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

  • The most deaths involved the Malayan Tapir, a species designated as ‘endangered’, or very likely to be extinct.
  • Last year, a Malayan Tiger was hit by an MPV as it crossed the East Coast Expressway 2 at around 1 am, prompting renewed calls for motorists to slow when using highways at vulnerable areas at night.

Photos: Bernama

Malaysia: From Leopard to Sun Bears: Malaysian motorists are killing our precious fauna
By May Robertson, 28th May 2017;

Nature and animal lovers were left heartbroken on Christmas eve as two threatened animals — a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) and a Tapir (Tapirus indicus) — were both killed following collisions with motorists.

The deaths were hardly new, nor were they isolated.

Statistics given by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Wildlife Department to Malay Mail recorded at least 39 roadkill deaths involving threatened species in Malaysia between January and September this year.

The most deaths involved the Malayan Tapir, a species designated as “endangered”, or very likely to be extinct.

The report also indicated that there were 221 cases of roadkill in the same period, with the most cases happening in Pahang at 24 incidents, which was eight times more than runners-up Terengganu and Johor.

Just last year, a Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) — classified “critically endangered” — was hit by an MPV as it crossed the East Coast Expressway 2 at around 1 am, prompting renewed calls for motorists to slow when using highways at vulnerable areas at night.

Things have not changed much. Malay Mail lists down several of this year’s reported cases of motorists mowing down threatened animals:

June 19: Elephant calf in Ipoh, Perak

An Elephant (Elephas maximus) calf was killed after a teacher came across a herd of Elephants at the middle of the East-West Highway around 2.30 am. Following the incident, a hoax went viral online claiming that several Elephants went on a rampage.

June 22: Black Leopard in Kuala Lipis, Pahang

A 60-kg black Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri) was killed after it was hit by a heavy vehicle along Jalan Sungai Yu-Merapoh, Kuala Lipis. The animal was found just eight km away from the Sungai Yu Eco Viaduct wildlife route.

August 22: Tapirs in Kuantan, Pahang

Two Tapirs were critically injured after they were simultaneously hit while crossing the Kuantan-Gebeng bypass at around 10pm. The two Tapirs succumbed to their head and stomach injuries.

August 23: Elephant in Gerik, Perak

A 12-year-old bull Elephant was killed after a tour bus on the East-West Highway rammed into it at around 5.30am. The animal collapsed and got up to its feet, only later to die at the shoulder of the road some time later.

October 29: Tapir in Jeli, Kelantan

A Tapir was found dead after it was hit by a vehicle on the Jalan Jeli-Dabong near Kampung Renyuk, Jeli. The animal was killed by an injury to its neck.

December 22: Tapir in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan

A car hit a Tapir dead at around 4.30 am along Jalan Seremban-Kuala Pilah.

Source: Malay Mail

  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

A male Panther, locally known as ’harimau kumbang’, was found dead along Jalan Sungai Yu-Merapoh near here yesterday.
Photos: STR / Mohd Rafi Mamat & Ahmad Nazree Sahbudin Facebook

Malaysia: Fatal accident along Jalan Sungai Yu-Merapoh claims life of endangered Panther
23rd June 2017;

A male Panther (Panthera pardus), locally known as ’harimau kumbang’, was found dead along Jalan Sungai Yu-Merapoh near here yesterday.

State National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said the carcass of the protected animal was recovered some eight kilometers from the Sungai Yu eco-viaduct (wildlife crossing) about 10am on Thursday.

He said checks revealed the adult-sized Panther might have been hit by a heavy vehicle between midnight and early yesterday before some villagers stumbled upon the carcass.

“The animal sustained injuries on the head and this is the first incident reported along the stretch near Sungai Yu in Lipis,” he said.

Images of the Panther have gone viral on social media with many expressing concern for the safety of the endangered species especially when they roam close to the main roads at night and early morning.

