Friday, July 17, 2009

EIA bypassed, claims Sepa

Daily Express Online
Published on: Thursday, July 16, 2009

Alor Setar: The Sabah Environmental Protection Association wants the Sabah Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to play a greater role in ensuring projects are not bulldozed without EIA approval.

"It is sad to see lots of projects are pushed through before EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) approval," Sepa President Wong Tack claimed, citing the 50-acre UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara) project in Sepanggar.

"The site plan says green space and mangrove forests will be preserved while the Government constantly declares publicly how important mangrove swamps are to sustain the production of Sabah's famous seafood.

But in reality they are being destroyed at a serious and rapid rate," he told a press conference.

"In UiTM's case, there was no EIA approval yet but just because they think it is a government project and a lot of time government projects are pushed through like that. So 50 acres of mangrove forests which were supposed to be protected have been leveled out and the adjacent hill cut to reclaim the swamp," Wong alleged.

"Of course, blame goes to the EIA consultant who apparently never looked into the issue in his professional capacity but we hope the EPD will take the issue seriously regardless of who the developer is, government or private," Wong urged.

"Proper law and policy have to be followed and enforced," he said and called on the EPD to do its job entrusted them by the millions of people in the State, who are also stakeholders.

Wong said Sepa is "very surprised that the EPD has only a little branch office with merely five staff and one vehicle but have to look after the whole of East Coast from Sugut to Kalabakan!

"Similarly, its West Coast headquarters with less than five dozen staff look after the whole of West Coast and the Interior in terms of EIA, project monitoring, project enforcement and administration enforcement.

"Given so little human and financial resources, EPD is not effective and so the whole environment is attacked from all fronts," Wong asserted.

"I am just surprised that a government agency tasked with such an important job to protect the environment of Sabah and mandated to look after the future of the State has not been given its due importance by the State Government," Wong asserted.

At stake are the all important EIA approval processes since green projects in Sabah are under the EPD jurisdiction, Wong pointed out.

"A lot of times this very important process is subject to abuse by developers or even government agencies who use it as a tool or disguise to bulldoze projects through," Wong claimed.

On the proposed 80-acre Oceanarium project in Pulau Mabul, near Semporna, Wong said Sepa was among those who voiced concern.

He said again the EIA would determine whether this coral reef should be approved for development.

"We have never said you cannot do it but we said you must do it right. But the first thing to us is the approval procedure, stakeholders have to get involved."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Moon Rat - Road-killed

Photo credit: Dr. Konstans Wells

I assist my friend meeting leaders of local people in our area yesterday. It was interesting and fun to get to know these important people in their village. Okay, that is not what I want to share today.

As we drive along one gravel road to reach another village, I saw something on the road. Road killed is normal here especially for domestic animal such as dogs, cats or chickens. But this time, I saw something else. It was white in color with a lot of guard hairs and the shape of the animal looks very familiar to me. I asked my friend to stop and let me have a clear look. I walk closer to the animal and guess what? It was a Moon Rat (Echinosorex gymnurus).

The moon rat is the largest gymnures and often found in primary and secondary lowland forest, mangrove swamps, rubber plantations and other cultivated areas. This species prefer moist areas, often near streams with thick ground vegetation. They are solitary species and do not seem to be tolerant of conspecifics. They eat varied with the main components of the diet is terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates such as earthworms, insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, crabs and molluscs. That is some of the information about this species.

I am not sure when it was killed but the whole body of this animal is still perfect. Only flies and some other insects already play their part and later on this body will decayed. I did take a few photos using my mobile phone but I cannot upload it in my computer so, I put a photo by Dr. Konstants Wells for you guys to see what this animal looks like.

How to prevent incident like this to be happen? I am not sure because if we tried to save the animal, our car may have an accident. It’s about own life or that animal life. My advice is that, just drive safely and always be alert of our surroundings. We cannot predict when this animal wants to across the road. I left this until here….Till then.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No environment awareness in school curriculum

New Sabah Times Online
Published on 14th July, 2009

PETALING JAYA: The education ministry has no plans to introduce environmental awareness as a stand-alone curriculum in schools, said its deputy director-general, Datuk Noor Rezan Bapoo Hisham.

Instead, teachers should be creative in incorporating such awareness in the teaching of science, geography and languages for the benefit of students, she said.

“A teacher who is creative will be able to incorporate everything in the teaching. This is something that a teacher has to learn to do,” she told reporters after presenting the Toyota Eco Rangers Award to Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (P) Sri Aman here yesterday.

