Tag Archives: singapore biodiversity

Full moon is here!

The time of the year that the moon is at its brightest, roundest and fullest has finally come! Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival, one of the loveliest Chinese festivals. For Chinese families, it’s a day for family gathering, moon-gazing and of course, indulging in delicious mooncakes.

When it comes to Mid-Autumn Festival, what comes to your mind must be mooncakes, lanterns, and (maybe) the legends related to it. However, this post is not going to be about any of them! Because today, October 4th, is also World Animal Day! World Animal Day is a social movement which aims to raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe, making the world a better place for all animals (find out more here: https://www.worldanimalday.org.uk/). So, to celebrate both the Mid-Autumn Festival and World Animal Day, let us tell you about the story of the moon and the animals associated with it ~

Chapter 1: The Time Keeper

Most animals, including humans, have bodily rhythms governed by the sun. However, the moon also controls several mysterious circadian clocks in many animals, both marine and land, and especially nocturnal creatures.

How does the moon clock work? The moon provides time cues to animals via two ways: changes in moonlight and tides. These two environmental cycles are the result of the lunar cycle (the number of days required for the Moon to orbit around the Earth) and the lunar day (the number of hours required for the Moon to travel by the same spot on Earth). These environmental changes can be perceived by animals and plants, cueing them to behave in certain ways and perform certain activities at certain timings to survive in the wild.

During full moon, corals are all ready to make babies

For hundreds of species of corals, the full moon sets the great atmosphere for lovemaking. Corals keep close watch for changes in moonlight. As the full moon arrives, corals release huge amounts of eggs and sperm into the water at the same time – a mass-spawning event and one at the most massive scale on Earth. This mass coral spawning event just happened in Singapore in April 2017!

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Coral spawning in Singapore (Source: The Straits Times/ NParks; http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/mass-coral-spawning-less-intense-this-year)

Researchers had found that corals are able to perceive the blue region of the visible light spectrum and are extremely sensitive to the spectra that match that of the blue moonlight. By synchronizing spawning, the free-floating sperm and eggs have a higher chance to come into contact with one another and undergo fertilisation in the vast ocean. This lovemaking event always occurs on or near a full moon.

Turtles ride waves onto shore during high tide to lay eggs

While the moonlight tells corals when to spawn, tidal changes inform sea turtles on when to lay their eggs. Females of most species come ashore at night during high tide to lay their eggs on the beach.

Light changes during the lunar cycle not only represent time cues to many species, but also affect the animals’ use of senses.

Chapter 2:  The Compass

Not only do species rely on moonlight to tell time, some also use the moon to navigate their way to find food and go back home!

“Just keep walking, just keep walking”

Under a dark night sky, newly hatched baby sea turtles depend on moonlight reflecting off the ocean surface to guide them toward the sea. Just in August, 32 Hawksbill turtle hatchlings were sighted at Each Coast Park, trying to find their way to the sea!

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Hawksbill turtle hatchling at East Coast Park in August (Source: NParks Facebook)

Besides sea turtles, dung beetles also use polarized moonlight as a compass to roll its ball of poop in a straight line in order to escape competitors.

Chapter 3: A fine dinner under the moonlight

Dining under the moonlight may be a romantic scene to us, but how is it like in the animal kingdom?

Let’s play hide and seek

Full moons shine extra light onto the landscape. Many predators in the animal kingdom take advantage of this, and find it easier to spot and hunt their prey. Nightjars and owls were found to be more efficient in foraging when there is moonlight, and avoid activity at dark nights. It may seem that predators have an edge as the moon brightens. However, many prey have also stepped up their game. During bright nights, prey dramatically reduce their night activity and go into hiding. There are also prey which find it easier to detect and evade predators, and are daring enough to increase activity levels. Doodlebugs, the larvae of dragonfly-like insects called antlions, dig bigger holes to trap insect prey during full moon nights as the prey are more active.

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Antlion larva (Source: http://somethingscrawlinginmyhair.com/2012/11/28/ant-lion-from-larva-to-adult/)

Chapter 4: Losing the moonlight

Light is important to both humans and wildlife. Lightbulbs are seen as one of the greatest inventions of all time. However, in today’s world, our use of light has become so excessive that it is disrupting the natural patterns of light and dark, altering the behaviour of wildlife and functions of ecosystems. The baby sea turtles found at East Coast Park were found to be circling on the beach. The bright streetlights were distracting the hatchlings, and they were unable to follow the moonlight to the sea.

