Best of our wild blogs: 10 Jan 18

Can restore mangroves without planting, meh?
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

#BeResponsible – “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.”
The Dorsal Effect

Singapore has declared 2018 the year of climate action—so why are its banks still funding coal?

Half of Singaporeans want sustainable brands

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Sambar deer dashes across Mandai Road in rare sighting

Charmaine Ng Straits Times 9 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - The rare sambar deer has resurfaced in Singapore, after a driver spotted the animal along Mandai Road on Monday (Jan 8).

In a dashcam video sent to The Straits Times by reader Donn Soh, the animal makes a sudden dash across the road in a split-second appearance.

The reader's father, Mr Nelson Soh, was on his way to the Mandai Columbarium to attend a funeral when the sighting occurred at around 12.20pm.

"It suddenly dashed over and I braked, but it was so fast," said Mr Soh, 58, who works as a driver for ride-hailing app Grab.

"It looked like some sort of deer, but it was quite big-sized. It's the first time in my life that I've seen such a huge deer in Singapore," he added.

Following queries from The Straits Times, the animal was identified by the Nature Society (Singapore)'s Vertebrate Study Group as a sambar deer, based on its size and fur colour.

While barking deer are also found in Singapore, outreach officer Kerry Pereira said the species do not reach the same size as the deer in the video and are more reddish in colour.

In 2010, the Vertebrate Study Group estimated that there were fewer than 20 sambar deer in Singapore.

The deer, also known as sambaur deer, eats leaves, fruits and bugs. Males can grow up to 2m tall including antlers, and weigh up to 260kg, while females are two-thirds the size of males or smaller.

The sambar deer are found in Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, southern China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They can live up to 20 years in the wild.

In Singapore, they are typically found in areas around MacRitchie Nature Reserve and Upper Seletar Reservoir.

The last reported sighting of a sambar deer was in October, when a motorcyclist posted photos on Facebook of what appeared to be two to three sambar deer. The Facebook post is no longer available.

While Mr Soh said he did not feel like he was in a dangerous situation when the incident occurred, he said he wanted to share the video so that people will be aware of animal crossings in the area.

"I wasn't travelling very fast along that stretch of road, but drivers should take care if they pass by the area, especially since there have been a lot of animals rushing across the road recently," he said.

When driving along roads flanked by forested areas, the public should drive slowly and be alert for animals crossing, said Mr Pereira.

"This is to avoid any accidents that can not only injure the animal, but also the driver and passengers too," he added.

In response to queries, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it has been working with the Land Transport Authority to put up signage to alert motorists to wildlife crossings at areas such as Bukit Timah Expressway, Tuas and Hillview.

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No diseases of concern detected in common bird species in Singapore: Koh Poh Koon

Channel NewsAsia 10 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: There has been no detection of diseases of concern in common bird species in Singapore thus far, said Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of National Development (MND) Koh Poh Koon on Wednesday (Jan 10).

He was responding to a parliamentary question relating to wild birds in Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates.

The issue took centre-stage early last year after the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) culled 24 free-roaming chickens in the Sin Ming area, over concerns they could transmit the bird flu virus to humans.

The animal health agency then said that the chickens could catch the disease through direct contact with wild birds or through their droppings.

To control the population of wild birds like crows, mynahs and pigeons in HDB estates, AVA works with town councils to implement measures such as bird deterrent gels and fogging trees to discourage birds from roosting near residential areas, said Dr Koh.

“AVA also works with NEA (National Environment Agency) and town councils to ensure proper disposal of food waste at hawker centres and also within residential areas. This reduces the availability of food that will attract the birds.”

“Third, AVA works with NParks and town councils to prune trees within the estates to deter birds from roosting in those trees.”

The authority also conducts regular surveillance and inspects pet shops selling birds to the general public to ensure they are properly looked after and in good health. And local poultry farms are required to put in place proper bio-security measures to prevent any disease incursion.

“Members of the public are advised to not handle dead birds or have direct contact with bird droppings,” said Dr Koh.

He added that AVA has considered the suggestion to use sonic systems to deter birds.

