Best of our wild blogs: 8 Nov 17

Tekukor briefly
wild shores of singapore

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NEA alerted to burning smell in north-east Singapore on Tuesday evening

Channel NewsAsia 8 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it has received public feedback of a burning smell in the Punggol, Yio Chu Kang and Seletar areas on Tuesday evening (Nov 7).

The agency said in a Facebook post that its air monitoring stations in the area detected normal levels of particulate matter and low, safe levels of volatile organic compounds in the air.

The levels are well within international safety limits, NEA added.

In the same post, the agency said it was alerted to a large flare at Pasir Gudang that was visible from northern Singapore.

NEA said it has contacted its counterparts in Malaysia, the Department of Environment (DOE), which confirmed that the flare was due to a "disruption in operations" at an industrial plant in Pasir Gudang.

"DOE is monitoring the situation onsite, and has reassured NEA that the flaring will be gradually reduced as the plant operation was stabilising," the agency added. "NEA will continue to monitor the situation and the air quality levels in Singapore. The public is advised not to be alarmed."

This is the second such incident reported in the last two months after residents in many parts of Singapore including Sengkang, Hougang, Bishan, Ang Mo Kio, Commonwealth and Bukit Timah complained of a strange burning smell in September. Residents described the smell as "plastic burning" and "like petroleum".

The source of the smell was traced to a factory in Pasir Gudang and the operator of the facility was issued a stop-work order, which was lifted last month.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in Parliament on Monday that the smell in September was likely caused by higher than usual levels of volatile organic compounds in the air. The levels were within international safety guidelines, he said.
Source: CNA/am

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Crocodile spotted near National Sailing Centre, all water activities suspended

Today Online 7 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — A crocodile sighting in a construction site next to the National Sailing Centre (NSC) on Monday (Nov 6) has resulted in the Singapore Sailing Federation (SSF) suspending all water activities in the area.

According to a spokesperson from the SSF, contractors working at the site had spotted the crocodile on Monday afternoon.

“We’ve stepped up measures to ensure the safety of the sailors…We are in close communication with experts and authorities such as National Parks Board, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) and other relevant government bodies and are adhering to guidelines published by them,” said the spokesperson.

“We have suspended all on-water activities till further notice and will continue to monitor the situation closely. This is a precautionary measure as safety of our sailors is the number one priority.”

Some 120 sailors were affected by the suspension of activities on Monday, and a regatta scheduled for next weekend, the NSC Cup Series 3, could also be postponed. The SSF said that it is exploring “alternative and temporary” activity and training areas for its sailors during this period.

Responding to queries from TODAY, Chia Seng Jiang, Group Director, National Parks Board (NParks), said in a statement: “The National Parks Board was alerted on 6 and 7 November 2017 to sightings of a crocodile in the waters near the National Sailing Centre. It was likely an Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Estuarine Crocodiles are known to swim freely in the waters between Singapore and Malaysia.

“For the safety of park users, we are working with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) to monitor the sightings, catch and translocate the crocodile. We have also advised the operators of establishments along the coast to take the necessary precautions.”

Advisory notices have also been placed on the shore to warn the public of the danger, and visitors are advised to stay on designated paths and away from the water edges.

While this is the first time that a crocodile has been spotted in the area, there have been recent sightings in other parts of Singapore. In August, nature photographers and visitors to the Pasir Ris Park alerted the NParks after spotting reptiles on two separate occasions.

National Sailing Centre suspends water activities after crocodile sighted at East Coast Park
Channel NewsAsia 7 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: The National Sailing Centre (NSC) has ceased all water activities after a crocodile was spotted at East Coast Park, a spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday (Nov 7).

The reptile was spotted by contractors working in the East Coast Park area on Monday, triggering the centre to cancel water training, as well as alert sailors, schools and coaches.

"To our knowledge, the crocodile was not seen in the open water, but at the construction site next to NSC," the spokesperson said, adding that the building works were unrelated to the centre.

A total of 120 NSC users were affected including sailors of various ages.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday night, the Singapore Sailing Federation assured its users and parents of young participants that safety was its "number one concern" and that it "would not hesitate to cancel upcoming events" if on-water activities were deemed unsafe.

