s director of engineering development and procurement.

"This fifth plant is part of our plans to expand desalination capacity to meet up to 30 per cent of our future water needs in the long term.”

Two desalination plants are in operation and desalination currently meets up to 25 per cent of Singapore’s water demand. A third desalination plant is expected to be completed in Tuas by 2017, and the fourth in Marina East by 2020.

Consortium picked to build fifth desalination plant
Today Online 28 Sep 17;

SINGAPORE — National water agency the Public Utilities Board (PUB)has chosen Tuas Power–Singapore Technologies Marine Consortium as the preferred bidder to build Singapore’s fifth desalination plant, to be located on Jurong Island.

Of the four applicants invited to submit their proposals for the plant, the consortium quoted the most competitive first-year price of S$0.91 per cubic metre, the agency said in a press release yesterday. The consortium will form a concession company to enter into a Water Purchase Agreement with the PUB by next month.

The plant is expected to begin operations in 2020 — along with the fourth desalination plant in Marina East — and will supply desalinated water to the PUB from 2020 to 2045.

This is expected to add 30 million gallons daily, or about 137,000 cubic metres of water a day, to the nation’s water supply.

Mr Young Joo Chye, PUB’s director of engineering development and procurement, said: “Desalinated water is a key part of Singapore’s water supply portfolio. As a weather-independent source, it strengthens the reliability of our water supply against droughts. This fifth plant is part of our plans to expand desalination capacity to meet up to 30 per cent of our future water needs in the long term.”

Desalinated water, or treated sea water, has been one of the four sources of the water supply here since 2005, and it now meets up to 25 per cent of demand.

The others sources are reservoirs, imported water from Malaysia, and NEWater (treated waste water).

SingSpring Desalination Plant in Tuas, which opened in 2005, was the PUB’s first project with a private partner for a desalination plant. The second Tuaspring Desalination Plant, also in Tuas, opened in 2013. A third desalination plant is expected to be completed in Tuas by the end of this year.

In June, Mr Masagos Zulkifli, the Environment and Water Resources Minister, said that Singapore’s demand for water is expected to more than double by 2060. The authorities will be boosting the capacities of NEWater and desalination water so that both can meet higher demand by then.

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Malaysia: Biosecurity knowledge needed to tackle invasive alien species

ROSLI ZAKARIA New Straits Times 27 Sep 17;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Enforcing biosecurity to protect local aquatic species from invasive alien species has taken a new twist.

Officers from the Fisheries Department are now arming themselves with knowledge to identify the invaders even at the fry stage.

They are now even suggesting that a certified biosecurity laboratory should conduct DNA profiling of invasive species that has the potential of destroying the local species and upset the ecosysstem balance.

The department, in acknowledging the potential threat, is training its enforcement team to identify the invasive and predatory species, including fishes, crustaceans and plants.

A strict quarantine procedure will also be put in place to prevent predation and diseases.

At the moment, the department has banned the import of 10 piranha species which are difficult to differentiate at the fry stage, peacock bass, trout, salmon, sturgeon, arapaima, northern pike and flower horn.

Sources from the department said fishermen and anglers had landed peacock bass and several species of cichlids, which are not native to Malaysia and they believe that these species were initially released in old mining pools for sport fishing but the fishes escaped into nearby rivers during floods.

“We are working closely with the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Service (MAQIS) to check imports of all alien fish to determine that these species are not from the list of banned species. In fact, permits are required for all imported aquarium fish.

“We want to ensure that these species, apart from being predatory upon maturity, do not harbour diseases that can infect and kill indigenous species,” said the source.

State fisheries director Zawawi Ali had said his officers would be inspecting all local aquatic shops to ensure that they abide by the laws.

Malaysia has about 700 freshwater fish species and some of the smaller species are under threat of predation by the aggressive peacock bass which has been sighted in major rivers in the country by anglers, including Sungai Terengganu.

The number of imported invasive and predatory fish species has also increased from seven genus in 1990 to nine genus in 2011 and currently, it has jumped to 14 genus.

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Malaysia: Sabah Wildlife investigating viral photo of dead turtles, says likely act of human

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department has sent their team to Pulau Bum-Bum off Semporna to verify report of dead turtles found on the beach there.

A viral picture of several turtles, some on their backs and their stomachs exposed, went viral on social media yesterday.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said that based on the photo, they looked like green turtles and humans could be the reason behind their deaths.

“According to the villagers contacted, there were nine carcasses.

“Our team has gone down to the island this morning, so we are likely to update after (receiving) their report.

