ASIAN SONGBIRD TRADE CRISIS SPECIALIST GROUP FORMED TO TACKLE CONSERVATION THREATS

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Specialist group is first of its kind, and is part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission

Image (left): Bali Mynahs are listed as critically endangered due to the illegal cage bird trade. PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Image (right): Songbirds on sale at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO CREDITS: TRAFFIC

Singapore, 25 September 2017 – Threatened songbirds in the region will now have the voice of the first Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group to join the chorus against the illegal and unsustainable cage bird trade.

Formally recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) in May 2017, the Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group (ASTSG) is dedicated solely to preventing the imminent extinction of songbirds threatened by unsustainable trapping and the trade. This is the first multidisciplinary specialist group, and prior to its formation, there was no official conservation body under the IUCN SSC focusing on songbirds and the threats arising from its illegal trade.

Together with other global experts, Wildlife Reserves Singapore played a key role in driving the formation of the ASTSG – a natural progression from the Songbird Crisis Summits in 2015 and 2017— also hosted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore—and will implement the conservation strategy and action plans discussed at these important meetings. This is also the first time an institution in Singapore is hosting a specialist group under the IUCN SSC.

Southeast Asia is home to more than 850 bird species. Keeping songbirds is seen as a social status symbol, with demand also arising from cultural practices—such as religious releases and songbird competitions. As a result, the region sees huge demand for domestic and international bird trade, involving countless individuals of hundreds of species. Many of these are now facing catastrophic declines.

David Jeggo, Chair of the ASTSG said: “The songbird trade conservation issue is highly complex, with many different perspectives and challenges. A coordinated effort under this Specialist Group would create synergies by bringing together a range of subject matter experts to find solutions to reverse the growing threat to songbird species and improve the conservation status of all the species involved.”

Currently, conservation efforts are broadly centred around in situ research into wild populations; genetic research; trade monitoring and legal protection; ex situ conservation breeding programmes; and education and community engagement. These five themes form sub-groups are led by vice-chairs in the ASTSG.

Vice-chair (Trade and Legislation) – Christopher Shepherd, Wildlife Trade Expert, Canada
Vice-chair (Field Research) – Stuart Marsden (Manchester Metropolitan University, U.K.)
Vice-chair (Genetics) – Frank Rheindt (National University of Singapore, Singapore)
Vice-chairs (Ex-situ Breeding and Reintroductions) – Luis Neves (Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Singapore) & Andrew Owen (Chester Zoo, U.K.)
Vice-chair (Education and Community Engagement) – Ria Saryanthi (Burung Indonesia, Indonesia)

Wildlife Reserves Singapore also contributes in other capacities towards songbird conservation, including education and community outreach activities, as well as through the conservation breeding of various threatened species of songbirds at Jurong Bird Park. Wildlife Reserves Singapore also supports two songbird conservation projects in Bali and Java, Indonesia, where the critically endangered songbirds are bred and reintroduced into the wild.

This press release coincides with the timely launch of European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s two-year ‘Silent Forest’ campaign, aimed to support and raise awareness of conservation efforts of Southeast Asian songbirds threatened by trade, and by extension the ASTSG’s objectives.

NATIONAL STRATEGY TO CONSERVE ELUSIVE NATIVE RAFFLES’ BANDED LANGUR LAUNCHED

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Collaborative effort between Wildlife Reserves Singapore and National Parks Board to save critically endangered primate; only one of three primates found in Singapore a valued part of country’s natural heritage

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The Raffles’ Banded Langur is a shy and elusive primate that is considered critically endangered at the national level. This National Day month, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and National Parks Board are joining hands to safeguard this species’ survival with the launch of a national conservation strategy for the Raffles’ Banded Langur. PHOTO CREDITS: ANDIE ANG

SINGAPORE, 12 August 2016 – Singapore’s Raffles’ Banded Langur (Presbytis femoralis femoralis) is getting a boost this National Day month, with the launch of a national conservation strategy for the critically endangered species. Ambassador-at-Large Professor Tommy Koh, who will serve as patron of the project, launched the initiative during a ceremony at Singapore Botanic Gardens today.

