Best of our wild blogs: 31 Aug 19

Amazing living reefs of Kusu Island
wild shores of singapore

East Coast Park is alive!
wild shores of singapore

Singapore Bird Report – July 2019
Singapore Bird Group

15 September (Sun): R.U.M. Mangrove Cleanup (Internaional Coastal Cleanup edition)
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Channel 8 newsclip about mangrove restoration as mitigation action against sea level rise
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Ubin Day 2019 – bringing focus to marine biodiversity and the threat of marine trash!

A new painting: Thunderstorm at Chek Jawa
Flying Fish Friends

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Shovelnose rays, served as ‘shark head’ in Singapore eateries, now critically endangered

NABILAH AWANG Today Online 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Food lovers who enjoy a delicacy called “shark head” in Singapore restaurants may want to think again as the animal has just been classified as critically endangered.

“Shark head” is the sea creature known locally as the shovelnose ray — also known as the white-spotted wedgefish — and is usually promoted as a dish rich in collagen, which is meant to promote skin elasticity.

The creature was added to Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Cites meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, ended on Wednesday (Aug 28).

The rays can be found in the waters of South-east Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and the Northern coast of Australia, said Ms Sue Ye, founder of marine conservation group Marine Stewards — whose mission is to protect marine resources by promoting sustainable fishing practices.

Local fishermen occasionally catch them, she said, adding that they were urged to release them back into the ocean if they did.

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8 in 10 S'poreans say climate change is real, Govt should invest in fighting threat: Reach

KENNETH CHENG Today Online 29 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Eight in 10 Singaporeans believe that climate change is real and Singapore should put resources into tackling the threat before it is too late, a government feedback exercise has found.

The exercise by Reach, the Government’s feedback unit, canvassed responses on the issues raised at the National Day Rally on Aug 18 from more than 5,000 Singaporeans aged between 15 and over-70.

The findings were released on Thursday evening (Aug 29) before a closed-door dialogue on the rally chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking to reporters before the dialogue at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, Mr Heng noted that the need to tackle the climate threat has resonated, especially with young Singaporeans.

“Several of them told me that they have been discussing this a lot in schools as well as in the universities,” Mr Heng said.

“They felt it was important for us to tackle long-term challenges, even though these are not imminent today.”

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Commentary: Climate change in Singapore and what the future brings

History shows us how hotter and drier years, coupled with greater exposure to flash floods, haze incidents and water shortages, make climate change a deadly phenomenon to Singapore.
Koh Tieh Yong Channel NewsAsia 31 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: During his recent National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted that the defence against climate change must be given as much emphasis as the military defence provided by the Singapore Armed Forces because climate change threatens the existence of our nation in the 21st century.

Many Singaporeans who have paid only cursory attention to environmental issues may be surprised by the gravity of this message.

Sure, there are the occasional flash floods and yes, we do remember the days when the island was shrouded in haze. But have we come to the point where the climate has turned into such a monstrosity that our city-state has to “go to war” against this gargantuan enemy for generations ahead?

Two aspects of the problem help us appreciate our nation’s long-term commitment to mitigate and adapt to climate change. First, the observation and scientific understanding of climate change, especially how headline global trends compare in relation to Singapore. Second, the rational basis for addressing other suspected effects of climate change.

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One of Singapore's oldest water treatment plants upgraded for $162m to boost water resilience

Audrey Tan and Jacklin Kwan Straits Times 29 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE - One of Singapore's oldest water treatment plants has been upgraded with state-of-the-art technology, in a move that will boost the Republic's water resilience in the face of climate change.

The upgraded Choa Chu Kang Waterworks, which is also more energy- and cost- efficient now, was officially opened by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Thursday morning (Aug 29).

The Choa Chu Kang plant treats water from Kranji, Pandan and Tengeh reservoirs before it is delivered to taps in homes, businesses and industry.

Climate change may cause the quality of water in Singapore's reservoirs to deteriorate, said Mr Masagos during the event.

He pointed to how rising temperatures could result in warmer waters, while intense rainfall could lead to an excessive amount of nutrient runoff being washed into waterways and reservoirs.

"These conditions are likely to fuel algae growth in the reservoirs, which will need to be removed as part of the water treatment process," said Mr Masagos.

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Plans to cut daily waste sent to landfill feasible, but some gaps remain in implementation: Experts

TESSA OH Today Online 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Environment experts believe that the 2030 target to reduce the amount of waste sent daily to the Semakau Landfill by 30 per cent is within reach, but how the plans are executed will determine whether the goals are ultimately achieved.

The waste reduction target was announced by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) on Friday (Aug 30) as part of its larger Zero Waste Masterplan, which aims to extend the landfill’s lifespan beyond 2035.

Ms Renee Mison, spokesperson for Eco-Wiz, said that she has already seen some of the initiatives recommended for tackling food waste in practice. The company, which specialises in food waste and general waste management technology, has worked with several restaurants, hotels and malls to adopt food waste segregation measures.

Ms Mison has also observed that, increasingly, more companies are introducing food waste segregation measures into their waste management practices.

As such, she believes that the Government’s plan to make food waste segregation treatment mandatory by 2024 is a realistic goal.

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August 2019 likely the driest and warmest on record, says Met Service

Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: This month was likely Singapore's driest and warmest August on record, said the Meteorological Service Singapore on Friday (Aug 30).

The record-breaking readings come as the country experienced its first dry spell in more than five years, from Jul 31 to Aug 16.

At the climate station in Changi, the total rainfall recorded for August was 11.8mm as of Aug 29, breaking the previous August low of 18mm in 1888.

"August 2019 is thus on track to be the driest August in Singapore since rainfall records began in 1869," said the Met Service.

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Sky park to be built above Bukit Timah canal as part of new green corridor

Vanessa Lim Channel NewsAsia 31 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: A sky park is set to be built above the Bukit Timah canal, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong announced on Saturday (Aug 31).

Construction works for the first phase of the new park, a 1.4km elevated stretch that runs from the Rail Corridor to Elm Avenue, will start in 2021 and is expected to be completed within two to three years.

The sky park is part of the National Parks Board (NParks) plan to develop the Bukit Timah-Rochor Green Corridor, a linear park that lies between Bukit Timah Road and Dunearn Road.

In future, this green corridor may be extended all the way to Kallang Riverside, totalling 11km.

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New trial could enable drone inspections, better Web experience for visitors to Singapore’s Southern Islands

Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 30 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: If you see drones flying about when visiting Singapore’s Southern Islands, don’t be alarmed. They are part of a wider trial by authorities to bring “low-cost, reliable and long-range connectivity” to these far-flung areas using an under-utilised radio spectrum known as TV White Space.

A six-month trial to use TV White Space for data transmission on five Southern Islands - Kias Island, St John’s Island, Pulau Seringat, Pulau Hantu Besar and Kusu Island - started in August.

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Malaysia, Johor: Situation in Pasir Gudang under control, no need to close schools - MB

VENESA DEVI The Star 30 Aug 19;

MUAR: The situation in Pasir Gudang is under control and there is no immediate need to shut down schools in the district, says Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal.

Dr Sahruddin said there has not been any new case reported since Thursday (Aug 29), and students who fell sick on Wednesday (Aug 28) have since recovered.

"Whether or not schools need to be shut down depends on the decision by the state education department.

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Malaysia: Protected marine parks no sanctuary for endangered turtles

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 29 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Despite efforts to save turtles, the endangered species are still under threat, even within protected marine parks in the state, in particular the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park (TARP) near here.

Marine biologist Scott Mayback said the threats come in various forms, including heavy boat activities, marine debris, fish bombings, and ghost nets.

“(The ghost net) is a major concern. People are still using it to catch fish, even within a protected marine park.

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Malaysia: Kelantan Customs seizes 4,000kg of Thai-bound wild boar carcasses

Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah New Straits Times 29 Aug 19;

TUMPAT: Kelantan Customs Department today foiled an attempt to smuggle 4,000kg of wild boar carcasses, worth RM44,000, to Thailand.

The wild boar carcasses, hidden in two boats, were seized in two separate operations here, said the department's director Mohd Rakbi Mat Saud.

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Malaysia: Poachers target Helmeted Hornbill

EDDIE CHUA The Star 30 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The critically endangered Helmeted Hornbill is facing a grave threat from poachers who are after its famed red crown, which is prized by collectors.

International wildlife syndicates pay these poachers between US$80 (RM337) and US$100 (RM421) per crown, prized as “red ivory” that can be carved into souvenirs and trinkets.

The hunt for these magnificent birds has intensified in Malaysia following a clampdown on poaching activities in Indonesia. The authorities there are keeping a tight watch on airports and seaports.

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Indonesian police investigate palm oil companies over forest fires: ministry

Reuters 29 Aug 19;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police are investigating three palm oil companies on suspicion of starting fires on Borneo island, where environmentalists say extensive deforestation has occurred to make way for plantations, a government ministry said.

