Best of our wild blogs: 31 Jul 18



Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 11 August 2018
Love our MacRitchie Forest

A Stream On Pulau Ubin Was Named After My Late Grandfather!
Wan's Ubin Journal

Straits Times: Five kampong houses in Pulau Ubin to be restored for community use
Wan's Ubin Journal


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Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jul 18



Celebrating our shores for National Day!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Mangroves at Ah Mah's Drinkstall
wild shores of singapore


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Malaysia: Govt mulls amending Wildlife Conservation Act 2010

Bernama New Straits Times 29 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is studying to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 by introducing mandatory jail sentences against individuals caught hunting wildlife illegally.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said his ministry would work with the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) to improve the Act to prosecute illegal hunters accordingly.

"By strengthening the act, enforcement could be boosted, we will make the amendments because it is understood that the existing act does not facilitate the enforcement process.

"This amendment may involve the addition of penalties to doubled from the previous, but what I see is that there are those who can pay so we must also include a prison sentence which is seen to be more effective in dealing with this issue," he said.

He said this at a media conference in conjunction with the Global Tiger Day Celebration organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia at the Tuanku Bainun Children's Creative Centre here today.

The Global Tiger Day is celebrated on July 29 each year to foster awareness of the importance of tiger conservation to the world community.

According to Xavier, the ministry would also step up cooperation with authorities such as the police and military to jointly assist non-governmental organisations (NGO) such as WWF in combating illegal wildlife hunting syndicates throughout the country.

He said through operations conducted by Perhilitan had found various species of animals which were injured including tigers, tapirs and elephants due to the wire snares installed by illegal hunters.

From 2014 to June, Perhilitan had destroyed over 2,890 wire snares in 479 operations conducted.

Hence, he hoped that corporate companies would be able to help NGOs finance the projects to destroy the snares in the quest to save wildlife from extinction.

"I understand that WWF in collaboration with Perhilitan have carried out Project Stampede which consists of only 15 people to identify and destroy the trap areas.

"They need 50 more individuals to help them continue this project more widely and I encourage the corporate sector to assist them in successfully implementing this project and to go all out to eradicate illegal poaching," he said. — BERNAMA


Minister: Move to stop poachers and save tigers drastic but needed
vincent tan The Star 30 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: A shoot-on-sight policy against wildlife poachers is being mulled in a move to protect Malayan tigers.

Water, Land and Natural Re­­sources Minister Dr Xavier Jaya­kumar said he was considering bringing such a policy for Cabinet review.

“It might sound a bit drastic but if you want to save Malayan tigers, we have to take drastic action as well.

“Such a policy, instituted in Ne­­pal and Bhutan, has seen the number of tigers rising,” he said after attending the Global Tiger Day 2018 celebrations organised by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia yesterday.

Perhilitan director-general Da­­tuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said a large part of the threat to tigers and Malaysian wildlife came from poaching snares.

“Today, we can remove one but one month later, these snares are back at the same place.

“They don’t discriminate and will catch anything, not just tigers,” Abdul Kadir said.

According to its statistics, more than 2,890 snares were destroyed in 479 operations conducted from 2014 up to this year.

During the event, WWF Malaysia also officially announced Project Stampede, a joint effort involving orang asli communities to patrol the Belum-Temenggor Forest Com­plex in Perak to remove poa­cher snares, as well as collect data.

There was also a screening of On the Brink of Extinction, a documentary narrated by six individuals working with WWF Malaysia on tiger conservation.

Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj, WWF Malaysia’s tiger lead researcher and one of the film’s narrators, said the patrols would serve as “eyes and ears” for enforcement authorities and help to put a stop to poaching.

Currently, he said, the project had a few patrol teams, with an aim to roll out 10 teams by the end of the year.

“The Belum-Temenggor forest, which includes the Royal Belum state park, is one of three tiger priority sites in Peninsular Malaysia but it had seen a 50% drop in tigers’ population there.

“At most, we are buying time, as without specialised and armed tactical teams with enforcement po­­wers to respond and quickly track down these poachers, we will lose the fight,” he said.

Currently, Malaysia is conducting its first-ever National Tiger Survey, expected to be completed by 2020.

Separately, Lasah, a 37-year-old male Asian elephant, has been relocated to the Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre.

Together with him, a Malayan tiger named Zanah, was also moved to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai.

Both animals were handed to Perhilitan to be transferred out because the company – Langkawi Elephant Adventures – was unable to carry on its operations at its premises.


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Indonesia: At least 14 dead after magnitude 6.4 quake hits Lombok island

Channel NewsAsia 29 Jul 18;

JAKARTA: At least 14 people are dead and 162 injured after a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Sunday (Jul 29) struck the popular tourist destination of Lombok in Indonesia, the country's disaster mitigation agency said.

Spokesman for the agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said thousands of homes were damaged and that there have been 124 aftershocks as of 2pm local time.

However, he ruled out the possibility of a tsunami.

"We estimate the number will keep rising because we are not done collecting data," Nugroho said.

A 30-year old Malaysian woman was among the victims, he said, adding those hurt were hit by debris.

The earthquake struck at 6.47am on Sunday and was only 7km deep, a shallow depth that would have amplified its effect, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake, which was quickly followed by an aftershock of magnitude 5.4 in the same area in eastern Indonesia, was centered in the northern part of the island, 49.5km northeast of the city of Mataram.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC), the European quake agency, put the magnitude at 6.5.

No tsunami alert was issued, said Hary Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia's geophysics and meteorology agency.

Lombok lies around 100km east of the resort island of Bali.

East Lombok Regency suffered the worst impact with 10 fatalities and 67 injured. About a thousand homes were also damaged.

North Lombok registered four deaths with about 38 people seriously wounded, and 273 homes damaged. A total of 6,237 families have been affected by the earthquake.

There are also several reports of house damage in West Lombok District, West Sumbawa Regency and Mataram City.

Nugroho posted on Twitter pictures of houses with collapsed roofs and walls.

The Regional Disaster Management Authority and several other agencies have distributed food, mineral water, evacuee tents and food.

The authorities are currently in need of medical personnel, stretchers, health equipment, quick meals as well as necessities for children.

The quake may have also impacted Mount Rinjani national park, a popular trekking destination.

"Rinjani mountain climbing is closed temporarily because there are indication of landslide around the mountain," Nugroho, said in a statement.

Authorities are currently evacuating climbers from Mount Rinjani. According to official data from Mount Rinjani National Park Office, there are 826 climbers, both foreign and domestic tourists.

Local news Metro TV reported that people were still sleeping when the first quake hit and they quickly fled their houses in panic. Most of the people were still waiting outside their houses in fear of aftershocks, Metro TV said.

"We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads," said Jean-Paul Volckaert who was woken by the quake while sleeping in the Puncak Hotel near Senggigi on Lombok island.

"I’ve been walking around but so far there is no damage. We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea. There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds," he told Reuters via telephone.

At the holiday island's hotels, tourists raced outside as the quake struck soon after dawn.

In Katamaran Hotel & Resort in Senggigi beach, some 30 guests gathered in the hotel lobby for around half an hour before venturing back to their rooms.

"They calmed down and returned to their room once we explained the earthquake did not trigger a tsunami, everything is back to normal now," receptionist Ni Nyoman Suwarningsih told AFP.

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismic activity hotspot.

It is frequently hit by quakes, most of them harmless. However, the region remains acutely alert to tremors that might trigger tsunamis.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, in western Indonesia, killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Additional reporting by Chandni Vatvani.

Source: Agencies/ec/mz/zl(ra)


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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Jul 18



Sergeants of Singapore
Butterflies of Singapore

Brood Parasite: Golden-bellied Gerygones hosting a Little Bronze Cuckoo
Singapore Bird Group

It's a Sign!
Wan's Ubin Journal


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Firms recognised for green efforts

Jose Hong Straits Times 27 Jul 18;

Property giant City Developments has long championed sustainability in its business, as has consumer titan Unilever, which set out a vision where growth does not have to come with a larger environmental footprint.

For their efforts, both firms were last night crowned the overall winners of the Sustainable Business Awards, the region's leading sustainability awards. Nearly 70 of Singapore's largest firms entered the contest, organised by event producer Global Initiatives, and nearly half of the winners across all categories were Singaporean.

Two new categories were introduced this year - Best Social Enterprise and Best Public Sector Service - to recognise organisations that are not always acknowledged for sustainability, but which have a big impact on their local communities.

The Best Social Enterprise award went to The Bliss Group, which works with marginalised employees and trains them to work in catering. The Best Public Sector Service award went to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore for mobilising the green reformation of the maritime industry.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony at The Fullerton Hotel, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that since their inception in 2012, the awards have played an important role in encouraging the positive impact that private companies can have on the environment.

As a positive example, he mentioned Singtel, which set a target of halving its carbon emissions intensity from 2015 to 2030.

