Aug 22, 2008

Second chance for Singapore to save its rare species

Chay Hoon shares some of her thoughts about our precious wildlife in this Straits Times article today.

Second chance for Singapore to save its rare species
The rediscovery of 'extinct' wildlife serves to motivate nature enthusiasts
Kimberly Spykerman, Straits Times 22 Aug 08;
full article also on the wildsingapore news blog.

WHEN it comes to wildlife native to these shores, it seems people here just do not know enough, grumbles Miss Toh Chay Hoon, a 31-year-old nature enthusiast.

In her spare time, the accountant does her bit to introduce people to the flora and fauna here by leading nature walks on offshore islands such as Pulau Ubin and Pulau Semakau.

She recalled an incident at Changi Beach last year, when a beach-goer found a threatened species of marine snail commonly known as the Bailer Snail, so named because its large shell is said to have been used to bail out water from leaky boats.
She said with dismay: 'He was going to take it home and cook it - even after I told him it was an endangered species! People have to learn to appreciate animals in their natural environment.'

People here are not aware of the rich variety of animals and plants in these parts, largely 'because because they don't get out there and explore', she said.

And given that some animals native to these shores have staged a 'comeback' in recent years, nature enthusiasts like her believe it is time Singaporeans sat up and took notice of the creatures that share their environment.

Miss Toh, for one, is always on the lookout for a great find.

In June last year, she thrilled the local scientific community by spotting the multi-armed starfish called the Basket Star while on a pre-dawn trip to the coral reefs off Sisters Islands.

A relative of the common Sea Star, it had not been seen in waters here since 1896. Its distinguishing feature is the basket-like shape formed by its many arms.
Miss Toh said of her find: 'I never expected to see a Basket Star. Till then, the only one I'd seen was a skeleton at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity.'

She left the fragile starfish where she found it, and came away with just memories and a few photographs.


Unknown said...

Photographs are great that way: you can capture a memory without disturbing the creature.

Anonymous said...

That basket star is an amazing animal. It's horrible when pig headed ignorance leads to destruction, like the person who insisted on cooking an endangered animal. Sadly some people don't want to learn, they would have to change too much. But if you catch people early... teach them as children...then it really makes a difference!