“We have asked our officers to interview those who discovered the carcasses to find leads, including where they drifted from and the possible cause of death,” he said when contacted.

Asked if the condition of the turtles was due to other animals feeding on them, he said, “It is unlikely animals but humans based on what we can see. We will look further into this.”

Sabah has recorded several cases of mass dead turtles washing up onto its shores, including two incidents in early 2014 where 60 carcasses were found in the Pulau Tiga waters off Kudat, while another four at Pulau Bum-Bum.

In March 2015, authorities again discovered 19 green turtle carcasses in Pulau Tiga waters that were believed to be the result of a failed attempt to smuggle the animals alive.

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are protected under Schedule 1 of Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Hundreds of bone fragments from dead turtles found on Pulau Bum Bum
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Hundreds of bones from dead sea turtle carcasses were found scattered in some bushes on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna here today.

The discovery was made by a team from the State Wildlife department investigating a report about dead sea turtles being spotted on a beach on the island.

State Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga said the bones were found near Kampung Pantau-Pantau, Kampung Amboh-Amboh and Kampung Sampolan on the island.

Augustine said initial investigations reveal the turtles may have been poached by the Bajau Laut or Pala’u community, sea gypsies who roam the seas, as they have been seen in the areas previously.

"They do not live in the area but always on the move by boat. We have identified some suspects and investigation is continuing," he said.

"Further investigation into coastal villages around the island revealed that the poaching activities has been going on for quite some time,” he said adding the team found over a hundred bone fragments of dead turtles at the three beaches.

On the report about the dead sea turtles that went viral on social media, Augustine said the team found one dead turtle in the vicinity.

“The other carcasses may have been washed away,” he said but investigations will be conducted on the report also.

The wildlife department was assisted by the Semporna police, Sabah Park, WWF and Omadal Island Women Association.

Tuuga believed the species involved was green turtle based on viralled photos of the carcasses.

Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) are protected under Schedule 1 of Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Sabah has recorded several cases of mass dead turtles washing up onto its shores, including two incidents in early 2014 where 60 carcasses were found in the Pulau Tiga waters off Kudat, while another four at Pulau Bum-Bum.

In March 2015, authorities again discovered 19 green turtle carcasses in Pulau Tiga waters that were believed to be the result of a failed attempt to smuggle the animals alive.

Discovery of sea turtle carcasses: Sabah sea gypsies the culprits?
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sea gypsies could be the culprits behind the recent discovery of mutilated green sea turtles on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna, whose carcasses were found with their stomachs ripped apart.

The authorities suspect that the sea gypsies, known as the Pala'u, may have been collecting turtle meat and plastrons (the nearly flat part of the shell) to be sold in Semporna.

Sabah Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga said the turtles’ condition bore striking similarities to an earlier case where four foreign men were charged with possessing 18 plastrons, three bags of turtle flesh and a bag of turtle shells.

“We suspect the Pala’u have taken the flesh and plastrons to sell them (in Semporna). This means that there are buyers in Semporna.

"We will identify who these buyers are,” he said.

Tuuga said the plastrons and dried meat from the endangered turtles were probably being sold for consumption or medicinal purposes.

He also said the department had identified several individuals from the Pala’u community suspected to be involved in the recent poaching of the turtles on Pulau Bum Bum.

On Aug 23, four Filipino men were sentenced to two years’ jail and fined RM100,000 each, in default nine months’ jail, for possessing plastrons, flesh and shells from protected turtles in waters off Pulau Bohey Dulang in Semporna on April 30.

The turtle parts they possessed were from the Chelonia mydas species which is listed as a protected species in Part I of Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

They were detained by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency personnel who were patrolling the area and were referred to the Sabah Wildlife Department.

The four were convicted under Section 41(4) of Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 which was read together with Section 34 of the Penal Code.

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Malaysia: Two more pygmy elephants found dead without tusks

muguntan vanar The Star 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Another two Borneo pygmy elephants were found dead without their tusks in eastern Sabah.

One of the carcasses of the elephants was located in a plantation near the Dumpas area on Sept 10 while the other was found floating along the Kinabatangan river close to the Danau Girang Field Research Centre a few days ago.

Sources said it was difficult to pinpoint the area where the second bull was killed before the carcass was dumped into the river.

Sabah has been faced with the threat of wildlife poaching, especially of its endangered elephants which numbers around 2,000 in forests in eastern Sabah.

Six pygmy elephants, including the unique sabre tusk jumbo, have been reported killed over the last six months.

The Sabah Wildlife Department said they have no new leads or suspects in both the new cases.