Singtel won the best strategy and sustainability management award, and was one of the winners in the climate change category.

Mr Masagos said: "Our winners this year have made significant progress in climate action... The diversity of the companies who participated in the Sustainable Business Awards adds vibrancy to our story of sustainable development."

Ms Fang Eu-Lin, sustainability and climate change leader of PwC Singapore, one of the awards' organisers, said: "The awards... show that many Singapore companies are leading the way in responsible stewardship and sustainability practices."


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Best of our wild blogs: 28 Jul 18



WUJ's Pick of the Week (27 JUL - 02 AUG)
Wan's Ubin Journal


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Regulatory measures needed to curb roadkill

Straits Times Forum 27 Jul 18;

The recent reports of roadkill incidents have been saddening (Rare deer put down after 3-vehicle accident, June 18; Pregnant wild boar killed in BKE accident involving 3 cars, June 23).

Losing a member of a species already under threat is a huge blow, and one too many for Singapore's sensitive wildlife.

The rise in the number of roadkill incidents is alarming, and is likely due to the construction works in the vicinity.

Efforts by Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) to mitigate roadkill should be lauded, but they are still clearly inadequate and ineffective.

MPH should also be transparent with its roadkill data, especially when it claims to be "closely monitoring wildlife road incidents within and around the project area" (Many measures in place to reduce wildlife road incidents; March 29).

Its claim that "there has not been an observable increase in roadkill incidents since work began on the Mandai Project" should also be backed up by hard data, which should be made publicly available.

Currently, there are neither incentives to motivate MPH to step up its mitigation efforts norany repercussions for roadkill incidents happening within the vicinity of the works.

There is an urgent need for regulatory measures to be imposed on MPH and future similar works for accountability.

Additionally, the construction of the eco-link bridge should commence as soon as possible.

I implore MPH to ramp up roadkill-mitigation measures, review its wildlife-shepherding techniques, and consider working with the Land Transport Authority to designate Mandai Lake Road as a car-lite zone, in order to best preserve what precious little wildlife is left in Singapore.

Neeraj Prabakharan


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A move that has been a long time coming: Wildlife experts welcome formation of revamped NParks

Matthew Mohan Channel NewsAsia 27 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: Having a single agency - the National Parks Board (NParks) - take the lead in addressing wildlife-related concerns is a step in the right direction, local experts said, adding that the move has been a long time coming.

The board will take on the role from Apr 1 2019, as part of the government's reorganisation of food, plant health and animal management functions announced on Thursday (Jul 26).

All non-food plant and animal-related functions of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will be transferred to NParks from April next year, with a new statutory board taking over food safety and security functions currently overseen by three agencies. With that, AVA will be disbanded.

Local wildlife experts told Channel NewsAsia that the move will allow for the better pooling of resources as NParks seeks to conserve Singapore's natural heritage.

"I welcome the news," said veteran wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai. "For the longest time, we have been worried that the AVA can't cope. They are stretched too thin and are unable to prioritise certain things which we feel are important."

"It is important to know that we're separating managing wildlife from management of food-related issues," he added. "Putting the two together in the past was a bit up in the air ... We cannot have too many agencies spoiling the broth. This move will allow people to work closer together to find solutions."

Tackling issues such as the illegal wildlife trade, and finding a solution for animal-human "conflict" are issues that the new-look NParks should seek to address, added Mr Rajathurai.

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Dr Shawn Lum, president of Nature Society (Singapore) (NSS), hailed the move as one which will bring together the best of both worlds.

"I'm very encouraged by this. It's quite similar to what some have been requesting for years - but it's even better now that it's under one agency," said Dr Lum.

"I think at every level our response to wildlife-related issues will be now streamlined. We take the best of AVA's animal expertise and bring that together with the NParks' experience on the ground and in the field, and what we could get is something even better than the sum of two groups previously.

"The AVA are very committed to these issues, and they have very good people who are doing a good job, but I think now that it is under a single agency, you can have a shared sort of objective and the response can come from one agency instead of two, so there would be better coordination."

This sentiment was echoed by chief executive officer of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore Elaine Tan, who stressed the need for NParks to tackle the loss of biodiversity.

"It is a welcomed move that NParks, with its comprehensive knowledge on conservation, will take the lead on biodiversity issues including wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade, and the protection and conservation of precious natural resources," she added.

But for the NParks to function optimally, Dr Lum of NSS believes that the agency has to be given more financial support. This could allow them to designate more resources to track wildlife, delegate more manpower to monitor the illegal wildlife trade and even draw up more programmes to encourage more young people to go into conservation policy, he added.

"If we invested just a little bit more in some key human resources, we could truly realise the potential of this new arrangement. It's already very good but it could be even better."

Source: CNA/mt(ms)


Bringing all animal-related functions under NParks welcomed by groups
Low De Wei Straits Times 27 Jul 18;

Animal and green groups generally welcomed the transfer of animal-related functions under the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to the National Parks Board (NParks), saying it can lead to greater efficiency and more effective policies.

The move will combine NParks' expertise in wildlife conservation and horticultural science, and AVA's in animal and plant health, said the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and the Ministry of National Development.

Under changes announced yesterday, the AVA will cease to exist by next April, with about 300 of its staff moving to NParks.

Dr Siew Tuck Wah, president of animal welfare group SOSD, said having a single lead agency in dealing with wildlife might streamline the management of wildlife here.

NParks currently deals with public tip-offs on wildlife spotted in a park or nature reserve, but cases in which wildlife wander into urban areas are referred to AVA.

Dr Siew said this means that if SOSD wants to carry out sterilisation or rescue operations for a stray dog that wandered into a park from a road, it has to go through multiple agencies.

MORE RESOURCES NEEDED

As the jurisdiction (of NParks) becomes wider, there must be more investment to reap the benefits of structural change and manage thorny issues such as wildlife smuggling.

DR SHAWN LUM, president of the Nature Society (Singapore), calling for more resources to be allocated to manage and monitor wildlife.

Other groups expressed hope that the combined expertise of AVA and NParks will lead to better targeted action on environmental and wildlife issues here.

Acres, or the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, welcomed the move, saying "it makes more sense to approach and handle issues holistically".

Ms Elaine Tan, chief executive of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore, said it hopes NParks will take the lead on issues including human-wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trade and conservation of natural resources.

Mr Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said it hopes NParks will put animal welfare firmly on the agenda.

Wild boars were spotted around Tuas bus interchange in June last year. Such encounters between humans and wildlife are rising.

As for the Nature Society (Singapore), even as it welcomed the potential cutting of red tape, it called for more resources, especially manpower, to be allocated to manage and monitor wildlife.

Its president Shawn Lum said there will be increased instances of human-wildlife conflict, but the agencies managing wildlife are currently very stretched.

"As the jurisdiction (of NParks) becomes wider, there must be more investment to reap the benefits of structural change and manage thorny issues such as wildlife smuggling," said Dr Lum.


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55 Ministry of National Development scholarships awarded this year

Jolene Ang Straits Times 27 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - Three years ago, student Dayna Cheah went on an intertidal field trip to Pulau Hantu to observe the coral and other marine life in the area.

She was amazed to find that a small and urbanised country like Singapore could still sustain a vibrant marine life and ecosystem.

But a year later, on a trip to the nearby Sisters' Islands, Ms Cheah was "heartbroken" to see signs of mass coral bleaching in the reefs there.

The 19-year-old, a former National University of Singapore (NUS) High School of Mathematics and Science student, said: "(Pulau Hantu) sparked something in me, to see the resilience of our animals and marine life. But (the Sisters' Islands corals dying) is one image that has stayed with me every day throughout the last two years."

Ms Cheah is one of 41 undergraduates who received the Ministry of National Development Executive Development and Growth Exchange (MND Edge) scholarships on Friday (July 27).

She will be pursuing a degree in natural sciences at Britain's Cambridge University and will join the National Parks Board (NParks) after completing her studies.

A total of 55 people received MND Edge scholarships at a ceremony. Fourteen in-service staff received scholarships in the postgraduate category.

The MND Edge scholarship programme is a joint talent development project offered by MND and its statutory boards. Scholarship recipients will join the statutory boards after they graduate.

"The balance between conservation (of the environment) and development (of the country) is delicate," said Ms Cheah. "I hope to help integrate the two so we can have a city in a jungle, and so people will actually know how to appreciate and interact with nature."

Addressing the scholarship recipients at the MND Auditorium in Maxwell Road, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said: "For some, Singapore may seem very built-up and well-developed... Nearly every inch of land is optimised, developed and planned for; is there any more space for development?

"The short answer is yes. With long-term planning, we are able to free up large parcels of land for future development... There is still much more that needs to be done."

Scholarship recipient Teo Ning Ginn, who will be reading environmental studies at NUS, has an interest in the efficiency and sustainability of local farms.

