Author Archives: kagome92

Toddycats clear 223kg of trash at ICCS Berlayar Creek Mangrove!

29 September 2012 – Raffles Museum Toddycats! were joined by three Keppel Club staff for the International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore at Berlayar Creek mangroves. Raffles Museum Toddycats were deployed here for the first time after four years at Pandan mangrove from the first cleanup in 2008.

Armed with trash bags, booties and data cards, 18 of us responded to our mission and spent an intensive 90 minutes removing marine debris of all sorts from the delicate mangrove site. Given the fragile environment of Berlayar Creek, we had to be extremely meticulous when manoeuvring through the aerial roots of the mangroves which is why ICCS Coordinator Sivasothi had entrusted this site to Toddycats.

Moving around the mud was a challenge for first-timers, as one of the volunteers experienced getting both her feet stuck in the mud. Fortunately, after several attempts and help from other volunteers, she was finally free.

Toddycats hard at work!

It was an hour of hard work picking and cataloguing marine debris before we proceeded to move all the trash (including the bulky items) up the steep slopes and to the weighing point. The trash were then weighed for an indication of the marine debris load present at the site. After weighing was completed, all the trash was despatched to the Trash Disposal Point for pickup later.

First timers or no, this could be challenging as the TDP was a distance away, but all the volunteers put in their best effort and cleared a total of 23 bags of trash weighing 223kg (excluding many bulky items)!

The typical trash encountered during our cleanup included 130 plastic bags, 104 broken glass bottles, 56 food wrappers, containers, ropes and fishing lines. Other more unusual finds were tyres, lipsticks and numerous golf balls! A detailed breakdown of the marine debris we cleared is available online at the ICCS Results page.

Toddycats clearing bulky marine debris!

Toddycat Randolph Quek removing several entangled gill nets

During the cleanup, the intertidal wildlife present motivated us to remove harmful, non-biodegradable trash from their habitat. We were also heartened by the appreciation of the people visiting the area. Members of public approached us with questions and thanked us for our contributions to the environment

Even the little mangrove inhabitants seem to be grateful for our efforts!

We were glad to do our bit for the environment and inadvertently help raise public awareness about the problem of marine trash!

If you would like to contribute more, there are also a series of year-round cleanups being coordinated. To find out more, check out the ICCS website and blog.

223kg of marine debris cleared from Berlayar Creek mangroves!

Thank all volunteers for their hard work in ensuring the success of Raffles Museum Toddycats’ ICCS 2012 Berlayar Creek mangrove cleanup! Enjoy photos from this event on the ICCS Flickr page.

We look forward to your participation at ICCS 2013!

Well done Toddycats!

Toddycats in the festive mood of biodiversity 2012!

What a blast it has been for the Raffles Museum Toddycats at the inaugural Festival of Biodiversity! Held at the Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens on the 26th and 27th of May 2012, the Festival was organised with the aim of celebrating our local biodiversity, and to be a platform of engagement for the community to share their love for our natural heritage.

The Raffles Museum Toddycats were one of the many groups that were involved in the Interactive Booth Exhibition, along with other organisations including the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES), ButterflyCircle, Cicada Tree Eco-Place, Nature Photographic Society (Singapore) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Thanks to the tireless efforts of all the participants, including volunteers representing many different areas of interest, as well as the support from members of the public, the Festival was an unforgettable and enriching experience for all who were involved.

We had been working very hard behind the scenes to prepare for this momentous occasion; not only did we need to get permission from the Museum to bring along more specimens for our booth (with the promise that we would take good care of them!) and coordinate transportation of the specimens and other items, we also had to ensure that we had sufficient volunteer guides, and ensure that they went through a training session to equip them with the content, skills, and confidence in sharing stories and communicating information with members of the public. One of our coordinators, Meryl Theng aka Ottergirl, also took the effort to create a brand new poster, featuring some of our fascinating native mammals such as mousedeer, pangolins, wild boar, and common palm civets, which can still be found in our forests, and are sometimes even encountered in residential areas!

Simple but informative! Our brand new mammal poster created by Meryl Theng

This time around, our booth featured a wide range of species representing all major habitats found in Singapore. From marine creatures of the coral reefs and seagrass meadows, to those specialised for mangrove habitats, and from denizens of our reservoirs and rivers to forest inhabitants and urban survivors, these specimens were just a small sample of the dazzling array of animal species present in Singapore.

Some of our mammal specimens on display, common palm civet, leopard cat, pangolin and many more, all of which can be found in the terrestrial part of Singapore! (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

Assortment of marine specimens, sea stars and shells! (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

It’s not just furry and cute mammals; sea stars and the often attractive shells of some snails and clams featured prominently over at the corner where we displayed our selection of marine animals.

