Best of our wild blogs: 9 Sep 19

Butterfly of the Month - September 2019
Butterflies of Singapore

Night Walk At Windsor Nature Park (06 Sep 2019)
Beetles@SG BLOG

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Stretch of Kallang River gets $86 million upgrade, with flood protection and water features

Lim Min Zhang Straits Times 7 Sep 19;

SINGAPORE - A 1.8km stretch along Kallang River has received a facelift, to make it not only more attractive, but also a better defence against the onslaught of rain.

The four-year, $86-million project called ABC Waters @ Kallang River is meant to boost flood protection for residents in the area, as well as to strengthen the canal's structural integrity.

With the canal wider and deeper, drainage capacity has been increased by 80 per cent.

The drainage improvement works by national water agency PUB at Singapore's longest river was completed recently and unveiled on Saturday (Sept 7), at an event attended by Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MPs Ng Eng Hen and Chong Kee Hiong. Dr Ng is also Defence Minister.

Previously, this part of the canal, between Bishan and Braddell roads, was plain concrete and did not have such water features.

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PUB releases thousands of fish in Pandan Reservoir to combat midges

Channel NewsAsia 6 Sep 19;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB has released "tens of thousands" of fish into Pandan Reservoir, the latest measure employed to try to control the midge pupae population, it said on Friday (Sep 6).

The release of the guppies, mollies and swordtails into the reservoir was done in a controlled manner that does not affect its ecosystem, PUB said in a Facebook post.

Midges, which are commonly mistaken for mosquitoes, are small insects which exist in and near water bodies.

"While these midges do not bite or spread diseases, they can be a nuisance when present in large numbers," said PUB.

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Taking the climate fight beyond straws and tote bags — individual actions that matter

NAVENE ELANGOVAN Today Online 7 Sep 19;

SINGAPORE — In a country where most people do not think twice about buying new clothes, Mr Leow Yee Shiang has not bought a single piece of clothing in the past two years.

The 31-year-old civil servant practises what he calls a “minimalist lifestyle”. He rarely shops, and has only bought four items for himself this year – a water bottle, socks, lenses for his sunglasses and a motorcycle plate number.

What sparked the decision? Mr Leow said it happened early last year when he was packing his belongings for his return to Singapore from Australia, where he had been living with his wife for two years because of work.  

“I got a bit fed-up as I was packing… There were many boxes. I got so angry at myself that I just started throwing away things,” he recalled. Among some of the items which he threw out included his wedding photo and its frame, as well as the love letters he got from his wife when they were dating. It means that he can now “focus on cherishing” their relationship, he said with a smile. 

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Wasteful practices of affluence must stop

Let’s consider a set of new 3Rs for environmental sustainability – namely, reinvention, recalibration and reward, says Nominated Member of Parliament Professor Lim Sun Sun.
Lim Sun Sun Channel NewsAsia 7 Sep 19;

SINGAPORE: One of my favourite Instagram accounts is that of Tabao Girl’s. This environmentally minded young woman meticulously photographs the efforts she makes daily to reduce her use of disposables.

On most days, she succeeds remarkably with her inspiring arsenal of reusable cups, containers, and cutlery, and enjoys her take-away food like the rest of us.

But one day in July this year, she recounted in a post her distressing experience at a bakery, while waiting behind another customer: “…when he was done paying, I was almost going to cry. First the 13 buns, each in 1 plastic bag of its own. Then he wanted 6 buns in 1 bag, and 7 buns in another – and he wanted them double-bagged. Then he asked the cashier to give him 1 large bag to put everything into. In 1 bakery trip for 13 buns, there was a total of 18, EIGHTEEN PLASTIC BAGS used in 1 single transaction.”

I share her distress when I witness such scenes in bakeries, hawker centres and supermarkets.

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Biodegradable plastic alternatives not necessarily better for Singapore, say experts

Ang Hwee Min Channel NewsAsia 9 Sep 19;

SINGAPORE: You might think that switching from single use plastics to biodegradable plastic alternatives is good for the environment but in Singapore, there are “no effective differences”, experts said.

They often end up in the same place - the incinerator, said Associate Professor Tong Yen Wah from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Biodegradable plastic wastes make a difference to the environment only when they are buried in landfills, he added.

“In these situations, these plastic bags can degrade faster as compared to a regular polyethylene plastic bag and will not affect the environment as much. Overall for Singapore, it might even be more expensive to incinerate biodegradable plastics," said Assoc Prof Tong.He explained that this is because some biodegradable options take more resources to produce, which make them more expensive.

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Malaysia, Johor: Land reclamation may be behind mass fish deaths

VENESA DEVI The Star 7 Sep 19;

What went wrong?: Some of the dead fish found along Pantai Lido.

JOHOR BARU: Land reclamation along Pantai Lido could potentially be the main cause of mass fish deaths in the area.

State Local Government, Urban Wellbeing and Environment Committee chairman Tan Chen Choon said the Department of Environment (DoE), along with the Fisheries Department, were still investigating the matter and not ruling out land reclamation as the contributing factor.

“The DoE visited the location on Thursday upon receiving complaints about the occurrence and found that the dissolved oxygen level of the water was very low at 1.2mg/l,” he said.

