Best of our wild blogs: 4 Aug 18

19 Aug (Sun) - Free guided walk at Chek Jawa Boardwalk
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Nesting of Long-tailed Parakeets in Singapore – A 11 weeks Monitoring Report
Singapore Bird Group

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Malaysia, Johor: No to waste from China

The Star 3 Aug 18;

JOHOR BARU: Johor has rejected investment deals from two Chinese companies to build waste recycling centres in the state, said state international trade, investment and utilities committee chairman Jimmy Puah Wee Tse.

He said the Johor government did not want to see the state become a waste disposal centre for other countries, and would never accept such investments.

“Earlier in June, I announced that the state government had rejected investments from three companies from China. Last week I rejected two more investments from the same country.

“The same move has been taken by the Kedah and Selangor governments. I hope investors in this industry get the message that Johor will not allow the state to become a waste disposal centre,” he said after attending Johor Corporation investor networking session held in conjunction with its 50th anniversary at Persada International Convention here.

Puah said the government, through the Johor Department of Environment (DoE), would also conduct raids on a number of companies believed to be masquerading as green technology firms.

“Recently, I had discussions with the Johor DoE director on raids on companies that import green technology materials.

“I know there are some companies in the state which forge their import invoices to bring in plastic waste. We will hunt them down and impose the maximum penalty allowed for under the law on them,” he said.

Puah said currently over 100 million tonnes of garbage was waiting to be exported from major ports in China.

“I urge the public to inform the state government or the DoE if they have any information related to this kind of activity. This is very serious because when the waste arrives here, it will take a long time for it to be biodegradeable.

“Electrical and electronic waste products that have harmful chemicals can also pollute our water resources,” he added.

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Australia to 'vehemently' oppose Japan push to ease whaling ban

AFP Yahoo News 2 Aug 18;

Australia Thursday vowed to "vehemently" oppose a new push by Japan to undermine a global moratorium on commercial whaling, and urged like-minded nations to stand firm against Tokyo.

Japan has regularly sought an easing of the International Whaling Commission's (IWC) prohibition on commercial whaling and continues to kill the animals under what it calls a "scientific research" programme despite international criticism.

At September's IWC meeting in Brazil, Tokyo has said it plans to "propose setting a catch quota for species whose stocks are recognised as healthy by the IWC scientific committee".

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was concerned by the proposal.

"We strongly support the 30-year global moratorium on commercial whaling and will vehemently oppose any attempts to undermine the processes that support it," she said.

This included "through changed voting regimes or the establishment of catch-limits for commercial whaling".

"At the commission meeting in September, Australia will be calling on like-minded nations to reject Japan's proposal," she added.

Hideki Moronuki, an official in charge of whaling at Japan's fisheries agency, told AFP in June the proposal would not specify which whale species and how many mammals Japan wants to hunt.

But he said the IWC classifies several species as no longer depleted.

Japan also plans measures to change the body's decision-making process, lowering the threshold for proposals to pass from three quarters of members to half.

Tokyo claims its "scientific research" is necessary to prove whale populations are large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting, but Bishop said this was not correct.

"The science is clear, you do not need to kill whales in order to study them," she said.

Japan makes no secret of the fact that meat from the expeditions ends up on dinner tables, despite a significant decline in the popularity of whale meat.

During its most recent annual whale hunt, Japan reported it caught 333 minkes, 122 of which were pregnant, sparking outrage among conservationists.

Japanese officials said the high rate of pregnant whales showed the strength of the minke population.

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Thousands of firefighters struggle to contain giant blazes in California

AFP Yahoo News 3 Aug 18;

Lakeport (United States) (AFP) - Thousands of firefighters were struggling Thursday to contain two vast wildfires in California, one of which has become one of the most destructive blazes in the state's history.

The Carr Fire has scorched 126,00 acres (51,00 hectares) of land since July 23, when authorities say it was triggered by the "mechanical failure of a vehicle" that caused sparks to fly in tinderbox dry conditions.

The fire has also razed 1,465 buildings, including some 1,000 homes, making it the sixth most destructive blaze in the history of the fire-prone western state.

More than 4,200 firefighters have been deployed to battle the conflagration but they have only succeeded in containing 35 percent of it so far.

Another major blaze known as the Ferguson Fire broke out near the popular Yosemite National Park almost three weeks ago, on July 13, and was only 39 percent contained by Thursday, officials said.

It has burned 68,610 acres of land, of which 5,700 went up in smoke on Wednesday night alone.

"The high pressure system above the fire is weakening throughout the week, resulting in warmer and drier conditions. This will increase fire behavior," warned Inciweb, which provides updates on the fires.

The two fires have killed eight people, with the Carr Fire alone responsible for six of the deaths.

Other fires raging in the state include the Mendocino Complex. It's made up of two blazes, the River Fire, which is 50 percent under control after burning 35,278 acres, and the Ranch Fire, which has torched 74,890 acres and is only 33 percent contained.

Several thousand people have been evacuated as the fires swept across the state, although some have been given permission in recent days to return to their homes.

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