Best of our wild blogs: 28 Aug 18

1 Sep (Sat) - Free guided walk at Pasir Ris Mangroves
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Urban Surprises: Cordia dichotoma and Antidesma bunius
Flying Fish Friends

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NTU to ban free plastic bags from Oct 1

Venessa Lee Straits Times 28 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - Plastic bags will not be given out for free on Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) premises from Oct 1, a move that could save nearly 10 million plastic bags a year.

As part of the university's five-year growth plan, which has a strong focus on environmental consciousness, NTU president Subra Suresh announced the ban on issuing plastic bags at campus events, as well as at retail and food outlets, on Monday (August 27).

An NTU spokesman later told The Straits Times that to encourage people to bring their own shopping bags, free plastic bags will be given out only upon request from Sept 3.

From Oct 1, the retailers on campus, including Prime and Giant, will charge $0.20 per bag.

"The proceeds from the sale of these bags will go towards NTU's student assistance funding. This is NTU walking the talk on sustainability," said the spokesman.

"Beyond sustainability research and smart buildings, this is the behavioural aspect of sustainability that can involve the entire community, which is just as important as advancements in technology."

Based on an average of 1.6 plastic bags per household per day, and with NTU's 17,000-strong community, it is looking at a saving of almost 10 million bags per year, added the spokesman.

NTU's new $180m business school to be Asia's largest wooden building
According to a recent study commissioned by the Singapore Environment Council, shoppers in Singapore take 820 million plastic bags from supermarkets every year. The council estimated that 820 million bags would cover an area 126 times the size of Gardens by the Bay.

NTU students welcomed the move to ban free plastic bags.

Undergraduate Belinda Yeow, 22, praised the initiative, saying that charging for plastic bags would discourage their use.

Another undergraduate Abigail Chia, 22, said: "It would be a good example for Singapore in general."

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Malaysia: Trap laid for Bornean sun bear who attacked retiree

Poliana Ronnie Sidom New Straits Times 27 Aug 18;

SANDAKAN: The Sabah Wildlife Department has installed cameras and traps in efforts to capture a protected Bornean sun bear that attacked a villager at Kampung Entilibon in Tongod here, last week.

District Wildlife Officer Hussein Mui said the devices were installed at a forest near the village last Friday with assistance from the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

“The victim of the attacked helped the us in checking on the traps. We believe the sun bear is still in the nearby forest.

“Although there is no report of the bear reappearing at the village or attacking other villagers, we hope the local community will remain alert and be careful with the presence of the animal,” Hussein told the New Straits Times today.

Last Monday, a 58-year-old retired teacher Jackson Yongki sustained leg injury after being attacked by a sun bear.

Yongki was planting padi with his two teenage sons when the bear suddenly charged at them in the 7.30am incident.

The bear was at first trying to attack one of the boys, but Yongki rescued his children by beating the bear with a piece of wood.

The trio tried to escape from the bear, but it bit Yongki’s leg after he fell down at a muddy area. The sun bear then fled into the forest. The latest incident is the second sighting of sun bear in Tongod in recent months

The first sighting was of a sun bear cub at a logging camp area.

Hussein said the district Wildlife Office would be setting up a WhatsApp group with villagers, so they can easily channel information to the authority’s personnel whenever they need action to be taken in future sun bear sightings.

Wildlife dept hunting for hostile sun bear
The Star 28 Aug 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife officials are on the hunt for a Borneo sun bear which reportedly attacked a villager in Sabah’s central Tongod district last week.

Sabah Wildlife Department officer for Sandakan Hussein Mui said traps and cameras had been installed around the area where the attack occurred.

The devices were installed at a forest near Kampung Entilibon. The officers were assisted by staff from the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre last Friday.

“There is still no sign of the bear for now. But we have issued alerts to villagers asking them to contact us immediately if they see it,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“We believe the sun bear is still in the nearby forest,” he added.

He said they would also be setting up a WhatsApp group with the villagers to ensure that information could be channelled to the authorities as quickly as possible in case of future incidents or sightings.

Yongki sustained leg injuries during the attack last Monday.

He was planting padi with his two teenage sons when the sun bear suddenly charged at them in the 7.30am incident.

The bear is said to have first tried to attack one of the boys, but Yongki rescued his children by beating the bear with a piece of wood.

They then tried to escape, but the bear bit Yongki’s leg after he fell down in a muddy area. The animal then fled into the forest.

The latest incident is the second sun bear sighting in Tongod in recent months.

The first sighting was of a bear cub at a logging camp area in the district.

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Malaysia: Sabah steps up efforts to destroy jumbo snare traps

The Star 28 Aug 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts to find and destroy snare traps responsible for a number of injuries and deaths of Sabah’s critically endangered pgymy elephants have been carried out, says state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew.