Ms Teo, 19, said: "When I do farming work and get to interact with plants and animals, I feel at peace. The satisfaction of eating something I grew myself is wonderful to me."

Ms Chan Yu An, also 19, who plans to study veterinary science, said: "I hope I will be able to manage issues relating to wildlife and livestock in Singapore."


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Malaysia: Sarawak activates drought ops centres statewide as heatwave looms

stephen then The Star 27 Jul 18;

MIRI: Sarawak has activated its divisional drought crisis operation centres statewide on Friday (July 27).

The State Disaster Relief Committee headquarters in Kuching issued the directive, which was signed by head of the secretariat Major (Rtd) Ismail Mahedin.

The directive has been distributed to all relevant government agencies and departments involved in disaster mitigation and management in the state including the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department.

Miri Fire Chief Supt Law Poh Kiong confirmed that his office in Miri received the directive at noon.

"The directive on the activation of the drought-crisis ops centre in the divisions in the state is with immediate effective," he added.

The order to activate the ops centres is to enable all the divisional disaster relief ops room to liase with the central ops centre in state capital Kuching to prepare for water shortages.

The Sarawak Disaster Relief Committee which handles all forms of natural disasters including floods and drought will be coordinating relief efforts between the central and divisional operation centres to monitor and assist areas hit by water shortages.

In many parts of Sarawak, including Miri, midday temperatures have risen to as high as 35 degree Celsius.


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Malaysia: Pygmy elephant calf dies after being caught in snare trap

natasha joibi The Star 27 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A Borneo pygmy elephant calf was unable to survive the trauma of being caught in a snare trap set by poachers and died hours after being found.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed the calf's death at the Sungai Taliwas Forest Reserve in Lahad Datu, and said it was found with a snare trap wire still wrapped around its right foot on Thursday (July 26).

"Unfortunately, it died the night of our visit," he said, adding that they would provide more details once these were provided by the veterinary officer.

Tuuga himself came across the calf – which was alone and isolated from the rest of its herd – while he was accompanying Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister Assafal Alian on a working visit to Kawag Tourism Centre on Thursday.

He added that this was not the first incident of its kind and there had been at least 18 elephant deaths reported this year.

It is believed that the calf was separated from its group due to its injuries, which worsened each time it moved as the trap tightened further around its foot.

It was reported that the elephant was sedated so that it could be treated and relocated, but it came too late to save the animal's life.


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Indonesia: HAkA, Google Voyager, take Leuser Ecosystem online

The Jakarta Post 27 Jul 18;

The Natural Forest and Environment of Aceh (HAkA) non-governmental organization has teamed up with Google Earth to promote the Leuser Ecosystem, a 2.6 million-hectare forest conservation area in Aceh and North Sumatra, as a tourist destination to all digitally connected people around the world.

The Leuser Ecosystem project was launched Thursday on Voyager.

Voyager is a Google Earth feature that “provides opportunity to explore” places around the world through videos, pictures and texts, Google Earth outreach program manager Tomomi Matsuoka said on Wednesday.

Matsuoka explained that Google Earth chose HAkA because it had participated in Google’s annual user summit every year since 2015. She also highlighted that the Leuser Ecosysten was the last place on the planet where the endangered Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhinoceros and orangutan coexisted in the wild.

Using Voyager, people around the world could explore the Leuser Ecosystem in eight story panels and learn about its ecological importance.

HAkA social media officer Irham Hudaya Yunardi said the Leuser Ecosystem was home to 8,500 plant species, 382 bird species and more than 105 mammalian species.It was also a life-support system that provided resources and functions, such as clean water and flood control, for millions of people in Aceh. The ecosystem also helped mitigate climate change with its peat swamp forests.(stu)


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Indonesia: 44 hotspots detected in Musi Rawas, S Sumatra, during January-July

Antara 27 Jul 18;

Musi Rawas, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - As many as 44 hotspots had been detected in Musi Rawas District, South Sumatra Province, during the January-July period.

The hotspots were found in 14 sub-districts in Musi Rawas, Paisol, Head of the Musi Rawas disaster mitigation office, said here, Thursday.

Among the affected sub-districts were Muara Kelingi, Muara Lakitan, Muara Beliti, and Selangit.

However, he believed that the hotspots did not come from forest fires but from chimneys of state oil and gas company Pertamina and hot zinc.

None of the hotspot came from forest fires, he noted, adding that if there is one, he would closely monitor and check them with the cooperation of the military and police.

Meanwhile, the government is preparing a number of anticipatory measures to overcome the potential of forest and land fires, ahead of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

"The steps have been many and easily `manageable," Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar stated, after a coordination meeting on anticipation of forest and land fires ahead of the Asian Games in the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs Building, in Jakarta, on July 24.

She explained that the anticipatory steps to prevent forest and land fires are mostly carried out in South Sumatra, such as water bombing and weather modification for rain.

In addition, she added that the government has also set up various surveillance posts in certain hotspots by providing guidance to farmers on the method of planting oil palm ahead of the planting season and arresting those who burn land.

Besides, the Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) will drill 200 artesian wells in six villages in Ogan Komering Ilir, a land fire-prone area that could spread the haze to Asian Games venues in Jakabaring sport complex in South Sumatra`s city of Palembang.

"There will be 200 artesian wells. We are focusing on areas that could affect the Asian Games. Based on analysis, we have started to build (artesian wells) in six villages in OKI (Ogan Komering Ilir), which could spread the haze to Jakabaring," BRG`s Deputy of Construction, Operation and Maintenance Alue Dohong remarked here on Wednesday.

reporting by Marjamin/Indra
(f001/INE)
(T.SYS/A/KR-BSR/A/H-YH)
Editor: Heru Purwanto


Disaster Mitigation Agency assures Asian Games will be free from smoke
Antara 27 Jul 18;

Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei. (ANTARA /Rosa Panggabean)

Raja Ampat, W Papua (ANTARA News) - Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei has assured the public that the 18th Asian Games will be free from smoke from land and forest fires.

"Both the central and regional governments have collaborated to handle and prevent smoke. The cooperation is aimed at assuring the public that there will be no longer smoke disaster in the rest of the year particularly during the Asian Games," he said on the sidelines of the Asian Games 2018 torch in Raja Ampat, West Papua province.

The central and regional governments have taken strategic steps to prevent hotspots in the areas vulnerable to land and forest fires, he said.

The steps include familiarizing the public with the programs, mobilizing officers to conduct land and air patrols, mapping disaster-prone areas and applying weather modifying technology to combat fires. he said.

"We have monitored hotspots so that we will not be late to extinguish fires in peatland," he said.

Should fires happen, the government will be ready to conduct land operations involving the military, police, regional disaster mitigation boards and all relevant parties.

Reported by Michael Siahaan
(T.S012/B/KR-BSR/B/H-YH)
Editor: Heru Purwanto


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Vietnam to limit waste imports as shipments build up at ports

Reuters 26 Jul 18;

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam will stop issuing new licenses for the import of waste and crack down on illegal shipments as thousands of containers of paper, plastic and metal scrap build up at the country’s ports, raising concerns about the environment.

Waste imports into Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries have risen significantly since the Chinese government banned the entry of several types of solid wastes from the beginning of this year, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The authorities need to “prevent waste from entering Vietnam to keep the country from becoming a dumping site, affecting the environment and people’s lives,” the government said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The surge in waste imports has caused congestion at several Vietnam ports, with around 6,000 containers now sitting at entry points that need to be handled, the ministry said in a statement earlier this week. The ministry did not say how much waste Vietnam has imported this year.

Waste-processing is a supplemental source of raw materials for Vietnam’s paper, plastic and steel industries.

“The demand for paper and plastic scraps as materials for production does exist, but this benefits only the processors, not the environment,” according to the government statement.

Malaysia’s government on Tuesday also revoked the import permits of 114 factories that process plastic waste, following local media reports of increased pollution in areas where the factories operated.

Malaysian Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the factories affected will have three months to bring their operations up to speed with international environmental standards before they can reapply for the permits, according to a report by national newswire Bernama.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in Wednesday’s government statement that Vietnam will track down the owners of the containers piling up at its ports and launch criminal investigations into any illegal imports or violations of environment law.

Pollution is a political risk for Communist-ruled Vietnam, where nationwide protests have been held to save trees and against a steel firm accused of polluting the sea.

One of Vietnam’s worst environmental disasters happened in 2016, when a steel plant being developed by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp contaminated coastal waters and unleashed an outpouring of anger throughout the country.

An editorial published on Monday in The People’s Daily, a mouthpiece of China’s Communist Party, said the nation’s ban on solid waste imports will have a “temporary impact” on countries that have waste recycling industries, but that it will eventually lead to better global standards in the long run.

The editorial said China’s ban will help improve the country’s environment and “promote the universal international principle that producers of waste should be responsible for the whole life cycle of that waste.”

