Our Activities

Annual Outreach Events

Istana Open House

Kids activities booth at an Istana Open House event

WRS staff and docent sharing conservation concerns surrounding pangolins and civets with visitors

Every year, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) sets up a booth at the Istana during the five public holidays opened to the public each year to educate the public on native wildlife. In 2013, WRS focused its Istana out-reach programs around the Year of the Snake. Information about different species of snakes was shared with the public. A free phone-app for Singapore snake identification was developed with the support of Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF).

In 2014 as well WRS participated in the Istana Open House raising awareness on the various threats to wildlife due to human demand for animals and animal products. “Love your Locals” badges were also created and presented as merchandise for donations at the Istana Open House events in 2014.

Festival of Biodiversity

WRSCF booth with a panel display, reptile specimens and “Love your Locals” badges

WRS docents having fun sharing crab conservation messages with the public

WRS participated in the third annual Festival of Biodiversity 2014. This festival aimed to bring together all sectors of the community, to celebrate and learn more about our natural heritage, our efforts in conserving and enhancing our biodiversity, and the ways in which the public can contribute. WRSCF displayed a panel showcasing the local research work supported over the 5 years of its existence. Awareness regarding reptiles was spread using snake and monitor lizard specimens as well as the phone app on the Snakes of Singapore which has been funded by the WRSCF. Two specimens of freshwater crabs were displayed at the booth and information on the conservation needs to the Singapore Freshwater Crab was shared with the public.

During the past Festival of Biodiversity in 2012 and 2013 as well, WRS showcased all WRSCF funded projects and educated the public on native wildlife.


Freshwater Crab Conservation Roundtable

Speaker Philip McGowan (Co-chair of IUCN Species Survival Commission's Policy Subcommittee and member of its Strategic Conservation Planning Subcommittee)

Participants of the Freshwater Crab Conservation Roundtable

A Roundtable on Freshwater Crab Conservation with special reference to Johora singaporensis was held on 27th – 29th March 2014. This round table was sponsored by WRSCF and organised in partnership with DBS- NUS, NParks and IUCN. The first two days (27th& 28th March) were closed roundtable discussions with select invited stakeholders to brainstorm and develop a conservation plan.

A total of 40 representatives from National Parks Board, National University of Singapore (NUS), International Union for Conservation of Nature, WRS, expert crab breeders, Ministry of Defence, Singapore Land Authority, National Environment Agency, Public Utilities Board, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Nature Society Singapore, Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology and Fauna & Flora International, all worked together on the threat analysis for the species. They also arrived at the vision, goals, objectives, actions and suggestions for implementation of the conservation plan which has been compiled to produce a comprehensive document. Please click here to read the Singapore Freshwater Crab Conservation Strategy.

The third day (29th March) was a public seminar which served as a platform to showcase the outcome of the roundtable and spread awareness on crab conservation amongst the general public of Singapore. 70 participants attended this public seminar and participated in the panel discussion.


Scaling up Pangolin Conservation

Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanicus)

Speaker Dan Challender (Co-Chair of IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group)

The first-ever global conference on the conservation of pangolins was held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group and co-organized and hosted by WRS on 24 – 27 June 2013.

Themed ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, this conference saw the presentation of recent research into understanding demand for pangolins, ecological monitoring and the latest development in captive care, followed by workshops conducted to formulate a conservation strategy for the next decade. This will involve a number of major initiatives including: research into behaviour change to measurably reduce demand for pangolins through social marketing campaigns, assessment of populations in identified strongholds, the strengthening of legislation in East Asian markets and the stepping up of current enforcement efforts in pangolin trade hotspots. However, it will also demand raising awareness about these shy and nocturnal creatures for example, by engaging celebrity support and publishing a monograph celebrating the species.

This conference also saw the status of the world’s 8 extant pangolins re-assessed for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It was confirmed that populations of each species are in steep decline, with the Chinese pangolin deemed to be almost certainly extinct in China where they were once abundant. This is a result of overexploitation for consumption of its meat and scales, an action which is having a devastating impact on the world’s remaining pangolins. 

