Just In: 10 Threatened Species in Singapore

You might not be able to find some of these local endangered species anywhere else in the world. 

From 1970 to 2014 alone, WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 has found an overall decline of 60% in our global biodiversity (download the full report here).

Saying that, all hope is not lost.

Did you know: Singapore is not only home to some of the world’s rarest animals and plants, but is also involved in conservation and recovery efforts in protecting these endangered species, which are precious for the next generations to come.

Below, our list* in order, from the least  — to the most — endangered species in Singapore: 

10. Cinnamon Bush Frog

Conservation Status: Vulnerable

This small arboreal frog is usually more heard than seen in the forest.
©Max Khoo/ NParks

The frog species is impacted by the destruction and degradation of forest habitats and is confined mainly to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Conservation Efforts: In Singapore, research on its ecology and translocation efforts are currently being undertaken by NParks as part of a species recovery effort. Singapore’s mature forest habitats are also monitored and conserved to safeguard this species.

9. Harlequin Butterfly

Conservation Status: Endangered

Beautiful but very rare in Singapore, its survival depends on the availability of host plants.
©Max Khoo/ NParks

The Harlequin is a shade-loving jungle butterfly. It is impacted by the destruction and degradation of forest habitats – one of the major threats to biodiversity globally.

A small population of Harlequin butterflies are known to persist in one forested area in Singapore’s western region, with rare sightings of individuals in other forested areas.

Conservation Efforts: In Singapore, ex-situ breeding and reintroduction efforts are currently being undertaken by NParks and the ButterflyCircle as part of a species recovery effort for the Harlequin butterfly. 

In the rest of Southeast Asia, WWF’s work to halt land conversion while restoring forests is key to protecting the habitats of such forest-dwelling species.

8. Neptune’s Cup Sponge

Conservation Status: Unknown

A century after it was thought to be extinct, the Neptune’s cup sponge was rediscovered in 2011, in the waters of Singapore.
©Karenne Tun/ NParks

These goblet-shaped sponges can grow to a large size. In the past, the sponge was harvested by people for museums and private collections, as well as some who used its cup-like structure as babies’ bathtubs.

Conservation Efforts: Five Neptune’s cup sponges have been transplanted to the Sisters’ Islands Marine Park. Coupled with efforts to propagate the sponge, these measures help safeguard the species and increase reproduction opportunities.

7. Straw-Headed Bulbul

Conservation Status: Endangered

Poaching for the pet bird trade has decimated many species (including the straw-headed bulbul above) across Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia.
©Mendis Tan/ NParks

One of the biggest victims of poaching: the melodious-voiced straw-headed bulbul, which has gone extinct from Thailand and most parts of Indonesia.

Related: This rare bird is on China’s shopping cart

Conservation Efforts: Singapore is a global stronghold for this endangered songbird. The nature reserves in which this species is found are currently protected. To further enhance its conservation, other habitats such as parklands are being enhanced and connected with the nature reserves through multi-tiered planting of streetscapes and park connectors.

Regionally, cracking down on Southeast Asia’s illegal bird trade will protect this species from overexploitation.

6. Smooth-Coated Otter

Conservation Status:  Critically Endangered

Charismatic and photogenic, the smooth-coated otter has made a strong comeback in Singapore’s waterways.
©Tan Yong Lin

Everywhere else in Southeast Asia, otters are in greater danger due to habitat loss, pollution and poaching for the illegal pet trade.

Conservation Efforts: There is a collective, multi-disciplinary approach towards otter conservation, with the involvement of NParks and the Otter Working Group. With local communities, the group monitors otter populations and movement in Singapore to resolve issues and protect the species.

Want to know the remaining 5 most threatened species in Singapore? Download the full report here.

*This is a joint publication between WWF and Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParks) which aims to highlight 10 threatened species in Singapore that are currently under active conservation.

Like this story? See how planet-friendly your favourite hawker food are, whether we are doing enough to protect wildlife, and unseen struggles experienced by many wildlife rangers around the world. 

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1 Comment

  • Kayden, May 4, 2020 @ 10:56 am Reply

    I did not expect that the most endangered flora and fauna would be a plant, more specifically a Singapore ginger, which I have seen before!

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