Best of our wild blogs: 30 Jul 18

Celebrating our shores for National Day!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Mangroves at Ah Mah's Drinkstall
wild shores of singapore

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Malaysia: Govt mulls amending Wildlife Conservation Act 2010

Bernama New Straits Times 29 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is studying to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 by introducing mandatory jail sentences against individuals caught hunting wildlife illegally.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said his ministry would work with the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) to improve the Act to prosecute illegal hunters accordingly.

"By strengthening the act, enforcement could be boosted, we will make the amendments because it is understood that the existing act does not facilitate the enforcement process.

"This amendment may involve the addition of penalties to doubled from the previous, but what I see is that there are those who can pay so we must also include a prison sentence which is seen to be more effective in dealing with this issue," he said.

He said this at a media conference in conjunction with the Global Tiger Day Celebration organised by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia at the Tuanku Bainun Children's Creative Centre here today.

The Global Tiger Day is celebrated on July 29 each year to foster awareness of the importance of tiger conservation to the world community.

According to Xavier, the ministry would also step up cooperation with authorities such as the police and military to jointly assist non-governmental organisations (NGO) such as WWF in combating illegal wildlife hunting syndicates throughout the country.

He said through operations conducted by Perhilitan had found various species of animals which were injured including tigers, tapirs and elephants due to the wire snares installed by illegal hunters.

From 2014 to June, Perhilitan had destroyed over 2,890 wire snares in 479 operations conducted.

Hence, he hoped that corporate companies would be able to help NGOs finance the projects to destroy the snares in the quest to save wildlife from extinction.

"I understand that WWF in collaboration with Perhilitan have carried out Project Stampede which consists of only 15 people to identify and destroy the trap areas.

"They need 50 more individuals to help them continue this project more widely and I encourage the corporate sector to assist them in successfully implementing this project and to go all out to eradicate illegal poaching," he said. — BERNAMA

Minister: Move to stop poachers and save tigers drastic but needed
vincent tan The Star 30 Jul 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: A shoot-on-sight policy against wildlife poachers is being mulled in a move to protect Malayan tigers.

Water, Land and Natural Re­­sources Minister Dr Xavier Jaya­kumar said he was considering bringing such a policy for Cabinet review.

“It might sound a bit drastic but if you want to save Malayan tigers, we have to take drastic action as well.

“Such a policy, instituted in Ne­­pal and Bhutan, has seen the number of tigers rising,” he said after attending the Global Tiger Day 2018 celebrations organised by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia yesterday.

Perhilitan director-general Da­­tuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said a large part of the threat to tigers and Malaysian wildlife came from poaching snares.

“Today, we can remove one but one month later, these snares are back at the same place.

“They don’t discriminate and will catch anything, not just tigers,” Abdul Kadir said.

According to its statistics, more than 2,890 snares were destroyed in 479 operations conducted from 2014 up to this year.

During the event, WWF Malaysia also officially announced Project Stampede, a joint effort involving orang asli communities to patrol the Belum-Temenggor Forest Com­plex in Perak to remove poa­cher snares, as well as collect data.

There was also a screening of On the Brink of Extinction, a documentary narrated by six individuals working with WWF Malaysia on tiger conservation.

Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj, WWF Malaysia’s tiger lead researcher and one of the film’s narrators, said the patrols would serve as “eyes and ears” for enforcement authorities and help to put a stop to poaching.

Currently, he said, the project had a few patrol teams, with an aim to roll out 10 teams by the end of the year.

“The Belum-Temenggor forest, which includes the Royal Belum state park, is one of three tiger priority sites in Peninsular Malaysia but it had seen a 50% drop in tigers’ population there.

“At most, we are buying time, as without specialised and armed tactical teams with enforcement po­­wers to respond and quickly track down these poachers, we will lose the fight,” he said.

Currently, Malaysia is conducting its first-ever National Tiger Survey, expected to be completed by 2020.

Separately, Lasah, a 37-year-old male Asian elephant, has been relocated to the Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre.

Together with him, a Malayan tiger named Zanah, was also moved to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai.

Both animals were handed to Perhilitan to be transferred out because the company – Langkawi Elephant Adventures – was unable to carry on its operations at its premises.

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Indonesia: At least 14 dead after magnitude 6.4 quake hits Lombok island

Channel NewsAsia 29 Jul 18;

JAKARTA: At least 14 people are dead and 162 injured after a powerful 6.4 magnitude earthquake on Sunday (Jul 29) struck the popular tourist destination of Lombok in Indonesia, the country's disaster mitigation agency said.

Spokesman for the agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said thousands of homes were damaged and that there have been 124 aftershocks as of 2pm local time.

However, he ruled out the possibility of a tsunami.

"We estimate the number will keep rising because we are not done collecting data," Nugroho said.

A 30-year old Malaysian woman was among the victims, he said, adding those hurt were hit by debris.

The earthquake struck at 6.47am on Sunday and was only 7km deep, a shallow depth that would have amplified its effect, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The quake, which was quickly followed by an aftershock of magnitude 5.4 in the same area in eastern Indonesia, was centered in the northern part of the island, 49.5km northeast of the city of Mataram.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage.

The European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC), the European quake agency, put the magnitude at 6.5.

No tsunami alert was issued, said Hary Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia's geophysics and meteorology agency.

Lombok lies around 100km east of the resort island of Bali.

East Lombok Regency suffered the worst impact with 10 fatalities and 67 injured. About a thousand homes were also damaged.

North Lombok registered four deaths with about 38 people seriously wounded, and 273 homes damaged. A total of 6,237 families have been affected by the earthquake.

There are also several reports of house damage in West Lombok District, West Sumbawa Regency and Mataram City.

Nugroho posted on Twitter pictures of houses with collapsed roofs and walls.

The Regional Disaster Management Authority and several other agencies have distributed food, mineral water, evacuee tents and food.

The authorities are currently in need of medical personnel, stretchers, health equipment, quick meals as well as necessities for children.

The quake may have also impacted Mount Rinjani national park, a popular trekking destination.

"Rinjani mountain climbing is closed temporarily because there are indication of landslide around the mountain," Nugroho, said in a statement.

Authorities are currently evacuating climbers from Mount Rinjani. According to official data from Mount Rinjani National Park Office, there are 826 climbers, both foreign and domestic tourists.

Local news Metro TV reported that people were still sleeping when the first quake hit and they quickly fled their houses in panic. Most of the people were still waiting outside their houses in fear of aftershocks, Metro TV said.

"We jumped out of our beds to avoid anything falling on our heads," said Jean-Paul Volckaert who was woken by the quake while sleeping in the Puncak Hotel near Senggigi on Lombok island.

"I’ve been walking around but so far there is no damage. We were very surprised as the water in the pools was swaying like a wild sea. There were waves in the pools but only for 20 to 30 seconds," he told Reuters via telephone.

At the holiday island's hotels, tourists raced outside as the quake struck soon after dawn.

In Katamaran Hotel & Resort in Senggigi beach, some 30 guests gathered in the hotel lobby for around half an hour before venturing back to their rooms.

"They calmed down and returned to their room once we explained the earthquake did not trigger a tsunami, everything is back to normal now," receptionist Ni Nyoman Suwarningsih told AFP.

Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismic activity hotspot.

It is frequently hit by quakes, most of them harmless. However, the region remains acutely alert to tremors that might trigger tsunamis.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, in western Indonesia, killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

Additional reporting by Chandni Vatvani.

Source: Agencies/ec/mz/zl(ra)

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