Greater Mouse Deer rediscovered on Pulau Ubin after 80 years

Report on one of the findings from Marcus Chua’s honours year project on Pulau Ubin. He was strongly supported in his nocturnal field work by staff from NParks and the experienced volunteers from the Vertebrate Study Group, Nature Society (Singapore) and by Kelvin Lim at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, NUS for the study of museum specimens.

It must be fun for him to see his work now splashed all over the papers after the NParks press release – on his birthday too. We just hope there will not be additional visitors to Ubin with cooking pots, so rangers are going to be extra vigilant.

Meanwhile, Marcus has a thesis to write…

Greater Mouse Deer sighted in Pulau Ubin,” by Ang Yiying. The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2009. Animal thought to be extinct in Singapore spotted for first time in 80 years.

SEPARATE sightings of mouse deer here and on Pulau Ubin have brought hope that native wildlife is making a comeback in Singapore.

The Greater Mouse Deer – one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world – was seen on Pulau Ubin during a survey by the National University of Singapore and National Parks Board (NParks) from last September to this month.

This is the first official sighting of the wild Greater Mouse Deer in more than 80 years, confirmed NParks.

For NUS life sciences undergraduate Marcus Chua, 25, sighting the Greater Mouse Deer on Pulau Ubin was an unexpected discovery.

He was working with NParks and its volunteers on a survey of medium-sized mammals for his final-year project.

He said: ‘At first, there was doubt because it was recorded as extinct in Singapore; that was the first time we saw it. When we got a clearer picture (of the mouse deer), we were very excited.’

On Pulau Ubin, the group has chalked up 100 sightings of the Greater Mouse Deer in more than one area, so it was unlikely that these are abandoned or escaped pets. The species is also not known to swim, so the animals there are unlikely to have come from those released in the catchment area.

‘We were quite happy that a population thought to be extinct could have recovered, like bouncing back to life,’ Mr Chua said.

Ms Celine Low, co-founder of environmental education group Cicada Tree Eco-Place, said one reason the Greater Mouse Deer was seen again on Pulau Ubin could be the decreased human population and activity there.

She said: ‘It could be because the last quarry closed in the 1990s and there are fewer workers there and because of relocation of villagers to the mainland.’

Nature Society of Singapore president Shawn Lum said the presence of mouse deer was a good sign for not just native wildlife but also the eco-system. ‘They play an important role in the ecology of the forest…It’s great news for the long- term stability and regeneration of the rainforest,’ he said.

NParks said it is conducting surveys to ascertain the population of these creatures.

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Registration for LSM4263 Field Studies in Biodiversity

Announced on the NUS Life Science Programme page:

“11 March 2009

LSM4263 Field Studies in Biodiversity, AY2008/09 (Special Term – Part 2).
To all Life Sciences (Biology Concentration) students interested in reading LSM4263 – Field Studies in Biodiversity; registration is open from 12th March to 30th May 2008.

Only students who will be continuing on into their Honours year in AY2009-10, concentrating in Biology and with a CAP of 3.5 or above, are qualified to apply. There is a limit on the class-size for this module.

This is a 4MC module that will be conducted in Semester IV, AY2008-09. The detailed timetable will be announced later. Please note that this module will run from June 29 onwards (for 6 weeks).

To register, please fill in this form:

The list of successful applicants will be announced after the Semester II exam results are released.

Best wishes,
Life Sciences Undergraduate Program Committee?

Since all the names, matric and email data go to Sally, I went over to the office to set up a Google Form for her. It’s her first form and when she comes in on Monday, she will find a bunch of email alerts – the third years are already signing up!