Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Awesome Deepavali Weekend!

It has been a busy week, memorable mostly for the discomfort that the dental treatment has left me in. I have since learned to adapt to using my ill-fitting immediate dentures and am trying to get over the horrible lisp it gave me. My friends are getting a big kick out of making me sing "Rhinestone Cowboy". I never realised how sibilant the song is until I developed a lisp.

As for Jewel, she is back with me. Although Mama Cat was nursing her, Jewel wasn't receiving very much in the way of protection and supervision. The people she was in the care of thought that leaving 3-week old kittens to roam alone in the driveway all day while they went to work was the right thing to do. I didn't know it until I arrived at their home last night to find Jewel missing. I had a nasty scare and decided that Jewel would be safer with me. Now I will have to bottle-feed her and make her eliminate waste daily, but I'll learn through trial and error.

The Nuisance received a shelling from me on her lack of responsibility, and now she has decided that she wants to keep Jewel for herself. The Nuisance wants to pick Jewel up this Friday. I hope that her decision was made because she is able and willing to care for Jewel, and not just to spite me. In any case, I will try to remain informed as to Jewel's well-being.

Jewel with Mama Cat. Goodbye for now and thank you for the milk, Mama Cat!

I am trying to cultivate the appearance of cheerfulness, although my heart aches for little Jewel.

17th October 2009: Deepavali Valthukal!

I have created a special post on Deepavali in Brickfields and another on Brickfields in general. Please drop by for a visit and vote for my posts! Thank you!

I was up early on Deepavali morning to mow and weed the yard and give the Rowdies their bath. I left for Coach's house at noon for a scrumptious Deepavali lunch. I wasn't able to eat much due to my teeth but it was good to meet everyone again.

Coach's dog, Bima, ignored the rawhide baseball I brought him as a gift.

Someone had given Coach a cigar and he hammed it up for the camera.

Coach and I.

Lara and Matthew decided to sit next to me so I could tell them all about plants and animals. What can I say, I'm a kid magnet these days!

I did not drink, as I was still on antibiotics, and I could not stay long, as I had promised to be at the SPCA to help out so the Hindu staff could leave earlier. I bade everyone goodbye and left by 1400h.

I arrived at the SPCA, parked behind Reve's 4x4 and got to work almost immediately. Rose had been on duty since morning and had managed to tickwash some of the dogs. She pointed out new arrivals to me -- puppies so round that they rolled over and rocked like eggs when tickled.

It had rained before I arrived, and it threatened to rain again as I tidied up the newspapers and donated items. It looks like I won't be able to wash the dogs today.

I got to work cleaning the Cattery and disinfecting all the cat baskets and litter trays. I gave the cats fresh food, water and bedding, and replaced the cardboard pad in their Scratch-N-Play.

Reve let the dogs out to play after they have had their evening meal, and I soaped and disinfected the cages and enclosures while the dogs and puppies were at play in the compound. After that, I cleaned the Front Office/Admin/Reception area and scrubbed and soaped all the tiles, steps, fixtures and sink.

I moved on to clean the Maternity Kennel and water bowls, and cleaned the Central Area and Puppy Area while Sugen and Reve took the food bowls away for washing. We told Sugen he could go home early and we would take care of the rest of the cleaning up.

Reve and I finished cleaning the shelter by 1900h and we had a coffee while we chatted about the changes we would like to see in the administration of the SPCA. There are so many things that are wrong. It would only be a matter of time before the problems and failings overwhelm that in the system which is currently working.

I left for Bukit Gasing after the SPCA, as I had agreed to go frogging with Lillian, Hurnain and the rest of the herpetofauna enthusiasts.

When I first informed Coach and my other friends that I would be going frogging on Deepavali night and invited them to come along, they were incredulous.

"Frogs? What, to eat?" they exclaimed in surprise and curiosity.

Hey, just because I am of Chinese ethnicity doesn't mean that I eat everything with four legs except a table!

Frogs and toads are fascinating, and are good indicators of the environmental health of an area. Since amphibians are particularly susceptible to contaminants and are very sensitive to the changes in their environment, a decline in the amphibian population is a warning to us humans that an area may not remain safe for human occupation for very long.

The MNS Herpetofauna Special Interest Group , under the leadership of Hurnain and Lillian, has been conducting nocturnal frogging excursions in Bukit Gasing, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and other secondary forests in the City for years, for the purposes of data collection and research, and to inculcate greater appreciation for nature and indigenous reptiles and amphibians among city-dwellers.

The Bukit Gasing Forest Reserve is special in that it straddles the border of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. It is a secondary forest and green lung covering over 100 hectares. It is worth noting that 36 hectares of secondary forest in the Petaling Jaya side were gazetted as a greenbelt in 1961, while the Kuala Lumpur side remains unprotected. I hope that the Ministry of Federal Territories accords this issue with the importance that it deserves and takes steps to gazette this green buffer zone in the City.

The last time I conducted a Green Living - Eco Kids Day Camp here was in 2007. The beneficiaries were the able-bodied children from the Taman Megah Home For Handicapped Children.

Happy faces after our Day Camp in 2007. The children received their certificates after making their Green Living pledges. I had initiated the Camp and was, and still am, very grateful for the support of my key volunteers: Yanty, Serina, Mariam, Hui-Min, Christine and Mohala.

Tonight, there would only be a handful of us. I pulled up at the entrance of the trail and joined Nain and Lil, pockets bulging with flashlights and mosquito repellent.

