Raffles Museum Toddycats volunteered to be part of the NParks-coordinated Operation No Release which seeks to prevent the release of animals into the nature reserves and reservoirs. The reasons for this exercise are summarised “here.”
They were stationed with other volunteers throughout the island and it was the first experience of an operation of such a nature for most. Here is what some of them had to say:
Sea Sin Wei says,
“I was stationed at Dairy Farm Nature Park (22 May 2010) and Upper Selatar Reservoir (23 May 2010). I did not encounter any animal releasers.
However, when I was in Upper Selatar Reservoir, there was a group of runners attempting to run in the forest outside the designated path. They were stopped by the NParks officers who were with me and my fellow volunteers.
We also had a case of suspected monkey feeding at Upper Seletar. Overall, we had a nice time enjoying the scenery and watching the birds and butterflies at Dairy Farm and the long tailed macaques and monitor lizard and millipedes at Upper Seletar.”
Foo Maosheng says,
“During my shift on Vesak Day, no one was spotted releasing animals or at least trying to. In fact, members of public appear to be more aware. During my shift, Petrina and I found a tortoise (looked like a red-ear slider) which was trapped among some bushes.
We weren’t sure whether someone had made a quick release when our backs were turned or simply the tortoise coming up from the waters for sunning. After we reported to Roy about the finding, we removed the tortoise from the bushes. While doing so, a couple jogging by must have thought thinking that we were trying to release it into the reservoir and told us that it is illegal to release the animal there!
I felt the operation was successful in deterring people from illegal release of animals into our nature reserves and reservoirs as there was a large number of us patrolling the area.”
Lee Bee Yan says,
“From my experience of the ONR (which was on 29th may), no one was spotted releasing animals but there were two groups of people spotted trying to catch animals.
When I just reached the site at Lower Peirce Reservoir, two guys were trying to catch spiders. They went off when two volunteers questioned them as I called Vanessa from NParks to inform her of the situation.
The second group was a family trying to catch fish at the reservoir behind a sign clearly stating that fishing was not allowed. I approached the mother who was sitting on the boardwalk bench to find out what they were up to. However, as I did not have a Volunteer Pass or other identification, they carried on fishing. I then called Vanessa and the family packed up and rushed off when they saw her approaching them.
There was no release of animals that day possibly it was after Vesak Day. There were however, groups of people trying to catch animals which is just as bad. I feel that the message of No Release is known but it seems that catching of animals is still quite common.”
Meryl Theng says,
I patrolled the Upper Seletar Stream at 7am – 11am slot on Vesak Day (28th May 2010), where I did not encounter any releases and Lower Pierce Reservoir Park Shelters at 3pm – 7pm the next day (29th May 2010).
Lower Pierce Reservoir Park was slightly more interesting. My partner and I spotted two Singaporean men catching spiders in the patch of forest next to the car park. After telling them nicely that it was not allowed, they caught one more spider and left the place on a car with their plastic bags of caught spiders. This session ended early (at around 5pm) because of the impending rain.
Overall, I’ve heard of only one or two release cases over the weekend, which is a really good sign! – for the reservoirs at least.”
Cheo Pei Rong says,
“I participated in the operation on Vesak day. Meryl and I were stationed at the Upper Seletar Stream and we did not spot anyone releasing or attempting to release animals.
Perhaps it was the two of ius staring at the stream throughout which deterred anyone them from attempting a release!
Veteran volunteers who have participated for several years and NParks staff claim that there has been an improvement in the situation.”
Photos by Carmen Kee.