Best of our wild blogs: 5 Apr 18

Mass coral spawning 2018
wild shores of singapore

First Autumn Raptor Migration Count in Singapore
Singapore Bird Group

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Malaysia: Elusive male orb-weaving spider found in Kinabatangan

The Star 5 Apr 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The male of the elusive orb-weaving spider species Opadometa sarawakensis has finally been seen and recorded in the Kinabatangan district.

This species, known for its striking red and blue colours, was previously only identified through its females.

The finding was made by students during a two-week ecology field trip organised by the Naturalis Biodiversity Centre and Leiden University, and hosted by Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).

Spider taxonomist Dr Jeremy Miller from Holland’s Leiden University said mystery had long shrouded the Opadometa genus, where the males and females look nothing alike.

The males are so elusive that scientists are still unsure whether the sexes are correctly linked to each other even in the best-known Opadometa species.

Such is the case with Opadometa sarawakensis, which has been identified only from female specimens till now, Miller said.

He said that while remarkable with their red and blue colours and large size, the females did not give the slightest hint about the likely appearance of the male.

Nevertheless, students taking part in the trip found a mature male spider hanging on the web of a red and blue female, he said.

He said the male was also quite striking in appearance, with its colour a blend of orange, grey, black and silver.

He said during the initial discovery of the male spider, researchers were unable to immediately ascertain the species as molecular DNA-based analysis was not an option since the necessary equipment was not available at DGFC.

However, using all their expertise and experience from previous field surveys in the area, the team concluded that the male’s observation on that particular female’s web, in addition to the fact that no other Opadometa species were found in the area, was enough to prove they were indeed representatives of Opadometa sarawakensis.

A manuscript was later compiled and submitted to the open-access Biodiversity Data Journal.

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Malaysia: Semenggoh Wildlife Centre welcomes a new baby orangutan

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 4 Apr 18;

KUCHING: A 16-year-old female orangutan which was last spotted on March 22 returned to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre with a “little surprise.”

The orangutan named Sadamiah was seen at the feeding platform with a baby clinging onto her on Thursday (March 28).

Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) in a statement here said Sadamiah was last spotted at the feeding platform on March 22 at about 2.30pm.

“Five days later, she returned with a baby and brought joy to the centre. We are proud and glad to announce that we have a new resident.

“However, we couldn’t confirm its gender yet. Both mother and baby looks healthy,” SFC said in the statement.

It is believed that the baby orangutan was born on March 22 and is Sadamiah’s second child.

She gave birth to a female orangutan named Ruby five years ago.

SFC also said the newborn orangutan was spending most of the time with its mother.

With the new birth, Semenggoh has 30 orangutans, roaming freely within the centre and the surrounding 740- hectare forest reserve.

The 46-year-old female orangutan Seduku is currently the oldest orangutan there.

The centre together with its sister facility at Matang Wildlife Centre, offers a Orangutan Adoption Programme, where the public can adopt an orang utan.

They can adopt a specific orang utan for a year by contributing RM200 annually. For companies, it is RM10,000 a year.

Proceeds from the programme will be used to fund conservation activities and the rehabilitation of wildlife.

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Malaysia: EIA report for High Speed Rail approved

The Star 5 Apr 18;

PETALING JAYA: The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) has been approved by the Department of Environment (DoE).

MyHSR Corporation Sdn Bhd said the report was approved subject to conditions during the construction and operational phases of the HSR project.

Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said the approval was a significant development for the project.

“We have developed the necessary measures to address and minimise the potential impacts throughout the life cycle of the project, which consists of pre-construction, during construction, and operations,” he said.

The final report submitted to the DoE consolidated the feedback from all stakeholders, including the public, government agencies and the DoE.

The 350km HSR is a strategic project between the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to reduce land travel time between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore to 90 minutes.

It is expected to enhance business linkages and bring the people of both countries closer together.

The iconic project includes domestic services within Malaysia that would improve intercity connectivity and promote economic agglomeration under the Socio-economic Development Programme intended to benefit local communities along the corridor.

