Category Archives: nparks

Toddycats @ Pesta Ubin 2016 (Part I): A Celebration of Singapore’s Marine Biodiversity and a plea to Reduce our Plastic Footprint

As in previous years, we’ve come together and contributed to a couple of events for the Pesta Ubin 2016 calendar!

This year Ubin Day has morphed from one weekend of short-lived fun into a month-long festival from 14 May to 12 June (Pesta means Festival in Malay). It was designed to celebrate Ubin’s kampong lifestyle, the Ubin Way, and its value as a nature refuge and to offer the public a glimpse of our past heritage.

Despite the rain, the booths from various local NGOs received a strong showing from the public. About 3000 visitors came to soak in the festive mood by participating in the myriad of events and informative booths. The celebratory atmosphere was buoyed by kampong games such as capteh and hopscotch. Activities such as cycling, kayaking and coastal clean-ups were made available too.

It was a delight to educate and raise awareness of the importance of conserving our local marine biodiversity in Singapore. Ten specimens on loan from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum were chosen to highlight some examples of marine life found on our shores and the disastrous after-effects of littering, boat crashes, illegal fishing and the importance of conserving our local biodiversity.

Our specimens from LKCNHM included a baby dugong, a dog-faced water snake, a giant mudskipper, an Asian small-clawed otter, shells from various local marine clams and snails, a black-tipped reef shark, a tree-climbing crab, a hawksbill turtle and seahorses. Pictures of our sperm whale, Jubilee, were also on display to highlight the imminent threat that plastics can have on sea creatures, even on large ones like whales. Our local marine biodiversity too is not immune to this global crisis of plastic waste.

There are four ways in which marine life is impacted by plastic littering:  strangulation of animals from entanglement, ingestion of plastics when animals mistake it for food, bioaccumulation when young fish or crustaceans eat micro-plastics (microbeads found in face-wash products) and the leakage of toxic pollutants into the ocean as plastics slowly degrade.

Minister for National Development, Mr Lawrence Wong, and Senior Minister of State, Mr Desmond Lee, graced the event as our guests of honour. Mr Wong announced that by mid 2017, the National Parks Board (NParks) would take on the role of central management agency and be in sole charge of managing Ubin.

In his speech, Mr Wong also highlighted several books launched in celebration of Ubin such as “Footprints on an Island: Rediscovering Pulau Ubin” by Chua Ee Kiam, Choo Mui Eng and Wong Tuan Wah and “Hunt for the Green Boomerang” by Neil Humphreys.

Apart from the humans, other living creatures such as the oriental-pied hornbills and green imperial pigeons were also in attendance during the event. Their presence further illustrates that Ubin continues to be a birdwatcher’s paradise and an important refuge for threatened species. Even Ubin’s friendly resident stray dogs came to pay a visit and provided great company.

The children had their fair share of activities to take part in and be excited about as well! We organised a badge-making session which kept the children thoroughly entertained in creating their very own badges, giving them a colourful experience and a sense of pride in putting their creativity to good use.

To conclude, Pesta Ubin was a celebration of all things nature and our kampong roots. If our heritage in Pulau Ubin is lost, we would not only lose our window into the past, but something more significant – our identity with nature. Our local biodiversity may be resilient but if we are not mindful to reduce our carbon footprint and protect our environment, we may stand to lose much of our precious Earth.

For more pictures, view our Flickr album!


Operation No Release 2016 – an annual exercise to prevent the release of the wrong animals in the wrong place!

As in previous years, NUS Toddycats are participating in Operation No Release (ONR) this May 2016. Volunteers will be engaged in public surveys and providing advise to visitors as needed, in support of NParks and PUB officers at 17 sites around Singapore.

Joelle Lai with Chen En (ACRES) participated in the pre-event publicity about ONR and fielded questions in Mandarin quite well on “Hello Singapore” (12 May 2016) on Channel 8 – start at 12:25 mark on Toggle. Joelle thanks Mu Lao Hu, Chiawei Lin, Alvin Wong, Ivan Kwan and Marcus Ng for help with her script.

Screenshot 72

NParks says up to 90% of animals released into the wild die within a day because they are unable to fend for themselves.

The first round of duties were conducted last weekend and Alvin Wong who was at Venus Drive on Sunday says students are particular effective in obtaining responses for the public awareness survey!

“I was on ONR duty on Sunday morning session. Three Nanyang Junior College students and myself were attached to NParks officer Sunia Teo, our I/C. The NYJC students conducting the ONR survey were polite and approachable – the public were less inclined to flee from students in uniform conducting surveys! The students did a good job and were a credit to their school.”

This year, many students participated to help conduct surveys. 60 students from NYJC alone are participating in ONR at different locations around Singapore.

