Category Archives: toddycats

Otters and crocs @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – Toddycats gear up for Festival of Biodiversity in May

We are counting down to Festival of Biodiversity 2017 which is a month away! This annual celebration of Singapore’s biodiversity by members of the Biodiversity Roundtable of Singapore with NParks will present the two day event at at Serangoon NEX on 27-28 May 2017: 10.30am – 10.30pm.

To prepare our crew, Toddycats’ seniors are conducting three training sessions (two field trips and a lab session) which fittingly began on Earth Day last Saturday 22 Apr 2017 at our precious mangrove reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. The field trips will help bring the magic of our natural areas to the shopping centre to encourage

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With undergrads slogging away for the exams, the cosy session of 12 Toddycats was split into four small groups, each led by an experienced Toddycats senior – Amy Choong, Alvin Wong, Marcus Ng, and Theresa Su & Xu Weiting.

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What’s in the water? Theresa sharing form & function stories of halfbeaks and archer fishes from the main bridge.

Some groups were really lucky in the post-drizzle and saw the elusive black spitting cobra, a family of six smooth-coated otters and an estuarine crocodile.

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A family of six otters having their brunch at the Main Pond. Photo by Alvin Wong

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The two hours were filled with many observations and personal stories about the mangrove denizens, reminding us of the importance of mangroves , which we will share with the FOB2017 visitors.

Bring family and friends to FoB2017. Toddycats alone have recruited 50 volunteers to ensure we always have fresh faces eager and ready to share stories with visitors on the 27 & 28 May 2017. And there will be many nature groups there, with talks at the library by various working groups. A wonderful way to discover biodiversity in Singapore. See you there!

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Biodiversity Roadshow @ The Forum

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16-oes-biodiversity-roadshow-forum-16feb2017jl16 Feb 2017 – NUS Toddycats joined forces with the BES Drongos and Campus Creatures for the first time to take part in the Biodiversity Roadshow organised by NUS’ Office of Environmental Sustainability at the Forum.

We showcased wildlife commonly found within the leafy Kent Ridge campus, and by extension, in wild spaces around Singapore.

We had at our booth preserved specimens of commonly encountered snakes in NUS, a plantain squirrel, a palm civet, a specially curated insect box from the Lee Kong Chian Museum accompanied with blown up posters of other campus creatures found in campus.

A popular display with curious students and staff, they were given advice about what to do during snake encounters (most of all, don’t hurt the snake!), how to best enjoy the natural history museum on campus (free for all NUS staff and students), and learn about the wildlife that still survives urban Singapore.

We thank NUS OES for hosting us at the roadshow – it was fun! For more pictures from the event, see our flickr album.

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Festival of Biodiversity 2016

 

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The Festival of Biodiversity is back at the Singapore Botanic Gardens this year!

The Toddycats, together with Palm Civets of Singapore, Otterwatch, and International Coastal Cleanup will have booths throughout the weekend, featuring specimens from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

Do drop by and say hello; our guides will be ready to regale you with wonderful tales of nature and Biodiversity in Singapore.

See you!

 

 

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!

 

Love MacRitchie Update July 2015-May 2016

Love our MacRitchie Forest continues to be a highly successful program in educating and expanding a growing circle of Singaporeans to appreciate our precious biodiversity living in our forests!  From the second half of 2015 to date, the Toddycats have conducted 21 Love MacRitchie Walks with 378 participants. Our walks have been a tremendous success with every fortnightly walk being fully subscribed. Let’s look at some fantastic highlights.

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Families enjoying a day out with nature! Photo by Chloe Tan.

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Brotherly love in action! An unconventional common mahang leaf umbrella. Photo by Chloe Tan.

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A happy tour group photoshoot after a very fulfilling walk around Venus Loop. Photo by Chloe Tan.

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Our walks cater to all ages ranging from families with young children to the young at heart. Photo by Alvin Wong.

The walks are a small step but a giant leap forward in nurturing a love for our biodiversity across all ages – from young children, adults to seniors. They also help to educate us of our responsibilities to our natural heritage so that plans for developments such as the Cross Island Line will not proceed without informed inputs.

There have been many wonderful encounters with unique plants and animals along the Venus Loop trail. It is an amazing experience to witness people marvel in awe of nature’s little intricacies such as the common mahang’s symbiotic partnership with ants or little blue-rumped parrots delightfully having a starfruit feast.

Nature continues to surprise and remind us of its resilience and fragility – from squirrels bravely squaring off against slithery snakes to skinks basking in the dappled pockets of sunshine that slip through the forest canopy – despite our encroaching urban world.

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Red tailed racer vs. plantain squirrel. Photo by Marcus Ng.

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A beautiful striped sun skink basking on the forest floor. Photo by Risk Koh.

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Blue-rumped parrot enjoying its starfruit feast! Photo by Chloe Tan.

Aside from walks, our volunteers also gave talks to the public and schools, and manned conservation booths, reaching an additional 3968 people! In March 2016, we organised the March for MacRitchie movement, which brought together passionate advocates from various nature groups to speak up for the conservation of MacRitchie Forest.

We hope that these activities will continue to inform and inspire people to greater ownership of our remaining precious forest biodiversity while enthusing others about this urgent cause. May they help nurture our collective consciences to ponder questions such as the cost of exchanging our priceless carbon sinks for a faster train-ride home. Or what our future generations may miss of our retreating native ecosystems as society advances materially. Let’s Love Our MacRitchie Forest!

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Our forest skies! Can we look forward to a greener future? Photo by Chia Han Shen.

