wildsingapore home
moblog singapore home
ria's blog on moblog
about wild lives

our wild cause
wild people
wild thoughts
wild photos
your wild guess?
our wild singapore
wild links
wild diary
  wild people: Zeehan

I first met Zeehan on Chek Jawa as part of Siva's group of dedicated volunteers to guide people before deferment of reclamation.

The very first time I met her actually, I yelled at her to stay away, very far away, as she was mucking up the water so I couldn't take pictures.

But eventually we spent many fulfilling days on Chek Jawa, guiding or documenting it.

Zeehan is a fabulous guide, with funny stories and an uncanny knack for finding the most interesting specimens.
Zeehan and I started really working closely together when we were doing the Chek Jawa guidebook (together with Tse-Lynn). They helped put together a scientifically sound but easy-to-read text. Zeehan was also invaluable in getting identifications for all manner of creatures featured in the book.

After the guidebook, Zeehan and I continued to work together to help researchers with studies of our wild places. I was and still am deeply impressed by her amazing ability to find creatures, both in marine and terrestrial habitats.

Zeehan is fearless. It has been said by others that Zeehan has been bitten by almost every creature that can bite. From personal experience, I must say there is some truth to that.

Although she is now horribly busy, Zeehan still takes the time to support our wild places. She has been giving talks about anemonefishes, focusing on our very own "Nemos". The talks reach out to the layman and highlight what each of us can do for our marine wild places.

Her most recent contribution is the massive Chek Jawa transect 2004 in Jul 04 involving more than 60 volunteers that she and Tse-Lynn trained and organised. She is also in the process of writing the Sungei Buloh guidebook, which is going to be done in the same vein as the Chek Jawa guidebook.

A tough-minded person but with the gentlest of hearts, Zeehan is among our few young scientists who is deeply committed to our wild places. Her dedication and enthusiasm is an inspiration.

Most importantly to me, Z has become one of the few people who really knows my heart and who has been there for me through the darkest days. Thank you Z.

Here is more about Zeehan in her own words ...

How did you first get involved in working for nature in Singapore?
Although I have always loved nature and enjoyed animal-watching, I only first realized what Singapore has to offer during my undergraduate years at the National University of Singapore.

It started out by working on undergraduate research project on coastal fishes and this brought me to know of the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, and the people working there.

Siva, especially, brought me under his wings and had enough confidence in me to request that I started sharing with people what I knew about Singapore's biodiversity.
Through Siva, and the Raffles Museum, I was introduced to many nature areas in and around Singapore.

It was also with the Raffles Museum that I first went to Chek Jawa on a salvage operation where I met Ria. She has since become a close friend who shares similar principles and goals. The sheer number of people who chipped in for the salvage operation, and then the massive guided walks before deferment, touched me a great deal and made me realize that there are actually many people who still care enough about nature and this warmed my heart greatly.

Since, being in nature areas and around nature-loving people has been addicitive - I miss it whenever I have been away too long!

What do you get out of working for nature?
I see nature as somewhere one can withdraw into, a safe haven which is serene and peaceful. It is a magical feeling knowning that there is something bigger than yourself that is marvellous and intriguing. How I feel when I am in such places attracts me to it.

Understanding the ways of ecosystems and helping others understand it as well is very satisfying. Sharing this experience with like-minded people and avid nature lovers makes any trek through storms, mud and unrelenting sandflies worthwhile.

What is your approach/personal motto in your work?
Try the best you can. If one is truly enthusiastic about something, it will just show and the people you talk to will be naturally drawn (pardon the pun) as well.

What are some of your current projects?

Well, Tse-Lynn and I are currently working on the samples obtained from the recent Chek Jawa transect and trying to come up with a report by end August. Other projects include giving Ria an MS* on the Sungei Buloh guidebook, but this is sort of stalling....

*[Ria's note: MS is a Masters of Science *yawn*. From my experience, it appears a lot harder on the scientists to write a layman's book than on a layman like me :-)]

Zeehan is 26 and is a graduate student at the National University of Singapore completing her doctorate on "Gobies of Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia and a Systematic Revision of the genus Acentrogobius and allied genera ". She is currently too swamped with work to volunteer anywhere full time but tries to fill in at various places, especially with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research anytime she can. Zeehan can be contacted at zeehanj@yahoo.com

Posted by otterman Posted on 10/08/04 11:45
I guess this was inevitable. Zeehan was one of the few biology undergrads who stayed back after a field trip at Bukit Timah to walk with Alvin and I to MacRitchie. She told us of roadkills when the BKE was first built and we knew then she'd be around for long while! Recently she ran the CJ Transect 2004 and that was very exciting to see happen, from afar! The next generation has arrived!

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

these blog entries were first uploaded on MoBlog Singapore! Celebrate Singapore NDP 04
website©ria tan 2004