Indonesia: Palm oil plantations allegedly poison seven Critically Endangered elephants in Sumatra

By Jeremy Hance, 28th February 2014;

Wildlife officials suspect foul play in the deaths of seven Sumatran Elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) on the outskirts of Tesso Nilo National Park. Officials stumbled on the corpses of one female elephant, five young males, and one male calf in mid-February. Although the males had their tusks hacked off, the officials suspect the elephant were poisoned in revenge for disturbing illegal palm oil plantations inside the park.

“There is an indication that they were poisoned,” Muhammad Zanir, head of the local wildlife agency, told the AFP. “Some people may consider the elephants a threat to their palm oil plantations and poison them.”

Sumatran Elephants are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, with populations decimated by the massive deforestation that has transformed the Indonesian island over the last couple decades. In recent years, Sumatran elephants are also falling victim to mass-poisonings, allegedly undertaken by some palm oil plantations who view the elephants as pests since they can cause heavy damage to the fruit trees.

“Killing of elephants in and around [Tesso Nilo National Park] has dramatically increased since 2012: a total of 33 elephants have been found dead, many more may have remained undetected,” reads a statement from Eyes on the Forest, a local NGO. “If forest loss and elephant killings do not slow down, Tesso Nilo’s elephant population might go extinct in less than 10 years.”

Tesso Nilo was established as a national park in 2004, but was already heavily fragmented by thousands of migrants, many of whom have illegal stayed on inside the park. The park is located in Riau province, which has lost some of the most forest on the island. In 1985, Riau was believed to be home to over 1,600 Sumatran Elephants, by 2009 only 330 survived. Today, there are likely less.

Eyes on the Forest called on palm oil companies to stop buying fruit produced illegal from inside the park, pointing specifically to Wilmar and Asian Agri based on investigations by WWF.

“Oil palm plantations already cover millions of hectare in Indonesia, they do not need to be established even inside the few precious wildlife reserves the country has,” the group wrote. “Resident palm oil companies are facilitating these killings by providing a market. Without their purchases of the illegally grown oil fruits growers would have no reason to operate inside the national park.”

Source: Mongabay

Indonesia: Palm oil plantations allegedly poison seven Critically Endangered elephants in Sumatra

Villagers and fishery officials observe the condition of a Spinner Dolphin beached in a coastal village in Badoc town in Ilocos Norte province on Feb. 13. The Spinner Dolphin had an old shark bite wound and was found in the coastal village of Gabut Sur. LEILANIE ADRIANO/Inquirer Northern Luzon

Blast fishing seen cause of dolphin stranding
By Leilanie Adriano, 28th February 2014;

Unabated blast fishing in Ilocos Norte province’s waters and its neighboring coastal areas has been identified as one of the major causes of dolphin stranding here, a report of the Philippine Marine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN) chapter in the province said on Tuesday.

Since February, PMMSN has recorded nine instances of dolphin stranding in the country, seven of which occurred in northern, central and southern Luzon and Central Visayas regions

The latest case involved a Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris), which was found near the shore of Gabut Sur village here on Feb. 13, weak from an old shark bite wound, fishery officials said.

Arthur Valente, fishery regulatory coordinator of the provincial agriculture office, said the 1.7-meter-long and 50-kilogram female Spinner Dolphin suffered from acoustic trauma due to blasting.

It was the third dolphin found in the coastline of Ilocos Norte this year.

The dolphin, which was named “Valentina,” has undergone treatment and rehabilitation at a makeshift pen in the neighboring coastal village of Gabut Norte, Valente said.

He said the dolphin suffered from a post-traumatic condition and needed to undergo therapy exercises and medication.

Valentina might have been disoriented by blasts, which caused it to lose control of its navigational senses, Valente said. “We’ve been trying to help [the dolphin Valentina] restore her buoyancy and hopefully release her once she regains her strength,” he said.

The dolphin is strapped with an improvised floater, which allows it to move freely in the water.

On Jan. 17, a female Rough-toothed Dolphin (Steno bredanensis), measuring 1.73 m, was beached in the village of Virgen Milagrosa here. The dolphin was released the next day. But it was again stranded due to bad weather, and eventually died.

“It’s hard to pinpoint just one [reason for the rise in stranded dolphins in the country],” said PMMSN president Dr. Lemuel Aragones, who is spearheading the study and monitoring of marine mammal stranding in the country.

“I would say climate change is just one of the many factors. I believe that our sentinels (these marine mammals) could be indicating to us many things like their environment is being polluted,” he said.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

A dead Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was found floating in the Bohol Sea and was towed to Baclayon baluarte today.

Source: Dydith Jamero Genson Facebook, via Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines Facebook

Found this little bat last night – undamaged and had;t been dead long. Is it rare? Does anyone from RMBR want it?

Here’s a head shot of the bat – does this help with ID?

Sad to say that I found another bat today, in the exact same spot. Both are now with RMBR.

Sad to say I’ve found another dead bat in my garden. This is the third one now. Beginning to wonder why this is…

Source: Tanglin Halt Wildlife Watch [1], [2], [3]

An update on the dead bats!
Two were Lesser Asiatic Yellow House Bats (Scotophilus kuhlii) and one was a Javan Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus javanicus).
I’ve since been told that the Javan Pipistrelle found a few days ago here is only the second recorded in Singapore in 100 years! I find that amazing – let’s hope there are more out there.

Source: Tanglin Halt Wildlife Watch

We thank Alison Wilson for helping us salvage these three bats that were found dead in the Tanglin Halt area. They have now been preserved and have joined over 500,000 specimens of the Zoological Reference Collection for research and education.

These bats: Lesser Asiatic Yellow House Bat (Scotophilus kuhlii) (left and centre) and Javan Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus javanicus) (right) hunt insects, and help to maintain a healthy balance of insects in the environment.

If you see a dead wild animal, please send us a message on the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research Facebook page, call us at 6516 5082, or email mammal@sivasothi.com. A photo or description of the animal, its general condition and detailed location would be most useful.

Source: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR)

Lu-oy!! Sperm Whale floating dead, off Baclayon, Bohol

Cause of death of this biggest marine mammal is unknown when found dead, off Pamilacan by a fisherman. Can we still enjoy and have fun with them in Whale watching? It is 9.7 meters long, according to BFAR and probably about or over five tons estimate.

Source: Ric Obedencio Facebook