Best of our wild blogs: 18 Oct 17

No ferry to St John's Island during Kusu Pilgrimage Season: 20 Oct - 17 Nov 2017
Sisters' Island Marine Park

Upcoming Green Drinks: Air Pollution in Singapore
Green Drinks Singapore

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Algae at Kranji Reservoir turns waters a murky green, PUB says no cause for alarm

Lydia Lam Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE - Green algal growth was spotted in Kranji Reservoir on Tuesday (Oct 17), but water agency PUB has assured the public that such growth is not uncommon and poses no danger.

Photos sent in by a reader of The Straits Times, taken on Tuesday, show murky waters at the reservoir coated with a thick green hue.

A spokesman for PUB confirmed with ST that the photos show algal growth.

Singapore's weather creates favourable conditions for such growth, and the appearance of algae depends on weather conditions.

According to PUB, nutrients from sources in water catchments such as from pet waste, food waste, fertilisers, detergents and sediments, are food for algae, which are microscopic aquatic organisms.

"When these nutrients are available and when conditions are favourable, such as (when there is) warm water and sufficient sunlight, algae may grow rapidly," said PUB in an advisory on its website.

The green tint created comes from the chlorophyll, a photosynthetic pigment in algal cells which they use to make food.

This is why algae is more visible from the early morning to the mid-afternoon, when sunlight is plentiful.

Algae tends to concentrate on the surface of calm waters, and can often appear as a concentrated green layer known as scum at certain reservoir shores or canal edges due to wind directions.

PUB assured the public in its advisory that it monitors water quality closely with real-time water quality sensors in reservoirs and major waterways, collecting samples to analyse algae and chlorophyll levels.

PUB removes algal scum in reservoirs and works with the National Environment Agency's Department of Public Cleanliness to clean waterways daily.

It is also working on an improved algal management plan, including enhanced monitoring tools and ways to manage algal growth.

The waters from the reservoirs undergo several layers of treatments, removing algae effectively, PUB said.

Earlier this month, parts of the Singapore River turned green because of algal overgrowth, startling several passers-by.

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Indonesia: Authority foils attempt to smuggle endangered hornbills in Makassar

Antara 17 Oct 17;

Makassar, S Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - The Security and Law Enforcement Agency (BPPH) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for Sulawesi has foiled an attempt to smuggle four endangered knobbed horbills (Rhyticeros Cassidix) to Makassar, capital of South Sulawesi province.

"We handed over the four Sulawesi wrinkled horbills to BKSDA of Central Sulawesi to take care. These birds are protected species. Local people call them Alo birds," Head of BPPH Muhammad Nur said here on Monday.

One female and three male hornbills were confiscated.

The birds were transported using a rented car from Buol District to Palu City in Central Sulawesi.

The exotic birds were hidden inside two cardboards and said as if they were poultry to the driver.

The car transporting the hornbills was intercepted by local law enforcement officers who were conducting a raid on street in Palu.

No address was written on the cardboard, but only a cellphone number of the package receivers has been collected by the officers.

Nur said that the Sulawesis wrinkled hornbill is considered one of the most beautiful species of all 54 species of hornbill worldwide.

However, Nur said that the population of hornbill in Indonesia, especially in Sulawesi, has declined due to deforestation and lost habitat.

"The decline in food supply and nesting places as well as poaching on the hornbill are the other causes of the declining population of hornbill," Nur said.

The Government of Indonesia has included the Sulawesi wrinkled hornbill as a protected species under Law no.7/1999.

The wrinkled hornbill, also known as the knobbed hornbill, is a colorful hornbill native to Indonesia. It is the fauna symbol of South Sulawesi Province.

This large black hornbill has a yellow bill, white tail feathers, pale blue skin around the eye, blackish feet and bare dark blue throat.

Endemic to Indonesia, the knobbed hornbill is found in Sulawesi, Buton, Lembeh, Togian and Muna Island.(*)

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Indonesia: Two elephants die of electrocution in Sumatra

Antara 17 Oct 17;

Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA News) - Two Sumatran elephants were found dead due to suspected electrocution in East Aceh District of Sumatras Province of Aceh on Sunday.

"The carcasses of the elephants were found completely with their tusks. The elephants were suspected to have died after they came in contact with an electric fence installed by local residents," Head of Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of Aceh, Sapto Aji Prabowo said here on Monday.

