Best of our wild blogs: 8 Feb 18

15-18 Feb 2018: Change in Marine Park Public Gallery opening hours for Chinese New Year
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

The Cross–Island Line (CRL) Debate – Civil Society Needs to Play Active Role in Pushing for Legislation

A tale of two otters: settling in Singapore, suffering in China

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Earth to Singapore: Join up the green dots

It's Singapore's Year of Climate Action. But environmental groups say closer coordination between them and the Government is needed for the campaign to get off the ground.
Audrey Tan Straits Times 8 Feb 19

A Web resource portal. A Climate Action pledge for individuals, organisations and schools to do their bit. A Climate Action logo.

These were unveiled as part of the launch last month of Singapore's Year of Climate Action, a 12-month national initiative aimed at raising awareness of climate change and the urgency to do something about it.

Environmental groups tell The Straits Times they are hopeful that outreach efforts can narrow the gap between awareness and action.

Indeed, increasing Singaporeans' knowledge about how individuals can do their part, such as recycling or cracking down on the use of plastic bags - where Singapore has lagged behind efforts of other countries - is a pressing one, amid the wider need to get them to grasp just how dire the situation is.

But climate groups say that while the initiative shows the Government is willing to put climate change on the national agenda, most feel that a clear action plan is lacking.

For example, there are so many aspects to climate change, which one should outreach efforts focus on? How should green groups coordinate their outreach, so efforts are not duplicated? How will success be measured?

The co-founder of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action (SYCA), Ms Nor Lastrina Hamid, said: "Credibility is about ensuring that everyone - from government agencies to green groups - is coordinated in its approach to climate change. This will show that Singapore is serious about the issue."

True, there is a lack of focus on which aspect of climate change to target. The environmental groups have their wish lists. What is the situation and where does that stand in the context of a country and its individuals helping fight this huge threat to the planet's future?

Climate change refers to the human-induced warming of the Earth, caused by deforestation and the excessive consumption of resources that result in the production of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Individuals here may not have direct control over emissions, but everyone can reduce consumption of resources. The message of the importance of the "3Rs" (reduce, reuse and recycle) has to come out clearer and stronger.

Besides, the major polluters in Singapore are already being dealt with. The Government has, among other things, plans to introduce a carbon tax for industries, invested in solar energy, frozen car population growth and expanded the public transport network.

The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) has tried to promote the 3Rs via a social media campaign, in which it pays social media personalities to post photographs of themselves engaging in "green" habits, such as turning up the air-conditioning.

The 3Rs is also reflected in the Climate Action Pledge, which has already garnered more than 1,600 signatures. For example, individuals can commit to recycling the right way, not using a plastic straw, or to taking reusable bags with them when they go shopping.

But these efforts merely repeat what people already know: That recycling, not taking plastic bags, taking public transport, and ordering only what you need, are good for the environment.

What is needed is a way to make people want to practise them.

Communications expert Ginny-Ann Oh, director of public relations firm Asia PR Werkz, said repetition could help reinforce the message: "Understanding human behaviour, such as how long it takes for a habit to be formed, could be useful as timely reminders can be put out on platforms that reach pledgers, whether through social media or advertising campaigns, to remind them of the green commitments they made."

Miss Pamela Low from SYCA believes an effective way of encouraging people to practise the 3Rs is to personalise "green habits", and link them to personal benefits.

"Most things that fall under 'climate action' actually bring us back to our grandparents' time of being resourceful or thrifty, and this aligns very well with our priorities of health and money," she said.

Miss Low is partnering some schools to roll out a zero-waste initiative called Tingkat Heroes, which encourages people to eat in, or to use their own takeaway containers if they have to eat out.

Data can make campaigns more compelling, especially if it is shocking enough to spur action.

In 2010, for example, World Wildlife Fund India launched a campaign to save tigers, which included posters that read "Just 1,411 left". This referred to tigers left in the wild - a decline from the 3,642 tigers in 2002. More than 75,000 people signed up on the campaign website within the first first week of its launch.

But detailed information is scant when it comes to Singapore's progress on the 3Rs.

Take the issue of plastic bags, which environmental groups say people should pay for, so they'll take fewer of them. Figures could show the gravity of the problem here - and it would be easier to decide if punitive action is necessary.

England, which has a plastic bag tax, kept track of the number of plastic bags it used before implementing the charge - seven billion a year, distributed by seven main supermarkets. This fell to 500 million in the first six months after the charge was introduced.

