Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Furry Tales Fundraising Dinner

I have always been a firm believer that those in animal welfare and rescue circles must work together and help one another the best we can. When I started Project Second Chance, I was fortunate enough to benefit from the assistance and generosity of friends. So when an independent animal rescue group, KL Pooch Rescue, announced a fundraising dinner on social media, I felt that the very least I could do was to purchase tickets to the dinner and invite my friends as my guests.

The beneficiaries of the funds include KL Pooch Rescue, which is working hard to raise funds to build their own shelter, and several independent rescuers, including senior citizens who have taken in strays but who are not social media savvy. I contacted the organisers of the event to make arrangements for the intact dogs to be neutered at subsidised rates under SPCA's Mission Help programme.

Lili and I shared a ride to the dinner, held at Cinnamon Box, Festival City Mall. Here she is, waiting for us to be seated.

The menu was kept simple and limited to keep costs down. The objective of the dinner was, of course, to raise funds for animal rescue initiatives. We could, and did, order extra food from the restaurant, as we were quite a big party.

Volunteers from KL Pooch Rescue sold merchandise to raise funds for the cause. They were very persuasive and friendly, and so I ended up buying a rather cheeky t-shirt with a clear message about spaying and neutering. Bernie bought 2 t-shirts and a car sticker, while Nicole bought dog treats and baked goods. We hope they managed to raise a lot of funds even from other shoppers who didn't attend the dinner.

Nicole bought lovely molten brownies and key lime tarts for our dessert. I ate an entire key lime tart in spite of myself. Oh well. I could always burn off the calories the following day by helping out at the SPCA.

Vegetarian nasi pandan with sayur masak lemak for me, washed down with gallons of iced lemon tea.

Stand-up comic Phoon Chi Ho provided entertainment for the night. Good effort, young man. We found him funnier during "Bromance of the Four Kingdoms", though. Still, it was good of him to do this pro bono.

The Mall dimmed its lights at 8.30 p.m. in conjunction with Earth Hour.

Now, this may sound strange coming from an environmental activist, but I do not observe Earth Hour. Earth Hour takes time and attention away from finding real solutions, has dubious conservation and educational value and has just become another high-consumption PR and fundraising event which encourages people to drive out to shopping malls, buy the event t-shirts, candles and flashlights and pretend to care for the environment.

Lili is seen here preoccupied with her smartphone, while Nicole and I swiped her fries, after the lights were dimmed.


Aravind has a molten chocolate brownie while Bernie's maid (centre) and mum (in wheelchair) were kept entertained by the comedy act.

Walking the talk the way I normally do the following day at the SPCA shelter.
Three hardworking schoolgirls and their adult chaperone helped me bathe and tickwash all the Kennel D, E and F dogs before it started raining on Sunday. I managed to clean all the kennels at the back as well.

Learn more about KL Pooch Rescue here:

KLPR on Facebook

KLPR's official blog

E-mail: klpoochrescue@gmail.com

Shannon: +6 016 2511 486
Lauren: +6 016 2511 496

An update from the organisers:

"Dear donors,

Furry Tales has collected a total of RM18,459!!

This amount is made up of donations and sale of our sponsors' products.

After deducting the cost of dinners (dinners were offered at cost price), the amount is RM17,489.

I will allocate half of that (RM8,744.50) to KLPR, and the other half to an independent shelter.

KLPR will use their half for their new shelter.

I will use the other half to build the facilities that the independent shelter needs so badly. 

My next step will be to send you a quotation from the contractor with the best price, and a list of what we can do with RM8,744.50.

If you require a statement of the total donations collected, with individual amounts, I'd be happy to send it to you. 
For both transparency and anonymity to be possible, all donors' names appear as initials only, in alphabetical order, first name first. 

I'm very excited about this. I am equally grateful and touched that you, my donours, have been so fantastic about supporting this cause. Thank you for your support, and for your trust in me.

May tails continue to wag in celebration of what we have achieved!"

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Raptor Watch 2013 through my eyes

(Photo credits: MNS)

Although this year marks my twelfth year as a Raptor Watch volunteer, witnessing the miracle of raptor migration is something I will never tire of. As it was Aravind's first Raptor Watch, introducing him to the phenomena of raptor migration also brought me added joy and excitement.

This year, Green Living set up a booth offering carnival games and was involved in organising the Design An Eco-Home contest and Raptor Protection Run. It was a hot, hectic and utterly exhausting week.

So many birds. So many visitors. So many awesome volunteers. So much to be thankful for.

Raptor Watch 2013, through the eyes of your friendly neighbourhood Green Living coordinator:

Raptor Watch Day 1, 9th March 2013:

Our carnival games with an environmental message -- Water Conservation Ring Toss.
4 of the 8 bottles have photos depicting water-saving habits, while 4 depict water-wasting habits. Participants try to throw the rings (scotch tape empties) around the bottles showing water-saving measures.

Our carnival games with an environmental message -- 3R Target Shooting.
Participants use the Nerf gun to try to shoot down cards showing wasteful and environmentally-destructive items such as styrofoam food packaging, paper kitchen towels and plastic grocery bags, and at the same time try to avoid hitting the greener alternatives such as reusable shopping bags, refillable water canteens and handkerchiefs.

