Best of our wild blogs: 20 Oct 17



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Road building threatens forests, water supplies in Kuala Lumpur area
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Man injured after boar attack at Hillview Road; AVA monitoring situation

Channel NewsAsia 19 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: A man in his forties was injured and taken to hospital after being attacked by a wild boar near a bus stop at Hillview Road on Thursday morning (Oct 19).

Sales specialist Olga, 30, told Channel NewsAsia that she was walking to the MRT station with her husband at around 8.30am when she saw the attack.

"I saw an animal - I thought it was just a big dog with owner - but in two to three seconds, (the) animal start(ed) to attack the man and he fell down and scream(ed), he was really in pain," she said.

She rushed over to help with her husband, and was joined by another man, who took a bamboo cane from his car and started to hit the boar. "It worked, and (the) boar made his escape down to the road," Ms Olga said.

The boar was then hit by a bus, she added. Channel NewsAsia understands the boar has died.

Another man then stopped his car and brought a first aid kit, which he and Olga's husband used to start bandaging the man's wounds.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to an incident outside 25, Hillview Avenue at 8.43am and dispatched an ambulance. The man had "cuts and lacerations" on both his legs, said SCDF, adding that the victim was taken conscious to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

IT consultant Dan Ranjith, 33, was on his way to work at 8.50am when he noticed the commotion on the other side of the road. "I was walking on the streets and noticed that the boar was lying down and surrounded by police," he told Channel NewsAsia.

"When I saw the boar (it) was still alive and moving," he added.

Photos circulating online showed the boar lying on its side on the pavement next to a bus stop. At least two police cars were at the scene and the area was cordoned off with police tape.

The boar appeared to still be on the pavement nearly two hours after the attack, with lawyer Maurice Oon, 54, telling Channel NewsAsia that he was in a taxi when he saw the "big, dead wild boar lying on the pavement" at around 10.15am.

Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC (Bukit Gombak) and Mayor of South West District Low Yen Ling said in a Facebook post that the injured man was receiving "the medical care that he needs" in hospital.

She added that she has been in touch with the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), Land Transport Authority and the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society to ensure that "follow-up procedures are in place" regarding the boar and the safety of members of the public.

"Should you encounter any wild boars, please be advised to not approach or provoke the animal," she added.

WILD BOAR SIGHTINGS IN THE AREA NOT COMMON: AVA

The AVA said in a statement that wild boar sightings in the area are not common and the animal likely emerged from nearby forested areas.

The authority will be putting up signs and will educate residents on what to do when they encounter wild boars.

"AVA is monitoring the situation and is working with relevant agencies to put up signage," it said. "AVA is also working with the community to create awareness and educate residents on what to do when they encounter wild boars."

It is also working with various agencies, such as the National Parks Board and Wildlife Reserves Singapore, to implement measures to "mitigate encounters with wild boars and ensure public safety".

Some possible measures AVA is exploring include putting up signs about wildlife crossings at specific locations to warn motorists, and erecting barriers to prevent wildlife from encroaching onto roads.

This comes after a series of incidents involving wild boars in Singapore.

Two people were injured in September after a wild boar at the Ayer Rajah Expressway caused an accident. One day later, three others were injured in a car accident involving a wild boar at Lentor Avenue.

A woman was also attacked by a wild boar in July this year, and needed 60 stitches for a wound in her right leg after the incident at a park in the Upper Thomson area.

A large group of boars was also spotted near Tuas bus terminal earlier this year.

The AVA said it would like to remind members of the public not to approach, disturb or try to catch wild boars.

"The public should 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," the authority said.
Source: CNA/nc

Boar attack victim had 'deep' 10cm cut on left thigh: Eyewitness
Aqil Haziq Mahmud Channel NewsAsia 19 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: The man caught in a wild boar attack on Thursday (Oct 19) morning had suffered a deep cut, said a security officer who helped the victim.

"When we arrived, the victim was already lying on the grass patch," Mr Faizal Idroos, 34, told Channel NewsAsia. "There was a roughly 10cm laceration on his left upper thigh. It looked quite bad and quite deep."

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said the victim was sent to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital with "cuts and lacerations" on both legs.

Mr Faizal, who has been working as a security officer at Glendale Park condominium for less than a month, said the victim was still "calm and conscious".

"He was able to wriggle his toes, so I don’t think there were any arteries cut," he added. "But it was a deep cut."

Mr Faizal said the victim was lying near a SingPost mailbox a few metres away from the condo's main entrance on Hillview Avenue, while the wild boar was found at a bus stop around the corner on Hillview Road.

"There were four of us and a few passers-by (at the scene). Two of them were doctors and they were putting on bandages," he said. "After we settled this, I moved to cordon off the wild boar site."

Ms Julia Nagler, 36, was heading to the kindergarten with her two-year-old son in a stroller when she saw the wild boar still moving while lying on the ground.

"I was really very scared," said the homemaker. She said that her concern was intensified because she was with her young child, and they were just a few metres from the animal.

