Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The real deal

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Today afternoon, I helped lead a group of students from the National Police Cadet Corps of Coral Secondary School, who were out on their Unit Hike and Community Involvement Programme at Sentosa. It had been raining heavily in the morning, so I was quite pleased that we were experiencing perfect weather.

We started out with a pleasant stroll from the Beach Station up to Imbiah Lookout, where we then began on a ramble through the Sentosa Nature Discovery.

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Along one portion, known as the Nepenthes trail, the cadets were treated to a close look at 2 of Singapore's native pitcher plants, the slender pitcher plant (Nepenthes gracilis) and Raffles pitcher plant (Nepenthes rafflesiana).

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This photo of the pitcher of a slender pitcher plant was taken along the trail during a previous visit.

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This is Madam Nora, one of the teachers helping out with the event.

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Once we'd completed the trail, and ended up at Siloso Beach, I gave a quick briefing about the next leg of the day's event, and one that I found to be of great significance - the Community Involvement Programme.

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I had planned to get the cadets to clean up a stretch of shore at Tanjung Rimau, hence the purpose of my most recent visit. I knew that as students, they would probably have done quite a fair bit of beach cleanups; in fact, the lower secondary students had spent Monday and Tuesday morning picking up litter at the beach at Pasir Ris Park. However, I wanted to show them a real eye-opener, an authentic example of what happens when trash is continuously being deposited on the shore.

I find beach cleanups to be ridiculously simple jobs, especially if they are taking place mere hours after the army of cleaners has already removed much of the litter on the shore. East Coast Park and Pasir Ris Park do get heavy loads of trash, but most of it is cleared by the cleaners, who are often already hard at work even before sunrise.


Litter being cleared at East Coast Park;
(Photo by Ria)

In contrast, places like Tanjung Rimau, Tanah Merah and Pulau Semakau have almost never been cleaned up before, and so suffer from a heavy load of trash that just keeps accumulating.

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Trash on Tanah Merah;

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Trash on northern shore of Pulau Semakau;

And so, although we would probably make only a small dent in the amount of rubbish on Tanjung Rimau, at least the cadets would truly realise the impact of marine trash, and how they could help make a difference, both as individuals and as a group.

The cadets reached the shore and got down to work. This was what they had to tackle:

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This photo was taken on my previous visit, but you get the idea.

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Most of the cadets were truly taken aback at all the rubbish that had washed up on the beach, and many of them soon took to their task with enthusiasm.

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Some ventured into the undergrowth to clear up all the empty water bottles and plastic bags.

We were there for only a short while, but the bags were filling rapidly, and we soon ran out of trash bags. We only managed to clear the rubbish from a small portion of the shore, but I like to think that we did make a difference in helping to rid Tanjung Rimau of some of its marine trash. Every little bit counts.

Here we are with our haul:

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Well done, everyone! I'm really proud that the cadets were so willing to put in the effort. As far as I know, this is the very first cleanup session at Tanjung Rimau ever; hopefully there will be more to come.

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