NSC is monitoring the situation and is working very closely with Government authorities like the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, and the National Parks Board (NParks), said the spokesperson.

There have been several crocodile sightings this year, with reports on Changi Beach Park and Pasir Ris Park in August alone. In the latter instance, NParks had said they were "likely to be estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), which are known to swim freely in the Straits of Johor".

Croc seen at East Coast; sailing centre halts activities
Lydia Lam Straits Times 8 Nov 17;

The National Sailing Centre (NSC) has suspended its water activities after a crocodile was spotted at a construction site at East Coast Park on Monday. It was seen in the water at the site, where a canal is being built.

A spokesman told The Straits Times yesterday that workers at a construction site nearby saw the large reptile on Monday afternoon.

About 120 sailors were affected when activities were halted.

"The Singapore Sailing Federation informed the National Parks Board (NParks) immediately and called off all water training immediately," said the NSC spokesman.

"As the safety of the participants is our priority, on-water activities will be ceased until further notice."

The spokesman said this was the first time a crocodile has been sighted near the sailing centre.

There were two reported sightings of crocodiles near Pasir Ris Park in August.

Mr Chia Seng Jiang, group director of parks at NParks, said the agency was alerted on Monday and Tuesday to sightings of a crocodile in the waters near NSC. "It was likely an estuarine crocodile," he said. "Estuarine crocodiles are known to swim freely in the waters between Singapore and Malaysia."

NParks is working with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority to monitor the sightings, catch and relocate the crocodile.

"We have also advised the operators of establishments along the coast to take the necessary precautions," said Mr Chia. Advisory notices have been put up in the area.

A parent, who declined to be named, said: "All these kids shouldn't be allowed to sail in the area unless that crocodile is relocated."

He added that there is a sailing regatta coming up next weekend involving about 200 schoolchildren at the NSC. "Many of the parents are very worried now. Because this is a National Ranking regatta, they fear they will be forced to put their kids in harm's way."

Yesterday, signs were put up at the beach near the NSC advising beachgoers on what to do if they encounter a crocodile.

The NSC spokesman said it is looking for alternative areas where it can hold events temporarily. "We will continue to observe the area to ensure it is safe before any water activity is conducted," he added.

NParks advises East Coast Park visitors to keep to designated paths and away from water edges. Those who encounter a crocodile should stay calm and back away slowly. They should not approach, provoke, or feed the animal. Those who need help should call the NParks helpline on 1800-471-7300.

Some parents worried over croc sighting
Audrey Tan Straits Times 9 Nov 17;

While parkgoers are not worried about hitting the beach at East Coast Park after a crocodile was sighted there, parents of young sailors feel events around the area should be cancelled for now.

The reptile was spotted on Monday at a construction site next to the National Sailing Centre at East Coast Park, prompting the centre to suspend all water activities until further notice, a spokesman said yesterday.

But parkgoer Alan Leong, 45, who was setting up camp next to the centre yesterday, was not worried. The operations manager said: "The crocodile could just be passing by... When in the water, people should just take precautions and not stay in for extended periods of time."

Student Putera Aiman Roslan, 17, was more cautious. "I am not worried about the crocodile unless I have to go into the water, which I don't plan to do today," he said.

A parent, who declined to be named, said all water activities should be suspended until the crocodile is caught and relocated.

He also said a regatta organised by the Changi Sailing Club, due to be held at the end of this month near where crocodiles were seen in August, should be cancelled as well.

"Or if they are adamant on having a regatta, then reclassify it as a non-ranking regatta so parents won't be pressurised to (let their children) participate," he added.

The latest sighting is believed to be one of the first reported ones of the reptile in the Singapore Strait south of the mainland. Crocodiles have been seen in the Johor Strait along the northern coast, mainly in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

But in August, there were also sightings of them at Pasir Ris Park and Changi Beach Park, leading the authorities to put up signboards.

A sign on the beach displays what to do during a crocodile encounter

The National Parks Board (NParks) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said then that they would monitor and try to relocate the crocodiles. However, The Straits Times understands that no further sightings have been reported in the areas since.

