Joanna Coleman’s Why

“Wrap your fish in pandan leaves!”

Fish wrapped in pandan leaves. SOURCE:

Oh boy, just the thought of uncles and aunties walking around in a supermarket, with fishes wrapped in pandan leaves, is hilarious!

One of Dr. Coleman’s happiest days in Sri Lanka. SOURCE: INTERVIEWEE

Oh wait, is that pandan leaves wrapped around Dr Coleman’s head? HAHA ok, I better stop fooling around.

Anyways, so at last, I finally had the opportunity to interview Dr. Coleman, who is a wildlife biologist and a lecturer at NUS. Dr. Coleman specialises in urban ecology and her research interests include the study of bats and birds of prey and conservation.

Dr. Coleman came to Singapore in 2012, and in her opinion, the most critical environmental issue in Singapore is the need to balance between development and the preservation of habitats. Like many conservationists I know, Dr. Coleman is also very passionate about preserving biodiversity. I still vividly remember how Dr. Coleman teared up just before she ended her lecture on the global loss of biodiversity.

“Tiniest frog ever on my finger!” SOURCE: INTERVIEWEE

Seeing Dr. Coleman teared up over the decline of biodiversity had an impact on me. And honestly, I have been thinking about how this post should be written. Perhaps I should start by saying, biodiversity is everywhere, regardless of our location.

To many people, Singapore, with a total land area of 721.5km², is well-known for being the little red dot. But it’s amazing how this little red dot, is also home to 390 species of birds, and more than 2,100 native vascular plants species (National Parks Board, 2018).

However, sharing this knowledge may not help individuals to better appreciate the huge variety of fauna and flora in Singapore. And I wonder if the sharing of how biodiversity is essential in ensuring the stability of ecosystem functions, and that biodiversity loss may have unprecedented impacts on humanity (Cardinale, et al., 2012) will help to eliminate the ignorance in some of us.

But why should we conserve?

Putting aside the various economic, social and environmental reasons, perhaps we should ask ourselves if it’s morally right to be the reasons why animals and plants go extinct. Most of us know it isn’t.

Jia Jia (top) and Kai Kai (bottom) playing together. SOURCE: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE

Think about the pandas. Would you bear to let them go extinct? Many people wouldn’t for a myriad of reasons. And thankfully because humanity isn’t willing to let this cute animal disappear from the surface of the Earth, much conservation efforts have taken place and in 2016, we managed to help pandas rebound off the list of endangered animals (BBC News, 2016).

But I was just wondering if it’d be better for the pandas to have gone extinct, just so humanity would finally start repenting for our mistakes.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a question of whether the pandas will go extinct, but when it will happen. On the brighter side, perhaps when the pandas are extinct, mankind will finally understand the impacts our actions have on the planet. The sad part? Everything would be too late.

As humans, we hate to lose. Yet, ironically, we are the ones who brought this losing battle on ourselves because most of us choose to be ignorant about our actions.

P.S. For the full transcript, click here!


BBC News. (2016, September 4). Giant pandas rebound off endangered list. BBC News. Retrieved from

Cardinale, B. J., Duffy, J. E., Gonzalez, A., Hooper, D. U., Perrings, C., Venail, P., . . . Larigauderie. (2012). Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature, 486(7401), 59-67. doi: 10.1038/nature11148 (2018, January 24). Total Land Area of Singapore. Retrieved from

National Parks Board. (2018, March 21). Biodiversity. Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “Joanna Coleman’s Why

  1. Hey Wei Qian!
    Your blog concept is really interesting and admirable! Everyone has different reasons for the need to conserve and it’s really refreshing to hear it from your perspective. Thank you for sharing all the experiences on your blog! I feel that the emotions by Dr Coleman during that lecture were brought forth to everyone in the room and I felt a pang of guilt upon hearing the extent of biodiversity loss.

    Humans do hate to lose but sometimes mistakes and failures must be made for a lesson to be learnt. I feel that that itself is a sad fact in the context of our biodiversity. None of us would wish for a critical species to go extinct before realising our mistakes. Singaporeans are known to be kiasu in nature, in hopes to prevent mistakes from occurring. What do you think of the ‘kiasu’ culture in Singapore and how it can be translated into actions of conservation? Continue inspiring others with your posts! 🙂

    – Tun Shien~

    1. Hello Tun Shien! Thank you for reading my blog and for your very kind comments!

      Frankly, I think being moderately ‘kiasu’ is healthy because people will be more proactive to seek continuous learning and stay relevant in this very dynamic environment. However, one should know where to draw the line. For instance, ‘kiasu’ shouldn’t be motivated by the desire to get attention and validation from others because such motivation, coming from a place of insecurity and self-doubt, is detrimental to one’s psychological health. Another point that I thought I want to emphasise is that being ‘kiasu’ should never be about tearing others down because the ill will would not only hurt others but also eat at the core of the person doing it. I guess like many things in life, all things are better in moderation.

      In regard to how ‘kiasu’ could be translated into our actions of conservation, I think the public would need to first, be more aware of the impacts of biodiversity loss on mankind. When I engage in conversation with people, I often feel that individuals don’t quite understand/relate to the dire consequences of the loss of biodiversity. Consequently, there’s a disconnection between the public and the problem of biodiversity loss. I would like to guess that if there’s a better understanding of the problem, the public will be more driven to do what they can to preserve the biodiversity that still exists. To quote what Dr Coleman told me recently, “Defend Nature as if your life is depended on it.”

      I hope my reply finds you well.

      P.S, Hope you had a good rest over the weekend. Have a great week ahead and see you around in school!

      Wei Qian

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