Best of our wild blogs: 6 May 18

Night Walk At Lower Peirce Reservior (04 May 2018)
Beetles@SG BLOG

The forest that will be making way for the “Forest Town”
The Long and Winding Road

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Father in famous Bishan otter family dies

Channel NewsAsia 5 May 18;

SINGAPORE: The father of the famous Bishan otter family died on Saturday (May 5) afternoon in Boon Keng, veteran otter enthusiast Jeffrey Teo told Channel NewsAsia.

The member of the group OtterWatch said the creature died at around 2.30pm surrounded by "otterers", who sat a "comfortable distance" away.

"Two attempts were made to trap and treat him by ACRES (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society) and WRS (Wildlife Reserves Singapore) this morning, but he managed to slip away," said Mr Teo. "We made the decision to call off the trapping at about 10am so that he could rest in peace.

"Could sense his life was fading away so we decided to accompany him at his side instead."

The animal's carcass was taken to Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Mr Teo said.

An account of the otter's last moments was posted on the OtterWatch Facebook page. He was estimated to be more than seven years old.

"At about 2.30pm, Bishan Dad came out from the holt, found a comfortable spot and lay down. It was a peaceful afternoon, with occasional water splashing sound caused by boats passing by ... His life faded away at 2.40pm. R.I.P," the post read.

The Bishan otter family was first spotted at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in 2014. The initial family of five gained national attention in 2015, when the National Parks Board posted photos and videos of them on their Facebook page.

The family had grown to 16 strong by 2017.

Mr Teo added: "He brought so much learning on smooth-coated otter behaviour which we applied other otter families in Singapore, and shared with rest of the world."

Dad of Bishan otter family dies, otter watchers mourn his loss
Lydia Lam Straits Times 5 May 18;

SINGAPORE - An otter believed to be the father of the friendly Bishan otter family died on Saturday (May 5), surrounded by otter watchers, Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) officers and those who have followed his journey since 2014.

Veteran otter watcher and member of the Otter Working Group Jeffery Teo told The Straits Times that the smooth-coated otter had been observed to be sickly for about a week. His energy levels were low and blood was spotted in his stool.

The Otter Working Group is a volunteer group set up with several government agencies including the National Parks Board, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority and PUB in 2016.

On Saturday, more than 10 otter watchers gathered from 6am to track the otter.

They had been unsure that it was the Bishan dad, as they affectionately term the creature, but confirmed on Friday that it was him.

They did so by noting his unique markings, the relative position of the individual in the group, his size and behaviour, National University of Singapore (NUS) biology lecturer N. Sivasothi, who heads OtterWatch, told ST.

After being left behind by his family, the otter trailed sluggishly behind them before stopping under a wooden bridge along the Kallang River.

Although the Otter Working Group had planned to trap and treat the otter, they decided against it as they could see that his health was failing.

"We could see that his life was fading," said Mr Teo. "We stayed behind so that at least he's being accompanied in his last journey, and also to make sure his carcass wasn't eaten by other animals."

At around 2.40pm, the otter breathed his last. He had been around seven to eight years old, Mr Teo said.

"A lot of people cried," he said. Wildlife Reserves Singapore received the carcass and will perform a post-mortem on it. After that, the carcass may be preserved as a wet museum specimen at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Bishan dad with his two youngest children in February 2018. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/OTTERWATCH
Mr Sivasothi, who has studied the mammals since 1994, said otters in the wild can live for about eight years, while those in captivity can survive for up to 14 years.

He said the otter watching community was saddened by the death.

"He's been followed since 2014," said Mr Sivasothi. "This otter is quite unusual. He's very successful in how he led the family and that's why they managed to stay intact in such a large group. We know this from zoos - not every parent is good. An adult which is a very good parent is prized in a captive collection."

This brings the number of otters in the Bishan family to 14. The future of the family is uncertain, and both Mr Teo and Mr Sivasothi were unsure on whether the mother would take a new mate.

"It will be the first time we will be able to clearly observe how this turns out," said Mr Sivasothi.

He said the Bishan dad was "quite indifferent to otter watchers" and not shy, allowing them to view many aspects of his behaviour up close.

"I think this is the most intimate interaction between an otter brood and a whole community of otter watchers in the world," he said. "I think that's why they all feel the loss so strongly. But they understand - these are things that happen in a natural life cycle."

Acres deputy chief executive officer Kalai Vanan told ST that three Acres officers were present.

"It's very unfortunate and sad indeed that he died," he said. "For now, we would need to find out the probable cause of death so that we can be better prepared if there is a similar scenario in the future."

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3 deaths linked to 'largest' dengue cluster of 2018 at Jurong West

Channel NewsAsia 5 May 18;

SINGAPORE: Three people have died and 60 dengue cases have been reported in a dengue cluster at Jurong West, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Saturday (May 5).

The cluster at Jurong West Street 91 and 92 is largest dengue cluster thus far this year. All of the cases are residents in the area, authorities said.

