Best of our wild blogs: 31 May 19

Three insights from the forest – Love MacRitchie x BFF walk (11 May 2019)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

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Otters spotted in Bukit Timah; group fled from Singapore River home due to Bishan otters

Goh Yan Han Straits Times 30 May 19;

SINGAPORE - A group of otters were spotted at a Bukit Timah bus stop on Thursday morning (May 30).

The group of six was also seen near Stevens MRT station on the same day, as well as near Adam Road Food Centre the evening before, according to posts by netizens to the OtterWatch Facebook page.

A Straits Times reader noticed the otters along Bukit Timah Road at around 7am when she was taking her children to school.

"They were chilling at the roadside at first, then they were trying to cross the road," said the 37-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Ms Lim.

"It was a bit scary. They tried a few times before managing to cross safely."

She added that it was an unexpected and unusual sight in the morning, and that the otters were "very cute".

Otter enthusiast Bernard Seah, 50, identified the group as the Zouk otters, which were so named when they were spotted near the former Zouk site in Jiak Kim Street in the second half of 2018.

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From sky farms to lab-grown shrimp, Singapore eyes food future

John Geddie, Edgar Su Reuters 30 May 19;

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore, the tiny Southeast Asian city-state, is an unlikely place for a farming revolution.

With tiered fish farms, vegetable plots atop office buildings and lab-grown shrimp, the island aims to beef up its own food production and rely less on imports to feed its 5.6 million people.

Singapore produces about 10% of its food but as climate change and population growth threatens global food supplies, it aims to raise that to 30% by 2030 under a plan known as ‘30-by-30’.

The challenge is space.

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Ending coal financing, and jump-starting sustainability

SIMON TAY and LAU XIN YI Business Times 31 May 19;

ALL major Singapore banks recently announced that they will stop financing new coal-fired power plants. This is significant in aligning Singapore as a financial hub with the position of many Western financial institutions. But it opens up more questions about next steps and how sustainability can be jump-started in our rapidly growing region.

Coal has been singled out as burning coal is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Western moves against this source of energy have had an impact. Last year, there was a 39 per cent worldwide drop in new coal-fired plant construction as compared to 2017.

Coal-fired plant construction in Asia is led by energy-hungry India and China, even as they also ramp up solar, wind and other renewables. Asean countries especially Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are not far behind.

While many Western financial institutions shun coal, others do not hesitate. China is now a major financing source for coal plants, even outside the country. According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), Chinese institutions are financing or have committed to finance more than one-quarter of the 399 gigawatts of coal plants currently under development abroad.

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Stakeholders share ideas for a zero-waste Singapore

Vanessa Liu Straits Times 31 May 19;
Stakeholders joined forces yesterday to devise ways to boost low recycling rates, which are failing to keep up with the rising amounts of waste produced here.

Representatives of government agencies and environmental groups, as well as business owners, gathered for a panel discussion to find ways to make Singapore a zero-waste nation. The key points included defining manufacturers' role in waste management, as well as social behaviour and policymaking.

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What the 2019 master plan says about Singapore’s approach to land use

LAI CHOO MALONE-LEE Today Online 29 May 19;

According to planning theorists, urban planning is fundamentally a process of rational choice, supported by foresight and design.

But, in reality, rationality is always circumscribed by the complexities and uncertainties in the real-world environment, and as such, very few cities are willing, and indeed able, to embrace this dictum in its totality.

Singapore is perhaps an exception, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority's recently released draft Master Plan 2019 demonstrates the city-state’s single-minded pursuit of “rational planning” — where planners, through thoughtful and directed processes, develop a comprehensive set of action proposals toward the attainment of defined social and economic goals.

The master plan is launched at a time of uncertainty in the global political and economic arena.

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APP products could be back in supermarkets, 4 years after being blamed for haze

KIMBERLY LIM Today Online 30 May 19;

SINGAPORE — Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) could see its products sold at major supermarkets again, almost four years after they were pulled from shelves due to the company’s alleged links to the forest fires that caused a massive haze in 2015.

The APP said in a press release on Wednesday (May 29) that it received the Enhanced Singapore Green Label Scheme certification from the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) on May 16 as a result of its efforts in tackling the haze threat.

The council said that APP is among nine companies that received the certification, having complied with the requirements of its audit and risk management framework certification.

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Egg supplier gets S$27 million DBS loan to build farm; conditions apply

LAUREN ONG Today Online 30 May 19;

SINGAPORE — Egg producer Chew's Agriculture has taken up a 10-year, S$27 million loan by DBS, but it must meet strict standards and use the money to build and maintain cage-free facilities that will allow its chickens to live humanely and cruelty-free.

This is the first sustainability-linked loan to be granted to a small- or medium-sized enterprise in Singapore, the bank said on Wednesday (May 29). The loan was evaluated based on a series of environmental, social and governance performance metrics, it added.

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Malaysia: 'Blanket ban not solution for plastic waste smuggling'

New Straits Times 29 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Hasty calls by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for a blanket ban on so-called “plastics waste” are unnecessary and ill-considered, and can harm law-abiding manufacturers and businesses.

The Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) and the Malaysia Plastic Recyclers Association (MPRA) said such a move would hurt the reputation of legitimate Malaysian businesses, instead of addressing the issue of plastic smuggling.

The two associations were referring to remarks made by NGOs lumping permitted imports with smuggled “sampah plastik”.

“We are concerned that law-abiding businesses are being accused of breaking the law, and that inaccurate statements could destroy the livelihoods of law-abiding Malaysians and the families and loved ones that they support,” said MPMA and MPRA in a joint statement, here, today

“Blanket bans do not and cannot address the issue of smuggling and do hurt legitimate businesses,” they said.

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Malaysia: DoE gets tough on e-waste

sim leoi leoi The Star 30 May 19;

PETALING JAYA: The government wants to make it mandatory for consumers to send certain unwanted electrical and electronic items to places licensed to handle e-waste.The proposed change in the law aims to reduce harm to the environment and public health when such waste is not disposed of properly.

The proposed regulation covers televisions, air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, personal computers and mobile phones.

Most of these items are recycled in the informal sector, where those with little expertise and resources rip apart the appliances and devices and burn some components to extract materials that can be resold. All this is done with little thought for health and environmental effects.In a statement to The Star, the Department of Environment (DoE) said it realised the importance of tackling scheduled e-waste management issues in Malaysia.

“The DoE has drafted a specific law for the six controlled items.

“In the draft regulation, these items generated from households, institutions, commercial and others are listed to be regulated,” it said.

Asked if “regulated” means it would be the consumers’ responsibility to discard or send these items only to registered retailers, collectors, recycling facilities or recovery facilities, the DoE replied: “Yes.”

It said these controlled items were currently handled by the informal sector such as house-to-house collectors, community bodies and non-governmental groups.

“The specific legislative provisions to control the management mechanism of the items are important to ensure that they do not pollute the environment or cause any harm to human health,” it added.

The draft regulation, said the DoE, was still under review by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

“The scheduled e-waste regulation does not have to be tabled in Parliament,” it said.

Environment waste management specialist Dr Theng Lee Chong said the new regulation proposed by the DoE would likely take the form of an Extended Producer Responsi­bility system, which has been applied in many countries, including the European Union, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and China.

Under this system, which is based on the concept of shared responsibilities, manufacturers and importers must pay a recycling fee upon the put on market of their products, so they are responsible for the products until the latter’s “end of life”.

“The recycling fee will be used to pay for the proper collection and recycling of the e-waste in an environmentally sound manner,” he said, adding that this system emphasises the responsibilities of manufacturers and importers.

“Of course, other stakeholders such as retailers, collectors, recyclers and consumers also have their respective roles,” said Theng, who worked with the expert team put together by the Japan International Cooperation Agency to help the DoE formulate the regulation.

At present, the management and control of e-waste is regulated under the Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005, enforced since Aug 15, 2005.

Under this regulation, e-waste is categorised as a scheduled waste. Any importation or exportation of it is regulated under Section 34B of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and the Basel Conven­tion on the Transboundary Move­ments of Haz­ardous Waste and Disposal 1989.

The DoE said enforcement of the regulation was currently only for the management of e-waste generated from industrial premises.

“There is no legal mechanism for the control and management of e-waste generated by households.

“Also, there is no formal system for managing household e-waste in an environmentally sound management system for recovery and disposal,” it said.

According to The Global E-Waste Monitor 2017 Report by the United Nations University, Malaysia generated 8.8kg of e-waste per person in 2016, totalling 280 kilotonnes.

That year, the world produced 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste – or 6.1kg per person – which is equivalent to the weight of 4,500 Eiffel Towers.Most e-waste contains precious metals (such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium), iron, copper, aluminium and plastics that can be extracted and sold.

The report also estimated that secondary raw materials from e-waste were worth €55bil (RM254.65bil).

