Best of our wild blogs: 3 Feb 13

ICCS 2013 preparations begin!
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

Tree conservation
from Ubin.sgkopi

Inspiration at Mandai mangroves
from wild shores of singapore

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NParks to rope in community to help grow Nature Ways

Sharon See Channel NewsAsia 2 Feb 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore will have four more green corridors that will link up parks and nature reserves, and the National Parks Board is involving the community to help grow these green links.

Called "Nature Ways", it is hoped the green corridors will encourage movement of birds and butterflies from one green area to another.

It is the first of a slew of programmes to mark 50 years of greening in Singapore. On 16 June 1963, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew planted a Mempat tree at Farrer Circus, which signified the start of Singapore's greening campaign.

The Kheam Hock Nature Way is one of four that will be created over the next two years. The other three are in Admiralty, Tampines and Yishun. In total, the Nature Ways are expected to be 60 kilometres long.

The idea is to fill the Kheam Hock area, which spans some 100 hectares, with plants that attract birds and butterflies to create a Nature Way that will link the Central Catchment Nature Reserve with the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

On Saturday morning, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan took the lead by planting the bird-attracting native Nipis Kulit tree.

Poon Hong Yuen, CEO of NParks, said: "Nature Ways are really routes on which we plant many native plants to attract birds and butterflies and other types of nice, beautiful wildlife.

"The more important thing, also, is to connect up nature areas. So, for example, for the Kheam Hock Nature Way, it will connect up the Central Catchment Nature Reserve and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

"But I think the most important and exciting aspect of the Nature Way is that we're going to involve the community...helping us to create our City in a Garden.

"The final product will be a very lush streetscape that's a bit different from the normal roadside trees. In a sense, it's almost like a linear forest because it's supposed to draw wildlife out of the forest into another green area."

To reach out to the wider community, NParks will also involve schools.

Mr Poon said: "Actually the school is a very good place to start, because we have many enthusiastic young people who care for the environment and they also have links to the residents in the area. So that's how we bring in the community to help us plant and help us co-create the environment."

At the Singapore Chinese Girls' School (SCGS), students learn how to tend to a nursery.

Shanmugam Sangeetha, a Secondary 3 student of SCGS, said: "The duties are actually watering, weeding and fertilising the plants. We also have a plant sale in May where we sell these plant species to the public so that we educate them to enhance biodiversity in their living areas."

The plants are sold to residents in the neighbourhood who want to spruce up their own gardens.

But the green thumbs who want a hand in nurturing Singapore's Nature Ways can approach NParks to find out what plant species suit that area best.

Mr Poon said: "Over the years, we have learnt and identified the type of native plants that attract certain types of birds and butterflies. So for example, butterflies are very picky. They'll only latch on to one type of plant - similar things with the caterpillars. So with this knowledge, we know what sort of plants to plant on the Nature Ways to attract the type of birds and butterflies that we want."

Those interested in co-creating the Nature Ways can call 1800-4717300 or email

- CNA/ir

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Singapore Conversation turns to animal welfare

Tan Qiuyi Channel NewsAsia 2 Feb 13;

SINGAPORE: A more inclusive society for animals or tougher rules for buying a pet were some suggestions animal lovers brought up at a dialogue on Saturday.

It was also the first time the Singapore Conversation - an initiative to get Singaporeans to come to a consensus on the kind of future they want - focused on animal welfare.

Saturday's event was jointly organised by the Agency for Animal Welfare, the Our SG Conversation Committee and the Singapore Kindness Movement.

Two working dogs - Esme and Joel - were present at the dialogue.

They were there to receive an inaugural Great Pet award given out by the Agency for Animal Welfare to pets which have served their owners in extraordinary ways.

Esme works as a guide dog for her visually impaired master, while Joel is a health service dog who can alert family members during a medical emergency at home.

Awareness of working dogs in Singapore remains low.

Hence animal lovers at the dialogue urged more shops and restaurants to welcome these dogs and their owners.

Their vision is an inclusive Singapore, for animals, too.

But pet owners need to do their part.

A keyword heard throughout the dialogue was "responsibility" - the responsibility of pet owners.

Abandonment cases in Singapore are unfortunately common. Hence some said the process of buying and owning a pet should be made tougher.