Every flip of a light switch is contributing to altering natural patterns of mating, migration, feeding, and pollination, at a rate which species are unable to adapt. Not only does ecological light pollution affect wildlife, studies have shown that it has profound impacts on human health too. Nocturnal light disrupts our sleep and confuses our circadian rhythms. After all, humans are animals as well.

As you enjoy your mooncakes and appreciate the full moon tonight (if it is visible), we hope that this post will increase your appreciation of the importance of the moon to both humans and wildlife, and encourage you to reduce and fight light pollution!

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋节快乐!

References:

Bogard, P. (2013). Bringing Back the Night: A Fight Against Light Pollution. Retrieved from: https://e360.yale.edu/features/bringing_back_the_night__a_fight_against_light_pollution

Poppick, L. (2013). How the Moon Affects the Nocturnal World. Retrieved from: https://www.livescience.com/37927-how-moon-affects-nocturnal-animals.html

Grant, R.A., et al. (2009). The lunar cycle: a cue for amphibian reproductive phenology? Retrieved from:  http://www.amphibianark.org/pdf/Husbandry/The%20lunar%20cycle%20a%20cue%20for%20amphibian%20reproductive%20phenology.pdf

Kronfeld-Schor, N., et al. (2013). Chronobiology by moonlight. Retrieved from: http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/royprsb/280/1765/20123088.full.pdf

Hansford, D., et al. (2017). Sex, Death, and Pollination: How the Moon Changes Life on Earth. National Geographic. Retrieved from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/moonlight-behavior-circadian-chronobiology-earth-live-animals/

Tan, R. (n.d.). Mass Coral Spawning. Retrieved from: http://wildshores.blogspot.sg/search/label/coral%20spawning#.WdMwaWiCzIU

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. (n.d.). Sea Turtles Reproduction. Retrieved from: https://seaworld.org/animal-info/animal-infobooks/sea-turtles/reproduction/

Words by: Ho Lijean

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Rad Reptiles (Part 1): The Specimens

It’s been a pretty wild summer and we just had another great walk last week along the Petai Trail. It was pretty awesome to talk with so many interested Singaporeans about the natural heritage we can find at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CNNR).

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Woo, another fun walk! (Photo by Sandra)

As you can probably guess from the title, the theme for this post was inspired by the cool reptiles we managed to spot along the way.

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Photo by Sandra

This critter digging his snout into the ground is most commonly known as the Malayan water monitor (Varanus salvator). Among the largest lizards in the world, you can probably spot this lumbering reptile in areas with dense forest like CNNR and Sungei Buloh. Not just native to Singapore, these reptiles are commonplace throughout Southeast Asia and can even be found in urban areas [1].

Their abundance has largely been attributed to the adaptability of this cunning creature. Though it is a primarily terrestrial species (lives mainly on the land like us homo sapiens), it has been found to climb trees and swim in the reservoirs, using it’s flattened tail to propel itself forward like a tadpole. With its ability to climb and even dive underwater, few animals are safe from its jaws. From insects (probably what this particular one is searching for) to crabs scurrying about in the mangroves to birds resting on a perch, they have been noted to consume almost anything they can get their claws on [2].

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Peek a boo. (Photo by Sandra)

The next reptile that one of our guides spotted was the Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa ketupu). Hang on a minute, that’s a bird not a reptile! Well, a Cool Science Fact to blow your friend’s mind: birds are actually classified under reptiles. Part 2 of Rad Reptiles will be explaining why so keep your eyes peeled for it!

Now, back to the Buffy Fish Owl. Though you can only see its speckled brown back in the picture above, the smallest of the fish owls can be distinguished by it’s brilliant yellow eyes and adorable ear tufts that are usually tilted at 45 degrees [3]. Since they are largely nocturnal, it can be difficult to spot owls at daytime when they are usually resting silently in trees, an indistinguishable shape on the tree. However, birders have reported an encouraging increase in local sightings of this elusive fish owl in the recent years [4]. If you haven’t spotted one, there are always pictures. Check out this awesome one of the infamous one-eyed Buffy Fish Owl [5]!

As you can probably guess from its name, it feeds exclusively on aquatic creatures such as fish. Because of their special diet, they aren’t like your typical owl. Unlike the snowy owl (Harry Potter’s tragically dead pet), the Buffy Fish Owl does not fly silently. They don’t need to since their prey (fish) are unlikely to be able to hear them anyway. Another unique behaviour of the fish owls are that instead of swooping down to catch their prey like we so often see on documentaries, they actually wade into shallow waters to catch their prey [6]. Pretty cool, huh?