But much e-waste also contains rare earth, hazardous metals (such as mercury, lead and cadmium) and chemicals like chlorofluorocarbon and flame retardants.

Dumping or illegal recycling of e-waste can cause these materials to leak into the environment.

There are 87 premises with partial recovery facilities and 37 premises with full recovery facilities licensed by the DoE.

‘No law against household e-waste disposal despite risk’
The Star 30 May 19;

PETALING JAYA: No action can be taken against the low-cost, low-technology handling of e-waste because it is not against the law despite

its potential health and environmental hazards, says an environment waste management specialist. Dr Theng Lee Chong, who is also deputy chairman of the Association of Environmental Consultant and Companies of Malaysia, said there was no regulation to control household e-waste, which usually ends up in the so-called informal sector.

“This means that at the moment, there is no regulation that stops you from selling or giving your scrapped television to a scrap collector or even a charity organisation.

“That’s why a new mechanism is needed to put all these things in order and have proper controls. Then, only the enforcement will have the mandate to ensure that all e-waste is only sold to authorised collectors and is recycled at licensed facilities,” said Theng.

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Malaysia: Talks underway on safe closure of Johor landfill

The Star 29 May 19;

KLUANG: The Johor government will hold talks with the Federal government to discuss the safe closure of the CEP 1 landfill in Simpang Renggam, said its MP Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said special provisions in relation to the closure would also be negotiated and he hoped the landfill would be closed completely soon.

He said the Simpang Renggam parliamentary office, state and federal government had undertaken various holistic efforts to resolve the issue of river pollution and ways to have clean water supply for the people of Simpang Renggam and the surrounding areas.

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Malaysia: Government goes after waste importers

Dawn Chan New Straits Times 29 May 19;

PORT KLANG: Malaysia is putting a stop to the practice of dumping foreign garbage on its soil.

For a start, 60 containers filled with 3,000 tonnes of garbage will be shipped off to their countries of origin in the near future.

The first phase of the operation began by getting rid of 10 containers, filled to the brim with 450 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste. They originated from the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, China, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.

The containers have been stuck at Westports Malaysia in Pulau Indah here since April last year. In addition, five containers have been sent back to Spain on April 29, while 50 other containers that have been brought in illegally are being inspected.

The Environmental Quality Act 1974 was enforced against the importers, made up of local players, beginning yesterday. A notice would be served on them with the instruction to start the process of shipping the containers back to the countries of origin (exporters).

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Malaysia: Xavier Jayakumar instructs Perhilitan to look into monkey shooting case

martin carvalho The Star 27 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: The Wildlife and National Park Protection Department (Perhilitan) has been directed to investigate the case where an 18-year-old man allegedly shot and killed a caged monkey in Sitiawan.

"Investigations by the police have been completed and they have submitted their papers to the Attorney-General.

"I have also instructed Perhilitan to look at the case and see what enactments they can take action under," said

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Sumatran rhinoceros: Indonesia can help save species

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 29 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Hopes for the survival of the Sumatran rhinoceros lie in the cooperation between Malaysia and Indonesia for a breeding programme.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the Sabah government still had one remaining female Sumatran rhinoceros, Iman, which is being kept at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin here.

Liew, who is also state tourism, culture and environment minister, said the 25-year-old rhino was found to have massive uterine fibroids when it was captured in 2014.

“Despite the tumours in its uterus, Iman is still producing eggs which can be harvested.

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Vietnam seizes 5 tonnes of pangolin scales from Nigeria

AFP 24 May 19;

Vietnam police have seized more than five tonnes of pangolin scales stashed in a cashew shipment from Nigeria, the government said Friday.

Communist Vietnam is a hotbed for the illegal wildlife trade, where animal products from elephant ivory to rhino horn and tiger bones are consumed domestically and also smuggled abroad.

Police on Thursday found 5.3 tonnes of pangolins scales hidden in a shipment from Nigeria at a port in southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province, according to Hai Quan, the official mouthpiece of Vietnam Customs.

"The scales were stuffed into 151 sacks inside a container... (and) bags of raw cashew nuts were used as a disguise in order to avoid detection from authorities," the online news website said Friday.

The government confirmed Thursday's haul and also announced a separate seizure of 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales from "an African country" in the northern Haiphong port earlier this month.

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Africa's elephant poaching is in decline, analysis suggests

Researchers still fearful as approximately 10,000 to 15,000 are killed every year
Press Association The Guardian 28 May 19;

Elephant poaching rates in Africa are declining, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

The annual poaching mortality rate fell from a high of more than 10% in 2011 to less than 4% in 2017, but the researchers warned that current levels were still unsustainable and could spell trouble for the future of the animals on the continent.

An estimated 350,000 elephants remain in Africa, but 10,000 to 15,000 are killed by poachers every year.

The team, from the University of York, University of Freiburg and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, analysed data from 53 protected sites across 29 countries between 2002 and 2017.

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Best of our wild blogs: 28 May 19

1-2 June: Make a difference for Chek Jawa!
wild shores of singapore

Biggest turnout ever at our Pasir Ris Mangroves tour
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Reef Walker
Hantu Blog

Singapore Bird Report – April 2019
Singapore Bird Group

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New S$40m waste-treatment facility could play key role in nation's green efforts

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 17 May 19;

SINGAPORE — The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) launched a new research facility on Monday (May 27) that could play a key role in reducing overall waste in Singapore.

The facility will convert waste produced at the NTU into electricity and potentially useful metal alloys and other substances.

Located in Tuas South, the S$40 million facility produces lighter and less ash — only 3 per cent of NTU's waste will end up as ash — than conventional mass burn incinerators.

It also makes NTU the only educational institution in Singapore to treat all of its solid waste using its own facilities.

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Tam, Malaysia's only male Sumatran rhino dies

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 27 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia's last remaining male Sumatran rhinoceros, affectionately called Tam, has died today.

Tam died at about noon at Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the exact cause of death would be known after the autopsy.

"Invariably, everything that could have possibly been done, was done, and executed with great love and dedication.

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Malaysia: Plastic dumped here to be shipped back today - MInister Yeo


PUTRAJAYA: More than 400 tonnes of imported, contaminated plastic waste in Port Klang, Selangor, will be shipped back to their countries of origin today, signalling Malaysia’s effort to take the lead in the global crusade against unscrupulous export of scrap.

The move to send back the gargantuan amount of imported waste also conveys an official stand against irresponsible acts of dumping plastic waste on foreign soil, which took place after last year’s import ban by China when the country decided to quit its role as the world’s major plastic waste processor.

Malaysia was emboldened in its approach to regulating trans-boundary plastic waste movement after it successfully negotiated the Basel Convention to amend certain annexes, which saw government permission being required for the import of plastic waste from other countries.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin told the New Straits Times the war against imported plastic waste was about upholding Malaysia’s dignity among developed countries, which have been practising a kind of “recycling myth”.

She was tight-lipped on the details of the outgoing waste as most of it would be revealed in a press conference to be held in Port Klang today.

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Treated like trash: south-east Asia vows to return mountains of rubbish from west

Region begins push back against deluge of plastic and electronic waste from UK, US and Australia
Hannah Ellis-Petersen The Guardian 28 May 19;

For the past year, the waste of the world has been gathering on the shores of south-east Asia. Crates of unwanted rubbish from the west have accumulated in the ports of the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam while vast toxic wastelands of plastics imported from Europe and the US have built up across Malaysia.

But not for much longer it seems. A pushback is beginning, as nations across south-east Asia vow to send the garbage back to where it came from.

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Indonesia: Six crossing paths for elephants built along Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road

Antara 27 May 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Six special crossing paths for elephants are to be built along the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road project, in a bid to protect the elephants’ habitat.

"There will be six crossing paths. One in Tekuana River, and five others in section 4 near the Balai Raja Wildlife Reserve," an official of PT Hutama Karya (Persero) for the Pekanbaru-Dumai project section 3-4 Dinny Suryakencana said here on Monday.

The 131.48-kilometer long toll road is part of the Trans Sumatra Toll project, which has been designated as one of the national strategic programs.

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Right whale population decline linked to ocean warming, research says

Amanda Holpuch, The Guardian Yahoo News 28 May 19;

The endangered North Atlantic right whale faces increased odds because its main food supply has shifted due to ocean warming, according to new research.

Scientists have been searching for an explanation for a precipitous decline in the North Atlantic right whale population, which has dropped from 482 in 2010 to about 411 today.

A paper by 17 authors from the US, Canada and Norway, published this month in the journal Oceanography, links an influx of warm water in 2010 to a reduction in the whales’ key food supply, Calanus finmarchicus, a small crustacean, in the Gulf of Maine, the area off the US coast in which the whales spend their summers.

