Best of our wild blogs: 26 Mar 18

Photographing marine life in Singapore

An awe-sss-ome day out at Pasir Ris Mangrove!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Favourite Nectaring Plants #16
Butterflies of Singapore

Raffles the botanist..?

Roads Named after Cargo Boats, and the Vanished Charcoal/Firewood Trade at Tanjong Rhu
Remember Singapore

East Asian Ornate Chorus Frog (Microhyla fissipes) @ Windsor Nature Park
Monday Morgue

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Singapore boat saves 9 men after collision at sea

Audrey Leong New Paper 26 Mar 18;

What started out as a normal cargo pick-up for Mr Mohamed Sharjahan, 30, and his four-man crew turned into a mission to rescue nine Indonesian crew members of a sinking boat.

On Thursday night, Sunlight Poseidon, an 18m by 4m cargo boat, left Penjuru Terminal and was heading to a nearby anchorage to drop off cargo when the crew saw the silhouette of a small boat in the distance at about 10.30pm.

Mr Sharjahan, the captain and boarding officer of Sunlight Poseidon, knew something was wrong when he realised the ship did not have its navigational lights turned on.

"Though we were moving closer to it, the boat in the distance seemed to be getting smaller. That was when we decided to investigate," Mr Sharjahan told The New Paper on Friday.


The crew cast the boat's spotlight to the sea but only saw a few floating planks, with no other sign of the vessel or survivors.

The captain was about to turn away when he heard cries for help and saw the frantic waving of the survivors in the dark.

He said: "They were calling out 'tolong, tolong' (Malay for help), and there was nothing else on my mind but their safety."

Mr Sharjahan, a seaman of four years, said his fear was they would hurt the survivors.

"We couldn't go closer for fear that the current from the boat might kill them, so we encouraged them to swim to us."

The crew spent 20 minutes pulling up the nine men.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said it received a report of a collision between an Indonesian-registered craft, Samudra Indah, and a Singapore-registered bunker tanker, Explorer, at East Jurong Channel at 10.25pm on Thursday.

While the Samudra Indah sank, the Explorer did not sustain any damage. No injuries or oil pollution were reported.

Investigations are ongoing.

In a statement to TNP yesterday, Equatorial Marine Fuel Management, owner of the Explorer, confirmed the collision. It is conducting its own investigation and cooperating with the authorities.

After they were pulled on board, the Samudra Indah survivors were shivering and weak from the ordeal.

Said Mr Sharjahan: "They kept thanking us for saving them, but were too in shock to give us any other details."

The crew informed the MPA and the Police Coast Guard, who took the survivors back to shore.

By 4pm on Saturday, the Samudra Indah had been pulled out of the sea.

Mr Foong Jun Jie, 28, an operations executive for RW Marine Services, which owns Sunlight Poseidon, said: "The crew took the initiative to go out of their way to save these survivors.

"We are all proud of what they did."

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5,000 free meals made from ‘ugly food’ to raise awareness about food waste

LOUISA TANG Today Online 25 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE — About 1,500kg of blemished or unused vegetables that would otherwise have been discarded were used to cook halal and vegetarian meals for 5,000 people at City Square Mall on Sunday (March 25).

The event, which seeks to increase awareness about food waste, was the first edition of ‘Feeding the 5,000’ in Asia, which has been featured in more than 40 locations worldwide.

It took about six months to plan and execute the event, said Mr Ashwin Subramaniam, chief executive officer of Singapore-based sustainability research and implementation company Gone Adventurin.

About seven to eight partners, including community non-governmental organisations such as The Food Bank Singapore, were involved in helping make the event happen on Sunday. They picked and transported the “ugly food” to the caterers for cooking, and also set up booths to educate the public on food waste at City Square Mall.

The vegetables, collected from Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre by volunteers from SG Food Rescue on Saturday, were used in dishes such as nasi biryani and vegetarian fried bee hoon which were handed out to members of the public for free on Sunday.

The rice and noodles were donated, while all plates and cutlery used were compostable.

Some challenges that Gone Adventurin faced in bringing the event here were maintaining high hygiene standards. Mr Ashwin said that they strictly monitored the food preparation process, and the caterers were present when the produce was being sourced.

