Night Safari Singapore is home to the world’s first conservation breeding programme
for Sunda pangolins; Experts gather to discuss species conservation efforts

Image 1 (left): Sunda pangolin babies hitch a ride on mom’s tail when they are young. Not much is known about these elusive creatures but Night Safari intends to change that by supporting several projects to learn more about the behaviour and ecology of the world’s only scaly mammal.

Image 2 (right): When threatened, pangolins curl into a ball, making them easy targets for poachers. In the past 10 years alone, it is believed that more than one million pangolins have been illegally traded.

SINGAPORE, 18 February 2016Night Safari is scaling up on efforts to save the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal from extinction, through a number of pangolin conservation and research programmes.

The global trade of pangolins has reached epic proportions and it is believed that more than one million have been traded illegally in the past decade alone. International trade is largely driven by demand in China and Vietnam where pangolins are considered a delicacy and poached extensively for their scales, meat and skin for use in traditional medicine.

World Pangolin Day, which is celebrated on 20 February 2016, aims to raise awareness on the plight of these scaly mammals which are poached more than elephants and rhinos combined. Organised in conjunction with World Pangolin Day, a group of dedicated pangolin conservationists met with the Wildlife Reserve Singapore (WRS) Conservation & Research team in Singapore this week (Tuesday, 16 February 2016) to review the ongoing research efforts for Singapore’s remaining pangolins.

Through its conservation fund, WRS is supporting a number of projects which include tracking pangolins in the wild with radio and GPS tags and training conservation sniffer dogs to help with local and regional field efforts for wild pangolins.

In addition, Night Safari is home to the world’s first conservation breeding programme for the Sunda pangolin which is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN* Red List of Threatened Species. It currently houses seven Sunda pangolins in its protection, two of which were born under human care.

Dr Sonja Luz, Director of Conservation & Research, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “The plight facing pangolins is devastating and if we want to win the battle against the illegal wildlife trade, we must educate people and inspire compassion and respect for nature and animals. At WRS, we have made this our mission, and we have the unique opportunity to study and learn more about this elusive animal right at our doorstep.”

She added, “Our local research and conservation efforts contribute to a better understanding of the biology and urban ecology of pangolins. Through our captive breeding efforts, we are able to raise more awareness about the amazing creatures.”
A Singapore pangolin working group consisting local stakeholders has also been formed to gather feedback on outreach and research activities to maximise conservation efforts.

Image 3_Pangolin Book _WRS (smaller)To further reach out to children, WRS has published a book titled ‘Why did the pangolin cross the road?’ (left). This illustrated anecdote is inspired by one of the seven pangolins in Night Safari’s collection, and features English and Mandarin texts.

On World Pangolin Day, Night Safari has lined up two special sessions of Keeper Talks where visitors will have the opportunity to get up close with the park’s Sunda pangolin. The pangolins can be found on the Fishing Cat Trail at Night Safari.


Critically endangered Sunda pangolin, cotton-top tamarin and southern river terrapin
among animal births this year; giant river otters produce two babies.

Radin, Night Safari’s third and newest Sunda pangolin baby, rests in the protective clutch of his mother Nita. Found throughout primary and secondary forests of Southeast Asia, Sunda pangolins, also known as Malayan pangolins, are critically endangered as populations in the wild are experiencing rapid decline. Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Radin, Night Safari’s third and newest Sunda pangolin baby, rests in the protective clutch of his mother Nita. Found throughout primary and secondary forests of Southeast Asia, Sunda pangolins, also known as Malayan pangolins, are critically endangered as populations in the wild are experiencing rapid decline.
Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Singapore, 2 October 2014 – To mark World Animal Day this year, Wildlife Reserves Singapore announced the arrival of some of the world’s rarest babies, among them the critically endangered Sunda pangolin that is native to Singapore.

Between January and August 2014, over 400 animal babies were born or hatched in Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo. Nearly one in four babies belongs to animals listed as ‘threatened’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species* and these include the Bali mynah, Javan langur, proboscis monkey and giant anteater.

The birth of a critically endangered Sunda pangolin in Night Safari is one of the most iconic births for WRS as the species is native to Singapore and is the logo for the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund. Night Safari is the world’s first zoological institution to house the elusive, solitary, nocturnal creature which in recent years has been driven closer to extinction by illegal animal trafficking, habitat loss and being hunted for their meat and scales at an unsustainable level. This is the third successful birth of a Sunda pangolin in WRS since 2011.

