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Singapore Wildcat Action Group: These cat supporters flaunt their boodle


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By Ashley Tan

Recently, cats have actually remained in the news for good (conversations on legalising cats in HDB flats) – and bad (more reported cases of animal abuse) factors.

But what about cats in the wild in Singapore?

Did you understand that the only wildcat left in Singapore is the leopard cat? Even then, they are seriously threatened and less than 20 stay on the mainland, according to boodle.

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Singapore Wildcat Action Group, much better referred to as boodle, was established by Dr Vilma D’Rozario and Carmen Pang in 2019.

boodle has 2 primary tasks, securing the seriously threatened Malayan tiger (in assistance of the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers, or MYCAT) and the leopard cat in Singapore.

The last documented sighting of Malayan tigers was taped in Singapore in 1930.

There are presently 20 active volunteers adding to boodle’s efforts in education and preservation.

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It arranges journeys, called CAT strolls, to the Sungai Yu Ecological Corridor in Pahang, Malaysia, to raise awareness about the predicament of wildcats in Malaysia and to interrupt any poaching activity.

In Singapore, they promote the Leopard Cat campaign where they go on leopard cat missions to Pulau Ubin to look for the evasive feline.

The Pride speaks with some boodle volunteers:

Rachel Lee: “Where are you, leopard cat?”

Rachel Lee, One Of Swag’s Original Batch Of Volunteers

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In the video, we satisfy Rachel Lee, among boodle’s initial batch of volunteers.

The 30-year-old, who is now in Taiwan pursuing her PhD, informs The Pride that she satisfied Dr Vilma on a CAT Walk in 2019 and was trapped to go over formally forming the group.

She says: “I’ve been offering with boodle since though I’m taking a rear seats now due to my research studies! Mostly, I aid with creating promotion products however actually since we are a little group of volunteers, everybody chips in to help – like running occasions, publishing on social networks, and such.

One of her preferred occasions is the launch of the 20m neighborhood mural at Boat Quay in 2021 to inform the general public about the difficulties dealt with by leopard cats and other wildlife, and the requirement to maintain nature areas in Singapore.

“We got people from all walks of life together to paint that mural featuring Singapore’a last wildcat, and is one of my most memorable contributions!”

Kineisha Teo: “People get amazed at my age”

Rachel Lee: “Where Are You, Leopard Cat?”
Kineisha Teo – Setting Up (Official Music Video) Kineisha Teo – Setting Up (Official Music Video) Image source: Kineisha Teo

14-year-old Kineisha Teo is boodle’s youngest volunteer however she discovered boodle even younger.

Two years back, she stumbled upon its cubicle at NParks’ Festival of Biodiversity (FOB) and found that her main school instructor, Lin Zi Hui, was among its members!

Says Kineisha: “The topic of wildcats was something people didn’t really know much about, myself included. I had a lot of free time so I decided to join.”

In 2022, Kineisha took part in NPark’s FOB in addition to boodle’s storytelling occasions. She was even welcomed to Parliament in July as part of boodle’s Illegal Wildlife Task Force to listen to MP Louis Ng speaking on the Illegal Wildlife Trade(Import and Export) expense.

The Queenstown Secondary School trainee chuckles as she informs us: “It feels kind of cool to be the youngest in SWAG. When they find out, most people are like ‘Wow, you’re only 14?’”

Nowadays, Kineisha discovers herself significantly hectic with schoolwork, prefect conferences and CCA dedications.

She says: “It’s super busy but I try my best because it’s meaningful to join in such work.”

Currently, she is dealing with an infographic for boodle’s sustainability report. She likewise intends to get her school to have a biodiversity week and to start tasks to raise awareness on the subject of sustainability and preservation.

She says: “If someone doesn’t start it, who will?”

Tim Foote: “It’s hard to talk to people about conservation”

During the week, 54-year-old Tim Foote runs a sustainability consultancy company that encourages business on how to decarbonise their logistics procedures, however in his extra time, he actively volunteers at boodle.

Tim, and his other half, Carmen are establishing members (Carmen is the director) of boodle. The couple relocated to Singapore in 2008.

