Best of our wild blogs: 31 Dec 18

Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (28 Dec 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

2018 - Looking Back
Butterflies of Singapore

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Community gardening scheme plants a million native species in a decade

Michelle Ng Straits Times 30 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE - Retiree May Lee initially took up gardening after her doctor advised her to spend more time in the sun to boost her Vitamin D levels following a severe bout of meningitis in 2012.

What started as a means of recuperation blossomed into a hobby for Mdm Lee.

Today, the healthy 62-year-old leads a team of more than 20 gardeners and tends to three flourishing community gardens, which occupy 20,000 sq ft next to Block 106, Bukit Batok Central.

Cosy Garden, the largest of the three, has a koi pond, turtle pond and unique crops such as asparagus and Brazilian grape trees mainly for educational purposes, as children from nearby childcare centres visit it regularly.

The other two gardens are home to edible plants such as vegetables, herbs and more than 30 types of fruit trees including cempedak and mangosteen. When harvested, these crops are distributed among the residents and the underprivileged.

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A made-in-Singapore solution to the world's plastic waste problem

NUS scientists have found a way to turn plastic bottles and other wastes into 'one of the most promising materials in the 21st century'.
Derrick A Paulo and Anne-Marie Lim Channel NewsAsia 30 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Imagine there’s a way to turn the plastic waste that ends up in oceans and landfills into a life-saving material, say, for making cheap fire-resistant jackets for all people.

It isn’t hard to do – at least, not any more – for a team of researchers in Singapore dreaming of reducing environmental waste and sharing their breakthrough with the world.

These scientists from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology have converted polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles into a highly insulating and absorbent material called aerogel.

Aerogels, the lightest and most porous materials known to man, have existed since the 1930s – and were used to insulate the Mars Pathfinder rover in the 1990s.

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Malaysia moves to reap the benefits of processing global plastic waste

After China shut its doors to the world's plastic waste, Malaysia became a go-to destination for some countries looking to get rid of their trash.
Aqil Haziq Mahmud Channel NewsAsia 30 Dec 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: In a bright yellow terraced house near the intersection of a small but busy highway, Ngoo Kwi Hong stood up abruptly from her cushioned stool.

Her living room was losing light as dark clouds gathered over the sleepy town of Jenjarom, a 40-minute drive southwest of the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. But Ngoo was determined to show the bags under her eyes.

She flicked on the light switch and pointed at her face. “I’ve not been able to sleep for days,” the 46-year-old told Channel NewsAsia in Malay. “At night I cannot breathe. I feel like dying.”

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How mountains of U.S. plastic waste ended up in Malaysia, broken down by workers for $10 a day

SHASHANK BENGALI Los Angeles Times 29 Dec 18;

In a derelict warehouse complex plastered with “For Rent” signs an hour from the Malaysian capital, four women squatted on upturned buckets. Their fingernails were cracked and nubby, their headscarves dampened with sweat.

Wielding hair dryers, they heated and peeled labels from a waist-high pile of discarded plastic electric meters. The stickers affixed to each of the plastic round gray casings bore the sun-like logo of a faraway power company: the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

How scrap from California ended up in a junkyard 8,500 miles away, broken down manually by workers earning $10 a day, is the story of the reshaping of the global garbage and recycling system.

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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Dec 18

Singapore Raptor Report – November 2018
Singapore Bird Group

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Giant trap to control Javan Myna population trialed in Potong Pasir

Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: A new method to control the Javan Myna population by trapping them in a giant net and culling them using carbon dioxide was being trialed in Potong Pasir, following complaints by residents about the noise made by such birds.

The "roost net system" was installed on Thursday (Dec 27) near Block 146 Potong Pasir Avenue 1, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). It has since been taken down and AVA said it will look into deploying the system in other areas where required.

There are currently about 2,800 mynas roosting in the area, said AVA, adding that the non-native, invasive bird species can cause hygiene and noise issues.

They can also pose a threat to native bird species as they compete for nesting and food resources.

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Attempt to smuggle 40 live birds foiled at Woodlands Checkpoint

Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: A man was caught trying to smuggle live birds into Singapore last Friday after authorities heard "some unusual noise" coming from his car as he was passing through Woodlands Checkpoint, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said on Friday (Dec 28).

In a Facebook post, ICA said the 49-year-old Singaporean had been driving a Singapore-registered car when he was stopped for further checks, during which officers detected the sounds coming from underneath the rear passenger seat.

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How a tsunami could wipe out the last Javan rhinos

BBC 28 Dec 18;

Conservationists have warned that the entire species of the critically endangered Javan rhino could be wiped out if a tsunami were to strike again.

They once roamed the jungles of South East Asia and India, but today only 67 exist in the Ujung Kulon National Park, which was hit by last week's tsunami.

The park sits in the shadow of Anak Krakatau, the volcano which triggered waves that killed hundreds of people.

The volcano remains active and officials are now rushing to move them.

Two park officials were among the 430 killed by the tsunami, and numerous park buildings and ships were also destroyed when the tsunami hit last Saturday.

But the Javan rhinos left in the park - the only ones left in the world - were left unscathed.

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Singapore’s proposed ivory ban would help save elephants

Reducing consumer demand coupled with government regulations and stricter enforcement will put an end to poaching imperiled species.
John Baker Channel NewsAsia 28 Dec 18;

CALIFORNIA: Is there a direct correlation between domestic bans and increased poaching? And if there is, does that mean countries like Singapore should abandon the proposed domestic ban? That’s the million-dollar question conservationists are debating.

Some local free-market conservationists argue that a ban on ivory will raise the perception of scarcity, drive up prices and snuff out demand.

At face value, it sounds reasonable. Diamonds are rare and they’re expensive. But upon closer inspection, this overly simplistic approach completely misses the point.


Ivory prices are down in China and Hong Kong, due to new domestic bans in these two of the biggest markets. Soon after China announced it would ban ivory in 2017, raw ivory prices fell to US$730 per kilogram, from US$2,100 per kilogram in 2014, according to Kenya-based conservation group, Save The Elephants’ researchers, Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin.

That’s a substantial decrease of 65 per cent.

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SPCA to start new scheme to sterilise, manage strays

Cheow Sue-Ann The New Paper 28 Dec 18;

Community caretakers, members of the public and animal lovers will soon find it easier to get stray dogs sterilised.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said yesterday it will soon cease the current Sterilisation Voucher Programme and replace it with the nationwide trap-neuter-release-manage (TNRM) programme for stray dogs. The current sterilisation vouchers can be used till the end of this month.

The new programme, fully funded by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), will remove the need for members of the public to trap the stray themselves.

SPCA's executive director, Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, said: "Members of the public can approach any participating animal welfare group (AWG) to notify them about community dogs that require sterilisation.

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128 contractors taken to task since January for flouting drainage regulations: PUB

Cheryl Lin Channel NewsAsia 27 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: In the first 11 months of this year, 128 contractors have been prosecuted and fined for a total of 203 offences involving unauthorised alterations and interference to the public drainage system or flouting Earth Control Measure (ECM) regulations.

This was revealed by Singapore's national water agency PUB in a press statement on Thursday (Dec 27).

The numbers represent an increase from 2017, which saw 104 contractors charged for a total of 141 offences.

Some of the more common offences include inadequate treatment capacity and lack of cut-off drains which separate clean water from silty water. As a result, silty water overflows from construction sites to nearby waterways during heavy rainfall.