“However, the effects are usually temporary and birds have been known to acclimatise to the sound. Such sonic systems can also be quite loud which reduces their suitability for deployment in our dense residential areas,” Dr Koh explained.

“The public also has an important role to play in curbing the bird population by maintaining the overall cleanliness of the environment and not feeding the wild birds ... Enforcement actions will be taken against those who do not comply.”

Source: CNA/jo

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New vending machines to push recycling

Machines at 3 FairPrice outlets collect used cans and bottles, and offer F&N discounts
Raffaella Nathan Charles Straits Times 10 Jan 18;

Waterway Point's FairPrice Finest outlet now boasts a "reverse vending machine" to encourage recycling.

Instead of spitting out cans or bottles of drinks, it will identify, sort and collect used ones which are then sent to recycling plants in neighbouring countries.

The installation of the machine yesterday is part of a collaboration between food and beverage company Fraser & Neave (F&N), supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice, Frasers Centrepoint Malls and Incon Green Singapore, which supplied the machine.

The process is simple: Insert a used can or bottle with its barcode facing up, tap a green "Get Now" button, and then tap the "Cash Coupon" button to print and collect a reward receipt.

For every five bottles or cans recycled, customers can claim an F&N product discount coupon.

Two more machines are located at the FairPrice outlets at Yew Tee Point and Bukit Merah Central, F&N said.

The discount coupon can be used at the three FairPrice outlets that have the machine installed.

150 Average number of bottles the machines, such as those at FairPrice, can take in a day.

"It is convenient and the machine is simple to use," said housewife Gillian Low, 32, who tried it out.

Reverse vending machines have been around since 2009.

The new Incon Green model has a software management system that collects data from every machine, said the company's chief executive and managing director Jack Lee.

"We are able to tell straight away if there is an error. For example, there will be an alert when a machine is 80 per cent full, so our employees can clear it," he added.

The firm currently has 10 machines islandwide.

Machines, such as those at FairPrice, cost more than $10,000, while other high-end versions can cost over $100,000. They can take in an average of 150 bottles a day, said Mr Lee.

In a pilot test conducted four months ago with another client, around 50,000 bottles were collected within three months.

There are peak recycling hours, he said, such as just after office hours or on weekends.

Using data gathered from its machines, Incon Green also found that people in their 30s and 40s used them the most.

Mr Lee said consumers responded more to incentives when asked to recycle, noting that there is now a discount coupon for every five bottles or cans recycled.

"It's a win-win situation," he said.

Mr Tng Ah Yiam, FairPrice's deputy CEO, said he hoped young people would take to the machines.

"We see that the timing is right," said Mr Tng. "The young are very conscious about protecting the environment and recycling initiatives."

At the launch, F&N's general manager Jennifer See said: "At F&N, we believe that simple green habits can be encouraged and developed successfully over time. With this initiative... consumers can recycle the cans and bottles at their convenience when they go shopping for groceries."

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Malaysia's last female Sumatran rhino Iman's health deteriorates

muguntan vanar The Star 9 Jan 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Veterinarians are keeping a close watch on Iman, Ma­laysia's last female Sumatran rhino, as she continues to experience bleeding in her uterus.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said they were in consultation with veterinarians from the United States, Africa and Germany on the available treatment methods to stop the bleeding.

“The best option is to do an endoscopic cauterising of the bleeder(s) but at the moment, this procedure is too risky due to her weak condition.

“We will use non-invasive means to reduce the bleeding from the cervix and vagina.

Iman has been sick after a uterine tumour burst triggered heavy bleeding since Dec 14 last year.

Tuuga said Iman's appetite varies each day but it has slightly improved as the keeper personally feeds her.

“Iman is sometimes lethargic as she loses significant amount of blood each day. She sleeps mostly half of the day and eats the foliage hung out for her several times a day.

“The amount of mixed browse (five species of foliage) is maintained at around 15kg each day with fruits totalling four to five kilograms,” he said, adding that bananas and mangoes were used to help in administering her oral medication.

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He said her caregivers were able to obtain Iman’s favourite wild mangoes or “pauh” from the Tabin Wildlife Reserve where she is being cared for by the Borneo Rhino Alliance.

