Best of our wild blogs: 3-4 Dec16



Land reclamation in Malaysia puts environment, endangered turtle at risk
Mongabay Conservation news

Wildlife in an urban jungle – Pasir Ris Park, Singapore
No Roads Barred

Butterfly of the Month - December 2016
Butterflies of Singapore

Night Walk At Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (02 Dec 2016)
Beetles@SG BLOG

Tigers, elephants, rambutans and Xu Beihong in a garden of foolish indulgences
The Long and Winding Road


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New opportunities for the public to experience kampung life on Pulau Ubin

NParks media release 3 Dec 16;

Singapore, 3 December 2016 — Members of the public will have new opportunities to experience kampung life, with the establishment of a new fruit tree arboretum and conservation of a Chinese kampung house on Pulau Ubin. These announcements come at the end of a year-long series of activities to “Celebrate Ubin”, and represent NParks’ commitment to further conserve the cultural heritage and rustic character of the island. Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs & National Development, Desmond Lee, together with Grassroots Adviser for East Coast GRC (Siglap), Senior Minister of State for Defence & Foreign Affairs and Mayor of South East District, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman joined Ngee Ann Polytechnic students to plant fruit trees today to officially open the fruit tree arboretum. At the event, SMS Lee shared updates to species recovery efforts and habitat enhancement projects under The Ubin Project, and launched NParks Community In Nature Biodiversity Watch: BioBlitz @ Ubin – the first 24-hour survey to document biodiversity on the island.

SMS Lee also announced that NParks will be calling a tender in December for the provision and maintenance of a water treatment system at the Ubin Living Lab for educational groups, researchers, community groups and members of the public utilising the space. The tender will also include the installation and maintenance of compact Point-of-Use water treatment systems to be installed at public toilets at Chek Jawa Wetlands, campsites and other areas. These systems are expected to be completed by mid-2018.

New fruit tree arboretum and restored Chinese ‘Kampung’ house

Situated along Jalan Ubin, the fruit tree arboretum on Pulau Ubin will be the first of its kind in Singapore. Named ‘Ubin Fruit Orchard’, the site was previously a fruit orchard belonging to a resident on the island. About one hectare in size, the arboretum will feature fruits commonly planted in kampungs such as rambutan and starfruit. It will also showcase uncommon cultivars of durian and mango. Students from Nanyang Girls’ High prepared interpretive signs and students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic assisted with planting works for the arboretum.

Overlooking the Sensory Trail Ponds, House 363B has been refurbished and conserved as a model of a Chinese kampung house. Built in the 1970s, the house was owned by Mr Chew Teck Seng, who used to operate a provision shop in the village centre known as ‘Teck Seng Provision Shop’. Renamed ‘Teck Seng’s Place’, the house features interpretive signs and specially-curated memorabilia to give visitors a glimpse into life on Pulau Ubin in the 1970s. The house will be open on the 2nd and 4th weekend of the month and public holidays, from 10.00am – 2.00pm.

The Ubin Fruit Orchard and Teck Seng’s Place will be included as highlights of NParks’ new Rustic Reflections Tour, held monthly from next year. Members of the public can visit NParks’ website (https://www.nparks.gov.sg/ubin) for updates on how to register for the guided tour. For more information about Ubin Fruit Orchard and Teck Seng’s Place, please refer to Annex A.

Updates to initiatives under The Ubin Project

A) Species recovery efforts

About 60 students from ITE College East and Republic Polytechnic have partnered NParks to complete works for the bird and bat species recovery programmes. ITE College East students aided in works at Ketam Mountain Bike Park to facilitate species recovery efforts for the Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) and Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus). They built nest boxes for the Blue-throated Bee-eater, and planted Casuarina and Red Gum trees in the area to provide suitable nesting spots for the Baya Weaver. For the bat recovery programme, students from Republic Polytechnic produced three out of six bat box designs, which have since been fabricated into 30 bat boxes and installed across Pulau Ubin. Students from ITE College East also helped to construct five bat boxes. These boxes will provide places for insectivorous bats to roost.

As part of species recovery efforts for the Oriental Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus), two holts have been installed at Jalan Noordin and near the Sensory Trail Ponds to monitor and study otter behaviour. Though the otters have not been observed using the holts yet, a group of 10 were recorded via camera trap in late October 2016 – a notable occurrence as this is the first video record of the species in Singapore.

