Nature Society of Singapore 2011 conference

Again, on-the-fly unedited notes.
Papers atthis conf will be published in 2012.

Woke up late cos moved hse yest anddidnt want to pry selfout of bed.. came in ard noon, Prof Cheong Loong Fah speakingon insect conservation.

Saproxylic = feed on dead wood. Precarious existence bc depend on stochastic events, ie treefall. Many extinctor gg ectinct in Sg. We hv good knowledge of what was here hsitorically bc of Wallace’s collection.

Longhorn beetles as indicator sp for saproxyluic insects. (Shows photos,I’m stunned by how pretty some of them are. Also funny bc spent long time in USA wherte Asian longhorn beetles are bad invaxisves.

Q&A;
Q: what are the benefits to insects of the Eco-Link?
A: hard to predict. SX insects track treefall acrosslarge areas. On the other hand, someinsects live in successional areas but not deep forest.

Anuj Jain; Butterfly Trail @Orchard

How did it start? Aug 2008. Connet Botanic Gdns to Ft Canning Pk. Fesibility studies 2008-9.

Sponsored by Far East, UPS, Ricoh, SingPost. Several agencies & edu inst as partners.

Planting still in progress, abt half done. Official launch June 2010. Students from NIE & other sch helped.

Many Sg butterflies extinct & eco roles not undetrstood well.

Want 2 show tt buttefly gdn not like home gdn. E.g. Penang Road space has abt 40 sp plants, 200 individuals.
Sp: Grass Demon, turmeric
Common Rose, aristolochia (lost habitat in most Sg)

Dhoby Ghaut: Peacock Royal, uncommon in Sg but spotted here v often.

Buttefly Connector frm Istana Pk to Pg Rd bc lack of existing plant cover there.

Volunteers conduct surveys w/photography
Public guided walks & photography wkshop

Breeding > 12 spp, most often Plain Tiger, Autumn Leaf. Also uncommon, wud not b there ifnot 4 plantings.

Biodiversity: Orchard Rd rich habitat bc Botanic Gdns & Ft Canning
Baseline 28
Now 52
Uncommon in urban 11
Uncommon in Sg 9

Steady increase in diversity since mid 2010 at Pg Rd open space. Seasonal.

Q&A:
Q Prof Lai: any plans to expand to HDB? Isuggested yrs ago when I was in HDB, rejected on grounds tt residents wud complain abt caterpillars.
A: Limited by lack offunds.
Other audience member: I also sugested as part of South-West community. Think have to keep updating them (HDB?) on progress.
Other audience member: (Ho Hua Chew?) If you tell us what kind of plants to plant,we will consider. What we found when wking on Alexandra Hosp, u can hide host plant bhind flowering plant, ppl won’t see caterpillars. Single most impt, we shd stop fumigating bc kill eveything incl mozzie predators. NEA understands alredy, tryingto convince pte conttactos, condos etc.
Lastly don’t forget the Istana, it’s huge. Talk to the president.
Anuj: we want buttefly trail 2 bcome biodiversity trail so taking suggestions on incl endangered ferns etc.

Horseshoe Crab tracking studies: Permanent residents or foreign talent? Ng Ham Hua.

Associated w romance cos most often seen in mating pairs! Malays say “macam belangkas” of couples.

Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda last known Sg breeding populations @ Kranji, Lim Chu Kang. Decades ago used 2b @ Changi but no more.

Unknowns?
Philopatry
Move to open sea
Travel along Tebrau Strt
Homing instinct (whether can be relocated or will run back 2 site of capture)

Electronic acoustic tracking objectives
1. Monitor movements along Strait of Johor
2. Explore homing instinct

Receivers: waterproof, attached to fish farms in the area. Download data monthly.
6 SURs about 1km intervals along Strt
2m depth, work better in deep water. Can be interfered by other animals eg snapping shrimp.

Equipment what used on Limulus study in USA.

Site A Kranji no nearby pts to hang recievers, Marine Authority quoted $30k for a buoy!
Only detected 3mo later, 6.5km away at pts 5,6
Site B LCK, detected within few km.

Obj 2: captuee & relocate, switch A&B
Stayed at release sites

Prelim conclusions
Philopatric, stay within 3km capture site
No homing
Did not leave for open sea
Did not discern movment patten incl monsoon (compare to HSC in temperate zones which hv seasonal migration)

Problems
Short pd study
Lack of volunteers in some mths
Transmitters fall off when hsc molt.
Receivers biofoul w barnacles v fast.

