Death, matchmaking and video


Bad news always makes for prime news in the papers. After the sad death of Amid the baby elephant, I was in despair over the state of conservation in Malaysia. That poor, malnourished elephant must have suffered before it met its untimely end, despite the Malacca Zoo people’s efforts to make it healthy again.

Things are not always gloomy though. The Star’s front page today was chuckle-worthy. The sight of a bunch of people dragging a 4.7 m Gharial crocodile to meet its mate was a riot. Started me thinking though…even crocodiles get to mate and if it doesn’t somebody does matchmaking for ‘em. I guess I have to be an endangered species before I get match-made. But hey, as a Malaysian blogger I already am! : )

Another good news courtesy of WWF Malaysia is the spotting of the Sumatran Rhino, a critically endangered rhinoceros species, in the wilds of Borneo. The Star also reported it here

19rhino.jpg

Here is a still from a two-minute footage from a camera trap that the WWF people had placed in the interior jungles of Sabah. According to WWF Malaysia, there are only about 25-50 Sumatran Rhinos estimated to be surviving in the whole island of Borneo.

Breeding these shy giants are by no means easy because, they rarely mate, and when they do, gestation period is a long one. Breeding them in captivity does not seem to have worked. In fact, several Sumatran Rhinos died within days at a Rhino Sanctuary in Selangor a couple of years ago.

This species is without a doubt the most critically endangered one in Malaysia, if not the world. Readers can help its conservation efforts by becoming a Kawan WWF.

Do your part, because we as the dominant species on this earth have a moral responsibility to protect the rest. After all, we at the top of the food chain stand to ultimately lose the most from extinction of species and loss of habitat.

Almost Apocalypse…Now


The United Nations Climate Report is out. And it paints a really bleak picture of the future. Those of you who just married and want to have kids, think again. The Earth of the near future doesn’t look like a conducive place to live and raise children.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered what Reuters described as a “stark warning” to the world on the need to take active steps to handle climate change and possibly avoid the catastrophic prognosis that the 100-nation panel’s report contained. Read it here

 There are interesting bits, i reproduce here from the Reuters report

The report said warming, widely blamed on human emissions of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, would cause desertification, droughts and rising seas and would hit hard in the tropics, from sub-Saharan Africa to Pacific islands.

From Factbox  I would like to highlight some choice bits.

Since the mid-20th century, rising temperatures are changing the face of the globe, mostly due to human production of greenhouse gases. Dry areas will get drier. In some countries, crop yields could drop by 50 percent by 2020.

More than one billion people may face shortages of fresh water by 2050, especially as demand rises with living standards in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia.

By the 2080s, millions of people will be threatened by floods because of rising sea levels, especially in the mega-deltas of Asia and Africa and on small islands.

Mountains will have fewer glaciers, less snow, less winter tourism and as much as 60 percent species loss by 2080 if high emissions of greenhouse gases continue. Winter flooding will increase and less water will be available for energy, agriculture and human consumption.

Coral bleaching will cause widespread mortality unless the coral can adapt. The Great Barrier Reef could lose “significant” biodiversity by 2020.

Between 20 to 30 percent of plant and animal species examined to date face an increased risk of extinction if the average global temperature rise exceeds 1.5-2.5 degrees Celsius.

More than 100 nations agreed on the wording of the report. That means they agree there is a problem. And that we human beings as a collective caused this problem. So don’t you think it is only responsible as the dominant species in this world to stop bitching and start doing something about it?

Granted, most of the polluting is being done by those “big” countries, Al Gore admitted as much in his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He may have painted doomsday picture of what’s happening to the Earth hence earning in a the “Inconvenient Asshole” sobriquet among the thinning Bush camp, but what he says I believe is true.

If anything, The UN climate report paints a more dire picture of the future than the Oscar-winning documentary. Wake up people.

Utter selfishness of humans


The homo sapiens who top the food chain and have been the dominant species for the last i-dunno-how-many centuries, have demonstrated that despite they are essentially selfish assholes.

We cannot live without our environment, without the flora and fauna around us. We are very much dependent on them for survival. But we certainly don’t act like we do. Here’s an example

 The many residents of Kota Damansara don’t want a green belt to be turned into a burial ground. The Selangor Government wants to do exactly that. Isn’t burial ground something that should have been part of a long term Local Plan/Structure Plan for the respective district? Or at the very least, part of the development blueprint by whoever developed the area?

So, to protect their negligent hides, they jump on the first empty space you can find for “burial ground for 6,000 Muslims”. A forest reserve. The residents who protest against the burial ground move have basis. Kota Damansara is a desert-like new suburbia with barely any trees. Why not leave an existing natural forest alone? The Malaysian Nature Society too hold activities like birding, and nature treks at these places. That means it is a relatively rich biodiversity area.

At the rate we are going, children of Klang Valley will soon not remember a bird other than crows, will not know insects other than roaches, and will not know trees other than the landscape-favourite palm trees by the roads.

A small forest reserve has to die so that some human beings can have a burial ground for their dead. That’s ok. Let the rape continue till one day there’s nothing left.

