Best of our wild blogs: 11 Feb 18

Birdwing Season in Singapore
Butterflies of Singapore

Morning Walk At Windsor Nature Park (10 Feb 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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More green walkways for NParks' City in a Garden vision

Rachel Au-Yong Straits Times 10 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE - Over the course of two weeks, young plants have been growing along a walkway in Bukit Timah Road.

Though they are barely 30cm tall right now, they will eventually flower fully and cover the metal and plastic structure with greenery and flowers.

The walkway is one of 27 covered linkways which the National Parks Board (NParks) has greened.

And it plans to put up trellises on more of such walkways islandwide in the next three to five years.

This will also "improve the walking experience for commuters", NParks' streetscape group director Oh Cheow Sheng told The Straits Times.

The move is part of NParks' City in a Garden vision, which aims to make greenery more pervasive.

Pervasive greenery also mitigates the urban heat island effect, resulting in naturally cooler and more comfortable spaces, Mr Oh said.

In addition, there are ecological benefits as well, where biodiversity-attracting plants have been planted, he added.

Early efforts towards a green Singapore began in the late 1970s, when greenery was incorporated onto concrete walls of developments, guard rails and viaduct columns.

Bougainvillea adorning the sides of pedestrian overhead bridges, a common sight here, is one of the legacies of the initiative.

But since 2015, NParks has extended these efforts to more infrastructure. Low-maintenance climbers and shrubs are planted on roofs of bus shelters, along covered linkways, at MRT stations and on noise barriers.

"This allows more people to experience greenery on a daily basis during their commute," said Mr Oh.

Some examples of the plants used are the garlic vine, which produces clusters of lavender funnel-shaped blooms, and the Dutchman pipe, which produces large, reddish-purple flowers.

These require little water and pruning but flower frequently, Mr Oh said.

NParks has also worked with the Land Transport Authority to successfully pilot low-maintenance green roofs on four bus stops, similar to those in Jalan Ubi and Mandai Road.

Undergraduate Amanda Soh, 23, welcomed the move.

"I find the walkways useful but an eyesore, so putting plants on them would be a good way to help them 'blend in'," she said.

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Indonesia: Robbers steal sea turtle eggs from conservation area

N. Adri The Jakarta Post 10 Feb 18;

A group of robbers broke into a turtle egg hatchery on Sangalaki Island, Berau, East Kalimantan, and took a number of eggs.

“There were five of them and they all had machetes,” Aganto Seno, the head of Berau conservation area said on Saturday.

According to Aganto, the robbers threatened the conservationists with machetes, seized the eggs and escaped by climbing a two-meter high wall that surrounded the hatchery.

Despite efforts to protect turtles, eggs are prone to theft and often sold as food. Turtle eggs are traditionally consumed as a tonic because they are considered to have higher amounts of protein than chicken or duck eggs.

Until 2013, turtle eggs were openly sold in Kalimantan's coastal areas, especially in Banjarmasin and Kotabaru in South Kalimantan, as well as Samarinda and Berau in East Kalimantan.

The effort to conserve turtles in Kalimantan has made Sangalaki in the Derawan Islands a tourist destination. Conservationists focus on hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelis imbricata) and green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas), who lay eggs on the beach every night. Conservationists relocate the eggs from the beach to the hatchery so that the baby turtles are protected from hawks, monitor lizards and poachers.

Lipu, a staff member of Berau conservation area, said the number of turtles coming to lay eggs in Sangalaki had decreased significantly in the past few decades.

“In the 1970s, every night there were hundreds of turtles coming to lay eggs. Now, 15 turtles are considered many,” he said. (gis/ahw)

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Indonesia: Four Hectares of Vacant Peatland Catch Fire in Riau

Jakarta Globe 10 Feb 18;

Jakarta. A fire engulfed four hectares of peatland in Pulau Muda, Riau, police said on Friday (09/02).

Adj. Sr. Comr. Guntur Aryo Tedjo, a spokesman for the provincial police, said a team consisting of officials from the Indonesian Military (TNI), local police and Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), as well as local residents and companies, have coordinated efforts to extinguish the fire.

"We are still working to extinguish the fire ... the latest reports is that the rage has dwindled to smoke, but we still have to be aware because there is fire on the ground," Guntur said in Pekanbaru, Riau's capital, according to state-controlled news outlet Antara.

He said the authorities utilized a firefighting helicopter, supplied by a local pulp and paper company, to assist in combating the fire. "In addition to our team on the ground, the extinguishing process involves aerial firefighters to wet the peatland with water."

Guntur added that police are still gathering information and investigating the cause of the incident.

"The burnt peatland is not occupied. We are still investigating the cause of the fire."

He said one suspect in connection with the local peat fires was arrested by the local police in early February.

The police commander urged the public and companies to avoid clearing land by fire, adding that arsonists can face prison sentences of up to 10 years and fines of up to Rp 10 billion ($735,000).

"We hope that no one will use the land by burning as the punishment is heavy. Let’s prevent land fire."

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