Best of our wild blogs: 1 Sep 18

16 Sep (Sun): Kayak Punggol to Ubin with Kayakasia
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Malaysia has not sent Singapore proposals for third link: Desmond Lee

Channel NewsAsia 31 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE: Malaysia has not sent Singapore its proposals to build a third link to Singapore, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee in a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 31).

He had met members of the Friends of Ubin Network, who asked him about news reports that Johor was studying the possibility of building a third link to Singapore via Pulau Ubin.

"I explained that we have not received Malaysia’s proposals and do not have details of it," he said, echoing an earlier statement from Singapore's Ministry of Transport.

Singapore is currently linked to Johor via the Woodlands Causeway in the north and the Second Link Bridge at Tuas in the west.

It was reported on Thursday that Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that there is "some" plan to build a third link with Singapore, without providing details.

Mr Lee said that if Singapore does receive a proposal, the "relevant agencies will certainly study it carefully".

"Work on the Ubin Project, to keep Pulau Ubin rustic and to protect its heritage and biodiversity, continues," he added.

News of the potential third link was also met with disapproval online, with one nature enthusiast adding that Pulau Ubin should be preserved for its "rustic" features.

"As a nature conservationist and activist, I have seen Ubin transform ... over the past 35 years and my main worry is what would happen to Ubin once it’s been accepted as the choice for the third link," said Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker.

"It would be, in short, disastrous. Particularly to all those people who appreciate nature or wildlife."

He added that Pulau Ubin is the "last remnant left in Singapore for people to enjoy the sight, smell and feel of rustic kampung lifestyle".

Source: CNA/aa(ra)

No word on Malaysia's proposal for a third link to Pulau Ubin: Desmond Lee
Today Online 1 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE – The Republic has not received any proposal from the Malaysian government for a third link to Singapore via Pulau Ubin, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee.

Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development, was responding to questions on the sidelines of a meeting he had with the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN) following reports about the possibility of a third link between the two countries.

In a Facebook post on Friday (Aug 31) evening, Mr Lee said: "We have not received Malaysia's proposals and do not have details of it. If we do receive it, the relevant agencies will certainly study it carefully."

He added that Pulau Ubin will be kept rustic and its heritage and biodiversity will be protected.

On Thursday, the Johor state government reportedly expressed interest in developing another link to Singapore on its eastern flank and mooted the idea of a link directly to Pulau Ubin.

Johor Chief Minister Osman Sapian said the state government, which is formed by Malaysia's ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, will send a proposal to the federal government on the matter before further plans can be made.

Later in the day, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad also told media in Kuala Lumpur: "There is some plan in the offing... there is already some plan." No further details were given.

Responding to TODAY's queries on Thursday, a spokesperson from Singapore's Ministry of Transport said: "We have not received any official proposal or communications from Malaysia regarding a third link between Singapore and Malaysia."

Singapore has not received Malaysia's proposals for third link via Pulau Ubin: Desmond Lee
Charmaine Ng Straits Times 31 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - Singapore has not received Malaysia's proposals for a third link via Pulau Ubin, said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee on Friday (Aug 31).

He was speaking a day after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said that there was "some" plan to build a third link with Singapore.

Malaysia's The Star newspaper also quoted Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian as saying that the state government was in talks with a company about the third-link project, which could be built in the next three to four years.

Datuk Osman said the proposed bridge - which would start from Pengerang near Kota Tinggi, in Johor, and end at Pulau Ubin, in Singapore - could help ease traffic congestion on the two existing land links between the two countries.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Mr Lee said he was at a meeting with volunteers from Friends of Ubin Network, when he was asked about news reports about the third link.

"I explained that we have not received Malaysia's proposals and do not have details of it. If we do receive it, the relevant agencies will certainly study it carefully," said Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development.

"Work on the Ubin Project, to keep Pulau Ubin rustic and to protect its heritage and biodiversity continues," he added.

Singapore to study Malaysia's proposal on Third Link once received
Bernama New Straits Times 1 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE: Singapore will study carefully Malaysia’s proposals to have a third bridge linking Johor with Singapore via Pulau Ubin once it is on the table.

