Best of our wild blogs: 25-26 Dec

20 Jan 2018 (Sat): Our Mangroovy Mangroves - R.U.M. Workshop and Walk
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Invasion of Cuckoos at Sentosa
Singapore Bird Group

2017 - Looking Back
Butterflies of Singapore

December RUMbles and beginning the next phase in restoration!
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

It is the holidays, where are you heading off to this time?
The Dorsal Effect

Equatorial Spitting Cobra (Naja sumatrana) @ Tampines Eco Green
Monday Morgue

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Malaysia: Black day for animal lovers in Malaysia

mei mei chu The Star 25 Dec 17;

PETALING JAYA: Christmas Eve was a black day for Malaysian wildlife as three separate cases involving the gruesome deaths of two endangered sun bears and a tapir went viral on social media.

In Kuching, a villager shopping at a local market got a rude shock when she saw a sun bear slaughtered into pieces and sold openly as exotic meat.

In the photo taken at the Lubok Antu 'pasar tamu' in Sri Aman Division, the adult male sun bear was butchered into over 15 pieces and placed on a table next to a weighing machine.

The head was decapitated below the chin while the arms were cut off at the forearm to keep the paws intact.

"It is really shocking to see the whole bear cut into pieces," Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder Wong Siew Te told The Star.

"In the same market, a wild boar and sambar deer were being sold as well," he said, adding that the villager alerted him of the incident and sent him the photos.

According to Wong, poaching is rife but it is uncommon to see sun bears being sold openly in the local markets.

"For us, the festive seasons mean happiness and fun with family but for the many unfortunate wildlife, it means the end of their life when the demand for exotic meat soars," he said.

Sun bears are a protected species under the Sarawak Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 and those found guilty of hunting and selling the wildlife could face a RM10,000 fine or one year imprisonment.

Wong said the population of sun bears is unknown but conservationists are certain that it is declining due to rapid deforestation and rampant poaching.

He urged the Forestry Department to enforce the wildlife protection law and prosecute those involved in the illegal exotic meat trade.

"If we don't do anything effective soon it will be too late to do anything, just like the rhinos here," he said, adding that the extinction of sun bears will hurt the forest ecosystem.

In Terengganu, a sun bear was killed after a motorbike crashed into it near the Kuala Dungun exit on the East Coast Expressway 2 (LPT 2) at 6.50pm on Sunday (Dec 24).

The motorcyclist was en route from Kuantan to Terengganu when the sun bear suddenly crossed the road.

In Gua Musang, Kelantan a 100kg tapir was killed in a car accident involving a Proton Saga at KM12 at Jalan Gua Musang-Kuala Krai.

The accident happened at 4am on Dec 24 but a group of men who found the tapir carcass the next day skinned the animal and cut off its snout.

Netizens have expressed shock and disgust of photos of the men skinning the wildlife, calling their actions cruel.

Sun bear killed in collision with motorcycle on LPT2
Zarina Abdullah New Straits Times 25 Dec 17;

DUNGUN: An adult sun bear was struck and killed by a motorcycle at Km347.5 of the East Coast Expressway 2 (LPT2) near the Kuala Dungun interchange here last night.

The incident is believed to have occurred at about 7pm when the animal, known scientifically as Helarctos malayanus, was trying to cross the road.

It was hit by a Yamaha 125z, whose rider was heading towards Kuala Terengganu.

The rider suffered light injuries.

State Wildlife and National Park Department director Rahmah Elias said they received a call about the incident at about 7.18pm.

She said the motorcyclist was sent to the Dungun Hospital for further treatment, while the sun bear’s carcass was handed over to the Wildlife Department for further action.

Rahmah has advised LPT 2 road users to be cautious while driving along the highway especially at night, as it is common for wild animals to wander onto the road.

“Watch out for animals such as deer, tapirs, wild boars, sun bears as well as goats, cows and buffalo which roam the area, especially near the Kuala Dungun exit,” she said when contacted today.

WWF: Gruesome deaths show Malaysia has failed its wildlife
mei mei chu The Star 28 Dec 17;

PETALING JAYA: The gruesome deaths of three animal on the endangered list on Christmas Eve show that Malaysia has failed to protect its wildlife, said WWF-Malaysia.

“Despite all efforts from various organisations and government bodies, yet again, we as a nation, have failed to stand up for our wildlife,” its chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said in a statement Thursday.

On Dec 24, a sun bear was found butchered and sold openly at a market in Kuching, while another sun bear was killed in a motorbike accident in Terengganu, and in Kelantan, a group of men was photographed skinning and disfiguring a tapir that was involved in a roadkill incident.

Condemning the exotic meat trade, Dr Dionysius urged the public to step away from consuming wild meat, especially during festive celebrations.

He also emphasised the need for Malaysian drivers to be more vigilant when driving in areas that are prone to wildlife crossings.

“If we do not take drastic measures to protect our wildlife now, we may lose them to extinction in the near future,” said Dr Dionysius.

