Best of our wild blogs: 24 Nov 17



30 Nov (Thu): Talk on "Goby and Shrimp Symbioses: More Than Meets The Eye"
wild shores of singapore

First documented record of the successful nesting of the Red-legged Crakes, Rallina fasciata, in Singapore
Singapore Bird Group



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Indonesia: Tesso Nilo National Park welcomes newborn elephant

The Jakarta Post 23 Nov 17;

The elephant population at the Tesso Nilo National Park in Pelalawan regency, Riau, has grown as a Sumatran elephant gave birth on Tuesday.

The healthy male elephant was named Harmoni Rimbo and quickly became the center of attention at the Tesso Nilo Festival held in the park from Wednesday to Friday.

“The birth of the baby elephant should encourage all concerned parties that there is still hope [for elephants to live] in the Tesso Nilo National Park,” Wiratno, the Environment and Forestry Ministry’s director general for natural resources and the ecosystem, told Antara on Thursday.

Harmoni Rimbo, or simply Har, was born after cross-mating a male wild elephant and a captive female elephant named Ria, which belongs to the Tesso Nilo Elephant Flying Squad, a joint operation of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia and the Conservation Authority of Riau.

Har is the sixth elephant to be born since the Elephant Flying Squad was formed in 2004.

Ria was detected to be pregnant in May last year. She has already given birth to two elephants, one in 2011 and the second in 2014.

Tesso Nilo Natinal Park chairman Supartono said with the birth of Harmoni Rimbo the park now has eight domesticated elephants. (saf/ahw)


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Masagos urges firms to check on emissions

Shelina Ajit Assomull Straits Times 23 Nov 17;

Singtel is the first company in Asia, aside from Japan, to have its carbon reduction targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative - an organisation specialising in advising companies on how much they should be decreasing carbon emissions.

"I applaud Singtel for taking the lead in corporate responsibility and ask that more companies, big and small, undertake efforts to study and publish their carbon footprint," said Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, at his opening plenary address at the second day of the Responsible Business Forum yesterday.

Singtel have set an ambitious target, as Mr Masagos put it, due to a potential increase in energy consumption as they expand their network. Singtel has also endorsed the new reporting recommendations made by the international Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures on climate-change risk.

Mr Masagos encouraged more companies to work towards strength in the face of climate change.

He said: "We have seen examples where such decisions help businesses stay sustainable and profitable as the world transits to a low-carbon economy."

Mr Masagos also highlighted Singapore's agreement, under the Paris Agreement, to lower carbon emission intensity by 36 per cent from 2005 levels despite the fact that Singapore contributes a mere 0.11 per cent of global emissions.

Singapore's 2019 plans to introduce a price signal for companies to reduce emissions - a carbon tax - were highlighted, for the promise they bring in encouraging companies to reduce their carbon footprint.

"The revenue collected from the carbon tax will go into supporting initiatives to improve industry energy efficiency," Mr Masagos said.

Singapore's sunny weather comes in handy for its potential to harness solar energy. Of all the renewable energy sources, Mr Masagos highlighted, solar power brings Singapore the most promise.

He said that to do this, "research centres, such as the Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore, and the Energy Research Institute at Nanyang Technological University, are collaborating with industry".

Singapore has had interaction with international partners and 112,000 officials visiting from developing countries to focus on sustainable development and other key areas.

MrMasagos closed the speech with his call to governments, the United Nations, businesses and the public for unity in working towards a sustainable future.

The Responsible Business Forum in Singapore was a start in making this happen.

He said: "I encourage all of you to take the opportunity at this forum to think about how your initiatives can help to accelerate action on sustainable development."

Shelina Ajit Assomull


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Malaysia: Forestry dept to join fight against Sabah’s poachers

The Star 23 Nov 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Forestry Department will be roped in to help stem the killing of the state’s endangered wildlife.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said his ministry was looking at empowering the department to enforce the Sabah Wildlife Protection Enactment.

“We are looking at both the enforcement and prosecution aspects to assist the Wildlife Department,” he said.

He said Sabah chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan was receptive to the idea.

“The Forestry Department has more men on the ground and its rangers are in forest reserves that are wildlife habitats,” he said.

Masidi acknowledged that the Wildlife Department did not have enough staff members to keep track of the fauna in Sabah’s vast interior.

He said it was also challenging to find witnesses who could help the department track down and prosecute poachers.

