Best of our wild blogs: 11 Sep 18

Punggol shore clinging on to life
wild shores of singapore

15 Sep (Sat): A chat with Bernard on Estuarine Crocodiles at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Scuffle between crocodile and otters captured on video in Sungei Buloh not a rare sight: Nature observers

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 11 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE - What happens when a well-known tailless crocodile gets into a fight with a group of six otters? The otters win, it seems. And such scuffles are not rare, said nature observers.

In a video uploaded on Facebook on Sunday (Sept 9), a group of six otters is seen fending off the crocodile in the waters of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

The clips show the otters bobbing up and down in the water before approaching the crocodile, nicknamed Tailless by nature watchers because it has a stump where its tail should be.

The crocodile snaps unsuccessfully at the otters, as they circle around it.

The 1min 16sec clip was posted on the Ottercity Facebook page by veteran otter watcher Jeffery Teo, who said the face-off lasted about 10 minutes before the crocodile eventually swam away.

The video has since garnered at least 15,000 views and more than 200 shares online.

While many netizens were in awe of the fight, Mr Teo, who has been observing wildlife at Sungei Buloh for around 15 years, said he has seen such scuffles occur around five times in the past few years.

Mr Teo, 47, who works in the financial services industry, said: "While crocodiles can be hard to spot sometimes, you can (detect) their presence by the reactions of otters and monitor lizards. They will be on alert when they sense a crocodile."

National University of Singapore (NUS) biology lecturer N. Sivasothi, who heads the OtterWatch group, said the action of the otters bobbing up and down in the water is called periscoping. They do this to monitor their surroundings above the water, such as the threat of a crocodile in this case.

Mr Sivasothi, who is known as the Otterman, said he is also aware of similar encounters between crocodiles and otters that have happened here.

He added: "Otters and crocodiles, both fish eaters, are unable to drive each other out of an area so they have to co-exist.

"From time to time, they will encounter each other. Otters, being the more agile and busy species, are the ones which will initiate contact with a crocodile."

Mr Teo estimates that there are two otter families in Sungei Buloh, and said that these otters have previously been spotted challenging feral dogs and monitor lizards.

He added that Tailless has been in the reserve for at least 12 years, since it was a small crocodile.

While the otters have strength in numbers, Tailless and other crocodiles in Sungei Buloh have come out tops in some face-offs.

Mr Teo said: "There is not really a clear winner every time, it depends on which family of otters is involved and the strength of the otters."

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Malaysia: Rain brings up veggie prices

The Star 11 Sep 18;

PETALING JAYA: Weeks of stormy, wet weather have affected vegetable yields from farms in some states, causing prices of vegetables to increase by as much as 20%.

Traders in Penang and Johor are seeing a drop in supply and this has pushed up prices of leafy greens in the market.

But in other places such as Perak and the Klang Valley, prices are still stable while some selected vegetables have actually come down due to oversupply.

Over in Sarawak, a drought for the past two months had resulted in a hike for several types of vegetables.

“Monsoon season is supposed to be during year-end but the weather is not very predictable these days.

“So if the rain is prolonged, production will be affected because there will be less harvest.

“But right now, heavy rainfalls are just happening for the past two to three days. So it is still early to gauge the situation,” said Chong.

He added that aside from the prices of red chilli, leafy vegetables were still very affordable.

“Normally, leafy vegetables are the first to go up if there is a problem with harvesting, but until today, it’s still below market price,” he said.

Chong said they would try their best to keep prices stable in order not to burden consumers.

“Fluctuations are not in our interest, as there are many members with long-term supply contracts and commitments.

“You can’t afford to raise prices one day and lower them the next, especially if you’re supplying to places like government canteens or retail outlets,” said Chong.

Prices in Johor to increase if rain continues in next two weeks
The Star 11 Sep 18;

JOHOR BARU: Prices of vegetables in Johor will increase if the heavy downpour continues over the next two weeks.