The dead elephants were found by the locals in Semedang Jaya Hamlet, Seumanah Jaya Gampong, Rantau Peuruelak, East Aceh, on Sunday at around 11.00 a.m. local time. They then reported the incident to Leuser Conservation Forum and to the BKSDA of Aceh.

The elephants were a 10-year-old male and a 20-year-old female.

A joint team of BKSDA of Aceh, Environment and Forestry Law Enforcement Agency of Sumatra, East Aceh Police, and Leuser Conservation Forum has been deployed to the location to conduct autopsy of the elephants.

"The autopsy was done by taking samples from organs to be tested in laboratory. The result of the autopsy and the temporary conclusion showed that the elephants died due to electrocution," Prabowo revealed.

The autopsy result showed that the elephants died on Saturday night (Oct 14).

BKSDA has filed a report with the local police of East Aceh.

"We hope the law is enforced in this case. We also call on residents not to install electric fence around their garden as it not only threatens wildlife but also humans themselves," Prabowo remarked.

The degradation of natural habitat due to deforestation has become a major problem in Indonesias Sumatra Island. This often leads to conflict between wild life and human as animals are driven from their forest habitats, which are fast disappearing.

Sumatra Island is home to several endemic species such as Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), orangutan (Pongo abelii), and sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), all of which are threatened species.(*)

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Plant more trees to combat climate change: scientists

Alister Doyle Reuters 17 Oct 17;

OSLO (Reuters) - Planting forests and other activities that harness the power of nature could play a major role in limiting global warming under the 2015 Paris agreement, an international study showed on Monday.

Natural climate solutions, also including protection of carbon-storing peat lands and better management of soils and grasslands, could account for 37 percent of all actions needed by 2030 under the 195-nation Paris plan, it said.

Combined, the suggested “regreening of the planet” would be equivalent to halting all burning of oil worldwide, it said.

“Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought,” the international team of scientists said of findings published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The estimates for nature’s potential, led by planting forests, were up to 30 percent higher than those envisaged by a U.N. panel of climate scientists in a 2014 report, it said.

Trees soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. That makes forests, from the Amazon to Siberia, vast natural stores of greenhouse gases.

Overall, better management of nature could avert 11.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year by 2030, the study said, equivalent to China’s current carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use.

The Paris climate agreement, weakened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision in June to pull out, seeks to limit a rise in global temperature to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times.

Current government pledges to cut emissions are too weak to achieve the 2C goal, meant to avert more droughts, more powerful storms, downpours and heat waves.

“Fortunately, this research shows we have a huge opportunity to reshape our food and land use systems,” Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, said in a statement of Monday’s findings.

Climate change could jeopardize production of crops such as corn, wheat, rice and soy even as a rising global population will raise demand, he said.

The study said that some of the measures would cost $10 a ton or less to avert a ton of carbon dioxide, with others up to $100 a ton to qualify as “cost-effective” by 2030.

“If we are serious about climate change, then we are going to have to get serious about investing in nature,” said Mark Tercek, chief executive officer of The Nature Conservancy, which led the study.

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Best of our wild blogs: 17 Oct 17

SG seahore ID, can? - a new facebook group!
wild shores of singapore

22 Oct (Sun): Free R.U.M. Ubin Mangrove Walk
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

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Malaysia, Indonesia to discuss Sumatran rhino conservation

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia and Indonesia will hold meetings on efforts to save the Sumatran rhino.

The Sabah Forestry Department said a Technical Experts Meeting would be held on Wednesday and Friday in Jakarta to provide technical recommendations on rhinoceros conservation to both governments.

Malaysia, during the recently-concluded 11th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral Meeting in Tarakan, Indonesia, had proposed a high-level bilateral meeting on Sumatran rhino conservation to be held on Dec 4 and 5.

In Malaysia, only two of the rhinos — a male and a female — are in captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Tawau. A female Sumatran rhino died of skin cancer several months ago.

Wildlife experts estimate that there were only about 20 Sumatran rhinos left in Kalimantan and southern Sumatra.

The Sabah Wildlife Department had been keen to collaborate with its Indonesian counterparts on in-vitro fertilisation for the endangered species.

Malaysia had tabled a proposal on the “Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros” following the 9th HoB Trilateral Meeting.

The “Visit the Heart of Borneo” campaign was launched in conjunction with the recent meeting.