Reporting by Khanh Vu, with additional reporting by Joseph Sipalan in KUALA LUMPUR and David Stanway in SHANGHAI; Editing by Tom Hogue


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Myanmar: Floods force thousands from homes

AFP Yahoo News 27 Jul 18;

Hpa-an (Myanmar) (AFP) - Floodwaters have forced thousands from their homes in southeast Myanmar, local police said Friday, as authorities and volunteers scrambled to provide food and aid to the victims.

Heavy monsoon rains have pounded Karen state, Mon state and Bago region in recent days and show no sign of abating, raising fears that the worst might be yet to come.

Photos and videos showed residents of Karen's state capital Hpa-an boating down streets that had turned into rivers while others were forced to escape on foot through waist-deep water.

Vast swathes of the surrounding land lay submerged while 11 temporary camps have been set up around the city.

"There are more than 6,000 people displaced in Hpa-an and about 4,000 in Myawaddy," the head of Karen state police force Kyi Linn told AFP, referring to a second town on the border with Thailand.

A social welfare ministry official previously said 16,000 people had been displaced across eight townships in Karen state.

The number affected in Mon state and Bago region has not yet been confirmed.

"The children's school has closed," said Khin San Win, who fled her home which was thigh-deep in water for a shelter in Hpa-an along with her sick husband and their three children.

"We're being given food but we aren't able to pay for anything else as we can't work."

State-run media published pictures on Friday of civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi visiting Karen state the day before, talking to victims, relief workers and volunteers.

The Global New Light Of Myanmar said her government had freed up 200 million kyat ($140,000) to help those displaced and that rebuilding destroyed bridges would be a priority.

"We are now delivering food to flood victims who don't want to leave their homes," said volunteer Ni Ni Aung in Kyonedoe town, adding they would have no choice but to leave if the rains worsened.

So far no casualties have been reported.

Like its neighbours, Myanmar faces severe flooding every year and climate scientists in 2015 even ranked it top of a global list of nations hardest hit by extreme weather.

That year more than 100 people died in floods that also displaced hundreds of thousands across the country.

Some 138,000 people were killed in 2008 when Cyclone Nargis lashed vast stretches of Myanmar's coast.


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Science Says Record Heat, Fires Worsened by Climate Change

Scientists see the hand of climate change in heat records and fires breaking out globally this summer.
SETH BORENSTEIN AND FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press US News 27 Jul 18;

Heat waves are setting all-time temperature records across the globe, again. Europe suffered its deadliest fire in more than a century, and one of nearly 90 large fires in the U.S. West burned dozens of homes and forced the evacuation of at least 37,000 people near Redding, California. Flood-inducing downpours have pounded the U.S. East this week.

It's all part of summer — but it's all being made worse by human-caused climate change, scientists say.

"Weirdness abounds," said Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis.

Japan hit 106 degrees on Monday, its hottest temperature ever. Records fell in parts of Massachusetts, Maine, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, New Mexico and Texas. And then there's crazy heat in Europe, where normally chill Norway, Sweden and Finland all saw temperatures they have never seen before on any date, pushing past 90 degrees. So far this month, at least 118 of these all-time heat records have been set or tied across the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The explanations should sound as familiar as the crash of broken records.

"We now have very strong evidence that global warming has already put a thumb on the scales, upping the odds of extremes like severe heat and heavy rainfall," Stanford University climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh said. "We find that global warming has increased the odds of record-setting hot events over more than 80 percent of the planet, and has increased the odds of record-setting wet events at around half of the planet."

Climate change is making the world warmer because of the build-up of heat-trapping gases from the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil and other human activities. And experts say the jet stream — which dictates weather in the Northern Hemisphere — is again behaving strangely.

"An unusually sharply kinked jet stream has been stuck in place for weeks now," said Jeff Masters, director of the private Weather Underground. He says that allows the heat to stay in place over three areas where the kinks are: Europe, Japan and the western United States.

The same jet stream pattern caused the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Russian heat wave and fires, the 2011 Texas and Oklahoma drought and the 2016 Canadian wildfires, Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said, pointing to past studies by him and others. He said in an email that these extremes are "becoming more common because of human-caused climate change and in particular, the amplified warming in the Arctic."

Climate scientists have long said they can't directly link single weather events, like a heat wave, to human caused climate change without extensive study. In the past decade they have used observations, statistics and computer simulations to calculate if global warming increases the chances of the events.

A study by European scientists Friday found that the ongoing European heat wave is twice as likely because of human-caused global warming, though those conclusions have not yet been confirmed by outside scientists. The World Weather Attribution team said they compared three-day heat measurements and forecasts for the Netherlands, Denmark and Ireland with historical records going back to the early 1900s.

"The world is becoming warmer and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common," said Friederike Otto, a member of the team and deputy director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.

Erich Fischer, an expert on weather extremes at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who wasn't part of the analysis said the authors used well-established methods to make their conclusions.

Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said the link between climate change and fires isn't as strong as it is with heat waves, but it is becoming clearer.

A devastating fire in Greece — with at least 83 fatalities — is the deadliest fire in Europe since 1900, according to the International Disaster Database run by the Centre for the Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Brussels, Belgium.

In the United States on Friday there were 89 active large fires, consuming nearly 900,000 acres, according the National Interagency Fire Center. So far this year, fires have burned 4.15 million acres, which is nearly 14 percent higher than average over the past 10 years.

The first major science study to connect greenhouse gases to stronger and longer heat waves was in 2004. It was titled "More intense, more frequent and longer lasting heat waves in the 21st century." Study author Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research said Friday that now it "reads like a prediction of what has been happening and will continue to happen as long as average temperatures continue to rise with ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. It's no mystery."

___

Borenstein reported from Washington, Jordans from Berlin.

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Heatwave made more than twice as likely by climate change, scientists find
Fingerprints of global warming clear, they say, after comparing northern Europe’s scorching summer with records and computer models
Damian Carrington The Guardian 27 Jul 18;

The heatwave searing northern Europe was made more than twice as likely by climate change, according to a rapid assessment by scientists.

The result is preliminary but they say the signal of climate change is “unambiguous”. Scientists have long predicted that global warming is ramping up the number and intensity of heatwaves, with events even worse than current one set to strike every other year by the 2040s.

“The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer, and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said Friederike Otto, at the University of Oxford and part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) consortium that did the work.

“What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace, and in some cases, it already has,” she said. “So this is something that society can and should prepare for. But equally there is no doubt that we can and should constrain the increasing likelihood of all kinds of extreme weather events by restricting greenhouse gas emissions as sharply as possible.”

The new analysis is a climate-change attribution study. By comparing extreme weather with historical measurements and with computer models of a climate unaltered by carbon emissions, researchers can find how much global warming is increasing the risk of dangerous weather.

The researchers analysed records of the hottest three-day period at seven weather stations in northern Europe, from Ireland to the Netherlands to Scandinavia, where data was easily accessible.

“We found that for the weather station in the far north, in the Arctic Circle, the current heatwave is just extraordinary – unprecedented in the historical record,” said Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and also part of WWA.

Across northern Europe, the group found global warming more than doubled the risk of scorching temperatures. “We can can see the fingerprints of climate change on local extremes,” he said. “It is amazing now that it is something you can really see at a local level.”

“Most heatwave studies have been done on large scale averages, so European-wide temperatures,” said Otto. “In this study, we have looked at individual locations, where people live, to represent the heatwave people are actually experiencing.” The analysis is a preliminary study as a full study requires many climate models to be run on high-powered computers, which takes months.

Previous attribution analyses have shown very strong connections between climate change and extreme weather events. The scorching summer in New South Wales, Australia, in 2016-17 was made at least 50 times more likely by global warming, meaning it can be “linked directly to climate change”, said the scientists.

The “Lucifer” heatwave across Europe’s Mediterranean nations in 2017 summer was made at least 10 times more likely by climate change, while the unprecedented deluge delivered in the US by Hurricane Harvey also in 2017 was made three times more likely by climate change, new research has found. However, other events, such as storms Eleanor and Friederike, which hit western Europe in January, were not made more likely by climate change, according to the scientists.

In Europe, the heatwave has been caused by the stalling of the jet stream wind, which usually funnels cool Atlantic weather over the continent. This has left hot, dry air in place for two months – far longer than than usual. The stalling of the northern hemisphere jet stream is being increasingly firmly linked to global warming, in particular to the rapid heating of the Arctic and resulting loss of sea ice.

The role of climate change in driving extreme weather events may actually be underestimated by these attribution studies, according to Prof Michael E Mann at Penn State University in the US. The work is good, he said, but computer models cannot yet reliably account for the complex jet stream changes caused by global warming, making the attribution studies “inherently conservative”.

Serious climate change is “unfolding before our eyes”, said Prof Rowan Sutton, director of climate research at the University of Reading. “No one should be in the slightest surprised that we are seeing very serious heatwaves and associated impacts in many parts of the world.”

