Five new species of fauna recorded in Pulau Ubin

SIAU MING EN Today online 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE – A pair of white-and-greyish brown Little Stints, a species of shorebirds usually seen in South Asia which migrate southwards from the Arctic to escape harsh winter, were among five new species of fauna spotted in Pulau Ubin for the first time in the past year, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Sunday (June 24).

Shorebird experts had identified the pair among some 300 birds by their white-and-greyish brown patterned feathers and their upright posture during a survey at the Chek Jawa wetlands.

Along with a number of migratory birds that are regularly found at Chek Jawa, this suggests that the island off eastern Singapore is a possible stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, said NParks group director of conservation Adrian Loo during the annual Ubin Day.

Dr Loo said the new records could mean that the recent scientific surveys conducted by various group had helped identify species that were already present on the island, but had yet to be identified and recorded.

Likewise, it also suggests that Pulau Ubin is conducive enough for biodiversity to stop by or find a home here, he noted.

The new records include the sightings of two species of bats – the Long-winged Tomb Bat and the Big-eared Pipistrelle – that were identified during a field survey at Chek Jawa last December. The bats, which feed on insects, are usually found in the region.

An NParks staff also discovered the Arrow Emperor dragonfly last October when the insects flew into their office on the island. About 11cm long, this species has a distinct T-shaped mark on the area between the insect’s eyes.

The last new record on Ubin was the Racoon Pseudo-orb Weaver, which was discovered by NParks and the research community in a young secondary forest on the island last year. The long-legged spider, which has been seen in Indonesia and Malaysia, has patterns that resemble that of a raccoon tail.

Mr Joseph Koh, NParks Honorary Research Associate at the National Biodiversity Centre, said there are about 140 species of spiders on Pulau Ubin alone, compared to an estimated 800 species of spiders in Singapore.

The thriving community of spiders on the island also shows that there is a healthy biodiversity on the island, he added.

To date, the island is home to 730 native plant species, more than 300 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as 240 species of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies.

In his speech at Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said some progress has been made in enhancing the facilities and services on the island since NParks became the central managing agency two years ago.

This includes improving the earth tracks and drains on the island and the board is in the process of setting up compact water treatment units to treat water from the taps at all public toilets, added Mr Lee, who is also the Minister for Social and Family Development.

NParks also completed the mangrove arboretum and nursery at the Ubin Living Lab, a learning facility set up two years ago for education and research. The lab will also host new outreach activities for the public.

A carpentry working space was also added to the lab to let community groups carry out preparation work for the various restoration projects.

For instance, students from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Architecture are using the facility as they help rebuild a 23-year-old kampong drink stall on the island.

5 new species of fauna recorded at Pulau Ubin
Junn Loh Channel NewsAsia 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE: Five new species of fauna have been recorded for Singapore, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Sunday (Jun 24).

NParks discovered the species together with the research community during field surveys at Pulau Ubin last year. They include two types of bats, an insect, a bird and a spider.

Speaking at the opening address of the seventh Ubin Day, Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee said the discoveries are significant as they add to the diverse biodiversity at Pulau Ubin and "remind us of our role as stewards and guardians of our natural heritage".

The discovery of a migratory bird species called Little Stints is of particular significance, said NParks. The birds were spotted at Pulau Ubin’s Chek Jawa wetlands last September when they flew in to feed after the tide receded.

While Chek Jawa is no stranger to migratory shorebirds, NParks said that bird monitoring data collected in the past year has shown that certain species of migratory birds prefer the wetlands at Ubin over Sungei Buloh - Singapore’s other wetlands on the mainland.

“These are significant observations as they suggest that Pulau Ubin complements Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve as another possible stopover for migratory birds along the East Asian - Australasian Flyway,” NParks said.

The flyway - among the world’s most important - stretches from the arctic parts of Siberia to as far south as New Zealand.

The other species recorded include insectivorous bats like the Long-winged Tomb Bat and the Big-eared Pipistrelle, which have previously been found in Southeast Asia.

The Arrow Emperor dragonfly, which was discovered only recently in Malaysia and India, along with the Raccoon Pseudo-orb Weaver spider, were also newly added to the Singapore records.

Ubin Day is part of Pesta Ubin, an annual month-long festival to celebrate the islands rustic charm, heritage and natural environment.

Source: CNA/hs

Five new species of fauna recorded for Singapore in Pulau Ubin
Calvin Yang Straits Times 24 Jun 18;

SINGAPORE - Five new species of fauna have been recorded for Singapore, after they were uncovered during surveys done by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the research community in Pulau Ubin last year.

The new species recorded are the little stint shorebird, long-winged tomb bat, big-eared pipistrelle bat, arrow emperor dragonfly and the raccoon pseudo-orb weaver spider.

These add to Pulau Ubin's diverse biodiversity, said Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Sunday (June 24).

"They are testament to the biodiversity Ubin contributes to Singapore, and remind us of our role as stewards, custodians and guardians of our natural heritage," added Mr Lee, who was on the island to mark Ubin Day. The event had a myriad of activities such as kampung games and educational booths put together to celebrate the different facets of Pulau Ubin.

Of special significance is the identification of the little stint shorebird, which is a rare sighting in South-east Asia. Two little stints were identified by experts following a survey of shorebirds at the Chek Jawa Wetlands in September last year.

Two species of bats, which can only be found on Pulau Ubin, were also recorded for Singapore.

The long-winged tomb bat has wings that are long and narrow, while the big-eared pipistrelle has large, broad ears and whitish, translucent wings. Both insectivorous bat species were identified during a field survey at Chek Jawa in December last year.

The other newly recorded species - the arrow emperor dragonfly and the raccoon pseudo-orb weaver spider - were discovered last year. The dragonfly, which was discovered only recently in Malaysia and India, has a distinct T-mark on the front area of its head while the long-legged, medium-sized spider has patterns that resemble a raccoon tail.

Dr Adrian Loo, group director of conservation at NParks, said ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts may have had a part to play in the discovery of these species here.

He added that the next step will be to conduct studies to find out the species' population and distribution, among other things, to help conserve their habitats.

New plans to restore Pulau Ubin's north shoreline and support biodiversity on the island
On Sunday, Mr Lee, together with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing, toured the improved facilities at the Ubin Living Lab, which supports various field studies and environmental education on the island.

A new working space, equipped with a work bench and wood-working equipment, will allow restoration work to be done onsite rather than having to bring completed pieces from the mainland. Water treatment systems, toilet and shower amenities will also make it more conducive for students and researchers to stay over at Pulau Ubin for various activities.

Throughout the island, earth tracks and drains have been improved to offer better accessibility. Fire extinguishers and litter bins have also been distributed to every household, so residents can enjoy a safer and cleaner environment.

Mr Lee said: "These small, little enhancements mean a lot to the people living on this island, and the people who work on projects on Ubin.

"We will continue to enhance Pulau Ubin in a way that respects the character and integrity of its built heritage, while ensuring that our residents can continue their way of life."