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Azimuddin Bahari, during the launch, said the campaign would promote HoB eco-tourism areas.

“It is in line with the global aspiration, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly, that 2017 would be International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

The Sabah and Sarawak Forestry Departments had identified top eco-tourism sites to promote. They were chosen based on how well they could further the HoB initiative.

The states would engage further with stakeholders on how best to implement the campaign.

The HoB Trilateral Meeting is held annually on a rotation basis among Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia for each state to present reports on conservation efforts. It is a platform to discuss collaboration under the HoB initiative.

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Malaysia: Understanding environment terminology

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 17 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia has published a reference book which will enable the public to understand the environment in a layman’s terminology.

Its executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the book was a direct outcome of WWF Malaysia’s 2015 Environmental Writing Workshop held in Kinabatangan for the media.

The book provides clear and concise definitions of conservation terms, besides introducing readers to the players in the conservation scene. It defines protected areas and forest reserve classes.

“A participant at the workshop had suggested that we create a list of environmental terms. People will only want to conserve something that they understand, and they can only understand what they know,” he said.

Dionysius, a former wildlife biologist, added that he had observed that scientists usually publish research in scientific journals, using technical terms that are not layman-friendly.

He said he hoped the book would make it easier for everyone to digest conservation issues and, in so doing, empower them to protect the environment.

The book is free for students, educators and media practitioners, while others can get it for a token donation of RM10.

It can be collected at WWF-Malaysia’s office at Centre Point Complex by contacting Brian Richard at brian.richard

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Thailand: Conference discusses bid to save dugongs from extinction

The Nation 16 Oct 17;

A national convention on dugongs and seagrass preservation was held on Monday to find the solution to save dugongs from extinction.

National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department director-general Thanya Netithammakun headed the conference, which included representatives from the relevant agencies such as the Marine and Coastal Resources Department and the faculties of fisheries from various universities.

Thanya pointed out that the changing environment and climate change had severely affected the dugong population worldwide.

There was a strong need for all officers to understand the situation and work together to save dugongs, their habitat and their main food source – sea grass fields.

Therefore, he stressed that the outcome of this convention was crucial for dugong conservation in Thailand, where the population of this rare marine mammal was shrinking at a concerning rate.

It is believed that there are only about 200 dugongs left in Thai waters, and around 150 of these are in Had Chao Mai marine national park in Trang, where the seagrass field is well preserved and abundant.

Dept aims for dugong preservation
Bangkok Post 17 Oct 17;

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to strengthen measures for preserving and conserving the dugong population with the local community's participation, saying the plan also includes increasing seagrass habitat which is the main food source for the seacow-like mammal.

Thanya Nethithammakul, chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, said dugong populations are being threatened by a loss of fertility in the seagrass habitat, and disturbance due to fishing gear and man-made hunting. The department needs to develop more effective measures to limit the losses and increase their population, he said.

Many seagrass habitats were now being destroyed as some locals collect tiny and colourful fish found near seagrass sites. It is a challenging issue to figure out how to manage this problem as the location of some dugong habitats are not under the department's jurisdiction.

He stressed that cooperation from all stakeholders is important for the mammal's conservation and protection in the long run, adding the department will put more focus on local participation and is ready to stop or suspend any project if there is opposition from locals.

He referred to a controversial case against national park authorities regarding a plan to attach tags to dugongs to monitor their travels. Locals had said the project would pose a threat to the rare species as the long-tailed tag or cord might get tangled with fishing gear and cause their death. The project has been suspended by the department.

Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Office, said the department plans to increase the dugong population by improving the fertility of seagrass habitats, adding there is evidence of dugong populations having been found in many marine national parks in Chumphon, Phangnga and Phuket decades ago, but none or very few of them are seen now.

"If we can improve the quality of seagrass or make it fertile again, we believe the dugongs will come back to these places and their population will expand to new places, not only the main spot around Libong island in Trang province," he said.

Authorities to designate protected areas for dugongs in Thailand
Pattaya Mail 17 Oct 17;

Bangkok – The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) is to conduct a seagrass and sea-cow survey to designate protected areas, following a rapid decline in the number of the marine animals.

DNP Director-General Thanya Netithammakul has reported to relevant agencies that while not yet critical, sea-cows in Thailand continue to be threatened by human activity. The mammal is hunted by groups who believe its bones can be brewed as elixirs and its teeth can be used as amulets.

