Otter pup reunited with family after 6 days in complex rescue operation

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 8 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - An otter pup, nicknamed Helios, was reunited with his family on Monday afternoon (Aug 6), after a complex five-day operation including more than 30 people and multiple agencies.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening, otter interest group Ottercity announced that the operation, termed Operation Helios, ended in a success, with the reunion taking place at a pond beside Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

The pond was 14km away from where the pup was originally found, near Punggol Serangoon Reservoir, said Ottercity.

It was unknown which family the pup belonged to, resulting in otter watchers scrambling to narrow down the possibilities from four possible families that it could have been stranded from.

The Ottercity group, which is run by more than 10 veteran otter watchers, said: "Undisputedly, Operation Helios is by far the most complex otter reunion operation we have ever experienced in Singapore.

"Any wrong judgment to release Helios to the wrong family, would likely cause his immediate kill in front of our eyes."

The mission was led by the Otter Working Group (OWG), OtterWatch, Ottercity and volunteers, and involved agencies such as the Public Utilities Board.

The injured pup was recovered by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) group last Tuesday, before it was sent to the veterinary team at Wildlife Reserves Singapore. It was found to have sustained multiple bite injuries that were likely caused by other otters.

Long-time otter watcher Jeffery Teo, who is a member of the OWG, told The Straits Times that Helios was estimated to be five to six months old, and could have been injured by a lone otter after it got stranded from its family.

He said: "In the past, we never had a problem of identification, it was never in the consideration of who to release to. It was all about the techniques of releasing, the method of releasing and the timing of releasing.

"But in this case, (with) who to release to and where to release to, it was a big risk for us."

Based on the otter watchers' calculations, Helios could have belonged to at least four families living around an area spanning three reservoirs with multiple river streams, canals and pools.

The groups working to find the otter's family had to first narrow down the family that the otter belonged to, and this resulted a tedious daily search to find the various families to work out it the pup belonged to them.

"We are talking about tens of kilometres, it's like searching for a needle in the sea," said Mr Teo.

With the help of the PUB, which took some watchers out on a boat to survey inaccessible areas, and field reports from various watchers, the groups managed to spot the various families, before systematically narrowing it down to a family of six adult otters and a pup.

The actual operation to reunite the pup with the family then kicked off on Monday afternoon, after otter watchers spotted the family at the pond near Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Handlers from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore took the pup out in a cage, with the family responding to the pup's calls soon after.

"All of us (experts from OWG, Acres and WRS)... we made a judgment call that this seems okay, this feels good, let's open the cage," said Mr Teo.

"We opened the cage and we were praying, and the pup got accepted immediately."

He added: "This exercise is indeed very complicated, because if nobody put up the legwork, we would never have found these four families."

The smooth-coated otter, formerly thought to be extinct in Singapore, returned in 1998 as the island's waterways became cleaner.

There are currently around 70 in Singapore. They are distinct from the Oriental small-clawed otters, which can be found in Pulau Ubin.

This is not the first time that volunteers from the otter watching community have come to the rescue of otter pups. Three such cases were reported in the last year.

In December, two lost otter pups from the famous Bishan family were reunited with their family after about 30 hours.

In November, a pup from the Pasir Ris family, aged about eight to nine months, with a wound from a ring around its body, was successfully rounded up and treated.

In January last year, a lost pup aged around two months old from the Bishan family was also rescued.

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'Ivory store' which caused outrage in Singapore is part of wildlife group's campaign to raise awareness

Jose Hong Straits Times 8 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - A Singapore online store which claimed to sell "vintage" ivory has drawn outrage from hundreds online, but it has turned out to be part of a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore campaign to raise awareness on the ivory trade.

Ivory Lane Singapore, which launched on Facebook last Tuesday (July 31), supposedly sold accessories made from elephant ivory. It included professionally shot videos and photographs of models wearing the accessories, and prices ranged from $160 for a pair of earrings to $800 for a necklace.

