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

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.

NATIVE BIRDS TAKE FLIGHT AHEAD OF SINGAPORE’S INAUGURAL NATIVE BIRDS’ DAY

– Jurong Bird Park spearheads event to heighten appreciation for native birds with support from National Parks Board.
– Two pairs of native birds to be placed in a purpose-built aviary at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West as part of a multi-agency rescue and rehabilitation programme.

To mark the upcoming inaugural Native Birds’ Day spearheaded by Jurong Bird Park, a pair of black-naped orioles (left) and pink-necked green pigeons will be placed in an aviary as part of a joint rescue and rehabilitation effort with NParks.
To mark the upcoming inaugural Native Birds’ Day spearheaded by Jurong Bird Park, a pair of black-naped orioles (left) and pink-necked green pigeons will be placed in an aviary as part of a joint rescue and rehabilitation effort with NParks.

Singapore, 15 November 2013 – White-rumped shamas, emerald doves, Oriental magpie robins, green pigeons and Oriental white-eyes. What do all these have in common? These are more than 100 species of birds native to Singapore.

Jurong Bird Park with the support of National Parks Board (NParks) and Nature Society of Singapore (NSS), will be organising a two-day festival to celebrate the inaugural Native Birds’ Day on 23 November 2013. The festival, to be held on 23 and 24 November 2013, is designed to build greater appreciation for native birds.

“Birds play an important part in our rich biodiversity, especially native birds. However, not many of us are aware of their existence, and the role they play to maintain the balance in our biodiversity. Jurong Bird Park is coming together with National Parks Board and Nature Society of Singapore to bring native birds to the fore so we can develop greater appreciation for them and to ensure they continue to thrive in the community,” said Mr Lee Meng Tat, CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

He continued, “The Native Birds’ Day Festival is a weekend where we want to bring everyone together to celebrate our native birds and get everyone to learn about them in a fun and engaging way.”

To mark the upcoming Native Birds’ Day, Jurong Bird Park and NParks will join hands to place a pair of pink-necked green pigeons and a pair of black-naped orioles into a purpose-built rehabilitation aviary. These two pairs of native birds were brought to Jurong Bird Park by a member of the public.

Three of the four were juveniles when they were brought to the Bird Park. The veterinarians had to rehabilitate and nurse them back to health, and this included hand-raising them until the birds were old enough to eat on their own. As part of the rehabilitation process, they will remain in the aviary for 7 days so that they can get used to their surroundings before they are released. This activity is part of the two agencies’ efforts to conserve the native bird population in Singapore.

“The aviary at Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West will offer the birds a lush and green environment to rehabilitate before they are released back into the wild. The aviary, the first of its kind in a town park, is made possible with the support of the community at Ang Mo Kio. Volunteers have been conducting bi-monthly surveys at the park, and you might be surprised to know that more than 15 species of birds have been sighted in Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West. Such collaborations show that everyone has a part to play in realising Singapore’s City in a Garden vision.” said Ms Kartini Omar, Director of Parks, NParks.

The activities planned during Native Birds’ Day Festival at Jurong Bird Park* include –

Native Birds Day Festival

To commemorate Native Birds’ Day, Jurong Bird Park will be offering a 50 per cent off its adult admission tickets to those who sign up for the Native Birds’ Day expert forum on 23 November 2013. Members of the public are to sign up for the forum by emailing the following details to corpcoms.jbp@wrs.com.sg before 20 November 2013 –

– Name
– Email Address
– Phone Number
– Number of tickets required

Each participant will be allowed to purchase up to two admission tickets at the special discounted rate.

*Activities are free but park admission charges apply

HAVE FUN ALONG THE ECO-TRAIL THIS EARTH DAY AT SINGAPORE ZOO

ACTIVITIES ALSO AIMED AT CELEBRATING YEAR OF THE BAT AND INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FOREST

Singapore, 5 April 2011
Singapore Zoo’s popular Earth Day Eco-Trail is back again this year with a “bat” theme and more interactive fun.