The Ministry of the Environment and Forests is also investigating 24 other companies on Borneo and Sumatra island in connection with fires in their concession area, Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry’s director general for law enforcement, told reporters.

“Previously, we focused more on bringing suspects to civil courts and giving administrative sanctions. But with the forest fires still taking place in 2019, we are using criminal instruments more intensively,” Sani said.

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Indonesia: Severe haze sees schools dismissed in Dumai

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 30 Aug 19;

A thick blanket of haze from forest fires has forced schools in Dumai, Riau, to dismiss their students early.

On Wednesday, four principals from different elementary schools asked the Dumai Education Agency for permission to dismiss their students early because of the increasing severity of the haze.

“They went home at 10 a.m. We asked the principals to tell the students’ parents to pick their children up at school so they wouldn’t wander around after school,” Dumai Education Agency secretary Dedy said on Wednesday.

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Great Barrier Reef outlook very poor, Australia says

BBC 30 Aug 19;

The Great Barrier Reef's outlook has been officially downgraded from poor to very poor due to climate change.

Rising sea temperatures thanks to human-driven global warming remain the biggest threat to the reef, a five-year Australian government report says.

Actions to save it "have never been more time critical", the report reads.

Stretching over 2,300km (1,400 miles), the reef was designated a World Heritage site in 1981 for its "enormous scientific and intrinsic importance".

But in recent years the reef has been increasingly damaged by warmer seas which have killed off coral and affected its long-term health.

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Amazon fires: Brazil bans land clearance blazes for 60 days

BBC 29 Aug 19;

Brazil has banned setting fires to clear land for 60 days in response to a massive increase in the number of fires in the Amazon rainforest.

The decree was signed by President Jair Bolsonaro, who has faced intense criticism at home and abroad for failing to protect the rainforest.

A leading Brazilian environmentalist warned on Wednesday that the "worst of the fire is yet to come".

South American countries will meet next week to discuss the crisis.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 29 Aug 19

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

Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk with NUS Toddycats! on 8 Sept 2019 (Sun)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

14 Sep (Sat): Fishing community join MPA Marine Clean-Up Day
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

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2 turtles rescued by Acres make their way home to Malaysia

TESSA OH Today Online 27 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — A small crowd gathered at Jalan Lekar on Tuesday (Aug 27) for a heartwarming send-off, as turtles Barni and Queen B set off for their journey back into the wild.

The turtles, who were rescued by the Animal Concern Research and Education Society (Acres) in the middle of last year, will be released at an undisclosed protected area in Malaysia where they can live freely again, in their natural habitat.

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Trash Talk: Packaging waste is everywhere, including in your body

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 27 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — A shopping trolley, plastic bottles, plastic bags and food wrappers galore. No this is not a scene at a supermarket — this is just a typical dive into the seas surrounding Singapore’s southern islands.

Singapore prides itself on keeping its streets spotless, but if you take a dive with Ms Sam Shu Qin, the 30-year-old co-founder of Our Singapore Reefs, it quickly becomes apparent how much trash surrounds our pristine island.

The volunteers with Our Singapore Reefs, a non-profit organisation that was set up with the sole aim of clearing up the trash from Singapore’s waters, pick up a lot of marine debris during their dives. Last year, they removed 3,439 pieces of marine debris weighing around 704kg from around Sisters’ Island Marine Park and Lazarus Island.

They have collected all kinds of garbage, from car tyres to bits of fishing equipment, and yes, even shopping trolleys. Once, they found a whole washing machine underwater.

But far and away, the biggest polluter in these waters is plastic, mostly in the form of food packaging.

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Singapore needs to lift farm production, cut waste, as global protein shortage looms: Study

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 28 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — As a result of climate change and rising population, the world is set to face a 56 per cent shortfall in food nutrition by 2050. Yet, Singapore is still heavily reliant on food imports from countries with weather-dependent traditional farms, a new study has found.

Released on Tuesday (Aug 27), the study by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and consulting firm Deloitte said that Singapore's farms are the key to bolstering the country's food security — by deploying smart technology to boost yields.

Singapore should also become a centre for food by-products, as a way to tackle large levels of food waste, it added. Some details of the study, on food waste, were released earlier this month. 

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Singapore may experience slightly hazy conditions in the next few days: NEA

Today Online 26 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Singapore experienced slightly hazy conditions on Monday (Aug 26) morning as a result of a brief shift in the direction of the prevailing winds, which blew from the southwest on Sunday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

In an update on Monday evening, NEA said that the “slightly hazy conditions gradually improved when the prevailing winds strengthened to blow from the south-southeast”.

“There were also thundery showers over the island (on Monday),” it said.

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Fighting rising sea levels: 5 approaches from around the world

TESSA OH Today Online 28 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — Singapore is not alone in assessing measures to mitigate the threat of rising sea levels. 

During the National Day Rally on Aug 18, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that Singapore is prepared to invest about S$100 billion or more over the next 50 to 100 years to strengthen its coastlines against the threat of rising sea levels.

Significant areas of Singapore are 4m above mean sea level or lower, and they will increasingly be at risk of going underwater when sea levels rise, he warned.

To combat the looming threat, various climate change measures are being considered by the Government. They include plans to build polders — low-lying reclaimed land protected by embankments — along with reclaiming offshore islands or building dykes.

TODAY looks at some of the coastline and river defence measures that have been considered or implemented in other cities across the world that are also seeking to strengthen their flood prevention systems.

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Malaysia, Johor: Iskandar Puteri firefighters battle 100-hectare forest blaze

New Straits Times 26 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: Firefighters at Kampung Pekajang in Iskandar Puteri, near here, are winning a battle to extinguish a massive forest fire which grew to almost 100 hectares on Sunday.

As of early today (Aug 26), personnel from the Johor Fire and Rescue Department have successfully doused 45 per cent of the blaze which began on Friday, Bernama reported.

Originally 16 hectares in size, the wildfire grew to 98 hectares due to strong winds and dry conditions in the state.

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Malaysia: Special anti-poaching squad to protect forests of Sabah

Forests Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini (inset) said the squad would focus on anti-poaching operations from Sept 1. NSTP
Roy Goh New Straits Times 28 Aug 19;

A total of 25 specially-trained contract staff will start operations under the department's Enforcement, Tactical, Operational and Protection squad or Protect Unit.

Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini said the squad would focus on anti-poaching operations from Sept 1.

“They will boost the enforcement capacity of the state government in reducing the number of poaching cases in Sabah,” he said.

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Malaysia: 'Malaysians deserve to know why we voted against proposal to protect sharks, rays'

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 27 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: It was reported yesterday that Malaysia was among the 40 countries that opposed a proposal to protect certain species of sharks and rays from exploitation.

Tabled by Mexico at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference, the proposal which would require ratification this week, would see the marine species no longer being traded unless it can be proven that their fishing would not impact their survival.

102 countries voted in favour of the move.

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Malaysia: Kelantan marine police foil smuggling of 90 palm civets, 14 tortoises

Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah New Straits Times 26 Aug 19;

PASIR PUTIH: Marine police foiled an attempt to smuggle 90 palm civets and 14 tortoises near Sungai Semerak here on Sunday.

The animals, which were seized near a jetty in Taman Sara about 11am, are estimated to be worth about RM19,000.

Marine police third region commander Assistant Commissioner Norzaid Muhammad Said said a marine police team from the Tok Bali base had spotted 90 baskets containing the palm civets and two plastic containers with the tortoises.

He said no suspects were nabbed during the operation, which was launched after a tip-off.

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Malaysia: Heavy downpour helps to put out Miri forest and peat fire

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 25 Aug 19;

KUCHING: Heavy downpour this morning and hours of fire fighting operation finally managed to extinguish the forest and peat fire which has plagued the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) station in Miri.

The forest and peat fire caused one of the worst haze episodes recorded in the country’s history.

Miri Fire and Rescue Department chief Superintendent Law Poh Kiong said 68 personnel from the fire and rescue department, Civil Defence Force (APM), Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), Department of Environment and Emergency Response Team from from Naim Land Sdn Bhd began to put out fire at the site since 8am.

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Indonesia: 7,745 suffer from acute respiratory tract infection in Pekanbaru

Antara 26 Aug 19;

The Pekanbaru City Health Office reported that the number of people suffering from acute respiratory tract infection in the Riau provincial capital between July and August 2019 reached 7,745.

"The figure is based on reports from all public health service posts (Puskesmas) in Pekanbaru City, comprising 3,540 cases recorded in July and 4,205 cases in August," acting chief of the Pekanbaru City Health Office, Muhammad Amin, said in Pekanbaru on Monday.

The increase in the number of those suffering from acute respiratory tract infection in the past couple of months is a result of the haze from land and forest fires in a number of districts and cities in Riau province, as well as in neighboring provinces.

However, the increase is relatively small, at 900 per month compared to more than 3 thousand in August 2018 when no haze was found, he said.