He describes: “We are eager to help conservation movements and we want to make a difference in the place we live in.”

In BOODLE, Tim is associated with advocacy for enforcement and more powerful security to combat prohibited wildlife trade. He is likewise part of the retail group, helping with getting fundraising product for boodle.

Having a full-time job indicates that his weekend is primarily used up by offering activities. But Tim chuckles as he exclaims: “It’s okay because I enjoy it!”

That said, it’s not a simple journey. He does discover it an obstacle to harness the enthusiasm of boodle volunteers without individuals stressing out. Fund-raising is likewise difficult.

He says: “It’s hard to reach people who are not so conservation-minded, and even harder to sell our cause to them.”

“By and large, Singaporeans do not live in nature. We live in a human-created, contained urban environment almost all the time. It’s not surprising that people are sometimes repelled from having to deal with it (nature).”

Dr Vilma D’Rozario: “I found my place in nature”

She’s not your normal retired person. 64-year-old Dr Vilma D’Rozario isn’t simply a co-founder of boodle, she likewise established ecological non-profit Cicada Tree Eco-location (CTEP).

Dr Vilma, who was a speaker at the National Institute of Education, got a taste for the outdoors while pursuing a PhD in counselling psychology in the United States throughout the 1990s.

She says:  “I was so depressed when I came back to Singapore… my friends told me ‘Why don’t you join the nature society?’ I did and that changed my life.”

She Was So Active At Nature Society Singapore’s (Nss) That She Was Invited To Organise A Trip To Belalong National Forest In 1999
Dr Vilma (2Nd From Left) With The Catwalk Plus Group At The Sungai Yu Ecological Corridor In 2017 Image Source: Dr Vilma D’rozario

She was so active at Nature Society Singapore’s (NSS) that she was welcomed to arrange a journey to Belalong National Forest in 1999. When she returned, she headed NSS’ education group for 8 years.

“I began to realise that there was a lot of nature around us. I began to realise that this was my place.”

She co-founded nature education group CTEP in 2006.

In 2013, she and her CTEP co-founders began a motion called Love Our Macritchie Forest and got authorization to have an organised demonstration versus the Government’s choice to cut through the forest for the Cross-Island Line.

She reminisces with a smile: “It all started with us four tying ourselves to trees at Hong Lim Square and Hong Lim Green. We had these long braids that went down into the whole field. The whole performance was called Chained To Our Roots. The roots are the forest, and we’re not going to let go of this forest, and you cannot destroy it, you know.”

Nature Community Engagement Group With Lta For The Past 10 Years.
Kineisha And Dr Vilma (3Rd And 4Th From Right) At A Tree Planting Occasion. Image Source: Dr. Vilma D’Rosario

But Dr Vilma isn’t simply a disruptive force for nature. She has actually become part of the Nature Community Engagement group with LTA for the previous ten years.

With all this experience, Dr Vilma co-founded boodle in 2019 to raise awareness of the leopard cat in Singapore and the Malayan tiger in Malaysia.

Dr Vilma (Second From Right) With Other Swaggers After Planting Saplings At The Sungei Yu Ecological Corridor While On A Catwalk In July 2017.
Dr Vilma (2Nd From Right) With Other Swaggers After Planting Saplings At The Sungai Yu Ecological Corridor While On A Catwalk In July 2017. Image Source: Dr Vilma D’rozario

She intends to influence the younger generations to pay more attention to the nature around them.

“Go for a CAT-walk, join us as a volunteer or help us raise funds,” she says.

What’s Next?

Interested in finding out more about boodle or to join them as a volunteer?

Tomorrow (Mar 19), you can learn more at a lunch with Dr Kae Kawanishi, a tiger researcher who has actually devoted thirty years of her life to securing tigers and listen to her motivating story of determination.

Who understands, learning more about our regional wildcat might include a bit of a swagger to your action!

Dr Vilma says with a smile: “We call our volunteers Swaggers. As long as you have participated in one of our CAT walks or contributed to a fundraiser, attended any of our events, you are considered a Swagger!”

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