Besides sun bears and tapirs, elephants, leopards, and other endangered species were reportedly killed in highway accidents this year.

As forests become more fragmented due to infrastructure development, conservationists say one of the greatest threats to wildlife are vehicles on high-speed motorways.

Throughout the year, they have been calling on the authorities to control vehicle density and enforce speed limits on highways, and increase the number of animal crossings to reduce roadkill.

Spate of rare animal deaths in Malaysia sparks alarm
AFP Yahoo News 28 Dec 17;

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - The deaths of two sun bears and a tapir in Malaysia sparked fresh alarm among activists Thursday at the growing number of exotic animals perishing in the biodiverse country.

A sun bear and tapir were killed in road accidents in the northeast of the country on Christmas Eve, with the tapir skinned by villagers after its carcass was discovered, environmental group WWF said.

A second sun bear was killed and cut up, with its parts spotted on the same day sold openly at a market in Sarawak state on Borneo island, local media reported.

"Despite all efforts from various organisations and government bodies, yet again, we as a nation, have failed to stand up for our Malaysian wildlife," said Dionysius Sharma, WWF-Malaysia executive director.

"If we do not take drastic measures to protect our wildlife now, we may lose them to extinction in the near future."

Tropical, jungle-clad Malaysia is home to a dizzying array of wildlife, from orangutans to pangolins, but their numbers have been dwindling.

They are targeted by poachers, their natural habitat has been shrinking due to expansion of plantations, while hundreds have been killed on busy roads as the highway network has rapidly expanded.

Two elephants were killed in the space of three months earlier this year after being hit by vehicles on the same stretch of highway in northern Malaysia.

Sun bears are the smallest of the bear species, and are classified as vulnerable by protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Tapirs are known for their long, drooping noses which they use to forage for leaves, with the variety in Malaysia listed as endangered.

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Malaysia, Johor: Grace period to stop use of plastic

zazali musa The Star 25 Dec 17;

JOHOR BARU: Traders and consumers in Johor will be given a one-year period starting from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2018, to switch to using biodegradable products instead of plastic bags and polystyrene food containers.

State health, environment, education and information committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the one-year “grace period” was to educate and familiarise them with the move.

He said next year would be an educational enforcement year before the ban on conventional plastic materials and polystyrene food containers is enforced on Jan 1, 2019.

“We believe one year is enough for traders and consumers in Johor to start switching to biodegradable materials,” said Ayub.

Ayub said they would brief and educate traders, consumers and industry players to have a better understanding on the benefits of using biodegradable products.

“Related campaigns, activities and programmes will be held in the state for the next 12 months to create better awareness on the use of biodegradable products among the people,” he added.

Ayub said the first briefing would take place during the upgrading of Segamat District Council to a municipality on Dec 31.

He said briefing in other districts – Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang, Kulai, Pontian, Muar, Batu Pahat, Pontian, Mersing and Kota Tinggi would be held in January, February and March next year.

Eco-friendly move gets support
The Star 28 Dec 17;

JOHOR BARU: The use of biode­gradable packaging materials in Johor, expected to commence on Jan 1, has received support from not only food traders and supermarket operators but also the local community, in the effort to preserve the environment.

A check at several business locations around the city found most of the traders ready to implement the directive that was expected to take effect within the next five days.

Restaurant operator Roslan Ibrahim said he was aware of the enforcement and was already using biodegradable materials instead of polystyrene.

“The state government’s effort is good as this can lessen environmental pollution, especially in Johor, which is one of the states with a lot of industries and is growing rapidly,” said the 57-year-old businessman.

However, Kamal Nur Arif, 24, an operator of a food outlet and a shoe shop, admitted that he was unaware of the enforcement of biodegradable packaging materials early next year and said he hoped that the state government would continue to inform the public of the move to enable the traders to prepare themselves.

Kamal was not alone as a private company employee, Nur Ain Kamaruddin, 24, said she was also unaware of the latest move by the government.

“I do not know about the implementation of biodegradable packaging materials to replace polystyrene and plastic all over Johor next year, but I am pleased to know that it will be implemented to preserve the environment.

“The government also needs to disseminate information to the public over the move as well as undertake an awareness campaign for the community to understand it better as this biodegradable materials can lessen pollution,” she said.

A government retiree, Jamiah Abdul Rahman, said it was timely for Johor to implement the use of biodegradable packaging materials in line with the rapid development of the state.

“The use of biodegradable packaging materials is a very smart move but its price should also be affordable to enable the people to buy it easily, compared to plastic and polystyrene which are not only cheap but also easy to find,” she added.

Meanwhile, all 17 Econsave Cash and Carry supermarket outlets in the state will discontinue the sale of polystyrene and conventional food or plastic wraps from Jan 1.

Econsave Cash and Carry Super­market Southern Region operations manager Mas Imran Adam said the company had taken the initial steps by stopping the supply of the products and would replace them with the recommended biodegradable packaging materials.

