Our Saturday mornings are usually spent in MacRitchie Forest showing the public the sights, sounds and smells. Last Saturday, we reversed things a little bit. My Tree House at Central Public Library, the World’s first Green Library for kids, came to life with forest creatures like the Malayan Blue Coral Snake and Spiny Hill Terrapin wowing the young crowd.
As it was the first day of the March school holidays, we were expecting a good turnout. Indeed we were overwhelmed by the energy, enthusiasm and squeals of excitement of the children! The highlight of the booth had to be the specimens. Many kids saw their first snake, first bat, first terrapin that’s not a Red-eared Slider here. Who would have known a stick insect had wings! Softshell turtle in our forest? No way! Even the parents were impressed. It was a day of discovery for the visitors at the booth and hopefully we will see some of them at our forest walks for the real deal.
While the buzz around the booth carried on, David Tan, assistant project manager of Love Our MacRitchie Forest, gave a talk just a stone’s throw away. Titled “Singapore got Wildlife, Meh?”, his talk astounded many in the audience with the different kinds of animals that can be found in this little red dot. Despite Singapore’s size and ceaseless development and construction, there is still an amazing variety of mammals, birds, herptiles, insects, plants and other animals right here. We just need to know where to look and to spend a bit more time observing and appreciating nature.
Story time! To let the children learn about the creatures of our forests in a fun and engaging way, we read them a book called “The Adventures of Max and Ritchie”. The young audience loved listening to Amanda (a NUS Toddycats volunteer who really should be a professional storyteller) tell them how Max went about a mission assigned to him by a forest fairy in MacRitchie Forest. This beautifully-illustrated book was written by students of Raffles Institution as part of their Ecological Literacy Programme. It can be found in the public libraries islandwide.
The kids also tried their hand in creating their version of a forest animal at the activity booths. Cicada Tree Eco-Place held a colouring workshop for the budding artists to add vibrancy to the otherwise dull-coloured bats and owls. Crescent Girls’ School also joined us by conducting an origami workshop where the children made animals out of paper. The students wrapped up with a play about saving the environment to get the young ones started on protecting our Earth. You go, girls!
Amidst all the paper-folding and colouring craze, one boy sat quietly at a corner and wrote. He stated reasons why trees are good and why we should protect them. It is rare for someone so young to start concerning himself with conservation. That’s right, like the boy wrote, we are surely happy to be in a place with trees. We have plenty to learn from this bright young environmentalist!
We are elated to have had the chance to bring the forest to the families. Our guides went home feeling recharged by the visitors’ looks of amazement and eagerness to learn more. One of us asked a boy how many species of animals he thought there were before he came to the booth. “Very few”. How many did you learn today? “Too many to count!”
That’s right, our MacRitchie Forest is a precious stronghold for many forest-dependent species that call it home. Some like the Johnson’s Freshwater Crab can be found nowhere else in the world and we must do everything we can to protect them. We hope the children who came to our booth today can have a MacRitchie Forest in the future that is as alive and bursting with wildlife as today.
A big thank you to National Library Board for inviting us to share the beauty of MacRitchie Forest with the public! And Cicada Tree Eco-Place and Crescent Girls’ School for joining us on this exciting day!
See more photos here – https://flic.kr/s/aHskwoJQV5