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

Thailand: At Least 400 Rare Marine Animals Perished in 2017

By Asaree Thaitrakulpanich, 25th December 2017;

Thailand’s life aquatic faces a murky future after a year that saw sensitive species injured by humans, beached ashore or choked on trash.

Marine officials said about 400 endangered marine animals died in Thai waters in 2017, with the population of Dugongs (Dugong dugon) running especially low in a year that also saw the Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) declared endangered.

“I can’t estimate whether more or fewer animals will die next year,” Weerapong Laovetchprasit, a government marine wildlife veterinarian in Rayong said Monday.

Although the number rose considerably from last year’s 355, marine officials at a Friday press conference Friday said that’s due to better reporting via social media, not necessarily an increase in animal deaths.

“About 400 rare marine animals died this year, mostly because they were beached, injured by fishing boats or ate trash,” said Jatuporn Burutpat, director of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Sea Turtles, Dugongs, Dolphins and Whales are all among marine animals considered rare.

The department’s developmental institute director Ukkrit Sataphumintr said that only 2,500 to 3,500 Sea Turtles are left in Thailand. There are important breeding grounds on Ko Khram in Chonburi, the Similan Islands and Mai Khao Beach on Phuket. He said the low numbers are a cause for concern but credited awareness campaigns for some progress.

“Campaigns for Thai people to conserve Sea Turtles only started working recently after 30 years of trying,” Ukkrit said. “Thai people only just stopped eating Turtle eggs.”

There are about 2,000 Dolphins and Whales in Thailand comprised of more than 27 species. Ukkrit said the marine department has been following the movement of these mammals, especially those of Bryde’s Whales (Balaenoptera edeni or Balaenoptera brydei), and identified more than 60 individuals.

Dugongs may be in the most dire straits, with only 200 to 250 left, mostly in the Andaman Sea around Koh Libong in Trang province.

Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian at Chulalongkorn University, said passers-by who encounter beached animals should report them to the Department of Marine Resources’ research branches.

Nantarika’s efforts on behalf of marine animals came to public attention earlier this year when she operated on Piggy Bank, a giant Sea Turtle that died following surgery to remove 915 coins from its stomach.

In March, Piggy Bank became a symbol for Sea Turtles kept in captivity when the 25-year-old reptile died from surgery complications, capturing the news cycle for several days.

In December, the Irrawaddy Dolphin and Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides) – freshwater mammals that have their last bastion in Thailand – were declared endangered by the IUCN Red list.

Any beached marine animals, dead or alive, should be reported to the Department of Marine Resources’s research branches in Rayong, Samut Sakhon, Chumphon, Songkhla or Phuket provinces for rescue or autopsy either via Facebook or calling the listed phone numbers.

Source: Khaosod English

Thailand: At Least 400 Rare Marine Animals Perished in 2017

Thailand: Baby Elephant drowns in Loei pond

8th December 2017;

A baby Elephant (Elephas maximus) was found drowned in a pond in Loei’s Wang Saphung district on Thursday night.

Anuwat Bootsri, head of Moo 8 village in Tambon Khao Luang, called Phuluang Wildlife Sanctuary director Surapol Prasomsup on Friday morning to report the discovery.

Anuwat said rubber tappers had told him of hearing an Elephant crying out. He investigated and found the female calf, thought to be about a year old, already dead in a pond on the rubber plantation.

Residents waited until morning to pull the animal from the water and inform the authorities.

Anuwat said a herd of about 20 wild Elephants frequented the area. He thought the calls heard the night before were those of the calf’s mother, distraught at its baby being trapped in the pond.

Source: The Nation

Thailand: Baby Elephant drowns in Loei pond

Philippines: Virus strikes Bulacan pond, kills 101,383 Tilapia – report

By Jasper Y. Arcalas, 7th December 2017;

The lethal Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) has arrived in the Philippines, killing 101,383 Tilapia (likely Nile Tilapia) (Oreochromis niloticus) in a lone Bulacan-based pond in June, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said.

In a notification submitted to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Livestock Enrico P. Garzon said TiLV killed 101,363 Tilapia out of the 300,000 susceptible population in a Bulacan-based pond, representing a 33.78-percent mortality rate.

Garzon added the outbreak was confirmed last June 29 and has already been resolved by the DA on September 15.

“An unexplained daily mortality of Tilapia fingerlings was observed in the nursery pond of a private farm after stocking on May 16, 2017. Elevated mortality after 15 days reached approximately 25 percent. Affected fish showed distended abdomen and bulging of the eyes,” he said in the notification dated November 23.

Garzon said on May 31, the DA collected samples from the affected farm and were submitted to the Fisheries Biotechnology Center (FBC) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

“Semi-nested RT-PCR exhibited positive results using reported Tilapia Lake Virus [TiLV] primers. Other samples submitted to National Fisheries Laboratory- Fish Health of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources also showed positive results by insulated isothermal PCR [iiPCR],” he said.