The local authorities must have thought it was a good idea to put these rock gabions here and create an embankment for our little stream. Perhaps their intention is to reduce or control soil erosion, but it has created siltation and reduction of flow in the stream and affected fauna that relies on the natural foliage growing on the riverbanks for shelter and food.

Lillian remains an active volunteer despite being in her fifth month of pregnancy. Her spirit of volunteerism is infectious!

Rana Raniceps / Hydrophylax Raniceps, commonly known as the Copper-Cheeked Frog. See how its beautiful skin glistens in the night!

Lillian showing little Cerys the proper way of holding and handling a Copper-Cheeked Frog. Nature awareness and education should begin as early as possible.

Bufo Parvus: We learned to identify it from the hourglass-like marking at the back of its head.

Hurnain and Lillian trying to locate the position of the frogs by their calls.

We heard Hurnain hissing to us from 10 metres away and squelched up the stream to see what he was so excited about. It was worth the hurry! Hurnain had spotted a Dogania Subplana! What luck! It hasn't been spotted in Bukit Gasing in ages!

Dogania Subplana: Malayan Soft-Shelled Turtle

The Dogania perceived us to be a threat and tried to get away by burrowing under the sandy stream bed. There was a plastic bag in the way and I offered to remove it. Hurnain and Teck Wyn cautioned that the Dogania would attack, and that it has a very painful bite.

I was adamant that the plastic bag be removed, and was not worried about being bitten. After all, I get bitten at the SPCA by new arrivals and nervous animals at least once every six months. I tugged gently at the plastic bag until it came loose and we collected other plastic litter from the stream.

L-R: Hurnain, me and Lillian with a message for joggers, picnickers and hashers: Please do not leave your litter behind. Littering is a poor return for the enjoyment you have derived from our natural spaces.

We saw another Dogania a little further upstream. This really is a serendipitous night for us to have spotted two in the same hour. This is a good sign that the water quality is good enough to create liveable conditions for wildlife.

While we were photographing another Bufo Parvus, I spotted another frog, sitting very still, next to it. It took a while for us to realise that it wasn't another Bufo Parvus but a frog which we have never seen before and could not identify. We proceeded to take photos of it from all angles to help in its identification.

Little Cerys was exhausted from her long day of Deepavali visiting and trekking, and so we made the decision to pack up for the night. We brought the litter we collected out with us, congratulated each other on a productive night of nature observation, and promised to come back again soon.

Our Deepavali wish would be to see green spaces given due protection against unnecessary development. There are enormous environmental and economic costs associated with the destruction of forests, such as an increase in the incidence of landslides and flash floods and the rise in tropical diseases. Similarly, there are enormous benefits to be gained from the preservation of rainforests and their ecosystem services such as carbon capture and as water catchment zones. A well-cared for green lung or forest reserve will also have great tourism potential and will be an asset to any state!

May we all tread gently upon the good Earth and show love and respect to other beings that share our Planet!

Please vote for my frogging post!

Thank you!


Unknown said...

Great froggy post and learned how to leap frog too ! LOL! it's true, learning and loving nature young is the best natural way.
Post is till being vetted. Will drop in later.

nat said...

Love your froggy photos! Would like to try going frogging with you sometime ;)

p.s. the photo thing - download Google's Picasa. Brilliant photo program!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Keats and Dr. Nat,
Thank you both for your support! Frogging is a lot of fun! Especially the getting muddy part!

Dr Nat, thanks for the tip! Will check it out today!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Jewel...oh...Jewel...wish we can adopt her right away. Remember Tom my brother? My Mama picked him off the streets when he was about Jewel's age. And look at how humongous he is now.
Hey, perhaps my Mama should go home and take over SPCA? heheheh....
We'd like to go frogging with you too...purrr....meow!

Pat said...

Enjoyed this post, E! And I agree: lovely froggy pix!

I pray Nuisance is a good momma to Jewel. Looks like she's used up some of her 9 lives, so she needs to be careful about whom she agrees to have look after her!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties in Sydney,

Please don't remind me, or I'll burst into tears. I love Jewel but I know The Nuisance keeps her pets indoors and they will be safe.

It's just that the Nuisance has a tendency of pushing responsiblity to everyone else, e.g. deciding to go off on a 5-day vacation and turning up at someone's door with her pets for boarding with no food or litter. I told the Nuisance that if she could not handle Jewel and ever changes her mind about keeping Jewel, she must inform me right away, and I will come get Jewel.

But you know something? Jewel is learning to eat and drink off a saucer now, and has used the litter tray correctly at least for the last 2 days! Isn't she such a clever little darling? Yes she is!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Pat,

Thanks for liking my froggies!

Jewel is growing stronger and smarter by the day. She enjoys a good cuddle and can drink from a saucer as well as a bottle. She is doing fine and I pray she continues to do fine at the Nuisance's place. Although I don't like the Nuisance very much (anymore), it's not Jewel's fault -- so I will need to be there for the Nuisance to fall back on if it's anything related to her pets.

Angie said...

Ooh I wanna come frogging with you guys too next time. Let me know ok? Really miss the nature scene. Now that life is back to 'normal' I can do other stuff again!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks for stopping by, Angie! Okay then, we'll keep you in the loop. Next frogging trip probably within the next month or two, since I don't think Lil can continue to frog past her 6th or 7th month of pregnancy. Bring hubby along!

Am planning a zero-waste, FOC Eco Kids camp at HQ for the December school holidays. Would you like to help out? I've got all the instructions and volunteer requirements ready in soft copy. Just say the word and I'll email it over!

Ellen Whyte said...

Great post! Hope Jewel survives.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Thanks, Ellen! I'm pretty sure Jewel is going to make it!