She said wildlife officials had been on the ground doing this for some time.

“We hope plantation owners and anyone else who comes across snare traps can help by destroying them or informing the authorities immediately for the sake of our wildlife,” she said here yesterday.

Liew was speaking at a press conference after launching the Umbrelephant Campaign aimed at creating more awareness and efforts to protect elephants.

Liew said the state government would continue to step up efforts to conserve and protect the pgymy elephants, whose numbers have gone down to about 2,000.

She said the decreasing number of the pygmy elephants was alarming.

“We must act now and help from all sides is needed, especially from estate owners and workers, as they work in areas where the elephants are usually found,” she added.

Meanwhile, efforts to conserve and protect pygmy elephants and other endangered wildlife in Sabah have been boosted with the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between a private company and the state.

The MoA between Genting Plan­tations Bhd and Sabah Wildlife Department would see the oil palm estate managements leave out some 44ha of land to allow for elephant roaming.

Liew said the effort would see elephants and other wildlife having more space to roam.

“This will reduce the risk of human-elephant conflicts and prevent the elephants from walking into snare traps, which have caused many elephant deaths,” she said.

She also said the MoA would act as a pioneer project and hopefully encourage more plantations and estate owners to take part.

Liew said a campaign to instil love for animal protection among schoolchildren had also been introduced in schools.

Five schools from the outskirts have signed up to be part of the campaign so far.

Genting Plantations sets aside 44.5ha to protect pygmy elephants in Sabah
stephanie lee The Star 27 Aug 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Borneo pygmy elephants and other endangered wildlife in Sabah may soon have more space to roam free thanks to a partnership between a plantation company and the state government.

A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Genting Plantations Berhad and Sabah Wildlife Department would see the former set aside 44.5ha of oil palm plantation land for wildlife conservation.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Christina Liew said the effort would see elephants and other wildlife having more spaces to roam.

"It is giving them an undisturbed area to go to, reducing the risk of human-elephant conflict or walking into snare traps which have caused many elephant deaths," she said.

Liew said the MoA would act as a pioneer project and hopefully encourage more plantations and estate owners to take part.

"We hope this can help protect and prevent any more elephant and wildlife deaths," she said, adding there were only some 2,000 Borneo pygmy elephants left in Sabah.

Meanwhile, she said the campaign, which is also being introduced in schools, is seen as a catalyst to instil a love for animal protection amongst students.

"We want to start them from young and hope to get all schools in Sabah to jump on board with us," Liew said.

There are so far five schools from the outskirts that have signed up to be part of the campaign.

In other developments, she said wildlife officials were making "aggressive efforts" to find and remove snare traps near forest reserves and estates.

"We want to also bring plantation owners together in this effort and have them take action against their employees (if any) who set up snare traps," Liew added.

Dozens of pygmy elephants in Sabah's east coast have been found dead while many were rescued from snare traps over the past eight months.

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Indonesia: South Kalimantan hopes for more rain to cope with forest fires

Sukarli Antara 27 Aug 18;

Military and police personnel in South Kalimantan extinguished residual burning embers on the land in the Damar Banjarbaru Guntung village, South Kalimantan Province. (ANTARA Photo/Herry Murdy Hermawan)

Banjarmasin, S Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - The people of South Kalimantan hope that rain would fall again to send away haze of smokes that begin to blanket some areas in the province.

The people in Banjarmasin and Banjarbaru and surrounding areas breathed with relief after rainfall for two hours clearing the air from haze .

Three days earlier, smokes from forest and bush fires blanketed a large area in South Kalimantan causing inconvenience in 13 district areas especially in rural areas.

In Banjarmasin, the city of a thousand rivers, the smell of burnt wood enter the houses causing breathing difficulty.

At Jalan Trikora of Banjarbaru the cloud was still thick on Sunday limiting vision not far from 500 meter, and motorists have to wear masker.

Forest and bush fires hit 13 districts areas since January, 2018 ravaging 1,000 hectares of tropical forests and plantation areas.

Fires destroyed 266.1 hectares of forests and plantations in the districts of Banjarbaru, 259 hectares in Tanah Laut (Tala), 182 hectares in Banjar, 116 hectares in Hulu Sungai Selatan , 95 hectares in Tapin, and 34.5 hectares in Tanah Bumbu (Tanbu); 4.25 hectares in Kota Banjarmasin, 4.25 hectares in Hulu Sungai Tengah, 4.3 hectares in Barito Kuala (Batola), 5 hectares in Kotabaru , 10 hectares in Balangan, 11.5 hectares in Hulu Sungai Utara (HSU) and 13.5 hectares in Tabalong.

Earlier this month in West Kalimantan smokes have forced the City Administration of Pontianak, the provincial city, to close schools for several days.

