Amending law will boost wildlife protection efforts

Straits Times Forum 8 Jul 18;

I refer to the letter by Mr Ong Junkai (Extreme wildlife protection laws could hurt conservation; July 1) in which he appears to have misconstrued the point of this effort to amend the laws to further protect wildlife.

Singapore may not be home to "charismatic endangered" wildlife like tigers and elephants, but we still have a rich biodiversity which deserves protection.

Every country has its challenges and the wildlife protection efforts must address them.

Habitat fragmentation is a key threat to Singapore's wildlife, but we must understand that Singapore is transitioning into a "city in a garden". Greening efforts have resulted in wildlife such as otters, civets, macaques and reptiles adapting to urban greenery and no longer being restricted to nature reserves.

Education is key, and we need to know not just what animals we have here but also how to co-exist with them.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society has come across several cases of wildlife being hurt or trapped due mainly to ignorance and the use of self-made traps.

Removal of wildlife should be strictly regulated, and this is one of the proposed amendments.

Singapore's wildlife faces additional threats from unethical photography practices, human food provision, and nuisance complaints resulting in removal and culling, poaching, and litter.

The tweaks to the law will not isolate our society from nature, but render it better protection.

There is an urgent need to adopt an "appreciate from a distance" approach.

Lastly, I believe Mr Ong has confused wildlife protection with wildlife conservation.

Wildlife protection generally refers to the protection of all wild animals, for example, wild boars and macaques. The latter term is often used to describe conservation efforts of more endangered wildlife.

We must move towards a society that is compassionate towards all wild animals, native or non-native, common or endangered, and adopt strategies to protect all animals, and look into humane ways to manage their populations when required. Amending this legislation will better protect the wild animals in Singapore.

Kalai Vanan Balakrishnan
Deputy Chief Executive
Animal Concerns Research and Education Society

Wildlife protection laws should consider intent, not just action
Straits Times Forum 15 Jul 18;

Laws to further protect wildlife should not be passed solely on the misconception that the general public is ignorant about wildlife (Amending law will boost wildlife protection efforts, by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres); July 8).

How such laws are put into effect affects the operational efficiency of wildlife rescue groups such as Acres.

It should take into account the intent of the act, and not solely the action.

For example, removing a trapped mynah fledgling from the drain can be done by any person, without the need to activate Acres, whose resources can be saved for more meaningful operations involving wild boars or macaques.

When there is a focus on saving individual animals because of the belief that all animals are sentient, the interests of the natural ecosystem will be compromised.

The mention of some threats to wildlife in Singapore, such as unethical photography practices, may come across as nitpicking on small issues.

Invasive and non-native wildlife also do not deserve to be accorded protection, as they compete with local wildlife and public assistance should be sought to have them removed.

Educators should be concerned about whether they are actually promoting respect for wildlife or fear, especially for animals often stigmatised, such as snakes.

This is important during the early years of a child's development, as fear of such misunderstood groups of animals can develop.

Handling wildlife outside of nature reserves should not be criminalised, as long as no physical harm comes directly to such animals.

This was exactly what naturalist David Attenborough is concerned about. The act of enforcing "appreciation from a distance" is a sure way to reduce potential naturalists over the years. To not heed the advice of the world's most renowned naturalist would be foolish.

Junkai Ong

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New Therapeutic Garden opens at Choa Chu Kang Park, the fourth around the island

Deepanraj Ganesan Straits Times 8 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - A strong aroma of pandan leaves and the scent of garlic chives is in the air at the Therapeutic Garden in Choa Chua Kang Park. The brightly red hues of the hibiscus are also clearly evident.

The selection of plant species here are deliberate, planned to make it easier for people to interact with nature and help improve the mental well-being for visitors of all ages, especially seniors , including those with dementia.

The newest 900 sq m National Parks Board (NParks) Therapeutic Garden was opened on Saturday (July 7), the first of its kind in the western part of Singapore. There are three other such gardens at HortPark, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Tiong Bahru Park. Two more will be opened by the first quarter of 2019, bringing the total to six around the island.