Ms Nagler, who is from Germany and has been living at nearby Hillview Peak for five months, said she immediately carried her son out of the stroller and crossed the road.

"I’m not sure if that would be the correct thing to do – to walk very fast," she added with a nervous laugh. "From what I read, the boar was walking uncontrollably, so I don’t know if it was hit by a car before."

While Ms Nagler said she has never seen wild boars in the area, she wants the authorities to do something about it.

"I don’t know why they are so close to residential areas, but I think that’s just an accident that sometimes happens," she said.

Residents that Channel NewsAsia spoke to similarly said they have not seen wild boars in their years of living in the area, but are nonetheless concerned about potential attacks.

Engineer Clara Ong, who has lived on Hillview Avenue for 14 years, said she saw the wild boar in the morning when it was already dead.

The 27-year-old is especially worried because she takes walks at night. "It will be very dangerous if I see the wild boars," she added.

Homemaker Yeji Kim, 33, from South Korea said she is afraid that the animals might attack when she picks her young son up from a nearby school.

However, other residents did not seem too troubled by the attack, calling it a one-off incident.

"It’s a very exceptional case; I believe the boar must have got lost," said accounts manager Ms Ellen, who only wanted to be known by her first name.

The 60-year-old, who has lived at Hillview Heights for two decades, added that it is "not a worrying thing" as she knows what to do during wild boar encounters. "Just try not to aggravate it and move away."

Ms Jade Leong, who has been a resident of Glendale Park for five years, said she is not too worried because "as long as you don’t attack them, it should be okay".

The 37-year-old said she seldom walks along the road where the attack occurred, and is "curious as to how the animal got out".

THICK BUSH BEHIND GLENDALE PARK

Mr Faizal suggested that the wild boars could have come from the jungles in the lush Ministry of Defence compound on Hillview Avenue.

Channel NewsAsia also discovered a roughly 200m stretch of bush behind Glendale Park, which seemed to be the home for some wildlife, including monitor lizards.

Meanwhile, Mr Faizal said he does not think condo management will take steps to warn residents of wild boar sightings yet.

"For now, I don’t think they have because it might be the first time that this has happened," he added. "These animals have been deprived of their habitats, so they might just come out for food."
Source: CNA/hz


Man suffers cuts to legs after wild boar attack near Hillview condominium
FARIS MOKHTAR Today Online 19 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — A 44-year-old man was attacked by a wild boar near a condominium at Hillview Avenue, and landed in hospital with cuts and lacerations on both his legs.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the incident on Thursday (Oct 19) at 8.43am and dispatched an ambulance. The man, who was conscious, was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

TODAY understands that he is a resident at Hillview Park condominium.

Residents TODAY spoke to expressed shock that the incident took place considering that wild boar sightings in the neighbourhood are very rare, with some saying that the wild boar could have wandered out of Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Security guard Faizal Idroos said he had just reached his workplace at Glendale Park condominium — beside Hillview Park condominium — at about 8am when he heard a commotion near the estate’s entrance. He saw a man – dressed casually in shirt and jeans – lying on the pavement and clutching his thighs.

He added that four passers-by already attending to the man, including a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medical doctor as he was making his way to the Ministry of Defence, located just a few minutes away from the condominium. Two police cars arrived at the scene shortly after.

“The man had deep laceration on his left upper thigh but he was calm and conscious. The doctor helped to bandage his thigh,” said Mr Faizal, who has been working at the condominium for less than a month.

Mr Faizal said other passers-by who also attended to the man told him that the wild boar later fled and was hit by a bus. He added that the animal had died, possibly of internal injuries, and its carcass was removed by the National Environment Agency.

Resident Jackie Li was making her way to Hillview MRT station when she saw the injured man. As she turned a corner, she witnessed police officers trying to cordon the area where the wild boar’s carcass was at.

“I heard that it came out suddenly from nowhere and attacked the man. This is the first time I saw a wild boar in my neighbourhood,” said the 32-year-old financial planner.

When contacted, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said wild boar sightings in that area are not common, and the animal likely came from nearby forested areas.

The AVA's spokesman added: "AVA is currently working closely with relevant stakeholders including NParks, ACRES, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and NUS, to mitigate encounters with wild boars and ensure public safety. Some possible measures that we are exploring, and intend to implement as soon as possible, include putting up signages about wildlife crossings at specific locations to warn motorists, and erecting barriers to prevent wildlife from encroaching onto roads."

Following the incident, South West District Mayor and Member of Parliament (Chua Chu Kang) Low Yen Ling wrote on her Facebook page that she has been in touch with the AVA, Land Transport Authority and ACRES: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore).

“(This is) to ensure that follow up procedures are in place with regards to the animal and also the safety of residents and pedestrians in that area,” she said.

She also advised the public against approaching or provoking the wild boars if they encounter them.

Just this year alone, there has been several instances of wild boars being sighted in populated areas.

On June 30, a 55-year-old woman was walking her dog in the Upper Thomson area when she was attacked. She needed about 60 stitches for a wound on her right calf.

