This photo taken on January 20 shows three dead giant Olive Ridley marine turtles that were found abandoned on the shores of Bakong, Simunul Island in Tawi-Tawi by its captors during a manhunt conducted by policemen against local poachers. Only 3 of 17 dead turtles, whose battered heads were believed to have been hit with a blunt object, were brought in by banca (boat) due to their large size. The turtles are reportedly being sold by local fishermen to Chinese poachers. GMA News

Philippines: 17 endangered sea turtles found dead in Tawi-Tawi
By Elizabeth Marcelo, 31st January 2014;

Local authorities recovered 17 dead Olive Ridley Sea Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), an endangered species, on the shore of Brgy. Bakong, Simunul Island in Tawi-Tawi earlier this month.

A photo sent to GMA News Online by a concerned resident shows cracks on the heads of the turtles, an indication that they were intentionally killed by their captors, who managed to evade authorities. The photo was taken on Jan. 20.

In a phone interview, the photo sender, who refused to be identified for security reasons, said the illegal practice of catching and selling sea turtles has been going on in their village for “quite a long time” and the local government is doing nothing to address it.

“I believe may protector ang mga tao na ito para ganito ka-lakas ang loob nila [na] lapastanganin ang mga yaman dagat dito na paubos na,” the witness, an environmentalist and a teacher on Simunul Island, said.

Wala po sila (local government) ginagawa and that’s what bothers me a lot,” the source said.

According to the witness, six turtle shells were also found along the shore a week before the 17 turtles were found dead on Jan. 20.

The source added that on Nov. 22, 2013, more than 90 giant turtle shells, also called “stuff”, were seized from a vessel bound for Zamboanga owned by a local businessman. She said the local government did nothing about the incident.

“The local government told us that they will conduct an investigation and even a hearing, e hanggang ngayon wala naman nangyayari,” the witness said.

The source said the selling of turtle meat and stuff (shell) is rampant on their island, with prices ranging from P5,000 to P10,000 for a kilogram of turtle meat.

Shells sell from P60,000 to P100,000 depending on their size, the source said.

The source could not give information on individuals or groups behind the illegal trade, but quoted local fisherfolk as saying Chinese businessmen were the usual buyers of turtle meat and shells.

Mga Chinese (businessmen) po pero me contact sila sa local (businessmen). Gaya yung last November na nahuli, local businessman ang owner ng vessel pero ang client nila Chinese,” the source said.

The source added locals are concerned about the diminishing population of the sea turtles and cooperate with authorities to curb the illegal practice. “In fairness po sa mga local dito sa Simunul never po sila nag-eengage sa ganyan.”

GMA News Online is still trying to get the side of the local government of Tawi-Tawi as of this post.

Source: GMA News Online

Philippines: Stranded dolphin in Ilocos Norte shorelines dies

By Freddie G. Lazario, 31st January 2014;

A Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis) that was recovered along the beachline in Barangay Virgen Milagrosa, Badoc, Ilocos Norte died last Tuesday.

Arthur Valente, Ilocos Norte’s Fishery Regulation Officer, said the dolphin could have died from ingesting plastic materials as indicated by a necropsy examination.

The examination showed that several plastic materials that were found inside the dolphin’s intestines could have blocked its food path causing it to weaken until it died four days after its discovery.

Valente said the dolphin died at 5:30 p.m. and was buried in a vacant lot in Barangay Dadaliquitin, Sinait, Ilocos Sur.

The 1.73 meter long dolphin was stranded along the shorelines of Barangay Virgen Milagrosa, Badoc town on Friday night.

Local fishermen earlier constructed a temporary fish pen along the beachline of Barangay Virgen Milagrosa for the dolphin.

The Rough-toothed Dolphin is found in deep warm and tropical waters around the world.

Source: Philippine Information Agency

Philippines: Stranded dolphin in Ilocos Norte shorelines dies

Happy Lunar New Year!

Good fortune, prosperity, and happiness to all, and in the midst of the celebrations and revelry, I hope everyone stays safe and avoids qualifying for an appearance on Monday Morgue.

According to the Chinese zodiac, it’s the Year of the Horse, but I don’t have any photos of dead horses, so here are some Hedgehog Seahorses (Hippocampus spinosissimus) instead.

No better place to usher in the Chinese New Year than in the lab surrounded by close friends and loved ones.

On an unrelated note, my response this year to the question “You got girlfriend already or not?” Is “I have many, but they’re all in the freezer”.

Source: David Tan Instagram

This is an Ashy Tailorbird (Orthotomus ruficeps) carcass, apparently collected from the Jurong Lake area.

A WWF researcher recently found a Sun Bear paw trapped in a snare at the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.

Malaysia: Sun Bear carcass and snares found
30th January 2014;

A Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) carcass and several snares were found near the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC).

Experts have described the find as clear proof that poaching there continues unabated.

The discovery was made last Thursday by a WWF-Malaysia researcher, who stumbled upon the carcass and snares after checking the jungle trail close to the Gerik-Jeli Highway.

