Best of our wild blogs: 9 Sep 18

Butterfly of the Month - September 2018
Butterflies of Singapore

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Mynahs trapped in Potong Pasir tagged and released as part of noise control measures: AVA

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 8 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE - A large population of around 2,800 mynahs in Potong Pasir had caused complaints about noise from residents, prompting authorities to carry out measures to address the issue.

Among these measures include pruning trees near residences and tagging mynahs in the area to study their movement patterns, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Saturday (Sept 8) in response to queries from The Straits Times.

The mynahs are caught in traps that contain food and water, and are released back into the wild after they are tagged.

The traps are also closely monitored to ensure that non-target bird species are not caught, said AVA.

Pictures posted online in the Nature Society (Singapore) Facebook group by Janan Nai on Wednesday show mynahs trapped in cages on a grass patch along Potong Pasir Avenue 1.

Mr Janan said that a big flock of parakeets, rather than mynahs, were responsible for the noise in the area, but AVA clarified that mynahs were the actual culprits.

An AVA spokesman said that since January, the authority has received about 10 complaints relating to noise caused by the mynah population in the area.

It said that noise levels in the early morning and late evening periods were affecting nearby residents.

The spokesman said: "The Javan mynah is a non-native bird that is found in urban areas and often roosts in large numbers, leading to noise and hygiene issues.

"In such numbers, they can compete with native bird species for nesting and food resources."

It is working with the National Parks Board (NParks) to address the issue in Potong Pasir. As an immediate measure to relieve residents of the noise, NParks has pruned the trees near residences to prevent mynahs from roosting in the trees.

Tagging of the mynahs enable authorities to study the mynahs' dispersal after the trees are pruned, and also provides information on the mynahs' movement patterns from roosting sites to feeding sites.

AVA said this information will provide insights into possible measures to "mitigate nuisance caused by mynahs", such as food waste management. The data will also help authorities understand which trees or sites the mynahs prefer to roost at.

Members of the public are advised not to feed mynahs and to dispose of food scraps properly, so as to mitigate the population growth of mynahs.

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Malaysia: Sabah looking to end conflict between humans and elephants

The Star 9 Sep 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wants to resolve the conflicts between humans and pygmy elephants once and for all.

An unprecedented 26 Borneo pygmy elephants were killed in the first eight months of this year, said Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew.

She said a task force headed by the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s permanent secretary Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai was set up to tackle the matter.

“The Sabah Wildlife Department has done everything within its capacity in trying to resolve the human-elephant conflict.

“But there are no takers until now. I am very sure the workers know who killed the animals,” she said after attending the state-level Women’s Day celebration here on Friday.

“Right now, we want all plantation owners to cooperate with the state government to help stop the elephant deaths,” she said.

Liew, who is also the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said she was not accusing anybody of killing the elephants.

“What I am stressing here is that if an elephant dies on someone’s land, the onus is on the landowner to inform the Sabah Wildlife Department and provide an explanation,” she said.

Under Section 39 (1) of the Wild­life Conservation Enactment 1997, Liew said a landowner could take reasonable steps to protect his land, crops and other property from entry and damage by protected animals.

“Put up fencing to protect your land or plantation. Do not kill the elephants which may be roaming around or destroying fruit crops,” she said.

She advised plantation owners to inform the Wildlife Department of the presence of the elephants or deaths, personal injury or damage to their properties caused by the protected animal.

On the statement by Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok that there was no evidence of plantations being involved in the elephant deaths, Liew asked for Kok’s help to get the landowners and plantation owners to cooperate with the state government, including asking them to remove traps.

Jumbo death task force comes up with proposals
The Star 8 Sep 18;

KOTA KINABALU: A task force set up to oversee the worsening situation of elephant deaths in Sabah has come up with several recommendations.

Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), which is part of the task force, said these efforts would include reanalysing past cases and post-mortems as far as 10 years ago to ascertain the major cause of the deaths.

He said all cases should be mapped to identify hotspots on human-elephant conflict, poaching, snaring and poisoning, said DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens (pic).

“We need to identify the potential poisons that could lead to a slow death of elephants and revise the use of herbicides and pesticides in oil palm plantations while increasing anti-poaching patrols in all protected and unprotected areas with the presence of elephants,” he said.

Dr Goossens said the authorities could create an intelligence unit that would gather all information, then analyse it and give feedback to the enforcement team on the ground.

He said the authorities should enforce a zero-snaring policy in Sabah’s protected areas, forest reserves, forest plantations and oil palm plantations.

“We need to also find newer and friendlier strategies for pest control and do research on the impact of agrochemicals and heavy metals in the forests,” he said.

Authorities as well as plantations could consider adopting an integrated electric fencing (mobile fencing) strategy so that elephant movements were not compromised, Dr Goossens said.

“We can continue monitoring the movements of elephants in all ranges by using satellite collars where the information provided will help design corridors and monitor potential risk of human-elephant conflicts,” he said.