The products were "inspired by the luxury of nature and heritage" according to the website, adding that "ivory is a secret desire for most girls".

The fictitious online shop, which The WWF on Tuesday (Aug 07) admitted is part of a campaign against the ivory trade, sparked uproar almost immediately after it went live, with netizens accusing it of supporting the slaughter of elephants.

In response to the criticism, Ivory Lane "posted" on Facebook on Monday (Aug 6) that "the ivory we use is completely legal in Singapore" because it is "vintage ivory, before 1990". Singapore has banned the commercial import and export of ivory since 1990, though the selling and buying of ivory in Singapore is still allowed.

But the outrage only intensified. Facebook user Joshua Kho posted: "A legal loophole does not make the ivory trade ethical."

Demand for ivory, especially in Asia, has led to the decline in elephant numbers around the world.

Within six days of launching, Ivory Lane's website and social media accounts reached 250,000 people and garnered 65,000 reactions.

The reaction to the site drew the attention of international media. News wire agency Agence France-Presse, in a report titled "Singapore uproar over store selling ivory jewellery", quoted Mr Jason Baker, a spokesman for campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as questioning who would want to collect "fragments of a tortured, dead elephant".

On Tuesday (Aug 7), just before midnight, WWF updated the Ivory Lane website to say it had been behind the shop. It told The Straits Times that as the sale of ivory is not completely illegal in Singapore, it set up Ivory Lane "to highlight this shortcoming in local wildlife laws".

WWF Singapore chief executive Elaine Tan added: "The overwhelming and strong response by people in Singapore towards Ivory Lane has made it very clear that people in Singapore have a zero tolerance toward illegal wildlife trade. We are due for clear and strong legislation to address ivory and illegal wildlife trade in Singapore."

It is not the first time that fake advertising campaigns raised eyebrows in Singapore.

Two years ago, hundreds of fans of actress Rebecca Lim and the media fell for an Instagram post that she had put up in which she implied that she was retiring from show business. When NTUC Income later admitted it was part of a campaign to remind young Singaporeans to plan financially for retirement, both Lim and the insurance company faced a backlash from the public.

In 2010, Singapore Post apologised for its publicity campaign that involved a masked man openly defacing six post boxes over the New Year weekend. The "vandalism spree" had sparked a furore among Singaporeans - initially surrounding the blatant vandalism and, after it was revealed to be a publicity stunt, the wrong message being sent. Police, who were called in to investigate, also said that this had "caused unnecessary public alarm and wasted valuable resources".

Public relations practitioner Luenne Choa said that WWF's shock campaign was a high-risk strategy. "In this instance it's good that they got all this attention, but they need to sustain the movement of their campaign and show that real change will occur."

Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) founder Louis Ng said: " I share the public's and charity's concern about a complete ivory ban in Singapore."

Mr Ng, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC, said: "I've raised this issue in Parliament and I'm glad that we are committed to a domestic ban on the ivory trade and are working out the implementation details. I'm hopeful we will implement this ban soon and will continue to speak up about the issue of tackling wildlife crime."

Slammed 'ivory store' part of WWF campaign to raise awareness on Singapore wildlife laws
Today Online 8 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE: An online store slammed for "selling" accessories made of vintage ivory was in fact part of a campaign by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to raise awareness about the "shortcomings" of local wildlife laws, said WWF in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 7).

The store, which appeared to have been launched on Jul 31, claimed to sell "unique accessories ... crafted with one of the purest elements of nature, ivory".

Social media users left hundreds of comments on its Facebook and Instagram pages, describing the business as "despicable", "disgusting" and "tasteless".

On Monday morning, the store responded to the backlash, saying: "We understand the concerns and would like to assure that the ivory we use is completely legal in Singapore (as it was made with) vintage ivory, before 1990."

Many continued to rail at the business, with one user, Max Remark, saying: "Ivory is Ivory - and elephants have died for it. Selling ivory - even 'vintage' ivory - creates and keeps the market alive, and thus the trade and finally the killing."

