Best of our wild blogs: 14 Sep 18

Pulau Tekukor is alive!
wild shores of singapore

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Singapore Govt needs to take gentler, more progressive approach to land acquisition: Puthucheary

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 12 Sep 18;

HANOI — While Singapore has historically adopted “very aggressive” approaches towards land acquisition and redevelopment, the Government needs to use softer and more progressive ways to do so in future, said Dr Janil Puthucheary on Wednesday (Sept 12).

Speaking at a dialogue session on designing future cities at the World Economic Forum on Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations) in Hanoi, the Senior Minister of State for Transport said that Singapore wants to take a flexible approach towards urban renewal.

“Going forward, realistically, we need to take a softer, and much more incremental, progressive approach, and diffuse some of these (renewal) opportunities across various parts of Singapore,” he said.

He noted that such efforts are now typically concentrated in the south of Singapore, and that there is a need to create opportunities and “a number of centres”, and to think about how to redesign the city.

Getting the price right and understanding human behaviour are essential to designing a future city, he added.

For instance, he noted that the Government has drawn “quite a lot of political heat” over Electronic Road Pricing, but there was thought put into pricing roads and road congestion correctly.

Car ownership, taxation, petrol and parking are costly in Singapore, “none of which is popular”, Dr Puthucheary acknowledged.

Consequently, Singapore has seen its resident household car ownership drop to 39 per cent in 2016, even though the population has grown, he said. The figure was 46 per cent in 2012.

Dr Puthucheary said the Government is trying to encourage more Singaporeans to walk, cycle and use public transport. “We’re going to need to have multiple centres in every town, 'walkable' access to facilities and amenities, and distribution of businesses and business opportunities, so people are living closer to where they work,” he added.

Infrastructural investments will be made to draw people to the city centre, with the Government pumping in S$20 billion into public transport infrastructure over the next five years, because “people will continue to want to go to Orchard Road and Marina Bay”, he said.


At a separate panel discussion on start-ups and innovation in Hanoi, Grab’s co-founder Tan Hooi Ling said the company has undergone “typical ups and downs” in its relationship with governments.

She was responding to a question about the regulatory difficulties the ride-hailing company is facing in countries such as Singapore, following its high-profile acquisition of Uber, which is under review by the country's competition watchdog. Elsewhere, the Philippine Competition Commission gave its nod to the takeover last month.

“Some conversations go well, some conversations don’t, but... as long as we’re both willing to listen and adjust our practices accordingly for the greater good of the people we’re ultimately serving, we’ll get there," said Ms Tan.

Her comments echoed those made in July by Grab's co-founder Anthony Tan, who said he was “extremely” confident that the company could work through the issues flagged by Singapore’s competition watchdog.

This came after the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore provisionally ruled that the sale of Uber’s South-east Asia operations to Grab had led to a “substantial lessening of competition” and price hikes for Grab rides.

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Malaysia: Orangutan found shot to death in Kinabatangan River

The Star 13 Sep 18;

SANDAKAN (Bernama): An orangutan with gunshot wounds was found dead in the Kinabatangan River on Tuesday.

Three gun pellets were discovered inside the female orangutan's body and a post-mortem revealed that she had died from massive internal bleeding.

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) public relations officer Siti Nur'ain Ampuan Acheh said they received a report of an Orang utan carcass drifting in the river.

She said staff from the Kinabatangan Wildlife Office and Honorary Wildlife Wardens from non-governmental organisation Hutan-Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation then started a search for the carcass.

The search team recovered the carcass the same day about 500m from where it was sighted, she said in a statement on Thursday.

Siti Nur'ain said the orang utan, estimated to be 30 years' old, had wounds on her abdomen, shoulder and foot.

She added that a police report was lodged and the case was being investigated under Section 25 (1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 for hunting animals listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1.

She said the Sabah Wildlife Department urged anyone with information regarding the case to contact the officer-in-charge of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Office immediately. – Bernama

Orang utan in Kinabatangan dies from gunshot wounds
Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 13 Sep 18;

KOTA KINABALU: An orang utan was found dead due to massive internal bleeding from gunshots.

Sabah Wildlife department spokesperson Siti Nur’ain Ampuan Acheh said the department was alerted of the incident on Tuesday.

“The Sabah Wildlife Department received a report of a carcass of an orang utan seen drifting in the Kinabatangan River in Sandakan.

“The staff of Kinabatangan Wildlife Office and honorary wildlife warden began a search following the report,” she said in a statement.

The search team recovered the body about 500 metres from its initial location reported on the same day.