Dr Adrian Loo, NParks' acting group director for conservation, said the board will, upon receiving reports of crocodile sightings in areas managed under them, monitor the area to verify the presence and location of the crocodile.

"For public safety, we will plan to catch and translocate the crocodile if sightings are made at areas where water activities take place frequently and there is potential impact on recreational uses. Concurrently, we will put up advisory signs near the water's edge and advise operators of establishments along the coast to take the necessary precautions. Park staff on regular patrols will also advise visitors venturing close to the water's edge."

Nature guide Ivan Kwan believes the previous sightings at Pasir Ris and Changi may involve one individual that has now made its way to East Coast. "Or they could be different individuals dispersing from Johor, where mangroves are being destroyed, forcing crocodiles to seek new homes."

He noted that the estuarine crocodile is territorial, so these animals could be showing up in Singapore waters due to a combination of factors, such as the loss of mangrove habitats in the eastern Johor Strait, or that available territories are being occupied by older, larger crocodiles.

Mr Stephen Beng, chairman of the marine conservation group of the Nature Society (Singapore), advised people to be careful when around estuarine crocodile habitats, and to heed warning signs.

"We need to study their ecology and population. We also need education and management programmes to mitigate conflict," he said.

Beachgoers not worried about presence of crocodile at East Coast Parkway
Audrey Tan Straits Times 8 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - A crocodile was spotted at a stretch of East Coast Park earlier this week, but parkgoers in the area told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Nov 8) that they were not worried.

Operations manager Alan Leong, 45, who was preparing for a barbecue and setting up camp next to the National Sailing Centre, near where the reptile was sighted, said: "The crocodile could just be passing by. People should be alarmed only if it is repeatedly seen in the area. When in the water, people should just take precautions and not stay in for extended periods of time."

Eugene Lim, 37, who is self-employed, echoed Mr Leong's sentiments as he prepared for a barbecue. "In countries such as the US or Australia, wildlife like alligators periodically show up, and people learn to cope with them. I don't think the authorities should ban swimming."

Student Putera Aiman Roslan, 17, was more cautious. "I'm not worried about the crocodile unless I have to go into the water, which I don't plan to do today," he said.

A crocodile was seen on Monday at a construction area next to the National Sailing Centre at East Coast Park, causing the centre to suspend all its water activities. When The Straits Times visited the centre on Wednesday, it was calm and no sailing activity was observed. A centre spokesman said that water activities are being suspended till further notice.

However, according to a WhatsApp message circulating among the parents of student sailors that The Straits Times has seen, water activities at a neighbouring sailing club at the National Service Resort & Country Club are slated to start on Thursday.

One of the parents, who declined to be named, said most parents think that all water activities should be suspended until the crocodile is caught and relocated. He said a regatta organised by the Changi Sailing Club due to be held near where crocodiles were seen in August should be cancelled. "Or if they are adamant on having a regatta, then reclassify it as a non-ranking regatta so parents won't be pressurised to participate," he added. Parents have to consent to their children taking part in the regatta.

The latest sighting of the crocodile at East Coast is believed to be one of the first times the reptile has been detected in the Singapore Strait south of the mainland.

Crocodiles have previously been seen in the Johor Strait along the northern coast, mainly in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. But in August, there were also sightings of crocodiles at Changi Beach Park and Pasir Ris Park, leading the authorities to put up signboards warning people against getting too close to the animals. The National Parks Board (NParks) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority said then that they would monitor and try to relocate the crocodiles. However, as of last month, no crocodiles have been seen.

Nature guide Ivan Kwan thinks that the previous sightings at Pasir Ris and Changi all involve one individual that has now made its way to East Coast. "Or they could all be different individuals, all dispersing from Johor, where mangroves are being destroyed, forcing crocodiles to seek new homes." NParks said previously that estuarine crocodiles are known to swim freely in the Johor Strait.

Mr Kwan noted that the estuarine crocodile is territorial, so these animals could be showing up in Singapore waters due to a combination of factors: loss of mangrove habitats in eastern Johor Strait, or available territories being occupied by older, larger crocodiles. "So these younger individuals, in search of territories of their own, are venturing to areas without resident crocodiles to look for a suitable place to establish their own territories," he said.