Nevertheless, investigations are ongoing to identify the perpetrators.

The department's director, Augustine Tuuga, said the death of the elephant in Dumpas revealed no external injuries.

He said that they have taken blood samples to establish the cause of death while the second elephant might be a victim of poaching.

Wildlife officials were also probing the case of a green turtle found butchered on the shores of Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna which was highlighted in a Facebook posting on Wednesday.

At least nine dead turtles were seen in the photo uploaded on Facebook.

Tuuga said they were verifying the reports and carrying an investigation into the deaths.

Two pygmy elephants found dead
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The carcasses of two Bornean pygmy elephant – one without its tusks – were found in two separate locations in Sabah’s east coast in the last two weeks ago.

The first discovery involved a male calf with its tusks still intact. It was found dead in the plantation area on Sept 10 in Dumpas, Tawau.

While an adult male elephant was found floating in the Kinabatangan river last Monday.

Sabah Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga, when contacted, said the department believed the adult elephant was killed by poachers for its tusks before its carcass was dumped into the river.

“The tusks (on the adult elephant) were cut off but at the moment, we could not be sure where it was killed.

“As for the calf, its tusks are still intact and no injuries were found on its body. We have dispatched a team to inspect the carcasses, including collecting internal organ sampled from the calf for analysis to determine the cause of death,” he said.

Augustine also said the team will carry out inspection along the river to search for signs, which can lead to the exact site where the adult elephant was killed.

With the recent discoveries, he said the department recorded three cases of dead pygmy elephants in Sabah thus far this year.

In August, plantation workers spotted an adult Bornean pygmy elephant struggling for its life after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds in an oil palm plantation the Malua Forest Reserve in Kinabatangan.

The adult female elephant, however, succumbed to its injuries.

Tourists spots rotting dead elephant while on river cruise
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: One of two dead Bornean pygmy elephant found in the east coast of Sabah was first spotted by tourists on a river cruise near Sungai Koyah in Kinabatangan.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the sighting of the highly decomposed carcass was reported by a tourist guide who was with a group of four foreign tourists on a river cruise near Sungai Koyah on Sept 25.

The department yesterday dispatched a team to the area to carry out investigations.

"The carcass was brought to land, where a post mortem was conducted by the department's veterinary officer," he said in a statement.

Tuuga said the bull, estimated to be between 15 to 20 years old, was believed to have died or been killed three days earlier.

Initial inspection found that both tusks were missing with evidence of clean cut, he said.

"The left hindlimb was missing with sign of clean cut with sharp object. Part of the skin of the left side of the body was removed with a sharp object," added Tuuga.

No gunshot wounds were found on the body.

"Although no evidence gathered so far and in the absence of gun shot wound, it may be possible that the animal was caught in a snare trap that eventually caused it to die of exhaustion.

"Investigation is now focused on finding the possible area where the elephant died or been killed upstream the Kinabatangan river where the carcass was thrown into," said Tuuga.

On Sept 10, a male elephant calf with its tusks still intact was found dead within the plantation area in Dumpas, Tawau.

No injuries were found on its body and wilslife department team had collected internal organ samples from the calf for analysis to determine the cause of deat.

WWF wants more rangers to be recruited to protect Sabah's endangered wildlife from poachers
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: More trained rangers are needed to be stationed on the ground to help protect Sabah’s endangered wildlife from becoming the target of poachers.

This follows the latest discovery of two Bornean pygmy elephant carcases in the last two weeks ago, which raised concern among the public and wildlife conservationists over ongoing instances of wildlife poaching.

WWF-Malaysia, in a statement today, said the organisation along with HUTAN – a non-governmental group that conducts Orang Utan conservation programme – and the Danau Girang Field Centre were wholly committed to ensure the survival of Borneo elephants and other endangered wildlife.

“We will collaborate and assist Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, and plantations by sharing intelligence on suspicious activities so poaching entry points can be identified in order to develop more efficient enforcement strategies, such as joint patrols.

“To implement these strategies, the Sabah government needs to allocate more funds to hire and train more rangers on the ground as their constant and tactical presence is a deterrent to poachers,” it said.

WWF noted that there were at least six reported pachyderm deaths, including the recent discovery, in the state’s east coast in the last 12 months.

Last year, a male elephant carcass was found in Kinabatangan in October while two others were found dead with their tusks missing in a plantation bordering the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve.

One of the carcasses was a bull nicknamed ‘Sabre’ due to its unique inward-facing tusks.

In August this year, a female elephant died of multiple gunshot wounds in a plantation in Kinabatangan.

