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Were you at the Festival of Biodiversity? Relive it with us!

This gallery contains 51 photos.

Originally posted on News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum:
The Festival of Biodiversity came and went on 12 and 13 July, and what a fun-filled, action packed two days they were, along with some very exciting news –…

Upcoming Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats in July-October 2014!

Love MacRitchie Walks by Toddycats poster

Toddycats, the volunteers of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, are back in action with a new season of Love MacRitchie Walks!

Upcoming walks:

  • 27 Jul 2014 (Sunday) – FULLY SUBSCRIBED.
  • 30 Aug 2014 (Saturday) – FULLY SUBSCRIBED.
  • 13 Sep 2014 (Saturday) – Details coming soon.
  • 27 Sep 2014 (Saturday) – Details coming soon.
  • 11 Oct 2014 (Saturday) – Details coming soon.
  • 25 Oct 2014 (Saturday) – Details coming soon.

Each walk can accommodate 25-35 participants, depending on the number of Toddycat guides available. Walks will be held at Venus Loop. Find out more about this lovely forest trail.

Since Oct 2013, Toddycats have conducted nine public walks, reaching out to a total of 197 participants thus far. This season, in the second half of 2014, the six planned walks will take up to 210 more people into MacRitchie Forest to experience its rich biodiversity!

Trained guides tell stories of the forest. Photo by David Teng.

Trained guides tell stories of the forest. Photo by David Teng.

Your participation will help to encourage our Government to consider alternative routes to the Cross Island MRT Line (CRL), which is proposed to tunnel through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Come for a walk and join us in protecting our natural heritage.

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If you would like to contribute to raising awareness about the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement, drop Chloe Tan (Project Manager) an email at chloetanyiting@gmail.com.

Spread the news and see you at Venus Loop!

http://lovemacritchie.wordpress.com/love-macritchie-walks

Singapore’s first Marine park at Sisters’ Island!

On 12 July 2014 at the annual Festival of Biodiversity, Minister Desmond Lee announced the opening of the first Marine Park on Sisters’ Island, one of the off-shore island of Singapore. It was something to celebrate because marine biodiversity in Singapore is rich and having a Marine Park would provide our marine biodiversity with a safe haven. The public can sign up for free guided walks and the dates of the walks are available here.

Minister Desmond Lee was invited for a guided walk at the future Marine Park and we were treated to the amazing biodiversity that can be found at Sisters’ Island.

IMG_5069[1]Ria giving a safety briefing and showing the participants how a stone fish looks like. She cautioned us about looking out for the venomous fish and told us to look where we place our feet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeastar with one arm missing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACorals that were translocated from Semakau Landfill, they are doing well at Sisters’ Island!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASea urchin

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGiant carpet anemone; spot the clam that is on the anemone!

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This is the egg case of a moon snail. The female moon snail excretes mucus which binds the sand and her eggs to give the eggs protection.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Anemone shrimp usually live in pairs on an anemone, we only spotted one though.

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We spotted a flower crab that was scurrying across the intertidal flats. It must have felt threatened because there were so many people staring at it and starting waving its pincers at us.

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The star of the day was the Giant Clam. With the new marine park in place, there are plans to reintroduce this endangered clam back into our waters.

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The view of Sisters’ Island as we left for mainland. Remember to sign up for the free guided walks to learn more about the amazing marine biodiversity that we have in Singapore!

Sungei Buloh walk with FASStrack Asia students

Last Saturday, Toddycats Alvin, Sarah, Kar Mun and Katie took 40 students taking part in the FASStrack Asia summer school programme for a morning walk at Sungei Buloh.  Hailing from US, UK, Vietnam, Turkey,  Canada, Australia, Mexico, Europe, Japan, China, Taiwan, as well as NUS, it was a good opportunity to introduce to them the wild side of Singapore. It was also a very good way for them to get used to our local weather and get over jet lag!

Despite the 35 degree heat, it was an engaging walk enjoyed by the participants, with Alvin’s group lucky enough to catch sight of  two crocodiles! Besides the two crocs, monitor lizards and skinks were among some of the wildlife spotted at SBWR that morning. Each group focussed on different topics based on the interest of the students and guides, and according to Alvin, his group was particularly fascinated with Nephilia spiders and their webs!

We’re glad everyone had a good time and it was a good start to their five weeks of summer school here in Singapore :)

Photo by Alvin Wong

Veteran Sungei Buloh guide  Alvin welcoming everyone to the Reserve.

