Countering the proposal to legalise commercial whale hunting

Avaaz appealed for support to counter a proposal to legalise commercial whale hunting, which was banned 24 years ago.

“A group of influential countries are negotiating the proposal right now in Florida. Once they make the proposal public — submitting it for adoption by the International Whaling Commission in June — it will be too late to influence its contents.

An outcry now–in the days and hours before the proposal’s release–could stiffen the spines of negotiators who want to protect whales by keeping whaling illegal. Avaaz has launched a last-moment petition which will be hand-delivered to the negotiators each time it reaches 100,000 signatures.

To parties of the International Whaling Commission:
As citizens from around the world we call on you to retain the International ban on commercial whaling as the core policy of the International Whaling Commission in its pursuit of conservation for whales.

The proposal was happily dropped and Ricken Patel of sends an update:

Dear friends,

We did it! The proposal to legalise whale killing went down in flames in Morocco — and our campaign helped to tip the balance.

In a few short weeks, we built the biggest whale-saving petition in history, signed by an extraordinary 1.2 million of us worldwide, and delivered it directly to key delegates at the International Whaling Commission meeting. In the end, the 24 year old whaling ban was upheld.

The pro-whaling lobby tried to use political favours to win a so called ‘compromise’ that amounts to a quota for hunting whales, but as tension grew in the closed-door talks, our massive petition became a top story on the BBC’s world news, and we worked with friendly negotiators and other allies to put pressure where it was most needed and draw greater global attention.

The Australian environment minister Peter Garrett received our petition for like-minded governments in front of the world’s media and said “Thank you very much Avaaz. It is a great pleasure to be here and accept this petition … I believe the people of the world’s voices need to be heard. I certainly hear them today.”

The US delegation greeted us saying — “Avaaz! We saw your billboard at the airport!” and delegates were overheard excitedly discussing our giant real-time petition counter outside the meeting as it blew far past the million mark.

After the meeting, one European negotiator told us: “We’ve managed to keep the ban in place…I’ve been checking the petition online. I was very impressed by how fast the numbers are rising and seeing people signing from across the world.”

This is an important victory for whales — and for global people power — together we demonstrated that international decisions can be shifted by a little bit of well-placed effort from a lot of people everywhere.

Over its short lifespan, our movement has exploded through a simple democratic idea: that people power can stand up and win against powerful special interests. Whether it be protecting whales, countering corruption, supporting authentic democracy movements or fighting for a global climate deal, we are coming together to bridge the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.

Now, if enough of us chip in just a small amount for Avaaz’s member-funded campaigning, we’ll have the strength to win even more victories. Click here now to donate —

With hope,

Ricken, Alice, Paul, Mia, Ben, Luis, David, Graziela, Milena and the whole Avaaz team

“PULAU HANTU” tonight, Sunday 27 June 2010: 10pm on Okto

If you're not a soccer fan there are other delights on television. This is Esan Sivalingam's "Pulau Hantu" (2008) – this is not about coral reefs or the like but some favourite Singapore fare. See the IMDB listing here. I have yet to see it myself but the trailer looks like it would be fun to watch! I can't change the channel from the England vs Germany game as there will be several English fans with me, glued to the set. 

The blurb goes:

Pulau Hantu (lit. translation: Ghost Island) tells the tale of a group of ragtag soldiers who, whilst searching for an AWOL section, inadvertently disturb an unholy grave site.

Day turns to night and the mildly forested area becomes a thick, dense jungle. Ill-equipped and without an inkling as to why these supernatural events have cursed them, they race against time within the cursed island in their fight for survival uncovering past mysteries and hidden secrets – while being terrorized by the revenge-seeking spirits of a native woman and her child who were victimized and murdered by a witch doctor over a century ago.

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Xylo the cat suns himself after a bath

A bath was possible with the return of the sun on Sunday. A soothing shampoo was applied to see if that's what he needs to reduce his excessive grooming, a recent problem he has displayed. Mr Bats and Tiger were spared, since they had a bath some months ago. The boys are lovely, so it's not life-threatening. 

Meanwhile for Xylo, more observation and behavioural enrichment. 

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A 24-year old rivalry revisited tonight: Huh Jung-moo & Maradona (South Korea versus Argentina, 7.30pm)

I’m looking forward to the Argentina bs South Korea game and rounded up some kakis to watch it together. Scenes from the 1986 World Cup are vivid in my mind, as I watched every game with hungry eyes that year. It was South Korea’s first World Cup match and against the glorious team of Maradona & co. – exciting to see the Koreans give a robust account of themselves.

