Inaugural nature talk at Ridge View Residential College by Dr Amanda Tan, on the tool-using long-tail macaques of Thailand

“10 years to tool use with the sea monkeys of Thailand”: talk and discussion by Dr Amanda Tan,

Dr Amanda Tan is a psychology graduate from NUS’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences who joined primate researcher Michael Gumert at at NTU for her PhD in primate behaviour. She had sat in on my LSM1303 Animal Behaviour class many years ago and some of my guest lectures at Gumert’s Conservation Psychology class at NTU. So I was very glad last week to be able to proudly introduce her to my class and listen to her speak to them.

It was an excellent session for the students, and she had put it together the night before the lecture as she had just returned from her field site in Thailand. Realising she would be leaving very soon for her post-doctorate in the US, I scrambled to set up this session and was very glad I did – 13 people from the community turned up through storms and floods in Singapore for a very engaging session!

Amanda delivered an informative, delightful and thoroughly inspiring talk about the tool-using long-tailed macaques of Thailand. Covering highlights of the scientific work by Michael Gumert, herself and their collaborators over a decade, she knew to make the research results very accessible and footage of the fascinating behaviours of the macaques did the rest!

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A lengthy Q&A session followed in the cosy environment of the RVRC Active Learning Seminar Room during which we realised there were still many aspects of behaviours of not only the sea monkeys, but also of our own forest macaques are far from known. Certainly a motivating talk to be repeated!

Toddycats commented,

“It was so good to hear such research work and appreciation of animals in their habitat! Amanda will be such an inspiration to young ecolologists and girls who aspire to do science or psychology” – Adrian Loo
“A very interesting topic plus well polished talk by Amanda. Really enjoyed listening to stories of stone tools in long tailed macaques. Really can’t imagine the amount of detailed work put in to talk about a decade worth of research.” – Xu Weiting
“Yeah the talk was very engaging and easy to follow! :)” – Joys Tan

And Amanda later said,

“Think I answered more questions at the Q&A after my talk than at my thesis defense! Thanks @sivasothi for inviting me, and everyone who showed such keen interest in the monkeys and the work. I was dreading public speaking, but it turned out to be the most encouraging part of my day.”

Thanks @thelongtails – we hope to hear more from you soon!

Be sure not to miss Pesta Ubin – Pulau Ubin’s Open House, 10 May – 16 July 2017!

Screenshot 503Pulau Ubin is going to be abuzz from 20 May to 16 July 2017! Volunteers from some 20 organising nature and heritage groups have come together to offer a slew of Pesta Ubin activities.

Many Pesta Ubin activities are offered free of charge to members of the public. You may not even need to register for some – just join in the fun once you are on Pulau Ubin! Check the blog to see what is happing by date and activity type – something is going on EVERY weekend during this period.

NUS Toddycats are supporting the Balik Chek Jawa event and a Pedal Ubin ride for sure!

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Just some of the people behind Pesta Ubin!
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Highlights of the April Love MacRitchie Walk

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Erin showing how to make a windmill using rubber fruit capsules. Photo by Lily Leong.

Toddycats volunteers had a great time guiding members of the public during the Love MacRitchie Walk that was held on 9 Apr 2017. This walk was unusually exciting because we saw many uncommon birds! A film crew from Mediacorp Channel 8 also joined us to shoot a feature on volunteerism in Singapore.

Aside from the usual suspects such as the fungi, figs, dragonflies and spiders, we were especially excited to see some pretty rare birds such as the Siberian blue robin (Larvivora cyane), blue-rumped parrots (Psittinus cyanurus), and chestnut-bellied malkoha (Phaenicophaeus sumatranus). The Siberian blue robin is an uncommon winter visitor in Singapore while the rare blue-rumped parrot and uncommon chestnut-bellied malkoha are forest-dependent residents.

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Blue-rumped parrot feeding on starfruit seeds. Photo by Jensen Seah.

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Chestnut-bellied Malkoha. Photo by Chloe Tan.

The film crew from Channel 8 interviewed the volunteers to find out why it is important to protect the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and what drives our passion to help conserve Singapore’s wildlife. Our friend, Teresa Guttensohn from Cicada Tree Eco-Place also joined us to share her story. The crew also interviewed the participants who shared their experience in the forest as well as what they saw and learned.

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A family of participants being interviewed. Photo by Joleen Chan.

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Teresa from Cicada Tree Eco-Place sharing her story. Photo by Chloe Tan.