Given that we were on the upper level of the Botany Centre, visitor traffic was slow at first on the first morning, so we soon set up a makeshift station with some teasers to lure the public upstairs, with the promise of even more amazing and fascinating stories to share about Singapore’s wildlife.

Toddycats Jung Min, Ruixiong, Maosheng and Yueat Tin all ready to engage the public on the 1st floor, before leading them up to the 2nd floor. (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

An amazing crowd eventually gathered to enjoy a fun-filled couple of days of nature activities and interaction with our engaging volunteers. As numbers swelled, the Toddycats, comprising volunteer guides from all walks of life, encompassing veterans who have been guiding for decades to new members guiding for the first time, all rose to the challenge with great enthusiasm and passion. Many of us were on our feet and talking nearly non-stop for hours, yet spirits remained high and the energy was infectious. Even as evening fell and most other groups packed up, some of the Toddycats still continued to share stories about Singapore’s wildlife with passers-by.

Some of the stories shared included highlighting some of the birds commonly encountered in urban neighbourhoods, parks, and gardens, such as the Asian koel, black-naped oriole, and collared kingfisher, the possible threats posed by non-native species (as shown by specimens of the changeable lizard and American bullfrog), to the several different crab species that can be found living in the mangroves, some of which are familiar to those who love seafood. Not only did we marvel the masses with our amazing array of specimens, we also enlightened them about our enduring conservation efforts to protect our local natural heritage. These include long-term efforts such as International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, the Singapore Hornbill Project, and Operation No Release.

Kids stopped and stared at the specimens, do we even have such large crabs in Singapore? (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

Some curious members of the public also gave us the opportunity to talk about preservation techniques used by museums, from skulls and skeletons to taxidermied mammals and stuffed birds, to wet specimens floating in jars of ethanol. The use of chemicals also explains why we often had to remind our fellow guides and visitors to wash their hands if they had handled any of our specimens, whether it was dried sea star specimen, or holding a jar of archerfish.

The Guest-of-Honour for the event was President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who delightedly visited the Raffles Museum Toddycats booth and received excellent guidance to our delectable range of specimens from veteran Toddycats, Tze Kwan and Weiting.

Toddycat Xu Weiting professionally introducing Singapore’s mangrove crabs specimens to Guest-of-Honour, President Tony Tan Keng Yam. (Photo by Boh Zuze)

Toddycats Fung Tze Kwan delighting the Guest-of-Honour, President Tony Tan Keng Yam with our wild mammal specimens (Photo from Dr Tony Tan’s Facebook page)

Later on, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin also visited the booth, and he was especially captivated by our Asian small-clawed otter specimen.

MOS Tan Chuan-Jin even whipped out his phone to take a closeup photograph of the small-clawed otter! (Photo by Boh Zuze)

The Festival of Biodiversity was undoubtedly one of our most successful public outreach ever conducted. Families and individuals of all ages were deeply thrilled and awed by their encounters with specimens of animals that they have hardly seen roaming wild in Singapore. Both inquisitive children and adults were well pleased by our story-sharing efforts and left in wide-eye wonder, hopefully with a better impression of the importance of biodiversity conservation.

An excellent turnout at the Toddycats booth! (Photo by Boh Zuze)

Kids were mesmerized by the tales of Toddycats bird enthusiast, David Tan (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

Do we have turtles on our shores? Two species of turtles (Green & Hawksbill) are known to occur on our reefs. Sometimes, they even lay their eggs on our shores! (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

Reference books were also at hand, for guides and visitors to refer to for more detailed information. All these and more were for sale during the two days. (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

After guiding on both days, Toddycats Qi Qi reflected and found the experience extremely gratifying. “Not only did I get to share Singapore’s fauna species with the public, I got to learn from their various experiences too. Compared to the previous few outreach events that I have volunteered for, there were many more specimens that were brought to this Festival. Besides our iconic baby dugong, the taxidermized specimens were also presented there. A few examples would include the common palm civet, a.k.a.  Toddycat, leopard cat and pangolin.”

“Many visitors were surprised and awed by the specimens and some of them even asked if the specimens were real. To say that our specimens interested them would be an understatement.”

It was with heavy hearts as we packed up the specimens and finally closed the booth on Sunday evening, after two entire days of outreach. We were glad that the efforts over the last few months had finally come to fruition and created a stunning success for the Toddycats, but for many of us, we had truly been bitten by the guiding bug and wished that things didn’t have to end so soon. More importantly, many more people left the Botanic Gardens having learnt more about Singapore’s biodiversity, and the often rare and endangered species that have managed to survive here.