Discussion
Different fm temperate spp?
Fish farms as food source causing them to hang ard?
Water quality in strait

Further
Active tracking from boats
Hsu Chia Chi & volunteers looking for HSC breeding sites

Call2 action:
Only 4 spp in whole world,2 in Singapore!
Protect entire NW coast Sg, extend Sg Buloh weland reserve
Fishermen say leases for alll factories in Kranji area end in few yeares, dunno wat gov plans 2 do w it
Want to make entire area Ramsar protected

Lunch

Wild Animals and Birds Act,Vinayagan Dharmarajah

Applies to outside of nature reserves (those under Parks & Trees aCt)
Covers mammals, birds, maybe reptiles. Terrestrial only.

Originally intended 2b 4 poachers. But, we now notice harrassment of wildlifealso a problem
Chasing/touching/molesting
Feeding
Flash photo & lasere pointer
Luring birds wrecorded calls, bird-liming

Should WABA move fm protecting to supporting?
Habitats,nests, foodsources (eg in USA, Endangered Spp Act, offence to destroy things the naimal feeds on)
SPecial prosecution 4 offences under other acts eg pollution tt hv impacton wildlife
Not just reward public for reporting offences, but also deputising eg ACRES, other NGOs andvolunteers

Charismatic/flagship spp
Eg hornbills, otters
Shd we increase penalties?
Problem: “freakonomics”; unintended consequences. Eg if u increase penalties onpoaching those spp, u increase their mkt values!

Vulnerable spp
Special threats: wildlife trade
Special needs: young individuals, small, slow-moving. E.g. Malaysia “mother and child law” higher penalty for taking primate mother w/young

Marine mammals & reptiles
Not covered by WABA!!

Non-traditional animals ie invertebrates
Corals: covered by different Act which is limited in its provisions
Are coverd within protected areas eg nature reserves…but the UNIQUENESSand VISIBILITY of someof these animals call that approach into question. Eg HSCs.
Visibility: shd we protect butterflies outsidenature reserves

Migrants
“Foreign talent” paradox: as with humans – As Sg urbanises, it will becomme less attractive to migrants, even as we need more migrants to keep it viable.
Sg a “black hole”?

Wildlife vs pests
Eg clearing landattracts cobras
Human-animal conflict

Alien spp, shd owners be prosecuted?

Can wild animals be killed?
Current WABA: 2 circumstances – threat to property and…
Others: threatening human safety, euthanasiaof sick/injured, scientificresearch

Shd we proescute employers of blue collar workers?
Many offenders blue-collar workers, do not have money to pay fines, ignorant, do it in inaccessible places
Make employers be the educators & take responsibility

Update: Common Myna one of 6 killable birds but is no longer common!

Low penalties, max $1000, not much deterrent.

Botanical status of mangrove forests in Singapore, CR Sheue (Natl Chung Hsing U, Taiwan)

Singapore~70000ha, mangroves ~700ha=1%. Slight improvement from 1990s.
Assets mainly on offshore islands, Tekong & Ubin. We shd focus on Ubin- 1 of few places w ENTIRE mangrove ecosystem from freshwater w 0 ppt salt to seawater w 35 ppt salt.
150ha Tekong, 100ha Ubin
P. Tawai: a model for Sg to emulate

About 35 spp mangroves, we hv only lost 1 (Brownlowia argentata)

Brugueriaa hainesii only 180 trees in the world! 1 of 2 INTERNATIONALLY endangered mangroves. 4 individuals in Sg (compare whole Vietnam only 2.
1 was destroyed during search for Mas Selamat
2 on Ubin. Found by Ali Ibrahim in 2000’s.
1 at SBWR, biggest,discovered by Ria Tan 2011

Mangroves not protected as heritage trees,maybe can push forthose tt hv beem listedby IUCN

Kandelia candel: last treein Sg lost!!! Died due to disturbance
Looking for propagules at SBWR – washed over from Johor. Also can actively collect and replant- currently no nursery but suggests to set one up.

B. sexangula and B hainesii
Sg has 5/6 Brugueria spp in d world.
Sexangula : propagules collected fm mother tree on Ubin. Good to source locally to preserve genetic makeup. Ubin, SBWR, Pasir Ris

Additional problem w Kandelia: missing pollinator.