The DA official added the laboratory results indicated that the “amplified 3 segment of the viral ENE [expression and nuclear retention element] has 94 to 95 percent nucleotide similarity to Israel TiLV strain.”

Garzon said the movement of fingerlings from the affected pond has been restricted and monitored. He added that the results of the last two samplings showed negative for TiLV.

On May 26 the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations warned countries of TiLV as it is considered a “lethal threat” to food security.

“The outbreak should be treated with concern and countries importing Tilapia should take appropriate risk-management measures—intensifying diagnostics testing, enforcing health certificates, deploying quarantine measures and developing contingency plans,” the FAO said.

“Tilapia-producing countries need to be vigilant, and should follow aquatic animal-health code protocols of the World Organisation for Animal Health when trading Tilapia. They should initiate an active surveillance program to determine the presence or absence of TiLV, the geographic extent of the infection and identify risk factors that may help contain it,” the FAO added.

The FAO said the TiLV poses no public health concern, but could decimate infected populations. The TiLV has been reported in at least five countries in three continents: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel and Thailand, according to the FAO.

“Tilapia are the second most important aquaculture species in volume terms, providing food, jobs and domestic and export earnings for millions of people, including many smallholders,” it said.

“In 2015 world Tilapia production, from both aquaculture and capture, amounted to 6.4 million tons, with an estimated value of $9.8 billion, and worldwide trade was valued at $1.8 billion,” the FAO added.

Source: Business Mirror

Philippines: Virus strikes Bulacan pond, kills 101,383 Tilapia – report

Gaur seriously injured by car crash outside Khao Yai Park

4th December 2017;

A Gaur (Bos gaurus) was seriously injured after it was hit by a car in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pakchong district on Monday. The animal escaped to a nearby forest as a crowd that started gathering around it.

An unidentified man driving a truck at about 3am alerted local police and a rescue team that he had found the wild bison lying in the middle of a road about four to five kilometres from the downtown district.

Officials found the heavily bleeding big Gaur at the scene but it fled after people started gathering nearby.

An initial investigation found that it had been hit by a car, which apparently had been heavily damaged but was capable of driving. The animal was the hit again by a motorcycle, resulting in injuries to the rider, who was sent to hospital for treatment.

The rescue team continued efforts to locate the wild buffalo and a vet team from Khao Yai National Park was put on standby.

Officials and bystanders wondered how the Gaur had found its way from Khao Yai National Park, which is about 40 kilometres away. Pak Chong market is within a few kilometres of the accident site.

The wild cow was red listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in 1986.

Source: The Nation

Gaur seriously injured by car crash outside Khao Yai Park

Indonesia: Wild Elephants run amok after trapped calf dies in hole

By Apriadi Gunawan, 28th October 2017;

A herd of 12 wild Sumatran Elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) ran amok in a village in Langkat regency, North Sumatra, after failing to rescue an Elephant calf that was trapped in a hole.

Nine coconut trees, eight palm trees, five shacks and a jackfruit tree owned by the local residents of Sumber Waras village, Batang Serangan subdistrict, Langkat regency, were destroyed by the raging Elephants. No one was killed in the incident.

North Sumatra Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Region II conservation head Herbert Aritonang said the Elephants went on a rampage after they witnessed the baby Elephant die in a narrow hole 1.5 meters deep.

For three days, the wild Elephants attempted to rescue the trapped calf, but they instead pushed it deeper into the hole, which likely existed because of a removed stump, he said. “The baby Elephant’s body was pushed down because the soil around the hole fell down and covered half of its body,” Herbert told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

A joint team of officials from the BKSDA, Mount Leuser National Park and several NGOs found the baby Elephant dead on Sunday. However, the team could not easily recover the corpse because the herd lingered around it, Herbert said.

In order to ensure the safety of the team, they buried the corpse in the hole. “We found the baby Elephant dead with half of its body and four legs buried; only its back and head were visible. So our team covered it with soil to bury it,” Herbert said.

The 12 wild Elephants, comprising two males and several females and baby Elephants, lingered in the village area, which directly borders the national park, several days after the baby Elephant died.

They made loud noises and damaged the area, Herbert said, adding that the joint team had since deployed several personnel to protect the village and the local residents from the Elephants.

The population of Sumatran Elephants, who are a critically endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, plummeted to 1,700 in 2014 from 2,400 in 2007, according to data from the Indonesia Elephant Conservation Forum.

Human-wildlife conflict is suspected to be a contributing factor to the population’s decline.

Several months ago, a 12-year old female Elephant was found dead from suspected poisoning near the national park in Barak Gajah village, Sei Lepan subdistrict, Langkat.

Meanwhile, BKSDA spokesperson Alfianto Siregar said the incident marked the first time wild Elephants showed aggressive behavior in the village.

Groups of wild Elephants usually passed by the village once every three months and they never got into conflicts with the residents, who were used to seeing Elephants in the area, he said.

The team’s investigation found no indication that the baby Elephant died from human interference, such as from poison or an Elephant trap, Alfianto said, adding that the calf died purely because it was trapped.

Source: Jakarta Post

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