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

3rd March is World Wildlife Day, recognised worldwide as a day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.

Being a small island, Singapore never had many species compared to landmasses such as the Malay Peninsula and the much larger islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Years of deforestation and development have subsequently led to the loss of more species of native plants and animals. However, the biodiversity that has survived is still very rich, and a lot of species have managed to thrive in our midst.

Unfortunately, living close to people comes at a great cost, particularly where motor vehicles are involved. It’s not known how many animals are killed on our roads, but it’s fairly easy to find roadkill, even of supposedly very rare species, on many of the roads fringing our forests and other green spaces. Even swift and agile species like birds, monkeys, and squirrels are often hit by vehicles. Do drive carefully, slow down if the road is along the edge of the forest, and watch out for animals crossing the road!

If you find roadkill or any other carcass of a wild animal, you can contact the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. If the body can be salvaged, it will be added to the Museum’s collections and contribute to better understanding and hopefully conservation of our wildlife.

Upper Left: White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis Phoenicurus) @ Sungei Tengah
Upper Right: A pair of Asian Toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) in amplexus @ Sungei Tengah
Lower Left: Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus) @ Farrer Road
Lower Right: Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus) @ Lim Chu Kang