November 5, 2021Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Indonesian Park Officials Douse Wildfire in Javan Leopard Habitat


October 12, 2021

Authorities in Indonesia have managed to put out a wildfire that had been tearing through a national park that’s home to rare leopards and eagles.

The fire started on the morning of Oct. 9 in Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park, home to the iconic Mount Bromo, a popular tourist attraction. It spread into the park from community lands, according to park spokesman Syarif Hidayat, though the cause remains unclear, he said. Firefighters were able to put out the fire on Oct. 10.

Fires occur almost every year in the national park, usually due to farmers burning land to clear it for planting, or tourists setting up campfires, or discarding cigarette butts, according to Rosek Nur Sahid, co-founder of conservation group ProFauna Indonesia. It was the second major fire to occur in the park this dry season.

Spanning an area nearly the size of the nation’s capital, Jakarta, the park is home to 38 protected species, including the Javan leopard (Panthera pardus melas) and the Javan hawk-eagle (Spizaetus bartelsi), both of which are endangered. The park is also home to 311 plant species, including the Javanese edelweiss (Anaphalis javanica), which is used in the traditional ceremonies of the Tengger people, and some rare species of orchid.

Commentaries of IALA

The Javan leopard is a subspecies of leopards that can be found on the Indonesian island of Java. This leopard has been listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2021. The population is estimated at 188–571 mature individuals in 22 fragmented subpopulations and a declining population trend. Indonesia prohibits hunting of this species, and the hunting laws are strictly enforced. This leopard species is also listed in Appendix I of CITES, which does not allow international trade of animals and their body parts.

Climate change is one of the serious issues that threaten the entire Earth. This mainly relates to the population of wildlife animals whose habitat depends on climate conditions. Deforestation is one of the consequences of the climate crisis. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests. On average approximately 2400 trees are cut down each minute. According to the FAO, deforestation is defined as the conversion of forest to other land uses (regardless of whether it is human-induced). Deforestation poses a serious threat to this species of leopards that may go extinct if no actions are taken.

Hong Kong's Wild Boars on the Loose: Cull Them or Protect Them?


October 19, 2021

Hong Kong authorities are considering putting down wild boars that stray into built-up areas, but animal advocacy groups are pushing back against the idea and want more resources put into alternative control methods. There were 562 boar sightings and nuisance reports in the first half of this year, up from 401 in the same period of 2020. Wildlife authorities captured 286 boars last year, compared with 279 in 2019 and 197 in 2018.

Hong Kong has about 3,000 wild boars, according to official figures, and they are not considered a protected species. A spokesman for the AFCD said the appearance of large groups of boars looking for food from residents and the way the animals had become used to wandering in busy urban or public areas posed a safety risk to members of the public.

Boars are currently put down humanely only if they are seriously injured or have attacked residents. So far this year, 29 wild boars have been euthanized, compared with 20 for the whole of last year and 12 in 2019. The Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group has objected to the latest proposal, with committee member Roni Wong Ho-yin saying Hongkongers should learn to coexist with the animals.

Dr. Fiona Woodhouse, deputy director of welfare at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said long-term management of the wild boar population demanded a combination of methods. She felt that educating the public, banning the feeding of the animals and better control of rubbish bins to make scavenging harder could all prove more effective than sterilizing or putting them down.

Commentaries of IALA

According to Dr. Leung Siu-fai, the director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD), “current control measures could not keep up with the surge in boar sightings in urban areas. For wild boars that appear frequently and are used to being fed by people or pay constant visits to city areas, we should remove them, not just move them." Leung also added that AFCD tried everything from sterilizing animals to moving them to the countryside and educating Hongkongers not to feed them.

Feeding wildlife is widespread concern for many countries. There is a need to spread the word to the public about this conduct. This supposedly comes from the cultural background of people that used to go to zoos and feed animals when it is allowed and sometimes when it is not. There should be a way to educate people about the differences between feeding wildlife animals and those that can be domesticated.

Dog Meat Trader Jailed in Indonesia for the First Time


October 19, 2021

A dog meat trader in Indonesia has been sentenced to a 10-months jail term and a 150 million IDR fine in the country’s first-ever prosecution against the trade. The trader was caught by Kulon Progo District Police in May this year, transporting 78 dogs for slaughter in the back of a truck. Many of the dogs – of whom only 62 survived – were found to be stolen pets.

The decision to prosecute the trader was a first in the country, and the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition “hopes this prosecution will send a strong signal to traders across Indonesia that the dog meat business is illegal and will be punished”.

“In the face of such an obvious public health and animal welfare risk, we hope this will be the first of many prosecutions. We cannot allow the dog meat trade to thrive across Asia if we hope to protect the public from future pandemics.”

Commentaries of IALA

Dog meat is a serious animal protection issue in many countries in the world, particularly in Asia. Asia is the leading continent in the world that practices dog farming, dog meat consumption, and commercial trade. In some countries, it is believed that dog meat helps during flu or cold, in some countries, it is considered that dog meat brings fortune and luck. This refers mostly to historical and cultural background. In Asia, approximately 30 million dogs are killed for food consumption. These are, unfortunately, only those numbers of the countries that have dog farms and do commercial trade. The dog meat industry raised a lot of concerns among the public, and, while there is an ongoing ban on the dog meat trade, practices still take place due to poor prosecution of countries and lack of monitoring.

