Photographer:Fotograaf: Jesler van Houdt
Jesler in Freiburg
Bob is still in… Singapore? I thought this was going to be a blog about your exchange to Freiburg, Germany? Also, who is Bob?
Bob is a lizard - you’ll get to know him later on. And regarding the first question: universities in Germany only start mid-October.
Mid-October? Isn’t that our first exam week?
Yes, I was surprised as well. Also: what was I going to do with 3 months summer holidays?
I decided to do an internship in Singapore for the Jane Goodall Institute - an organization that aims to educate Singaporeans about how they can live in harmony with wildlife. I got assigned to the ‘Public Engagement and Outreach' Committee, which is basically a fancy way of saying that I'm responsible for all events and a chunk of the social media coverage. This means that I've organized the first-ever citizen science surveying of long-tailed macaques in Singapore which was held last Sunday, the results of which I got to present at the infamous Botanic Gardens. Not to brag.
Also, I’ve started to develop a pool of rather random knowledge about Singaporean wildlife.
Like, at UCM it’s a highlight when a dog enters the building. At a Singaporean university, students got to watch a Cobra fight a Python one ordinary day. True story, you can google it. I’m not going to lie though, I might prefer dogs after all.
Also, did you know there is an animal about the size of our heads that looks like a deer with the head of a mouse? It’s literally called ‘mouse deer’. And it’s adorable.
And of course my specialty as an intern at JGIS: monkeys. Especially the long-tailed macaque, which you’ll pretty much stumble across every few meters when you go hiking at MacRitchie, one of the many nature reserves in the ‘City in the Garden’. And they’ll just look at you uninterestedly (except if you carry food in plastic bags - never carry food in plastic bags!). They’ll just lie in the middle of the trail, watching you as you go to the very sides of the path trying not to disturb them. Showing you who’s the king of the jungle.
I guess it’s funny to talk about all this wildlife in the middle of a metropolis. It’s bizarre to think about an otter family being spotted on Orchard Street - the shopping street of Singapore - when all Maastricht has to offer are really, really fat pigeons. But here in Singapore, wildlife doesn’t seem to be going anywhere else for now.
Take MacRitchie (the nature reserve) again: Continue for a couple of meters and a monitor lizard (those that look like a smaller version of the Komodo dragon) will pass the trail in front of you. This might give you a heart attack the first few times, thinking “Oh no, a lizard the size of a bike (to put it in Dutch terms), I’ll die!”, until you become so used to the little fellas that the only thought that passes your mind is “Oh, hey Bob, you’re here too? Gosh, lizards do walk funny…”
Jesler van Houdt