Best of our wild blogs: 22 May 18

26 May (Sat): Launch of children's books on Singapore's seagrasses and corals!
Celebrating Singapore Shores!

International Biodiversity Day 2018
BES Drongos

9 Jun (Sat): Be a Chek Jawa nature guide!
wild shores of singapore

Read more!

Malaysia: Stop oil spill at sea, Johor urged

steven daniel The Star 21 May 18;

KOTA TINGGI: Environmental groups have urged the new state government to solve the long-standing oil spill problem in Johor.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Johor committee member Dr Sharan Sambhi said the state’s eastern coastline had been particu­larly prone to this problem because of the high number of international ships plying the route.

She said a group of non-governmental organisations, including MNS, StarSeed Solar Village and Selamat Sungai-Sungai Johor (Save Johor Rivers) had expressed their eagerness to work closely with the new administration to address the issue.

“It is high time we set up an early detection system as well as an emergency response team that can quickly combat oil spills in Johor,” she told StarMetro during a site visit to Tanjung Sutera near here where an oil spill was detected in March.

She said the groups’ extensive network comprising fishermen, villagers and tour operators could play a major role in the detection and emergency response stages.

She added that engaging them to be the eyes and ears was important as by the time oil sludge hit the coastline, it would be too late to detect the source of the oil spill and the culprits would have fled.

For example, Dr Sharan said the oil spill in March hit an almost 80km stretch of the coastline from Tanjung Balau near Benut to Tanjung Leman, including popular beaches in Tanjung Temalah and Pulau Sibu.

“What saddens me most is that nothing was done after we raised this to the relevant authorities.

“The oil sludge is still visible on the beach and rocks till now. It is not only an eyesore but also very damaging to the environment,” she said.

Environmentalists are especially concerned because oil spill will seriously affect a sanctuary for the critically-endangered dugong located near Pulau Sibu, about 10km from Tanjung Leman.

Villager Jemah Musa, 64, from Kampung Tanjung Sutera, said oil spills had been common since 40 years ago.

“I have lived here all my life. This problem has turned from bad to worse, and happens even more frequently in recent years,” she said.

She said one of the worst spillages happened in December, damaging fishing nets and equip­ment of over 300 fishermen from the Sedili area.

“My husband was also badly affected, there was no way to remove the sludge from our equipment which we had to eventually dispose of,” she said, adding that many fishermen suffered losses of up to several thousands of ringgit.

Newly-appointed Health, Environment and Agriculture executive chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal, when contacted, said he was still new to the position and would need time to discuss with relevant agencies before commenting on the matter.

Read more!

Indonesia: 19 hectares of land burned at Baluran National Park

Antara 22 May 18;

Situbondo, E Java (ANTARA News) - Some 19 hectares of lands at Baluran National Park in Situbondo District, East Java, was burned on Sunday (May 20), Sopan Arief Suprihandoko, head of fires prevention, said on Monday.

"Our rangers are now still counting the number of lands affected by the fires. The last record now is that 19,2208 hectares of land were burnt," he stated, while adding that the fires were allegedly man made.

Since 4:25 p.m. local time on Sunday (May 20), the fires scorched the T-12 Block at the national park, followed by another blaze at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Hours later, at 10:14 p.m. local time, the blazes had been put out by a joint force of the national park, the state-owned forestry company Perhutani, the district`s firefighter, and the community-based firefighters (MPA).

"Our job to extinguish fires had been challenged by heavy wind and dry leaves," Suprihandoko remarked.

After the incident, the authority will further investigate the cause.

"Some locals have claimed seeing some people start the fires, but we still have to probe this report," he stressed.

During the dry season, the national park authority called on people to avoid any activities that will trigger fires.

"Blazes had previously burned Cangkring Sector, before fires in T-12 Block," he noted.

The fires had burned not only the land in Baluran National Park but also several areas in Sumatra, especially Riau.

On Monday (May 21), the fire-prone Riau Province has considered extending the alert status to anticipate wildfires and haze, mainly ahead of Asian Games.

The fires alert status in Riau has been effective since Feb 19 to May 31. However, the final decision on the alert status will be declared on May 25, Edwar Sanger, head of Riau Disaster Mitigation Office (BPBD), remarked in Pekanbaru on Monday.

