My first talk on Civet Poop! With otter and jungle fowl at Ubin

A little more than a year ago, I approached my supervisor Siva to discuss a potential final year project on mammals (mammals and only mammals! I even suggested a behavioral study on captive lions!). At that time, there was an Honours project on the autecology of the common palm civet in Singapore conducted by Xu Weiting. Through her project, there present a knowledge gap in the diet of the common palm civet in both forested and urban environments in Singapore. Recognising the possible conservation implications (conservation of forest and the common palm civet), I eagerly took up this project.

A year ago, I set up this blog and wrote the first post to request for help from the public for civet scat contribution, and continued to blog about my project updates.

Last week on 27th July 2011, Wednesday, I gave my first talk and presented my civet research work to the NParks staff on Pulau Ubin. This means more than just an opportunity for me to share my findings with others and to hone my presentation skills, because more than 50% of the civet scats I have collected were from the weekly fieldtrips on Ubin.

On the day itself, Meryl (Otter) picked up Amanda (Jungle fowl) and I from Tampines MRT station and drove us to Changi Point Ferry Terminal. We reached at 8:55am (we were late! ) and met up with Siva before we took the bumboat to Ubin at 9am.

Left to right: Otter, Civet and Jungle Fowl!

Left to right: Otter, Civet and Jungle Fowl! (Photo: Siva)

Like tourists at Ubin

Like tourists at Ubin (Photo:Siva)

 We were around 45 min early when we reached the Volunteer Hub but all these extra minutes and seconds were important to us. We could have been caught in the rain if we were later and we also realised that we needed to set up and check through our slides, which I was glad that we did!

Beautiful Ubin with dark clouds

Beautiful Ubin with dark clouds (Photo: Siva)

 Because of the heavy rain, we had the honour to present to more than just the Ubin NParks staff! Siva met Grace who brought her students to listen to our talks!

What a crowd! (Photo: Siva)

What a crowd! (Photo: Siva)

 Meryl, Amanda and I then presented our projects and answered questions raised by students and the NParks staff.

In order of presentation:

  • “Status, distribution and diet of the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata)” by Meryl Theng. 3rd year UROPS, AY2010/11.
  • “The diet of the common palm civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), in urban and forested environments” by Fung Tze Kwan. Honours, AY2010/11.
  • “The population of the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) in a forest fragment in Bukit Batok” by Amanda Tan. 3rd year UROPS, AY2010/11 Sem 1.

It was a great session where we got to communicate our research findings and also to learn from each other. I was happy when I heard the delightful whispers when the audience saw my cover slide and the ‘eee’ when they saw photos of the poop. I hope that I managed to bring across the messages that I wanted to convey through my presentation.

Here are some of the comments that we had:

  • Thank you for letting my students join your talk! It was a real eye opener for them: to learn more about these animals and about research work that biologists carry out. They were really impressed by the project and are more concerned about Ubin Biod! Sorry we had to leave before the last talk – we had our activities to carry out. cheers! – Grace (commented on Siva’s facebook)
  • All of you did a good job with the Otterman 😉 – Yook Sau (NParks)
  • Good job today at Ubin by otter, civet and red jungle fowl – Siva (Supervisor!)

I am really glad that the comments are positive and encouraging but there is always room for improvement and thus reflection.

Reflection (Photo: Siva)

Reflection (Photo: Siva)

We then took a bumboat back to mainland Singapore and had our lunch and debrief at Changi Village!

My supervisor Siva

Siva the Otterman!

Thank you Siva and the Ubin NParks staff  for this opportunity to share and learn! Special thanks to Weiting who is always so willing to listen to all my dry runs!

This thursday, I will be going back to my alma mater to share my research findings and experiences with my juniors. It will be held at the OpenLab at the Raffles Science Institute. More updates then!

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