Best of our wild blogs: 19 Mar 18



Butterfly Photography at Our Local Parks - Upper Peirce Reservoir Park
Butterflies of Singapore

Flew In Visitors (18 Mar 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

IYOR2018 Microplastics Analysis Workshop by NParks and the Friends of the Marine Park community
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Yellow-barred Flutterer (Rhyothemis phyllis) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Monday Morgue


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Printing company fined $12,000 for discharging toxic industrial used water into public sewers

Ng Huiwen Straits Times 19 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE - Printing company Tat Seng Packaging Group was fined $12,000 earlier this year for illegally discharging toxic industrial used water into the public sewerage system.

National water agency PUB said in a statement on Monday (March 19) that it had detected an abnormality in the quality of incoming used water at the Kranji Water Reclamation Plant on Sep 25, 2016.

Investigations revealed that Tat Seng had discharged black and turbid industrial used water into the public sewer, the statement said.

Water quality tests showed that the discharge contained quantities of copper, a regulated metal, that exceeded the allowable limit by up to three times.

The company pleaded guilty to three counts of the Sewerage and Drainange (Trade Effluent) Regulations and was fined on Jan 2 this year. Another charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

The company had previously been punished for the same offence carried out on four occasions between 2012 and 2015 , the statement said.

Besides Tat Seng, another 17 companies were brought to task between November 2017 and last month, and fined a total of $100,500 for illegal discharge offences.

Electroplating company Finest Gold & Silver Refinery was fined $13,500, while toxic waste industrial waste collection company Eco Special Waste Management was fined $10,000.

PUB's director of Water Reclamation Network Maurice Neo said that the agency takes a serious view of the illegal discharge of hazardous substances into the public sewerage system.

Mr Neo explained that public sewers bring used water to the water reclamation plants for treatment so that it is safe to be released into the environment, or further purified into NEWater.

"Hazardous substances in the sewage endanger the lives of our staff, upset our treatment processes and negatively impact the quality of feedstock for NEWater production," he said.


Tat Seng Packaging fined S$12,000 for discharging toxic used water into sewers
Channel NewsAsia 19 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: Tat Seng Packaging was fined S$12,000 for discharging toxic used water into public sewers, national water agency PUB said on Monday (Mar 19).

Besides Tat Seng, 17 other companies were fined a total of S$100,500 between November last year and February 2018 for illegally discharging into the public sewerage system.

SGX-listed Tat Seng had been caught and penalised for similar offences on four previous occasions between 2012 and 2015, PUB said.

In this latest case, PUB said it detected an abnormality in the quality of incoming used water at the Kranji Water Reclamation Plant on Sep 25, 2016.

Investigations found that Tat Seng had released "black and turbid industrial used water" into the public sewer.

Water quality tests showed that the discharge contained quantities of copper that exceeded the allowable limit by as much as three times, PUB said.

“PUB takes a serious view of the illegal discharge of hazardous substances into the public sewerage system. Public sewers convey used water to the water reclamation plants for treatment before safe release into the environment, or for further purification into NEWater," said Mr Maurice Neo, PUB’s director of water reclamation network.

"Hazardous substances in the sewage endanger the lives of our staff, upset our treatment processes and negatively impact the quality of feedstock for NEWater production.”

The agency listed 17 other companies that were fined for contravening sewerage and drainage regulations. They were fined between S$3,500 and S$13,500 for the offences.

AZ Bus
The bus repair and servicing company was fined S$6,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing regulated chemical compounds exceeding the allowable limits into the public sewer on Jan 6, 2016.

Jurong Barrels & Drums Industries
The drum collection company was fined S$6,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated chemical compound exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer on Feb 28, 2016. Another charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Starcoat
The electroplating company was fined S$4,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing regulated chemical compounds and a metal substance exceeding the allowable limits into the public sewer on Jul 7, 2017.

Sanmina-SCI Systems Singapore
The circuit board printing company was fined S$3,500 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated metal substance exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer on Jul 19, 2016.

Finest Gold & Silver Refinery
The electroplating company was fined S$13,500 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated metal substance exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer from Dec 1 to 14, 2015. Another six charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.

ECO Special Waste Management
The toxic industrial waste collection company was fined S$10,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing prohibited volatile organic compounds into the public sewer on Jan 6, 2016 and Jan 15, 2016.

NK Ingredients
The chemical manufacturer was fined S$7,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a prohibited volatile organic compound into the public sewer on Feb 25, 2016.

Faci Asia Pacific
The chemical manufacturer was fined S$6,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing regulated chemical compounds exceeding the allowable limits into the public sewer on May 24, 2016. Another two charges were taken into consideration during sentencing. It was also fined S$2,000 for discharging industrial used water into the public sewer without prior approval from PUB.

Bachun Food Industries
The food manufacturer was fined S$6,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing regulated chemical compounds exceeding the allowable limits into the public sewer on Jun 28, 2016. Another charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

TCG Rengo
The printing company was fined S$4,500 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated chemical compound exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer on Dec 29, 2016. Another charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Lian Seng Engraving Industry
The electroplating company was fined S$3,500 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated chemical compound exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer on May 16, 2017.