Earlier that month, a video circulating online showed a herd of wild boars milling around a bus interchange in Tuas.

While residents in the Hillview area expressed surprise on hearing such an attack took place, most of them were unfazed by it, describing the incident as an isolated case since they have never encountered any wild boars in the neighbourhood.

Glendale Park is located opposite HillV2 shopping mall and about three minutes away from Hillview MRT station. Most of the buildings around the area are condominiums and the nearest forested area is Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Mr Shentley Tan, who lives in nearby Hillview Heights condominium, said that the attack is not much of a concern, unless more of such animals start to appear in the neighbourhood.

“It’s easy to over-react, and some would call for more of such animals to be culled and so on. But I think it’s just a one-off incident,” said the 52-year-old, who has been living in his condominium since 1998.

IT consultant Ranjith Kumar, 33, who also saw the wild boar’s carcass, added: “I am not really concerned about it. But I might be more careful when I bring kids out for a walk in the area.”

The AVA advises the public not to approach, disturb or try to catch wild boars. The spokesman said: "The public should 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."


Man injured in wild boar attack outside Hillview condominium
Lee Min Kok Straits Times 19 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE - A 44-year-old man was injured when a wild boar attacked him outside a condominium at Hillview Avenue on Thursday (Oct 19) morning.

He suffered cuts and lacerations on both legs. The Straits Times understands that the man was walking towards Hillview MRT station when he spotted the animal approaching him.

As he tried to run, he lost his balance and fell. The wild boar subsequently charged at him.

The wild boar was then hit by a passing bus as it tried to escape, and suffered injuries. It later died.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said it was alerted to the incident outside 25 Hillview Avenue at 8.43am.

The man was taken conscious to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

Photos posted on social media showed the wild boar lying on the ground. Republic Polytechnic student Agnes Chan, 19, who witnessed the aftermath of the attack, said she spotted the animal near the condominium bus stop.

"There were medics surrounding the injured man and police officers cordoned off the bus stop," she told The Straits Times.

"I had to alight from the bus just before the bus stop to walk to the MRT station."

Hillview resident Anita Srinivasan, 38, said she was shocked to hear about the wild boar attack.

“It’s a residential area, so I thought it was very strange that there was an attack. If it’s at Mindef or nearer to a park, we would expect it more, but not in a residential area, where it’s supposed to be safe," the auditor added.

“I’m worried for my kids, especially in the early morning when they go to school, and late at night when they come home. The lights at our walkway is always dim, so it’s hard to see animals.”

While retiree Mr Khoo, 70, agreed that the attack came as a surprise to many, he is not worried about further attacks.

"I drive up to the nature reserve a lot so I always see the wild boars in groups. I don’t disturb them, so they don’t disturb me either," said Mr Khoo, who lives in Glendale Park condominium.

“Probably they’re also forced under circumstances to look for food outside, like when their habitat gets removed. Most wild animals are like that.”

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said in a Facebook post on Thursday evening that it was aware of this morning’s wild boar incident at Hillview Avenue.

"We are monitoring the situation and working with relevant agencies to put up signages," it said. "We are also working with the community to create awareness and educate residents on what to do when they encounter wild boars."

Chua Chu Kang GRC (Bukit Gombak) MP Low Yen Ling wrote on Facebook about the incident, saying she has been in touch with AVA, LTA and Acres to ensure that follow-up procedures are in place with regard to the animal and also the safety of residents and pedestrians in that area.

While wild boar sightings are quite common in Singapore, attacks are relatively rare.

The last reported attack occurred on June 30, when a woman who was walking her dog near Windsor Nature Park was gored in the leg by a wild boar.

She received 60 stitches for her 10cm-long wound.

Wild boar sightings: Where are they found in Singapore

Last month, there were two road accidents involving wild boars in two days, which resulted in five people being taken to hospital.

Should members of the public encounter a wild boar, they are advised to:

- Be calm and move slowly away from the animal. Do not approach or attempt to feed the animal.

- Keep a safe distance and do not corner or provoke the animal such as by using a flash while taking pictures of it.

- If you see adults with young piglets, leave them alone. These are potentially more dangerous because they may attempt to defend their young.

Additional reporting from Raffaella Nathan Charles


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Trade associations sign agreement to further 'zero-waste nation' goal

Cheryl Goh Channel NewsAsia 19 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE: Nine Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) on Thursday (Oct 19) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to contribute to a more sustainable living environment and further Singapore’s goal of becoming a zero-waste nation.

The agreement was led by the Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS), and aims to identify industry challenges and develop joint projects and solutions to promote the business prospects of the association's sectors.

Other associations involved include the Singapore Water Association, the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association, the Landscape Industry Association of Singapore and the Association of Property and Facilities Managers.

The signing of the MOU was witnessed by Senior Minister of State for Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor at the opening of the WasteMET Asia Symposium.

“The MOU will strengthen collaboration among the member TACs and promote best practices in waste management and recycling across industries,” Dr Khor said.