To learn more about the issue of animal release, watch this SPH Razor video from 2013 (Part 1 and Part 2) and read the fact sheet from Wild Singapore.

The team at Venus Drive (photo by Alvin Wong)

Singapore, 06 May 2016 – The National Parks Board (NParks) and PUB, Singapore’s national water agency will be carrying out ‘Operation No Release’, an annual initiative that aims to spread public awareness on the dangers of releasing animals into parks (including ponds), nature areas and reservoirs on 7-8 and 14-15 May (see Annex for full list of locations).

Besides keeping a lookout for any sign of animal release at parks, nature reserves and reservoirs, the agencies will educate and advise members of the public on the harmful impact of releasing animals into the wild.

2 “Animals that are bred in captivity or captured from the wild deliberately to be sold are seldom equipped with the skills they need to survive in the wild,” says Mr Wong Tuan Wah, Group Director of Conservation, NParks. “Upon release, they would find it difficult to fend for themselves, especially in an unfamiliar environment and many are unlikely to survive. The ones that manage to adapt to their new surroundings may outcompete native species for resources, disrupting the delicate ecological balance.”

3 “Reservoirs and reservoir parks are important habitats for a wide variety of freshwater flora and fauna. The release of non-native species may introduce novel parasites and diseases into our native environment and waters, which may have impact on freshwater ecosystems and water quality. We strongly urge members of the public not to release animals into our reservoirs and waterways,” said Mr Ridzuan Ismail, PUB’s Director of Catchment and Waterways.

4 Ms Jessica Kwok, Group Director of AVA’s Animal Management Group reminds pet owners that a pet is a lifetime commitment. “It is irresponsible and cruel to abandon pets. Pets may not survive in the wild as they usually lack the natural instincts and ability to find food or fend for themselves. Pet owners who are unable to look after their pet anymore should find a suitable home for their pet. They can also approach an animal welfare group for help to re-home their pet,” she said.

5 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.

Annex: List of parks, nature reserves and reservoirs taking part in Operation ‘No Release’ 2016

  1. Bukit Batok Nature Park
  2. Bedok Reservoir
  3. Dairy Farm Nature Park (includes Singapore Quarry)
  4. Jurong Lake
  5. Kranji Reservoir Park / Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
  6. Labrador Nature Reserve
  7. Lower Peirce Reservoir Park
  8. Lower Seletar Reservoir Park
  9. MacRitichie Reservoir Park
  10. Marina Reservoir
  11. Pandan Reservoir
  12. Punggol Reservoir
  13. Pulau Ubin
  14. Serangoon Reservoir
  15. Springleaf Nature Park
  16. Upper Peirce Reservoir
  17. Upper Seletar Reservoir Park

Sungei Buloh celebrates 20 years: Join in the festivities with Toddycats this Saturday 7 December 2013!

The Raffles Museum Toddycats have been organising Sungei Buloh Anniversary Walks every December since 1997, to celebrate the official opening of Singapore’s first wetland reserve at Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserves. It is a little different this year – SBWR turns 20 and a slew of activities have been organised by the Reserve to mark this milestone starting from 7 December.

There will be free guided walks, face painting, origami, and exhibitions organised throughout the month.

For the first weekend, we have been invited by Nparks to set up a show and tell booth within the yet to be launched new public gallery to share with members of the public the wonder critters that reside in the mangroves.

Toddycats in action: Show and Tell at the 15th anniversary bash.

Do join us for a morning of fun and celebrations!

For more information, visit  SBWR’s webpage.

Siltation at Venus Loop stream; feedback and action to prevent damage to nature reserves

Siltation meets a clear stream – a problem at Venus Loop stream was observed by Toddycats during a Love MacRitchie tour in November 2013.


See the video by Heng Pei Yan

Toddycats’ Love MacRitchie guide took Grace Chua to explain the concerns and she investigated and wrote it up as an article.

“Miss Chloe Tan, a 24-year-old volunteer with nature group Toddycats, which has been conducting guided nature walks, said she had first noticed silt in the Upper Thomson stream early last month. The stream is home to 12 species of native frogs, including several endangered ones, as well as fish and dragonflies, and siltation would affect these creatures, she said.”

See “Two firms fined for silt-filled water discharge,” by Grace Chua. The Straits Times, 21 Nov 2013.

This issue had been raised to NParks earlier by Nature Society (Singapore)’s Tony O’Dempsey and here we see PUB will take action. With an article about the issue in the press, it will help others realise they can help too.

Feedback from the ground to relevant government agencies is of critical importance. There are various problems in our already highly-impacted nature reserves which we discussed during the last HOWL. We can contribute to improving the situation by observing, reporting and following up on action, like Toddycats did here.

Good job everyone.

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: or