SINGAPORE - The existence of myriad wildlife on an island that is almost entirely urbanised has captivated many.
From sambar deer roaming the forests of Mandai to otters frolicking around Marina Bay, The Straits Times looks at some creatures that call the Republic home, based on the latest data available from the National Parks Board (NParks).
There are two species of monkeys native to Singapore. The first is the critically endangered Raffles’ banded langur, which has a population of 73 as at 2022, and the second is its more pesky relative, the long-tailed macaque, which numbers around 2,000, according to a 2012 study conducted by NParks.
The macaques can be found in the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves. Though their presence may seem overwhelming, their current numbers are considered to be healthy by NParks.
To manage potential conflicts with humans, NParks uses strategies such as “monkey guarding” – blocking the creatures from approaching and redirecting them to forests instead – and relocation if their behaviour is more aggressive.
2. Wild boar
There are around 150 to 200 of these creatures in the nature reserves, based on a study conducted by NParks from 2019 to 2020. A separate report published on Feb 16 by the agency, in collaboration with researchers from local and overseas universities, suggested they may have swum from Malaysia in the 1990s. Wild boar are normally found near the edges of forests due to the availability of human food and natural resources for reproduction.
NParks is actively managing wild boar numbers to prevent overpopulation through the removal of oil palm (a favoured food source), feeding prohibitions, and culling as a last resort.
Singapore’s sambar deer currently number around 15 in the island’s nature reserves, as reported in a 2021 study by NParks. They can be found around the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment Nature Reserves, and probably re-established their population after escaping from zoos in the 1970s.
Their presence is expected to benefit Singapore’s ecosystems as they perform important functions like seed dispersal.
There are two species of otters in Singapore: the Asian small-clawed otter, which is classified as critically endangered locally, and the more commonly seen smooth-coated otters, which number around 150.
There are 10 families of smooth-coated otters here, with the Bishan, Marina and Zouk groups being more prominent. Though they seem to be all over, from Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park to Pulau Ubin, NParks said in 2022 that their population remains at a healthy level, and that further growth in numbers will be limited by the availability of space to feed and rest.
An Otter Working Group involving the public and wildlife experts was set up in 2014 to regularly monitor the creatures and manage conflict with humans.