Best of our wild blogs: 5 Mar 19

FREE guided walks at St. John's Island
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

The 2019 BFF Biodiversity Challenge Workshop!
Biodiversity Friends Forum

11th Singapore Raptor Watch Report
Singapore Bird Group

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Sustainability central to MPA's social responsibility efforts

The MPA Sustainability Office aims to "foster a culture of good governance, prudent resource management and conscientious environmental and social practices"
NAVIN SREGANTAN Business Times 5 Mar 19;

SUSTAINABILITY feels like a buzzword, or a term that is fashionable for the moment.

But that is not the case for the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), as the word is a central theme in the statutory board's corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Its initiatives are channelled through the MPA Sustainability Office, which was set up in 2014 to build on MPA's focus on internal and external sustainability issues that cover environmental, economic, social and governance causes. MPA director of corporate development and chief financial officer Yvonne Chan told The Business Times that the office's objectives are to "foster a culture of good governance, prudent resource management and conscientious environmental and social practices".

These are achieved through advocacy drives, philanthropic efforts and staff volunteerism. Among its advocacy efforts, MPA enforces the application of consistent environmental standards among ship owners and port users while also complying with environmental regulations set by national and global bodies, Ms Chan said.

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Singapore opening up land and opportunities for agri-tech ventures

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SCDF puts out fire near Lim Chu Kang cemetery after battling for nearly a day

Channel NewsAsia 5 Mar 19;

SINGAPORE: Firefighters in Singapore put out a vegetation fire near Lim Chu Kang Chinese Cemetery on Tuesday (Mar 5) after battling the blaze for nearly a whole day.

This was one of the longest Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) operations involving vegetation fires in recent years, said SCDF on its Facebook page on Tuesday morning.

SCDF responded to the fire at about 7am on Monday morning, and extinguished it 19 hours later, at about 2am on Tuesday.

Damping down operations are ongoing to prevent any potential rekindling from hot burnt surfaces.

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Malaysia: Wildlife officers save lost tapir in Kota Kemuning

The Star 4 Mar 19;

PETALING JAYA: A tapir, believed to have wandered away from the jungle, somehow ended up in Kota Kemuning.

Several residents there, who were getting ready for their Sunday morning walk and breakfast, were surprised to find the nocturnal hoofed mammal in their housing estate.

The tapir was spotted wandering around aimlessly, eating plants and bushes at about 7am as more residents, some on motorcycles, came to take a glimpse of it.

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Malaysia: 24 open burning cases reported daily in Johor - Fire Dept

The Star 5 Mar 19;

JOHOR BARU: An average of 24 open burning cases are being reported daily in Johor since the beginning of this year.

Johor Fire and Rescue Department director Datuk Yahaya Madis (pic) said 1,443 open burning cases had been reported throughout the state in the first two months.

“These included almost 300 forest and field fires that were either sparked because of the heatwave or deliberately lit by people living in the area.

“Fires that took the department days to put out often involved cases that happened in peatland because when peat soil burns, it can burn deep underground,” he said in an interview yesterday.

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Malaysia: 80pc decrease in dengue cases in hotspots

VEENA BABULAL and TEOH PEI YING New Straits Times 4 Mar 19;

KUALA LUMPUR: THE government’s bid to battle dengue using Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes appears to be on the right track, with seven dengue hotspots recording an 80 per cent decrease in dengue cases.

This was the outcome of a pilot study undertaken since March 2017 in neighbourhoods in Keramat here and in Shah Alam, Selangor, where three million Wolbachia-infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were released.

The project aims to assess the effectiveness of using Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to block the ability of the mosquito population to transmit dengue to human beings.

Speaking to the New Straits Times, Institute for Medical Research (IMR) director Datuk Dr Fadzilah Kamaludin said once the “invasion” of the Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes reached its peak, more than 90 per cent of dengue transmission would be interrupted.

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Indonesia: Land fires trigger haze in several areas in North Kalimantan

Antara 5 Mar 19;

Tanjung Selor, N Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Forest and land fires continue to haunt North Kalimantan, as they have occurred daily in the province over the last several weeks.

The fires began to produce haze, Muhammad Fandi, head of the North Kalimantan disaster mitigation office, confirmed here, Tuesday.

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Indonesia: Endangered orangutans 'doomed to extinction' as Chinese-built hydro dam set to rip through habitat

The Tapanuli orangutan was discovered in 2017 and fewer than 800 are believed to exist
Harry Cockburn The Independent 4 Mar 19;

A critically endangered species of orangutan which lives in one forest in Indonesia is in danger of rapid extinction after a court ruled construction of a new hydro-electric dam can go ahead, despite a legal challenge by environmental groups.

The Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was discovered by scientists in 2017, and just 800 individuals are believed to exist, making it the rarest great ape species on the planet.

But the construction of the Batang Toru Dam in North Sumatra, backed by the Bank of China, as part of the country’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project, will rip through the orangutan’s habitat.

The state administrative court in North Sumatra’s capital, Medan, ruled construction can continue despite critics of the hydro dam providing evidence that its environmental impact assessment was deeply flawed.

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Vietnam calls for 'drastic measures' to fight African swine fever

Reuters Yahoo News 5 Mar 19;

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam's prime minister has called for "drastic measures" to fight the spread of African swine fever in the Southeast Asian country, state media reported on Tuesday.

The highly contagious disease, which is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans, has spread rapidly across neighboring China since August, and has been found in seven areas in Vietnam, the state-run Vietnam News Service reported.

"We should combat the epidemic as if we are fighting against the enemy," Phuc said in a meeting with regional officials on Monday, according to Tuesday's report, which said Phuc had called for "drastic measures" from the "whole political system" to fight the disease.

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Ocean heatwaves devastate wildlife, worse to come

Marlowe HOOD, AFP Yahoo News 5 Mar 19;

Paris (AFP) - Invisible to people but deadly to marine life, ocean heatwaves have damaged ecosystems across the globe and are poised to become even more destructive, according to the first study to measure worldwide impacts with a single yardstick.

The number of marine heatwave days has increased by more than 50 percent since the mid-20th century, researchers reported in the journal Nature Climate Change.

"Globally, marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent and prolonged, and record-breaking events have been observed in most ocean basins in the past decade," said lead author Dan Smale, a researcher at the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth, Britain.

Above the ocean watermark, on Earth's surface, 18 of the last 19 years have been the warmest on record, leading to more severe storms, droughts, heatwaves and flooding.

"Just as atmospheric heatwaves can destroy crops, forests and animal populations, marine heatwaves can devastate ocean ecosystems," Smale told AFP.

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Some Great Barrier Reef coral suffering lasting effects from mass bleaching events

Several reefs have not recovered from back-to-back bleaching, surveys have found, but others remain in good condition
Lisa Cox The Guardian 4 Mar 19;

Coral reefs in the far north of the Great Barrier Reef are showing lasting effects from the mass bleaching of 2016 and 2017 and in some cases their health has declined further, according to fresh surveys by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Preliminary results of surveys by Aims scientists in January show several reefs have not recovered from the back-to-back bleaching, although the agency said some reefs they surveyed were in good condition.

Researchers undertook a 25-day expedition to remote far northern reefs, at a cost of $1.4m, partly funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation from money it was awarded in a record grant by the government last year.

Some of the reefs examined had not been surveyed before.

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