Smokes from forest fires are feared to cause health hazard, the city Mayor Sutarmidji said here on Monday, adding the smokes were getting thicker causing breathing difficulty.

A school teacher Yudi in the city said the smokes caused loss of concentration of the students.

"The impact is worse in the past week . Everybody has to wear masker when they are out on the street," Yudi said.

Forest fires have been a problem almost every year in Kalimantan during dry season.

In South Sumatra, especially around the provincial city of Palembang, the authorities have to be more on guard against forest fires otherwise haze of smokes could disrupt the Asian Games now underway in the city until Sept. 2.

Police and military personnel were on guard in areas in the villages and other places around the city to make sure that the city is safe from the inconvenience caused by smokes.

Farmers are strictly prohibited from using fires to clear farmlands as fires easily spread to hit peat lands and forests during the dry season.

Reporting by Sukarli
Editing by Albert Saragih

Editor: Bustanuddin

Five concession areas in W. Kalimantan sealed following forest fires
The Jakarta Post 27 Aug 18;

The Environment and Forestry Ministry sealed land owned by five holders of plantation concessions in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan over the weekend after authorities discovered fires in the areas.

The five companies were identified only by their initials: PT SUM, PT PLD, PT AAN, PT APL and PT RJP.

"The move is aimed at creating a deterrent effect,” Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry's law enforcement director general who led the operation in Kubu Raya, said in a press statement on Sunday. "The government is serious in handling [forest fire] cases.”

"We will continue to monitor other locations, including by using satellite and drones," he added.

Rasio said that his office was considering levying both administrative punishments and civil and criminal charges on anyone responsible for causing forest fires in the province.

The police have named 26 individuals as suspects for allegedly burning forest across West Kalimantan. As of Friday, investigators had arrested 14 of the suspects.

Data by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) showed that the number of hot spots in West Kalimantan had decreased from 885 on Thursday to 38 on Sunday morning.

A team comprising more than 2,300 personnel from the Military, police, government ministries and local administrations have been working to extinguish fires across the province, BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. (sau/ipa)

Haze disrupts Garuda's Pontianak flights
Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 27 Aug 18l

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has said that haze from forest fires had disrupted its operations for several days at Supadio International Airport in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.

Garuda Pontianak general manager Susanna Saragih said at least one flight on Monday to Jakarta and another flight to Ketapang, also in West Kalimantan, had been delayed due to poor visibility at Supadio airport.

Supadio airport recorded a decreased visibility of 450 meters on Moday, much lower than the 700 m minimum visibility standard for safe landings and takeoffs.

"No one can predict when the visibility will return to normal again. It depends on the wind and rain,” Susana said on Monday.

Garuda passenger Slamet Riyadi said he was already on board his scheduled Pontianak-Ketapang flight on Monday for takeoff at 6 a.m. local time. Thirty minutes later, however, the cabin crew announced that the flight was delayed and requested all passengers to disembark and wait in the airport lounge until further notice.

The aircraft was finally cleared for takeoff at around 8:50 a.m.

Susana added that Garuda's Pontianak service had also suffered a series of delays the previous Monday on Aug. 20, when the region had very low visibility of 200 m.

The visibility returned to normal the following day.

Haze also disrupted flights to Pontianak on Friday evening. The morning flights on Saturday were also canceled.

Authorities have been struggling to combat forest fires as the province enters the peak of the dry season. (sau/ipa)

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Indonesia: Illegal mine found in orangutan habitat in W. Kalimantan

The Jakarta Post 27 Aug 18;

A joint team of Environment and Forestry Ministry investigators and West Kalimantan Police personnel has uncovered an unlicensed bauxite mine inside a protected habitat for orangutans in Ketapang regency, West Kalimantan.

Investigators believe the mining activities in the Sungai Tulak area were carried by bauxite miner PT Laman Mining without a forest area utilization permit, according to the ministry’s forest protection director Sustyo Iriyono.

Sungai Tulak is located in the buffer zone of Mount Palung National Park, an orangutan habitat in West Kalimantan.

The investigation started when the ministry received information about the alleged illegal mining from locals.

On Aug. 20, the ministry, in collaboration with the police, raided the mining site and found three excavators operating and four others in a nearby location.

Investigators have named the company a suspect in the case and charged it with illegal mining under the 2013 Law on deforestation, which carries a maximum fine of Rp 50 billion (US$3.43 million).

The team is currently closely investigating the possible roles of the company’s board of directors and commissioners, who are suspected of being among the masterminds of the illegal mining activities.

"These activities not only harm the country, but also damage the ecosystem and animal habitat and pose serious threats to the livelihood of the [local] people,” the ministry’s Law Enforcement Director General Rasio Ridho Sani said in a press release on Sunday, adding that the ministry was also considering whether to press money-laundering charges. (ris/ipa)

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