Vegetable seller Khairul Moha­mad, 39, said leafy vegetables such as bayam, kangkung, kailan and sawi would be affected due to the ongoing heavy rainfalls.

“Many vegetable traders who depend on suppliers will likely increase their prices as a result.

“But my employer has his own vegetable farm in Kempas where all our produce are planted.

Another vegetable trader, K. Ragu, 36, said his supplies had not been affected yet despite Johor experiencing heavy rainfall in the last couple of days.

He said currently, leafy vegetables were sold at RM2 for three bundles but the prices might increase, depending on the weather.

Housewife Mariana Abdullah, 54, said rain was just an excuse, adding that prices of vegetables would still go up, regardless of the weather.

“During the rainy season, the price will increase. Even if there is a dry spell, the price will also go up.

“We still need to eat but if the price becomes too expensive, then I will buy less,” she said.

Johor Consumers Movement Association president Md Salleh Sadijo urged the authorities such as Federal Agriculture Marketing Agen­cy and Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to help protect both consumers and sellers.

“Prices of vegetables are influenced by supply and demand. During bad weather, vegetable supply will be affected and this will cause prices to surge.

“Both agencies should monitor closely and find a proper solution to ensure prices of vegetables remain affordable to the people,” he said.

Price hike due to wet weather, say traders
The Star 11 Sep 18;

GEORGE TOWN: Weeks of wet weather have affected vegetable yields from farms outside Penang, causing prices of leafy greens to increase by as much as about 20%.

A check by The Star found that various types of vegetables from Cameron Highlands cost more compared to a week ago.

Traders met at a popular market in Taman Lip Sin attributed the price hike to poor weather conditions at the highlands.

Vegetable seller Yaneki Gan, 26, said prices for vegetables from Cameron Highlands increased between 10% and 20% this week.

“The bad weather has affected vegetable yields. Hence, prices of vegetables went up,” she said.

Another trader Annie Tan, 46, said although the prices of vegetables had increased, it was “not that much”.

“Vegetable production was affected because of the cold and wet weather.

“Therefore, a little price increase is unavoidable,” she said.

Tan also said the price hike this week could be due to the increase in labour charges in view of the long weekend holiday.

“Suppliers may have to hire foreign workers to work during the holidays in place of locals.

“This may cause extra labour costs, hence causing the suppliers to slightly increase their prices,” she said.

The long weekend was due to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V’s official birthday on Sunday and Awal Muharram today.

Company supervisor M. Santha, 51, was one of the many shoppers, spotted selecting fresh vegetables.

“I buy my vegetables here but sometimes, I go to the Bayan Baru market as well. It depends on where is more convenient for me.

“I can understand if the traders increase the prices of vegetables as the weather is quite unpredictable these days.

“So far, I didn’t notice that much difference in the prices,” said Santha.

Another market-goer, who only wished to be known as Ong, 50, said he did not mind the slight price increase as long as the vegetables were fresh.

“It is understandable for prices to go up because of the rainy weather.

“I come here regularly to do my grocery shopping and find that the produce here are good and fresh,” he said.

Penang Island Vegetable Whole­salers Association chairman Tan Ban Ben said there was no significant increase in the prices of locally grown vegetables.

“The rainy season did not really affect vegetable yields here on Penang island and mainland because there was no high tide. Hence, there were no floods at the farms here.

“In fact, local vegetables like cucumber, lady’s fingers, long beans, kangkung and bayam are sold at a lower price at markets now due to oversupply.

“However, if there is continuous rain in the next few days, there may be a hike in the prices,” he said.

Tan agreed that prices of vegetables from Cameron Highlands such as tomato and cabbage had increased.

“The wet weather over there caused the yields to drop and prices of vegetables to go up.

“If vegetables from Cameron Highlands are slightly expensive in the markets, then choose the local ones for now,” he said.

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Indonesia braces for prolonged drought

Fardah Assegaf Antara 11 Sep 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Hydro-meteorological disasters have over many years dominated natural disasters in Indonesia, which is often flooded during rainy season and very dry and even extremely dry in certain regions during dry season.