“This is even when we offer monetary rewards,” he said, adding that poachers quickly slipped away after killing an animal.

Sabah’s unique and endangered Bornean pygmy elephants, numbering some 2,000, are among the favourite targets of poachers.

Last week, the carcass of a bull elephant riddled with bullet wounds was found in a plantation in Tawau district on the east coast.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said it was likely that the elephant was shot at another location but managed to flee before succumbing to its wounds.

Plantation workers discovered the dead elephant with its tusks intact and informed their managers.


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Malaysia: More than a dozen nabbed for illegal logging, other offences in Kelantan forests

MOHD SHAFUAN KHAIRI New Straits Times 22 Nov 17;

MACHANG: More than a dozen people were arrested for illegal logging and other offences committed in Kelantan forests during a special joint operation which ended on Wednesday.

Codenamed ‘Ops Bersepadu’, the operation was led by the Forestry Department and included the participation of the police, Immigration, state Road Transport and state Environment Departments.

Involving 110 officers, the operation also saw the seizure of timber cutting and processing machinery worth thousands of ringgit.

Operation chief Nor Azirim Ahmad said the team recorded 16 offences during the operation, which started on Nov 14.

He said the team covered forest areas in the districts of Jeli, Tanah Merah, Gua Musang and Rantau Panjang.

"The individuals were arrested but later released after their statements were recorded," he told reporters after closing the operation at Bukit Bakar here.


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Malaysia thanks Indonesia for commitment to preserving haze-free skies

ADIB POVERA New Straits Times 22 Nov 17;

KUCHING: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today praised the Indonesian government for its commitment to tackling open-burning activities, which in previous years had triggered the transboundary haze.

The prime minister recorded the appreciation on behalf of the Malaysian government at a joint press conference held after the 12th Annual Consultation Malaysia and Indonesia today.

“It has been almost two years since Malaysia was last enveloped by (transboundary) haze.

“This reflects the seriousness of the Indonesian government in putting an end to any (open-burning) activities, which could trigger haze.

“Hence, I would like to record my appreciation to the Indonesian president (Joko Widodo) and also the Indonesian government for their commitment to ensure the region is free from any haze,” said Najib to applause from the delegates comprising ministers from the Malaysian and Indonesian government.

The commitment demonstrated by the Indonesian government in resolving the issues, said Najib, has brought relief to the people in Malaysia including those in Sarawak.

Najib later announced that both Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to enhance cooperation in forest conservation as well as efforts to save near-extinct wildlife including the Sumatran rhino and Orang Utans.

“This is in line with the Heart of Borneo initiative involving Indonesia, Malaysia and also Brunei. This is also a reflection of our seriousness towards pushing for sustainable development, which not only focuses on spurring the economy but also conservation of forests and wildlife,” said Najib.


Malaysia thanks Indonesia for tackling forest fires
Safrin La Batu The Jakarta Post 23 Nov 17;

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed his appreciation for Indonesia's efforts in tackling forest fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan and spare the neighboring country from air pollution.

Speaking during a joint press conference with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo before the 12th Malaysia-Indonesia annual consultative meeting in Kuching , Malaysia, Najib said his country had not experienced haze for two years.

“Thank you for the serious attention from Indonesia. The weather is now fresh, enjoyable,” Najib said as quoted in the Presidential Palace’s press statement on Wednesday.

Forest and land fires are perennial problems in Indonesia, with the latest fires in 2015 resulting in a choking haze blanketing numerous areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan, as well as Singapore and parts of Malaysia, costing the economy Rp 221 trillion, equal to about 1.9 percent of the country’s GDP.

In October, the National Disaster Management Agency claimed that Indonesia had improved its capacity to deal with land and forest fires following the 2015 disaster. Activists, however, have warned officials in Jakarta against complacency, saying that more needs to be done to address forest fires. (saf/ahw)


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EU ban on bird imports sees 'massive' cuts in global trade

Matt McGrath BBC 23 Nov 17;

A new study says that an EU ban on the trade in wild birds has helped reduce the global business by 90%.

Prior to the 2005 regulation that limited the market, European countries were the foremost importers of birds, mainly from West Africa.

These imported creatures often escaped and posed threats to local populations and ecosystems.

Latin America has now become the main bird source, and is now responsible for 50% of the much smaller global market.

