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Operation of Elephant Response Units in Way Kambas National Park for habitat protection and conflict mitigation

The Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra is home to nearly 200 wild Sumatran elephants (more than 10% of the entire remaining wild Sumatran elephant population). Illegal activities such as logging, poaching, land cultivation and cattle grazing all threaten the integrity of the National Park and increase human-elephant conflict (HEC). Conflicts often occur at the border of the National Park and farmlands, causing damage to crops, houses and property.

WRS supports Elephant Response Units (ERUs) employing captive elephants and their mahouts to conduct forest patrols and herd wild elephants away from human dominated landscapes into the safety of protected forest to minimize human elephant conflict in the area.

Top: Elephant Response Unit

Addressing Human Orangutan Conflict in agricultural landscapes in northern Sumatra

This project addresses the problem of human conflicts with the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) in agricultural landscapes adjacent to the Leuser Ecosystem, Sumatra, Indonesia. Large areas of orangutan habitat have been lost or degraded due to agricultural expansion and natural resource extraction. As a result, the apes are pushed into the areas where forest and farmlands meet. With natural food hard to find, crop raiding - a key cause of conflict - becomes increasingly likely.

WRS supports the Human Orangutan Conflict Response Unit (HOCRU), which responds to conflict situations across northern Sumatra for the rescue and rehabilitation of these animals. Forest-adjacent communities affected by human orangutan conflict (HOC) are offered training by HOCRU in best-practice methods of safely and humanely protecting their crops from orangutans.

Rescue and reintroduction of Sumatran Orangutan from conflict location into safe protected forest areas.

Conservation of Rote Island Snake Necked Turtle

Reserve Singapore (WRS) has committed to a long-term partnership with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), to establish a viable wild population of Rote Island snake-necked turtle, Chelodina mccordi, through its reintroduction and effective management on Rote Island, Indonesia. This species is endemic to the island and has been severely impacted by various threats that include land use conversion (e.g. wetlands being converted into agricultural fields), point source pollution that may harm the turtles prey base (e.g. herbicides and insecticides), collection of wild turtles for the pet trade and invasive species having direct and indirect impacts.

This project evaluates whether any wild individuals remain and the current threat status in the wild, assessment of available habitat for proposed reintroduction sites and intensive trapping of possible remaining scattered individuals. Also, a genetic study of the species and its sub-species will be conducted to determine how much genetic diversity is remaining in the captive population and to clarify if the current descriptions of sub-species are valid.

The Singapore Zoo currently holds an assurance colony for this species which will provide individuals for reintroduction into the wild at a suitable time in the future.

Rote Island snake-necked turtle

Building local capacity to save the Critically Endangered Sulawesi crested black macaque in North Sulawesi

Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra), locally known as yaki, are endemic to North Sulawesi and have experienced a population decline of more than 80% within 40 years and as such are classified as Critically Endangered. This decline is largely due to anthropogenic threats; principally the illegal bushmeat trade and habitat disturbance and loss.

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) supports the work of Yayasan Selamatkan Yaki Indonesia in the South Minahasa region, which holds identified hubs for bushmeat trade. Surveys of communities’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviour to gain insight into the threats to the species and its remaining habitat are conducted. Simultaneously, the bushmeat trade in local markets is monitored. Subsequently, effective conservation actions using local ambassadors for appropriate target community groups would be identified for awareness campaigns to ensure that the species is legally protected.

Sulawesi crested macaque

Building a conservation action plan for the helmeted hornbill in West Kalimantan

RS is actively involved in conservation of the helmeted hornbill. We hosted the first Helmeted Hornbill meeting in September 2015. A major outcome from this was the uplisting of the species’ IUCN status to ‘Critically Endangered’. This was due to recent explosion of this species in the international wildlife trade since the increase in price of red ivory since 2011.

WRS also funded Planet Indonesia for hosting a Helmeted Hornbill workshop with 4 local NGOs and 3 government offices who focus on conservation issues in Gunung Palung and the park’s conservation department. The goals of this workshop are to: (i) increase awareness about helmeted hornbill trade among local stakeholders, (ii) identify programs already in place that have potential to address the trade, (iii) identify possible future programs to be built to increase protection of this species, and (iv) to divide roles among local partners in order to maximize conservation outputs.

Helmeted Hornbill (Sanjitpaal Singh)

Preventing the extinction of some of Java’s and Sumatra’s most threatened species

Wildlife Reserves Singapore is supporting the work of the Cikananga Conservation Breeding Center to maintain and expand existing captive colonies of four Javanese and one Sumatran endemic species in agreement with BirdLife and IUCN priorities, in order to reduce the very high risk of short-term extinction of these taxa. These taxa are Javan warty pig (Sus verrucosus), Black-winged starling (Sturnus melanopterus), Javan Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina), Rufous-fronted laughing trush (Garrulax rufifrons) and Sumatran laughing trush (Garrulax bicolor). The project involves trial re-introduction attemps for Black-winged starlings and research conservation needs and conservation options for the other four species.

The conservation impacts of this project include an increase in the number of free-ranging individuals of this critically endangered species through the reintroduction program.


Left: Javan Green Magpie
Centre: Rufous-fronted laughing trush
Right: Black-winged starling

Captive breeding & Reintroduction of Bali Mynah

Wildlife Reserves Singapore is working with the Begawan Foundation, Chester Zoo and Cologne Zoo onthe conservation of Bali Mynah Leucopsar rothschildi, which is critically endangered and threatened mainly by poaching for the pet trade due to its beauty. The Bali Mynah Project was established to breed the Bali Mynah in captivity and reintroduce individuals into a protected area in Central Bali. WRS provides funding support and consultation advice to assist with improved captive management, veterinary care, operations, reintroductions, and local community education. The Bali Mynah has been successfully bred in captivity and reintroduced into release sites in Bali.