Rare Sumatran Tiger Found Dead in Animal Trap in Indonesia


October 19, 2021

The female tiger, aged between 4 and 5 years, was found dead Sunday near Bukit Batu wildlife reserve in the Bengkalis district of Riau province, said Fifin Arfiana Jogasara, the head of Riau’s conservation agency.

Jogasara said an examination determined the tiger died from dehydration five days after being caught in the snare trap, apparently set by a poacher, which broke one of its legs. She said her agency will cooperate with law enforcement agencies in an investigation. It was the latest killing of endangered animals on Sumatra island. Conservationists say the coronavirus pandemic has led to increased poaching as villagers turn to hunt for economic reasons.

Three Sumatran tigers, including two cubs, were found dead in late August after being caught in traps in the Leuser Ecosystem Area, a region for tiger conservation in Aceh province. In early July, a female tiger was found dead with injuries caused by a snare trap in the South Aceh district.

Commentaries of IALA

The Sumatran tiger is a population of Panthera tigris sondaica on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. This population was listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2008, as it was estimated at 441 to 679 individuals, with no subpopulation larger than 50 individuals and a declining trend. The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving tiger population in the Sunda Islands, where the Bali and Javan tigers are extinct. These tigers are mainly threatened by poaching and habitat degradation and habitat loss. It is estimated that presently, approximately 400 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild.

Bull Racing Returns to Bali and With it a Whiff of Normality After Covid-19


October 19, 2021

Introduced by migrants from Madura, an island off the northeast coast of Java, and adapted with locally made chariots cut out of a Roman biopic, bull races give hardworking people here a way to blow off steam and celebrate the end of the rice harvest.

The racing season, which normally lasts from July to November, was canceled last year, to stymie the spread of Covid-19. This year’s season will consist of a mere two race meets, though – the second on Oct 17 – instead of the usual 13, and a maximum of only 20 chariots have been permitted at each meeting, whereas previously up to 150 competed.

On Madura Island, bull racing takes place on a rectangular patch of dirt where a pair of animals pull a jockey mounted on a wooden plough over a distance of 100 meters in as little as nine seconds. Gambling, while illegal in Indonesia, is part and parcel of the experience, and a winning bull can sell for up to U$10,000 (S$13,500).

Commentaries of IALA

Karapan Sapi is a traditional bull racing festival on the Indonesian island of Madura. Every year from about July through October, local bulls are yoked to wooden skids and raced for 130 meters, similar to a chariot race. This activity raised a lot of controversy from local and international animal rights activists due to the exploitation of animals. Such practice involves a lot of cruelty because bulls are force-fed concoctions of honey, rice wine, coffee, energy drinks, and up to 100 eggs a day, while local shamans are called to bestow bulls with magical powers – and place curses on competitors. Also, making the bulls of Madura run is abusive because their hides are sliced with razor blades and salt rubbed into the wound. The hot ointment is rubbed into the creatures’ eyes and anuses, as well as they are beaten and whipped relentlessly to be driven into a frenzy the moment when they are released.

Pingers on Fishing Nets Found to Save River Dolphins in Indonesian Borneo


October 29, 2021

The last 80 Irrawaddy dolphins that inhabit the Mahakam River in Indonesian Borneo lead precarious lives. Their forays to find fish are frequently thwarted, sometimes fatally so, by a series of near-invisible gillnets that hang passively in the water column to ensnare fish. More than two-thirds of recorded river dolphin deaths in the Mahakam are due to entanglement in these fishing nets.

Another concern is that the sound emitted by the pingers could exacerbate the already noisy underwater environment and stress dolphins into abandoning important feeding grounds. Underwater noise is also considered a possible cause of marine mammal strandings that are a widespread problem in Indonesia. Noise pollution from ship traffic is already a major problem in the Mahakam, so fine-tuning the pingers to function well at the lowest possible volume was a priority. The researchers noticed that dolphins continued to snoop around the nets when pingers were set to 100 decibels, but they found a sweet spot at 125 dB, which kept dolphins away from the nets while allowing them to continue feeding and behaving naturally nearby.

Ultimately, pingers are a trade-off between reducing entanglement deaths and increased underwater noise. Kreb said the pingers are an ideal interim solution in the Mahakam until alternative dolphin-safe fishing methods can be developed and implemented alongside wider habitat protection of the dolphins’ core habitat in the middle reaches of the river.

The outlook for the Mekong population of Irrawaddy dolphins is particularly uncertain. Diminishing water levels in the main river due to upstream dams restrict the dolphins to a series of deep pools in Cambodia, increasing their risk of isolation and extinction. In fact, subpopulations have already begun to succumb: surveys in 2021 found only one dolphin remains of a group that once lived in water spanning the border between Cambodia and Laos.

Commentaries of IALA

Pingers emit regular high-frequency pulses that are audible enough for dolphins to serve as a deterrent. While pingers have been used around the world to reduce the ocean bycatch of whales, dolphins, and porpoises, this is the first time they have been used successfully in a river.

The Irrawaddy dolphin is a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia. Although found in much of the riverine and marine zones of South and Southeast Asia, the only concentrated lagoon populations are found in Chilika Lake in Odisha, India, and Songkhla Lake in southern Thailand, and unusually, Irrawaddy dolphins can be found in both freshwater and marine environments. This species is listed under Appendix I of CITES and in both Appendices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals.

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