World Wildlife Day 2018

World Wildlife Day falls on 3rd March every year, and it’s a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The theme for World Wildlife Day in 2018 is “Big cats: predators under threat”. Big cats, and their smaller relatives, are among the most widely recognized and admired animals across the globe. However, today these charismatic predators are facing many and varied threats, which are mostly caused by human activities. Overall, their populations are declining at a disturbing rate due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching and illegal trade.

In Singapore, both the Tiger (Panthera tigris) and Leopard (Panthera pardus) were wiped out, but the Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) still survives. However, it too is threatened with extinction due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The roads that run along and through our forest fragments take their toll. For example, it was feared that the Leopard Cat had become extinct in mainland Singapore, until 2001, when a roadkill was found in Mandai, on the fringes of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Another roadkill was reported from Jalan Bahar, along the edge of the Western Catchment, in 2007.

Roads also threaten Leopard Cats and other wildlife in Peninsular Malaysia – even big cats are not spared. There are two notable recent incidents: in February 2016, a Malayan Tiger was hit by a car as it crossed the East Coast Expressway Phase 2 in Terengganu, which cuts through a forest reserve. A necropsy revealed that it was a pregnant tigress. And in June 2017, a melanistic Leopard (typically called a ‘black panther’) was found dead along Jalan Sungai Yu-Merapoh in Pahang, not far from an eco-viaduct that serves as a wildlife crossing.

Over the past century we have been losing wild cats, among the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.

Photo credits: Leopard Cat roadkill by Charith Pelpola
Tiger and Leopard roadkills from New Straits Times

  1. Roadkill of an adult female Tapir
  2. Roadkill of a female Tiger
  3. Roadkill of a baby Elephant

Photos: Perhilitan

Malaysia: Malaysia to roll out wildlife crossing awareness measures after spate of roadkill cases
By Sumisha Naidu, 21st October 2017;

Malaysia is planning to build more viaducts and roll out wildlife crossing awareness at driving schools after recording more than 2,000 roadkill cases on the peninsula over five years, many involving endangered animals.

Between 2012 to 2016, wildlife roadkills have included not only the more common Monitor Lizards (Varanus spp.) (667 cases) and Macaques (Macaca spp.) (393) but also endangered animals such as Malayan Tapirs (Tapirus indicus) (43), according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in a statement this week.

In the first nine months of 2017, the Malayan Tapir topped the list of endangered animals killed on the road, followed by Asian Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) (14), Elephants (Elephas maximus) (2), Binturong or Asian Bearcats (Arctictis binturong) (2) and one Leopard (Panthera pardus).

Johor recorded the highest number of incidents in the past five years with 494 such cases, followed by Kedah (479), Perak (394), Terengganu (310) and Negeri Sembilan (161).

“This totally senseless killing of our animals has to stop and is such a waste of our national heritage,” said minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar in a statement on Monday (Oct 16).

According to officials, wildlife roadkill incidents usually occur at night, when the animal is trying to cross a road or highway from one area of forest to another in search of food, mates “or seeking more suitable habitat for its survival”.

In August, a pair of Tapirs were killed by a motorist at the Gebeng bypass, days after an Elephant died when a tour bus ran into it in Perak.

Last year, a critically endangered Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) which was pregnant with two cubs was run over by a car headed to Kuala Terengganu.

HELPING ANIMALS GET TO THE OTHER SIDE

Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) has so far installed 236 warning signs at 133 roadkill hotspots to warn drivers to slowdown.

“Please slow down when you see these warning signs,” said Dr Wan Junaidi.

“It is indeed disheartening to know that some drivers tend to speed up when they see those animal crossing signs.”

Dr Pazil Abdul Patah, the director of the Department of Biodiversity Conservation at PERHILITAN told Channel NewsAsia that his department is in talks with driving schools across the country to incorporate wildlife crossing awareness into their curriculums by next year.

Three viaducts have also been built specifically to help wildlife cross safely, with plans for more.

“It has been positive to see a lot of wildlife have been using the viaducts – Elephants, Sun Bears (Helarctos malayanus), Tapirs, Deers (F. Cervidae), Wild Boars (Sus scrofa) and smaller animals like Civet Cats (F. Viverridae) and Flat-headed Cats (Prionailurus planiceps),” said Dr Pazil.

Dr Wan Junaidi told Channel NewsAsia most road builders have been told to create wildlife-friendly viaducts when building through forests and sanctuaries as well.

