Reflections from Claudia, our first civet intern

Claudia Ang was an intern with the NUS Civet Research Team, helping out with various roadshow events such as Festival of Biodiversity and Ubin Day, as well as organizing and presenting talks to students in various schools in Singapore. She also helped in managing the team’s social media platforms such as its Facebook page and blog for a year (May 2015 to May 2016).

IMG-20160202-WA0005I had joined the NCRT back in May 2015, and looking back now, it has been a year since I first got to know Weiting and Tze Kwan, both of whom are passionate researchers and advocates of civet welfare. I had come into the team with very limited knowledge on Singapore’s biodiversity, and I hadn’t quite an idea of how vast and rich our environment was of all the different habitats and organisms that live within them. Quite frankly, I was only someone with a drive and passion to work for and alongside animals. When I came across the team’s call for an intern on social media, I knew I had to give it a try.

FullSizeRender(1)I have learned so much and have met so many environmentally-conscious people since. It is always a humbling experience to speak with them, they who know so much about Singapore’s conservation issues and who work so hard in order to create environmental awareness among the public, while at the same time always involving themselves in different avenues to discover and learn more about the local biodiversity. I am thinking of Sankar, the Toddycats SG50 LKCNHM intern, whose enthusiasm always lights up the room. And Becky, also the 2015 IKEA-ICCS intern who always goes the extra mile to advocate environmental consciousness. They are just a few of the inspiring individuals whom I have met through NUS Toddycats events, which are in itself so enriching. It was through these Toddycats events that I managed to learn more about the various animals that share our landscape, such as bats, dugongs, otters, and various birds such as the oriental pied hornbill and the collared kingfisher.

pulauubinIn a similar way it is always exciting to visit schools to give talks. Just to be able to speak to them for an hour, knowing that they will leave the school hall with much more knowledge and awareness on Singapore’s environment and biodiversity is reward enough. Most students nowadays are not sufficiently aware, in the same way that I was not. It brought up a pressing issue, that is we are not doing enough, as a whole and as a country, to promote/inculcate environmentally-conscious thinking. School talks are thus of extreme importance if we would like to get our future generations involved in efforts to conserve our environment.

macppOur natural heritage is something to work towards conserving. It won’t just conserve itself by itself. Disappearing forests and depleting wildlife are issues that we should be worried about. With this internship, I have obtained a new perspective and a heightened urgency to redeeming and conserving our local flora and fauna. It has been fulfilling in a way that I have learned so much from these people – the way they work, the way they think, all stemming from the passion that drives them – and I am incredibly thankful for that. FullSizeRender“Thank you Claudia for the many exhibitions and talks that you conducted, blog posts and publicity materials that you created within the span of a year. We will miss your creative energy and enthusiasm. The team would like to wish you all the very best in your future endeavours and keep growing the passion that you have for animals within you.”

Have you met our civet outreach team?

By Claudia Ang

The NUS Civet Research Team has been amping up its efforts to provide school talks island-wide, in hopes that students growing up in Singapore will be better equipped with a knowledge and appreciation for the common palm civet, one of the country’s last wild urban native carnivores. The team’s researchers, Xu Weiting and Fung Tze Kwan, both of whom are NUS Toddycats, have carried out research on the distribution, biology, and diet of the civets in Singapore. The presentations and exhibition are thus supported by the scientific research work which the team does. The talks are conducted by the two researchers and civet intern, Claudia Ang. From mid 2015, there have been plenty of talks and events that are scheduled for the coming months, but here is an overview of what we have done so far:

31 July 2015 – Presentation and Booth at Victoria Junior College Science Carnival

Left: Toddycats all smiles before students arrive

Left: Toddycats all smiles before students arrive

As part of the East Zone Science Carnival held by VJC, we had a specimen booth which illustrated the story of Singapore’s biodiversity. Weiting also gave a talk on raise awareness for the civet as one of Singapore’s last urban mammal. Having been there for five hours, the team managed to reach more than 150 students.

19 October 2015 – School Presentation at Victoria School

Students at Victoria School learn about the threats encountered by the civet in Singapore.

Students at Victoria School learn about the threats encountered by the civet in Singapore.

School talks cover the biology of the civet, its behavioural adaptations, and the threats that it faces in urban Singapore. Students also learn some ways in which they can help the civet, both locally and regionally. This was a talk given to a cohort of 300 secondary two Victoria School students.

16 November 2015 – School Presentation at MacPherson Primary School

MacPherson Primary students listen in attentively as the talk begins.

MacPherson Primary students listen in attentively as the talk begins.

This was a presentation at MacPherson Primary School, where we reached out to 130 students. There is usually a QnA session at the end of the talk, where students can take the opportunity to clarify their doubts or request for more information on issues that have piqued their interest.

18 November 2015 – School Presentation at West Grove Primary School

West Grove Primary students being posed a few questions on the civet.

West Grove Primary students being posed a few questions on the civet.

In that same week, we were invited to present at West Grove Primary School, where 300 students attended the talk.

2 February 2016 – Talk for Cnergy Programme students at Catholic High School

IMG-20160202-WA0005We had our very first talk of 2016 at Catholic High School, where we presented to a group of Integrated Programme students. It was a small group of approximately 20 students, who showed a developed interest in animal welfare issues. Many of them were also interested in seeking out opportunities to volunteer/work in for environmental conservation organisations too.

5 February 2016 – Talk for Green Group students at Mayflower Primary School

IMG_5516We had presented on civets and the native biodiversity to approximately 35 students part of the school’s environmental group. The students were highly engaged and gave excellent learning points gleaned from the short presentation.

18 February 2016 – School talk at Methodist Girls’ School

MGS - 1We presented on the biology and threats to civets as a link to the 210 secondary 1 students’ recent lesson on biodiversity and its importance to man. During the presentation, we also included a section on the importance of forests such as MacRitchie and the Cross Island Line issues which are important to both the civets and us.

1 & 3 March 2016 – School talks at Hai Sing Catholic School


Learning all about the civet’s adaptability to our urban environment.

We visited Hai Sing Catholic School on two occasions to present to their lower secondary and upper secondary students respectively, reaching approximately 1200 students in that week.

29 March 2016 – Assembly talk for Upper Secondary Lower Peirce Secondary

IMG_1011We visited Lower Peirce Secondary to raise awareness on civets and other common wildlife in Singapore to 340 upper secondary students. They enjoyed the talk and learnt new and interesting information about our local biodiversity.

While we are warmed by the positive responses received from the students, much more has to be done to increase awareness of the civets and Singapore’s biodiversity to allow for better, more efficient conservation to happen. With all the presentations conducted and soon-to-happen, we hope that students inculcate within them a sense of pride in Singapore’s vibrant landscape and rich biodiversity, and thus a sense of protection for their environment. If you are interested in finding out more on what the NCRT does, do visit their website at or write to us if you want our team to visit your school or event!