World Wildlife Day 2018

World Wildlife Day falls on 3rd March every year, and it’s a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The theme for World Wildlife Day in 2018 is “Big cats: predators under threat”. Big cats, and their smaller relatives, are among the most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe. However, today these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities. Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade.

In Singapore, both the Tiger (Panthera tigris) and Leopard (Panthera pardus) were wiped out, but the Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) still survives. However, it too is threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The roads that run along and through our forest fragments take their toll. For example, it was feared that the Leopard Cat had become extinct in mainland Singapore, until 2001, when a roadkill was found in Mandai, on the fringes of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Another roadkill was reported from Jalan Bahar, along the edge of the Western Catchment, in 2007.

Roads also threaten Leopard Cats and other wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia – even big cats are not spared. There are two notable recent incidents: in February 2016, a Malayan Tiger was hit by a car as it crossed the East Coast Expressway Phase 2 in Terengganu, which cuts through a forest reserve. A necropsy revealed that it was a pregnant tigress. And in June 2017, a melanistic Leopard (typically called a ‘black panther’) was found dead along Jalan Sungai Yu-Merapoh in Pahang, not far from an eco-viaduct that serves as a wildlife crossing.

Over the past century we have been losing wild cats, among the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.

Photo credits: Leopard Cat roadkill by Charith Pelpola
Tiger and Leopard roadkills from New Straits Times

Malaysia: As endangered fauna fall victim to motorists, minister moves to call cross-ministry meeting
By May Robertson, 28th December 2017;

After yet more deaths, Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has mooted a cross-ministry meeting to address the increasing number of roadkill cases involving threatened species.

In response two heart-breaking incidents on Christmas Eve that saw motorists killing a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) and a Tapir (Tapirus indicus) — both on the east coast, Wan Junaidi said a collaboration involving the different ministries such as the Transport Ministry, could help address the issue once and for all.

“I will call for a meeting early next year, perhaps in January or February,” he told Malay Mail when contacted this week.

“People are responsible for these killings and they must be held accountable,” he added.

Wan Junaidi said he would also call for a meeting with the various road authorities, including the police and the Road Transport Department.

The minister stressed that drivers who disregard wildlife crossing sign boards should be heavily fined, as they risk killing an endangered or protected animal.

“There are 236 signboards up in 113 hotspots in the country to alert drivers of wildlife crossings, but it is never taken seriously, even if the animal was not endangered or protected drivers must be cautious,” he said.

Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, another 202 signboards will be placed in other hotspots nationwide.

“Right now there is no law compelling drivers to abide by these laws, but to have this be taken seriously some drastic measures must be put in place.

"Soon enough irresponsible drivers will pay for the harm they cause to nature, but the enforcement of such a law must be strict and that’s why there must firstly be a meeting to highlight the different challenges,” Wan Junaidi added.

He also said it was difficult for the ministry to fork out RM70 million for the construction of each viaduct or wildlife crossing.

“It is expensive, we do not have such funds just lying around, furthermore we must remember that we are dealing with wild animals,” he said.

“We cannot force an animal to use a crossing or viaduct, they will go where they want, we need the cooperation of various parties like highway concessionaires.”

He added that through meetings with the East Coast Rail Line project handlers, the route was redesigned to affect less wildlife habitats and that such discussion should be replicated for all projects involving the environment.

“The ministry had meetings with them last year to address the concerns of cutting through some 2000 hectares of forest,” he said.

“Eventually, the NRE was consulted and we managed to save 90 per cent of the forest from the initial route, the new route affects 200 hectares instead.”

On Sunday, a 100-kg Malayan Tapir — an endangered species — was killed by a Proton Saga that hit it at KM12 of the Gua Musang-Kuala Krai trunk road in Kelantan, before it was skinned and its snout cut off.

Later that same day, an adult Malayan Sun Bear — deemed vulnerable — was killed after it was hit by a motorcycle at Km347.5 of the East Coast Expressway 2 near the Kuala Dungun interchange in Terengganu.

