Cyclophorus perdix aquila

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Cyclophorus perdix aquila
Mandai, 5th June 2018

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

We thank Benjamin Lee and Raem Tan from NParks for notifying us of a Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica) carcass this morning in the Mandai area.

Preliminary inspection shows broken scales and bruises that indicate vehicular impact as the cause of death. The carcass has been recovered by the museum, and analysis of its stomach contents would tell us more about the diet of Pangolins as part of an existing research project.

If you see dead wildlife, do not let them die in vain, as they are valuable for science. Please alert us here.

Source: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum Facebook

In search of roadkill

Researcher is studying how many reptiles and amphibians die here due to vehicle collisions
By Carolyn Khew, 1st February 2015;

On two days last month, 26-year-old Mary-Ruth Low cruised along leafy roads near forested areas on her Yamaha motorbike.

Ms Low, a research assistant at the National University of Singapore (NUS), was not out on joy rides but going around at a speed of 25kmh to look for animals – dead ones to be precise.

This may seem like a gory task, but it is part of a one-year study that Ms Low started last month to get a sense of how many reptiles and amphibians die due to collisions with oncoming vehicles.

Once every two weeks, she and two others visit 10 sites, including Old Upper Thomson Road and Mandai Lake Road, to look for animal carcasses. The areas chosen include those where roadkill is said to be found most frequently.

Armed with a handheld GPS (global positioning system) device, a ruler and a point-and-shoot camera, Ms Low takes pictures of dead animals and records the precise locations where they are found.

She does not usually pick up the animal carcasses. But if she comes across a rare species, she will hand it over to the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum for research purposes.

Asked what made her start this study, Ms Low, who does research at NUS on the spatial ecology of reptiles, said there is hardly any documenting of roadkill involving animals such as snakes and monitor lizards (Varanus spp.).

This was even though “being ground-dwelling and slow-moving creatures, they are most prone to deaths by oncoming traffic”.

“The data is out there but no one is really looking,” she said. “Hopefully, we can establish baseline data which can be used for future reference.”

Mr Louis Ng, chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), said animals may be on the roads to bask or roost at roadside vegetation.

“Land-clearing for developments pushes native wildlife to use urban corridors, leading to increased chances of human-wildlife interactions,” he added.

Last year, ACRES received 26 calls from members of the public about roadkill involving animals such as Macaques (Macaca fascicularis), turtles and snakes. There have been at least five such calls so far this year.

When asked, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it received 2,198 notices of feedback last year on dead animals sighted, regardless whether they were killed on the roads or otherwise. In 2013, the figure was 2,324.

“NEA clears such animal carcasses that it comes across as part of its scheduled cleaning rounds or in response to public feedback, in the interest of public health,” said an NEA spokesman, who added that the agency is responsible for clearing animal carcasses in public areas, except estates maintained by the town councils.

Wildlife experts have suggested building “road calming measures” such as speed bumps and animal crossing signs near roadkill-prone areas to minimise such occurrences.

At Mandai Lake Road, signs are placed along both sides of the road leading to the Singapore Zoo to warn motorists of possible animals ahead.

In some instances, rarer wildlife such as Pangolins (Manis javanica), Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and the critically endangered Banded Leaf Monkey (Presbytis femoralis) have fallen prey to oncoming traffic.

Mr Nick Baker, who is helping in Ms Low’s study, started his own recording of roadkill incidents along Old Upper Thomson Road since he moved to the area in 2012.

Mr Baker, a member of the Vertebrate Study Group of the Nature Society (Singapore), said the road is a hot spot as it used to be part of the Grand Prix circuit in the 1960s.

“Inconsiderate drivers use the road to show off their fast cars,” he said. “Many other drivers are simply not observant enough to see animals on the road.”

Source: The Straits Times (Mirror)

Carcasses used as research specimens

Not all animals die in vain.

Over at the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, some get turned into research specimens in their afterlife.

Its museum officer Marcus Chua told The Sunday Times that each specimen is “valuable to science”.

For example, the stomach contents of the animal can provide information about its diet, he said.

A portion of the animal tissue is preserved or cryogenically frozen at very low temperatures and kept in the tissue collection for genetic research. “Eventually, the whole animal is preserved for future scientific work. Sometimes, the right person may come by years down the road and make a striking discovery,” said Mr Chua, 31.

Many of these specimens are also used for science education workshops and public awareness exhibitions at the museum, which will open in April.

About one-third, or 11, of the 32 carcasses collected last year were believed to be roadkill, said Mr Chua.

While snakes and birds make up most of the salvaged specimens, the museum has some rarer finds.

They include an endangered Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) collected in 2001, a Greater Mousedeer (Tragulus napu), and a Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) received last week.

“I think knowing what is out there and being killed on the roads is the first step,” said Mr Chua.

“But using the data to find out which species may be imperilled by vehicular traffic, and how to go about reducing this mortality for the conservation of biodiversity is the next step.”

Those who spot a wild animal carcass can inform the museum on 6516-5082 or visit its website at http://lkcnhm.net/dead-wildlife/.

They may also call the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society on its 24-hour hotline, 9783-7782.

Source: The Straits Times

Do show your support for the Singapore Roadkill Records project! If you see an animal carcass due to a road-related incident, kindly submit a photo to sgroadkillrecords@gmail.com with the following information:

  1. Date and Time
  2. Detailed location or GPS coordinates
  3. Species identification (if possible)

In search of roadkill

Red-legged Crake (Rallina fasciata)
Mandai Lake Road, 29th January 2014

This photo of a dead Red-legged Crake, a possible roadkill, was shared by Benjamin Lee.

Find out how you can contribute to Monday Morgue too.

On 7 Oct 2014, we were alerted to a juvenile Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) carcass along Mandai Road thanks to a friend, Edward Khoo who was in turn informed by his colleague, Hairi Zack.

Thanks also to Ong Say Lin who provided prompt help to collect the carcass, and Marcus Chua and Joys Tan who helped with measurements and preservation. This specimen will contribute diet and distribution data to the ongoing civet research.

If you have seen any animal carcasses, please contact the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at +65 6516 5082, or email to civetsg@gmail.com with information on the species, exact location and condition of animal.

Source: Common Palm Civets of Singapore Facebook