Best of our wild blogs: 28 Dec 17

Diving with sea turtles
Hantu Blog

20 Jan 2018 (Sat): "Our Mangroovy Mangroves" - Workshop at Pulau Ubin
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Malaysia: Benefits of KL-Singapore high-speed rail outweigh potential environmental costs: Report

Channel NewsAsia 27 Dec 17;

SINGAPORE: The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) project will have several short-term environmental concerns, but the long-term benefits on commuter safety and carbon emissions provide a "strong justification" for the project, an environmental impact assessment report showed on Wednesday (Dec 27).

In a report commissioned by MyHSR Corporation, the group responsible for the development and implementation of the project, it was noted that air, water and noise impacts, soil erosion and sedimentation are among the short-term environmental concerns.

Among these concerns are also carbon dioxide emissions that will be generated from the burning of fossil fuels to provide enough electricity to power the HSR system. By 2060, 646,000 megawatts hr/yr of electricity is needed to support the HSR system. This hourly figure is about 140,000 times the electricity per capita consumed in Malaysia in 2014.

However, the report added that mitigating measures have been put in place to ensure that these environmental effects do not adversely affect people.

For example, pathways used to transport soil and biomass will not be located near residential areas.

The report also added that "the duration of the construction period is relatively of short term" and that the "impacts will be intermittent".

As a result, the findings from the study indicate that "on an overall basis, the HSR project is expected to induce net positive environmental impacts" the report said.


When operational, the HSR will offer three services - the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore direct service , a one-stop service from Iskandar Puteri to Singapore and a domestic service stopping at seven stations - and operate between 6am and midnight daily.

Annual ridership is expected to reach about 15.2 million in 2030 and increase to 37.8 million in 2060.

These ridership figures will translate into fuel and carbon dioxide emissions savings, the report said. It is projected that by the 10th year of operation, about 19 million litres of fuel will be saved from fewer vehicles on the roads.

Additionally, the electric-powered HSR will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and this can amount to up to 55 million kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions saved.

With the HSR, commuter trips between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore will likely be serviced predominantly by the rail service, rather than by air or cars, the report said.

Hence, commuter safety is also expected to improve.

The report stated that 6,872 fatalities were recorded on Malaysian roads in 2010, especially during festive seasons with high traffic figures. As commuters switch to using the HSR instead of driving, this could "reduce the exposure of commuters to safety incidents with significant benefits to the economy and society".

However, the report does take into account that although certain impacts are mitigated in the long run, social impacts may extend into the future as well.

The HSR alignment is set to start from Bandar Malaysia Station in Kuala Lumpur and pass through Putrajaya, Seremban, Malacca, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri before terminating in Singapore.

As such, eviction and relocation of businesses and households in these areas may take place, said the report.

A social impact study has been commissioned to assess the impacts and potential social benefits of the HSR.


Despite the short-term and long-term negative impacts, the Malaysian government believes there is "a strong justification" for the HSR as it will "contribute significantly towards the country's future economic growth" and help transform Malaysia into a "high-income, developed nation".

In order to achieve the World Bank's requirements for a high-income nation, Malaysia expects to raise its per capita income from US$6,700 to US$15,000 by 2020.

Furthermore, the HSR is also expected to create 111,000 jobs.

In terms of convenience, commuters can enjoy an increased speed of travel between cities, especially cities in the south-west coast of the Malaysian peninsula.

Additionally, pick-up and drop-off facilities for passengers will also be included at the HSR stations, allowing easy access for passengers arriving or departing by buses and taxis. Those driving will also have about 8,400 parking facilities across all Malaysian stations.

The HSR, slated to be ready by 2026, is also expected to shorten the travel time from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to 90 minutes.

Source: CNA/aa

HSR will be good for environment in the long term
The Star 29 Dec 17;

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) is expected to be good for the environment in the long term, according to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.

The report noted that the chosen HSR alignment is not expected to lead to environmental disturbances which could affect the health and safety of residents in surrounding areas.

In addition, the alignment would not have any significant impact on ecology along with surface and ground water systems.

The report stated that the project could also reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases generated by the local transportation sector, improve or increase connectivity through time saved, reduce traffic and create jobs.

However, the amount of emission reduction depends on the relative fuel efficiency of a transport mode and the HSR.

The HSR’s annual ridership is expected to increase from approximately 15.22 million in 2030 to 37.8 million in 2060.

The report noted that there would be permanent loss of forest areas and associated environmental services from forest reserves due to the project.

A small part of the Sungai Pulai Forest Reserve (mangrove forest) in Gelang Patah would be affected.

The size of the affected mangrove forest area is 25ha and the total estimated environmental value from the mangrove area is RM27,001.44 per hectare per year.

Another 1,141ha of oil palm plantations and a total of 902ha of rubber estates would be affected.

The report said minimal water quality impact is expected because of mitigation measures such as site-specific erosion and sediment control measures along with planned construction of bridges at river crossings.

HSR operations are not expected to cause adverse noise and vibration on surrounding land areas as the alignment is routed primarily through plantation areas.

The report noted that potentially adverse environmental impactcould occur during the construction phase due to land clearing and earthwork operations for tunnels, elevated structures, stations and depots.

“However, the resulting soil erosion and sedimentation impacts are short term and can be effectively controlled by adopting tried and tested mitigation measures,” it said.

The EIA report was posted on the official website of MyHSR Corp, a company wholly owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated, on Dec 27.

The Department of Environment Malaysia is currently reviewing the EIA Report.