It was not until early Wednesday morning that the WWF revealed it was behind the fake business.


Even then, the reactions were mixed.

Some called the campaign "disrespectful", "childish" and "in bad taste", while others applauded WWF's efforts, describing it as "well-played" and "brilliant marketing".

Responding to this, WWF told Channel NewsAsia: "The brand may be fictional, but the issues highlighted are real.

"Ivory traders are still operating in Singapore and catering to demand for ivory products. In the meantime, the global trade in elephant ivory claims one African elephant every 25 minutes.

"On issues concerning local laws on ivory and wildlife trade, the voices of people in Singapore speak louder than any organisation.

"Ivory Lane was the vehicle to bring out these opinions, as it highlighted the significant gap between what people in Singapore thought about ivory and what was actually happening."

WWF pointed out that ivory that entered the market before 1990 is permitted for sale in Singapore and this facilitates illicit ivory trade globally as recently poached ivory may be masqueraded as vintage.

However, survey results showed only 8 per cent of people in Singapore understood the current legislation, while 50 per cent thought that the trade of elephant ivory was already banned here, said WWF.

“It is not easy to understand wildlife laws and what is legal and not, a reality that is often misused by illegal traders. The general uncertainty leads to illicit wildlife trade hiding in plain sight. We set up the online shop, Ivory Lane, on the same legal premise that the real ivory traders use to operate in Singapore,” said WWF-Singapore's chief executive Elaine Tan.

WWF said its ivory shop campaign reached 250,000 people and garnered 65,000 reactions within six days, and "sparked off a heated public debate on wildlife trade, national legislation and enforcement in Singapore".

Ivory Lane is not the first publicity campaign to raise eyebrows in recent years. In 2010, SingPost apologised for a vandalism stunt meant to promote a post box art competition.

Source: CNA/hs(rw)

Brilliant campaign or 'fake news'? Spoof ivory store launch draws mixed reaction
The World Wide Fund for Nature-Singapore on Tuesday unveiled that it was behind the launch of Ivory Lane, a fictitious outfit which purportedly sold vintage ivory jewellery items through an online store and social media accounts.
Today Online 8 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE — A wildlife charity's attempt to use a fake online ivory shop here to raise awareness about the illicit global trade has stirred controversy, drawing both praise and condemnation from netizens.

The World Wide Fund for Nature-Singapore (WWF) on Tuesday (Aug 7) unveiled that it was behind the launch of Ivory Lane, a fictitious outfit which purportedly sold vintage ivory jewellery items through an online store and social media accounts.

The stunt, WWF-Singapore said, was aimed at at highlighting local laws which continue to facilitate the illicit global trade for ivory.

The charity added that the campaign "sparked a heated debate on wildlife trade, national legislation and enforcement in Singapore", garnering 65,000 reactions on social media.

Some netizens applauded WWF-Singapore for a campaign that successfully went viral on social media platforms like Facebook, and drew attention to the issue.

"The campaign succeeded - it drew attention to the loophole. Now that attention’s there, there’s public support for the loophole to be closed," Ms Nicolette Dode Tan wrote on the Facebook page of the fictitious Ivory Lane shop.

Others were less impressed, and criticised WWF-Singapore for deliberately spreading misinformation.

Mr Joshua Kho wrote in a comment on Ivory Lane's Facebook page: "Regardless of intention, using deliberate misinformation is disrespectful and childish. You’ve lost my trust, WWF and WWF-Singapore. WWF is the same as 'fake news' for me now."

Added Ms Tracey Jennings: "You don’t need tricks to galvanise support, just facts.... I’m an engineer, if I had used false data in my work to prove a fact... I’d be sacked."

Singapore banned the commercial import and export of ivory in 1990, although ivory that entered the market before 1990 is still permitted for sale in the Republic.

WWF says this continues to facilitate illicit ivory trade globally as recently poached ivory could masquerade as vintage ivory.

