Sambar Deer Once Believed To Be Extinct In S’pore Making Comeback Thanks To Zoo Escapees

Sambar Deer Once Believed To Be Extinct In S’pore Making Comeback Thanks To Zoo Escapees

Sambar Deer Population Slowly Making Resurgence In Singapore

The sambar deer was once believed to be extinct in Singapore.

However, a new study shows that their numbers are slowly increasing again in the country.

Source: Tan Yong Lin on Facebook

The study was published on 15 Feb in the Conservation Science and Practice journal by the Society for Conservation Biology.

Conducted by 24 researchers across the globe, this research looked into the natural distribution of wild boars and sambar deer in Singapore over time, without the help of humans.

Sambar deer in the wild come from those who escaped captivity in zoos

The increase in the wild sambar deer population can be traced back to those that escaped from private and public zoos in the 1970s.

Those that fled from the Singapore Zoo are likely the cause of their growing numbers in forested areas nearby.

Based on a graphic depicting the sambar deer’s rewilding route, these areas include the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in MacRitchie and Bukit Timah.

However, the abundance of sambar deer remains low to this day.

According to the study, the data shows they have only taken over those nearby forests and have not ventured out.

According to The Straits Times (ST), the estimated number of deer in the wild increased from three to 15 between 1997 and 2021.

Study also showed wild pigs recolonising areas rapidly

In comparison, wild pigs are a lot more successful at recolonising more areas.

Their rewilding routes show that they swam across the straits from Malaysia in the 1990s and have rapidly spread across Singapore since.

Currently, the wild pigs have yet to take over all potential areas, but the study predicts that they soon will.

Sambar deer & wild pig populations can impact Singapore’s ecology

The study states that the different rewilding directions of these two animals may mean that they require different methods of conservation and management.

The increase in the sambar deer population may be beneficial to the natural environment in Singapore.

It can help to naturally “restore lost plant-animal interactions” such as promoting herbivory and seed dispersal, the study noted.

Source: Tan Yong Lin on Facebook

Conversely, wild pigs are reaching high numbers very quickly.

This may mean that more needs to be done to avoid overpopulation and the negative impacts that it can bring as Singapore lacks both hunting and large predators.

Singapore’s beautiful wildlife is worth protecting

Nature is a powerful force that is not only beautiful but healing as well.

However, if you ever encounter a wild sambar deer or wild pig, be sure to keep a safe distance even though it might be tempting to get close.

When you are out hiking or exploring our nature parks and reserves, here are some handy tips from NParks to keep in mind:

  • Visit only within designated hours
  • Avoid taking photographs with flash
  • Follow and stay within designated trails
  • Keep your noise level as low as possible
  • Bin your rubbish properly
  • Do not take or remove anything from the reserves or parks

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Featured image adapted from Tan Yong Lin on Facebook.

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