The purpose of all
this? By organising the event, NSS had hoped that Nature Day 2000 would
highlight the fact that despite the largely urban character of the island,
there was still a lot of nature and diversity left to observe, to study,
to celebrate and to protect (the information panels on display clearly demonstrated
this to exhibition visitors). In other words, the development of world-class
physical infrastructure need not necessarily be antithetical to conservation.
These very sentiments were echoed in the speech by the event's Guest of
Honour, Mr Tan Guong Ching, Chief Executive Officer of the Housing & Development
Board. There was even nature in the city, as plant walks and an evening
chichak-hunting expedition were to prove.
in the City
For three days, the heart of a shopping
complex was turned into a mini jungle where visitors, young and old
alike, learnt more about nature. Shawn Lum
has the details on the enthusiastic response to NSS' Nature Day 2000.
Photos by Leong Kwok Peng.
If you had paid
attention, you would have heard itthe call of a jungle fowl.
And, wait, could that have been a collared kingfisher, and there,
an Asian koel? Then, the large-tailed nightjar? What was that unique
vocalisation, maybe a distress call, from what sounded like some large
galliform bird, but unlike any ever heard in these parts of Singapore?
Hang on, that was no bird, but a four-year-old Homo sapiens, attempting
to mimic the bird calls made by avian voice meister Sutari Supari.
And this was no forest, but rather Parco Bugis Junction. It was clearly
a case of "Nature in the City", part of Nature Day 2000, a three-day
enviro-fest organised by NSS - Nature Society (Singapore). And those
strange half-bird, half-werewolf howls made by more than a few children
comprised just one of many activities conducted as part of the nature
fiesta which was sponsored by BCH Retail Investments Pte Ltd and J&R
Bossini Fashion Pte Ltd.
The first Singapore Nature Day organised by the Society was held at
Fort Canning in 1997. Fort Canning, though clearly a well-manicured
park, could still make claims to be a semi-natural habitat. Nature
Day 2000, held from April 20 - May 1, 2000, was differentnature
was in unfamiliar grounds, the haunt not of people clad in greens
and greys toting binoculars, but rather to a different human subspecies,
one toting handphones and sporting multi-hued hair, skin tones (not
from flesh-coloured clothing but rather from genuine flesh), and perched
on elevated platform shoes and sandals.
A tough audience, indeed, but Nature Day 2000 proved the old adage
that one should never judge a book by its cover. The Parco Bugis Junction
crowd was an enthusiastic one, flocking around the booths operated
by NSS sub-groups and friends. They queued up to have their hands,
arms, and shoulders tattooed with henna, bought T-shirts, bags and
squirting rubber cuttlefish, and they pledged themselves to the protection
of cetaceans. The crowd turned out to be much more than people of
the colourful teenage persuasion, but of all ages, backgrounds and
in force were the youngsters, who revelled in a nature treasure hunt,
badge colouring and design at the Bird Group push-cart, and animal
face-painting. The face-painting, featuring skilfully-rendered images
of butterflies, rabbits, birds and other motifs, was carried out by
volunteers from Jalan Hijau, NSS' Youth Environment Group. Some of
the animals bore an uncanny resemblance to Pikachu of Pokemon fame!
Preventing the illegal trade
in endangered wildlife is
Nature, nature everywhere.
Even in the city
Three days of non-stop action
at the Nature Arts & Crafts table
Face-painting was fun!
At least for most people
Even the Raffles Junior College
lion is green!
Mr Tan Guong Ching,
CEO, Housing &
Development Board (right)
with Prof Khoo Hong Woo
Nature Day 2000 was more than just about Nature. It was about the people
who cherish, study and tell others about it and about the many volunteers
who turned up in force to make the three-day celebration a success. They
came from NSS's sub-groups: Bird Group, Butterfly Watching and Research
Group, Jalan Hijau, Marine Conservation Group, Plant Group and the Vertebrate
Study Group as well as other organisations such as Sungei Buloh Nature Park,
the Singapore Environment Council, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals (SPCA), and the S.A.V.E. Club (Students Against the Violation
of the Environment) of the Singapore American School. Nature's Niche, a
place where nature lovers can be found when they are not out in nature,
also had a push-cart. The Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) kindly
lent the Society posters highlighting the illegal trade in endangered species
of flora and fauna.
Talented mime performers from Maris Stella High School, local puppeteer
Tan Beng Tian, a harmonica band and an acappella group provided entertainment
throughout the proceedings. By the time Sutari let fly with his coup
de gracethe crescendo-like call of the Great Hornbillon
the final evening of Nature Day, the public had made it known through their
enthusiastic support of Nature Day 2000 that an encore was in store.
Nature Day 2001, anyone?
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