The Wild Side of Singapore
30.06.2017 32 °C
I told Wim I was going to post about wildlife, and guess what he says...” I don’t think people can relate to your enthusiasm.” But I know you can! How could you not? I mean, just look at these most awesome Singaporean birds:
Just after our arrival, I was taking Mogli for a walk in between high rises when I noticed something black and slithery underneath him. It was a three foot, black snake with a hood. But, but... we were in the middle of the city... in between huge high-rises... so it couldn't be a poisonous snake. I mean, poisonous snakes only live in the green jungle, right? Not the concrete jungle. My logic was strong... but nevertheless I made a note to myself to look it up when I got home. To my great surprise, the snake I had seen matched the description of a Spitting Cobra!!! Luckily, this had been a young one so it didn't know to spit blinding, fiery poison into Mogli's eyeballs.
Different dog, different snake, same story
On of the big reasons we chose to live in our current area was because there’s a beautiful park nearby. It’s an old colonial fort with charming pathways that meander through the mighty jungle; its delicious droopy green lushness protecting you from the tropical rain and the equatorial sun. Its symphonic cicadas and calling orioles, its all encompassing heat and humidity, its intertwining vines and massive bird nest ferns covered in dew… so lovely. However, every time we took Mogli there, he started agitatedly hopping around and biting his feet. I thought that he was just being dramatic until I stuck my eyeball, bird style, right up next to the ground and realized that there were ginormous, red jungle ants with wrench-like jaws scurrying everywhere! And they were exactly the same color as the red brick path (coincidence? I think not). And there they were trying to carry off bits of his toes to their young! We quickly ran home and I made him some tuna/yogurt popsicles.
Magical Fort Canning
For a tiny populous island, Singapore is an immensely green city. By 2030, the government wants 85% of Singaporeans to live within half a kilometer of a park. At present, there are 300 parks and 4 nature reserves; which is pretty good for a measly 720 km² country. In these parks, you can find cool animals like four-foot monitor lizards, hornbills, sunbirds, snakes, otters, skinks, crocodiles, and a great assortment of off-the-wall insects. When you see some of these insects, your first thought is, ”that exists?”
Clockwise: sunbird fledgling, mega spider, mealy bug (it exsists), fun caterpillar, skink
One of the many beautiful parks
We have a squeaky family of otters living in the river outside of our condo... much to Mogli's delight and to the delight of the local otter fanclub. Smooth-coated Otters became extinct in Singapore in the 1970s (the otter family moved to across the straight to Malaysia) and so everyone got very excited when they moved back recently, becoming extant once again. More recently there are even two rival otter gangs, the asshole Bishan otters and our local Singapore River Otters. It's pretty much like any run of the mill gang activity you find anywhere. They've got territories and they try to expand. When push comes to shove, things get ugly and they end up in the newspaper. Recently, an article in the major newspaper told about the Bishan otters coming up river to kick out the Singapore River otters. However, the ever-present crowd of otter watchers jumped in between the two families in order to protect the Singapore River Otter with their pups, sparking a heated debate about human intervention in natural processes. This level of drama is seldom seen in the streets of Singapore.
Otter fan club
Smooth-coated Otters of the Singapore River
There are also turtles, fish and the White-bellied Sea Eagle, with a 2.2 meter wingspan that hunts for fish right outside our window... much to Kiwi’s horror.
White-bellied Sea Eagle
We also have monitor lizards sprinkled plentifully around the island.
Malay Water Monitor at the Botanic Gardens
The best thing to do on a Saturday morning is grab a coffee and go watch the Macaques in any of the nature reserves. These guys are so playful and they'll steal your things if you're not careful! They hang out next to hiking paths and groom each other, waiting for a hiker to come along with a snack so that they can scare them into dropping it. Evidently this works out pretty well for them, as there are discarded candy wrappers, torn apart plastic bags, and fruit peels strewn about their hangout spot. Next to the parks, you also find that many of the houses have iron bars on their windows. Those aren’t for human criminals, those are to stop monkeys from breaking and entering. This is Singapore after all...
It's tempting to feed these cuties, but they have to euthanize them if they get too food aggressive. Feeding monkeys = murdering monkeys
The flora here is also amazing. Flowers and fruits everywhere, trees growing on trees and leaves bigger than my entire body!
Top: Fish Killer Tree, Bottom left: tree growing on tree!, Bottom right: Elephant ear taro
They even have an art museum made entirely out of plants:
Cloud Forest, Gardens by the Bay
Ok, one last lizard pic:
Long lost lizard brothers reuniting
I promise to write about humans next time.