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Best of our wild blogs: 27 May 19

2 Jun 2019 - Balik Chek Jawa
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

Festival of Biodiversity 2019!
Butterflies of Singapore

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Malaysia: UK plastic waste found near Ipoh

Teoh Pei Ying New Straits Times 27 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Plastic waste from Britain intended for recycling had been found dumped at a wasteland near Ipoh.

A British daily quoted a report by BBC, which featured British TV presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall discovering a 6m-high mound of plastic waste deep in the jungle of Perak.

Daily Mail Online reported that the environmental catastrophe “has the fingerprints of British supermarkets and council recycling departments” all over it.

“It’s like some dystopian nightmare… a plastic planet,” Fearnley-Whittingstall, who is also a celebrity chef, was quoted as saying.

According to the same report, Fearnley-Whittingstall also spotted British local authority-branded recycling bags, which suggested that householders dutifully filling their green bins in the belief they were helping the environment had been lied to.

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Malaysia: More water treatment plants planned under 12th Malaysia Plan

The Star 26 May 19;

IPOH (Bernama): The Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry plans to build more water treatment plants in order to further improve the water supply system in the country, says minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar.

He said the matter would be included in the 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) and is expected to be realised fully within the next 10 or 15 years.

He also acknowledged that this entailed considerable expenditure.

"For example, Kuala Kangsar and Larut often face water shortage due to lack of adequate water to meet demand during festive seasons," he told reporters after attending a breaking of fast event organised by the Perak PKR here Saturday (May 25) night.

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Malaysia: Penang metal poisoning - Root of the problem still unknown

r. sekaran The Star 27 May 19;

GEORGE TOWN: Metal poisoning along the coastal areas of Teluk Bahang looks to be worsening while the root cause remains unknown.Operators of fish farms along the coast are worried for the survival of marine resources such as sea algae and other plant life, should the content of heavy metal spike further.

Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (Cemacs) director Prof Datuk Dr Aileen Tan said that two weeks ago, the heavy metal nickel was found to be 944% higher than natural off Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang.

“Now, the level of nickel detected is 1,038% more than natural in the seas near the National Park and 982% at the fish farms in Teluk Bahang.

“It is imperative that the source of the pollution is found immediately as it affects the livelihood of fishermen and is a threat to marine life in the area,” she said in an interview yesterday.

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Malaysia: Sabah going all out to step up wildlife protection efforts

stephanie lee The Star 26 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is getting all parties including villagers and wildlife rangers to be part of wildlife protection efforts following the failed attempt to prevent the Sumatran rhino from going extinct in Malaysia.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew (pic) said she was not sure what happened to the rhinos over the past decade but now was not the time to dwell on it but to move forward.

"We will do our best to protect the other remaining wildlife in Sabah, including endangered species such as the banteng (wild buffalo) and pygmy elephants, as well as protected species such as the orang utan, proboscis monkeys and sun bears," she said.

She said it was the government's policies to have villagers and local communities partner with wildlife rangers and the Wildlife Department to prevent the killing of protected species in Sabah.

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Malaysia: Native market in Sarikei found selling protected wildlife

stephen then The Star 26 May 19;

MIRI: The native market in Sarikei town in central Sarawak has been found to be a venue for selling live tarsier and slaughtered pangolin.

Sarawak Society for Prevention of Animal (SSPCA) president Datin Dona Wee said they received an alert from the public on this.

"A trader inside the Sarikei Tamu building was found selling live tarsier inside a small cage.

"Inside a plastic bag nearby was the meat of a pangolin.

Tarsier is a protected primate species.

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India: Coral bleaching intensifies in Gulf of Mannar

THOOTHUKUDI The Hindu 26 May 19;

The intensity of coral bleaching has increased in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay in May. However, no mortality has been witnessed so far.

While the prevalence of bleaching was less than 3% during April in the Gulf of Mannar, it has increased significantly in May.

During a rapid survey conducted from May 15-23 by the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute, a total of nine reef areas including two reef areas in Thoothukudi group (Vaan, Koswari and Kariyachalli Islands), three in Mandapam Group (Shingle, Krusadai and Hare Islands), three others in Keelakarai group (Mulli, Valai and Thalaiyari Islands) and reefs in Palk Bay were surveyed.

In the Keelakarai group, which was the most affected, the prevalence of bleaching has increased significantly up to 35% (Mulli Island) from 3% in April. In the Mandapam group (Krusadai Island), the bleaching went up from 6% to 28% during the period. Twelve percent of corals have suffered bleaching in Palk Bay.

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 May 19

Celebrating World Rainforest Day 2019 Singapore
Flying Fish Friends

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New MRT line for northeast S’pore will benefit underserved areas: Analysts

DARYL CHOO Today Online 26 May 19;

SINGAPORE — A new rail line to connect Singapore’s northeast to its south would not only be possible but a step in the right direction, as it would plug gaps in underserved areas and maybe even rekindle talks about a third link to Johor, transport analysts said.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in its Land Transport Master Plan 2040 on Saturday (May 25), that it is studying the feasibility of a new line that could serve residents in Woodlands, Sembawang, Sengkang, Serangoon North, Whampoa, Kallang and the upcoming Greater Southern Waterfront development.

Speaking to reporters at the launch event, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said that the master plan represents the Government's commitment “to deliver the idea of 20-minute towns and 45-minute cities”.

“The key thing that is going to allow us to do that is the expansion in our rail infrastructure,” he added.

If and when the new rail line is completed, it could serve more than 400,000 households, and commuters in the northern region would have their travel time to the city centre cut by 40 minutes, LTA said.

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40 species potentially new to Singapore discovered in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve survey

Channel NewsAsia 25 May 19;

SINGAPORE: More than 40 species potentially new to Singapore have been discovered during a comprehensive survey of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, according to a National Parks Board (NParks) media release on Saturday (May 25).

In total, around 200 species new to the nature reserve were listed during the survey.

Of these, more than 30 species of spider and 10 species of beetle are potentially new to Singapore. Some may also be new to science, said NParks.

These include two new types of armour-plated spiders - the Paculla bukittimahensis, named after Bukit Timah and a type of jumping spider with white and gold scales - as well as a species of stick insect.

Researchers also found records of more than 160 plant species not previously listed in the nature reserve.

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Clean meat - the next big thing in Singapore’s push towards agriculture?

Singapore’s new agri-food innovation park should focus on seizing new opportunities, say RSIS’ Paul Teng, Asia BioBusiness’ Andrew Powell and Beanstalk Agtech’s Rob Hulme
Channel NewsAsia 26 May 19;

SINGAPORE: Would you eat a burger that doesn’t use meat?

Not only are plant-based alternatives sprouting in restaurant menus in Singapore, there seems to be more demand for them.

Local burger chain, Fatboy, for example recently launched an “Impossible” menu made with Impossible Food’s plant-based meat to long queues and rave reviews online.

California-based Impossible Foods is just one of the many companies growing plant-based meat in labs. These foods, also known as “clean” or “cellular”, are increasingly popular, driven by concerns around the sustainability of current meat production systems, both in terms of animal ethics and environmental impact.

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, these trends present huge opportunities for businesses keen to venture into the food industry.

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Small businesses bear the brunt in Malaysia’s war against single-use plastic

Fadza Ishak Channel NewsAsia 26 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Visit any Ramadan bazaar during the fasting month in Malaysia and one will notice a common feature: food and drinks are all packed in single-use plastic.

Be it thirst quenching beverages or mouthwatering rendang, traders deftly shove the packed items into thin, flimsy plastic bags and hand them over to shoppers. It is easy and convenient.

In general, Malaysia has achieved some success in cutting down single-use plastic, especially in terms of how fewer plastic bags are now being used in supermarkets.

Penang was the first state to introduce the no free plastic bag campaign for all days at supermarkets in 2011. In fact, the state government is mulling over a blanket ban on all single-use plastic.

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Thailand: Coral bleaching situation begins to improve

NNT 26 May 19;

Bangkok – Jatuphorn Burusphat, Director-General of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR), says a recent inspection of the coral in Thailand’s national marine parks has shown an improvement on the bleaching situation in many areas.

It was found that most coral bleaching in 51 areas in the Andaman Sea and 72 areas in the Gulf of Thailand has started to improve due to the arrival of the rainy season, which decreases sea temperatures. Most of the affected corals have begun to recover but are still pale.

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Best of our wild blogs: 25 May 19

Lots of dugong signs at Cyrene
wild shores of singapore

Shore exploration for kids with Young Nautilus (Jul-Sep 2019)
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Malaysia: National Tiger Survey 90% complete, says Perhilitan

ili aqilah The Star 24 May 2019;

THE two-year National Tiger Survey is expected to be completed early next year, Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Hashim says.

Abdul Kadir said the department had covered about 90% of the survey area and still had some 15,000sq km of land to do.

He said the Malayan Tiger population in the wild was believed to be fewer than 200 currently.

“It is at a worrying level.

