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 by Catboy!

Click for details of this public talk

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

Marcus Chua with Otterman and Rudolf Meier, two of his thesis supervisors
at the NUS Life Sciences convocation, 10 Jul 2014
2014 07 10 Marcus Chua graduation

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

Update: smooth-coated otters at Sungei Pandan, 2016 by FastSnail on YouTube.

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.

Bigger and better – the third Festival of Biodiversity 2014 @ Vivocity, and Singapore’s first marine park!

The Festival of Biodiversity in its third year has matured! There are much better panels, a larger space for many more partners and better circulation of people within exhibits, and a larger number of volunteers distributed around the two sections. President of Singapore Tony Tan once again lent his support by officially opening the session.

What makes it all stand out of course is the invaluable contribution by volunteers who engage the public with enthusiasm and up to date and fascinating information about biodiversity in Singapore. Local researchers, educators and managers are happy to spend time introducing regular shopping folk at the Vivocity shopping centre chatting with them about our biodiversity. It is a great introduction and exposure to the topic – with inspiration provided by animals, plants and the people who care about them.

If you missed it, catch the second day of the festival on Sunday at Vivocity or keep tabs on Ivan Kwan’s twitter feed.

There are two sections this year! More space, easier for the public to move around and a more relaxed feeling. Still, volunteers were challenged to raise voices to be heard in that vibrant environment!
2014 07 12 14 32 14

2014 07 12 14 31 37

Singapore’s first marine park in our history, just a dream a few years ago! Such a well kept secret until the Festival of Biodiversity launch that I forgot we’d be announcing this today. Find out more at
2014 07 12 15 23 05

I love the maps!
2014 07 12 15 08 06

With my neighbours Kelvin Lim (Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, NUS) and Karenne Tun (NParks National Biodiversity Centre: Coastal & Marine Unit) and the hardworking and sweaty ACRES Slow Loris
2014 07 12 15 41 55 HDR

The Malayan tiger, extinct in Singapore, threatened in Malaysia. Can we help prevent this majestic creature disappear in our time? A lovely presentation by Teresa Guttensohn and friends from Cicada Tree Eco-Place, one of many groups participating in the Festival these two days
2014 07 12 16 09 13

And it was lovely watching the Toddycats in action! Most of the photos below were taken by civet-poop girl Fung Tze Kwan.

Yang Yi Yong (ICCS North East Zone Captain) introducing the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum which will open doors next year
2014 07 12 15 25 47

Adriane Lee (ICCS North West Zone Captain) with his iPad props about the impact of marine trash
2014 07 12 15 24 00

Ambert Ang and Marcus Chua at the LKCNHM booth
20140712 FoB crowd

David Tan talking to kids about birds – at a suitable level
20140712 FoB talk to kids FTK

Ong Say Lin (peegboy) manning the post-dinner shift
20140712 FoB ToddycatsDuty MarcusChua

Ivan Kwan (twitter master) and Chloe Tan (smammal girl)
20140712 talkingtokids02 FTK

Ottergirl Meryl Theng
20140712 MerylTheng FungTzeKwan

ICCS advert on one of our poster with a photo of Germaine Leng, Fung Tze Kwan and Amanda Tan at Kranji East mangrove last year.
20140712 ICCS advert FTK

Some of the specimens [Photo by Ivan Kwan]
20140712 FoB Specimens IvanKwan

A lovely view of the hotbed of activity [Photo by James Koh]
20140712 FoB JamesKoh

4K Video Downloader, a free cross-platform easy to use app for YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion and Facebook videos

There are lots of interesting videos on the internet and intense searches can throw up relevant clips which help link theory to real scenarios during lectures. I have mentioned some of my favourites on this blog, including two collisions – gliding vulture and paraglider and leaping antelope and mountain biker. Burt something like this takes cake!

By downloading and inserting video clips into my lecture slides on Keynote (with attribution), I avoid having to switch out to a web browser during a lecture. Not having to show the video clip at its source is very helpful as wireless connections can be poor or unavailable in some LTs and many public venues. The smooth flow of an embedded video in combination with a wireless remote and microphone also untethers me from my Mac, which allows me to move about the LT asking questions.

This year during the cross-faculty LSM1303 Animal Behaviour, I played relevant and interesting videos during the first five minutes of most lectures. This not only enlivens the class, it buys time for the victims of traffic who look up the videos I showed on the module’s Facebook page later.

Over the years, I have used (and paid for) a variety of apps to download videos, make screen captures and edit clips, including SnapXPro, Fastest Free YouTube Downloader, iFunia and Quick Time Pro 7 and Quick Time 10. These allows me to extract a precise sequence at the highest quality possible, which is important with the limited time available.

4K Video Downloader-1

People use video downloaders for a variety of reasons, and some apps fit my lecture preparation search methods better than others. Exploring alternatives every year or so will reveal gems. Right now the free, cross-platform (OS X, Windows, Unix) 4K Video Downloaderis simple to use – just to paste the video’s url from YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook or Dailymotion. With my preferred download quality options already set, the clip downloads quickly.

Sometimes I recall or stumble upon an especially useful video clip in the taxi on the way to a lecture! And it is with great satisfaction when I am able to embed the video into my Keynote presentation on my tethered MacBook Pro and show it in class minutes later. Ironically this may even be a video I uploaded on YouTube and forgot about!

The 4K Download site also offers free audio download and extract tools, a slide maker and Instagram image downloader, all for free. There are enhanced features on the downloader which I don’t need but is being offered at the discounted price of $9.95 for three computers until 15 July 2014.

There are other apps for video downloads on a Mac and this review lists a few recommendations including ClipGrab. Be sure to download software from source site and not something like CNet’s, as the latter has “nuisanceware” which interferes with your browser’s default settings.

P.s. Quick Time 10 has great capability and comes free with OSX, something I had overlooked until earlier this year – see the discussion with @marcuschua on twitter.