Dr Khor also presented WMRAS Excellence Awards to 10 recipients from the waste management and recycling industry for excelling in their work and contributing to environmental sustainability.

The symposium also showcased about 20 exhibitors who use Internet of Things and robotics to enhance waste management processes.

One example was an electric split bin lifter, which reduces fuel consumption by up to 15 per cent compared with traditional bin lifters. The device is a collaboration between Dutch engineering firm Hyva and local company Ng Wah Hong Enterprises.

A key feature of the electric split bin lifter is that it significantly cuts noise pollution, emitting a noise level of 45 decibels. This is less than half that of traditional bin lifters, which have a noise level of 90 decibels and above.

The quieter mechanism increases productivity in waste management as it allows for garbage collection at all hours of the day, even at night, without disturbing areas like housing estates and schools.
Source: CNA/nc


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Ex-actress aims to get public to clean up their act

Public Hygiene Council's new chief Wong Li Lin brimming with ideas on how to keep S'pore clean
Jose Hong Straits Times 20 Oct 17;

In her role as Inspector Elaine Tay in police drama Triple Nine, she used to clear the streets of criminals. Now, in her new job, former actress Wong Li Lin will help clean up Singapore's streets - literally.

She is the new executive director of the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), the latest incarnation for the 45-year-old, who was once a professional ballerina, a pilates instructor, the boss of a media start-up and a deputy director at a medical firm.

In the five weeks since she took up the job of running the PHC secretariat at the National Environment Agency, she has not only been learning the ropes, but also had to deal with curious and excited colleagues.

"I still get photographed, with people telling me 'I remember you in Triple Nine' or asking me 'When are you going back to TV?'," she told The Straits Times in an interview yesterday.

Ms Wong said she found out about the job opening through her professional network around January, and met the council members to see if she would be a good fit for the role. She was then with the Thomson Medical group.

After going through several interviews, she accepted the offer from PHC, which was launched in 2011 to promote good hygiene practices and improve personal and public hygiene standards in Singapore.

Ms Wong said she has no academic or work experience in the area of public hygiene, but does not see it as a problem. She said all her jobs, including this one, involve her three passions of educating, promoting wellness and media.

"From the policymaker's standpoint, regulation is put in place to keep Singapore clean. But there has to be a connecting point on the ground with the community, to be able to nudge and shift behaviour in that direction. That's where we come in," said the mother of two children - daughter Sage, 13, and son Jonas, 11. Already, she said she has many ideas for the new role, though she recognises it is still early days.

First on her mind is streamlining and simplifying the process to organise cleanups around the island.

She wants to create a one-stop online portal where organisations, such as companies and societies, can access and view the areas in Singapore available for cleanups.

For now, Ms Wong plans to start the pilot project at the beaches as they are quite popular, with the PHC receiving about 20 to 30 requests to clean them monthly.

Second, Ms Wong wants to strengthen the use of social "nudges" - an idea from behavioural economics - to understand people's habits and subconsciously encourage them to keep their surroundings clean.

Finally, she hopes to raise public awareness about what the PHC does. Here is where her public profile, and knowledge of social media, might come in handy. "I have always tried to underplay my profile, but I realise that I am still recognisable. It has only been in the past few years that I have begun to see how it can be put to some use."


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Malaysia: Sabah endures battering by tropical storm Lan; damage, flooding worsens

KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 19 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is closely monitoring worsening weather conditions, and damage wrought by the tail end of tropical storm Lan on the west coast of the state.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman said the State Disaster Relief Committee and district level committees have been activated to assist those affected by the inclement weather, including flood victims in hardest-hit areas.

"It is one of the most severe (and sustained) storms we have experienced in a long time.

"I am aware there is a lot of damage caused by the strong winds, including rooftops blown off and trees uprooted," he said in a statement today.

Musa said relevant authorities at the state and federal levels are monitoring the situation and updating the public through existing channels, including social media.

"I also caution the public, especially children, to refrain from being outdoors during stormy weather and to listen (to) directives by authorities to move to safer ground," he said.

The meteorological department had warned of heavy rains and strong winds hitting the west coast of Sabah over the last few days.

While thunderstorms are expected to end today, authorities have cautioned against shipping and boating activities in Sabah waters, as strong winds and waves are expected to last until Saturday.

Lan, which has intensified into a typhoon according to international news reports, is moving from the east of the Philippines and has the potential of developing into a super typhoon, posing a direct threat to Okinawa and mainland Japan this weekend.

Meanwhile as of 2pm, flood victims in Kota Belud district increased from 128 on Wednesday night to 180. They have all been temporarily placed at the Tun Said community hall.

More than 20 uprooted tree incidents were recorded in various districts on the west coast as of 2pm today, with two involving trees falling onto vehicles and six onto houses, according to district fire and rescue departments.

However, no casualty has been reported.

As of 4pm, downpours continue in several areas on the west coast.