Located on the equator line and between Asia and Australia, Indonesia has only two seasons -- rain and dry. The dry season is usually between March and September, while rainy season between September and March.

September is usually transitional period where rains begin to fall across the country. But, up to September 10 this year, many regions remain very dry as rains have not come for months.

Currently, drought hits some regions in Indonesia, especially on the islands of Java and Nusa Tenggara. The drought hit 4,053 villages in 888 sub-districts located in 111 districts and cities in 11 provinces.

Some 4.87 million people in the country are affected by this year`s drought, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

"The dry season is forecast to last until September 2018 and reach its peak during the August-September period. Those islands are hit by the drought almost every year," BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho noted on Sept 7, 2018.

The drought has also affected the agriculture sector, as farmers had to spend additional funds of some Rp800 thousand to rent water pumps and buy diesel fuel to water their paddy fields.

"Some farmers have modified their water pumps by replacing diesel oil with LPG and saved some Rp100 thousand to Rp150 thousand," he remarked.

Last August, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto warned the people of possible prolonged drought, which has triggered forest fires on Kalimantan and Sumatra islands.

The government has intensified efforts to prevent forest fires with the support of the military and local people.

"Compared to last year, the forest fires are now less, because we have been all out in anticipating and preventing them," said Wiranto.

The authorities have built more reservoirs and dykes, provide water pumps, and set up special task forces to patrol areas prone to forest fires.

Furthermore, President Joko Widodo recently held a meeting with a number of cabinet ministers and chief of the Board of Logistics (Bulog) to see what has to be done and what were already done to forestall possible damaging impact of prolonged drought.

The meeting was attended by among others Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution, Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, and Minister of State Enterprises Rini Sumarno and Bulog chief Budi Waseso.

"The dry season is a bit extreme that the President considered it necessary to check our readiness especially in rice stock," Nasution told reporters after the meeting.

Bulog Chief Budi Wasesa said Bulog has been well prepared in facing the dry season.

"From the beginning we have gone to the market to raise stock. Now we have granaries full of stock especially in Java," he said.

In East Nusa Tenggara Province, which is the worst affected by drought, extreme dry weather has hit the districts of East Suma, Negekeo, Lembata, and Rote Ndao.

The four districts had not have rains for the last six months, according to Apolinaris Geru, head of the Kupang climatology station.

The areas had received no rain for over 60 days, he remarked.

Extreme weather has affected Temu/Kanatang and Kawangu in East Sumba; Danga in Nagekeo; Wulandoni in Lembata; and Feapopi in Rote Ndao.

Other parts of the province have received rain but with low precipitation of between 0 and 50 mm.

In West Java, drought has affected 22 districts and cities since August this year, causing water shortage.

In fact, the West Java provincial administration has declared a drought emergency alert from August to October 2018.

"Based on data as of Sept 5, a total of 286,802 households face water shortage," Budi Budiman, an official of the local disaster mitigation office (BPBD), stated in early September 2018.

The local BPBD has, so far, distributed a total of 4,307,915 liters of clean water to those affected by the drought.

The affected districts and municipalities are Bogor District, Bogor Municipality, Puwarkarta, Sukabumi District, Sukabumi Municipality, Bekasi District, Karawang, Cianjur, West Bandung, Bandung, Cimahi, Garut, Tasikmalaya, Sumedang, Indramayu, Tasikmalaya Municipality, Cirebon District, Cirebon Municipality, Kuningan, Banjar, Ciamis, and Pangandaran.

The prolonged dry season has also affected farming areas measuring 41,946 hectares in the province.

In Central Java, the district of Banyumas is among areas facing the threat of severe dry season.

Eight sub-districts - Tambak, Sumpiuh, Banyumas, Somagede, Kalibagor, Cilongok, Purwojati, and Kebasen, are facing clean water shortage.

The local authorities have supplied clean water to ease suffering of those affected by drought.

Hopefully, as forecast by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), rains will fall next October in many parts of the country.