He added that studies in Australia have shown that young crocodiles can travel great distances in search of territory. ABC News reported in 2015 that University of Queensland reseachers found that one crocodile had travelled more than 400km down a gulf.

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Malaysia: Flooding in Klang, Shah Alam brought on by high tide phenomenon, heavy rain, strong winds

THARANYA ARUMUGAM New Straits Times 7 Nov 17;

SHAH ALAM: The flash floods, which hit parts of Klang and Shah Alam on Tuesday is said to be caused by the high tide phenomenon coupled with heavy rainfall and strong winds.

Selangor Disaster Management Unit head Ahmad Fairuz Mohd Yusof said during the high tide (over 4.5m high), heavy rainfall could cause the water level to rise further, thus flooding low-lying areas.

“The relevant authorities have been alerted on the high tide occurrence and water control gates have been closed to prevent water from entering coastal areas, including fishermen settlements,” he told the New Straits Times today.

Fairuz advised the public, especially those living in Klang, Sabak Bernam, Kuala Selangor, Sepang and Kuala Langat to be alert and be prepared to evacuate should the authorities instruct them to do so.

“The monsoon season is coming. Those living in flood-prone areas are advised to be prepared and evacuate early to if heavy rain persists after two hours.

“Contact 999 should there be any emergencies. Residents can also check out the Community Welfare Department (JKM) mobile application for any flood updates or to obtain information relating to flood victims and location of evacuation centres,” he added.

Fairuz said the highest water level in November and December was predicted to be at 5.6m and 5.4m, respectively.

He had earlier said big waves due to high tides were expected to occur between Sept 21 and Dec 5.

The next episode of high tide phenomenon is forecasted to take place on Dec 4 and Dec 5. Meanwhile, on the Penang flood, Fairuz said the Selangor government has deployed 186 personnel and 47 assets and heavy equipment to help speed up recovery.

“Our personnel have been on duty day and night, aiding local authorities with recovery efforts and clean-up work.”

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Malaysia: All timber concessions in Sarawak will need forest management certification

sharon ling The Star 7 Nov 17;

KUCHING: The Sarawak government will make it mandatory for all timber concessions in the state to get forest management certification.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said this requirement would be implemented in phases to boost sustainable forest management in Sarawak.

“I’m happy that there are so many applications now for certification. That shows that (timber operators) are really committed to getting their management certified.

“If they can do it as soon as possible, that is better and that is our intention. But at the same time, they must make sure that all the criteria are fulfilled,” he told reporters after opening the Global Timber Conference 2017 here on Tuesday.

However, he did not give a timeframe for this.

The “big six” operators are Rimbunan Hijau, Samling, WTK, Shin Yang, KTS, and Ta Ann.

Awang Tengah also said the state government had strengthened the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS) by including independent third-party verification to ensure compliance with Sarawak’s laws and regulations.

“The full implementation of STLVS will effectively address issues raised by NGOs pertaining to the legality of timber and timber products sourced from Sarawak,” he said.

He reiterated that the state government was committed to strengthening enforcement to combat illegal logging and to make sure that industry stakeholders implemented sustainable forest management.

In addition, Awang Tengah said the state was set to reduce the timber industry’s reliance on natural forests for raw materials.

“Towards this end, we are investing in research and development and pushing for the establishment of a viable and robust industrial forest in the state,” he said.

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Malaysia: Attempt to smuggle 55 live pangolins into Thailand foiled

sharanpal singh randhawa The Star 7 Nov 17;

BUKIT KAYU HITAM: An attempt to smuggle 55 live pangolins and 25kg of pangolin scales worth RM170,000 into Thailand has been foiled by the Kedah Border Control Agency (Aksem) on Tuesday.

The agency had also detained a 45-year-old Thai national.

State commander Abd Latif Abd Rahman said the man was asked to pull over his vehicle for a check around 2pm at KM1.3 of the North-South Expressway.

"Checks in the car boot saw some netted sacks which contained the pangolins and baby pangolins and five bags filled with pangolin scales.

"We believed that the pangolins were meant for the Thai market and could also be exported to China," he told a press conference here.

He added that the seized pangolins and the scales would be handed over to the state Department of Wildlife and National Parks for further action.