Monitoring for these species is ongoing, and further results will be shared at a later date.

B) Habitat enhancement

NParks has partnered Ngee Ann Polytechnic students to complete habitat enhancement works at the Sensory Trail Ponds. Formerly used for fish farming, the four ponds have been combined into a single waterbody to provide habitats for biodiversity. The students helped to design and implement the planting plan for fauna such as waterhens, crakes, herons, kingfishers dragonflies and damselflies. Works were completed in November.

For more information about species recovery efforts and habitat enhancement projects, please refer to Annex B.

NParks Community in Nature (CIN) Biodiversity Watch: BioBlitz @ Ubin

From 3 Dec (1200hrs) to 4 Dec (1200hrs), NParks will be conducting Pulau Ubin’s first BioBlitz as part of the NParks Community in Nature (CIN) Biodiversity Watch series. Over 24 hours, members of the public will join naturalists and researchers to document biodiversity found on Pulau Ubin.

During this timeframe, some 30 surveys will be conducted on a variety of fauna including mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. These surveys will be led by about 35 naturalists and researchers from NParks, Nature Society (Singapore), Herpetological Society of Singapore, Entomological Network of Singapore, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nature @ Seletar Country Club. The data gleaned from this BioBlitz will help set the ground for a comprehensive biodiversity survey of Pulau Ubin next year. The event was also organised to encourage the community to learn more about Pulau Ubin’s natural heritage and contribute to organised research efforts as citizen scientists. For more information about BioBlitz @ Ubin, please refer to Annex C.


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Food waste recycling machines wanted for 10 schools

Channel NewsAsia 2 Dec 16;

SINGAPORE: A tender for food waste recycling machines for 10 schools across Singapore was issued on Friday (Dec 2), the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

In its press release, NEA said companies can submit their proposals for the leasing, service and maintenance of these machines for the schools. This is part of an NEA project to spread awareness of food waste management and encourage schools to reduce the amount of food waste they generate and dispose of.

The agency added that under NEA’s two-year food waste reduction and recycling project for schools, training will be provided by the vendor for the schools’ staff, students and canteen stall holders on the proper segregation of food waste for recycling.

On top of segregating food waste for recycling, participating schools will hold assembly talks to encourage students not to waste food and host learning journeys for neighbouring schools and their community partners to share their food waste reduction and recycling efforts.

This project is part of NEA’s holistic efforts to manage food waste and is in line with its goal for Singapore to become a Zero Waste Nation under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint 2015.

The tender will open from Friday and will close at 4pm on Dec 23. The project is expected to be launched by the second quarter of 2017, NEA said.

- CNA/kk



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Malaysia: Almost 60 people evacuated as flood waters rise in Perak

INTAN BAHA New Straits Times 3 Dec 16;

IPOH: Two flood evacuation centres were opened in two districts at Kampung Pengkalan Ara, Sungai Manik; and in Kampung Padang Serai, Pantai Remis, near here involving 59 people from 14 families, who were evacuated as of 6pm today.

The flood, triggered due to non-stop rain since yesterday, caused water to rise up to 0.4 metres in both villages.

At Kampung Padang Serai 21 residents from five families were evacuated to the temporary evacuation centre at Sekolah Rendah Agama Rakyat Kampung Padang Serai, which was opened at 11pm last night. Meanwhile, the evacuation centre at SK Pengkalan Ara, Sungai Manik was opened at 1pm, housing 38 victims from nine families.

Pantai Remis Fire and Rescue Department chief Amir Ahmad said the victims at Kampung Padang Serai vacated their homes last night when the water level rose.

“The flood was due to incessant rain which started in the evening until late night yesterday. The water has yet to recede this morning.

“The victims involved nine men and 12 women from five families,” he said. Meanwhile, a Disaster Management state secretariat spokesman said that in Kampung Pengkalan Ara, Sungai Manik, 38 residents from nine families were evacuated to the temporary evacuation centre. “They comprised 14 men, 13 women and eleven children.

“Various agencies are monitoring the flood situation. Everything is under control for now,” he said.

MARANG: Continuous heavy rainfall since Tuesday has forced Terengganu fishermen to stay ashore this week due to the choppy waters.

As a result, a sharp drop in the supply of fresh catch has forced fishermongers to take the opportunity to hike the price of frozen fish or fish from aquaculture farms.

