Animal of the year AY2015/2016: the Komodo Dragon (Ora)

August 19, 2015

During the Inaugural Dinner on 18 August 2015, A/P Gregory Clancey, Master of Tembusu College, declared the Komodo Dragon to be the ‘Animal of the Year’ for AY2015/2016.

Komodo Dragons are listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species. Due to threats such as loss of habitat, hunting and human encroachment, the wild population of komodo dragons is slowly dwindling. There are only about 6000 dragons left in the wild and they are only found on the islands of Komodo, Rinco and Flores. With just 350 breeding females remaining and the general difficulty to keep the dragons in captivity, efforts must be undertaken to raise awareness and protect their habitats.

The idea of promoting one of the five house namesakes as Tembusu’s ‘Animal of the Year’ was devised by the student-led Tembusu Wildlife Association in AY2014/2015. This is to remind members and friends of the college that our namesake animals are real ones, are truly endangered, and need our help.

The five house animals are: Ponya (the red panda), Tancho (the red-crowned crane), Gaja (the Asian elephant), Ora (the Komodo dragon) and Shan (the snow leopard).

Last year, our Rector, Professor Tommy Koh chose the Asian Elephant, a critically endangered species, to be the animal of the year, citing the extremely dire conditions that this rapidly dwindling species faces through poaching and habitat loss.

In a month-long effort — entitled the ‘Rector’s Shield Initiative’ — students in each of the five houses of Tembusu organized a pledge campaign, video nights, posters, among other things, and raised over a thousand dollars for the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A group of six Tembusu students went on a trip to the park last May to volunteer and gain first-hand knowledge about elephant conservation.

This year, the spotlight will be on the namesake of Ora House, the Komodo Dragon.

In semester 1, time will be devoted to getting to know these giant lizards and their plight; and the first four weeks of semester 2 will see the second edition of the Rector’s Shield Initiative.

For questions or ideas regarding animal/environmental conservation, please contact Dr Catelijne

Image Credit:

WWF / Michel Terrettaz

Retrieved on 29/7/2015 from Komodo Dragon – WWF


1) Komodo Dragon - WWF

2) Komodo National Park

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.