Walk with primates – Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group 3rd Volunteer Information Session Sat 18 Jun 2017: 1.00pm – 2.30pm @ SBG

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Dear friends,

The Raffles Banded Langur Working Working Group initiated 6-month long surveys for the primate with the help of volunteers in the past year. Two six month survey cycles have been completed and you can be part of the 3rd cycle!

A briefing session results from the previous surveys will be conducted on Sat 18 Jun 2017: 1.00pm to 2.30pm at the Function Hall, Singapore Botanic Gardens. Sign up to attend briefing session: tinyurl.com/3rd-RBL-session

From:
Andie Ang, Ph.D.
Chairperson
Raffles’ Banded Langur Working Group
www.facebook.com/RBLWG

Wed 19 April 2017: 6:30 pm @ NLB – Peter Borschberg on “What could we learn from the 1603 sea battle off Changi?”

Public Talk (registration required) – this talk is organised by the Singapore Maritime Heritage Interest Group, in unofficial tribute to the Republic of Singapore Navy’s 50th anniversary (May 2017).

“What could we learn from the 1603 sea battle off Changi?”

A/P Peter Borschberg
Department of History
National University of Singapore

Wed 19 April 2017: 6:30 pm – 9.00pm
National Library Building (Victoria Street)
POD, Level 16

A/P Borschberg is a renowned historian of pre-British history of Singapore and the region. This talk is based on this map from 1607, depicting a sea battle off the coast of Changi in 1603. Learn more about the talk and the speaker here.

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The talk is free, but please register due to limited seats [link].

Koufu has kindly sponsored the refreshments at the end of talk.

Thanks to Mok Ly Yng for the alert.

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 3rd Sustainability Student Symposium @ RVRC

Year 1 students at Ridge View Residential College at NUS read GEQ1917 Understanding and Critiquing Sustainability which I am part of undertake group projects in sustainability in their second semester. We emphasise realism, consultation, experimentation and quantification as they attempt simple problem-solving solutions to daily challenges in sustainability.

Project meetings are conducted between just the 4-5 students in a group, and their academic advisor (aka lecturer). With the college emphasis on an integrated approach, we cross-reference their lessons from their communication and personal and team effectiveness modules to prompt immediate application of methods learnt. So they run the meeting – or at least, get used to doing so.

Projects are subject to scrutiny at every meeting, which I think they are lucky to experience in their first year – at that specific moment though, they might not share the sentiment! Again this is something they gradually get more comfortable with, and hopefully learn to welcome. It’s tough to find a good critic to help you improve your ideas.

Well, finally we are just about done this semester – some fifty-nine projects were attempted and will be showcased as posters at the annual college symposium and networking session, “Action for Sustainability“. Six project groups have the pleasure of oral presentations and you can see all the project abstracts at https://blog.nus.edu.sg/geq1917.

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Exercise by briskwalking the Southern Ridges

Torpidity will ruin us so here we go again!

In an effort to get some baseline walking done, and in particular, to help other lethargic NUS staff members, Kenneth, Weiting and I met to discuss possibilities. We had led some walks last year, and had always meant to restart the series.

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Two lunch time chats later, and after roping in Joleen and Airani, we decided we can begin with five Friday evening walks, just one a month, on the following dates:

  1. Fri 24 Mar 2017: 5.30pm
  2. Fri 28 Apr 2017: 5.30pm
  3. Fri 19 May 2017: 5.30pm
  4. Fri 30 Jun 2017: 5.30pm
  5. Fri 28 Jul 2017: 5.30pm

To register, visit the Eventbrite page.

What citizen science opportunities are available for environmentalists in Singapore?

Recently, NParks has made an effort to provide volunteering opportunities for the public and schools under the citizen science banner.

There are other opportunities in nature and the environment in Singapore (citizen science or otherwise) which are advertised through these avenues:

  • Wild Singapore Happenings, this blog carries a curated list of events maintained by Ria Tan which is particularly useful for families. This is actively updated and has categories such as forest, mangroves, walks, for kids, etc. link
  • Habitatnews (since 1998) is a mailing list I manage which highlights major events suitable for the general public – link
  • Ecotax (since 1998) is a mailing list I have maintain for technical seminars (mostly during office hours) and job opportunities – link

Other public data submissions for science projects (dates indicate project origin or when web forms were first provided ):

  • Mammal Records in Singapore (forms since 2009) – submit your records of mammal sightings in Singapore to http://www.sivasothi.com/mammal/
  • Dead Animal Reports in Singapore (since 2014) – submit records of dead animals at https://lkcnhm.net/dead-wildlife/ (note: for injured animals, please call ACRES Wildlife Rescue’s 24-hour hotline, 9783-7782
  • OtterWatch (Facebook page since 2010), submit your photos of otter sightings in Singapore here  –https://facebook.com/OtterWatch/
  • Common Palm Civet of Singapore (Facebook page since 2013), submit your photos of civet sightings in Singapore here  –https://www.facebook.com/singaporecivet/
  • Records of Singapore’s flora and flora (forms since 2010), for specific project submissions in conjunction with Habitatnews; so far used for Red Jungle Fowl (2010), Lyssa zampa (since 2005, ongoing) and mass flowering events http://tinyurl.com/habitatnews-records
  • Singapore Flowering (Facebook page since 2014) – post photos to this Facebook page to document flowering in Singapore, as we try to understand trends, identify flowers, raise awareness (also #sgflowering on twitter) – https://facebook.com/floweringinSG
  • International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore (since 1992), a data gathering, trash removal exercise conducted here and internationally in September, with data collation by Ocean Conservancy – http://coastalcleanup.nus.edu.sg/