Checks at the Marang jetty here showed that it is dotted with fishing vessels as most fishermen are taking the 'monsoon leave' and would only return to the sea when the
weather has improved.

Fisherman Hamed Hamzah Awang, 57, said all fishermen would adhere to the weather report from the Meteorological Department first before going to sea.

He said the weather forecast this week was quite negative due to heavy rainfall which was posing a potential hazard to fishermen.

"The monsoon came a bit late this year. Since the heavy rains this week coincided with the start of school holiday, I take the opportunity to bring my children to buy
new attire in the city," he said when met at the jetty.

Another fisherman, Ibrahim Safuan, 49, who returned from the sea on Wednesday said the waves were as high as five metres and the catch was also little.

He said it was too risky and not worth the price of fuel to go to the sea.

Checks at the Pulau Kambing and Pasar Payang fish market showed only limited fish available, which are mainly frozen fish or that from aquaculture farms.

Medium-sized grouper is tagged at RM30 per kilogramme while snapper and sea bass are sold at RM20 per kg.

For frozen sardine and kembong, it is priced from RM8 per kg for small fish.

State Fisheries Department director Zawawi Ali urged all fishermen to refer to the fisheries officers in every coastal districts for weather information before going out to the seas.

He said the sea conditions at present could pose danger to small and medium fishing vessels.

Meanwhile in KOTA BARU, the number of displaced people in Kelantan now stood at 42, with two new centres being opened in Bachok district.

Evacuees at the SK Wakaf Raja in Pasir Putih, which was the first centre opened yesterday remained at 26 people while the new centres at SMK Jelawat in Gunong and SMK
Beris Panchor in Tawang four and 12 people respectively, according to the Kelantan e-banjir portal website.

As at noon, four people from two families have been placed at SMK Jelawat and 12 people from four families were sheltering at SMK Beris Panchor.

The water level at all measuring points in the state showed a rising trend, with Golok river at Rantau Panjang recording 8.96m, just below the danger level of 9m.


Terengganu fishermen grounded due to monsoon, prices of fish rising
SIM BAK HENG AND SULAIMAN JAAFAR New Straits Times 3 Dec 16;

River swallows T'ganu bridge, 200 villagers cut off
ZARINA ABDULLAH New Straits Times 2 Dec 16;

SETIU: The overflowing Setiu river inundated a bridge in Kampung Seri Bayas here last night, effectively cutting off residents of the village from the outside world.

Heavy rains yesterday caused the river's water level to rise dramatically, exceeding the height of the bridge by up to two metres. 200 villagers from 70 families are now disconnected and isolated from other districts.

Setiu Civil Defence Department officer Mohd Nazri Zakaria said the river's water level began rising steadily at midnight.

Nazri said the villagers have not been evacuated, but personnel from the department are on standby and monitoring the situation very closely.


Floods inundate village, rest of Terengganu brace for heavy rainfall
SIM BAK HENG New Straits Times 2 Dec 16;

DUNGUN: Twenty people from five families were evacuated to a flood relief centre at Dewan Kampung Cacar Baru in Paka here as their village was inundated by knee-high flood waters.

Heavy rainfall since early morning caused massive flooding in the village, which is just about two kilometres from the coast.

National Disaster Management Agency (Dungun) spokesman Ramlan Ros Wahid said the centre opened at 11.30am after flood waters kept rising at the houses of affected villagers.

"Rain water had been accumulating at the low-lying village for days. It has nothing to do with the tides.

"We will continue to monitor the situation before allowing the villages to go back," he said.

This is the only centre which is open in the state. Meanwhile, the Kuala Terengganu City Council has hired contract workers to clean up all clogged drains in flood-prone areas in the city as a proactive measure to prevent floods in future.

A council spokesman urged the people to stop disposing garbage into drains, as this would exacerbate flooding problems.

"We have cleared quite a number of clogged drains so far, and hope this will do away with the flash flood problem," he said.


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Indonesia: Ministry Recovers More Than a Million Hectares of Forests in 2016

Indriani Jakarta Globe 3 Dec 16;

Jakarta. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry's law enforcement efforts have shown positive signs in eradication environmental crimes across the country, recovering more than a million hectares and preventing at least 22 instances of illegal logging during the past year.