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Photo by Sandra

Last of the reptile species we spotted is the Abbott’s babbler (Malacocincla abbotti). Named after the Lieutenant Colonel who discovered it, they are one of the more common babbler species still found in Singapore. While majority (well, three of the five) babbler species such as the short-tailed babbler (Malacocincla malaccensis) are predominantly found within relatively undisturbed forests (mature secondary and primary), the Abbott’s babbler are habitat generalist. This means that they have been spotted to use disturbed habitats like regenerating secondary forest (like the forest along Petai Trail) [7].

Babblers are one of the harder bird species to identify since they are rather small (usually the size of the iPhone 6). The easiest way to identify a babbler is by its distinctive call. The Abbott’s babbler is known by its characteristic wee-woo-wee call. [8]

Well, that’s all for now. Do keep out for Part 2 where we will discuss why birds are considered reptiles, about their evolution from dinosaurs and why some scientists stuck a plunger on a chicken’s butt for science reasons.

  1. Baker, N. (n.d.). Malayan Water Monitor. Ecology Asia. Retrieved Aug 1, 2016, from http://www.ecologyasia.com/verts/lizards/malayan_water_monitor.htm 
  2. Tan, R. (2001). Malayan Water Monitor Lizard. Naturia. Retrieved Aug 1, 2016, from http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/verts/monitor_lizard.htm 
  3. Ho, HC (n.d.). Close Encounters with Owls of Singapore. Nature Watch. Retrieved Aug 1, 2016, from http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/pub/naturewatch/text/a051a.htm 
  4. OwYong, A. (2016) First known nesting record of the Buffy Fish Owl. Singapore Bird Group. Retrieved Aug 3, 2016, from
    https://singaporebirdgroup.wordpress.com/tag/buffy-fish-owl/ 
  5. Seng, A & Loei, J. (2015). Encounter with a one-eyed Buffy Fish-owl. Bird Ecology Study Group.  Retrieved Aug 3, 2016, from http://www.besgroup.org/2015/07/11/encounter-with-a-one-eyed-buffy-fish-owl/
  6. Royal Society SEARRP. (n.d.). Buffy Fish Owl (Ketupa Ketupu). Stability of Altered Forest Ecology. Retrieved Aug 4, 2016, from http://www.safeproject.net/animal-sightings/buffy-fish-owl-ketupa-ketupu/ 
  7. Yong, DL. (2009). Persistence of Babbler (Timaliidae) Communities in Singapore Forests. Nature in Singapore 2009, 2, 365-371.  
  8. kh. (n.d.). Babblers. Singapore Birds. Retrieved Aug 4, 2016, from http://singaporebirds.blogspot.sg/2012/07/babblers.html

 

Words by Mel 

Marching for MacRitchie

It’s been a wild month! As part of the March for MacRitchie campaign organised by the Love Our MacRitchie Forest Movement, we have hosted a bunch of cool activities to raise awareness about our natural heritage and the proposed Cross Island MRT Line (CRL).

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Check out our cool specimens!

Through events like conservation booths and guided trail walks, we have sought to ignite a zest for nature. It was fantastic to have so many interested individuals come forth, eager to learn more about the CRL issue and our beautiful nature reserves. From signing the petition (over 11,000 signatures and counting!), to writing postcards and to talking about why they want to conserve our nature reserves, it was heartwarming to see support being so enthusiastically given.

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Just one of the cool postcards designed by our very own Jacqueline Chua

It was also great to see so many participants coming down on our walks, brimming with eagerness and questions. A big thanks to all those who came down to support our events! We hope you walked away having learned something new and rekindled your passion for nature.

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Photos by Juin Bin

As you might know, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has been exploring the possibility of constructing the proposed CRL through the Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CNNR). With the completion of part 1 of the EIA and the recent media hype about the Cross Island Line, there has been a surge of interest in our nature reserves. The countless articles written by people from all walks of life has provided a rich perspective on this issue. If you’re clueless on where to start, we have plenty of recommendations on our Facebook page. It remains ever vital that people are informed about upcoming plans for our forests. After all, you cannot miss what you don’t know.

