Never Stop Exploring – Bulim Forest

The Bulim/Tengah forest will soon be gone – converted into another block and block of flats and condominium. So before it is gone forever, I went down with some friends to have one last look and also first look at the place.

First thing that strike me when I entered the place was its sheer size. From the main road, it looks just like any small patch of forest but once in, we were like Oh Wow! Just take a look at these photos:

As I understand, these place used to be a kampung before the villagers were resettled in the Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Batok areas and the SAF took over the place for the army training. Hence, the nice wide paths that criss cross the entire area.

There is supposed to be a small stream but we didn’t manage to locate it. Instead what we saw was this little longkang which I understood was a lifeline for the people there during the second world war.

This stream and all the mini waterways there eventually leads to this new longkang.

While we were there, we observed many birds including a large flock of Long tailed Parakeets and many other smaller forest birds. We also spotted Brahminy Kite and White Bellied Sea Eagle flying overhead.

A rather beautiful place to admire Mother Nature and admire its beauty. Sadly scene like these will disappear soon as the crazy Gahmen continues on its relentless quest to concrete the whole of Singapore.

When is a footpath a footpath?

There is this car park in Pasir Ris that is heavily utilized by the people fishing at the fishing pond; the residents of the surrounding HDB flats and visitors to the White Sands Shopping Mall. It is especially busy during peak hours in the evening and even more so on Friday and Sunday evenings where parents pick up/dropped off their sons to/from Tekong.

The carpark serves as shortcut to pedestrians from the MRT station to Pasir Ris Drive 1 and beyond. And inevitably everyone walk on the carpark itself notwithstanding that there is a footpath between the row of parked cars and the pond. 
Oh wait, did I just said footpath?Apparently it seems that not all footpath are “footpath”. When I sent the feedback via OneService App, it was to ask that something be done to prevent the rear of the parked vehicles intruding into the footpath and thus forcing pedestrians to walk on the car park among the moving cars. Like what this photo shows.

Simple query and to me a simple conclusion. Just install railings along the footpath or car stopper on the lot. Problem solved. But not so it seems.

A friendly guy from HDB called me and informed that that is not a footpath but a drain cover. And because it is not a footpath, they cannot do anything. Stunned by the answer – I asked him what is the definition of a footpath. Apparently, a footpath is a footpath only if it leads to a HDB block or some building and since this one leads to the park and the road it does not count as a footpath.

So now we know. A path that is clearly a path is not necessarily a footpath. Maybe just like a train breakdown is not a breakdown but a signaling fault and a flooding is not a flood but a ponding!

Noisy Children put down

SINKAPORE — The authorities have put down children that had been running freely around Thoming View and Blocks 666 to 888 Sin Ning Avenue, after receiving complaints about the noise they made.

In response to TOOTDAY’s queries — following reports of the move by the media — the People Vetting Authority of Singapore (PVA) said that it received 20 complaints from residents about the children last year, most of them related to noise.

The children were probably from the nearby HDB area, and TOOTDAY understands the children euthanised were not the elite from the nearby private estates and who have been identified as an endangered species.

“The HDB children were humanely euthanised, as relocation options are not available in land-scarce Sinkapore,” said an PVA spokesperson yesterday.

The spokesperson also noted that the authority “conducts surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues”.

It would also carry out checks on private residential premises in response to feedback on the keeping of children, to determine if they are kept in accordance with its guidelines.

Under the PVA’s Humane Act, people are not allowed to have more than 10 residents, including children, in private residential premises.

“PVA will take enforcement action on owners who have more than 10 residents. We will also advise owners on responsible ownership, and to adopt measures that would help mitigate noise nuisances caused by children,” said the spokesperson.

TOOTDAY’s interviews with 10 residents at Sin Ning Avenue yesterday drew a mixed response, with seven lamenting the children’s demise, while three felt that the children were indeed noisy.

Polytechnic student Ai Tachek, 18, said he had been hearing the children’s noise since he was a little boy, but they had never bothered him or his family.

“I don’t have any complaints about them,” he told TOOTDAY as he and several friends tried to take a picture of a shouting child perched on a playground.

Housekeeper Wah Chin Sat, 62, expressed disappointment when told of the news, adding: “It’s so nice to see them, with the little toddlers following them. The kindergarten (even) brings their children here sometimes to play with them.”

Ms Love Kee, who has lived in the area for about 20 years, said neither the children nor their noise bothered her. “I think it’s sometimes quite cute to see them. It’s quite like the kampung days,” said the 36-year-old, who works in the real estate industry.

For taxi driver Tan Gin Nak , 63, the children are “quite interesting” and “make the place more colourful and lively”.

However, 63-year-old Ms Buah Tah Han was among those residents who said they were not fond of the children.

“The noise and they run! I can hear them so noisy early in the morning … and obviously I don’t like them,” said Ms Buah Tah Han, who works in customer service.