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Indonesia raises alert, widens danger zone around volcano

SYAWALLUDIN ZAIN and NINIEK KARMINI, Associated Press Yahoo News 28 Dec 18;

CARITA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia raised the danger level for an island volcano that triggered a tsunami on the weekend, killing at least 430 people in Sumatra and Java, and widened its no-go zone.

The country's volcanology agency on Thursday increased the Anak Krakatau volcano's alert status to the second-highest and more than doubled the exclusion zoneto a 5-kilometer (3-mile) radius. The eruption on Saturday evening caused part of the island in the Sunda Strait to collapse into the sea, apparently generating tsunami waves of more than 2 meters (6 1/2 feet). Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes.

The government has warned communities in the strait to stay a kilometer (less than a mile) away from the coastline because of the risk of another tsunami triggered by Anak Krakatau's eruptions. A navy vessel was expected to pass by the island, which could give scientists more information about the risks of a second collapse.

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Climate change: Huge costs of warming impacts in 2018

Matt McGrath BBC 27 Dec 18;

Extreme weather events linked to climate change cost thousands of lives and caused huge damage throughout the world in 2018, say Christian Aid.

The charity's report identified ten events that cost more than $1bn each, with four costing more than $7bn each.

Scientists have shown that the chances of heat waves in Europe were influenced directly by human-related warming.

Other events, say the authors, are due to shifts in weather patterns, said to be a consequence of climate change.

According to the report the most financially costly disasters linked to rising temperatures were Hurricanes Florence and Michael, with costs said to be around $17bn for the former, and $15bn for the latter.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Dec 18

Why the Singapore Blue Plan 2018 matters?
Psychedelic Nature

Christmas corals at Kusu Island
wild shores of singapore

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Singapore's ‘quail man’ could lose decades-old farm amid industry shake-up

WONG PEI TING Today Online 25 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — It is one of the oldest surviving farms in Singapore and the bigger of two quail egg producers here. But in three years’ time, Mr William Ho may lose the decades-old business started by his father, pioneering poultry farmer Ho Seng Choon, who died in August at the age of 95.

Mr Ho, 52, failed to secure either of the two land parcels in Lim Chu Kang awarded last Friday (Dec 21) by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) for quail egg farming.

The lease of his current 2.7-hectare farm runs out in December 2021, after a two-year extension given by the AVA last year.

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Indonesia: Bali enacts plastics ban, targeting 70 percent reduced use in 2019

The Jakarta Post 25 Dec 18;

Bali has taken a big step to curb pollution in its seas, enacting a ban on troublesome single-use plastics like shopping bags, styrofoam and straws.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster announced the ban on Monday, as stipulated in Gubernatorial Regulation (Pergub) No. 97/2018, expressing hope that the policy would lead to a 70 percent decline in Bali’s marine plastics within a year.

The new policy carries a six-month grace period dating from Dec. 21, when it was signed and took effect.

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Best of our wild blogs: 25 Dec 18

Seagrass stronghold at Sentosa
wild shores of singapore

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Digging deep: Singapore plans an underground future

Rina Chandran Reuters 24 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE, Dec 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From its towering "supertree" vertical gardens to a Formula 1 night race, Singapore is known for many attractions; underground space is not one of them.

But that may soon change, as the city-state prepares to unveil an Underground Master Plan in 2019.

With some 5.6 million people in an area three-fifths the size of New York City - and with the population estimated to grow to 6.9 million by 2030 - the island nation is fast running out of space.

Singapore has been reclaiming land for decades, but that is increasingly unsustainable due to rising sea levels and other impacts of climate change. So the city is going underground.

Singapore has already moved some infrastructure and utilities below ground, including train lines, retail, pedestrian walkways, a five-lane highway and air-conditioning cooling pipes. It also stores fuel and ammunition underground.

Now, the city wants to go further.

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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Dec 18

Terumbu Pempang Laut is alive
wild shores of singapore

Assorted Nectaring Plants
Butterflies of Singapore

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PUB closes fishing spots at Lower Peirce, Upper Seletar reservoirs after non-native stingrays spotted

Channel NewsAsia 23 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: PUB has suspended all fishing activities and closed designated fishing grounds at Lower Peirce Reservoir and Upper Seletar Reservoir until further notice, after non-native stingrays were spotted in Lower Peirce Reservoir.

Around 60 Motoro stingrays, also known as Potamotrygonidae motoro, were reportedly found in the water at Lower Peirce Reservoir last week.

PUB told Channel NewsAsia on Sunday (Dec 23) that it had suspended all fishing activities and closed the designated fishing grounds at the reservoirs until further notice.

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Indonesia: Sunda Strait tsunami death toll likely to rise, say Indonesian officials

More than 220 confirmed dead and hundreds injured by waves linked to volcanic eruption
Justin McCurry, Frances Perraudin and agencies The Guardian 23 Dec 18;

There were fears of further eruptions and warnings that the death toll could rise dramatically after the tsunami which struck tourist beaches and coastal areas around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait.

Officials said 222 people were confirmed dead and a further 843 injured after waves, thought to have been caused by underwater landslides triggered by a volcanic eruption, surged towards the coastlines of the islands of Java and Sumatra at about 9.30pm local time (2.30pm GMT) on Saturday.

Indonesia’s disaster management agency said 28 people were still missing and rescuers had yet to reach all the affected areas.

The worst-hit area was the Pandeglang area of Banten province in Java, the agency said.

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That Singapore must cope with food disruption and vulnerability is our reality

Singapore has excellent logistics, infrastructure and a trade eco-system, but we cannot assume there would no disruptions to our food supplies, says Paul Teng.
Paul Teng Channel NewsAsia 23 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: The shortages of eggs, some types of wild fish, and shrimps from Malaysia that may lead to export curbs and price increases may be a forerunner of things to come.

This is illustrative of the increasing link between food exporting countries and importing ones, especially in Southeast Asian since the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) came into force in December 2015 which advocates an integrated market for ASEAN, though countries have long been cognisant of such dependencies.

With greater economic integration comes higher regional interdependence. Closer linkages are desired as the expansion of business opportunities aid countries, particularly lower-income ASEAN member states, to grow their economies. But it also means that situations resulting in domestic policy changes in one country can affect others.

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Efforts to make it safer for animals in Mandai area

Besides interim measures during rejuvenation works, permanent features will also be put in place
Cheryl Teh Straits Times 22 Dec 18;

From rope bridges and 12m poles to lower speed limits of 20kmh to 40kmh, measures have been put in place along Mandai Lake Road in the past two years to facilitate safer wildlife crossings.

They are part of efforts by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) to minimise instances of roadkill and human-animal conflict along the often busy road.

Since work started on the Mandai rejuvenation project, which borders the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, nature groups suspect forest-dwelling animals have moved out of their natural habitat because of disturbance from the works.

There have been instances of wildlife killed in collisions with vehicles. In the latest incident this week, a sambar deer was run over by a motorcycle, making it at least the third such incident this year.

But Mandai Park Development hopes the measures will reap results over time.

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Land parcels in Lim Chu Kang awarded for vegetable, quail egg farming: AVA

Channel NewsAsia 21 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Seven land parcels in Lim Chu Kang have been awarded to companies for vegetable and quail egg farming, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a media release on Friday (Dec 21).

Five land parcels for vegetable farming were awarded to three companies - LivFresh and Delish Veggies, Kok Fah Technology Farm, as well as Yili Vegetation and Trading.

Yili Vegetation and Trading was awarded the largest plot of land, comprising three parcels measuring more than 60,000 sq m in total.

Two land parcels for quail egg farming have been awarded to Chi Agri Holding and N & N Agriculture, the media release stated.

