Credit by Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation / Facebook | Langur Monkeys in National Parks
Cities in Southeast Asia where Wildlife is Returning
NATURE Beyond

Cities in Southeast Asia where Wildlife is Returning

You've seen photos all over social media of wildlife returning to locked-down cities worldwide. Dolphins are appearing in Italy's waterways, deer are wandering through streets in Nara, and in London, red foxes are found in quiet parks. In Southeast Asia, things are no different – especially at beaches and national parks that are usually swarmed with tourists. From rare leatherback turtles to adorable furry creatures in Singapore, wildlife is making more frequent appearances in Southeast Asia. 

Turtles in Phang Nga

Image: Banyan Tree Samui
Image: Banyan Tree Samui

In February, the staff and guests of Banyan Tree Samui, a resort on Koh Samui’s southwestern coast, witnessed a rare natural event: a green turtle ascending from the water in the middle of the night to lay eggs on the beach, as reported by Timeout.com.

According to the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, this was the first time this has happened in six years. The turtle, which is probably around 10 to 25 years old, laid more than 500 eggs in five nests over the course of four weeks. To help provide protection, the hotel constructed shelters around the eggs.

Otters in Singapore and Malaysia 

Rare otters like this Asian Small Clawed Otter have made a comeback across lakes in Singapore and Malaysia. Image: Forbes/Getty
Rare otters like this Asian Small Clawed Otter have made a comeback across lakes in Singapore and Malaysia. Image: Forbes/Getty

The endangered otter had been in decline in Malaysia over many years. However, during the COVID-19 lockdown (known locally as the Movement Control Order), otters were spotted in the usually crowded Putrajaya Lake and several other lakes inland within Malaysia. This has been in line with the clearer air and other environmental improvements seen in Malaysia during the MCO. Otters are a protected species under Malaysian Law

In Singapore, at least 90 otters, part of 10 thriving families, live within the island-state, and their population is growing, thanks to rich food sources—such as koi ponds—and lack of predators, The National Geographic reported. The 20-pound creatures have also adapted well to urban spaces, denning in concrete bridges and basking on patches of sand between slabs of pavement. (In one humorous incident, otters climbed up a metal maintenance ladder to exit a canal.)

Langur Monkeys in Thailand's National Parks

In March, the internet saw videos and photos of a bunch of starving monkeys take over the streets and an abandoned town hall of Prachuab Khiri Khan in central Thiland. The building was left abandoned after the provincial government moved to a new building. The authorities did not take any action to get rid of the monkeys, but just left them be.

Now, it's a family of langur monkeys and their newborns have been spotted at national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Thailand, since national parks all over the country have been closed since the end of March.

Dugong near Ju Hoi Cape

This aerial view screengrab from handout video from Thailand's National Marine Park Operation Center in Trang taken and released on April 22, 2020 shows dugongs swimming in Joohoy cape at Libong island in Trang province in southern Thailand. Drone images released by the National Marine Parks center showed a herd of dugongs sunning themselves beneath clear turqouise waters off the coast of Libong island in southern Thailand. Image: AFP
This aerial view screengrab from handout video from Thailand's National Marine Park Operation Center in Trang taken and released on April 22, 2020 shows dugongs swimming in Joohoy cape at Libong island in Trang province in southern Thailand. Drone images released by the National Marine Parks center showed a herd of dugongs sunning themselves beneath clear turqouise waters off the coast of Libong island in southern Thailand. Image: AFP

Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservations said in a Facebook post that officials sent out to inspect coral reefs saw a clear increase in the amount of fish among them.

The department said to The Star, a marine animal conservationist had reported seeing dugongs on a daily basis, sometimes in groups of around five to six, near the island of Ko Libong in southern Thailand.

Dugongs are herbivorous marine mammals that are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The wildlife department had also released drone footage of a herd of around 30 dugongs near Ko Libong it shot on Tuesday.

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