Best of our wild blogs: 25 Jul 18

[Nature Walk] Venus Loop & Treetop Walk on 28 July, 8am
Little Green Men

Read more!

Malaysia: Filipinos found with 74kg of bearded pig meat in Sabah jailed 18 months

stephanie lee The Star 24 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A couple has been jailed for 18 months for possessing meat from the protected bearded pig without a license in eastern Sabah.

The Filipino couple, Christopher Ocang Andales, 38, and Jean Flores Tinapay, 41, who are plantation workers, were arrested at about 8am on Feb 6 at an estate in the Kinabatangan area, near Sandakan.

According to the facts of case, the duo were travelling on a motorcycle when they were asked to pull over for inspection during a Wildlife Department operation.

Upon inspection, wildlife officials found four sacks filled with the meat totalling 74kg, as well as six handmade bombs believed to have been used to hunt animals.

The duo will serve their sentence from their date of arrest.

They will be referred to the Immigration Department for further action after completing their sentence.

The bearded pig –known for its namesake facial hair – is a protected species in Sabah but can be hunted with a license.

It is considered a “Vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and over-hunting in many areas across its range.

Bearded pig populations in Peninsular Malaysia have declined by more than 80% in the last 60 years due to deforestation while in Borneo, the species has also been declining quickly as oil palm plantations expand.

In addition, the old tradition of bearded pig hunting is a major factor of wild meat consumption in Sabah's non-Muslim rural areas, and this has caused the species to be rare in many places.

Read more!

Malaysia: ‘Two key factors to end jumbo deaths’

muguntan vanar The Star 24 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Identifying the source of poisoning and improving the layout of the electric fencing are among key tasks that need to be tackled quickly in overcoming the deaths of Borneo pygmy elephants.

A Sabah-based conservationist Dr Marc Ancrenaz said the post-­mortems had yet to give a conclusive cause over the jumbo’s recent deaths, though suspicion was that it might be poisoning of their food and water sources.

“What is happening now is that most of these elephants are coming out of the forests to forage and may be consuming water and food sources that might be contaminated by fertilisers or chemicals,” he said.

“We need to find the source of the poisoning. So far, investigators cannot pinpoint any poison in the dead elephants’ blood stream.”

A total of 18 pygmy elephants have died since April. The motive behind more than half of the deaths could not be ascertained.

The others were killed by hunters’ traps or died due to natural causes.

Dr Ancrenaz said another concern was the setting up of electric fences haphazardly by plantation and farm owners.

“These elephants sometimes manage to slip through the gaps between the electric fences, but could not get out of the fenced area, causing further human-elephant conflict,” he said.

Dr Ancrenaz said such electric fencing should be placed with an overview of the landscape to minimise conflicts triggered by fragmented forests in the elephants’ natural roaming area.

Noting that the state government was setting up a task force to look into the deaths, Dr Ancrenaz said it was important to get advice from experts handling the human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India.

Though Sabah’s wild elephant population is only about 1,500 to 2,000, he said they were breeding well.

Read more!

Malaysia: Borneo pygmy elephant shot dead in Sabah's central district

stephanie lee The Star 24 Jul 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A juvenile male Borneo pygmy elephant has been shot dead in Sabah's central Tongod district.

The carcass of the elephant was found by wildlife rangers at about 7.40am Monday (July 23) near Kg Karamuak, Tongod, some 260km from here.

Sabah Wildlife Department public relations officer Siti Nur’Ain Ampuan Acheh said a team from the Kinabatangan Wildlife office was sent to investigate the matter on Tuesday (July 24).

She said they team also conducted a post-mortem at the scene to determine the elephant's cause of death.

"Some parts of the intestines were torn. There was a severe internal bleeding inside the abdomen suggesting several blood vessels were damaged," she added.

Siti said the cause of death was from hypovolemic shock due to severe internal bleeding caused by the pellet.

She said from the position of the injury and the trajectory of the pellet, it was highly probable that the elephant was shot from close range from an elevated position or from the back of a vehicle.

According to information gathered during investigation, a herd of elephants have been spotted in Kg Karamuak for the past one month.

Siti added that the investigation will continue to find the perpetrator.

Juvenile elephant shot dead in Tongod
Nancy Lai Borneo Post 25 Jul 18;

TONGOD: An elephant was found dead with a gunshot wound at Kampung Karamuak here.

This brings the number of elephants killed in Sabah to 10 this year.

A team of wildlife rangers from Kinabatangan Wildlife Office stumbled upon the carcass of the juvenile male elephant by the roadside at Kampung Karamuak here about 7.40am on July 23.

Sabah Wildlife Department public relations officer Siti Nur’Ain Ampuan Acheh said the wildlife rangers were returning home from carrying out elephant controls at Kampung Karamuak.