Editing by Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Heru Purwanto

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Bangkok meet fails to finalize draft on climate change rules

KAWEEWIT KAEWJINDA Associated Press Yahoo News 9 Sep 18;

BANGKOK (AP) — An international meeting in Bangkok fell short of its aim of completing fruitful preparations to help an agreement be reached in December on guidelines for implementing the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.

The six-day meeting, which ended on Sunday, was scheduled to step up progress in the battle against rising global carbon emissions by adopting a completed text that could be presented at the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland, three months from now.

A primary objective of the 2015 Paris agreement, to which 190 nations subscribe, is to limit the global temperature increase by 2100 to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees, which is vital to the survival of island nations threatened by rising seas. But the absence of guidelines for meeting that goal has led to fears that not enough action is being taken.

There have been notable disagreements over fair financing for implementation of the rules by developing countries, and the technical details of their reporting on progress.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, said Sunday at the closing press briefing for the Bangkok meeting that progress was made on most issues but nothing was finalized.

The meeting was attended by representatives of most of the countries party to the Paris agreement, as well as the United States, which has announced that it is pulling out of the pact.

Espinosa said there was "limited progress" on the issue of contributions from developed nations to developing countries, adding that she is "hopeful" that future discussions will be productive because of the importance of the issue.

"On the core issues of forward-looking climate finance and the degree of flexibility developing countries should be given on the information and reporting requirements for national commitments under the Paris Agreement, negotiators were stalemated in Bangkok," said a statement from Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a U.S.-based activist group.

"It's now up to the incoming Polish presidency and officials leading negotiations to find ways to bridge the deep differences on these issues and to secure agreement in Katowice on a robust, comprehensive package of rules to implement the Paris Agreement," he said.

Harjeet Singh, climate policy manager for ActionAid International, said Sunday that a vital component of the Paris agreement is for wealthy nations to provide financial assistance to developing countries as they fight natural disasters brought by climate change.

But he said wealthy and developed countries "led by the United States and including countries such as Australia, Japan and even the European Union" refused to clearly show "how much money they are going to provide and how that is going to be counted."

Advocacy for the developing countries was led at the meeting by China, said Meyer, but was also supported by others, including India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.

Activists were critical of Washington's lobbying at the meeting, especially because President Donald Trump has announced plans to have the U.S. withdraw from the Paris pact, which had been heavily promoted by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

"The U.S. has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement but still negotiates as if it is a Party, weakening international cooperation by not contributing to finance and technology transfer to developing countries," Meena Raman, legal adviser at Third World Network, said in an emailed statement.

Climate change is a polarizing issue in the United States, and some states and local communities have announced policies supporting the Paris agreement.

Thousands of governors, mayors, company CEOs and civil society leaders are expected to gather this week in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit.

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New El Niño weather event likely this winter says WMO

Matt McGrath BBC 10 Sep 18;

There's a 70% chance of a recurrence of the El Niño weather event before the end of this year, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

The last El Niño occurred in 2015-16 and impacted weather patterns around the world.

Researchers say they are not expecting this new one to be as intense as 2015-16.

According to the WMO, climate change is influencing the traditional dynamics of these weather events.

The El Niño/Southern Oscillation, to give its proper title, is a natural event that involves fluctuating ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific, which influence the weather all over the world.

The 2015-16 El Niño was one of the strongest ever recorded, and had an impact on global temperatures, which saw 2016 enter the record books as the warmest year.

As well as heat, the event also led to drought in Africa that saw food production plummet in many countries across the continent. South America saw floods across Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

This year started with the opposite to El Niño, the so-called La Niña phase. This saw cooler than average sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific.

That has now faded and, according to the WMO models, there's a 70% chance of another El Niño developing by the end of this year.

However, it is expected to have less impact than in 2015-16.

"WMO does not expect the anticipated El Niño to be as powerful as the 2015-2016 event, but it will still have considerable impacts," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

"The advance prediction of this event will help save many lives and considerable economic losses," he added.

