Even Spiders Are Screwed…


We Malaysians have shown our ugly side in so many ways Here’s a new one.

The Star’s Bahasa Malaysia portal Mstar reports that the Tarantulas are disappearing from our highlands, especially Fraser’s Hill in Pahang, because they are ending up as pets overseas.

The Fraser’s Hill Tarantulas are said to be about 40 years old. These hairy, scary fellas are known as Old World Spiders and are said to have a lifespan of up to 60 years.

Hairy Beauty

Hairy Beauty

So I guess there is a market out there for uncle and aunt Tarantulas. In Japan, according to the article, Aunt Tarantula fetches the yen equivalent of RM228. That is not very expensive if you consider that these critters are rare.

So our brave fellas go into the jungles and hunt down these beauties to be sold abroad. Unconscionable rape of the forest and thievery that brings nothing much. One must consider the fact that the catch cannot be any good.

These Tarantulas mate once a year, (they evidently have not discovered Tongkat Ali) so I suppose the proliferation of these big spiders are not at a healthy stage, what with loss of habitat and poaching.

Malaysia is home to 12 different types of Old World Spiders. In Malaysia, there is a group called the Malaysian Tarantula Society that’s trying to educate our fellow citizens about these gorgeous Arachnids/Theraphosidae.

Visit their site for more information, and the next time you see people poaching spiders from our old forests, beat them up. I mean it.

That is, of course, after liberating these babies, capisce?

There is a RM50,000 fine for those caught in possession of these Tarantulas under our Wildlife Protection Act. It’s no joke.

The one nice thing I say about this despicable trade in endangered species is that, these spiders are actually ending up as pets in foreign countries. I guess they fare much better than the Malaysian chicks who became drug mules and now languishing in prison.

Have Everyone Forgotten Lojing?


On April 22, Earth Day is celebrated in various ways throughout the world.

Even Google went Green.

Yahoo?  Yahoo got involved.

And Me? I shall take this opportunity to revisit a topic i raised more than a year ago. Read Logging Destroying Lojing.

The issue was first reported in The Star, and it gained heat in blogosphere until it became a farce with a lot of finger-pointing going on by Umno and PAS fellas. Raja Petra Kamarudin had more dirt that you should read to refresh your memory.

The cast included Sazmi Miah, then the Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment,  Annuar Musa, then Umno flag-bearer in Kelantan, PAS’ Husam Musa who clarified the issue.

Fast forward to November 2007. Sazmi Miah said he would meet with the Attorney General to deliberate charges on those responsible for the rape of Lojing.

This year arrived. March 8 arrived, and Sazmi Miah, as well as Annuar Musa and Awang Adek are all tsunami-ed into oblivion.

So, what has happened regarding the Lojing Highlands in Kelantan? Is logging and farming continuing to erode the hills? Is conservation and the environment in general, something that the government will pay attention to only if there is political mileage to be gained?

It would be nice to have answers. I wanna be optimistic, unlike the Penembak Badak who was prophetically sure last year the issue will soon be forgotten. Why don’t we keep it alive Sheih?

Those who rape the earth must pay. And the rape must be stopped.

Come See My Zoo


Sometimes I think mankind is like a blight on Earth’s surface. We have been raping and pillaging this world for ages. Sometimes we hear of things like “they behave like animals”.

Believe me, that statement is actually a grave insult to animals.

No animal would commit this atrocity. They kill for food, or when threatened. Us? We kill, maim and commit other assorted cruelties needlessly.

Some tow kays in Sarawak are very rich. Rich enough that they want their own zoo. With rare animals theat they pay trappers to get them from the lush forests of Borneo. Is there no end to this kind of rubbish?

No. There won’t be until we Malaysians as a collective decide that, it is not ok to wipe out our wild animals for self gratification.

Of course, most of you Malaysians know that there is healthy demand for things like Rhino Horn (powdered), Tiger Testicle (dried) not only Malaysia, but the entire East Asia. Tiger parts are not even guaranted to work and are mistakenly thought of as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Let this site tell you otherwise.

Why? Some men think these are either aphrodisiacs or can help them “improve performance” or increase the size of that all-important organ.

