Best of our wild blogs: 17 Sep 18

Taxonomic Classification in Butterflies
Butterflies of Singapore

Now Launched: Create for Climate Youth Art Competition
Green Drinks Singapore

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Wildlife-rich Rifle Range Nature Park could feature bridge crossing when completed in 2020

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 14 Sep 18;

SINGAPORE – Hikers and nature lovers can look forward to a network of natural hiking trails after the 67-hectare Rifle Range Nature Park is enhanced.

A bridge crossing could be built for the public to appreciate its stream, and steps may be installed as part of the hiking trail to minimise disturbance to wildlife and vegetation, and prevent compaction and soil erosion, said National Parks Board's (NParks) group director of conservation Adrian Loo.

The nature park, on the southern end of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, will have more amenities for the public such as a visitor pavilion, toilet, shelter and carpark. These will be developed sensitively to blend in with the surrounding greenery, said Dr Loo.

Last year when NParks announced plans to enhance Rifle Range Nature Park, it said the park will feature an elevated walkway from Beauty World to the former Sin Seng Quarry, which was once one of the deepest quarries in Singapore.

It was 55m at its deepest point but has since been backfilled and will be transformed into a freshwater habitat with a lookout point for visitors to appreciate marsh birds, NParks said.

The hiking trails will allow visitors to learn more about the history of quarrying in Singapore and the heritage highlights within the site. These include the remnants of a kampong that used to be located at the fringe of the quarry along Rifle Range Road, such as steps leading to old houses and old fruit trees and shrubs associated with kampong plantings in the 1960s, said NParks.

The park will also feature aerial rope bridges to allow animals to move safely between Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the park, as well as nest boxes for animals such as flying squirrels that hole in nests. Enhancement works are expected to be completed in 2020.


Biodiversity studies conducted within the park found that there is rich wildlife in the area that includes:

Malayan Colugo, a mammal with an extensive skin membrane that facilitates gliding between trees

Horsfield's Flying Squirrel, an endangered animal with nocturnal habits that feeds on fruits and insects

Sunda Pangolin, a critically endangered animal that feeds on ants and termites

Common Palm Civet, also called a Toddycat or "musang"

Malayan Coral Snake, a beautiful but venomous snake

Brown-chested Jungle Flycatcher, a migratory bird that can be sighted in Singapore from end-September to early November each year and whose global population is on the decline

Malayan Crow, a butterfly that is very rare in Singapore

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Malaysia: Perak goes ahead with plastic-free days

allison lai The Star 16 Sep 18;

IPOH: Perak will press ahead with plastic-free days which failed previously due to a lack of public awareness and support.

“Initiatives like this have to be taught from young. We want not just plastic-free but also a car-free day,” said state environment committee chairman Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Bari.

The silver state, he said, was committed to environmentally-friendly policies.

In 2016, the then Barisan Nasional state government announced the first phase of a statewide ban on plastic bags and polystyrene containers, but it failed.

“They are the ones who have the say and means to initiate and put into action all policies and initiatives.

“It is important to have some kind of coordination and synchronisation within the state government so that we are able to push the initiative effectively,” he said after opening the World Clean Up Day where 500 students and staff from Quest International University Perak cleaned up the riverbank along Kinta River.

He also noted that Malaysia needed a special national council to work on matters related to environmental protection.

Representatives from the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry and environment excos from all states could sit in the council, he said.

“We don’t have such a body coordinating the policies and issue initiatives related to the environment, which is very important. We hope there will be more national coordination on this. Unlike Penang and Selangor, such initiatives are new to some states, like for us in Perak.

“We don’t have the experience and expertise. That is why this issue ought to be shared. I hope for a roundtable discussion with the minister and all state environment excos soon.

“This way we can increase awareness among the people to care for the environment because without the people’s cooperation, efforts by any environment agencies will not work,” he said.

Dr Abdul Aziz, who is a constitutional law expert, noted that there was no clause or provision on environment protection in the Federal Constitution.

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Indonesia: Three elephants in Jambi relocated to prevent inbreeding

Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 15 Sep 18;

The Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Agency is set to relocate three young elephants – two males and one female – to prevent inbreeding.

“The elephants have entered the reproduction period and are ready to mate. We’re trying to prevent elephants that share the same bloodline from mating because that's not good for their offspring,” agency head Rahmad Saleh told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

The elephants will be relocated from their current habitat in Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (TNBT) in Tebo regency to PT Restorasi Ekosistem (REKI) in Sarolangun regency, both in Jambi.

Rahmad said the relocation aimed to create new herds and preserve the species.

The agency recorded that there are currently eight herds consisting of 143 elephants in the national park’s corridor, two herds consisting of only seven elephants in Sarolangun regency and one herd of 38 elephants in Kerinci regency.

Furthermore, Rahmad said the relocation was expected to help prevent the poaching of elephant tusks, a practice that was common in the area. “Elephant poaching is a major threat to the species in the TNBT corridor,” he said.

The destruction of the elephants' habitat as a result of the conversion of their land from forests to company or individual-owned palm plantations has caused local residents to view the animals as "pests".

Rahmad said there were 188 cases of conflict between humans and elephants in the first half of the year in Jambi. Thus, the relocation is aimed to preserve the species.

The relocation will be assisted by NGO Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and take approximately 10 days.

Four trained elephants from the Minas Elephant Training Center in Riau will guide the three elephants in order to keep them calm during the relocation process. (sau)

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Taiwan: Unusual coral bleaching reported off Yehliu coast

Bleaching in Taiwan has mainly been reported in the south, but ocean temperatures off New Taipei City rose to 33°C, a 15-year record, an expert said
Lin Chia-nan Taipei Times 17 Sep 18;

Many clusters of coral off the northern coast have bleached due to higher seawater temperatures this year, an unprecedented occurrence in the area, Academia Sinica researcher Allen Chen (陳昭倫) said yesterday.

The large-scale coral bleaching documented off the coast of Yehliu (野柳) in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) is unusual, given that the area is generally considered a “shelter” for coral, with a relatively low seawater temperature of 27°C to 28°C in summer, he said.

A researcher at the institution’s Biodiversity Research Center, Chen and his laboratory members have monitored coral in the area since 2000.

Coral bleaching is caused by rising water temperatures and can be fatal for coral, Chen said.

Coral bleaching incidents in Taiwan have previously occurred at lower latitudes, such as off Kenting (墾丁) in Pingtung County, Green Island (綠島), Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼) and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), where the seawater is warmer, he said.

The average seawater temperature at 3m depth off Yehliu was 27.38°C from May to August in 2005, but in the same period this year, it was 28.36°C, Chen said.

The temperature last month even rose to 33°C, a 15-year record, he said.

“Even a 0.5°C temperature increase can make coral sick,” Chen said, adding that reefs at higher latitudes are more sensitive to warming.

Researchers found that 11 types of stony coral and soft coral in the area had bleached, with lace coral and hood coral most seriously affected, he said.

The bleaching might reverse as the weather becomes cooler and his team would keep monitoring the corals to see whether they show any signs of recovery, Chen said, adding that the team would publish its findings.

In related news, the coral off Pingtung has been reported to be more muddy than usual, with senior diving instructor Tsai Yung-chun (蔡永春) saying that he has never seen so much sediment in the area.

The Kenting National Park Management Office on Friday said that the mud was washed offshore by heavy rain last month, but would be swept away by sea currents.

The office said it would conduct an underwater inspection after the weather stabilizes and would continue to monitor land conservation efforts in neighboring areas.

Additional reporting by Tsai Tsung-hsien

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