 

Immediate priorities include managing the habitat and population through habitat enhancement such as establishing green corridors and exploring options for providing connectivity across forest fragments, focused enrichment plantings based on our understanding of the dietary requirements of the langurs, gathering data to understand more about the movements and habitat preferences of the langurs, and securing the necessary commitment and resources to ensure the long-term conservation of the Raffles’ Banded Langur in Singapore and Malaysia.

A workshop was held at the Singapore Zoo in early August in which over 30 stakeholders from 15 organisations, including representatives from Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), National Parks Board (NParks), International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Primate Specialist Group, Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, conservation NGOs and universities came together to jointly develop a conservation strategy for the Raffles’ Banded Langur. The workshop was funded by WRS and facilitated by IUCN.

Securing a future for the Raffles’ Banded Langur will require targeted action in a number of areas. Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund will engage Ms Andie Ang, who has studied the langurs since 2008, and is a member of IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group, to set up and chair a Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group. The working group will glean outputs from the recent workshop to map out a Species Action Plan, which will be used to guide and implement the conservation work for this species in the coming years. The project is fully supported by Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund over the next two years.

One of only three non-human primates to be found locally, the Raffles’ Banded Langur was first discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles 194 years ago. Up to the 1920s, they were still reported to be common in Singapore across Changi, Tampines, Bukit Timah, Pandan and Tuas. Deforestation for urban development led to the shrinking of their habitat such that the Raffles’ Banded Langurs were confined to only the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) and Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) in the 1980s. In 1987, the last member of a troop living in BTNR was reportedly mauled to death by a pack of dogs.

By 2010, it was estimated that there were 40-60 Raffles’ Banded Langurs left in Singapore. This subspecies can also be found in southern Peninsular Malaysia, where a number of isolated populations continue to be threatened by habitat loss and conversion. Small and isolated populations have a heightened risk of extinction from the effects of genetic deterioration, extreme weather, disease outbreak and other catastrophic events.

Dr Sonja Luz, Director, Conservation and Research, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “It is a fitting time to embark on a consolidated, comprehensive and integrated conservation strategy for the Raffles’ Banded Langur, to ensure the continued survival of this highly charismatic primate. This conservation project is of national importance for Singapore, and together with NParks, we are fully committed to be a part of the pioneering approach to manage the species over the long-term so Singapore does not have a primate going extinct on our watch.”

Dr Adrian Loo, Director (Terrestrial), National Biodiversity Centre, National Parks Board, said: “Reforestation, setting aside buffer parks such as the upcoming Thomson Nature Park and enrichment planting over the years have improved the rainforest habitat of the endangered Raffles’ Banded Langur. This will further help increase the foraging area and connectivity for the species, which saw an increase since the early 1990s. Even so, a multi-pronged approach is required to ensure the full recovery of the species. Thus, NParks looks forward to working with our stakeholders to guide the development of long-term conservation and management strategies for this shy, elusive species. We hope to see these animals thrive in our forests one day.”

Primatologist Ms Andie Ang, of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group said: “The development of a regional Species Action Plan signifies a first collaboration between Singaporean and Malaysian authorities, universities, and NGOs in the research and conservation of the Raffles’ Banded Langurs. Besides ensuring that the habitat of the langurs is protected and restored, we hope that this joint effort can also help raise public awareness and appreciation of this primate and the natural heritage in both countries.”

EXPERTS AIM TO SAVE ONE OF SINGAPORE’S MOST THREATENED UNIQUE SPECIES AT INAUGURAL ROUNDTABLE ON FRESHWATER CRAB CONSERVATION

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NParks, NUS, IUCN, and WRS among agencies collaborating to save endemic crabs, including Johora singaporensis which is among the 100 most threatened species in the world.

