Best of our wild blogs: 14 Aug 18

The other side of Pulau Jong
wild shores of singapore

Feral dogs, river dogs, a croc (five actually), 35 redshanks & 2 common sandpipers @ SBWR - 12Aug2018

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Living City: Last fishermen on Singapore’s east coast

Straits Times 14 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - Jurong and Senoko are well-known ports of call for Singapore's fish trade.

But East Coast Park, too, is home to a small wharf that caters to customers with a taste for fresh fish.

Located along the beach near carpark B1, it is the park's last boat storage facility.

From the 1970s till 2007, the National Parks Board (NParks) offered four such facilities at subsidised rates to fishermen who had been affected by resettlement.

Today, the only one remaining - about the size of half a football field - houses 35 NParks-registered boats owned by fishermen. Only boat owners who fish for a living may apply to use the facility. Their vessels must also have a valid licence issued by the Maritime Port Authority or Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

"Most of the time, customers come here and collect their orders at the beach," said Mr Lim Ah Ping, 65, a semi-retired fisherman.

Most customers are regulars who have bought fish from them for many years.

Fellow fisherman Kee Seck Heng, 56, said: "My customers first chanced upon this place when they came to East Coast Park to exercise."

In this episode of Living City, The Straits Times takes you to the last community of fishermen at Singapore's east coast.

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Malaysia: Dead baby elephant found floating in Kinabatangan river


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s wildlife scene took another hit when a baby elephant was found dead and another injured by snare trap in two separate incidents, yesterday evening.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew in revealing this today, said the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) had sent their teams to the ground upon receiving the information.

Cause of death for the young elephant, believed to be around two years old, has yet to be ascertained but no physical injuries were evident, added SWD director Augustine Tuuga during a press conference at the sidelines of the state assembly sitting, here.

“For the first case, a report was received of a male elephant suffering injury on the front leg due to a snare trap near Taliwas, Lahad Datu," Augustine said.

He informed that the information was received late in the the evening yesterday and the department's veterinary team was not able to make it there last night.

“But this morning we despatched them and now they should be there to treat the injury.

“We also received information yesterday of a young elephant found floating at Kinabatangan river in Sukau (by a tour boat) and the body has been secured by the riverbank," he said.

A team was sent to conduct a post-mortem, Augustine said, adding that preliminary checks found no visible physical injuries.

Meanwhile, Liew who is Deputy Chief Minister said they will wait for the post-mortem to learn the cause of death and a statement would be issued once there was more information.

On a separate matter during the press conference, Liew said they were confident of meeting the set target of 3.85 million total arrivals into Sabah this year.

This is supported by more charter flights as well as direct international flights coming to Kota Kinabalu, she added.

As of June this year, arrivals were recorded at 1.891 million which was an increase of 5.3 percent compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister cum State Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Jaujan Sambakong in a separate press conference, said his ministry was currently embarking on a roadshow statewide to address imbalanced development.

He said efforts to streamline development planning would ensure tourism hotspots like Ranau and Kundasang have efficient facilities like organised residential areas and markets.

On another question, he said the level of cleanliness would also be addressed.

“Besides restructuring the development plannings, we want to improve the image of local authorities,” he added.

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Malaysia: Sabah halts all poultry exports following bird flu detection in Tuaran

stephanie lee The Star 13 Aug 18;

KOTA KINABALU: All poultry exports from Sabah have automatically been stopped, following detection of bird flu in chickens in Tuaran on Aug 3.

Sabah Agriculture and Food Industries minister Junz Wong said this was to prevent the spread of the virus outside of the contaminated area.

However, he did not specify how many stocks or which countries are affected by the export halt.

“For Brunei, they themselves requested to stop the import of our poultry following this incident,” Wong said during a press conference on Monday (Aug 13).

Meanwhile, villagers whose poultry have been culled following the detection of bird flu in Tuaran will be compensated.

Wong said villagers reared chicken mostly for their own consumption, and the culling has caused them losses.

"So, we will be compensating the affected villagers accordingly," he said.

Meanwhile, he said poultry farmers would not be compensated as such because they knew the risks when venturing into the industry.

Almost 30,000 chicken and poultry have been destroyed after the detection of the virus.

Wong also said that the bird flu virus is believed to have originated from imported chickens, which were used in illegal cock-fighting activities.

On other matters, Sabah will have a standard operating procedure (SOP) to streamline the processing of bird's nests for export to China.

“We want things done directly from Sabah and not have to go through Peninsular Malaysia,” he said, adding this move is expected to benefit locals.

Wong said those interested to venture into the bird's nests business can go to his ministry to get their application forms.

The full SOP will be revealed in a month’s time.

Bird flu outbreak: Sabah points to poultry smuggling as possible contributing factor
Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 14 Aug 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has always been vigilant in screening the entry of food products into the state, said its Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Junz Wong.

This comes following detection of bird flu in chickens in Tuaran on Aug 3.

“We have been stringent in allowing poultry products and fruits into the state to prevent the spread of diseases.

“However, it cannot be denied that there are people who smuggled items in. During operations, we even seized roosters meant for cockfighting events," he said, after the launch a seminar on tropical fruits, themed “The Next Golden Crop for Sabah” here today.

The seminar was organised by Sabah Agriculture Department and Society of Agriculture Scientists.

Meanwhile, Wong added that he did not discount the possibility that smuggled poultry could be one of the contributing factors that led to the outbreak of the bird flu virus in Tuaran recently.