The governments of both countries signed a bilateral agreement on Dec 13, 2016, which captured the key points of the agreement on the project.

These included the technical parameters, commercial model, Customs, immigration and quarantine clearance, safety and security matters, regulatory framework and project management approach.

Eight stations were planned for the HSR, namely Bandar Malaysia, Sepang-Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri in Malaysia and Jurong East in Singapore, with operations of the HSR service between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore targeted for commencement by Dec 31, 2026.

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Indonesia: Burst undersea pipeline caused oil spill, says Pertamina

N.Adri The Jakarta Post 4 Apr 18;

State oil and gas company Pertamina said on Wednesday a burst pipeline -- which it used to transfer crude oil from the Lawe-lawe Terminal in North Penajam Paser regency, East Kalimantan, to an oil refinery facility in Balikpapan -- caused the oil spill that polluted Balikpapan Bay on Saturday.

“The pipeline is located 25 meters under the sea,” said Pertamina Refinery Unit (RU) V general manager Togar MP in Balikpapan on Wednesday.

He added that the pipeline was still wrapped in a cement casing to prevent it from rusting and to make it withstand water pressure. The crude oil distribution pipeline was installed in 1998.

Divers dispatched to investigate the incident reported that the pipeline had moved around 120 m from its initial location. “We are still investigating the cause of the burst pipeline,” said East Kalimantan Police’s special crime director Sr.Comr. Yustan Alpian.

Pertamina was still calculating the volume of oil leaked into the sea, Togar said.

“When the leakage was first detected, we closed the distribution line of crude oil from Lawe-lawe to Balikpapan straightaway to prevent it from getting worse,” he added.

It was only after Pertamina checked the 10th oil spill sample that it confirmed that it was crude oil and not Marine Fuel Oil (MFO) it had first suspected.

Following the finding, Pertamina dispatched a team of divers to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the oil pipeline from Lawe-lawe to Balikpapan. (ebf)

Deadly Indonesia oil spill caused by burst pipe: company

AFP Yahoo News 4 Apr 18;

Balikpapan (Indonesia) (AFP) - An oil spill off Borneo island that led to five deaths and the declaration of a state of emergency was caused by a ruptured undersea pipe, Indonesia's national oil company Pertamina said Wednesday.

The leakage, which started in waters near Balikpapan city early Saturday, has spread at least 26 kilometres (16 miles) and coated large areas of the coast in thick black sludge.

Five fishermen died in a fire sparked by workers who were trying to clear the spill by burning it off the water's surface, a local search and rescue agency spokesman said.

"They were a group of men who were on vacation together and went fishing," said Octavianto, a senior official of the East Borneo search and rescue agency, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

State-owned Pertamina, which had initially denied responsibility, said Wednesday that one of its pipes used for transporting crude oil, laid about 25 metres below the sea surface, was the source of the huge leak.

"Since it was first detected, we have closed the crude oil supply from Lawe-lawe to Balikpapan as a precaution," Pertamina spokesman Togar MP told reporters.

Police and Pertamina are investigating the source of the pipe fracture but initial inspections by divers show that it has shifted about 120 metres from its initial location on the seabed.

A state of emergency was declared Tuesday in Balikpapan as local officials warned residents not to light cigarettes in the area and distributed gas masks because of the acrid fumes and smoke.

Dramatic aerial photos showed masses of crude oil spread across the surface of the ocean and black blobs covering beaches.

The precise impact on sea life is not yet clear, but one endangered Irrawaddy dolphin has washed ashore dead.

Several oil booms have been deployed to try contain the spill with about 69,300 cubic metres having been collected as of Tuesday evening, the environment ministry said in a statement.

"We have asked the team as well as Pertamina to prioritise the cleaning of oil spills in residential areas due to the stench and other potential risks," said Environment Minister Nurbaya Bakar.

