CRITICALLY-ENDANGERED BANDED LEAF MONKEYS CONTINUE TO BREED IN SINGAPORE

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 CONSERVATION FUND OPENS GRANT APPLICATIONS

AREAS FOR CONSIDERATION: NATIVE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FOCUSING ON BIRDLIFE AND OTHER ANIMALS IN DANGER, AND IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON CONSERVATION

Singapore, 10 December 2009Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF) announces that it is now accepting grant applications for project proposals from interested parties working toward conserving endangered native wildlife. The grant applications will be for conservation and related research work on birds, native wildlife in danger and impact of climate change on conservation, in Singapore.

“As a conservation fund with the objective to sustain endangered native wildlife and ecosystems, we encourage like-minded individuals or organisations to come forward and submit their proposed scope of study of wildlife that are unique to our nation. From these efforts and studies, we hope to make concrete progress on the conservation front and to raise public awareness of native species,” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

WRSCF is designed to provide accessible and flexible grants for persons who want to contribute to the conservation of native wildlife species. To be eligible, the scope of study needs to include at least one of these elements: conservation-related scientific research, direct field conservation work, education and public awareness, human-animal conflict resolution or capacity building and the sharing of best practices.

Thus far, National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund is the first grant recipient of $500,000 over a five-year period. The amount will support NUS students and faculty members conducting academic research and studies pertaining to endangered wildlife.

WRSCF grant applications will be reviewed by the Specialist Panel comprising scientists, academics and representatives from government agencies such as National Parks Board (NParks), Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), National Institute of Education (NIE), NUS, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) and Nature Society of Singapore (NSS).

With the establishment of WRSCF, parties keen to embark on projects contributing to the conservation of native endangered wildlife will have a financial avenue to support their cause. Application forms and guidelines can be downloaded from http://www.wrscf.org.sg.

NEW CONSERVATION FUND PROMISES A BOOST TO LOCAL WILDLIFE

– WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE CONSERVATION FUND LAUNCHED TO PROTECT AND SAVE SINGAPORE’S NATIVE ENDANGERED SPECIES
– NUS, FIRST RECIPIENT, WILL EMBARK ON A STUDY OF SINGAPORE’S NATIVE BANDED LANGUR
– S$1 MILLION SEED FUND FROM WRS; 20 CENTS FROM EVERY ENTRANCE TICKET  (TO JBP, NS SZ) SOLD DONATED TO WRSCF SINCE APRIL 1, 2009

Singapore, 10 July 2009Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS/新加坡野生动物保育集团) today launched an independent conservation fund to protect and save Singapore’s native endangered species.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF/新加坡野生动物保育基金) is dedicated to wildlife conservation and education. Its focus will be on native animal conservation efforts and the issue of climate change. Additionally, it will support the Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund, set up in conjunction with the National University of Singapore.

This will be achieved through direct field conservation work, education and public awareness, human-animal conflict resolution, capacity building and sharing of best practices.

“Singapore’s rich biodiversity is home to a lush variety of flora and fauna, including the pangolin, flying lemur and banded langur. Unfortunately, many Singaporeans are unaware of what wildlife can be found locally and even when informed, they tend to take these animals for granted. We would like to encourage more organisations and individuals to join us in preserving our natural heritage. In support of conservation, WRS has made a contribution of S$1,000,000 in seed money to the Fund,” says Ms Claire Chiang (张齐娥), newly appointed Chairperson of the WRSCF.

In addition, WRS has started contributing 20 cents from every entrance ticket sold to any of its three parks – Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and the Singapore Zoo. This will anchor the funds for the WRSCF. Public donations are also welcome.

The first recipient is the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund, which will receive S$500,000 over five years. This will support the academic research and study of endangered native wildlife undertaken by students and faculty members of NUS.

“We are honoured to be the first recipient of the fund as it definitely helps in furthering our cause to learn and gather information on data deficient animals. It is our duty as Singaporeans to seek new facts and records of our wildlife, and in the process train and develop future local conservationists,” says Professor Leo Tan (陈伟兴教授), Director (Special Projects), National University of Singapore. The first project to receive funding from the NUS’ Ah Meng Memorial Conservation Fund is a study on the banded langur, one of Singapore’s native endangered wildlife.

WRSCF will also be partnering with NGOs such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) of New York, to advance public education and awareness. Some of the issues that will be addressed include the illegal wildlife and bushmeat trade, that Singaporeans may unknowingly contribute to when they consume exotic dishes while overseas.

Individuals and organisations will soon be able to submit project proposals to WRSCF. Funding support will be subjected to approval by an independent Specialist Panel comprising professionals from National Parks Board (NParks), Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), National Institute of Education (NIE), NUS, Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR), Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) and Singapore Science Centre.

Cheque Presentation
Time-capsule sealing