The Singapore government is looking into implementing a domestic ban on the sale of ivory, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore said in an emailed statement, adding that the implementation details are currently being worked out.

WWF's investigations found more than 40 shops in Singapore selling ivory products and numerous online listings on popular e-commerce and classified platforms. In physical shops, WWF investigators said traders explained how to smuggle ivory across borders undetected which they said showed how easily the loopholes in the law can be misused.

Singapore has made large scale-seizures of ivory in recent years and conservation groups say it acts as a transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade. REUTERS

A charity made up an 'ivory brand', and not everyone is happy
Heather Chen BBC 8 Aug 18;

It was a luxury brand that sounded too controversial to be true - and it was.

"Vintage" retailer Ivory Lane attracted public ire when it went online in Singapore this week, touting modern designer jewellery and accessories made from ivory.

"Ivory is a secret desire for most girls," said its ad campaign.

But the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has now revealed it was all a publicity campaign to promote awareness of the global trade in elephant ivory.

"The brand may be fictional but the issues highlighted are real. This was just the start," WWF-Singapore CEO Elaine Tan told the BBC.

"We are calling for clear and robust laws that will not allow the trade of ivory or any illegal wildlife products in Singapore."

Following the big reveal, many applauded the WWF's novel approach in tackling the issue of elephant ivory. But did the conservation body go too far in selling its cause?

'Vintage jewellery and accessories', made from elephants. Would you buy?
Ivory, mainly from elephant tusks, has been traded for hundreds of years. But a growing outcry against the trade kicked off bans in Asia, its biggest market.

So it was no surprise that the launch of Ivory Lane sparked an immediate uproar in Singapore, where ivory from elephants killed before 1990 can legally be sold.

Highly-polished marketing videos, professionally-worded ads combined with expensive statement pieces (inspired by the "luxury of nature and heritage") built a thoroughly believable brand narrative and drew the fury of animal lovers and netizens alike on Facebook.

Many Singaporeans - and media outlets - were fooled, buying into the outrage and taking to Facebook to express their anger at the brand and its mistreatment of elephants.

"Ivory is a secret desire for most girls - said no one with a heart ever," wrote Christine Neo in response to "founder" Ivy Chung's words.

"Why would you even assume ivory is something many Singaporeans would want to buy?"

Hundreds of strongly-worded Facebook reviews also followed swiftly. But the fictional Ms Chung had her defence ready: "We understand the concerns and would like to assure that the ivory we use is completely legal in Singapore."

Highlighting a very telling loophole, she continued: "The import and export of elephant ivory has been banned internationally since 1990. Ivory Lane does not import any new ivory into Singapore and all our ivory products are made of vintage ivory, before 1990."

The outcry only intensified and rattled on for days, as more and more ads emerged.

On Tuesday, the WWF revealed it was "a fictitious brand that was created by WWF-Singapore to highlight the shortcomings of wildlife laws in Singapore".

It cited a recent investigation which found more than 40 shops in Singapore selling ivory products.

One Facebook user, Nicolette Dode Tan, applauded the approach. "It was a great marketing campaign and wouldn't have worked this well if it didn't tap into the reality of living in Singapore.

"The materialism, the lack of transparency in our supply chains, technical legalities as well as abhorrent practices like consuming sharks fin just because it's a traditional thing," she said.

"Riling people up by creating a fake brand and drawing attention? That worked wonderfully," added Facebook user Kyaw Tay Zar. "The usual media campaigns don't bring much deserved attention as it should. People usually glaze over such issues."

But to Singaporeans like Alvin Ho and Joshua Kho, who bought into the campaign's narrative, it came across as being "irresponsible fake news".

"A silly way of drawing attention to an issue," wrote Mr Ho.

Mr Kho said: "Regardless of intention, using deliberate misinformation is disrespectful and childish. You've lost my trust, WWF. This was 'Fake News' for me."

Addressing the unhappiness online, WWF's Ms Tan told the BBC: "The overwhelming and strong response towards Ivory Lane made it very clear that people in Singapore have a zero tolerance stance towards the illegal wildlife trade."

