Tag Archives: wagler’s pit viper

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

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Toddycats and Drongos Unite!

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This week the Drongos had some special guests with us, the Toddycats! The Toddycats are nature and environment volunteers with the upcoming Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, and they run another trail in MacRitchie, called the Venus Loop that is located further down Upper Thompson. The Toddycats also manage the Love Our MacRitchie Forest movement, which was launched in response to the proposed Cross Island Line (CRL) that would cut through MacRitchie. The Toddycats hope to educate the public through their walks about the fragile ecosystem and stunning biodiversity we have here through their trails, and the Drongos are hoping to follow in their footsteps. So in a way, the Toddycats are our mentors, and we certainly learnt a lot from them on this trail.

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This trail was also pretty special because it was the first time our volunteers were presenting to non-Drongos, and we are proud to say that they are shaping up to be promising guides!

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However, we all certainly still had a lot to learn, as the Toddycats amazed us with their uncanny ability to spot all sorts of biodiversity along the trail. So for today’s post, there are a whole lot more animals, and we hope that with more experience we can someday be as sharp as the Toddycats in spotting such amazing creatures!

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This Ornate Coraltail (Ceriagrion cerinorubellum) was flitting around near the boardwalk. The Coraltail is a damselfly, which is not the same as a dragonfly, even though they look very similar. Both dragonflies and damselflies are from the order Odonata but are generally classified into two different suborders, with dragonflies under Anisotera and damselflies under Zygoptera. The most obvious difference between dragonflies and damselflies is that damselflies have a long, slender body as compared to dragonflies, which have shorter, stockier bodies.

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We were very lucky for this trail as we spotted both a Malayan Blue Coral Snake (Calliophis bivirgatus) and Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri )(photo below), highly venomous snakes that we had not seen since our first recce of the trail. A fun (and rather frightening) fact that we learnt from the Toddycats was that the Malayan Blue Coral Snake is also known as the Hundred Paces Snake, because its venom is so powerful that a person can only make it about a hundred paces after being bitten before they die. Ouch.

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It seems that the snakes like to bask near the boardwalk because the vegetation is not as dense there and thus has more sunlight. Because venom takes a while to make, it a good thing to remember that snakes generally will not attack non-prey animals (for example, us) unless they are highly threatened or cornered, so if you ever see a snake, give it some room and back away slowly so as to not startle it. Always ensure that the snake has an escape route, and you should be fine!

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Another interesting reptile we saw today was a Clouded Monitor Lizard (Varanus nebulosus), named as such because it has beautiful yellow cloud-like markings on its back. Monitor lizards are closely related to Komodo Dragons (the largest lizards in the world which grow up to 3 meters long), but thankfully all the Monitor Lizard species in Singapore are unable to grow that big.

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This Common Sailor butterfly (Neptis hylas papaja) was resting on some Resam ferns (Dicranoptris linearis). Both the Common Sailor and Resam like the sun, and both are common species found on nature reserve fringes.

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Speaking of butterflies, we found this fantastical caterpillar (Eudocima smaragdipicta) creature so strange that it really seems otherworldly. Other than the weird Pokémon ball-looking patterns found on its body, the oddly shaped “head” at the end of the caterpillar facing up in this photo is actually its tail! The caterpillar uses its false head to give the impression of a rearing snake as it raises its behind, serving as a defense against birds and other hungry predators.

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While we are on the topic of fake snakes, we also found the flower of the Rattan Plant (above) and the resulting fruit (below). The scaly fruit develops in between the “cups” of the long, segmented flower, and the cups only fall off after the fruit is ripe, exposing the fruit bunches.

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As most of us know, the main stem of the plant is often used to make furniture and other products (like canes), but did you also know that the fruit produces a red resin known as “dragon’s blood” and is often used to dye violins?

Well, that is about it for this trail! We would like to give special thanks to the Toddycats Chloe Tan, David Tan, Yi Yong, Sean Yap and Amanda Lek for taking the time to come down to our trail with us! We hope that as we develop our own stories and gain experience as guides that we will one day make you guys proud. (:

(Thanks to David Tan, Sean Yap and Samuel Chan for pointing out some initial mistakes in the post!)

For more photos, check out our Flickr albums!

Petai Trail Recce

Hey everybody! We are the BES Petai Trail team (name pending) and we are happy to report that our first recce of the petai trail along MacRitchie Reservoir was while wet, was also very fruitful. The Petai Trail is a boardwalk that explores an intriguing area of jungle that sits right next to the reservoir itself, and is home to a variety of very interesting plants and animals. The trail itself is located 0.5km from the main MacRitchie reservoir visitor center and is a fairly easy walk. As we are still exploring the area and developing our stories to tell, please enjoy these photos we took on our first trip for now!

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We found quite a few of these shiny beetles (Colasposoma auripenne) hiding among the plants. This particular one is sitting between the leaves of a Hairy Clidemia (Clidemia hirta).

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A Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus walgleri) was found curled up in a bush near the boardwalk. These snakes are some of the most common in Southeast Asia and is considered venomous, although this species is generally not very aggressive. However, that does not mean that it is safe to touch; as with all other wildlife, one should always admire snakes from a distance, and not provoke them!

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This Blue Malayan Coral Snake (Calliophis Bivergatis) is one of our most venomous local snakes, and has been known to eat other snakes as well! Don’t worry though, staying on the boardwalk means that the snakes was largely unhindered by our presence, and simply slithered away without even bothering to take a second look at us.

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This Many-Lined Sun Skink (Eutropis multifasciata) was pretty well camouflaged in the leaf litter. These skinks are quite common in many parts of Singapore, and can be found in both primary and secondary forest and can sometimes be found in parks.

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The lovely view of the reservoir from the trail!

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The recent spate of rain has resulted in quite a few mushrooms popping up all over the place and can be found on a variety of things, from rotting logs to dead leaves. We are not too sure what kind of mushroom this is, but it sure has some nice gill ridges.

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This fabulous unidentified cricket is posing on a Singapore Rhodendron (Melastoma malabathricum), which is also commonly known as Sendudok. This plant is considered medicinal by a variety of cultures across Southeast Asia, but is often called a noxious weed in the US. 

 

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The Leaf Litter Plant (Agrostistachys longifolia) is an understory plant with leaves that grow in a spiral, that tends to catch fallen leaves, thus earning itself such an odd name. The plant directly absorbs nutrients from the decomposing leaves trapped in its own leaf spiral, enabling it to grow quickly in the undergrowth.

Well, that’s all for now. Look out for our next misadventure soon, featuring the Toddycats as we do our second recce of the trail!