Flu sparks ban

It was in response to concerns about the spread of avian influenza that the EU imposed a temporary ban on wild bird imports in October 2005. This was made permanent two years later.

Prior to the ban, the global trade saw around 1.3 million birds bought and sold every year, according to the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

The EU was the world's biggest importer of birds at the time with Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain accounting for two thirds of all wild birds sold on the global market.

About 70% of them came from West Africa, mainly from Guinea, Mali and Senegal.

"There is some redirection of trade to other areas and some may have gone underground, but the global drop is so massive that those cannot account for it on their own," author Dr Diederik Strubbe, from the University of Copenhagen, told BBC News.

"By implementing this ban the trade has effectively eliminated a lot of demand from the market and the main picture that emerges is that the trade has largely collapsed."

Latin America has replaced Africa as the main source according to this study, supplying demand in Mexico and the United States. However the overall number of birds being traded has reduced to around 130,000 every year.
What's also changed is the type of birds being bought and sold.

Songbirds from Africa once dominated the market - now parrots are in the ascendant.

"The songbirds like canaries are only a fraction of what they were before, only 20% of the former level," said Dr Strubbe.

"The other popular birds are parakeets they have also declined a bit, not to the extent of the songbirds. Despite the ban they have remained rather popular on the global market and they have found new destinations."

Other researchers in the field welcomed the new study.

"What was really elegant about this paper was that they brought a number of datasets together and they showed us that to some extent the supply chains reconfigure but to some extent they don't. So that this policy had a beneficial impact," said Dr Paul Jepson from the University of Oxford, who wasn't involved in the research.

"For me, it's one of the big issues in wildlife trade governance, understanding the dynamics of supply chains."

The wild bird trade has long caused problems both in the country of origin and the importing nation.

Europe has seen large numbers of invasive parrots causing damage to local ecosystems, out competing local birds and damaging crops. More than 100 cities across the continent have seen parakeets establish.

So serious is the issue that a research group called Parrotnet was funded to assess the scale of the problem. In the UK, ring-necked parrots, descended from pets and aviary birds which have escaped or were deliberately released, have become so plentiful that they pose a threat to vineyards and fruit farms.

There are also impacts on the countries where the birds are captured with a loss of biodiversity and a loss of income for those involved in the trade.

The authors say that over time, the EU ban will likely end the ongoing problem of invasive birds.

"Among invasive species, birds are quite prevalent but our results suggest that the emergence of these, such as the parakeets living in Europe, are largely a phenomenon of the past," said Dr Strubbe.

"We do expect that invasions of new bird species will be become much rarer than before."

The research has been published in the journal Science Advances.


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Best of our wild blogs: 22 Nov 17



Be a part of the NUS–NParks Marine Debris Monitoring Programme!
News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

19 Dec: Bea Johnson in Singapore!
Green Drinks Singapore


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Nature Society (Singapore) president wins top environmental accolade

LOUISA TANG Today Online 21 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — Botanist Shawn Lum once saved a tree species from extinction by accident.

The last Chengal Pasir tree in a forest conservation area in Changi Village was cut down without permission in 2002 by a contractor, which was later heavily fined.

By a stroke of luck, Dr Lum, 54, had collected some seedlings and grown them in his kitchen.

Today, the trees can be found in places such as the Botanic Gardens and Changi Airport.

Whenever Dr Lum goes to the Singapore Zoo, he would say a quick “hi” to the Chengal Pasir growing in its carpark.

“They’re like my babies,” said the Nature Society (Singapore) president.

The longtime conservationist added another feather to his cap on Tuesday (Nov 21), receiving the President’s Award for the Environment at the Istana. The award, also given to Anchor Green Primary School and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital this year, is the nation’s highest accolade for individuals, educational institutions and organisations that have made significant contributions towards environmental and water resource sustainability in Singapore.

After this edition, the annual award will be given out every two years.

Dr Lum, an American, has spent over 20 years in Singapore and is a permanent resident here. Since 1992, he has been overseeing a long-term study on the dynamics of the Bukit Timah forest, tagging and measuring the trees there.

He has headed the Nature Society (Singapore) since 2008. Known for his non-confrontational approach and friendly demeanour, Dr Lum said he “prefers discussion to arguments”.

He has collaborated extensively with parties such as policymakers and other non-profit organisations to promote environmental conservation.