"As seen from the last 17 operations conducted throughout 2016, the ministry managed to recover approximately 1,058,538 hectares of land. If combined with the 27 operations conducted last year, approximately 4,131,736 hectares of land has recovered," Rasio Ridho Sani, director general of law enforcement at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, said in Jakarta on Friday (02/12).

The ministry's law enforcement efforts to prevent destruction and protect forest conservation areas, protected forests and production forests is based on a map of a forest crime vulnerability, Rasio said. Prevention and security include information dissemination, regular patrols and recovery operations.

He added recovery operation in forest areas, which cover 4 million hectares, are conduction to combat illegal logging and illegal use of forests for plantations, mining, resettlement and agricultural cultivation.

Recovery operations have launched in 44 locations across the country, including Mount Leuser National Park, Mount Halimun Salak National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park, Lore Lindu and Mount Rinjani National Park and Airhitam Natural Park.

Plant and wildlife distribution operations has conducted in various forest areas and the nearby vicinity, with 4,666 animals of 34 protected wildlife species targeted in 2016. This is an increase from the previous year, with 21 protected species being saved.

This year, 22 anti-illegal logging operations has saved 647 cubic meters of timber, in 32 sites around the country.

The operations were successful with the help of approximately 8,300 forest police officers and 543 members of the ministry's rapid response unit.


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Philippines: Red tide surfaces in 7 Visayas bays

PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY Manila Times 2 Dec 16;

TACLOBAN CITY, Leyte: Red tide toxins remain in seven bays in Eastern Visayas, prompting authorities to raise the shellfish ban in some coastal towns in the region to prevent poisoning, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) reported.

For several months, the contamination has been thriving in Irong Irong and Cambatutay bays in Samar; Carigara Bay in Leyte; coastal waters of Leyte, Leyte; Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar; and coastal waters of Naval, Biliran.

The phenomenon expanded to Calubian, Leyte last week.

BFAR Regional Director Juan Albaladejo warned that all types of shellfish taken from affected bays in the region are positive of red tide toxins.

He said red tide toxins found in these seven bays are beyond the regulatory limit of 10 cells per liter in seawater and 49 saxitoxin per gram in shellfish meat.

In affected areas, the density is as high as 600 cells per liter in water and 129 saxitoxin per gram in meat.

“All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption,” Albaladejo said.

“Thus, the public is advised to refrain from eating, harvesting, marketing and buying shellfishes and Acetes sp. from Irong Irong Bay and Cambatutay Bay until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory level,” he added.

Fish, squid, shrimp and crab are safe to eat “provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking,” according to BFAR.

With the recent spate of red tide bloom, the fisheries bureau asked local government units to enforce a shellfish ban to ensure public safety.

“We have been issuing local bulletins to inform local officials, but I have to admit that some are not really seriously enforcing the ban,” the BFAR regional chief said.

Earlier, the fisheries bureau lifted the shellfish ban in Maqueda and Villareal bays in Samar and Cancabato Bay in Leyte.

During the peak of red tide bloom this year, local authorities buried at least four tons of shellfish gathered in Samar province.

PNA


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Viet Nam’s traditional medicine sector sees clear benefits of using sustainably sourced wild plants

TRAFFIC 2 Dec 16;

Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 2nd December 2016 — 35 representatives from the traditional medicine (TM) sector, pharmaceutical companies, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment learned about the benefits of using sustainably harvested wild-sourced plants in Hanoi today.

The forum, organized by TRAFFIC and the Administration of Traditional Medicine (ATM), brought together members of the TM sector, the Biodiversity Conservation Agency, and the Bac Kan Provincial Cooperative Alliance to encourage use and increase awareness of sustainable harvesting of wild medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) and how it can benefit both collectors and sellers of these plant products in Viet Nam.

“Collectors need to comply to a standard practice of harvesting to prevent MAP resources from being overharvested. We are working to ensure that harvesting, processing and trading follow regulations and a formal plan so we can effectively manage these resources. ATM is grateful of TRAFFIC’s efforts to prevent and reduce unsustainable harvest and trade of wild-sourced MAPs in Bac Kan province. Together, we are enhancing the sustainability of collection practices to protect the ecosystem”, said Pham Vu Khanh, the Director of ATM.

Participants learned about TRAFFIC’s work to improve the collection practices and livelihoods of collectors in Bac Kan Province using FairWild-based interventions. These focus on sustainable wild collection practices and equitable trade of MAP species to protect local biodiversity and enhance the livelihoods of collectors. The Director of BioTrade Implementation Group also shared the findings of their MAPs policy review, discussing gaps in policy and how to strengthen and better implement them in the field.