“We are still investigating (the source of the infection and the result of the samples taken from the infected chickens are) not out yet,” he said.

As for poultry exports, Wong said Brunei has so far halted all imports of poultry and fertilisers from the state.

Despite that, he assured that the situation was still under control and there has been no report of human transmission.

On the event, Wong said the state government was optimistic in turning tropical fruits into the main exports based on its experience of turning cocoa and oil palm as Sabah's golden crops.

In 2016, he said the global market value of fruits were worth US$10 billion, in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) it was US$1.8 billion, with Malaysia only contributing US$74.6 million.

“We have to give our full commitment in working on allocating lands, workforce, time and entrepreneurship to make this happen.

“I was told about 3.6 acres out of 5.2 acres of the agricultural land in Sabah has been identified for tropical fruits.

“Supply of fruits are adequate to meet domestic demand but we are looking into potential export of starfruit, pineapple, rambutan, durian, pamelo, papaya, mangosteen, jackfruit among other.” Wong added.

Also present was Sabah Agriculture Department director Idrus Shafie.

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Indonesia: Riding whale sharks dangerous for both humans, fish - WWF Indonesia

The Jakarta Post 13 Aug 18;

Conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature Indonesia (WWF Indonesia) has lambasted a group of divers and a local tour operator after a video went viral showing divers riding a whale shark, a protected species, while also warning that the careless act is dangerous for both humans and the fish.

The 22-second clip, in which a group of divers were seen touching and riding the whale shark, was taken in Cendrawasih Bay National Park in Papua.

Cassandra Tania, marine species officer at the WWF Indonesia, said the act was dangerous for both humans and the whale shark, as the harsh skin of the largest fish species could harm the divers.

“What's more, its large size means it could hurt humans if the shark hits them,” she said over the weekend as reported by

The video, which went viral on social media, was first uploaded by the frontman of legendary rock band Slank, Akhadi “Kaka” Wira Satriaji, on his personal Twitter account @fishGOD on Thursday. In the post, Kaka tagged Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

Cassandra added that riding and swimming near the whale sharks could also potentially lead to the sharks’ death, with the species listed as endangered and protected by a 2013 regulation issued by the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.

Moreover, she also regretted that the tour operator did not inform the divers on how to properly interact with the whale sharks.

Cendrawasih Bay National Park is the largest marine national park in the archipelago where visitors can have unique encounters with the giant fish that regularly visit the area. (ris/rin)

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Palm oil: A new threat to Africa's monkeys and apes?

Helen Briggs BBC News 14 Aug 18;

Endangered monkeys and apes will almost certainly face new risks if Africa becomes a big player in the palm oil industry.

That is the message of a study looking at how large-scale expansion of the oil crop in Africa might affect the continent's rich diversity of wildlife.

Most areas suitable for growing palm oil are key habitats for primates, according to researchers.

They say consumers can help by choosing sustainably-grown palm oil.

Ultimately, this may mean paying more for food, cosmetics and cleaning products that contain the oil, or limiting their use.

"If we are concerned about the environment, we have to pay for it," said Serge Wich, professor of primate biology at Liverpool John Moores University, and leader of the study.

"In the products that we buy, the cost to the environment has to be incorporated."

What is palm oil?

Palm oil comes from the oil palm tree, which is native to West Africa. However, most palm oil is currently grown in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Environmentalists say the region's forests have paid the price, with native trees cut down to make way for palm trees.

Oil palm expansion is a major driver of deforestation, which in turn threatens wildlife, such as the critically endangered orangutan of Borneo.

However, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says replacing palm oil with other oil crops is not a solution, as these crops have lower yields and would take up more land.

They say to reduce the impact on biodiversity, palm oil needs to be produced more sustainably by avoiding deforestation and by reducing the use of palm oil in products other than food.

Palm oil is found in many supermarket products, including soaps and cosmetics. A huge amount is now also being used in biofuel.

Where is further expansion likely?
Many companies growing palm oil are looking to expand into Africa.

This is a worry for conservationists, as potential plantation sites are in areas of rich biodiversity.

They are particularly worried about Africa's primates. Nearly 200 primate species are found in Africa, many of which are already under threat.

Habitat destruction is one of the main reasons why all great apes are at the edge of extinction. The introduction of palm oil plantations to Africa is expected to accelerate the habitat loss.

The latest research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study found that while oil palm cultivation represents an important source of income for many tropical countries, there are few opportunities for compromise by growing palm oil in areas that are of low importance for primate conservation.

"We found that such areas of compromise are very rare throughout the continent (0.13 million hectares), and that large-scale expansion of oil palm cultivation in Africa will have unavoidable, negative effects on primates," said the research team.

To put that figure into context, 53 million hectares of land will be needed by 2050 to grow palm oil in order to meet global demand.

Dr Giovanni Strona of the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy, worked on the study.

He said primates are already in steep decline in Africa due to habitat loss and poaching.

"The main message is that, due to the large overlap between areas that are suitable to grow oil palm and areas that host many vulnerable primates, it will be extremely challenging to reconcile oil palm expansion and African primate conservation," he explained.

What can be done to tackle the problem?
The IUCN says effective policies are needed to stop the clearing of native tropical forests for new oil palm plantations.

In existing oil palm plantations, companies should manage their land to reduce impacts on biodiversity.

Consumers can also help by choosing products that use sustainable palm oil and cutting down on the amount of palm oil they buy.

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