However, environmentalists are concerned that roadkill incidents will only increase with several major rail projects in the works – including the High-Speed Rail linking up Singapore to Malaysia and the East Coast Rail Link cutting across the Titiwangsa mountain range.

Dr Junaidi said that his officers are providing input on these projects for developers to include tunnels and viaducts for wildlife in their construction plans.

Source: Channel NewsAsia

The Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) personnel recording details of the dead Tapir along Jalan Kuantan-Gambang on July 11, 2016.

Source: The Sun Daily

Malaysia: Five highways and roads identified as ‘roadkill hotspots’
By Hashini Kavishtri Kannan, 13th July 2016;

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has identified five highways and stretches as ‘roadkill hotspots.’

The roads are the Kuala Lipis to Gua Musang stretch, Kulai to Kota Tinggi, Gua Musang to Kuala Krai, Taiping to Selama and the East Coast Expressway 2.

In a statement today, its minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said 1,914 wild animals were killed throughout the country from 2011.

Mammals make up the highest number with 1,110 kills. The animals ranged from Foxes (possibly Civets?) (F. Viverridae), Wild Boar (Sus scrofa), Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and Tapir (Tapirus indicus).

Based on the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) records, 61 roads and highways in the country have recorded roadkill cases.

His statement came about following recent reports that a Tapir was killed at KM25 of the Kuantan-Gambang stretch in Pahang.

“It was learnt that area adjacent to the road was a forest where parts of it were being developed for housing project,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said human-wildlife conflict could be avoided if developers understood the importance of conserving wildlife.

“I hope developers, in the future, will be more concerned and avoid development along highways and roads which cross forested areas.

"They should also build elevated roads, animal viaducts, tunnels and special pathways on highways for animal crossing purposes.

Perhilitan, he said, must also erect more signboards on animal crossings, transverse bars, as well as solar amber lights at locations where the number of roadkills are high.

"Perhilitan has installed 236 signboards at 133 hotspots throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

"A total of 37 sets of transverse bars and 24 units of solar amber lights have been installed at four animal crossings at the Central Forest Spine (CFS) area.

"Animal viaducts have also been built at three locations; Sungai Deka, Terengganu; Sungai Yu, Pahang; and Gerik, Perak,” he said.

Source: New Straits Times

To get to Wehea forest, PROFAUNA’s activists have to pass Kelay forest where carcasses of wild animals struck by palm oil trucks are a common sight. Often times our activists stopped and buried the remains to prevent people from taking advantage of the remaining body parts. So sad!

Source: ProFauna Facebook, via ProFauna Indonesia Facebook

Please drive carefully everyone especially during the night. Most animals are nocturnal and they become active in the evenings. They are not as vigilant as humans so we have to be extra careful while driving.

Dead Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) / Kuching Hutan on Jalan Labi.
Photo by Matthew

Source: 1StopBrunei Wildlife Facebook

Happy New Year everybody!

Here are some of my favourite finds of 2015:

Upper Left: Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

I was awestruck (and also very sad) to see such an impressively large (~1.7 – 2 metres long) Malayan Water Monitor dead by the side of the road, possibly hit by a vehicle.

Upper Right: Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) @ Pasir Ris Park

There is a nesting colony of Grey Herons in Pasir Ris Park. It’s quite strange that they chose to nest in an area with quite a lot of human traffic and noise, but the colony seems to be expanding over the years. I’ve been looking at these herons for some time, but 2015 was the first time I could walk beneath the trees they nest in, and found chicks that had fallen out or otherwise didn’t make it.

Lower Left: Palm King (Amathusia phidippus phidippus) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Earlier in 2015, one of my colleagues found a caterpillar and kept it for a while. Shortly after, it pupated, and when the adult butterfly emerged, we learnt that it was a Palm King, and released it. Several months later, another colleague found a dead Palm King near our office. I doubt it was the same individual that we’d released though. Also, I’m really lousy at identifying butterflies, but thanks to these two encounters with Palm Kings, I now know how to identify this species in the field.

Lower Right: Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

One of the most elusive and rarest of our native mammals, and the last wild cat species still extant in Singapore. Leopard Cats are known to inhabit Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, but finding a carcass was really unexpected.

Centre: Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) @ Singapore Strait

Finally, a carcass I didn’t actually see for myself, but this has got to be the most spectacular dead animal finding of the year.

The Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), Singapore’s last wild cat. They are still under threat, so what can you do to prevent their extinction?

Source: Chace Foo Instagram

This is the same individual Leopard Cat that was found near Bukit Regency and reported on STOMP.