Singapore, 29 March 2014Johora singaporensis, commonly called the Singapore freshwater crab, is arguably one of the most threatened unique species of Singapore. To discuss ways to develop an overall plan for conservation of this species, experts convened in the inaugural Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation which began with a two-day closed-door panel discussion, and concluded with a public forum on 29 March 2014.

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: DANIEL NG

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an
indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: DANIEL NG

The four organisations involved are National Parks Board (NParks), National University of Singapore (NUS), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). The inaugural Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation is funded by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund.

First discovered and described in 1986, the Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis) is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, and is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. This endemic species, only found in Singapore, grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change.

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: CAI YIXIONG

The critically endangered Singapore freshwater crab (Johora singaporensis), is among the 100 most threatened species in the world. Found only in Singapore, it grows up to 3cm across the carapace, or the shell, and up to 5cm with the legs stretched out. It performs an important role in the proper functioning of hill streams by helping in nutrient recycling, and is potentially an indicator of pollution and climate change. PHOTO CREDITS: CAI YIXIONG

“When I discovered and named this species in the 1980s, I had no idea that its future would be a matter of debate and concern some 25 years on,” said Professor Peter Ng of the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science. “It heartens me that so many people are now trying to save this ‘insignificant invertebrate’ from imminent extinction. It would indeed have been a dark tragedy if discovering the species all those years ago was merely a prelude to its extinction. I hope it is not.”

“Crabs such as Johora singaporensis are typically found in hill streams, which is a rare habitat in Singapore to begin with, being restricted to only the central part of the island,” added Assistant Professor Darren Yeo, who is also with the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science.

Decade-long monitoring of the populations of Johora singaporensis has revealed that these crabs have an environmental preference for relatively clean and fast-flowing streams in the highlands with a near neutral pH. Presently, the crab is found largely in Bukit Batok, Bukit Gombak and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. They can persist even in small fragmented habitats under the right conditions. Current conservation efforts include plans to establish a breeding programme, as well as an ongoing two-year research project launched in 2013 by NParks and NUS to study the conditions of the crabs’ existing habitats and possible remedial actions. As conservation efforts gain momentum, the next important milestone is to gather key stakeholders together to improve them.

The Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation brings together key stakeholders involved in conservation of the iconic Johora singaporensis, for consolidation and dissemination of results of ongoing freshwater crab conservation efforts in Singapore. Foreign and local ecologists including researchers from the National University of Singapore and officers from the National Parks Board working on Johora singaporensis, as well as other members from Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Nature Society Singapore, Ministry of Defence, Singapore Land Authority, National Environment Agency, Public Utilities Board, and Urban Redevelopment Authority have all been invited to participate, brainstorm, contribute their unique perspectives, and help mould a future conservation plan for this species.

Dr Lena Chan, Director of National Biodiversity Centre, NParks, said, “NParks is committed to the conservation of our native freshwater organisms, particularly endemic species like the Singapore Freshwater Crab Johora singaporensis, Johnson’s Freshwater Crab Irmengardia johnsoni and Swamp Forest Crab Parathelphusa reticulata. We look forward to our usual amicable multi-agency co-operation which is crucial for the success of this conservation initiative.”

Dr Neil Cumberlidge, Chair of the IUCN SSC Freshwater Crab and Crayfish Specialist Group, and Dr Philip McGowan of the IUCN Species Survival Conservation Planning Sub-Committee will both participate in the Roundtable, adding valuable inputs to the design of the conservation plan. Dr McGowan said, “Effective conservation in today’s world has to balance the needs of species with those of people and their interests. Our approach has evolved to reflect that. The purpose of strategic planning is to understand what is driving the threats to the Singapore freshwater crab and then develop a holistic and realistic way forward that gives this iconic species the best chance of survival. Strategic planning on its own will not save the species, but the understanding and agreement that is part of the planning process, greatly improves its survival prospects.”