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Indonesia: Man mauled to death in tiger attack

Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 28 Aug 19;

A 36-year-old man was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger in a concession area in Gaung subdistrict in Indragiri Hilir regency, Riau.

Indragiri Hilir Police chief Adj. Comr. Sr. Christian Rony confirmed the incident, saying the victim, identified as Darmawan aka Nang, was attacked while taking a bath near a well in a PT Bhara Induk concession area at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

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Indonesia: Jokowi names Penajam Paser Utara as new capital city site

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Best of our wild blogs: 26 Aug 19

Prof Wong Poh Poh's comments on PM's speech on climate change and rising seas
wild shores of singapore

Love Our MacRitchie Forest – raising public awareness about our forest heritage

Beting Bronok, Pulau Tekong
Offshore Singapore

Cyrene Reef
Offshore Singapore

The Singing Bird Returns: Ailanthes integrifolia
Flying Fish Friends

Flying Tigers 2.0
Butterflies of Singapore

Shining and Guiding the Way: The Lighthouses of Singapore
Remember Singapore

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Explainer: How much time does Singapore have to build up its response to climate change?

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 24 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE —  A “50- to 100-year problem” was how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong described the “grave threat” of rising sea levels to Singapore.

While a hundred years from now seems far away, Singapore has already started to feel the impact of climate change with hotter weather and heavier rainfall in recent years. Studies have also shown that Singapore could experience more extreme weather patterns as soon as 2050. 

Indeed, steps are already underway to mitigate the impact of rising sea levels. For example, Singapore has introduced a carbon tax to nudge companies to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. It has also begun building infrastructure such as train stations on elevated ground. 

More measures are in the pipeline. How much time does Singapore have to make sure that it is sufficiently ready? TODAY takes a closer look.

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Commentary: How effectively can Singapore adapt to sea level rise?

Even as Singapore strives to adapt to rising sea levels, let’s not win that battle yet end up losing the larger war against climate change, says the Singapore Management University’s Winston Chow.
Winston Chow Channel NewsAsia 25 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Singapore isn’t alone in confronting the consequences of rising seas.

Several other coastal cities and small islands also face this hazard, and lessons can be drawn from how they plan for and adapt to it.

Recent research shows three general approaches can be considered when dealing with the threat of sea level rise. First, accommodate the threat, which includes flood-proofing existing buildings and infrastructure, or designating areas that would be allowed to flood during high tide.

Second, retreat from the threat, which includes the removal and reallocation of key infrastructure and assets to areas that the sea cannot inundate.

Third, protection from the threat, which includes planting and managing mangrove coasts, or engineered options like sea walls, land reclamation and polders described during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech.

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Rising sea levels: Not urgent or too close to home? Residents in the east give their views

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 22 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — One was so assured that she would encourage her children to live near Singapore’s eastern coastline even 50 to 100 years from now.

Another wondered if construction work being done to deal with rising sea levels would block the views from his flat.

In getting a quick gauge of how residents living in the eastern part of Singapore think about the future impact of climate change, TODAY found that for some of them, climate change was too far down the road to be a cause for worry.

Others were impressed that the environmental issue was finally getting national attention, but all were generally supportive of the measures to counter the problems related to it.

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21% more mosquito breeding habitats destroyed in 2018 through use of Gravitrap system

Channel NewsAsia 23 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: The National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday (Aug 23) said that its Gravitrap system - which is designed to attract and trap female Aedes mosquitoes looking for sites to lay their eggs - enabled it to detect and destroy 21 per cent more breeding habitats in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Gravitraps have also been useful in helping NEA remove a large number of Aedes aegypti adult mosquitoes, including infected female mosquitoes, the agency said in a media release.

About 50,000 Gravitraps have been deployed at Housing and Development Board (HDB) estates islandwide since NEA began using the system in 2017.

Another 14,000 traps will be rolled out at landed estates and newly completed HDB areas from the second half of this year, NEA said.

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Malaysia: Water treatment plants in Johor affected by hot weather, dry spell in state

VENESA DEVI The Star 24 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: Several water treatment plants have been affected by the dry spell in Johor, says State International Trade, Investment, and Utilities Committee chairman Jimmy Puah.

He said that the Sungai Gembut water treatment plant in Kota Tinggi could no longer operate normally due to the significant drop in the water supply.

"The water level at the treatment plant has dropped beyond its critical level of 0.0 meter to -0.87 meter. The plant is failing to operate normally," he said in a statement released on Saturday (Aug 24).

He added that several areas in the district are expected to experience water disruptions due to the dry spell and hot weather in the state

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Malaysia: Trench built to contain raging forest fire in Johor

REMAR NORDIN The Star 23 Aug 19;

ISKANDAR PUTERI: The state Fire and Rescue Department has built a trench to stop the forest fire at Jalan Tanjung Kupang, Kampung Pekajang from spreading.

Its operation commander Sarhan Akmal Mohamad said the fire, which started since 11.45am on Wednesday (Aug 21), has now spread to 40 acres.

“A total of 70 Fire and Rescue Department personnel from 10 stations from Zone 1 (Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang, Kulai and Pontian) have been deployed to help fight the fire.

“We have conducted aerial monitoring to find the best way to contain the blaze, ” he said in a statement here on Friday (Aug 23).

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Malaysia: Two schools in Kuala Baram shut due to worsening smog

STEPHEN THEN The Star 22 Aug 19;

MIRI: Two schools in Kuala Baram in northern Sarawak have been shut down until further notice, effective noon on Thursday (Aug 22), following worsening haze caused by forest fires.

The Sarawak Disaster Relief Management Committee announced that SK Kuala Baram 2 and SJK Chung Hua Tudan have been told they must close.

"The Air Pollutant Index near the schools has reached 223 and both will close until further notice," said the committee secretariat.

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Merbau now Malaysia's national tree

Veena Babulal New Straits Times 23 Aug 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Capable of towering up to 50m in height, the Merbau, one of the tallest trees in the tropical region, is now officially Malaysia’s national tree.

In announcing this, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the merbau could become a symbol of national pride.

“I would like to take the opportunity to announce that the merbau tree (Malacca teak) has been chosen as our national tree.

“With its hardy nature, I believe that all Malaysians can take the merbau as a symbol of national pride,” he said while opening the “Hutan Kita” exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Tower here.

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Indonesia: Sumatra Island ravaged by 584 hotspots representing forest fires

Antara 24 Aug 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG) Station in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, confirmed the presence of 584 hotspots on Sumatra Island suggestive of forest fires on Saturday morning.

Of the total, 272 hotspots were detected in Riau, over twice the 112 hotspots found on Friday afternoon, Nia Fadhila, the Pekanbaru BMKG station's analyst, stated here on Saturday.

A total of 128 hotspots were found in Jambi Province, 99 in South Sumatra, 41 in Bangka Belitung, 18 in Lampung, 11 each in West Sumatra and Riau Islands, and four in Bengkulu.

Some 102 hotspots covered Pelalawan District in Riau, 90 in Indragiri Hilir, 35 in Bengkalis, 17 in Indragiri Hulu, nine each in Meranti Islands and Siak, seven in Rokan Hilir, two in Kuansing, and one in Kampar.

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Indonesia: Forest fires drive Sumatran tiger from their habitats

Antara 25 Aug 19;

Indonesia, home to the Sumatran tiger, joined celebrations on International Tiger Day, observed on July 25, to raise support for the conservation of tigers.

The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving tiger in the country, and the smallest of the five tiger subspecies in the world. In the 1970s, the number of Sumatran tigers had reached some 1,000, though the figure decreased to 800 by the 1980s. Currently, the population is believed to be between 400 and 600 tigers.

In earlier days, Indonesia was home to three tiger species, including the Bali tiger, which became extinct in 1940, and the Java tiger, declared extinct in the 1980s.

While environmentalists, experts and officials campaigned during Global Tiger Day, still, the few remaining Sumatran tigers have to struggle to survive, as Sumatra Island has been ravaged by hundreds of hotspots, similar to forest fires, since July 2019.

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Sharks and rays to be given new international protections

BBC 25 Aug 19;

Countries have agreed to strengthen protections for 18 threatened species of sharks and rays, including those hunted for their meat and fins.

The proposal was passed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on Sunday.

The newly protected species include mako sharks, wedgefishes and guitarfishes.

A demand for shark fin soup is one of the driving factors in the depleting numbers of sharks in the ocean.

The proposal, which was tabled by Mexico and requires ratification this week, means that the species can no longer be traded unless it can be proven that their fishing will not impact the possibility of their survival.

Read more!

Thailand: Second dugong calf washed ashore dies

Tan Hui Yee Straits Times 23 Aug 19;

BANGKOK - An orphaned dugong under the care of Thai veterinarians died on Thursday (Aug 22), less than a week after the loss of another calf which became a social media darling for its human-friendly antics.

Jamil, a three-month-old male dugong, was found washed ashore in the southern province of Krabi on July 1 with abrasions on his body, and had been kept under close watch in an enclosed pond at the Phuket Marine Biological Center.

Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) announced on its Facebook page that the mammal had been sent for surgery to Vachira Phuket Hospital on Thursday evening to remove seagrass that had clogged his stomach after his intestines stopped working.

That had caused a build-up of gas in his intestines and was putting pressure on his lungs, making breathing difficult.

But Jamil stopped breathing after he was returned to the nursery pond.

Read more!

What if Singapore does not have 50 to 100 years to deal with climate change?

BENJAMIN HORTON Today Online 21 Aug 19;

I watched Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 18) night. It was the single most impressive talk about the threat of sea-level rise by a political leader.

In particular, Mr Lee balanced talk of urgency with hopeful and creative ideas to inspire positive change. Mr Lee made it clear that climate change is a matter of life and death for Singapore.

Having studied the issue for 25 years, I am also very worried about sea-level rise and strongly believe that we must urgently act on it. I am the only scientist in Singapore to be part of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group that produced a report on the physical science of climate change. 

There is a phrase “if you knew what I knew”. Mr Lee noted that the UN has projected that sea levels will rise by 1m by the end of this century but that scientists’ estimates have been going up and sea levels may rise higher and faster than that.

I would say that we should be careful about underestimating the risk. Published peer reviewed studies by myself and other members of the IPCC suggest there is a one in 20 chance sea-level rise in Singapore could be in excess of 2.5m by 2100.

Read more!

150 hatchlings born last year at Singapore's only turtle hatchery: NParks

About 150 baby turtles were hatched last year at Singapore's first and only hatchery for these marine creatures, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Aug 21), nearly a year since its official launch in September 2018. Junn Loh reports.
Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 21 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: About 150 baby turtles were hatched last year at Singapore's first and only hatchery for these marine creatures, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Aug 21), nearly a year since its official launch in September 2018.

The turtle hatchery at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park was built as part of efforts to provide a safe space for incubating eggs, which faces threats caused by human traffic, light pollution and predators such as monitor lizards.

Singapore is home to two species of turtles: the hawksbill turtle and the green turtle, both of which are critically endangered.

Read more!

Singapore Mulls Bonds, Reserves for $72 Billion Climate Fight

Philip Heijmans and Yongchang Chin Bloomberg 21 Aug 19;

Singapore is weighing options including the issuance of government bonds to fund the S$100 billion ($72 billion) it could take to fight rising sea levels over the next century.

In the short-term, funding for projects such as a S$400 million upgrade to the city-state’s drainage systems to boost flood resilience will come from ministry-level expenditures, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said in an interview on Wednesday. Longer term spending, he said, could require the government to tap its national reserves and issue state bonds.

“For those that have to be spent that will benefit future generations, we’re talking about borrowing so that whatever we spend for the future will also be paid for by the future generations,” Masagos told Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin. “S$100 billion is actually a lot of money even if spent over 100 years.”

Read more!

‘Calamity may come’ if Singapore doesn’t take care of its coastlines now: Masagos Zulkifli

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources also shared more on the citizens’ workgroup, saying one problem it will look at is how to increase the recyclability of items in neighbourhood blue bins.
Kevin Kwang Channel NewsAsia 21 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Calamity could befall Singapore if it does not start dealing with the climate change threat to its coastlines today and leaves it until it is too late, warned Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Wednesday (Aug 21).

In an interview with CNA938, Mr Masagos reiterated the threat of rising sea levels to Singapore that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had spoken about in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday.

Mr Masagos said that scientists have concluded that sea levels will rise by 1m by the end of the century, and when faced together with high tide and heavy rain, will become a “very difficult problem to overcome”.

The long-term impact will not just be on the environment, but also on Singapore’s economy and jobs, said Mr Masagos, adding that this is precisely why Singapore has to take immediate and long-term measures to ensure its coastlines are well protected.

“This problem is going to come upon us slowly over the next century, over the decades,” he said.

“If we start now, we can certainly build over time. If we start too late, then calamity may just come over us.”

Read more!

Malaysia: Minimising conflict between humans and elephants

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 22 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Elephant Sanctuary (JES) will be beneficial to both the largest land animal in South-East Asia and humans as it is designed to reduce conflicts between them.

State Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Salman Saaban said the 57.23ha land, located near Kampung Panti in Kota Tinggi, was expected to be completed this year.

“Elephants are migratory animals and in Johor, they have been found moving within four districts - Kota Tinggi, Kluang, Mersing and Segamat.

Read more!

Malaysia: Elephants trapped in mud pit rescued

Mohd Rafi Mamat New Straits Times 21 Aug 19;

PEKAN: A herd of elephants including a young calf were rescued after getting trapped in an abandoned mud pit at the Ibam forest reserve near Runchang, here, yesterday.

Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers took about four hours to dig a path and chase the elephants to climb out of a steep mud pit which is believed to be an abandoned gold mining site.

State Perhilitan director Rozidan Md Yasin said the Orang Asli community who lived nearby had stumbled upon the animals stuck in the pit at about noon and immediately alerted the department.

He said four rangers were deployed to the scene and they sought help from a mining company operator in the vicinity to help bring the animals out.

Read more!

Malaysia: Sale of white-rumped shama bird going overboard, laws needed to protect the songbird

The Star 21 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The international trade of South-East Asia's most popular songbird, the white-rumped shama, has led to "incredible numbers" of birds seized in markets in and around Malaysia, a 2018 study revealed.

According to wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, the study found that close to 70% of 15,480 white-rumped shamas seized in South-East Asia between 2008 and 2018 were destined for international trade.

The wildlife trade routes run mainly from and through Malaysia, and to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

In 2017, the single biggest cross-border seizure involved 4,280 white-rumped shamas smuggled from Malaysia to Indonesia by boat, the study published in Oriental Bird Club found.

Read more!

Malaysia: Over 400 wild animals seized in Sibu

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 21 Aug 19;

SIBU: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation seized more than 400 wild animals which included protected species during their operations last week.

Its Chief Executive Officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said a total of 366 animals from 38 species protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) were rescued.

“Our team also seized four Imperial Pigeon (Ducula aenea) and a black hornbill, which are among the total of protected species,” he said.

Other protected species included pheasants, Hill Mynas, owls, Prevost's squirrels, parrots, mousedeer, peacocks, kijang (barking deer), punai (green pigeon) and tortoise.

Read more!

Malaysia: API in Miri remains unhealthy despite water bombing

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 21 Aug 19;

KUCHING: Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in southern Sarawak remains unhealthy despite a week of water bombing and firefighting operations to mitigate the ongoing haze.

Two stations at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) and SK Kuala Baram 2, recorded API 156 and 132 respectively as of 3pm today.

Although the API readings of the two stations have dropped from hazardous to unhealthy levels, the environment in Miri remains hazy and searing hot.

Read more!

Indonesia: Minister admits poor law enforcement against those who ignite forest fire

Antara 22 Aug 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto has admitted poor law enforcement against individuals applying slash and burn method caused forest and land fires. He said the government would take a different approach to stop the traditional farming practices.

"This traditional society, we have reminded them. Corporations can help them with tractors (for land clearing) hence they do not have to burn the forest," Wiranto said after a meeting on land and forest fire here on Wednesday.

According to Wiranto the sanction imposed for individuals that ignited the fires was ineffective to stop the practice.

"It is ineffective, we have to find another way to solve the problem. Because they practise this for generations. But we have to change the mindset, and we need the help of all stakeholders to change their mindset," Wiranto remarked.

Read more!

Indonesia: Greater Jakarta, Banten likely to experience intense drought

The Jakarta Post 21 Aug 19;

Residents of Greater Jakarta and Banten should prepare for drought for 20 to 60 days as there is little chance of rain until September, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned.

The agency said in a statement that most of Greater Jakarta and Banten is likely to experience an extended period of drought during the dry season.

Furthermore, the agency also forecast little chance of rain in the remainder of August and September.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 20-21 Aug 19

Singaporeans are Already Ashamed Of What Isn’t Being Done to Fight Climate Change
RICE media

Do you have a passion for nature and the environment? Join NUS Toddycats!

ICCS Workshop for Organisers (Final Session no. 4)
News from the International Coastal Cleanup

Read more!

Engineering solutions to tackle rising sea levels important but more research vital: Experts

Matthew Mohan Channel NewsAsia 19 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Experts on Monday (Aug 19) welcomed the possibility of implementing engineering solutions such as land reclamation to tackle rising sea levels but stressed the need for more research into the impact of climate change.

This follows Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 18), during which he highlighted that Singapore is susceptible to the effects of climate change and vulnerable to rising sea levels.

As part of strengthening the Republic's coastal defences, Mr Lee explained that one solution could be a reclamation method known as empoldering.

Polders are created by first building a seawall in the water, before pumping out the water behind the seawall to create dry land. This land can be lower than the sea level, but water has to be continually pumped out.

Another alternative would be to reclaim a series of islands offshore, from Marina East to Changi, said Mr Lee. In addition, there are also plans to build a second pump house at Marina Barrage, he added.