    Farewell dear Annette, queen of the Hindhede troop – yet another macaque killed on a small road adjacent to the nature reserve

    In 2013, I was delighted to feature a photo of Annette the long-tailed macaque of the Hindhede troop, catching forty winks. The then pregnant Annette reminded us of the day to day exploits of our local native primates go through, not unlike ourselves.

    Researcher Amanda Tan had shared that image over twitter as she prepared for field studies in Thailand for her graduate work. Similarly, another of Singapore’s ‘monkey girls’, Sabrina Jaafar, shares stories of her encounters with various individuals and troops during her work with monkeys through Facebook.

    These primate workers had transformed their study subjects into well-loved individuals who have been followed by many of us, who sit far away in our offices, dreaming of the forest. And their stories have guided my students as well.


    Photo by Amanda Tan, 2013

    The urban animals tough, resourceful or adaptable enough to survive alongside us in urban Singapore face many challenges. Long-tailed macaques in Singapore face being trapped and killed which has eliminated one-third the population in some years. The native monkeys also face an onslaught by fast traffic on small roads adjacent to nature reserves. Sabrina has chronicled several such tragedies and other primate researches I talk to have noted broken bones and other injuries in study subjects over the years. Her words have not gone unnoticed.

    In 2012, naturalists local and overseas were upset to read of the death of Nad, the reigning queen from the Hindhede troop. It was wretched, and should not have happened that close to the nature reserve when cars should be travelling carefully. Then last week (8th February 2017), I discovered that yet again, an avoidable death had occured – Annette, like Nad before her, was mercilessly killed by a speeding car, on a small road next to the nature reserve.

    Sabrina and Amanda penned these thoughts, which they agreed to share.

    Sabrina Jabbar wrote (8th February 2017),

    “The demise of animals whom you had studied and contributed to conservation, are always the hardest.

    Annette, the reigning queen of the Hindhede troop lost her life after being hit by a speeding car on Monday evening. She has been a significant study subject for many years and known by many of us as the prettiest girl with a very unique character. She has played such a vital role during the Monkey Guards project in 2015 and has helped all my Monkey friends in their individual study and survey. Annette used to dislike me as I was always walking in between her and the residential houses during the Monkey Guards project, so that she can’t enter. But over time, she has learnt to trust my intentions and it had led to some very remarkable milestones during the project.

    Residents grew fond of her when they watched videos of her comical antics. I treasured the friendship we had and it was always a pleasure to introduce her to residents and participants at the Monkey Walk. She tops my list as the most number of individual Macaque photo taken. It is really a shame for beautiful wild animals like Annette, who have to die in this manner. It is a great loss for her troop. Her daughter was sighted sniffing the site where the unfortunate incident took place.

    Till date, I cannot understand negligent drivers driving along the roads of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. I do not hope for much given the mindset of “complain so cull”, but may this help, especially to those who misunderstands them realize that the Macaques are unique individuals, and the passing of one can affect the group overall. And i will repeat time and time again – drive carefully around nature reserves. Is the need for speed really necessary?

    We will miss you very dearly, Annette. I will miss all your grunts and antics. Thank you for teaching me to take life as it comes. RIP pretty girl.”

    Amanda Tan, who is revisiting her tool-using long-tail macaque troop in Thailand, wrote (9th February 2017):

    “Annette, your beautiful face, charm, and devil-may-care attitude stood out immediately to me when I first visited the Hindhede group seven years ago. You were the first monkey I came to know, and the first to teach me about the colorful personalities and rich social lives of macaques, so often just seen as the “common” or “pest” monkeys. As I followed you and your group, I developed the passion for learning and sharing as much as I can about macaques, in the hopes of changing, or at least expanding perceptions of these easily overlooked primates. That has started me on this strange but incredible journey of studying monkeys, and it has truly enriched my life, with places, people, and experiences I would never have had otherwise. People often ask me, why monkeys, why macaques, why not chimps or orangutans? I wish they could have spent a day with you. RIP beautiful girl.

    Its useless now to hope for the driver who did this to feel remorseful, but I wish for everyone driving around nature reserves to drive slowly and responsibly. Watch out for monkeys and other wildlife. Each of their lives matter.”

    As the garden city evolves, our management of wildlife will need to mature as well. Fast cars along small roads adjacent to nature parks and nature reserves need to be slowed, by design, law and education. Buffers around these areas which were set aside as a refuge to nature must allow for the safety of both wildlife and park users. The one follows the other.

    Annette should have been around for many more years, to delight and educate many more students, researchers and residents. Rest well, my friend.

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    Photo by Joys Tan, who got to know Annette during her 2014/15 thesis work