In Singapore, there is no data for how many plastic bags are used each year. The latest available figure dates back to 2011, when the Singapore Environment Council did a study to show that three billion plastic bags were used that year.

This has likely gone up as the population increases, yet nobody knows by how many.

On the recycling front, Singapore's domestic sector continues to fare poorly, showing that the mere provision of infrastructure such as recycling bins or chutes is not enough. In 2016, only 21 per cent of waste produced by households was recycled.

In comparison, Taiwan has a household recycling rate of 55 per cent. Germany's recycling rate for municipal waste is 64 per cent and that of South Korea is 59 per cent, according to statistics from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In Singapore, household waste is either recycled by the informal recycling sector, such as rag-and-bone men, or under the National Recycling Programme - a scheme under which licensed public waste collectors provide bins and collection services to all Housing Board estates, and private property opted into the scheme.

But the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it has no breakdown of the quantity of recyclables collected from the blue recycling bins deployed at HDB blocks and private landed homes. Only the combined weight of the recyclables is available.

Considering the differences across each housing type - recycling bins in HDB estates are placed at the foot of each block, whereas in landed estates, each house has its own bin - a breakdown could allow recycling campaigns to be more targeted.

The MEWR - the parent ministry of NEA - said the breakdown is not tracked, but that this will be reviewed if there is a need to in the future.

Ms Cheryl Lee, community manager at Up2Degrees - a movement that raises awareness of climate change in Singapore by getting people to turn their air-conditioners up by 2 deg C - said data could help people visualise the extent of a problem.

"It could make messages more impactful - instead of relying on a 'Save the Earth' rhetoric, people can actually see the gravity of the problem," she said.

At the launch of the Year of Climate Action, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli emphasised the need for the Government to work with various parties, including environmental groups.

The MEWR said it has been engaging the green groups since 2016, and that a roundtable discussion session on climate action was held with them on Jan 3.

But to make the Year of Climate Action have more of an impact, closer collaboration in terms of campaign action is needed between the Government and ground-up groups. The Government has resources, whereas the ground-up groups, each with its own focus areas, have knowledge of the subject matter.

The National Parks Board has a good model for this. It works closely with nature lovers and green groups on outreach activities, and events like the annual Festival of Biodiversity celebration which showcases native wildlife.

Various nature groups, each with its own niche areas - for instance, reptiles, primates or marine life - pitch in to set up booths at the event, usually held at public places such as malls, or help to conduct guided walks.

This is ultimately what climate groups here want: getting more of them involved in the Year of Climate Action. With all groups on the same page, it would be easier to prevent the duplication of work. The Government can then step in to scale up some of their activities to a national level, so the impact is greater.

There are plenty of ground-up campaigns to choose from.

There is Miss Low's Tingkat Heroes project to get people to reduce their use of disposables, and the Up 2 Degrees movement. Another green group, Zero Waste Singapore, has a BYO (Bring Your Own) campaign to get people to use their own bags, bottles or reusable containers when they shop.

The local art scene also wants to chip in. Artist Seelan Palay said he is gathering a few artists to create sculptures using recycled or reused material. The hope is that a new installation can be done every quarter and placed in a public area to spur discussion about the 3Rs and its link to climate change.

Green groups also want the public sector to take the lead. As Ms Lastrina said: "It's the whole idea of how different sectors and types or organisations have their own audience reach, and can affect change at various levels."

An MEWR spokesman said the Government has committed to reducing electricity consumption by 15 per cent, and improving water efficiency by 5 per cent, in 2020, under the Public Sector Sustainability Plan launched last year.

"In this Year of Climate Action, we intend to expand our targets under the plan to also include new targets in waste reduction and the adoption of renewable solar energy. We are also studying the expansion of our green procurement requirements to include other products," he added.

All this shows that when it comes to climate action, the dots are already there. What is needed this Year of Climate Action is a more cohesive way to link them all up.

Yes, this will come at a cost - in terms of money, time and effort at collating ground-up efforts and scaling them up.

There is also a social cost when it comes to getting people to switch to less convenient options. And for the Government, there could be a knee-jerk backlash over its support, or even perceived support, for such efforts.

Just last week, there was plenty of unhappiness when it was announced that more hawker centres could implement a system of charging a deposit that will be forfeited if people do not return their food trays.

