Best of our wild blogs: 14 Jul 18

Chek Jawa is magnificent again!
wild shores of singapore

Interpretative Signage in Butterfly Gardens
Butterflies of Singapore

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Malaysia: Stricter law needed to stop wildlife poaching - Lee Lam Thye

Masriwanie Muhamading New Straits Times 13 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Animal rights activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye has called on the government to introduce a more stringent law to better curb wildlife poaching activities in the country.

Lee, who said poachers have become more cruel in their technique to trap and capture endangered animals, stressed that there was a need for the government to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

The amendment, Lee said, should include a mandatory minimum jail term not just for those who were found guilty to be involved in poaching activities, but also to those who possess the carcasses of wild animals.

“Although the Wildlife Conservation Act, which was passed in 2010 to replace the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, is tough on lawbreakers, some quarters claim that it does not serve as a strong enough deterrent.

“It is learnt that the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) had proposed the amendment of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 so that poachers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“It will provide harsher punishments and a minimum period of imprisonment will be introduced. Currently, there’s no such provision in the current Act,” he said.

Lee also urged the authorities to be more proactive in their effort to curb the sale and purchase of endangered animals through more effective national and international legislation and enforcement, including the implementation of the latest technology.

“I hope the enforcement agencies can strengthen their cooperation to help cripple poaching syndicates nationwide.

“The agencies involved must also use the latest technology, including drones, remote sensing and camera trapping, to curb poaching and smuggling activities all over the country.

“Greater public awareness, better law enforcement and stronger political will are needed to not only prevent illegal wildlife trade but also to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources. We must leave no stones unturned in addressing the issue,” he said.

Lee, however, stressed that the protection of wildlife is not the responsibility of the enforcement agencies alone, but requires collaborations with various parties including non-governmental organisations, the government, corporate stakeholders and local communities.

“Animal cruelty in whatever form must never be tolerated and we need to care for all them as they also have the right to live and share this planet,” he added.

He also urged Malaysians to play an active role and report wildlife-related crimes to the Perhilitan hotline at 1-800-88-5151 (office hours) or the 24-hour Wildlife Crime Hotline at 0193564194.

The New Straits Times reported on Friday (July 13) that a group of Vietnamese poachers, who were detained in Kuala Lipis on July 4, were found to have been gaining lucrative returns on the black market by harvesting all types of wildlife.

Various wildlife parts including bear teeth and claws, python skins, serow’s tail, wild boar tooth, as well as parts of tigers and clouded leopards were seized from the premises where the poachers were found.

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 premise located near a sawmill to kill and harvest the animals before selling them to the middlemen.

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Malaysia: Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre welcomes three newborns

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 13 Jul 18;

SANDAKAN: Three orangutans raised at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre here delivered infants recently.

Sixteen-year-old Rosa, who lost her mother at a young age, gave birth to a female infant on May 26.

Meanwhile, 11-year-old Cinta had her young on July 3; and 14-year-old Lumiud gave birth to a male a week later.

The three infants are well – however, Lumiud is having difficulties caring for her newborn, which forced the centre to separate and closely monitor the two.

Sabah Wildlife Department spokesperson Siti Nur’Ain Ampuan Acheh said the orangutan’s low reproductive rate is affecting their survival, and the species needs decades to emerge from their endangered status.

“Orangutans are known to (reproduce late in life) compared to other mammals, a factor contributing to their threatened condition in the wild.

“Female orangutans only enter reproductive age at 8 or 9,” she said in a statement, adding that infants stay with their mothers for as long as nine years to learn survival skills.

Siti said the existence of the centre since 1964 has complemented the government’s commitment to prevent the orangutan’s extinction.

“Most of the orangutans brought to Sepilok are young orphans and are unable to survive on their own.

“The centre helps them to develop their survival skills.

“It has also allowed many to witness orangutans in their natural environment, and opened up opportunities (for research and education),” she added.

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Indonesia: East Aceh police investigates case of dead elephant

Antara 14 Jul 18;

Idi Rayeuk, Aceh (ANTARA News) - An estimated 15-year-old wild elephant was found dead in an inland forest area in Banda Alam Sub-district, East Aceh District, Aceh Province, on Thursday (July 12).

"The dead male elephant still has a pair of ivory tusks, and its carcass has also not rotted," Banda Alam Sector Police Zainir stated here on Friday.

