Tiger peers intently

He was allowed moments out of the carrier when returning from the vet to peer at pedestrians, in particular. He took great interest in the surroundings this time. He had lost 0.5kg in this bout of pancreatitis but he is back to normal now, it seems. What a relief!

What is that green spot?

What is that green patch we saw from the Singapore Flyer on a department staff outing? The Singapore Flyer is located at the southern end of Singapore and many of the biodiversity folk were using the opportunity to peer into the surroundings like they usually do fro airplanes, to look for green spaces—it was actually depressing with loads of construction going on.

But then we spied a green patch in the distance which had some of us arguing, really in disbelief (this photo is clearer than the view we had) but in the end there was no doubt about what it was. 

Besides being testament to how flat Singapore is, the scene certainly highlights how precious it is. How I wish we could say our green spaces were secure for the long-term. This morning, Melissa Lois Koh Wen Hui argued for many of us when she wrote in Today Online, "Leave my green spot alone."

Hint: See image below;
A = Kallang Stadium, B = Singapore Flyer

“The two talking cats” YouTube video – apparently an unusual hour for Stina and Mossy

TheCatsPyjaaaamas posted the second video clip below in 2007 and it has since received >18 millions hits. According to their owner, the 10-year old unrelated females, “Stina and Mossy usually fight instead of communicat[ing], so this was an odd moment. They kept “talking” for about 1 hour, constantly.”

Prelude to “The two talking cats” YouTube video (complete with snoring dad!) by TheCatsPyjaaaamas

“The two talking cats” YouTube video by TheCatsPyjaaaamas

Battle of Pasir Panjang Commemorative Walk

It was a tough walk for me as I was quite exhausted from the week and my flu. Thankfully Stella brought us morning coffee and a sandwich so although I still struggled to guide, the other guides, Oi Yee, Airani, Kenneth, Kiah Shen and Stella, later said we did okay.

One reason I suppose is that we had 53 eager beaver participants – I forget that we usually have bright-eyed and bushy-tailed participants during the commemorative walk; after all these are the people who get up to meet us at 7am in "ulu" NUS!

It got muggy towards the midday and then a quick shower relieved us of the heat. A bunch of people came forward later to thank us which was sweet. Many are guides or educators so they can appreciate the effort that went into the trip.

I twittered every now and then thanks to tweet.sg on my shiny new Sony Ericsson w902; I love having a clear screen on my phone once again!

After the trip, our reward – the guides + Wendy (who joined us after her unfortunate training stint), sit down for a long and relaxing lunch all afternoon; with the bonus of special members Georgiana and Darren. Georgi, like some of the guides, took turns napping…

Akan datang – photos of the walk and an account by Kenneth at the Toddycats blog.

Mangrove mapping

When detail is required in our very heterogeneous mangroves in order to track animal movement, the resolution afforded by a GPS is too inaccurate. Since Google Maps for the Buloh mangrove patch we are working in is tragically covered by clouds, detailed mapping is a critical step for this and future work. So its back to the Murphyian tape, compass and clipboard days for me, a tradition in our mangroves dating back tot he late-80's. 

The student has to hold the compass though, not me. For she has to learn, make mistakes, get frustrated by inexplicable plots back in dry land and plan a remapping. I have to exercise restraint and remember that it was my mistakes as much as my successes that honed my skill.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Smooth-coated Otter in Sungei Buloh mangroves

13 Feb 2009 – One of the Toddycats, Teo Kah Ming was assisting one of Ecolab's honours student Theresa Su, on her mangrove mudskipper field trip and was rewarded with an encounter of a "scampering  Smooth-coasted otter," Theresa reported. The otter disappeared into the bush, after swiping at something in the mud, probably a mudskipper.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Talking to Malaysians

I was talking to Malaysians recently and of course they weighed in strongly on politics. They were emphatic about the role blogs played (and still play) in their national politics since before the last election. Blogs were critical in providing an alternate media and a free voice – and this was no young firebrand but voiced by ordinary folk including a practical and level headed teacher.

Technology continues to play a significant role, they say and the Perak crisis, which they describe as the unconstitutional ejection of the former Menteri Besar, is the sort of attempt at side-stepping due process that can no longer be whitewashed.

Meanwhile, they emphasise, as if to convince me, that “in Singapore, everything works”. The typical, boisterous cross-causeway cajoling rivalry of the past no longer seems to provide amusement; they have bigger fish to fry.

