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  Straits Times 10 Sep 07
Protecting nature's beauty

By Liana Tang

GETTING wet and dirty, sometimes knee-deep in mud, may not sound like a great day out for most.

But for undergraduate Loh Kok Sheng, it is just what he needs to unwind - conducting a guided walk on Sentosa's shore.

The third-year life sciences student at the National University of Singapore also regularly explores the muddy crevices of shores like Changi beach and Chek Jawa, sometimes in pre-dawn darkness, to photograph the wildlife he encounters.

He then shares his photographs and experiences through his blog: http://wondercreation.blogspot.com.

The 23-year-old discovered this newfound passion on a visit to Sentosa last year. 'When I was first introduced to the Sentosa shoreline, I was amazed at how marine life was thriving on a tourist island.' He cites colourful creatures such as giant anemones and stealthy crabs among many intriguing finds.

A project he is currently working on is charting the recovery of wildlife on Chek Jawa following damage to the marine environment caused by heavy rainfall earlier this year.

Mr Loh reports his findings on a blog: http://cjproject.blogspot.com where he notes that despite having to adhere to unearthly timings and strict schedules 'chasing' the low tides to survey the wildlife, his friends who volunteer to help in his field surveys thoroughly enjoy themselves, discovering something new each time.

Why his many blogs? He simply hopes to raise awareness among youth about Singapore's natural heritage.

He is among an increasing number of young people and groups who conduct workshops and guided walks in various nature spots in Singapore.

Mr Ron Yeo, 32, founded one such group. Suitably named Naked Hermit Crabs (NHC) (http://nakedhermitcrabs.blogspot.com), the group's 30 volunteers provide guided shore walks for the public, doling out historical tidbits and facts while pointing out ecological highlights.

Of the 20 youth volunteers in NHC, Mr Yeo believes that engaging young people in such volunteer roles is key to the future of conservation.

'It is refreshing to work with young people as they always bring in new ideas that help improve the way we conduct our walks and other conservation efforts,' he said.

In agreement is Mr N. Sivasothi, an instructor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

He believes that the efforts of such individuals and groups, along with education in schools, provides comprehensive opportunities for creating awareness among youth about environment and conservation.

'Young people who are inspired by the volunteers they meet tend to take up committed leadership roles in the conservation community,' said the former research officer at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

'This is one way that we maintain a dynamic, motivated community that works towards making positive impacts on conservation in Singapore.'

The writer, Liana Tang, 23, graduated with honours in biology from NUS

Play your part!
HERE are some useful resources close to home:

Keep up-to-date with news about nature spots at http://www.wildsingapore.com

Seek out information on Singapore's natural history at Habitatnews http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg

Find out how you can help the Blue Water Volunteers at http://www.bluewatervolunteers.org

Volunteer to be a part of shaping Singapore's garden city by visiting http://www.nparks.gov.sg/involve.asp

Find out more about visits and workshops on Semakau Landfill with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at http://rmbr.nus.edu.sg

Related articles in Singapore: wildshores
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