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NEA to accept new vehicle emissions test standard from Jan 1

Zhaki Abdullah Straits Times 21 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE - From next month, the National Environment Agency (NEA) will accept a new vehicle emissions test standard that better reflects actual emissions under real-life driving conditions.

The NEA said on Friday (Dec 21) that it will begin accepting results from the Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) for the approval of new vehicles as well as the reporting of emissions under the Vehicular Emissions Scheme from Jan 1.

Developed by the European Union, the WLTP is a laboratory test that measures both the fuel consumption and pollutant emissions of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

Under the new test procedures, vehicles are tested at higher speeds, longer distances and a greater range of driving situations, as compared to previous tests.

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6 more contracts awarded for North-South Corridor; works to begin end-2019

Channel NewsAsia 21 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Construction on six more sections of Singapore's first integrated transport corridor is expected to begin by the end of 2019, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in a media release on Friday (Dec 21).

Contracts worth S$3.14 billion for the design and construction of six sections of the 21.5km long North-South Corridor (NSC) tunnel have been awarded to multiple companies, according to LTA.

They are located between East Coast Parkway (ECP) and Sungei Seletar.

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Indonesia: Shark fishing ban in Raja Ampat continues to be violated

Antara 22 Dec 18;

Waisai (ANTARA News) - Shark fishing activities in the waters of Raja Ampat District in West Papua Province continue unabated despite a prohibition through the Regional Regulation (Perda).

"Shark fishing activities still take place in the Raja Ampat waters, despite a regional regulation on the ban on shark capture," Raja Ampat youth leader Ferdinand Dimara remarked here on Friday.

Hence, Dimara has urged the Raja Ampat District Government to continue to disseminate information on the regional regulation on the ban on shark fishing, so that it is truly understood by the local community.

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Best of our wild blogs: 21 Dec 18

[Survey!] Call for participants to complete UNEP GEO FOR YOUTH survey!
Psychedelic Nature

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Two trees fall in Sembawang Park where SMRT staff were having Christmas party, 14 taken to hospital

WONG PEI TING Today Online 21 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Two trees fell at Sembawang Park amid heavy rain on Thursday (Dec 20). One of the trees fell on a pavilion, causing the roof to crash on a private Christmas party involving 17 SMRT employees.

And while nobody was trapped under it, 14 people who suffered injuries had to be taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The incident took place at about 5.30pm along Beaulieu Road, which is near a playground in the park, which borders the sea.

The National Parks Board said two trees were uprooted during the incident — one was an 18m tall Tabebuia rosea, the other a 21m tall Erythrophleum suaveolens.

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Indonesia: Protection of Leuser ecosystem crucial - NGO

Antara 20 Dec 18;

A number of students explored the forest area of the Ketambe Research Station inside Gunung Leuser National Park (TNGL) while participating in environmental education activities in Ketambe Village, Ketambe District, Southeast Aceh District, Aceh, Wednesday (11/28/2018).(ANTARA PHOTO/SYIFA YULINNAS)

Banda Aceh (ANTARA News) - Protection of the Leuser Ecosystem zone (KEL) is crucial, as it is a national strategic area, according to an Aceh non-governmental organization (NGO).

"The Leuser Ecosystem is a national strategic area due to KEL`s environmental functions. It is crucial to protect the area, as it provides water and clean air as well as mitigates disaster impacts, such as erosion, pest, and climate change," Farwiza Farhan, the chairman of HAkA Foundation, stated here, Wednesday.

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Japan to resume commercial whaling after leaving IWC – report

Tokyo denies report by Kyodo news agency that government will reveal its decision by the end of the year
Justin McCurry and Graham Readfearn The Guardian 20 Dec 18;

Japan is to withdraw from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and resume commercial whaling next year, a report claimed on Thursday, in a move that drew condemnation from Australia, with other anti-whaling nations expected to follow suit.

Japan will inform the IWC of its decision by the end of the year, Kyodo news agency said, months after the body rejected its latest bid to resume commercial whaling.

Kyodo quoted unnamed government sources as saying Japan would abandon its controversial, and expensive, expeditions to the Southern Ocean and instead permit whaling fleets to operate in its coastal waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

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Best of our wild blogs: 20 Dec 18

Singapore’s Food System: Key points from our last panel discussion
Green Drinks Singapore

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Malaysia's plan to restrict export of fish twice next year unlikely to have significant impact: AVA

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 19 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Malaysia plans to restrict the export of five types of fish and shrimp twice next year — between Jan 1 and Feb 28, and again between May 1 and June 30 — the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) revealed on Wednesday (Dec 19).

It was previously reported on Monday (Dec 17) that Malaysia would be restricting the export of four types of fish and shrimp, and only in the first two months of the new year.

This had some fishmongers warning that prices of these seafood will likely jump by 30 to 40 per cent during the Chinese New Year period, TODAY reported on Tuesday.

However, the AVA said in response to TODAY’s queries that the export restrictions are unlikely to have a significant impact on Singapore’s overall seafood supply, as the affected species make up less than 10 per cent of Singapore’s total seafood supply.

Importers are also “well-prepared to tap on other readily available sources”, the AVA said.

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European officials agree on ban of some single-use plastics

FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press Yahoo News 20 Dec 18;

BERLIN (AP) — Plastic knives just won't cut it any longer, if the European Union has its way.

The 28-nation bloc moved closer to banning single-use straws, plates, cutlery and cotton swabs, after officials from EU member states and the European Parliament on Wednesday backed recommendations by its executive branch designed to reduce marine pollution.

Environmental campaigners have been calling for curbs on throwaway plastic that's accumulating in the oceans because, unlike organic materials, it doesn't decompose but simply breaks down into ever smaller pieces.

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Best of our wild blogs: 19 Dec 18

"A Blueprint For Blue Waters" - Asian Scientist Magazine
Singapore Blue Plan 2018

Labrador Park Survey
Offshore Singapore

Singapore Bird Report – November 2018
Singapore Bird Group

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Deer dies in accident along Mandai Road

Channel NewsAsia 19 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: A deer died on Tuesday evening (Dec 18) in an accident involving a motorcycle along Mandai Road towards Mandai Avenue.

The police said they were alerted to the incident at 8.10pm, adding that the motorcyclist escaped with minor abrasions.

Photos posted on Facebook by the Nature Society Singapore group showed a deer lying on the road. Blood could be seen near the animal's face.

According to the post, the accident occurred at around 7.20pm.

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Chickens roaming in Tampines to be rehomed after some residents cry fowl

Timothy Goh Straits Times 18 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE - Some Tampines residents are in a flap about a flock of more than 50 chickens roaming in their neighbourhood.

The Tampines Town Council said it is working with animal welfare group Acres to rehome some chickens near Block 266 Tampines Street 21, after several residents complained about the noise they made.

The fowl problem was reported in the media in September, after some residents were upset that some chickens were removed following complaints.

Since then, the chicken population has grown because of reproduction and residents feeding them.

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Malaysia to stop exporting four species of fish and shrimp from Jan 1 to Feb 28

Today Online 17 Dec 18;

KUALA LUMPUR — A week after declaring that it may limit or stop the export of eggs, Malaysia has announced that it will prohibit the export of four species of fish and shrimp.

This is to meet the shortage in the market during the monsoon and festive seasons, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub said on Monday (Dec 17).

The Bernama news agency said that four species — mackerel, trevally, Indian mackerel and pomfret — will be prohibited from export from Jan 1 to Feb 28, 2019.

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Wildlife group rescues abandoned marmoset seen 'appearing lost' at Punggol HDB

Channel NewsAsia 17 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: A black-tufted marmoset, a species of monkey that is one of the most illegally smuggled wildlife, has been rescued after it was spotted in Punggol over the weekend.

This is the fifth marmoset rescued in Singapore this year.

Wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) told Channel NewsAsia on Monday (Dec 17) it received an alert on Saturday night that the marmoset had been "sighted appearing lost" outside Block 271D, Punggol Walk.

ACRES officers visited the area on Sunday morning to look for the animal and interview residents. A member of the public later spotted the adult marmoset at a basement parking area and managed to contain it in a cardboard box and alert ACRES.

"ACRES is shocked to rescue a fifth marmoset in a year," the rescue group told Channel NewsAsia.

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Adoption of global climate action plan gives Singapore greater certainty of world's commitment: Masagos

Audrey Tan Straits Times 16 Dec 18;

KATOWICE, Poland - With almost 200 nations agreeing to adopt a global action plan to tackle global warming, Singapore will have greater certainty about the world's commitment to dealing with climate change, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Saturday (Dec 15) night.

This is especially important for Singapore which is a vulnerable, low-lying island, he told The Straits Times in Katowice, Poland, after the action plan, or the Katowice Rulebook, was adopted following a marathon two-week conference.

Asked what it means for Singapore, Mr Masagos said: "There is certainty that all countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement will now actually start to report on their climate pledges, and there is a clear rule of how that will be done, with no more suspicion or ambiguity about what it means."

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Best of our wild blogs: 16 Dec 18

Butterfly of the Month - December 2018
Butterflies of Singapore

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As countries wage war on plastics, the jury's still out on how best to tackle the problem

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 15 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — In Rwanda, being caught with a plastic bag is a crime. The African nation is so serious about tackling the global plastic pollution crisis that since a decade ago, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging except for specific industries such as healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Those caught carrying illegal plastic are liable to be fined, jailed or forced to make public confessions, the New York Times reported last year. In 2017, another African nation, Kenya, also enacted a law to punish anyone making, selling or importing plastic bags with as much as four years in jail or a US$19,000 (S$26,140) fine.

While their measures to combat plastic pollution are not as drastic compared to Rwanda or Kenya, more than 40 countries the world over including China, the United Kingdom, Australia and Malaysia have banned, restricted or taxed the use of single-use plastics. The European Union (EU) is planning to enact a ban on such use among its member countries by 2021.

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Malaysia: Bird flu causing egg price hike - Minister

The Star 16 Dec 18;

IPOH: The increase in the prices of eggs is due to the bird flu affecting the poultry industry, says Datuk Salahuddin Ayub (pic).

The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister said the flu was causing a shortage in supply but assured consumers that the problem was only temporary.

“We are in dis­­cussions with the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry on steps to contain the pricing,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Parti Amanah Negara’s national convention here yester­day.

According to recent reports, egg farmers were closing shop due to soaring feed prices. As such, egg production dropped by about 70% as compared to two years ago.

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Nations agree on global climate pact rules, but they are seen as weak

Nina Chestney, Bate Felix and Agnieszka Barteczko, Reuters Yahoo News 16 Dec 18;

KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - Nearly 200 countries overcame political divisions late on Saturday to agree on rules for implementing a landmark global climate deal, but critics say it is not ambitious enough to prevent the dangerous effects of global warming.

After two weeks of talks in the Polish city of Katowice, nations finally reached consensus on a more detailed framework for the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to limit a rise in average world temperatures to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

"It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical. Through this package you have made a thousand little steps forward together. You can feel proud," Polish president of the talks Michal Kurtyka told delegates.

After he struck the gavel to signal agreement had been reached, ministers joined him on the stage, hugging and laughing in signs of relief after the marathon talks.

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Haze unlikely in 2019 despite developing El Nino: Indonesian official

Audrey Tan Straits Times 14 Dec 18;

KATOWICE, POLAND - South-east Asia would likely be spared the scourge of haze in 2019, despite predictions of a developing El Nino that could bring drier-than-usual conditions to the region next year, said an Indonesian official this week.

"We are very convinced...that we can handle this," Mr Nazir Foead, chief of Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency, told The Straits Times on Thursday (Dec 13), on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations climate talks in the Polish city of Katowice.

Pointing to stepped-up efforts to protect Indonesia's fire-prone landscape in the aftermath of the 2015 crisis, as well as improved coordination between parties including the government, communities and fire fighters, he added that he was confident that the region would not suffer haze as severe as it was that year.

"We cannot say that there will not be fires, but there will be fewer incidents, and they will be put out much quicker," Mr Foead said.

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Indonesia: Preserving coral reefs means protecting livelihoods in coastal region

Fardah Assegaf Antara 15 Dec 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian waters occupy at least 70 percent of its national territory, and in most parts of the country, there are numerous people who earn a livelihood related to and dependent on the oceans.

The world`s largest archipelagic country with a 260-million population and over 17 islands has 5.8 million square kilometers of marine territory, and some 92 thousand km-long beach and coastal areas, or the world`s second longest coast line after Canada.

Indonesia has various coral reefs, which are spread across an area of 25 thousand square kilometers, or around 10 percent of the world`s coral reefs measuring 284,300 square kilometers.

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Indonesia: Floods kill six people in Riau - Rescue agency

ANTARA 13 Dec 18;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Floods that have been inundating certain parts of Riau Province in Sumatra Island over the past two months have claimed the lives of six people, with majority of the victims being children, the local search and rescue agency said.

The Pekanbaru National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) reported here that two of the six victims were found dead on Thursday. They were residents of Kampar District, who went missing for three days.

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Philippines: Sea turtle rescued in Malaysia slaughtered for meat in Cebu

Rhodina Villanueva The Philippine Star 14 Dec 18;

MANILA, Philippines — A marine turtle rescued and tagged in Malaysia ended up in the freezer of a restaurant in Cebu.

Dr. Rogelio Demelletes Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau said an identification tag was found on one of the turtles, among the endangered species in the world.

Demelletes said wildlife conservationists had rescued and tagged the pawikan that was reportedly caught in Sandakan, Malaysia and later released to the open sea.

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High sea surface temperatures expected to bleach coral off Northern Australia

Jane Bardon ABC News 14 Dec 18;

Widespread coral bleaching is forecast for waters off the Northern Australia coast, due to above-average sea surface temperatures that could last for up to two months.

Rising sea surface temperatures prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the US Department of Commerce, to issue a "Red Alert Level 1" for coral bleaching off most of the Northern Territory coastline, apart from the Gulf of Carpentaria.

North of the Tiwi Islands, where sea surface temperatures have topped 33 degrees Celsius, a "Red Alert Level 2" has been put in place.

The administration said that meant there was a 60 per cent chance of mass coral bleaching across those areas.

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Singapore vulnerable to rising sea level, severe floods: Masagos

Channel NewsAsia 12 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Small island developing states such as Singapore are at risk of "dire consequences" if current warming trends continue, said Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

The minister was speaking at the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP24) on Wednesday (Dec 12) in Katowice, Poland.

In delivering Singapore's national statement, Mr Masagos highlighted a recent UN report that warned that the global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius could be breached as early as 2030 if current warming trends continue.

"This will have dire consequences for many countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDs). Singapore is one of these low lying island states that is vulnerable to sea level rise and severe floods from intense storms. Clearly, we need urgent, collective and coordinated efforts by all," Mr Masagos said.

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Why Singapore's proposed ivory ban may not solve problem of illegal trade

BRYAN CHEANG Today Online 12 Dec 18;

The Singapore government, through the Agri-Veterinary Authority, recently announced a public consultation on a proposed ban on ivory and ivory products in Singapore. This is in relation to a bigger commitment by Singapore to tackle illegal elephant ivory trade and support elephant conservation.

It is in the spirit of constructive feedback that I argue against such a proposed ban, on the basis that it is an ineffective mechanism which may lead to unintended consequences.

A ban on ivory has been tried by other governments before, with limited success. Reporting by the BBC shows that despite an international ban on ivory trade, elephant poaching has persisted.

This is further confirmed by the World Wildlife Fund that today, “despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks”.

This limited success is unsurprising once we study the role of economic incentives.

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Egg prices soar as Malaysia looks to limit exports

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 13 Dec 18;

Madam X.Y. Loh, 56, runs a small bakery in Jurong, making a variety of cakes, buns and pastries as well as other goodies.

She uses more than 100 eggs daily and they cost slightly over $300 a month earlier this year. But this has doubled and she expects to shell out more than $600 a month by the end of this month.

"I never would have thought that eggs could get this expensive," Madam Loh said. "I might have to raise my prices soon."

The cost of eggs, particularly during festive seasons, can make a real dent in the total earnings of small businesses like hers, she said.

And there is likely to be no respite from the price increases for eggs any time soon, with a major supplier to Singapore warning that exports may be restricted.

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From wedding flowers to baby strollers, they are all available for rent

Tang See Kit Channel NewsAsia 13 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Being advised by family and friends that having multiple strollers for their firstborn will be ideal was what prompted young parents Kenneth Tan and Tay Shixian to start toying with the idea of renting.

“Many of them recommend getting a stroller for each stage of growth,” recalled Ms Tay. “There’s one for babies around three to four months old but as soon as they can sit upright, you will need a different stroller and again when they get a bit older.”

A colleague of Mr Tan, for instance, had 10 strollers of different sizes for her four children.

Overwhelmed by the types and prices of strollers available, the married couple began searching for alternatives.

“The prices are steep and we don’t want to end up with prams idling at home,” Mr Tan said. “That was when Shixian asked if there’s an option for us to rent as and when we want, and return when we don’t.”

That planted the seed of PramShare – a business that the couple launched two years ago to meet the needs of parents like themselves. Apart from strollers, car seats and baby cribs are also available for rent.

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New campaign at major supermarket chains to cut down on disposable plastic bags

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 12 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Four major supermarket chains have teamed up with the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and DBS Bank to encourage customers to take fewer single-use plastic bags and opt for reusable bags instead.

The “One Less Plastic” campaign, launched on Wednesday (Dec 12), aims to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags by 25 per cent over the next year.

But observers wondered if it will succeed in changing consumer behaviour, and highlighted the need to ensure it is ultimately better for the environment.

Asked if the latest campaign could spur permanent change in the way consumers use plastic bags, SEC chairman Isabella Loh said the results will speak for themselves in a year’s time.

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Malaysia: More than 600 residents of Johor town evacuated due to flash floods

Channel NewsAsia 12 Dec 18;

JOHOR BAHRU: A total of 605 people from 171 families in Taman Aman and Taman Mawai near Kota Tinggi in Johor have been evacuated to relief centres due to flash floods.

The Kota Tinggi District Management Secretariat said the residents were evacuated when water from the Pemandi river overflowed its bank and entered houses in nearby low-lying areas from 4pm on Tuesday (Dec 11).

"A total of 556 people from 162 families were evacuated to the relief centre at the Kota Tinggi Vocational College at 9.15pm, while 49 people from nine families were evacuated to the relief centre at the New Kota National-type School (Chinese), which was opened at 1.05am today," the secretariat said on Wednesday.

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Malaysia: Sarawak govt allocates RM70 million for artificial reefs, structures

MUHD AMIRUL FAIZ AHMAD New Straits Times 12 Dec 18;

KUCHING: The state government has allocated RM70million to have artificial reefs placed between Tanjung Datu and Lawas, which would double as a protection against marine thefts.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg said the man-made structures, which were used to improve marine ecosystem, could also serve as a buffer zone to block fishing nets cast by foreign fishermen at the Malaysian waters.

“The state government has taken such initiative to protect its marine sources from continuously being encroached by foreign fishermen.

“We have also have Beting Patinggi Ali declared as the National Marine Park.

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Best of our wild blogs: 12 Dec 18

Terumbu Pempang Tengah is back to life
Offshore Singapore

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BlueSG will open charging stations to privately owned electric vehicles from next year

Zhaki Abdullah Straits Times 11 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE - Electric car-sharing operator BlueSG will begin opening its charging stations to third-party electric vehicles from the first quarter of next year.

The firm, a subsidiary of French conglomerate Bollore Group, made the announcement on Tuesday (Dec 11) to mark the first anniversary of its operations here.

Charging stations at Housing Board and private carparks, as well as those operated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and JTC, will be made available to private users.

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Global climate conference important for S’pore, countries must decisively resolve differences: Masagos

NEO CHAI CHIN Today Online 11 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Arriving in Poland for high-level climate talks, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said on Tuesday (Dec 11) that the critical meeting will determine how the world comes together to address climate change.

Mr Masagos said in a Facebook post that the Katowice climate conference — called the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change — is important for Singapore for many reasons. They include Singapore’s vulnerability to rising sea levels as a low-lying city state, as well as the far-reaching impact of climate change on the global economy, food supply and Singapore’s way of life.

He is expected to deliver Singapore’s national statement at the summit on Wednesday, between 5pm and 8pm (Singapore time).

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Malaysia: Act-ing on climate change

sim leoi leoi The Star 12 Dec 18;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will start drafting a Climate Change Act, which is expected to take 24 to 30 months.

Once ready, it will be tabled in Parliament.

It will include a list of scenarios the country will face should global temperature rise by 2°C.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Yeo Bee Yin said they also aimed to complete and announce a national climate change adaptation and mitigation plan by the end of next year.

She said a climate change centre would also be set up by next year.

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Indonesia: Batam drafts plastic use restriction regulation

Antara 11 Dec 18;

Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA News) - The regional government of Batam City, Riau Islands Province, is now drafting a regulation on the restriction of plastic use in various internal official ceremonies.

"We are programming a regulation at the regional level. It is not impossible for us to introduce a regulation at the municipal level to restrict the use of plastic," Deputy Mayor of Batam City, Amsakar Achmad said here on Tuesday.

The (regional) government is still drafting plans to replace the use of plastics with other materials during official and community events.

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Best of our wild blogs: 11 Dec 18

16 Dec (Sun): Talk on "Otters, turtles, hornbills - Hidden Treasures of East Coast Park"
Celebrating Singapore Shores

FOLLOW US! - Instagram Our Seas, Our Legacy
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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A*Star, Singapore firm develop system that turns food waste into odourless fertiliser in 24 hours

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 10 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Entrepreneur David Tan set up a company to reduce and recycle waste in 2016, and imported 10 machines from Japan to convert food waste into fertiliser.

But the micro-organisms from Japan could not effectively decompose curry, leftover food items from hotpot meals, and other dishes in Singapore that tended to be higher in oil and salt than Japanese food.

Mr Tan, the chief executive officer of Westcom Solutions, turned to the Singapore Institute of Technology and was put in touch with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).

Four A*Star researchers from its Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences were seconded to Westcom from last year under the agency’s Technology for Enterprise Capability Upgrading (T-Up) scheme.