The MAPs management practices in Bac Kan and FairWild application case studies facilitated discussion around the challenges and issues surrounding the wild collection of MAPs and how representatives from pharmaceutical companies and members of the TM sector can control the quality and traceability of MAP products.

“Trade of wildlife is an important component of the world's economy and TRAFFIC's objective is to ensure that the trade of MAPs is carried out sustainably and contributes to the livelihoods of local people. While we work to reduce wildlife crime and illegal trade, we also want to enhance the benefits from sustainable, legal wildlife trade. This forum brings together influential members of the TM sector to promote the sustainable harvesting and trade of wild-sourced MAPs,” said Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC’s Viet Nam Office.

“Millions of people in Viet Nam and around the world use medicinal and aromatic plants in traditional medicine, cosmetics, and food. TRAFFIC works with local partners to facilitate the use of sustainably sourced and harvested products to ensure trade in MAPs does not negatively affect biodiversity or the livelihoods of people that are dependent on wild-sourced plant species.”

This forum was made possible through the Darwin Initiative project "Enhancing management and benefit flows in Vietnam’s wild medicinal plant products", funded by the UK government and brought together members of the TM sector to form and strengthen networks and share trade and harvesting knowledge for sustainable development.


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Fiji: Fish stocks under threat

Kalesi Mele The Fiji Times 3 Dec 16;

EXPLOITATION of fish and marine resources could see a shortage of fish stocks, down to 3kg per person per year by 2050, says World Wildlife Fund Pacific conservation director Sally Bailey.

A recent report released by WWF, titled Reviving Melanesia's Ocean Economy, projects that Melanesian nations will need 60 per cent more fish in 2030 if the current trends in fish exploitation continue.

The report reveals the ocean as one of Melanesia's greatest resources, amassing a total ocean asset base of at least $F1144 billion.

The annual goods and services (gross marine product) that flow from the ocean in Melanesia is valued conservatively at $F11.28 billion, which is the broad equivalent of the combined gross domestic product of Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Ms Bailey said Fiji's ocean economy relied heavily on the health of a set of core natural assets such as coral reefs, seagrass bed and mangroves which were eroding.

She said the great sea reef commonly known as Cakaulevu, which was the third longest reef system in the southern hemisphere, was under threat from human activities.

"Current levels of intensive agriculture and deforestation have already resulted in the export of sediments, nutrients and agrichemicals into near-shore environments, which has significantly reduced water quality and resulted in the declining health of mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs," she said.

"This will be made worse with sea level rise, coral bleaching events, and ocean acidification."

She adds that sea level rise was a major threat and there were potentially new threats from deep seabed mining as a large area adjacent to the great sea reef are subject to exploration licences.

"Coastal areas in Melanesia are experiencing relatively higher rates of sea level rise, which are three to four times the global average.

"This is very apparent in Fiji where the Government has already announced 64 villages will be relocated to high grounds in the next few years due to climate change."

She says there needs to be an understanding on the value of ocean natural assets such as reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves which rake in a value of $F848 billion for Melanesian nations.

These assets also provide less direct but increasingly important benefits such as carbon absorption and coastal protection.

In finding ways to address the issue Ms Bailey said more efforts needed to be directed on creating effective policies, legislation, management frameworks and financing mechanisms to protect ocean resources.

"Ensure that Fiji fish stocks do not decline over time (and are recovered and rebuilt where possible) and that the wider ecosystem impacts are deemed acceptable.

"Recent estimations calculate that Fiji currently enjoys a surplus of fish production against consumption, but current trends in fish stocks and human population growth estimates a shortfall of 3kg per person per year by 2050."

She said the development of a coherent national fisheries policy today would help prevent a future deficiency in food security while ensuring Fiji's fishery resources continued to contribute to sustainable development and growth.

"Manage fish stocks at levels that are sustainable using ecosystem-based adaptation approaches to build resilience to climate change," she said.


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Best of our wild blogs: 2 Dec 16



Open for registration – Love MacRitchie Walk 17 Dec 2016
Love our MacRitchie Forest


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Fishing beyond the shore

Kua Chee Siong, The Straits Times AsiaOne 1 Dec 16;

Every weekend, the fresh salty air and therapeutic waves beckon, and Mr Mervin Low succumbs.