Catch the Morning Express episode featuring Love MacRitchie on 2 May 2017, 9 am on Channel 8!

See more photos of the walk on Facebook or Flickr.

Tue 18 Apr 2017: 7.00pm @ NUS RVRC – Amanda Tan on “10 years to tool use with the sea monkeys of Thailand”

NUS Toddycats & Ridge View Residential College, NUS present:

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“10 years to tool use with the sea monkeys of Thailand”

By Amanda Tan

Tuesday, 18th April 2017: 7.00pm
Seminar Room, Level 1
Ridge View Residential College
National University of Singapore

All are welcome [click to register]

About the talk:

Dr Amanda Tan recently graduated with her PhD in which she studied tool use by long-tailed macaques in Thailand. She shares the research about these monkeys this past decade by primatologist Michael Gumert and collaborators at NTU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences and her own most recent work in shedding insight on the fascinating behaviour of these long-tailed macaque inhabitants of small Thai islands.

Stone-tool use, previously only identified by scientists in chimpanzees and capuchin monkeys, has been explored by the team over the past decade in Burmese long-tailed macaques. She is an excellent public speaker who chroncles a decade of research in an approachable but scientific manner for a general audience.

Amanda who graduated from NUS Psychology and fulfilled a life-long passion of understanding animals by joining Gumert Lab to pursue her PhD in primate behaviour, is now about to embark on post-doctoral studies in the US. Just recently back from Thailand, we are glad to have share her insights just before she leaves!

The common palm civet is NUS’ Campus in a Rainforest: Species of the Month, Jan 2017!

In 2017, NUS Students Against Violation of the Earth (SAVE) and the Office of Environmental Sustainability (OES) announced they would continue their Campus In a Tropical Rainforest “Species of the Month” initiative which communicates interesting facts about biodiversity in the NUS campus. they kick started the 2017 series with the mostly nocturnal fruit-eating common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) .

The LKCNHM’s predecessor, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, unveiled a logo in 2001 of the common palm civet on a palm leaf, as a symbolic representation of the museum’s education mission – to raise awareness about wildlife and plants in Singapore. At the time, few in Singapore were aware of this adaptable creature’s presence in urban environments. And the volunteer group of the museum was named Toddycats!

After more than a decade of effort invested in education and awareness by volunteers in the nature community, civets are better known but not well enough. It is thus heartening to see this animal featured at species of the month. It was only in the recent decade that civets had spotted around NUS’ campus. Staff and students reported sightings in the greenery at Eusoff and Temasek Halls, we observed an individual at Kent Ridge where vegetation was allowed to persist, and most recently, an individual left signs of its presence at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) garden, much to the delight of the staff there!

Enjoy the thought of free-roaming civets in our campus and keep your eyes peeled!

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The Kent Ridge Heritage Trail – a decade-old map to explore the ridge with!

Kent Ridge has always been an area of great academic interest and experience and in NUS has been the focus of nature and heritage walks, academic research, student learning as well as walks and runs for health and fitness. Most recently, a briskwalk series was introduced to promote fitness of staff welded behind their desks, and for us to relax with one another on Friday evenings.

In January 2007, the map for the Kent Ridge Heritage “Walk and Run” Trail was finalised after months of work with contributions from various stakeholders of Kent Ridge in and out of NUS. The Kent Ridge Heritage Trail is mapped by signboards at various locations from Clementi Road to Bukit Chandu, and we hope this 10-year old map will encourage you to explore the area! Click to download the pdf.

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To find out more about the area, visit the Pasir Panjang/Kent Ridge Heritage webpage.

Join us as a Toddycats volunteer at Festival of Biodiversity 2017!

19264266751_f72272bb20_kHave a treasure-trove of nature-related stories but not sure who to share them with? Come join the NUS Toddycats at the Festival of Biodiversity 2017! This annual event aims to create awareness and promote efforts in conserving and enhancing our local biodiversity. Check out various recounts of past years’ Festival of Biodiversity events!

Where: NEX Serangoon

When: 27–28 May 2017

Not sure if you have enough stories to tell? Fret not. There will be two training sessions this year (volunteers need only to attend one) to equip volunteers with nature tales on the specimens on display this year.

In addition, volunteers with NUS Toddycats this year will have a chance to embark on not one, but TWO nature walks for an immersive experience in our natural habitats before we gear up for FOB 2017!

If you have a passion for our natural heritage, and want to lend a voice to our local biodiversity, sign up here: tinyurl.com/fob-volunteer2017.

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