He said the supermarket chain would also gradually change the use of plastic with the recommended biodegradable packaging materials for goods and sell recycling bags for customers convenience.

State health, environment, education and information committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat had said that the state government was giving the public a one-year period of enforcement through education for the use of biodegradable packaging materials.

The cooling-off period will be from Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2018, to give the public and business owners a chance to make the necessary adjustments and be prepared to comply with the rules before they are fully enforced on Jan 1, 2019. – Bernama

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Vietnam braces for typhoon as Philippine toll rises to 230 dead

Mi Nguyen, Manuel Mogato Reuters 25 Dec 17;

HANOI/MANILA (Reuters) - Authorities in Vietnam prepared to move a million people from low-lying areas along the south coast on Monday as a typhoon approached after it battered the Philippines with floods and landslides that killed more than 230 people.

Typhoon Tembin is expected to slam into Vietnam late on Monday after bringing misery to the predominantly Christian Philippines just before Christmas.

Vietnam’s disaster prevention committee said 74,000 people had been moved to safety from vulnerable areas, while authorities in 15 provinces and cities were prepared to move more than 1 million.

The government ordered that oil rigs and vessels be protected and it warned that about 62,000 fishing boats should not venture out to sea.

“Vietnam must ensure the safety of its oil rigs and vessels. If necessary, close the oil rigs and evacuate workers,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying on a government website.

Schools were ordered to close in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, a working day in Vietnam.

On Sunday, Tembin hit the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, parts of which are contested by several countries, including Vietnam and China.

No casualties were reported in outposts there.

Vietnam, like the Philippines, is regularly battered by typhoons that form over the warm waters of the Pacific and barrel westwards into land.

Tembin will be the 16th major storm to hit Vietnam this year. The storms and other disasters have left 390 people dead or missing, according to official figures.


In the Philippines, rescue workers were still struggling to reach some remote areas hit by floods and landslides that Tembin’s downpours brought, as the death toll climbed to more than 230. Scores of people are missing.

The full extent of the devastation was only becoming clear as the most remote areas were being reached.

Health worker Arturo Simbajon said nearly the entire coastal village of Anungan on the Zamboanga peninsula of Mindanao island had been wiped out by a barrage of broken logs, boulders and mud that swept down a river and out to sea.

“Only the mosque was left standing,” Simbajon said.

“People were watching the rising sea but did not expect the water to come from behind them.”

Manuel Luis Ochotorena, head of regional disaster agency, said he expected the death toll to rise.

“Many areas in Zamboanga peninsula are still without power and communications, some towns are cut off due to collapsed bridges, floods and landslides,” he said.

Tens of thousands of people on Mindanao have been displaced by the storm, which struck late on Friday.

The Philippines is battered by about 20 typhoons a year and warnings are routinely issued.

But disaster officials said many villagers had ignored warnings this time to get out coastal areas and move away from riverbanks.

In 2013, super typhoon Haiyan killed nearly 8,000 people and left 200,000 families homeless in the central Philippines.

(This version of the story was refiled to fix spelling in paragraph two)

Reporting by Mi Nguyen; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Robert Birsel

Sabah spared wrath of Tropical Storm Tembin
muguntan vanar and farhaan shah The Star 25 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has been spared the devastating impact of Tropical Storm Tembin that left a trail of death and destruction in the southern Philippines.

Strong winds and wet weather lashed coastal areas of Sabah as the tropical storm was upgraded to a typhoon passed northern Sabah and headed towards Vietnam yesterday.

Meteorologists said the it was moving rapidly in a north-westerly direction across the South China Sea and was about 300km from Kota Kinabalu.

The tail effects of the storm would diminish by Christmas Day, he said.

No serious incidents were reported to emergency services in the state after strong winds and light and heavy rains were felt over the last two days.

Persistent rainfall triggered flooding in Kota Belud where 12 villages were affected. No evacuations were reported.

The Civil Defence Department is monitoring three rivers – Keda­maian, Tempasuk and Abai – and would act when necessary.

The Tempasuk and Abai rivers were at critical levels while Kada­maian was normal, the department’s spokesman said.

At least 200 people were reported dead and some 144 others missing in southern Philippines after the typhoon triggered landslides and flooding on Saturday.

In Johor Baru, the marine community, especially fishermen, has been advised to be prepared for bad weather and choppy seas during the current monsoon season.

Southern Region Two comman­der Asst Comm Paul Khiu Khon Chiang said monsoon season is a dangerous period for any activity at sea.

“When the weather turns for the worse, please do not go out to sea. Those who are already there must immediately return to shore.

“Always be alert about weather warnings by the authorities because this is the time of year where conditions can be at their worst,” he said yesterday.

ACP Khiu said no matter how experienced a person might be, the sea was a dangerous place and should not be taken lightly.

He also urged boat owners to inspect their vessels before going out to sea.

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