The school emerged champion in the Toyota Eco Rangers Programme which comprised workshops, concept paper presentation, tree-planting, greening and nurturing activities.

The aim of the programme, initiated by Toyota in partnership with Yayasan Anak Warisan Alam, is to encourage holistic development of students in schools, through caring and cultivation of the environment, and raise environmental awareness.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Zoo boycotts Cadbury chocolate over palm oil ingredient

Published in The Sun

WELLINGTON (July 12, 2009) : Auckland Zoo has withdrawn Cadbury’s chocolate products from its shops because of the introduction of the ingredient palm oil into its products, a newspaper reported today.

Rain forests are being cleared in South-east Asia to produce palm oil, threatening the habitat of orang-utans, the zoo’s conservation officer Peter Fraser told the Sunday Star-Times.

He said that if palm oil production continued at its current pace, none of the animals would be left in the wild in 10 years.

Keepers at the zoo are weaning themselves off other products containing palm oil, including cookies, instant noodles and shaving cream, the paper said. The zoo has also published an orang-utan-friendly shopping list on its website.

Consumers unhappy with the changing taste of products with palm oil have set up groups calling for a boycott of Cadbury’s products on social networking websites, the paper said.

Spokesman Daniel Ellis told the Star-Times that consumer feedback showed the vegetable fat improved the chocolate’s texture.

He said Cadbury was a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a body committed to ensuring responsible and sustainable palm oil crops.

"While we understand the passion some members of the community have about palm oil, we believe that the palm oil we use is sourced in a sustainable manner and we hope that people will take the time to understand that."

Ellis said Cadbury’s palm oil was sourced primarily from Malaysia, not from Sumatra, Borneo or any of the other regions where the orang-utan was under threat. - dpa

Updated: 08:56PM Sun, 12 Jul 2009

Shrinking habitat threatens S'kan proboscis monkey

The Daily Express Online
Published on: Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sandakan: Proboscis monkeys living in mangrove forests here are under threat from shrinking habitat due to development projects, a wildlife sanctuary operator said.

Michael Lee Hing Huat, the owner of the Labuk Bay proboscis monkey sanctuary, said projects such as housing and township development caused forest fragmentation and threatened the wildlife's source of food.

"They are trapped in the fragmented and shrinking forests, forcing them to venture out in the open in search of food," he said.

This exposed them to danger, he said referring to a recent incident where a proboscis monkey was run over by a car in Jalan Utara.

He said he had informed the Wildlife Department and suggested alternatives to overcome the problem, among them was to relocate the proboscis monkeys to the Labuk Bay sanctuary.

The 263ha sanctuary currently has a population of 300 proboscis monkeys compared to about 100 when it was opened in 2001. - Bernama

Bornean Sucker Fish

After I saw Mr. Froggie on the stairs something orangish in colour draw my attention. Something moving on the stone in the water and with the shallow water, I can see it clearly. A few weeks back my friend did mention about a sucker fish in that small rocky stream but I didn’t bother so much about it. She told me there is a pretty fish in that stream, an orange colour sucker fish.

So, I move slowly towards the small witty creature in the water. She moves around on that stone where the water current is a little bit fast. After a while she was alert of my presence there and stops moving around. She was just stay still on the stone and maybe she was waiting for me to move away from there. But I am not done with her yet. Slowly I push my camera button and try to take a close up photo of her. I was amazed by that moment because this fish is really pretty. I never saw it before. After two shots I try to get closer and she moves faster into the deep area. Even though I can’t hold it and take a clear look of her, but I know this is something interesting.

When I get back home, I Google and try to find information about Bornean Sucker Fish. I don’t have any Pisces field guide books so I have to depend on source from internet. As I went through I found quite a few information and I read through article by Dr. Tan Heok Hui from Raffles Museum of Singapore. I did sent the photo to my friend and ask him about it. He answers me confidently that it might be Gastromyzon sp. Based on findings by Dr. Tan, they found three new species of Gastromyzon in Brunei and I was thinking maybe this is another new record or new species. Who knows right? Borneo is a hotspot biodiversity, I am sure there are lots of undiscovered species of animals and plants.

Interesting discovery and stay tune with me. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I Found Mr. Froggie

I did found Mr. Froggie this time. The only thing is that, I only have one shot of this slimy creature. The worst part is that, I can’t capture it and take a good look at it. If I do, I will have a good story to tell you guys about this animal. I have so many unidentified animals for this trip and I am ashamed of myself.
Okay okay…I will not blame myself, I am not an expert but I will always like to learn new things. To discover new things like this. A mystery will only solve after a proper scientific expedition is done in this area. Till then....