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CHANGING weathers and increasing industrial activities have made environmental conservation efforts more challenging. To maintain the region’s biodiversity, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), the holding company of the four main nature parks in Singapore, plan to increase their effort in spearheading the conservation efforts in the region. Manager of Conservation and Research for WRS Roopali Raghavan said that they are working with various bodies in the region to help with the conservation of a number of protected species. “Southeast Asia is a hotspot for biodiversity with species that have yet to be discovered,” said Roopali in Singapore recently. The four WRS parks — The Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park — contain the highest number of critically endangered species found in captive collections in Southeast Asia. They house threatened and critically endangered species such as the Bali Mynah, the Giant Mekong Catfish, the Luzon Bleeding Heart Dove and the Vietnamese Pheasant. At-risk species from Malaysia found at the Singapore Zoo is the Proboscis monkeys, endemic to Borneo and present in the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Several of the near-threatened species of hornbills found in the Belum-Temengor forest complex are present at the Jurong Bird Park. At the moment, WRS is focusing on the Southeast Asia region for its conservation campaigns. “It’s a region of global biodiversity and recognized as a hot-spot with many areas not even fully explored with species that are yet to be discovered and also under tremendous changes from issues such as severe land use. Our challenge will be the challenge facing conservation as a whole, which is also applicable to other regions around the world,” added Roopali. WRS is working with numerous organisations to keep its 25 regional conservation projects going. Among them Malaysian NGO, governmental organization and corporate partner organisations such as Malaysian Conservation Alliance of Tigers (MyCAT) . WRS is providing support and funding for MyCAT to facilitate on-ground patrolling, detection of poachers’ snares and traps, and setting-up of cameras to monitor tiger poaching. Transparency is an important ingredient in the management of conservation funds. “We receive half-yearly reports from our partners and in turn produce a yearly report to our management team and stakeholders and is made public as well, reporting on investments that has gone on-ground and the results that are there,” explains Roopali. The parks reported a total of 700 animals born or hatched last year. They include the birth of the critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan and grandson of the zoo’s beloved mascot, Ah-Meng. Also regarded as a special moment is the hatching of two Bali Mynahs, as it is believed that it’s the first time it has been raised in captivity. Despite that, on-ground conservation benefits will take a long time to bear fruit. “You need to be patient to view the results. Although we do monitor progress and receive updates in a timely manner, the actual result of the project will be a long-term one,” adds Roopali.      

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