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  wild people: Siva

Siva (at right on bike) with friends on a bumboat
It is highly appropriate that Siva should be the wild person featured on National Day.

He has been a great influence on many of the other wild people featured on Wild Lives, not the least myself.

Siva's passion for nature and uncomprising insistence on a professional yet fun approach to our work have been a great inspiration.

Alas, I've not been able to persuade Siva to do a write up on himself for the NDP Moblog. But if there's one thing Siva has inspired in all those whom he has touched, it is to be proactive. Thus, I've done a feature on him anyway :-)

I first met Siva as part of a zoo docent visit to the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR). Thereafter, Siva was most supportive of my early efforts to convert existing guidebooks into websites. Sive helped provide webspace and obtained permissions from the authors.
But it was with Chek Jawa that Siva and I started working very closely. Before deferment of reclamation: on the public education walks organised by the RMBR as well as the first and enormously successful website on Chek Jawa.

After deferment: we continued to collaborate on training and starting formal guiding, and on the Chek Jawa Guidebook. It was Siva who encouraged me to do the Chek Jawa Guidebook on our own.

Siva in orange shirt briefing others who volunteered
to guide the public on Chek Jawa before deferment
of reclamation. The shores were so crowded with
visitors that the only place to have a quiet
briefing was in the water!
During the Guidebook launch, Siva and RMBR colleagues proceeded to "sabo" Dr Chua Ee Kiam and me by suprising us with appointments as Honorary Museum Associates. Something beyond my wildest dreams, and which deeply touched me and is among my most precious affiliations.

The guidebook launch was a small part of the Biodiversity Symposium, a massive event of which Siva was a key co-ordinator. The Symposium brought together a wide variety of groups working for nature, from government to NGOs, to share their work and get to know each other better.

Siva guiding on Chek Jawa
Although his Real Work has (finally) caught up with Siva, he still makes time to initiate and lead significant nature awareness programmes. Close to his heart is the RMBR volunteers programme, Toddycats that aims to expose, develop, enthuse and apply students to programmes in conservation, education and research. He also constantly supports and encourages young researchers. Among the many are these two who have put up websites of their work at Labrador Park beach and the Kranji Nature Trail.

This year, Siva also initiated Pedal Ubin, a guided tour of this rustic island on wheels. Other projects include walks at Kent Ridge and the International Coastal Cleanup programme. Siva also never fails to conduct an annual Sungei Buloh guided walk in December, which is truly a Tour with a Difference.

Among his many mailing lists, Siva runs the Habitat Group blog and mailing list; a treasure house of information. Though these, he keeps the rest of us slackers updated on events and happenings in nature, the environment and more. His blog is a vast collection of information not found anywhere else in one location. He also does the Raffles Museum News website which updates on the latest happenings of the Museum. Among his significant webpages are those covering the heritage of sites such as Changi, Sembawang, Mandai Mangroves and a series of Ubin Stories.

Siva is a wonderful speaker and he continues to conduct workshops on mangroves and the seashores and gives countless talks, interviews, attends meetings and seminars to support greater nature awareness in Singapore.

Also known as Otterman, the Asian Otters are among Siva's favourite animals (although apparently, he has yet to actually see one in the wild himself). He runs the Asian Otter Newsletter website on these delightful creatures.

On a personal note: Siva also runs (or is it briskwalks?) the Habitatnews Briskwalkers that regularly do the MacRitchie-Bukit Timah route; and is part of Zendogs a cycling group. Siva is also a Mac-freak (as we PC-lovers say) and (of course) runs the Otterman and a Mac website. Siva was also featured as the MacSingaporean that brought the Mac into nature.

Siva in his own words is probably best expressed through the voluminous information by and about him on the internet. Here's some of my favourites, many of which are not found on through Siva's links...haha!