The DNP is to conduct a three-month survey on the remaining population of sea-cows between Dec 2017 and Feb 2018 and has instructed authorities of Hat Chao Mai National Park to suppress sea-cow hunting.

Sea-cows are at the top of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list, which prohibits the trading of wild sea-cows except for authorized research due to their endangered status. It is currently estimated that there are only 200 sea-cows still in Thai waters.

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Pope at UN demands response to hunger, climate, migration

NICOLE WINFIELD Associated Press Yahoo News 16 Oct 17;

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis demanded Monday that world governments collectively commit to end rising world hunger by resolving the conflicts and climate change-related disasters that force people to leave their homes in search of their daily bread.

Francis drew a standing ovation Monday at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, where he marked the U.N.'s World Food Day by calling for governments to work together to tackle the interconnected problems of hunger, global warming and migration.

He cited the Paris climate accord, in which governments committed to capping heat-trapping emissions, as an example of taking action to fight global warming based on scientific evidence. But in what appeared to be a jab at the United States, which has announced it is withdrawing from the accord, Francis lamented that "unfortunately some are distancing themselves from it."

Francis said negligence and greed over the world's limited resources are harming the planet and its most vulnerable people, forcing many to abandon their homes in search of work and food.

"We are called to propose a change in lifestyle and the use of resources," Francis told the audience, which included agriculture ministers from the Group of Seven nations. "We cannot make do by saying 'someone else will do it.'"

Last month, the U.N. reported that the number of chronically hungry people in the world was rising again after a decade of declines thanks to prolonged conflicts and climate change-related floods and droughts. While the 815 million chronically undernourished people last year is still below the 900 million registered in 2000, the U.N. warned that the increase "is cause for great concern."

Francis said the answer wasn't to reduce the world's population but rather to better manage the planet's abundant resources and prevent waste. Francis called the population control argument — which the Catholic Church has long opposed — a "false solution."

Rather, he called for a new model of international cooperation that incorporates love, fraternity and solidarity into responding to the needs of the poorest.

Francis said it's not enough to respond with pity, "because pity is limited to emergency aid."

Love, he said, "inspires justice and is essential to bring about a just social order."

In a tangible sign of his message, Francis' gift to the U.N. food agency to commemorate his visit was a marble sculpture of Aylan, the toddler who washed up on a Turkish beach in October 2015. The sculpture, which features a wailing angel over the little boy's corpse, symbolizes the tragedy of migration, the Vatican said.

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Best of our wild blogs: 16 Oct 17

An otterly fun time at Chek Jawa!
Adventures with the Naked Hermit Crabs and wild shores of singapore

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Singapore households throw away S$200m worth of food and beverage a year, according to Electrolux's latest survey

PR NEWSWIRE ASIA AsiaOne 16 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE, Oct. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- In conjunction with World Food Day on October 16, 2017, Electrolux Singapore commissioned a survey to highlight the amount of food waste generated in our homes.

The Electrolux Home Food Waste survey reveals that 85 per cent of Singapore households do not consume their food before the indicated date on food packing, contributing to mounting food waste in the city state.

This amounts to some S$170 worth of food and beverage being thrown away by each household a year. Annually, Singapore households trash about S$200 million worth of food and beverage. [1]

According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food waste was generated in Singapore in 2016. This marked a 41.5 per cent increase over the past decade.

The study is the third edition of Electrolux Singapore's annual #HappyPlateSG community initiative, which started in 2015. Previous years focused on consumption of 'ugly food' and finishing of meals to prevent food wastage.

Mr Douglas Chua, General Manager of Electrolux Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, said: "Tackling food waste is the cornerstone of our yearly initiative. This year, our focus is on food in storage, such as pantries and refrigerators. Often, we buy food, store them, but end up forgetting to consume them before their indicated dates on the packaging. This results in their eventual disposal. We want to encourage behavioural change that will allow for greater food sustainability and reduced waste."

The theme for this year is #SeasonYourEx, a short form for Season Your Expiring Food.

This initiative aims to educate, and change consumers' mindsets that expiring and leftover food are not as tasty as fresh food. Expiring and leftover food, from perishables such as fruits, vegetables, eggs, to packaged items such as canned meats and fruits, can still taste as good as the fresh ones when using creative cooking tips and recipes.

Other highlights from the survey which polled 1,000 households:

20 per cent would never consume food if it is passed the indicated date.