What lies ahead
Climate change – sea level rise
Why so few aerial plants? Eg epiphytes, mistletoes, climbers. Mangroves in other countries many air plants. Eg Rhizophora host for Hydnophytum. More in P, Tekong bc of military presence = less manmade disturbance. Artificiallyrestored mangroves are lacking.
Water managemen: what happens when you manipulate rivers, creating freshwater reservoirs? Eg Sg Punggol: Avicennia dying bc high salt adapted. Rhizophora, Brugueria are “back” mangrove spp, doing OK.
WIth PUB and NParks wrote book “A Selection of Plants”
Increasing # of albino propagules yellow/pink, indicator of oils/organics pollution

Green Engineering
Mangroves sequester 50X more carbon than terrestrial forests. We can’t expand terres. nature reserves bc surrounded by condos. But hv 280km coastline
Hardy sp that cantolerate disturbance, ship traffic, some pollution: R. stylosa
P. Tekong: replanted in rice cylinders, collaboration bet. Engineers & ecologists.

Call for help: 4 spp abt 2 extinct in Sg
1. Merope angulata, in Mandai.
2. Cassine viburnifolia. V hard to germinate, may be hormonal. Need research $
3. Aegiceras corniculatum – need propagation programme
4. Avicennia marina – need conservation measures

Hybrids
R x lamarckii (avicennia x stylosa
1 more icoudnt write fast enough

Xylocarpus rumphii – not found in mangroves in Sg but in other countries eg Thailand

Making a Difference for Wildlife with Kids/Schools/Families, Vilma D’Rozario (Cicada Tree)

Often with kids from underprivileged backgrounds

Each lesson focuses on a certain animal
Acitivites – game, slide talk, drawing, viewing live or musuem specimens, nature walk, arts & crafts

Educate on human-animal interaction eg why we shouldn’t feed monkeys.

Student teachers help w lessons & occasional shows eg puppets, wayang kulit

Outreach – go other sites like ECP

Sea turtles: adults made a sand sculpture of laying turtle, kids throw in pingpong balls & count until 200 “eggs”

Show photos of captive & eaten wildlife to discuss wildlife poaching & human-animal conflict

Free nature walks for low-income kids funded by Lee Foundation

Kindergarten level “Young Eco-Explorers”
Part 1 classroom lecture & game on “what not to bring”
Part 2 trip to SBWR
This year Min of Edu engaged them to do kindy lessons, reached abt 500 kids. Condcuted @ Pasir Ris Pk. Show live specimens & do beach cleanup.

Collab w NParks

Musang Watch collab w NUS Toddycats, NSS Edu Grp, NIE, NTU students. Discuss human-civet conflict.

(Note to self: ask CA if we can hire CT to do a school holiday event for LA)

J Vanitha: Importance of contact with wild nature: insights from NSS HSC project

Majority of bio education is classroom based, 2D
Field and museum trips essential bc stimulate our senses, firsthand experience
Kids get excited, learn to be OK with getting dirty/small cuts
When asked to handle HSC initially v apprehensive but acclimate

Also important for kids as future decision-makers- experiences shape choices/preferences

Vicente Reyes (NIE)
Study on life pathways of students: disturbing downtrend in volunteering, civic agency, environmental responsibility
Value of education seen as getting high-paying job

HSC project opportunity to nurture love of environment. Volunteer teacher trainees organised. Kids from sec sch, JC, pte schools,NIE helped to capture, measure, mark, cleanup

Reflections:
Said experience unforgettable
Asked to submit written relfections: amazement, overcoming fear of animals
Teachers appreciate opportunity to conduct integrated learning

Margie Hall: Ecotourism in Singapore in relation to biodiversity conservation
“Eco” is just bunged on the front of everything these days.
Ecotourism should be different from other forms of tourism, as conservation not profit is the goal.
(Other things besides biodiversity- manmade artifacts & traditional ways of life)

Visitor management strongly emphasised to prevent tourists from destroying the things being conserved
Strict limits on location and timing eg gorilla-watching 40 min.

Financing: how much can we charge to cover costs but not chase people away?

Visitor education

Sustainability
No fancy foods, facilities
Follow local lifestyle & use local materials

Support local people & way of life
Provide alternative livelihood anf support choices for own way of living.

Conservation can be achieved in many ways – in Sg primarily by gov funding
Conserved areas can be visited by individuals or by guided groups, without it being ecotourism. (Eg going for a birding tour led by volunteer)
Abuse of the term eg building a resort and spa in the forest, misleading.
We don’t have ecotorusim in Sg because torusim money is not going into conservation, areas are protected by gov & by pte sponsorship.