He said: “At the consumer level, there is a lot of food waste, but a lot of food waste also comes from industries — manufacturing, retail industries. Some retailers are taking steps to address it but what we would love to see more is responsibility across the food chain … not just at the stores.”

He noted that Singaporeans contribute 791,000 tonnes of food waste annually across households, supermarkets, food establishments and the food industry, costing the average Singaporean household up to S$1,440 every year.

“We hope to change the perception of ‘ugly food’ that is still perfectly edible – it just has a little bit of blemish here and there,” he added.

“Consumers’ demand for perfect looking fruits is fuelling food waste, yet an ugly apple tastes just as good as a good looking one. Why bin it when you can still eat it?” said The Food Bank Singapore management associate Margarita Seah.

SG Food Rescue co-founders, Mr Daniel Tay and actress Judee Tan, told TODAY that their wish is to have “no food waste”. The group collects vegetables from Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre on a weekly basis, scoring between 1,000 and 2,000kg of vegetables every time.

About 25 per cent of food produced at farms go to waste, while 10 per cent is lost at the wholesale level, Mr Tay pointed out.

“We’ve forgotten where food comes from … Don’t just let supermarkets tell you what is edible,” he said.

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Indonesia: Jakarta’s flourishing trade in threatened turtles and tortoises under the spotlight again

TRAFFIC 26 Mar 18;

Jakarta, Indonesia, 26th March 2018—They are shy creatures, but for the thousands of threatened tortoises and freshwater turtles found on sale in Jakarta’s shops and markets, there’s no shelter from the glare of the illegal trade spotlight, finds a new TRAFFIC report.

Researchers found 4,985 individuals of 65 different species of tortoise and freshwater turtles in just seven locations over a four-month period. Nearly half of these were threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Slow and Steady: The Global Footprint of Jakarta’s Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Trade, released today, also revealed that at least eight non-native species recorded were prohibited from international commercial trade under CITES¹ and were likely to have been illegally imported.

This survey in 2015 found more turtles and tortoises on sale in Jakarta than previous TRAFFIC surveys carried out in 2004 and 2010. Between 92 and 983 animals were observed in any given week.

“If this trade and the open markets that sell species illegally are not made a priority for law enforcement action, many of the currently threatened species will be pushed closer to extinction,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

This study also found indications of a worsening situation with the discovery of higher proportions of non-native, CITES-listed and threatened species compared to earlier studies. On the list were the Critically Endangered Ploughshare Tortoise Astrochelys yniphora and Radiated Tortoise Astrochelys radiata, both endemic to Madagascar and listed in CITES Appendix I (meaning all international trade is banned) since 1975.

Non-native turtles are not protected by Indonesian law and this includes the most commonly observed species in this study – the Indian Star Tortoise Geochelone elegans. This tortoise is also totally prohibited from harvest and trade in its range states of South Asia.

Researchers found no recent records of Indian Star Tortoise imports for commercial purposes or records of legal exports from range countries in the UNEP-WCMC² CITES database. There was also no information on specimens reportedly bred in captivity in other countries. The authors concluded that high levels of illegal import of these tortoises into Indonesia was still occurring as recently as in 2015.

This research deepens two concerns experts have held for some time: that high levels of illegal turtle trade occur in the country and that loopholes within national legislation continue to undermine protection of local and non-native species of tortoises and freshwater turtles.

Indonesia is currently revising legislation relating to wildlife protection (Act No. 5, 1990) and the protected species list (Regulation No. 7, 1999). The report recommends that these laws are amended to include non-native, CITES listed species and provisions for effective enforcement.

“For international agreements like CITES to be effective, Indonesia must move to protect not only its native species but also non-native ones, especially those that have been repeatedly shown to be heavily trafficked within the country, said Krishnasamy.

Last week, experts gathered at Night Safari Singapore for the Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle IUCN Red List Workshop to assess the status of 90 South and Southeast Asian tortoise and freshwater turtle species, many of which are threatened by trade. Over half of these species are native to Southeast Asia, including over 20 that occur in Indonesia.

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