Best of our wild blogs: 3 Jun 18

Pulau Semakau (North) is alive
wild shores of singapore

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Whale dies in Thailand after swallowing 80 plastic bags

Channel NewsAsia 2 Jun 18;

BANGKOK: A whale has died in southern Thailand after swallowing more than 80 plastic bags, officials said, ending an attempted rescue that failed to nurse the mammal back to health.

Thailand is one of the world's largest consumers of plastic bags, which kill hundreds of marine creatures living near the country's popular beaches each year.

The small male pilot whale became the latest victim after it was found barely alive in a canal near the border with Malaysia, the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources said on their Facebook page Saturday.

A veterinary team tried "to help stabilise its illness but finally the whale died" on Friday (Jun 1) afternoon, the post said.

An autopsy revealed 80 plastic bags weighing up to 8kg in the creature's stomach, the department added.

Photos accompanying the post showed a group of people using buoys to keep the whale afloat after it was first spotted on Monday and an umbrella to shield it from the scorching sun.

The whale vomited up five bags during the rescue attempt before it died, the department said.

Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a marine biologist and lecturer at Kasetsart University, said the bags had made it impossible for the whale to eat any nutritional food.

"If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die," he said.

At least 300 marine animals including pilot whales, sea turtles and dolphins perish each year in Thai waters after ingesting plastic, Thon told AFP.

"It's a huge problem," he said. "We use a lot of plastic."

The pilot whale's plight generated sympathy and anger among Thai netizens.

"I feel sorry for the animal that didn't do anything wrong but has to bear the brunt of human actions," one Twitter user wrote in Thai.

Source: AFP/ng

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Malaysia: Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior docks in Port Klang to spread environmental awareness

Tharanya Arumugam Straits Times 2 Jun 18;

PORT KLANG: Greenpeace’s iconic ship the Rainbow Warrior made its maiden port-of-call here today on a goodwill mission to raise awareness on environmental issues, particularly on plastic pollution.

Greenpeace Malaysia spokesperson Jacqueline Yew said the Rainbow Warrior calls on Malaysians to take meaningful action against plastic pollution threatening ocean and sea life.

“The Rainbow Warrior’s first official visit to Malaysia serves as a platform to announce Greenpeace’s physical presence here as well as to create greater awareness on environmental protection.

“We want to engage with local partners and supporters to act against plastic pollution. More than 90 per cent of plastic waste in the world is never recycled because it is non-biodegradable.

“We are currently undertaking a plastic scoping research work and we will share our findings with the relevant agencies upon completion. Our focus is on tackling single use plastics such as straws and plastic bags,” she told reporters when met on the ship, here, today.

Yew, who is also Greenpeace Southeast Asia deputy fundraising director said the organisation would also focus on addressing deforestation in the region, including Malaysia.

In a recent study by Science Magazine, Malaysia was named the 8th worst country in the world for plastic waste, producing almost one million tonnes of mismanaged plastic waste in 2010, but other Southeast Asian nations were no better, with Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam in the top five of the same list.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb SaƱo said they hoped to work with the government to raise awareness and educate Malaysians on matters related to climate change, plastic pollution, deforestation, energy systems and systemic problems that reinforce these environmental issues, like corruption and short-sighted industry mindsets.

“There is much work to be done especially with regard to plastic pollution, one of Malaysia’s most pressing environmental problems.

“While we are encouraged by the recent plastic ban in Malaysian Federal territories like Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, we need to take more proactive steps toward curbing plastic waste.”

Meanwhile, Rainbow Warrior Captain Peter Willcox said people needed to take collective action through long-term solutions.

Problems like plastic pollution, deforestation, or climate change, he said, were not confined to national borders.

“It affects everyone and anyone on this planet. This is why the tour is happening and this is why we are in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia. The Rainbow Warrior is a symbol of hope and solidarity for a better world, and it is our wish that in Malaysia we can help spread this message.”

The Rainbow Warrior is on a five-month tour in Southeast Asia. The ship, which had previously visited the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore will be anchored-at-sea in Port Klang (Kompleks Dato Shaari Jihin South Port) from June 2 to June 5, and is open to the public.