“Based on the post mortem result, the female orang utan, aged 30 years, has physical wounds on its abdomen, shoulder and foot.

“Three gun pellets were also discovered inside its body,” she said, adding a police report had been lodged.

The case is being investigated under Section 25 (1) Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 for hunting animals listed in Part 1 Schedule 1.

“We urge anyone with information to contact the officer-in-charge of Kinabatangan Wildlife Office immediately.”

Previously, there was a population of up to 20,000 orang utan in the 1980s and this decreased to 11,000 in 2004.


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Indonesia: Satellites detect 154 hotspots on Sumatra island

Antara 13 Sep 18;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - A total of 154 hotspots indicating forest and plantation fires were detected across Sumatra Island on Thursday.

The number increased from 150 hotspots on the previous day, according to the Pekanbaru meteorology office.

Based on monitoring by Terra and Aqua satellites, 77 hotspots were found in South Sumatra, 33 each in Lampung and Bengkulu, 14 in Bangka Belitung, nine in Riau, four in West Sumatra, three in Jambi, and one on Riau Island.

In Riau, four hotspots were found in Indragiri Hulu District, two in Rokan Hilir, and one each in Bengkalis, Pelalawan, and Meranti Island.

Riau remained prone to forest and plantation fires due to prevailing drought, Ardhitama, an analyst of the Riau meteorology, climatology and geophysics office, remarked.

Brigadier General Sonny Aprianto, commander of the Riau forest fire task force, had earlier ordered to take firm action against arsonists.

He also gave shoot-at-sight orders to his officers for perpetrators of forest and plantation fires.

The commander believed that 99 percent of the forest and plantation fires in Sumatra were induced by human activities.

By imposing legal enforcement and firm control, the Indonesian government has managed to reduce forest fires by 96.5 percent across the country during the 2015-2017 period.

Based on data obtained from NOAA`s satellites, 21,929 hotspots were found across Indonesia in 2015, and the figure dropped to 3,915 in 2016, and again 2,257 in 2017, according to Raffles B. Panjaitan, director of forest and plantation fire control of the environmental affairs and forestry ministry.

The wild fires had razed a total of 2,611,411 hectares in 2015, and the figure decreased to 438,360 hectares in 2016, and again to 165,464 hectares in 2017.

"Since 2016, companies have no longer dared to open new plantation land by setting fire, and only a small number of hotspots remain due to negligence," he added.

Reporting by FB Anggoro and Muhammad Said
Editor: Fardah Assegaf

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Indonesia: Fires force closure of hiking trails leading to three Central Java mountains

The Jakarta Post 13 Sep 18;

Authorities have closed all hiking trails leading up to the peaks of Mount Lawu, Mount Sindoro and Mount Sumbing in Central Java on account of land and forest fires that have ravaged the three areas over the last few days.

Although it has been some time since the fires started, officials have not been able to put out the fires on Mt. Sindoro and Mt. Sumbing owing to strong winds, dry weather and challenging terrain.

Acting Temanggung Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Gito Walngadi said the fire on Mt. Sumbing had started in the Kecepit forest resort, which is located in Gelapansari village, Bulu district, Temanggung regency, Central Java.

“Fire spots were detected at 6:15 p.m. on Monday,” he said on Tuesday as quoted by

Meanwhile, a fire was reported on Saturday on the nearby Mt. Sindoro. The fire reportedly started in the Kwadungan forest resort in Canggal village, Candiroto district, Temanggung and had since spread to the nearby Sigedang forest resort.

Gito said that so far, the fire on Mt. Sindoro had burned 245 hectares of land and vegetation in the area.

Central Java BNPB daily executive head Sarwa Pramana had also instructed his subordinates in Temanggung, Wonosobo and Magelang to reach out to pawang hujan(rain shaman) to call for rain and help extinguish the fire that burned through Mt. Sindoro-Sumbing.

In the meantime, the fire that burned forests on Mt. Lawu was contained by officials on Tuesday. According to the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s Twitter account, 150 personnel from the Central Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), state-owned forestry company Perum Perhutani, police, military and volunteers worked together to put out the fire, which was believed to have started in the Tlogo Dringgo forest resort in the Gondosuli village, Tawangmangu district, Karanganyar regency.

The blaze on Mount Lawu is believed to have been started by a hiker who made a bonfire in the Candi Cetho area in Karanganyar regency. Strong winds then caused the fire spread to the other parts of the forest located in Magetan and Ngawi regencies. (ris/ahw)

Four hotspots detected in Mount Argopuro
Antara 13 Sep 18;

Jember, E Java, Sept 13 (ANTARA News)- Four hotspots were detected in Mount Argopuro area located in Krucil, Probolinggo, East Java Province, on Wednesday.