But there is a much bigger price to be paid if the Year of Climate Action campaign does not translate into genuine action - that is, the very future of human life on Singapore and, indeed, Earth.

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Environment ministry pays social media influencers to spread word on climate change

Audrey Tan Straits Times 7 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - Another ministry is paying social media micro-influencers to post on Instagram to spread word of an issue.

This time, the Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources (Mewr) has engaged them to raise awareness on climate change and what people can do to help.

This comes after the Finance Ministry was reported to have engaged over 50 of them to do the same for the Budget process.

A Mewr spokesman told The Straits Times that it has paid 28 micro-influencers, with a combined reach of 100,000, for a three-month marketing campaign which started last month.

According to a Forbes article, micro-influencers refer to everyday consumers who have a following of between 1,000 and 100,000 on social media.

The initiative, called the #ClimateActionSG Instagram Photo Contest, involves the micro-influencers posting photographs of themselves practising eco-friendly habits in Singapore, and urging others to do the same.

Some of them have posted photographs of themselves on bicycles, while others pose with air-conditioning remote controls displaying a set temperature of 25 deg C.

One user, @tacomels, has more than 900 followers. She posted a photograph of herself with an aircon remote control and wrote: "Did you know that things we do in our everyday lives actually have a larger impact on the earth and its environment? By not doing our part to conserve energy, we are actually contributing to global warming and this affects the lives of many animals around the world."

Another user, @marcusnai, posed on a bicycle and captioned the photograph: "Global warming is real and we should do our part by reducing carbon footprint. What's more, we can burn some calories while making a difference to fight climate change."

A campaign brief seen by The Straits Times shows that each post costs up to $35. The Mewr spokesman said on Tuesday (Feb 6) that the approximate cost of the campaign is $1,500.

The Finance Ministry had declined to say how much it is spending on its campaign, except that it is in accordance with market rates.

The Mewr spokesman said: "The aim of the contest, which runs from Jan to Mar 2018, is to get online audiences familiarised with the actions behind climate action and to boost awareness and engagement on our social media platforms... The use of micro-influencers helps us to amplify our message beyond the platforms that we own."

This marketing campaign is part of the Government's efforts to get more people talking about climate change this year, which has been designated as the Year of Climate Action.

It is a national initiative comprising a series of outreach efforts to raise awareness that everyone can make a difference to climate change by limiting his or her carbon footprint.

There are more than 400 posts with the #ClimateActionSG hashtag on Instagram, although the paid posts are usually tagged with an additional #sp, which means sponsored post.

Ms Ginny-Ann Oh, director of public relations firm AsiaPRWerkz, said engaging influencers to spread word of an issue could help reach out to the young people of Singapore with varied interests.

"Using different influencers to raise awareness can be useful in achieving exposure for the campaign. After the first outreach, Mewr can study the effectiveness of the posts and explore taking the collaboration with some of them to the next level," she said.

Ms Oh added that in general, campaigns are usually more successful if advertisers are selective and work with influencers whose personal values resonate with the campaign.

Another ministry engages social media influencers in S$1,500 campaign
Nigel Chin Channel NewsAsia 9 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) has reached out to social media influencers to promote an Instagram photo contest, as part of a digital campaign on climate action.

The estimated cost of the campaign is S$1,500, the ministry said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.

MEWR's move comes after the Ministry of Finance last month engaged influencers to promote the upcoming Budget 2018 and related public feedback sessions on Instagram.

Instagram posts by influencers with the hashtags #ClimateActionSG and #SustainableSG have sprung up promoting the contest as early as Jan 18. They include posts on what actions they have taken to fight climate change, and also ask others how they have done their part.

The posts also asks followers to "share your climate action tips and tag @mewrsingapore, hashtag #ClimateActionSG and #SustainableSG to spread the word" for a chance to win an iPhoneX and other attractive prizes. It also includes the hashtag #sp, which stands for sponsored post.

More than 400 posts were tagged to #ClimateActionSG and over 1,000 tagged to #SustainableSG as of Friday (Feb 9) morning.

A check by Channel NewsAsia on Instagram showed that the influencers engaged have between 500 and 16,000 followers each.

A post by Instagram user minicolee, who has 15,700 followers, had 710 likes. She had posted a photo on Jan 29 of her riding a bicycle and said in her caption that "one of the things I believe firmly in is public transport" as Singapore is "too small to justify owning private transportation and being a hazard to our environment".