Source: Malay Mail

Take Action Now or Risk Losing our Iconic Wildlife

Take action now or risk losing our iconic wildlife
27th December 2017;

As WWF-Malaysia looks back at 2017, we are extremely saddened at the number of fatal incidents involving iconic and endangered species; including the most recent deaths of two Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus) and a Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus) on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2017).

In Peninsular Malaysia, a Sun Bear was killed in an accident along the East Coast Expressway 2 in Terengganu, while a Malayan Tapir was killed in another accident in Gua Musang, Kelantan. The tapir was also skinned and disfigured by a group of men who discovered the carcass the following day. We strongly condemn acts of wildlife crime such as this, where the carcass of an animal is mutilated without consideration.

It is also imperative to bear in mind that highways close to natural wildlife habitats are at high risk of accidents, and therefore, a higher rate of wildlife deaths, if precautions are not taken. We cannot emphasise enough the need for Malaysian drivers to be more vigilant and alert while driving in areas that are prone to wildlife crossings, to avoid more unfortunate incidents like these from happening.

In a separate incident in East Malaysia, another Sun Bear was discovered being sold in parts at a local market in Kuching. WWF-Malaysia urges the public once again to step away from consuming wild meat, particularly during festive celebrations, in an effort to preserve our unique wildlife. This act of responsible consumption will go a long way in protecting wild species such as the Sun Bear.

As an organisation dedicated to the conservation of biological diversity, a huge amount of our time is committed to empowering and encouraging positive change in the way we protect our planet – wildlife included. Despite all efforts from various organisations and government bodies, yet again, we as a nation, have failed to stand up for our Malaysian wildlife. If we do not take drastic measures to protect our wildlife now, we may lose them to extinction in the near future.

Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma
Executive Director/CEO, WWF-Malaysia

Source: WWF-Malaysia

Take Action Now or Risk Losing our Iconic Wildlife

Photo: Utusan Malaysia

Stop the wildlife roadkills now – MNS President, Mr Henry Goh
26th December 2017;

How many more road kills of our already endangered animals must there be before this long outstanding matter is addressed? Saddened as we were over the last Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus) roadkill in the news, another one was reported on 22 December along the Jalan Seremban- Kuala Pilah road.

Then on 24 December in Terengganu a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) was killed in an incident involving a motorcycle along the East Coast Expressway (LPT 2) while over in Kuching, East Malaysia, an adult male Sun Bear was slaughtered and openly sold in a local market.

There is also a negative trend of opportunists deskinning the dead animals and removing the skin and parts of the body.

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) views both the road kills and the public behaviour with great concern in what is viewed as a lack of public understanding and enmity towards wildlife.

No report was shared of the investigation of the Tapir roadkill incident which happened about 2 months ago. It would be most welcomed if the outcome of the investigations is shared.

MNS urge the authorities to intensify its surveillance and investigations to bring the offenders to book and same time look into ways to prevent recurrence. A coordinated effort involving various government agencies and departments is required; namely the Dept of Wildlife & Parks, Dept of Forestry, Police and Attorney General’s Chambers to collaboratively find a long-term solution and not wait for Malaysian wildlife to face the fate of extinction.

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and other relevant NGOs stand ready to assist and to supplement the government’s effort. MNS calls on the authorities to consult, seek advice and include NGOs in a working committee to find a workable long-term plan to save and protect Malaysian wildlife and its habitats.

Take immediate measures to stop further incidents of road kills before it is too late.

Henry Goh
MNS President

Source: Malaysian Nature Society Facebook

An adult Sun Bear was struck and killed by a motorcycle at Km347.5 of the East Coast Expressway 2 (LPT2) near the Kuala Dungun interchange here last night.

Malaysia: Sun Bear killed in collision with motorcycle on LPT2
By Zarina Abdullah, 25th December 2017;

An adult Sun Bear was struck and killed by a motorcycle at Km347.5 of the East Coast Expressway 2 (LPT2) near the Kuala Dungun interchange here last night.