The growing network of Therapeutic Gardens is connected to Singapore's ageing population. Providing such a network was an initiative outlined in the Action Plan for Successful Ageing report announced by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing in 2015.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who officiated at the opening of the Therapeutic Garden at Choa Chu Kang Park on Saturday, said that parks played an integral role in the ageing process for Singaporeans.

He said: "Population ageing can be a positive force in our societies, if we can enable seniors to remain healthy, active, and engaged in society."

"Our vision is to shape an enabling city that can allow seniors to move around actively and safely.

"Our parks can play a big role in realising this vision," he added.

A specific selection of plant species is used in each of the Therapeutic Garden's four zones to evoke strong memories and engage the senses. These include plants that are fragrant, edible or medicinal, coloured or textured and those which attract birds and butterflies.

There are also wheelchair-friendly spots in the garden. There is, for instance, a fitness area with some stations meant for those in wheelchairs and sloped planters to allow them to touch the plants.

All four current Therapeutic Gardens have been designed using similar science-based principles but each differ in their individual characteristics.

NParks group director for parks, Mr Chuah Hock Seong, said: "The new Therapeutic Garden at Choa Chu Kang Park is the first in the network to be located next to an existing three-Generational Community Garden, a children's play area, an allotment garden, and a fitness area. This means there is potential for different types of programming within the park allowing for great interaction within the community."

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Asean capitals sign declaration pledging commitment to environmental sustainability

Adrian Lim Straits Times 7 Jul 18;

SINGAPORE - Mayors and governors from Asean capitals on Saturday (July 7) pledged their commitment to take ownership in building a sustainable environment in their respective cities.

They inked a Singapore Declaration on environmental sustainability during the closing of a three-day meeting held in the Republic.

The 6th Meeting of Governors/Mayors of Asean Capitals (MGMAC) was attended by over 40 delegates from the 10 Asean nations. MGMAC was started in 2013 by then-Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo as a platform for mayors and governors to discuss topics relating to the development of their capital cities, and to strengthen links between them.

As Asean chairman this year, Singapore hosted the meeting, during which the delegates exchanged ideas and shared best practices on environmental issues.

"Our cities share many common challenges, for instance - climate change, urbanisation, and sustainability. To overcome these, we need the collective action and support of all in society, from individuals to businesses, and across government and civic organisations," said Singapore's Chairman of Mayors' Committee and Mayor of South West District, Ms Low Yen Ling.

Ms Low, who is also Senior Parliamentary Secretary of Manpower and Education, said the meeting will help to "open new doors of collaboration and solutions for Asean capitals".

In a speech before the signing of the declaration at Parliament House, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said there is urgency for Asean national, provincial and city governments to take action against climate change.

He cited an assessment by HSBC in March this year which said that five out of 10 countries that are most vulnerable to climate change are in South Asia and South-east Asia.

Mr Masagos said: "There is much that we can do to build resilience against environmental innovate and seize opportunities for green growth."

"By working together, we will become a more dynamic and connected community, and ensure that Asean remains united and resilient," he added.

During the three-day meeting, the Asean delegates visited Marina Barrage and Bukit Panjang Community Club, which achieved a Green Mark Gold Plus certification awarded by the Building and Construction Authority.

They also met with Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and paid a courtesy call to Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

On the regional level, Singapore has been working with its South-east Asian neighbours to fight climate change, such as through the Asean Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016-2025.

Under the plan, countries, for example, will seek to reduce energy intensity in the Asean region by 20 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

On July 10, Singapore will also host a Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action.

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Malaysia: Six nabbed, half a million Ringgit in wildlife parts seized

FARIS FUAD New Straits Times 6 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) detained four men and two Vietnamese women after they were found keeping wildlife parts without valid documentation.

The wildlife parts found with the six suspects include skin, fangs and tiger claws.

The suspects between the ages of 20 and 40 were arrested at a factory in Kuala Lipis Pahang yesterday.

Perhilitan Director-General Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the suspects were believed to be illegal wildlife hunters, using snares as the main means of trapping and killing wild animals, especially Tigers, in the past three years.

He said the individuals could make a profit of up to RM200,000 for a piece of tiger skin in the black market.

"Among the wildlife parts which were confiscated were two tiger skins, meaning the seizure amounted to RM400,000.