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore said, “Wildlife Reserves Singapore is continuously exploring ways we can work with field researchers, and contribute to the ex-situ conservation of Johora singaporensis. A possible method may be to establish a trial breeding project in River Safari for these native crabs, followed by the eventual reintroduction of the species into restored, rehabilitated streams.”

This Roundtable is also indicative of Singapore’s willingness and seriousness regarding the protection of its freshwater biodiversity and the ‘not-so-charismatic’ fauna.

WILDLIFE MEETS ELEPHANT ART AT SINGAPORE ZOO

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WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE UNVEILS 25 SCULPTURES AT THE ZOO AS PART OF ELEPHANT PARADE SINGAPORE ART EXHIBITION

Singapore, 13 November 2011 – This weekend, Singaporeans everywhere will come face to face with multi-coloured, life-sized baby elephant sculptures throughout the island, with the launch of the Elephant Parade two days ago. This open-air art exhibition across the world promotes and supports the conservation of the endangered Asian elephant, and the Singapore Zoo will have a collection of 25 such sculptures grazing on its grounds for over two months.

Painted by local and international artists, each ‘elephant’ is a unique piece of art, which will be auctioned off during two private events on 12 and 14 January 2012, to raise funds for the cause. Five percent of the proceeds from the auctions will be donated to Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund, the conservation arm of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which was set up with the primary purpose of conserving Singapore’s endangered native wildlife, and also supports capacity building, education and awareness programmes on key species and conservation issues in the Southeast Asian region.

One of the elephants was specially designed in collaboration with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS). Seven artists, four from the MINDS – Woodlands Gardens School and three from the MINDS – Woodlands Employment Development Centre, came together to paint the ‘elephant’, called Love and Protect, which depicts a boy and girl linking protective hands around the elephant, in a field of grass.

Singapore Zoo has also scheduled several activities in conjunction with the inaugural Elephant Parade. A Nikon Photography Contest will be held on Facebook to encourage people to look for quirky photo opportunities with the elephant sculptures. To participate, visitors need to take a photo with the displays at the Singapore Zoo and upload them with the completed caption: “My wish for the Asian elephant is…” Winners will walk away with Nikon Coolpix cameras and Elephant Parade replicas.

In addition, WRS will set up an educational booth, “Mad about Elephants”, at the Ele-fun play area at the Elephants of Asia exhibit for five weekends from 19 November. Visitors can view elephant artifacts and specimens at a show and tell session. This activity aims to highlight how Asian elephants are dying in the wild – from 200,000 a century ago to a fifth of that population now.

Ms Claire Chiang, WRS Chairman and Ambassador of Elephant Parade Singapore said: “We are very proud to be part of this meaningful initiative, which brings global attention to the plight of these beautiful animals in the wild. WRS runs a very successful captive breeding programme for these Asian elephants, which has recently resulted in the birth of one-year-old Nila Utama at Night Safari, the first of its kind to be born at our parks in nine years. Through partnerships with organisations like the Elephant Parade as well as tie-ups with voluntary welfare organisations such as MINDS, we hope to raise awareness and encourage the wider public to join the effort to protect these charismatic creatures for future generations.”

Ms Claire Chiang (left), Ambassador of Elephant Parade Singapore and Chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, and Mike Spits, Managing Director of Elephant Parade, get ready to unveil the elephant sculpture called ‘Love and Protect’ painted by seven artists from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS).

Ms Claire Chiang Ambassador of Elephant Parade Singapore and Chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore signing her name on the cast of the ‘We Love Mosha’ elephant. Mosha is the elephant that was the inspiration for Elephant Parade, an open-air art exhibition across the world that promotes and supports the conservation of the endangered Asian elephant.

Samba performers and real elephants in quirky finery livened up the launch of Elephant Parade Singapore at Singapore Zoo.

