Marcus Chua talks about leopard cats at NSS on 1st Aug 2014

Really glad to see yet another one of the Otterman Holt contribute a public talk – this one of a series hosted by the Nature Society (Singapore), following Xu Weiting (common palm civets) and Meryl Theng (smooth-coated otters). Marcus is well practised and full of information from his MSc work, so look forward to a very interesting night!

Click for details of this public talk

Talk Leopard Cats in Singapore  Surprising Discoveries in Our Forest But Here to Stay

Remove that “App of the Day is a feature of Pet Match” spam – check web extensions

I began seeing spam at the bottom of webpages yesterday on Safari, including my WordPress blog:

Contact Us » Save Our Street Dogs-2

A quick search of the phrase “App of the Day is a feature of Pet Match” led me to forums and after jumping though a few links, I read this remark by erkme73 on

“Folks, it’s not [AdBlockPLus]. ABP is blocking a rogue extension from communicating with – and you’re seeing the text alternative. “

George Garside on elaborated,

“Apparently This is spam, introduced by an extension, through AdBlock is not the cause! AdBlock blocks the injected ad, so the extension inserts the text equivalent.

Disabling AdBlock will remove the text, because it allows the original injection to take place, and will decrease page load time as the secondary text injection is no longer required.

Enable AdBlock so that the text is shown, then disable other extensions that you have enabled, until the text is no longer inserted.”

So I searched my very few extensions and found a link on Awesome Screenshot.


I turned that off and, peace reigned again, once more. And thanks AdBlock for blocking that spam code!

Users are fingering a variety of extensions which cause this effect for them, in the links above. It must have been inserted during auto-updates of trusted extensions, which now carry the code. It’s an epidemic!

Keeping old promises – clearing the trash in Sungei Pandan mangroves

Between 1987 and 1989, Prof D H “Paddy” Murphy mapped the mangroves of Singapore with tape and compass and a team of students assistants as part of a baseline mangrove inventory for the ASEAN-Australian “Living Coastal Resources of Southeast Asia project. Many of us earned our spurs and our $13/day pay for mapping and inventorying mangrove plants. Murphy kept on mapping after the project with smaller and smaller teams and I helped out until the early 90’s, sometimes venturing back in the terretrial forest where he originally began all this work.

The insight was tremendous, as was the impact – an appreciation for every tiny speck of mangrove which had survived development.

Education and research were obvious choices to help express this appreciation, and support for conservation in a variety of ways.

A blight on all these mangrove patches even then was trash from the shore and the sea. With increasing awareness and appreciation for our lost natural heritage, willing hands are not in short supply. However, a sensitive approach is necessary as the soft mud and the fauna and flora would be heavily impacted by well-meaning but trampling feet and equipment.

So it is with tender loving care that carefully calculated numbers of volunteers have executed mangrove cleanups in Singapore. Mangrove cleanups require planning for safety and impact, coordination and training, so a lot of effort is invested in any single cleanup. Ideally those of us who revelled in the mud and had sufficient knowledge of sites were best suited to sensitively coordinate willing volunteers. We began in 1997 and in 2006 summarised 10 years of cleanups by some 2,500 volunteers with this poster – for a conference I was ironically too ill to attend.


Sungei Pandan SP2’s Trash Disposal Site

Typically valiant volunteers, great company for a cleanup!

This annual cleanup effort as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore continued and at an increasing number of sites mostly in the north-west where our (relatively) glorious patches of mangrove reside in the Johor Straits – Lim Chu Kang, Lim Chu Kang East, Sungei Buloh East, Kranji, Kranji East, Kranji Bund and Sungei Cina. Once a year was simply not enough and seven years ago, we began National Day coastal cleanups at Lim Chu Kang mangrove and some enthusiastic Organisers took up the challenge to remove trash sensitively as a Year-Round Coastal Cleanup.

However, small mangrove patches along our southern shorelines persist, refugia from the development of the 1960’s and 1970’s, and barely eking out an existence in tiny strips. These were not forgotten, and were mapped by Murphy’s crew in the 1980’s. Having survived ruthless development, they are all the more precious on their own right and as a source of germplasm.

