04 March 2010

Sambar deer in our forest

We have Sambar deer in our forest! It is unfortunate that this came to light only because a deer was recently run down on our highway.
Photo from the Straits Times 4 Mar 10


What is the Sambar deer?

From the Ecology Asia website: The Sambar deer (Cervus unicolor) is among the largest of Southeast Asia's deer. The male has a head-body length of up to 2 metres and weighs up to 260 kg. The antlers of the male usually have three tines (points). They are found in small herds of up to four animals.

The Sambar deer was once found in a variety of habitats but is now confined mainly to primary and mature secondary forests due to hunting pressure. It is more active at night, from dusk to dawn. It feeds on grass shoots, vines and fallen fruits.

It is now found from India, Sri Lanka and Nepal through Burma, southern China and Indochina, to Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

According to the Straits Times report, the Sambar deer became extinct in Singapore by the 1940s, due to poaching and habitats destruction.

In a Strait Times article about Singapore's protected animals dated 7 Sep 1947, Dr C.A. Gibson-Hill of the Raffles Museum shared that the Sambar deer "are plentiful in parts of Johor, but has not been observed in Singapore for a number of years. Their last stronghold was the Bukit Timah Forest area. A Sambar was last taken there about 1920."
From the Straits Times 4 Mar 10.
Click on image for larger view.

How many Sambar deer are in our forest?
According to the Straits Times report: "No one knows how many sambar deer there are in the wild here, according to Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, chairman of the Vertebrate Study Group at the Nature Society (Singapore). He estimates there are fewer than 20 in Singapore."

What other sightings have there been?
According to the Straits Times report: "Last year, a pair of males were sighted at Bukit Brown cemetery, near the MacRitchie Nature Reserve. There were also sightings in Mandai Lake Road, near the Upper Seletar Reservoir."

The volunteer guides of the Central Nature Reserve have also blogged about a deer sighting in Oct 06.

I once sat in a taxi cab whose driver shared his experience colliding into a large deer near the Zoo. The accident damaged his vehicle but the animal left the scene.

If you have seen or know of a deer sighting, please share in the comments.

Where did the deer come from?
There is no information about this in recent reports.

Should we reintroduce Sambar deer into our forests?
From Playing Modern-Day Noah: Tempting but Highly Dangerous by Lim Kim Seng in Nature Watch magazine by the Nature Society (Singapore):
An announcement in the local press in October 1997 surprised nature lovers and conservationists. It announced an ambitious plan by the Singapore Zoological Gardens to reintroduce mammals into the nature reserves, with the blessings of the National Parks Board (NPB).

Species listed for reintroduction included Mousedeer, Leopard Cat and Civet Cat as well as Binturong and Pangolin. The report mentioned that up to 25 of these animals will be released and that two areas—Bukit Timah and MacRitchie Reservoir—had been selected. The release was timed for Jun 1998.
The article highlights some of the issues related to animal reintroduction.

What will happen to the dead deer?
The reports did not indicate the fate of the victim. But road kills do contribute to conservation. Sadly, it is one of the ways in which we discover our rich biodiversity. Road kills also provide valuable DNA and may even be used as exhibits for outreach work to raise awareness of our biodiversity. More details in From road kill to museum research The Straits Times 22 Jul 01.

What should I do if I see special wildlife?
Dead or alive, here's what you can do if you come across special wildlife.

Links

11 comments:

Ivan said...

There's a STOMP post from 2008, describing an eyewitness account of 2 deer along Lornie Road in December 2007. The photograph is practically useless though.

And according to Sivasothi's Facebook status, the RMBR might get the head. Damn, all that venison going to waste... =P

JC said...

Understand from NParks guys, they have spotted them from time to time. Definitely not extinct yet but not sure if they are at a sustainable population.

ria said...

Thanks Ivan and JC for sharing these insights! There sure is some amazing wildlife in Singapore!

Anonymous said...

I just saw one big dark one munching grass at the road side hill towards mandai road exit!!! Kimi_neo@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I recently saw two Sambar deer late at night on Old Upper Thomson Road. I was riding my mountain bike, they calmly walked along the road and then went into the forest.

Ria Tan said...

Thanks for sharing this sighting.

Foo chen khai said...

I saw a deer yesterday nite cycling at old upper thomson road. Around 8 to 9pm.

Foo chen khai said...

Saw one yesterday nite old upper thomson road.

Anonymous said...

Hi, this morning at approx 7am, I spotted 3 deers near to the Upper Seletar Reservoir gate area crossing Mandai Ave over to the vegatation. This was an amazing sighting. I sincerely hope they can continue to live well in Singapore's shrinking wildlife habitat.

Anonymous said...

Saw a large male tonight on the MTB trail up to Mandai. BIG!

Hugh Schofield said...

A HUGE male was standing in the middle of Old Upper Thomson road as i rounded a bend on my bicycle last night at about 22h30. Very impressive animal!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...