"We saw the need to take such an approach as Singapore is a significant player in the illegal wildlife trade, both as a transhipment hub and demand market," she said.

"People had to be aware and care about our role in illegal wildlife trade, in order to drive change."

Charity launches spoof Singapore ivory store in awareness stunt
John Geddie Reuters 8 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A wildlife charity set up a fake online ivory shop in Singapore, attracting widespread condemnation, in a stunt to underline local laws which it says continue to facilitate illicit ivory trade globally.

A week after the launch of Ivory Lane, which purported to sell vintage ivory jewelry items through an online store and social media accounts, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) on Tuesday unveiled it was behind the stunt.

WWF said the campaign “sparked a heated debate on wildlife trade, national legislation and enforcement in Singapore” garnering 65,000 reactions on social media.

Singapore banned the commercial import and export of ivory in 1990, although ivory that entered the market before 1990 is still permitted for sale in the city-state. WWF says this continues to facilitate illicit ivory trade globally as recently poached ivory could masquerade as vintage ivory.

The Singapore government is looking into implementing a domestic ban on the sale of ivory, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore said in an emailed statement, adding that the implementation details are currently being worked out.

WWF’s investigations found more than 40 shops in Singapore selling ivory products and numerous online listings on popular e-commerce and classified platforms. In physical shops, WWF investigators said traders explained how to smuggle ivory across borders undetected which they said showed how easily the loopholes in the law can be misused.

Singapore, a global trading hub, has made large scale-seizures of ivory in recent years and conservation groups say it acts as a transit hub for the illegal wildlife trade.

Reporting by John Geddie; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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URA forms new partnership to promote built heritage and identity

Sue-Ann Tan Straits Times 8 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced a new partnership that will support collaborations between the public and private sectors and Singaporeans in shaping the nation's built heritage and identity.

The Heritage and Identity Partnership (HIP) will take on an expanded role from the Conservation Advisory Panel, which ended its last tenure in May.

The panel was formed in 2002 to provide advice to the URA on ways to protect and conserve buildings.

Now, the HIP will also contribute ideas to sustain the built heritage and memories of places, as Singapore continues to develop. Built heritage refers to physical structures or areas with historical value.

URA chief executive officer Lim Eng Hwee said: "Conservation of our built heritage has been done in partnership with the community to ensure that our conserved assets remain meaningful in celebrating our past, and relevant in meeting our current and future needs. We are encouraged that many people are increasingly keen in contributing to Singapore's heritage and identity.

"As we shape up plans for Singapore's continued development as an economically competitive and liveable city, we also want to involve our partners more deeply in building an endearing home that is strong in heritage and identity."

Effort is being ramped up, for instance, to look into the restoration of Pulau Ubin's forgotten and neglected traditional kampung houses. The URA is also looking into the conservation of Jalan Besar shophouses.

The HIP comprises 18 members from diverse backgrounds and specialisations. These include people from the building industry, arts and heritage sector, journalism, business and property owners, and academia.

They are appointed on a two-year tenure.

Members will engage in regular dialogue with the URA to address issues concerning built heritage and identity, as well as promote and sustain the heritage and memories of places in development plans.

For example, HIP will be working with the URA in the ongoing Master Plan review, to offer views on ways to integrate built heritage and identity into the plans for new areas.

It will also work with the URA to promote public understanding and appreciation of built heritage and identity. The URA can reach out to the wider public through the HIP members' networks to collect stories about heritage areas, as well as foster greater public awareness about the balanced approach involved in managing development and heritage in Singapore.

Mr Chan Sui Him, incoming chairman of the HIP, said: "Through the conservation of buildings, Singapore has retained significant parts of her heritage landscape. The HIP presents an opportunity for us to go a step further to get more views on board to shape a future Singapore that is familiar and endearing to Singaporeans, even as we continue to progress and urbanise."