The elephant is believed to have died the day before it was found. The cause of death of the protected animal is yet to be known, and no signs of violence were apparent on the body of the elephant, he revealed.

He added that the case of the dead Sumatran elephant had been reported to the Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) of Aceh. The Animal Health Medical Team is also reported to be traveling from Banda Aceh to East Aceh to handle this case.

"We are still waiting for the BKSDA of the Aceh team to conduct a necropsy, so that the results of laboratory tests will be able to ascertain the cause of the elephant`s death," he explained.

The police will continue to investigate the death of the Sumatran elephant in East Aceh.

"If the investigation indicated the cause of death to be deliberate, then in this case, we will process it in accordance with the provisions," he revealed.

Reported by Mukhlis
Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Indonesia: Ahead of Asian Games, Air Quality in Jakarta below WHO Standards

TEMPO.CO 13 Jul 18;

Jakarta - Ahead of the 2018 Asian Games, the director general of pollution and environmental damage at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Karliansyah, said the ministry was currently striving to reduce particulate matter (PM) 2.5 of air quality in Jakarta and Palembang. He explained multiple measures had been underway.

“[Air quality] in Jakarta is influenced by infrastructure development. On average it is measured at 38 micrograms per meter,” said Karliansyah at the ministry building, Friday, July 13.

Meanwhile, Karliansyah added, Palembang had good air quality. Its PM 2.5 was measured at 8 micrograms per cubic.

Karliansyah explained the air quality and pollutants would affect the athletes’ health during matches. Thus, the government strived to reduce PM 2.5 in Jakarta.

PM 2.5 in Jakarta was recorded at 40 micrograms per cubic meter on average, while based on WHO standards, the particulates limit should be less than 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

The director of pollution and environmental damage at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Dasrul Chaniago, explained particulates matter 2.5 were referred to as fine dust, which could enter the human respiratory system and might cause lung diseases as well as lung cancer.

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One in three fish caught never makes it to the plate – UN report

Global fish production is at record levels thanks to fish farming, says the UN FAO, but much is wasted and many species are worryingly overfished

Damian Carrington The Guardian 9 Jul 18;

One in three fish caught around the world never makes it to the plate, either being thrown back overboard or rotting before it can be eaten, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Its biannual report on the state of the world’s fisheries, released on Monday, also shows that total fish production has reached a record high thanks to more fish farming, particularly in China, with over half the fish eaten in the world now coming from aquaculture.

In contrast, the amount of wild caught fish has barely changed since the late 1980s and a third of commercial fish species are overfished, the FAO says. Fish farms will continue to expand and the FAO projects that almost 20% more fish will be eaten by 2030, helping sustain the growing global population. However, farmed fish can harm wild populations because often their feed, made from wild fish such as sardines and anchovies, is caught at sea and they can cause pollution.

Fish are a crucial source of nutrition for billions of people around the globe, but overfishing is rife in some regions, with two-thirds of species overexploited in the Mediterranean and Black Seas and the Southeast Pacific. Previous analyses that include estimates for illegal fishing indicate that wild fish stocks are declining faster than FAO data suggest and that half the world’s oceans are now industrially fished.

“Since 1961 the annual global growth in fish consumption has been twice as high as population growth, demonstrating that the fisheries sector is crucial in meeting the FAO’s goal of a world without hunger and malnutrition,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO director general. Many challenges remain, he said, but recent initiatives to crack down on illegal fishing will mark “a turning point” in favour of long-term conservation.

The FAO reports that 35% of global catches are wasted. About a quarter of these losses are bycatch or discards, mostly from trawlers, where unwanted fish are thrown back dead because they are too small or an unwanted species. But most of the losses are due to a lack of knowledge or equipment, such as refrigeration or ice-makers, needed to keep fish fresh.

The FAO has worked with developing nations to cut losses, including the use of raised racks for fish drying, which resulted in a 50% cut in losses of fish from Lake Tanganyika in Africa. Around the Indian Ocean, better facilities for handling the crab harvest cut losses by 40%.

Aquaculture now dominates the fish people eat, providing 53% of the total recorded by the FAO in 2016, the latest data available (excluding fish not used as human food). Farming also dominates the fishing economy, providing two-thirds of the $362bn (£274bn) earned from sales at the dockside.

The FAO report sets out the huge scale of global fishing: it employs 60 million people and there are 4.6m fishing vessels on the planet. This huge effort is worrying in many places, the FAO says, with too many boats chasing too few fish.