Expressing similar sentiments, a 71-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Early in the morning, (they are) running, sometimes in the afternoon … I think they should be removed, because they disturb the environment. Sometimes, in the evening, they keep on shouting, making a nuisance (of themselves).”

Although the children did not really bother Ms Boh Chap, 40, she still felt that they should be removed.

“It’s sad to know (that the children had been put down), but I think it’s good to actually put some of them down. If not, the population will get bigger and bigger, and it has to be controlled,” said Ms Boh, who also works in customer service.

The National People Board is also mulling over a similar move, but for a different reason: concerns that the children may interbreed with their endangered neighbours, the elite.

“Growth in HDB children populations increases the potential of interbreeding with the elite from the private estate and will adversely affect the conservation of our elite species,” Dr Atas Lim, group director of NPeople National Biodiversity Centre, told The Straight Times.

Dr Ai So Rick, founding president of the People Society (Sinkapore), said that with rapid interbreeding, the elite human will be reduced and be replaced by lower caste.

NPeople will be partnering the local conservation community to strengthen the protection of the elite..

Dr Lim said: “This includes monitoring the overall elite distribution and population size, studying the extent of interbreeding and managing the population of HDB children.”

Though they may look similar, the elite has a number of distinct traits that set it apart from HDB children. The purebred elite have bigger pockets, whereas HDB children mostly have skinny legs. While HDB children sport grubby clothing, elite children do not.

Elite, unlike HDB children, can read and are quieter. Their noise is pitch perfect and tinkled

The authorities said elite children are known to occur only in private estates.

Ms Cull Or, PVA group director of the human management group, said the authority has received requests to manage the HDB children population due to noise pollution.

“To address these, PVA works with NPeople to conduct surveillance and control operations to safeguard public health and mitigate nuisance issues,” she said.

Last year, PVA received reports from residents of Pasai Ris and Thoming about the noise from HDB children. Due to a lack of relocation options in land-scarce Singapore, the children will be humanely euthanised, Ms Or said.

Who afraid of Dog & Cat?

This irrational fear of dog and cat. Seriously it leaves me baffled. Sure nobody has to like them if they don’t want to but to fear them?

Look at this cat.How can someone fear a creature that looks so beautiful? And yet many many times I see people especially ladies screaming in shock and fear when a cat walk between their chairs at the food centre.

Look at this dog. Does it look like it will bite anyone? And yet I see people giving dogs like this a wide berth when they pass them by.

So I am highly perturbed when people talk about their fear of dogs and cats. Take this post from the Archbishop  on his Instagram on this stray cat found in their premises. And I quote “Now we are looking for someone to adopt her as some of the staff here are afraid of cats”  What are the staff afraid of? “If anything, it should be the cat that should be afraid of the human considering what it had been through to be in the stage that it had been found..

And these paranoid people about dogs in lifts: “Several families, particularly those with young children, had raised concerns about safety when there were big dogs using the lifts.TNP 3 December 2016. Safety around dogs? So far I have never heard of any body being attacked by a dog in a lift but I have heard of many cases where people have been rob, molested, and attacked by other people in lifts. So maybe we should ban people from taking lift too? 

Fact is most animals don’t attack human being unless provoked. So a cat will only scratch someone if say that person pulls his tail or hit it although I dare say, most time the cat will try to escape first. Dog especially the smaller breed will similarly not bit without provocation. Usually when they go near someone, it is because they are curious and want to be pat. The thing with dog is – don’t touch it unless the owner says it is ok.

But this letter writer takes the cake. Sure there are dog poo around my places and my neighbor’s  dogs bark whenever somebody walk by their door. But dog poo and barking is the least of my problem in my estate. Almost every day, I have to contend with this group of kids dashing up and down the staircase and corridors and in the playground screaming and shouting. Then there are the smoke and noise from a group of people who hang around the void deck every night chatting into the early hours. And the parents and guardians of the children at the playground inevitably leaves behind a lot of litters. Do I then ask for these people to be banned?

When I walk my little dog, I do not board the lift if there is someone already inside. I simply wait for the next lift. And the noise from the kids? Actually I like it very much. The sound of children at play is probably one of the most beautiful sound in the world and we should never ever complain that they are a nuisance. The others I can’t do much but just tolerate it as we do not live in isolation and we got to take the good and the bad that comes from living in a vibrant and alive community.

The thing is, we need to learn to live and let live. Sure we may be inconvenienced at time but that’s life. And if one cannot live with poo, barking, litter and what not, maybe that person should move to a deserted island away from the rest of the world. Oh but wait, there may be wild animals and other creepy crawlies on deserted island and which are definitely worse than dog and cats.

Illegal Fishing at Sungei Tampines

This morning while out running at Pasir Ris Park, observed a man kayaking on Sungei Tampines. Noticed he stopped his kayak somewhere on the left bank near the river mouth and he pulled up a drift net. Went over to take a look. There were 3 men who appeared to have cleared a small patch of the vegetation and set up a rest corner and launch area for their fishing. There were 2 drift nets hung up to dry between the trees. Scattered around were some chairs, boxes and even a hammock.