As for now, Singapore has yet to receive any official proposals from Malaysia.

“If we do receive it, the relevant agencies will certainly study it carefully,” Singapore Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee wrote on his Facebook page late Friday evening.

Lee, who is also the Second Minister for National Development, was at Pulau Ubin for a quarterly meeting with members of the Friends of Ubin Network (FUN).

Lee said he was asked about news reports that Johor was studying the possibility of the third link on the sidelines of the meeting.

“I explained that we have not received Malaysia’s proposals and do not have details of it,” he wrote.

Lee assured FUN’s members that work on the Ubin Project, including a restoration study of kampung houses .

“We will keep Pulau Ubin rustic and protect its heritage and biodiversity,” he wrote.

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian, had on Aug 30, said the state government planned to build the third link to ease traffic congestion at the Johor Causeway and second link crossing.

However, Osman said a proposal would first be sent to the federal government for due diligence.

The plan is to link Pengerang, Johor and Pulau Ubin in Singapore via a three-kilometre bridge and an undersea tunnel. – BERNAMA

Related link: Malaysia: Johor govt mulling third Malaysia-Singapore link

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AVA received 150 cases of wild boar-related feedback from January to July 2018, more than entire year in 2016

Timothy Goh and Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 31 Aug 18;

SINGAPORE - The AVA said on Friday (Aug 31) that it had received about 150 cases of wild boar-related feedback islandwide from January to July in 2018.

In 2017, it had received a total of 310 cases of feedback, more than double of the 140 cases in 2016, and almost four times of the 80 cases in 2015.

In Punggol, however, 33 cases were reported in the first seven months of this year, which exceeded the 27 cases reported for the whole of last year.

The latest statistics come on the heels of an incident in Punggol on Tuesday (Aug 28) where a woman was injured by a wild boar near Punggol Secondary School. She had to be taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital to receive treatment for her injuries.

The boar later fled to an executive condominium in the area, where it was tranquillised and captured.

Mr Kalai Vanan, Acres' deputy chief executive, said that "feeding by people may have had a part to play in causing the animal to venture" into the area.

The AVA said on Friday: "The public must do their part by not feeding wild animals and ensuring proper food waste disposal."

The wild boar was tranquillised and captured after it ran into a condominium. It had earlier attacked an administrator from Punggol Secondary School (right).

It added that members of the public may not know the appropriate ways to interact with wild and stray animals, and how some of their actions (e.g. feeding) may "inadvertently condition stray and wild animals to become familiar and comfortable with human presence and reliance for food".

In June 2017, posters reading "No Feeding of Wild Animals" were put up by staff outside the canteen of Tuas Bus Terminal, after a video showing a pack of wild boars loitering in the area was shared online.

A bus captain at the time told The Straits Times that he had seen the boars looking for food in the garbage around the area.

On Thursday, Chinese paper Shin Min Daily News reported that a herd of over 20 wild boars had been spotted at Pasir Ris. The paper said that over a hundred pieces of bread were found near the herd and speculated that someone had left them there deliberately for the boars to eat.

Wildlife experts ST spoke to said that the rise in numbers may not only be due to feeding of wildlife but also the destruction of their natural habitats.

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, director of Strix Wildlife consultancy, said that many pockets of nature had been removed for housing development in recent years, causing wildlife to lose their habitats and wander around looking for food.

He said: "We have encroached on their homes, where do you expect them to go?"

He added that the problem is likely to increase in the future due to Singapore's growing population and shortage of land.

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Head out and enjoy Singapore's nature spots

If you haven't paid a visit to some of Singapore's green spots recently, take some time this weekend to venture forth, says Channel NewsAsia's David Bottomley.
David Bottomley Channel NewsAsia 1 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE: I have a new, favourite nature spot in Singapore: Berlayer Creek.

Until last weekend, I’d never heard of it, let alone visited it. But on Sunday during a trip to Labrador Park, I was intrigued by a signpost pointing towards the creek and decided to investigate.

If you’ve never been there, you’re missing out on an opportunity to enjoy a peaceful oasis smack in the middle of the urban sprawl around that stretch of West Coast Highway. A few steps from Labrador Park MRT station is the start of a boardwalk that runs alongside the creek for a kilometre, with a couple of viewing platforms along the way.