When our itsy-bitsy Science Centre Singapore mangrove guidebook was published in 1999, some of these maps which Murphy painstakingly prepared and which Cynthia Lee, his able assistant, inked, were nestled into its pages. I made sure to retain Cynthia’s squiggly handwriting in appreciation.

One such inclusion was the Sungei Pandan mangroves, and this is the map:

These precious patches were not forgotten. First though, the Johor Straits mangrove cleanups had to be stabilised, and capable and experienced Organisers and Site Captains recruited and trained over time. I only felt confident to turn our attention to Sungei Pandan in 2008 – and did so only at “SP2″ (of D H Murphy’s nomenclature). Sungei Pandan SP2 is the second patch of mangrove on the west bank of Sungei Pandan, after the water control gates which separated freshwater from brackish water.

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore: Zones & Sites - Google Maps

Seven years later, the accumulated trash from the Sungei Pandan SP2 mangrove patch has been cleared. We even use it for teaching students about mangroves now, having reduced the mosquitoe population which used to breed in the rain water collected by the trash. The Site Captains who lead the site now are experienced and there is a team of three of them now.

So it is finally time to examine the other two precious patches of mangrove on the map – SP1 and SP3. They are still alive and while minuscule, are still able to imbue me with peace and calm. It is now time for some tender loving care, to be administered by new, appreciative hands.

Recce trip with Lim Cheng Puay (ICCS South Zone Captain) and Adrian Loo at SP1, 18 Jul 2014

2014-06-09 08.19.03 HDR

Surprises await as we maintain, nurture and recover habitats.
The smooth-coated otter at Sungei Pandan, Jun 2014 [Photo by Airah Awek]

20140715 Sungei Pandan Airah Awek

Long-tail macaque research students Joys and Chui Ting to speak at Jane Goodall’s birthday celebration!

Two members of Otterman Holt, Joys Tan and Lai Chui Ting will be participating in JGIS’s celebration of Jane Goodall’s birthday at the end of the month. Their research about long-talied macaque-human interaction was suggested by ACRES and received help from long-tailed macaque practioners Amy Klegarth and Sabrina Jaafar and supported by NParks.

The students only began their studies this year – Joys Tan completed her 4MC UROPS last semester and Lai Chui Ting is in the midst of her honours project. They were invited to the JGI event as young researchers, to share some of their interesting findings with the public to appreciate an objective view of interactions and to encourage others to think about conducting studies too.

A public talk is a lot of work as their seniors know. Six of them did a great job presenting the “Secret Lives of Mammals“. For that clear, sound and confident delivery, they teased out the most coherent parts of their research, processed it to be concise, and reviewed it for accuracy and clarity. Then slides were scrutinised for clarity, imagery, colour and textual balance, and a script prepared. This tool ensured they were on time, picked suitable words, enabled analysis and facilitated practise. And practise, practise, practise to ensure an enjoyable and confident delivery.

Only them we could think about jokes!

Joys and Chui Ting are in the midst of preparing their first draft for scrutiny by their seniors. So they have lots of work ahead of them!

Vilma D’Rozario is managing the speakers which include veterans Andie and Jayashri, and will coordinate the session. She sent me this invitation below. Join us!

The Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) is organising the Jane Goodall Primate Session in celebration of Dr Jane’s 80th birthday. Their objectives are:

  1. Celebrate Dr Jane Goodall!
  2. Raise awareness about native primates in Singapore
  3. Share findings of local primate research
  4. Get to know some of the researchers involved in native primate research
  5. Inspire a future generation of Jane Goodalls!

The event, featuring three invited speakers will be conducted on Saturday 26 July 2014: 9.00am to 12.30pm at the Function Room of the Botanic Gardens. To attend, please register online at

See details in the pdf poster

JGIS_Event_Advert_9Jul14-1.pdf (1 page)

Update – this is lovely link, ““10 tips on how to make slides that really communicate your idea.