Another exciting development comes from the giant river otters at River Safari which displays this rare species for the first time in Asia. While their first pup in 2013 did not survive, the giant otters are now proud parents of two new pups. Parents Carlos and Carmen have become more experienced in raising their young and have started teaching the pups how to swim.

Giant river otter Carmen brings her pups for a swimming lesson at River Safari – the first zoological institution in Asia to display this endangered species. Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore
Giant river otter Carmen brings her pups for a swimming lesson at River Safari – the first zoological institution in Asia to display this endangered species.
Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Over at Jurong Bird Park, a Goliath palm cockatoo is successfully bred for the first time. Goliath palm cockatoos have one of the lowest hand-rearing success rates among the parrot species due to their specialised diet. The park also successfully bred eight critically endangered Bali mynahs. Conservation efforts for the species intensified in 2010 – the year which marked the start of a partnership with Indonesia’s Begawan Foundation. Bred specifically to increase the off-site numbers of Bali mynahs in the wild, all progenies will eventually be sent back to Bali.

Singapore Zoo is ecstatic to welcome the births of two critically endangered species to its collection: the cotton-top tamarin and southern river terrapin. Singapore Zoo also saw the birth of an endangered proboscis monkey this May and the park continues to house the largest collection of proboscis monkeys in the world, outside of Indonesia.

Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: “The world is undergoing an unprecedented loss of wildlife as a direct result of human related activities. Each of these births represents a precious glimmer of hope in our effort to help save the planet’s biodiversity. Many of them are part of coordinated conservation breeding programmes to safeguard against extinction in the wild. All of them are invaluable ambassadors for their species
to connect our visitors to the need for their protection.”

*International Union for Conservation of Nature


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.



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.



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.

(L-R) President Tony Tan Keng Yam leading the lantern procession at the Singapore Zoo with his granddaughter and Mr George Huang, President, Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation.
Ms Isa Loh, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (far left), President Tony Tan, and Mr George Huang, President of Singapore Manufacturers’ Federation (far right) celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival with members of the public at the Singapore Zoo’s inaugural Moon Night 2011 event.



Singapore, 24 May, 2011 – Jurong Bird Park will be aflutter with activity this June as our feathered friends and their origami counterparts bring to life a first-of-its-kind paper wonderland.

The event, titled “Save the Colour,‟ is a hands-on way in which the whole family can learn about avian conservation and the various elements that contribute to a healthy ecosystem. Most of the Penguin Coast area will be turned into an “Origami Village‟ and visitors will be asked to help rebuild the village and habitats of the birds, who represent the colours of our world. With the combined efforts of many participants throughout the weekends of June, the village will become “populated‟ with origami items which symbolise avian habitats, and kids also learn that everyone can make a difference to saving the colours of our world.

The three habitats represented in the village will each have a different conservation theme. For example, at Antarctica, the aquatic and the tropical garden landscape, kids will learn to fold origami items like “ice blocks‟, fishes and flowers to highlight the dangers of global warming and deforestation.

Kids can also “adopt a bird” by making a contribution to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF) and learn how to fold an origami crane which symbolises the bird that they have saved. They can then show their commitment to the cause by attaching a personal pledge to each crane they place on the trees in the garden habitat.

Kids can also help to spread the message about “Saving the Colour‟ by sending their friends free postcards. The postcards will be mailed for free to their friends and is limited to local addresses only.

For a little more fun, kids can also experience and celebrate the vibrance of our feathered friends by getting free colourful air-brushed bird tattoos and face painting makeover at our Origami Village.

Event Details
Date: Every weekend in June, 10am – 4pm
Venue: Jurong Bird Park
Price: Park entrance fees apply, event participation is free
Adult: $18.00
Children (12 years old and below): $12.00
Free for children below 1 year old

Annual Camps
Jurong Bird Park’s annual 2-Day Bird Quest Camp and Sleep with the Penguins Camp will also be part of the exciting activities lined-up this June holidays. The 2-day Bird Quest Camp is an exciting adventure that allows kids to get up-close with raptors, and some may even get to handle a bird of prey! Behind the scenes tours are also scheduled, and there will be lots of hands-on activities and feeding sessions with birds. It includes a tour around the Bird Discovery Centre where they will come face to face with the world’s largest egg, and learn more about how birds fly. Families get to spend quality time with our feathered friends during the Sleep with the Penguins Camp. Camp participants will also meet Pinky, the park’s star Humboldt penguin, get a chance to get behind the scenes and separately, feed some feathered friends!

For more information on the annual camps, log onto:

Save The Colour


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,



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:

Banded Leaf Monkey
Banded Leaf Monkey with baby
Banded Leaf Monkey



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.



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