The incident is believed to have occurred at about 7pm when the animal, known scientifically as Helarctos malayanus, was trying to cross the road.

It was hit by a Yamaha 125z, whose rider was heading towards Kuala Terengganu.

The rider suffered light injuries.

State Wildlife and National Park Department director Rahmah Elias said they received a call about the incident at about 7.18pm.

She said the motorcyclist was sent to the Dungun Hospital for further treatment, while the Sun Bear’s carcass was handed over to the Wildlife Department for further action.

Rahmah has advised LPT 2 road users to be cautious while driving along the highway especially at night, as it is common for wild animals to wander onto the road.

“Watch out for animals such as Deer (F. Cervidae), Tapirs (Tapirus indicus), Wild Boars (Sus scrofa), Sun Bears as well as Goats (Capra hircus), Cows (Bos taurus) and Buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) which roam the area, especially near the Kuala Dungun exit,” she said when contacted today.

Source: New Straits Times

  1. Police responding to the scene where a motorcycle failed to swerve in time and crashed into a Sun Bear on the East Coast Expressway 2.
  2. A group of men skinning and disfiguring a Tapir that was killed in a car accident the night before in Gua Musang (Dec 24).

Photos: Malaysian Response Team and Ediey King

Malaysia: Black day for animal lovers in Malaysia
By Mei Mei Chu, 25th December 2017;

Christmas Eve was a black day for Malaysian wildlife as three separate cases involving the gruesome deaths of two endangered Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus) and a Tapir (Tapirus indicus) went viral on social media.

In Kuching, a villager shopping at a local market got a rude shock when she saw a Sun Bear slaughtered into pieces and sold openly as exotic meat.

In the photo taken at the Lubok Antu ‘pasar tamu’ in Sri Aman Division, the adult male Sun Bear was butchered into over 15 pieces and placed on a table next to a weighing machine.

The head was decapitated below the chin while the arms were cut off at the forearm to keep the paws intact.

The meat and other body parts were sold for RM20 per kilo while the head was sold for RM35 per kilo.

“It is really shocking to see the whole Bear cut into pieces,” Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) founder Wong Siew Te told The Star.

“In the same market, a Wild Boar (Possibly Bearded Pig) Sus barbatus) and Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor) were being sold as well,” he said, adding that the villager alerted him of the incident and sent him the photos.

According to Wong, poaching is rife but it is uncommon to see Sun Bears being sold openly in the local markets.

“For us, the festive seasons mean happiness and fun with family but for the many unfortunate wildlife, it means the end of their life when the demand for exotic meat soars,” he said.

Sun Bears are a protected species under the Sarawak Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 and those found guilty of hunting and selling the wildlife could face a RM10,000 fine or one year imprisonment.

Wong said the population of Sun Bears is unknown but conservationists are certain that it is declining due to rapid deforestation and rampant poaching.

He urged the Forestry Department to enforce the wildlife protection law and prosecute those involved in the illegal exotic meat trade.

“If we don’t do anything effective soon it will be too late to do anything, just like the Rhinos (Sumatran Rhinoceros) (Dicerorhinus sumatraensis) here,” he said, adding that the extinction of sun Bears will hurt the forest ecosystem.

In Terengganu, a Sun Bear was killed after a motorbike crashed into it near the Kuala Dungun exit on the East Coast Expressway 2 (LPT 2) at 6.50pm on Sunday (Dec 24).

The motorcyclist was en route from Kuantan to Terengganu when the Sun Bear suddenly crossed the road.

In Gua Musang, Kelantan a 100kg Tapir was killed in a car accident involving a Proton Saga at KM12 at Jalan Gua Musang-Kuala Krai.

The accident happened at 4am on Dec 24 but a group of men who found the Tapir carcass the next day skinned the animal and cut off its snout.

Netizens have expressed shock and disgust of photos of the men skinning the wildlife, calling their actions cruel.

Source: The Star

Malaysia: Endangered Sea Turtles caught in fishing net saved by fishermen

27th October 2017;

Fishing nets are a threat to the marine ecosystem, which is proven yet again when a group of local fishermen recently saved four Sea Turtles and ending their week of misery of being caught in the fishing nets.