The wide geographical spread of the heatwave, right across four continents, points to global warming as the culprit, said Prof Peter Stott, a science fellow at the UK’s Met Office: “That pattern is something we wouldn’t be seeing without climate change.”

The heatwave across northern Europe has seen wildfires in the Arctic Circle and prolonged heat across the UK and the European continent. In the south, fierce blazes have devastated parts of Greece, with scores of people killed.

But extreme weather has struck across the globe. Severe floods killed at least 220 people in Japan in early July, with the nation then hit by an “unprecedented” heatwave that peaked at 41.1C and left 35,000 people in hospital. In the US, extreme heat in the west is feeding wildfires, with Yosemite national park being evacuated, while flooding is affecting the east.

Temperature records have also fallen in Taiwan, with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang, and in Ouargla in Algeria’s Sahara desert, which reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C, the highest temperature ever reliably recorded in Africa. The first six months of the 2018 are the hottest recorded for any year without an El NiƱo event, a natural climate cycle that raises temperatures.

Climate change driven by humans made heatwave 'twice as likely'
Matt McGrath BBC 27 Jul 18;

Climate change resulting from human activities made the current Europe-wide heatwave more than twice as likely to occur, say scientists

Researchers compared the current high temperatures with historical records from seven weather stations, in different parts of Europe.

Their preliminary report found that the "signal of climate change is unambiguous," in this summer's heat.

They also say the scale of the heatwave in the Arctic is unprecedented.

The scale and breadth of the current heat being experienced across Europe has prompted many questions about the influence of global warming on extreme events.

To try and see if there is a connection, researchers looked at data from seven weather stations, in Finland, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

They chose these locations because they all had digitised records dating back to the early 1900s, unlike the UK. The team also used computer models to assess the scale of human-influenced climate change.

The researchers found that in the weather stations in the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark, climate change has generally increased the odds of the current heatwave by more than two-fold.

So what exactly is a heatwave?

There are several different definitions of what exactly makes a heatwave but the researchers in this study have gone with the hottest consecutive 3 day period in a year. This has allowed them to compare the data from the seven different locations over the past 100 years or so.

"In many parts of Europe three day heat is not very exceptional and you could argue that it would be better to look at longer," said Dr Friederike Otto from the University of Oxford, one of the study's authors.

"But we've looked at longer periods and it doesn't change the result very much."

The researchers also say the warmest three days in succession this year may not yet have happened but they believe that even if next week is warmer, it won't change the overall impact.

Is this definitive proof of the impact of climate change?

Scientists are loath to say a specific event was "caused" by climate change - however they believe that this new study joins a growing list of solid links between rising temperatures and extreme events.

One thing the researchers can't say right now is whether the high pressure system that has been blocked over Europe for almost two months was caused by climate change. The scientists, from the World Weather Attribution group say they will address this question when they formally publish their findings in a scientific journal later this year.

Can they tell us when another heatwave will strike Europe?

They can't be that definite. However the study does give figures for what are termed "return periods" or the chances of something happening again.

They estimate that in southern Scandinavia it's likely there will be a similar heatwave every ten years, while further south, in the Netherlands, it's likely to be once every five years. This ties in with projections from several scientists that the type of heatwave we've had this summer could occur every second year by the 2040s.

"The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable - the world is becoming warmer, and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common," said Dr Friederike Otto, from the University of Oxford.

"What was once regarded as unusually warm weather will become commonplace - in some cases, it already has," she added.

What about the Arctic?

While acknowledging that the current heatwave in the Arctic is unprecedented in the historical record, the researchers were not able to clearly resolve the impact of human influence.

That's because summer temperatures there vary a good deal from year to year so the trend was impossible to estimate from the observations, the authors said.

Despite their reservations about the Arctic they argue that their initial findings should prompt more action on cutting carbon from governments.

"We are not taking the right measures," said Dr Robert Vautard, from the CNRS in France.

"We are discovering climate change rather than doing something against it."

How do you work out the influence of climate change?

It involves some serious number crunching!

This new research is called an attribution study - The researchers work out how often these type of extreme heat events have happened at each of the weather stations they looked at.

They compare those findings to modelled results of the climate without the influence of human emissions of carbon dioxide. This way they can work out how much climate change has tipped the odds of a rare event happening.

Have other extreme events been linked to climate change?

The list continues to grow.

The major European heatwave of 2003 was among the first events to be linked though it took scientists several years to do it - Eventually they concluded that human induced climate change had made the event 500% more likely!

These days the attributions studies are much faster - just last year scientists concluded that the flooding in Houston, Texas was made 38% more likely by climate change while the so-called "Lucifer" heatwave in Eastern Europe was made ten times more likely. This new study was completed in less than a week.


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Best of our wild blogs: 27 Jul 18


Semakau East with stressed corals (17072018)
Psychedelic Nature

Professor Richard Thompson's talk on Marine Litter - Plastics aren't the enemy. It is how we choose to use plastics
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Launch of New Pages in WUJ!
Wan's Ubin Journal


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New stat board to oversee food safety and security; AVA to be disbanded

Matthew Mohan Channel NewsAsia 26 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: A new statutory board, to be called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA), will be formed in April next year under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) to oversee food safety and security, it was announced on Thursday (26 Jul).

The agency will bring together food-related functions currently carried out by three other agencies - the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), said MEWR and the Ministry of National Development (MND) in a joint news release.

Formed in response to challenges posed by the global food landscape and climate change, SFA will manage food safety, hygiene regulations and address issues of food supply.

SFA aims to “enhance regulatory oversight from farm to fork”, the release added.

A National Centre for Food Science will also be established under SFA, consolidating the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies.

“Safeguarding Singapore’s food supply is increasingly challenging due to the complexities of global food supply chains as well as the impacts of climate change,” said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli in the press release.

“We are already seeing the effects of climate change, such as plankton blooms from warmer sea waters and increasingly erratic rainfall patterns. The formation of the SFA is timely as Singapore aims to turn our food challenges into strategic advantages.”

“The SFA will work closely with industry and R&D partners to develop new solutions and products, and seize global opportunities in the food industry,” added Mr Masagos.

“Doing this will help make our food supply future-ready and provide good jobs for Singaporeans in the food industry.”

The SFA will also aim to streamline licensing standards for food businesses, including farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers and food service operators.

Mr Lim Kok Thai, chief executive officer of AVA, will be concurrently appointed as the chief executive officer (designate) of SFA.

NPARKS TO BE LEAD AGENCY FOR ANIMAL AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT

In addition, under the government’s reorganisation of its food, plant health and animal management functions, all non-food plant and animal-related functions of the AVA will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks).

This will allow NParks to provide a one-stop service on animal management and welfare issues, manage “human-animal interactions”, and improve the detection and response to animal diseases which can be transmitted to humans, said the press release.

“With NParks as the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, as well as animal and plant health, we will work more closely with stakeholders to develop a science-based management approach, with holistic strategies and more effective responses,” said Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee.

A new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) will be created under NParks and take on the AVA’s role as first responder for animal-related feedback, as well as maintaining standards in animal welfare and health.

When the changes take effect on Apr 1, 2019, AVA, which was formed in 2000, will be dissolved.

The reorganisation will see about 1,150 staff redeployed from the AVA, NEA and HSA. About 850 staff from the three agencies will be transferred to SFA. Another 300 will be transferred from AVA to NParks.


New food agency will better support entrepreneurship, boost efficiency: Industry players
Matthew Mohan Channel NewsAsia 26 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE: The formation of the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has been welcomed by the industry, which said that the new statutory board would better support the local food sector and help boost its efficiency.

The SFA, which will oversee food safety and security, will be set up under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) in April next year. It will bring together food-related functions currently carried out by three other agencies - the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Speaking to reporters on the sideline of a visit to The Soup Spoon on Thursday (Jul 26), Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said the SFA would better "integrate" the food industry.

"This will bring together various parts of these agencies to look at food from farm to fork and this will integrate the industry and as well as support them in order to take advantages that's available to our food industry."

George Huang, chairman of the recently formed Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation (SAFEF), said the formation of SFA would better facilitate the process of farmers applying for various licenses.

"From the farmers' point of view, I think it is a very good move," said Mr Huang. "Now we have an organisational body that covers the whole supply chain ... It will be much more efficient and support entrepreneurship much more."

"For example, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) (currently) takes care of farm licenses, but if for example a fish farm wants to sell fish on the farm premises, it falls under retail, which is under the NEA."

"The issue is not getting the license - Singapore is quite efficient and so is the NEA. The thing is that the rules might not be totally aligned," added Mr Huang. "One deals with farming and the other with retailing. There might be some grey areas or gaps in between."

Jocelyn Chng, chief executive officer of JR Group Holdings, which operates restaurants and hot-food vending machines among others, agreed that the formation of the SFA would streamline the process of applying for the relevant licences.

Currently, food retail businesses are licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA), but those who wish to run a central kitchen require a different licence from the AVA.

