Earth Day: Our Ecosystem Is Like Jenga, Says "Wild" Child
STORY: Amanda Lee
22 April 2021
To commemorate Earth Day (22 Apr), an annual event to demonstrate support for environmental protection, we throw the spotlight on a 23-year-old who is on a mission to spread awareness of wildlife conservation one amazing photograph at a time.
Now, when it comes to a job, not many of us can say that we love what we do and do what we love.
Isaac Sim is one of the lucky ones. The wildlife photographer and educator holds not one, but two jobs in the name of pursuing his passion of spreading awareness of wildlife conservation.
First, there’s his day job at Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), where he facilitates day and overnight camps and school programmes within the WRS parks (the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and the River Safari) - these provide meaningful and memorable wildlife experiences to students.
"This includes school guided tours, behind-the-scenes experiences, day and overnight camps, and sometimes animal encounters where guests can get up close with certain animals too," says Isaac.
"The aim of our programmes is to grow an appreciation for nature and inspire all our guests to value and conserve biodiversity."
Then, there’s his second day job at Outdoor School Singapore which sees him taking children (those who are from nursery to lower primary) on specially curated outdoor adventures conducted at nature reserves and parks. The aim: to teach the kids about nature and wildlife as well as the importance of basic survival skills and risk-taking, and help develop their motor skills and raise their ecological awareness through outdoor learning.
Talk about someone who’s answered the call of (Mother) Nature!
Isaac, when did this passion of yours start?
When I first started diving, I would bring a GoPro with me so I could show my friends and family what I’d seen every time I went underwater, and it kind of stemmed from there, as I realised I had the tools and means to spread awareness of the rich biodiversity we have.
I’ve loved animals for as long as I could remember. I used to go to the zoo almost every week with my family on an annual membership. I think that could have influenced my love and passion for animals as well.
Why is wildlife conservation so important?
Animals are fellow inhabitants on earth. They are fully self-aware and conscious living things just like we are. They exist for a reason and each has a part to play in our ecosystem.
Conservation is not just solely about loving or saving animals, but it is also about preserving humanity. Everything that happens in the world is linked and is like a game of Jenga - whenever you remove a species, you remove a block, and there will come a point when you take too many blocks out and everything will crumble.
Everything we do will have an impact on future generations though we may not feel the immediate effects of it.
However, if we continue to turn a blind eye, our children or grandchildren might one day only be able to see coral reefs in picture books, or never experience what clean air is like because we would have wiped out all the earth’s forests by then, or only get to see what a lion looks like in a Natural History Museum or on television.
Only good will come out of caring for wildlife, and there is no better time than now to do so.
What’s your favourite animal?
Elephants, for sure! They are such gentle, intelligent, emotional animals and seem to have a consciousness of their own. Besides them, my other favourite would be snakes.
These are Wagler’s Pit Vipers. The green one is male, the yellow and black one is female. They are calm, slow-moving snakes, often seen chilling on branches in forested areas such as central catchment reserves, waiting for food to come by before they strike.
Interesting fact: Males and females are both green when young. As the females mature, they slowly transition from green to a striking black and yellow. Females also grow much larger than the males.
If you encounter a snake, keep a safe distance. They are very slow moving and won't leave their branch unless disturbed.
We hear you have a “secret project” in the works!
I have an upcoming apparel line called The Undergrowth Collection. I was fortunate to have started this with my fiancé and friend. The main designs of the apparel will be derived from my very own photographs of Singapore wildlife.
We are planning to partner with Yume.co as our supplier and a percentage of the proceeds from sales of the apparel will be donated to wildlife groups such as ACRES Singapore.