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National Day Parade's fun packs are not fun for our environment

ERIC TEO HONG KIAT Today Online 6 Aug 18;

It's that time of the year again when we mark Singapore's independence. The ubiquitous "fun pack" or goodie bag, given to spectators at the National Day Parade and the shows before the Aug 9 occasion, is now an essential part of the celebrations.

Given the recent focus on reducing plastic use ("At least 1.76 billion plastic items used each year; non-profit to launch 'two is enough' campaign"; Aug 1), it is timely for us to re-think what goes into these fun packs.

Besides the large amount of plastic packaging used, there are items that are either of poor quality (the plastic zip bag) or minimal functionality (the luggage tag, handheld fans) which would no doubt end up as trash — if not immediately, then shortly after.

The irony is that Captain Green, created in November 1990 during Singapore's first Clean and Green Week campaign, is one of the mascots at this year's National Day Parade.

It is time we reduce the quantity of items in the fun packs and improve their quality.

There is no better place to start reversing this trend than on our nation's "birthday", as we hold up our shared vision and values for the younger generation.

One might argue that the parade is a once-a-year event and the damage done is limited.

However, we must remember that it is not just the number of fun packs but the message it sends to users.

After all, this is an event organised by the Government, and leadership by example in this case will certainly go a long way in convincing people of the urgency and importance of this agenda.

Companies such as fast-food chain KFC have already done away with providing plastic caps and straws for drinks. Would the next organising committee of the National Day Parade take up the challenge and aim for zero single-use plastics in the fun packs?

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Malaysia: Haze returns as hotspots detected near Sarawak

arnold loh The Star 8 Aug 18;

GEORGE TOWN: The haze is back as Indonesian farmers have reportedly started their traditional slash-and-burn rituals.

About 40 hotspots were detected as of Monday in Kalimantan, most of them close to the Sarawak border on the western end.

The Asean Specialised Meteoro­logical Centre’s Regional Haze Si­tuation data catalogue shows no hotspots in Sumatra, but wind currents were strong enough to send some of the smoke to Peninsular Malaysia.

Seberang Jaya’s Air Pollution Index (API) was 50 since 8am yesterday, lending a cloying stuffiness to the air.

The other three API gauges in Penang were giving readings from 36 to 43 yesterday.

Ipoh was already 52 while Cheras in Kuala Lumpur was 54.

Far from Kalimantan, Langkawi’s API was a pleasant 20.

But Sarawak is suffering, with Kuching at a miserable 71, Samara­han at 62 and Sibu at 59.

Sabah is spared, with API readings ranging from 16 to 20.

Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said that he has been briefed on the situation.

“When hot air from the fires rises high up, the smoke can travel thousands of kilometres before it cools and descends as haze.

“That is how northern Malaysia gets higher API readings than pla­ces closer to Kalimantan such as Melaka or Johor,” he said.

“My office has a vast number of face masks in stock for public distribution if the haze hits unhealthy levels and I advise Penangites to get ready for hazy days.”

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Malaysia: Lost baby elephant wanders into school

Muhammad Apendy Issahak New Straits Times 7 Aug 18;

SUNGAI SIPUT: While children learn about the various wildlife in our jungles, students at Sekolah Rendah Kampung Lintang did not expect to see one up close and personal in their school compound.

Early this morning, residents at Kampung Lintang were shocked when a baby elephant, believed to have been separated from its herd was spotted roaming in a residential area and later ended up in the school compound.

Sungai Siput district police chief Supt Rozeni Ismail said they received the information at about 7.20am from a resident.

"Police went to the location and found that the baby elephant had left the area and made its way towards Lintang town.

"The wild elephant then entered the Kampung Lintang community hall, passed in front of the Lintang police station and entered Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Lintang," he said when contacted today.

Residents chased the baby elephant away and it later ran towards Sungai Siput and entered a farm about one kilometre from Lintang town.

"Efforts to track down the elephant was done by the Peninsular Malaysia Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and they found it at 10.20am at the farm," he said.