At daybreak, the 48-year-old business owner heads out from Pasir Ris beach in a specially designed kayak to fish - sometimes alone, sometimes with friends in their own kayaks.

Kayak fishing is a growing phenomenon fuelled by a love of nature and the ability to access productive fishing spots not available to shore anglers.

Its key advantage is that one can paddle almost silently into both deep and shallow waters without "spooking" the fish.

These days, one can see fishing kayaks being launched from the beaches at Sembawang, Pasir Ris, Changi, Sentosa and East Coast Park, as well as the jetties off Lim Chu Kang and Punggol.

These are not bare kayaks, but have been purpose-made for open- water fishing.

Many are stable, sit-on-top, self-bailing vessels which will not get flooded like a bathtub on rainy days or if, touch wood, they capsize.

The best types of fishing kayaks are those with pedal assist systems that are easy to use, even for beginners.

A responsive steering handle controls the direction of the kayak, and it frees the angler's hands to fish.

"We are anglers first and kayakers second. These kayaks are our vehicles on the seas. At the same time, we can bring home some fish for the family," said Mr Low, who enjoys getting away from the city's hustle and bustle.

According to him, there are a few hundred active kayak anglers in Singapore today.

It is a multiracial melting pot, with participants from all walks of life, ranging from a 11-year-old student to a 66-year-old retiree.

Everyone shares a common goal - to enjoy a day at sea and do the thing they love the most in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way.

Mr Low has fished from a kayak for about six years.

The social sport was introduced to Singapore in 2009 by Mr Ian Pearl, a British expatriate who had become bored with fishing from the shore.

After some research, he imported a regular inflatable kayak with paddles with which he could explore Singapore's coastline.

He posted his exploits in local fishing forums regularly, where they caught the attention of like-minded fishing enthusiasts such as Mr Low. And thus, kayak fishing in Singapore was born.

In Pasir Ris, in waters 6m to 21m deep, lie sunken kelongs and mangroves, which provide nurseries for the fish to breed in protected waters.

They are replete with fish, says Mr Low.

"People are amazed at how big they are. The largest fish I've caught is an 8kg grouper caught in the waters off Changi," said Mr Low.

He lets go of the fish if "it is too small or if it is too big for the wok".

He usually brings home at least one or two for his wife and two children.

The common types of fish found in Singapore waters all year round include the grouper, barramundi, snapper, giant herring and queenfish.

Many kayaks are mounted with fish finders - electronic devices which show the terrain of the seabed in 2D, much like a graph - which allow anglers to scan the seabed for fish-holding structures and drop-offs.

The use of technology increases the probability of landing a catch.

While kayak anglers have been teased for being crazy to go out on little kayaks under the hot tropical sun, the intense joy for Mr Low when a fish bites is "beyond words".


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Malaysia: No place in Terengganu safe from floods

SHARANPAL SINGH RANDHAWA The Star 2 Dec 16;

KUALA TERENGGANU: The heavy downpour, which hit the state on Tuesday morning and lasted for some eight hours resulting in floods, was a bitter lesson for many who had thought they were living in “safe zones”.

Now, these residents realise that any area can be flooded, even in the least expected places and one has to be prepared for it.

Amir Hamzah Mamat, 37, an entrepreneur from Taman Alamanda 2 here said there were no floods in his area for eight years and he was caught by surprise by the floods four days ago.

“After the rain on Tuesday, many were caught by surprise to see places like our residential area and, worse still, the Sultan Omar road inundated by waters as high as 0.4m,” he said.

He added that many were now more cautious and have started moving their belongings to a safer place.

The state is predicted to face major floods from mid December to January.

Government employee Nurehan Muhamad, 29, said the last thing on her mind was that her house in Taman Tekukur would be flooded.

“My relatives, who also live in “flood free” areas, are also worried.

“Now we know that nothing is certain. The rain can flood any part of the town and residential areas.”

State Civil Defence Department director Lt-Col Che Adam A Rahman said the agency was also observing low-risk or no-risk areas.

He said that due to rapid development in certain areas here and obstruction to water flow, some places, which have never been flooded before, were now affected.

“We are not taking anything for granted and we are closely monitoring the matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu Flood Task Force chief, Assoc Prof Dr Mohamad Fadhli Ahmad said the task force team had decided to include low-risk or no-risk areas into their observation list.