Malaysia rescues 140 pangolins from suspected smugglers
AFP Yahoo News 8 Nov 17;

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - Dozens of live pangolins were seized from suspected traffickers close to Malaysia's border with Thailand, officials said Wednesday, thwarting the latest attempt to smuggle the critically endangered creatures.

The pangolins, the world's most heavily trafficked mammals, were recovered on Tuesday in two separate raids in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah.

Despite concerted efforts to clamp down on trafficking, the illegal pangolin trade remains a major problem.

Pangolins -- also known as scaly anteaters -- fetch a high price on the black market as their meat is prized as a delicacy and their body parts as ingredients in traditional medicine in some areas of Asia and Africa.

In the first incident on Tuesday, a Malaysian man was caught with 85 pangolins in the town of Changlun near the border with Thailand, Kedah wildlife chief Muhammad Ali Che Aman told AFP.

Later, Malaysian officials stopped a Thai man at a roadblock near a crossing into Thailand and found 55 sacks, each containing a live pangolin, and bags full of scales, said local border agency chief Abdul Latif Abdul Rahman.

Officials did not give an estimate for the value of the seized pangolins and scales.

Covered in tough, overlapping scales, Pangolins are indigenous to parts of Asia and Africa, and eat ants using pink, sticky tongues almost as long as their bodies.

Higher demand for pangolin meat as cold spell hits China
The Star 9 Nov 17;

ALOR SETAR: The number of pangolins smuggled to China increases when the weather there turns cold, according to the authorities.

Kedah Department of Wildlife and National Parks director Muhammad Ali Che Aman said many believe that exotic pangolin meat has medicinal value and keeps the body warm.

He said, however, that there was no scientific evidence to show pangolin meat has medicinal value.

He also said his department and the Kedah Border Security Agency seized 140 live pangolins and five sacks of pangolin scales, worth RM525,000 in two separate operations on Tuesday.

The men have been remanded for four days from yesterday.

Muhammad Ali said the smuggling of exotic animals such as pangolins will be on the rise as long as the demand is great.

“The returns are also high as pangolin meat could fetch between RM250 and RM300 per kg for overseas markets, and can even go up to five times higher.”

He also said the average weight of a pangolin is about 2.5kg.

“The pangolins are believed to have been smuggled in from Indonesia to Malaysia, then to Thailand before they are moved to their final destination in China,” he said.

Muhammad Ali added that Kedah was a favourite route for pangolins and other exotic animals, including the blackpond turtle, to be smuggled out as its highway leads directly to Bukit Kayu Hitam.

He said investigations revealed that runners for the syndicates smuggling the pangolins use luxury cars with tinted screens to evade the authorities.

“Often these runners would change their cars from point to point so that the authorities would not be able to keep track of the marked car.

“The pangolins would then be kept in a transit house before they are smuggled into Thailand,” he said.

Muhammad Ali added that the state has so far seen five cases, where 399 pangolins worth RM1.5mil were rescued.

Wildlife Dept rescues 85 Thailand-bound pangolins near border
sharanpal singh randhawa The Star 8 Nov 17;

ALOR SETAR: A total of 85 live pangolins worth an estimated RM350,000 were seized by the Kedah Department of Wildlife and National Parks on Tuesday.

Department director Muhammad Ali Che Aman said a raid was carried out at a house in Kampung Darat, Changloon, at 7.45am, where they found the animals.

He said that a 37-year-old Malaysian was arrested but two other Thai nationals – who left their passports behind – managed to escape.

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Malaysia: Waterweed-eating weevils to be set loose in mid-2018

The Star 8 Nov 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The plan to unleash weevils to eat up an aquatic plant choking numerous lakes and ponds around Sabah is on track, according to state authorities.

State Agriculture Department director Datuk Idrus Shafie said the weevils, a type of beetle, are being bred for release by mid-2018.

“The breeding rate of these weevils are a bit slow but we hope that there will be enough to be released by then,” he said yesterday.

Idrus said the weevils were being bred in tanks at Tungog on the banks of an oxbow lake in Kinabatangan district in the east coast.

The department brought in over 350 weevils from the Durian Tunggal lake in Melaka last year and first started breeding the insects at its research centre in Tuaran.