Ministry investigates impacts of Balikpapan oil spill on sea ecosystem
The Jakarta Post 5 Apr 18;

The Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry’s research and human resources agency head Zulficar Mochtar said the oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan had become a complicated problem as the ministry had received reports that the incident had caused pollution in other areas such in Bintan, Riau Islands and Jakarta Bay.

“This sea pollution cannot be solved alone [by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry]. All ministries and related parties need to contribute to preventing this problem from worsening, with each party having their own function,” said Zulficar as quoted by on Thursday.

Zulficar said the ministry was researching and collecting data on the impacts of the oil spill, especially on the sea ecosystem. “We will be paying attention to protocols or standard operating procedures in handling the problem,” he said.

Zulficar further said the oil leak problem could not be solved quickly because the impacts of the oil spill could expand and there would be a continuation of the problem. Hence, this case must be handled thoroughly and sustainably.

“We must first check the possible correlation of the incident with the patterns of the sea currents, the rise and fall of the tides, and oceanography factors. We also must assess specific organisms affected by the pollution and the extent of the damage, as well as the impacts of the problem on the country’s economy,” said Zulficar.

State oil and gas company Pertamina said on Wednesday a burst pipeline had caused the oil spill that polluted Balikpapan Bay on Saturday. (ebf)

N.Adri from Balikpapan contributed to this story

Pertamina makes headway in cleaning Balikpapan spill
Novi Adri The Jakarta Post 6 Apr 18;

On the fifth day after Saturday's oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, the pollution has begun to clear, the waters off East Kalimantan's Semayang Port returning to a deep green with no visible oil slicks.

“We dispatched no less than 1,000 people to clean the oil spill. We also had the support of volunteers from various civil society groups, students, community members and environmental activists,” Yudi Nugrahastate, Kalimantan regional manager of social responsibility and communications at state oil and gas company Pertamina, said on Thursday.

Yudi added that Pertamina had also deployed 15 vessels to tackle the polluted area in four predetermined zones. The first zone stretches from Pertamina's Jetty 1 to Kampung Baru. The second zone covers the waters off Semayang Port, while the third covers Monpera Beach, and the fourth covers Balikpapan Bay.

He said Pertamina had utilized a variety of techniques and equipment for cleaning the oil spill, from vacuum trucks, to oil booms and to oil spill dispersant (OSD). “To clean the waters of the beach, we used oil skimmers and tug boats,” Yudi added.

The residents of Kampung Atas Air Margasari have also helped by collecting thousands of liters of oil by hand, which Pertamina’s clean-up teams picked up for hazardous and toxic waste treatment.

Read also: Balikpapan declares emergency status after oil spill
“We have been cleaning up the spill since Monday afternoon, when the Balikpapan administration declared emergency status,” said Ride, the head of Margasari subdistrict. (ebf)

Balikpapan oil spill widening: Ministry
The Jakarta Post 17 Apr 18;

The area affected by an oil spill in Balikpapan Bay, East Kalimantan, has widened although it remains unclear what exactly is causing the spread, an official has said.

Widodo Pranowo, the head of the marine and coastal area data laboratory of the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry, said on Friday that the area polluted by the oil spill in had widened to 20,000 hectares from 12,987 hectares.

“There is a possibility that the source of the leak has not been perfectly sealed. But also there is a possibility that the spill has been thinning and drifting away with the currents,” he said as quoted by Kompas newspaper.

The oil spill reportedly came from a broken pipe belonging to state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina.

Widodo, who examined the oil spill area through satellite imaging, said more thorough research was needed to determine the cause of the spread.

Pertamina says it has deployed four cleaner teams and 15 cleaner ships to clean up the bay.

Yudi Nugraha, Kalimantan regional manager of social responsibility and communications at Pertamina said the company had utilized a variety of techniques and equipment for cleaning the oil spill, from vacuum trucks, to oil booms and oil spill dispersant (OSD).

“To clean the waters of the beach, we’re using oil skimmers and tug boats,” Yudi added.