Under his stewardship, Nature Society (Singapore) representatives have worked with the authorities on studies for the proposed alignments of the future Cross Island MRT line, for example. But the society has not shied away from affirming its stand on issues such as the development of the Mandai area by the Mandai Park Holdings.

Said Dr Lum: “I think that we need different voices — some quiet leaders, some supporting from behind the scenes, some louder and urgent-sounding than most, and everything in between.”

The diversity of views and approaches is crucial in having a meaningful discussion, he added. “After all, it is a conversation about nature, our ultimate life support system, that we are talking about.”

The Republic’s biggest environmental challenge is ensuring there are enough green areas outside the nature reserves and parks to support current levels of biodiversity, he said.

Besides the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, there are a lack of mangroves or mudflats in coastal areas specifically set aside for wildlife, he noted.

Dr Lum also felt the Nature Society (Singapore) has not done enough to engage residents in the heartlands who do not speak English. It is something he is looking into.

Little steps are needed to encourage members of the public, who may be “too preoccupied” with other matters, to care about nature, he said.

The society is kickstarting an initiative called Every Singaporean A Naturalist that will reach out to primary and secondary schools and teach students to identify, monitor and appreciate the flora and fauna around them.

“It starts with the realisation that no effort is too small,” he said. “By taking little steps, things like caring for wildlife or buying things that are sustainably and ethically produced, it’ll become second nature to them.”

Over at Anchor Green Primary School, students are taught green and sustainable ways of living through several programmes.

One of them is Buddy Clean, where Primary Four students are introduced to school cleaners to get tips on how to clean their classrooms. They then thoroughly clean their classrooms and hallways once every term.

Primary Five students get the opportunity to become guides and take preschoolers on tours of the Sengkang Floating Wetland nearby.

Anchor Green Primary principal Norliza Rahim said it was important to “start from a young age, so children can be sensitive to environmental issues”.

“We want them to reach out to their parents and siblings, too,” she added.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), meanwhile, has 14 rooftop and five ground-level gardens. Staff and members of the public can grow fruits and vegetables in its eco-garden.

About 20 dementia patients participate in horticultural activities, where they get to touch, feel and smell lemongrass, which may bring back old memories.

The hospital was also the first to implement an Energy Display Dashboard last year to monitor its energy usage.

The green surroundings make for a less stressful environment for patients and their family members, said Mrs Chew Kwee Tiang, KTPH’s chief executive.


Man who 'raised' the young of endangered tree wins President's Award for the Environment
Shelina Ajit Assomull Straits Times 21 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - In little plastic cups, he "raised" the young of an endangered tree, and cared for the seeds like they were his children.

This was in 2002 when Dr Shawn Lum, then vice-president of the Nature Society (Singapore), learnt of the illegal felling of the endangered giant - Hopea Sangal - in Changi Village.

Fortunately, seeds were collected prior to the felling and Dr Lum, an American and permanent resident here, helped them grow into strong saplings over the next eight years.

"I don't have any children of my own, but I know where those Hopea Sangal are planted," he said at a media conference recently, after being named one of three recipients of the President's Award for the Environment (PAE) this year.

The saplings, including those grown by the National Parks Board, were planted at the Singapore Zoo, Changi Airport, Botanic Gardens and Changi museum.

Dr Lum, who is now president of the Nature Society (Singapore), received the award for his significant involvement in biodiversity projects in Singapore.

This includes a long-term study of the Bukit Timah forest, which involves monitoring up to 20,000 trees in 4ha of forest.

Professor Leo Tan, director of special projects at the science faculty at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and one of the nine judges of the awards, said: "Dr Lum should have won this award long ago."

Anchor Green Primary School won the award in the institution category.

The school collaborates with firms such as Ikea and Brother, as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore and NParks, to promote recycling and conservation. The school also includes water education and cleaning in their everyday learning.

A "buddy clean system" is one such initiative, where pupils from Primary 2 and Primary 4 work together using tips provided by the cleaning staff, to keep the classrooms clean.

"If children are sensitised from a young age, they will gravitate naturally towards environmental education," said Madam Norliza A. Rahim, the school's principal.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) picked up the award in the organisation category for its "hospital in a garden and a garden in a hospital", as Mrs Chew Kwee Tiang, chief executive officer of KTPH and Yishun Health, described it.

The hospital's nature-friendly design includes large gardens in and around the hospital which boast 70 species of butterflies and 100 species of fish.

Fruits and vegetables grown in the gardens are sold as well.