As reported by Kosmo!, the group stumbled upon the distressing scene at roughly 9am on Wednesday (Oct 25) with one of the four endangered marine reptiles in a fragile state as one of its hind legs was almost cut off while its abdomen was bloated.

The captain of the crew, Wan Abdul Halim Wan Mohamed Dom, recounted that they found the trawling net, which entrapped the found Sea Turtles, at 22 nautical miles from the Kuala Kerteh Fisheries Jetty and are convinced that it may have belonged to foreign fishermen.

The 43-year-old went on to elaborate that he along with his three-man crew were on their way to their fishing spot to collect the fish that have been caught, when they came across the foreign trawling net.

“We found a trawling net that was 200 metres long and 10 metres wide. After we pulled it out and cut it open, we found two Green Sea Turtles (Chelonia mydas) and two Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata),” the captain revealed to Kosmo! yesterday.

While Wan Abdul Halim shared that three of the Sea Turtles have been released to the sea, the severely injured turtle was taken back to the Kuala Kerteh Fisheries Jetty for treatment purposes.

He conveyed to the Malay daily that the Persatuan Khazanah Rakyat Ma’ Daerah (MEKAR) Kerteh has been informed of the discovery of the injured Hawksbill Turtle, prior handing it over to the Turtles and Marine Ecosystem Centre (TUMEC) in Rantau Abang yesterday.

Meanwhile, Fisheries Research Institute Officer Mohd Tamimi Ali Ahmad communicated that initial inspection revealed that the Hawksbill Turtle was severely injured and therefore, preventing it to swim normally.

“Based on its physical condition, it’s believed that the Hawksbill Turtle was trapped in the drift nets for a long period of time.

"The aquatic reptile is estimated to be between four and six years old and will be treated until it is fully recovered prior releasing it back to the ocean,” he affirmed.

Mohd Tamimi also underlined that the drift nets are believed to have belonged to foreign fishermen, who invaded Malaysian waters as the Department of Fisheries has banned the total use of trawling nets.

Sinar Harian reported that the officer revealed that many Sea Turtles have swam towards the middle of the sea following Vietnamese fishermen illegally harvesting marine produce mostly in the vicinity of Pulau Tenggol.

“Their illegal actions are damaging the coral reefs, which happens to be the primary ecosystem for Sea Turtles,” he lamented.

“I’m proud of the immediate action taken by our local fishermen to rescue the endangered Sea Turtles, that are protected under the Fisheries Act 1985,” he applauded.

Wan Abdul Halim on the other hand expressed his hope that enforcement measures will continue to improve as a means to ensure that foreign fishermen will not continue to threat out marine ecosystem.

Source: Malaysian Digest

Malaysia: Endangered Sea Turtles caught in fishing net saved by fishermen

This morning we lost yet another Malayan Tapir (Tapirus indicus) due to road kill. The male Tapir was hit by an ongoing vehicle in front of the exit to ecoCare centre, Kerteh, Terengganu. It is even sad to find out that someone had cut off the tongue and tail of this poor animal.

Source: Malaysian Nature Society Facebook

Cruel fate: The carcass of a young Turtle found by Sharifah Ruqaiyah on an island in Terengganu where fishermen used to dump the dead animals.
Photo: WWF-Malaysia

Malaysia: 90 Turtles die this year mostly due to ’pukat pari’ – Nawawi
28th December 2016;

A total of 90 Turtles were found dead this year after getting entangled in the ’pukat pari’ (ray fishing nets), said Terengganu Fisheries Department director Nawawi Ali.

He said following the situation, the department destroyed 40 units of the net and would take legal action against individuals who flouted the regulations.

“Although the death rate among Turtles is high, it is still (considered) balanced as we’re able to produce 500,000 hatchlings out of 600,000 Turtle eggs incubated this year,” he said.

Nawawi was speaking to reporters after handing over school assistance to the orphans and children of fishermen at the Malaysian Academy of Fisheries in Cendering, near Kuala Terengganu today.