Seven out of 10 (72 per cent) could attribute the meanings of 'Best Before', 'Sell By' and 'Expires On', demonstrating knowledge that food passed its indicated date did not necessarily mean it is unfit for consumption.
On attitudes

Majority of the households (84 per cent) were shocked, guilty, sad and angry when confronted with the food waste that Singapore generates.
lt (10 per cent) indifferent about it.

On consumption

Half of the households (48 per cent) would continue eating the item if the taste or texture remained similar to the original
Six in 10 (58 per cent) said they would do so if the items were frozen, vacuum sealed and stored well, and showed no signs of turning bad.

Ms Fiona Chia, Director of nutrition consultancy Health Can Be Fun, said: "Some food that are nearing or have exceeded the indicated date may still be eaten."

"An 'Expires On' date applies if there is a health risk in eating the item after that date. A 'Best Before' date is used as a guide to indicate how long a product can retain its peak quality and freshness. A 'Sell By' date acts as a reference for retailers, to let them know how long an item can be put on display for sale," she added.

Mr Eric Low, Chef-Owner of Lush Epicurean Culinary Consultancy and author of six cook books, said: "Managing food nearing or have passed the indicated date is on a case by case basis. Different categories of food do not deteriorate at the same rate. Storage methods such as optimal temperature, frozen and vacuum sealing also help prolong the food lifespan."

A dedicated microsite will include tips on reducing food waste, how to be involved, recipe inspirations, "Ask Happy Plate", among others. "Ask Happy Plate" is a new column featuring food experts, chefs and nutritionists, and will answer the public's questions on food management.

There is also a social media component to this initiative. The public is highly encouraged to participate and contribute to greater food waste awareness. Participation will be through two steps:

Post a photo of an expired, or soon to be expired, food or leftover item in your home on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share what you can do with it
Hashtag #SeasonYourEx #HappyPlateSG
For every 5 #hashtags and/or social media shares, Electrolux will fund the costs of running The Food Bank Singapore's van for one day. The van collects donated food items from collection points across Singapore, and distributes them to beneficiaries.

Ms Nichol Ng, Co-founder of non-profit The Food Bank Singapore, said: "Every month, we collect on average 60,000 kg of food and distribute these surpluses to organisations and people in need of food. We hope more people can be onboard this meaningful project so that our van can constantly hit the roads and deliver those foods promptly.

"Everybody has a part to play when it comes to food waste management. Our aim is to have the Food Bank van funded for a year so that more individuals and beneficiaries can continuously benefit from our initiative, which is to allow food access to those in need while reducing food waste – a win-win situation."

The Food Bank Singapore is a non-profit charity which collects and redistributes food to the needy via various channels such as Voluntary Welfare Organisations, Charities, Soup Kitchens etc. It also sells close to expiring food at The Food Pantry at discounted prices. Purchasing these food items will help reduce the food waste Singapore generates.

Notes to Editor:

*According to the National Environment Agency, 791 million kg of food was wasted in Singapore in 2016.

The Electrolux survey was commissioned in September 2017, and polled 1,000 households, representative of the Singapore population aged 18-65 years old. The survey comprised a questionnaire of multiple-choice questions on consumers' understanding of food labels, consumption of food passed the indicated dates on packaging, acceptance towards such food, value of discarded food, and awareness on food waste.

About Electrolux

Electrolux shapes living for the better by reinventing taste, care and wellbeing experiences, making life more enjoyable and sustainable for millions of people. As a leading global appliance company, we place the consumer at the heart of everything we do. Through our brands, including Electrolux, AEG, Anova, Frigidaire, Westinghouse and Zanussi, we sell more than 60 million household and professional products in more than 150 markets every year. In 2016 Electrolux had sales of SEK 121 billion and employed 55,000 people around the world. For more information go to

About The Food Bank Singapore Ltd

Established in 2012, The Food Bank Singapore ( is Singapore's first food bank and aims to be the prevailing centralised coordinating organisation for all food donations in Singapore. Its mission is to bridge potential donors and members (beneficiaries). It complements charities' food donation efforts by helping them to obtain better access to excess food. The Food Bank is also looking at finding creative and alternative ways to maximise use of excess food. Besides collecting, storing and distributing donated food, The Food Bank Singapore aspires to be the voice of food resource planning and management, and spread the word on its importance to ensure long term providence of food for everyone.

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