Indeed, the Festival of Biodiversity was a great avenue for people to learn about Singapore’s natural heritage and its various inhabitants. It has extended its educational reach to both young and old alike, and hopefully will delight more people in the future. We’re certainly looking forward to the next available opportunity to get out there with our specimens, and reach out to more people, to get them to understand what’s at stake when we discuss issues such as waste disposal, habitat conservation and urban development.

We would like to extend our deepest thanks to all our volunteers for making this event possible! Because of all your hard work and effort, Raffles Museum Toddycats! engaged more than 1,000 people over the span of two days! Thank you Kelvin Lim and Wang Luan Keng from RMBR for helping us prepare the wide variety of specimens that were showcased during the event. Each of you helped raise the awareness of local biodiversity and made a difference!

Catch Raffles Museum Toddycats! in action at the next Festival of Biodiversity!

Our new Toddycats volunteers engaging the crowd, well done Toddycats! (Photo by Foo Fang Chee)

Toddycats Exhibition Team coordinators (L-R: Fung Tze Kwan, Xu Weiting & Meryl Theng) decorated by Ria’s wonderfully handmade marine animals plushies! (Photo by Boh Zuze)

See, feel & experience biodiversity at Festival of Biodiversity

The long wait is almost over! The first ever Festival of Biodiversity is happening this weekend, on 26 & 27 May 2012 at the Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens, from 9am to 6pm. The Raffles Museum Toddycats have spent a fruitful evening preparing hard for this event, and now it’s your chance to come down to show us your support and learn more about Singapore’s fascinating biodiversity!

If you still have no inkling of what to expect at the Festival of Biodiversity,  this post will bring you a sneak preview of one of the most prominent and important exhibition booth – the Raffles Museum Toddycats booth! With a myriad of over 50 specimens on display, ranging from rarely-exhibited birds such as the collared kingfisher, barn owl and white-breasted waterhen to mammals such as the baby dugong, a pangolin and a taxidermized leopard cat, you will certainly be awed! Other interesting specimens such as the small-clawed otter, crabs and fishes will also come under the limelight during the festival.

Wondering what these are? Then check out our booth during the festival!

Our signature specimens are waiting to welcome you at the Festival of Biodiversity!

The training session this evening has successfully equipped our volunteers with  information on not only our specimens, but also on the general history of the Raffles Museum Toddycats! and other Toddycats activities, to better engage the public this weekend. So come on down to listen to what we have to share!

Our experienced Toddycat volunteer Oi Yee giving her take on specimens!

Our bird enthusiast, David sharing his insights on birds in Singapore

Besides our amazing array of specimens, there will be a line-up of exciting activities during the event, suitable for families and nature enthusiasts. Check out the Festival of Biodiversity blog and sneak video of “Singapore Got Wildlife, Meh?”. So what are you waiting for, do not miss out on this weekend’s nature bonanza! We look forward to seeing you at the Festival of Biodiversity!

Come join us at the Festival of Biodiversity (26 & 27 May 2012)

Calling all nature lovers! Whether you are an avid animal or plant enthusiast, or simply looking for an enriching way to spend the weekends with your family, you are in for a fabulous treat! Next weekend, the inaugural Festival of Biodiversity will bring you a whole line-up of exciting programmes and activities that feature the best of Singapore’s biodiversity.

The Festival of Biodiversity will be held at the Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens on 26 & 27 May 2012 from 9.00am to 6.00pm.  This event marks a major milestone for biodiversity conservation in Singapore and is jointly organized by NParks and the Biodiversity Roundtable. The theme of this event is to create awareness and promote efforts in conserving and enhancing our local biodiversity.

© 2012 NParks

You may not be aware that Singapore is home to more than 400 species of marine fishes, 250 species of hard corals,  as well as native species such as the smooth-coated otter and the banded leaf monkey. Fret not, as the line-up of programmes are certainly able to facilitate your learning journey of Singapore’s rich biodiversity!

There will be a myriad of activities targeted at different age groups during the festival. Families can revel in the plethora of specimens and informative exhibits featured at more than 14 interactive booths set up by schools, corporate groups, non-governmental organisations, nature-interest groups, volunteers and public agencies. Besides the wealth of information displayed at the booths, children can also participate by exercising their creativity at the various hands-on art and craft workshops such as painting and creating origami animals or their very own bookmarks! Alternatively, they can find joy by listening to the wonderful  stories of “The Giving Tree”, “The Lorax” and more at the storytelling sessions. These eye-opening activities will certainly leave you and your family enthralled.