Meanwhile Perak Perhilitan deputy director Wan Shaharuddin Wan Nordin when contacted confirmed the incident and said the operation to capture the elephant involved eight officers.

He said the baby elephant was captured in good health and it did not sustain any injuries.

The department estimates the elephant to be about three years old based on the size of its paw and weight.

"The baby elephant is now placed temporarily at the Sungai Siput Perhilitan and we are waiting for a lorry from the National Wildlife Rescue Centre (NWRC) in Sungkai to send the elephant to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Pahang," he said.

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Indonesia: Villagers rescue pilot whales trapped in S. Sulawesi mangroves

The Jakarta Post 7 Aug 18;

Residents of Nambo village in Buton, Southeast Sulawesi, have successfully rescued four short-finned pilot whales that were trapped in the mangroves of Lawele Bay, and footage of the rescue has been making the rounds on social media.

The video appeared on the Facebook account of a resident named Adi Bakri on July 29. The rescue reportedly took place two days earlier.

“Thank God we managed to save four whales that were trapped [in the mangroves]. Elderly villagers said this was a sign; re-occurrence of 1995,” he wrote in the caption of the video, which has been viewed around 199,000 times so far and shared by 3,700 people.

Adi was referring to a similar rescue of whales trapped in the same area in 1995.

The Makassar working unit head of the Kendari Coastal and Marine Resources Management Center (BPSPL), Jupri, confirmed to The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that someone named Adi Bakri had told him about last week’s rescue.

Up to 11 people were involved in the mission, he added.

“We suspect that the whales were looking for food in Lawele Bay because the area has a lot of anchovy this time of year,” he said, adding that short-finned pilot whales mostly eat small fish, squid and octopuses.

“Another theory is that the recent extreme weather, such as high waves or increase in water temperature, prompted them to head to shallow waters.”

Jufri explained that Lawele Bay, which is located in Banda Sea, was a migration path for sea mammals. Therefore, despite the rare incident, he said the BPSPL would train Nambo residents on how to safely rescue trapped whales or dolphins.

“Fortunately, no whales were wounded during the rescue; only a few scratches caused by friction against oysters attached to the mangrove roots when they were trapped,” Jufri said. (sau/dmr)

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Pangolins from Malaysia smuggled into China died soon after being rescued

Critically endangered mammals were carrying highly infectious virus
Erin Chan South China Morning Post 7 Aug 18;

Critically endangered pangolins that were smuggled into China from Malaysia last year died soon after they were found, the wildlife centre that took them in told local media on Monday.

Tests showed that the protected animals carried a highly infectious virus that could have spread to other native wildlife, Southern Morning Post reported

The Terrestrial Wildlife Rescue Research and Epidemic Disease Surveillance Centre in Lusheng, Guangxi province received the 34 pangolins in August last year from the local forestry administration.

Two of the animals died almost immediately while the remaining 32 died within the next two months.

The pangolins died due to organ failure from overfeeding, acute stress response, reduction in ingestion of food and infections from pathogenic microorganisms.

The virus test conducted by the forestry administration found that 33 out of 34 of the pangolins had carried a highly infectious virus.

Liao Hekang, the chief of the wildlife centre, said specimens from the dead pangolins had also been sent to the Microbiology and Epidemiology institution of the Chinese Academy of Military Science for testing.

The effects of the virus on pangolins have yet to be determined and only authorised institutions are allowed to release information on animal epidemics.

The press conference did not explain why it had taken so long to disclose the news that the pangolins had died.

Four animals being eaten into extinction by gourmets in China and around the world
The smuggled animals were discovered last year by local police who were investigating reports of illegal activities around Qinang port.

The pangolins were found in plastic bags after officers found a suspicious looking vehicle parked by a highway.

The suspected ringleader of the smuggling gang has since been taken into custody.

Pangolins are an endangered species that used to be widespread across southern China. But in recent years they have been hunted to near extinction owing to their popularity as a gourmet dish and use in traditional Chinese medicine.

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