Singapore might seem like the last place to encounter wildlife. However, this is where the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” comes into play. There is more than meets the eye when it comes to uncovering wildlife in this urban jungle. In fact, Singapore contains pockets of greenery that supports complex and vast habitats teeming with wildlife. Moreover, these amazing creatures thrive right under our noses!
Animals You Can Find In Singapore
Raffles Banded Langur
Contrary to popular belief there are other species of monkeys that exist in Singapore. Apart from the long-tailed macaques that are notorious for stealing your lunch, the Raffles banded langur is just one of the three non-human primates that can be found in Singapore. It was first discovered almost 200 years ago by Sir Stamford Raffles. Up until the 1920s, these species of monkeys were a common sight in Bukit Timah, Pandan, Changi, Tampines, Tuas and Pandan. But with the rapid development of the country and its infrastructure, many of the forests were cleared to make way for the rising population. This, in turn, led to habitat loss the Raffles banded langur slowly decreased in number to the point they were on the verge of extinction. However, the population has been slowly increasing over the years thanks to the conservation efforts that were instilled to repopulate the species. You might catch a glimpse of these graceful creatures when you are walking along the Old Upper Thomson Road and the Lower Peirce Reservoir boardwalk early in the morning. Be sure to keep the noise to a minimum to get as close to these animals as possible. Additionally, if you are carrying food, make sure its sealed and out of sight.
The elusive Malayan Colugo is one of the most unique creatures you can find on this island. In fact, biologists have defined them under Dermoptera, which essentially refers to a small group of mammals comprised of flying lemurs and colugos. One of its most distinctive physical features of this mammal is its extensive skin membrane that stretches from its neck to its forelimbs. This skin membrane enables the Malayan Colugo to glide from tree to tree. It has been observed that these creatures can glide to more than 100 meters. These solitary creatures usually come out at night, but if you are quiet enough you might catch a glimpse of them in the wee hours of the morning. However, don’t be too disheartened if you have a hard time spotting them in the dense thicket. You may find these creatures clinging to low-hanging branches or tree trunks in the Central Nature Reserves.
Common Palm Civet
Sporting a distinct black “mask” across its eyes, the common palm civet, also known as the civet cat, might look like a racoon at first glance, albeit smaller and more cat-like. Measuring less than 60 cm, these shy creatures can be found in scrubland, parks, forests, mangroves and sometimes they are even said to be a common sight in urban areas that are close to large pockets of forests. They are also nocturnal animals that tend to prefer solitude and high places (arboreal). In recent years, there has been a growing demand for civet-processed coffee or Kopi Luwak, a type of expensive gourmet coffee that is derived from coffee beans that were “processed” by the civet cat. Essentially, civet cats consume coffee cherries and excrete the undigested seeds or the coffee beans. These “coffee beans” are then processed and brewed for mass consumption. However, this growing demand has given rise to civet cats being caged and force-fed with caffeine-laden coffee cherries to produce enough product for the masses. This should be enough reason to stay away from the product altogether.
Commonly seen in Pulau Ubin and sometimes in Changi, these large hornbills measure up to 70 cm and sport a unique black-and-white plumage. However, it’s trademark is its large, long bill, which is not as heavy as it looks. Instead of a solid bone, the bill is made out of honeycombed tissue. The hornbill’s diet consists of fruits, insects and even small animals including other birds, mammals and reptiles. Rarely quiet, these birds emit a sound that is similar to that of a cackle, a loud cackle. In parts of Sarawak, these birds are usually hunted for their meat and feathers. In the past, Singapore was home to the Rhinoceros hornbill and the Helmeted hornbill, but today only the Pied-hornbill remains. There is some good news though, the rise of artificial nesting boxes which have helped to boost the population of the Pied-hornbills. So at least we won’t be seeing the decline of these vibrant species of hornbill any time soon. If you want to catch these birds in action, you can find them in Changi Village, East Coast Park, the Botanic Gardens and various other nature areas in Singapore!