In Riau Province, some 1.8 thousand hectares of land have been burned during the first five months this year.

Reported by Novi Husdinariyanto and Zumrotun Solichah
Editor: Heru Purwanto

Read more!

Indonesia: Smuggling of hundreds of parrots foiled at Soekarno-Hatta airport

Aman Rochman The Jakarta Post 21 May 18;

Authorities at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, have thwarted an attempt to smuggle 353 parrots to Medan, North Sumatra.

The parrots of different species were allegedly brought to the airport on Saturday by HA, a bird trader from Malang in East Java, who traveled on a Sriwijaya Air flight from Abdulrachman Saleh Airport, Malang.

The head of the East Java chapter of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Nandang Prihadi, said on Sunday that the illegal delivery of the 353 parrots was uncovered when the Sriwijaya Air aircraft was in transit at Soekarno-Hatta on its way to Medan.

“Information we received stated there was an illegal delivery of birds to Jakarta via a Sriwijaya Air flight. We tried to prevent the smuggling attempt by calling Abdulrachman Saleh Airport authorities. Unfortunately, the aircraft had already taken off,” said Nandang.

He then coordinated with officials from the BKSDA Jakarta, Sriwijaya Air and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport aviation security authorities to confiscate the parrots. They include red lory ( 78 ), dusky lory ( 30 ), rainbow lorikeet ( 173 ) and blue-streaked lory ( 30 ). One red lory was found dead.

“The four types of parrots were caught in their natural habitats in Maluku, Papua and Papua New Guinea. The suspect only had a quarantine letter but not a wildlife transportation permit,” said Nandang.

He noted that, even though the parrots confiscated by the BKSDA officials were not protected species, they had been taken from the wildlife or their natural habitats. “The suspect violated [Environment and] Forestry Ministry Decree No. 447/2003 on wildlife hunting and distribution,” said Nandang.

He said all of the parrots were temporarily kept at the Tegal Alur Rescue Center in West Jakarta for a rehabilitation process before they would be released to their natural habitats. (ebf)

Read more!

World's biggest fisheries supported by seagrass meadows

Seagrass meadows help to support world fisheries productivity
SWANSEA UNIVERSITY EurekAlert 21 May 18;

The study entitled 'Seagrass meadows support global fisheries production' published in Conservation Letters, provides evidence that a fifth of the world's biggest fisheries, such as Atlantic Cod and Walleye Pollock are reliant on healthy seagrass meadows. The study also demonstrates the prevalence of seagrass associated fishing globally.

The study, carried out in partnership with Dr Leanne Cullen-Unsworth at Cardiff University and Dr Lina Mtwana Nordlund at Stockholm University, demonstrates for the first time that seagrasses should be recognised and managed to maintain and maximise their role in global fisheries production.

Dr Cullen-Unsworth said: "The chasm that exists between coastal habitat conservation and fisheries management needs to be filled to maximise the chances of seagrass meadows supporting fisheries, so that they can continue to support human wellbeing".

Seagrasses are marine flowering plants that form extensive meadows in shallow seas on all continents except Antarctica. The distribution of seagrass, from the intertidal to about 60m depth in clear waters, makes seagrass meadows an easily exploitable fishing habitat.

Dr Unsworth said: "Seagrass meadows support global fisheries productivity by providing nursery habitat for commercial fish stocks such as tiger prawns, conch, Atlantic cod and white spotted spinefoot".

The authors also explain how seagrasses support fisheries in adjacent and deep water habitats, by creating expansive fishery habitat rich in fauna, and by providing trophic support to adjacent fisheries. Seagrasses are also described to support fisheries by promoting the health of connected habitats (e.g. Coral reefs).

The research article examined the links between seagrass and fisheries and the need for an integrated approach to their management governed at local, regional and international levels. The research presents a series of policy-relevant observations and recommendations that recognise the role of seagrass in global fisheries.

Seagrass nursery habitats for fish stocks. This research highlights the need to expand research into nursery habitat links to mature exploited fish stocks. Large-scale international strategies such as the European Union Fisheries Policy need to formally acknowledge the significance of seagrass meadows (and other habitats) as nursery grounds from which off-shore fisheries are stocked, says Dr Unsworth.