The weevils, originally brought in from Australia, were used to control a similar infestation in Peninsular Malaysia in the 1980s.

Idrus said increasing the number of weevils was crucial as the department had received reports of even more ponds and lakes around the state being infested by the salvenia molesta aquatic weed, commonly known as the giant salvinia, an aquatic fern native to south-eastern Brazil.

It is a free-floating plant that does not attach to the soil, but instead remains buoyant on the water surface.

Idris said it was believed that the fern had been brought in as an ornamental plant for aquariums and later discarded in drains or lakes where it began to spread rapidly.

At last count, 19 of the 20 oxbow lakes in the Kinabatangan region were infested with the aquatic plant that can double its area from 10 sq metres within three days.

He said the fern was choking ponds and lakes in Paitan, Papar, Kota Belud and Tuaran.

Idrus said due to its rapid growth rate, the plant was disrupting the ecosystems there.

Idrus said there was no fear of the weevils “getting out of control” as it would only eat that particular water fern.

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Indonesia: Flood in North Sumatra displaces thousands

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 7 Nov 17;

A flood that hit several areas in North Sumatra a few days ago has forced thousands of residents to leave their homes for temporary shelters.

In the provincial capital of Medan, hundreds of homes were evacuated in Aur subdistrict, Medan Maimon district, early morning on Tuesday.

Floodwater one meter in depth inundated the houses.

A subdistrict official, Yahdi Sabil, said the flooding was caused by an overflow of the Deli River, following heavy downpour in the past few days.

He said that some residents living in multi-story houses chose to stay behind.

According to the Medan Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), Medan Maimun and Medan Johor were the districts most affected by the flood.

Read also: Personnel deployed as thousands affected by flooding in Malang

The operation and control manager at BPBD Medan, M. Yunus, said the agency had set up public kitchens in the temporary shelters.

"The flooding in Medan was also caused by an increase in the volume of water at the Babura River," he said.

Outside Medan, flooding was also reported in Langkat regency.

The overflowing Batang Serangan River resulted in the inundation of thousands of houses in six districts in the regency.

Iwan Syahri of BPBD Langkat said the hardest hit district was Tanjung Pura, where floodwater one meter in depth forced 699 families to leave their homes.

Other affected districts in the regency include Padang Tualang, Babalan, Sei Lepan, and Sawit Seberang.

“The flood also damaged 978 hectares of agricultural area, as well as several schools and worship places," Iwan said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no casualties were reported. (bbs)

Flood Hits Several Regions in Indonesia
NetralNews 8 Nov 17;

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Heavy rain that hit some areas have caused floods that affected settlements. This flood is caused by the increase of rainfall that has caused rivers to overflow.

According to information received from Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, Head of Information and Public Relations Information Center of National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, Wednesday (11/08/2017), flood disaster recorded in Aceh Singkil regency, Asahan regency, Bandung regency, Balangan regency, city Medan and Pelalawan District.

"The destruction of watersheds is increasing the vulnerable areas of floods, even floods can occur repeatedly in one year," Sutopo saidon Wednesday (11/08/).

Sutopo said, for example, floods in District Dayeuhkolot, Baleendah and Bojongsoang Bandung regency can occur more than 15 times in one year. Similarly in Kabupaten Asahan, floods can occur five times a year.

"This happens because the more vulnerable the area due to damage to the watershed upstream, middle and downstream, consequently more sensitive settlement of disasters," said Sutopo.

Currently the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) together with the TNI, Polri, Basarnas, Regional Device Work Unit (SKPD), PMI, Tagana, volunteers, and the community handling emergency. Sutopo has also sent a circular to all BPBD to make efforts to anticipate the flood and landslide.

Sutopo said, coordination between various parties is done to anticipate disaster. Logistics and equipment are also closer to disaster points.

"Floods and landslides are predicted to occur in January 2010. The threat of floods and landslides will continue to increase along with the increase of rainfall," said Sutopo.

The areas affected with floods

On Wednesday (8/11/) early morning at around 02.00, floods hit eight villages in Suro District Aceh Singkil district of Aceh province. Floods occurred after the area was washed down by heavy rain in recent days. The height of the water caused by flash floods reached two meters, precisely in the Village of Bulusema, Suro District, Aceh Singkil. The national road connecting Aceh Singkil and Subulussalam can not be passed by vehicles.