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Come sssssee about me (Photo by Emmanuel Goh)

CCNR retains one of the few patches of primary forest left in Singapore [1]. This is important as primary forest (untouched jungles) are known to support a rich spectrum of biodiversity unlike most secondary forests (regenerated jungles) [2]. Many cool creatures inhabiting its depths such as the Sunda Colugo (Galeopterus variegatus) and the Malayan blue coral snake (Calliophis bivirgata).

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Photo by Jeanice Aw

It is also likely that this patch of forest does provide priceless ecosystem services for Singaporeans. Other than acting as the green lungs of earth, forests are able to provide various other benefits such as filtering rain water, resulting in a cleaner and clearer reservoir [3]. This wonderful piece of natural heritage deserves our protection and we continue to stand by the Zero Impact policy. We advocate conserving the ecosystem, avoiding any long-lasting impacts on the environment.

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Photo by Melissa Wong

Through the March for MacRitchie campaign, the word about the CRL issue and the beauty of our nature reserves have spread. However, the fight has only begun! We will continue to seek to reach out to more of our fellow Singaporeans. It is our hope that these few patches of untouched forest with its numerous inhabitants would still be here to inspire generations to come.

References:

  1. Ng, P.K.L. et al. (eds.) (2011) Singapore Biodiversity: An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore.
  2. Corlett, R. (2014). The ecology of tropical east asia (Second ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199681341.001.0001
  3. Chapin, F. S. I., Matson, P. A., & Vitousek, P. M. (2011). Principles of terrestrial ecosystem ecology (2nd ed.). New York: Springer.

Words by Melissa Wong

Monkeying Around: Misconceptions about Macaques and how we can make it better

Hi everyone! Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that Chinese New Year is just around the corner and this year happens to be the Year of the Monkey!

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Generally, people think that monkeys are adorable, curious, and highly intelligent animals – which is not untrue. However, if you’ve ever been on our guided walks or to MacRitchie Reservoir Park at all, you might have seen people scream and run away at the sight of the monkeys.

This is not without reason: the monkeys at MacRitchie have been known to snatch people’s food, bottles, and bags. Though, what people don’t know is that we created these human-macaque conflicts ourselves and all that’s required to resolve it is a simple change in behaviour. But, let’s start from the top to catch everyone up to speed 🙂

About the monkeys

The monkeys at MacRitchie are called long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and they are a forest-edge species. What this means is that rather than living deep in the forest, the macaques prefer to live at the edge of the forest, which coincides with the parks and paths that we use for our leisure.

Clarifying misperceptions

  1. “The macaques are aggressive and scary.”

Firstly, it is important to differentiate between aggressive and assertive. Aggressive behaviour includes biting and scratching, while assertive behaviour refers to the baring of teeth, chasing, lunging and/or grabbing. The macaques at MacRitchie are usually assertive and have in fact rarely been observed to be aggressive.

Secondly, whether the macaque is being assertive or aggressive, it is all part of their natural behaviour. Visitors to MacRitchie might have noticed that the macaques often travel in groups. This is their troop. In each troop, there is an alpha male – equivalent to the ‘dad’ of the group, and it is his responsibility to care for and protect his troop. As such, when people or dogs get too close to his family members, it is the alpha male’s instinct to display assertive and/or aggressive behaviours.

  1. “The macaques are attracted only to red plastic bags.”

This is a strange myth and how it started remains a mystery. What we do know is that the macaques are in reality attracted not only to plastic bags of all colours, but also to any bag that is handheld (e.g. reusable bag, shoe bag, tote bag, even backpacks). Even when there is no food present, the very image of a bag carried by its handles and held in a hand results in the macaque associating the bag with food.

  1. “The macaques are relocated when complaints are made about them.”

Many think that when people call AVA or NParks to complain about the macaques being a nuisance in the park, the macaques will then be relocated to another forest patch or the zoo. This isn’t a method employed by AVA or NParks in dealing with complaints as relocating the macaques is simply relocating the problem.

When someone makes a complaint against the macaques, the problem macaque, when identified, is actually culled, or killed. Sometimes, when the problem macaque cannot be identified, more macaques are culled 😦

It is important to be aware of the consequences your complaint might have so that you complain responsibly. Save your complaints for problems that you can’t solve. With that in mind, here are some ways in which you can help play a part in resolving the human-macaque conflict.