There are ways in whcih principles of ecotorusimare used in Sg:
Visitor management by NParks eg limiting walking paths in SBWR; limiting visitors to Chek Jawa
Visits, projects, education may lead to more areas being conserved – but less direct connection.

“Ecotourism” branded (but not really) projects:
“Monkey Island” project: a pte company proposed to develop P Tekukor as a tourism site but tak jadi
Southern Islands project: St Johns Island etc. Would NOT have been ecotrousim bc proposed 5 star huge hotels. Built causeways to connect islands even though projecteventually fell through
Mandai Road “Nature” project: actually will b disturbing regenerating areas ard Mandai Road.
Sungai Pulai, Johor: 9000ha Ramsar site, already reserved in 1923. Again, will NOT be ecotourism bc will be disturbing rather than conserving a site.

Pulau Ubin as a Haven for Wildlife. Robert Teo, asst director of Ubinm, NParks

Only 1 paper on botanical aspect – Turner 1992. Most of original vegetation had been cleared in mid 20th century for rubber & cocoa plantations

Birds: many common Malayan lowland forest spp NOT found.

Sha 2002 updated land use map
Some areas reforested bet 2001-10. Esp since quarries stopped & residents left

Agencies managing sdiff areas: SLA (long-term aquaculture), NParks (designated as Pulau Ubin Recreation area, but NParks does not have exclusive control), OBS, NPCC.
Residents: few kampungs, 1 resort

NOT a nature reserve, classified as park. But NParks manages it along lines of NRs.
Monitoring, inventories
Habitat mgmt incl creating/restoring some habitats
Species recovery
Outreach
Community involvement
Visitor managment

Turner: ‘flora of Pulau Ubin is clearly depauperate” only 200 spp in 1992
Current 565 native spp; about 70 from main Sg intro by NParks

Some rare plants
Jamba/Common Nieweldia v rare orchid, trying to tissue culture
Robiqueta spathulata- successfully propagated by TC, hope to replant
Collared Fig common on Tekong but only 4 on Ubin. Looks like frangipani but has figs
Seashore Nutmeg rareelsewhere but common on Ubin. Easily propagated & replanted

Tekong & Ubin only places with *forests* of nipah – other places in Sgf only individuals or small grps.

Mammals, reptiles, amphibians: 1st survey 1993 found 37 native spp
2011: 73
Camera traps useful to find animals not seen in transects

Wild boars: colonised Ubin starting 1980s
Become friendly bc difficult to dissuade residents from feeding them, 2 even kept as pets
Sometimes collide wcyclists but so far no attacks

Palm civet v common
Smooth-coated otter made headlines in 1992 when Mah Bow Tan visited, 1st record. Currently 10-12 & approach NParks office, restaurant
Small-clawed otter
Greater mousedeer. Young ones found, breeding.
Sunda pangolin
Lesser false vampire aka Malayan false vampire. 4 roosts on Tekong, 2 on Ubin
Long-tongued nectar bat:no roosts found but known in mangroves

Reptiles
Bronzeback, whip snakes, shore pit viper (whacks tail agst branch warning sound), marbled sea snake, dogtoothed cat snake

Birds
134 native spp in 1992
Current 205,incl migrants
Red junglefowl
Stronghold for big owls

Butterflies
Jumped from 42 to 151 spp after recent survey

Dragonflies/damselflies
Number didntgo up that much after survey, need help from experts

Habitat restoration:
Reforestation
Jelutong Campsite: created butterfly park
Ketam Mt Bike Park: former quarry, replanted w grass & shrubs

Alien Invasive Species, Bian Tan
Examples of invasives FROM Singapore: gelam trees in Florida, brown cat snake in Guam
NParks definition of invasive “..negative impact…” human value judgement involved.

Impact
Displace native sp
Reduce biodiversity
Interrupt forest succession
May harm human health

Characteristics
Fast growing
Rapidreproduction
Larg no. offpstring
Tolerant of wide rnage of enviro conditions
These chars are shared w “pioneer species”
How do we determine invasiveness?
Cost-benefit analysis on introducing a species
Behaviour in similar habitats elsewhere
Invasiveness of related species (eg dandelions in temperate countries related to mile-a-minute plant here)

Actions
1.. educate
2.observe & record, keep lookout for potential invasives
3. Strategise – identify most serious invaisve & plan mgmt
4. Implement. Most involve manual removal bc pesticides & biocontrol likely harmful

(After that talk I gave up taking notes because I was really tired. There were 3 more)

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