Bad weather in Sabah causes spike in property damage
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 18 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The state Fire and Rescue department has received 147 calls related to bad weather, among them of fallen trees and damage to cars, the past three days.

The Meteorological Department had issued a statement that heavy rain and strong winds are expected at the west coast of Sabah during the period.

The Fire and Rescue department spokesperson said 110 complaints were lodged about fallen trees at their areas.

"There are 72 reports of trees falling across roads, 23 of them hitting houses, 11 damaging electricity poles and four damaging cars."

Meanwhile, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) also received many calls related to power disruption due to fallen trees.

"We have to add more personnel to speed up power restoration."


Flood worsens in Kota Belud; river levels hit dangerous mark
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 19 Oct 17;

KOTA BELUD: Flood evacuees here have increased from 128 people last night to 144 this morning.

According to the Civil Defence Department, rain is still pounding the area.

The victims, who are taking shelter at the Tun Said community hall, are from Kampung Donggoi, Kampung Marajah, Kampung Gunding, Kampung Sadok-Sadok, Kampung Sembirai, Kampung Lingkodo, Kampung Linau, Kampung Lebak Moyoh and Kampung Suang Punggur.

The road connecting Kampung Marajah and Kampung Donggoi is now impassable to all vehicles.

Meanwhile, Sungai Tempasuk has reached its warning level, while Sungai Abai has hit its dangerous mark.


110 trees fall onto roads, houses, vehicles amidst strong winds in Sabah
Bernama New Straits Times 19 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Strong winds and torrential rain have felled at least 110 trees across urban and suburban areas in the state since Monday, the Sabah Fire and Rescue Department said.

"Seventy-two trees fell on main roads, 23 on houses, 11 on (utility) poles and four on vehicles.

“(However), there are no reports of injuries or casualties,” the Department’s operations centre said in a statement on Wednesday night.

It added that 34 cases of uprooted trees were recorded on Monday, 30 on Tuesday and 46 on Wednesday. -- BERNAMA


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Indonesia: Jambi gets Rp 4 billion for land and forest fire prevention

Jon Afrizal The Jakarta Post 19 Oct 17;

The central government, through the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), has given Rp 4 billion (US$ 295,836.11) in financial aid to the Jambi provincial administration for the handling of land and forest fires.

Jambi Governor Zumi Zola said he hoped all relevant stakeholders use the fund optimally when the time came.

“There is zero tolerance for land and forest fires. We suffered Rp 12 trillion in losses in only three months in 2015. We won’t let that happen again,” Zumi said on Thursday.

The funds have further been disbursed to the Garuda Putih 042 Military Resort Command (Korem), which got Rp 298.1 million; the Jambi Police (Rp 232.8 million); the East Tanjungjabung regency administration (Rp 481.2 million); the West Tanjungjabung regency administration (Rp 295.2 million); the Muarojambi regency administration (Rp 172.9 million); the Batanghari regency administration (Rp 443.3 million); the Tebo regency administration (Rp 587.2 million); the Sarolangun regency administration (Rp 501.3 million); and the Merangin regency administration (Rp 297.5 million).

An officer from the Mount Rinjani National Park Agency tries to put out the fire burning in some areas in the park on Oct. 9. The agency said that up to 12 hectares of land in the national park had been burned.
An officer from the Mount Rinjani National Park Agency tries to put out the fire burning in some areas in the park on Oct. 9. The agency said that up to 12 hectares of land in the national park had been burned. (Courtesy of TNGR Agency/file)

“Sometimes, fires occurred in difficult-to-reach areas, where the personnel chose to go on foot with their equipment. This shows their commitment and I appreciate that,” Zumi said.

Meanwhile, Jambi Disaster Mitigation Agency head Bachyuni Deliansyah said a memorandum of understanding was signed by relevant stakeholders to set out their respective duties and job descriptions. (dra/bbs)


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Indonesia: Personnel deployed as thousands still affected by flooding in Malang

Aman Rochman The Jakarta Post 19 Oct 17;

Personnel from the regional disaster mitigation agency (BPBD), the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), as well as the police and the military were on standby at a command post set up at the GKJW Ebent Heazer church in Sitiarjo village in Malang, East Java, on Thursday.

Flooding that hit the village on Wednesday has begun to ease, but hundreds of houses were still inundated, temporarily displacing more than 1,000 residents.

The flooding was caused by an overflow of water from the Penguluran River following intense rain over the past few days.

Malang BPBD head Bambang Istiawan said there were no reports of major damage caused by the disaster.

“We hope there will be no more heavy downpour, so the personnel can help clean the houses and public facilities,” he said.

Meanwhile, Arif Rizal, a teacher at the Tsanawiyah Hargokuncaran Islamic high school, which has been heavily flooded, said three of the school’s six classrooms could not be used.

“The school is still in operation, but students spend less time, because they have to share the remaining three classrooms,” he said. (bbs)


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Global pollution kills millions and threatens 'survival of human societies'

Landmark study finds toxic air, water, soils and workplaces kill at least 9m people and cost trillions of dollars every year
Damian Carrington The Guardian 19 Oct 17;

Pollution kills at least nine million people and costs trillions of dollars every year, according to the most comprehensive global analysis to date, which warns the crisis “threatens the continuing survival of human societies”.

Toxic air, water, soils and workplaces are responsible for the diseases that kill one in every six people around the world, the landmark report found, and the true total could be millions higher because the impact of many pollutants are poorly understood. The deaths attributed to pollution are triple those from Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

The vast majority of the pollution deaths occur in poorer nations and in some, such as India, Chad and Madagascar, pollution causes a quarter of all deaths. The international researchers said this burden is a hugely expensive drag on developing economies.

Rich nations still have work to do to tackle pollution: the US and Japan are in the top 10 for deaths from “modern” forms of pollution, ie fossil fuel-related air pollution and chemical pollution. But the scientists said that the big improvements that have been made in developed nations in recent decades show that beating pollution is a winnable battle if there is the political will.

“Pollution is one of the great existential challenges of the [human-dominated] Anthropocene era,” concluded the authors of the Commission on Pollution and Health, published in the Lancet on Friday. “Pollution endangers the stability of the Earth’s support systems and threatens the continuing survival of human societies.”

Prof Philip Landrigan, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, US, who co-led the commission, said: “We fear that with nine million deaths a year, we are pushing the envelope on the amount of pollution the Earth can carry.” For example, he said, air pollution deaths in south-east Asia are on track to double by 2050.

Landrigan said the scale of deaths from pollution had surprised the researchers and that two other “real shockers” stood out. First was how quickly modern pollution deaths were rising, while “traditional” pollution deaths – from contaminated water and wood cooking fires – were falling as development work bears fruit.

“Secondly, we hadn’t really got our minds around how much pollution is not counted in the present tally,” he said. “The current figure of nine million is almost certainly an underestimate, probably by several million.”

This is because scientists are still discovering links between pollution and ill health, such as the connection between air pollution and dementia, diabetes and kidney disease. Furthermore, lack of data on many toxic metals and chemicals could not be included in the new analysis.

The researchers estimated the welfare losses from pollution at $4.6tn a year, equivalent to more than 6% of global GDP. “Those costs are so massive they can drag down the economy of countries that are trying to get ahead,” said Landrigan. “We always hear ‘we can’t afford to clean up pollution’ – I say we can’t afford not to clean it up.”

Children with respiratory diseases receive treatment at a hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China.
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Children with respiratory diseases receive treatment at a hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China. Photograph: China Daily/Reuters
The commission report combined data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and elsewhere and found air pollution was the biggest killer, leading to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other illnesses. Outdoor air pollution, largely from vehicles and industry, caused 4.5m deaths a year and indoor air pollution, from wood and dung stoves, caused 2.9m.

The next biggest killer was pollution of water, often with sewage, which is linked to 1.8m deaths as a result of gastrointestinal diseases and parasitic infections. Workplace pollution, including exposure to toxins, carcinogens and secondhand tobacco smoke, resulted in 800,000 deaths from diseases including pneumoconiosis in coal workers and bladder cancer in dye workers. Lead pollution, the one metal for which some data is available, was linked to 500,000 deaths a year.

Low-income and rapidly industrialising countries are worst affected, suffering 92% of pollution-related deaths, with Somalia suffering the highest rate of pollution deaths. India, where both traditional and modern pollution are severe, has by far the largest number of pollution deaths at 2.5m. China is second with 1.8m and Russia and the US are also in the top 10.

In terms of workplace-pollution related deaths, the UK, Japan and Germany all appear in the top 10. The report was produced by more than 40 researchers from governments and universities across the globe and was funded by the UN, the EU and the US.

“This is an immensely important piece of work highlighting the impact that environmental pollution has on death and disease,” said Dr Maria Neira, the WHO director of public health and the environment. “This is an unacceptable loss of lives and human development potential.”

The editor-in-chief of the Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, and the executive editor, Dr Pamela Das, said: “No country is unaffected by pollution. Human activities, including industrialisation, urbanisation, and globalisation, are all drivers of pollution. We hope the commission findings will persuade leaders at the national, state, provincial and city levels to make pollution a priority. Current and future generations deserve a pollution-free world.”

Richard Fuller at Pure Earth, an international pollution clean-up charity and co-lead of the commission, said: “Pollution can be eliminated and pollution prevention can be highly cost-effective, helping to improve health and extend lifespan, while boosting the economy.” Since the US clean air act was introduced in 1970, levels of the six major pollutants have fallen by 70% while GDP has gone up by 250%, said Landrigan: “That puts the lie to the argument that pollution control kills jobs and stifles the economy.”

Gina McCarthy, former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, criticised the rollback of pollution controls under the Trump administration: “Now is not the time to go backwards in the US,” she said. “Environmental protection and a strong economy go hand in hand. We also need to help other countries, not only for the benefit it will bring them, but because pollution knows no boundaries.”