As for the death of elephants this year, he said: “It is difficult to identify the main factor. Some deaths are due to poaching, some due to conflicts, poisoning, and several other deaths caused by injuries from snares.”

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Indonesia: Three songbirds removed from new protected list

The Jakarta Post 8 Sep 18;

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has removed three popular songbirds from the newly revised protected species lists following protests from bird owners.

The birds are the kucica hutan (white-rumped shama), cucak rawa (straw-headed bulbul) and jalak suren (Javan pied starling) — the latter two of which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered and critically endangered species, respectively.

The newest revision has been signed recently by Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, said ministry spokesman Djati Witjaksono Hadi.

“It has been signed. We are now waiting for approval [and promulgation] from the Law and Human Rights Ministry,” Djati told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The list of protected species was first revised in mid-July, 19 years after its enactment in 1999.

Activists have lauded the July list, which aimed at promoting sustainability and the proper treatment of protected animals and plants.

Yet, the policy has since stirred opposition from bird lovers who feared prosecution.

Under the 1990 law on natural resources and ecosystem conservation, those who trade or keep protected flora or fauna face up to five years in prison or a fine of Rp 100 million (US$6,734).

The ministry’s biodiversity conservation director, Indra Exploitasia, said earlier that her office had conducted a social and economic study on the issue following protests from bird lovers, Antara reported.

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Indonesia: Forest fire destroys part of Mount Lawu areas

Antara 8 Sep 18;

Ngawi, E Java, (ANTARA News) - A forest fire on Mount Lawu, located on the border of Central and East Java, has destroyed 25-30 hectares of land, but the extent of damage has likely increased, a government official stated.

Joint efforts to extinguish the forest fire have been made over the past few days, but the prolonged drought and strong winds had hindered the fire fighters` endeavors, Djohan Surjoputro, Mount Lawu`s administrative authority, stated here on Saturday.

Several hundreds of people, including local volunteers and personnel of state-owned forestry company Perhutani, military, police, and environment agency, participated in the joint efforts, he said.

Moreover, the fire fighting task force also deployed its personnel in the hotspot-affected areas, Surjoputro said.

"We have not yet calculated the total width of the affected areas, as we still focus on extinguishing the fire," he stated, adding that five patches of protected forest in Ngawi District, East Java Province, were also engulfed by the fire.

However, the forest fire engulfing the patches of protected forest Number 30, 39, and 19 could have been put out while those of Number 15 and 17 remain under threat, he stated.

Owing to its scenic view, beautiful Edelweiss flowers, and crater, Mt Lawu has become one of the mountains in the Indonesian island of Java, which is frequently scaled by mountaineers.

Reporting by Louis Rika Stevani
Editing by Rahmad Nasution

Editor: Fardah Assegaf

Climbers trapped on Mount Lawu amid threats of forest fire
Antara 11 Sep 18;

Climbing path of Mount Lawu, Magetan Regency, East Java. (ANTARA PHOTO/Fikri Yusuf)

Magetan, E Java (ANTARA News) - Around 100 mountaineers remained trapped on the peak of Mount Lawu in Magetan District, East Java Province, amid threats from a forest fire engulfing part of the mountain, a disaster mitigation agency`s official said.

A rescue team had been deployed to evacuate the trapped climbers, Head of the Magetan Disaster Mitigation Agency`s Emergency and Logistics Unit Fery Yoga Saputra said here on Monday evening.

"The rescue team members comprising local volunteers, and personnel of the Magetan Disaster Mitigation Agency and National Search and Rescue Agency have started climbing on Monday afternoon," he said.

The trapped climbers were part of 200 mountaineers, who climbed Mount Lawu on Sunday. Around 100 of them had gone down while the remaining 100 might still be on the mountain`s peak area, he said.

Due to the forest fire, which again engulfs certain parts of the mountain`s northern and southern slopes, the local authorities notified that the Mount Lawu`s climbing trails have temporarily been closed since Monday.

The fire-fighting efforts have been made since Sunday evening, he added.

The forest fire on the mountain, located on the border of Central and East Java, had reportedly destroyed at least 25-30 hectares of land.

Owing to its scenic view, beautiful Edelweiss flowers, and crater, Mt Lawu has become one of the mountains in the Indonesian island of Java, which is frequently scaled by mountaineers.

Meanwhile, a forest fire also engulfed certain parts of Mount Sindoro in Temanggung District, Central Java Province, though, according to a spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, it could have been extinguished.

The forest fire destroyed around 156 hectares of land, and the local authorities still closed the mountain`s climbing trails, BNPB Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.

Local residents and visitors, who want to perform an annual ritual to commemorate the Javanese New Year, or commonly known as 1 Suro, are not allowed to climb the mountain for safety reasons, he noted.

The fire could likely engulf the affected areas due to the drought and strong winds, he explained, adding that the climbing trails had been closed to prevent people from climbing.

Reporting by Louis Rika/Siswowidodo
Editing by Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Heru Purwanto

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