"It will be more efficient, because we don't need to go to two authorities or agencies to get clearance and approval," she added. "With this one single agency, in terms of the regulations, the officers or the agency will be very clear in what they are offering.

"There's also more clarity. We know where to go and which agency to approach. Thirdly, we will also get better support, assuming there are licensing officers who know our businesses well, they will be able to support us better."

The hope is that these changes would also lead to greater savings for companies such as JR Group, Ms Chng said.

"That will be a win-win for everyone," she added.

While Mr Shannon Lim, who operates a fish farm off Lorong Halus, welcomed the announcement, he also hoped that SFA would be able to better allocate resources, including manpower to help local farmers.

"(It's a) good idea," said Mr Lim, explaining that the AVA was "always stretched too thin".

Mr Lim said that he has yet to receive a mandatory fish culture farm worker identification card for one of his employees, despite getting it approved in February.

"We tried to collect (it) at their office in June. They said it wasn’t ready yet," he added. "A more focused agency should be able to allocate resources better."

But apart from resource management, Mr Huang hopes that the SFA would help farmers in the export of their produce.

"We have to increase Singapore's capabilities, such that our products are of international standards, that it is exportable - that's where you get a higher value of Singapore branding."

Source: CNA/mt(ms)


New S'pore Food Agency to oversee food safety regulations and related matters from next April
CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 26 Jul 18;

AVA will cease to exist; NParks to become lead agency for animal and wildlife management

SINGAPORE — A new statutory board called the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) will oversee food safety and security from April next year, following a reorganisation of three existing agencies under one roof.

Formed from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA), the SFA will oversee food safety regulations across the entire chain. It will sit under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR).

With this, the AVA will be dissolved, and its functions distributed to the SFA and the National Parks Board (NParks), which will be beefed up to take on all non-food plant and animal related functions of AVA. About 300 AVA staff will be transferred to NParks.

NEA and HSA will continue to carry out their existing functions, without their food hygiene arm and food safety lab respectively.

Announcing the move on Thursday (July 26), MEWR and the Ministry of National Development (MND) said the reorganisation will involve about 1,150 staff. No one will be retrenched.

The newly formed SFA will comprise about 850 staff — 600 from AVA, 220 from NEA and 30 from HSA. It will be helmed by AVA's current chief executive officer, Mr Lim Kok Thai.

The move will benefit consumers and businesses alike, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee at the sidelines of a visit to The Soup Spoon's central kitchen at Jurong.

Having a dedicated agency will mean more efficient responses in the event of food-borne disease outbreaks and better coordination when products have to be traced and recalled.

The SFA will also be able to address lapses more quickly and streamline responses to various stakeholders like businesses, media and also public.

MORE EFFICIENT LICENSING PROCESS

The new agency will also mean more business-friendly regulations, as existing licences for food businesses will be approved by a single authority. For example, businesses which had to apply for multiple operating licenses from the NEA and AVA previously will now need to deal with only one agency.

Among those who welcomed this consolidation, which would reduce manpower and administrative costs for businesses, was managing director and co-founder of homegrown food brand The Soup Spoon, Mr Andrew Chan.

Mr Chan, whose company operates two central kitchens and more than 25 restaurants islandwide in various shopping malls such as NEX and Bugis Junction, said the process of applying for licences can be cumbersome and time-consuming.

Citing the example of how they had to get a licence from AVA to run a central kitchen, and another from NEA to cater food, Mr Chan said: “If you want to operate a business that’s doing both (like ours), you need two separate facilities that do exactly the same thing, and they can’t be in the same address because (each) licence is tagged to one address.”

With licence applications being consolidated under the SFA, Mr Chan said multiple facilities can be done away with. This would mean a “great reduction in rental and set up-cost, (running) anywhere up to tens of thousands of dollars”, added Mr Chan.

Besides business operations, the SFA will also oversee the Republic’s overall food safety and security. To that end, a National Centre for Food Science (NCFS) set up under its auspices will consolidate the food laboratory capabilities of the three agencies. It will run food diagnostics, and conduct research and development in food safety to ensure that food continues to be safe for consumption and standards are benchmarked internationally.

Mr Masagos said: "The formation of the SFA is timely as Singapore aims to turn our food challenges into opportunities. The SFA will work closely with industry partners to develop new solutions and products... (such as) climate resilient farming solutions and advanced food manufacturing techniques.”

Agreeing that a single agency can have a “more holistic picture of food supply and security”, Singapore Agro-Food Enterprises Federation chairman George Huang said: “Currently, there isn’t one agency that is entirely aware of the various sources and destination of food in the supply and demand chain … AVA is aware of what food comes in, the sources, and NEA is aware of what is on the shelf.”

He added: “It’s just so much easier, even for the man on the street, because anything to do with food, you’ll just have to go to one agency.”

EXPANDED SCOPE FOR NPARKS

Under the reorganisation, NParks, which sits under MND, will become the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, on top of its previous responsibility of overseeing wildlife conservation, ecology and horticultural science.

A new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) will be formed under NParks, and it will be the main touch-point for animal related issues for pet owners and businesses, and animal welfare groups.

It will also take on AVA's current role as the first responder for animal-related feedback and deal with issues in animal welfare and safety.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore deputy chief executive Cheng Wen Haur said that the restructure is logical, given that the current segregation of animal issues by geography — within and outside of nature reserves — is a result of different skill sets being situated in different agencies, for example veterinarians in one and wildlife officers in another.

“The new structure will consolidate all relevant skills and competencies in one department to focus on serving and managing wildlife, eliminating ambiguities and improving efficiency”, he added.

Ahead of the set-up of SFA, however, several laws will have to be amended or repealed as part of the process. Some examples include the National Parks Board Act, Wild Animals and Birds Act, Animals and Birds Act, Endangered Species Act, and the Control of Plants Act, while other food-related acts may be affected as well.

From now till April 2019, AVA, NEA, HSA and NParks will continue to carry out their existing functions.

New stat board Singapore Food Agency to be formed in April 2019; AVA will cease to exist
Derek Wong Straits Times 26 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - A new government agency will be formed on April 1 next year to oversee food safety and security, the Government announced on Thursday morning (July 26).

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), a statutory board, will come under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (Mewr) and will be taking over food-related work currently being done by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

The AVA will cease to exist from next April and its animal-related functions, such as animal welfare, will be transferred to the National Parks Board (NParks) under the Ministry of National Development (MND).

The reorganisation will involve about 1,150 staff, said an MND spokesman. The new food agency will have about 850 staff, 600 of whom will come from the AVA, 220 from NEA and 30 from HSA. About 300 AVA staff will move to NParks.

The SFA aims to deal with global food supply challenges caused by climate change but will also look to seize global opportunities in the food industry, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, citing plankton blooms as an example of the effect of climate change. Plankton bloom threatens fish stocks as the micro-organisms suck oxygen from the water.

"The SFA will work closely with industry and research and development partners to develop new solutions and products," Mr Masagos said, adding that these include climate-resilient farming solutions and advanced food manufacturing techniques.

The agency also intends to improve food safety. Three agencies - AVA, NEA and HSA - currently regulate this across the food supply chain, and Singapore Food Agency will be the sole organisation doing so from next April.

"This enables the SFA to address lapses more quickly and more holistically, and streamline public feedback to one point of contact," Mewr and MND said in a joint statement.

SFA will take charge of managing food-borne disease outbreaks and coordinate product tracing and recall.

The move will combine NParks' expertise in wildlife conservation and horticultural science, and AVA's in animal and plant health, said a joint statement by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and the Ministry of National Development.

Mr Lim Kok Thai, chief executive of AVA, will be concurrently appointed chief executive (designate) of SFA before the changes take place next April.

The changes will also see NParks become the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, as well as animal and plant health.

"The transfer of AVA's plant- and animal-related functions will allow NParks to provide one-stop service to Singaporeans and stakeholders on animal management and animal welfare issues, manage human-animal interactions, and improve the detection of and response to zoonotic diseases," said the statement. Zoonotic diseases refer to diseases that spread from animals to humans.

NParks will also have a new Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) that will be in touch with pet owners and businesses as well as animal welfare groups.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, who, like Mr Masagos, was quoted in the joint statement, said: "With NParks as the lead agency for animal and wildlife management, as well as animal and plant health, we will work more closely with stakeholders to develop a science-based management approach, with holistic strategies and more effective responses."

MORE STREAMLINED LICENSING, DIRECT FEEDBACK CHANNEL

SFA will help food businesses streamline licensing processes and assist individuals in contacting the relevant authorities for their needs.

Currently, food retailers who wish to expand their operations in the food supply chain - for instance, to run a central kitchen - require different licences from the NEA and AVA.

From next April, the licences can be obtained from a single source - the SFA - reducing the need for operators to deal with different agencies.

