Carcass for Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Two missed calls and a text message came from FTTA Xu Weiting on Friday evening while I was at swim practice. The text message read, “… Someone found a baby pangolin roadkill at Petir Road. Are you able to pick up?”

I quickly confirmed the exact location of the carcass with Weiting, showered hastily and headed over to Plant Systematics Lab to borrow the department’s vehicle [they always seem to have the vehicle when you need it – thanks Alex], grabbed some supplies and rushed down to the site.

pangolin carcass 20120111

Sunda pangolin off Petir Road on 11 Jan 2013. Photo by Marcus Chua

The juvenile female Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) or scaly anteater was bruised around the front quarter and seemed to have suffered internal bleeding, injuries most probably caused by a vehicular collision.

A few passersby stopped to look as I was taking measurements and pictures, one remarking that it cannot be real and another asking what I was doing. This gave a good opportunity to talk with the public about the wildlife around their estate.

Petir Road is surround by two forested nature reserves.

Petir Road is surround by two forested nature reserves.

Petir Road is cut off from the forested Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) by the six-lane Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) on the east, and is surrounded by various green areas such as Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) and Dairy Farm Nature Park to the south. Vehicle traffic is certainly a threat to animals that move out of the forest onto the roads. Meanwhile, an ecological corridor that connects BTNR and CCNR over the expressway is being constructed and should be ready by the end of 2013.

This is the second pangolin carcass I have picked up around this area. On 9 Jul 2012, a member of the public informed us about a larger male pangolin along Petir Road.

We depend largely on public information for sighting records and are happy when we get reports of members of the public observing wild animals in their habitat. However, body snatching operations are something we do not enjoying doing as we prefer to see animals alive, but we try not to pass any over owing to scientific value of animal carcasses for research in urban Singapore. Carcasses are deposited at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research for preservation.  We thank the member of the public who informed us of this.


To report a road kill or sighting, email mammal@sivasothi.com or call the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at 6516 5082. A photo or description of the animal, its general condition and detailed location would be most useful.

“Please help to bring the dinosaurs to Singapore” – the Raffles Museum’s Diplodocus Family appeal

“Dear Friend,

Once more – the race is on.

A year ago, through your generosity and kindness, we raised the seemingly impossible sum of S$46 million to ensure that a new natural history museum for Singapore will be built. This has not only secured its priceless century-old collections but will offer a large gallery for public education.

One of the many iconic displays we want to place in this gallery is a model of the famous 1800s whale. However, we also realized that in the modern world, what would make a truly world-class gallery that excites a new generation of nature lovers would be the addition of a magnificent display of dinosaurs.

DiplodocusYet, real dinosaur fossils are extremely hard to come by, if at all. As destiny would have it, through a series of unexpected coincidences, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR) was given a unique chance in April 2011 to purchase genuine and near complete fossils of a family of three gigantic sauropod dinosaurs – among the largest animals ever to have walked the Earth! One is rare enough, but a group of three, which includes an even rarer teenage dinosaur, is unprecedented!

Contrary to what many people think, dinosaurs are not “alien” to Singapore’s history! When dinosaurs walked the Earth over 100 million years ago, Singapore was part of a mega continent that had such giants. The educational and research value of dinosaurs is that they greatly help us understand life on Earth. To document the history of life, we must know why dinosaurs were so successful and understand the circumstances that led to their demise. Dinosaurs will help Singaporeans understand the biodiversity, climate change and extinction challenges now facing mankind and the planet.

Throughout the world, dinosaurs are renowned as “catalysts” to get people of all ages excited about biodiversity, natural history and science. Their educational value is, therefore, second to none.

This family of three dinosaurs will be the centre-piece of the new gallery, the “pièce de résistance” which places the new museum and Singapore on the world stage. The HEADLINE stories, which made the front pages of both the Sunday Times & Zaobao on 10 July and “Why we need dinos” on 17 July (attached), are testament to the excitement, interest and value of such an acquisition for the new museum.

We really hope you can help us bring these fascinating and majestic dinosaurs to Singapore. Please join us in donating to the Dinosaur Exhibit at rmbr.nus.edu.sg/dino.

With thanks from the bottom of our hearts.”

Leo, Peter, Swee Hee and Belinda
RMBR Fundraising Committee

Hop over the Raffles Museum News blog for the news and discussion about the motivation to bring the dinosaurs to Singapore – http://rafflesmuseum.wordpress.com.

See also details of the public talk on Fri 29 Jul 2011 at the National Museum of Singapore – “From Whence We Came: The History & Future of Singapore’s Raffles Museum“.

Banded Leaf Monkeys, RMBR, mangroves in beMUSE

Get your hands on the latest copy of beMUSE, the quarterly magazine published by the National Heritage Board! There are plenty of interesting articles in this issue, including one written by Andie from our lab, on the banded leaf monkeys of Singapore (Living treasures in the treetops: A fresh look at Singapore’s banded leaf monkeys). In it, she discusses the ecology of the banded leaf monkeys, their natural heritage value and relationship to the greater question of biodiversity conservation in Singapore, as well as the banded leaf monkey’s long term prospects for survival, It’s accompanied by plenty of lush photographs, (as are all the other articles in the magazine). She also discusses the fate of some other charismatic animals of Singapore, including Marcus’ mousedeer, along with a picture he took of the shy, nocturnal creature.

You can enjoy more of his photography in the following article on mangroves (Rainforests by the sea: Celebrating Singapore’s mangrove forests), written by Jean Yong, Joanne Khew (from Plant lab) & Ng Yan Fei, which includes an useful comparative mangrove guide sheet. Last but not least, there is also an article on RMBR (Learning from looking: The natural history collection of the former Raffles library and museum). Written by Clement Onn from the Asian Civilisations Museum, it not only offers a good read, but also includes a very useful timeline of the RMBR’s history.

The Straits Times: Peter Ng and the Dodo

“Crab expert leads charge on climate: Prof Peter Ng and the Dodo,” by Chang Ai-Lien. The Straits Times, 07 Nov 2009 – link, pdf. Peter Ng’s mission is to build bridges between specialists in diverse disciplines.

PROFESSOR Peter Ng’s idea of heaven is to don his rubber booties and wade knee-deep in muddy swamps, trawling through the muck for new crab species.

Former students fondly remember a host of different crustaceans he kept as pets, including a huge coconut crab so strong that it broke out of its wire cage and probably ended up in someone’s cooking pot.
But these days, the internationally acknowledged crustacean expert is spending more time on dry land.

As a member of a new National University of Singapore (NUS) task force on environmental sustainability research, his first mission is to help build bridges between experts from diverse disciplines such as engineering, law, science and economics.

Only then is there any hope of dealing with complex environmental issues such as climate change, he says.

‘We need all players on board to strike a balance. Each pillar is strong as a single discipline, but environmental issues are multi-faceted and we need a big picture approach,’ says Prof Ng, 49, who is with the university’s biological sciences department, ‘so the biologists and environmental scientists can study the impact on nature and biodiversity, and the economists and lawyers can formulate policies that will strike a balance between sustainability and economic development.’

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan announced last week that a research cluster on environmental sustainability had been formed to develop solutions for problems such as pollution, the fuel crunch and global warming.

NUS intends to take the lead regionally in tackling such issues. Even its upcoming NUS University Town campus in Kent Ridge is being planned ‘green’, with sustainability at the heart of its design.

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