Venue: Civil Service College
Participants: Nature guides and prospective nature guides
Facilitators: Ria Tan, November Tan and Chen Jinwen
Guest Speaker: Lim Cheng Puay
Mangrove - a fascinating ecosystem straddling both land and water. And on Friday, the Mangroves workshop played host to fauna of a slightly different kind. Experienced, green, or just inquisitive, we (potential) nature guides were treated to an informative session on our flora counterparts.
Ria kindly brought some fresh samples from the mangroves. They looked so similar, and of such mind-boggling names that I found it almost impossible to distinguish. (Guess I've to do more homework.)As always, November gave a brief summary of the participants' thoughts about guiding. Cheng Puay then gave his very creative presentation, tapping in on the wealth of information from television, youtube, books and even participants to make it truly interactive. The (now defunct, known as Okto instead) Arts Central special on mangroves in Pulau Semakau was especially enjoyed.
We entered the next segment - Mangrove Charades - with much vigour. As the name suggests, each group had to 'act out' their given mangrove for the guessing pleasure of the others. If they managed to incite a correct guess, points were given to them and the group which answered.
What kind of mangrove is this?Many of the mangrove species had distinguishing features - like the Avicennia's pencil roots and the Bruguiera's knee roots - making them easy to imitate and identify. This was helped by the incredibly competitive and not to mention knowledgeable Mudskippers, which raised their fins at every opportunity, finishing tops with a neat stash of 40 points.
Our final activity put our brains to the test, as we were challenged to excite a variety of dreaded visitors about one mangrove species. Was that even possible? With their perpetual inactivity, lack of furry cuteness or bright colours, these plants seem doomed to be classified under the boring category.
But, with a bit of brainstorming...
We were able to transform them into worthy plants of titllation!
Perhaps too literally here. No harassing, please.The long seedlings of the rhizophora became sleeping babies that lay around the mud, and the Api Api became associated with the armpit-armpit of us humans. Crass but funny jokes aside, every group had a meaningful message to tell: for visitors to appreciate and value each mangrove species in the ecosystem, because are all helpful - from ensuring a constant supply of our favourite durians to protecting our shores against tidal surges and tsunamis. Mangroves were indeed, a valuable part of nature.