"By harmonising licensing standards and combining existing licences for food businesses, including farmers, food manufacturers, food retailers and food service operators, businesses will be able to adapt and transform their business models seamlessly and look at new ways to grow their operations," Mewr and MND said.

In cases pertaining to food safety, all public feedback will be channelled to the SFA from next April. Currently, NEA, AVA and HSA regulate food safety across the food supply chain, which may cause confusion in the feedback process.

Increased expertise, more holistic overview of flora and fauna for NParks
Derek Wong Straits Times 26 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - The transfer of animal-related functions from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to the National Parks Board (NParks) aims to create a more holistic understanding of flora and fauna and better manage human-animal interactions.

The move will combine NParks' expertise in wildlife conservation and horticultural science, and AVA's in animal and plant health, said a joint statement by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, and the Ministry of National Development.

Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said: "While we have done well to balance urban development and conservation of our natural heritage, there are opportunities to achieve greater synergy by bringing together the plant and animal roles."

This comes as the Government announced that a new government agency, the Singapore Food Agency, will be formed on April 1, 2019, and take over the work of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

Having a single lead agency in wildlife management will also help reduce the time needed to coordinate different agencies in certain cases.

For example, under the old structure, if there is public feedback about wild boars roaming in a public place, NParks will handle the case if the animals are spotted in a park or nature reserve. If the boars appear in urban areas, the case will be referred to the AVA.

Under the new structure, the case will be handled by just NParks.

However, vector control, which is the management of disease-carrying pests such as rodents, cockroaches and mosquitoes, will still be carried out by the National Environment Agency.


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AVA investigating alleged mishandling of snake by handlers in Boon Lay

Rei Kurohi Straits Times 27 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - A large snake was spotted in a Book Lay park and removed by handlers from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Tuesday (July 24).

In a video posted on Facebook by All Singapore Stuff, two men can be seen attempting to recapture the snake after it flees into a drain.

The men manage to pull the snake out of the drain using snake tongs. One of them then grabs the snake's tail while the other grabs its head. They then take photos of the snake with a smartphone before placing it into a sack.

AVA said that it had received feedback of a snake sighting near Block 187 Boon Lay Drive. The snake was removed and placed in the care of Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

In response to queries, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) said that it did not handle the snake.

Mr Kalai Balakrishnan, deputy chief executive of Acres, said that both AVA handlers seemed inexperienced and did not seem to know what they were doing.

He identified the snake as a reticulated python and estimated that it was between 2m and 2.5m in length.

"The person holding the head of the snake shows little or no care for the animal he's holding, aggressively jerking the head when the python's teeth got stuck in the sack," he said, adding that the snake might have lost some teeth in the process.

Mr Kalai added: "We can only hope the snake did not get injured in the process and I urge the authorities to look into this case to reprimand the company involved in catching the snake. Handling animals requires patience and passion."

In response to media queries, AVA said that it is investigating the alleged inappropriate handling of the snake.

Members of the public who spot a wild animal in distress can call the Acres hotline on 9783-7782.

AVA advised the public not to approach, disturb, feed or try to catch any wildlife, including snakes. Members of the public should keep a safe distance from the animals and avoid confronting or cornering them.

The public should also avoid interacting with the animals, and ensure that young children and pets are kept away from them. They can refer to the advisory on snakes on AVA's website, and contact AVA on 1800-476-1600 to provide feedback or request for assistance.


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Malaysia: Mass tourism hurts mangroves

DR A. ALDRIE AMIR New Straits Times 26 Jul 18;

TODAY is the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

This is the third year it is being celebrated after it was proclaimed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) at its 38th General Conference in Paris on Nov 6, 2015.

Mangroves are established mainly on sheltered tropical and subtropical coastlines.

Although mangroves cover one per cent of the earth’s land mass, they play important roles and contribute significantly to global sustainability.

Maintaining water, nutrient and climatic cycles are just some of their prominent functions.

Scientists have recognised mangroves as the most efficient ecosystem to sequester atmospheric carbon, a natural process which becomes one of the best mechanisms — our best weapon — to counter global warming and climate change. This is the central role performed by mangroves.

The importance of mangroves is globally recognised and there are international efforts in place to push for their protection and conservation.

One of these efforts is through the Ramsar Convention.

Malaysia is a proud party to the convention with seven designated sites, of which six are mangrove forest sites.

They are Pulau Kukup, Tanjung Piai and Sungai Pulai National Parks in Johor, Kuching Wetlands National Park in Sarawak, and Lower Kinabatangan-Segama Wetlands and Kota Kinabalu Wetlands in Sabah.

Other global mangrove conservation efforts are linked to Unesco programmes, including the Man and the Biosphere, Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, International Hydrological Programme, World Heritage Convention and Global Geoparks Network.

The only Unesco conservation site involving mangroves in Malaysia is at the Langkawi Global Geopark.

On top of these international efforts, mangroves in Malaysia are being protected and conserved through the gazettement of forest reserves under the National Forestry Act or the National Parks Act.

Other mangrove sites are being protected together with the delineation of marine parks under the National Fisheries Act and state laws such as Sabah’s Parks Enactment.

Being recognised as a site of international importance is an extraordinary privilege.

It opens up tremendous opportunities for an area to be protected and preserved with strict regulations and guidelines without compromising the cultural use by local communities.

The recognition of a site by international conventions usually demands that comprehensive plans and resource management be undertaken by local authorities, with the participation of local communities for the maintenance and protection of the site’s distinctive property.

The recognition also brings multiple benefits and provides outstanding prospects. It is a remarkable identity that can draw international attention, a brand name with a huge global fan base.

The branding triggers the birth and development of a massive tourism industry and all other complementary industries which contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.

However, without a comprehensive governance framework and careful management and control, development would grow at the expense of the environment.

Marco d’Eramo, in his 2014 article entitled “Unescocide” published in the New Left Review, described this phenomenon, particularly the destructive tourism industries and communities surrounding the establishment of Unesco World Cultural Heritage sites.

A steady increase in the number of tourists has taken its toll on the environmental integrity of the mangroves in Malaysia.

Catalysed by tourism activities, anthropogenic impacts are affecting the health and resilience of the ecosystems in our mangrove ecotourism sites.

One identified anthropogenic impact is the tour and cruise boats that frequent the mangrove sites.

These boats, depending on the speed they travel, produce waves that can cause erosion of the river banks.

The heavy scouring of sediment will eventually result in the uprooting and loss of mangrove trees.

Consequently, the channels become wider and the water becomes shallower, altering the hydrology and the morphology of the rivers and estuaries.

Changes in the physical characteristics of the mangrove forests will negatively affect the ecosystem, including protection from coastal and climatic hazards.

More environmental issues associated with mass tourism are expected to occur, ranging from waste and litter to run-offs and leachate, which may pollute the estuarine waters and affect the health of marine life.

Careful consideration must be given when carrying out tourism and development activities near mangrove areas.

It is crucial to be equipped with integrated and effective measures to mitigate these risks, especially mangrove conservation sites designated as Unesco sites.

As the third largest country with mangrove forest cover, Malaysia’s mangroves play a significant role on the global stage.

Each mangrove tree is the main actor in the climate change drama. As a stakeholder and global citizen, Malaysia must invest in conservation efforts to protect its mangroves and natural environment for the benefit of current and future generations.

DR A. ALDRIE AMIR

Senior Lecturer/Research Fellow, Institute for Environment and Development at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Coordinator at The Malaysian Mangrove Research Alliance and Network


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Malaysia: Major oil spill heading towards Perak

r. sekaran The Star 27 Jul 18;

GEORGE TOWN: Up to six tonnes of diesel and hundreds of litres of engine oil floated from Penang seas towards Perak when a ship sank, threatening fish and shrimp farms and the coastal environment along several kilometres of northern Perak’s coast.

The vessel’s fuel and engine oil began spewing out about seven hours after it hit the remains of a shipwreck nicknamed Kapal Simen, 4km from Penang island’s southern coast yesterday morning.

The Star’s assistant chief photographer Zainudin Ahad hired a fisherman’s boat to reach the half-sunken ship and on arriving, he said he was nauseated by the reek of diesel.

“The smell of diesel was overpowering and it looked like a thin rainbow sheen. I also saw blotches of red engine oil floating southeast towards the mainland.

With the spill floating freely, marine biologist Datuk Prof Dr Aileen Tan bemoaned the damage to the coastal environment when it eventually reaches land.

She believed the fuel and oil would eventually reach Perak shores because the rapidly falling tide was heading in a southeasterly direction yesterday.

From about noon yesterday, the tide fell from a high of 2.4m to 0.85m by 7pm.




“The tide was strong and we can only hope that the current and wind will spread the diesel thinly so that when it lands, it is not concentrated enough to do immediate short-term damage in any one area,” she said.

About 20km from the spill is Tanjung Piandang, Perak, where dozens of shrimp and fish farms in dugout ponds are near the shore.