Families simply need to sign up for an Eco-Trail passport on 16-17 April to participate in special activities to commemorate Earth Day on 22 April, the anniversary of the start of the modern environment movement in the 1970s.

Activities along the Eco-Trail include educational games to illustrate the practice of recycling and reusing waste, and to celebrate the Year of the Bat and International Year of the Forest this year. Participants will be involved in hands-on activities that will provide interesting nuggets of information on these mostly misunderstood creatures of the night.

The National Parks Board will also be supporting the event with a booth about native flora and fauna.

Date: 16 and 17 April (Sat and Sun)
Venue: Singapore Zoo (various locations)
80 Mandai Lake Road
Singapore 729826
Time: 10.30am – 4.00pm
Fee: Activities are free. Eco-Trail passports are available at the booth outside
the Singapore Zoo’s Entrance Retail Shop
Note: Normal admission rates of $20.00 for adults and $13.00 for children
between 3-12 years apply


STATION 1

Bat-tle the Maze
Participants will be asked to tackle a maze while blindfolded and with verbal instructions from their team mates. Along the way, the blindfolded participant will ‘hunt’ for 3 insects. In nature, bats rely on their sonar system to get around. They emit a high, squeaking sound, undetectable by human ears, and this bounces off objects, giving them an indication of how far away the obstacles are.

Location: Proboscis Monkey @ Entrance

STATION 2
Forest Treasures
Find a matching pair of cards, to show the relationship between a product and its origin (eg t-shirt and cotton plant). If you do not get a match, you have to flip both cards over and try again. Participants will learn about how many of the products we use are derived, in some way or another, from the rainforest.

Location: Tropical Crops

STATION 3
River Clean Up
Each group will be asked to cross a ‘river’ using a raft, while scooping up items like plastic bottles and bags in the water. Through this activity, participants will learn how river systems have become increasingly contaminated through pollution, degradation and overexploitation, as well as what they can do to help alleviate the situation.

Location: Rainforest Kidzworld

STATION 4
Fun with Composting
Visitors will be taught how to reduce waste through composting, where the natural process of decomposition creates a product that can be used as a plant fertilizer.

Location: Garden with a View

STATION 5
Spot the Bat-talion
By counting the number of bats at the Zoo’s new ‘bat cave’, participants will find out why these winged creatures prefer relaxing in the ‘upside down’ position. This not only allows bats to hide from danger, they can also rest without exerting much energy, due to the unique way their talons are formed.

Location: Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE HOSTS REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON TURTLE CONSERVATION

PARTICIPANTS TO OUTLINE 10-YEAR ROADMAP TO SAVE THE EARTH’S OLDEST LIVING REPTILE

Singapore, 22 February 2011 – Turtles are the oldest reptiles left on Earth, with the earliest species found almost 300 million years ago, but many species alive today may not live to see the next century. That is why conservation groups across the world are meeting here this week to discuss pressing plans to ensure their survival in the wild.

Hosted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the four-day workshop which kicked off at the Singapore Zoo yesterday aims to set the agenda for Asian turtle conservation in the next decade. It brings together delegates throughout Asia, Europe, Australia and the United States, including over 70 conservationists from 16 Asian countries, such as Pakistan, Philippines, China, and East Timor, who work closely with endangered freshwater turtles.

The event, themed ‘The Conservation of Asian Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles – Setting Priorities for the Next Ten Years’ is co-organised by Wildlife Reserves Singapore and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and is supported by San Diego Zoo Global, the Turtle Survival Alliance and the IUCN Tortoise & Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and Kadoorie Farm & Botanical Garden in Hong Kong.

The participation of some 39 participants has been sponsored by collaborating organisations and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF), an independent charity set up by WRS in 2009 with the primary purpose of conserving endangered native wildlife.