“There is prediction of heavy rain until Saturday which coincides with the high tide phenomenon,” he said.


Northern residents told to be prepared for flash floods, heavy rain expected
MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING New Straits Times 1 Dec 16;

ALOR STAR: Residents living near coastal areas and rivers in the state were urged to stay alert and prepare for the possibility of flood following the issuance of heavy rain warning (Yellow stage) by the Meteorology Department in the northern states, including Kedah, between December 1 and 3.

The Kedah Civil Defence Force (APM) disaster management and operations division officer Major Imran Azimi said that they have made thorough preparations to face any possibility should flash floods occur and the team is in constant contact with relevant agencies including the Meteorology Department and Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) for updates.

“I assure you that we are well prepared to face any possibility of disasters such as flood especially in terms of manpower and assets.

“However, it is also important that the people, especially those living in flood-prone areas, to stay alert and prepare themselves to face the possibility of flood.

“It is also important that they follow our instruction to move to the nearby relief centres should their homes be affected. This is for their own safety,” said Imran.

He added that there are a total of 2,010 APM staff and volunteers in the state who can be deployed immediately should natural disasters such as flash floods occur.


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Indonesia: Floods, landslides follow days of intense downpours

Hotli Simanjuntak, Ganug Nugroho Adi, Jon Afrizal, Agus Maryono and Rizal Harahap The Jakarta Post 1 Dec 16;

Extreme weather in several areas across the archipelago has caused landslides and flooding that have displaced thousands of people.

At least 43 villages in five districts in Aceh Singkil regency, Aceh, were inundated after the Cinedang River broke its banks following heavy rain over four consecutive days, forcing thousands to flee their homes.

The flooding — at a depth of between 1 and 2 meters — forced over 7,500 families, consisting of around 30,000 people, from their homes, Aceh Singkil Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) head Sulaiman said on Wednesday.

It was the biggest flood so far this year but no fatalities were reported, he added.

Several major roads in the region were also cut. At least three bridges connecting Singkil collapsed in the floods, cutting access to the capital of Aceh Singkil regency, Rony, a resident of Subulusalam near Singkil border, told The Jakarta Post.

To ease conditions for affected families, the agency has erected public kitchens in several subdistricts while the Aceh provincial administration has sent logistical supplies.

Water flowing from the Subulusalam and Simpang Kanan regions converges in Aceh Singkil regency, a coastal area in a shallow estuary.“At the same time the regency is also experiencing high tides so the water flowing from the land is not flowing into the sea,” said Aceh Singkil Public Works Agency head Muzni.

Floods have also struck Jambi with at least 263 hectares of agriculture land, mostly rice, chili and corn fields, under water. Jambi Agriculture Agency head Amrin Aziz has warned of crop failures.

The inundated land is located in several regencies such as Muarojambi, Batang Hari, Sarolangun, Tebo and East Tanjung Jabung regencies. Meanwhile, at least one person died and two are missing after landslides struck in Karanganyar, Central Java, on Tuesday. A 30-meter cliff collapsed and buried at least eight villagers who were harvesting rice in Bulurejo village. Five people managed to escape the rubble but three others were not so fortunate.

Search and rescue personnel were continuing the search for the missing people as of Wednesday afternoon.

Nugroho, the head of Karanganyar Disaster Mitigation Agency, said besides landslides, the high-intensity rain also flooded at least three districts in Karanganyar. “We strongly urge residents to be more alert in extreme weather,” he added.

A landslide also cut a 100-meter stretch of road connecting several villages in Cimanggu district, Cilacap regency, Central Java on Tuesday after days of heavy rain, said Darwoko of Bina Marga roads agency in West Cilacap.

Elsewhere in Cilacap thousands of houses in Kroya and Sidareja districts were inundated forcing residents to evacuate.

Meanwhile, a boat traveling from Tanjung Batu, Riau Islands, to Pangkalan Kerinci in Pelalawan regency, Riau province, capsized on Wednesday afternoon, at least four people are reported missing in the incident.

The boat capsized on the Kampar River, Pelalawan Police chief Adj. Sr. Cmr. Ari Wibowo said. The exact number of passengers is not known but at least 20 people survived the incident.

Several witnesses told police the boat capsized as it battled heavy waves, known locally as bono, on the river, the Kampar is notorious for its waves caused by the river’s strong current.


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