Dr Aileen said the farms must be told not to pump in seawater to avoid sucking the diesel into their ponds, especially if their intake pipes are close to the water surface.

“Coastal fisherman must not put out their floating nets or the diesel will contaminate their catch,” she said, adding that the diesel and oil could be at sea for a few days before it hits land.

Meanwhile, Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the state was on high alert.

By yesterday evening, he said the spill had not reached Perak shores and the state Marine Department had teams deployed along possible shorelines, ready to clean up.

“Our focus now is to prevent the spill from harming open-sea fish farms and our coastal fishermen,” he said in a statement.

The 43.6m vessel from Hong Kong, Xin Yi Yi, hit Kapal Simen at about 5.30am yesterday.

The captain of the vessel, Shing Wei, 61, in his police report, said he had just arrived from Hong Kong to collect live farmed fish from the Batu Maung fisheries jetty.

He reported that it was a misty morning and he did not see the warning light on the buoy that marked Kapal Simen until it was too late. He estimated his loss to be around RM3.5mil. Shing Wei, who could only speak Cantonese, declined to talk to the press.

Shing Wei and his crew of four were saved by local fishermen after Xin Yi Yi sank.

The Penang shipping agent of the vessel, S. Elumalai, said it was a routine trip for the ship, which could take about 30 tonnes of live fish back to Hong Kong.

Northern Region Marine Department director Capt Abdul Samad Shaik Osman said the ship had about six tonnes of fuel on board on reaching Penang and gave assurance that it was not severe.



Perak MB: State Marine Dept monitoring oil spill from Penang waters
manjit kaur The Star 27 Jul 18;

IPOH: Perak Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu said at the moment there is no risk of diesel and engine oil reaching Perak shores after a ship sank at the Penang coast.

He said the state Marine Department has been monitoring the situation, and would inform the state government on the risk, if the spill reached towards Tanjung Piandang.

"So for now, there is nothing to worry and that people should get the correct information from the authorities concerned.

"Until this morning, the situation is all clear and I wish to thank all the personnel and officers from the agencies involved for controlling the situation," he told reporters after chairing the Perak Water Board meeting here.

The Star reported Thursday (July 26) that up to six tonnes of diesel and hundreds of litres of engine oil floated from Penang seas towards Perak when a ship sank, threatening fish and shrimp farms and the coastal environment along several kilometres of northern Perak's coast.

The vessel's fuel and engine oil began spewing out about seven hours after it hit the remains of a shipwreck nicknamed Kapal Simen, 4km from Penang island's southern coast.


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Indonesia: How a volunteer group in Bali is fighting back against sea turtle smugglers

If the animals end up in the hands of smugglers, they are often butchered alive, but one Balinese society is trying to stop them – and succeeding
Richard C Paddock The Independent 27 Jul 18;

The people of Bali have long been of two minds about endangered sea turtles. Some want to save them. Some want to eat them.

But increasingly, the desire to save the turtle is winning out, especially among younger Balinese.

By day, Legian Beach is crowded with tourists from around the world who come for the sand and surf. By night, when the beach is dark and nearly deserted, it becomes a critical habitat for turtles.

Alex Unwakoly, a volunteer from the Bali Sea Turtle Society, was patrolling a beach across from a five star hotel one recent night when he spotted an olive ridley turtle that had crawled up on the sand to lay its eggs.

So began a rapid operation to save the turtle’s offspring.

He and a colleague kept a handful of tourists at a discreet distance while the turtle – classified as a member of a vulnerable species – laid its eggs. Other rescuers arrived. And as the turtle crawled back to the Indian Ocean, they dug up the 136 eggs, each about the size of a ping-pong ball, then put them in a bucket and took them away to hatch in a safer spot.

“Every time she lays eggs, she will come back to this place, the place she was born,” Unwakoly says. That can be several times a year.

The largely volunteer campaign to save Bali’s sea turtles is a rare success story on this popular tourist island, which struggles with environmental challenges, including shoreline litter, eroding beaches and soul-sapping traffic jams.

Turtle eggs left to hatch on their own, as nature intended, face many threats. They can be crushed by beachgoers, swept away at high tide, dug up by wild dogs or stolen by poachers. Turtles laying their eggs on the beach face the risk of being carried off and becoming dinner.

“The most important thing about conservation is how to educate the humans,” says I Wayan Wiradnyana, founder of the Bali Sea Turtle Society. “The sea turtle belongs to everyone, so everyone should take responsibility.”

Six of the world’s seven species of sea turtle inhabit Indonesia’s waters, and all of them are classified as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

The group’s primary success has been with the olive ridley, which appears to be less affected by the rubbish, noise and bright lights of modern Bali.

The turtle is also said to have a fishy taste, unlike the green sea turtle that Balinese consider the most delicious.

The plight of sea turtles has improved considerably since 2001, when I came here to investigate the trade. Catching, possessing or eating the animals was banned in 1999, but even so tens of thousands of turtles were being killed.

Turtles awaiting slaughter were kept in plain sight in bamboo pens on the beach. Turtle meat was served openly at small restaurants and at Hindu ceremonies. Smugglers operated with impunity, at one point burning down a police post in protest at the ban.

The turtles were butchered alive to keep the meat from sticking to the shell. One butcher described the gruesome, 10 minute process to me: he first cut off the flippers, then separated the meat from the shell, and at the end removed the still-beating heart.

The authorities on the predominantly Hindu island began to crack down rather than risk a backlash from foreign tourists.

Hindu priests helped protect the turtle by declaring that sacrificing them was not a religious practice.

Today, turtle trade has been driven underground. Some smugglers and vendors remain in business, though, and last year Indonesia’s marine police in Bali seized more than 1,540lb of turtle meat, including more than 400lb packed in ice and sent by bus from the nearby island of Lombok.

During the two years before that, police arrested three smugglers and seized more than 120 live turtles, records show.

In a predawn raid in March on a restaurant in Jimbaran, a popular tourist area in Bali, police arrested a cook in the act of cutting turtle meat. If they had arrived much later, it would have been chopped so finely it would have been indistinguishable from other meat.

“When we got there, the flippers were already chopped up,” says Budi Prasetyo, a marine police officer. “We had to put the puzzle back together.”

In April, local police arrested a man near Kuta Beach suspected of stealing a woman’s purse. They searched his motorbike and found 97 newly dug up turtle eggs, Wiradnyana says. Police handed them over to the hatchery. Two were broken.

Wiradnyana and I Gusti Ngurah Tresna, known as Agung, began trying to save sea turtles in 2001. They recovered the eggs from a single nest, hatched them and released the babies.

The following year, they recovered eggs from two nests.

Gradually, campaigners raised awareness in the community, attracted volunteers and built a network of lookouts, such as taxi drivers and hotel security guards, who report sightings of turtles on the beach.

Last year the society retrieved eggs from a record 761 nests and released some 70,000 hatchlings. This year, they are on track to rescue and release even more.

But nearly all of them are olive ridleys. Wiradnyana points out that the five other species known to inhabit Balinese waters are not making a similar recovery.

And he worries about many long-term threats: hotel development, beach erosion and rising sea levels due to climate change all reduce the turtles’ nesting area. Illegal hunting and floating plastic garbage can kill them at sea.

When rescuers recover eggs they take them to the society’s hatchery at Kuta, one of Bali’s most crowded beaches.

The hatchery, 30ft long, is built in the shape of a giant green sea turtle. The rescuers bury the eggs in sand and wait. The eggs hatch 45 to 60 days later.

Most of the hatchlings are released within 24 hours in an uplifting, circus-style event that draws hundreds of tourists.

At one event, the hatchery is prepared to release more than 400 hatchlings. There is little advance notice, but word spreads down the beach. By 4pm hundreds of people have assembled.

Agung grabs a megaphone and climbs up on a small platform. “It’s time for action for the baby turtle now,” he announces.

He speaks briefly about the challenges the hatchlings would face to reach adulthood in the open ocean.

“For every 1,000 turtles we release on the beach, how many will survive?” he asks.

“One!” call out several people who have done their homework.

As an afterthought, he mentions that the society accepts donations. But there is no hard sell. Participation is free.

About 200 people, almost all foreign tourists, line up, receive a baby turtle in a plastic dish and head down to the beach. As directed, they stand behind a line in the sand facing the ocean. Agung stands near the waterline and issues instructions through his bullhorn.

“Are you ready?” he calls. “Everybody squat down! One, two, three, release your turtles!”

The race is on.

The turtles scramble towards the water but stop short. The tide is out and the distance considerable.

After the hatchlings get the feel of sand under their flippers, Agung directs the crowd to walk forward, pick up a turtle and carry it to the surf. Standing knee-deep in the water, they let them go a second time.

Afterwards, the participants are enthusiastic about helping to save a threatened species.

“It’s amazing,” says Teagan Hercus, 18, a university student from Australia. “It’s the best thing we have done in Bali.”


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