Sunday, 7 December 2014

A Rediscovery and The Prime Minister - UBIN DAY

Pulau Ubin: An offshore island from Singapore and our last kampung. It's Singapore before all the tall buildings went up - natural, wild and rustic. Last Sunday, we had a celebration of all things Ubin - organised by the amazing Grant Pereira and Ria Tan, Ubin Day 2014 saw a huge range of activities to bring the public closer to the heritage and biodiversity of the little island. Here's something you don't often see on your way to Ubin, a traffic jam!

ButterflyCircle was there to show some registered participants around Butterfly Hill and to teach them about butterflies. I was attached to a really wonderful group of students and their enthusiastic teacher, who were there to learn more in order to set up a butterfly garden. We saw some pretty cool things: a Mottled Emigrant came to lay eggs just in front of us, we found a number of uncommon butterflies and I got them to get right up close with the butterflies that were willing. One of the rarer species around was this form-agenor female of the Great Mormon.

This stunning giant was laying eggs on the pomelo bush and caught everyone's attention. The great mormon is polymorphic, so the female occurs in many greatly differing forms, some of which have not been seen in years. Better still, my group got to see something extremely special - a rediscovery! A strikingly patterned butterfly was flitting incessantly around a tree trunk and I knew straight away that we had something new. And it was - a rediscovery for Singapore, the Malayan Nawab (polyura moori)! It has been suspected to still be extant here and now we have the proof. 

The excitement, however, didn't stop there. We were extremely honoured to have a different kind of visitor to the hill, The Prime Minister of Singapore. He - along with his troop of bodyguards, cameramen and the press - came to find out more about the hill and it's fluttering inhabitants. We took him around on a little tour and shared our knowledge of butterflies with him. What struck me was how willing he was to talk to us and hear our thoughts. Here's me sharing some of the places I love to go for butterflies.

Photo by Mr Loke PF

He was also incredibly friendly and down to earth so after having a short discussion about butterflies, we just had to take some pictures with him. Yes, by pictures, I mean we-fies. It's not everyday that you get to do this! There I am, beaming from the back. As you can see, height is something I don't have very much of...

Photo by Lemon TYK, whose in front

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also announced at the opening of the event, several plans for Ubin which were mostly about preserving the rustic charm of Ubin and enhancing it. I think it is great that the government is getting involved in the conservation of natural places like Ubin. Hopefully, with events like Ubin Day, more people will understand and respect nature and maybe even get down to help in the race to conserve. I had an amazing time on Ubin Day, all thanks to Mr Khew for inviting me and of course, Mr Grant and Ria for their inexhaustible passion and energy. Here's to the wilderness!


  1. What an amazing day! It is great that your politicians are interested in the environment and prepared to spend time learning about it. I love the Great Mormon and congratulations on spotting the Malayan Nawab. It is great to know that there are places like Ubin. I have to admit that I didn't know of its existence until I read about it on the Butterfly Circle blog. How many species of butterflies did you see on your visit?

  2. It was! Ubin is a wonderful island... I think I saw about 30 or so? I didn't shoot very much since I was showing my group of participants around. Yes I think it's quite something too for the government to get involved like this, especially for a country like Singapore. Our Minister of State is really interested in things like this and he's very supportive too. :)

  3. Its true these butterflies are really so delicate and amazing that they draw the attention of kids as well as the adults. They are the masterpiece of nature.