There are some 15 crew members from 10 countries aboard the ship, namely from the United States of America, Spain, Ukraine, Netherlands, Lebanon, France, Turkey, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Farhan Nasa, a 26-year-old medical graduate from Subang is the only Malaysian aboard.

Farhan, who had always been passionate about the environment was a Greenpeace volunteer for about three years before embarking on this journey.

“It is my first time aboard a ship and it is very exciting and certainly a new learning experience. I am lucky and grateful to Greenpeace for being selected to be part of the crew.

“I have worked on environmental causes in the past, but this time around I wanted to be in the field (or in the sea) to observe and learn from the knowledgeable and experienced crew.

“I am part of the medical team here so I do a lot of work on the deck and also help out the medical staff.”

Rainbow Warrior visits M’sia
mei mei chu The Star 3 Jun 18;

PORT KLANG: Farhan Nasa was yearning for new expe­riences in life after medical school. So, he decided to volunteer on board Greenpeace’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, as a deckhand and as part of its medical team.

On his very first day at work, he attended to two cases of heat exhaustion.

“The most difficult thing about being onboard is that it involves very physically de­­man­ding work.

“I have never done this kind of hard work before,” said the Malaysian from Subang Jaya, Selangor.

Farhan, 26, is part of a 15-strong crew on Rainbow Warrior that is now docked in Malaysia for the first time in history.

He represents a generation of young acti­vists who are joining established names such as Capt Peter Wilcox in its mission to expose global environmental abuses.

“When I first started sailing we used paper charts for navigation; now we have all these technology,” Wilcox said of the electronic chart display system on the vessel.

Wilcox, 65, has been sailing for 45 years. He has gone through much, his life threatened during a 1985 bombing in New Zealand and when he was arrested and detained for two months by Russian military in 2013.

Yet, Wilcox has never surrendered the fight for environmental protection.

“Climate change is not a distant problem our children have to deal with,” Wilcox said, highlighting that 80% of the reefs in Indonesia were facing coral bleaching.

He said three major practices that were severely hurting the planet – fossil fuels, overfishing and single use plastics.

“Soon, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Already fish are dying in the ocean, birds are dying eating plastic,” he said.

“We have got to change the way we are li­­ving on the planet, or our planet won’t support us.”

Wilcox said his activism felt like a losing battle and that he was disappointed to see the health degradation of the planet.

However, he chose to remain hopeful.

“In 20 years, when my grandchildren are saying ‘how do you mess up the planet so badly?’, I’ll be able to say ‘I tried, I wasn’t very successful, but I tried’. That’s why I don’t regret it,” he said.

The Rainbow Warrior, one of three Green­peace ships aside from the Arctic Sunrise and the Esperanza, has successfully helped end nuclear testing in the Pacific, blocked coal ports and closed down destructive fishing operations.

It will be in Port Klang until Thursday to raise greater awareness on environmental protection and to engage with local partners and supporters for a meaningful action on plastic pollution.

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Malaysia: Logging is one of the causes of flash floods, says Shafie

Norasikin Daineh New Straits Times 2 Jun 18;

PENAMPANG: Logging is one of the contributing factors for flash floods which occur at several districts in the state, said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

He said logging activities in the state should be looked into again to prevent the flood situation from getting worse.

“The effect of logging can be seen in this (flooding) situation and I have also received a report from Sabah Wildlife Department that elephants have become ‘wild’ (due to loss of habitat).This means a temporary halt of all logging activities so that we can see the true needs.

“Both here and in Tambunan, the water comes from the hills and there are logging activities that worry us.

“This is what we have to detect but it does not mean that I say logging is the main factor. But the issue should be looked at in depth,” he said when visiting flood victims at a temporary relief centre, here.

Earlier, he visited the district police station, here and Sepanggar areas which were flooded on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Mohd Shafie urged relevant authorities to visit affected areas and come up with action to address the flooding issue.

“I have asked Works minister (state Infrastructure Development minister Datuk Peter Anthony) to look into releasing water into the sea.”

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Indonesia: Two water-bombing helicopters deployed to Palembang for Asian Games

Genta Tenri Mawangi Antara 2 Jun 18;

Asian Games 2018 (INASGOC) Erick Thohir (right) introduces Asian Games 2018 License Holders at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday (30/5/2018) .(ANTARA /Muhammad Adimaja)

Palembang, S Sumatra, (ANTARA News) - Two additional water-bombing helicopters have been sent to Palembang, South Sumatra Province, for anticipating wildfires during the 18th Asian Games that will be held from Aug 18 to Sep 2, an official said here on Saturday.