The conference was made possible by the generous support of WRS, WRSCF, the Zoological Society of London, San Antonio Zoo, the Houston Zoo, TRAFFIC, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong. Over 40 conservationists from 14 countries convened for the conference to map out solutions for the global decline of pangolins and a multi-faceted approach is urgently needed given their declining conservation status worldwide.

Conservation Perspectives: Tokay Gecko

[Left to right] Ahimza Campos-Arceiz (MEME), Christopher Stremme (VESSWIC), Mike Spits, Co-founder of Elephant Parade, Martin Tyson (WCS), Chairman WRS Claire Chiang, Dr. William Thomas (ElefantAsia)

From 11 Nov 2011 – 12 Jan 2012, 25 out of the over 150 elephant sculptures from Elephant Parade Singapore were displayed in Singapore Zoo. The sculptures were auctioned off and WRS and WRSCF received funding to be used on regional and local elephant conservation projects.

The Elephant Conservation Seminar, sponsored by WRSCF with funding from the Elephant Parade, was held on 11 Jan 2013 to showcase four major elephant projects in the region which have received funding from this cause. The organisations, ElefantAsia, Laos; WCS, Sumatra; Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic), Sumatra; and Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), Malaysia, were chosen due to their commitment to the conservation, welfare and healthcare of the Asian elephant.

The speakers, William Thomas BVSc MRCVS, Head Veterinarian of ElefantAsia; Dr Martin Tyson, Technical Advisor, WCS Asian Elephant Programs; Dr Christopher Stremme, Project Manager of Vesswic; and Assistant Professor Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, Principal Investigator of MEME each gave a 30 min talk on the issues surrounding elephant conservation in their region and the work that their organisation is doing. A total of 30 WRS staff, 23 invited guests (from Elephant Parade, WCS, Asian Elephant Foundation, Banyan Tree, Nature Society, NUS and International Rhino Foundation) and 16 public members attended the seminar. The seminar provided an opportunity for the public to learn more about the plight of Asian elephants and conservation work that is being done in the field.


Elephant Conservation Seminar

Dead geckos on sticks [©TRAFFIC]

The Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko) is a species found throughout Southeast Asia in both urban and naturally forested environments that has been traded as traditional medicine for hundreds of years and more recently, as pets. In 2009, reports of Tokay Geckos being used as a cure for HIV/AIDS rapidly increased its trade, putting enormous pressure on the species. In late 2011, WRS and WWF-Malaysia funded TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, to investigate the Tokay Gecko trade. Dr. Chris Shepherd, Deputy Regional Director for TRAFFIC, launched the report and presented data to support a CITES II listing for this species at a public talk on 12 April 2013.

Supported by Banyan Tree Global Foundation (BTGF) and WRSCF, the 2-hour talk was attended by 50 students and professionals from governmental and non-governmental organizations, including WRS staff.


Conservation of Asian Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles: Setting Priorities for the Next Ten Years

Participants of the primate conservation workshop

WRSCF and WRS, in collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global, WAZA and Primate Conservation Inc. hosted this two-week primate workshop from 2 - 15 May 2011. The objectives of the workshop were to share technical skills and knowledge, as well as hands-on training for zoo professionals and primate conservationists.

More than 30 participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal, China and Taiwan attended the workshop. Local participants included WRS staff and students from the NUS and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Intensive classroom lectures on primate taxonomy, behaviour and conservation, as well as primate welfare were conducted by lecturers Dr Chia Tan, Dr Sylvia Atsalis and Dr Lance Miller from San Diego Zoo Global. Participants also designed behavioural observation projects and went on field trips to study local primates such as the long-tailed macaques.

Primate Conservation Workshop

Participants of the talk

In recent years, the population of many tortoise and turtle species has been declining at alarming rates. This 4-day workshop from 21 to 24 February 2011 brought together over 70 specialists and experts to review activities for the past decade, set out conservation plans for the next 10 years and discuss the management of confiscated tortoises and turtles, as well as the captive facility designs. A detailed report with recommendation and conclusions from the workshop will soon be published so that the outcomes from the workshop can be shared among wildlife institutions.

Programme partners of WRSCF and WRS were Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in collaboration with IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, IUCN Red List, San Diego Zoo Global and Turtle Survival Alliance.