"I'm quite sure that when you enter Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, you don't feel stressed," said Mrs Chew of the calming effect nature has on those who visit the hospital. "The best view is reserved for patients in the Intensive Care Unit," she added.

This is the second time a hospital has bagged the organisation category. Alexandra Hospital won it in 2008.

Dr Lum said although the three winners are from different fields of work, "the three of us have an overlapping theme - nature is a part of everything. By taking care of the local environment, we make sure there's space for people but also for nature".

The awards were presented by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Tuesday (Nov 21) night. The PAE, now in its 12th year, had 48 nominees this year, and the three winners were selected by a panel of judges.

From next year, the awards will be a bi-annual affair to better cultivate potential nominees.

Having germinated the Hopea Sangal, Dr Lum now wants to plant the seeds of environmentalism.

He said: "The next step is to make those clearer connections between the groups that focus on energy, resources, waste management and those who look at green issues, biodiversity and nature, like myself.

"If nature's important, we need to lead more sustainable lifestyles, we need to get people to work across this divide."


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'Rampaging' wild boar in Punggol euthanised after gunshot wound to neck

Today Online 21 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — A "rampaging" wild boar which was shot by a police officer on Tuesday (Nov 21) evening had to be euthanised after sustaining a gunshot wound to its neck, wildlife rescue group ACRES said.

The tusked wild boar — measuring 1.5m from head to tail — was involved in an accident with a car at Punggol West Flyover prior to the encounter with the police.

"It is a very unfortunate situation where the boar most certainly became very stressed due to injuries sustained from its collision with a vehicle," said an ACRES spokesperson. "The poor animal probably found itself cornered and became defensive."

The police said in a statement that they were initially alerted to an accident involving the wild boar and a car at the flyover around 7pm. The injured animal was lying on the road when the police and staff from ACRES arrived at the scene.

"The wild boar (then) got up and charged towards the officers and members of the public within the vicinity. The officers fired their Tasers at the boar, but it continued to charge towards them and the public," the police added.

This prompted one of the officers at the scene to draw his revolver and fire at the wild boar "to stop it from injuring anyone", the police said.

ACRES noted that while wild animals tend to be shy and avoid human contact, "in this situation, the cramped area with high human traffic stressed the boar".

The wildlife rescue group urged the public not to approach wild animals and give them space when in their presence.

No one was injured in the incident.


Wild boar shot by police after endangering public safety at Punggol West Flyover
Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: A wild boar was shot by police on Tuesday evening (Nov 21) for "endangering public safety" at Punggol West Flyover.

In a statement, the police said they were alerted to an accident involving a wild boar and a car on Punggol West Flyover at about 7pm.

An injured wild boar was lying on the road when police officers and staff members from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) arrived.

"The wild boar got up and charged towards the officers and members of the public within the vicinity," the police said.

Officers fired their tasers at the boar, but it continued to charge towards them and members of the public.

"As the wild boar was rampaging and was a danger to the people within the vicinity, an officer had to draw his revolver to fire a shot at it, to stop it from injuring anyone," the police said.

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The boar, which measured 1.5m from head to tail, was shot in the neck. It was injured and was handed over to ACRES, the police added.

Nobody was injured in the incident.

In a statement, ACRES said it had to euthanise the animal due to its injuries from the gunshot. "We have assessed this particular case and it is a very unfortunate situation where the boar most certainly became very stressed due to injuries sustained from its collision with a vehicle. The poor animal probably found itself cornered and became defensive."

It added that wild animals in general are shy animals who usually move away when sighted. However in this situation, the cramped area with high human traffic had stressed the boar.

ACRES urged the public not to approach wild animals but to give them space.

Several people also posted on social media about the incident.

Facebook user Nazrin Bin Suhaimi warned commuters to avoid the Tampines Expressway exit to Sengkang East Road because of a "dead wild boar on the road covering two lanes".

"Massive jam," he added.

Another Facebook user Abang Pete wrote in a post that he saw it "struggling and kicking away" while he was driving on Sengkang East Road.

"It looked somewhat like a cow lying on the road," he wrote. "When my headlights shone on the poor thing, I realised that it was a huge wild boar, possibly hit by a passing vehicle.

"What registered in my memory was its eyes looking at my lights," he added. "It was fearful, and noticeably in pain.

"You know, I hate wild boars and they are what I consider the apex adversaries of the Singaporean soldier, but to see it like that, to put it mildly, was disturbing."