The eight villages affected by the flood include Ujung Limus Village, Silatong, Tanjung Mas, Cububukan, Serasah, Lae Riman, Kajang Folding, and Golong Cloth. A total of 1738 people affected by flash floods. BPBD Aceh Singkil together with TNI, Police, Basarnas, SKPD, Tagana, PMI and volunteers to evacuate residents. The common kitchen has been set up.

Disconnected road access causes the vehicle queue from Singkil-Subulussalam direction and vice versa. Police and TNI are on guard at the flood site.

Floods also hit three districts in Bandung regency West Java Province namely District Dayeuhkolot, Baleendah, Bojongsoang dab on Tuesday (11/07) at 19:00. Heavy rains caused the Cisangkuy River, Cikapundung River and Citarum River to overflow so that it inundated 1,058 houses with flood heights of 10-150 centimeters. No casualties. People are accustomed to flooding. Every year this area has been flooded for a long time.

In the city of Medan floods hit the settlements in Johor Building Village, Johor District of Medan and Kelurahan Sukaraja, Aur, Sei Mati Medan Maimun District at 03.00 pm. A total of 775 houses with 1,240 families or 4,983 lives submerged in floods as high as 100-150 centimeters. Flooding caused by high intensity rain and overflow of Deli River. At this time the flood has gradually subsided.

At the same time, floods also hit in 9 villages in Halong District and District Juai Balangan Regency South Kalimantan Province at 05.00 WITA. The floods soaked 427 units of houses on stilts with flood height 50-150 centimeters. A total of 1242 people affected by floods and no casualties.

In Asahan district, floods still inundate 1,108 houses in Teluk Dalam Subdistrict and Simpang Empat Sub-district. Flood has struck since (4/11/2017) up to now. Asahan Regent has not set the emergency response flood disaster to date.

Currently, floods are still occurring in South Tapanuli Regency of North Sumatra Province. Heavy rains caused the river to overflow and embankments collapsed so that floods hit Angkola Sangkunur and Batangtoru Subdistricts.

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Vietnam: Landslides in Mekong Delta could lead to serious flooding

VietNamNet Bridge 7 Nov 17;

There are 562 landslide spots in Mekong Delta with total length of over 786 kilometers, according to the General Department of Disaster Prevention and Control.

Of these, 40 sites with total length of 131 kilometers are reported as ‘especially dangerous’, i.e. landslides directly threatening dykes’ safety, residential quarters and important infrastructure items.

These include 21 riverbank spots (37 kilometers) and 19 coastal spots (94 kilometers).

The big problem is that landslides not only occur in flood season, but also in dry season. And landslides are occurring everywhere, from main rivers to canals and arroyos.

MARD (the Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development) believes that one of the major reasons is the establishment of water reservoirs.

Nineteen reservoirs have been or will be built on the Mekong mainstream in Chinese, Lao and Cambodian territories. Of these, six reservoirs have been built (in China), four are under construction (2 in China and 2 in Laos) and one is about to be built (Laos). Meanwhile, on Mekong distributaries, 142 reservoirs will be built.

According to Lu Cam Khuong from An Giang provincial authorities, 228 landslide cases occurred in the period from 2010 to October 2017, causing a loss of 345,426 square meters of land and damages with VND288 billion.

Citing many reasons, including climate change and extreme weather, Khuong emphasized that human socio-economic activities are the major factors.

Since the hydropower dams in the upper course retain sludge and sand, the river flow regime has changed. Meanwhile, massive sand exploitation is carried out in all Mekong countries.

A WWF report released in 2013 showed that the average amount of sand exploited in 2011-2012 was estimated at 35 million cubic meters.

Population increase and infrastructure development have also caused landslides. Reports show that the population in the delta was 16.13 million in 1999, while the figure rose to 17.66 million in 2016 and the housing area increased by 18 million square meters a year.

Ca Mau province, with three sides exposed to the sea, is seriously influenced by climate change and rising sea water levels.