Seagrass as key fishing grounds. Seagrass meadows provide a fishery resource that is directly exploited by small scale subsistence and artisanal fisheries as well as large scale commercial enterprises but in many parts of the world, seagrass situated fisheries are often unreported and unregulated and more needs to be done to record this vital resource, says co-author Dr Nordlund.

Seagrass provides shallow water habitat for harvesting invertebrates. Gleaning, fishing in water shallow enough to walk in, occurs around the globe. Seagrass invertebrate fisheries provide a source of essential protein for some of the most vulnerable people in tropical coastal communities., says Dr Nordlund. Invertebrate gleaning activity is expanding globally and although it's a significant global activity, often conducted by women and children, it is not usually included in fishery statistics and rarely considered in resource management strategies are commonly unreported, unregulated or poorly enforced. This substantial and widespread fishery needs to be considered with regional and local management planning.

Seagrass trophic support for fisheries. Seagrass meadows export vast quantities of living material, organic matter and associated animal biomass. This can benefit a range of near and far shore fisheries. Seagrass can also subsidise whole food webs in the deep sea benefiting larger fisheries productivity.

The potential value of seagrass meadows for food security. The potential value of seagrass meadows in supporting food security remains largely underappreciated, says co-author Dr Cullen-Unsworth. In particular there is disparity between the significant economic benefits supplied by the seagrass nurseries and the poor levels of funding and management afforded to prevent seagrass degradation. Fisheries modelling and management approaches tend not to consider the functional role of shallow coastal seagrass in supporting fish stocks.

Dr Unsworth said: "The coastal distribution of seagrass means it is vulnerable to a multitude of both land and sea based threats, such as land runoff, coastal development, boat damage and trawling. There is a global rapid decline of seagrass and when seagrass is lost there is strong evidence globally that fisheries and their stocks often become compromised with profound negative economic consequences. To make a change, awareness of seagrasses role in global fisheries production must pervade the policy sphere. We urge that seagrass requires targeted management to maintain and maximise their role in global fisheries production."

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 21 May 18

Pesta Ubin begins this weekend for 5 weekends!
wild shores of singapore

Indochinese Glass-perchlet (Parambassis siamensis) @ Kranji Marshes
Monday Morgue

Read more!

Malaysia: ‘Gazette Kg Dew as forest reserve quick’

The Star 21 May 18;

BAGAN SERAI: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Kampung Dew Firefly Eco-Tourism Association are appealing to the Perak govern­ment to expedite the gazetting of a firefly habitat zone in Kampung Dew here as a forest reserve.

He said the suggestion of gazetting the habitat zone had been submitted several years ago, but was not implemented by the Perak Land and Mines Office (PTG) and the Kerian District and Land Office.

“The PTG informed us that there was no problem for the area to be gazetted, but there is the issue of overlapping claims of land ownership,” he said — Bernama

Read more!

Malaysia: Six pygmy elephants found dead in Sabah

The Star 21 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Mystery surrounds the heartwrenching deaths of six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah.

The carcasses of the elephants, aged between one and 37, were discovered on separate occasions between April 6 and May 20 this year.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed the deaths when contacted, but only revealed the details of the elephants found dead most recently.

Tuuga said post-mortem results showed the elephants did not die from gunshots.

“There were no bullet wounds found on the bodies. We have taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests,” he said.

Tuuga added the cause of death can only be fully determined once the test results are known.

Some conservationists told The Star that they suspected poisoned waterholes as one of the possible causes of death.

The dead elephants – three in the conservation area of Sukau, two in Telupid and one in Lahad Datu – were found by wildlife rangers.

The carcass of a one-year-old male elephant was found near Sungai Resang, Sukau, on April 6.

The next day, an adult female elephant was found dead in Lahad Datu.

A few weeks later on April 26, the carcass of a 37-year-old female elephant was found in Ladang Mayvin 2. A juvenile male elephant was found dead in Sukau on May 10.

No gunshot wounds found on dead elephant

Kristy Inus New Straits Times 21 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The cause of death of an elephant found floating in the Kinabatangan River last weekened is not yet known.

However, following an autopsy that was done yesterday, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said no gunshot wounds were found on the elephant, believed to be about three years old.