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Malaysia: Advanced breeding techniques to save Sabah's wildlife

muguntan vanar The Star 27 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: With the Sumatran rhino facing extinction, Sabah is looking to advances in breeding technology to ensure such wildlife is saved.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said that rapid advances in animal cell and molecular biology has made it possible to create sperm and eggs of mammals from their skin cells.

These efforts would help in the conservation of endangered wildlife including banteng (wild cattle), sun bears, the clouded leopard, pangolin, and orangutan.

He said his department has already kicked off programmes to use advanced reproductive technology to save endangered species in Sabah with the support of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

The genome of all four of the last Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia are being kept in living cell cultures both overseas and locally, he said.

He said that Puntung – the female who was euthanised in June – was still “alive” in cell culture in Malaysia.

“We are building up Malaysian expertise in other essential skills such as conducting safe general anaesthesia for large mammals, collection of semen and eggs, and in-vitro fertilisation.

“Semen of sun bears and macaques was collected and stored in liquid nitrogen in 2017. The same will be done for the clouded leopard and proboscis monkey in 2018,” he said in a statement issued here Wednesday.

Tuuga said the Sabah Wildlife Department was working with Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s Faculty of Sustainable Agriculture in Sandakan, where an advanced reproductive technology laboratory is being developed.

The department is also working with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Germany), the Agro-biotechnology Institute Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, and the International Islamic University Malaysia in Kuantan.

“Other specialist institutions which are helping us are Morula IVF (Indonesia), Avantea (Italy) and the Zoological Park Association of Thailand,” he said.

Tuuga added that the Bornean banteng or tembadau, with about 400 left in the wild, was the most endangered wildlife species in Sabah after the Sumatran rhino.

He said it was definitely a species suitable for captive breeding and for the application of advanced reproductive technology, with a view of reintroducing them into plantations in the longer-term.

“We would be interested to partner with one of the big oil palm plantation companies for this work,” he added.

Tuuga said rare wildlife species would keep going extinct and there was a need to use new and supportive means to save them.

“If these new technologies had been available 20 years ago, we could have produced Sumatran rhino embryos in-vitro and potentially implant these embryos into surrogate mother rhinos in another country,” he said.

Breeding Bornean banteng with modern tech
KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 27 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife Department has identified that the highly endangered Bornean banteng is suitable to be bred in capitivity and reproduced through advanced technology.

Director Augustine Tuuga said Sabah had implemented a programme to use advanced reproductive technology to conserve certain endangered species since 2010.

He said banteng could also be reared in oil palm estates as part of its conservation programme in the future.

“We would be interested to partner with one of the oil palm plantation companies on this,” he said in a statement here.

Bornean banteng or Tembadau is the second most endangered wildlife species in Sabah after the Sumatran Rhinoceros,

In recent reports, wildlife experts had raised worry about the future of endangered species in Sabah such as the Borneo pygmy elephant, sun bear, orang utan and pangolin.

Director of research facility Danau Girang Field Centre, Dr Benoit Goossens had reportedly suggested the use of new technologies including assisted reproduction and for studies on captive breeding to be done for species like banteng and pangolin, as their population was declining rapidly.

Augustine said rare species would continue to become extinct if there were no efforts to find new and supportive means to conserve the animals.

However, he said assisted reproduction and captive breeding were not “fashionable” among wildlife conservationsits here and globally.

“One important point is that setting aside protected areas is absolutely necessary, but this will never be enough, anywhere in the world, to save every species from extinction.”

He said when the population of a species became very small, the concern should not only be with reducing deaths as more importantly, it should be increasing its birth rate.

“The Sumatran rhino case also has shown us that about 80 per cent of over 20 female rhinos captured in Indonesia and Malaysia since the 1980s, had significant reproductive pathology which prevented them from the ability to conceive,” he said.

Augustine said the department had an engagement with non-governmental organisation Borneo Rhino Alliance for the rhino conservation programme.

“The genomes of all four of the last Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia are kept in living cell cultures both overseas and locally.

“Puntung, the female which was euthanised in June 2017, for example was still ‘alive’ in cell culture in Malaysia.

“We are also building up Malaysian expertise in other essential skills such as conducting safe general anaesthesia for large mammals, collection of semen and eggs, and in vitro fertilisation.”

Augustine said semen of sun bears and macaques were collected and stored in liquid nitrogen in 2017.

“The same will be done for clouded leopard and proboscis monkey in 2018,” he said, adding that the works included local and international collaborations.

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Malaysia: FRI using herbs to treat wounded and sick sea turtles

The Star 28 Dec 17;

DUNGUN: The Fisheries Research Institute (FRI) in Rantau Abang here, dubbed as “turtle hospital”, has been using herbs to treat in­jured turtles.

Its Marine Mammal Branch chief, Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad, said the institute received eight reports on injured turtles and managed to save them all after using the method.

“Normally, we receive turtles that suffer from natural illnesses. However, some are also injured after being trapped in trawl and ghost nets used by foreign fishermen.

“In fact, the Endangered Marine Species Rescue Team comprising the Rantau Abang FRI, Terengganu Fisheries Department and the Johor Veterinary Services Department recently treated two three-year-old Hawksbill turtles which were injured after being trapped in such nets,” he said.

After that turmeric and aloe vera are used in the healing process.

Mohd Tamimi said in order to restore the loss of nutrients, the thin and starving turtles were fed with specially formulated food made of blended banana, papaya and brown sugar using a silicone tube three times a day.

“Behavioural observations and wound healing changes are monitored round the clock and recorded.

“However, the treatment differs depending on the severity of the injury,” he said. — Bernama

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