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Wed 18 May 2005

Pedal Ubin! 500 satisfied customers later...

Category : events

Pedal Ubin! is a volunteer programme coordinated by the NUS Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research that continues from the original "Journey series" which began in 1999. During the Chek Jawa public education walks in late 2001, we realised that many had not visited Pulau Ubin before, and of those who had, a lot more could be revealed about nature in Ubin. Additionally, we had observed that many were unfamiliar with cycling, or with the use of the rental mountain bike's gears that can significantly alter the enjoyment of a ride over the gentle slopes in Ubin.

So the programme was reborn as Pedal Ubin! and the first batch of guides were trained in late 2003. This month (May 2005), the second batch of trainee guides have just begun their course. With a significant amount of information needed to be learnt and experienced initially, a "rain or shine" Sunday morning (8am) attendance at Changi Jetty, and a presistent bi-monthly attendance required, less than 50% of Pedal Ubin Guides I Workshop have survived as guides!

However, slow and steady does it and a cohort of dedicated and cheerful guides called "Jungle Fowls" still persists and are managed by volunteer project manager Airani a.k.a. "Mother Hen." They have enabled the Pedal Ubin! volunteer programme to grow from an annual to a bi-montly event since their first foray in March 2004.

Some 500 visitors have been treated to 4-hour long explorations of Pulau Ubin to discover some of the flora, flora, ecosystems, heritage and myths of Ubin. Besides an occasional stp to slurp on coconut water, some have also been ingtroduced to the joys of using a mountain bike properly on the gentle slopes of Ubin!

One on occasion, the heavy rains and a quick assessment of cycling ability had the guides bundle most of the visitors into vans instead, and the guidding continued!

Hats off to the Pedal Ubin! guides.

To be kept informed of upcoming rides, subscribe to the Pedal Ubin ride alert list - visit the Pedal Ubin! webpage to sign up.

Pedal Ubin! is part of Focus Ubin, a community of people passionate about Pulau Ubin as our last unspoilt island in Singapore.

Posted at 2:25AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email |

Wed 18 May 2005

Vesak Day appeal: Don't abandon animals, adopt a pet or go vegetarian

Category : animalwelfare

"I was raised in a Buddhist family and I am concerned about the releasing of animals on Vesak Day.

I have a Buddhist friend who used to buy caged animals for release on Vesak Day. However, she stopped doing so last year, after witnessing the death of a bird which she had released. The bird crashed into a tree, confused and frightened. I believe that this is a common scene on Vesak Day.

Most of these animals, bought from pet shops, are caught just days earlier and kept in cages for sale on Vesak Day.

By buying these animals, Buddhists are actually encouraging the catching of more of them. As a result, more birds and turtles are in danger.

It is an illusion that when we release these animals, we are releasing them to their original habitat. Released animals, hungry and frightened, would not be able to find shelter and food. Most of them would die soon after release, out of fright, hunger and fatigue, or get eaten by other animals.

Although only a minority are involved in this practice, the consequences are tragic. Not only are these people depriving the animals of their habitat, but they might also risk bringing about an epidemic in Singapore.

I am sure that Singaporeans have not forgotten the horrors brought about by Sars. The releasing of animals from abroad might introduce new bacteria and viruses into Singapore. We cannot be sure where these animals come from, and they might carry a deadly virus.

If a stray animal were to eat the animals and pass on the virus to other strays, there may be a high chance of us contracting diseases.

On top of that, people tend to release these animals at reservoirs, which are one of our main sources of water.

Instead of releasing animals on Vesak Day, why not abstain from eating animal products for a week? This is more effective, as we will be able to reduce the number of animals killed.

Instead of releasing an animal, we should adopt a pet from the SPCA. Of course, we must be responsible towards the pet. By adopting a pet, we are making another life better, and by showing the pet concern, we are being compassionate and thoughtful.

Those who see the negative effects of releasing animals on Vesak Day should educate others who are still ignorant about the matter. This way, we can more effectively spread the message around."

Last year, the Nature Society (Singapore) hput up an exhibition on the negative consequences of animal abandonment at the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill Road. The temple (though not all its devotees) had stopped the practice several years ago.

It's spokesman, Mr Pua Yeow Khoon, then said

See also "Abandon me not" and this WildSingapore webpage on the efforts of volunteers and how to help - Animal Release Initiative 2005.

Posted at 12:56AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news