Meanwhile, “Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, who maintains he is still Perak mentri besar, will file suit tomorrow to declare illegal the government of Datuk Zambry Abdul Kadir, who was sworn-in by Sultan Azlan Shah last week…” – The Malaysian Insider.

Found my old Kruger wildlife log

This log is from my visit to Kruger National Park after an otter conference there in 1993. I went with my colleague from Sweden., Thomas, who a was great companion. A European and an Asian on Africa -we had to spend some time acquiring the search image for the wildlife there. I remember Thomas was also willing to stake out some places to appreciate the ambience as much as to see the wildlife.

Interspersed in the list of animal sightings are film types – prints and slides. If I can dig them up, I’ll digitise some images for class. I have been telling some of the stories stories during my animal behaviour class and it’d be nice to show relevant photos.

It’ll be interesting to see how easy it is to find all these places on Google Maps these days!

*** Found my slidetalk outline; gosh it must have been a two hour session ***

KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, TRANSVAAL,
REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
12 SEP 1993 – 17 SEP 1993
THOMAS SJØASEN & N. SIVASOTHI

12 Sep 1993
Impalas, elphants, kudu, giraffe. BERG EN DAL

13 Sep 1993
C: elephant (4), giraffe, Impala, kudu; A: Vervet monkey (4, 3), kudu (7, 3, 5), wildebeest (~10), Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill, Tree Squirrel, girrafe (3), impala; D: Red-billed Oxpecker (>5), Ground Hornbill (2), Giraffe, Dwarf mongoose, Snake, PRINTS 1049: zebra (>20), giraffe (2), warthog (elephant waterhole); 1108: zebra, wildebeest, impala herds, Chacma baboon; 1117: Hippo (1, 3?), Crococdile, Giraffe (3, 2), Secretary birds? (2), African fish eagle (2), Helmeted guineafowl (5); 1212: Baboon troop (TSHOKWANA), girafe (2, 2, 1); 1241: elephants (6); 1312: waterbuck (1), Baboon troop, SLIDES; 1402: leopard resting (1km before Satara), zebra wildebeest, steenbok? (1) PRINT Scenery, Vulture/Cheetah with kill (H1-4, road to Letaba, before Ngotso Dam) 1530 SLIDE Black Kerhan, female (1); 1646: Helemeted guineafowl (>15), elephant; 1649: giraffe on road (3), termite hills; S96/S131/S47 – 1725: ducks, buffalo (6) (N’wanetsi River); 1731: elephant herd (>12?, Mingerhout Dam). LETABA

14 Sep 1993
0615 Giraffe (6); 0630 Lilacbreasted Roller; 0646: Baboon troop; 0701: Impala, Hyaena (north way to Engelhard dam) (4), views of dam; 0727 Vultures (>10), Waterbuck (4); 0736: zebra (lots), dwarf mongoose?, circling vultures; 0807: Kori bustard, buffalo (4), zebras; 0900: antelope, termite hills, Martial eagle, elephant; 1416: elephants (2) (Maswidzudzu); 1545: Sable (male + 2 females), elephants at 15m (2). LETABA

15 Sep 93
left Letaba 0600, 0610: spotted hyaenas (3); 0648: steenbok?; 0650: MINGERHOUT DAM: elephants trumpeting, yellowbilled kite, african fish eagle; 0710: (river), ducks (2), baboon troop, zebra/wildebeest, giraffes (6), waterbuck (5, 2); 0900: double-banded sandgrouse, giraffe, impala; FUJICOLOR200 0948: Bateleur; 1030: pied kingfisher, blacksmith plover, african jacana; 1049: RATEL PAN: warthog (2), pregnant zebra, grey lourie, vegetation E – thorn veld; 1535: hyaena, balck-backed jackal (SWENI – S126, between Satara and Mudzendzeni); 1630: lappetfaced, white-backed vultures, blackbacked jackal, eagle/kite?; 1728: impala, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, baboon troop, diseased giraffe? FUJICOLOR400. TALAMATI

16 Sep 93
Jackals (2), impala, baboon troop, kudu; 0830: zebra (>100), wildebeest (>50) (1st waterhole on S126 from H1-3); Mhisana Maud: baboon troop; 0955: warthog (2); 1145-1325: LUGMAG DAM: Lions (2 males + 3 females), elephants (4), zebras, waterbuck, giraffe, impala; 1248: Sable (3) (after MANZIMHLOPHE); 1615: VERVOER DAM: Saddlebilled stork, Blacksmith plover; 1700-1730: SHITLHAVE DAM: White Rhino. PRETORIUS KOP

17 Sep 93
morning: babbon troop on rocks, elephant on road.