Out of 299 hotspots detected across Indonesia yesterday, only three to four were found in Mount Argopuro area, Setyo Utomo, head of the Jember natural resources conservation office, said here on Thursday.

The conservation office has dispatched four officers to check the hotspots. However, it will take them at least two days to reach the location of the hotspots, he added.

The East Java natural resources conservation office has indefinitely closed the climbing track of Mount Argopuro since Aug 10, 2018, due to prolonged drought that could trigger wildfires.

Mount Argopuro is located within the Hyang High land Sanctuary, which covers parts of the districts of Probolinggo, Situbondo, Bondowoso, and Jember.

The mountain has the longest tract on Java Island and one of the longest in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, a forest fire on Mount Sindoro in Temanggung District, Central Java Province, which has destroyed around 156 hectares of land, has been extinguished, a spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) revealed.

"However, the mountain`s climbing trails remain closed," BNPB Spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho noted in his Twitter account that Antara quoted in Temanggung, Central Java, on Monday evening.

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.

Another forest fire had earlier engulfed Mount Lawu, located on the border of Central Java and East Java Provinces, due to prolonged drought.

Reporting by Zumrotun Solichah (f001/INE)

Editor: Fardah Assegaf

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'A single piece of plastic' can kill sea turtles, says study

Matt McGrath BBC 14 Sep 18;

A new study suggests that ingesting even a single piece of plastic can be deadly for sea turtles.

Researchers found there was a one in five chance of death for a turtle who consumed just one item - rising to 50% for 14 pieces.

The team found that younger turtles are at a higher risk of dying from exposure to plastic than adults.

The authors say their research raises concerns over the long term survival of some turtle species.

The never ending surge of plastic into the world's oceans is taking an increasing toll on iconic marine species.

While it has been relatively straightforward for researchers to document the threat to animals who become entangled in plastic and drown, determining the impact of consumed plastic is much harder.

The authors of this study estimate that around half of all the sea turtles on the planet have ingested plastic - this rises to 90% among juvenile green sea turtles off the coast of Brazil.

To determine how this exposure was impacting the species, the researchers looked at post mortem reports and animal stranding records relating to sea turtles in Queensland.

From that information they were able to deduce the role of plastic in causing death - if an animal had ingested more than 200 pieces of plastic, death was inevitable.

Fourteen pieces meant a 50% chance of dying - while one piece gave a 22% chance of mortality.

"Because of their digestive tract, they don't regurgitate anything," lead author Dr Britta Denise Hardesty from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), told BBC News.

"If it ends up in the wrong place, even one little thin, filmy piece of plastic can block that canal and mean that nothing can pass and ultimately the blockage can result in death."

As well as causing blockages, harder pieces caused internal injuries which often lead to death as well.

The research team also found that younger turtles were taking in far more plastic than adults. Around 23% of juveniles and 54% of post-hatchling turtles had ingested plastic compared to 16% of adults. The scientists say that this greater susceptibility is down to where they live and how they feed.

"Young small turtles actually drift and float with the ocean currents as does much of the buoyant, small lightweight plastic," said Dr Hardesty.

"We think that small turtles are less selective in what they eat than large adults who eat sea grass and crustaceans, the young turtles are out in the oceanic area offshore and the older animals are feeding in closer to shore."

While sea turtles can live until they are about 80 and reproduce for decades, researchers are concerned for the longer term impact of so many juveniles consuming so much plastic.

"We know that disproportionately finding it more in younger animals who won't make it to the reproductive state will have long term consequences for the survival of the species," said Dr Hardesty.

"It's very concerning."

Other experts in this field say the new study is an important step towards quantifying the scale of the threat that plastic poses to the lives of sea turtles.

"The authors offer a very defensible framework for allowing us to measure the mortality risk resultant from plastic ingestion," said Prof Brendan Godley, from the University of Exeter, who wasn't involved with the study.

"It also points to the likelihood that plastic may be a key threat to the smallest life stages. This is of particular concern as pieces of plastics and baby turtles are both likely to be aggregated together in similar areas."

The authors of the new study want to raise awareness among consumers and political leaders about the threat from plastic and to encourage creative solutions to the issue. One option may well be a plastic tax or deposit scheme.

"Let's rethink our relationship with plastic," said Dr Hardesty.

"Let's put a true cost on plastic so they have a similar value to aluminium cans which we don't find lost in the environment, they get picked up and they don't get mismanaged and find their way out into the ocean," she added.

The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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