Singapore Trivia – The Red Junglefowl of Singapore

The red junglefowls (gallus gallus) are frequently mistaken as domestic chicken, although they are truly the chicken’s wild ancestors. They belong to the pheasant family, which includes pheasant, peacock, quail and partridge. Native to most of Southeast Asia and East Asia, the red junglefowl, however, is listed as an endangered animal in Singapore.

There have not been many records of the red junglefowls until the eighties, when they were first observed at Pulau Ubin by some bird-watchers. Nowadays, the red junglefowls have found home at mainland Singapore, where they can sometimes be spotted wandering out of the dense vegetation at the Western Water Catchment area, Fort Canning Hill and Seletar West Farmway.

While they may look very alike, there are several noticeable differences between a red junglefowl and domestic chicken. A male red junglefowl has two obvious white patches on its body – below its eyes and at its rump, near its tail. It also has grey legs, while a domestic rooster has yellow or pink ones. A rooster also has a long crowing, whereas the male red junglefowl’s call is strangled at the end. The most glaring difference is perhaps the flying ability of a male red junglefowl.

An adult male red junglefowl can grow up to 75cm long. Polygynous by nature, a red junglefowl family typically consists of a rooster, several hens and many chicks, roaming around and pecking insects and seeds for food. Due to their occasional contacts with domestic chicken, it is not unusual to find hybrid descendants of red junglefowls and their domestic relatives.

In 2017, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) and National Parks Board carried out culling of the free roaming chicken found around Sin Ming and Thomson View for several reasons, including noise pollution, bird flu risk and to reduce the possible dilution of the genetic stock of purebred red junglefowls.

Published: 24 November 2019

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