Best of our wild blogs: 9 Feb 19

Crocodiles Uncovered: Read this if you have a fear of reptiles
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In land-scarce Southeast Asia, solar panels float on water

Rina Chandran Reuters 8 Feb 19;

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Solar power companies in Southeast Asian that are competing for land with agriculture, industry and expanding populations have found an innovative alternative: placing floating panels in lakes, dams, reservoirs and the sea.

Earlier this week, the state utility Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) said it will submit a proposal for a 45-megawatt floating solar plant in the Sirindhorn dam in the country’s northeast.

EGAT plans to invest in about 16 such projects across nine dams in the country, deputy governor Thepparat Theppitak told reporters.

Elsewhere in the region, Singapore is developing one of the world’s largest offshore floating solar systems in the Strait of Johor to the north of the island.

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Malaysia: Whale shark starved to death after consuming plastic bag, says Sabah Wildlife Dept

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 8 Feb 19;

KOTA KINABALU: A dead whale shark that washed ashore at Menumbok beach in Kuala Penyu district, about 155 kilometres away from here, was believed to have starved to death after consuming a large plastic bag.

The carcass of the male juvenile whale shark was found on Feb 5, by a teacher who happened to be jogging along nearby Tanjung Aru beach.

Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit was alerted and rushed to the scene to conduct necropsy. The team was shocked to find a plastic bag, measuring 46cm in length and 32cm in width, inside the shark's stomach.

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Malaysia: Firefighters use water bombing against raging Gunung Baling Fire

Bernama New Straits Times 8 Feb 19;

ALOR STAR: Firefighters are conducting water bombing to put out a raging fire on Gunung Baling.

A Mi-17 helicopter is being used to conduct the water bombing to put out the fire which started on Wednesday evening and has spread across 2.8 hectares, Baling Fire and Rescue Station chief Mohd Jamil Mat Daud said today.

He said that since the firefighting operation resumed at 8am today, seven to eight instances of water bombing had been completed.

“The weather this morning is fine. It is feared that it will become hot in the afternoon. We are attempting to use the water bombing method to put out three more large spots of fires,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

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Indonesia dam burst raises alarm over unchecked forest clearing

Ian Morse Reuters 8 Feb 19;

MAKASSAR, Indonesia (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In the Indonesian city of Makassar, where the rainy season often brings floods, Hasriani didn’t worry when a day-long downpour last month saw water rise to her knees by the time she had picked up her children from school for afternoon prayers.

But within an hour, the water level had climbed above her head, threatening to drown her family inside their home, already built a meter (3 ft) off the ground.

“It wasn’t caused by the rain - it was Bili-Bili!” said Hasriani, 30, referring to a dam completed in 1998 in order to prevent flooding, located 9 miles (14.5 km) away.

In late January, the dam overflowed, unleashing run-off from the mountains that swamped thousands of homes close to the city.

Disaster officials were shocked that one intense bout of rain could cause the dam to fail. But the provincial governor and environmental experts believe it could have been predicted.

Earth shaken loose by years of forest-felling in the mountains above the city had been washed down into the dam’s reservoir, they said, silting it up and displacing water.

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Australia: 'Hundreds of thousands' of cattle feared dead after floods

AFP Yahoo News 9 Feb 19;

Townsville (Australia) (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of cattle weakened from a severe drought are feared to have died in record-breaking floods in northeastern Australia, authorities said Friday, as they stepped up efforts to feed surviving livestock.

Incessant rains over an almost two-week period have flooded swathes of Queensland state, with the full scale of the devastation on drought-hit cattle stations becoming clearer as floodwaters recede.

"We are expecting hundreds of thousands in terms of stock losses," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

"This will be heartbreaking to these communities that have been experiencing years of drought, only to see that turn into a torrential inundation which threatens now their very livelihoods in the complete other direction."

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