Our carnival games with an environmental message -- Energy Efficiency Ball Toss.
Participants try to toss ping-pong balls into the sections painted green and represented with little cards showing energy-saving measures such as switching off appliances after use and taking public transport, while avoiding the sections painted red, which have cards showing pictures of energy-wasting practices such as leaving car engines idling and using animated screensavers.

Giving instructions to some young visitors at our booth.

Aravind supervising and instructing a young participant at our booth. The heat was really oppressive that weekend.

Zhang En and Zhang Hui, all ready to catch the stray bullets, set the targets back in place and hand out prizes. Those two girls are amazing. I think I can safely retire as Green Living coordinator now. My successors have been found, even if they are only 9 and 6 years old respectively.

Walking the talk with our recycling bins and drinking water refill station.

Everyone getting excited over a Banded Woodpecker and a Greater Racket-Tailed Drongo spotted in a tree behind the tents.

Aravind obligingly accompanying me through the Forest Reserve to the lighthouse after we packed up for the day.

Sun-dappled Macaranga.

The Straits of Malacca shimmering in the late afternoon heat.

Seeing the Cape Rachado Lighthouse each year is like greeting an old friend.

The view from our balcony at Casa Rachado.

Raptor Watch Day 2, 10th March 2013:

Awesome mummy Ng Shannon teaches her daughters Zhang Hui and Zhang En about energy efficiency and Energy Star ratings as we were setting up our booth in the morning.

The Green Living sticker sheets that we gave out as prizes.

Marine gastropods (Cerithidea obtusa) in the warm mud.

Rhizophora apiculata.

Mudskippers doing what they do best -- skipping around in mud.

My Caving friend Hui Yeen drops by with her girls to try out our games!

Sunburned and exhausted volunteers at the end of a tiring but productive weekend.

Why Do We Need To Protect Raptors?

Because birds of prey exist at the top of many food chains, their populations are especially sensitive to changes in ecosystem structure and energy flow. As a result of this factor, raptors are relatively good indicators of the health of the environment and food chain.

What are some of the threats to migrating raptors?

The loss of natural habitat and the consequent decline in prey availability, the widespread use of pesticides and direct persecution such as shooting, trapping, poaching and intentional poisoning -- all contribute to the decline of raptor populations in the wild.

Are raptors afforded legal protection in Peninsular Malaysia?

Currently, in Peninsular Malaysia, raptors are protected under the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Schedule One -- Protected Animals) (Schedule Two -- Totally Protected Animals)

What are some of the measures individuals can take to protect raptors and their habitats?

1. Eliminate the use of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides, which may end up in raptors' food chains.

2. Avoid using lead bullets in hunting or lead sinkers in fishing, as these may cause lead poisoning in raptors when it enters their food chain. There are many lead-free, non-toxic alternatives available these days.

3. If you live in an area where birds, especially raptors, are known to nest and breed, keep your cats and dogs indoors or at least put a belled collar on them, to reduce the possibility of them raiding nests and killing nestlings.

4. Be watchful when driving on mountain roads and forested areas where raptors have been seen. Raptors have been hurt or killed by cars when diving for prey or eating their prey on road shoulders.

5. Help create support for wildlife protection efforts. Volunteer your time, skills and resources for environmental and bird protection interest groups. Learn all you can and help raise awareness. Support efforts to keep forests intact and biologically diverse.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Furry Tales Dog-Themed Bento

With A Knick-Knack Paddy-Whack Give The Dog A Bone!


We're going for the KL Pooch Rescue Furry Tales Charity Dinner this Saturday, so a doggie-themed bento seemed appropriate and timely.

In the main compartment, nori doggie and kennel cut-outs rest on top of a 'bone' constructed out of buns. Cherry tomato "drumsticks" and broad beans fill up the remaining space. Carrot kennels on top of a fresh salad of cherry tomatoes, butterhead lettuce, celery sticks and broad beans occupy the compartment next to orange wedges bearing a black scottie dog cut-out.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

St. Patrick's Day Bento

La Fhéile Pádraig Shona Daoibh!

I know I'm early for St. Patrick's Day, but you can't go wrong with shamrocks, Guinness and a pot of gold! 

Everything stayed intact and in place even after the box was dropped, shoved into my backpack and unceremoniously deposited on top of my office pedestal cabinet. Hurrah for peanut butter.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Turtle Power at Berjaya Times Square

The Turtle Conservation Society (TCS) of Malaysia is a non-governmental conservation organisation established in Oct 2011 with the objective of conducting research on turtles, restoring the turtle population in Malaysia, cultivating concern for and awareness of turtles and terrapins and the challenges faced in protecting them, and providing consultancy and professional services in the fields of turtle conservation, management and research.

When TCS co-founder Pelf requested for volunteers to help out at the Berjaya Founder's Day event booth on Saturday, 22nd February, Aravind and I stepped up and offered our services as volunteers for this worthy cause.