Nguyen Long Hoai, a provincial authority officer, said coastal erosion has become more serious in recent years. Since 2007, about 4,060 hectares of forests have been cleared because of erosion.

In Dong Thap province, 30-50 hectares of riverside land are lost every year because of landslides.

The Southern Institute for Water Resources Planning believes that solutions such as concrete embankments have been effective, but are too costly (VND80-100 billion per kilometer).

Therefore, these works should only be applied in important coastal areas and seriously affected landslide-stricken areas. In the long term, other solutions should be applied, such as development of mangroves and coastal ecosystems.

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Farmers must stop antibiotics use in animals due to human health risk, warns WHO

Overuse of antibiotics in animals is contributing to growing drug resistance in humans with serious health implications, says global health body
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 7 Nov 17;

Farmers must be prevented from using powerful antibiotics on animals reared for food, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned, because of the serious risks to human health that result.

New guidelines from the global body suggest farmers should stop using any antibiotics routinely to promote growth and prevent disease in animals that are otherwise healthy, a common practice in some parts of the world, including Asia and the US. Such routine use is banned in Europe, though campaigners fear the rules are sometimes flouted.

Using antimicrobial medicines on farm animals is one of the leading causes of the rise of superbugs, resistant to all but the strongest antibiotics. Medical authorities warn that the antibiotics available to treat even relatively minor human diseases are running out because of the rapid rise of such resistance.

Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England, has warned repeatedly that, a decade from now, even routine, previously low-risk operations, such as hip replacements, may become dangerous because of the risk of infections resistant to medicines.

The WHO reported on Tuesday that in some countries, as much as 80% of antibiotic use is on farm animals. Even in some countries where routine use for enhancing growth is banned, more antibiotics are used on animals than on humans.

The use of the strongest antibiotics, a last resort for the most deadly infections affecting humans, should be banned altogether in animals, the guidelines advise. This should apply, according to the WHO, even in cases where an illness has been diagnosed in a food-producing animal. Implementing this could require animals to be quarantined, allowed to die, or for herds to be culled in order to halt the spread of a serious disease rather than attempting to cure it.

This recommendation is likely to be unpopular with farmers, who could risk financial loss, but is crucial to protect human health, according to the WHO, because the use of such antibiotics in animals is leading to increased resistance even to last-resort medicines, to the despair of doctors.

However, the WHO has no power to enforce its guidelines, which are up to national governments to accept or reject.

The forthright warning comes as new research, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, showed that restricting antibiotic use on farms reduced the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in farm animals by up to 39%. The WHO said it had used the research to inform its new guidelines.

Restricting our remaining effective antibiotics for human use is crucial because of the lack of alternatives available. “There are very few promising options in the research pipeline” for new antibiotics to replace those that are becoming ineffective because of overuse and resistance, the WHO warned.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, said: “A lack of effective antibiotics is as serious a security threat as a sudden and deadly disease outbreak. Strong, sustained action across all sectors is vital if we are to turn back the tide of antimicrobial resistance and keep the world safe.”

Animal herds treated with antibiotics can develop bacteria resistant to the drugs, and pass this on to humans directly, through contact with farm workers, or through food. A Guardian investigation found that the superbug MRSA was found in a significant sample of pork products on the UK’s supermarket shelves, risking humans becoming infected with the strain.

Kazuaki Miyagishima, director of food safety at the WHO, said the links between antibiotic use on farms and risks to human health were clear: “Scientific evidence demonstrates that overuse of antibiotics in animals can contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The volume of antibiotics used in animals is continuing to increase worldwide, driven by a growing demand for foods of animal origin, often produced through intensive animal husbandry.”

Dr Clare Chandler of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said: “This is a welcome set of recommendations from WHO. It will be a challenge for producers to follow these recommendations to reduce antibiotic use, but possible for larger scale producers with good biosecurity. Many smaller scale farmers around the world are dependent upon antibiotics to supplement animal feed, and actions will be needed to support them to make this change which will affect their lives and livelihoods.”

The Guardian, in a joint investigation with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, also found a rapid increase in the number of megafarms in the UK. Megafarms across the globe are on the rise, and they have been linked with antibiotic resistance, as whole herds of many hundreds of animals are often treated at once.

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