Another user, tacomels, said in a Jan 30 post that she hopes "everyone can start doing their small part for the environment cause a small change from all of us can really add up to a large change." Her post had 175 likes.

The MEWR said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia that the "micro-influencers" were engaged through the ministry's social media agency and as part of their digital strategy to promote an Instagram contest.

The contest, which runs from January to March, is aimed at boosting awareness of climate action.

The ministry is also "working closely" with the agency to review the entries submitted by the micro-influencers, it added.

Since the campaign started, they have worked with 28 influencers who have a combined reach of 100,000, MEWR added.

"The aim of the contest is to get online audiences familiarised with the actionables behind climate action and to boost awareness and engagement on our social media platforms," MEWR said.

"We also hope to sustain the use of the #ClimateActionSG hashtag beyond the contest and for netizens to continue using the hashtag whenever they post photos/updates related to climate action in the future.

"The use of micro-influencers helps us to amplify our message beyond the platforms that we own," MEWR added.

Source: CNA/ng

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Opening of Outward Bound Singapore Coney Island campus to be delayed to 2021

The new campus, together with existing premises on Pulau Ubin, will expand OBS' capacity to provide outdoor adventure training for 45,000 students every year.
Derek Wong Straits Times 7 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - The new $250 million Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) campus at Coney Island is now expected to be ready in 2021, instead of the originally scheduled 2020.

This is because plans to study and adjust the environmental impact on the island took "longer than expected", said OBS on Wednesday (Feb 7) at an engagement meeting with environmentalist groups at the OBS Punggol Reception Centre.

Its appointed consultant EnviroSolutions & Consulting has been examining the potential effects of the development of OBS@Coney since February 2017. The findings are being assessed by relevant agencies for approval.

Some casuarina trees on the island had been removed to protect students in case of strong winds. OBS said it wants to minimise the environmental footprint while maintaining the quality and safety of its programmes.

It is also factoring in the time taken to test its facilities more rigorously.

The new campus, together with existing premises on Pulau Ubin, will expand OBS' capacity to provide outdoor adventure training for 45,000 students every year.

In April 2016, the Ministry of Education announced a new five-day camp for Secondary 3 students to be launched in 2020. The Coney Island site was supposed to be one of the sites for the camp, which is part of the National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan unveiled in Budget 2016 to instil resilience in students.

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Malaysia: Human-elephant conflicts on rise

POLIANA RONNIE SIDOM New Straits Times 8 Feb 18;

TELUPID: KAMPUNG Gambaron folks here want the proposed training for its youngsters in handling elephants be hastened in view of rising human-elephant conflict.

Its Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Morius Jeffrey said previously there were suggestions by environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to have the youngsters of every village faced with the elephant threat, trained in properly handling them.

The most recent case was two herds of elephants of at least 20 individuals spotted near several villages here earlier this year.

“There were suggestions to train our youngsters with how to control and handle elephants.

“However since there were no developments, some of our youths have taken the initiative to make their own explosives to chase the large mammals away from the village area.

“We have informed the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) about this and also asked the youths to be careful,” he said when contacted.

The wild elephant presence has been on the rise since last year, and the animals have taken to trespassing into village settlements and destroying crops at least once every four months.

Besides Kg Gambaron, five other areas facing the human-elephant conflict are Kg Liningkung, Kg Bauto, Kg Telupid, Telupid town and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Telupid.

“Right now we are facing the largest encroachment of wild elephants at any one time, with about 20 of them, causing concern among villagers as more crops are destroyed besides worrying for their own safety,” he added.

Morius said villagers also hoped the government could install electrical fence to keep the elephants from destroying more crops.

Meanwhile SWD director Augustine Tuuga said seven personnel from three teams involving the Wildlife Rescue Unit, the department’s Kinabatangan and Sandakan divisions were sent to the district to assist with elephant control efforts.

He said the 20 individuals from two separate herds are believed to have come over from the
Deramakot and Segaliud forest reserves nearby.

“They are the same group of elephants translocated to Deramakot but they have started moving back to the Telupid area.

“We will try to control these animals first because the cost of translocating them is high at RM30,000 per elephant,” he said.

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Malaysia: Sarawak flooding deteriorates; 5,562 at shelters, 55 schools closed

Bernama New Straits Times 8 Feb 18;

KUCHING: Flooding has worsened in the state, with the number of evacuees currently standing at 5,562 people from 1,682 families.

