Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wild Malayan Porcupine found on Ubin

In 2006, the Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) was caught on film by a camera trap on Pulau Tekong, an island just east of Pulau Ubin. Prior to that, Malayan Porcupines were never before reported on Pulau Tekong, and hardly seen since the 1970's. Habitatnews cited a study by Yang, Yong & Lim in 1990 that suggested while the Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) was once common in forested areas between 19th century to the 1960's, and was "sometimes found in secondary forests" by 1973, by 1990, it "must be very rare if it still exists in Singapore".

Fast forward to 2012, the Malayan Porcupine was yet again spotted, but this time on Pulau Ubin! Robert Teo from the National Parks Board (NParks) shares a video on youtube of a Malayan Porcupine that had wandered into a ubin resident's compound in late Jan 2012. It was cornered by the resident's dogs, subsequently caught and caged. The NParks Forest Patrol discovered the little guy and helped to release him back into the forest.

It's great to know that the wild Malayan Porcupine population seems to have thrived despite the rapid disappearance of their natural forest habitats in Singapore.

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Update @ 23 April 2012
 Robert shared more on this first official sighting of the Malayan Porcupine on Ubin:

"During our regular Forest Patrol on 30 Mar 2012, my staff and volunteers found a Malayan Porcupine (Hystrix brachyura) caged in a resident’s home. It measured about 60-70 cm from nose to base of tail and appeared to be a female. The porcupine entered the resident’s compound in late Jan 2012 and was cornered by her dogs. It was subsequently netted and a cage was constructed to house it. The resident fed it with apples, carrots & kangkong.

The resident was reluctant to let it go as she thought it would not be able to survive on its own. She even asked that we send it to the zoo. We explained that the porcupine is a wild animal and would be able to fend for itself, and that the right thing to do was to return it to the wild. She requested to keep it over the weekend to show her relatives. On the morning of 2 Apr, we transported the cage to the forest nearby and released the porcupine."