 

Sign the letter to LTA here:

http://tinyurl.com/lta-crl

Join us for our walks:

https://lovemacritchie.wordpress.com/love-macritchie-walks/

 

 

 

 

Toddycats Changi Retreat 2015: a sumptuous, all-vegetarian, zero-food-waste BBQ!

It’s been 7 years since the Toddycats Appreciation Dinner in 2008, but we finally managed to get all our volunteers together over 24 and 25 July 2015 (Friday and Saturday) for a Toddycats Retreat @ Changi Fairy Point Bungalow!

We’ve been working hard in the past few years, conducting nature-guided walks for the public, coordinating many coastal and mangrove cleanups, and being involved in numerous other outreach initiatives such as Ubin Day and Festival of Biodiversity. Many of us work together in such events, yet don’t actually know each other very well. This gathering session gave us the opportunity to reconnect and learn more about each other, beyond that burning passion for conservation! The retreat was also a chance for us to thank all our passionate Toddycats for the work everyone has contributed to over the past few years.

With the help of Alvin, we managed to grab Changi Fairy Point Bungalow 2 – a nice location with a relaxing atmosphere, and the Changi Point Boardwalk a stone’s throw away. A couple of us reached the bungalow around 3pm, and started prepping for our all-vegetarian BBQ.

Despite unconventional decision of having all-veggie BBQ, we decided it would be a good chance to show that being vegetarian didn’t necessarily require us to cut back on good food. Before Friday night, Sankar, Joelle and I raided online recipe journals for meat-free BBQ options, and prepped pasta salad, corn salsa, lentil bean burgers, grilled tofu, raita, and loads more! Vegetarianism does have many environmental benefits, and many of us – if not already vegetarian, do take necessary measures to reduce meat intake.

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Photos from Sumita and Adriane

We also brought our own lunchbox/plates, cutlery and tumbler, to reduce the amount of waste generated!

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DSCF7644After a fulfilling dinner, we headed inside to relax.

The night was not yet over, and though a couple of us had to leave earlier, the rest headed out to Changi Point Boardwalk for a nightwalk! The boardwalk was teeming with life, and we even witnessed a flat-tailed house gecko carcass (Hemidactylus platyurus) being carried by an army of weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) for their supper.

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These tireless Toddycats proceeded to play even more games when we got back from the nightwalk, and Marcus – who had been busy with the whale carcass salvage, joined us! Junius had brought along many boardgames – which kept us all up until 3am, when everyone finally decided to wrap up the night.

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By 10.30am the next morning, we had cleared up the bungalow, and many of us headed back into the field for Toddycat-duties with ICCS 2015 on-site recces happening around the island. It was a truly enjoyable night with everyone, and we look forward to the next Toddycats Retreat!

NUS Toddycats at the Festival of Biodiversity, 27-28 Jun 2015!

27 & 28 Jun 2015 – NUS Toddycats were out in full force at the Festival of Biodiversity – a team of 69 volunteers, doing eight shifts over two days engaged the public at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) and International Coastal Cleanup Singapore (ICCS) booths at Vivocity from 10am to 10pm!

DAY 1 (27th June 2015)
At 7.30AM, the first shift of Toddycats arrived at Vivocity and in an hour, set up booths, put up posters and tables and arranged the carefully transported specimens from the museum.

The Festival was graced by MOS Desmond Lee, who launched the Marine Conservation Action Plan, to better protect Singapore’s marine ecosystems. After the Festival had been officially opened, Mr Lee walked around the Central Court to visit the booths!

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The Specimen Transport Team at the LKCNHM Loading Bay

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Toddycats engaging the crowd at the LKCNHM booth

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Teaching children about Singapore’s amazing marine biodiversity!

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One of the Toddycats sharing storis with MOS Desmond Lee about plant specimens.

After the official opening, the crowd continued to visit the booths. Toddycats regaled the public with stories about the specimens and answered questions.

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The Common Palm Civet Intern, Claudia Ang, with the juvenile Civet specimen.

The Toddycats also had two Bug Boxes on display, to highlight bugs of Singapore and fascinating visitors with stories!

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Bugs are cool!

At the end of Day 1, as we packed up, some Toddycats were still going strong after 12 hours!

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Sofina Ng talks about the baby dugong to a visitor even as the specimens are being packed away!

DAY 2
Day 2 began with fresh faces arriving to help set-up! Re-energized, the volunteers continued to engage the public. The crowd was large and relentless. Many families and groups approached us with pertinent questions about Singapore’s biodiversity.

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The crowd was relentless, but the Toddycats were up to the challenge!

Once again, volunteers were excited to share stories about wildlife in Singapore. Toddycats were also selling tickets for the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium IV.

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Lynn Ng, the Toddycats-SG50 Intern manning the BoSS IV Booth!

Many people who were interested to find out more about recent happenings in Singapore’s Green Scene came by to buy tickets, and we look forward to seeing them at the event in a month’s time!

Toddycat volunteers themselves loved the specimens and displays.

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Alvin Wong posing with the Bug Box!

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Erin Tan, holding the massive fruit cluster of the Nipah Palm!

The Festival of Biodiversity was also an opportunity for Toddycats to meet up which one another again.

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A Toddycats reunion!

At the end of the Day 2, the remaining volunteers packed up the specimens and took stock. But not before arming ourselves with a favourite specimen for a group photo.

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NUS Toddycats have been active participants of the annual Festival of Biodiversity. Although always exhausting, it is one of the most meaningful outreach efforts we are part of. We certainly look forward to the Festival of Biodiversity 2016!