Speaking to CNA, Associate Professor Adam Switzer of Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS) said that "carefully engineered reclamations and flood defences including polders" could be the "best option" for Singapore.

Read more!

Malaysia: Manage water resources better, urges Johor Regent

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 20 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: The Regent of Johor Tengku Mahkota Ismail ibni Sultan Ibrahim, wants the state government to better manage its precious water resources.

This comes after Tunku Ismail, who was appointed as the Regent on Aug 11, attended a briefing on Johor’s water management at Bangunan Dato’ Jaafar Muhammad in Kota Iskandar on Sunday.

In a statement posted on Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar’s official Facebook page, Tunku Ismail said he takes a serious view of issues on pollution and mismanagement of water in the state.

He has urged the state government to start taking the necessary action to rehabilitate Johor’s waters and stamp out pollution.

Tunku Ismail also decreed that the state government should better manage its water resources and educate the public on proper water usage and awareness.

Read more!

Malaysia: Johor expected not to depend on treated water supply from Singapore in 2022

Bernama 19 Aug 19;

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 19 (Bernama) -- The Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources expects Johor to no longer be dependent on the supply of treated water from Singapore by 2022, said its Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar.

He said the effort to reduce the dependency of treated water supply from Singapore was by ensuring treated water in Johor was sufficient.

“We have to make sure that Johor has sufficient treated water and does not need to get it from Singapore. Which is why we have to provide new water treatment plants in Johor.

“The capacity must reach 260 million litres a day. We already have an understanding that by the year 2022, we will have this capacity,” he told reporters after receiving a courtesy visit from Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal here today.

Read more!

Pulau Brani: 5 historical nuggets from an island set for a makeover

Channel NewsAsia 20 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: It’s always been there.

But rarely has Pulau Brani made the headlines in recent years, until it became a significant part of Singapore’s plans to develop the Greater Southern Waterfront.

On Sunday (Aug 18), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave an overview of the revamp that’s in store for the island during his National Day Rally speech.

Currently home to the Brani Terminal, which opened in 1992, the island will be redeveloped to host a range of lifestyle and tourist attractions - similar to what can be found next door in Sentosa.

As Pulau Brani awaits a new future, a look back in time at how the island evolved.

Read more!

Trash Talk: No time to waste in dealing with Singapore’s mounting trash problem

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 21 Aug 19;

With Singapore having declared 2019 as the Year Towards Zero Waste, TODAY’s new four-part Trash Talk series examines the issue of waste management and how Singaporeans can do our part to reduce waste. In the first instalment, we look at where our trash ends up, what happens to it, and why we urgently need to cut down waste.  

SINGAPORE — Some 8km south of Singapore, there is an island where the expired tub of yoghurt you threw out last week meets the old batteries that your friend dumped in the trash, and they commingle with the pile of tissues that your colleague went through during a recent bout of cold. 

This island is Semakau, and it is in trouble. 

Most of us have probably heard of it, but few have likely put much thought into this final resting place for all the dirty, used and unwanted detritus from our lives.

Well, now is the time to start thinking and talking about it. The Semakau landfill, a critical element in keeping Singapore as famously spotless as it is today, is set to run out of space by 2035.

Where will our trash go then?

Read more!

‘Less trash’ left behind at NDP 2019, but empty plastic bottles, food wrappers among litter lying around


SINGAPORE — The total trash collected after the National Day Parade (NDP) on Aug 9 was lower than the amount left behind in previous years, said the parade organisers in response to TODAY’s queries. 

However, they declined to reveal the statistics. Based on TODAY’s observations, many spectators were spotted carrying bags of rubbish with them as they left the venue. As a result, the stands were generally clear of litter. Still, items such as empty plastic bottles from the funpack, used tissue paper and food wrappers were seen lying around. 

“Despite the higher number of spectators present at this year’s NDP, the total trash collected was lower than previous years,” said Military Expert 6 (ME6) Ignatius Tham, who chairs the parade’s logistics and finance committee. 

Read more!

Malaysia: All out to save the sun bear

MEI MEI CHU The Star 20 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: As alarm bells ring with Malaysia’s Sumatran rhino population plummeting to a single surviving female, one wildlife biologist is racing to set up a captive breeding programme for the critically-endangered Malayan Sun Bear.

Malaysia’s leading sun bear conservationist Wong Siew Te (pic) is targeting to launch the programme by 2025 at his Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) in Sandakan, Sabah.

“Forest fragmentation is becoming increasingly serious, more poachers have access to forested areas and I’ve seen places that used to have lots of sun bears now no longer have any, ” Wong said in an interview.

He said the empty forest syndrome was growing in Malaysia.

Read more!

Iman, Malaysia's last Sumatran rhino ready to undergo IVF treatment

Mohd Izham Unnip Abdullah New Straits Times 20 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia's last female Sumatran rhinoceros has regained her health after receiving treatment for uterine tumour last year.

Iman who resides at the Borneo Rhinoceros Sanctuary (BRS) in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu is the last of her kind in this country after her partner Kertam died of old age and internal organ failure on May 27.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said although she was still receiving follow-up treatment to prevent the tumour from becoming worse, Iman is now back to her normal self and her appetite has completely improved.

He said the rhinoceros is also prepared to undergo in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment with the sperm of a male Sumatran rhinoceros via a collaboration with Indonesia.

They were now waiting for help from an expert in Germany.

Read more!

Malaysia: Wild elephant terrorises Orang Asli family

The Star 21 Aug 19;

GUA MUSANG: A family of seven Orang Asli were in fear of a wild elephant that kept walking around their house in Kampung Aring 5, here.

Fortunately for the family, the animal left without incident an hour after first arriving early yesterday morning. It was seen entering the nearby jungle.

Villager Hussin Selik, 51, said this was the second such incident in two weeks.

The elephant, he said, entered the village at 3am yesterday.

Hussin said he started to worry for his family when the elephant circled his house before leaving.

Read more!

Indonesia: Hotspot detection across Sumatra Island reaches 260

Antara 19 Aug 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - A total of 260 hotspots were identified throughout Sumatra Island on Monday morning, suggestive of forest and peatland fires.

Analyst at the Pekanbaru Meteorology Station Nia Fadhila stated here on Monday that South Sumatra was found to contain the largest number of hotspots, reaching 97.

Hotspots were also found in Jambi, totaling 75; Riau, 57; Bangka Belitung, 13; Riau, nine; Lampung, eight; and North Sumatra, one.

In Riau, 22 hotspots were detected in Indragiri Hilir, 21 in Pelalawan, nine in Meranti, three in Indragiri Hulu, and one each in Bengkalis and Rohil.

Visibility was quite good in Pekanbaru, reaching seven kilometers; five kilometers in Pelalawan; four kilometers in Rengat; and six kilometers in Dumai.

Read more!

Two tigers seized from traffickers every week, report finds

Closure of tiger farms among urgent steps needed to protect species, wildlife summit hears
Damian Carrington The Guardian 21 Aug 19;

Two illegally smuggled tigers per week are being seized by officials, according to a report, but this represents only a tiny fraction of those being killed.

The report, by the wildlife trade experts Traffic, was released at a summit of 183 countries under the Convention in the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), where many delegates have called for stronger action.

Traffic also found a surge since 2012 in seized carcasses, skins and bones from tiger farms. International trade in the species is banned, but the researchers said the captive-breeding facilities, mainly in China, undermine their protection by maintaining demand in domestic markets and enabling the laundering of wild tiger products.

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 16-19 Aug 19

7 Sep (Sat): Project IsLand-A-Hand - Coney Island
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

Butterfly of the Month - August 2019
Butterflies of Singapore

MacRitchie Forest Through The Generations – Love MacRitchie Walk (10 August 2019)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Night Walk At Lower Peirce Reservoir (16 Aug 2019)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Read more!

NDR 2019: It could cost S$100 billion or more to protect Singapore against rising sea levels, PM Lee says

Matthew Mohan Channel NewsAsia 18 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Tackling the “50 to 100-year problem” of rising sea levels could cost Singapore around S$100 billion or more, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 18).

In his English National Day Rally speech, Mr Lee highlighted that Singapore is susceptible to the effects of climate change and especially vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“How much will it cost, to protect ourselves against rising sea levels? My guess is probably S$100 billion over 100 years, quite possibly more,” said Mr Lee.

“If we only have 10 years to solve the problem, we won’t have have the time or resources to do it. But because this is a 50 to 100-year problem, we can implement a 50 to 100-year solution.”

Climate change defences should be treated with utmost seriousness, just like the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), said Mr Lee.

He said there is a need to “work steadily at it, maintain a stable budget year after year, keep your eye on the target and do it over many years and several generations”.

Read more!

NDR 2019: New attractions, housing and office spaces to be developed in Greater Southern Waterfront

Cindy Co Channel NewsAsia 18 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: New attractions are being planned for Pulau Brani, similar to Universal Studios Singapore on Sentosa, announced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 18).