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a Facebook post that it will monitor the situation at Punggol area closely.

"We will continue to work with the relevant stakeholders, such as ACRES, WRS (Wildlife Reserves Singapore), NParks and NUS to manage the wild boars so as to ensure public safety," it said.

It added that they are exploring various measures, such as erecting barriers to prevent wildlife from encroaching onto roads, and putting up signs about wildlife crossings to warn motorists.

AVA advised the public to keep a safe distance from the wild boars and avoid confronting or cornering them.

"Do not interact with the wild boars and keep young children and pets away from them."

In a tweet at around 7.45pm, the Land Transport Authoirty warned of an accident on Sengkang East Road near the junction between Punggol Road and Sengkang East Road.

Last month, a man was injured after a wild boar attacked him at Hillview Road. He suffered a deep cut of about 10cm on his thigh. A Taiwanese woman was also injured by a boar near Windsor Park in July.

Authorities have said that they are working on managing wild boar issues in Singapore after reports of more sightings near residential areas.
Source: CNA/nc


Police shoot wild boar that was rampaging in Punggol
Lydia Lam Straits Times 21 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE - Police shot a wild boar that was rampaging on a road in Punggol on Tuesday night (Nov 21).

It was later euthanised due to injuries sustained by the shot fired.

In a statement, the police said they were alerted at 7.08pm to an accident involving a wild boar and a car on Punggol West Flyover.

The injured wild boar was lying on the road when policemen and members of wildlife rescue group Acres arrived at the location.

The wild boar got up and charged towards the officers and passers-by in the area.

The policemen fired their tasers at the boar, but it continued to charge towards them and the public.

"As the wild boar was rampaging and was a danger to the people within the vicinity, an officer had to draw his revolver to fire a shot at it, to stop it from injuring anyone," said the police.

The tusked wild boar, which measured 1.5m from head to tail, was shot in the neck. It was handed over to Acres, who had to put it to sleep due to its injuries from the gunshot.

No one was injured in the incident.

Acres deputy chief executive Kalai Vanan told The Straits Times: "We have assessed this particular case and it is a very unfortunate situation where the boar most certainly became very stressed due to injuries sustained from its collision with a vehicle. The poor animal probably found itself cornered and became defensive."

Wild animals in general are shy animals who usually move away when sighted, said Mr Kalai.

"However in this situation, the cramped area with high human traffic stressed the boar," he said, adding that the public should never approach wild animals and should give them space when in their presence.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a Facebook post on Tuesday night that it will monitor the situation at the Punggol area closely and continue to work with the relevant stakeholders, such as Acres, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, NParks and the National University of Singapore, to manage the wild boars so as to ensure public safety.

"We are exploring various measures, such as erecting barriers to prevent wildlife from encroaching onto roads, and putting up signage about wildlife crossings at specific locations to warn motorists," it added.

The boar had been spotted by motorists and passers-by alike, who commented about it on social media.

Facebook user Abang Pete said in a post at 7.38pm that he was driving at Sengkang East Road when he saw something he thought was a black plastic bag on the road and steered to avoid it.

"I was shocked to see it struggling and kicking away," he wrote. "When my headlights shone on the poor thing, I realised that it was a huge wild boar, possibly hit by a passing vehicle."

This is the latest in a string of wild boar incidents in recent months.

Last month, a man was injured after a wild boar charged at him outside a condominium at 25, Hillview Avenue.

In September, a motorcyclist and his pillion rider were taken to hospital after a wild boar appeared suddenly on the Ayer Rajah Expressway after the Tuas Checkpoint.

The public can call AVA at 1800-476-1600 to report wild boar sightings.


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Scaling up local fish production for the dining table with vaccines

Channel NewsAsia 21 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: The grouper you’re thinking of cooking for dinner was very likely kept healthy with vaccines, if it came from a Singapore fish farm, said experts at Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) inaugural seminar on Singapore’s aquaculture industry on Tuesday (Nov 21).

Titled Food Fish Made in Singapore - A More Sustainable & Healthier Choice, the event discussed how vaccination can be key to help the local aquaculture industry increase production for the dining table.

Currently, Singapore’s fish farms meet just 10 per cent of the country’s fish consumption, said Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade & Industry.

Singapore imports up to 95 per cent of the food the population consumes.

