Follow up article on Weiting’s honours project: Threats to the Siglap Civets

Weiting just finished her exams. Before that, however, she presented her poster, submitted her thesis and delivered her first public talk to some 300 people during the during the “Zoological Explorations of Singapore” on 16th April 2010.

Relieved of all that pressure, I am quite sure Weiting looks like this these days:

Of course she’s not done yet. There are debts to pay. One of which is public education. Well, I suppose she has bought some time now, as she has just had some help.

Update (06 May 2010) – Ria Tan has blogged about Weiting’s lovely public talk, see: “Celebrating Singapore’s Biodiversity“.

The Straits Times has followed up on the results of Weiting’s honours year project on the civets of Siglap, which they first reported on last November, (“The great ‘musang’ stakeout“) (30 Nov 2009). Read on…

“‘Musang’ facing threat from annoyed residents,” by Ang Yiying. The Straits Times, 04 May 2010.

WRS photo - civet project
The musang, believed to be the last small wild carnivore in Singapore, has made its home in the east. A study team puts its population in Siglap and Opera estates at between 20 and 30. — PHOTOS: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

THE musang, or Asian palm civet, is clinging on as a species in the urban environment of Singapore. It is believed to be the last small wild carnivore here.

A study of its presence in the Siglap and Opera estates shows that the animals are breeding, which bodes well for its preservation. But this delicate balance is being threatened by residents snaring them and possible changes to housing developments.

Weighing about 3.2kg, with grey, coarse shaggy hair and a tail about the same length as its body, the musang, also known as the toddy cat, is common to the region.

While their numbers in Singapore are not available, these nocturnal creatures have been sighted in the east. The Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and National University of Singapore’s biological sciences department put the musang population in the Siglap and Opera estates at between 20 and 30.

The estimates are based on sightings in the area and photographs taken by the study team and remote camera traps that are triggered by motion.

About five offspring were caught on camera, a sign that the musangs are breeding and could be a sustainable population. Their food sources include small birds and fruits.

But residents say more of the musangs are being snared by those who consider them a nuisance. The animals are known to patter on rooftops and eat fruits from trees grown in residents’ gardens.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said the number of musangs it received went up from 23 in 2007 to 31 last year. Almost all came from the Siglap and Opera estates. So far this year, seven have been turned over to the agency, all from that area.

Musangs handed to the AVA are released into nature areas. Those that are weaker may be sent to the zoo.

The Night Safari’s acting assistant curator of zoology Abdul Razak Jaffar, who is part of the study team, thinks the musangs should be left alone in their urban stronghold. ‘Right now, we’re not sure how these animals are doing in the nature reserve,’ he said.

‘So, if we keep pushing them there, there may be a point of time when the resources are not enough to sustain the introduced population or they may not adapt well because they are from a different location.’

WRS is looking into organising night walks in the area to allay people’s fears about the harmless wild animal which also eats pests such as rats.

Dr Vilma D’Rozario of environmental group Cicada Tree Eco-Place, which teaches children about local flora and fauna, has another concern.

The musang, which likes to stay under the eaves of old houses, may have nowhere to go as new buildings may have sealed rooftops that they cannot get into. ‘I feel that as old homes get torn down, there won’t be many musangs left,’ said Dr D’Rozario.

Thanks to WildSingapore for the alert – as usual!


3 thoughts on “Follow up article on Weiting’s honours project: Threats to the Siglap Civets

    • Hi Denn23,

      Thanks for being curious about the musangs in these areas. The number of civets being trapped in the area has been increasing slowly, but it is not clear if the population is increasing or the trappings have been on the rise.

      If you are interested, there is another blog related to the diet of the civet – Also, we would definitely appreciate your help to drop us a record at this weblink – when you see a civet. This will help us to keep tabs on the sightings of mammal fauna in Singapore.

      Thanks very much, Denn23.

  1. i have just seen one civet cat crawling on the roof top of my neighbour’s house on 28 Feb 2013. was so excited to see this animal in such an urbanized area

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