WRS creates localised version of global biodiversity campaign; Sunda pangolin, oriental pied hornbill among animals featured
Singapore, 27 June 2015 — Indigenous animals that live in the tropical rainforests, mangroves or coral ecosystems of Singapore take center stage in Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s rendition of the “Biodiversity is Us” project, with a series of photos that depicts how humans and animals are closely connected.
Featuring Singapore’s fauna like the critically endangered Sunda pangolin, oriental-pied hornbill, tokay gecko, crab-eating macaques and knobbly sea stars, the project serves to share knowledge of the environment and the amazing array of life on our planet, and the simple actions that individuals can do to protect it.
Visitors to the Festival of Biodiversity on 27 and 28 June at Vivocity can visit the Wildlife Reserves Singapore booth to learn more about Biodiversity is Us, and have their pictures taken for their own Biodiversity is Us e-poster. The public can also download the free Biodiversity is Us app to learn about 400 animal species, take part in games and quizzes, build animal checklists and more.
Biodiversity is Us is initiated by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and supports the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity 2011–2020 by providing tools for raising awareness about biodiversity.
WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE, WITH SINGAPORE ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL AND SINGAPORE MANUFACTURERS’ FEDERATION, PIONEERS MOON NIGHT 2011 TO CELEBRATE WILDLIFE CONSERVATION AND FAMILY TOGETHERNESS
Singapore, 11 Sep 2011 – For the first time, Singapore Zoo opened its doors to the public this evening for the inaugural Moon Night 2011 in celebration of the Mid-Autumn festival. Jointly organised by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation (SMa), the event hopes to raise awareness for nature conservation and biodiversity, while promoting family togetherness.
The main highlight of the evening was the release of fireflies into the forested area at the zoo by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, in an effort to reintroduce this distinctive species of insects into the mangrove ecosystem.
Dr Tony Tan and Mr George Huang, President of SMa also placed floating lanterns in the waters of Upper Seletar Reservoir. Visitors to the park were encouraged to buy the lanterns, with all proceeds donated to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF), which was set up with the purpose of conserving Singapore’s endangered native wildlife.
“Other than assisting our members in commercial interests, SMa is also conscious of and promotes good corporate social responsibility, including environment, work-life balance, culture and conservation in our members’ companies. We appreciate and support the great work of WRS and SEC, and will continue to work with them to engender environmentally conscious behaviour in our members and staff,” said Mr Huang.
Other festivities included the recounting of the story of Chang Er and her companion, the jade rabbit, and an animal petting session with the rabbits at the zoo. Visitors were also educated on the effects of the moon on animal behaviour through fun and interactive performances.
Considered an important date in the Chinese calendar, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a symbol of reunion brought about by the full moon. It traditionally calls for families and friends to gather and admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon while enjoying delicious moon cakes that is meant to represent people’s pursuit of a round and perfect life.
At the same time, the moon is inextricably linked to the everyday rhythms and rituals of life on earth, as well as the tide. Moon phases have been said to shape the evolution and lives of the animal kingdom, promoting the migratory habits of many animals today.
“We are excited to be organising the first ever Moon Night in the world, as it shows a clear sign of ownership in the pursuit for perfect balance and harmony. Through its special mix of cultural mythology and awareness-raising about biodiversity preservation, Moon Night 2011 is a great opportunity for families to spend quality time together during the Mid-Autumn festival at a unique location, while allowing WRS and SEC to educate Singaporeans on holistic approaches to wildlife and nature conservation,” said Isa Loh, Group CEO, WRS.
“SMa is happy to be part of this innovative and interesting event. It gives, not just our members, but also the families of their employees, the opportunity to gather as one big family,” added Mr Huang.
The release of fireflies is significant as the population continues to dwindle in Singapore due to urbanisation.
“On this special day while we celebrate the full moon, we are also encouraging the balance of life on earth as animal cycles and rituals are known to coincide with moon phases. On behalf of WRS and SEC, I would like to thank President Tony Tan and Mr George Huang, President of SMa, for celebrating and reinforcing the message of Moon Night with us,” added Ms Loh, who is also Chairman of the Singapore Environment Council.
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.”
– 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 2009 – Wildlife 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.
S$140 MILLION PROJECT SCHEDULED FOR COMPLETION IN 2011
Singapore, February 11, 2009 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) plans to build a river-themed animal attraction that will contribute to Singapore’s tourism landscape and enhance the range of excellent nature-themed attractions in Singapore.
