New walk dates are out! [October]

Poster design and photo by Aw Jeanice
Poster design and photo by Aw Jeanice

Hi everyone! Here are the new walk dates for October – we hope you haven’t forgotten about us. We understand that the past week has been pretty gloomy; with the haze looming over our blue skies and infiltrating our healthy airspace, but what better way to cheer yourself up than with a good ol’ Nature walk? We hope that the haze situation will lighten up these coming weeks so we can all get out and enjoy the great outdoors again**.

We’ve been sighting some pretty amazing (and previously unseen) creatures for our past few walks, so don’t miss out and sign up now! šŸ˜€

Head over to our Eventbrite page here to register!

**NOTE: Walk will be cancelled if PSI is above 100 on walk day. All participants will be updated accordingly.

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Whale, whale, whale, what have we here?

A sperm whale recovered by the Lee Kong Chien Natural History Museum. Photos by (clockwise from left): Marcus Chua, Becky Lee, & Letchumi Mani

When a dead whale washed up on Jurong island on the 10th of July, 2015, nature enthusiasts across Singapore were shocked. When you think of Singapore’s marine life, many people would think of fish, crabs or maybe even sea turtles! But a whale? On our tiny island? Never!

But lo and behold, the first large whale carcass found in Singapore for over a hundred years had been found, and on Singapore’s jubilee year no less. The animalĀ itself is a 10.6m long female sperm whale, and it is the first confirmed sighting of its kind in our waters. While it is rather upsetting that the whale was found dead, its death shall not be in vain. As of time of writing, the whale itself is being salvaged by the Lee Kong Chien Natural History museum to be made into a display!

Photo of the old “Singapore Whale”. Photo from the International Year of Biodiversity Singapore

Older readers may remember the old “Singapore whale” that used to hang in the original Raffles Museum at Stamford Road. That specimen was actually recovered in Malacca, and was an impressive 13m long. In 1974, the whale was given toĀ Muzium Negara in Malaysia when the museum had to move to smaller premises. Today, the skeleton stands inĀ the Maritime Museum in Labuan, off Sabah.

The museum was never really quite the same without its awe-inspiring whale skeleton. Which is why the Lee Kong Chien Natural History Museum is calling for donations to do up a new display for the sperm whale!

Jubilee whale fund logo by the Lee Kong Chien Natural History Museum

The museum hopes to inspire future generations with this display, just like how the old Singapore whale fired up imaginations in the past. The display itself will a testament to the biodiversity education, research and conservation efforts by the museum, but to do so they need financial help.

If you are interested in donating, you can do so here! If you are interested in looking at the preservation and salvaging process of the whale, you can look at photos here. Finally, to learn more about the new and old whales, you can read up on them here.

We hope that you are as excited about the whale as we are! After all, we should always remember:

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Promotional art by Jacqueline Chua

Words by Jacqueline Chua

Clash of the Titans – Snakes at NTU!

Hey everyone! If you have not heard, last Thursday a king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) was found fighting a reticulated python(Broghammerus reticulatus) in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) (see the photo below by Abhishek Ambede!). The fight ended when the king cobra escaped into the bushes and NTU’s pest control unit captured the python. The python was released into the forest and the king cobra was caught later before it was sent to the zoo.

cobra vs python image
Photo by Abhishek Ambede

These two species of snakes are huge, with the king cobra being the world’s longest venomous snake1,2 (longest recorded length of 5.85m)2, and the reticulated python is the world’s longest snake (longest recorded length of more than 10m)3, making this truly a clash of titans. Find out more about the two snakes and what should you do when you encounter a snake below!

King cobra

king cobra_ecology asia
Photo by Nick Baker (EcologyAsia.com)

Like other cobras, king cobras are highly venomous1, and possibly due to their size, they have large venom glands that produce so much venom that even elephants have been known to die from king cobra bites2! The king cobra utilizes this venom to prey on other snakes and, occasionally, monitor lizards1. As for its distribution, the king cobra is found widely throughout both South and Southeast Asia and within Singapore the king cobra has been found in both our forested areas and urban areas2. Another unique feature of king cobras is that unlike other snakes, king cobras will use dead leaves to make a nest for their eggs and the female will guard the nest until they hatch1.

Reticulated python

python_ecology asia
Photo by Nick Baker (EcologyAsia.com)

Unlike the king cobra, the reticulated python is non-venomous but instead uses its large muscular body to constrict its prey, usually mammals, to death3. Similar to other pythons, the reticulated python possesses heat-sensing pits on its upper lips that helps it to find its warm-blooded prey1. The reticulated python is found throughout Southeast Asia and it is highly adaptable resulting it being found in a variety of habitats in Singapore like forests, mangroves and built up urban areas1. The reticulated python however is not seen regularly due to its nocturnal lifestyle1.

What should I do if I see a snake?

Snakes generally want nothing to do with humans so you might find that snakes would rather run from you than to attack you. As such, if you do see a snake, just maintain a respectful distance and give the snake room to escape. DO NOT approach the snake or attempt to capture it. If you feel the snake needs to be relocated or it is injured do call the Animal Concerns Research& Education Society’s (ACRES) animal rescue hotline at +65 9783 7782.

We would also suggest downloading the “Snakes of Singapore” app by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which is available for iOS and Andrioid, onto your phone so that you can identify any snakes you may see. If you would like to find out more about snakes, check out the Herpetological Society of Singapore’s (HSS) blog here: https://herpsocsg.wordpress.com/!

References

  1. Ng, P. K. L., Corlett, R., & Tan T. W. H. (2011). Singapore biodiversity: An encyclopaedia of the natural environment and sustainable development. Singapore: Didier Millet in association with Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
  2. Lim, K.K.P., Leong, T.M., & Lim, F.L.K. (2011). The king cobra, Ophiophagus hannah (Cantor) in Singapore (Reptilia: Squamata: Elapidae). Nature in Singapore 2011, 4, 143-156.
  3. Baker, N. (n.d.) EcologyAsia: Reticulated Python. Retrieved from: http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/snakes/reticulated_python.htm

Words by Lee Juin Bin