Saturday, June 02, 2007
SNAPSHOT – 4 SUNGEI BULOH WETLAND RESERVE
(Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve Entrance)
Many Singaporeans have heard of Sungei Buloh but many of them have not yet visited the place, including most of my colleagues at the company I work. We are all aviators but not all animal lovers. One weekend we set of on a trip to the North Western part of Singapore, mentioned in detail in Snapshot – 3, my previous post. Getting there by public transportation is the same as getting to Bollywood veggies, in fact, Sungei Buloh is the first stop on the bus after Kranji MRT.
(Monitor Lizards aplenty)
Sungei Buloh wetland reserve is the only place in Singapore where estuarine crocodiles exist. The park officials are not sure how many there are exactly and they are always looking for volunteers to help spot them. The trouble is, is that these animals are very elusive. What you will find in plenty, are birds, fish (mud fish in particular), during low tides, water monitor lizards and mosquitoes! It is a wetland reserve after all. Last time I saw plenty of mud fish was while taking a boat ride on the Malacca River in Malacca, Malaysia.
Sungei Buloh wetland reserve has a website that describes in detail about the park and its activities. A link with pictures about the Kranji bus service is also available on their site: http://www.sbwr.org.sg/
We did a lot of trekking through the park, on well marked and maintained trails. The park has put up enough observation shelters where one can “hide” and watch the wildlife in action. Wetland reserves are a very important part of the eco-system. In a steel and glass city state like Singapore, this is hardly what one expects but it is here all right, waiting for wildlife enthusiasts to come and leave behind only their footprints and nothing else please. We visited mid afternoon and thanks to the trees, shrubs and water all around, the heat wasn’t oppressive and there was plenty of natural shade on the walking trails.
(Did not see this guy, just the sign board warning that he is around)
I have to make repeated trips there for sure. My day will be made when I spot at least one croc in the wild here at the Sungei Buloh reserve. I’ve seen them everywhere else, but not here, not so far.
(Mud fish, posing for me)
Monitor lizards are found in good numbers in Singapore, even in Seletar Camp, a part of the Seletar Airport. A close encounter with one of them, a baby actually, got me to do some research and visit the Sungei Buloh wetland reserve. Apparently these creatures (Asian Monitors) were found all over Asia in the past, including India where they have now been reduced to almost nothing, population wise. India’s growing poachers, lack of will and general apathy has led to the decline of even the greatest of them all – the tiger. What chance does a monitor lizard have? Hunted for their meat and skins just as other species, they are marked for extinction there. Interestingly, they don’t figure on the endangered species list either.
A general tip: wear loose clothing, full arm if possible and ensure that you have drinking water, mozzie spray and sunblock if you are prone to burning up easily. It is a good idea anyway.
(Monitor basking on an incline)
(Part of the reserve from the Tower)
(One of the Observation Towers)
The visitor center has a museum of sorts, and class rooms where educational programs are conducted about the reserve. The area around the visitor center is literally crawling with Monitor lizards and some of them are really big.
(Monitor who chased people! Never seen that before!)
When leaving the reserve, we saw a big monitor, like Godzilla, charge a group of visitors and sent them running on the boardwalk, screaming. It was a mock charge of course, it’s their territory and they don’t want us invading, for sure. For my close encounter with what’s almost certain to be our mascot, a baby monitor at Seletar, that’s a short post coming up in a couple of days.