After some trial and error with various microbes in A*Star’s collection, the researchers came up with one that could digest one tonne of food waste into 100kg of organic fertiliser in 24 hours — much faster than the seven days or more provided by most other solutions.

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Malaysia linked to wildlife trafficking network

sim leoi leoi The Star 10 Dec 18;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s connection to a multimillion-dollar trafficking network of endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises has been uncovered by a wildlife investigation group.

Codenamed Operation Dragon and launched in 2016, the two-year investigation and 44-page report by the Wildlife Justice Commission crippled eight major networks working in India, Pakistan, Bangla­desh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malay­sia.

It resulted in the arrest of 30 people and the jailing of five others in Malaysia, while a suspect was subjected to the Interpol’s Red Notice after he absconded, believed to be the first for wildlife crime in the country. Some 200 potential “persons of interest” were also identified, while three more cases are ongoing in Malaysia.

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Tackle climate or face financial crash, say world's biggest investors

UN summit urged to end all coal burning and introduce substantial taxes on emissions
Damian Carrington The Guardian 10 Dec 18;

Global investors managing $32tn issued a stark warning to governments at the UN climate summit on Monday, demanding urgent cuts in carbon emissions and the phasing out of all coal burning. Without these, the world faces a financial crash several times worse than the 2008 crisis, they said.

The investors include some of the world’s biggest pension funds, insurers and asset managers and marks the largest such intervention to date. They say fossil fuel subsidies must end and substantial taxes on carbon be introduced.

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Otter alert at Gardens by the Bay during Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon

Goh Yan Han Straits Times 10 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE - As Sunday's (Dec 9) Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon was underway, several unusual guests joined in - a group of 16 otters.

Ten adult otters and six babies were seen around 7.25am at a section of the marathon route that went through Gardens by the Bay.

According to otter enthusiasts, the animals had slept at Gardens by the Bay overnight. The adults woke up around 6am and headed for breakfast, before returning at 7.25am to collect the babies to forage for food together.

Close to an hour later, the otters moved to another part of Gardens by the Bay and were spotted rolling around on the ground to dry themselves, to the delight of event participants who whipped out their phones to snap photos of the animals.

Mr Bernard Seah, 49, a wildlife photographer and volunteer with the Otter Working Group, was at Gardens by the Bay with four others to help facilitate the movement of the otters across the busy race route.

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Singapore has vested interest in strong result at climate talks, says Masagos

Masagos says Republic faces disproportionate risks from negative impacts of climate change
Audrey Tan Straits Times 10 Dec 18;

Singapore's emissions make up just 0.11 per cent of the global total, but as a small island city-state, it faces disproportionate risks from the negative impacts of climate change, such as rising sea levels.

That is why Singapore has a "deep and vested interest to see a strong outcome at COP24", said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, referring to the ongoing United Nations climate change talks in Poland.

Added Mr Masagos, who arrives in Katowice today for the second week of the conference: "At a time when multilateralism is being challenged, a strong outcome in Katowice will show that the global community is united in its support for a multilateral, rules-based approach to addressing climate change."

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Indonesia concerns about live reef fish trade

Antara 9 Dec 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti has expressed concern about the issue of consumed live reef fish which was very popular in the international market.

"The demand for consumed live reef fish continues to increase because of its huge economic value. It has even been demanded in a very large-scale industry. The reef fish is very vulnerable because it is easily overexploited," Minister Susi said in a press statement received by ANTARA here on Sunday.

Reef fish has long been a food commodity in great demand in various countries, especially Hong Kong and China.

However, the high interest and prices of reef fish have been creating an alarming trend of trade.

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Best of our wild blogs: 9 Dec 18

9 Dec: Registration opens for Sisters Islands Intertidal walks in Jan 2019
Celebrating Singapore Shores

Snow Flats of Singapore
Butterflies of Singapore

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Climate change: COP24 fails to adopt key scientific report

Matt McGrath BBC 9 Dec 18;

Attempts to incorporate a key scientific study into global climate talks in Poland have failed.

The IPCC report on the impacts of a temperature rise of 1.5C, had a significant impact when it was launched last October.

Scientists and many delegates in Poland were shocked as the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to this meeting "welcoming" the report.

It was the 2015 climate conference that had commissioned the landmark study.

The report said that the world is now completely off track, heading more towards 3C this century rather than 1.5C.

Keeping to the preferred target would need "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society". If warming was to be kept to 1.5C this century, then emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be reduced by 45% by 2030.

The report, launched in Incheon in South Korea, had an immediate impact winning praise from politicians all over the world.

But negotiators here ran into serious trouble when Saudi Arabia, the US, Russia and Kuwait objected to the conference "welcoming" the document.

Instead they wanted to support a much more lukewarm phrase, that the conference would "take note" of the report.

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Reclamation at Tuas has nothing to do with maritime boundary dispute, says Khaw

FARIS MOKHTAR Today Online 6 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Calling on Malaysia to stop the intrusion of vessels into Singapore’s territorial waters before things get out of hand, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan dismissed Malaysia’s argument that Singapore cannot claim the disputed waters on the basis of its reclamation works in Tuas in recent years.

Reclamation, which started in 1996, should not come into the picture at all, Mr Khaw said on Thursday (Dec 6) at a press conference. For the last 20 years, the Johor Baru port limits had not changed until recently on Oct 25, when Malaysia decided to unilaterally expand the boundaries into Singapore’s territory.

Three Malaysian government vessels were in Singapore’s waters at the time of the press conference, and when asked by reporters what the Government will do if they do not leave, Mr Khaw said that security agencies are there to sound off warnings while exercising restraint.

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Malaysia: Wildlife authorities rapped over jumbo deaths

The Star 8 Dec 18;

FIVE wild elephants were electrocuted between June and November as a result of low-hanging transmission cables in Tamil Nadu, Tamil Nesan reported.

Two died in September after coming into contact with power lines, a court heard recently from forestry department officials.

The latest death occurred in the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district, a haven for more than 60 endangered wildlife such as cheetahs and deers, as well as rare and protected trees.

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Best of our wild blogs: 7 Dec 18

Loss of Ceriagrion chaoi in Bishan Park - Fragile Urban Ecology
Everyday Nature

Successful fledgling of pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles
Singapore Bird Group

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Malaysia: Pangolin scales worth RM36.62mil incinerated

Mohd Helmi Irwadi Mohd Nor New Straits Times 6 Dec 18;

PORT DICKSON: A total of 2.8 tonne of pangolin scales worth RM36.62 million were incinerated by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) at the Pusat Kualiti Alam here.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said all the scales were confiscated in operations conducted by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM) since last year.

He said 407kg of scales were seized at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in May, 2017 while 2.1 tonne were seized at the West Port, Port Klang in Selangor, in September.

“In addition to that, a total of 291kg of scales were also confiscated through other operations in July last year.

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Shocking report details massive illegal turtle trade network

A series of recent sting operations has led to dozens of arrests, thousands of reptiles seized
DINA FINE MARON National Geographic 6 Dec 18;

IN A POSH hotel room in Kuala Lumpur, a 35-year-old man wearing a dark button-down shirt smiled. He had two suitcases crammed with 55 live turtles, and he was hoping to make a sale.

He watched as his customer, a man wearing shorts and sneakers, carefully examined the reptiles crawling across the hotel rug.

Bakrudin Ali Ahamed Habeeb, had posted on Facebook some seven months earlier that he had reptiles to sell, triggering a flurry of text messages and price negotiations. Now, Habeeb just needed to prove that his animals were in good health so he could pass them off into the exotic pet trade.