Drift nets not only catches fish indiscriminately but will also trap the many birds that thrive in Pasir Ris Park that feeds on the fish in the rivers such as the heron, egrets and kingfishers. Even the water monitor lizard and otters can be trapped  in the almost invisible net and will drown.

This is Sungei Tampines flowing out to the sea looking from the bridge between Park A & Park B

Noticed the yellow kayak on the left of the photo just below the vegetation

Crossing the bridge from Downtown East side, the entrance to the clearing is on the right of the bridge and just after the short path on the far left of the photo

The entrance through this small break in the vegetation

Inside the clearing the fishermen has erected shelters and other amenities

There is a net hanging up to dry between the trees. Zoom in on the photo to see it clearly. It just goes to show how invisible the net is and how unsuspecting animals such as otters and monitor lizard can be caught in it. And if it is left hanging at night, bats and other night birds and even civet cats can be trapped while moving through the vegetation.

This has been reported through the One Service app and hopefully swift action will be taken by the appropriate department soon although I am not hopeful knowing how unresponsive our government agencies can be where it does not concern loss of human life

#Nparks #acres #nea#naturesocietysingapore #notodriftnet #keepourottersafe#otterwatchsingapore

Crocodiles, Dragons & Lizard!

I almost choked on my peanut butter pork floss sandwich when I heard the news that water sport activities at the Sports Hub and Kallang area has been suspended due to the reported sighting of crocodiles! My, how exciting! Was my first thought. First the otter, now crocodile. Singapore is getting to be a real jungle. Maybe the crocodile was tracking the Marine Otters and followed it all the way there. I was all ready to grab my camera and rush down there to catch a glimpse of the newest competition to the Merlion until Commonsense slapped me in the face and told me “Get real. it is just a monitor lizard”. And disappointingly for all the buayas out there, it was indeed just a monitor lizard.

This is not the first time that some goondu of a public mistake a monitor lizard for something else – like the crocodile and even more amusingly, a Komodo Dragon and create a mountain out of a lizard hill. Think this people watch too much National Geographic or Discovery Channels which loves to feature these 2 big reptiles and not the humble little monitor lizard.

So for these goondu out there. Let me educate you a bit.

Fact No 1. Singapore is home to 2 species of monitor lizard, the Water Monitor Lizard and Clouded Monitor Lizard. I not going to teach anyone how to differentiate between these 2. Suffice to say if one cannot differentiate between a monitor lizard and a crocodile or komodo dragon, the fella will never ever be able to differentiate between the 2 lizards.

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

Fact No 2. There are only 1 species of crocodile resident in Singapore currently and this is the Estuarine Crocodile. There was a time not too long ago when it was rarely seen in Singapore but nowadays it is fairly easy to spot a few of them at Sungai Buloh Wetland Reserve and maybe the river banks around the Kranji area.

Juvenile Estuarine Crocodile

Juvenile Estuarine Crocodile

Fact No 3. Hold on to your seat. Contrary to what other people said, there are Komodo Dragon in Singapore and they can be found only in one place in Singapore. In Mandai inside the Singapore Zoo! Hahaha. So if some joker tell you they saw a Komodo Dragon in say Sungei Tampines or Kallang River, nah… it can’t be unless 1) it escaped from the zoo (highly unlikely) 2) it was somebody pet and escaped or was released (possible but still quite unlikely and 3) it swam over from Indonesia’s Komodo Island (possible but very unlikely).

Komodo Dragon

Komodo Dragon

Take a good look at these 3 photos above. I agree the monitor lizard do looks a little like the Komodo Dragon and a blur king, might not be able to tell them apart. So just remember Fact no 3. The only Komodo Dragon in Singapore are in the zoo so whatever it is you see, it is not a Komodo Dragon.

Ok so we eliminate the possibility of someone mistaking a monitor lizard for a Komodo Dragon. But how does one not know how to differentiate between a monitor lizard and a crocodile which looks totally different? Just look at the 2 photos above of each of them. Totally different right? But me think people usually can tell them apart if they are on land but not when swimming. And both are great swimmers. Here how to tell them apart.

This is a photograph of a crocodile swimming at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. Note that only the eyes are visible above the water. Typically when a crocodile swims, only its eyes, nostril and part of its back and tail is above the water. Everything else is submerge below the water line.

Estuarine Crocodile

Estuarine Crocodile

Contrast this with a monitor lizard in water and which is a fairly common sight in our inland “canals” or even ponds. This is a photo of one of them. Note that almost the whole head is above water.

Monitor Lizard

Monitor Lizard

So the next time you spot something longish swimming in the canal near your place, take a closer look before you call your mummy, the cops, Nparks or ACRES. 

And by the way, if you see this in our water as well, please be aware this is not a shark! As to what it is, I will leave that story for another time.nec_3212