Logging destroying Lojing


Oi Fools!!! What’s happening to your brains? Addled by repeated trips to the border? How come you get a virgin forest logged bare when it is part of the National Park? Isn’t that just plain ILLEGAL?

The Star’s report on March 26

Massive land-clearing activities at Lojing Highlands in Gua Musang, Kelantan, involving 25,000ha, is a disaster in the making,warned Natural Resources and Environment Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Sazmi Miah.  

“The activities are clearly a blatant disregard for the laws on highland development,” he said. 

He added that the ministry would immediately freeze all approvals for environmental impact assessment (EIA) applications at Lojing.  

“We will not approve any EIA until we are able to rectify the current environmental damage at Lojing,” he told reporters after carrying out an air surveillance to check on land-clearing activities at Cameron Highlands and Lojing Highlands. 

Sazmi said one badly destroyed area at Lojing Highlands was the clearing of 300ha of flat land situated about 1,400m above sea level for a paku-pakis (fern) planting project. 

“We don’t know how the state government can do this as we only allow agriculture development to take place at areas below the 1,000m mark,” he added.  

So the ball was at the Kelantan government’s court. What is this? The way I see it, 25,000 acres of virgin forest is being raped by 22 companies (with only 5 of them backed by EIA supported approvals). A matter of economic gain?

The way I see it, the state govt, if it does not do anything about this issue fast, Kelantan will be barren land, and even BN will not be interested in the state anymore. Nothing to rip from the earth….Petroleoum will go dry in a couple of decades. What happens to the Kelantanese people then?

Umno’s Annuar Musa said this

State Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Annuar Musa told a press conference that Umno would press the state government to freeze all logging activities pending an investigation by an independent committee. 

He stressed that there was nothing political about the issue as environment preservation was a concern for all political parties. 

That statement triggered an involuntary snigger. Pigi dah ! The actions of state governments in other parts of Malaysia is not forgiveable either. Take Selangor and what happened to Bukit Lagung Forest Reserve. Parliament actually de-gazetted some 200-hectares (so I was told) of this forest reserve behind FRIM. Development is also taking place there.

So don’t pretend to be suddenly conscious abt the Environment.

Jumbo Misery


Sometimes you wish you don’t have to wake up in the morning. Certainly not to see a horribly cruel sight like this.

Amid, a three-month-old baby elephant was, according to zookeepers at Malacca Zoo, probably separated from his mother. Rescued from a theme park where he was found tied up, this little jumbo is now in good hands, thank God!

He is on the mend alright, but this emaciated little elephant might take a year or more to be normal and healthy again. Kudos to those who do not think twice about rescuing and healing an animal,we certainly need more of them.

It could have been the fast currents during the December floods in Johor that separated Amid from his mom. The toll that the unprecedented floods people’s lives, livelihood and damage to property was widely chronicled, yet here was the untold story of how  disasters (natural or man-induced) could have devastating impact on our natural surroundings.

It is is quite common in developing nations to see more emphasis given to material development, often at the expense of the environment and natural habitat. Yet, Malaysia is doing better economically than some of its neighbours, isn’t it?

What was the elephant doing at a theme park? Was there any action taken against the theme park for harbouring a protected animal? Do they have licence?

Doesn’t the Malaysian Wildlife Protection Act 1972 provide for mandatory jail sentence for cruel treatment of animals? The Star article does not name the theme park involved, but it did indicate that Amid was rescued a month ago. The perps must not go scot-free. This is unconscionable!

Teddy the Invader


Teddy

Six months has gone, but the old sibling is still beating himself up over the loss of his beloved Teddy (pic). Had decided one day like a good pet owner that he is, to take the little tortoise to a lake nearby so he could have a watery romp among his amphibious brethren.

Little Teddy the Red-Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) liked it so much in the lake, he refused to return despite plaintive 3am cries of his “master” who had fed him and taken him everywhere for the better part of the last three years. (Cold) blood will tell after all. Bro says the little tortoise looks at home there. He still can’t stop talking about it though.

That Teddy has taken to the lake like tortoise(sic) to water proves just how resilient certain species are, how easily they adapt to new habitat and evolve accordingly. A popular choice among Asian pet owners, Red-Eared Sliders are nevertheless NOT native to Asia. This attractive tortoise species was commonly found in Southern US, spanning states such as Texas, New Mexico and Indiana.

It was mentioned in a National Geographic report as one of the many species taken out of their indigenous habitats to distant lands and flourished there as invasive species. Read up on it at a Columbia University site here.

According to the Global Invasive Species Database:

Slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) are popular pets and as a result have become established in many parts of the world, where it is thought that they compete with native aquatic turtles. They are omnivorous and will eat insects, crayfish, shrimp, worms, snails, amphibians and small fish as well as aquatic plants. Red-eared sliders are found both in fresh and brackish waters including coastal marsh ponds.

Common Names: Gelbwangen-Schmuckschildkroete, red-eared slider, red-eared slider terrapin.

Doesn’t seem quite a cute little thing anymore, does it, when you face the global implications of these invasive species?