The island, currently home to Brani Terminal, will be set aside for “fun and recreation” as part of the Government’s plans to remake Singapore’s Greater Southern Waterfront (GSW), he said in his National Day Rally speech.

Mr Lee added that a resort could also be built on Pulau Brani, with land set aside for the labour movement.

Read more!

NDR 2019: Climate change one of the 'gravest challenges facing mankind', impact on Singapore to worsen, says PM Lee

Matthew Mohan Channel NewsAsia 18 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Climate change is one of the gravest challenges the human race faces and Singapore is already feeling its impact - which is likely to worsen over the next few decades, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 18).

“Climate change may seem abstract and distant for many of us, but it is one of the gravest challenges facing humankind,” said Mr Lee in his National Day Rally speech.

The Earth’s average temperature has increased by 1 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial times over 100 years ago, pointed out Mr Lee.

This is a result of more carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere due to of human activity. The gas builds up, traps heat from the sun, causing the planet to warm up.

“One degree Celsius doesn’t sound like much, but it is very significant,” Mr Lee said. “Furthermore, temperatures are continuing to rise, faster and faster.”

Read more!

Explainer: Why vegetation fires in Singapore in first half of the year surged to 3-year high

NABILAH AWANG Today Online 17 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE — The unusually dry spell in Singapore has led to a sharp increase in the number of vegetation fires in the first six months of this year, reaching a three-year high.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said 555 vegetation fires were reported in the first half of 2019, a 56 per cent jump from 356 in the first half of 2018 and an even bigger increase from 100 in the same period in 2017.

Earlier this week, a blaze broke out near East Coast Park (ECP), affecting an area about the size of two football fields.

The incident saw about 50 firefighters and 12 emergency vehicles including five fire engines, one red rhino and two supporting vehicles deployed, said SCDF.

TODAY takes a closer look at the causes of vegetation fires, why they are on the rise and what preventive measures are being taken to curb them.

Read more!

First dry spell in Singapore in more than 5 years: Met Service

Channel NewsAsia 16 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: Singapore is experiencing its first dry spell in more than 5 years, according to a Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) advisory on Friday (Aug 16).

A dry spell is defined by MSS as a period of at least 15 consecutive days with daily total rainfall of less than 1mm, averaged over rainfall stations with long-term records across the island.

Read more!

Commentary: When that funpack becomes too much fun for our planet

Let’s rethink whether we need a funpack at National Day Parades and what should go inside, says Irene Hoe.
Irene Hoe Channel NewsAsia 16 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: In the beginning, that funpack was a thrill for the thousands fortunate enough to get seats at the parade.

It probably still provides a great deal of fun for many of the spectators at the event, especially the children.

And then what?

That’s a question that has bothered me increasingly since I was lucky enough to score tickets to the 2017 National Day Parade.

Disposing of my own funpack after the event was easy enough. A friend’s grandchildren were thrilled to share the spoils from that bag of delights.

But the thought of all that eventually making its way to an incinerator and then landfill was the pits.

Read more!

Commentary: We are on the cusp of a plastic recycling revolution

A bold vision for how plastics are produced, used and reused, not just how much is recycled per se, is what will move the needle on our plastic waste, says University of Denver’s Jack Buffington.
Jack Buffington Channel NewsAsia 18 Aug 19;

DENVER, Colorado: Minster for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli highlighted in Parliament in early August that while 60 per cent of the nation’s waste generated is recycled, Singapore must continue building its recycling capabilities.

“NEA is currently studying e-waste and plastics recycling solutions and technologies available in the market, and assessing their suitability in Singapore,” he said, suggesting that Singapore has a recycling problem.

But this focus on improving recycling rates obscures the real problem surrounding waste because the intuitive policy response is to focus on marginally increasing recycling rates, where the gains are unclear.


Read more!

Commentary: Singapore’s ivory trade ban tackles elephant in room but work ahead a mammoth task

Singapore’s ivory ban is a win for conservation but we must double down on wider conservation efforts, says WWF-Singapore’s Kim Stengert.
Kim Stengert Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: This week marked the end of a long wait for Singapore to stop the sale of ivory and ivory products and a victory for those working to put this in place.

Over the last six months, Singapore authorities seized an unprecedented amount of 38 tonnes of pangolin scales and almost 10 tonnes of elephant ivory worth more than S$170 million - with some close to the largest seizures the world has seen.

Led by the National Parks Board (NParks), these acts of enforcement were a true testament of the country’s zero-tolerance to illegal wildlife trade.

Just two days after the most recent seizure of 15 baskets containing 815 birds over the National Day weekend, Singapore announced the latest highlight of our fight against illegal wildlife trade: An ivory ban.


Read more!

Malaysia: Air quality worsens slightly in the country

Ashley Tang The Star 19 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The air quality in Peninsular Malaysia has worsened slightly with Rompin in Pahang Air Pollutant Index (API) readings jumping from “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” zone.

According to Department of Environment (DOE) data, the API recorded in Rompin was at 223 as at 4pm, yesterday.

Read more!

Malaysia, Johor: ‘Resolve polluted river problem’

The Star 17 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: Residents in Kampung Acheh, Pasir Gudang here are worried as the water in Sungai Kopok, which is an important source of livelihood for them, has turned black and is smelly.

The residents also claimed that the condition of Sungai Kopok, which is connected to Sungai Kim Kim and Sungai Daing and once home to shrimps and crabs, worsened following the chemical waste pollution of Sungai Kim Kim in March.

Village head Othman Adon said the 15km-long river was believed to be contaminated by waste discharged from nearby factories.

Read more!

Malaysia: Nearly 300 poaching traps found in Johor

MOHD FARHAAN SHAH The Star 15 Aug 19;

JOHOR BARU: A total of 298 wire snares and 23 illegal camps set by poachers to trap animals, especially tigers, were discovered in jungles in Johor from January to July this year.

The discovery was made during a boots on the ground programme called Ops Belang, said state Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Salman Saaban (pic).

Ops Belang, which was started by the government to protect tigers and their habitat as well as to combat poachers, is carried out in collaboration with the Johor Forestry Department and Johor National Parks Corporation.“We know where their hotspots are as we found many of the snares around the Panti Forest Reserve and Endau Rompin National Park during our patrols under Ops Belang, ” he said yesterday.

Read more!

Malaysia: Water supplies dwindling in parts of S'wak as drought sets in

Stephen Then The Star 16 Aug 19;

MIRI: Water supplies in five districts in Sarawak have dwindled to critically-low levels.

The drought is starting in various locations in the state, even as battles to tackle forest fires continue.

Details from the state Disaster Relief Management Committee show that the Sri Aman Division in southern Sarawak is facing water shortages already.

Read more!

Malaysia: Sipadan closure 'a good start'

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 14 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: A Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) reef expert has welcomed the one-month closure of popular Sipadan Island to give way for marine recovery effort.

Marine ecology lecturer Muhammad Ali Syed Hussein said the decision by Sabah Parks to temporarily close the island was a good start to reduce and remove stress from the coral reefs.

“As Sipadan is popular (for scuba diving activities), it would be difficult to close it for a long period of time. A one-month closure is a good start.

“It will help control the quota (of divers) while ensuring the reefs are maintained in good condition,” he said.

Read more!

Malaysia: Whale sharks surprise scuba divers in Lankayan waters

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 15 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: A recent diving trip turned extra special for a group of divers near Pulau Lankayan off Sandakan when they received a surprise visit from two protected juvenile whale sharks.

The slow-moving and filter-feeding sharks were sighted at a reef, 2.5km away from the island. The pair appeared around midday on Aug 11 when seven scuba divers were on a leisure dive.

Their presence brought the total number of whale shark sightings at Lankayan to seven this year. The surprise encounter was also documented on video and shared on Reef Guardian's Facebook page.

The 56-second footage shows a lone whale shark swimming near a boat, just below the surface.

Read more!

Indonesia seals palm, timber concessions amid forest fires: ministry

Reuters 15 Aug 19;

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia has sealed parts of palm oil and timber concessions owned by 10 companies on Borneo island after a spate of forest fires, authorities said on Thursday, warning those involved in forest burning would be severely punished.

Indonesia is under pressure to end slash-and-burn clearance of land, often on plant palm and pulp plantations. The practice caused devastating fires in 2015 that spread a choking haze across most of Southeast Asia.

The disaster mitigation agency (BNPB) recorded 1,092 hot spots as of Thursday, the highest since the 2015 fires, and at least six provinces on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo have declared an emergency.

About 200 hectares (494 acres) of land had been sealed in Borneo’s West Kalimantan province, the environment ministry said.

Warning letters were also sent to 58 plantation firms with hot spots indicating fire or a high risk of fire, said Rasio Ridho Sani, the ministry’s director general of law enforcement.

Read more!

Indonesia: Wildfires ravage 1,500 hectares of land in Bintan District

Antara 14 Aug 19;

Bintan, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - The Bintan Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) recorded that wildfires have ravaged some 1,500 hectares of land in the Riau Islands Province over the past eight months, and 90 percent of them were caused by slash-and-burn practices.