Rolling out new regulations, ending subsidies for polluting industries and deploying technology like smokestack filters could tackle pollution, the researchers said. But more research on the impact of pollution is also urgently required, said Fuller: “Available data does not include lead’s impact from toxic sites like Flint, in Michigan, US, or Kabwe, Zambia. Yet these populations experience enormous health impacts.”

Landrigan said his biggest concern was the unknown impact of the hundreds of industrial chemicals and pesticides already widely dispersed around the world: “I worry we have created a situation where people are exposed to chemicals that are eroding intelligence or impairing reproduction or weakening their immune system, but we have not yet been smart enough to make the connection between the exposure and the outcome, because it is subtle.” On Wednesday, a horrific plunge in the abundance of vital insects was reported, with pesticides a possible cause.

“Pollution has not received nearly as much attention as climate change, or Aids or malaria – it is the most underrated health problem in the world,” he said.


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Best of our wild blogs: 19 Oct 17



October Facebook Jam
People's Movement to Stop Haze

An explosion of ideas and inspiration at the first IYOR 2018 Workshop
Singapore Celebrates our Reefs 2018

Plastic Oceans, Plastic Seafood
Mei Lin NEO

Green Is The New Black
People's Movement to Stop Haze


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Soil tests for MRT line in nature reserve mostly complete

Works done to determine if Cross Island Line can run under it
Audrey Tan Straits Times 19 Oct 17;

A major part of works to determine whether the Cross Island MRT Line can go under Singapore's largest nature reserve has been completed.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) told The Straits Times this week that soil tests for the 16 boreholes drilled within the Central Catchment Nature Reserve were finished last month.

The works, which will help engineers determine the soil and rock profile under Singapore's largest nature reserve, started in February and have been watched closely, especially by environmental groups who are urging the Government not to build the MRT line under the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Other than the drilling of boreholes - each about 10cm wide to extract soil samples - the soil investigation works also included geophysical surveys.

These involve surveyors going off-trail into the forest to collect data using handheld equipment. Such surveys are needed to supplement data, as LTA had reduced the number of boreholes drilled in the nature reserve from 72 to 16, in a bid to reduce impact within the sensitive habitats. "Geophysical works and post-site investigation fauna monitoring activities are still ongoing," said the LTA spokesman.

The works are expected to be completed by the end of this year, the authority had said earlier.

Expected to be ready in 2030, the 50km Cross Island Line will stretch from Changi to Jurong.

The authorities are considering two paths for the line - a 4km route, half of which would be under the nature reserve, and a "skirting alignment" that would take a 9km route around it.

While the latter option is expected to tack on $2 billion to the cost of constructing the line, it could allow for an additional station to serve Thomson residents.

It would also satisfy nature groups which have raised concerns about the environmental impact of running an MRT line under the reserve, which is a treasure trove of biodiversity and home to critically endangered animals such as the Sunda pangolin.

The LTA spokesman said that findings from the site investigation works will be used in the next phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will assess the impact of the construction and operations for both alignments.

The Love Our MacRitchie Forest volunteer group said it appreciated the authorities' engagement with the nature groups, and hoped that it would continue.

"We would like to see the results of the monitoring activities made available for the public to view," said its spokesman Chloe Tan.

"Should the findings of the soil investigation works recommend that the Cross Island Line be aligned through the CCNR, we hope that Phase 2 of the EIA and monitoring activities will be conducted with the same (or even more) rigour to ensure that wildlife will not be affected by the construction works."

The first phase of the EIA, announced in February last year, had looked at the soil works and how to reduce their impact.

A key finding was that the works would have a "moderate" impact on plants and animals there, but only if measures to reduce impact are strictly implemented.

For the alternative route around the reserve, the impact of soil investigation works along Lornie Road was deemed to be "negligible", and "minor" for areas near Venus Drive and a golf course.


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Straw-free Tuesdays get youths started on plastic-lite journey

KELLY NG Today Online 18 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — In a bid to get youngsters to use less plastic, an environmental activist has teamed up with four schools in northwestern Singapore to do without drinking straws once a week.

Ms Aarti Giri, 38, is expecting more schools to come on board next year. Five have already signalled their interest to join the initiative at the start of the new school year.

Since last month, the drinks stalls at Regent Secondary, Nan Chiau High, Pei Hwa Secondary and Nan Chiau Primary schools have gone straw-free on Tuesdays.

Ms Giri, who founded the non-profit group Plastic Lite Singapore last year, said she targeted straws because they made for a simple way to start cutting back on plastic. "Even without a straw, the taste of the drink itself doesn't change," she said. "Cutting straws is a habit that people can easily (adopt) ... Unlike, for instance, (doing without disposable) spoons."

The entrepreneur, who runs a business selling bags woven from a durable vegetable fibre called jute, started giving talks in schools to raise environmental awareness in February this year. She has reached out to about 16 primary and secondary schools so far, mostly with the help of North West Community Development Council.

The straw-free initiative was a way to "bridge what was taught with action", she said.

