Best of our wild blogs: 22 Jun 18

Abandoned net at Pulau Seduku (17 Jun 2018)
Project Driftnet Singapore

E-poll on proposed amendments to the Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA), Singapore
Psychedelic Nature

Read more!

Pregnant wild boar killed in accident on BKE

Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: A pregnant wild boar was killed in an accident involving three cars on the Bukit Timah Expressway towards Woodlands on Thursday evening (Jun 21).

The accident, which took place near the Mandai Road exit, left the boar's insides exposed and its litter of unborn piglets on the road.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the three cars were travelling on the right-most lane when the wild boar crossed the expressway from left to right. Two of the cars ran over the wild boar, while the third car collided into the second car.

The police said they were alerted to the accident at 7.40pm and that investigations are ongoing.

Photos circulating on social media show a dead wild boar with its unborn piglets lying nearby after an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway on Jun 21, 2018.

The incident comes after a wild sambar deer was euthanised after it suffered severe injuries in an accident along the same expressway last Sunday. Three vehicles were involved in the accident and a taxi driver was injured.

There were several other accidents involving wild boars on Singapore's roads last year.

In September, five people were injured in two separate accidents on Lentor Avenue and on the Ayer Rajah Expressway involving wild boars. In November, a wild boar was shot by police for endangering public safety at the Punggol West Flyover. A month after that incident, a wild boar caused an accident between two vehicles along the Pan Island Expressway.

The Ministry of National Development said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by MP Sun Xueling in November last year that it is working with stakeholders to "manage the wild boar issues" in Singapore.

The Government also said it will step up public education efforts on what to do if members of the public encounter animals such as wild boars.

Source: CNA/cy

Mandai area roadkill: Developer takes protective measures but wildlife experts call for more
Fann Sim Channel NewsAsia 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: More can be done to prevent roadkill in the Mandai area, where an eco-tourism hub is being developed, wildlife experts told Channel NewsAsia.

A pregnant wild boar was killed in a traffic accident along Bukit Timah Expressway on Thursday (Jun 21), the fifth reported roadkill in the area since development on the project started last year. Last Sunday, a wild Sambar deer was killed along the same stretch of road.

The developer of the project, Mandai Park Development (MPD), said speed bumps were put in place along Mandai Lake Road in 2016. The process of installing hoardings started at the end of 2016 before development works started in the first quarter of 2017.

But wildlife experts said more can be done to prevent roadkill.

"They need to be far more efficient and urgent than they are doing now. At the area where a pangolin and leopard cat died, there are still no hoardings even till today," said veteran wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai.

The hoardings, which prevent animals from getting onto the roads and guides them to a safer crossing, are still being installed in phases up to this year, said wildlife experts.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the hoardings are added in phases as the project progresses.

When Channel NewsAsia visited the area, the hoardings were largely limited to the Mandai Lake Road area and not along Mandai Road, which flanks the northern region of the reserve.

"Due to forest clearing as part of the development, wildlife which inhabit these areas will be forced to move around and are at risk of getting on adjacent busy roads or highways where hoardings are not present," said Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society's (ACRES).

"More speed calming measures and complete barriers must be in the right places, not just with the development but the surrounding areas where the displaced animals could move to along the main roads to prevent animal crossings and roadkill," she added.

On slowing the traffic along Mandai Lake Road, Dr Lee Hui Mien, MPD's vice president of sustainable solutions, said that a series of speed reduction measures has been put in place.

The speed limit for most parts of the road has been reduced to 40kmh. This is further reduced to 20kmh at a stretch near the nature reserve that has been identified as a temporary crossing area for wildlife.

MPD said in January this year, an additional speed radar was installed and the number of speed humps and wildlife crossing signs increased. Road markings to indicate wildlife crossing areas were also added.

A rope bridge has also been installed along Mandai Lake Road to help arboreal animals such as squirrels and macaques move across safely, with another set currently underway, it added.

Drivers of vehicles such as taxis, private hire cars and buses that regularly ply the Mandai area have also been engaged to raise awareness on speed calming measures, said Dr Lee.

However, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum's research associate Sivasothi N said that the hoardings and traffic calming plans have been up for "a very short time".

