What is the one question that visitors to Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve love to ask? Conservation Outreach Manager Mohammad Azlin bin Sani says, “Every time I point out an interesting flora or fauna, they will always ask, ‘Can eat or not?’”.
His reply? “Of course! Everything can eat! Even if it is poisonous, you can eat it too, but just once!”
Clearly Azlin has a good sense of humour, but it was his love for nature and the outdoors that brought him to the Reserve almost 10 years ago. Then a volunteer with NParks at Chek Jawa in Pulau Ubin, the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed Azlin leapt at the opportunity to become involved full-time in nature and conservation as an Outreach Officer.
As part of his job, Azlin designs public programmes as well as organises guided walks and educational activities to share the importance of conservation with students and members of the public. He feels that education and engagement are good ways to get the conservation message out.
“I hope that more people partake in (nature) activities as it would help them become more aware. Slowly but surely, as the awareness grows, (nature) conservation in Singapore will definitely grow too. The impact will first be felt in Singapore, then our neighbours, and hopefully onto the world!” he quips.
In his own way, the wildlife-loving Azlin actively contributes to conservation through activities like bird-ringing, mangrove restoration, as well as fish and insect surveys. “There are so many parks that we can get involved in and learn from. This is what keeps me going and even though I have been here for nine years, there are still so many things for me to find out,” he says.
Azlin adds, “This is what makes me come in early on a Monday morning, and I’m happy to work on weekends too.”
In fact, on some weekends, Azlin will come into the office with his wife and kids in tow. “They (the children) like coming in to Daddy’s office and as it is an outdoor office, they enjoy it as they can go for a walk in nature which they don’t always have time to do during the weekdays,” he says.
“I hope my kids, and children in general, will grow up close to nature. I want them to be attuned to it, feel part of it, so that they understand that they decisions they make today regarding nature can impact their lives in the future.”
For anyone wishing to play a more active role in conservation, Azlin has a few words of advice: “Go! Nature has something for everyone. You just have to go in and take a look. So get your friends involved. Individually, you might not feel like you can make a big impact, but collectively you will have an effect.”
Find out more about Azlin. Check out his clip in our video series, NParks Portraits.
Text by Wong Yeang Cherng, video produced by Jasper Ku Wei, Pedro Shiu, Tan Yong Hui and Wong Yeang Cherng
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