Tuuga said that they continue to place mud packs on Iman as they cannot allow her to wallow in her mud paddock as they have to treat her within the shelter.

Iman was rescued in 2014 and is the last Sumatran rhino found in the jungles of Malaysia.

In June last year, another female rhino – Puntung – was put to sleep due to cancer.

Tam, the lone male rhino in captivity in Sabah, is the only other known rhino in Sabah.

Conservationists have seen no signs of the presence of the animal in the wild and have considered them extinct.

There are only about 100 Sumatrans rhinos left in the world with most of them in Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

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Indonesia Falling Way Behind in Mangrove Rehabilitation

Dames Alexander Sinaga Jakarta Globe 10 Jan 18;

Jakarta. Indonesia is still far behind its target of rehabilitating 1.8 million hectares of degraded mangrove forests by 2045 due to a lack of money and human resources.

According to data from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Indonesia has 3.5 million hectares of mangrove forests, 1.8 million of which are in extremely degraded condition.

Muhammad Firman, the ministry’s director of soil and water conservation, said from 2010 to 2016 it has only managed to rehabilitate 32,653 hectares of degraded mangrove forests.

Firman said the government only sets aside enough money to rehabilitate 500 hectares of mangrove forests each year from the state budget (APBN).

"We are looking for more funding from other stakeholders [so we can achieve our target]," Firman said in Jakarta on Tuesday (09/10).

Firman pointed out other factors that have slowed down rehabilitation of mangrove forests: illegal logging, the charcoal industry, land conversion for development, aquaculture and pollution.

According to Firman, Indonesia desperately needs mangrove forests to fight pollution, prevent abrasion from rising sea levels and reduce carbon emissions.

Mangrove forests can also be turned into attractive tourist destinations since marine life flourishes where there are a lot of mangrove trees.

Firman also said that more economic empowerment programs for communities living near mangrove forests will be needed to prevent them from spoiling the forests for money.

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U.K.: Plastic bags charge set to be extended to small shops

Expansion expected of highly successful policy of charging 5p for each bag could be extended beyond large retailers
The Guardian 9 Jan 18;

The 5p charge for plastic bags is expected to be applied to small shops under government plans to be unveiled by Theresa May this week as she seeks to tackle Britain’s “throwaway culture”.

In a major speech on the environment, the prime minister will promise to hold consultations on removing an exemption that allows retailers with fewer than 250 employees to continue to give out free bags. The levy on supermarkets and other large retailers resulted in a 90% decline in use, with nine billion fewer plastic bags being used.

Such an extension would come alongside other measures to crack down on plastics pollution after Gove said he was “haunted” by images of the damage done to the world’s oceans shown on David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II TV series.

May and Gove briefed cabinet ministers on Tuesday, ahead of the speech that will mark the publication of the government’s 25-year plan, that will include a focus on single-use plastics.

The prime minister “said the government had a clear belief in ‘conserving what is good, and standing against the profligate use of resources – whether it be public money or natural resources’,” according to her official spokesman.

May’s plan would be focused on the idea of becoming “the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we inherited”.

Gove told colleagues he was determined to tackle “the throwaway culture that plastics encapsulate” with a series of new initiatives on Thursday, the spokesman added.

“The environment secretary also said that he was working collaboratively with the secretary of state for international development to look at using aid money on the environmental agenda, such as reducing pollution by plastics.”

Gove arrived for the meeting carrying a reusable coffee cup made of bamboo fibre, after being criticised for previously turning up with a single-use takeaway option.

Worries about overuse of 2.5bn disposable coffee cups each year has already been raised by campaigners, and the environmental audit committee has called for a 25p “latte levy” to be charged on top of the price of a hot drink.

The environment secretary is understood to be considering proposals to encourage retailers to use fewer types of plastic and to get councils to adopt a standardised recycling policy.

The current patchwork of regimes means many types of plastic are not collected from households. Together, the two measures are intended to ensure that a greater proportion of the packaging used in the UK can be recycled.

In the November budget, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, announced plans to investigate new taxes on single-use plastic items. Ministers are also considering a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and other drink containers.

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