Letter of the week #2: Nature park visitors behaving badly

Thomson Nature Park, Singapore’s seventh nature park. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

In recent years, the National Parks Board (NParks) has opened a number of nature parks - such as Windsor and Thomson - around the Central Catchment area for all of us to enjoy. Some are part of our conservation efforts, protecting vulnerable species such as the Raffles' banded langur.

During my visits to some of these parks, I saw lots of people, which I suppose is a good sign that the parks are well used. However, some of the things I saw and heard could only be described as a nature lover's nightmare.

I heard many groups of people talking endlessly and very loudly, adults and children alike. At times where no one was in sight, I could still hear loud noises coming from various directions, like I was in a marketplace. Some adults even blasted music from their mobile phones as they walked, like it was a beach party.

Some children stamped on insects on the ground, killing them, while parents watched nonchalantly. Some people smoked, even in places where a sign clearly says smoking is prohibited and carries a fine of $2,000. Some cyclists used tracks reserved for hiking only.

Why are trips organised for so many groups of loud and loquacious people to these nature parks? Is NParks trying to hit key performance indicators? I believe most of these people are Singaporeans and their behaviour is appalling. How could they have so little respect for nature and other park users? Some of the things they did were downright detrimental to our conservation efforts.

Hopefully, NParks, the Ministry of Education and other authorities can join forces to educate the public. Trip organisers such as community centres and residents' committee centres can remind participants to respect nature, or tell them what not to do. The National Environment Agency can patrol the areas to stop smokers from polluting them.

Otherwise, our conservation efforts may be compromised.

Wong Jock Onn (Dr)

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