See? We kill for sexual gratification, for status, for power, for money.

 pic from WWF Malaysia

For the record, let me tell you this. There are FIVE types of tigers now in existence.  All of them are on the Asian continent. All of them are dwindling in numbers.

Bengal Tiger (Panthera Tigris Tigris) – Endangered status, due to poaching and habitat loss

Siberian  Tiger (Panthera Tigris Altaica) – Critically Endangered due to poaching.

Sumatran Tiger (Panthera Tigris Sumatrae) – Critically Endangered, due to habitat loss (agriculture) and poaching

Indochinese Tiger (Panthera Tigris Corbetti) – Endangered status, due to hunting for Chinese medicine

Malayan Tiger (Panthera Tigris Malayensis) – Endangered status, due to habitat loss.

As for the Rhinoceros….

Malaysia used to be home to both Sumatran Rhinos and Javan Rhinos. But the Javan Rhinos no longer exist in Malaysia. Apparently there are a few in Indonesia and they are critically endangered.

 pic from http://travelmalaysiaguide.com/

Sumatran Rhinos will suffer the same fate within my generation because of habitat loss and poaching. Attempts to breed them in captivity has also been disastrous.

Sun Bears such as the one that suffered such a cruel death last week in Sarawak, are considered Vulnerable. That is not as bad as Endangered or Critically Endangered, but still, it is a threatened species.

To hear two pieces of new pieces of negative news concerning wildlife in Sarawak in one week is terrible. That journalist did good in exposing this shoddy state of affairs in Taib Mahmud country.

The UNDP said laws are all fine, but enforcement sucks.

Something is indeed rotten in the Sarawak.

It stinks more than the carcass of that poor dead bear.

 

A Step Forward for Wildlife Protection


 

I have always hated pet shops. But it didn’t escape my notice that the residents of pet shops has become more exotic over the years. On one hand, I have reservations about people who buy these exotic pets like the Star Tortoise below that I “borrowed without permission” from whozoo.

 These pretty little Indian Star Tortoise is one of the many endangered species sold as exotic pets in Malaysia

You know, there are people out there for whom pets are moving playthings, or worse, fashion statements. Abhorrent? I agree. Now, being self-indulgent is one thing, but when it threatens an entire species…well, time to be alarmed. I was, until recently.

In those heated weeks prior to the epoch-making General Elections 2008, most Malaysians can be forgiven if they didn’t see this bit of good news from Tan Cheng Li at The Star. :)

Yes, the government had passed a law late last year, that makes it illegal to for Malaysians to buy/sell/own certain imported species of animals and plants in Malaysia.

It is hoped that the International Trade in Endangered Species bill that went though parliament, will be gazetted and enforceable soon. This is a pressing need, and I hope that in the political turmoil that’s affecting Umno and the Barisan government, this Bill will not be forgotten.

The Bill not only covers individuals but also corporations within its ambit, so as to make entire outfits liable for trading in endangered species. Hundreds of species, that include mammals, reptiles, birds, plants and trees, are mentioned in this bill.

The bill would also make it an offence to sell/buy products made from these endangered flora and fauna list.

So, ladies, double check that exotic-looking handbag before you even entertain the thought of telling your mahjong friends about your latest acquisition. It might land you in jail.

To read the bill and the list, go here

The bill, once it becomes Act, has fines up to RM100,000 and a jail sentence up to 7 years for those caught flouting the law on this score. Of course the this bill came into being only after tremendous pressure from the United Nations Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Read more on CITES.

 Why we need laws like this? Because it takes punishment for people to toe the line. This is where enforcement comes into play. Trading and smuggling of flora and fauna is just one reason for the species decline.

We human beings are responsible in other ways. We have been responsible for loss of habitat that results in  bad news like this.

The Slender Billed Vulture below will be a memory if their habitat loss continue, since it is critically endangered.

slender-billed vulture

There are 45 bird species that Malaysians will not see anymore in a decade. Imagine that, 45 species!

A Nobel Truth


On Feb 5 I blogged about Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by some Balkan NGOs. A man I much admire for many reasons, this man is in my opinion a towering Malaysian indeed. Hope he recovers soon

 However, it was a long shot at best. The Nobel for Peace was announced today and I am very much heartened by the fact that it went to Al Gore and the UN Climate Change Panel. I like the lengths to which Mr Gore has gone, often in the face of much opposition, reluctance to commit, apathy and derision from industry head honchos, the public and also the short-sighted Bush administration.

