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

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,

ABUNDANCE OF BABIES AT SINGAPORE ZOO

INCLUDES ENDANGERED SPECIES SUCH AS COTTON-TOP TAMARIN, PYGMY HIPPOPOTAMUS AND DOUC LANGUR

Singapore, 31 January 2011 – The year ended with a bumper brood of babies at the Singapore Zoo with nearly 300 births and hatchings in 2010, which include endangered species like the cotton-top tamarin, pygmy hippopotamus and the Douc langur.

Considered one of the world’s top 25 most endangered primates and classified as critically-endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the cotton-top tamarin is one of the few species that survives better in captivity than in the wild. Despite protection from the international laws, there are only about 2,000 adult cotton-top tamarins left in the wild in South America. Eleven cotton-top tamarins were born at the zoo last year. The park now has a thriving population of 30.

The Singapore Zoo also celebrated its sole pygmy hippopotamus birth for the year in October. This species is listed as endangered by the IUCN. Similar to the cotton-top tamarins, the survival of this reclusive mammal in captivity is higher than in the wild. With the latest addition, the Singapore Zoo now has four pygmy hippopotamus in its collection.

One of the most colourful primates, the Douc langur, known for its extremely striking appearance, is also considered endangered by IUCN. This species is endemic to Indochina and can be found in Lao, Vietnam and northern Cambodia. These primates suffer from intense levels of hunting for food and for use in traditional medicines. Destruction of its natural habitat is also a major threat to this species. Singapore Zoo saw four births last year and now has a population of 15.

Other animal babies welcomed in 2010 include the proboscis monkey, meerkat, manatee, spotted mousedeer, oriental small-clawed otter, Chinese stripe-necked turtle and Linne’s two-toed sloth, amongst the 44 species of births and hatchings.

“It has been very encouraging welcoming these newborns to our family of animals in the zoo, particularly those of an endangered status. WRS has enjoyed an abundant year of births and hatchings, and captive breeding is an important element of what we do for species conservation. With rising threats such as habitat loss, human encroachment and poaching, captive breeding programmes may be the only hope of saving some species for future generations,” said Mr Biswajit Guha, Director of Zoology at the Singapore Zoo.

The Singapore Zoo, operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) which also runs the award winning Night Safari, Jurong Bird Park and the upcoming river-themed park, the River Safari, has a number of conservation research initiatives such as the captive breeding of proboscis monkeys and study of their dietary requirements, as well as hormonal analyses to chart the oestrous cycles. It continues to work with other zoos and wildlife institutions around the world to facilitate animal exchanges to expand the captive gene pool and increase the population of endangered animal species.

Cotton-top Tamarin
Pygmy Hyppopotamus
Linne's two-toed sloth