With many people staying home during the circuit breaker period from April 7 to June 1, some used their spare time to act as lookouts for nature projects.
This has not only made them appreciate the environment more, but also given them the chance to contribute valuable data on wildlife in Singapore.
One project that members of the public have been able to take part in is Singapore Nature Sightings, by the Nature Society Singapore (NSS).
Residents can upload and share their wildlife sightings via the iNaturalist app, where the built-in artificial intelligence feature or a community of experts can help to identify the wildlife spotted.
NSS said that valuable animal sightings were recorded during the circuit breaker period. These included the critically endangered straw-headed bulbul – heavily poached in the region for its melodious song.
Mr Kerry Pereira, an outreach officer at NSS, said: “This project showed us just how much biodiversity we have in our urban areas that goes unnoticed during the normal hustle and bustle of our daily lives.”
The project gathered 3,935 observations of 987 different species of flora and fauna during the circuit breaker. The three categories that made up the bulk of the sightings were plants, insects and birds.
Of the 987 species, 30 per cent were plants, including wildflowers.
Another 30 per cent were insects, while birds made up 10 per cent.
The remaining 30 per cent of the recorded observations were of a mix of fungi, reptiles, mammals, arachnids, amphibians and other wildlife.
One of the project’s contributors was Ms Patricia Lorenz, 52, a lecturer at Nanyang Technological University.
She contributed more than 500 wildlife observations during the circuit breaker period on a variety of birds, insects and reptiles.
Number of observations gathered by the Singapore Nature Sightings project during the circuit breaker.
Number of species of flora and fauna observed.
Proportion of observations that involved birds.
She went on daily walks around her neighbourhood in the Tanah Merah area to watch for and take photos of wildlife and then posted them on the iNaturalist app.
Ms Lorenz told The New Paper: “This project helped me to cope with loneliness and being cooped up at home during the circuit breaker because it gave me a purpose and I learnt a lot.”
The National Parks Board (NParks) also carried out its Stay-Home Birdwatching survey from May 12 to June 30 to gather records of bird sightings in residential areas.
Mr Lim Liang Jim, group director of NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre, told The New Paper: “In our efforts to transform Singapore into a city in nature, NParks has aimed to restore nature to our urban landscape and intensify greening efforts to attract and support native species of insects, birds and small mammals.”