With the responsibilities that naturally come with my entry into adulthood, I left my nest again in 2017.
Seeking a holistic balance in conservation, I joined Dr Andie Ang in his Raffles banded langur project as an assistant researcher under the Wildlife Sanctuary Conservation Fund – now called Mandai Nature.
The objectives of this project are to recover and protect different wildlife species through long-term monitoring and conservation research, as well as to obtain the necessary resources and commitments for long-term conservation efforts. .
Doing research required me to quickly learn new skills like doing lab tests and writing reports.
Wildlife viewing requires patience, dedication and precision.
The observation of macaques and langurs is slightly different due to their level of adaptation to human presence.
When I started observing langurs, I missed a key piece of information that was rather embarrassing.
One day I was documenting a family of langurs using the road to move from one forest patch to another.
I was impressed with myself for photographing this moment for two reasons.
First, he highlighted the importance of having canopy connectivity for safe passage for them (two rope bridges have been built by the National Parks Board along Old Upper Thomson Road).
Second, it was always images of moving animals, which I guess was a demonstration of a certain level of photography skill.
However, I only realized I hadn’t been paying enough attention when I learned that one of the female langurs was carrying a baby only after seeing these photos again two months later.
This was pointed out by my direct supervisor, Andie!
Five years later, I have learned to make methodical observations when I am in the field and to examine each documentation in the same way. This infant langur that I missed grew into a strong young boy and his name is Spade.
Of course, research work has its share of depressed stories. Andie and I recently published a book on the Raffles banded langur.
A female langur, Gamora, with her baby, Ultraboy, graced the cover of the book. We wanted to pay a special tribute to Ultraboy.
After watching him grow to around three years and two months old, he was struck and killed by a vehicle on Upper Thomson Road.
A lack of stable canopy connectivity above the road was likely the cause and the rest of the family traveling on the road to get from one forest to another.
The book sheds light on conservation plans and promotes a better understanding and appreciation of our shared natural heritage.
The ups and downs of helping the much misunderstood long-tailed macaques and critically endangered Raffles banded langurs continue to humble me and teach me a lot about tenacity.