The last meeting was held 10 years ago in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and this year’s agenda will include discussions to critically assess what has worked – and what has not – in protecting chelonian populations and preventing extinction of the species.

Human encroachment, combined with over-hunting and the illegal wildlife trade, are decimating the world’s population of turtles at a pace faster than they can reproduce. Prized highly for their meat and medicinal value, particularly in Southeast Asia and China, nearly more than half of the species of tortoises and turtles in the region are now on the verge of extinction.

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Vice President of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Species Program said: “Turtles are at a conservation crossroads. Some species are truly at the brink of extinction with just a few individuals remaining. We are hopeful that the results of this workshop will help bring turtles onto the road to recovery.”

Some workshop highlights include country reports on the current status of turtle populations in different countries, an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Listing session on individual turtle species and Trade Status Reports. An open forum on conservation priorities will be held at the end of the workshop for participants to discuss interesting ‘what if’ scenarios.

Following this event is another workshop on the conservation of large river turtles (genus Batagur) from 25 February to 2 March in Singapore and Malaysia, which will address the threats to the survival of these species. It will comprise regional presentations, round table discussions, and field trips to share ‘best practices’ in the collection of pertinent life history data, and methods for reducing adult mortality.

WRS, which operates award-winning parks Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the upcoming river-themed attraction, River Safari, has consistently supported the conservation of turtles through various partnerships with international wildlife institutions.

On the local front, it partners with national agencies such as Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore and National Parks Board to rescue and rehabilitate turtles and tortoises. Last year, the Singapore Zoo worked with the Turtle Survival Alliance to relocate 36 endangered Indian star tortoises, which were confiscated here, to Fort Worth Zoo in Texas.

WRS also runs a successful captive breeding programme for critically endangered turtle species like the southern river terrapin, which has produced excellent results. Recently on 10 February, a southern river terrapin had hatched from its egg after a two-month incubation period. At least 12 more Batagur hatchlings are expected to emerge from their eggs in the next two to four weeks.

Visitors will get a chance to see some 17 species of tortoises and freshwater turtles from around the world at WRS’ fourth park, the River Safari. Due to open in the second half of 2012, the collection will include the critically endangered Southeast Asian narrow headed turtle, one of the largest freshwater turtles that can grow over 1.1m in length and 100kg in weight, as well as the big headed turtle from China. These turtles are known for their impressive climbing abilities, a trait that is unique amongst the species, which enables them to cross over rocky stream bottoms and against fast current.

Batagur hatchling at Singapore Zoo

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

WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE TO HOST SLOW LORIS IDENTIFICATION TRAINING AT SINGAPORE ZOO

Singapore, June 11, 2008Wildlife Reserves Singapore will be hosting a Slow Loris Identification Training Workshop on June 13, 2008 at the Singapore Zoo. Through a combination of presentations and interactive learning, the day long training workshop aims to raise awareness of the slow loris’ endangered status. A total of 27 enforcement officials and Wildlife Reserves Singapore representatives are participating in the training workshop.

Mr Kumar Pillai, Assistant Director of Zoology, Night Safari said: “The workshop will present a golden opportunity for participants to learn more about slow lorises and wildlife conservation. Learning from an expert in the field will help us better educate the public about slow lorises in the future.”

Conducted by acclaimed conservationist Dr Anna Nekaris, of Oxford Brookes University, UK, the programme will address numerous topics related to the slow loris. Reasons behind its endangered status, slow loris taxonomy and morphology, and the identification of various slow loris species as well as its look-alikes are just some of the many topics that will be addressed. Additionally, a glimpse into the workings of the illegal wildlife trade, specifically with regards to common slow loris smuggling methods will be touched on.

Participating officials include those from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), National Parks Board (NParks), NUS Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research as well as representatives from the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

The training workshop aims to ultimately contribute to a reduction in illegal slow loris trade and the inappropriate release of confiscated slow lorises.

Currently, Night Safari has 18 slow lorises, which can be seen along the Leopard Trail.