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13th dead whale of the year washes ashore near San Francisco

Associated Press Yahoo News 25 May 19;

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Authorities say a dead gray whale has washed ashore in the San Francisco Bay Area, bringing the total to 13 dead whales found in the area since March.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the whale carcass was found Thursday along the Point Reyes National Seashore near Limantour Beach.

The Marine Mammal Center plans a necropsy to determine what killed the whale.

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Humans causing shrinking of nature as larger animals die off

Average size of wild animals predicted to fall by a quarter in 100 years through extinctions
Damian Carrington The Guardian 23 May 19;

Humanity’s ongoing destruction of wildlife will lead to a shrinking of nature, with the average body size of animals falling by a quarter, a study predicts.

The researchers estimate that more than 1,000 larger species of mammals and birds will go extinct in the next century, from rhinos to eagles. They say this could lead to the collapse of ecosystems that humans rely on for food and clean water.

Humans have wiped out most large creatures from all inhabited continents apart from Africa over the last 125,000 years. This annihilation will accelerate rapidly in the coming years, according to the research.

The future extinctions can be avoided if radical action is taken to protect wildlife and restore habitats, and the scientists say the new work can help focus efforts on key species.

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Mandai eco-resort to offer guests behind-the-scenes animal experiences

Tiffany Fumiko Tay Straits Times 23 May 19;

SINGAPORE - Beyond snoozing in the middle of five wildlife parks, overnight guests at the future eco-resort in Mandai will be able to participate in behind-the-scenes activities where they can work with keepers and learn about the animals.

Mr Mike Barclay, group chief executive of Mandai Park Holdings, said during a media conference on Thursday (May 23) that the resort will offer a unique opportunity for guests to experience hands-on and learning activities that are not currently available.

Guests could, for example, be taken to the zoo's elephant enclosure in the evenings to help keepers put together "food puzzles" to be placed in the exhibit, and return in the morning to watch the elephants pull apart the branches and twine enveloping the treats, he said.

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Primary school pupils win top prize in environmental competition with role-playing game

Aqil Hamzah Straits Times 22 May 19;

SINGAPORE - The year is 2100 and rising sea levels have forced Singaporeans to live atop a floating city.

Global warming has caused irreversible damage to the environment and the only solution is to travel back in time to educate society about the importance of environmental conservation.

This is the premise of Symbiosis: The Environment Role Playing Game, which was developed by Primary 5 pupils from Temasek Primary School in collaboration with 28 partners, including the National Environment Agency.

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Malaysia: 'Last warning': Johor state government tells businesses not to pollute rivers

Channel NewsAsia 22 May 19;

JOHOR BAHRU: The Johor state government has urged chicken farms and palm oil refineries situated along the Johor River to maintain their sewerage systems and prevent water pollution.

Those who fail to comply and end up contaminating the waters would face harsh punishments, state executive councillor for international trade, investment and utility Jimmy Puah has warned, according to local media reports.

"Operators must improve and enhance their sewage systems and waste management," he was quoted as saying by Sin Chew Daily following a meeting with some 30 industry players on Tuesday (May 21).

"Consider this the last warning from the state government," he said.

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Malaysia: Cloud seeding did not bear fruit, contingencies in place - Melaka CM

r.s.n.murali The Star 22 May 19;

MELAKA: Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari confirmed on Wednesday (May 22) says that cloud seeding exercise from May 16 to May 18 brought heavy downpours.

He however added that the downpour happened 20km away from the intended target - the Durian Tunggal Dam.

“We were hoping on cloud seeding, but it showered heavily in Tampin instead, causing us to embark on another contingency plan to ensure that the water supply here is enough during the festive season,” he said when met at Seri Negeri.

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Malaysia: Turtle researchers to switch to better tagging methods

stephanie lee The Star 22 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Researchers here have promised to use safer and better methods when tagging turtles in waters off Semporna to better protect these endangered sea creatures.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said a roundtable discussion was organised, following concerns from seasoned divers and researchers on the "lift bag method" used during the annual Mabul Sea Turtle Project.

Some claim that this method, used by certain scientists from a public university, are harmful to these marine creatures.

The "lift bag method" is used when capturing turtles to tag, where they are tied to an air-filled bag and floated to the surface.

The speed they ascend to the surface is believed to be harmful, as it could lead to decompression sickness – and even possible fatalities – in turtles.

Tuuga said there had been speculation that this was leading to the death of turtles here, but there is no evidence to these claims.

"However, the scientists involved will make appropriate changes to the method for the additional safety of turtles," he said.

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India: Coral bleaching observed near Mandapam, Keezhakkarai, Palk Bay

Shubashree Desikan The Hindu 22 May 19;

When a coral bleaches, it does not die but comes pretty close to it. Some of the corals may survive the experience and recover once the sea surface temperature returns to normal levels.

The National Centre for Coastal Research, an institute under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, in India, has a field research station in the Gulf of Mannar region, and researchers led by Dr. Shanmugaraj have found an alarming pattern of bleaching in the reefs in Mandapam, Keezhakkarai and Palk Bay. They have found that sea surface temperature ranged from 28.7°C to 31°C in the August 2018-February 2019 period and there was no bleaching seen then. However, when the temperatures rose to between 32°C and 36°C between March 2019 and May 2019, researchers observed a pattern of bleaching in corals, which was different at different layers within the sea.

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Best of our wild blogs: 22 May 19

Terumbu Semakau still alive
wild shores of singapore

1-2 June (Sat, Sun): Singapore Blue Plan at the Biodiversity Carnival
Singapore Blue Plan 2018

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Hospitals need to shrink their carbon footprint

PATS OLIVA Today Online 22 May 19;

Despite its mandate to protect and save lives, the healthcare sector is a major source of carbon emissions. Hospitals use vast resources, energy-intensive equipment, operate around the clock, and generate and dispose of medical plastic waste by incineration.

In 2018, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service was responsible for 5 per cent of the country’s 364 tonnes of carbon dioxide produced.

Hospitals contribute to climate change, and climate change is threatening to undo the last 50 years of gains in public health.

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Malaysia, flooded with plastic waste, to send back some scrap to source

A. Ananthalakshmi, Emily Chow Reuters 21 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia, which has become the dumping ground for the world’s plastic waste, will send back non-recyclable plastic scrap to the developed countries that sent it there, its environment minister said on Tuesday.

Malaysia last year became the leading alternative destination for plastic scrap after China banned imports of such waste, disrupting the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of plastic scrap a year.

Dozens of recycling factories cropped up in Malaysia, many without an operating license, and residents complained of environmental damage.

Most of the plastic scrap coming into the country is contaminated and low-quality plastic from developed countries that is non-recyclable.

Now Malaysia has begun sending back the waste to its country of origin, said Yeo Bee Yin, Malaysia’s minister of energy, technology, science, climate change and environment.

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Malaysia: Sabah pushing for rhino breeding and conservation collaboration with Indonesia

Avila Geraldine, Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 22 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will push for a collaboration with Indonesia to set up a Sumatran rhinoceros breeding and conservation programme.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said Sabah is committed to establishing a mutual agreement to protect the endangered species.

"I am very concerned about our Sumatran rhinoceros. Sabah is now left with two of them, but our male rhinoceros Tam is now very ill.

"I had spoken to state wildlife director Augustine Tuuga and we will make a trip to Indonesia in June or July.

Read more!

Malaysia: Turtle eggs are being sold openly in Sabah, and tourists are partly to blame

It is illegal to possess turtle eggs under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997. Those convicted face a fine of RM50,000 or a jail term of up to five years, or both.
Amir Yusof Channel NewsAsia 22 May 19;

SANDAKAN, Sabah: Cars idle in endless queues along Sandakan’s busiest street, Jalan Pryer, as locals horde the dozens of rustic shophouses for bargains.

Right in the heart of the neighbourhood’s labyrinth of alleys, a group of men stood on a prominent street corner with wads of cash bulging in their pockets.

They seemed relaxed, leaning against the walls while smoking, observing passersby. The eyes of one of them lit up when he saw this reporter walking by.

“You want turtle eggs, brother? I give you a good price,” he asked in Bahasa Malaysia. “How much?” I asked.

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Plastic straws, cotton buds and drink stirrers to be banned in England

Government confirms ban on sale and use of items from April next year
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 22 May 19;

Plastic straws and drink stirrers, and cotton buds with plastic stems will be banned from sale and use in England from next April, the government has confirmed.

The move, which has been in the offing for more than a year, is hoped to vastly reduce the litter and other environmental impacts of the nearly 5bn plastic straws currently used each year in the UK, along with more than 300m plastic stirrers and close to 2bn cotton buds with plastic stems.

Huge numbers of these items, particularly cotton buds, are flushed down toilets or otherwise end up in litter – surveys have recently found waterways across the UK teeming with plastic, putting wildlife at risk.

