Best of our wild blogs: 10 Oct 18

22-23 Oct: Sustainability Fair 2018 by Eco-SIM
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Uncommon migratory kingfisher released back into Gardens by the Bay after recovering from bird attack

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 9 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - A migratory kingfisher that has been drawing flocks of photographers to Gardens by the Bay was released back into the area on Sunday (Oct 7), a day after it was rescued from an attack by another bird.

The oriental dwarf kingfisher, which is an uncommon migrant here, was seen struggling in the mud on Saturday after it was attacked by a larger white-breasted waterhen.

The waterhen had charged into the kingfisher from behind, leaving it stuck head first in the mud for a short time, according to nature watchers.

While it required rescue after the attack left it unable to fly, it has since been nursed back to health and released where it was found.

The oriental dwarf kingfisher is found in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as parts of southern China and South-east Asia, according to the Singapore Birds Project. It grows to a size of between 12.5cm and 14cm.

The Nature Society (Singapore) records fewer than 10 oriental dwarf kingfishers migrating here annually on average during the migration season, which starts in September.

Long-time birdwatcher Alan OwYong, 72, a committee member of the Nature Society's (Singapore) Bird Group, told The Straits Times that he took the injured bird back home and placed it in a dark box for it to rest.

He had wanted to hand the bird over to the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres). But as Acres' rescuers were occupied on Saturday, he kept the bird at home to nurse it overnight, with guidance from Acres staff via text messages.

Mr OwYong, who has previously taken care of other injured birds, said: "The bird was a bit traumatised and it was not trying to fly when we were transporting it. I put it in a box and kept it in a dark place with water, so it would not get spooked.

"By the next morning, the bird seemed much stronger and was flapping away in the box."

Mr OwYong then released the kingfisher into the area where it was previously spotted. This was done to give the bird a better chance of survival in a place where it has a food source and is already familiar with.

The bird has since been spotted resuming its normal activities around the area.

The kingfisher was first spotted near the Dragonfly Bridge at Gardens by the Bay last Thursday.

Around 50 photographers were snapping photos of the bird on Saturday at about 4.30pm, when the kingfisher was attacked by another bird.

Senior engineer Jeline Goh, who is in her late 30s, said: "The kingfisher was standing on a plant, when a waterhen suddenly came from behind and poked it, causing it to fall into the mud.

"It seemed to be injured as it tried to flap its wings a number of times, but was still unable to fly."

Workers from Gardens by the Bay then went down to rescue the stunned kingfisher, before handing it over to a Nature Society member at the scene. The member subsequently handed the kingfisher over to Mr OwYong.

Since the bird's recovery, nature photographers have turned out in numbers again to get a photo of the bird.

About 50 photographers were waiting at Gardens by the Bay at 6.30am on Monday morning to snap pictures of the bird, said Mr Jeremiah Loei, administrator of wildlife interest group Birds, Insects N Creatures of Asia.

Photographers are rushing to document the bird because of its beautiful colours and its status as a temporary resident, said Mr Loei.

Kingfishers of all species are generally popular because of their intriguing feeding process - they dive into the water to hunt before feeding on their prey in plain sight, he added.

He said photographers are advised to remain silent and stay a reasonable distance away from the kingfisher. They should also switch their cellphones to silent mode, and not surround the bird such that it feels threatened.

As the path near where the kingfisher feeds is narrow, photographers are also advised to make way for members of the public to walk past, and to give one another a chance to photograph the bird, Mr Loei added.

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Indonesian officials conduct training for S'pore animal welfare groups ahead of dog sterilisation scheme

Toh Ting Wei Straits Times 9 Oct 18;

SINGAPORE - The Republic has roped in help from Indonesia to train Singapore volunteers and public servants to prepare for a nationwide dog sterilisation programme to be rolled out here later this year.

Twenty-two volunteers from eight animal welfare groups and nine Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) staff were trained by six Indonesian officials over four days, from Sept 25 to 28.

They were trained to capture and handle stray dogs humanely, among other things.

One of the Indonesian officials is the former national master trainer from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases Indonesia, and the other five are from the Indonesian government, AVA said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 9). The team includes two vets and three dog catchers.

The officials have been conducting mass vaccinations of stray dogs in Bali since 2011, as part of a rabies control programme under Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture.

The training was conducted ahead of a national Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage (TNRM) programme that will be progressively carried out in Singapore from the last quarter of this year.

AVA will work with 11 animal welfare groups, veterinarians and other stakeholders as part of the programme.

The authority said the training by the Indonesian officials has helped to groom participants as trainers who can teach others when the TNRM programme commences.

AVA invites Indonesian officials to conduct training on humane capturing and handling of stray dogs

On why the Indonesian officials were invited to help with the training, Mr Joshua Teoh, director of AVA's animal management group, said that the operations in Bali the officials participated in are similar to Singapore's nationwide sterilisation programme, in which a large number of dogs would be caught, vaccinated and sterilised, before they are released or rehomed.

He said the nationwide TNRM programme is happening "very soon" and that the AVA is looking forward to working with animal welfare groups here on it.

One of the Indonesian trainers, Dr Ahmad Gozali, said: "We hope that through this training programme, participants are equipped not just with the knowledge but, most importantly, also with the skills they need in the area of humane capturing and handling of the strays."

Singapore volunteers and public servants were taught techniques on this on the first day of training, where they also learnt about the behaviour of stray dogs.

They were then brought to various outfield sites over the next three days, where trainers demonstrated how they captured strays using nets.

Among the techniques taught include a ninja technique, in which one person distracts the dog while another approaches from behind to trap the dog in a net.

The trainers and participants caught a total of 12 dogs during the training. These dogs will be sterilised and rehomed or released back to the areas where they were caught.

Animal welfare groups that attended the training were impressed by the skills of the trainers and said the programme was beneficial.

Mr V. Mohan, an operations executive with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: "Even though I have been rescuing animals for 27 years, I still learnt a lot of new ideas from the training... which I can incorporate into my future rescue work."

Ms Alyssa Lim, director of Mercylight, said the training allowed her to learn practical skills from professionals.

She added: "As trapping of dogs requires teamwork, our challenge now is to apply the skills and knowledge we attained over the past week, in training our own volunteers."

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Indonesia: Palm oil executive found guilty of starting land, forest fires

The Jakarta Post 9 Oct 18;

The Pekanbaru High Court in Riau has declared an executive of palm oil company PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa (JJP) guilty of burning 1,000 hectares of peatland in Rokan Hilir regency, Riau.

JJP plantation head Kosman Vitoni Immanuel Siboro was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay Rp 3 billion (US$ 196,914) in fines.

However, the company has challenged the court’s verdict by suing expert witnesses who were instrumental in providing scientific evidence throughout the trial.

Among them is Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) lecturer Bambang Hero Saharjo, who said the company’s lawsuit was “not based on [prevailing] law”.

“The court has to reject the lawsuit. Otherwise, expert witnesses would be less inclined to assist the government in the court,” Bambang was quoted by as saying on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s law enforcement director general, Rasio Ridho Sani, said on Monday that the ministry was committed to defending Bambang against the lawsuit.

Previously, the Rokan Hilir District Court imposed a Rp 1 billion fine on JJP, which was represented by company director Halim Gozali.

The Supreme Court’s cassation ruling also ordered JJP to pay an additional Rp 491.03 billion fine for environmental rehabilitation.

The Environment and Forestry Ministry has imposed administrative sanctions on 518 companies involved in environmental crimes.


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