As of Friday, MOH and NEA have been notified of three dengue-related deaths associated with the cluster.

A 68-year-old woman died on Apr 13 while she was overseas. A 41-year-old man was admitted to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital last Sunday. His condition deteriorated and he passed away on Thursday.

The third fatality is a 63-year-old woman who was admitted to NTFGH on Tuesday. She also died on Thursday. All three are Singaporeans.

"MOH and NEA wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. We are currently investigating the factors that may have contributed to the severe cases in the cluster," the authorities said.


A total of 117 breeding habitats have been detected in the area since Apr 3 after checks by its officers, NEA said. Most, or 82 of these, were found in common mosquito larvae habitats such as flower bowls, flower vases, fountains, pails, and dish drying trays, around or in residents' homes.

Another 35 habitats were found in common areas such as ground puddles, gully traps and scupper drains. There was no construction-related mosquito breeding found.

NEA has sprayed insecticides in the common corridors and in residents’ homes and put up dengue cluster alert banners and posters around the estate.

It is also working with members of the community from Jurong West Street 91 to conduct house visits to create awareness, remind residents to take precautions and distribute insect repellent.

Those showing symptoms suggestive of dengue should see a doctor early, authorities added.

"Early diagnosis can facilitate better case management, and persons with dengue can also help prevent further transmission by applying repellent regularly so that mosquitoes do not bite and pick up the virus from them," MOH and NEA said.

The symptoms include the sudden onset of fever for two to seven days, severe headaches with pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, skin rashes, nausea and vomiting, and bleeding from the nose or gums or easy bruising in the skin.

Source: CNA/hm

5 more dengue cases found in Jurong West
Channel NewsAsia 8 May 18;

SINGAPORE: Five more cases of dengue have been found in the last three days in a Jurong West cluster where three dengue-linked deaths have been reported.

In the National Environment Agency's (NEA) latest update on Monday (May 7), the number of dengue cases in the cluster stands at 65, five more than the 60 reported on Saturday.

Eighty cases were found in the whole of Singapore in the last week, from Apr 29 to May 5, a jump from the 56 reported the week before.

However, the number of cases is still low compared to previous years.

The dengue cluster at Jurong West Street 91 and 92 is the largest thus far this year, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and NEA earlier said.

A total of 877 dengue cases have been reported since the beginning of this year and there are six active clusters listed on the NEA website.

Besides Jurong West, other high-risk clusters with more than 10 cases include one at Bedok North Street 3 where there have been 37 cases, and one at Cashew Crescent/Chestnut Drive in Bukit Panjang, where 17 cases have been reported.

The three other clusters are in the areas of Balestier Road, Elliot Road and Gangsa Road.

NEA and MOH have asked residents to help prevent the spread of the mosquito-borne virus by keeping their environment free of breeding habitats for the insects.

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Households consuming 17% more electricity than a decade ago

Tan Si Hui Channel NewsAsia 5 May 18;

SINGAPORE: Four in five Singapore households are motivated to save energy if they can save money, according to a 2017 National Environment Agency (NEA) study released on Saturday (May 5).

But households may not practise energy-saving actions if they are perceived to be inconvenient.

These findings were released in conjunction with the launch of the second edition of the Energy-Saving Challenge, which aims to encourage energy-saving practices.

This year’s challenge was launched by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli, and Mayor of North West District Teo Ho Pin, at Northpoint City.

According to NEA's press release, households consumed about 7,295 Gwh of electricity, which is up by about 17 per cent from 2007 levels. This is equivalent to each household in Singapore spending an average of about S$1,000 per year on electricity consumption.

In a survey, which metered the electricity consumption of 550 households for a week in 2017, NEA found that air-conditioners (24 per cent), refrigerators (17 per cent) and water heaters (11 per cent) accounted for most of the electricity consumption in a typical home. Others included lamps, fans and television sets.

The survey also revealed that more households in 2017 compared to 2012 were practising actions such as choosing energy-efficient appliances and setting their air-conditioners to 25 degrees Celsius or higher.

However, fewer households switched off appliances after use or opted to use a fan instead of the air-conditioner.

“This is why we designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action - to raise the level of national consciousness on the need to take climate action for a sustainable Singapore,” said Mr Masagos.

“This year’s Energy-Saving Challenge will continue to encourage households to practise simple energy saving habits, and at the same time, emphasise how these positive actions will reduce our carbon footprint.”

The 2018 edition of the Energy-Saving Challenge encourages the practice of three simple energy-saving tips: switching off appliances after use, setting the temperature of air-conditioners at 25 degrees Celsius or higher and choosing energy-efficient appliances that have more ticks.

Under the Challenge, participating households must reduce their electricity use by 1 per cent or more during the Challenge period from May to August to stand a chance to win one of 700 prizes worth more than S$60,000.

Registration for the Challenge is now open and interested households can sign up at

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