He noted that plans for the eco-tourism park were first announced in 2014 but work only started in 2017. "That is very soon for an entity unfamiliar with development next to protected forests and the entire process has been hasty. The mitigation I've observed is slow and inadequate," said Mr Sivasothi.

"The mitigations that are needed are not yet implemented," said the vice-chair of Nature Society's conservation committee, Mr Ho Hua Chew.


Mr Ho was referring to a planned Eco-Link wildlife bridge to help animals living in the forested areas of Mandai cross roads without danger, similar to the existing Eco-Link@BKE crossing built between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Experts said that the bridge, which will only be ready by the end of 2019 ahead of other components of the project, could have helped prevent roadkill incidents.

Mr Subaraj, who provided consultancy on the Mandai project, said various local wildlife groups had submitted recommendations to mitigate its impact on the local fauna.

"None of the mitigation measures recommended, including wildlife crossings ... to proper hoardings, everything was not in place when the developer started developing the area which shouldn't be the case. It should all have been in place then you start the development," said Mr Subaraj.

"That's the normal procedure for anywhere where there is nature even more so when there is a nature reserve. That's really unfortunate," he added.

While the Eco-Link bridge is a "great solution" and can be used by most animals, Mr Subaraj added that installing more rope bridges will help arboreal animals that live in the rainforest tree canopy move across.

National University of Singapore's wildlife biologist Joanna Coleman said that the most effective strategy of mitigating wildlife affected by building works are overpasses.

"Signage is probably the most common and cheapest mitigation measure implemented worldwide," said Dr Joanna Coleman. But a recent study showed they are ineffective, the wildlife biologist at the National University of Singapore added.

"If drivers in Singapore are generally more cautious or more likely than drivers elsewhere to obey road signs, then perhaps signage could work better here than elsewhere," Dr Coleman added.


"When a large mammal strays onto a road, there's always a chance that it will cause a collision, resulting in human injury or death," Dr Coleman said.

Three cars were involved in the accident with the pregnant wild boar. Last Sunday's incident where a wild Sambar deer had to be euthanised involved a taxi, motorcycle and a car as they tried to avoid the deer. The taxi driver suffered cuts and was taken to hospital.

In May, a Malaysian motorcyclist took the Land Transport Authority and National Parks Board to court for negligence after a wild boar roadkill accident.

Mr Vicknesh Morthy suffered serious head injuries resulting in permanent disability after crashing into the carcass of a wild boar that was left along the BKE, near Eco-Link@BKE.

Apart from Sambar deer and wild boars, the reserve is also home to pangolins, Banded Leaf Monkeys, Common Palm Civets and leopard cats.

"I think we will definitely see more encounters of this nature but what is scary is that ... if you're not very careful, it could lead to a fatality of a person on the roads. If a car hits a big Sambar deer at full pace, someone could get killed," Mr Subaraj said.

"We need more wildlife crossings. We need speeds to be slowed down on certain roads especially along Mandai Road and Upper Thomson Road. And we need to have better understanding among the public that you are moving adjacent to a nature area and there is always a possibility of wildlife being around so let's be a little bit considerate and alert," he added.

Source: CNA/fs

Pregnant wild boar killed after accident on BKE near Mandai Road
Straits Times 22 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - A pregnant wild boar was killed in an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway near the Mandai Road exit on Thursday night (June 21).

In response to queries, the police said three cars were involved in the accident. There were no injuries reported.

The Straits Times understands that the wild boar was run over by two cars travelling on the right-most lane of the expressway. A third car then collided with the second car that had run over the animal.

Facebook user Alex Soo posted photos of the aftermath which showed the dead animal lying on the road.

The bodies of several of its babies were also seen nearby.

This is the second accident in a week along the same stretch of expressway near Mandai Road that has seen a wild animal end up as roadkill.

On Sunday, a rare sambar deer that wandered onto the BKE caused a three-vehicle accident. A taxi driver was injured and taken to hospital.

The deer was later put down as its injuries were found to be too severe.

Due to the large size of the deer, the Wildlife Reserves Singapore was alerted and a team was able to safely contain the injured animal at about 7.30am, on June 17, 2018.
Related Story
Wild sambar deer put down due to severe injuries after 3-vehicle accident on BKE
The last reported accident involving a wild boar was in December last year, when one of the animals caused a two-vehicle accident on the Pan Island Expressway.

