“Do you get bored of your job?”, was the question I submitted for this session. In my mind, I thought wildlife educators just gave general school assembly talks and patrolled our parks making sure people don’t misbehave, encountering the usual problems – monkeys stealing food, people feeding pigeons, etc. I was so wrong and ignorant! The meeting with Cyrena, a Senior Manager at NParks’ Wildlife Management & Outreach Branch, was very insightful, her job consists of so much more.
The answer is no.
Cyrena shares that no one human-wildlife conflict story is the same. Although the description of the problem can be largely generalised, when she goes to investigate, each case has its own special story. And that’s why she doesn’t get bored of her job!
As she shared her experiences doing site visits, something that really touched me was how much effort went into each case. When they receive a complaint, educators personally go down to the site to investigate the problem. They interact with the offenders (feeding wildlife is an offence), teaching them about the harmful implications of their actions. When that fails, she confesses that she unwillingly enforces, through fines. Yet, despite hefty penalties, some cases are still unresolved and offenders continue. She says then, “when we fail to enforce and educate, we understand“. They take the time and effort to understand the root problem. sometimes, the underlying cause is due to social reasons, and they patiently try to find holistic means of helping the offender. When Cyrena described this case, wildlife outreach definitely didn’t sound easy! I really respect the empathy and kindness they display, while helping Singapore live in harmony with Nature too.
Promoting human-wildlife coexistence in Singapore
The recent call to cull otters has sadly shown that some of us do not yet know how to peacefully co-exist with wildlife. I feel that many unfriendly sentiments towards wildlife come are due to misinformation or just a lack of knowledge about the animal. As I watched Dr. Sivasothi’s interview with 91.3FM, I noticed that the DJ host who initially supported culling changed his decision in favour to not cull them after Dr. Sivasothi shared about the scientific and interesting facts about the otters. I gathered from that interview that with information, even if people are not totally endeared to the animal, they are likely to be more tolerant, after learning more about their natural behaviours. Thus, I think one way to promote human-wildlife coexistence in Singapore is to increase the general understanding of these animals among the public.
I personally find BFF’s Burning Questions seminars very interesting, perhaps wildlife educators could adapt this method to a series of Facebook videos, each focusing on a different animal. To reach out to the older folks, maybe this series could be translated to other languages as well. Given the stay-home situation now, a live series may be interesting and appealing too.
this session was very eye-opening, as I got to learn more about the multi-faceted role of a wildlife educator. Thank you Cyrena for your time and sharing, I have really learnt a lot!