Best of our wild blogs: 21 Aug 18

Seashore fun for the family during the September school holidays
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Otterly fun time at Chek Jawa!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Learn About Urban Beekeeping in Singapore at Citizen Farm!
The Tender Gardener

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Malaysia: RM48.5 million in rhino horns, animal carcasses bound for Vietnam seized at KLI

Mohd Azam Shah Yaacob New Straits Times 20 Aug 18;

KUALA LUMPUR: Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) officers seized 50 rhinoceros horns and nine carcasses of wild animals worth RM48.5 million last Monday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

The seizure, the biggest in the country involving rhinoceros horns, was made following a call from Royal Customs Department that a stench was emanating from several packages at its Aviation Post Export Division at the Cargo Terminal at KLIA.

The rhinoceros horns are believed to have come from the African Rhino, while the animal carcases were that of carnivorous animals such as bears, tigers, panthers and clouded leopards.

The horns and carcasses were believed to have been destined for Vietnam.

Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the horns were found in six boxes while the animal carcasses, minus the pelts, were found in four boxes.

“The horns weighed about 116kg in total and are estimated to be worth RM48 million, but are sold in the black market for about RM100,000 per kilogramme. The nine carcasses weighed in total about 200kg with an estimated black market worth of about RM500,000,” he told reporters at Perhilitan headquarters.

Present was Perhilitan enforcement director Salman Saaban.

Kadir said KLIA was used by the international wildlife smuggling syndicate involved as a transit point, with the packages all meant to be sent to an address in Hanoi.

He said Perhilitan believed the animal parts, including the horns, were meant to be processed into powder to be used as alternative medicine in Vietnam.

“At this point in time, we are still investigating to figure out who had sent the packages, when they arrived at KLIA and who was to receive them (in Vietnam). In fact, we believe that the address of the recipient in Hanoi is fake, and that syndicate members will pick up the packages as soon as they arrive in Vietnam.”

Kadir said the department would send samples taken from the animals to Geneva for scientists to determine country of origin.

He said a report would also be sent to Interpol, while the carcasses and horns would be sent back to their countries of origin as soon as these were determined.

Malaysia makes record US$12mil rhino horn seizure
The Star 20 Aug 18;

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP): Malaysia has made a record seizure of 50 rhino horns worth an estimated US$12mil at the Kuala Lumpur airport as they were being flown to Vietnam, authorities said Monday.

Customs officials found the parts in cardboard boxes on Aug 13 in the cargo terminal of the capital’s airport, said Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, head of Malaysia’s Wildlife Department.

The 50 rhino horns weighed 116kg (256 pounds) and are worth about RM50mil (US$12mil), he told AFP, adding that the seizure was “the biggest ever in (Malaysia’s) history in terms of the number of horns and value”.

Vietnam is a hot market for rhino horn, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is in high demand among the communist nation’s growing middle class.

A single kilo of rhino horn can fetch tens of thousands of dollars in the region, where many falsely believe it can cure cancer.

All rhino species are under threat of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Abdul Kadir said authorities were unable to identify the origin of the animal parts. Rhino horn sent to Asia typically comes from Africa.

Officials also found a huge stash of animal bones - believed to be from tigers and leopards - in the same shipment, with an estimated value of RM500,000.

Authorities have not made any arrests over the seizures.

Elizabeth John, from wildlife trade watchdog Traffic, described the rhino horn seizure as “staggering” and urged authorities to track down the people behind the smuggling attempt.

Kuala Lumpur is a hub for cheap flights around South-East Asia, and has become a key transit point in the smuggling of rare animal parts. - AFP

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Malaysia: Farmer hurt trying to protect son from sun bear attack

The Star 20 Aug 18;

TELUPID: A retired teacher who was working on his padi field rescued his son from a sun bear attack at Kampung Entilibon in Tongod near here on Monday (Aug 20).

Jackson Yongki, 58, was with his two sons aged 15 and 17 at his rice field when a Bornean sun bear – which is a protected species – approached them at around 7.30am.

He told a local daily that the bear tried to attack one of his sons, and so he instinctively hit it with a piece of wood.

The animal managed to bite his left leg as Jackson, whose other leg was trapped in the mud, tried to get away.

He said the trio was aware that the sun bear was a protected species, and did not intend to hurt it or see it killed.

“We hope the relevant authorities will be able to capture it soon so that it will not enter the village area again,” he was reported as saying.

Jackson received treatment at the Kampung Entilibon health clinic.

According to the report, a team from the Wildlife Rescue Unit and Sepilok Bear Unit were dispatched to the scene to locate the animal.

The Bornean sun bear is a protected species under Schedule 1 of the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.

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Indonesia: Pontianak urges school closure for smog

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 20 Aug 18;

Pontianak authorities have ordered temporarily school closures, as thick smog from forest fires has worsened in the city.

Pontianak Mayor Sutarmidji announced the school closure on Sunday via his Facebook account.

“I have instructed PAUD [early childhood education centers], kindergarten and elementary schools to close and resume operations on Aug 27. As for junior high schools, students can go back to school on Friday,” he wrote.

The closure applies to all schools that are under regional government supervision.

Meanwhile, the West Kalimantan Education and Culture Agency has issued a circular that calls on senior high schools to close from Monday to Thursday in Pontianak and Kubu Raya regency, which are affected by the smog.

The agency stated that the closure might be extended, depending on the smog.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said that hot spots detected in West Kalimantan had declined to 526 by 8:22 a.m. local time on Monday. On the morning of Aug. 16, the BNPB had recorded 1,061 hot spots across the province.

Six helicopters have been deployed to combat the forest fires in the province, which resulted from employing slash and burn to clear agricultural land. (sau/swd)

Apindo: Forest Fire Disrupts Economic Activity in West Kalimantan
TEMPO 20 Aug 18;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Chairman of the Indonesian Entrepreneurs Association (Apindo) Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Andreas Acui Simanjaya said the haze caused by forest fire was very disruptive to economic activity.

“The haze due to forest and land fires (Karhutla) is currently very alarming. This condition disrupts the economic activity in West Kalimantan,” Andreas said in Pontianak, Monday, August 20.

Andreas explained that the disrupted activities were the production continuity, the distribution process of raw material transportation to the industry and vice versa.

“The distribution process is certainly disrupted by the haze. If there is a delay, then the price will be higher to consumers, and the quality of raw materials will decrease,” he said.

According to him, if the haze gets worse, the flight activities could be eliminated. That way, the mobility of people and goods by airplane will stop.

“With that, our region will suffer a big loss. Business activities and people’s mobility to West Kalimantan or vice versa will be disrupted,” Andreas said.

A greater impact, Andreas said, the Indonesian competitor had a reason to campaign to boycott Indonesian production that was considered environmentally unfriendly.

“As known, some (countries) of Europe carry out strict policies for the production of CPO derivatives from Indonesia, which are considered the products produced by processes that are not environmentally friendly. For consumers in certain countries, the environmental issue is now an important part in making a decision to buy a product, “ Andreas said.

Previously, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) noted there were 94 hotspots scattered in several districts/cities in West Kalimantan on Wednesday, August 15, due to forest fire.


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