I am going to reserve comment on the sincerity of and rationale behind corporate philanthropy here. The important thing is that TCS and many other worthy non-profit organisations, conservation groups, welfare homes and faith groups are in dire need of funds, and Berjaya Corporation had very kindly and generously made donations to these organisations in order that they may continue the good work that they do. SPCA Selangor and MNS were among the other recipients of much-needed funds.

I was quite astounded by the scale of, and amount of funds poured into, the said event. Not only were sizable donations made to the 74 charitable organisations, the entire 10th floor of Berjaya Times Square was dedicated to the said beneficiary organisations for one day so we could carry out our outreach, education and fundraising work.

We shared the 10th floor with other booths offering games and refreshments. Booklets of coupons were issued to Berjaya Corporation staff and beneficiaries to use at the food, games and merchandise booths.

Aravind and I received an entire booklet to share between ourselves, and I discovered, to my delight, tickets to the indoor theme park within the shopping mall. When we offered to volunteer, we expected nothing in return except the companionship of like-minded people. To be given this -- this tremendously generous booklet of food and merchandise vouchers and entrance passes to the theme park -- was just mind-blowing and something I am not used to.

Outreach and fundraising work during Berjaya Founder's Day. Aravind and I familiarising ourselves with turtle conservation literature and the membership forms when we arrived early in the morning.

The merchandise, membership and turtle adoption table.

Pewter turtle necklaces for sale, going for a song.

18 Species of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises in Malaysia. The ones Aravind and I adopted are River Terrapins.

What's the difference between sea turtles, terrapins and tortoises?

Sea turtles live in seawater. They cannot retract their heads and flippers into their shells. They are heavy and cannot lift their bodies off the ground when crawling.

Terrapins live in freshwater. They can be hard-shelled or soft-shelled. They usually have webbed feet. They can retract their heads and legs into their shells. They can lift their bodies off the ground when crawling.

Tortoises live on land in dry conditions. They have tough, thick shells and scales. They can lift their bodies off the ground when crawling.

One of the most uplifting and empowering children's books I have ever read -- Little Turtle Messenger, authored by Professor Chan Eng Heng and illustrated by Tan Yisin.

The Sea Turtle Nesting Process:
1. Landing on the beach.
2. Crawling up to the beach.
3. Body pitting.
4. Egg chambering.
5. Egg laying.
6. Covering the egg chamber with sand.
7. Sand bathing / camouflaging.
8. Returning to the sea.
9. Entering the sea.

Volunteers from three shifts congregate in the booth. The 10 a.m. volunteers are joined by the eager 12 noon volunteers who arrived early! TCS has such efficient volunteers! We made some new friends at the event, who we will no doubt meet again at future conservation events and trips.

Our booth was next to MNS' booth, and for some inexplicable reason, we were all wearing the same black Tapir logo shirt. Here we are, taking the obligatory photo with Rico the Tapir. I think I should wear the badges of MNS, TCS and SPCA all on the same shirt next time if I am going to duty-hop from one booth to the other.

Promoting the society and its educational and outreach materials.

TCS Co-Founder/Secretary Pelf and her Mum return after the cheque presentation ceremony. Now we can do so much more for the cause of river terrapin conservation!

After the arrival of the noon volunteers, Aravind and I were able to go on our lunch break. I was, of course, insistent about going to the theme park first, and Aravind was happy to oblige.

A view of the indoor theme park, with its scary and not-so-scary rides.

Nothing says "love" like repeatedly colliding with the Dodgem car your boyfriend is driving. I love Dodgem cars and I ride them at every opportunity I can get. 

I was initially excited about going on this ride. It's called the Dizzy Izzy. 30 seconds into it and I was convinced I was going to be flung out of my seat when the octopus "arms" tilted at an angle while spinning at high speed. 
"Okay, I have had enough of rides", I told Aravind, who was enjoying himself and asking me to "Feel the G-Force". Me, I'd be happy to just feel the ground beneath my feet again.

Lunch was obtained in exchange for coupons at the booths and stalls at the ground floor. We returned to the TCS booth after lunch to help out in the afternoon.

A very busy time at the booth, with the merchandise and books getting snapped up almost as soon as they are replenished from our stocks. I am glad that the visitors are getting to learn a little about turtle conservation even as they shop.

TCS volunteer Emily explaining turtle natural history to a mother and her two children. They were very interested, and may be joining the upcoming Turtle Discovery Trip.

Ways you can protect and help turtles and terrapins:
1. Learn all you can and share your knowledge.
2. Adopt a nest, turtle or terrapin.
3. When you are on a nesting beach, follow turtle-watching guidelines.
4. Reduce the use of plastic bags and packaging.
5. Pick up litter from the beach.
6. Support turtle conservation projects.
7. Do not purchase or consume turtle or terrapin eggs or meat.
8. Do not buy souvenirs made of turtle carapace or body parts.
9. Do not harass turtles and terrapins whether on land or in water.
10. Avoid restaurants that serve turtle meat or eggs.

For further information, please refer to the links below:

Mailing address:
Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia
56-2/1, Pangsapuri Cerong Lanjut,
Jalan Cerong Lanjut,
20300 Kuala Terengganu,