I would like to hope that this is a sign that the Nobel committee and the international public is aware of the importance of handling the issue of global warming, climate change and conservation.

Let’s hope they fight the good fight to educate the masses, governments and corporation on our common responsibility to preserve a decent quality of life on this planet. Like the One Earth ad says, its not as if we go shopping somewhere else.

This seems indeed Gore’s year. The man who “used to be the next president of the United States” won an Oscar earlier this year for his An Inconvenient Truth, a sobering documentary on climate change that sent major ripples across the world as far as awareness was concerned.

Now the Nobel. There are talks of getting Gore to run for President in 2008. The guy hasn’t committed anything yet. However, there is a sign that the environmental card is being played as a vote-puller. The Democrats’ presidential candidate Barack Obama pushed for up to 80% vehicular carbon emissions back in April this year. Read it here

Republican California governor Arnie Schwarzenegger went as far as to issue an executive order aimed at reducing carbon content in fuel. So yes. It is fashionable for even the politicians to be enviro-friendly.

In Malaysia however, we still have a knee-jerk reaction to environment and conservation. Does anyone remember what happened with Lojing by the way? Is that something that will only come up during the coming elections?

We Malaysians will not learn, will we? We rejoice about putting a man in space, but we forget to ensure we have a healthy Earth to bequeath to our children. With this kinda attitude, we might as well all pegi mampus!!

sad.jpg

Welcome back to Birdland


It has been quite a while since pretty pictures graced this blog. Too many things have been happening around us that required some literary blood-letting. So much so, I forgot the simple yet increasingly elusive pleasure afforded by communing with nature…and its inhabitants.

Kampung girl that I am at heart, living in Kuala Lumpur sometimes gets to be too much. It is a view shared by many friends, including Tony who once said he ends up in the jungle pretty often. Me? I am greedy for bird sightings. It’s not easy to see exotic birds these days, so I headed to KL Bird Park.

egret.jpg

Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it. This Cattle Egret perched on a tree branch, one-legged. I suppose if you have wings to fly, it doesn’t really hurt to push your luck, gravity-wise.

hawk.jpg

This is a hawk….ostensibly. I know its not a buzzard. Eagles are bigger. It could be a kite too. I’m no bird expert. HELP! Identify this lovely raptor for me. This one got tired of the shutterbugs’ lenses and flew away to hide among some plants.

wreathe-hornbill.jpg

This is one hell of a portrait shot of the White Crowned Hornbill. Man…check out the eyelashes. I met this guy at the Malacca Zoo.

flamingoes.jpg

A tranquil, ethereally lovely shot of two Greater Flamingoes in the pond…cooling off the effects of the sweltering sun. This pic was captured at the KL Bird Park. These birds are the most widespread members in the flamingo family.

blackwhite-ibis-2.jpg

Australian White Ibis  feeling right at home on this leafy tree. Found this at Zoo Negara. As its name suggests, this long-beaked birdie is indigenous to south western Australia. One of the classier looking members of the Ibis family.

pelican.jpg

And this biggie mouthie is aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa White Pelican. Big fella, can weigh up to 10 kg and is found from Europe to Asia, and Africa. Can cause a racket.

That’s all folks, for now at least. Keep on drooling : )

My Name is Felix and I’m coming your way


Innocuous name for a hurricane that may be hitting the Central American state of Belize by Wednesday, after skirting Honduras, says an AP report.

This is a US Naval Research Laboratory satellite image of the superstorm, already a Category 5.

felix.jpg 

This is the second hurricane in the Atlantic this season after Hurricane Dean last month. On the Pacific theatre, there was Typhoon Sepat/Egay  that claimed lives in China.

Now, there has been a highly visible surge in the number of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons in the last few years that makes me quite alarmed.

Al Gore and gang says it may be related to global warming, and the science people support this theory. Read more about global warming’s byproducts here.

What we as a people can do? Change our ways, and pressure our authorities to do so. Changing mindsets is akin to a long march, but we have to start somewhere.

Stephen Leahy has some compelling details that beg you to reconsider the tag “natural disaster” when it comes to storms like this. It could very well be a man-made one.