On Saturday (19 Nov 2011) morning, I decided to go for one of the guided walks conducted by NParks at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, along the South View path.
First up, we were introduced to the trees next to the Visitor Centre – the Belinjau. Apparently, the seed of the fruit is squashed, and then fried to make the Belinjau keropok that people like to eat, and has a bitter taste. It was fruiting that day!
There were two of these trees next to each other; one was fruiting and the other was not. Turns out that the one that was fruiting is the female, while the other was the male!
Right after that, a colugo was spotted hanging on a branch on the male tree!
The colugo was a female, due to its grey-ish coat. Males have a more reddish-brown coat. The Malayan Colugo, also known as Flying Lemur, is a native of Singapore! Found commonly in the Mandai area as well as other forested areas, it is often mistaken to be a bat. It does not actually fly; instead, it has a piece of skin membrane (patagium) joining the “shoulder blade to the tip of the outer forelimb, then back to the tip of the toes and the tail” (http://www.mapoflife.org/topics/topic_343_Gliding-mammals/). It is a nocturnal animal, hence was trying its best to sleep while we were busy snapping photos of it.
That was essentially the highlight of the walk, as the rest of it mainly featured plants. Not that plants are any lesser than animals; however, you cannot deny the charisma of animals is much greater than that of plants!
Charismatic plants seem to be those that are large. Deciduous hardwoods like the Dipterocarps, our $5-note-tree the Tembusu, the Changi tree and many others whose names I unfortunately cannot remember, were introduced to us along the path. We found out that many areas of Singapore were named after trees, e.g. Changi, Tampines, Geylang and Kranji.
The kids seemed to be getting restless, so the walk ended pretty quickly, while others were complaining about how it was rather long and tiring. I guess Singaporeans are too used to escalators and lifts that most cannot stand prolonged walking, especially in the outdoors! A real tragedy I think. But that’s a post for another day. On the more positive side, most were keen to continue on to the summit, and enquired about guided walks to other wild places like Chek Jawa (and lamented over the constantly full bookings for the NParks walks)! 🙂
In the afternoon I headed over to the National Geographic Store at Vivocity to listen to Jeffrey Low from NParks talk about our Singapore corals! There was a pretty big turnout (:
The talk mainly addressed the question of Singapore having marine life, as well as what people are doing about our marine biodiversity, and how the public can help. The audience were awed by his wonderful photos of fishes, nudibranches, turtles and other sea critters! Hopefully, they will be convinced of Singapore’s high biodiversity value.
I did wonder though, whether he was “preaching to the converted”, i.e. people who already know of our reefs and marine biodiversity. In any case, I’m sure all present took home valuable knowledge about our natural history.
Unfortunately, I had to leave early. But I had a great day today (: Aiming to spend most of Saturdays like that.
Next week, Debby Ng from Hantu Bloggers will be giving a talk at the NatGeo store as well on Pulau Hantu at 2pm. Do make your way down!