Alternatives are available, including serving drinks without straws or stirrers, which is preferable, or using paper straws and biodegradable products in place of plastic stirrers and cotton buds. The only exceptions to the new rule will be for people with a medical need or disability, for whom plastic straws and other materials will be available upon request.

The EU is also moving to phase out plastics in various forms.

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Best of our wild blogs: 21 May 19

Three-clam day at Terumbu Pempang Laut
wild shores of singapore

1-2 June (Sat, Sun): Biodiversity Carnival at the Central Library
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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Malaysia: Diving fraternity angry over picture of diver holding protected Hawksbill turtle

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 20 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: A picture of a diver holding up a totally protected turtle in the waters here has caused anger among the diving fraternity.

The picture, which was shared in a WhatsApp chat group with members comprising mostly professional divers and Sabah Parks staff, showed the diver holding a Hawksbill turtle up from the surface of the water.

The diving group has described the act as thoughtless and called on the relevant authorities to investigate and take necessary action against such irresponsible behaviour towards marine life.

It was unclear whether the incident occurred within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park (TARP) or outside it, but the water appeared to be shallow. It was also unclear why such an act was committed.

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Coral bleaching event underway in French Polynesia despite no El Nino

Jo Khan ABC 21 May 19;

Widespread coral bleaching has been reported in the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti and Moorea, even though there was no El Nino event this year.

Key points:
More than 50 per cent of coral reefs around Tahiti and Moorea have been bleached
Bleached corals have been observed as deep as 100 metres
Scientists are concerned the lack of climate action will spell the end of the world's reefs

The reefs are among the most regularly bleached in the world, thanks to their position in the path of warm waters that spread west from South America during El Nino years.

This year, however, without the presence of an El Nino and the warmer water it brings, the reefs should have been spared.

But in the last few days, it's been estimated that 50 to 60 per cent of corals on reefs around Tahiti and Moorea have been bleached, according to marine biologist Luiz Rocha from the Californian Academy of Sciences.

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Rise in global sea levels could have 'profound consequences'

Matt McGrath BBC 21 May 19;

Scientists believe that global sea levels could rise far more than predicted, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica.

The long-held view has been that the world's seas would rise by a maximum of just under a metre by 2100.

This new study, based on expert opinions, projects that the real level may be around double that figure.

This could lead to the displacement of hundreds of millions of people, the authors say.

The question of sea-level rise was one of the most controversial issues raised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), when it published its fifth assessment report in 2013.

It said the continued warming of the planet, without major reductions in emissions, would see global waters rising by between 52cm and 98cm by 2100.

Many experts believe this was a very conservative estimate.

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Best of our wild blogs: 20 May 19

Wild fun for kids during the June school holidays!
wild shores of singapore

Mushroom (coral) overdose at Pulau Hantu!
wild shores of singapore

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Diving in: Singapore scientists, volunteers on a mission to protect local reefs from marine trash

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 19 May 19;

SINGAPORE — As the divers navigated their way through Singapore’s southern waters, the beam from their flashlights came across a child-like hand sticking out from the murky depths.

They approached it with apprehension and, to their relief, discovered that it was a doll.

“It was during the Seventh Month (Hungry Ghost Festival)…It was so creepy that I couldn’t sleep the whole night!” said Ms Sam Shu Qin, 30, one of the founders of Our Singapore Reefs.

Undeterred by the spooky encounter, the team from the non-profit organisation has continued on their mission to clean up the waters around the southern islands of marine trash.

The debris poses a threat to the marine biodiversity in Singapore, said Ms Sam, a marine biologist.

Research is emerging on the environmental damage caused by plastic – the most common type of marine debris retrieved in Singapore, making up 57 per cent of the pieces retrieved.

A new study released on May 15 revealed that the production and incineration of plastic in 2019 will add more than 850 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere — equal to the pollution from 189 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.

According to the report by the Center for International Environmental Law and other groups, oceans absorb as much as 40 percent of all human-produced carbon dioxide since the beginning of the industrial era.

A small but growing body of research suggests plastic discarded in the environment may be disrupting the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide, said the report, titled Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet.

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Paws for reflection: Animals blessed and rehomed as Buddhist temple marks Vesak Day

Michelle Ng Straits Times 19 May 19;

SINGAPORE - Singapore's only 24-hour Tibetan Buddhist temple marked Vesak Day on Sunday (May 19) by inviting pet owners to get their animals blessed and animal welfare charities to stage an adoption drive for strays.

Thekchen Choling described the event as a modern-day interpretation of the traditional Buddhist animal liberation practice.

For the first time, the temple on Beatty Lane in Jalan Besar collaborated with four animal welfare groups - the Animal Human Alliance, Cat Welfare Society, Purely Adoptions and Forget Me Not - to hold the cat and dog adoption drive with cats and raise awareness of animal welfare.

Traditionally, Buddhists release animals on Vesak Day to create merit but the temple's spiritual director Singha Rinpoche said the practice could be viewed in other ways in today's context.

He said: "Buying and releasing animals is actually not good for the environment so it's much better if we can feed and rehome strays. Rather than blind faith, we want to promote social and spiritual cohesion along with the teaching that all beings, both humans and animals, are equal."

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Baby monkey lying on road saved by passers-by who helped divert traffic

Choo Yun Ting Straits Times 19 May 19;

SINGAPORE - A baby monkey was found lying on a road in Bukit Panjang on Sunday (May 19), but it was saved by kind passers-by.

One of the passers-by, who wanted to be identified only as Mrs Lo, told The Straits Times that she and her husband were driving along Petir Road at around 3pm on Sunday when they saw a woman dressed in black directing traffic along the two-lane road.

The area is near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where monkeys such as the long-tailed macaques are frequently sighted.

Mrs Lo and her husband realised that the woman was diverting traffic to the left lane because a baby monkey was lying prone on the right lane near Block 202 Petir Road. A larger monkey, which seemed to be the animal's parent, was trying to get to it, Mrs Lo said.

"The baby monkey looked like it was unconscious and could be dead, but it later raised one of its arms and that's when we realised it was still alive," she added.

There were no visible injuries, Mrs Lo said.

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Malaysia could lose last male Sumatran rhino

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 19 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is in danger of losing Tam, its last male Sumatran rhinoceros.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the animal’s appetite and alertness had declined abruptly since the end of last month.

“Serious concerns are growing over (Tam’s) health now. It is receiving round-the-clock attention and medication,” she said.

“Tests are ongoing, but it seems that one or more of his internal organs are not functioning well.”

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Malaysia wages 'war' on Vietnam trawlers

Adrian David New Straits Times 19 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA has sent a strong message to Vietnam that it is fully committed to protecting its billions of ringgit of fish and marine resources in the South China Sea.

On April 25, Malaysia initiated a multi-agency task force to safeguard its 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) from poaching by Vietnamese trawlers.

Wisma Putra followed it up by sending a strong protest note to Hanoi, via its ambassador here on May 8, signalling its “war” against the marauding trawlers.

The task force is understood to have mobilised an assortment of maritime, naval, marine and fisheries assets and thousands of personnel, with “eye in the sky” support from the air force.

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Malaysia: Increased diving permits for Pulau Sipadan

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 19 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Pulau Sipadan, the globally renowned diving destination, is going to become more crowded.

This is after Sabah Parks increased its daily diving permits from the 120 to 176 permits per day.

Despite the diving permit increase, Sabah Parks has however restricted diving activity to only three dives per diver (528 dives a day) as compared to the previous maximum four dives per diver (480 dives a day).

Taking into effect this month, the move is a temporary measure to see whether the additional number of permits and the increased number of divers would have a significant impact on Pulau Sipadan.

It is learnt that Universiti Malaysia Sabah will conduct a study on the ecological impact.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 19 May 19

Corallimorphs of Singapore identified!
wild shores of singapore

Awls of Singapore : Part 2
Butterflies of Singapore

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What will it take to kick Singapore's growing multimillion-dollar addiction to bottled water?

Singapore is known the world over for the quality of its tap water. Nonetheless, consumers here still fork out millions of dollars on bottled water every year.
Lianne Chia Channel NewsAsia 19 May 19;

SINGAPORE: The water flowing from Singapore's taps is perfectly safe to drink, but recent research shows that many people still prefer to quench their thirst with bottled water, with demand continuing to grow.

Data from research firm Euromonitor International show that sales of bottled water have been increasing steadily over the years - from S$161.3 million in 2013 to S$179.4 million in 2018. The figure includes sales of all types of bottled water, including still, carbonated, flavoured and what is known as "functional" water, which is enhanced with ingredients such as vitamins.

And this has an impact on the environment, given that most bottled water is sold in single-used plastic containers, very little of which is recycled, according to the Singapore Environment Council.

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Panel formed to articulate youth vision for Singapore in 2025 and create action plan to get there

Joanna Seow Straits Times 18 May 19;

SINGAPORE - Many young people today hope that in six years, Singapore society will be inclusive, compassionate and respectful. They also hope that people will live sustainable lifestyles and enjoy better work-life balance.