The flood victims are taking shelter at 32 relief centres in Samarahan, Serian, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu and Limbang, a spokesman at the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee Secretariat said in a statement today.

Samarahan has recorded the highest number of flood evacuees totalling 1,483 people, followed by Bintulu (1,321), Serian (1,227), Sibu (978), Limbang (453), Mukah (92) and Sarikei (eight).

Meanwhile, floodwaters forced the closure of 55 schools with 6,637 students today.

The secretariat said the deteriorating situation has also affected 16 health clinics, five of which have been forced to close.

The five clinics are the Nanga Taroh Health Clinic in Mukah; the Sungai Arip Health Clinic in Sibu, the Ulu Teru Health Clinic in Miri; and the Nanga Tau Health Clinic and the Sangan Health Clinic in Bintulu. – Bernama

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Indonesia: Borneo orangutan found riddled with gunshots in latest attack

AFP 7 Feb 18;

The body of a Borneo orangutan has been found riddled with some 130 airgun pellets, Indonesian authorities said Wednesday, the latest fatal attack on the critically endangered species.

The male orangutan, which also showed signs of a machete wounds, was found by villagers in Borneo's East Kutai district this week, police said, adding that an autopsy had been done on the mutilated primate.

"We found pellets all over its body. There were also a number of cut wounds that could have been caused by a machete," said local police chief Dedi Agustono, who added that the killer remained at large.

"It is the most bullet wounds we have ever seen on an orangutan," he added. Most of the pellets were lodged in the animal's head and around its eyes.

The gruesome killing comes about a week after Borneo police arrested two rubber plantation workers and accused them of shooting an orangutan multiple times and then decapitating it.

The orangutan's headless body had been found floating in a river on the island, which is shared with Malaysia. The Indonesian portion of Borneo is called Kalimantan.

Bornean and Sumatran orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Sumatran orangutan population is estimated to be just under 15,000, while about 54,000 orangutans are thought to live in Borneo, according to the IUCN.

Rampant logging and the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations have been blamed for destroying their jungle habitat, leading to numerous conflicts with humans.

Plantation workers and villagers are sometimes known to attack an animal that they see as a pest, while poachers also capture them to sell as pets.

Most orangutan killings are not solved, said Ramadhani, a manager at the Centre for Orangutan Protection which helped with the autopsy.

"We are pushing law enforcement to solve the case as soon as possible," added the conservationist, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

East Kalimantan orangutan dies from multiple gunshot, stab wounds
Gemma Holliani Cahya The Jakarta Post 7 Feb 18;

An orangutan was found with gunshot and stab wounds on Sunday in Teluk Pandan village in the East Kutai regency of East Kalimantan, only three weeks after an orangutan was found beheaded in Central Kalimantan. The great ape later died following emergency treatment.

The sub-adult orangutan, who was 5 to 7 years old, was found by villagers on Sunday evening and evacuated by the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) to Pupuk Kaltim hospital on Monday morning. He was found in critical condition in a tree in the middle of a lake near the border of Kutai National Park.

Doctors at the hospital found dozens of old and new wounds from an airsoft gun all over the great ape's body, 74 of them in his head. They also found 19 fresh stab wounds on his body. The orangutan's left foot had been cut off.

The orangutan died on Tuesday morning after 12 hours of surgery and treatment at Pupuk Kaltim hospital.

“There were 130 pellets found in his body. This is the largest number of pellets we have ever found in a case of an orangutan shooting. In 2013 in Central Kalimantan, we found 103 pellets in an orangutan's body,” COP spokesperson Ramadhani told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Ramadhani said that an autopsy found that the wounds in the orangutan showed that the endangered animal had been injured on several different occasions.

“You can see that the cut on his left foot was dry. This shows that it happened some time ago. Dozens of pellet wounds have dried too. But others were still new, the stab wounds are also new,” he said.

The COP is calling the case the "second Kaluhara", because a similar incident occurred in the same village in May 2016.

“In the first Kaluhara [case] in 2016, we found a blind orangutan in critical condition in East Kutai, also near Kutai National Park. We could see from his wounds that the older ones had made him blind, and the new wounds killed him,” Ramadhani said.

The COP has recorded 25 orangutan shooting cases since 2012. Seven of these cases occurred in East Kalimantan, four in Central Kalimantan, two in West Kalimantan and the remaining 12 cases in Sumatra.