“The juvenile male elephant is about three to four years old,” she said in a statement yesterday.
She added that a team was sent yesterday to investigate and conduct a post-mortem to determine the cause of death.

The post-mortem team found a wound at the right rump of the elephant, she said, adding a pellet was inside the abdomen.

“Some parts of the intestines were torn. There was a severe internal bleeding inside the abdomen suggesting several blood vessels were damaged.

“The cause of death is determined to be hypovolemic shock due to severe internal bleeding caused by the pellet,” Siti Nur’Ain explained.

“From the position of the injury and the trajectory of the pellet, it is highly probable that the elephant was shot either from a close range from an elevated place or from the back of a vehicle.”

Siti Nur’Ain said according to information gathered during investigation, a herd of elephants had been in Kampungg Karamuak for the last one month.

“The investigating team will continue its investigation into finding the perpetrator of the killing,” she said.

Last week, a juvenile male elephant was found dead near an abandoned logging camp in the Kuamut Forest Reserve after it was believed to have been involved in a fight with a larger elephant.

On July 16 the carcass of a male elephant was discovered by plantation workers at an oil palm plantation in Ulu Segama, Lahad Datu.

The Wildlife Department found that the elephant had an injured foot, believed due to a snare trap.

At least eight other elephants have also been reported dead due to various reasons in Sabah between April and July this year.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has ordered state authorities to investigate the deaths of these endangered Borneo pygmy elephants.

Elephants are a Totally Protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Elephant found shot dead in Kinabatangan; third dead pachyderm in eight days
Bernama New Straits Times 25 Jul 18;

SANDAKAN: A young elephant was found shot dead at Kampung Karamuak, Tongod in Kinabatangan, yesterday.

The discovery brings to three the number of pachyderms found dead in the state in the span of just eight days.

The latest carcass was found by the roadside by a team of rangers from the Kinabatangan wildlife office, while they were returning from elephant control work at Kampung Karamuak at 7.40am.

The male juvenile elephant was estimated to have been between three and four years old.

A team from the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) was dispatched to the scene to investigate and carry out a post-mortem, its Public Relations officer Siti Nur’Ain Ampuan Acheh said in a statement.

A wound on the pachyderm’s right rump led to the discovery of a bullet lodged in its abdomen, she said, adding that parts of the intestines were torn.

"From the location of the injury and the trajectory of the (bullet), it is highly probable that the elephant was shot at close range, from an elevated place or from the back of a vehicle," she added.

Siti Nur’Ain said the department will continue to probe the case and find those involved in the killing.

On July 19, a male elephant was found dead near an abandoned logging camp in Kuamut Forest Reserve in Kinabatangan, after succumbing to injuries suffered in a fight with a larger elephant.

On July 16, another male elephant with a badly wounded foot was found dead in an oil palm plantation at Ulu Segama in Lahad Datu, believed to have been the victim of a snare trap.

Elephants in Sabah are a Totally Protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997. – Bernama

Read more!

Indonesia: More than 3,000 hectares of forests damaged in Aceh

Antara 24 Jul 18;

Banda Aceh, Aceh, (ANTARA News) - More than 3,000 hectares of forests in the Leuser Ecosystem Area of Aceh have been damaged in the first six months of the year, the Aceh Foundation of Natural Forests and Environment (HAKA) said.

"From January to June 2018 we found 3,290 hectares of forests in the Leuser Ecosystem Area in Aceh were damaged," HAKA Manager of Geographic Information System (GIS) Agung Dwinurcahya said here on Tuesday.

The Leuser Ecosystem Area forest serves as a buffer area for the National Park of Mount Leuser (TNGL). The ecosystem forest is 2.6 million hectares in size and 2.25 million hectares of which are in the province of Aceh spread in 13 districts.

As a buffer zone for TNGL, the Leuser Ecosystem Area consists of protected forest, production forest and forests for other appropriation such as for plantations .

The extent of the damage was slightly smaller than 3,780 hectares in the same period last year, Agung said.

He said, the damage to the Leuser Ecosystem Area was based on satellite record monitored regularly.

The district of Nagan raya recorded the largest area of Leuser Ecosystem damaged in the first six months of this year reaching 627 hectares, followed by the district of Aceh Timur with 559 hectares and the district of Gayo Lues with 507 hectares of Leuser ecosystem forest damaged, he said without saying the causes of the damage.

"The largest part of damage to the Leuser ecosystem area was recorded by the district of Nagan Raya in its peat forest in Rawa Tripa, which was previously protected habitat for orangutan," he said. (SYS/AS).

(T.SYS/B/H-ASG/C/F001) 24-07-2018 09:54:40
Editor: Fardah Assegaf

Read more!