These hopes were raised at a three-hour dialogue session on Saturday (May 18) called Youth Conversations. More than 100 young people aged between 16 and 40 participated in the event at The Red Box in Somerset.

Members of a new panel that will lead efforts to articulate young people's vision for Singapore in 2025, and to come up with an action plan to get there, were there to take in their views.

The formation of the SG Youth Action Plan panel was announced on Saturday by Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, who is co-chair of the panel together with Mr Edward Chia, music and lifestyle company Timbre Group's co-founder and chief executive.

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Hari Raya Bazaar at Our Tampines Hub goes green

Jolene Ang Straits Times 18 May 19;

SINGAPORE - Ramadan is a good opportunity for Singaporeans to build cohesiveness and forge deeper understandings, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (May 18) evening.

Speaking at the launch of Our Tampines Hub's annual Hari Raya Bazaar, which is into its third edition, Mr Heng said: "I think as we celebrate this event, we can build a deeper understanding and a closer sense of community.

"And this is important not just for our Muslims, but for all races and religions. I'm very happy to see so many people coming together, enjoying each other's company and getting to know one another better," said Mr Heng, who is also MP for Tampines GRC.

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Malaysia: Getting tough on polluters

sim leoi leoi The Star 19 May 19;

PETALING JAYA: Stiffer penalties of up to a RM5mil fine will be imposed for environmental offences under a new Act that is currently being drafted.

A trust fund is also being set up to reward whistleblowers and for effective enforcement. For now, public feedback on what would constitute the new law is being sought.

These come in the wake of the recent toxic waste dumping of Sungai Kim Kim, which at its peak sent over 4,000 people to hospitals in Pasir Gudang. Besides this, the recent controversy over illegal imported plastic waste has also prompted work on the new Act.

Among others, it will see hefty fines for offences across the board, much heavier than those imposed under the current Environmental Quality Act 1974.

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Malaysia: Save what’s left of Melaka’s forests, group tells state govt

The Star 19 May 19;

MELAKA: An environmental group has called on the Melaka government to conserve the remaining 3% of its forest reserve following news that fresh contracts have been awarded for sand dredging activities at a 200ha forest reserve in Jasin.

The Organisation for the Preservation of Natural Heritage Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said the state government should stop giving excuses to justify their move to award contracts for sand dredging activities.

“There has been no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report carried out before the contracts to the six companies were given.

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Malaysia: Ban on plastic straws in Selangor eateries from July 1

edward rajendra The Star 18 May 19;

A BAN on plastic straws will take effect beginning July 1 in all eateries in Selangor.

The state government is imposing the ban with the aim of eliminating single-use plastics, which pollute the seas and endanger marine life.

State Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said Selangor would prohibit eateries from habitually providing customers with single-use plastic drinking straws.

“We will instruct all eateries, be they restaurants or neighbourhood coffeeshops to stop providing plastic straws with every drink.

“But the eatery is allowed to give a plastic straw to a customer upon request,” he said after visiting the Taman Greenwood Ramadan bazaar in Batu Caves.

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Malaysia: Illegal entry of waste banned

Syed Umar Ariff New Straits Times 18 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Garbage illegally exported to Malaysia will be shipped back to their countries of origin following amended annexes under the Basel Convention, which
generally require for the entry of plastic scraps to obtain permission from importing countries.

The change under the Basel Convention is expected to significantly reduce plastic waste entry into Malaysia, which became one of the world’s dumping grounds after China’s ban on solid waste import on Jan 1 last year.

The ban covered 24 types of waste, including low-grade polyethene terephthalate and unsorted paper.

Prior to the ban, China reigned as the major processor of at least half of global waste exports.

The amended annexes would see greater control over transboundary plastic waste movement beginning 2021, when signatory countries completed aligning local laws with the annexes.

Malaysia has been a party to the Basel Convention since 1993 alongside 186 other countries.

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Thailand: Nearly half of coral off Nai Yang damaged, killed by bleaching

PHUKET: Specialists from the Department of Natural Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) have discovered that some 10% of coral off Nai Yang Beach are dead because of bleaching while 30% more damaged.
Waranya Prompinpiras The Phuket News 18 May 19;

The discovery was made during a joint inspection by the Phuket Marine National Park Operation Center 2 and Sirinath National Park on Thursday (May 16).

“Officers from the Phuket Marine National Park Operation Center 2 and Sirinath National Park checked the condition of coral at the depth of 1.5-5 meters off Nai Yang beach. We found that 10% of Staghorn Coral, Hump Coral, Cauliflower Coral and Mushroom Coral were killed by bleaching. Some 30% are damaged by bleaching, but still alive,” an officer from the Phuket Marine National Park Operation Center 2 told The Phuket News.

Still the forecast is optimistic due to changing weather conditions.

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Number of dengue cases in 2019 surpasses last year's total count

Channel NewsAsia 17 May 19;

SINGAPORE: The number of dengue cases recorded in 2019 so far has surpassed the total number of cases in 2018, figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA) show.

As of 3pm on Thursday (May 16), there have been 3,455 dengue cases in Singapore in 2019, more than the 3,285 cases reported in 2018 and 2,772 cases in 2017.

Three people have died from dengue this year amid the spike in the number of cases. In March, a 71-year-old woman who lived in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 died from dengue.

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Malaysia: Illegal plastic factories booming

lo tern chern The Star 18 May 19;

BUKIT MERTAJAM: While authorities believe that there are about 400 plastic recycling factories in Seberang Prai alone, the number of illegal operators may easily outnumber the legal ones.

Penang Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said most of the illegal operators were mainly in Bukit Tengah.

“I believe that there are more unlicensed plastic recycling factories than the legal ones, and the waste is mainly brought in from other states or imported.

“Most of these factories are near Port Klang and Penang as we both have ports for the plastic to be brought in.

Read more!

Indonesia: Jumping to the rescue of the proboscis monkey

Antara 17 May 19;

Every effort is not easy, but if we are serious, it can never be in vain. Save Bekantan - save our forests. Let us together become agents of change to save the planet,
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Amalia Rezeki, a lecturer at the Faculty of Biology Education, University of Lambung Mangkurat, was never one for whiling away time, and spent most of it doing things for others and for the environment.

As a biology lecturer, Rezeki's love for the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus), the sharp-nosed animal, was not surprising. The extent of her love, however, was.

She spent most of her life preserving and protecting the Bekantan, which is also an icon in South Kalimantan, and went on to become the first woman in Indonesia to dedicate herself to protecting the Bekantan from extinction, having founded the Indonesian Bekantan Foundation (SBI) as part of her mission to save the Proboscis monkey.

Dedicating her life to preserving the proboscis monkey was never about appreciation, but more a form of responsibility for Rezeki. "As a key species, for us, saving the Bekantan is like saving planet earth," said Rezeki who is completing her final semester in the environmental doctoral program at the Lambung Mangkurat University.

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Vietnam: Dolphin species thought extinct in Vietnam caught in Mekong Delta

Phan Anh, Hoang Nam, Cuu Long Vietnam Express 17 May 19;

Phan Van Thai, 49, and his wife were fishing on the Co Chien River in Cho Lach District when they heard a loud splashing sound. On further inspection, they discovered a creature they could not identify trapped in their net.

"I’ve been fishing for the last 20 years, but I have never seen any fish as big and strange as this one," Thai said. The creature was approximately 2.3 meters (7.5 feet) long and weighed 150 kilograms (330 pounds).

The animal was dead, and Thai stored it in ice and waited for authorities to identify it. It was later identified as an Irrawaddy dolphin, a species of dolphin previously thought to have disappeared from Vietnam's Mekong River, Vu Long, director of the Center for Biodiversity Conservation and Endangered Species, told the media.

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Best of our wild blogs: 17 May 19

19 May: Registration opens for FREE St. John's Island tour on 23 Jun (Sun)
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Singapore Raptor Report – March 2019
Singapore Bird Group

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Malaysia: Don't harm wandering tapir, Negri Sembilan Perhilitan tells residents

Abnor Hamizam Abd Manap New Straits Times 16 May 19;

JELEBU: Negri Sembilan Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) today urged residents not to harm a stray tapir which had wandered into the Pertang residential area recently.

The advice came following a viral post shared by netizens on various social media platforms yesterday.

State Perhilitan director Wan Mat Wan Harun, said the department would investigate the matter although no official complaint has been received so far on the incident.

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Malaysia: Poachers fined RM1.56mil, the biggest yet for wildlife crime

The Star 16 May 19;

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Terengganu Sessions Court has meted out a whopping RM1.56mil fine on two Vietnamese nationals caught poaching, making it the biggest fine ever imposed for wildlife crime.

The two men, Hoang Van Viet, 29, and Nguyen Van Thiet, 26, were also sentenced to two years in jail after being convicted on 20 charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 for illegal possession of threatened and protected animal parts, including leopard, tapir and sun bear.