Resolving conflict

  1. Be prepared

Imagine this: A macaque approaches and attempts to grab something from you, you scream and run. The macaque gives chase and refuses to give up. In the end, you decide to simply get rid of the monkey by giving it what it wants – throwing your food/bottle/bag at it so it will finally stop pestering you.

The above scenario is one that has been commonly observed. The macaques are smart and they learn from experience. Such submissive human behaviour teaches the monkeys that they are able to easily obtain food. It also results in them associating humans with food, which will only prompt them to approach humans more often and more aggressively.

A study in 2014 (Lai) showed that by simply changing your reaction towards macaques, the macaques will respond submissively and not attempt to grab your items. Some simple acts of deterrence include:

  • Making loud noises at the macaque
  • Making threatening gestures using tools such as umbrellas or sticks (or even your hands)
  • Stomping your feet.
  • NOTE: DO NOT HIT THEM
  1. Avoid conflict altogether

Very simply, this means removing the exposure of any items that might trigger a macaque into initiating interaction with you. Such items include:

  • Food
  • Other food-associated items
    • Bottles
    • Plastic bags of any colour
    • Any hand-held bags (be it tote bags, shoe bags, drawstring bags, backpacks, etc.)

It is encouraged that you do not bring food anywhere near the forest, especially on trails, and when consuming food, please clear your trash responsibly.

In summary

  1. Macaques are simply exhibiting their natural behaviour
  2. It is within our power to help resolve the human-macaque conflict
  3. Make loud noises, threatening gestures, or stomp to prevent the macaque from approaching you and/or grabbing your things
  4. Don’t expose any food or food-related items when in the park and/or near the macaques

Ultimately, MacRitchie is our park, but it is also where the macaques live. They too have a family, and they too need a home. It’s been their home long before it was our park, so let’s all play a part in helping both species to coexist by being more understanding and tolerant towards the macaques 🙂

Words by: Tan Jia Xiu

EIA (Phase 1) of CRL announced: where do we go from here?

On 5th February 2016, Phase 1 of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). The report concluded that:

  1. Site investigation works will have moderate impact on the environment, if mitigating measures are taken.
  2. As such, soil testing will still go ahead.

Soil testing works involves deep drilling into the ground of the forest, and is done to determine the soil composition of the potential construction site of the Cross Island Line (CRL), as part of risk assessment protocol.

While we, the BES Drongos and other concerned individuals from the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement have been hoping for the forest to be left undisturbed, the fact remains that drilling will still go ahead.

However, as much as we are disappointed with the EIA outcome, our voices have not been ignored. Following concerns from various nature groups, LTA has decided to:

  • Reduce the number of boreholes from 72 to 16;
  • Confine drilling to public trails and non-vegetative areas; and
  • Employ more non-intrusive (no physical alteration) methods in soil investigation.

Furthermore, an alternative route first suggested by the Nature Society is currently being considered as a viable second option. The suggested route will skirt around the nature reserve instead of cutting directly through it, which means less direct disturbance to the forest ecosystem.

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Original route (Green) and proposed alternative route (blue). Image: Today Online

So what can we do? Where do we go from here?

While we can’t reverse the decision made by LTA, if you are concerned about this issue, here’s what you can do to help:

  1. The EIA will be open for public viewing for the next 4 weeks; book an appointment to go down and view it.
  2. Help spread the news and raise awareness! Tell your friends, your family or anyone who you know cares about this. If lots of people go down to view the EIA, it will show LTA how much the public cares.
  3. Voice your support for the alternative route. The alternative route is now our best (and last) bet to reduce significant impacts on the forest.

You can contact LTA [Ms Michelle Chan (email LTA_CRL_CCNR_EIA@lta.gov.sg or call 6295 7437)] to view the EIA and give your feedback. Please note that you can view it by appointment ONLY, at Land Transport Authority, 1 Hampshire Road (Blk 11 Level 4, Room 2), Singapore 219428

In addition, to show your support for the alternative route, you can sign the petition here: http://www.tinyurl.com/lta-crl

The Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) is home to 400 species of trees, 200 species of birds, 400 species of insects and 150 species of mammals and amphibians. If you’d like to learn more about the biodiversity found in the CCNR, please do sign up for our walks!

For more information on the CRL and CCNR, visit:

Love Our MacRitchie Forest

Straits Times: Measures to lessen impact of MRT works on CCNR

 

 

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 animal 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 to Muzium Negara in Malaysia when the museum had to move to smaller premises. Today, the skeleton stands in 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.

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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

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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

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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