Friday, 27 January 2012

Don't feed the monkies!

Having spent three days in the city revisiting a few of the sights from our original trip, we decided to go further afield and visit the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in the central part of Singapore.

Although the reserve only makes up 0.2% of Singapore's total area (163 hectares), it is amazingly rich in biodiversity. This precious enclave of primary rainforest has approx. 40% of the nation's flora and fauna - over 500 species of animals and 840 flowering plants. Parts of the reserve were once an active quarrying site in the mid-1900s, and the abandoned quarry has now been developed into the Hindhede Nature Park.

Hindhede Quarry, which is part of the Hindhede Nature Park
Taking the bus from Chinatown all the way up to the Upper Burkit Timah road, it was quite strange to see one of the largest patches of primary rainforest in Singapore in such close proximity to the edge of the city. Apparently, the only other city in the world with a primary rainforest within the city limit is Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. 


Once we were inside the nature reserve it became difficult to imagine that there was a bustling city on the doorstep, however, the reserve is very popular with locals especially joggers and mountain-bikers who can use specially-allocated bike trails. Starting off on the beginner's trail (Route 1), the most challenging part of the walk was the steep incline up to the first hut (Kruing Hut), once we reached this point the journey to the 163m summit was much easier. I wouldn't consider myself unfit but the heat and humidity certainly didn't help! However, as with every other day in Singapore a thunderstorm broke in the early afternoon, which provided a welcome cool-down! Its become quite easy to predict the next down-pour would be, but unfortunately its not so easy to predict how long it would last....

Walking around the main track were heard a loud snapping sound above our heads as a branch came crashing through the tree canopy to on to the floor of the forested area. This put us a little on edge in case of other falling branches.

We saw all sorts of animals throughout the reserve including a monitor lizard feeding at the visitor's centre, both the Slender and Plantain Squirrels, a small snake, the St Andrew's Cross Spider as well as several long-tailied macaques and a terrapin swimming in the Hindhede Quarry. Feeding the animals is strictly prohibited and can earn you a hefty fine, however, this doesn't stop some cheeky macaques from hounding you for food! On a more serious note, if this isn't carefully managed then you start to get problems like we experienced with the Barbary Apes of Gibraltar where they were being fed all kinds of junk food by tourists and the local taxi drivers to the point where the apes became quite aggressive to each other and humans who wanted to enjoy them for what they were.

Long-tailed macaque feeding in the tree canopy

Barbury Apes on the Rock of Gibraltar

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