He said there were 60 Turtles found dead last year due to its low rate of Turtle landing compared to this year.

Most of the turtles which landed and laid eggs in the state were the Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas) while the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) were no longer in the picture since the past several years, said Nawawi.

He added Pantai Jakar in Kemaman had become the nesting location for these Turtles compared to other beaches before this, such as Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian and Ma’daserah (Dungun).

Source: Bernama

Cruel fate: The carcass of a young Turtle found by Sharifah Ruqaiyah on an island in Terengganu where fishermen used to dump the dead animals.
Photo: WWF-Malaysia

Malaysia: Turtle deaths rising due to Stingray demand
By Sim Leoi Leoi, 14th May 2016;

Terengganu’s iconic mascot, the Turtle, is dying. The irony – it is not being killed or hunted but has become the victim of the hunger for another marine creature, the Stingray (F. Dasyatidae).

Metres of illegal nets (pukat pari), laid out to catch Stingrays along the shores of the state – some as close as 30m from the beach – are also trapping and drowning the Turtles.

With months to go until the nesting season ends for these reptiles, the state Fishery Department said 30 Turtles had died in the first four months of this year.

In 2014, 47 Turtles were reported to have died. Throughout 2015, there were 59 recorded deaths. With 30 dead so far this year, the number for 2016 could be significantly higher.

WWF-Malaysia senior marine conservation officer Sharifah Ruqaiyah Syed Mustafa said she had received reports of over 20 deaths in the Kemaman district alone and 10 to 15 deaths in Setiu so far this year.

Conservationists, worried that many more deaths have gone unreported, are deeply concerned about the lack of enforcement against the use of the illegal nets by fishermen, some of whom are now “bold enough” to mark the position of these nets with buoys.

And while some fishermen used to furtively retrieve their nets in the wee hours, some of them now turn up as late as 7am to 8am.

State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Plantations and Commodities Committee chairman Nawi Mohamad confirmed the increase in the number of Turtle deaths, mainly Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas).

“Most of these deaths are caused by fishermen using nets banned by the Government to catch the Stingrays. Nets with a mesh size of 25cm and above are banned because they also trap Turtles,” he said in an interview here.

While smaller nets with mesh size of 15cm or 20cm are not banned, fishermen prefer using nets with bigger mesh – some as large as 33cm or 35cm – to catch bigger Stingrays that can fetch up to RM10 per kilo at wholesale price.

At some hypermarkets in Kuala Lumpur, Stingray – popular as ikan bakar (grilled fish) and for local curries – can fetch up to RM28 per kilo.

Unfortunately for the Turtles, Stingrays are also known to be found along the coast, particularly around reefs, in the sand and between the rocks, at this time of the year.

“The deaths of these animals are basically fuelled by demand for the stingray,” said a source who used to be in Turtle conservation.

“Turtles are a useless by-catch for the fishermen because Malaysians don’t eat the meat. The carcasses of Turtles trapped and drowned in these nets are usually sunk with stones.

"Catching Stingrays brings in a lot of money despite the risks. There is no motivation to stop catching them,” she said.

The length of a pukat pari – which catches only Stingrays – can run up to metres long when strung together.

One pukat pari – known as a bidang – measures 18m by 18m and is usually brought in from Thailand.

In 2014, the state Fishery Department was reported to have seized 15 such illegal nets. In 2015, there were no enforcement patrols.

So far, no one has been charged with possession of the banned nets, which can see a fine of up to RM3,000 and the fishing equipment seized.

“In my eight years here, I have never seen anyone charged or fined,” said Sharifah Ruqaiyah.

A state Fishery Department official said some fishermen were now stringing together nets of different mesh sizes to fool authorities patrolling the waters.

“Many of the fishermen also leave their nets in the sea, only checking their catch every day. The nets could be in the sea for days or even weeks.

"A Turtle trapped in one of the nets could have been saved if the fishermen checked on the nets every three to four hours or so,” he pointed out.

Source: The Star