WHEN Mr Foo Jit Leang started a butterfly garden two years ago, he wanted to show that wildlife can thrive next to a golf course.
Today, the butterfly garden at Seletar Country Club, where the 65-year-old is a member, is home to over 90 species of butterflies, 58 species of moths and other fauna such as birds and dragonflies.
Some butterfly species spotted in the garden include the Painted Jezebel, which can be found in both urban and forested areas, and the Common Rose, which has red spots on its hindwings.
The Common Rose was named Singapore's national butterfly in a recent contest held by Nature Society (Singapore).
"Golf courses are scenic green spaces but they are notorious for being environmentally unfriendly. We (started with) butterflies as they are probably the most beautiful creatures," said Mr Foo.
Tours are conducted at the garden for students and teachers to learn more about butterflies and biodiversity.
The idea to set up a garden was first mooted by the club's chairman in 2012 after sightings of otters and masked lapwing birds at the club, which sits atop a hill and overlooks Lower Seletar Reservoir and the Strait of Johor.
He then asked Mr Foo to look into setting up pockets of native areas within the club's premises, which spans a 6,364m-long golf course. Mr Foo read up on butterflies and sought advice from nature experts about the right kinds of host plants to be planted.
Today, the garden, about half the size of a football field, has about 30 host plants, including the Aristolochia acuminata. More commonly known as the Dutchman's Pipe, the plant attracts the Common Rose butterfly.
Strix Wildlife Consultancy director Subaraj Rajathurai said: "Having a butterfly garden is an opportunity for the club to show it can have a golf course and also share the space with wildlife."
Nature Society president Shawn Lum said mobile creatures such as butterflies are limited by the number of liveable habitats available and the distance of these pockets of habitat from one another. "As the amount of habitat available determines the population size of butterflies, the creation of new butterfly gardens serves to extend pockets of good butterfly habitat into new areas," he said.
Mr Foo said his love for nature sprung from his childhood days spent in a kampung. "We reared our own chickens and grew vegetables... Even when I was studying at a university in Canada, I spent many long weekends enjoying the wilderness in the four seasons."
This article was first published on June 8, 2015.
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