Iriansyah, head of the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Office (BPBD), said that the two units of water-bombing helicopters are now being assembled in Palembang City.

Having capacity of 600 liters and 500 liters respectively, the helicopters will be operated to extinguish the wildfires and to conduct patrols at the fire-prone areas in South Sumatra.

These two units of water-bombing helicopters are part of 10 additional units that will be used during the Asian Games, he said.

Besides the two units, four other helicopters have completely been assembled so that they are ready for operation, he said adding that those choppers will play a critical role in extinguishing fires in isolated areas, mainly at peatland and forests.

According to Iriansyah, his office is committed to preventing the wildfires and hazes from occurring in accordance to the instruction ordered by South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin.

Besides South Sumatra, the authorities in Riau Province have also been committed to anticipating the wildfires by extending the emergency status last month.

Meanwhile, the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has pledged to maintain coordination with all stakeholders to anticipate land and forest fires, the first secretary, Widada Sulistya said recently.

The agency has announced nine fire-prone provinces, namely

Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, and East Kalimantan.

The 18th Asian Games will take place in Jakarta and Palembang. However, the venues will not only be located in Jakarta, but also in its surrounding areas, including Tangerang (Banten Province) and Bogor (West Java).

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Food giants’ claims palm oil does not damage rainforests 'problematic', say researchers

Guaranteeing genuinely deforestation-free products from the resource is problematic, report says
Jane Dalton The Independent 3 Jun 18;

Food firms cannot claim the palm oil in their products does not destroy rainforests because supply chains are so complex, scientists say.

“No-deforestation” promises printed on packaging could be failing despite the good intentions of manufacturers, according to a report by researchers at Imperial College London.

Palm oil plantations in eastern Asia are blamed for pushing orangutans, Borneo elephants and Sumatran tigers to near-extinction as their rainforest habitats are being continually torn or burned down. The destruction also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, reduces biodiversity and drives indigenous people from their homelands.

The oil is used in manufacturing half of all products in supermarkets – from biscuits, snack bars, cereals and margarine to soaps and shampoos.

And almost half of the palm oil imported into the EU, mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia, is used as biofuel after blending it into vehicle fuel was made compulsory in 2009.

Under public pressure over the harm caused by its production, many food giants now claim to use “sustainable” or “no-deforestation” palm oil, printed on labels.

But the new study said it was “problematic” to guarantee genuinely deforestation-free palm oil products.

Barriers include the complexity of the supply chain; a lack of consensus on definitions of deforestation; inadequate government support and persisting markets in China and India for unsustainably produced palm oil.

And campaigns by environmental groups and non-governmental organisations are unlikely to be effective in preventing rainforest destruction, the research warns.

Lead author of the report, Joss Lyons-White, a conservation scientist at Imperial College, who interviewed 24 companies and environmental representatives for his report, told The Independent consumers should look at companies’ commitments and whether they were likely to meet them.

He said the issue was complex partly because views on how to define deforestation differed between eco activists, for example, and producers on the ground.

“There’s a feeling among some producers that ‘zero-deforestation’ is a Western imposition,” he said. “Some participants said it was a marketing term. Governments have different priorities such as economic growth and socio-economic development.”

Inconsistent government regulations and confusion over land ownership were also barriers to producing ethical oil, while high demand in India for unbranded cooking oil also played a role, said Mr Lyons-White.

Based on the amount of land used, palm plantations are more productive than other types of oil so have become increasingly popular in the food, toiletries and fuel industries.

The report said simply banning palm oil production or applying pressure to countries is not an answer.

“The existing model used to address palm oil-driven deforestation, based on NGO shaming campaigns and unilateral adoption of commitments by individual companies, is unlikely to achieve no deforestation in the current context of palm oil production and trade,” it said.

Instead, new ways should be found to ensure that green commitments can be implemented successfully, it concluded.

Mr Lyons-White said environmental awareness in Europe was creating huge demand for palm oil that was certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which reduces deforestation by a third so has a “positive impact”.

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