Veteran Sungei Buloh guide Alvin welcoming everyone to the Reserve.

Photo by Alvin Wong

More pictures at the FASStrack Facebook page.

Toddycats at the Faculty of Science Open House (17 May 2014)

There is a good three months or so of vacation between the final exams and the start of the new academic year here in NUS.

Besides taking a well deserved break and pursuing shelved-for-the-holidays-projects, this is also a good time to start preparing for the Festival of Biodiversity! Last year, we participated in two NUS events to warm up before FoB, the Faculty of Science Open House on 18 May and the Faculty of Science Alumni day, dubbed Science on Saturday on 8 June.

For this year’s Open House, the Toddycats were very quick to register our interest with Ann Nee at the Department of Biological Sciences Office – even before details were officially released! As our usual stomping ground, Life Science Lab 7 was not available, we had to look for other venues. Fortunately, Mrs Ang from LS Lab 2 kindly allowed us use of the lab and it proved to be a great alternative.

A call for help saw 25 Toddycats sign up to help out and we spent the previous Monday evening at LS Lab 2 at a training workshop for the event. There were six stations in all, with each station helmed by an experienced guide, ready to share stories and guiding tips with some of the new Toddycats. Each person had to be familiar with two stations by the end of the training session. This will be a useful start and a base to move on to other stations over time.

On Open House Day, we met earlier to organise ourselves and set up the various stations. Tze Kwan and Weiting worked out who was going to demo at which station based on their training from Monday. A short lunch break, some last minute revisions and we were good to receive the first of two groups who had signed up for the Life Science tour!

In total, we spoke to 140 prospective students and parents over two sessions. In addition to speaking about the specimens on hand, the undergrad experiences of the Toddycats came in pretty handy too! We shared with our guests (especially the more inquisitive parents) the various options leading to a Life Science major, as well as personal undergraduate stories in general. I hope we gave our visitors a good perspective and overarching understanding of a degree in Life Science  in the hour they were in the lab!

Many thanks to Oi Yee, Ivan, Marcus, Weiting, David, Amanda, Tze Kwan, Yi Yong, Joleen, Wei Han, Ambert, Kwi Shan Claudia, Mioa Shan, Kar Mun, Letchumi, Bokai, Joanna, Erin, Prab, Joys, Lesley, Hazel and Navneeth for signing up to help, and Ann Nee, Mrs Ang for your support!

For more pictures, see our flickr set here.

Jane’s Walk Singapore feat. Love MacRitchie

A few days after we wrapped up our last series of Love MacRitchie Walks on 12 April, the organizers of Jane’s Walk Singapore approached Toddycats to join in their movement to get people to explore the city.

Jane’s Walks of diverse themes (heritage, architecture, food, nature, etc.) were held in Singapore and cities around the world between 2–4 May. We jumped at this unique opportunity to show Singaporeans that our city has more than just skyscrapers! The walk was a hit among Jane’s Walk registrants, 27 of whom turned up at Venus Loop on 4 May for a walk in the rainforest with seven Toddycats.

Jane’s Walk organizer Mai Tatoy kicked off the event by giving an introduction to the annual global movement of locally led tours inspired by Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who championed a community-based approach to city building. Toddycat David Tan then took over the first batch of participants and set off into the forest, and the group led by Joelle Lai and I followed shortly after.

David Tan introducing MacRitchie Forest to Group 1. Photo by Pearlynn Sim.

David Tan introducing MacRitchie Forest to Group 1. Photo by Pearlynn Sim.

Once again, the forest wowed us with its amazing wildlife. We were treated to sightings of  fungus beetles and their larvae, scale insects, Many-lined Sun Skinks (Eutropis multifasciata), Crimson Sunbirds (Aethopyga siparaja) and Short-tailed Babblers (Malacocincla malaccensis). But the head-turners were definitely the gliding animals, including the Five-banded Gliding Lizard (Draco quinquefasciatus) and the Black-bearded Gliding Lizard (Draco melanopogon) that showed off their aerial skills to the first and second groups respectively. The second group was also extremely lucky to spot the Malayan Colugo (Galeopterus variegatus), which was hiding so well in plain sight, on a tree just beside the trail!

Fungus beetle on a bracket fungus. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Fungus beetle on a bracket fungus. Photo by Chloe Tan.

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Scale insects. Photo by Pearlynn Sim.

Many-lined Sun Skink. Phot by Wynnie Kwok.

Many-lined Sun Skink. Photo by Wynnie Kwok.