"A post-mortem was completed at 2pm (yesterday). But no wounds were found on its body and the elephant did not die from gunshot, infact no bullets were found in the elephant's body.

"We are still unable to ascertain the cause of death for now and we have taken samples of its internal organs for further analysis," he said when contacted.

When asked if the elephant could have been poisoned, Augustine said they would have to wait for results from the analysis.

Last week, a photo of the dead elephant, believed to have been found at a river near the Danau Girang Research Centre in Kinabatangan, along with two voicenotes went viral on WhatsApp.

Sabah Wildlife Department then confirmed they received a report on the discovery and sent in a team which included a veterinarian to the scene.

Shafie orders immediate action on elephant deaths
The Star 22 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has ordered state authorities to examine in detail the recent deaths of six endangered Borneo pygmy elephants.

His directive called for State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew to be briefed of the situation and to make efforts for immediate implementation of preventive and protective plans.

The Sabah Wildlife Department was told to be thorough in the probe into the elephants’ death and work closely with the Sabah Forestry Department in protecting wildlife and forests.

Shafie said the two agencies should also work with non-governmental organisations in establishing forest corridors without concern for the business interests of individuals.

“If real measures had been taken to check on human-elephant conflict as well as other issues including poaching, the deaths of these endangered gentle giants of Sabah, with one as young as a year old, would not have occurred.

“Perhaps the previous government did not have the political will to push through more drastic action which would have affected big logging companies and plantations,” the Chief Minister said in a statement yesterday.

Shafie said he did not want “lip service” but the immediate implementation of short-term and long-term conservation plans.

“The Warisan government will facilitate such efforts and not bow down to pressure from any group,” he added.

The carcasses of the six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah aged between one and 37 years were discovered on separate occasions since April 6, with the last one found on Sunday.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the department had taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests and the cause of the deaths could only be fully determined once the results were known.

Post-mortem results showed the elephants were not gunned down.

Shafie calls for probe into deaths of 6 pygmy elephants
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal says the state government is committed to the preservation and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 21 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is urging the state Wildlife Department to conduct a thorough investigation on the six Borneo pygmy elephants found dead in oil palm plantations in the state’s east coast areas.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) state government was committed to the preservation and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.

He said the department must prevent unnecessary elephant deaths.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga was reported today as saying that six elephant carcasses had been found at different locations. He said the pachyderms were between one and 37 years old.

Shafie said: “I am aware that much has been said and, perhaps, done by the past government. “However, elephant deaths, whether due to poaching or other causes continue unabated.

“Perhaps, the previous government did not have the political will to push through more drastic measures that would affect big logging companies and plantations?

“I don’t know why it still occurs after so many claims were made by the previous government about solutions.

“I don’t want lip service. I want to see short- and long-term conservation plans drawn up to be implemented on a fast track basis. The Warisan government will facilitate such efforts and not bow down to pressure from any groups.”

The chief minister directed state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew to arrange for a briefing on the situation and see how best to fast-track efforts to protect Sabah’s wildlife.

Shafie also called on the state Wildlife Department and Forestry Department to cooperate and team-up with non-governmental organisations to tackle the issue without fear that they would be in conflict with the business interests of certain individuals.

“I believe that the network is there, but there has been little will in the past to push measures through,” he added.

“The deaths of these endangered giants of Sabah, one as young as a year old, would not have occurred if serious effort had been made to check human-elephant conflicts and other problems, including poaching.”

On May 19, the New Straits Times (NST) reported that the Wildlife Department had deployed a team, including a veterinarian, to investigate after receiving a report that the carcass of a juvenile female elephant had been found floating in Sungai Kinabatangan.

On the following day, Tuuga told NST that no gunshot wounds were found on the mammal, which was about three years old.

He said the department had yet to determine the cause of death. But, he said, a post-mortem had been carried out and samples of the animal’s vital internal organs had been collected for toxicology and bacteriology analyses.

Read more!

Malaysia: Call to set up elephant-friendly zone to resolve human-elephant conflict in Sabah

Poliana Ronnie Sidom New Straits Times 20 May 18;

TELUPID: Establishing an elephant-friendly zone with easy access for Bornean pygmy elephants to look for food can help tackle the problem of these animals intruding into settlements.

Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens said pygmy elephants frequently intruded settlements in Telupid due to the landscape changing from forests into farms, providing easy food access and playgrounds to these wildlife mammals.

“Elephant translocation is not the best long-term solution in resolving human-elephant conflict in Sabah.

…Maybe (we) need to establish an elephant-friendly zone here where there is easy access (for the wildlife) to get food such as bananas and grass, among others,” he said.

Goossens said the translocation programme was expensive, about RM30,000 per elephant, and it stressed the animals.

He said DGFC had installed satellite collars on two elephants, and they were currently conducting research on the mammals’ movement and behaviour to find ways to reduce the conflict.

He noted several areas particularly near oil palm plantations in Telupid, Kinabatangan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, and the Tabin Wildlife Reserve were facing human-elephant conflict, and it was particulrly serious inTelupid.

Forever Sabah project coordinator Claudia Lasimbang also shared a similar view about setting up an elephant-friendly zone, adding such projects were aimed at identifying suitable locations for wild elephants to roam.

Forever Sabah is an initiative jointly undertaken by non-governmental organisations, researchers, state government, and local community through a harmony project between humans and elephants in Telupid.

“Areas favoured by these elephants need to be identified through local knowledge, information gathered by rangers, and scientific data to ensure (the areas) are safe for them.

“The creation of an elephant zone will encourage the rehabilitation of selected areas with food sources and elephant safety as priority,” she said.

Through such project, Claudia said Community-Based Elephant Force (CERT) Team needed to be formed to create a sense of responsibility among the locals on elephant conservation.

As a start, she noted three youths from Kampung Gambaron, Liningkung and Telupid had been selected to form the team, adding that the trio would be given training by Sabah Wildlife Department and NGOs.

Read more!

Malaysia: New ant species to be named after late Johor prince

Bernama New Straits Times 20 May 18;

JOHOR BARU: The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has consented to name the Echinopla new ant species discovered by Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) as Echinopla Tunku-Abduljalilii.

UTHM Faculty of Applied Sciences and Technology, Centre of Research on Sustainable Uses of Natural Resources (CoR-SUNR) head, Prof Datin Dr Maryati Mohamed said the new species from the Echinopla group, were collected from shrubs found in the Lipur Sungai Batang Forest Reserve, near Labis, in May last year.

"There are 15 species from the Echinopla family in Malaysia and this new species is the 16th and the second species to be found in Johor. The first, the Echinopla wardi was discovered in Kota Tinggi.

"This species measures 5.48 millimetre in length and is black in colour. The body of most other Echinopla species are furry unlike this new Echinopla species which are without fur," she said in a statement, here today.

She said the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (IZCN), an international body that rules the scientific naming of new species, would issue a statement to confirm the name of the new species as Echinopla Tunku-Abduljalilii.

To date there are 16,000 species of ants that have been scientifically named. About 33 species belonging to the Echinopla family are found in Australia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, India and Malaysia. -- BERNAMA

Read more!

Best of our wild blogs: 20 May 18

Next to the landfill, amazing living reefs at Terumbu Semakau!
wild shores of singapore

Butterfly Photography Series - Part 3
Butterflies of Singapore

Read more!

More mosquitoes, more cases expected in warmer months ahead: NEA

Channel NewsAsia 20 May 18;

SINGAPORE: The mosquito population is expected to increase along with the number of dengue cases in the warmer months ahead, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a media release on Sunday (May 20).

Through its Gravitrap surveillance system, NEA said it found that the mosquito population remained high with 22 per cent more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the first quarter of this year compared to the previous quarter, thus posing a risk of an increase in dengue cases.

Earlier this month, three people died and 60 dengue cases were reported in a dengue cluster at Jurong West.

"The warmer months of June to October usually see higher transmission of dengue in Singapore, due to accelerated breeding and maturation cycles of the Aedes mosquitoes and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus.

"NEA is thus expecting an increasing trend in cases in the warmer months ahead if we do not take steps to keep the mosquito population in check," the media release said.

The agency urged members of the public to continue to work together as a community to stem dengue transmission.

"NEA, together with the various agencies and other stakeholders represented in the Inter-Agency Dengue Task Force (IADTF), including Town Councils, have stepped up checks leading up to the traditional peak dengue season to rid our public areas and housing estates of potential mosquito breeding habitats," added NEA.

