From The Straits Times    |

Credit: Lawrence Teo

Would you dedicate your life to conserving the planet and the creatures that inhabit this planet? In this five-part series from our June 2022 print story ‘Call Of The Wild”, we spotlight five inspiring women who are championing wildlife conservation efforts in Singapore.

Kong Man Jing (Biogirlmj), 28, Nature and Wildlife Influencer @justkeepthinkingsg

A college field trip to St John’s Island when she was 17 years old sparked Man Jing’s (or MJ as she is known) great love for wildlife. Fascinated by the countless animals she discovered – most of which she did not even know lived in Singapore – she realised that she wanted to share her passion with fellow Singaporeans. So in 2019, she launched an Instagram channel called @justkeepthinkingsg, dedicated to educating the public about nature and wildlife. Dubbing herself “BiogirlMJ”, the NUS life sciences graduate now has a following of around 14,000. Her videos are quirky, fun and engaging, kind of like who she is in real life.

Her casual, girl-next-door style has endeared her to the audience, who has been lapping up every bite-sized info she churns out, from her first video about the Baya bird nest on Coney Island to her exploration of various forests and nature reserves. She even inspired young fans to follow in her footsteps – one is now filming and hosting his own amateur wildlife videos, while another started and helms a nature club in school.

A knobbly sea star. Photo: Kong Man Jing / Just Keep Thinking

But it was not always like this. When MJ first started the channel – which she runs with her 32-year-old fiance and videographer, Raye Ng – she did not get any support from the science and nature community, who thought that her presentation style was not doing science any justice.

“They see me do candid videos and use brief infographics with no jargon and to them, it’s not the way science should be. So I got a lot of criticism – even my own mentor wasn’t very supportive. That was a bit hard to take. When non-nature lovers liked my channel and content because they were learning a lot, and when industries started to invite me to be on discussion panels to share about how we use social media to communicate science, that’s when they became more supportive of the channel,” she adds.

Man Jing leading an intertidal tour at Changi Beach. Photo: Kong Man Jing / Just Keep Thinking

Now that she is making waves in the nature and wildlife space, MJ would like to expand her activities offline too, such as organising more workshops, planning more hands-on activities, and leading more guided tours across the island (currently, she only does intertidal tours to Changi Beach). Ultimately, she wants people to understand wildlife, and to live in harmony with it. “People want nature and greenery, but they don’t want the other things that come with it, which can’t be possible because if we want nature, we will also bring some animals closer to us. So I hope people can compromise, because we cannot protect what we don’t love, and we cannot love what we don’t know.”

Kong Man Jing. Image credit: Lawrence Teo

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