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NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022: Wild Day Out!

On 01 June, the Every Singaporean A Naturalist (ESN) programme held their first-ever NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022. Starting the June School Holiday off with a bang, participants of this fun and friendly inter-school competition got a chance to discover the many fauna species in Singapore, beyond the programme’s syllabus, and explore Singapore’s nature areas.

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Team Chunky Monkeys and Team Thunder Ducks in action during the race.

The NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022 saw 19 teams from eight schools race in five different locations across Singapore. Racing against each other and the clock, teams had to spot, photograph, and upload research-grade observations of as many species as possible onto the ‘NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022’ iNaturalist project in a span of three hours. These fauna observations were of the five taxonomic groups monitored as part of the programme, namely birds, butterflies and moths, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.

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Collage of the 19 team photographs.

Race participants made a whopping total of 372 observations of 71 species during this race. Of these 71 species, there were 46 species of birds, 16 species of butterflies and moths, three species of mammals and five species of reptiles.

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Map of the five race locations.

After the race in the morning, each team exercised their creativity by making a video montage of their team in action and reflection of their race experience. They also had the opportunity to join in for a fun and meaningful Nature Reflection Activity where they were introduced to Nature Journaling as a tool to appreciate and reflect on nature.

The day ended with a Closing and Prize-giving Ceremony celebrating the efforts of the race participants. The Guest-of-Honour, Ms Kavita Prakash-Mani, who is the CEO of Mandai Nature, gave an inspiring speech on Mandai Nature’s continued efforts in wildlife conservation.

Following Ms Kavita’s speech, the teams eagerly awaited the announcement of the winners. There were a total of four award categories up for grabs.

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'NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022’ iNaturalist project page.

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Summary of award categories and award winners.

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Winner of the ‘Best-photographed Observation’ award in the Primary School Category:
Oriental Pied Hornbill photographed by Team YuminChamps1 from Yumin Primary School.

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Winner of the ‘Best-photographed Observation’ award in the Secondary School Category
Collared Kingfisher photographed by Team Chunky Monkeys from Dunman Secondary School.

All race participants were presented with a keepsake in commemoration of the event, consisting of an enamel pin, a postcard, and a vinyl sticker featuring the Crimson Sunbird — the unofficial National Bird of Singapore. In addition of the race keepsake, each award winner received a Certificate of Achievement, CapitaLand Mall vouchers, and NSS Pocket Field Guides as prizes.

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Dazhong Team 1 and 2 with their race keepsake.

In his closing remarks, Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore), encouraged race participants to continue exploring Singapore’s rich biodiversity and expressed his hopes for their continued efforts in conservation. With renewed inspiration, the NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022 finally drew to a close and concluded on an uplifting note.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

NSS ESN Inaugural Biodiversity Race 2022 would not have been possible without the support of Mandai Nature Fund, NSS ESN Working Group advisors – Huang Ningxin, June Wong, and Tan Beng Chiak, as well as the race verifiers, NSS members Abiel Neo, Kerry Pereira, and Lester Tan.

Special thanks to Sony Singapore, who conducted an Introduction to Nature Photography Workshop and loaned 13 cameras from their RX100 series to the race participants. We would also like to thank Chloe Chang (@chloethefungi) who designed the race keepsake.

Last but not least, a very big shout out to all the teams who participated enthusiastically in the race, even under less-than-ideal weather conditions. We sincerely hope that all race participants enjoyed the event and look forward to seeing everyone partake in next year’s NSS ESN Biodiversity Race, as we continue to nurture hearts and minds for nature.

Do check out the upcoming series of posts on the NSS ESN Instagram account (@nss.esn) for more race highlights!

Written by: Tan Shin Ying