JPN Industrial Trading
The machine servicing and repair company was fined S$4,500 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated chemical compound exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer on Dec 21, 2016.

Atlas Paper Products
The printing company was fined S$4,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a regulated metal substance exceeding the allowable limit into the public sewer on Jan 11, 2017.

That’s Electroplating
The electroplating company was fined S$4,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing prohibited VOCs into the public sewer on Dec 3, 2015.

Powertech Technology (Singapore)
The semiconductor company was fined S$4,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing a prohibited volatile organic compound into the public sewer on Mar 25, 2016.

Lusin Engineering Works
The machine servicing and repair company was fined S$6,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing prohibited volatile organic compounds into the public sewer on Oct 11, 2016. Another charge was taken into consideration during sentencing.

Dynamex Engineering
The machine servicing and repair company was fined S$6,000 for illegally discharging industrial used water containing prohibited volatile organic compounds into the public sewer on Apr 13, 2016.

Source: CNA/hm



Firm fined $12,000 for water pollution says it is taking steps to improve practices
Gracia Lee Straits Times 21 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE - Tat Seng Packaging Group, which was fined $12,000 for discharging copper-tainted water above the allowable limit, said it views the matter seriously and has looked into ways of minimising the impact of waste water discharged into the environment.

"We regret the unfortunate incident where widely adopted waste water treatment procedures did not meet the standards required," said company secretary Chew Kok Liang in a statement posted on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) on Tuesday (March 20).

He added that the company is working closely with waste water treatment equipment vendors and has recently installed "advanced equipment" to enhance its waste water management practices.

The company was fined $12,000 in January for three counts of violating the Sewerage and Drainage (Trade Effluent) Regulations, national water agency PUB said on Monday.

It had illegally discharged copper-tainted water that exceeded the allowable limit by as much as three times in September 2016.

Between 2012 and 2015, the company had been caught four times for discharging toxic industrial used water.


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Singapore tanneries: Africa’s largest market for reptile skins in Asia

SIAU MING EN Today Online 18 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE — In a sign of Singapore’s powerhouse status in the tanning of reptile skins, the little red dot emerged as Asia’s largest importer of reptile skins from Africa in a recent report by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic.

Surpassing demand from larger economies such as South Korea and China, Singapore snapped up 60 per cent — or 933,583 — of about 1.6 million reptile skins that Africa exported to Asia from 2006 to 2015.

The skins, mainly from the Nile Crocodile, were legally imported from countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.

The bulk of the skins came from Nile Crocodiles that were captive-bred or ranched, meaning they were taken as eggs or juveniles from the wild – where they had low chance of survival to adulthood – to be reared in a controlled environment.

“Singapore dominated Asian imports of skins, which were likely imported there for the purpose of tanning and re-exporting for the international leather trade,” stated the authors of the report released this month, titled Eastward Bound: Analysis of Cites-listed flora and fauna exports from Africa to East and South-east Asia.

Cites stands for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which aims to ensure the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. Singapore is a party to the agreement.

The Republic’s status as a major crocodile skin importer comes as no surprise to industry players here.

Singapore has the biggest tanneries in the region, said Mr Chan Weiwen, 37, director of Chan Yew Leathers, which buys its leather from local tanneries to make small leather goods and handbags.

“We have better quality, technology and skilled labour to process these raw materials into high quality crocodile leather to be used by top manufacturers/fashion houses in the world,” he said.

About 90 per cent of the skins Chan Yew Leathers purchases are from farmed Nile Crocodiles in Africa and farmed alligators in South America. It prefers the Nile Crocodile as the skin from its belly area is smoother and the size is better-suited for the smaller products the company produces, said Mr Chan.

Singapore’s most famous tannery is Heng Long Leather, which was supplying to the world’s fashion houses even before French luxury goods giant LVMH Mo√ęt Hennessy – Louis Vuitton acquired a 51-per-cent stake in Oct 2011.

“Few Singaporeans realise that if they own a crocodile-skin bag it was most likely dyed in their very own backyard,” Heng Long’s executive director Koh Choon Heong told The Straits Times in 2014.

Mr Yeo Chek Hong, the director of another tannery called Chek Hong Leather, told TODAY about 30 per cent of his imports used to be Nile Crocodile skins. But after setting up its own crocodile farms in Malaysia and Thailand about five years ago, the figure has fallen to about 5 to 8 per cent.

His farms breed Estuarine Crocodiles and Siamese Crocodiles, which Mr Yeo said are considered “higher-end” because of the patterns and scales on the skins.

The tannery drastically cut imports of Nile Crocodile skins due to the lack of “quality skins” from Africa, which could bear scars due to the lack of space in farms, said Mr Yeo, 50.

But there is still demand for Nile Crocodile skins as countries such as the United States would only accept imports derived from crocodiles listed on Appendix II of Cites (where trade must be controlled but the species is not necessarily threatened with extinction), he said. Nile Crocodile skins from certain African countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe belong on this list.

