wild places | wild happenings | wild news
make a difference for our wild places

home | links | search the site
  all articles latest | past | articles by topics | search wildnews
wild news on wildsingapore
  The Straits Times 30 Mar 06
Slingshot attack: Baby flying lemur put to sleep
by Radha Basu

The Straits Times 22 Mar 05
Flying lemur and baby shot down at MacRitchie
by Radha Basu

Three men seen using slingshots; mum injured and put to sleep, baby unharmed

A female flying lemur and its baby were shot down by slingshot-wielding micreants in the MacRitchie Nature Reserve on Sunday, in an incident that has shocked nature lovers here.

While the baby was found unharmed by park rangers, the mother was seriously injured and had to be put to sleep later, a spokesman for the National Parks Board (NParks) said last night.

The culprits, believed to be three men aged between 40 and 50, are still at large, so the motive for the poaching is unclear. It is also unknown whether they were professional poachers or cruel mischief-makers bent on animal abuse.

NParks is in touch with the police on the case, believed to be the first incident of flying lemurs being poached here.

While poaching is rare in Singapore, there have been a few cases of animal abuse of late, including a recent one in which a man was slapped with a three-month jail term for torturing a kitten which had to be put to sleep for its injuries.

Flying lemurs, also known as colugos, are gentle, large-eyed mammals about the size of giant squirrels. The adult can weight up to 2kg. Native to South-east Asian forests, these tree-dwellers are becoming increasingly rare in countries like Malaysia and the Philippines, possibly because of poaching and logging, said National University of Singapore researcher Norman Lim, who has studied the animals as part of a university research project.

In a 2003 study, he estimated that there were 2,000 to 3,000 such creatures left in the wild in Singapore, mainly in the Bukit Timah Central Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Reserve. These quiet creatures are not known to fetch big bucks in the wildlife trade market, but they are sometimes killed for their meat overseas, he added.

"Whatever the motive, what's really shocking is that it happened in a protected nature reserve", Mr Lim said.

Park-goers like Aaron Leung, 38, agreed. The amateur photographer was just wrapping up a photography session at MacRitchie at around 11.30am on Sunday when he was alerted by a passer-by that a "flying lemon" had been injured nearby.

By the time he got to the site, a crowd had already gathered around the injured mother. The naimal had broken its limbs and apperared to be bleeding, he said.

The mother and baby were later handed over to a park ranger's care.

A fellow park-goer said that she had seen some men hitting the animal with a slingshot.

"Since poaching is rare here, I was quite shocked to learn that this was no accident," said Mr Leung.

In an e-mail circulated to nature reserve volunteers on Monday, an NParks official described the event as "terrible and sad". The e-mail also said that according to witnesses, the three men had come prepared for what seemed like a "hunting trip", armed with slingshots and plastic bags. They spoke in Hokkien and "behaved aggressively".

It is a crime to hunt or injure any animal in a nature reserve here. Under the National Parks Act, poaching is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment, or both.

The Straits Times 30 Mar 06
Slingshot attack: Baby flying lemur put to sleep
by Radha Basu

Last week's poaching incident at MacRitchie Nature Reserve claimed a second victim yesterday, when the baby flying lemur -- or colugo -- that survived the slingshot attack was put to sleep.

The animal's mother was put to sleep on March 19 after it was shot out a tree by poachers at the reserve. The baby was initially thought to be unharmed, but an eye infection it sustained during the attack progressively worsened, said a National Parks Board (NParks) spokesman.

Since its mother's death, the baby had been looked after by NParks officials at a rangers' station in the nature reserve. Its caregivers had posted updated of the animal's recovery on a nature blog. The last post made on Monday said the baby was reluctant to eat. "Feeding the baby colugo is not easy," said the blog. "Note the cloudy left eye. It doesn't look good at all."

The news of the baby's death was broken in another nature blog yesterday morning. "The poor baby colugo has given up on life -- maybe she missed her mommy" wrote nature lover Khew Sin Khoon. "This morning the vet put her to sleep".

The culprits, believe to be three middle-aged men, have not been caught. This is the first poaching incident involving flying lemurs, which are gentle, big-eyed mammals about the size of large squirrels, but are not members of the lemur family indigenous to Madagascar.

Since the incident, NParks said it has stepped up patrolling at the reserves.

More about the poaching incident
Photos and details on Aaron's post on the Nature Photographic Society forum
About the baby colugo on the For the Future of our Forest blog by the Central Nature Reserve volunteers

Learn more about our colugos

"Flying Lemur thriving in Singapore's Nature Reserves" By Chang Ai-Lien The Straits Times on the Molluscan Trails forum
About Norman Lim and his study of our wild colugos
Fact sheet and photos of colugos on Kwok Wai's WildLife Singapore website

Visit our forests to see our colugos
Join guided walks by volunteers at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and MacRitchie Prunus Trail. Colugos are quite often spotted, but you need and experienced guide to show you where they are.

Act for our colugos
Be alert to people who are out to hurt our native wildlife. If you come across suspicious people in the forest, please call NParks at 64685736.

Related articles on Singapore's biodiversity
about the site | email ria
  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com