Operation No Release 2015 – join us on this public education exercise in May

Register now at tinyurl.com/onr2015 by Thu 07 May 2015.

NParks & PUB are initiating Operation No Release 2015. NUS Toddycats are supporting this initiative and recruiting volunteers – anyone can sign up, so you can invite friends. For an idea of volunteer duty, see Toddycats reports from 2010.

On Vesak day, the release of animals has traditionally been conducted as a gesture of compassion. However this practise puts additional pressure on sensitive ecosystems. Non-native animals compete with native wildlife for food and shelter, or carry disease which can spread amongst wildlife popuations. Even the release of native animals is unsuitable if no assessment of the present community has been conducted – competition, predation, disease and release into unsuitable habitats result in adverse effects or low survival. Thus, the release of animals into our reservoirs is illegal.

Ironically, the demand for animals for release can trigger poaching of animals from the wild, locally and regionally.  Awareness is critical to lead to alternatives and people with compassion can learn about the many organisations working hard for the welfare of animals in Singapore.

Since 2005, Operation No Release aims to raise public awareness about the detrimental effects of animal release to nature areas. This year, alongside PUB and NParks, volunteers will be stationed at all 12 public accessible reservoirs to educate and advise members of the public who intend to release animals. Your help is needed to enable a successful operation.

Shifts of 4 hours will be mounted (8.00am – 12.00pm & 2:00pm – 6:00pm) on these weekends:

  • 16 & 17 May 2015
  • 23 & 24 May 2015
  • 30 & 31 May 2015

Please do sign up for a shift or two to support Operation No Release.

NParks & PUB will conduct a join briefing session for volunteers on Sat 09 May 2015: 2.00pm. This will be a good opportunity to meet other volunteers and agency staff.
If unable to make the briefing, we will make arrangements to brief you separately.

Cheerio!

N. Sivasothi & Joelle Lai
NUS Toddycats
https://toddycats.wordpress.com

Toddycat

Capacity building of our youth through NUS Toddycats, volunteers with the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, is part of SG50 celebrations.

NParks & PUB Media Release, 13 May 2015.

Do not release animals into the wild
13 May 2015

Outreach efforts extended to more parks, nature areas, reservoirs and waterways

The National Parks Board (NParks), PUB, the national water agency and Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) will be stepping up education and enforcement efforts at nineteen selected parks, nature areas, reservoirs and waterways from 16 to 31 May 2015, as part of ‘Operation No Release’. ‘Operation No Release’ is an annual campaign that aims to spread public awareness on the dangers related to the release of animals into parks (including ponds), nature areas, reservoirs and waterways. Besides the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, NParks and PUB will also extend their outreach to more parks and reservoirs at Lower Seletar, Bedok, Punggol, Serangoon and Marina (see Annex for full list).

Volunteers and community groups such as Waterways Watch Society, Punggol South River Watch Group and NUS Toddycats! will join NParks and PUB officers in the outreach efforts this year. Besides keeping a lookout for any sign of animal release at parks, nature reserves, reservoirs and waterways, they will also educate and advise members of the public on the harm of releasing animals into the wild.

“Many of the released animals are unlikely to survive, and most often, face a slow and painful death, as they are unable to cope with their new surroundings,” says Mr Wong Tuan Wah, Director of Conservation, NParks. “Those that are bred or captured deliberately to be sold for ‘release’ usually become so stressed during their captivity that they are too weak to survive in the wild when released eventually.”

Household pets, too, often may not survive after release, as they do not have the natural instincts and ability to forage for food or fend for themselves in the wild. It is irresponsible and cruel to abandon a pet. Pet owners who are unable to look after their pet anymore should find a suitable home for the pet, or they can approach an animal welfare group for help to re-home the pet.

Dying and dead animals may have an impact on the environment. In instances where animals do survive and proliferate, they often do so at the expense of native wildlife. They upset the ecological balance by preying on the native species, out-competing them for resources or introducing new diseases. For example, the American Bullfrogs are known to breed prolifically and compete with local frogs for food and space.

“As with any ecosystem, the health and functionality of reservoir habitats is influenced by the diversity and ecology of aquatic organisms living within them. The release of animals by members of public into our reservoirs and waterways may have ecological impacts on our freshwater ecosystems. This year, we are extending our efforts to more locations and we hope to raise greater awareness on this issue.” said Mr Ridzuan Ismail, PUB’s Director of Catchment and Waterways.

First-time offenders caught releasing animals may be charged under the Parks and Trees Act and could be fined up to $50,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

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