As a result, the number of species being overfished has trebled in the last 40 years. The report also states that climate change will drive fish away from warm tropical waters, where nations are often especially reliant on seafood, towards more temperate regions.

Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe, said huge improvements were needed across the fishing industry. “Food waste on a hungry planet is outrageous,” he said. “The fact that one-third of all fish caught goes to waste is a huge cause for concern for global food security.”

On overfishing, particularly in the Mediterranean, he said: “We know the situation, we have the solutions: setting fish catch limits to scientific advice and stopping illegal and destructive fishing. All we’re missing is political action.”

Gustavsson added: “Aquaculture is far from being the magic bullet, as it is often unsustainable. Using 20m tonnes of fish like mackerel, sardines and anchovies to feed farmed fish instead of people is a blatant waste of food.”

Prof Daniel Pauly, at the Sea Around Us research initiative at the University of British Columbia, Canada, has been very critical of previous FAO reports, which he says significantly underestimated the total catch by failing to account for illegal fishing.

But he welcomed the new report for considering a much wider range of information: “The crisis of [overfishing] will be hard to solve. However, collaborations between different stakeholders may help turn around some of the negative trends. This is the best issue of [the FAO fisheries report] that I have ever read.”

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Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week

From Europe to Africa, extreme and widespread heat raises climate concerns in hottest La Niña year to date on record
Jonathan Watts The Guardian 13 Jul 18;

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.

“The first six months of the year have made it the hottest La Niña year to date on record,” said Clare Nullis of the WMO.

Taiwan is the most recent place to report a new high with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang on Monday. This followed a flurry of other anomalies.

Last week, a weather station at Ouargla in Algeria’s Sahara Desert, reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C on 5 July, the highest temperature reliably recorded in Africa.

Even when the sun goes down, night is not providing the cooling relief it once did in many parts of the world. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world. Downtown Los Angeles also saw a new monthly July minimum overnight record of 26.1C on 7 July.

Globally, the warmest year on record was in 2016, boosted by the natural climate cycle El Niño. Last year, temperatures hit the highest level without that amplifying phenomenon. This year, at the other cooling end of the cycle, is continuing the overall upward trend.

Swathes of the northern hemisphere have seen unusually persistent warmth due to strong, persistent high pressure systems that have created a “heat dome” over much of Eurasia.

“What’s unusual is the hemispheric scale of the heatwave,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s not just the magnitude in any one location but that high temperatures are being seen over such a large area.”

Northern Russia’s exceptionally sunny weather – seen on TV by billions thanks to the World Cup – has caused wildfires that affected 80,000 hectares of forest near the Krasnoyarsk region, which reported daily anomalies of 7C above average. The Western Siberian Hydromet Center has issued storm warnings after temperatures of more than 30C for five days. Climate watchers fear this will accelerate the melting of permafrost, releasing methane – a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

In California, daytime records were also set last week at Chino (48.9C), Burbank airport (45.6C) and Van Nuys airport (47.2C). In Canada, at least 54 deaths have been attributed to the prolonged heatwave and high humidity in Quebec. Montreal saw a new record high temperature of 36.6C on 2 July.

In Europe, the WMO has warned of droughts, wildfires and harvest losses after the second hottest June on record. Over the past two weeks, records have been set in Tbilisi (40.5C), Shannon (32C), and Belfast (29.5C)

Britain has cooled slightly in the past two days, after 17 days of temperatures over 28C. This was the third longest heatwave on record, following the record 19-day run in 2013 and the famous summer of 1976, when there were two prolonged spells of 18 days and 15 days. Dean Hall of the UK’s Met Office said Britain’s temperatures were forecast to rise again over the coming week.

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Paolo Ruti of the WMO said it was difficult to ascribe any one weather event to climate change, but that recent high temperatures, intense rains and slow-moving fronts were in line with forecasts of how rising emissions will affect the climate.

“Recent analysis suggests that anthropogenic forcing might indeed affect the characteristics of summer blocking events in the Euro-Asia sector, in particular leading to longer blocking episodes,” he said.

Extreme weather events have buffeted much of the world over the past 12months, from the “Day Zero” drought in Cape Town to the abnormally powerful hurricanes Harvey and Irma that buffeted the east coast of the US and Caribbean.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that manmade climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.

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