home | wild places | wild happenings
make a difference | links
about the site
email ria
  all news articles | by topics
news articles about singapore's wild places
  The Straits Times, 24 Jun 05
Seeking the green light for animal sanctuaries:

YES Plans for halfway house on Pulau Ubin for
confiscated wildlife get in-principle OK

By Chang Ai-Lien Science Correspondent

NO Expats' proposal to turn Pulau Tekukor into Monkey Island rejected
and Monkeys that turn too aggressive culled
By Jane Ng

SINGAPORE'S first wildlife rescue centre could be set up on Pulau Ubin, to provide a home for illegal animals brought into Singapore and confiscated by the authorities. The non-profit animal-rights group Acres has received in-principle approval from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to set up the shelter, which will house primates, small carnivores and non-venomous snakes.

'We can't go on giving these animals to the zoo, which simply doesn't have the room,' Acres president Louis Ng said on Wednesday. 'So the centre would be like a halfway house for the animals before they are repatriated to other countries, though we may have to keep some of them for life.'

But before it raises the estimated $500,000 needed to set up the facility, Acres is waiting for the Singapore Land Authority - which suggested several sites on Ubin - to get approval from the Law Ministry for use of the land, he added.

Acres, or the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said together with the AVA, it has rescued 60 wild animals since last November following tip-offs from the public. They include monkeys, exotic spiders and tortoises.

The rustic island of Ubin would be an ideal location for the sanctuary, as it would make it difficult for people who bought wild animals as pets on a whim to dump them there, said Mr Ng. All animals there would be micro-chipped, and the centre would have open-air enclosures for primates, and vets to make sure the animals are healthy. Members of the public will also be allowed to visit the facility on guided tours, he added, speaking on the sidelines of an international animal-welfare conference here.

Nature Society Singapore president and Nominated MP Geh Min, who officially opened the Asia for Animals conference on Wednesday, also highlighted Singapore's lack of a wildlife rescue centre. 'It's important to look at what happens when such animals are confiscated. We can't always introduce them into the wild,' she said.

The AVA, in confirming its approval of the centre, said confiscated animals are donated to institutions such as the Singapore Zoo, Jurong BirdPark and Underwater World in Sentosa. Major seizures are returned to the country of origin, while sick animals are put down humanely.

People with information on anyone keeping and selling exotic pets may call the AVA on 6227-0670 or Acres' 24-hour hotline on 9783-7782.

NO Expats' proposal to turn Pulau Tekukor into Monkey Island rejected
By Jane Ng

A GROUP of animal lovers' plans for a monkey sanctuary on one of the Southern Islands have fallen through. Last year, the group of mainly long-time expatriates wrote to seven government agencies - such as the Singapore Land Authority and the Singapore Tourism Board - with a proposal to turn Pulau Tekukor into a Monkey Island, to serve as an ecotourism attraction and save the primates from culling.

Hopes were high when they received in-principle approval from all the agencies.

But in an e-mail reply to the group last week, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which decides on land usage, rejected the proposal.

It said Pulau Tekukor is part of the Southern Islands Planning Area which has been earmarked for lifestyle and entertainment projects.

It added that the project may not attract many tourists as long-tailed macaques can be found in their natural habitat at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, for instance. Altogether, there are about 850 long-tailed macaques in Singapore's nature reserves.

A spokesman for Sentosa Leisure Group, which manages the island, told The Straits Times yesterday that while there are no definite plans for Pulau Tekukor yet, 'a Monkey Island will unfortunately be out of context as part of this hub'.

But Ms Barbara Martelli, 41, leader of the group, who has been working on the plan for three years now, is not giving up. The former husbandry specialist feels the project would interest tourists from Europe, North America and Australia where macaques are uncommon.

She said it would educate locals and foreigners about local heritage and, more importantly, save the errant monkeys which have been caught over the years by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.

'These monkeys were a nuisance only because they were fed by humans before and thus became aggressive when they could not continue to get food from them,' she said.

The 52 macaques that had been caught are being held in the Singapore Zoo now.

The plan was for the island to take up to 120 monkeys. Pulau Tekukor, an uninhabited 4.9ha isle less than 1km away from Sentosa, was chosen because it has a forested area and rocky shore, which can provide different habitats for the monkeys. The group now has 50 volunteers who take turns to clean the monkey cages in the zoo, which says it will continue to keep the captured macaques on its premises.

Monkeys that turn too aggressive culled

EIGHTY monkeys are culled here each year because they become too aggressive.

According to Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, the macaques are caught with the help of residents who live near the nature reserves.

These monkeys are trapped when they venture out of their natural habitat and cause a nuisance in the neighbourhood. They would either threaten people or become a nuisance by raiding homes and stealing food.

Explaining why they have to be culled, Mr Kannan said: 'These monkeys have come out of their troupe because they are a misfit among them. We are unable to determine as to their original habitat. To return these monkeys back to the forest will pose a hazard to them as the troupe does not accept them.'

He added that the Singapore Zoo does not accept any more monkeys as it is constrained by the lack of space.


Wildlife and animal rescue
More about ACRES and their efforts on the ACRES website
More about animal release in Singapore and their impact

Monkey Island and problems due to people feeding monkeys
Monkey Island project website and about Dr Paolo who is involved in the project
More about the problems arising when people feed monkeys
About Pulau Tekukor on the Coral Reefs of Singapore website

More links
Related articles on Singapore: general environmental issues
Related articles about Pulau Ubin and about wild shores of Singapore

  News articles are reproduced for non-profit educational purposes.

website©ria tan 2003 www.wildsingapore.com