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE, WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE CONSERVATION FUND AND SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL ORGANISE FIRST ASIAN PRIMATE CONSERVATION WORKSHOP

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Singapore, 6 May 2011 – Primates have the closest genetic link to Man, but we have played a hand in the very extinction of many of their species. To stem the tide of destruction and reverse the damage we have inflicted, two industry heavyweights – Wildlife Reserves Singapore and San Diego Zoo Global, together with Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund – are teaming up for the first time to hold a regional workshop to share best practices in primate conservation.

To be held from 1-15 May at the Singapore Zoo, the intensive workshop aims to impart technical skills and knowledge as well as provide hands-on training for zoo professionals and primate researchers who study endangered species in captivity and in the wild.

It will be attended by 32 participants from all over the region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal, China and Taiwan. Students from the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, as well as staff from WRS will also participate.

Lectures will encompass broad overviews of primate taxonomy, behaviour and conservation, and these sessions will include discussions on the best sampling and recording methods, assessments of primate welfare and compilation of scientific data, reports and presentations. Participants will be asked to design behavioural monitoring projects and present their findings at the end of the workshop. Additionally, they will go on field trips to study local primates such as the banded leaf monkey and long-tailed macaques.

Workshop chairman Mr John Sha, who is also curator of conservation and research at WRS said: “This is a very useful workshop for anyone who wants to acquire the professional skills in primate research. Data gathered through behavioural studies and monitoring can provide us with a lot of information on how well the population of species is performing. Through this programme, we hope to develop and adapt methods of study to help these amazing creatures survive in their natural habitat.”

Dr Chia Tan, scientist at San Diego Zoo Institute of Conservation Research said, “Previous partnerships with WRS such as conservation and research projects on the highly endangered proboscis monkeys and Douc langurs, and the turtle conservation workshop have reaped great rewards. We hope this event will strengthen our partnership and make a positive contribution towards primate conservation, especially in this part of the world.”

Human activities like logging are destroying the limited habitat of certain species such as the agile gibbon and proboscis monkey. The demand for pet monkeys also continues to fuel the illegal poaching of these animals.

Part of the funding for the workshop comes from a training grant from The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and contributions from San Diego Zoo Global, Offield Family Foundation, and Primate Conservation, Inc. Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF), an independent charity set up by WRS in 2009 with the purpose of conserving endangered native wildlife, is making up the rest of the cost.

Primate conservation is an important focus area for WRS. It has spearheaded several research studies in the past, including a field survey of proboscis monkeys in Sabah which was co-sponsored by WRS and San Diego Zoo Global. The Singapore Zoo houses one of the world’s largest primate collections, including three species of great apes, the chimpanzee, Sumatran orang utan and Bornean orang utan, the latter two of which are the flagship species of the Singapore Zoo. Visitors can learn more about them at the world’s first orang utan free ranging area built at the zoo.

Niu Kefeng, a participant from China tries to identify several Hamadryas baboons to observe for his workshop project.

San Diego Zoo Global workshop instructor Lance Miller shares tips on the art of observing chimpanzees with two of the participants.

Parkin Runcharoen, a participant from Thailand gets a closer look at the capuchins.

The proboscis monkey will also come under scrutiny during the workshop. Singapore Zoo has the largest breeding group of proboscis monkeys outside its range country,

CRITICALLY-ENDANGERED BANDED LEAF MONKEYS CONTINUE TO BREED IN SINGAPORE

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BREAKTHROUGH RESEARCH BY NUS, NPARKS AND WRSCF FINDS NEW EVIDENCE ON POPULATION GROWTH

Singapore, April 10, 2010 – A National University of Singapore (NUS) research team, in collaboration with National Parks Board (NParks) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF), has found breakthrough evidence that the population of banded leaf monkeys, believed to be on the verge of extinction since two decades ago, has been growing in Singapore’s forests. This includes the first-ever observations of breeding for the critically-endangered banded leaf monkeys in Singapore and is especially momentous, as 2010 has been designated International Year of Biodiversity.

