Best of our wild blogs: 16 Apr 19

Palm oil, logging firms the usual suspects as Indonesia fires flare anew

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Singapore makes room for allotment gardens as urban farming takes root

Rina Chandran Reuters 16 Apr 19;

SINGAPORE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Rain or shine, every day for the past year, Kanti Kagrana walks a short distance from his son’s flat to Singapore’s HortPark, a national park where he grows chillies, eggplant and spinach in his allotment garden.

Kagrana, a 60-something native of India, is among a growing community of urban farmers in Singapore, which introduced allotment gardens in November 2017, modeled after England’s program which dates back to at least the 19th century.

Singapore now has more than 1,000 allotment gardens in a dozen of its national parks. Each is a raised planter bed measuring 2.5 meters by 1 meter, and can be leased for three years for S$57 ($42) annually.

“I enjoy gardening, but there is not enough space in my son’s flat,” said Kagrana, who has two plots.

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Malaysia: Animals vs humans = tragedy all round

SIM LEOI LEOI The Star 16 Apr 19;

An elephant may be pretty hard to miss but that has not stopped this majestic animal from becoming roadkill along certain highways in Malaysia, such as the Gerik-Jeli Highway in Gerik, Perak.

In June 2017, the carcass of a two-year-old elephant was found beside the highway, a victim of a collision with a car driven by a teacher who had panicked upon seeing a herd of the animals.

About two months later, a 10-year-old bull died after it was struck by a bus on the same stretch of the Gerik-Jeli Highway.

Early in January last year, a female elephant died in the same area, believed to have been electrocuted by a live wire close to the Seri Banding army camp.

Reports of such incidents as well as those of animal encroachment are on the rise as the wildlife in Malaysia contend with humans for space – and food.

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Malaysia: To save the Malayan tiger, poachers could be shot on sight

SIM LEOI LEOI The Star 16 Apr 19;

Just minutes into an interview with The Star, Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim is upset.

The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director-general has held many press conferences to report the seizure of animal parts ranging from tiger skins and rhino horns to pangolin scales with his composure intact. But at this one-on-one interview, he is finding it difficult to talk about the damage that poachers’ snares inflict on wildlife in the forests.

“The animals either die or are injured when they are caught in the snare. Sometimes, we have footage or pictures captured by our camera traps showing the animals gnawing off a foot to get loose.

“In the worst cases, we will tranquillise the animal and bring it back to our centres to be treated. Usually, they die in a week or two,” he says.

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Sharks more vulnerable than originally thought

Newcastle University Phys.Org 15 Apr 19;

A study of small-scale fisheries operating from Kenya, Zanzibar and Madagascar, has revealed the massive underreporting of sharks and rays caught annually in the region.

Dominated by requiem, hammerhead, ground and hound sharks, the total annual catch of these vulnerable species equates to around 35,000 tonnes.

Led by experts at Newcastle University, UK, and published in the academic journal Biological Conservation, the team say the study highlights the substantial underreporting of catches by small scale fisheries and the urgent need to expand efforts globally to assess their impact on vulnerable species.

Impact of small-scale fisheries

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Airborne plastic particles blanket remote mountains: study

Marlowe HOOD, AFP Yahoo News 16 Apr 19;

Paris (AFP) - A secluded mountain region thought to be free of plastic pollution is in fact blanketed by airborne microplastics on a scale comparable to a major city such as Paris, alarmed researchers reported Monday.

Over a five-month period in 2017-2018, an average of 365 tiny bits of plastic settled every day on each square metre of an uninhabited, high-altitude area in the Pyrenees straddling France and Spain, they reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

"It is astounding and worrying that so many particles were found in the Pyrenees field site," said lead author Steve Allen, a doctoral student at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland.

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