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Stories from Design Bridge: Wildlife Rescue Volunteering in Singapore

Getting to live in the amazing cities we call home all around the world is brilliant for creative inspiration, but there are all sorts of the other opportunities outside of the world of brand design, too. Take Pam Ng as an example. Pam is a Junior Designer in our Singapore Studio, but when she’s not hard at work creating beautiful design for her clients, she spends some of her free time volunteering. Here’s Pam to tell you a bit more:

(DISCLAIMER: if you have ophidiophobia – fear of snakes – then maybe read something else from Singapore, like this!)

Pamela_Ng

I’ve always been interested in wildlife, and I’ve also thought that I’d like to work with animals in some way. After graduating from Nanyang Technological University Singapore in July 2017 I took the opportunity to volunteer for a range of animal-based organisations – from clinical settings to the zoo, and as a wildlife rescue volunteer at ACRES (Animal Concerns and Research Education Society). And since joining Design Bridge I’ve continued to volunteer at ACRES once or twice a week in my free time.

ACRES is a non-profit organisation that aims to “drive forward a collaborative and sustainable animal protection movement in Asia.” There’s just a handful of staff looking after the 24-hour animal rescue hotline, which people can call if they encounter a wild animal in the city, with just one van on the island to service it.

There’s often a stigma associated with wild animals, such as the assumption that snakes are naturally aggressive and fearsome creatures. This is often due to how they are portrayed in the media, and the unknown can often drive fear in people. However, I’ve come to realise that wild animals are generally very shy and elusive beings who do their best to blend into their environment, especially here in Singapore where we have much more urban space than natural vegetation.

We have to be mindful that, with the rapid urban development of the city, we are clearing out vegetative spaces faster than ever. It’s inevitable that these animals will be seen coming out of the forested zones to look for food, or to find a new home. A good example is the reticulated python, which is native to Singapore and can grow up to 3.5 to 4 metres long.

Small Python

Originally from the forest, their diet mainly consists of rodents and other small animals. Urban adaptation has meant that they are moving into the canals and drains in the city where they can find rats to feed on, and this explains the increase in sightings of pythons all over Singapore in the past few years.

But it’s not just snakes. We recently rescued this otter who was trapped in a net, the result of irresponsible fishing:

Otter 2

Glue traps are commonly used in Singapore but they are not the most efficient nor ethical way to eliminate pests, and they do affect other forms of wildlife too. This Javan mynah was sadly stuck in a glue trap but, as you’ll see in the second photo, once we had freed him he had a happy ending, and even sat on my shoulder!

Mynah Before

Mynah After

The biggest challenge for being a wildlife rescue volunteer at ACRES is being able to ensure the animals’ safety as well as the caller’s, but at the same time we try to educate the people who encounter wildlife in their homes or workplaces. We identify the species and share how these animals react under most circumstances, then provide a series of advisories and follow ups. This helps raise awareness and understanding about the animal the caller has encountered and, hopefully, transforms any fear they may have into into curiosity. Sometimes even interest!

Lead Image 2

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Lead Image

So is coexisting with this type of wildlife in the city possible? Absolutely! And if you ever encounter a wild animal that you are unsure of in Singapore, just give ACRES a call – you can find out more on the ACRES website.

On a side note: I recently organised a little weekend outing for some of my colleagues at Design Bridge Singapore to visit Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, a wetlands that is home to a variety of wildlife. There were many interesting wildlife interactions for the group – from green crested lizards quietly posing for pictures to a paradise tree snake having a showdown with a tree gecko!

Sungei Buloh trip EDIT

Want to join Pam and the team in Singapore? Check our Careers page for the latest opportunities.

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