From January to March 2018, NEA conducted about 265,000 inspections, including 2,400 inspections carried out at construction sites, the agency said, adding that it uncovered about 4,200 instances of mosquito breeding habitats.

Speaking at the main launch of the 2018 National Dengue Prevention Campaign at the North East District on Sunday, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Masagos Zulkifli urged all members of the public and stakeholders to stay vigilant and not let their guard down even though the dengue cases this year are fewer than in recent years.

He made the call for a concerted effort to suppress the Aedes mosquito population and keep dengue incidence low in the run up to the peak dengue season.


Meanwhile, NEA said Phase 2 of the Project Wolbachia study has also begun. The study is being conducted at the same Phase 1 sites (Tampines West and Nee Soon East) and their extended areas, the agency added.

The project involves the use of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes to suppress the Aedes aegypti mosquito population in Singapore.

So far, the study has provided "valuable ecological information" on the behaviour of mosquitoes in Singapore, NEA said.

The Phase 2 study is expected to build on that and improve the release methodologies in Singapore's high-rise and high-density urban environment, the release added.

"While NEA explores the potential of Wolbachia technology, source eradication of mosquito breeding habitats and spraying of insecticides where necessary to control the adult mosquito population, will continue to be our key strategy for dengue prevention in Singapore."

The dengue prevention campaign launch will be followed by island-wide outreach efforts across the five districts at different constituencies, NEA said.

This campaign will be supported by the local grassroots advisers and the community, with the mobilisation of grassroots leaders and Dengue Prevention Volunteers (DPVs).

They will conduct patrols to check for potential breeding habitats in common areas around their neighbourhoods and house visits to advise residents on common mosquito breeding habitats and to share dengue prevention tips, the release said.

The campaign this year will focus on making residents aware that clean and stagnant water in their homes can be potential breeding habitats for mosquitoes, it added.

Source: CNA/mn

Renewed dengue concerns after NEA detects rise in Aedes mosquito population

Samantha Boh Straits Times 20 May 18

SINGAPORE - The number of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which is responsible for dengue, has been growing, renewing concerns about the potential for a flare-up in the disease after last year saw the lowest number of cases in 16 years.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifi said on Sunday (May 20) that the National Environment Agency (NEA) detected 22 per cent more Aedes aegypti in the first three months of this year compared to the previous three months.

The NEA monitors the mosquito population here through the use of gravitraps - black cylindrical devices - which are placed along the corridors of residential buildings.

"It shows that as much as we do to bring down the breeding, there is a role for everyone to not allow the breeding to happen, particularly at home," Mr Masagos said.

"We must be extra vigilant, especially since we are approaching the traditional peak dengue period," he added.

The warmer months of June to October usually see higher transmission of dengue due to accelerated breeding and maturation cycles of the mosquitoes, and shorter incubation periods for the dengue virus.

Mr Masagos noted: "One misconception in particular is that mosquitoes will not breed in clean water. That is not true...any stagnant water can attract mosquitoes to breed."

There have been four dengue deaths so far this year, with three victims living in an active dengue fever cluster in Jurong West.

Mr Masagos, who launched the National Dengue Prevention Campaign on Sunday at an open field beside 270A Punggol Field, said that NEA has stepped up checks, conducting about 265,000 inspections, including 2,400 at construction sites, from January to March this year.

About 4,200 mosquito breeding sites were uncovered. About 100 notices to attend court and six stop work orders were issued. Nine court prosecutions were also launched.

NEA found that many homes continued to be breeding mosquitoes even as the situation at construction sites had improved - dropping from 11 per cent of such sites in 2013 to six per cent in 2017.

Some 70 per cent of the breeding in the Jurong West cluster, for instance, were found in homes. Some breeding spots had up up to 200 larvae each.

On Sunday, Ms Sun Xueling, senior parliamentary secretary for the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of National Development, and MP for Pasir-Punggol GRC, visited homes in 13 blocks with volunteers to educate residents on dengue prevention.

One resident, bank analyst Lim Jun Wei, 33, said: "It is quite scary that a bite from a mosquito can kill. The deaths has made us more aware and to take preventive steps."

Read more!