ST reported in March of several cases of rare animals ending up as roadkill in Mandai since development for the Mandai hub of five wildlife parks began in January last year.

Works are ongoing to clear secondary forests in the area near the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari to accommodate two more parks - the relocated Bird Park, and new Rainforest Park.

Read more!

Southeast Asia’s vanishing sand bans are destroying the region

Piyali Banergee Asian Correspondent 21 Jun 18;

MALAYSIA’S newly elected prime minister once said that illegal sand miners were “digging up Malaysia and giving her to other people.”

During his previous term in office, he tried to fix what he viewed as an aggressive assault on Malaysia’s heritage: the selling of its sand.

To put a stop to it, Mahathir imposed a sand export ban to Singapore in 1997, which at the time was reclaiming huge swathes of new land to expand its territory. That enterprise required vast amounts of sand unavailable to Singapore, but which could be easily found in its neighbour, Malaysia.

However, despite Mahathir’s best efforts to protect Malaysia’s environment, it appears the ban was at best only minimally effective, and in most years completely illusory.

Yet the impression largely propagated by the media has been that Malaysia’s sand ban has been in place and enforced up until last year. In 2017, Malaysia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment announced that the sand ban had been lifted and that exports of sand would be permitted to Singapore on a case-by-case basis.

But that was rather an odd announcement considering UN Comtrade reports filed by Malaysia and Singapore over nearly twenty years that appeared to contradict the suggestion that the ban had ever been in place at all.

A recent review of Malaysia’s “stone, sand and gravel” exports to Singapore and Singapore’s purchases of those resources over two decades suggests that Mahathir’s sand ban, initiated to protect a fragile Malaysian environment, was seemingly ignored, including by his own government.

For most of those years, except for a relatively brief four-year period between 2003 and 2006, the ban appeared to be ineffectual.

For example, Malaysia reported to UN Comtrade that Singapore bought US$58 million worth of “stone, sand and gravel,” or over $9 million per year on average, between 1997 – the first year of Mahathir’s ban – and 2002.

However, Singapore reports it spent $595 million during this same period, or nearly ten times what Malaysia claims. The amount of materials exported by Malaysia to Singapore during this period don’t indicate any kind of functional ban.

It’s possible the ban was slow in getting started. But in 2003, the year Mahathir left office, exports of materials from Malaysia to Singapore do, in fact, radically and quickly slump — at long last.

During this period, Singapore reported purchases of $24 million; Malaysia reported exports of $7 million. These much-reduced amounts of imports and exports do, in fact, suggest that Mahathir’s ban was at last being observed, but there may be a specific reason for this.

According to Singapore’s reports to UN Comtrade, in 2003 it began buying huge quantities of “stone, sand and gravel” from Indonesia.

Over the four years between 2003 and 2006, Singapore reports that it purchased a total of $338 million worth. This is the same time period that Malaysia’s exports of these same materials to Singapore precipitously dropped. In other words, the level of these new imports from Indonesia effectively replaced the annual amount of sand Singapore had been acquiring from Malaysia.

Unsurprisingly, by 2007, Indonesia had announced its own export ban of sand to Singapore, citing environmental concerns after the active sand extraction caused islands to start disappearing.

But, despite both Malaysia and Indonesia placing bans, the stream of “stone, sand and gravel” exports continued to flow.

In the final years of Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s premiership, between 2007 and 2009, Malaysia sold Singapore about $568 million worth of the product.

By 2010, the first year of Najib Razak’s leadership, sales to Singapore came in at $173 million, at least as reported by Singapore. And amazingly, over the next six years, Singapore reported buying a total of $1.2 billion in exports of this kind from Malaysia. In total, that’s a shocking $2 billion of sales to Singapore between 2007 and 2016.

It’s safe to say that’s no ban at all.

Is it possible that Singapore was purchasing stone and gravel, and not sand? Perhaps.

The UN Comtrade makes no distinction between these materials. But it seems unlikely at best, especially since Singapore would have spent $3 billion of public funds on just “stone and gravel” from both Malaysia and Indonesia in about ten years. That’s approximately $300 million a year on stones alone.