Indonesia: High waves cause Rp 2 billion in losses in Yogyakarta

Sri Wahyuni The Jakarta Post 24 Jul 18;

High waves occurring this month in Yogyakarta have so far caused over Rp 2 billion (US$137,807) in financial losses in the province, a team of experts have said.

The team, consisting of experts from Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), revealed that the high waves had destroyed a total of 24 gazebos, five fishing ships, four kiosks, four stalls and 20 nets on the beaches located along the province’s southern coast.

“The real loss could be higher considering our limited observation,” said team member Muh Aris Marfai, who is also the dean of UGM’s Department of Geography, on Tuesday.

BMKG forecaster Sigit Hadi Prakoso of BMKG’s Yogyakarta office said the phenomenon, which started on July 17, reached its peak on July 19, with waves reaching up to 6 meters high.

He said the phenomenon was caused by differences in air pressure thanks to the tropical cyclone Son Tinh in the South China Sea, followed by tropical cyclone Ampil. This led to high wind speeds that later resulted in high waves on the beaches along Java Island’s southern coast.

“Until July 29, high waves still have the potential to occur on the southern coast of Yogyakarta, with waves expected to reach up to 5 m high,” Sigit said.

The team called on people to avoid conducting intensive investment activities along an area within 100 m of the coastline.

Read more!

Laos dam collapse: hundreds missing after villages flooded

Several people confirmed dead and thousands homeless in Attapeu province
Hannah Ellis-Petersen South-east Asia correspondent and agencies The Guardian 24 Jul 18;

Hundreds of people are missing after a hydroelectric dam collapsed in southern Laos, destroying thousands of homes and leaving an unknown number of dead.

Five billion cubic metres of water – the equivalent of 2m Olympic swimming pools – swept through the surrounding countryside after the accident at the Xepian-Xe Nam Noy hydropower dam, which is still under construction in south-eastern Attapeu province.

The dam collapsed at 8pm local time (1300 BST) on Monday, a state news agency reported. The neighbouring villages of Yai Thae, Hinlad, Mai, Thasengchan, Tha Hin and Samong bore the brunt of flooding, which has reportedly destroyed thousands of homes.

Officials brought in boats to try to evacuate victims in San Sai district who were left stranded by the water. Aerial footage showed the whole region under muddy water, with only roofs and treetops visible.

Several people have been confirmed dead, and more than 6,600 are homeless, official news agency KPL reported.

The company building the dam said heavy rain and flooding caused it to collapse and it was cooperating with the Laos government to help rescue villagers.

“We are running an emergency team and planning to help evacuate and rescue residents,” a spokesman for SK Engineering & Construction told Reuters.

The dam is a key component of the country’s controversial ambition to become the “battery of Asia” by selling power to its neighbours. Eleven large hydropower dams on the main Mekong River, and 120 tributary dams, are planned over the next 20 years.

The 410MW project was designed to generate electricity by diverting the waters of the Houay Makchanh, Xe-Namnoy and Xe-Pian rivers on the Bolaven Plateau in the Laos province of Champasak, and then letting them flow back into the Xe-Pian River, and eventually into the Mekong.

The plan is to export 90% of the energy produced to neighbouring Thailand, making it a lucrative source of income.

Laos, a landlocked and poverty-stricken country, has secured billions in foreign funds from hydropower investors.

But the country’s focus on the energy source has provoked a backlash from environmental activists, NGOs and scientists for its impact on the Mekong, one of the world’s longest, largest and resource-rich rivers. A report from the inter-governmental Mekong River Commission in April estimated its fish stocks would fall by up to 40% as a result of the hydropower projects.

A report by the Stockholm Environment Institute also pointed out that “changes in rainfall and extreme weather could pose a risk to Laos’ hydropower-dominated electricity system”.

Last year, a dam broke along Laos’ Nam Ao River, unleashing a torrent of water that flooded seven villages and ruined acres of farmland.

But concerns over hydropower dams have been dismissed by the government.

The Xepian-Xe Nam Noy dam, which is estimated to be worth about $1bn (£760m), is a joint venture between several South Korean and Laos companies. Construction began in 2013 and was due for completion by the end of this year, with plans to start operations in 2019.

The prime minister, Thongloun Sisoulith, called on government organisations, the police and the military to assist in the emergency relief effort.

The International Rivers group, which has campaigned about the risks of developing the Mekong, said the accident showed that some dam designs were unable to cope with extreme weather conditions.

“Unpredictable and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent in Laos and the region due to climate change,” said a spokesperson for International Rivers.

“This also shows the inadequacy of warning systems for the dam construction and operations. The warning appeared to come very late and was ineffective in ensuring people had advance notice to ensure their safety and that of their families,” it said.

Reuters contributed to this report

Read more!