Local Activities Conservation Outreach Workshops & Conferences Research Wildlife Health, Rescue and RehabilitationOur Sustainability Initiatives

Workshops & Conferences

Sharing of knowledge and building capacity for conservation and animal management is a key role zoological institutions play. At WRS, we conduct and assist in organizing various workshops, symposiums, talks and conferences to gather experts to discuss and share the latest progress on various aspects of species conservation and management, strategize priorities and disseminate findings to a wider public audience.


Tattoo the Tortoise - Keeping Ploughshares out of the Illegal Trade

A public seminar on Ploughshare tortoise conservation was organised on 16th December 2013 by WRS in collaboration with Turtle Conservancy, TRAFFIC South East Asia and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Ploughshare Tortoises are prized for their beautiful high domed shells, but are being pushed closer to the brink of extinction due to high demand as unique and exotic pets. Conservation organizations fighting to save this species from poachers are resorting to a drastic measure—engraving identification codes onto the animals’ shells to reduce their black market value. Engraving a tortoise’s shell makes it less desirable to traffickers and easier for enforcement agencies to trace. The two ploughshare tortoises seized by AVA Singapore that are housed in the Singapore Zoo were engraved to help spread awareness about this threat and to educate the Singaporean public about illegal pet trade and its impacts.

Top: Ploughshare Tortoise being engraved.
Bottom: Engraved tortoise back in its tank.

WOW talk on is there a future for Giraffe in Africa

On 3rd December 2013, Dr. Julian Fennessey gave a talk on the current status of Giraffe in Africa. Considered one of the foremost experts on giraffe in the world, he is the co-chair of the IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi specialist group. He highlighted the latest findings of genetic analysis regarding classification of giraffe sub species. He clarified about the uncertainty surrounding the geographic and taxonomic limits of all described subspecies. Furthermore, the results suggest that several subspecies may even represent distinct species. The need for more further research and conservation focus on the management of giraffe population in the wild was stressed upon.

WOW talk on large cat conservation in Malaysia

Melvin Gumal, Director of Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Program, gave a presentation entitled ‘Conservation in Southern Peninsular Malaysia – large cats and renewed hope?’ on 18th September 2013. In late 2007, the Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Program together with the Johor National Parks Corporation and various government agencies initiated the Johor Wildlife Conservation Project (JWCP). Since then there have been various conservation interventions aimed at protecting wildlife in the landscape and these included field monitoring, increased and focused patrolling and enforcement, legislative changes as well as conservation education. Some aspects of these conservation interventions were discussed.

WOW talk on Proboscis Monkey

Dr Stanislav Lhota, from Czech University of Life Science Prague, gave a presentation entitled ‘Is there any future for Proboscis Monkey’ on 23rd August 2013. He highlighted the threats being faced by the Proboscis monkey due to spatial planning in its range. He highlighted the need to focus on their conservation.

WOW talk on A sustainable future for Chinese Giant Salamanders

Becky Shu Chen, Project coordinator from Zoological Society of London (ZSL), gave a talk titled “A sustainable future for Chinese Giant Salamanders” on 24 July 2013. She gave an insight into the Chinese Giant Salamanders conservation programme that has been launched in China by ZSL.

WOW talk on Red-shanked Douc Langurs

Jonathon Clayton, PhD student from University of Minnesota, gave a talk titled “The Relationship between Gastrointestinal Bacterial Diversity and Nutritional Specializations in Captive and Wild Red-shanked Doucs” on 1 July 2013. The talk was based on the preliminary studies of his PhD project. He spoke about critical knowledge gaps in the relationship between gut microbial communities and health, including the relationship between primate gut microbial communities and nutrient utilization in species with evolutionarily specialized diets. He highlighted his investigations on the poor-quality diet including toxic plant foliage and the identification of biomarkers or microbial species that positively impact douc digestive capacity.

Pangolin Conference

The Chinese pangolin, one of eight extant pangolins or scaly anteaters as they are also known, was once abundant in China. However, as a result of overexploitation for consumption of its meat and scales, it is now almost certainly extinct there, which is having a devastating impact on the world’s remaining pangolins. This was one of the findings from the first-ever global conference on the conservation of pangolins held by the International Union for Conservation of Nature - Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group and co-organized and hosted by Wildlife Reserves Singapore on 24 – 27 June 2013..

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.

Themed ‘Scaling up Pangolin Conservation’, the 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 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. The conference was made possible by the generous support of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund, the Zoological Society of London, San Antonio Zoo, the Houston Zoo, TRAFFIC, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, Hong Kong. It is part of Wildlife Reserves Conservation Fund’s (WRSCF) efforts to conserve endangered native wildlife. Since its inception in 2009, the Fund has supported various projects and conferences.

Top: Conference participants
Bottom: Speaker Dan Challender (Co-Chair of IUCN Pangolin Specialist Group)

Conservation Perspectives: Tokay Geckos

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, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (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 Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (WRSCF), the 2-hour talk was attended by 50 students and professionals from governmental and non-governmental organizations, including WRS staff.

Top: Dead geckos on sticks [©TRAFFIC]
Bottom: Live Tokay Gecko [©Nick Hobgood]

Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit

United in preventing the extinction of the Sumatran Rhino was the theme to the 4 day Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit hosted by WRS in April 2013. With less than a hundred animals left in the wild, the Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) is undoubtedly at the brink of extinction. In response to the alarmingly persistent decline of this species, the Sumatran Rhino Crisis Summit was convened under the umbrella of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC) at the Singapore Zoo from 1 to 4 April 2013. More than 130 rhino conservationists, scientists, government officials, private funders, and representatives of non-government organisations from all around the world gathered to forge a global two-year emergency action plan for the Sumatran Rhino. Lessons learnt from previous conservation successes of other species such as the African rhinos, the California Condor and the Black-footed Ferret were shared, and an agreement was reached between the Indonesian and Malaysian governments to join efforts on saving the Critically Endangered species. With implementation and joint international efforts, there is hope for a brighter future for this precious species.

In conjunction, a public seminar was held on 5 April at the Singapore Zoo with speakers from the summit to share the plight of the Sumatran Rhino with WRS staff and members of the public.

Left: Greetings after Summit opening
Center: Rhino Issues Seminar
Right: Talk by delegates

Elephant Conservation Seminar

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 Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund (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; Wildlife Conservation Society (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.

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)