It was May 2017, and he was anticipating a big payday.

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Sea levels may rise more rapidly due to Greenland ice melt

Run-off from vast ice sheet is increasing due to manmade global warming, says study
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 5 Dec 18;

Rising sea levels could become overwhelming sooner than previously believed, according to the authors of the most comprehensive study yet of the accelerating ice melt in Greenland.

Run-off from this vast northern ice sheet – currently the biggest single source of meltwater adding to the volume of the world’s oceans – is 50% higher than pre-industrial levels and increasing exponentially as a result of manmade global warming, says the paper, published in Nature on Wednesday.

Almost all of the increase has occurred in the past two decades – a jolt upwards after several centuries of relative stability. This suggests the ice sheet becomes more sensitive as temperatures go up.

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Best of our wild blogs: 6 Dec 18

Volunteer manager wanted for Pulau Hantu dives
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Malaysia: Pulau Kukup may lose its protected status

mohd farhaan shah and venesa devi The Star 5 Dec 18;

JOHOR BARU: Pulau Kukup, one of the few remaining pristine wetlands in South-East Asia, may stop being a fully protected national park as the state government is said to be de-gazetting a law that gives it the status.

Concerns were sparked by a gazette dated Oct 25 that has gone viral on social media notifying that the state authorities will cancel the whole area as a national park under subsection 3(3) of the National Park Environment Enactment (Johor) 1989.

According to sources, the decision was made by the state government in October to de-gazette Pulau Kukup National Park.

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Save millions of lives by tackling climate change, says WHO

Global warming and fossil fuel pollution already killing many, UN climate summit told
Damian Carrington The Guardian 5 Dec 18;

Tackling climate change would save at least a million lives a year, the World Health Organization has told the UN climate summit in Poland, making it a moral imperative.

Cutting fossil fuel burning not only slows global warming but slashes air pollution, which causes millions of early deaths a year, the WHO says. In a report requested by UN climate summit leaders, the WHO says the economic benefits of improved health are more than double the costs of cutting emissions, and even higher in India and China, which are plagued by toxic air.

“The global public health community is getting very impatient,” said María Neira, WHO director of public and environmental health. “If you don’t think you need to take action for the sake of climate change, make sure when you think about the planet you incorporate a couple of lungs, a brain and a heart. It is not just about saving the planet in the future, it is about protecting the health of the people right now.”

The damage caused by coal, oil and gas pollution is “outrageous”, she said. “There are words not included in the documents at [the climate summit]: asthma, lung cancer, stroke, heart disease – they need to be incorporated in all the decision-making processes.”

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Cars and coal help drive 'strong' CO2 rise in 2018

Matt McGrath BBC 6 Dec 18;

A booming global market for cars has helped drive CO2 emissions to an all-time high in 2018, say researchers.

The main factor in the near 3% rise has been coal use in China, driven by government efforts to boost a flagging economy.

But emissions from cars, truck and planes using fossil fuels continue to rise in all parts of the world

Renewables have also grown this year, but are not keeping pace with the CO2 rise.

The research, carried out by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), says that this year's "strong" rise is projected to be 2.7%.

That's much bigger than 2017's 1.6%. This will worry scientists as they had seen CO2 emissions relatively flat for the three years before.

So what's caused the rise?

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Singapore protests as Malaysia expands port limits, vessels intrude territorial waters off Tuas

FARIS MOKHTAR Today Online 4 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — The Singapore Government is strongly protesting Malaysia’s purported move to expand its port boundaries, which violates sovereignty and international laws, and it will not hesitate to “take firm action against intrusions and unauthorised activities”.

This is after ships and vessels from Malaysia have been repeatedly intruding into Singapore’s territorial waters off Tuas over the past two weeks, including vessels from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Department Malaysia.

These details were disclosed on Tuesday (Dec 4) by Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT), hours after Malaysia's Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that his country will “immediately” issue a protest note over Singapore's plan to use the southern Johor Baru airspace for flight operations at Seletar Airport.

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Best of our wild blogs: 4 Dec 18

FREE Talks and Tour on Ocean Plastic Pollution (7 Dec 2018, Friday at 7pm)
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Indonesia: Flood emergency status declared in West Aceh

Antara 3 Dec 18;

A resident takes out chair from his flooded home at Cot Amun Village, West Aceh District, Aceh Province, in October 2018). Floods that hit 10 sub-districts in West Aceh have affected 4.653 families or 15,309 people.(ANTARA FOTO/Syifa Yulinnas/wsj).

Banda Aceh, Aceh Province, (ANTARA News) - West Aceh District Head H. Ramli MS confirmed that the district was classified as a flood emergency area, as hundreds of villages were frequently flooded from September to December 2018.

"A flood emergency status is now declared in West Aceh District, so we are in dire need of support from the Aceh provincial government and central government," Ramli remarked while visiting flood victims in West Woyla on Sunday.

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World's strangest sharks and rays 'on brink of extinction'

Helen Briggs BBC News 4 Dec 18;

Some of the world's most unusual sharks and rays are on the brink of extinction because of threats such as commercial fishing, scientists have said.

A shark that uses its tail to stun prey and a ray half the length of a bus are on the list of 50 species.

The scientists say sharks have a bad image and people do not understand how important and threatened they are.

And losing even one of these "living fossils" would wipe out millions of years of evolutionary history.

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World Bank to invest $200bn to combat climate change

Sum available for 2021-25 represents doubling of current five-year plan
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 3 Dec 18;

The World Bank is to make about $200bn (£157bn) available to fund action on climate change from 2021-25, helping countries adapt to the effects of warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The sum represents a doubling of the five-year investment plan put in place after the landmark Paris agreement of 2015.

Governments will meet in Poland this week and next to thrash out an implementation plan for the Paris accord, which binds countries to hold global warming to no more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration of a 1.5C limit.

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Act now or risk disaster, nations told at UN climate summit

Patrick GALEY, AFP Yahoo News 3 Dec 18;

Katowice (Poland) (AFP) - After the starkest warnings yet of the catastrophic threat posed by climate change, nations gathered in Poland on Sunday to chart a way for mankind to avert runaway global warming.

The COP24 climate summit comes at a crucial juncture in the battle to rein in the effects of our heating planet.

The smaller, poorer nations that will bare the devastating brunt of climate change are pushing for richer states to make good on the promises they made in the 2015 Paris agreement.

Three years ago countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to the safer cap of 1.5C if at all possible.

But with only a single degree Celsius of warming so far, the world has already seen a crescendo of deadly wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes made more destructive by rising seas.

UN General Assembly president Maria Espinosa told AFP that mankind was "in danger of disappearing" if climate change was allowed to progress at its current rate.

"We need to act urgently, and with audacity. Be ambitious, but also responsible for the future generations," she added.

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Best of our wild blogs: 3 Dec 18

Beting Bemban Besar South
Offshore Singapore

8-9 Dec: Kids' art workhop and film screening
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Why some see Chile's plastic bag ban as a rubbish proposal

Paige Sutherland BBC 2 Dec 18;

"They are just everywhere and they are polluting our oceans, our fields, our cities," says Guillermo González of the 3.4 billion disposable plastic bags used in Chile every year.

Mr González heads the recycling department at Chile's environment ministry and is only too aware of the problems caused by the huge amount of plastic bags used by his compatriots.

It takes up to 400 years for a single plastic bag to degrade and very few get recycled, he says. "It is a very visible kind of waste and one that people are very concerned about."

