In the weekends leading up to Vesak Day, 12 Toddycats volunteered for Operation No Release 2015 to raise public awareness on the harmful effects of releasing animals into our nature reserves and reservoirs.
Alongside PUB and NParks, Toddycats were stationed at various nature reserves and reservoirs across the island. Below are some of what the volunteers, both new and experienced Toddycats, have to say about this:
Dayna Cheah says:
I participated in Operation No Release on the morning of 17th of May at Bukit Batok Nature Reserve.
When I was going around surveying people, I had been surprised at the amount of people who thought that releasing animals into the environment was not harmful at all.
It made me realise that there was a lot more that needs to be done to raise awareness about this subject. It was a very interesting experience and I was glad to have participated in this.
Joelle Lai recounts:
I was on duty at Lower Pierce (24 and 30 May), from 2 pm to 6 pm.
General observations include:
1) LP is deserted at 2 pm, with a small crowd of anglers and hikers appearing from 3:30 PM. Perhaps shift timings can reflect this; perhaps 7 AM to 10:30(11) AM for morning shifts, and 3:30 PM to 7 PM for afternoon shifts.
2) Majority of people polled using the PUB questionnaire do not think releasing animals in the reservoir is harmful. Most think it is good.
3) PUB has a bigger problem with illegal fishing. I saw three fishermen at Oncospermum trail. One man was fishing with life bait. More enforcement is needed here.
Joys Tan says:
I was on duty at MacRitchie Reservoir Park on 30 June, from 8am to 12pm. No attempts of animal release were observed.
There were several times when I saw people going very close to the water edge, so it made me a little nervous. But upon closer examination, I realised they were looking at the creatures in the reservoir, such as the water monitor! So nice to see visitors being interested in the wild animals.
Two troops of long-tailed macaques were also spotted during the patrol, at the Prunus-Petai trail and near the Mushroom cafe. It was great to see that the visitors kept an appropriate distance in watching the macaques and I had an enjoyable time watching them too!
Delia Quek says:
I was stationed at Jurong Lake Park the weekend before Vesak Day (30-31 May). It was a relaxing weekend spent with nature and I was glad that I did not catch anyone releasing animals
As I was doing the survey and was heartened to see that the younger generation (< 20-year-olds) are well-aware that they are not allowed to release animals in parks and reservoirs.
However, Jurong Lake has many migrants and foreign workings visiting it too. As I spoke to them, I realized that many of them are unaware that releasing animals into the park is illegal and is bad for the environment. These people make up a sizeable portion of our community and I wonder if there are ways to reach out to them. Signs in the park are sometimes not effective as they are mostly in English. I had spoke to a few foreign workers from China in Mandarin and some of them highlighted the oversight to me.