Today, Sabah Wildlife Department confirmed that a male calf was found dead on Sept 10 in a plantation in Dumpas, Tawau, while a tuskless bull carcass was found floating in Kinabatang river last Monday.

“There are three main reasons why Sabah’s elephants keep ending up dead - a huge demand for ivory, human-elephant conflict, and because no one has ever been caught and prosecuted for killing an elephant.

“Everyone in Sabah needs to see wildlife crime as a serious offence, on par with the murder of humans, because as it is, we don’t seem to care too much that poachers keep getting away scot-free every time they murder our beloved elephants.

“Their brazenness is a huge mockery of the species’ Totally Protected status, and the legally-protected status of our forest reserves and conservation areas,” stressed WWF.

The organisation also encouraged the public to continue to play their role in reporting wildlife crime to Sabah Wildlife Department.

“If the public chooses to remain silent, it sends a strong signal to the poachers that Sabahans are supporting the murder of their elephants,” it said.

Killing of wildlife goes on in Sabah
muguntan vanar and ruben sario The Star 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The slaughter of Sabah’s wildlife continued this month with little signs of slowing down as two critically-endangered Bornean pygmy elephants were killed for tusks and at least nine endangered green turtles were found butchered on the east coast.

The killings sent fresh shockwaves through the conservationist community, which appealed to the public to help put a stop to this.

A dead bull elephant was found floating down the Kinabatangan river close to the Danau Girang Research Centre (DGRC) on Monday, while another was found dead at a plantation in the Dumpas area of Kalabakan on Sept 10.

“This cannot go unpunished. We need to bring these criminals to court,” conservationist Dr Benoit Goossens said.

The slaying of the two elephants for their tusks brings the number of bulls killed for ivory in Sabah to five in less than 12 months, he said, adding that a female elephant was also killed recently.

Dr Goossens, the director of the Kinabatangan-based DGRC, said that with fewer than 2,000 elephants in Sabah, the population would be in jeopardy if the killing of mature bulls goes on.

“Elephants are already threatened by habitat loss and conflict with humans. If you add poaching, the species will not survive. We must get rid of the poachers and traders,” he said.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the tusks may be bound for Indonesia, where they are used as dowry in some communities.

On the turtles found on Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna district, he said reports indicated that all nine were stripped of their flesh and the lower shell, called the plastron.

He said the turtle killings may have been committed by members of the same group detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) early this year.

Augustine said the MMEA detained a boat from southern Philippines, with four men on board, bound for Semporna loaded with turtle flesh and plastron. The department prosecuted the four men and they were jailed two years and fined RM100,000 each.

Augustine said the wildlife authorities needed the help of villagers and other agencies in protecting endangered animals.

“The killings have to stop but we cannot do it alone,” he said.

Sabah Wildlife Dept: Elephant carcass found at Kinabatangan river a victim of poaching
ruben sario The Star 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The bull elephant that was found floating in Kinabatangan river on Sept 25 could have been caught in a snare trap.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the pachyderm was estimated to be between 15 and 20 years old. It was killed about three days earlier.

Augustine said the carcass was spotted by a guide with a group of four tourists on a river cruise.

He said a post mortem on the elephant carcass showed that apart from its tusks, the left hind limb and part of the skin on the left side had been sliced off.

The post mortem did not find any evidence of gunshot on the body indicating that the elephant was caught in a snare trap that caused it to die of exhaustion, he said.

"Our investigation is now focused on finding the possible area where the elephant died or was killed upstream of the Kinabatangan river where the carcass was thrown into," Augustine added.

The elephant was the second pachyderm found dead in Sabah in less than two weeks.

Another bull elephant was found dead at a plantation area in the southeastern Kalabakan area on Sept 10 with its tusks removed as well.

While there is a high demand for the tusks in China, Augustine said these were highly sought in Indonesia where they were used as wedding dowries particularly among the Timor community.

Trap believed to have killed jumbo found in river
The Star 30 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A trap is believed to have killed the bull elephant which was found floating in Sungai Kinabatangan on Sept 25.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the pachyderm, estimated to be between 15 and 20 years old, was believed to be killed about three days earlier.

He said the carcass was spotted by a guide with a group of four tourists on a river cruise.

Augustine said a post-mortem on the carcass showed that apart from its tusks, the left hind limb and part of the skin on the left side had been sliced off.

The post-mortem did not find any evidence of gunshot on the body indicating that the elephant was caught in a snare trap that eventually caused it to die of exhaustion, he said.

“Our investigation is now focused on finding the possible area where the elephant died or had been killed,” Augustine added.

