Raffles Museum news
Research and education at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore.
05 Jul 2007 - Raffles Museum News has shifted to http://news.rafflesmuseum.net
Tue 22 May 2007
Biodiversity of Singapore Symposium II (2007)
Category : meetings
22 May 2007 - The Biodiversity Symposium of Singapore II (2007) was co-hosted with the National Biodiversity Reference Centre of the National Parks Board. We commemorated the World Biodiversity Day (22 May 2007) and Linnaeus' Tercentenary (23 May 2007), and also announced "The Natural Heritage of Singapore, 2nd Edition," and "An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of Singapore."
The morning featured speeches and lectures by Ng Lang (CEO, NParks), Tommy Koh (UNEP Champion of the Earth, 2006), Pår Ahlberger (Swedish Ambassador to Singapore) and Geoffrey Davison, Peter Ng, Benito Tan, Adrian Loo and myself. [Link to photos]
Secrets, saving endemics and Linnaeus introduced by a special Swede
NParks CEO Ng Lang hinted (and Lena Chan gleamed) at a secret they intend to reveal next week about biodiversity in Singapore, so lookout for it in the papers! Good news is hard to come by from an island battered for decades so we await this eagerly!
Tommy Koh claimed his 'main job was to sell the Natural Heritage book,' but he got enthusiassitic as he touched on many individuals and groups in the room. At one point, he asked of the audience, surely we can save the Cream-coloured Giant Squirrel and the Banded-leaf Monkey?
Swedish Ambassador Pår Ahlberger called upon to demonstrate the true prronounciation of Carolus Linnaeus name, graciously also explained the influence Sweden's large area, 75% natural vegetation cover and relatively sparse population had on the father of taxonomy, Linnaeus, 300 years ago. He speech was a passionate one and it brought that special touch to the room.
Fire and brimstone
Geoff Davison's clinical lecture breathed a certainty about climate change and suggested ideas and Peter Ng celebrated Linnaeus and somehow went on to stamp out any hope of ignoring climate change, even unleashing on us, the unsuspecting audience, the fifth horse of the apocalypse! We were in a battle for existence, he said, so forget "save the earth," the battle cry is "save ourselves!"
Anti-climatically, as Anand noted, we broke for tea...
Lena Chan, arrowed to MC the show for her distinctive style, rounded us back from the sumptuous tea. I had received Peter's blessings about the Raffles Museum budget for this tea and spent a little more to prevent generating plastic waste. And everyone said the cutlery made the food taste better! By catering for only 80% of registered participants, we had ensured no food would be wasted either!
Showers struck, and it was pretty neat to see the NParks & RMBR crew scramble to get all the food under shelter in seconds. That teamwork bodes for good things.
Light at the end of the tunnel
After we reconvened, Benito, Adrian and myself treated the post-tea audience with some light-hearted reflections from our field trips. Some of Ben's stories were seriously death-defying and we'll never look at moss taxonomists the same way again! Adrian shook his head over the field trips he had with zoologists and was emotional about assisting students in discovering biodiversity.
I wrapped things up with an energetic account of how I went out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to hunt for otters in the field, but found myself back in libraries and museums to unravel a plot of answers before I was able to offer any help in conservation!
Thanks for the help!
Thanks to An Nee (webpage) and Airani (ecofriendly catering) who came to the rescue once again when called upon at the last minute! And of course RMBR Intern, Ms Ong Ruo Yu, for handling symposium registration and Wendy Yap (NParks) for pushing me for that symposium announcement!
Thanks also to Wei Ling and Rachel (National Biodiversity Reference Centre, NParks) and Gwynne, Wei Song, Danliang, Ruo Yu, Oi Yee and Airani (Raffles Museum Toddycats) for handling registration, book sales and that extra bit of help cleaning up after the tea while the rest of us were enjoying the symposium indoors!
Tue 22 May 2007
Interns prepare for IMD 2007 Heartlander Tours
Category : museums
Raffles Museum interns Ruo Yu and Danliang have been undergoing a crash course since Friday by Gwynne Lim, Hwang Wei Song and myself to prepare for the International Museum Day's regional bus tours.
They have to learn the underlying biology, stories and folklore and guiding techniques enough to handle a Heartlander tour. Public Gallery instructors Gwynne and Wei Song are introducing them to some interesting bugs too!
I've made it a little more interesting by setting up a crab station to show participants the difference between a male and female crab, and the different parts of a tree-climbing crab's anatomy! They were a little icky about it at first but will easily get used to handling crabs like the rest of us!
We call these IMD visits "Heartlander tours" because the parge proportion of visitors on the bus are heartlanders who only find their way to the university museum this way (see the 2006 blog post . It's due to a great concept and some hard work by the NHB IMD team yet again!
See IMD2007 schedule of visits at the Raffles Museum.