"Other wildlife parts include 20 bear claws, four Serow horns, 12 wild boar canine tooth’s, 39 kilogrammes of wild life meat, amounting to RM100,000 in seizures.

"Overall, the seizure value reached RM500,000," he said in a press conference, here, today.

He said the suspects are being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) for hunting wildlife that was fully protected and the use of snares.

"They had been remanded for seven days, from July 4,” Kadir said.

Pahang Perhilitan seizes RM500,000 worth of wildlife parts
tarrence tan The Star 6 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has confiscated an estimated RM500,000 worth of protected wildlife animal parts in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.

Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the raid took place on July 4, during a special operation launched by Pahang Perhilitan at a foreign workers squatters located in a sawmill.

According to Abdul Kadir, Perhilitan seized 60 animal parts and three wire snares from the raid, following a tip-off from the public.

Among the most valuable animal parts seized were two full pieces of suspected dried Malayan Tiger skin, which are worth about RM200,000 per piece on the black market.

The suspects are now being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716), said Abdul Kadir.

Abdul Kadir believes that the arrested suspects were part of a group of illegal poachers that mainly targeted tigers.

“We also believe that the proceeds of the illegal hunt would have been sold to a middleman before being smuggled out of the country.

“The illegal poachers used wire snares to trap and kill these protected animals,” he added.

Abdul Kadir said the public can forward any relevant information to Perhilitan via its hotline 1-800-88-5151 during weekdays from 8am to 6pm, or file a complaint through e-aduan in its website

“We hope more people can support Perhilitan in its effort to protect the country’s wildlife, which is increasingly being threatened with extinction,” he added.

Perhilitan seizes animal parts worth RM500,000
The Star 7 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Pahang De­­partment of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) seized about RM500,000 worth of protected wildlife animal parts during a raid.

Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the raid took place on Wednesday in a special operation at a sawmill in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.

He said officers seized 60 animal parts and three wire snares following a public tip-off.

Among the most valuable animal parts seized were two full pieces of suspected dried Malayan Tiger skin, which could fetch up to RM200,000 per piece in the black market.

“During the raid, six Vietna­mese nationals were arrested and re­­mand­ed for investigations,” Abdul Kadir told a press conference at the Perhilitan headquarters here yesterday.

He said the suspects were being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716).

Abdul Kadir believed that the suspects were part of a group of illegal poachers who mainly targeted tigers.

He said it was believed that the items were sold to a middleman before being smuggled out of the country.

“The illegal poachers used wire snares to trap and kill these protected animals,” he said.

Abdul Kadir urged the public to provide tip-offs to Perhilitan at its hotline 1-800-88-5151 during weekdays (8am to 6pm), or via e-aduan at

Malaysia arrests poachers, seizes Malayan tiger skins
Channel NewsAsia 6 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian wildlife officers arrested six Vietnamese suspected poachers and seized a large cache of animal parts, including skins of the critically endangered Malayan tiger, during a raid this week, officials said Friday (Jul 6).

Pieces of tiger skins, along with skins, claws, meat and other parts from protected bears, a leopard, serow goats and a python were recovered during the raid Wednesday on a workers' living quarters in the central state of Pahang.

Six Vietnamese nationals, including two women, believed to be poachers targeting the Malayan tiger were arrested and remanded for further investigation.

"This is the biggest raid involving tigers in Malaysia this year, worth half a million ringgit (US$124,00)," said wildlife department chief Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim.

He said the poachers had killed three tigers. Wildlife officials later told AFP that one of the tigers was a cub.

The species once roamed the jungles of Malaysia in the thousands but is now critically endangered, with fewer than 340 believed left in the wild.

It is also the country's official animal, and depicted often on national emblems and its coat of arms.

Tiger skins, prized as upscale home decorations, can be sold on the black market outside Malaysia for thousands of dollars.

People found hunting protected wildlife in Malaysia can face jail time of up to five years as well as a fine of up to RM500,000.

Wildlife trafficking watchdog Traffic Southeast Asia senior communications officer Elizabeth John said the find was "heartbreaking".

"When you have so few, every single one is a massive loss. We don't have that many (left)" she told AFP.

