Straits Times 9 Aug 05
Track: Flora and Fauna
Nature's rescuers: people who protect our
Living sanctuary: Nee Soon Swamp, Pulau Tekong
Garden of Eden: Tree Top Walk
Green peace: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
Waterfront developments: Chek Jawa and Pulau
Coral islands: Southern Islands
Swamp things: Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Coast guard: Labrador Park
I pick my battles: interview with Prof Peter
Singapore namesakes: plants and animals named
Warning, venture at your own risk
YOU'RE more likely to get hit by a car than attacked by a wild animal
in Singapore. But it could happen. We present the how-not-to-get-yourself-killed/maimed/
poisioned guide to enjoying the outdoors here:
- Look, don't touch.
Those fluffy monkeys can deliver a nasty bite. And don't feed them.
They have enough to forage for in the forest, and giving them a snack
just encourages them to come up and snatch your own lunch.
- Don't stray off
the footpath. You could get lost. And plants are not harmless. A brush
against the sappy Rengas leaf could cause severe rashes and swelling,
landing you in hospital. Plus stepping on tree roots could damage and
even kill the trees.
- Walk carefully.
Sharp backward-pointing barbs from overhanging leaves can snag clothing
and scratch skin.
- Resist the temptation
to taste those clusters of pretty berries. Take the advice of birds
and monkeys. If they have left them alone, you should too.
- Let sleeping snakes
lie. They are unlikely to bite you, unless caught by surprise or if
they're about to be stepped on. (Another reason to keep to the footpath.)
- Don't wear slippers
in muddy areas such as Chek Jawa, unless you want to walk home barefoot,
or get stung or cut by the well camouflaged creatures. Rubber booties
are also less likely to get stuck.
- The sea holds the
most venomous creatures on earth. The more brightly coloured or distinctively
marked they are, the more likely they are warning you to keep away.
- Wade with care.
Some of the creatures to look out for include the feathery Hydroids;
brushing against them is like being stung with needles. The well-camouflaged
Stonefish, often found in shallows, has venom that causes such intense
pain, it can cripple a man.
- Not everything
can be consumed. The patterned Mosaic Crab, for example, is one of the
most poisonous inhabitants of Singapore's reefs. Its tissue contains
a powerful nerve poison, and cooking it won't help.
- Illicit shell collectors
should note that some species have spearguns tipped with poison arrows
which they use to paralyse prey. Some can kill.
- Even innocent looking
corals are extremely sharp and can deliver cuts if brushed against.
Related articles on Singapore's biodiversity
and Wild shores of Singapore