"Some 90 percent of the wildfires ravaging Bintan District's areas are related to humans activities," Head of Gunung Kijang, Teluk Bintan, and Toapaya Subdistricts' Fire Department, Nurwendi, said here on Wednesday.

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Indonesia: Jokowi announces Kalimantan to host Indonesia's new capital city

Antara 16 Aug 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo reiterated on Friday morning that Kalimantan Island would serve as a host for Indonesia's new capital city.

“At this historical moment, in the name of Allah Subhanahu Wa Taala , I'd like to ask permission and support from the members of House of Representatives, respected members of the country, and the people in Indonesia to move the capital city to Kalimantan Island,” President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said during the state of the nation address.

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Indonesia: Police thwart alleged attempt to smuggle thousands of turtle eggs

The Jakarta Post 15 Aug 19;

Semparuk Police in Sambas regency, West Kalimantan, confiscated 1,340 turtle eggs allegedly being smuggled by a passenger of the KM Sabuk Nusantara 38 vessel during an operation in Sintete Port in the regency.

The turtle eggs were carried by a passenger identified as N, a resident of Sedau subdistrict in the province’s Singkawang city, Semparuk Police chief First Insp. Aswin Mahwan said on Thursday.

Authorities launched the operation on Wednesday after they received information from local people that the KM Sabuk Nusantara 38 would arrive in the port and one of the vessel’s passengers was bringing turtle eggs.

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Indonesia: Only 18 Bondol eagles left in Seribu Islands

Antara 18 Aug 19;

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) said that based on the 2014 data, the population of Bondol eagle (Haliastur indus) is only 18 in Seribu Islands District, Jakarta Special Region.

"The data is from our latest research carried out on several islands out of the existing 87 islands (in Seribu Islands District) in 2014," JAAN Chairperson Benfika said on Kotok Isle, Seribu Islands, on Sunday.

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Thailand: Beloved baby dugong 'Mariam' dies with plastic in stomach

Channel NewsAsia 17 Aug 19;

BANGKOK: A sick baby dugong whose fight for recovery won hearts in Thailand and cast a spotlight on ocean conservation has died from an infection exacerbated by bits of plastic lining her stomach, officials said on Saturday (Aug 17).

Mariam washed up in shallow waters off southwestern Thailand months ago and photos of her nuzzling playfully next to rescuers quickly went viral.

The discovery soon after of another orphaned dugong brought the sea cows celebrity status, the attention of a Thai princess - who named the second one "Jamil" - and round-the-clock webcasts giving viewers a front-row seat to feedings and treatment.

But Mariam died just after midnight after going into shock and efforts to resuscitate her failed, Chaiyapruk Werawong, head of Trang province marine park, told AFP.

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Malaysia: Brace for even more warmer days

Hana Naz Harun New Straits Times 14 Aug 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIANS can expect “higher than normal” temperatures within the next two months caused by the El Nino phenomenon.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Centre for Earth Sciences and Environment chairman Professor Dr Fredolin Tangang said the “weak El Nino” had affected weather patterns in the region, causing a warmer climate.

“In Malaysia, this weak El Nino has no apparent effect although warmer weather can be expected. However, we’re in the southwest monsoon period, where rainfall is minimal and temperature is the highest,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Tangang added that this El Nino phenomenon was much weaker compared with the 2015/2016 extreme El Nino, where warming occurred in the central-eastern Pacific Ocean.

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Malaysia to develop $480 mln oil storage, ship refueling site in south (Johor)

Reuters 13 Aug 19;

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Malaysia on Tuesday said the Johor Port Authority was working to develop a 2 billion ringgit ($477 million) oil storage and ship refueling site in the country’s south.

That marks the latest step in a push to turn Malaysia’s southern peninsular state of Johor into an oil and gas hub that could one day rival Singapore, currently Asia’s main oil centre.

The “Bunker Island Development” is set to have the capacity to store about 1.2 million cubic metres of various oil and gas products, the transport ministry said. It will be used for storage, blending and redistribution.

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Malaysia: Plans activated to fight haze

The Star 14 Aug 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Open Burning Action Plan and the National Haze Action Plan have been activated to coordinate measures by government agencies in addressing open burning and the haze in the country.

This was done as the air quality reached a hazardous level in Miri and a very unhealthy level in Kuala Baram, both places in Sarawak, over the past two days, said Department of Environment (DoE) director-general Norlin Jaafar.

“We have also issued directives under Section 31 and Section 37 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 to all landowners in the peat soil areas of Kuala Baram to prevent and control fires there.

“Also, we have been conducting daily patrols in areas at risk of open burning as well as providing the Air Pollution Index (API) readings to the Sarawak state disaster management committee for further action, ” she said here yesterday.

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Indonesia: Individuals who annexed Riau national park land identified

Antara 13 Aug 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Environment and Forestry Ministry has identified individuals who allegedly annexed thousands of hectares of land within the Tesso Nilo National Park (TNTN) area. "We have the map of who has annexed three hectares (of the national park) and who has 3,000 hectares," Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya told journalists in Pelalawan District Tuesday.

The minister stated this after monitoring the land and forest fire in Riau, in the company of the Indonesian Military Chief Air Chief Marchall Hadi Tjahjanto, the Indonesian Police Chief, Gen. Tito Karnavian, and head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Lt. Gen Doni Monardo.

The group took off from Roesmin Nurjadin Air Base in Pekanbaru and monitored the land and forest fire in Pelalawan and around the Tesso Nilo National Park.

The forest fire in the national park was intentional as she could see some zones drawn by certain groups in the conservation area, Nurbaya said.

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Indonesia: Acute respiratory infection cases in South Sumatra reach 274,502

Antara 13 Aug 19;

Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA) - Fires raging through land and forest areas in South Sumatra Province during the January-June 2019 period resulted in 274,502 people suffering from acute respiratory tract infection, a health officer stated.

Residents run the risk of suffering from the infection during the dry spell that induces land and forest fires in several parts of the province, Head of the South Sumatra Provincial Health Office Lesty Nuraini stated on Tuesday

"We have called on the local administration to provide health service facilities to residents as a precautionary measure against haze before the peak of the dry season," she revealed.

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Indonesia: Tesso Nilo's elephants show signs of stress due to forest fire

Antara 13 Aug 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Mahouts of the elephant Flying Squad at the Tesso Nilo National Park had to evacuate the trained elephants to a safer place, as they showed signs of stress due to a forest fire that gutted the conservation area in Pelalawan District.

"The elephants have shown a change in behavior, because the fire has made them uncomfortable," chief of the Flying Squad Team, Erwin Daulay, told Antara here on Tuesday.

The Tesso Nilo National Park is a conservation forest, a home for the Sumatran endemic elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus).

The TNTN area was extended in 2009 to 83,068 hectares, from only 38,576 hectares in 2004, by including the limited production forest.

However, massive illegal encroachment of the conservation area has changed its landscape into palm oil plantations.

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Best of our wild blogs: 11-13 Aug 19

Fish Expedition Day 11 - Last surveys!
wild shores of singapore

Fish Expedition Day 12 - The End
wild shores of singapore

The Cross Island Line Chronicles (mid-2019 review)
Love our MacRitchie Forest

Red and White
Butterflies of Singapore

Secondsguru Zero Waste Bootcamp – August 31
Green Drinks Singapore

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Young activists planning 'green dot' gathering on Sept 21

Audrey Tan Straits Times 12 Aug 19;

A "green dot" rally is being planned for next month at Hong Lim Park.

About 15 young activists in Singapore are organising a climate action rally on Sept 21, in line with the global youth movement inspired by Swedish teen climate champion Greta Thunberg.

Next month's event, the Singapore Climate Rally, will be the first physical one in the Republic since the international movement began in August last year, although there have been other social-media climate campaigns here.

A permit for the event has been sought by the young organisers and approved by the National Parks Board, which manages Hong Lim Park - an area designated as Speakers' Corner where public protests are allowed. The organisers are also applying for a police permit.

The event will feature speeches, a picnic and a postcard-writing session in which participants will be encouraged to send notes urging stronger climate action to their representatives in Parliament and other government officials.

There will also be a "die-in", a photographic opportunity in which participants are encouraged to visually express their thoughts on the human lives and biodiversity that will be lost to unabated global warming. Attendees will be asked to form the shape of a spiral, and then gradually collapse inward domino-style to highlight the interconnectedness of the planet, organisers say.

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Singapore to ban domestic trade in elephant ivory from September 2021

Malavika Menon Straits Times 12 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE - Singapore will ban the domestic trade of elephant ivory from Sept 1, 2021, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Monday (Aug 12).

The sale of elephant ivory and ivory products as well as the public display of such products for the purpose of selling them will be prohibited in Singapore once the ban comes into effect.