The elephant was the second pachyderm killed in Sabah in less than two weeks.

Another bull elephant was found dead at a plantation area in the southeastern Kalabakan area on Sept 10 with its tusks removed as well.

While there is a high demand for the tusks in China, Augustine said they were also highly sought in Indonesia where they are used as wedding dowries particularly among the Timor community.

Bornean pygmy elephant found in Sabah river had been mutilated by poachers
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The carcass of a Bornean pygmy elephant found floating in the Kinabatangan river early this week had been mutilated by poachers.

The elephant hunters had not only removed the endangered mammal’s tusks, but had also cut off its left leg at the thigh.

“Based on the condition (of the carcass), the (injuries were inflicted) by humans. There was no sign of it being torn off due to decay or being eaten by crocodiles.

“Since there was no gunshot wound, we can only assume that the bull was caught in a snare trap and its leg was cut off by poachers,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said when contacted.

He also revealed that poachers sliced off skin on the left side of the elephant’s body.

“We are not sure why the leg and the skin were removed. Probably for consumption, but we are not quite sure of this. The department will investigate this further, including determining the exact point where it was killed,” Augustine said.

The carcass of the male elephant, aged between 15 and 20, was spotted by a group of tourists on a river cruise near Sungai Koyah in Kinabatangan, on Monday.

It is believed that the elephant died three days prior to its discovery.

On the separate discovery of a male calf found dead within a plantation in Dumpas, Tawau on Sept 10, Augustine said that the elephant was about 3-years-old and did not die due to poaching activity.

“It probably died due to an infection or accidental food poisoning. The calf could have eaten grass or plants (covered) with pesticides in the plantation, but I have yet to receive a full report of the analysis,” he said.

Following the death report, a wildlife team was sent to the field the following day and collected samples of the calf’s internal organs for analysis.

Detailed inspection of the calf showed that there was parasitic infestation, and its organs, including its liver, spleen and kidney were severely decomposed.

Augustine said the calf is believed to have died two days before it was discovered by plantation workers.

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Indonesia: Central, local govts not unified in protecting peatlands - Greenpeace

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 27 Sep 17;

Environmental activists said a lack of concrete action may hinder the success of agreements made by the governor’s Climate and Forest Task Force (GFC).

One thing that is disappointing is the fact that the central government and local administration are not speaking with one voice on the protection of peat lands, they said.

“Even a governor from one of the GFC member provinces has questioned the benefit of Government Regulation [PP] No.57/2016 on the protection and management of peat land ecosystems to President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo,” conservation group Greenpeace Indonesia’s global forest campaign head Kiki Taufik, said in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, on Wednesday.

In a letter sent to Jokowi in April, West Kalimantan governor Cornelis said the implementation of PP No.57 and Environment and Forestry Minister Regulation No.P.17/2017 would affect the sustainability of investments from 43 companies that employ 20,000 people in the province.

“In fact, the forest and peat land fire level in West Kalimantan is quite high,” said Kiki.

Last month, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said results of satellite monitoring, recorded at the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), detected 150 hot spots in areas across West Kalimantan.

The widespread hot spots have forced five regencies in West Kalimantan to declare an alert for land and forest fires. The five regencies are Bengkayang, Ketapang, Kubu Raya, Melawi and Sekadau.

Kiki said the central government and local administrations must uphold their commitment to tackle deforestation. (ebf)

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Philippines: Study highlights potentials of mangroves as major carbon sink

Philippines News Agency 27 Sep 17;

Iloilo City – A mangrove scientist here has underscored the need to protect and preserve mangroves to fight greenhouse gas emissions as his study reveals its potentials “to store more carbon than terrestrial forest.”

“Mangroves are now highlighted as a major carbon sink in relation to the greenhouse gas emission for climate change mitigation,” Dr. Rex Sadaba of the University of Philippines-Visayas who conducted the study from May to August this year.

Carbon sinks remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. “They sequester carbon dioxide and make that into their leaves, into their stem and keep it into their biomass,” he added.

“When the leaves fall, they accumulate into the soil and overtime it is accumulating, the area becomes a sink for carbon. The moment we remove the mangroves here, we increase the decomposition of the organic matter that increases the release of the carbon dioxide back to the atmosphere,” he explained during a roundtable discussions of Iloilo City public-private partnerships on Thursday.

The study “Carbon storage of mangroves in Iloilo and Batiano rivers” conducted this year was the “first ever carbon sink study in the Philippines,” said Engr. Noel Hechanova of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office-Iloilo City in an interview on Friday.

