Prawns? Crabs? Fish? No, they’re not menu items in a Seafood restaurant, but some of the animals you can find living in our rivers! Yes, that’s right. Our rivers and its surrounding natural habitat are home to a wide variety of animals and insects and through the RIVER Ranger Programme, everyone can learn more about them as well as many other aspects of rivers.
But why would we want to know more about rivers?! Yes, yes, we know it’s the era of computers, tv, cars and shopping malls, but do you know where our most basic necessity, water, comes from? Well, 97% of our drinking water comes from our rivers! And if any of you have taken a look around lately, our rivers are not exactly in the best of health. Only 50% of our rivers remain ‘clean’ and many of our urban rivers have been straightened and channelised and developed right up to its banks. Let’s just say we’re sitting on the fence right now and we can either act now and do something about it or let the rest of our rivers perish.
The RIVER Ranger Programme is an environmental education programme developed by Global Environment Centre (GEC), which focuses on water and river management. Through the Programme, participants learn more about water and river related issues in Malaysia and what they can do to help. There is also a field component where they are taken to the nearest river and trained on how to be a ‘Young River Scientist’; they are taught how to take water samples and measure water quality using a very simple water testing kit, and most importantly, learn how to use bio-indicators as an indication of water quality. Most people have forgotten this aspect of rivers – that they are living entities and are home to all sorts of freshwater species. And it is not just special rivers that have life in it, ALL rivers in their natural environment support life. The problem now is that many rivers have been stripped of their natural environment which enables them to be alive.
Another interesting and simple activity in the RIVER Ranger Programme is the River Report Card. Basically it is a simple tool for everyone to use to assess the health of their river. It makes use of your eyes, ears and nose to observe what is going on around in your river’s environment. Is there a smell coming from the river? What colour is the water? Is there any development in the area? All these questions are important and at the end you add up your marks for each section to determine the health of your river.
Anyone can be trained as a RIVER Ranger. All you have to do is visit www.riverranger.my to find out more about the programme and get our contact details from there! We’re happy to train anyone who’s interested in taking care of our rivers. If you'd like to get a taste of being a RIVER Ranger, you can also download the River Report Card from the website and assess the health of the river nearest to you. Once you’ve got your score, email us your marks and score so that we can keep track of rivers that have been assessed! Your results will also be highlighted on the River Ranger Website for everyone to see!
Need more information? Contact our River Care team for more details!
Dr. K. Kalithasan (Coordinator - River Care Programme)