Thick foliage provides some shade, but there are still plenty of gaps through which to gaze at the slow-moving, clear water, which is home to fish and other aquatic creatures. The final treat is reaching the end of the boardwalk, where the wooded area suddenly opens out to a vast expanse of sea and sky, with a clear view to Sentosa and beyond.

A few steps from Labrador Park MRT station is the start of a boardwalk that runs alongside the creek for a kilometre, with a couple of viewing platforms along the way. (Photo: My Community)

Buffeted by a cooling sea breeze, standing there enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of this location was a reminder that, despite its size, Singapore is blessed with pockets of natural loveliness that are all too readily dismissed by some and ignored by many.

Indeed, the delights of this little walk should make it very popular, but I was almost alone for the 45 minutes I spent there before heading into Labrador. All I had for company was a couple of joggers, a family with a toddler in a stroller and a spritely old uncle, who greeted me with an enthusiastic wave and a cheery “hello” as he enjoyed his afternoon constitutional.

The lack of big crowds at some nature spots has been a constant theme in recent weeks when I have visited parts of Singapore that I am less familiar with.

Bored of always running at MacRitchie or Bedok reservoirs and tired of walking at Bukit Timah Hill (all of which seem busy during the weekend), over the past couple of months I have set out to explore some other natural charms with a fresh pair of eyes, adopting the mindset of a new visitor rather than someone who’s been here almost 20 years.

And what a revelation it has been.

From Coney Island to Sungei Buloh and all points between, Singapore is teeming with beautiful parks, vistas and green spots that never fail to delight.

Among the highlights for me was walking at Kranji Reservoir at dusk and seeing a big bird of prey (I’m not sure which type) swoop down on the still waters to scoop out a large fish for its dinner.

Then there was the long walk around Coney Island and Punggol, ending at the Lorong Halus Wetland.

The attractions of Punggol have hit the headlines recently after being mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally. If you haven’t been there, I recommend that you go. Only by visiting can one appreciate how pleasant it is, with its extensive network of waterways, bridges and paths.

Visits to both locations were significant for their lack of visitors. On a Sunday afternoon – peak time to explore – crowds were thin on the ground. At Lorong Halus Wetland – another location whose existence had passed me by – I was almost alone.

On the upside, this meant I could enjoy a peaceful stroll among the ponds and plants. On the downside, it seemed a shame that more people weren’t there to share its green gorgeousness.

So, if it’s been a while since you set out to explore Singapore’s natural attractions, especially some of the more recent additions, then maybe head out this weekend. Pick somewhere you’ve never been to before or haven’t visited for a long time and go and take a look.

While the place you visit might not have the “wow” factor of some of the world’s greatest natural wonders, I guarantee it will please the eye and soothe the soul, offering some much-needed respite from the daily pressures of city life.

As Ferris Bueller says:

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

And sometimes getting stuck in a routine means we don’t venture forth to explore what is on our doorstep. If that applies to you, get out and about.

Sniff the fresh air. Have a nose around a nature reserve. Take a peek at some unfamiliar parks.

You won’t regret it.

Source: CNA/db(cy)

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Malaysia: Poachers running rampant in Pahang's forests to kill elephants just for their tusks

Amin Ridzuan Ishak and T.N Alagesh New Straits Times 31 Aug 18;

KUANTAN: Lying on the ground is the carcass of an adult elephant with its head badly mutilated and bearing gunshot wounds while its tusks were hacked-off by poachers.

That is the stunning discovery made by Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers near a forest reserve here late last year raising concerns about poaching syndicates making inroads into the state to gun-down the mammals for their tusks.

Fetching USD2,000 (RM8,100) a kilogram abroad, the ivory trade is widely considered as the most lucrative business making the elephants a prime target for poachers.

Forest clearing activities have exposed Pahang with an estimated population of between 300 and 400 Asian elephants to be among the target for the well-organised syndicates who are believed to have established links with a bigger poaching racket operating in neighbouring countries and around the region.