The study covered 44.56 hectares of mangroves, composed of 27.64 hectares from the Iloilo River and 16.92 from the Batiano River.

Batiano River, which hosts 19 mangrove species, has18, 491.83 tons of carbon sink while it has a potential to emit 67,865 tons of carbon dioxide.

The Iloilo River, which has 23 species of mangroves, has sequestered 34,554.78 tons of carbon and its potential carbon dioxide release is 129,817.7 tons.

“Above the ground biomass and carbon is high but the carbon stored in the soil is much higher as a result of accumulation overtime,” his study concluded.

Citing the potential, Sadaba underscored the need to “keep the mangroves intact.”

He recommended the active involvement of stakeholders for the continued protection of mangrove areas and information education campaign.

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Vietnam: Climate-resilient measures needed to address threats to Mekong Delta - experts

Bồ Xuân Hiệp Viet Nam News 27 Sep 17;

CẦN THƠ — Increased investment in climate-resilient housing, mangrove regeneration and early warning systems is urgently needed to ensure the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta, experts said yesterday at an international conference held in Cần Thơ.

Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ told the meeting that the Delta was facing existential threats, including rising sea levels, coastal erosion and landslides.

He urged conference attendees to focus on identifying challenges caused by climate change, especially the use of water sources upstream from the Mekong River, and to implement top-priority projects in a timely manner.

More than 1,000 local and international participants at the two-day conference are discussing measures related to climate-resilient development in the Mekong Delta.

Akiko Fujii, deputy country director of UNDP Việt Nam, said that social vulnerabilities and exposure to climate shock and stress were already occurring at a significant scale in the Delta region.

“Reducing the risk of these must be prioritised,” she said, adding that the Vietnamese Government had made significant efforts to work toward long-term resilience and sustainability in the region.

“Investment in climate-resilient housing, mangrove regeneration, early warning systems, and disaster preparedness have significantly contributed to protecting lives and livelihoods,” she added.

In addition, climate-resilient agricultural practices to reduce crop losses such as the cultivation of saline-resilient rice varieties, the implementation of climate-smart crop rotation, and the diversification of farm incomes through eco-tourism or inter-cropping had also been adopted across the region.

However, climate change, rapid economic growth and upstream development were bringing both challenges and opportunities for sustainable development of the region.

“Choices made regarding sustainable and climate-resilient development in the region should be based on sound science; bring different sectors together; bring into full play the potential of localities; and build the resilience of the people,” Fujii said.

Hermen Borst, deputy delta commissioner of the Netherlands Delta Programme, told Việt Nam News: “In the Netherlands, we have developed a special programme with two goals related to climate change: flood prevention (the Netherlands is a highly urbanised area) and sufficient fresh water provision for the economy, now and in the future.”

“We also have a special dedicated fund for the implementation of proposed measures,” he said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Christian Henckes, director of the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit’s (GIZ) Integrated Coastal Management Programme in Hà Nội, said the conference had sent a clear signal to the public that the future of the Mekong Delta was a major concern for Việt Nam.

The Vietnamese government’s effort to develop the Delta that began last year was very encouraging, he said, adding that the PM’s decision on regional coordination in the Mekong Delta area launched in April last year was an important step.

Henckes told Việt Nam News: “The allocation of public investment is still not ideal and not optimal, so we need proper coordination between provinces and between the ministries involved.”

“Ideally, there should be an authority on the development of the Mekong Delta that has the mandate to allocate funds, depending on priority,” he said.

“I believe Việt Nam is aware of the problem. It takes time and it can’t be done in one year, but I’m quite confident that we’re on the right way and I hope that we can proceed fast,” he added.


Experts at the conference agreed that the Mekong Delta is facing existential threats. According to studies, 39 per cent of the Mekong Delta could be underwater by the year 2100 and some areas of the coast are already eroding at a rate of 30 metres a year.

Early last year, the region suffered the worst drought in 90 years, which, together with rising sea levels, led to a heavy intrusion of saltwater into rice-growing areas. The mangrove forests along the coast, which protect the hinterland from floods and storms, are also in dramatic decline.

These problems threaten the future of the Mekong Delta and its ability to provide essential ecosystem services in which the communities of the delta and millions of people around the world depend.

Henckes said the biggest risk was the land sinking into the ocean at a faster rate than ever. “The land has subsided by several centimetres each year, especially in Cà Mau, Sóc Trăng and Bạc Liêu,” he said.

As the region faces rising sea levels, more land will be underwater. “I think we won’t lose the whole delta, but I also think that we can’t maintain it exactly as it is,” Henckes said.