However, the South Korean defender tasked to mark Maradona took it too far – he was chopping and slicing the slippery eel. Admirably, Maradona shrugged it all off in disbelief, taking the blows pretty well which the first part of this video highlights:

Huh Jung-moo who ‘kicked, grabbed and tripped’ Maradona was apparently known back home as “Jindo-gae,” a Korean hunting dog [“An Old Rival of Maradona’s Earns a Shot at Redemption,” by Timothy Martin. Wall Street Journal, 16 Jun 2010]. He apparently admits, “”It was difficult for us to mark him; it was all a little bit too much!” [“Argentina v South Korea: Diego Maradona fears Korean assault squad,” by Ian Chadband. The Daily Telegraph, 16 Jun 2010]

South Korean was punished for these infractions with Maradona assisting in all three goals of their 3-1 victory. In fact, two of the ensuing free kicks from the fouls resulted in goals. The match highlights from the first-half below features the first two goals:

Fascinatingly, that same South Korean defender is now a coach like Maradona and his rival in the game tonight. Maradona said last year, “I remember Huh very well. In 1986 the Koreans played taekwondo, not football, against us.” The South Koreans have come a long way since and I am looking forward to some great soccer tonight!

Lyssa zampa outside Lab 7, NUS Biological Sciences

While moving in and out of Lab 7 to sort specimens, I spotted a single Lyssa zampa on one of the Lab 7 notice boards. As I was typing this I saw that giant clammer Neo Mei Lin had submitted this record 45mins ago. Nice!

Do send your records to

And photos if any to:
For more about Lyssa zampa, see Habitatnews

Student asks a random question – yes, it’s Lyssa zampa!

Margaret Hong, a student who read LSM1303 Animal Behaviour asked me about a moth she encountered recently at Kent Ridge Hall:

“I came across this beautiful black moth; can you help me identify it?

The moth has been coming back quite regularly in the past 24 hours except during the daytime. I’m starting to grow fond of it, despite the initial scare it gave me when it perched right beside my door, staring at me near eye level.

I took two pictures but the lighting’s quite bad cuz I was afraid the flash would startle it.”

Margaret Hong’s photos of a Lyssa zampa moth at kent Ridge Hall

She also sent me a clearer picture a friend of her had taken and posted on facebook. Yes, they were all photos of Lyssa zampa, the tropical swallowtail moth. It was lovely that she wrote to ask.

I will ask her to submit her record via the link provided in the note about Lyssa zampa in Habitatnews; five people have submitted records from Serangoon, Carpenter Street, Holland Close, Jalan Besar and Bishan which adds to our sighting at Bukit Timah yesterday. I’ll be compiling all of these for an update in Habitatnews later.

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Lyssa zampa at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve this morning

The Biology Refugia went for a walk today with some visitors from out of town and lo and behold, a Lyssa zampa appeared on cue after we told the story. Photo courtesy of Lim Cheng Puay (the young ‘un).

Do send your records to

And photos if any to:
For more about Lyssa zampa, see Habitatnews

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The hunt for Lyssa zampa

2009 seems to have been a decent year for the tropical swallowtail moth, Lyssa zampa, with 8 records submitted by various people. Some posted their comments to this blog and sent me photos.

This year, I suddenly received two records over the past two days. It’s already June (the moth has appeared mostly in May in 2005 and 2009) but I thought I’d see what I can gather. So I have posted a note in Habitatnews, “Lyssa zampa, the tropical swallowtail moth, returns.”
Help me look, thanks!

Send your records to

And photos if any to:
For more about Lyssa zampa, see Habitatnews

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NUS Digital Library: Circumventing the Wiley InterScience Cookie Error window

In order to access a pdf of paper in a journal that NUS has subscribed to, staff and students insert the NUS Digital Library proxy into the root URL and type enter. If already logged in the user will be granted access to the pdf. If not, relevant windows will first request an NUS userid and password before redirecting to the now accessible pdf.

With Wiley InterScience journal sites, however, the proxy cannot immediately be inserted as this only leads to a Cookie Error window. Clicking the pdf link doesn’t help as redirection leads to a subscription userid access window instead – no point inserting the proxy here. Instead what is needed is to login to NUS Digital Library separately, copy the pdf link from the Wiley site (it will contain ‘PDFSTART’), paste that into the URL window, , insert the nus proxy and hit enter. Access granted.

Normally though, I simply click the pdf, grab the URL in the short second it is displayed, ignore the subsequent redirection, paste the pdf URL back, insert the proxy and hit enter. Just a little more exciting.

Update: I realise that in order to bypass the Access Denied page, all you need to do with the URL is to remove the access denied ID and an additional “cgi-bin” and insert the NUS Digital Library proxy:
e.g. Access denied URL: becomes:
Corrected URL: