Best of our wild blogs: 19 Jul 19

Sentosa Tanjung Rimau still alive!
wild shores of singapore

Pasir Ris explodes with sea hares and Babylon snails
wild shores of singapore

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Can Singapore and rest of South-east Asia rise to the challenge of surging seas?

BENJAMIN HORTON Today Online 18 Jul 19;

The Government announced in March that it will start a National Sea Level Programme this year to bring together research expertise and better understand how rising sea levels will impact Singapore.

On Wednesday (July 17), Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said that the Government will set aside S$10 million in funding for the programme over the next five years and set up a new office to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in climate science.

Why are sea levels rising and how will it affect the region and Singapore? And what can we do about it?

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Citizens’ workgroup to be formed to help improve recycling culture

Comprising 50 S'poreans from diverse backgrounds, it will work on creating effective solutions
Timothy Goh Straits Times 18 Jul 19;

The Government will convene a citizens' workgroup as part of its efforts to tackle climate change and environmental issues.

This was announced by Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor during the Partners for the Environment Forum yesterday.

Dr Khor said that climate change and environmental protection are "complex and multifaceted problems that cannot be addressed by the Government alone", and which require businesses and individuals to also do their part.

Though the public has already been engaged widely on the Zero Waste Masterplan which will be launched later this year, Dr Khor said that the Government wants to go beyond discussion to action, and work with Singaporeans to co-create effective solutions to environmental issues.

The citizen's workgroup is an example of such collaboration. Comprising 50 Singaporeans from diverse backgrounds, it will work with the authorities on solutions to improve the way people here recycle at home.

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Environmental champions lauded for efforts, inspiring others to go green

LAUREN ONG Today Online 18 Jul 19;

SINGAPORE — No plastic straws, plastic water bottles or plastic boxes are being sold or used on the premises of Commonwealth Secondary School, thanks to a push by the school’s biology teacher, Mr Jacob Tan Guan Rui.

The drive to minimise the use of plastic was spurred by a conversation that Mr Tan had with his former student, who was aghast by the exorbitant amount of plastic waste he witnessed in schools, especially the polytechnic where he was.

Mr Tan, 33, said: “I wasn’t aware of the issue of plastic waste pollution until, in September 2017, the ex-student came back to look for me and told me (how this was bothering him).

Mr Tan agreed that more could be done in this area and said that he would read up more and see if he could “influence the school community” to support an initiative to cut down on plastic use.

Commonwealth Secondary School now has a campaign that bans plastic products from the canteen since the end of 2017.

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Singaporeans head to fire hotspot village in Indonesia to tackle haze

Michael Taylor Reuters 19 Jul 19;

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Singaporean charity is working with villagers in Indonesia to restore ancient peatlands, seeking to curb the haze that chokes the region every year, organizers said on Thursday.

Indonesian farmers burn huge swathes of land every year to clear land for agricultural expansion, creating a vast haze that clouds the skies over large parts of Southeast Asia - including Singapore.

Now the People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM Haze), an advocacy group in the city-state, has launched a peatland restoration project in a tiny Indonesian village that suffered bad fires in 2014.

“One of the things we realized is that good management of peatland is very important for managing haze in the region,” Benjamin Tay, executive director of PM Haze told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“A lot of the haze comes over from that part of Indonesia into Singapore, so by preventing fires and haze in that region, we prevent haze from coming to Singapore,” he said.

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Community sheds with litter-picking tools for beach clean-ups set up in Singapore parks

Channel NewsAsia 17 Jul 19;

SINGAPORE: Sheds with shared, reusable litter-picking tools dubbed CleanPods have been set up at three parks in Singapore, the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) and National Parks Board (NParks) said on Wednesday (Jul 17).

Volunteer groups who organise beach clean-ups will be able to reduce waste by using the tools provided in the community storage platform, the two agencies said.

The existing methods of organising such activities might potentially contribute to waste, PHC and NParks said.

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Malaysia, Johor: 3 factories identified as most likely sources of Pasir Gudang air pollution

Rizalman Hammim New Straits Times 18 Jul 19;

JOHOR BARU: The Environment Department (DoE) has identified three chemical-based factories as the most likely sources of the air pollution in Pasir Gudang last month.

DoE director-general Norlin Jaafar said the factories were found to have high levels of methyl mercaptan readings when the incident was first reported.

“The three factories were identified through a process of elimination following checks on all 257 chemical-based factories in Pasir Gudang,” she said.

“All of them are also located within a 3km radius of Sekolah Agama Taman Mawar and SK Pasir Gudang 4.”

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Malaysia: Orangutan numbers drop as much as 30% in Malaysian palm oil estate forests - WWF

Reuters 18 Jul 19;

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Orangutan populations in forest patches found in oil palm estates in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah fell as much as 30% in 15 years, but the overall population of the species in the area is stable, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.

WWF’s findings, which it says are the result of the most intensive survey ever done on any great ape in the world, show that orangutan numbers fell by 30% and 15% respectively in Kulamba and Tabin, in eastern Sabah, between 2002 and 2017.

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Malaysia: Tigers spotted in Kampung Besul

Rosli Zakaria New Straits Times 18 Jul 19;

KUALA TERENGGANU: Yesterday, a pair of killer whales made a huge splash all over the news when they appeared near the oil rigs in Dulang, off the Terengganu coast, and today, villagers in Kampung Besul in Dungun were shocked when a pair of usually nocturnal tigers roamed along a road in the village in broad daylight.