"They (the government) need to invest more in law enforcement if they wish to save a national symbol."

Source: AFP

Foreign 'hardcore' poachers on the prowl
T. N. ALAGESH New Straits Times 12 Jul 18;

KUANTAN: The group of foreign poachers who were detained in Kuala Lipis on July 4 were described as ‘hardcore’ poachers targeting all types of wildlife, gaining lucrative returns in the black market.

Wildlife parts including tiger, clouded leopard and python skins; bear teeth and claws; kambing gurun (serow’s) tail and wild boar tooth; were seized from the wooden premises where the Vietnamese poachers, which included two women were nabbed.

A Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) source said the group, which had been

actively involved in illegal hunting activities for several years, utilised a premises located near a sawmill to kill and harvest the animals before selling them to the middlemen.

He said the premises was equipped with a refrigerator that allowed the syndicate members to store the animal meat and other parts before they were being collected.

“The group had no specific targets (animals). They take anything found trapped in their wire snares. They seemed to be well-verse about their inhumane job and kept returning to the jungle for hunting.

“They have been in the business for quite some time as they could speak in Malay and they would supply all the wildlife animal parts to the middlemen who seems to be well-connected to the illegal wildlife trade overseas,” he said.

He added checks on the two full-piece of suspected dried Malayan Tiger skin revealed that one of them belonged to an adult while the other was a young tiger.

The source said the group might have been targeting mainly tigers in the area, but caught the other animals that ended up in the wire snares.

He said while only the tiger skin was recovered, it remained a mystery what had happened to the other parts of the animal, whether it had been sold for medical purposes.

“The enforcement team only found the serow’s tail; what happened to the other parts....the wild boar meat is likely to have been sold as exotic dish as only the tooth was found.

“The number of animals killed by the syndicate is unknown but it could be shockingly high especially looking at how they operate,” he said.

On July 4, Perhilitan in a special operation seized an estimated RM500,000 worth of protected wildlife animal parts in Kuala Lipis.

The foreigners are being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) for hunting endangered animals and possession of traps.

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Malaysia: Poachers attempt to mislead authorities through social media

T. N. ALAGESH New Straits Times 7 Jul 18;

KUANTAN: Poaching syndicates seem to become more creative in their bid to avoid being tracked down by the authorities when they move in to lay out traps to catch endangered animals.

To avoid detection, they would sent false information or images about a certain protected animal spotted in one area while they would be targeting the opposite end,sending Wildlife and National Parks department (Perhilitan) rangers on a wild goose chase.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said there were incidents when social media platforms would be abuzz with wild animal sightings at a certain locations and pictures of the animals would go viral.

“Usually when we deploy our rangers to the respective site to conduct checks, they will not be able to find anything including footprints or dung trails (elephant). In some cases we will set traps or send our officers to monitor around the clock.

“However when the department had deployed its entire manpower at a certain area, the poachers might be hunting in another area. They are trying to divert our attention so that it will be easier for them to do their illegal activities,” he said when met.

Ahmad Azhar said the department is familiar with such modus operandi and have a special plan when it comes to dealing with such scenario.

A Perhilitan officer, who declined to be named, said while some people find it exciting to spread fake news related to endangered species, the poachers have utilised the images usually downloaded from the internet for their own gain.

“Some cases are genuine so we have to be on the alert when verifying the reports. We need our officers to conduct surveillance at other areas to check if there are individuals trying to hunt or set traps elsewhere.

“Since poaching activities are being closely monitored, the culprits try new methods hoping to dupe the authorities so that they will not get caught. Perhilitan are better prepared in handling such situations as we have a special enforcement team monitoring social media platforms to verify the authenticity of the photos,” he said.

In March this year, Perhilitan clarified that images of an adult Malayan Tiger which was circulating on social media was taken in India and not in Gambang, here, as claimed.

Early last year, a social media user posted images of a tiger on social media claiming that it had killed a cow in Sungai Karang, here, and reminded residents to cut down on outdoor activities.

However, checks by Perhilitan revealed that the pictures of footprints uploaded on social media belonged to dogs and the tiger images were not genuine.

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