khewsk at hotmail.com
Tue Sep 1 03:01:52 EDT 1998
I'm glad that you have visited our little island before, and I must say
that you are knowledgeable about what the situation is like in
Singapore. I suppose no one is going to stop anybody who captures one
or two butterflies in a private condominium's garden, but the laws here
are pretty strict about collecting in the nature reserves. I guess you
know how seriously the authorities are, about rules and regulations in
Singapore from your last visit here.
Migration? Most of the time, no. There doesn't appear to be much
migration observed, and even so, the Malaysian species which tend to
display this behaviour are already found in Singapore.
I am involved in a programme to establish and sustain caterpillar host
plants of several species within the nature reserves. This is an area
which we are really short of information, and even for our 240-odd
species, only a handful of host plants are known.
The developed areas are often too hazardous for the butterflies to
survive, as there is often much fogging (of pesticides) to rid the
populated areas of disease-carrying vectors like mosquitoes. Alas, this
fogging also kills off our favourite butterflies along with the rest.
It is also interesting to note that most people's perception of a
beautiful garden is one that has plants in pristine condition and with
unmolested leaves and flowers. This is usually maintained by spraying
all sorts of insecticides to make sure that caterpillars and other
insects do not eat up their garden plants. It would be pointless to try
to change this perception for the benefit of our butterfly friends.
Therefore a more realistic solution would be to look towards the nature
You comment about Singapore having so little of ANY habitat to start
with is very true and accurate. Land is scarce and where there is
direct competition for land between a commercially-viable project versus
leaving the land as a nature spot, you know which one would win. I
suppose the government here has taken enough steps to strike a realistic
balance between conservation and development, but having so little land
to start with, it's always easier said than done.
>From my own voluntary research work, I find that more than 95% of the
species in Singapore are forest-dependent. Only a handful can survive
in urban areas. Much effort therefore has to be concentrated on
conserving the nature reserves as this is the last remaining sanctuary
for butterflies in such an urbanised country like Singapore.
> I do appreciate this sensible argument, and I do agree that the size
>of the island does make a difference. I enjoyed touring Singapore back
>1980, and at that time, as small as the island was, there were still
>suitable butterfly habitats (including the gardens in and about the
>itself) that would sustain the most common of species. Migrations from
>Malay Peninsula occur as well, do they not? As for the limited size of
>nature reserves and the whole issue of conservation in general, this IS
>most important issue for Singapore and clearly one that should be
>by all. If there is truly no butterfly fauna in Singapore outside of
>nature preserves, and precious little of this habitat remaining, then I
>the first to put my net away while visiting Singapore. If, on the
>hand, there remain at least a half dozen species which are perfectly
>and thriving and in no danger of being eliminated, I can't see why it
>wouldn't be acceptable for someone to collect and preserve a specimen
> Thank you for your insight, however. You certainly are more
>vulnerable to vanishing habitat, seeing as how you have so little of
>habitat to start with. We may, in fact, be able to learn a lot from
>handle this issue. The right solution would guarantee sustainable
>populations of all species, thereby securing the privilege of amateur
>collectors such as myself to visit, study, and admire your insects,
>alive and preserved.
> Mark Walker.
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