Research findings point to significant milestones as the banded leaf monkey is one of only three species of non-human primates native to Singapore. Rare, elusive and threatened by habitat loss, the banded leaf monkey is critically endangered. It is part of Singapore’s natural heritage and has the potential of becoming a flagship species for conservation efforts.

This conservation research project was spearheaded by NUS student Andie Ang Hui Fang since July 2008 under the guidance of Associate Professor Rudolf Meier from the NUS Evolutionary Biology Lab, and assisted by Mirza Rifqi Ismail, an NParks research officer. Assistant Professor Michael Gumert from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also provided invaluable counsel throughout the project.

WRSCF, through the Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund (AMMCF) funded the research and provided equipment support. AMMCF, the first recipient of WRSCF, received $500,000 over a five-year period for conducting academic research and studies pertaining to endangered wildlife. The banded leaf monkey project is the first to receive funding from AMMCF.

The goal of this project is to identify the life history parameters of the banded leaf monkey in Singapore, including its population size, feeding ecology, intra- and inter-specific interactions and threats they are faced with in order to support its conservation efforts.

The research has uncovered important evidence that the population of banded leaf monkeys in Singapore has grown to at least 40 individuals, more than the previous estimates of 10 in the 1980s, and 10-15 in the 1990s. The research has collected first findings on the breeding cycle and species of plants they feed on, some of which are rare and locally endangered.

One particularly encouraging finding is that the females are reproducing successfully with at least one breeding cycle every July and infants observed. The project also used non-invasive sampling techniques to obtain genetic information that have helped to clarify the species’ taxonomic status in comparison with populations of banded leaf monkeys found in Southern Malaysia.

The project will continue with the monitoring of population changes and analysing of the botanical composition of the forest in order to examine the sustainability of the habitat for the monkeys. As part of the plan, a population viability assessment will be carried out and important forest fragments will be identified in the hope of connecting the fragments through reforestation. The information gathered will also be used to develop a management plan for conserving one of the last remaining primate species in Singapore.

Professor Peter Ng, Director of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and the Tropical Marine Science Institute at NUS, said, “As a global university centred in Asia, NUS is well placed to address the myriad of challenges associated with urban city states, sustainable development and conservation. The university has a long history of biodiversity research, its Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research being one of the oldest and most highly regarded natural history museums in the region. Its researchers and affiliated staff from the Department of Biological Sciences are active in modern, often cross-disciplinary, research in many parts of Southeast Asia and they have contributed substantially to our understanding of the region’s biodiversity. In Singapore, NUS researchers work closely with various government agencies to generate baseline information and to ensure that key habitats and species are conserved; and there are also long term plans for monitoring their survival.”

Prof Ng added, “This is the International Year of Biodiversity and NUS is pleased to contribute to global efforts to slow down biodiversity erosion and promote the cause of conservation. The banded leaf monkey project and the suite of conservation projects currently undertaken by NUS researchers and students are important steps toward this long term goal.”

Dr Lena Chan, Deputy Director of National Biodiversity Centre (NParks) said: “The research findings are very exciting. We had thought for a long time that the banded leaf monkey population is on the decline but the findings show the contrary. This shows that with good management our nature reserves do have the potential to reverse population declines for endangered species. It also underscores the importance of safeguarding the reserves and keeping them healthy so that existing native species can continue to thrive.”

“It is most apt that these significant research findings are unveiled this year—the International Year of Biodiversity. Despite Singapore’s highly urbanised environment and land constraints, Singapore remains a safe haven for species that can live in small patches of lowland tropical forest, mangroves, freshwater swamp forest, seagrass beds, mudflats and coral reefs. This has been made possible through the protection of remaining patches of native vegetation and marine ecosystems and this approach has been successful in conserving the remaining biodiversity in a city setting. The banded leaf monkey project is one such effort to protect and conserve our natural heritage,” said Professor Leo Tan, Board of Trustee for WRSCF.

Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a strong advocate of conservation applauded the research efforts: “The biological diversity of our planet faces as great a crisis as our climate system. The loss of biodiversity poses a threat to our health, wealth and the ecosystems which sustain life. This is why we should all do what we can to prevent the extinction of our plant and animal species. The leaf monkey is a symbol of the challenge we face.”

Further details about the banded leaf monkey project will be shared during a public lecture event, to be held at NUS on 16 Apr 2010.
For more information or to up, please visit:
http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/headlines/0410/leaf_21Apr10.php.

Banded Leaf Monkey

Banded Leaf Monkey with baby

Banded Leaf Monkey

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE SIGNS MOU WITH WILDLIFE CONSERVATION SOCIETY

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TO COLLABORATE ON FIELD CONSERVATION AND PUBLIC EDUCATION TO PROTECT BIODIVERSITY IN THE FACE OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN ENCROACHMENT

Singapore, January 29, 2010Wildlife Reserves Singapore Pte Ltd (WRS), the parent company of Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, together with its recently established Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF) today signed an agreement to collaborate with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), based in New York, and Wildlife Conservation Society Singapore Limited (WCS Singapore) on field conservation and public education to protect biodiversity in the face of global climate change and human encroachment.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Ms Claire Chiang, Chairperson of both WRS and WRSCF; Mr Ward W Woods, Chair of WCS and Dr Steven E Sanderson, President and CEO of WCS and Chair of WCS Singapore, in the presence of President S R Nathan, Patron of WRSCF.

This MOU marks the start of a stronger commitment to protect biodiversity, not just in Singapore, but in Asia and around the world. Through the joint commission, representatives from all four parties will co-operate to undertake field conservation projects and share best practices and technical expertise contributing to wildlife conservation. They will also collaborate to promote public education and increase awareness on conservation issues.

“At WRS, an unprecedented level of effort has been invested to conserve and protect biodiversity. To strengthen our commitment, WRSCF was established last year, primarily to conserve endangered native wildlife. This MOU represents another important step forward in our ongoing commitment to preserve our ecosystems and precious wildlife species, many of which are already threatened and in dire need of protection,” said Ms Chiang.

Established in 1895, the Wildlife Conservation Society has built a strong global conservation network to become the world’s most comprehensive conservation organisation. WCS currently manages about 500 conservation projects in more than 60 countries and educates millions of visitors on important issues affecting our planet at the five parks they manage in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo.

“Our new partnership with Wildlife Reserves Singapore represents an important step for WCS and the conservation of wildlife in Asia,” said Mr Woods. “WRS’ conservation efforts and programmes have won worldwide acclaim. We look forward to spearheading new initiatives together and developing a regional centre of excellence for the protection of Asia’s most endangered wildlife.”

“We share WCS’ clear mission to save wildlife and wild places across the globe. That is why I am so proud to be part of this joint collaboration to bring our conservation programme to the global arena. This partnership will pave the way for future collaborations and open many doors for all four parties to work towards their shared goal of protecting global biodiversity,” added Ms Chiang.

With this MOU, the four parties will coordinate efforts on research methodologies and the exchange of multiple sources of knowledge, leading to action plans for conservation, education and key priorities for the management of biodiversity. Working in Asia since the early 20th century, WCS has partnered with national and regional governments, local communities and other scientific organisations to protect Asia’s incredible diversity of wildlife and wild places — to bolster environmental policy, train new generations of environmental stewards, support sustainable livelihoods, and connect protected areas. Some notable WCS projects include: working with the government of Cambodia to establish the Seima Protection Forest, created to protect wildlife and conserve carbon; and an ongoing effort to save tigers across Asia (WCS is committed to increasing tiger populations by 50 percent across 10 landscapes by 2016).

In the areas of conservation and research, WRS parks in Singapore have undertaken multiple projects, which focus on species such as the oriental pied hornbill, pangolin and orang utan, through collaborations with various organisations and institutions. Recent conservation efforts include hosting a regional Asian pangolin conservation workshop. All WRS parks are designated wildlife rescue centres by the governing authority.

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