10 No 8
Where it all starts
More volunteer quotes
The Volunteers' Song
A Special Visit by Champion of the Earth, Dr Tewolde Egziabher
Allow me to introduce myself...
at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
It was a day out for coastal cleaning in a nature reserve! Many were excited
and looking forward, but some a little hesitant. Our community is doing
a great job; senior citizen volunteers are the handy lot who take it seriously.
Someone said “I never knew we have so much trash in this modern island”!.
Our younger ones from schools are energetic and curious and they need
strong supervision to fulfill their duty hours, but yet still lots of
laughter... keep it up!
Chai Kian Hin, Senior Software Engineer, SBWR volunteer for coastal
Recently, I had the chance to once again get my feet muddy and simultaneously,
put in new lives in the reserve by planting salvaged mangroves at Kranji
Nature Trail and salvaging mangroves saplings from mudflats meant for
migratory birds. The latter, if not rescued, would be cleared when the
migratory season starts again. Kudos to the helpers, who for a morning,
contributed to the massive effort of mangrove reforestation! Locally,
our remnant mangroves are fragile ecosystems, susceptible to man-made
effects such as coastal modifications, battling against substrate changes
and recruitment problems. Globally, we have lost about 25 percent of the
mangroves determined since 1980 (FAO report, 2003). There is definitely
a serious need for mangrove reforestation and restoration.
Chua Siew Chin, SBWR volunteer for mangrove salvaging
Freshwater pond cleaning
Together with some students from Hillgrove Secondary and other SBWR volunteers,
we were tasked with clearing the water lettuce growing wild outside the
visitor centre. Wading about in boots, and armed with trash bags and gloves,
we earned both curious glances from visitors and irate glares from sun-worshipping
Water Monitors. Still, there was no better job then one involving fresh
air, mud, sweat and friends to work with. So let them stare. I was in
“longkang kia” heaven.
Iris Li, NUS undergraduate, SBWR volunteer for Freshwater Pond Cleaning
After each trip out to the ponds, we would head back to the visitor centre
to and continue with the ringing. To us, every bag contains a mystery.
Being so close to the birds was unforgettable because it is just almost
impossible to carefully note their details while viewing them through
a pair of binoculars. After all the information is recorded correctly,
the birds are immediately released back to the wild. As we watch the birds
fly into the darkness of the night, all of us have one thing in mind,
to see it come back to see it come back again in the next migratory season…
Lua Wai Heng, Technical support officer, SBWR volunteer for bird ringing
I have been fortunate to ring birds in many parts of the world and the
most satisfying part of the experience is to share knowledge with my fellow
ringers. I have, on many occasions, been involved with the ringing programme
at Sungei Buloh. My ringing experience of 25 years enabled me to pass
on some ideas on techniques, such as ageing criteria, which I had learnt
previously in Europe. When I first visited the Reserve, I had little knowledge
of Singapore’s birds. With a good field guide and the enthusiastic help
of the park staff, I learnt to recognise the species we were catching.
The only way field ornithology can progress is for us to share ideas and
experience. I gained a great deal from my experience at the park and hope
that the knowledge and techniques contributed in some small way to the
development of the ringing team. Although not having visited the park
recently, I am in regular contact and still feel part of the ‘’team’’.
When I next visit, I am sure that there will be something new for us to
learn and to add to the understanding of birds and their conservation
for the benefit of future generations.
Ray Knock, Businessman, SBWR Volunteer Bird Ringer based in the United
When Sungei Buloh asked for volunteers in the “Marine Fish Survey”,I promptly
volunteered for it as I thought it was a chance to relive my childhood
memories of catching fish. However, the efforts required were much more
and we worked till the wee hours of the morning catching and moving live
specimens of prawn, catfish, tripod fish, halfbeaks, milkfish, scats,
just to name a few. The marine fish survey provided resourceful data towards
the compilation of an educational book for students. This was done to
create much awareness on marine fish for the public as well. It was an
interesting experience, not just for me, but for everyone in the program
as well, working together towards a common scientific cause and to aid
in the education of future volunteer guides. I will definitely make an
effort to volunteer again for the next marine fish survey.
Andy Teng, HR Manager, Asia, SBWR volunteer for Marine Fish Survey
Early in 2002 I was asked if I could undertake a survey of the snake fauna
of Sungei Buloh. The objectives were to determine which snake species
inhabited Sungei Buloh, and to gain an understanding of species distribution
in relation to habitat. I made a weekly visit to the reserve to locate
snakes, undertook a review of snake specimen records at the Zoological
Reference Collection at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, and
created an internet-based form for other volunteers to report their snake
sightings. The survey proved a total of 22 snake species resident in the
reserve - this is a significant level of diversity given the small size
of the reserve and the limited range of habitats. Since the close of the
survey in 2003 two more species have been added to the list making a total
of 24. The experience was rewarding and I have learnt so much about these
elusive creatures and I believe this survey has raised awareness of the
great diversity of species in the reserve.
Nick Baker, Petroleum Geologist, SBWR volunteer with snake survey