It also ignores the obvious. Between 1992 and 2004, Singapore was engaged in reclaiming vast tracts of new land. These areas included 2,000 hectares at Changi East and 3,000 hectares at Jurong Island. In addition, it was building public beaches and large waterfront areas at its Southern Islands.

The Changi East Reclamation Project in Singapore, a multi-phase project involving the formation of 2000 ha of land by placing hydraulically filled sand on to soft seabed marine clay. Source: Google Maps

During this period, Singapore’s appetite for sand was voracious as 5,000-plus hectares of new land requires hundreds of millions of tonnes.

But whatever the quantities, Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s professed sand bans appeared to be disingenuous. It may have been the media’s reiteration of the existence of these bans that helped perpetuate the public perception that these bans were in place, but the UN Comtrade statistics tell a completely different story.

Vietnam tells a similar story. In 2009, the Southeast Asian nation also announced a ban on sand exports to Singapore. But again, the numbers show a different reality.

Between 2009 and 2016, Singapore bought $756 million of “stone, sand and gravel” from Vietnam. Only two years – 2011-2012 – show a substantial drop in imports by Singapore. Otherwise, it appears to be business as usual.

Given these huge sums over ten years, Vietnam can hardly be said to have implemented any kind of comprehensive ban at all. Curiously, there are significant discrepancies in the values reported by each country. While Singapore claims it purchased $756 million, Vietnam only reports a sale of $126 million over the same period.

Evidence suggests that these sand bans are, in effect, no ban at all, at least in any meaningful sense.

What’s of grave importance is the damage still being done to Malaysia’s coasts and rivers, as well as those of Indonesia, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian nations, due to incessant sand mining.

That’s the real story in UN Comtrade’s statistics.

If the sand mining continues and there are no effective multi-state sand mining bans put into place, the region will gradually lose their natural heritage and endanger native wildlife.

So perhaps now that Mahathir’s back in office, he will lead the way in Southeast Asia and demand a genuine sand ban in the name of Malaysia’s environment.

Clearly with everything we know of the intensely destructive impact that sand mining has on seashores, rivers, and inlands, Malaysia’s long-term environmental protection should be one of Mahathir’s top priorities.

Piyali Banergee is the lead writer and researcher for Nature Watch, an environmental watchdog group working in various parts of Asia to protect rivers and coasts.

Read more!

Malaysia: Turtles arrive on Terengganu shores for egg-laying season, and so do poachers

New Straits Times 21 Jun 18;

DUNGUN: The turtle egg-laying season has begun on Terengganu’s shores – and with it, the arrival of tourists as well as poachers.

The Fisheries Department is doing its bit to ensure that egg thieves are kept at bay to ensure the survival of the leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles which land on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast each year.

Over the past seven years, the department’s efforts have borne fruit, with over 3.6 million turtle eggs from nearly 45,000 nests being saved.

Mohammad Firdaus Abdillah, head of the department’s Rantau Abang Turtle Conservation and Information Centre, said that they deploy rangers to ensure the safety of turtles during the egg-laying season between March and October.

“Our rangers regularly patrol the beachfront throughout the state during the egg-laying season.

“And this has helped save thousands of turtles from poachers,” he said, adding that those caught flouting laws were handed to the National Parks and Wildlife Department and other agencies for further action.

Firdaus said that from 2010 to last year, a total of 44,981 egg nests were discovered along the Terengganu coastline, leading to the discovery of 3,682,848 turtle eggs.

“The department managed to successfully hatch 2,753,418 eggs at its hatcheries,” he said.

Firdaus added that the department also relocates eggs to safer areas.

“Apart from this, we carry out enforcement on land and sea, awareness campaigns, and exhibitions at schools at our Turtle Conservation Centre and other public places.

“Additionally, we hold dialogues and appear on television shows (to discuss) turtle conservation initiatives,” he said.

Starting in the 1960s, the state government selected hatching sites in Dungun, Setiu, Kemaman and the islands of Redang, Bidong, Perhentian and Kapas for turtles, owing to their dwindling number each year.

The effort has managed to increase the number of turtle landings for the three main turtle species.

Apart from Rantau Abang, two renowned turtle sanctuaries are situated at Pantai Ma Daerah in Paka and Pantai Teluk Mak Nik in Kemaman.

Read more!