The ban highlights Singapore's resolve in the fight against the illegal trade in species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), said NParks. Singapore is a signatory to Cites, under which international trade in elephant ivory has been banned since 1990.

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Vegetation fire in Marina East "the size of two football fields" brought under control

Joanna Seow Straits Times 12 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE - A large fire broke out near East Coast Park on Monday night (Aug 12), affecting an area the size of two football fields.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it responded to a vegetation fire near Marina East Drive that was "approximately the size of two football fields" at about 8.50pm.

About 50 firefighters and 12 emergency vehicles were deployed, SCDF said in a Facebook post. It surrounded the fire with seven water jets and brought it under control at 10.30pm.

There are no reported injuries, said SCDF.

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815 birds seized from Malaysia-registered bus at Woodlands Checkpoint; largest haul in 5 years

Prisca Ang Straits Times 11 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE - Officers from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) found more than 800 ornamental birds in a Malaysia-registered bus at Woodlands Checkpoint on Saturday morning (Aug 10), the largest haul in recent years.

The bus was stopped for a security check when it arrived at the checkpoint at 7am.

ICA officers noticed that the rear tyres of the bus had been modified and heard chirping sounds coming from within the bus, ICA and the National Parks Board (NParks) said in a statement on Sunday.

When they checked the modified compartments above the rear tyres, they found 15 containers with a total of 815 birds hidden in the compartments.

This is the largest seizure of ornamental birds in Singapore in the past five years.

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Malaysia: Most number of hotspots in Indonesia

RAZAK AHMAD The Star 12 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: Nearly 80% of hotspots detected in the Asean region over the past 29 days

are located in Indonesia, figures from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) show.

The hotspots caused by forest fires and open burning are driving the current haze situation that is affecting parts of the region, including Malaysia.

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Malaysia: Haze reaching hazardous levels in various states


PETALING JAYA: The haze hovering over the country finally breached the hazardous level when the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in Miri, Sarawak, reached almost 400 due to peat fires there.The town has seen API readings above 300 since early yesterday morning.

Another area with an “unhealthy” API reading was Johan Setia in Klang, Selangor.

A check with the Department of Environment’s (DoE) API website showed that the reading at the Institute Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) monitoring station in Miri was 390 as of 5pm yesterday.

Another monitoring station in SK Kuala Baram 2 recorded an “unhealthy” API reading of 137 as of 5pm, having seen a steady “unhealthy” reading since early morning.

Both the ILP and SK Kuala Baram 2 stations are located in the Kuala Baram district of Miri.

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Indonesia: Satellites confirm presence of 192 hotspots on Sumatra Island

Antara 12 Aug 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Terra and Aqua satellites detected 192 hotspots indicating forest fires across Sumatra Island on Monday morning, a significant spike, from 13 hotspots on Sunday afternoon.

Of the total 192 hotspots, 156 were found in Riau Province, nine in South Sumatra, eight in Jambi, seven in Lampung, four each in North Sumatra and Bangka Belitung, three in Riau Islands, and one in West Sumatra, Sanya Gautami, analyst at the Pekanbaru meteorology station, remarked here on Monday.

In Riau, the detected hotspots comprised 40 in Pelalawan, 29 in Siak, 21 in Rohan Hilir, 15 in Indragiri Hulu, seven each in Meranti Island and Bengkali, six in Kampar, and two each in Kuantan Singingi and Dumai.

Of the 192 hotspots, 116 were identified as fire spots, with 28 detected in Pelalawan, 22 in Siak, 19 in Indragiri Hilir, and 15 in Rohan Hilir.

Haze lowered visibility in Pekanbaru to 2.5 kilometers on Monday at 10 a.m. local time.

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Malaysia: MCMC to assist in combating illegal business that is harming endangered animals

MEI MEI CHU The Star 12 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has joined in the fight against illegal online wildlife trade.

It has voiced its commitment to help the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the police to investigate Amsyar Kejora, a wildlife trader who operated on numerous social media platforms.

“The MCMC will assist Perhilitan by providing technical assistance such as website blocking, and engaging with the platform providers as a way of controlling spread of misinformation, ” the commission said in an interview yesterday.

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Malaysia: Suitable area in Sabah sought to rehabilitate wild animals

The Star 12 Aug 19;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is identifying a suitable area in the state to rehabilitate wild animals in a bid for better wildlife conservation.

Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he has instructed state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew to identify areas that would be suitable for such conservation purposes, including to breed near-extinct Sumatran rhinos and pygmy elephants.

Thanking the Indonesian government for their pledge to help save the Sumatran rhinos by agreeing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this purpose, he said it was the only move available to save the species from extinction.

For the state government’s part, he said they want to emulate Africa, where some 1, 000 acres of land has been set aside for elephants to roam freely.

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Best of our wild blogs: 8 -10 Aug 2019

Fish Expedition Day 8
wild shores of singapore

Fish Expedition Day 9 - National Day!
wild shores of singapore

Fish Expedition Day 10
wild shores of singapore

11 Aug (Sun): Registration opens for Sisters Islands Intertidal walks in September 2019
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

A Public Forum by SIBiol on "Environmental Education in a Changing World"
Psychedelic Nature

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Haze is less likely in Singapore for now, says NEA, as number of hotspots dropped

Clara Chong Straits Times 10 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE - The Republic experienced brief showers in the morning on Saturday (Aug 10) with prevailing winds blowing mainly from the south-southeast.

The number of hotspots detected in Sumatra dropped from 68 to 36 due to cloudiness. Localised smoke plumes from hotspots in Riau continued to be observed.

As of 5pm, the 24-hr PSI was in the moderate range, between 62-67.

Showers are to be expected over parts of Singapore on Sunday, where prevailing winds are expected to blow from the southeast or south. The 24-hr PSI range is expected to remain in the moderate range while the 1-hr PM 2.5 readings for the next 24 hours is expected to be in Band I (normal).

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Recycling bins are for recyclables, not junk

IKEA’s move to give 18,000 homes a free recycling bin might help raise awareness, but won’t do anything to improve Singapore’s recycling rate if we don’t learn how to recycle right, says CNA's Nazurah Razali.
Nazurah Razali Channel NewsAsia 9 Aug 19;

SINGAPORE: In a move to help Singapore residents recycle regularly, the National Environment Agency (NEA) announced last week that 18,000 households in Singapore will get free IKEA-sponsored recycling bins over the next few months.

While this move has been welcomed by many, the reality is that it is unlikely to do much to move the needle on our recycling rate unless we get to grips with what can or cannot go into recycling bins.

Unfortunately, many people in Singapore are terrible at recycling. While there are some who are better at sorting out trash and recyclables, most of us need a lesson in the basic skills.
In April, a survey by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and NEA found that many Singaporeans still do not know what cannot be recycled.

Out of 2,003 households surveyed, 67 per cent thought that soiled paper food packaging can be recycled and almost half thought that tissue paper can be placed in blue recycling bins or chutes.

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Malaysia: API readings very unhealthy in Miri, unhealthy in Klang

The Star 10 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: Miri in Sarawak recorded a "very unhealthy" Air Pollutant Index (API) reading, while in Klang the air quality has been determined to be "unhealthy".

A check with the Department of Environment's API website showed that the Miri station recorded an API level of 391 as of 2pm on Saturday (Aug 10).

It had been logging a steady "very unhealthy" readings from 2am.

SK Kuala Baram 2 in Sarawak had a "unhealthy" API level of 135. It had a steady "unhealthy" API reading since 6am.

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Malaysia: Dengue cases at an all-time high

LOH FOON FONG The Star 10 Aug 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: Dengue fever cases in Malaysia reached an all time high, hitting nearly 80, 000 cases and 113 deaths reported from January until Aug 3.

Deputy Health Minister Lee Boon Chye expects the number to hit 150, 000 cases by year end if all out efforts are not taken to keep it under control.

The last highest number of cases recorded was in 2015 which recorded 120, 836 cases with 336 deaths.

The figures between January and Aug 3 is almost double that of last year’s figures for the same period – 42, 496 cases with 70 deaths.

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Malaysia: Elephants feeding on Orang Asli crops

SIRA HABIBU The Star 9 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: Rampaging elephants are destroying Orang Asli community farms in Pos Simpor near Gua Musang, Kelantan, sparking fears of famine during the coming rainy season.

Villagers in Kampung Jader, Kampung Penad and Kampung Ceranok claimed that logging and land-clearing activities in the Balah Forest Reserve had forced the elephants out of their normal habitat, leaving them to forage for food in villages.

Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Wilayah Tanah Adat Pos Simpor chairman Nur Mohd Syafiq Dendi Abdullah said the elephants had been destroying the community’s self-sustainable farms since July.“Our tapioca, pumpkin, corn and banana plants have been destroyed, affecting over 200 people from 48 households here.

“We fear the worst during the rainy season as it will be difficult for us to go to town in Gua Musang to get our grocery supplies.“We have always relied on our own food crops, especially during the rainy season when the towns are flooded and we are locked down in the jungle, ” he added.

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