What's everybody gawking at? Photo by Joelle Lai.

What’s everybody gawking at? Photo by Joelle Lai.

The Malayan Colugo! Photo by Chloe Tan.

The Malayan Colugo! Photo by Chloe Tan.

The plants at Venus Loop were just as interesting that day. The mango and durian trees were fruiting!

A fragrant mango! Photo by Chloe Tan.

A fragrant mango! Photo by Chloe Tan.

What does the durian say? Photo by Chloe Tan.

What does the durian say? Photo by Chloe Tan.

All these creatures that we saw sent a strong message to the participants – our forest is rich yet fragile. And we can all help to protect our natural heritage. Toddycats would like to thank all the participants of this walk for being such an enthusiastic, inquisitive and engaging bunch. It was truly an enjoyable Sunday morning!

Group 1. Photo by Pearlynn Sim.

Group 1. Photo by Pearlynn Sim.

Group 2. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Group 2. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Stay tuned to the Love MacRitchie Facebook page for updates on future walks, and check out the Love MacRitchie website for more information about the movement.

Love MacRitchie Walk – Happy campers despite the drizzle and a blue coral snake appears!

Every fortnight since February 15, a group of enthusiastic Toddycats, overseen by project manager Chloe, has been conducting guided walks for members of the public. 12 April was the last of the series and saw Joelle (yours truly), Letchumi, Jun Hien, Erin, Janice and Navneeth step up for guiding duties.

The sky didn’t look too good when I woke at 6:30 am and a few walk participants  contacted me at 7 am, saying that it was raining where they were, and asked if the walk is still going ahead.  A quick check with NEA’s weather app showed that it was indeed raining in most parts of Singapore but thankfully the central part of the island was spared. I replied to everyone saying that the walk would carry on as scheduled in light drizzle, and we would make the call to cancel at the meeting point after further assessing the situation.

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The sky was overcast when I arrived at the meeting point at 8am and already some of the participants were there waiting! Lai Fong and her son are avid bird watchers and spotted the flameback woodpecker and greater racket tailed drongo as we waited at the car park, as well as kindly shared the photos with us. More people turned up as 8:30 am came closer and it turned out that the morning rain in our participants’ respective neighbourhoods did not deter or dampen their enthusiasm for the morning’s walk.

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Flameback woodpecker (picture by Jia Yi)

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Greater racket tailed drongo (picture by Jia Yi)

We split the large group to two, with Janice, Letchumi and Navneeth setting off first and  Erin, Jun Hien and myself following shortly. We  further split our group when Lindy joined us with her four young children and two helpers, with Erin taking care of the little ones :).

As usual, it was fungi galore given the rain and cool weather in recent weeks. We also encountered a troop of long tailed macaques foraging in the forest, in addition to plantain squirrels moving about amongst the branches.  Halfway through our walk, it started drizzling and our participants, who had come prepared with wet weather gear started to get their ponchos and umbrellas out. The walk still carried on, and  we hurried through some parts where the large Albizias were.

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Lindy’s entourage! The kids walked on in the drizzle and were really good sports.

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Jun Hien with the main group

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Erin showing the little ones the freshwater stream around the bend.

Janice, Letchumi and Navneeth’s group encountered a beautiful Malayan blue coral snake in the leaf litter near the stream and took these pictures to share!   According to Letchumi, it was her first time encountering a snake other than the  Oriental whip snake at Venus Drive. Needless to say, everyone got extremely excited.  Spotted by a participant, it was a rare sight.  It was great that as much as us guides were scanning the trail looking out for interesting plants and animals to show our walk participants, they were also actively engaged in the walk and had their eyes peeled out for  animals too! The appearance of the Blue coral snake also gave Janice, Letchumi and Navneeth the opportunity to tell them more about venomous snakes and what to do should they encounter one in the future.

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Malaysian blue coral snake in the undergrowth (photo by Letchumi).

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Malaysian blue coral snake in the undergrowth (photo by Letchumi)

The walks ended with a group photo session and a parting message on the Love MacRitchie project.  We will take a break these months to concentrate on other outreach activities and will be back soon with more walks. In the meantime, the Love MacRitchie page has information for other ad-hoc walks and events, as well as links to guides for individuals who want take a walk in our precious forests.

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Group photo time! Group led by Joelle, Jun Hien, and Erin.

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Group photo time! Group led by Janice, Letchumi, and Navneeth.

Our Singapore forest thanks everyone for their love and support!