According to Traffic South-East Asia, the men pleaded guilty to charges under four sections of the law for illegal use of snares, illegal possession of totally protected species as well as protected species.

Judge Azman Mustapha also ruled that athe duo would be jailed a further 16 years if they failed to pay the fines.

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Malaysia: Melaka begins cloud seeding as dam drops to critical levels

r.s.n.murali The Star 16 May 19;

MELAKA: Melaka has begun cloud seeding on Thursday (May 16) as the Durian Tunggal Dam, the main water source for the state, is almost at critical levels.

State Transport, Works and Public Amenities Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Sofi Abdul Wahab said the cloud seeding would continue till Saturday (May 18).

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Indonesia: Biak district bans use of plastic bags

Antara 16 May 19;

Biak, Papua (ANTARA) - The Biak Numfor district government in the easternmost Indonesian province of Papua plans to ban the use of plastic bags in shops and markets, as of June 1, 2019, as part of efforts to reduce plastic trash.

"The ban on the use of plastic bags is a follow up on the regional strategic policy of managing garbage based upon the regional regulation of 2018 on garbage and government regulation number 81 of 2012 on the management of garbage," second assistant to regional secretary Ferry Betay said on Thursday, at an event to familiarize the public with the ban on the use of plastic bags.

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Dozens of gray whales are dying on the West Coast as they make their epic Alaskan migration

Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY Yahoo News 17 May 19;

SAN FRANCISCO — At least 53 dead or dying gray whales have washed up on West Coast beaches this spring, a death rate that’s only been seen once before. The great mammals are starving to death and scientists have theories as to why but so far no full explanation.

The number of deaths is likely much higher because it’s estimated that only 10% of dead whales actually end up on shore, said John Calambokidis, a research biologist with the non-profit Cascadia Research in Olympia, Washington, who studies whale populations on the West Coast.

That could mean as many as 530 whales have died, a large number for a population that is estimated to be just over 20,000 and that only began to rebound in recent decades after being hunted almost to extinction in the late 1800s.

The strandings have occurred up and down the West Coast, on major public beaches and in sheltered coves. What they have in common is the heart-wrenching image of these giants of the sea dying as they try to reach their feeding grounds, but not making it.

Whales that wash ashore offer a window in the health of marine ecosystems, said Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.

“They’re great indicators for what’s happening in the ocean and the animals are telling us what’s going on right now,” he said.

What they're saying is that something's wrong.

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Best of our wild blogs: 16 May 19

1 June (Sat): Want to learn how to be a nature guide? Come join the Chek Jawa Familiarisation Tour with the Naked Hermit Crabs!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs

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Waterspout off Singapore coast sparks climate debate

Experts say unusual and extreme weather events occur due to climate change and also by chance
CHERYL TEH The New Paper 16 May 19;

A waterspout developed off the southern coast of Singapore on Saturday.

The phenomenon, as well as unseasonably cold or warm spells around the world, have people asking yet again: Are more unusual and extreme weather incidents here and around the world because of climate change, or an unexpected confluence of factors?

It is a bit of both, climate experts say.

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Schools, Education Ministry can do more for the environment

ANG ZYN YEE Today Online 15 May 19;

It is heartening to see the attention that the Government is giving to tackling excessive waste production and raising awareness of proper recycling habits.

Designating 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste, the authorities are sending a strong message that combating climate change and environmental destruction is a key priority.

More can be done, however, especially in schools and educational institutions.

Schools are integral to shaping the character and outlook of our youth and there is no better place to begin instilling environmental awareness in our people.

Climate change is a pressing problem and how schools are run should reflect that urgency.

I have several suggestions for the Ministry of Education and schools on the larger role they can play in Singapore’s efforts to preserve our planet.

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Indonesia: East Nusa Tenggara to conduct research on Komodo dragons

The Jakarta Post 15 May 19;

As Komodo Island will be closed to the public as of January 2020, the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration in cooperation with Nusa Cendana University (Undana) in Kupang will conduct research on the habitat of Komodo dragons in the Komodo National Park, West Manggarai.

"Our cooperation with Undana's research team will be an important part of the NTT administration's efforts to preserve the animals," the administration's secretary, Benediktus Polo Maing, said in Kupang on Wednesday as quoted by Antara.

Benediktus said his office had met with representatives of relevant agencies, including Undana's research team.

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Single-use plastics a serious climate change hazard, study warns

Production must end now, says first ever estimate of plastic’s cradle-to-grave impact
Sandra Laville The Guardian 15 May 19;

The proliferation of single-use plastic around the world is accelerating climate change and should be urgently halted, a report warns.

Plastic production is expanding worldwide, fuelled in part by the fracking boom in the US. The report says plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to its refining and the way it is managed as a waste product.

This plastic binge threatens attempts to meet the Paris climate agreement. It means that by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total “carbon budget” – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants – says the research published on Thursday.

The contribution of plastic production and disposal to climate change has been largely hidden, say the authors of the report by the Center for International Environmental Law, which estimates the greenhouse gas footprint of plastic from the cradle to the grave for the first time.

While plastic pollution in the oceans has become a high-profile concern, the effect on climate change of the ubiquitous use of plastic has not been a focus.

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Best of our wild blogs: 15 May 19

25 May (Sat): R.U.M. mangrove cleanup
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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From ideas to action, Singapore youth are making a difference in the community in their own ways

AsiaOne 14 May 19;

"Self-absorbed", "apathetic", "deeply self-entitled", "couldn't care less" - do our youth deserve to be stereotyped this way?

If you listen to their life experiences, learn about their life-changing initiatives and read about their hopes for our nation, you will realise that they are nothing like the labels you may have used on them.

In the past year, the Youth Conversations series engaged over 8,000 youth aged 15 to 35 to share their views and ideas for change on various issues that Singapore faces.

Here are some of the insights gathered from these conversations:

Youth are redefining their version of success

The youth are aware that society views success differently from them.

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Malaysia: Two suspected poachers arrested, firearms, bullets seized

T.N.Alages New Straits Times 14 May 19;

KUANTAN: Five men, believed to be poachers, entered the Lesong Forest Reserve in Rompin yesterday afternoon with firearms to hunt.

However, their luck ran out when they were stopped in their tracks by a team of Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers who were patrolling in the area about 1.30pm.

As the rangers were inspecting the Mitsubishi Pajero four-wheel-drive vehicle they were travelling in three of the suspects jumped off the vehicle and fled into the forest.

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Malaysia: Lift bags are harmful to turtles - Divers

stephanie lee The Star 15 May 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Professional divers in Semporna are concerned with the “lift bag” method used by certain researchers to tag turtles in waters off Mabul island.

Semporna Professional Divers Association deputy president Dahlan Maizin said using lift bags to bring turtles to the surface might be harmful to the marine species.

“This method was used a few years back and, recently, we saw some researchers using the same method.

“One of us had taken part in the research work a few years ago and took a video of the process.

The researchers were believed to be from local higher learning institutes.

Citing the concept of diving and resurfacing in humans, Dahlan said such a method where a person swims to the surface quickly without any break in between were life threatening due to the drastic change in the pressure to body functions.

“It could be the same for the turtles that are lifted out of the water in such a quick manner.

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Indonesia: West Java aims to be malaria-free by 2022

Arya Dipa The Jakarta Post 14 May 19;

The West Java administration is aiming to be malaria-free by 2022, as at least four regencies in the province are still being declared malaria-endemic areas.

Data issued by the West Java health agency show 23 of the 27 regencies and cities across the province have obtained malaria-free certification. On the other hand, malaria cases still occur in the Pangandaran, Garut, Sukabumi and Tasikmalaya regencies.

“What occurred in Sukabumi, Garut and Tasikmalaya were imported malaria cases. Meanwhile, an indigenous case occurred in Pangandaran,” West Java governor Ridwan Kamil reported in a statement on Monday.

According to the World Health Organization, imported malaria cases occur when the infection was acquired from outside the area in which it is diagnosed. Indigenous cases are contracted locally with no evidence of importation and no direct link to transmission from an imported case.

Despite being malaria-endemic areas, the four regions' annual parasite incident rate -- the number of malaria cases per 1,000 residents in a year -- was less than one.

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Mismanaged waste 'kills up to a million people a year globally'

Report says plastics adding to death tolls in the developing world from easily prevented diseases
Fiona Harvey The Guardian 14 May 19;

Mismanaged waste is causing hundreds of thousands of people to die each year in the developing world from easily preventable causes, and plastic waste is adding a new and dangerous dimension to the problem, a report has found.

Municipal waste frequently goes uncollected in poorer countries and its buildup fuels the spread of disease. Between 400,000 and 1 million people are dying as a result of such mismanaged waste, according to the charity Tearfund.