“We’ve dispatched no fewer than 1,000 people to clean up the oil spill. We also have the support of volunteers from various civil society groups, students, community members and environmental activists,” he said.

MR Karliyansyah, director general of pollution control in the Environment and Forestry Ministry, said Pertamina promised to have the spill cleaned by April 9. (gis/ahw)

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Shell threatened with legal action over climate change contributions

Friends of the Earth demands the oil firm move away from fossil fuels to comply with Paris deal
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 4 Apr 18;

The global flurry of legal campaigns against “big oil” has widened, with Royal Dutch Shell being threatened with legal action unless it steps up efforts to comply with the Paris climate agreement.

Friends of the Earth Netherlands on Wednesday demanded the Anglo-Dutch company revise plans to invest only 5% in sustainable energy and 95% in greenhouse-gas emitting oil and gas.

The environmental group said this business strategy would increase the impact of climate change, especially on the world’s poorest people and those most prone to flooding. It has given Shell eight weeks to shift to a cleaner tack, after which it says it is prepared to invoke international obligations, human rights treaties and laws on hazardous negligence.

Heading the group’s legal team is Roger Cox, who led and won a climate case in 2015 that insisted the Dutch government should set more ambitious emissions targets.

“This is the first case we know of in the world that seeks preventive action from a company over climate change,” Cox told the Guardian. “We are not asking for damages. We want Shell to steer away from its current course and to get in line with the Paris agreement.”

Shell is one of the world’s 10 biggest carbon emitters. In its annual last year, the company publicly declared support for the Paris climate deal. It has also outlined “” to , but environmentalists are frustrated at the glacial pace of change and the weak investment in renewables and carbon capture technology.

Friends of the Earth says the company should be held to account for the approximately 2% of the historical emissions of carbon dioxide and methane it has added to the atmosphere between 1854 and 2010. It has previously taken the company to court for the damage it caused around oil fields in Nigeria.

“Currently Shell and companies like it are acting like big tobacco in decades past by failing to take responsibility for the harm that they cause,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. “Shell must now move on from its history of Earth-damaging fossil fuel extraction and play a major part in the transition to a sustainable future, to keep temperature rises to near 1.5C.”

A spokesperson for Shell said the company strongly supported the Paris agreement, “but we believe climate change is a complex societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy and cultural change to drive low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers, not by the courts.”

Given the vast discrepancy in financial resources, any legal battle between Friends of the Earth and Shell would be a challenge of David and Goliath proportions.

But Dutch courts have produced surprises. Arguably the biggest victory for climate litigators anywhere in the world was the 2015 that the Dutch government’s plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change. The court in The Hague ordered the government to raise targets to at least 25% within five years, although the government is appealing against the decision.

If the Friends of the Earth case goes ahead, Cox said it will depend on the legal duty of everyone in the Netherlands to prevent harm to others when it is reasonably preventable. The duty of public care was easier to prove against the government. It will be tougher against a private company, but Cox said the plaintiffs will emphasises that Shell has specific responsibilities because it has contributed to greatly to the problem of climate change.

Courts in other countries are increasingly a climate change battleground.

According to the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia law school in New York, there are now more than 1,000 cases in the world. Most are claims for damages in the US.

In January, New York city plans to sue five fossil fuel firms – BP, Exxon Mobil, , ConocoPhillips and Shell – for their contribution to climate change, which has caused flooding and erosion in the city. Local governments in and elsewhere have launched legal actions, alongside private citizens. Last month, a group of 21 young plaintiffs overcame a major hurdle when a judge rejected moves to dismiss their lawsuit, which argues the US government’s failure to curb CO2 emissions violated their generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

In the most prominent UK case to date, a high court heard the first climate challenge last month against the British government, brought by 12 citizens through a legal group called which has the support of , Prof Sir David King.

Nasa scientist-turned activist James Hansen has called for a wave of litigation alongside political mobilisation because, he says, judges are less likely than politicians to be in the pocket of oil, coal and gas companies.

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