Month: May 2020 Page 1 of 2

World Bee Day 2020 – Where will we all be without the busy bees?

By bringing pollen from flower to flower, bees directly contribute to the production of fruits, nuts and seeds. The decline of bees and other pollinators impact our well-being and the well-being of the environment. To raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development, the UN designated 20 May as World Bee Day. Photo by Teresa Teo Guttensohn at Pangsua Woodlands along The Rail Corridor, May 2020.

by Teresa Teo Guttensohn

Today, 20 May is World Bee Day. Small, hardworking and often forgotten in urbanised Singapore, we forget that our well-being depends upon the existence of bees.

The humble bee and other pollinators like butterflies, birds and nectar bats are under threat from human activities and are on an alarming decline worldwide.

The decline of bees affects us all and it is critical to halt the loss of pollinators and biodiversity. To do so, we must protect the last of our wilderness areas and ecosystems.

“Pollination is fundamental for the survival of our ecosystems. Nearly 90% of the world’s wild flowering plant species depend on animal pollination, along with more than 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land. Not only do pollinators contribute directly to food security, but they are key to conserving biodiversity.”

United Nations

How you can help to protect our wild bees:

  1. Flowers for bees – plant different native plants which flower at different times of the year.
  2. Go natural – avoid chemical pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in your gardens. Use environmentally friendlier methods and sprays. Protect wild bee habitats, colonies and hives where possible.
  3. Protect and conserve forests and other natural ecosystems which are crucial habitats and food sources of bees.
  4. Raise and share awareness on the importance of bees.

World Endangered Species Day – Kids Poster Design Contest

Submission is now closed. The deadline was extended to 10 July. Please note that only designs featuring native, endangered wildlife will be eligible.

To commemorate World Endangered Species Day, Cicada Tree Eco-Place is pleased to announce a poster design contest open to all children in Singapore between the ages of 6-8 and 9-11. Simply draw or design a poster featuring our endangered native wildlife with the slogan “Protect Our Last Wilderness” for a chance to win a prize!

[Species Red Alert for Kids] – Secret Durians of Singapore!

Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis) flowers, tree trunk and leaves. Photos: Lua Hock Keong.

by Teresa Teo Guttensohn

Hey kids! Did you know that we have our very own native and rare durian trees in Singapore?

One of them has special leaves and is named after our country. It’s called – you guessed it! – the Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis). The leaves are green on top and have a metallic brown underside. From below, it looks like a bronze leafy umbrella – how cool is that?

Ripened fruit of the Singapore Durian (Durio singaporensis) from MacRitchie Rainforest. Photo: Aminurashid bin Eksan.

The Singapore Durian grows in our rainforests and can reach 40m high. Too high for you and I to reach the small fruit about the size of a grapefruit. Just as well, as the ripe durian fruit splits open high up on the tree, and forest animals like monkeys love to feed on it. Yum yum!

The seeds have little flesh so humans don’t eat them, which means more food for the wild animals – yeah! This endangered durian tree is found only in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia.

Can you imagine a tiny, spiky red durian? Our other native Durian tree, Durio griffithii, is no less special, as its teenie-weenie durian fruit is bright, fire-engine red in colour when ripe! The common name for this tree is Durian Burong (burong means bird in Malay) or Squirrel’s Durian. Unfortunately, this rare local durian tree of our forests is endangered as well.

Like people, many wild animals such as small mammals, squirrels and birds love to feed on durian. Did you know that durian flowers are pollinated by bats and moths? Without their help, we would not have our beloved King of Fruits!

Lastly, did you know that we have a fake durian tree? Nope, this is not fake news! We have a super rare mock durian tree… but that’s another story for another day.

Let’s protect our last wilderness of Singapore with all it’s precious wildlife before its too late!

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Dr Adrian Loo, Lua Hock Keong and Aminurashid bin Eksan for sharing photos, and to Joy Wong for her kind help.

View the Top 10 Endangered Rainforest Species Named After Singapore:

‘Protect Our Last Wilderness’ is a conservation campaign by Cicada Tree Eco-Place. It highlights the pressing need to prevent the disappearance of the island’s last remaining wilderness areas, which are an important buffer against the effects of climate change.  Protecting them is our moral responsibility. Learn more about the campaign today!

Dr Jane Goodall on COVID-19 and destruction of the natural world: “We brought this on ourselves.”

Christiane Amanpour:
Did it have a silver lining in terms of how we figure out our place – we humans in the natural world – what we’ve done to potentially disrupt the natural world? Where do you think this could lead?

Jane Goodall:
Well, the thing is that we’ve brought this on ourselves. A pandemic like this has been predicted, we’ve had epidemics galore, and it’s because we’ve disrespected the natural world and the animals who live there. And we cut down forests, animals are pushed closer together, some of them are pushed to crop-raid and things from the nearby villagers. This gives an opportunity for the viruses and bacteria to spill over from the animal host to human.

And then, in addition to that, we kill them, we eat them, we traffic them, we sell them in wildlife meat markets across Asia – which, by the way, most wet markets don’t sell live wild animals at all; they’re more like farmer’s markets – but anyway, these wildlife meat markets across Asia and the bush meat markets in Africa create ideal environments for these viruses and bacteria to hop over, to cross the species barrier and bind with whatever they bind with in the human to create a new disease like COVID-19.

And we should remember it’s not only the cruelty to the animals who are sold in tiny cages, often killed on the spot, vendors and customers contaminated with blood, urine, faeces, and so on, but then we’ve got our factory farms, that we’re breeding billions of animals in terrible, horrible, crowded, unsanitary conditions. And academics have started from factory farms as well as from these wildlife markets, so we have brought this on ourselves and people have known about it and been telling us about it, but we prefer to go on with business as usual to make money and attain power in the short term and not worry about future generations or the health of the planet.

(Transcription by Tia Guttensohn)

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