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 https://blog.nus.edu.sg/singaporecivet/the-civet-team/ or write to us if you want our team to visit your school or event!

The East Zone Science Carnival 2015

On Friday, the 31st of July 2015, the NUS Civet Research Team and its team of volunteers headed down to the East Zone Science Carnival hosted by Victoria Junior College. We were there to share about the biodiversity of urban Singapore to many enthusiastic pupils from various primary and secondary schools across the island. Civet girl Xu Weiting was also invited to conduct a talk about the “Secret lifestyles and habits of Singapore’s last wild urban mammal”. We saw many students taking down notes about the common palm civet’s biology, diet, behaviour, and also some of the threats that a civet encounters on a daily basis. They definitely seemed intrigued by the existence of an animal – that they were being introduced to for the first time – in Singapore, and it showed when they came by our booth and were able to tell us all about what they had learnt about the civet! We were thoroughly impressed.


The team – all laughter and smiles – getting the booth ready and set up! Photo by Claudia Ang.

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Civet intern Claudia and civet volunteers Max, Jocelyn, Delicia and Randolph keeping busy with the students that came in waves throughout the event. Photos by Xu Weiting and Claudia Ang.

We were pleased to have been able to interact with a crowd of approximately 100 students and we hope that our sharing of the knowledge that we have of Singapore’s urban biodiversity was able to inspire them and provide some food for thought about the awareness and conservation of these animals (many of them even asked about volunteering with us!).

We’d also like to extend our appreciation to Victoria Junior College. Thank you for having us be part of this event!