Best of our wild blogs: 17 Oct 17

SG seahore ID, can? - a new facebook group!
wild shores of singapore

22 Oct (Sun): Free R.U.M. Ubin Mangrove Walk
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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Malaysia, Indonesia to discuss Sumatran rhino conservation

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia and Indonesia will hold meetings on efforts to save the Sumatran rhino.

The Sabah Forestry Department said a Technical Experts Meeting would be held on Wednesday and Friday in Jakarta to provide technical recommendations on rhinoceros conservation to both governments.

Malaysia, during the recently-concluded 11th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral Meeting in Tarakan, Indonesia, had proposed a high-level bilateral meeting on Sumatran rhino conservation to be held on Dec 4 and 5.

In Malaysia, only two of the rhinos — a male and a female — are in captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Tawau. A female Sumatran rhino died of skin cancer several months ago.

Wildlife experts estimate that there were only about 20 Sumatran rhinos left in Kalimantan and southern Sumatra.

The Sabah Wildlife Department had been keen to collaborate with its Indonesian counterparts on in-vitro fertilisation for the endangered species.

Malaysia had tabled a proposal on the “Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros” following the 9th HoB Trilateral Meeting.

The “Visit the Heart of Borneo” campaign was launched in conjunction with the recent meeting.

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Azimuddin Bahari, during the launch, said the campaign would promote HoB eco-tourism areas.

“It is in line with the global aspiration, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly, that 2017 would be International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

The Sabah and Sarawak Forestry Departments had identified top eco-tourism sites to promote. They were chosen based on how well they could further the HoB initiative.

The states would engage further with stakeholders on how best to implement the campaign.

The HoB Trilateral Meeting is held annually on a rotation basis among Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia for each state to present reports on conservation efforts. It is a platform to discuss collaboration under the HoB initiative.

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Malaysia: Understanding environment terminology

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia has published a reference book which will enable the public to understand the environment in a layman’s terminology.

Its executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the book was a direct outcome of WWF Malaysia’s 2015 Environmental Writing Workshop held in Kinabatangan for the media.

The book provides clear and concise definitions of conservation terms, besides introducing readers to the players in the conservation scene. It defines protected areas and forest reserve classes.

“A participant at the workshop had suggested that we create a list of environmental terms. People will only want to conserve something that they understand, and they can only understand what they know,” he said.

Dionysius, a former wildlife biologist, added that he had observed that scientists usually publish research in scientific journals, using technical terms that are not layman-friendly.

He said he hoped the book would make it easier for everyone to digest conservation issues and, in so doing, empower them to protect the environment.

The book is free for students, educators and media practitioners, while others can get it for a token donation of RM10.

It can be collected at WWF-Malaysia’s office at Centre Point Complex by contacting Brian Richard at brian.richard

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Thailand: Conference discusses bid to save dugongs from extinction

The Nation 16 Oct 17;

A national convention on dugongs and seagrass preservation was held on Monday to find the solution to save dugongs from extinction.

National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department director-general Thanya Netithammakun headed the conference, which included representatives from the relevant agencies such as the Marine and Coastal Resources Department and the faculties of fisheries from various universities.

Thanya pointed out that the changing environment and climate change had severely affected the dugong population worldwide.

There was a strong need for all officers to understand the situation and work together to save dugongs, their habitat and their main food source – sea grass fields.

Therefore, he stressed that the outcome of this convention was crucial for dugong conservation in Thailand, where the population of this rare marine mammal was shrinking at a concerning rate.

It is believed that there are only about 200 dugongs left in Thai waters, and around 150 of these are in Had Chao Mai marine national park in Trang, where the seagrass field is well preserved and abundant.

Dept aims for dugong preservation
Bangkok Post 17 Oct 17;

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to strengthen measures for preserving and conserving the dugong population with the local community's participation, saying the plan also includes increasing seagrass habitat which is the main food source for the seacow-like mammal.