“The hot weather and disturbance of the water flow here due to land reclamation are believed to be contributing factors, but we are still investigating the matter.”

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Malaysia: Two men nabbed, over 600 turtle eggs seized

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 8 Sep 19;

KUCHING: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) enforcement team nabbed two men for selling sea turtle eggs at Pasar Tamu Kubah Ria on Saturday.

SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said the first suspect, aged 65, was caught at 9.45am and 214 eggs were seized.

“When our team returned to the market for another round of patrol in the afternoon, they arrested a 26-year-old man with 438 sea turtle eggs. We had lodged a police report for further investigation,” he said in a statement today.

On the same day, another team raided a stall at Bandar Riyal market in Kota Samarahan for selling wild boar meat.

A 62-year-old male suspect was nabbed and 17 packets of the wildlife meat were seized.

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Malaysia: Sharks and rays still in demand in Sabah for their meat

Olivia Miwil New Straits Times 8 Sep 19;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is keen to protect sharks and rays in the state’s waters but the problem is the two species of marine life have been a staple food for some locals.

A fishmonger of 35 years at the wet market here, who declined to be named, said due to demand from consumers, fisherman continue to net the two species.

“I am aware of the move to ban the catching of sharks and rays to prevent both species from becoming extinct. But some people in Sabah including fishermen still consume the meat,” he said, adding sharks and rays were sold between RM8 and RM12 per kilogramme.

He however said that the catch involving the two marine species was far less nowadays, compared to three decades ago.

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Malaysia: Govt to build elephant sanctuary in Perak

The Star 8 Sep 19;

TEMERLOH: The government will set up an elephant sanctuary in an area spanning 100ha in Perak at a cost of about RM20mil.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said the move was part of an ongoing effort to conserve elephants, which were increasingly threatened due to human-elephant conflicts.

He said the new sanctuary would be a new addition to the Sungai Deka Elephant Sanctuary in Terengganu and the Johor Elephant Sanctuary in Kota Tinggi.

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Malaysia: Sarawak haze worsens; visibility in Kuching down to 1.2km

Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 6 Sep 19;

KUCHING: The haze in Sarawak worsened today, with visibility in the state capital here reduced to 1.2km.

Five other areas are also shrouded in smoke and recorded Air Pollution Index (API) readings of “unhealthy” as of 9am.

Sri Aman registered the highest API of 166, followed by Miri at 133, Kuching at 125, Sibu at 123 and Sarikei at 109.

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Malaysia officially complains over haze as Indonesia forests burn

Reuters New Straits Times 6 Sep 19;

JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s science ministry will urge Indonesia to take immediate action to fight haze, it said on Friday, as Jakarta detected a spike in the number of hot spots indicating worsening forest fires across the archipelago.

During the dry season, Indonesian farmers use fire to clear land, often for palm and pulp plantations, but the flames can rage out of control to produce a choking haze that spreads to neighbours like Singapore and Malaysia.

A mild El Nino weather pattern this year has aggravated the impact of fires, with the number of hot spots rising to the highest since devastating fires in 2015.

In a statement, Malaysia’s ministry of science, technology and innovation said it would “send a diplomatic note to Indonesia, so immediate action will be taken to put out the fires and prevent repeated burning.”

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Indonesia: Air-polluting forest fire hotspots in Riau reach 154

Antara 7 Sep 19;

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Pekanbaru meteorology station reported that 448 hotspots were observed throughout Sumatra Island, comprising 154 hotspots in Riau Province’s eight districts on Saturday morning, depleting the air quality in parts of the province.

Of the total figure, 60 were spotted in Pelalawan District, 42 in Indragiri Hulu, 34 in Indragiri Hilir, six in Meranti, five in Kuansing, three in Bengkalis, and two respectively in Kampar and Rokan Hilir, Ahmad Agus Widodo, analyst at the Pekanbaru meteorology station, remarked here on Saturday.

At least 97 of the 154 hotspots had developed into firespots, strongly suggestive of forest fires.

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Philippines: Whale shark population increases - WWF

Business Mirror 9 Sep 19;

More than 100 new ‘butanding’ (whale shark), including juveniles, spotted in Donsol, the highest number in several years.

DONSOL, Sorsogon—One-hundred-four new butanding (whale shark) individuals have been identified in Ticao Pass off the coast of Donsol, Sorsogon, between January and June 2019, according to a report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines.

Whale shark, classified as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on their Red List of Threatened Species, is a filter-feeding carpet shark and the largest living fish species in the world.

Each whale shark can be identified based on the unique pattern of spots behind its gills, which serves as a “fingerprint” for identification. Just as no two human fingerprints are alike, no two whale sharks have the same spot pattern.

The addition of these new sightings puts the total number of whale shark individuals spotted in Donsol at 676 since the monitoring began in 2007, the WWF said in its news release.

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Stranded whales: Numbers on the rise around UK shores

Helen Briggs BBC News 6 Sep 19;

The number of whales and dolphins washing up around the UK coastline has risen, according to new figures.

In 2017 alone, 1,000 animals were stranded - more than in any year since records began.

A total of 4,896 whales, dolphins and porpoises died on beaches between 2011 and 2017 - up 15% on the previous seven years.

Scientists found a number of causes for the deaths, including infectious diseases, fishing and plastic.

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