Siva's personal website: the tip of an enormous iceberg of information that lurks beneath the calm and placid surface.
Siva's articles for The Mudskipper: hilarious but very informative articles often graced by Kelvin Lim's inimitable drawings in The Mudskipper, magazine of the Biological Sciences Society, the National University of Singapore.
Sivasothi: Nature Crusader on the Straits Times Interactive website, for an insight into Siva and his work. An off the cuff remark by Siva: 'Nature and the Singaporean way of life do not have to be mutally exclusive.'
Make the Change: on Debby's Hantu Blog for the latest of Siva's many inspirational talks to volunteers and those who want to make a difference.
Swarming to the Swamp: what actually happens at one of Siva's "special" Mangrove workshops where participants REALLY get to know the mangroves, in Wetlands, a publication of the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve.
Singapore: Anything Left to Conserve? (launches a Word Doc). A more serious article but one that is very timely and though provoking.
From Road Kill to Museum Research a Straits Times article about the work of the Museum. Siva was talking about starting a new group called The Body Snatchers...a network of drivers and spotters to quickly retrieve road kill for speedy preservation. We were supposed to have badges, little stickers to stick on our cars for the number of "kills" we brought back, a kilat paging system and all kinds of other cool stuff...alas, we all got caught up with other things....

Siva is in his 30s and he is currently Research Officer at the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research.

More on how YOU can make a difference too...

Posted by Ria Posted on 10/08/04 12:01
Sara, you've got really sharp eyes :-) Yes, the volunteer guides do take a variety of visitors to Chek Jawa. And every single one is a VIP to us, especially the little children. For Chek Jawa belongs especially to them.

Posted by otterman Posted on 09/08/04 19:27
Ahem! Thank you for the fantastic write up. I feel like I can retire now happily. And hello friend, what do you mean I never saw otters in the wild? Hmph! But must admit first one I saw was in Penang in 1992, not here!

Posted by Ria Posted on 09/08/04 19:32
No NOO!! Cannot retire! You must at least see ONE otter in Singapore first yah? :-)

Posted by otterman Posted on 09/08/04 19:46
Hmph! More myths! But I confess partly propagated by myself...it stems from the time I did local surveys in 1993 (ruining my binoculars). The next year one appeared in Sungei Buloh Wetlands Reserve on 24 Dec 1994. I found the spraints four days later but only saw the animal on 09 Jun 1995. Reports of a solitary otter persisted until December 1995 beore trckling off. Three reports came in from Mndai mangroves between Jun-Oct 1996. Then the pair appeared in late 1998 that we see today. Okay you can see I am bit otter-mad... Amongst the people feeding me reports in 1994 was RK Ramakrishnan or "Krish" - he's still working at Buloh now, and is jointly running the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore at Kranji mangroves this year!

Posted by ladybug Posted on 09/08/04 20:11
I'm so inspired!

Posted by Ria Posted on 09/08/04 21:33
Finally! We get the Real Story. And here we are feeling sorry for you. But you STILL can't retire, K? Please? :-)

Posted by HostSara Posted on 10/08/04 03:29
Err... can i ask a question... U noe the pic where SIVA is "guiding on chek jawa"? The guy bending down to take a closer look looks awfully like Lee Hsien Loong o_O Issit??

Posted by otterman Posted on 10/08/04 10:30
Hi Sara, you're correct. Ria helpfuly took photos when he visited Chek Jawa after the landmark deferment of reclamation in early 2002. Guiddes vary their elivery and I got quite technical with him as he absorbed information like a sponge. You'll be happy to know, our next PM is the brightest and most alert person I have ever guided, and I've guided plenty of scientists and layman in my time. Thisis the first time it has been seen - trust Ria to come up with something like this!

Posted by grayowl Posted on 10/08/04 15:59
How timely! (^^)

Posted by dangoh Posted on 10/08/04 21:23
Kudos to Siva for so much work done. Not bad for a mac user.

Posted by greenEd Posted on 15/08/04 17:39
Can't resist not saying something abt the big otterman. His talks & lectures are always fun to attend esp when it is presented on a Mac!

Posted by raycek Posted on 16/08/04 12:18
Siva's mind never seem to rest. Not too sure where he got his boundless energy from. I saw him planning the training programme for CJ guides and learnt that he is an intense and profound person - the sort that makes things happen. He was able to muster help from people all over. Most importantly he was able to interact all all levels. The best thing he did for me was to ask me to come on board when I was still "lost" in CJ. Thanks siva

Posted by raycek Posted on 16/08/04 12:25
What else can I write about Ria? Like Siva she is also very intense and has no time for wimps or mummy's darlings. She is mission driven and nothing gets in her way. Most importantly she has a big heart - a heart of gold


these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
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