Although some may say the actual amount of plastic waste reduced through her effort is small, Ms Giri said it would plant a seed in the minds of the younger generation.

Elsewhere in the world, straw-free campaigns are a popular way to raise awareness of the growing problem of plastic waste, which blights beaches and oceans and causes harm to marine life such as sea turtles. According to a Guardian report in June, an estimated four to 12 million metric tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean each year.

Teachers overseeing the effort in their schools agree the "small step" makes a difference. Regent Secondary's Ms Celia Loong, who teaches Chinese language, said the school plans to increase the number of no-straw days from next year.

Chemistry teacher Ms Leow Shie Hui, who oversees Nan Chiau High's Green Club, said: "There is a possibility of even phasing out straws ... This is a simple change in habit. Every individual has to make a small step."

The school's students are hoping to go completely straw-free next year.

Ms Giri wants to extend the movement by working with food and beverage outlets to serve straws only on request — another measure that has gained ground in countries like the United States. According to a global alliance called Plastic Pollution Coalition, about 1,800 restaurants, organisations and schools worldwide have eliminated plastic straws or implemented a straws-on-request policy.

Eateries that are "straw-lite zones" will provide opportunities to talk about reducing plastic use, she said. Anchorvale Community Club in Sengkang is planning to team up with eateries in Seletar Mall and coffeeshops in the area to eliminate straws.

Straws make up 3 to 12 per cent of litter collected at coastal cleanups here, according to data collected by the International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore.

"As with all single-use plastic products, straws are economically and environmentally unsustainable ... It is something that can easily be let go (of) and we can play a part in that," said Ms Giri.

She also hopes to introduce Bounce Bag, a reusable bag-sharing initiative at supermarkets. With the help of volunteers, she has collected over 600 reusable bags from residents and is currently in discussions with supermarkets and several grassroots organisations.


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Malaysia: Federal govt to spend RM17.5 million to restore Kelantan beaches ravaged by erosions

Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah New Straits Times 18 Oct 17;

KOTA BARU: The government will carry out recovery projects of two beaches in Kelantan which have been seriously affected by erosion over the decades.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the projects covering 3km of beaches were expected to cost RM17.5 million and would start early next year.

"Following the success of the Pantai Cahaya Bulan (PCB)'s project which cost about RM20 million, the government will use the same method for Pantai Mek Mas and Pantai Pulau Kundur here.

"With the same patterns of waves, weather and sea in PCB, the projects will likely be carried out smoothly at Pantai Mek Mas and Pantai Pulau Kundur," he told reporters after visiting the beaches here today.

Wan Junaidi said the PCB's project proved to be a success in two years time by using the “beach nourishment and rock revetment” systems.

"The new projects in Pantai Mek Mas and Pantai Pulau Kundur are expected to complete between 12 and 18 months.

"Once completed, the government hopes that the problems faced by the villagers there can be solved.

"It can also bring back tourists to the sites as well as the local traders can resume their business along the beaches," he said.

Wan Junaidi said the government started to trace erosion in the three main beaches in Kelantan in 2013 and the problem had persisted.

"The changes in weather as well as high tides and strong waves have contributed to this," he said.

Earlier, Wan Junaidi attended a briefing on beach erosion at a resort.

Also present at the one-hour meeting were Irrigation and Drainage Department (DID) deputy director-general (business sector) Datuk Dr Md Nasir Md Noh and state DID director Kamal Mustapha.

It is learnt that more than 400 villages at the beaches have been affected and houses in the areas are at risks of being destroyed by erosions.


Powerful winds wreaking havoc on Sabah's west coast
ruben sario The Star 18 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Winds packing speeds of up to 50km per hour uprooted trees and snapped off branches making driving hazardous amid driving rains along Sabah’s west coast, northern and interior districts.

Firemen were kept busy responding to 110 calls of trees and branches falling on houses, roads and vehicles since Oct 16.

Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department operations room chief Khatizah Rahaban said there were however no casualties reported in those incidents.

She said there were 72 reports of trees or branches falling on roads while there were also 23 calls of houses being damaged in similar incident.

There were also another four reports of vehicles hit by the falling trees.

Fallen trees also damaged chalets on Manukan island near here while roofs of vegetable stalls popular among visitors in Kundasang were blown off by the strong winds.

Also blown off were sections of roofing at the Kian Kok secondary school here.


Strong winds, rough seas warning
Bernama New Straits Times 18 Oct 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Strong winds and rough seas are expected to occur over waters off Sulu until Saturday, Oct 21.

According to a statement by the Malaysian Meteorological Department today, the southwesterly winds at 50-60 km per hour with waves of up to 4.5 meters would be dangerous to small boats.

Meanwhile, strong wind warnings and rough seas (first category) are also expected in the waters off Reef North, Layang-Layang and Palawan until Saturday, Oct. 21.

The southwesterly winds of 40-50 km per hour and waves of up to 3.5 meters high are expected to occur over the period.

The conditions were dangerous to small boats, sea recreation and sea sports.–BERNAMA


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