New six-month programme will promote co-existence between humans and wildlife

National Parks Board will be conducting a novel six-month programme that aims to teach participants about the importance of co-existing harmoniously with wildlife, and how to do so.
National Parks Board will be conducting a novel six-month programme that aims to teach participants about the importance of co-existing harmoniously with wildlife, and how to do so. PHOTO: OTTERWATCH

SINGAPORE - What do you do if you find turtle eggs on a beach? How do you go for a walk in a nature reserve without being disturbed by cheeky macaques? What should you do when you encounter a wild boar?

These are among the questions being asked after a spate of wildlife encounters in the city, the most recent being a young girl who was nipped by an otter at Gardens by the Bay on Dec 30.

To better educate people on how to deal with Singapore's native wildlife, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced on Thursday (Jan 11) that it will be conducting a novel six-month programme for people aged between 16 and 30.

NParks will be working with the youth wing of Biodiversity Roundtable – a group of scientists and naturalists who study Singapore’s native wildlife – on the initiative. 

The Biodiversity Challenge aims to teach participants about the importance of co-existing harmoniously with wildlife, and how to do so. Around 80 people have signed up so far.

Workshops, seminars and training sessions will give participants the chance to shadow researchers and naturalists studying various animals, as well as park managers.

They will learn about the factors involved in managing human-wildlife interactions, such as how to communicate with the people involved, and start initiatives to promote nature conservation.

The five focus animals will be otters, macaques, wild boars, turtles, and civets - adaptable animals that Singaporeans are most likely to encounter as they thrive in urban areas.

In the past year, there have been many encounters with these animals - some positive, and others less so, with wild boars in particular being involved in incidents that caused injury to humans.

The Biodiversity Challenge will be launched by Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Saturday during the first phase of the programme - a seminar about human-wildlife interactions in Singapore.

Mr N. Sivasothi, a senior lecturer at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore, said the challenge was an exciting programme that reaches out to those with no prior knowledge of native wildlife.

"The participant will gain a foothold into learning about the intersection of environment, people and wildlife and be provided with the opportunity to share what they have learnt with family, friends and the public."