Located within the 89-hectare compound of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari premises, this attraction will be Asia’s first river-themed park. Comprising boat rides, displays of freshwater habitats and other highlights, it will offer a close-up multi-sensory experience for the young and old.
The project is expected to inject S$140 million into Singapore’s economy. Construction will begin in 2009, and the park is targeted for completion in 2011. The new park is estimated to attract at least 750,000 visitors annually.
Strong message of conservation
Says Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, “The aim of River Safari is to create a greater awareness of freshwater habitat conservation. Freshwater habitats are ecosystems that depend on water flow for their environmental health, and can include caves, swamps, floodplains, rivers and lakes. The term ‘wetlands’ is often used to describe these rich habitats, which carry the most species per unit. However, their biodiversity is disappearing at a faster rate than the forest and marine biomes, with a reported 50% decline in the freshwater species population index in 30 years since 1970. The River Safari attraction will educate visitors on the conservation of fresh water habitats, and also introduce them to the ecosystem’s interesting water wildlife. It will also complement our current collection at our other three parks.
“We started working on this idea about two years ago and we believe this is an opportune time to embark on this project.”
Built with Environmental Sensitivity
As the attraction is located within its current 89 hectare compound, the new development will have minimal impact on the Mandai Nature Reserve area. WRS team had earlier consulted the various government bodies such as NParks and PUB on the environmental viability of the project. For example, it carried out a survey to identify the trees that will be affected by the development. Instead of felling the trees, it is carefully preparing the process of relocating them. In addition to this, WRS plans to plant more than 30,000 new trees in this attraction. Some of the current animal exhibits will be relocated to make way for this attraction. WRS will also acquire new species of animals to reside in the various habitats through animal exchange programmes with other zoological institutions.
Singapore, June 30, 2008 – Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia jointly organised a three-day pangolin conservation workshop to be held at the Singapore Zoo, starting today, to discuss the perilous situation facing pangolin populations in Asia, as its survival comes under increasing threat.
Pangolins are poached for their meat, consumed as food and used in traditional medicines across the region. Its numbers in the wild are dwindling rapidly in Asia with regular seizures by the authorities in Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. A majority of the shipments resulting from illegal poaching are destined for China.
“WRS is extremely fortunate to have been instrumental in bringing together key-decision makers and conservationists from 14 countries and territories around the region, to discuss and make recommendations that will hopefully secure and protect the future of pangolins in the wild. Through our collaboration with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, we are able to approach the issue of illegal pangolin trade, from a more comprehensive conservation perspective, that includes both enforcement and legislative angles. Our main hope is to catalyse the region into seriously conserving one of the most unique species of biodiversity which we call our own, and to ensure that this cascades into actionable initiatives in the pangolin’s range countries.” said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are the most numerous mammal species found in confiscated illegal wildlife cargoes throughout Southeast Asia. In 2000, a complete ban on international trade of pangolins was adopted by Parties to CITES.
The three-day workshop will discuss issues and challenges of pangolin trade enforcement in Asia, conservation, its ecology and biology as well as husbandry and management in zoological institutions.
Workshop participants reflect the diversity of the problems and threats facing pangolins, and represent government as well as non-governmental agencies responsible for wildlife trade management coming from as far as China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Laos and Singapore. During the workshop, participants will also develop an action plan to help relevant enforcement agencies focus their efforts to halt the illegal pangolin trade.
Participants’ recommendations will be sent to the CITES Secretariat, the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO)-Interpol, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and national focal points of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), to ensure a coherent approach to information and intelligence sharing on pangolin trade in the region.
“This meeting is vital to the future survival of pangolins. It is now or never for pangolins. The poaching simply has to stop,” said Ms Azrina Abdullah, Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
In February and March 2008 alone, a staggering 23 tonnes of pangolin carcasses and scales, the remains of approximately 8,000 animals—were seized in Hai Phong, Vietnam, in a single week.
The commonest species currently in trade is believed to be the Malayan pangolin (Manis javanica), found in Malaysia and Indonesia; populations elsewhere in Asia have been decimated. Recent pangolin seizures have even involved African species.
In China, tough penalties can be imposed on pangolin smugglers, with two men receiving suspended death sentences in November 2007 and fined a total of RMB3 million (USD400,000) whilst their accomplices received jail sentences ranging between 10 years and life.