Among the hotspots identified as a favourite among elephant poachers here is the Endau Rompin National Park, Lesung reserve forest, Selancar, Cenderawasih, Bukit Ibam, Chemomoi, Kemasul, Jelai reserve forest, Kenong, Kechau, Som, Tekai, Bekelah, Ulu Lepar, Sungai Lembing and Bukit Sagu.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohamed said the death of the adult male elephant last year was an eye-opener as the syndicates have began targeting the endangered pachyderm in the state which is covered with dense tropical forest.

He said investigations revealed, poachers armed with a gun will kill the elephant before using a chain saw to brutally cut off the tusks and leave the carcass to rot.

Ahmad Azhar said forest clearing activities has forced the mammals to find new areas as sources of food especially near settlements, which expose them to human-elephant conflict and a target for poachers.

“It makes it easier for poachers especially when the forest has access including logging trails...they might leave their vehicles near the forest perimeter and use a motorcycle to reach far into the jungle as they only bring along a gun and saw.

“Killing an elephant often happens by chance as the poachers might study the animals behavior and surrounding areas before striking.The target might be a lone adult elephant which may have strayed out of forests, its group or ventured a little too far in search of food,” he told NSTP.

He said the department also learnt that the poachers have hired “tonto” to keep a watch for the presence of Perhilitan enforcement officers and also provide details if they spotted elephants roaming in their settlements.

Meanwhile Ahmad Azhar said the poaching syndicates might have a wide network around the country including abroad and they are connected to the recent arrest in several other locations over the past few years.

“We are conducting investigations and it could be a matter of time before we track down the culprits. In 2017, a gang were arrested in Kelantan before another syndicate was caught in Perak early this year.

“They are certainly notorious and heavily armed prepared to brutally kill the animals just for the tusks. We have not noticed any other organs missing from the carcass found in Pahang,” he said.

He said the poachers mainly target elephants but are prepared to kill other endangered animals that comes their way as their aim is to only earn lucrative returns from selling the wildlife.

The tusks, which can fetch thousands of dollars overseas, could fetch between RM500 and RM2,000 a kilogramme on the black market locally.

Those charged under Section 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) for hunting or killing protected wildlife can be fined RM100,000 or jailed up to three years.

Rise in local elephant poaching rings alarm bells nationwide
AMIN RIDZUAN ISHAK, TN Alagesh New Straits Times 31 Aug 18;

KUANTAN: When it was reported that Malaysia has emerged as a major transit point for African ivory, many were shocked.

But the recent killings of elephants in the country have taken many by surprise.

A former Perhilitan ranger said that elephant poaching in Malaysia was almost unheard of in the past, but the significant price for Asian elephant ivory tusks has prompted some to engage in the illicit and immoral activity.

He said that although reported cases of poaching are rare, it remains unknown how syndicates operate and the precise locations of their activities in Peninsular and East Malaysia.

“(These people) are certainly not amateurs. They know their job and (who to sell the tusks to). It is not every week that you can find an elephant with tusks and kill it easily.... it only happens by chance.

“In the past, elephants were butchered in certain African countries and the tusks were smuggled into Asia, where they were turned into carved ornamental ivories.

“Malaysia has no domestic industry for ivory products, so the tusks (of Malaysian elephants) are sent abroad,” he said.

“Malaysia has no domestic industry for ivory products, so the tusks (of Malaysian elephants) are sent abroad.” Pix courtesy of Perhilitan
Meanwhile, state Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohamed urged the public to play a more significant role in helping to combat elephant poaching by providing tip-offs to Perhilitan.

“People must realise that when an elephant leaves a forest, it means that the mammal is facing a conflict, and poachers would often target the elephant. Do not wait until the elephant reaches a village to inform us.

“Please immediately alert us in case you spot elephants near plantations, as we will send our rangers to do the necessary. The Orang Asli community and various non-governmental organisations are also cooperating with us to ensure the elephants always remain in their habitat,” he said.

About elephants:

• All African elephants, both male and female, have tusks, whereas only some Asian males have tusks.
• Asian elephant tusks are named “gading jantung” and “gading rotan.”
• Gading jantung is solid and measures about 1m long, while gading rotan is hollow, measuring some 1.5m long
• Asian elephant tusks weigh between 10 and 15kg

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