A Peek into Singapore’s Wildlife

Whenever I meet someone during my travels abroad or back here in Australia, I am often questioned about my origins. The moment they hear Singapore their usual first response is, “Oh Singapore! I have been there for a day. Great shopping and it was so clean and beautiful.” Many people think of Singapore as a massive modern concrete jungle with no trace of wildlife. In fact, I too had that opinion for such a long time.

In recent years, that opinion has crumbled to dust. There is a reason for this. When you live and breathe for the conservation of your natural environment and wildlife, you don’t quite see the world the same way anymore. As an individual, I have become highly observant and animals rarely escape my view. During my last few visits to Singapore, I suddenly started seeing all these incredible birds, reptiles and mammals which I never knew existed. This really took me by surprise and piqued my curiosity. These sightings slowly seeped into my walks around the local neighbourhoods, the visits to parks, and other places of interest. I was mind boggled by my new discoveries. This goes to show, you see when you seek.

Many of you may have read my first guest blog about the rescue of the Malayan Colugo contributed by Mei Hwang. She is a highly talented photographer who has been uncovering the wildlife secrets of Singapore for a few years now. It has been an interesting journey for me to further discover the hidden gems, which still remain a mystery to the many residents of this ultra-modern island. A few months back, Mei contributed a collection of her photographs to be featured on my Instagram account as part of a ‘Singapore Wildlife’ series. Today with utmost pleasure, I am sharing these wonderful pictures of the wild and beautiful from this collection with you. Enjoy!

Palm Civet
This is a Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus). This species has adapted to living in urban areas like roof spaces of houses using power lines to travel from one point to another. Palm Civets are also found in forests, parks and mangroves. It feeds on small animals, insects and loves fruits. It’s love for fruits helps disperse seeds (via faeces) and support regeneration of trees. When they have their young, they are often raised in tree hollows or crevices.

Otter with sashimi
A Smooth-Coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) enjoying a nice fresh fish for lunch. It feeds mainly on fish but occasionally supplements its diet with crabs, shrimps, frogs, birds or rats.

Changeable lizard
This is a Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor) with a Common Birdwing Butterfly (a CITES protected species) in its mouth. This lizard species was introduced to Singapore sometime in the 1980s. They can change their colours (as the name suggests) but not as quickly as the chameleons. The colour change apparently reflects their moods. Their main diet consists of small invertebrates, other lizards and small rodents. After stunning the prey (by shaking it) they swallow it whole.

Long-tailed macaque
If a photo can capture a moment, this certainly has. A Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) nursing her young. She sure looks lost in her thoughts. You can find them in a number of nature reserves in Singapore. Unfortunately people love feeding them, which needless to say…is not good for them or any other wildlife.

Bird with a message
An Oriental Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis) with a message for us. Love this picture so much! This species was almost wiped out in the late 1970s due to habitat loss and illegal trapping for pet trade. At present, thanks to reintroduction efforts, they have made a good recovery and now commonly seen around parks and gardens.

Wild Boar baby
A juvenile Wild Boar, native to Singapore. They are omnivorous creatures. Main diet includes seeds, young plants and tubers. These Wild Boars reproduce at a fast rate with females reaching sexual maturity as young as 18 months and can produce up to six piglets a year. They are highly favoured for their bush meat, which posed a threat to their population. At present, their numbers are believed to be well and thriving. 

Green Crested Lizard
A Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocela cristatella) is found mainly in bushes and trees. They are threatened by competition from the introduced Changeable Lizard (featured above). The Green Crested Lizard feeds mainly on insects such as beetles and ants.

Oriental Pied Hornbill
This is an Oriental Pied Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris). Almost on the brink of extinction, innovation and dedication helped with it’s comeback. The ‘Singapore Hornbill Project’ constructed nest boxes fitted with temperature/humidity sensors and weighing scales to monitor the chicks’ growth. High- definition cameras were used to keep a keen eye on the chicks development and get a better understanding of this magnificent bird’s breeding behavior. You got to love a success story! Read More…

Chocolate Demon
A Chocolate Demon (Ancistroides nigrita) feeding on nectar from a Torch Ginger Flower. The adults are known to fly in a hopping erratic manner in low shrubs. They are commonly found in parks and gardens across Singapore. What a cool name!
So, what did you think? Hope you enjoyed viewing the photos and discovered something too. A big thank you to Mei Hwang for their generous contributions! I really appreciate it very much.

Featured Image in Header: An Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodulus porosus) spotted at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.

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16 thoughts on “A Peek into Singapore’s Wildlife

  1. Deniz

    What a beautiful selection of photos. My personal favourite is the Smooth-Coated Otter. I would love to know in what sort of waters it lives and whether it can be commonly seen? Also, is the Changeable Lizard considered a threat to the local ecosystem, given it is introduced and seems to be feeding on some native endangered species?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Deniz. Thank you for your curiousity and really good questions about the featured wildlife. The Smooth-Coated Otters are often found in saltwater near coastal areas. Apparently, they are comfortable on land as much as in the water. These Otters are known to travel long distances in search of suitable habitat, which is fascinating. Their preferred habitats include wetlands, rivers, lakes and mangroves. In Singapore, sightings seem to be most common at Punggol Waterway Park (where this photograph was captured). It is believed that the Changeable Lizard poses a major threat to the native Green Crested Lizard. Resources suggest that the aggressive Changeable Lizard has displaced the Green Crested Lizard through competition for habitat and food. I have included a link to a short blog exploring this issue. Hope this helps.

      https://blog.nus.edu.sg/lsm2251student/2010/04/14/alien-vs-native/

      Unfortunately, I could not find any further information on other ecological impacts it may pose. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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  2. Amazing pictures! I am wondering if these animals can do well in Singapore because it enforces its pollution regulations? (I don’t know, I’ve never been there, but that is the impression I have of it.) I think otters need pure waters to live in; that’s what sparked the question.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Isn’t it so heartening when we treat nature right, it can make a comeback like that! I’m so glad the citizens have learned to appreciate the otters. We have had something similar with the one man, Melvin Tuttle, teaching all of Texas to appreciate our bats.

        Like

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