“We can’t expect concrete decisions today or tomorrow. We should expect a common understanding on how our finances can be mobilised and how the government is going to spend them,” he added.

Because of the risk of land loss along the coast, Henckes said that “we need right now to protect the frontline of the coast against the sea, but also to figure out the second line of defense for 20-30 metres inside the area, just in case the first line breaks, to protect the people and villages.”

“We’ve been working on the Integrated Coastal Management Programme for nearly 10 years now. We began focusing on coastal protection and reinforcing the dyke system, as well as supporting the people who live behind the dyke to help them increase their incomes,” he said.

Now, the programme is focusing on agriculture and governance, getting provinces to work together, and investing in the projects that are needed most.

“This year, for example, we are working with Việt Nam on a complete coastal protection plan for 720km of the Vietnamese coast,” he said.

The Mekong Delta, home to 17 million people, is Việt Nam’s most important agricultural region. Producing 55 per cent of the country’s rice, it feeds more than 245 million people worldwide.

The region is also the country’s third largest industrial region after the metropolitan areas of HCM City and Hà Nội.

The conference was organised by Việt Nam’s Government Office and the ministries of Planning and Investment; Natural Resources and Environment; and Agriculture and Rural Development.

Today, the meeting continues with a speech by the conference chair, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc. — VNS

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Europe: Climate change made Lucifer heatwave far more likely, scientists find

Without action to tackle global warming, deadly summer temperatures of 40C in Europe could be normal by 2050
Damian Carrington The Guardian 27 Sep 17;

The scorching temperatures across Europe’s Mediterranean nations this summer were made at least 10 times more likely by climate change, according to scientists.

Furthermore, without action to tackle global warming, such summer heatwaves with temperatures soaring over 40C will become normal by 2050.

The new analysis by the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group also analysed the particular “Lucifer” heatwave which struck south-east France, Italy and Croatia in early August and found it was made at least four times more likely by human-caused climate change.

The Lucifer heatwave saw temperatures fail to drop below 30C for three days and nights in the hottest spots, and was linked to a 15% surge in emergency hospital admissions in Italy. Prolonged heat is known to be very dangerous to health and a severe heatwave in Europe in 2003 was linked to 75,000 deaths by subsequent analysis.

“Summers keep getting hotter,” said Friederike Otto at the University of Oxford, UK, also part of WWA. “Heatwaves are far more intense than when my parents were growing up in the 1950s. If we do nothing to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the kind of extreme heat we saw this past summer will be the norm when my young son is a grown man.”

The fast-growing science of climate change attribution tackles the question of what impact global warming is having on extreme weather and the people it affects. No event can be said to be caused by climate change because random extremes occur naturally. But by comparing extremes with historical measurements and computer models of a climate unaltered by carbon emissions, researchers can show how global warming is already heavily loading the dice of dangerous weather.

In June, WWA showed the extreme heatwave that saw deadly forest fires blazing in Portugal and Spain was made 10 times more likely by global warming. In Portugal, 64 people died. Previous work has demonstrated floods in England and France – even as far back as 2000 – were made more significantly likely by climate change.

Research in Australia has shown the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was 175 times more likely due to greenhouse gas emissions, while the recent hot winter was made 60 times more likely.

Hurricanes are much more complex and time consuming to analyse than heatwaves and WWA is currently working on Hurricane Harvey. But scientists are clear that climate change is most likely to have made the giant storms that have ripped across the Caribbean and the US this year more destructive. This is because greater heat means more storm energy and rainfall, while rising sea level means storm surges reach further inland.

The new research analysed this summer’s heat across Spain, southern France, Italy and the Balkans. It compared the measured temperatures with four different groups of climate models in which the heating effect of the last century of carbon emissions were omitted. This showed the high level of heat in June, July and August was at least 10 times more likely than it would have been in the early 1900s.

The researchers did the same for the Lucifer heatwave, examining its three-day peak in early August. They found the intensity of such heatwaves has increased by 1C to 2C since 1950 and that overall climate change has quadrupled the change of them happening.

In June, the Guardian revealed that the UK government’s failure to update building regulations for homes, hospitals and schools could cause a tripling of heatwave deaths by 2040.

“It is critical that cities work with scientists and public health experts to develop heat action plans because such extreme heat will become the norm in the middle of the century,” said Robert Vautard, a researcher at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences in France. “Climate change is impacting communities right now and these plans save lives.”