Besides Africa, Singapore also imported skins of other crocodile, caiman and alligator species from countries like Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Colombia, according to United Nations’ data.

Trade in plants and animals between Africa and Asia is incredibly diverse, the Traffic report noted. Some of those traded in the largest quantities were species that received relatively little attention, such as the Leopard Tortoise, Ball Python and European Eel.

Besides skins, Africa exported nearly 1.4 million live individuals (dominated by the Leopard Tortoise and Ball Python) and 2 million kg of meat (three-quarters of which was Nile Crocodile meat) to Asia. Hong Kong was the biggest importer of reptile meat while South Korea imported the most European Eel meat.

Singapore imported the most birds (98,788) from 2006 to 2015 from Africa. The Grey Parrot was the continent’s most commonly exported bird to Asia.

The Democratic Republic of Congo was the largest exporter of wild Grey Parrots (34,553), most of which were destined for Singapore.

In late-2016, the African Grey Parrot – which is now recognised as two species, the Grey Parrot and the Timneh Parrot – was deemed to be threatened with extinction and accorded the highest level of protection, effectively banning international trade.

These parrots are among the most popular pet birds but this has made them a prime target for poachers and illegal trafficking, and Traffic has previously raised questions about Singapore’s wild bird trade.


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StarHub to sell electricity, joins forces with solar energy firm Sunseap

Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 19 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE: Local telco StarHub on Monday (Mar 19) announced its intention to go beyond its traditional business of offering mobile, pay TV and broadband services to venture into the electricity sector.

In a press release, the telco said it is joining forces with local solar energy provider Sunseap to sell electricity at the soft launch of the Open Electricity Market in Jurong next month.

There will be two clean energy subscription plans offered by both companies: Green Life and Green Save.

Green Life is a 100 per cent clean energy plan targeting environmentally conscious customers. This means they will receive electricity fully produced by Sunseap’s solar systems and this will be charged at the usual regulated electricity tariff, the press release explained.

The current electricity tariff is 21.56 cents per kilowatt hours (kWh), according to the Energy Market Authority’s (EMA) website. The tariff for the next quarter has not been announced yet.

As for Green Save, customers will receive 5 per cent clean energy and get a 20 per cent discount off the regulated tariff, the companies said.

Mr Howie Lau, chief marketing officer at StarHub, said in the press release: “Working together with Sunseap, we are excited to offer households a compelling way to live a lower carbon footprint lifestyle using the sun’s energy.

“Leveraging each other’s expertise, we will bundle essential services from mobile, pay TV, broadband and electricity in attractive packages for customers, who are becoming more environmentally aware.”

StarHub is unable to provide more pricing details currently, when asked if existing subscribers to its mobile, pay TV or broadband services will have additional incentives to switch from Singapore Power and take up either of the two plans.

The telco did say that 5 per cent of its profits out of this business in the first three years will be channelled into its StarHub Clean Energy Fund, which will be used to “drive environmental conservation initiatives, including clean energy and efficiencies”.

It was not able to disclose more specifics on how the fund will be used.

The EMA announced last October that households and businesses in Jurong will be able to buy their electricity from a retailer during the soft launch of the Open Electricity Market from next month, or continue with SP Group.

The option to shop around for electricity suppliers will be extended to the rest of Singapore in the second half of 2018.

EMA said on its website that there will be 14 retailers participating in the soft launch, including Sembcorp Power.

Source: cna/kk


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Malaysia: Bornean wild cattle under threat

The Star 19 Mar 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s endangered Bor­n­ean banteng (wild cattle) is becoming highly threatened due to habitat loss, fragmentation and heavy poaching, according to a study.

The Endangered Species Research by a team of scientists and conservationists from Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), Cardiff University and Sabah Wildlife Department, studied herd demography, sexual segregation and the effects of forest management using camera trap photographs from six forest reserves in Sabah.

The findings were published last Thursday in the Open Access journal.

The centre’s Bornean Banteng Conservation Officer Dr Penny Gardner said bantengs needed large forest space to avoid anthropogenic (pollutants caused by human activity) disturbances and maintain herd sizes, which were crucial for breeding.

“We found that when the forest boundary is not far away, banteng herds become smaller, and when the population is in decline, herd sizes also become smaller.

“So, we have multiple factors at play here that are all driving the decline of the banteng,” she said in a statement yesterday.

A total of 43,344 night camera traps and 832 independent banteng events were captured at 93 spots in the six reserves.

They identified 183 bantengs which included 22 herds and 12 solitary bulls, with herd sizes ranging from two to 21.

“Interestingly, we found that forest regeneration age, type of site within the forest reserve, presence of salt licks, habitat vegetation and distance to the nearest forest border had significant effects upon banteng herd sizes,” Dr Gardner said.

She said there was a need to work together to find a suitable strategy to maintain forest productivity and ensure that the banteng population thrived and not just survived.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the study would help in mapping out an effective 10-year-year management strategy aimed at providing a suitable habitat for re-population.

Dr Goossens, who is an adviser to the Sabah Wildlife Department, said an international workshop on the conservation of the Bornean banteng will be held later this year.


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