One of them is business owner Jill Hum, who said: "It's just far too easy for someone to buy a pet. It's not just buying candy or a teddy bear from the toy store. It's a live animal, you need to know how to take care of the pet. You need to know it's a lifelong commitment."

Others like Melanie Lee want an outright ban on live animals in pet stores.

"If pet shops can be legislated such that they can't have any live pets for sale, that would really help, because we have so many dogs out there - strays dogs, dogs up for adoption that do not have a home right now."

MP for Nee Soon GRC Associate Professor Faishal Ibrahim said the issue will require consultation with relevant stakeholders.

But the dialogue must go on.

"What we need to do is continue to develop and deepen this journey, so that ten years down the road, we will have a more gracious society," said the MP.

One way that can happen, participants said, is to inject the importance of animal welfare into the education system.

- CNA/ir

Animal lovers want tougher penalties for pet abusers
Also high on their wish list - tighter legislation against pet breeders and traders
David Ee Straits Times 3 Feb 13;

Animal lovers had their say yesterday at the first Our Singapore Conversation dialogue on animal- and pet-related issues.

High on the wish list of pet owners and members of animal welfare groups: tighter legislation against pet breeders and traders, and tougher penalties for those who abuse animals.

The discussion comes on the heels of concerns by animal lovers that animal abuse cases have continued on an uptrend in recent months, including several shocking incidents such as a case where two kittens were found dismembered in the corridor of a Housing Board flat in Chong Pang.

The issue of more education - teaching owners to manage their pets responsibly, and making sure that youth are inculcated with caring values at a tender age - was also raised. The discussion also touched on a lack of graciousness and tolerance in society.

Some participants drew a link between the treatment of animals in society and how gracious a society is. Animal lover Seow Bee Leng, 42, said: "What was impactful for me and for others in the room were the calls for Singapore to focus on 'heartware', not just on things that can be measured."

She added that doing so would foster more graciousness and people would "not be so critical of each other".

One participant - who did not want to be named - said stronger legislation was needed to help guide dogs for the visually impaired gain more acceptance in society.

Last November, Ms Cassandra Chiu - who is blind and has a guide dog - put up a Facebook post about how she was told by staff at a clothing outlet that dogs were not allowed in the store.

The episode prompted the Disabled People's Association to issue a statement last December calling for the need to raise awareness about guide dogs, and explaining why they should be allowed access to places when with a blind or visually impaired person.

Yesterday, Ms Chiu's labrador retriever Esme and two other guide dogs were given awards on the sidelines of the dialogue - Esme for being a loyal guide dog; Joel, a border collie, for being able to alert people when medical emergencies happen in their homes; and Wang-Wang, a poodle, for saving a family from a fire.

About 50 participants attended the session at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, organised by the Agency for Animal Welfare. The dialogue was facilitated by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Transport and a Nee Soon GRC MP.

Pet owners and members of animal welfare groups made up the majority but they were joined by students from schools such as Chung Cheng High School and De La Salle School.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah, who opened the session, said: "Cruelty to animals in Singapore is a national issue and deserving of substantial discussion."

Prof Faishal agreed with the animal lovers that stricter laws are required. He said he would raise the issue with Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam and other relevant ministries.

A panel set up by the Government last year to review existing animal welfare legislation is expected to finalise its recommendations soon. Said Prof Faishal: "It is important for us to continue this journey... towards a society that respects one another, regardless of whether you are a human being or pet."

Committee looking into tightening legislation on animal welfare
S Ramesh Channel NewsAsia 3 Feb 13;

SINGAPORE: Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said the Government Parliamentary Committee on National Development is looking into the issue of tightening legislation in the area of animal welfare.

He was speaking to the media at a Lunar New Year hong bao presentation in his Chong Pang division.

Mr Shanmugam said there is a need to encourage greater responsibility in pet ownership and how the sale of pets is regulated.

He added that awareness is increasing and he would personally like to see some legislation in this area.

He said the recent national conversation which touched on animal welfare was a further helpful step to broaden awareness.

In December last year, the Chong Pang division was hit by an incident of animal cruelty where two kittens were found dismembered outside a HDB flat in the constituency.

Mr Shanmugam described the case "cruel" and "abominable".

- CNA/ck

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