Ongoing monitoring of the released individuals has shown successful breeding events. However, ongoing patrolling and community education are essential to ensure the threat of poaching declines in the area. The Bali Mynah project is an example of a conservation project for an endangered species where ex-situ efforts (captive management and breeding) are linked with in-situ efforts (such as reintroductions back into the wild). It showcases the importance of collaborations in conservation projects, in this case involving the efforts of an international NGO and international zoological institutions, and with the cooperation of local villages and government. Raising awareness for the Bali Mynah through the involvement of school children and villagers is also essential for the future survival of the species in the wild.

Left: King of Sibang supporting the release of the Bali Mynahs at Green School
Centre: Baby Bali Mynah at the Bengawan Breeding
Right: Bengawan Foundation team.

Reintroduction project for rehabilitant Slow Loris in Borneo

Wildlife Reserves Singapore is providing financial support to International Animal Rescue (IAR) for the rescue and rehabilitation of Slow Loris in Borneo.

The Bornean slow loris is one of the three identified species in Indonesia and is the most poorly studied. As more lorises are surrendered to the Forestry department and YIARI, there are increased pressures to manage the species in captive care and reintroduce suitable individuals into their native habitats. YIARI conducts the rehabilitation and reintroduction of slow lorises in accordance with IUCN guidelines, with extensive evaluation of habitat to ensure a site is suitable for the release. YIARI is also conducting systematic research into this species’ dietary and nutritional requirements. Radio-collaring and monitoring of wild lorises will also help obtain baseline information on behaviour, habitat use, feeding ecology and sociality.

Photo Slow Loris with radio collar [©IAR Indonesia]

Provision of equipment to Nyaru Menteng Orangutan rehabilitation project

Wildlife Reserves Singapore donated an Ultrasound Machine to Nyaru Menteng animal hospital in in Indonesian Borneo .The BOS Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Rescue Center was founded in 1999 by Lone Droscher Nielsen and today it is home to around 600 orphaned and displaced orangutans. The center is based just outside the city of Palangka Raya in the Province of Central Kalimantan, and since its humble beginnings has grown into the largest orangutan conservation facility in the world– with numerous cages, clinics, islands, vehicles and training forests– and hundreds of dedicated professional staff.

BOS Nyaru Menteng team using donated ultrasound machine from WRS on rescued Orangutan.

Coffee and Primate Conservation Project in Central Java

Widlife Reserves Singapore is supporting the “Coffee and Primate Conservation” project in Sokokembang, Central Java to better conserve primate species through engaging the local community to improve the production of shade coffee for economic subsistence. The remaining forested habitats for Javan gibbons and other primate species in Java, Indonesia are seriously fragmented and located outside of conservation areas. In these unprotected areas, primate species face threats from habitat degradation and encroachment by local inhabitants who utilize the forests for economic subsistence. The method of growing coffee supported in this project preserves natural forests as shade trees and minimizes natural habitat exploitation. The local community is also empowered to participate in direct conservation activities like participatory forest patrol, scientific research and raising conservation awareness. This project is run by a dedicated local Javanese team dedicated to the protection of their own natural heritage.

From left to right: Hilly terrain of Sokokembang forest; shade coffee grown under shade trees, the silvery gibbon which inhabits these forests.

Effects of Fragmentation on the Long-term Survival of the Proboscis Monkeys

Wildlife Reserves Singapore has been committed to Proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) conservation since 2004, when the first comprehensive statewide survey of the species’ population and conservation status was conducted in Sabah, East Malaysia. Proboscis monkeys are “Endangered” and endemic to the island of Borneo. The species is a habitat specialist that is adapted to live mainly in swamp forests along rivers but these habitats are increasingly lost and fragmented through logging and rapid forest conversion for agriculture like oil palm. Trends of habitat loss observed a decade on indicate that the species may be declining more rapidly than expected.

At the XXIV International Primatological Society Congress Meeting in 2012, increasing threats to the Proboscis monkey was recognized with the species listed amongst 16 highly threatened species. WRS supported a study to reassess the status and extinction risk of proboscis monkeys in Sabah, East Malaysia and Balikpapan Bay, Kalimantan to strengthen our current understanding of the conservation status of the proboscis monkey and improve efforts for the conservation of the species.

Top: Proboscis monkey live mainly in swampy habitats along rivers.
Bottom: Habitat loss and fragmentation due to conversion of proboscis monkey habitats to palm oil plantations.

Scaling up Efforts to Combat Bali’s Illegal Wildlife Trade

Wildlife Reserves Singapore is providing funding support to TRAFFIC for an in-depth assessment on illegal wildlife trade in Bali, which has never been done before. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC’s global network is research-driven, action-oriented, and committed to delivering innovative and practical solutions to wildlife trade issues based on the latest information.

This project will ensure better understanding of the issues and we will be
better placed to assist enforcement in their efforts to eliminate the illegal
trade of wildlife in Bali (general wildlife trade, but also ivory and dugong

Peer reviewed reports produced by TRAFFIC have led to increased pressure on the countries identified as not taking action to shut don't the illegal trade and we will with partners to ensure relevant and current information is widely used to inform decision makers and to raise awareness among the general public.

Top: Macaques for sale [©Chris R. Shepherd/TRAFFIC Southeast Asia]
Bottom: Typical bird market, Indonesia [©Chris R. Shepherd/TRAFFIC Southeast Asia]