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.
PHOTO CREDITS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
SINGAPORE, 18 February 2016 – Night 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.
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.