Thanya Nethithammakul, chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said dugong populations are being threatened by a loss of fertility in the seagrass habitat, and disturbance due to fishing gear and man-made hunting. The department needs to develop more effective measures to limit the losses and increase their population, he said.

Many seagrass habitats were now being destroyed as some locals collect tiny and colourful fish found near seagrass sites. It is a challenging issue to figure out how to manage this problem as the location of some dugong habitats are not under the department's jurisdiction.

He stressed that cooperation from all stakeholders is important for the mammal's conservation and protection in the long run, adding the department will put more focus on local participation and is ready to stop or suspend any project if there is opposition from locals.

He referred to a controversial case against national park authorities regarding a plan to attach tags to dugongs to monitor their travels. Locals had said the project would pose a threat to the rare species as the long-tailed tag or cord might get tangled with fishing gear and cause their death. The project has been suspended by the department.

Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Office, said the department plans to increase the dugong population by improving the fertility of seagrass habitats, adding there is evidence of dugong populations having been found in many marine national parks in Chumphon, Phangnga and Phuket decades ago, but none or very few of them are seen now.

"If we can improve the quality of seagrass or make it fertile again, we believe the dugongs will come back to these places and their population will expand to new places, not only the main spot around Libong island in Trang province," he said.

Authorities to designate protected areas for dugongs in Thailand
Pattaya Mail 17 Oct 17;

Bangkok – The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is to conduct a seagrass and sea-cow survey to designate protected areas, following a rapid decline in the number of the marine animals.

DNP Director-General Thanya Netithammakul has reported to relevant agencies that while not yet critical, sea-cows in Thailand continue to be threatened by human activity. The mammal is hunted by groups who believe its bones can be brewed as elixirs and its teeth can be used as amulets.

The DNP is to conduct a three-month survey on the remaining population of sea-cows between Dec 2017 and Feb 2018 and has instructed authorities of Hat Chao Mai National Park to suppress sea-cow hunting.

Sea-cows are at the top of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list, which prohibits the trading of wild sea-cows except for authorized research due to their endangered status. It is currently estimated that there are only 200 sea-cows still in Thai waters.

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Pope at UN demands response to hunger, climate, migration

NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Yahoo News 16 Oct 17;

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis demanded Monday that world governments collectively commit to end rising world hunger by resolving the conflicts and climate change-related disasters that force people to leave their homes in search of their daily bread.

Francis drew a standing ovation Monday at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, where he marked the U.N.'s World Food Day by calling for governments to work together to tackle the interconnected problems of hunger, global warming and migration.

He cited the Paris climate accord, in which governments committed to capping heat-trapping emissions, as an example of taking action to fight global warming based on scientific evidence. But in what appeared to be a jab at the United States, which has announced it is withdrawing from the accord, Francis lamented that "unfortunately some are distancing themselves from it."

Francis said negligence and greed over the world's limited resources are harming the planet and its most vulnerable people, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of work and food.

"We are called to propose a change in lifestyle and the use of resources," Francis told the audience, which included agriculture ministers from the Group of Seven nations. "We cannot make do by saying 'someone else will do it.'"

Last month, the U.N. reported that the number of chronically hungry people in the world was rising again after a decade of declines thanks to prolonged conflicts and climate change-related floods and droughts. While the 815 million chronically undernourished people last year is still below the 900 million registered in 2000, the U.N. warned that the increase "is cause for great concern."

Francis said the answer wasn't to reduce the world's population but rather to better manage the planet's abundant resources and prevent waste. Francis called the population control argument — which the Catholic Church has long opposed — a "false solution."

Rather, he called for a new model of international cooperation that incorporates love, fraternity and solidarity into responding to the needs of the poorest.

Francis said it's not enough to respond with pity, "because pity is limited to emergency aid."

Love, he said, "inspires justice and is essential to bring about a just social order."

In a tangible sign of his message, Francis' gift to the U.N. food agency to commemorate his visit was a marble sculpture of Aylan, the toddler who washed up on a Turkish beach in October 2015. The sculpture, which features a wailing angel over the little boy's corpse, symbolizes the tragedy of migration, the Vatican said.

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