Climate change influence

For the first time, the WMO has coupled the El Niño update with a global seasonal climate outlook for the September-November period.

The forecast says that above normal surface temperatures are forecast in nearly all of the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America, Africa and much of coastal South America.

While El Niño events normally occur every five to seven years, the recurrence of the event so close to the previous one, suggests that climate change may be having an impact.

"Climate change is influencing the traditional dynamics of El Niño and La Niña events as well as their impacts," said Petteri Taalas.

"2018 started out with a weak La Niña event but its cooling effect was not enough to reduce the overall warming trend which means that this year is on track to be one of the warmest on record."

Separately, Japan's weather bureau said there is a 60% chance the El Niño weather pattern emerging during the northern hemisphere autumn from September to November.

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Great Barrier Reef Showing ‘Signs of Recovery’

After a mass coral bleaching in 2016, the world’s largest living structure is showing signs of a comeback.
Colin Bertram Bloomberg 7 Sep 18;

Following dire warnings of reef die-off after massive coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017, Tourism and Events Queensland has issued a “positive update” on the status of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, reporting that some affected areas are showing “substantial signs of recovery.”

The Reef & Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC), a nonprofit organization, has reported signs of recovery due to a milder 2017-18 summer, as well as cooperation among science, industry, and government in supporting the reef’s recovery, according to the report issued on Wednesday by the Queensland State Government.

Stretching more than 1,430 miles along Queensland’s spectacular coastline, the Great Barrier Reef is the longest coral reef in the world and the first coral reef ecosystem to be awarded Unesco World Heritage Status.

Coral bleaching occurs when coral experiences stress from heightened water temperatures or poor water quality. In response, the coral ejects a photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae, which removes the coral’s distinctive color. If the stress conditions persist, the coral will die, the report says, but if conditions return to acceptable levels, some coral can reabsorb the substance and recover.

The RRRC, in cooperation with the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, conducted detailed surveys at key tourism dive sites around the city of Cairns in 2016 and 2017 and says certain reefs that were strongly affected in the bleaching event are showing significant signs of improvement.

Coral bleaching occurs in multiple stages, according to RRRC Managing Director Sheriden Morris, ranging from the equivalent of a mild sunburn to coral mortality.

“When a reef is reported as ‘bleached’ in the media, that often leaves out a critical detail on how severe that bleaching is, at what depth the bleaching has occurred and if it’s going to cause permanent damage to the coral at that site,” Morris said in the statement, adding that the Barrier Reef “has significant capacity to recover from health impacts like bleaching events.”

Reports that the entire reef is dead due to severe bleaching are “blatantly untrue,” Morris said. Still, he warns that the recovery is “contingent on environmental conditions” and that the reef “may suffer further bleaching events as the climate continues to warm.”

The full impact of the 2016 bleaching, which damaged or destroyed 30 percent of the reef’s shallow water coral, has not yet fully been assessed, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Nature Research Journal.

Deeper reefs are often considered a refuge from thermal anomalies such as those experienced in 2016 and 2017, but the report argues that both shallow and deep reefs are threatened by mass bleaching events; even when the upwelling of colder water (which replaces warmer water pushed offshore by winds) stopped at the end of summer, temperatures at depth rose to record-high levels. Researchers found bleached coral colonies as far down as 131 feet beneath the ocean’s surface, according to the report.

News of the recovery comes only two months after the RRRC co-hosted the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium in Cairns, which convened more than 300 scientists, engineers, and marine tourism representatives from 14 countries to focus on the restoration and recovery of coral reef systems under threat from warming climates.

In April, the Australian Federal Government announced a A$500 million ($379 million) funding grant for the Great Barrier Reef in order to tackle challenges such as climate change, coral-eating starfish, and water quality affected by agricultural runoff.

Deloitte Access Economics valued the reef at A$56 billion in 2017, basing it on the fact that the reef supports tens of thousands of jobs and contributes A$6.4 billion annually to Australia’s economy.

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