05 March 2011

Updates for volunteers with NParks Conservation Division

Gathering for another update of conservation efforts, was a large group of volunteers with NParks' Conservation Division this morning.
It was great to see friends I haven't met for a while (hello Bian!) and learn more about how ordinary people can make a difference for conservation in Singapore.

James Gan of Central Nature Reserve shared exciting news about 100 Dairy Farm, a new location for volunteers to gather and for activities to learn and share about our forests and biodiversity. The site looks lovely! We also learn about upcoming survey efforts in preparation for the Eco-link that will literally bridge Bukit Timah and Central Nature Reserves over the BKE. A great opportunity for volunteers to make a difference for our forests.
Robert Teo of Pulau Ubin gives an update of all kinds of exciting happenings on my favourite island. Puaka Hill, the highest point on Pulau Ubin is now open! NParks has provided handrails, trails and safety fences for a safe visit to this picturesque site. Standing at about 70m, the view from Puaka Hill is stunning. You can see Johor and Singapore and of course, Ubin itself.
Although it might make a trip to Pulau Ubin a little less of an adventure, new directional signs have been put up to help people find their way around. But don't worry, for those of us who prefer to get lost, there's lots of other less well signed trails and roads to explore.
New and improved, really monkey-proof rubbish bins are being placed at Ubin. Monkeys, it turned out, were smart enough to learn how to open the older bins, and climb in to steal trash and mess up the area nearby. These new bins don't allow monkeys to get into the bins even if they can open them.
Recently the quarry near Butterfly Hill has overflowed affecting the stability of the road running near it. So the trail around Butterfly Hill will be metalled as an alternate route. Meanwhile, drainage has been constructed to allow safe overflow of the water. It seems the quarry is 30m deep! That sure is a lot of water! More about Pulau Ubin.
Then David Li of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve gave an update on the effort to find out more about the Water monitor lizards there. The survey hopes to find out just how many monitors there are, perhaps their breeding cycles and other behaviour. Here's my experience at the most recent survey.
He shared the findings of the first two preliminary surveys of these beasts.
And charted their locations in the Reserve. It seems many are found near the Visitor Centre! There are more surveys planned and help from volunteers will always be appreciated.
Mendis Tan of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve then shared more about the new Wireless Trail at the Reserve. This feature taps on the latest technology in smart phones to help ordinary people learn more about our wildlife there. More about the wireless trail. To provide updated and lively information, volunteers can help develop the content, provide photos and video and sound clips.
We also discussed all kinds of other ideas and issues: from crocodiles to monkeys, trees to technology.

Tea break was an amazing pot-luck of all kinds of food shared by the volunteers!
Today we also got snazzy official volunteer IDs!
The back of the new ID.
Before we leave, it's time for a nice group photo!
This session is a series of regular and ongoing updates by NParks' Conservation Division for volunteers at the Central Reserve, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Pulau Ubin and with National Biodiversity Centre.

To volunteer with NParks see their website. More volunteer opportunities on wildsingapore.

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