In August, Chile became the first country in Latin America to ban stores from handing out free plastic bags to shoppers. Under the new rules, anyone who goes to a store will either have to buy a re-usable bag or bring their own.

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Act now or risk disaster, nations told at UN climate summit

Patrick GALEY,AFP Yahoo News 3 Dec 18;

Katowice (Poland) (AFP) - After the starkest warnings yet of the catastrophic threat posed by climate change, nations gathered in Poland on Sunday to chart a way for mankind to avert runaway global warming.

The COP24 climate summit comes at a crucial juncture in the battle to rein in the effects of our heating planet.

The smaller, poorer nations that will bare the devastating brunt of climate change are pushing for richer states to make good on the promises they made in the 2015 Paris agreement.

Three years ago countries committed to limit global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to the safer cap of 1.5C if at all possible.

But with only a single degree Celsius of warming so far, the world has already seen a crescendo of deadly wildfires, heatwaves and hurricanes made more destructive by rising seas.

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Best of our wild blogs: 2 Dec 18

16 Dec (Sun) - Free guided walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

The Park that Never Ceases to Amaze Us: Pasir Ris Park
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Night Walk At Pasir Ris Park (30 Nov 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Butterfly Photography at Our Local Parks - Kranji Marshes
Butterflies of Singapore

Giant clam girl explains the how and why fish talk!
Mei Lin NEO

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The banana money trail: Prices rising in Singapore, but farmers not gaining

The cost of bananas from the Philippines has shot up, but farmers are struggling with losses, so where is the money from consumers going to, ultimately? The series For Food’s Sake! investigates.
Derrick A Paulo and Anna Tolentino Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 18;

DAVAO, Philippines: Of all the types of bananas his family’s fruit business sells, the Philippine Cavendish variety is the most popular, owing to its appearance.

“They look almost perfect. There are fewer blemishes and fewer scratches, compared to the Malaysian ones,” said retailer Ben Phua. “Malaysian bananas have black spots.”

Those spots are actually sugar spots and thus equate to sweeter bananas, but “not many consumers are willing to accept the look of the bananas”.

The price he pays for the Cavendish variety, however, has gone up by 25 per cent in the past three years. That works out at around 50 cents more per kilogramme, which is passed on to customers.

The reason for the hike is a fungal disease – one that all banana growers fear – which struck the Philippines hard in 2015 and has since wiped out plantations.

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Indonesia: ‘We’re only fighting fires of past sinners’: Luhut defends govt's palm oil support

The Jakarta Post 2 Dec 18;

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has rebuffed claims that he and the government were not paying attention to the deforestation and forest fires caused by oil palm plantations.

He said he was also worried about their environmental impacts on younger generations, but he claimed the government was struggling to make progress since the land concessions for the plantations, some of which were on fire-prone peatlands, had been given out by past governments.

“We’re just fighting fires [created by] past sinners,” he said during a press conference at his office in Central Jakarta on Friday, as quoted by

Luhut reiterated his derision for environmental group Greenpeace Indonesia, which had disrupted the operations of a tanker carrying palm oil belonging to the Wilmar trading company in the Bay of Cadiz near Spain, saying that the government has every right to question the local chapter of an international group.

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Indonesia: Injured Sumatran elephant rescued, fitted with tracker

Nurul Fitri Ramadhani
The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 18;

An injured elephant was found in Panca village, Aceh Besar, Aceh, on Thursday, after she had been roaming around plantations in the area for days.

Residents reported sighting the female, which had injuries to her tail and the left side of her chest, to the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Aceh). The agency sent a team to start searching for the elephant on Wednesday night and she was located on Thursday.

The chairman of BKSDA Aceh, Sapto Adji Prabowo, and his team conducted surgery on the elephant on the same day. The team had to amputate the tail as the injury and resulting infection was too severe to save it.

“The surgery ran smoothly and the elephant has been given antibiotics and vitamins,” Sapto said in a written statement.

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Indonesia: Walhi calls for protection of Sumatran tiger

Antara 1 Dec 18;

Medan, N Sumatra, (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) has called for protection of Sumatran tiger or Panthera Tigris Sumatrae and called on the people to not hunt it.

"Protecting Sumatran tiger is not only the responsibility of the government but also the people," the executive director of Walhi North Sumatra, Dana Prima Tarigan, said here on Saturday.

She said tigers that entered neighborhoods must not be hurt or killed, adding that the animal had done it because their habitat has been damaged by the irresponsible people.

She said the killing of a tiger that recently entered Bangkelang village in the district of Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, must never happen again.

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Best of our wild blogs: 1 Dec 18

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 8 Dec 2018 (Sat)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

[Short Film] Seagrasses of Singapore
Psychedelic Nature

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Singapore to ban 'wash water' discharge in port from 2020

* Singapore to enforce ban on open-loop scrubbers from Jan 2020
* Ban part of preparations for IMO 2020 rules
* Move seen as setback for so-called open-loop scrubbers

Roslan Khasawneh Reuters 30 Nov 18;

SINGAPORE, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority (MPA) will ban the discharge of “wash water” used in ships to scrub engine exhaust from Jan. 1, 2020, the MPA said on Friday.

The ban of so-called open-loop scrubbers is part of an effort to prepare one of the world’s busiest ports for International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that come into force in 2020 and oblige ships to use cleaner fuels.

“To protect the marine environment and ensure that the port waters are clean, the discharge of wash water from open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers in Singapore port waters will be prohibited,” said Andrew Tan, Chief Executive Officer of the MPA during an event in Singapore.

“Ships fitted with hybrid scrubbers will be required to switch to the closed-loop mode of operation,” Tan said.

Singapore is the world’s biggest hub for ship refuelling, also known as bunkering.

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Deer seen wandering around Lornie Road put down due to injuries, old age

Choo Yun Ting Straits Times 30 Nov 18;

SINGAPORE - The Sambar deer which was spotted wandering around on Lornie Road on Sunday evening (Nov 25) has been put down, the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) said in a joint statement on Friday.

The deer had looked confused as it wandered in the middle of traffic on Lornie Road, according to a video taken by a Stomp reader.

NParks was alerted to the deer on Lornie Road after 9pm on Sunday, and they conducted a joint operation alongside the WRS veterinary team.

The old male Sambar deer had to be darted for its safety, as well as that of motorists, as it was lost, the two organisations said.

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Sandbags among new measures to help cope with monsoon season: PUB

Channel NewsAsia 30 Nov 18;

SINGAPORE: PUB will offer sandbags to about 600 residents and businesses in flood-prone areas during the upcoming monsoon season, the national water agency said in a media release on Friday (Nov 30).

“With more unpredictable weather due to climate change, PUB has upped its efforts to prepare our community for the coming monsoon," said director of Catchment and Waterways Yeo Keng Soon.

"This year, we are helping residents and shop owners in flood-prone areas to take additional flood protection measures by providing them with sandbags."

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Indonesia: Plastic waste education to be included in school curriculum

ANTARA 30 Nov 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has said plastic waste education will be included in the school curriculum.

"In cooperation with the Education and Culture Ministry, we will include it in the curriculum from kindergarten to senior high schools," Pandjaitan said at a press conference, here, Friday.

The public should understand the danger of plastic waste; therefore, children should learn about plastic waste from an early age.

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Vietnam: Greater Mekong Subregion biodiversity conservation corridors to operate from 2019

Vietnam Net 30 Nov 18;

The Greater Mekong Subregion biodiversity conservation corridors and project management plans will be put into operation from 2019, said Vice Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Environment Nguyen The Dong.

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