On June 19, a two-year-old Elephant (Elephas maximus) was found dead by the roadside of the Gerik-Jeli Highway in Gerik, Perak after a motorist crashed into the calf about 2.30am.

Source: New Straits Times

Indonesia: Javan Leopards reportedly poisoned in West Java

By Aditya Rohman & Ratri M. Siniwi, 4th August 2016;

After preying on cattle belonging to residents in Cipangparang village in the Sukabumi district, West Java, two Javan Leopards (Panthera pardus melas) have reportedly been killed by poisoning.

Kusmara, head of the Bogor Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said the two Leopards roamed the conservation area before making their way into the settlement.

“The death of the two endangered species is still being investigated by the West Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency and we suspect that the Leopards have been poisoned by the residents after seeing many of their cattle were being preyed by the wild animals,” Kusmara told state-run news agency Antara on Wednesday (03/08).

The officials are still searching for the remains of the Leopards and have coordinated with the community after they were notified of the deaths.

BKSDA has encouraged residents to report the incidents, rather than kill the endangered animals.

“The Javan Leopard is one of the protected wildlife species, under the Law of the Conservation of Natural Resources,” Kuswara said.

The Javan Leopard is found in a number of conservation areas, including in Mount Gede Pangrango National Park, Mount Halimun Salak National Park and in the Cikepuh Wildlife conservation area in West Java.

Source: Jakarta Globe

Indonesia: Javan Leopards reportedly poisoned in West Java

Wildlife authorities in Malaysia have made their 5th leopard seizure inside 6 months © Department of Wildlife and National Parks

Malaysia: Wildlife Department vigilance leads to five leopards seized in five months
17th February 2014;

Wildlife authorities have arrested two men and seized a Leopard (Panthera pardus) — the fifth to be found in raids in Peninsular Malaysia in less than six months.

The men were arrested after authorities found the carcass of the Leopard and a Mousedeer (Tragulus sp.) at a bus stop near the town of Karak, in the state of Pahang, on the east coast of the country.

Officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks who made the discovery also seized two bullets, two mobile phones, a backpack, a machete and a motorcycle from the suspects.

The animals were hunted from a forest near Karak. Markings on the Leopard’s foreleg indicate that the animal was snared—use of snares by poachers is widespread in South-East Asia.

“Subject to the provision of the law, no person shall hunt or keep any totally protected wildlife unless granted a special permit. No person shall also possess or keep, or set, place or use any snare for the purpose of hunting any wildlife,” said Abdul Kadir Hashim, Director for Law Enforcement, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Peninsular Malaysia.

“We urge anyone with information on this case, or of any such incidences to come forward immediately to assist the Department in its effort to protect our wildlife,” he said.

The two are expected to face charges on three counts of illegal hunting under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. If convicted they face a mandatory minimum fine of MYR 200,000 (USD 64,500) and prison sentence that could stretch up to 20 years. The total maximum fines under the charges amount to MYR 1.3 million (USD 419,300). The two men have been remanded to assist with investigations.

“We congratulate the Wildlife Department on this seizure and arrest. Wildlife trafficking syndicates have had a free reign for far too long but over the last year, we have seen a number of significant enforcement actions, including the arrests of people involved in the trade of Tigers, Leopards and ivory,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in South-East Asia.

The incident points to a rising and worrying pattern of illegal hunting of Leopards in the country. Five months ago, the Department made another breakthrough bust when they arrested a 40-year old man for smuggling four Leopards and a Tiger (Panthera tigris) from Rantau Panjang, a town near the Thai-Malaysia border. Clear snare markings on all the animals were indicative of the manner in which these animals were caught in the wild.

“The real game-changer now will be solid prosecution, and conviction of wildlife criminals. The penalties meted out by the courts must consider the organised criminality of this business and must bring the full force of the law to bear on them. Paltry sentences do no justice to wildlife lost or to the tireless efforts of wildlife officials who risk their lives hunting down ruthless syndicates,” said Shepherd.

Source: TRAFFIC