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Japan kills 177 whales in Pacific campaign: government

AFP Yahoo News 26 Sep 17;

Tokyo (AFP) - Japan said Tuesday it killed 177 whales off its northeast coast in an annual hunt that sparks anger among animal rights activists and others.

Three ships which left port in June returned with 43 minke whales and 134 sei whales, the number stipulated beforehand, according to the country's fisheries agency.

Japan is a signatory to the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) moratorium on hunting, but exploits a loophole which allows whales to be killed in the name of scientific research.

The studies are "necessary to estimate the precise number of (sustainable) catches as we look to restart commercial whaling", agency official Kohei Ito told AFP.

Norway -- which does not consider itself bound by the 1986 moratorium -- and Iceland are the only countries in the world that authorise commercial whaling.

Tokyo claims it is trying to prove the whale population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting for a traditional source of food.

But Japanese consumer demand for whale meat has declined significantly over the years, raising the question of whether such hunts still make economic sense.

Foreign pressure on Japan to stop whaling has only made conservatives and politicians more resolute about continuing. It is a rare thorny issue in Tokyo's otherwise amiable diplomacy.

In 2014 the United Nations' International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Tokyo to end a regular hunt in the Antarctic waters, saying the project did not meet conventional scientific standards.

Japan cancelled its 2014-15 hunt, only to resume it the following year under a new programme -- saying the fresh plan is genuinely scientific.

Its hunt in the Antarctic has seen clashes on the high seas between Japanese whalers and animal rights activists.

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Global carbon emissions stood still in 2016, offering climate hope

The new data is a welcome sign of progress in the battle against global warming but many challenges remain, including methane from cattle
Damian Carrington The Guardian 28 Sep 17;

Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide remained static in 2016, a welcome sign that the world is making at least some progress in the battle against global warming by halting the long-term rising trend.

All of the world’s biggest emitting nations, except India, saw falling or static carbon emissions due to less coal burning and increasing renewable energy, according to data published on Thursday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). However other mainly developing nations, including Indonesia, still have rising rates of CO2 emissions.

Stalled global emissions still means huge amounts of CO2 are being added to the atmosphere every year – more than 35bn tonnes in 2016 – driving up global temperatures and increasing the risk of damaging, extreme weather. Furthermore, other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly methane from cattle and leaks from oil and gas exploration, are still rising and went up by 1% in 2016.

“These results are a welcome indication that we are nearing the peak in global annual emissions of greenhouse gases,” said climate economist Prof Lord Nicholas Stern at the London School of Economics and president of the British Academy.

“To realise the goals of the Paris agreement and hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C, we must reach peak emissions as soon as possible and then achieve a rapid decline soon afterwards,” Stern said. “These results from the Dutch government show that there is a real opportunity to get on track.”

Jos Olivier, the chief researcher for the NEAA report, sounded a note of caution: “There is no guarantee that CO2 emissions will from now on be flat or descending.” He said, for example, a rise in gas prices could see more coal burning resume in the US.

The flat CO2 emissions in 2016 follow similar near-standstills in 2014 and 2015. This lack of growth is unprecedented in a time when the global economy is growing. As the number of years of flat emissions grows, scientists are more confident a peak has been reached, rather than a temporary halt. In July 2016, senior economists said China’s huge coal burning had peaked, marking a historic turning point in efforts to tame climate change.

Stern said many of the big emitting nations had achieved significant reductions in 2016: “However, all countries have to accelerate their emissions reductions if the Paris goals are to be met.” He said this could also drive development in poorer nations: “We can now see clearly that the transition to a low-carbon economy is at the heart of the story of poverty reduction and of the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The new Dutch report shows CO2 emissions from China, the world’s biggest emitter, fell 0.3% in 2016. US CO2 emissions fell 2.0% and Russia’s by 2.1%, with the EU flat, although UK emissions tumbled by 6.4%, as coal burning plunged.

Of the top five emitters, only India’s CO2 emissions rose, by 4.7%. Significant increases were also seen in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey and Ukraine.

However, over a quarter of the warming effect seen by the world comes from non-CO2 greenhouse gases, with methane by far the most significant. Cattle belch the gas and are responsible for 23% of global methane emissions, and this source rose by 0.4% in 2016. Scientists have warned that the growing global appetite for meat, especially beef, cannot continue if climate change is to be kept under 2C.

Another quarter of methane emissions come from fossil fuel production and leaks in gas distribution pipes. Since 2000, emissions from coal and gas production have grown by more than 65%.

Carbon emissions from forest destruction and other land use changes were not included in the main analysis as they are more difficult to estimate and vary strongly from year to year.

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