Best of our wild blogs: 23 Aug 18

Paint along with PuiSan
Art in Wetlands

Read more!

Indonesia: Pontianak steps up fight against forest fires

The Jakarta Post 22 Aug 18;

Pontianak Mayor Sutarmidji has issued a new regulation aimed at reducing forest fires in the city, which has been covered with haze in recent days.

The regulation, which took effect on Monday, includes sanctions for both the fire perpetrators and the landowners.

It stipulates that the utilization of land intentionally or unintentionally burned should be halted for between three and five years.

“The decision of whether the land was intentionally or unintentionally burned is based on [the statements] of the subdistrict heads,” Sutarmidji said on Tuesday, as quoted by

The local government, he said, would impose sanctions on landowners who intentionally set fire to their land by charging all costs expended on putting out the fire, in addition to criminal charges that they would face.

“The permit that has been issued for the land will be revoked, whether the landowners intentionally or accidentally set fire to their land,” he said.

Sutarmidji said the set of sanctions given was a form of consequence for landowners who were neglectful and could not manage their own land.

“Otherwise, there is no deterrent effect,” he added.

Previously, Sutarmidji had ordered temporary school closures this week, ranging from early childhood education centers (PAUD), kindergarten, elementary schools, up to junior high schools, as thick smog from wildfires and forest fires has worsened in the city.

The West Kalimantan Education and Culture Agency also issued a circular that calls on senior high schools in Pontianak and Kubu Raya regency to close temporarily. (sau/ahw)

Almost 500 companies receive sanctions for harming environment
Antara 23 Aug 18;

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya. (ANTARA /M Agung Rajasa)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Government has imposed administrative and legal sanctions on nearly 500 companies found guilty of violating legal rules and regulations on environment and forestry over the past four years, a minister said.

Speaking from the holy city of Mecca on Wednesday, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said her ministry was so serious in securing the law enforcement against those harming the environment and forestry sector.

Siti Nurbaya, who is currently performing hajj in Saudi Arabia, said she kept following the latest development of the land and forest fires occurring in certain parts of Indonesia.

She also followed the verdict of the Palangkaraya District Court`s panel of judges, which met President Joko Widodo and other six parties` demands regarding the cases of land and forest fires in 2015.

Siti Nurbaya reiterated her commitment to safeguarding the law enforcement against individuals and companies responsible for and getting involved in the land and forest fires across the country.

"I am very serious in ensuring and safeguarding the law enforcement against the violators, including big companies, so that there will be deterrent effect," she said.

Despite the government`s serious efforts in imposing the legal sanctions, the land and forest fires still occur in certain parts of the country.

In South Kalimantan Province, at least 1,084 hectares of land had been engulfed by fire over the past several days though majority of the affected areas of land were reportedly barren and wetland.

The land and forest fires also occur in certain parts of Riau Province in Sumatra Island, including Rokan Hilir District and Dumai city.

The army personnel joining the Riau Forest and Land Firefighting Task Force recently caught red handed three local residents while burning a piece of land in Rokan Hilir District, a military officer said.

"The three suspected arsonists that we arrested yesterday have been handed over to the police," Commander of the Wirabima Military Resort Command Brig.Gen.Sonny Aprianto said early this week.

Aprianto did not elaborate the suspects` identity but said they were all local residents who had no connection with any company.

As part of his efforts to deal with the occurrence of the land and forest fire, Aprianto has issued a shoot-on-sight policy on those caught red handed while setting a piece of land on fire.

He, however, said he preferred handing over to the police to directly implementing the policy. "In handling the case, we have standard operational procedures. The shoot-on-sight policy will not be implemented as we like," Aprianto said.

President Joko Widodo had earlier asked the related authorities to do their best to ensure that the 18th Asian Games are not disrupted by the land and forest fires.

"As the host of the Asian Games, we must be able to ensure that the land and forest fires do not occur during the multi-sport event, so that our image and flights are not disrupted by the haze," he said at a coordination meeting for the Forest and Land Fire Mitigation in Jakarta last February.

Reporting by Sri Muryono
Editing by Rahmad Nasution, Sri Haryati
Editor: Heru Purwanto

Read more!

Japan fleet catches 177 whales in latest hunt

AFP Yahoo News 22 Aug 18;

Tokyo (AFP) - A fleet of Japanese whaling ships caught 177 minke and sei whales during a three-month tour of the northwestern Pacific, the government said Wednesday.

The three-ship mission returned home as Tokyo prepares to make its case to resume commercial whaling at a meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Brazil next month.

During the latest 98-day mission, the ships caught 43 minke whales and 134 sei whales, the Fisheries Agency said in a statement.

Foreign pressure on Japan to stop whaling has only made conservatives and politicians more resolute about continuing their push to resume commercial whaling.

It is a rare thorny issue in Tokyo's otherwise amiable diplomacy.

"Data that were gathered during this mission will be analysed, along with results from coastal research programmes," the agency said.

The data "will be presented to IWC's scientific committee, and will enhance scientific knowledge for conserving and managing cetacean resources."

The latest mission was part of a 12-year project to study the number, eating patterns, and biology of whales that Japan wants to analyse to support its claim that certain whales are not endangered and could be caught for consumption.

Japan is a signatory to the moratorium on whale hunting, but exploits a loophole which allows whales to be killed in the name of scientific research.

It 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.

Read more!

More protection needed for Chinese pangolins

Helen Briggs BBC News 22 Aug 18;

Pangolins should be considered a top priority for conservation in China, with nature reserves set up in key mountain habitats.

That's the message of scientists studying the decline of the scaly mammals in eastern China.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are considered to be the world's most trafficked wild mammal.

Research found numbers had dropped by more than 50% over three decades since the 1970s.

The animals are poached in Asia and Africa for their meat and also for their scales, which are sought after for use in traditional medicine.

Pangolins are now mainly confined to the Wuyi Mountains in northern Fujian province, where many rare and unusual animals are found.

Yang Li, Xiaofeng Luan and Minhao Chen of Beijing Forestry University in China say pangolins deserve more attention from scientists and local people.

"Pangolins have been listed in the list of China's state key protected wild animals as level II," they say. "According to our research and previous research, we suggest that [the] protection level should change into level I."

Officers sort smuggled skinless pangolin bodies seized by customs in Jiangmen, Guangdong Province of China
The scientists are calling for a monitoring network to be established in the area together with education to encourage local people to take part in pangolin protection projects.

Eight species of pangolin are found on two continents. All are protected under national and international laws, however the illegal international trade in pangolins is continuing.

The Chinese pangolin is one of four species found in Asia and is listed as "critically endangered" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It is found from the Himalayan foothills of Nepal down through southern China to Hainan, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Read more!