Let your children’s creative juices and imagination flow at the Art and Craft Workshops.

The fun continues at the Function Hall as a wide range of talks, featuring unusual topics, such as animal forensics and biodiversity iPhone applications, are open to you! The ‘Conserving our Biodiversity’ Symposium also promises a deeply insightful experience. This symposium will take place from 9.00am to 12 noon at the Function Hall of the Botany Centre and is ideal for school teachers, principals, community leaders, corporate groups and NGOs. Alternatively, you can attend the various thrilling film screening sessions to broaden your perspectives of the importance of biodiversity conservation.

Enjoy “The Return of the King”, a film featuring the return of the Oriental Pied Hornbills to our urban landscape.

Interested in wildlife photography? Then rejoice at the sight of flora and fauna as you explore the guided rainforest tour or simply visit the “BiodiverCity” Photography Exhibition.

With so many exciting activities in store for all at the festival, the event is not to be missed! By participating in the vivacious festival, you will be rewarded with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Singapore’s rich biodiversity, its benefits and relevance to us in Singapore. So join us this weekend at the Festival of Biodiversity; we look forward to seeing you!

Getting to the Botany Centre at Singapore Botanic Gardens

Map of Singapore Botanic Gardens © 2012 NParks
Click image for larger view.

By Foot:
Entrance to the Gardens is easy through the Gardens’ major entrances: Tanglin Gate, Burkill Gate, Nassim Gate and Cluny Park Gate, and through the Bukit Timah Entrance.

By Car:
Car Parking Facilities are available at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Visitor Centre, Bukit Timah Car Park at Bukit Timah Core, Botany Centre, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden and Public Parking along Tyersall Avenue.

For more information on the Festival of Biodiversity, please visit:
http://festivalofbiodiversitysingapore.wordpress.com/ or
http://www.nparks.gov.sg/festivalofbiodiversity/

Raffles Museum Toddycats at Festival of Biodiversity (26 & 27 May 2012)

A cornucopia of pleasures awaits nature lovers this May, as the inaugural Festival of Biodiversity is expected to take place at Botany Centre, Singapore Botanic Gardens on 26 & 27 May 2012. The theme of this event, organized by NParks in collaboration with the Biodiversity Roundtable, is to create awareness and share each other’s efforts in conserving and enhancing biodiversity.

© 2012 NParks

Raffles Museum Toddycats! will be having an exhibition booth at the event to showcase our rich natural heritage to the public. We will be bringing down a wide variety of specimens that can be found in different habitats ranging from terrestrial, mangroves, freshwater and marine environments. Besides our usual specimens such as the baby dugong, otter and crabs, many other specimens such as the pangolin, and a pair of taxidermized leopard cats will be brought out to the public for the first time. We will also share our insights on the annual ICCS (International Coastal Cleanup Singapore) with the public through informative posters. In addition, we plan to engage the masses with some activities, such as a self-made magnetic board game (matching diet/habitat to animal) and wildlife 3D paper crafts (http://xinheritage.blogspot.com). For those of you who enjoy promoting, we welcome you to help the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research to sell merchandise.

One of the new specimens to be displayed

We will be expecting a huge crowd, akin to that of the Envirofest which was held in 2009 at HDB Hub at Toa Payoh. The massive turnout was a great encouragement that spurred us to continue our outreach programmes even up till today.

Massive crowd at Envirofest 2009

This year’s Festival of Biodiversity will undoubtedly be the biggest event to look forward to, and with the various aforementioned volunteer roles available, we will appreciate the various contributions from you!

The festival will be held from 9am to 6pm on both days, with 3 shifts available for sign up:

0800 – 1130 Shift 1 (including booth set up)
1130 – 1500 Shift 2
1500 – 1900 Shift 3 (including booth pack up)

In preparation for this event, there will also be a briefing and training
session on Wednesday, 23 May 2012: 6.30pm @ DBS Lab 7 [Block S2, Level 3].
During the session, we will bring volunteers greater insights into the specimens, papercrafts and activities, as well as share stories on the animals with each other!

Sharing session by our volunteers

If you are able to commit and would like to be a part of this exciting festival, please sign up at http://tinyurl.com/toddycats-fob26-27may2012 !
For undergraduates who have signed up to present your Honours Poster,
please also indicate the shifts you will be available.

For more information about the event please visit:
http://festivalofbiodiversitysingapore.wordpress.com/ or
http://www.nparks.gov.sg/festivalofbiodiversity/

We look forward to contributing to the biodiversity conservation cause with everyone!