“There have been seven orangutan shooting cases in East Kalimantan since 2012, but no one has ever been arrested for it,” Ramadhani said, “If [the authorities] were truly concerned about it, they could arrest the culprits easily. East Kalimantan’s law enforcers and East Kalimantan Environment and Forestry agency should be more serious in handling this case.”

“There must be stronger efforts by law enforcement regarding the orangutan issue,” the chief executive officer of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), Jamartin Sihite, told the Post on Wednesday.

Kalimantan orangutans are threatened with extinction not only from the degradation and conversion of their forest habitat, but also from poaching. In the wild, orangutans can live up to 45 years.

The BOSF said that in the last 12 years, the orangutan population in Kalimantan had decreased by half.

Based on its 2004 Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA), 54,817 orangutans populated an 8.1 million-hectare area in Kalimantan. The 2016 PHVA covered an area of 16 million hectares in Kalimantan and found that the orangutan population had fallen to 57,350. (dmr)

Police name five people as suspects in killing of orangutan
Ade P Marboen Antara 17 Feb 18;

Samarinda, East Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - The police in Kutai Timur, East Kalimantan, have named five people as suspects behind the death of an orangutan by shooting in the Kutai National Park.

Chief of the Kutai Timur police resort Senior Adjunct Commissioner Teddy Ristiawan stated here on Saturday that all suspects living near the location where the orangutan's body was found were arrested on Thursday.

"After intensively questioning them, they were declared as suspects on Friday," he noted.

The arrests of the five suspects were made eight days after the police conducted an investigation into the death of the primate found with some 130 air gun bullets in its body.

"They are crop farmers and know that hurting orangutans is against the law. They shot the animal, as it had damaged their crops," he noted.

Nasir, 55; Andi, 37, Nasir's in-law; Rustam, 37, Nasir's son; Hendri, 13, Andi's younger brother; and Muis, 36, Nasir's neighbor, are currently being held at the Kutai Timur police station.

"We have confiscated four guns from them as evidence. We held the adults but not the underage child," he noted.

The suspects have allegedly violated Law Number 5 of 1990 on the conservation of natural resources and the ecosystem.

"They face a maximum jail term of five years and a fine of Rp100 million," he noted.

The primate, aged around five to seven years, was discovered in a wounded state by villagers on Saturday (Feb 3) at the Kutai National Park area in Teluk Pandan Village, Kutai Timur District.

The park rangers immediately evacuated the animal after receiving a report about it for treatment. However, the orangutan succumbed to serious injuries on Tuesday (Feb 2) at around 1:55 a.m. local time.

A team of doctors was only able to remove 48 out of around 130 bullets found lodged mostly in the head of the animal during an operation that lasted from Tuesday night through Wednesday morning.

Doctors also discovered at least 19 old and new sharp object wounds on the body of the animal.

Editor: Ade P Marboen

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Philippines to lay out blue carbon roadmap to preserve marine life

Catherine Teves, Philippine News Agency Canadian Enquirer 7 Feb 18;

“The roadmap will identify measures for dealing with blue carbon,” said CCC development management officer Seal PatiƱo.

Blue carbon is carbon captured by and stored in coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide.

Among those ecosystems are mangroves, which provide shoreline protection and other benefits.

Mangroves are groups of trees and shrubs in intertidal zones or areas exposed to the air at low tide and submerged during high tide, noted experts.

Captured carbon that accumulated within the ecosystems was stored in stems and other parts of plants there, they said.

When coastal and marine ecosystems are either degraded or lost, however, they said such carbon escapes and returns to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2).

CO2 is among greenhouse gases trapping heat in the atmosphere, raising the temperature, and so, climate change results.

Experts already identified the Philippines as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Studies indicate the country is losing its capability to naturally help capture and store blue carbon.

Such studies warn that human activities like land conversion for aquaculture and other purposes have already altered much of the country’s mangroves.

Those activities helped reduce by more than half the estimated 500,000 hectares of mangroves that existed nationwide during the early 20th century, the studies noted.

Earlier, CCC Commissioner Noel Gaerlan raised the urgency for better conserving, protecting, and sustainably managing coastal and marine ecosystems nationwide.

“Climate change is a real threat to the country,” he said.

He added saving coastal and marine ecosystems from either further degradation or loss would enable these natural resources to continue capturing and storing blue carbon. (PNA)

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