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

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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”.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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