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  Reintroducing the Greater Mousedeer
Main article | Lessons from failed reintroduction | Plans to reintroduce the Greater Mousedeer

by Lim Kim Seng

Member, Conservation Sub-committee
Nature Society (Singapore)

Greater Mousedeer
An announcement in the local press in October 1997 surprised nature lovers and conservationists. It announced an ambitious plan by the Singapore Zoological Gardens to reintroduce mammals into the nature reserves, with the blessings of the National Parks Board (NPB).
Species listed for reintroduction included Mousedeer, Leopard Cat and Civet Cat as well as Binturong and Pangolin. The report mentioned that up to 25 of these animals will be released and that two areas—Bukit Timah and MacRitchie Reservoir—had been selected. The release was timed for Jun 1998.

While nature lovers welcome the return of animals into their natural habitats, ecologists were very concerned that the programme would have a very adverse effect on the environment and existing plants and animals there. Everything has changed, shrunk perilously, since those long-ago days when animals once roamed and bred in our lush primary forests.

How could one reintroduce agile tree-climbing predators like the Leopard Cat, Civet Cat and Binturong into our last surviving forest ecosystem when many of its residents are already suffering low (and unsustainable) population levels? You just need one bite here and another bite there and you will have one more local animal or plant on the extinct list!

Even worse, the areas selected for reintroduction are relatively rich in species diversity. Reckless release of these animals will decimate this diversity.

The impact of the herbivorous mousedeer and the insectivorous pangolin may be less severe, but a botanist and an entomologist may beg to differ! Nobody has an idea of how these reintroductions affect our depleted forests.

But a re-think about reintroductions has taken place and we are glad to see that the NPB are restricting the release programme to only the Greater Mousedeer. This restraint and monitoring, if coupled with determined conservation, even regeneration of its habitat, will go a long way to ensure that the Greater Mousedeer will live happily in our forests again.

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