Coupled with declining global fish production caused by climate change, it is important to “build up some degree of local production to buffer against intermittent, and sometimes, very sudden supply shocks,” said Dr Koh at NYP's School of Chemical & Life Sciences Applied Science Conference.

“We will therefore need to ensure that our local food fish stock takes on a lot more protection for disease prevention, even as we scale up our local aquaculture production,” he said.

But ramping up production also means keeping fish in a higher density in a given area. This spells greater susceptibility to bacterial and parasitic infection.

The scenario has spurred researchers to create vaccines that are specific to the unique combination of bacteria in Singapore’s waters. One such solution is a locally developed autogenous vaccine that help fight microbial infections in fish, said Dr Koh.

The vaccine has led to Singapore’s first autogenous fish vaccine production company UVaxx Pte Ltd, which plans to work with several local fish farms to develop customised fish vaccines specific to the disease situation of individual farms.

HOW IS FISH VACCINATED?

Like human vaccinations, fish vaccinations are carried out via injection, said Dr Diana Chee, deputy director of aquaculture from the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore’s (AVA) Technology & Industry Development Group.

Before the injection is administered in the fish’s abdomen, they are not fed for 24 hours to let them empty their stomachs, said Dr Chee.

A sedative is added to the water to calm them before they are lifted out for a quick jab that delivers a minute amount of vaccine into their abdomens. The vaccinated fish is then placed in a recovery tank where they are monitored for the next 24 hours, she said.

Dr Jeffrey Seng, senior specialist (aquatic health and diagnostics) and senior lecturer at NYP’s School of Chemical & Life Sciences, said that fish weighing 10g are ideal for vaccination as they fit well in the palm.

The ease of handling also makes it less stressful for the fish, he said.

By the time the fish reaches 1kg and is ready for sale, typically in eight or 10 months’ time, the vaccine would have been expelled from the fish’s system, said Dr Seng.

To ensure food safety, AVA also conducts frequent checks for the presence of chemicals used in the vaccines.

According to him, Singapore's top three most common fish produced are the grouper, local sea bass and threadfin (or ikan kurau in Malay).

THE EFFECT ON ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE

Vaccination isn’t just about minimising the fishes’ odds of falling sick but also about reducing their reliance on antibiotics.

This tampered use of antibiotics arises from the global concern of antimicrobial resistance, where the over-use of antibiotics has led to superbugs that no longer respond to current drugs, said Dr Lee.

“Residual antibiotics in the food chain entering into the human food chain will become a threat to antimicrobial resistance. That has a lot of downstream implications for us,” he said.

Fish vaccination is a practice not unique to Singapore. Norway, which is known for its export of farmed salmon, mandates that its salmon are vaccinated as part of its quality assurance and accreditation, said Dr Chee.

“Vaccines enable the animal’s natural defences, the immune system, to fight and defend itself against disease,” said Dr Chee.

Similar to human vaccines, the fish versions consist of a weakened or killed pathogen that causes disease in fish. It is usually combined with an adjuvant, a substance that increases the body's immune response to the vaccine.

Quality controls and safety checks are carried out before the vaccine is released for sale, said Dr Chee.

Find out the difference between fresh and frozen fish as well as the pros and cons of choosing wild fish vs farmed fish here.
Source: CNA/bk


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Closure of section of Rail Corridor to be extended to Q2 2018: PUB

Channel NewsAsia 22 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: The closure of a section of the Rail Corridor will be extended to the second quarter of 2018, for enhancement works to make the corridor more inclusive and accessible, PUB said on Wednesday (Nov 22).

The section of the Rail Corridor between Holland Road and Commonwealth Avenue was originally due to reopen in the fourth quarter of this year.

It follows the completion of pipe laying works for a section of the 22km Murnane Pipeline, a major water infrastructure project designed to meet future water demand in the city area, the national water agency said in its press release.

PUB said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will “strengthen the sub-base of the trail along this southern half with suitable materials to make it more resilient to wet weather and use”.

“The trail surface will also be improved with a material comprising a mixture of earth from the Rail Corridor and cement to retain the rustic character and 'look-and-feel' of the Rail Corridor trail,“ PUB said.

Works on these enhancements will take six months to complete, it added.

URA and the National Parks Board announced last month their plans to enhance the Rail Corridor so that visitors can enjoy continuous connectivity along the entire 24km Corridor by 2021.
Source: CNA/ms


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