In a joint statement, WWF-Malaysia and Traffic South-East Asia said the carcass was found with a limb still caught in a snare and the animal died “a slow and agonising death”.

Traffic South-East Asia regional director Dr Chris R. Shepherd said poaching for trade was the most chronic threat to Malaysia’s wildlife and questioned the effectiveness of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Task Force set up in 2010.

The wildlife-rich forest complex has long posed an enforcement challenge as it is a magnet for poachers and wildlife traffickers.

“The rising incidences close to the highway should be warning enough that poachers enjoy easy access to the animals,” he said.

Dr Shepherd called for more frequent joint enforcement patrols which alone could have an impact on the poaching rate.

He called upon the Perak Mentri Besar and state officials to address the problem.

The latest discovery is the third involving Sun Bears in recent years.

WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said snares do not discriminate the choice of victim.
“This time it was a Sun Bear. Next, it could be a Tiger.”

“This does not bode well for the BTFC, which is one of three priority sites for Tigers in Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Sharma said this was why WWF-Malaysia was strongly advocating a National Tiger Task Force that would ensure better coordinated enforcement.

Between 2008 and 2010, 142 snares were discovered and deactivated in the BTFC by a WWF-Malaysia monitoring unit working with the authorities.

In the same period, Traffic South-East Asia recorded the loss of over 400 animals, including Tigers.

Source: The Star

Carcass of the animal. Photo: Achong Tanjong

Brunei: What is this animal?
By Achong Tanjong, 29th January 2014;

The carcass of an animal was discovered by a local worker floating in the river near the Wood Discharge Complex of Forestry Department in Jalan Kota Batu at Simpang 980.

According to Awg Jeluddin bin Ahmad, the dead animal was found at around 7.30am near the woods.

He said, “This is the first time I have seen an animal like this since I started working here for over 30 years. When I saw the carcass of the animal, I immediately called my friends, but they also did not know what animal it was.”

Source: Borneo Bulletin

Might this be a Bornean Slow Loris (Nycticebus menagensis)?

The rotting Sun Bear carcass was found with a limb still caught in a snare © TRAFFIC – WWF Malaysia

Malaysia: Discovery of snared Sun Bear indicative of relentless poaching in Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, Malaysia
28th January 2014;

The carcass of a Malayan Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) and several snares have been found in jungles near the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex in northern Malaysia, underscoring poaching’s incessant pressure on endangered species in the area.

On Thursday a WWF-Malaysia researcher stumbled upon the rotting Sun Bear carcass and four snares close by after checking the jungle trail close to the Gerik-Jeli Highway, from which several men on motorcycles had been seen emerging earlier.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC reported the matter to authorities for further investigation and action.

This is the third discovery involving Sun Bears in recent years in the area. Four weeks ago, researchers found another Sun Bear in a snare just 250 metres off the Gerik-Jeli highway and it was freed in a two-hour operation by Perhilitan. In 2011, a camera trap in the area captured the image of a Sun Bear without a forelimb, likely lost to a snare.

Bordering Thailand in northern Peninsular Malaysia, the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC) is a global Tiger Conservation Landscape and one of three Tiger Priority Landscapes in the country; a vast area some four times the size of Singapore.

Home to Malaysia’s megafauna, BTFC is under immense pressure from illegal poaching and trade of Tigers, pangolins, Sun Bears and others.

From 2008 to 2010, 142 snares were discovered and de-activated in the BTFC by a WWF-Malaysia wildlife monitoring unit working with authorities.

In the same period TRAFFIC recorded the loss of over 400 animals including Tigers; one of which was famously rescued after several days in a snare in 2009, but later died from its injuries. WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC have continued to make such finds in the area including one case in August 2011 involving a dozen snares targeted at large mammals.

The most recent discovery is clear proof that the poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the BTFC has not abated and demands a stronger, more consistent and better co-ordinated response from all authorities in the area.

“A snare does not discriminate in its choice of victim. This time it was a sun bear. Next, it could be a tiger. This does not bode well for BTFC which is one of three priority sites for tigers in Malaysia. It is why we strongly advocate for a National Tiger Task Force that will ensure better coordinated enforcement nationwide. If no urgency is shown in this matter, we will soon have empty forests,” said WWF-Malaysia’s Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.

“Poaching for trade is clearly a chronic threat to Malaysia’s wildlife. BTFC’s wildlife is being lost from right under the noses of the authorities. Poachers are gaining easy access to the forests along highways, with little risk of detection,” said TRAFFIC’s Regional Director in South-East Asia, Dr Chris R. Shepherd.

“The effectiveness of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Task Force, set-up in 2010 to tackle poaching and trafficking here, has been questionable. More frequent joint enforcement patrols alone could have an impact on the poaching rate, yet these have not been put in place. We urge the Perak Chief Minister and other State officials to step up patrols and other measures to address the problem,” said Shepherd.