While mismanaged waste has been a problem for decades, the growth of plastic pollution, , which does not break down in the environment, is adding a fresh set of problems to an already dire situation. Plastic waste is blocking waterways and causing flooding, which in turn spreads waterborne diseases. When people burn the waste to get rid of it, it releases harmful toxins and causes air pollution.

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Plastic pollution harms the bacteria that help produce the oxygen we breathe

Macquarie University Science Daily 14 May 19;

Ten per cent of the oxygen we breathe comes from just one kind of bacteria in the ocean. Now laboratory tests have shown that these bacteria are susceptible to plastic pollution, according to a study published in Communications Biology.

"We found that exposure to chemicals leaching from plastic pollution interfered with the growth, photosynthesis and oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean's most abundant photosynthetic bacteria," says lead author and Macquarie University researcher Dr Sasha Tetu.

"Now we'd like to explore if plastic pollution is having the same impact on these microbes in the ocean."

Plastic pollution has been estimated to cause more than US$13 billion in economic damage to marine ecosystems each year, and the problem is only getting worse with marine plastic pollution estimated to outweigh fish by 2050.

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Best of our wild blogs: 14 May 19

Singapore Reefs In A New Light
Hantu Blog

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Policy loopholes turn Indonesia into dumping site: Environmentalists

Straits Times 13 Mar 19;

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Environmentalists have called on the Trade Ministry to immediately revise its 2016 regulation on waste imports, saying it contains several loopholes that have turned Indonesia into a dump site for developed countries.

The activists argued that even though developed nations, excluding the United States, had recently agreed to restrict global waste trade, Indonesia still needed to tighten its policies to prevent plastic waste smuggling.

A Greenpeace report issued in April shows that there has been an increase in the shipment of plastic waste from developed countries to developing nations, including Indonesia, since China banned waste imports. The Chinese ban on imports of 24 types of waste material went into effect in February 2018.

Waste imports to Indonesia soared from 10,000 tonnes per month in late 2017 to 35,000 tonnes per month in late 2018.

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'Step-change' in energy investment needed to meet climate goals: IEA

Marlowe HOOD, AFP Yahoo News 14 May 19;

Paris (AFP) - The world must double spending on renewable power and slash investment in oil and coal by 2030 to keep the Paris climate treaty temperature targets in play, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Tuesday.

For that to happen, however, trend lines on both fronts moved in the wrong direction last year, the agency reported in its 4th annual World Energy Investment overview.

Money going into new upstream oil and gas projects -- exploration, drilling and infrastructure -- rose four percent in 2018, while investment in new coal sources went up by two percent, the first increase in that sector since 2012.

At the same time, investment in new renewable power of all kinds dipped by about two percent.

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Best of our wild blogs: 13 May 19

Bryozoan surveys, May 2019
wild shores of singapore

Awls of Singapore : Part 1
Butterflies of Singapore

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Why rapid extinction of plant, animal species matters

DARYL CHOO Today Online 12 May 19;

SINGAPORE — Human activities are putting a million species worldwide at risk of extinction, threatening ecosystems that people around the world depend on for survival, a United Nations (UN) assessment has found.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by more than a hundred international experts, is the most comprehensive assessment on biodiversity and ecosystems yet.

A summary of findings, released last Monday (May 6) in Paris, paints a bleak picture.

Global plant and animal species’ extinction is now “10 to hundreds of times” higher compared to that over the last 10 million years. Many of these extinctions will happen within decades, and that rate is set to climb, the report said.

At least 680 vertebrate species have already been driven to extinction by human action in the last 500 years. The loss of habitats, overconsumption and pollution will result in countless more facing a similar fate.


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Malaysia: Open burning by pineapple farmers causes haze in Sarawak

KANDAU SIDI New Straits Times 12 May 19;

MIRI: Irresponsible pineapple farmers, conducting open burning in the Vista Perdana and Desa Bahagia areas, have been identified as the culprits behind the haze problem plaguing southern Sarawak.

Assistant Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the farmers had apparently ignored the dry weather notices issued earlier to warn local plantation owners against such activity.

The haze was said to have engulfed several housing areas nearby with some residents claiming to have fallen ill.

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Singapore committed to UN goals on sustainable development: Masagos

Derek Wong Straits Times 12 May 19;

Initiatives to reduce food waste and leverage technology to transform agriculture have been implemented so Singapore can play its part in a global campaign to end hunger, said Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

Mr Masagos told the G-20 Agriculture Ministers' Meeting in Niigata, Japan, that Singapore is committed to achieving the United Nations' sustainable development goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2.

This aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable farming.

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Tackling global biodiversity challenge from the ground

Peter Edwards and Justine Saunders Straits Times 11 May 19;

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report published earlier this week documents a truly alarming picture of the accelerating loss of biological diversity around the world. It concludes that the state of the environment is critical - with 75 per cent of the world's land area significantly altered by humans, and approximately one million species at risk of extinction.

More importantly, it emphasises that this potential loss of species is worrying, not merely for conservation reasons, but because biological diversity is essential for human well-being.

In the past 25 years, we have gained a much fuller understanding of our dependence upon the "ecosystem services" that plants and animals provide. For example, healthy forests help to regulate water and cool the environment, and healthy oceans provide a sustainable supply of fish.

Without these ecosystem services, we jeopardise economic growth and put the lives of future generations at risk.

The problem of biodiversity loss, as presented in the report, is one of a "tragedy of the commons" playing out on a global scale. But despite the gravity of the situation, the report's authors insist it is not too late to act.

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Powering up clean energy on Semakau

Fish farm runs on energy harnessed from renewable sources with micro-grid system
Vanessa Liu Straits Times 11 May 19;

Semakau Island might be known for being Singapore's only landfill site, but it is also producing 100 per cent clean energy to power a fish farm there.

More than 9,500 sq m of solar panels located there, coupled with a wind turbine, can power up to 350 four-room Housing Board units for a year, with a total output of 1.5MW at peak capacity.

Since the end of February, the deep-sea fish farm owned by Barramundi Asia on the island has been running on 100 per cent clean energy harnessed from different renewable sources with an energy integration system.

The Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator-Singapore (Reids) - a project initiated by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - is the largest system of interconnected micro-grids in South-east Asia.

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Malaysia’s palm oil growers fall on hard times

Vincent Tan Channel NewsAsia 12 May 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: It has not been a particularly good year for Malaysia's palm oil industry, hammered first by dwindling demand from its traditional markets, and then in March, the European Commission (EC) concluded that palm oil would be phased out from use in transport fuels by 2030 due to environmental concerns.

As the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, Malaysia has hit back, with politicians calling the EC’s decision protectionist and threatening retaliation.

On the ground, low palm prices and sustainability are only part of the problems faced by smallholders. They also have to deal with pests and low yield; some are considering whether to repurpose their plantations.

Mr Ibrahim Manap, 58, a smallholder in Hulu Selangor, said the declaration by the EC that palm oil is “unsustainable” is only a political excuse.

“They can chop their forests down, but we are (supposed to be) oxygen suppliers. This is not fair,” Mr Ibrahim said.

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Malaysia: Those involved in death of clouded leopard have one week to come forward

The Star 11 May 19;

MELAKA (Bernama): The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has given two individuals believed to be involved in the death of a clouded leopard at a farm in Kampung Kemuning, Alor Gajah, a week's time to come forward and record their statements.

Melaka Perhilitan director Mohd Hasdi Husin said the individuals spotted in a picture with a carcass of the animal listed as 'vulnerable' (population decreasing) in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List have been urged to come to the Perhilitan office to assist with determining the cause of the animal's death.

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Malaysia: Metal toxicity at sea is harming marine life

arnold loh The Star 11 May 19;

GEORGE TOWN: The heavy metal nickel – in a concentration 944% higher than natural – has been found in the sea off Penang National Park in Teluk Bahang.

It is identified as the probable pollutant that led to anoxic or dead zones with hardly any dissolved oxygen (DO) along the island’s north coast since last month and may also be killing live marine specimens in a research lab at the park’s beach.

The nickel-based pollutant is believed to have spread and caused the sea off Tanjung Bungah, not far from Penang Swimming Club, to record a DO level of just 0.08mg/L – too low to support marine life.

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Indonesia's search for new capital vexes green groups

Straits Times 11 May 19;

JAKARTA • President Joko Widodo has ended a two-day trip to different cities in Kalimantan on Borneo island in search of options to set up a new capital for Indonesia, after his administration decided to move ahead with a plan to create a new administrative hub away from overcrowded Jakarta.

He said he was assessing the "feel" of each city touted as an option for the new capital.

After his city-hopping trip across the Indonesian side of Borneo, he seemed impressed with at least two sites: Bukit Soeharto - or Suharto Hill - in East Kalimantan and the Triangle Area in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan.

But there are concerns among green groups that moving the centre of government to Kalimantan might lead to environmental disasters in or around the new capital.

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