Facebook user Adli Mohamed uploaded three pictures of the tigers, one leaning against a car and another resting under a tree.

He claimed in his posting that the pictures were authentic and that the incident happened today.

“They appeared before my eyes and I now know the experience of trying to escape from dangerous animal on a motorcycle,” he said, adding that the pictures were taken with his mobile phone camera.

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Malaysia: Vietnamese fishermen targeting sea cucumber in Sabah waters

Norasikin Daineh New Straits Times 19 Jul 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Vietnamese fishermen are now targeting sea cucumbers apart from other seafood in Malaysian waters especially in Kudat.

State Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) deputy operations director captain Asmawati Mohd Tujeri said the agency was aware that there was a change of trend with foreign fishermen now focusing on the species.

She described the rampant catching of sea cucumbers during its recent arrests as worrying as the activity would destroy the marine ecosystem.

"We notice that the foreign vessels did not only take our fish but also aiming for the species.

"This is serious as they used metals along the seabed to take those sea cucumbers which would damage coral reefs,” she said.

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Indonesia: 11 provinces should declare alert status for forest fire - Ministry

Antara 18 Jul 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Coordinating Ministry for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs has appealed to 11 provincial administrations prone to land and forest fires to impose emergency alert status in their respective regions.

"Regions must soon declare an emergency alert status, because of the total 16 provinces (prone to forest fires), only five have imposed the status," the ministry's Deputy for Public Order and Security Coordination Insp. Gen Carlo B. Tewu remarked during a coordination meeting to evaluate and take precautionary measures against land and forest fires here on Thursday.

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Indonesia: North Sumatra catches tiger that killed farmer

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 18 Jul 19;

After two months of hunting, the North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA North Sumatra) has succeeded in catching a Sumatran tiger that killed a farmer.

The agency found the tiger alive on Tuesday in Huta Bargot subdistrict, Sosopan district, Padang Lawas regency, after it entered a trap the agency’s team had prepared.

The tiger was suffering from wounds on its right leg when caught, believed to have been caused by snares placed by residents.

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Indonesia: Komodo Island to be closed in 2020


East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Tourism Agency head Wayan Darmawa announced on Thursday that Komodo Island is to close by the beginning of 2020.

“It is definite; we have decided to close Komodo Island next year,” Wayan said, as reported by Antara news agency.

The closure is intended for the environmental rehabilitation of the island and to improve the conservation efforts for the Komodo dragons .

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Thailand: Marine experts push to plan to protect dugongs

The Phuket News 18 Jul 19;

KRABI: Calling on local fishermen to preserve dugong sea grass grazing areas and establishing a dugong protection zone are just two strategies to be rolled out under a plan to try to stem the rising number of dugongs found dead along the Andaman coast.

The proposals were put forward at a meeting in Krabi on Tuesday (July16) headed by Marine and Coastal Resources Department Director-General Jatuporn Buruspat. Also present were Rear Admiral Nunthapon Mararat of the Royal Thai Navy Third Area Command and Krabi Vice Governors Somkuan Kunngen and Sompot Chotichuchuang.

So far this year 15 dead dugongs have washed ashore or been found in the sea off the coast of the southern provinces, much higher than the yearly average, the meeting was told.

Mr Jatuporn unveiled a plan comprising short-term, mid-term and long-term phases.

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Thailand: Dramatic drop in Mekong water level sparks alarm

Pratch Rujivanarom The Nation 18 Jul 19;

Mekong River water levels that fell dramatically on Thursday under impact from dam operations will soon recover, says the national water management agency.

Somkiat Prajumwong, secretary-general at the Office of National Water Resources (ONWR), offered the reassurance despite warnings from experts that the dams are destroying Mekong ecosystems and doing long-lasting harm to millions of people who depend on the river.

Over this week, Mekong River levels on the Laos-Thailand border in the Northeast fell at an alarming rate after China’s Jinghong Dam reduced its discharge and Xayaburi hydropower dam in Laos began trial operations.

Somkiat admitted that Thai authorities had no measures to mitigate the rapid change in water level but said the river would return to normal quickly, as Jinghong Dam had already resumed its regular discharge rate and the Xayaburi Dam trial would conclude soon.

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IUCN red list reveals wildlife destruction from treetop to ocean floor

Latest list shows extinction now threatens a third of all assessed species, from monkeys to rhino rays
Damian Carrington The Guardian 18 Jul 19;

From the tops of trees to the depths of the oceans, humanity’s destruction of wildlife is continuing to drive many species towards extinction, with the latest “red list” showing that a third of all species assessed are under threat.

The razing of habitats and hunting for bushmeat has now driven seven primates into decline, while overfishing has pushed two families of extraordinary rays to the brink. Pollution, dams and over-abstraction of freshwater are responsible for serious declines in river wildlife from Mexico to Japan, while illegal logging is ravaging Madagascar’s rosewoods, and disease is decimating the American elm.

The red list, produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is the most authoritative assessment of the status of species. The list published on Thursday adds almost 9,000 new species, bringing the total to 105,732, though this is a fraction of the millions of species thought to live on Earth. Not a single species was recorded as having improved in status.

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