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I first met Tom on a snake survey which aimed to learn more about our fascinating watersnakes. Here's some old photos of the adventures of the Snakehunters, as we called ourselves.
Tom and I met again on Chek Jawa, as volunteer guides to share it with as many people as possible before it was lost to reclamation. Long after deferment of reclamation, Tom and I remained among the last of the pre-deferment guides who still regularly guide on Chek Jawa.
A bio graduate, Tom nevertheless can bring out the simple pleasures of the creatures and features of Chek Jawa. A guided walk with him is a joyous exploration.
Here is more about Tom in his own words ...
How did you first get involved in working for nature in Singapore?
I grew up in Brunei where there was an abundance of greenery. On coming here to do my Degree in NUS, I was struck by the concrete jungle and reseigned myself to fake nature like gardens and some of the so-called "parks". Experiencing Sentosa the tourist way didn't do much to change that.
My coursework in University exposed me to different people, and I was invited to help a guy do a study on local flying snakes. One thing led to another and soon I was involved in another study involving mangrove snakes, and this was where I truly started to appreciate Singapore's little isolated pockets of Nature.
One fateful day was when one of my Hallmates asked me to join her on Ubin to help with crowd control and general public education about some local habitats that could be found there. Needless to say, on arriving at the pristine site, it always broke my heart to see thousands of people trampling, collecting and generally causing great chaos on that location. It was with great relief that we heard of the deferment of the reclamation of that location. Of course, the location that I'm speaking of is Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin, where I continue to guide with Ria, and which is a place that holds a special value for me, since I have never seen such a place, even with all my hiking around in Brunei.
Being the youngest on the team in both the CJ Guides and WildFilms was a drag, so I appreciate the fact that some of the newer recruits are younger than me, and I can also add some grief to their lives in addition to the grief I'm getting from the "old folks". ;)
What do you get out of working for nature?
There is nothing I like more about working for nature than seeing the enlightenment dawn on a child's face when I show him or her an amazing creature for the first time. Same for the look on some adults' faces when they see these things after a long absence of nature in their lives. This feeling is one that cannot be bought for all the money in the world.
What is your approach/personal motto in your work?
My personal motto in life in general is to go through life with respect for people and nature, though not neccesarily in that order. If you take care of those around you, it will eventually come full circle.
What are some of your current projects?
I'm a freelance web designer in real life, and my other interests include videography (I'm Director of the wildfilms project) and also playing games on my PC. I have been taught by among the best when it comes to computer parts and assembly and I appreciate knowing these great people, even if our paths should never cross again.
One other motto I have is that almost anything can be fixed with a good whack..... [Ria's comment: ...and Tom doesn't mean JUST machines and equipment :-) ]
Tom is 25, his day job is as a freelance web designer/programmer and he currently volunteers as a guide at Chek Jawa and is the Director of wildfilms. You can contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org
More on how YOU can make a difference too...
these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
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