Friday, September 23, 2011

Ready for the weekend

This weekend, a very important event will be taking place. A culmination of the efforts of people from various organisations, this event promises to be fascinating and exciting, and showcases a side of Singapore most of us might not see very often. No, I wasn't referring to the Singapore Grand Prix, but the Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium III, which will be taking place tomorrow.

With 20 speakers and up to 50 posters, this year's Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium represents an assemblage of real people doing real work to find out more about Singapore's threatened wildlife and ecosystems and their conservation, as well as providing an opportunity for people to present their work on local biodiversity and its many facets. Whether it's on forest mammals, non-native fishes, aquatic insects, phytoplankton, horseshoe crabs, coral reefs, strategies for education and outreach, or future plans for enhancing protection of our nature reserves, there's something for everyone. Through this event, anyone, whether you're a ecologist, marine biologist, nature guide, or just someone with a casual interest in nature, can learn and find out more about what's happening in various fields of study. Held previously in 2003 and 2007, this latest iteration promises to highlight the work of a younger generation of researchers, many of whom carried out notable projects when they were still undergraduates.

To give you a taste of what you can expect at the Symposium, here are the abstracts of the talks that will be taking place.

Besides the talks, the RMBR Toddycats!, the volunteer arm of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, will have a booth, where we hope to share stories about some of Singapore's wildlife with the attendees during the tea and lunch breaks. On Monday, we gathered to exchange ideas and information, and to just consolidate whatever content each of us knew about certain aspects of Singapore wildlife. It's through such sessions that fellow guides learn from one another, whether it's in terms of content for visitors, or best practices when guiding, especially when faced with groups seen to be more challenging.

Here's a look at some of the specimens which will be exhibited.

We've got a couple of mud crabs (Scylla sp.), as well as examples of our 2 native species of horseshoe crabs.

An Asian small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea).

The skull of a common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus).

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A regular feature whenever the Toddycats! are called upon to do temporary outdoor exhibits, the baby dugong (Dugong dugon).

And here we are exchanging and sharing information about the various species we have decided to have on display.


There will be poster displays about marine life in Singapore, as well as International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

We will also be selling papercraft by XinHeritage. Junius, one of our members, created them to help raise awareness of our native wildlife. I'm sure they'll prove to be useful and educational, especially for parents with young children.

This series features some native animals, such as the banded leaf monkey (Presbytis femoralis), common palm civet, sambar deer (Rusa unicolor), Malayan colugo (Galeopterus variegatus), wild boar (Sus scrofa), estuarine crocodile (Crocodylus porosus), dugong, and Oriental pied hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris).

Aren't they lovely?

Here's some videos demonstrating how to create your very own dugong, Oriental pied hornbill, and common palm civet papercraft. No scissors or glue needed!


Oriental pied hornbill

Common palm civet

You can view more demonstrations on the XinHeritage YouTube channel.

While I'm not presenting anything, I'll be involved with the Symposium in another way, doing what I do best: live-tweeting the presentation sessions as they unfold. Due to limited seats at the venue, registration was closed just yesterday, but people who are unable to attend the Symposium can still catch up on the content that is shared, via the 140-character snippets that I'll be sending out throughout the day. And so, for the whole of tomorrow, do look out for my tweets, or follow the hashtag #biodsg3.

It's going to be a very exciting weekend indeed.