Saturday, July 18, 2009

Crocodile at Sungei Buloh

Finally, I saw a wild crocodile at Sungei Buloh again! The last time I saw one was like... 3 years ago?

Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
Here's the Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) I saw today. I was just asking Robert when was the last time he saw one, and it suddenly appeared below the main bridge! A few months ago, a few bird photographers also spotted the crocodile further into the reserve, but I was busy with some other matters, and did not have the time to go over to take a look. But finally, I saw it this time round!

Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
Here's a close-up look at the crocodile again. It would have been great if we have more crocodiles in the reserve - we probably have less than 10 in the whole reserve at the moment. Unfortunately, I heard that the authorities have been removing crocodiles from the reserve and sending them to crocodile farms to keep the numbers in check. Otherwise, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve would have become a top attraction for Singaporeans and tourist alike to see wild crocodiles! While it was said that the authorities are keeping a check on the crocodile population for "safety" reasons, I personally feel that as long as the visitors stay on the trail, they should not have much to worry about.

Crocodiles are the top predators for a healthy mangrove ecosystem, and at the moment, the population of the other animals lower down the food chain in Sungei Buloh are certainly not controlled with so few crocodiles.

Rather than crocodiles, I will really hope that the authorities will spend more time and effort removing the stray dogs - they have been attacking the wild life, including otters a few months back.

Anyway, back to other things I saw during today's trip.

Found this frog in the freshwater pond but have no idea what species it is. Thought it could be a juvenile Crab-eating Frog (Fejervarya cancrivora) or Field Frog (Fejervarya limnocharis).

Here's another smaller frog which I also cannot identify.

Common Greenback (Hylarana erythraea)
Still on frogs, there's also a small Common Greenback (Hylarana erythraea) in the pond.

Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)
At the main bridge area, we saw this big Malayan Water Monitor (Varanus salvator) with a smaller one in its mouth, hitting the latter on the ground once in a while. The latter was still alive and was struggling. This was the first time I saw a monitor lizard feeding on another of its kind.

Tumu Putih (Bruguiera sexangula)
I also went to check on the Tumu Putih (Bruguiera sexangula). The size of the seedling had certainly increase by quite a bit since I saw it more than a month ago. (Check out my earlier post on the rare mangrove plants of Singapore for more details.)

Xylocarpus moluccensis
While walking along the trail, we came across this deciduous tree with yellow leaves a short distance away into the mangroves. I almost passed it off as a Blind-your-eyes, until I saw that it had pinnately compound leaves. This tree is either a Xylocarpus rumphii or X. moluccensis, but was a little too far away to be certain of the exact species. It was much taller than the Xylocarpus rumphii we found the last time - was at least 6 or 7 m tall. Update: John has kindly helped to confirm that this is a Xylocarpus moluccensis. Thanks John!

Xylocarpus rumphii
But sadly, one of the young Xylocarpus rumphii which we found the last time was broken into two. The vegetation in the area had obviously been trimmed recently, as we saw fresh markings of branches being cut off. It's possible that when they cut down the branches of the tree above this young Xylocarpus rumphii, the fallen branches may have broke the stem of the latter. It was really depressing to see this happening - a rare plant being destroyed! And this was the second Xylocarpus rumphii I know of that was being damaged - the other was a taller tree that was cut down in an area nearer to the main hide. I really wonder if the authorities knew about the presence of these rare trees. This is a nature reserve, and yet we are seeing rare plants being destroyed.

Brownlowia tersa
The horror scene did not end, when we saw this patch of Brownlowia tersa being cut into two. I wouldn't have been so horrified if it was just the smaller branches being trimmed off. What we had here was the main stem being cut off. While the status of this species is just vulnerable, not exactly rare or endangered, it is still not a common plant.

Brownlowia tersa
When I was here a month ago, it was blooming with lots of little pink flower.

Brownlowia tersa
Looking around today, I saw a number of fruits. While I think it will survive and return to its former glory soon.. but does that mean that the authorities will send someone to cut it down again? Hmm...

In any case, there were more depressing scenes in the reserve as we saw many areas being cleared and trees being cut down. And then suddenly, it rained... Made the mood even more depressing.

When the rained stopped, we decided to check out the nearby Kranji Nature Trail, and we were shocked by another depressing scene.

Dead fishes
There were hundreds and hundreds of dead fishes - catfish, halfbeak, pufferfish, and many of which I couldn't identify.

Dead snake
There were even a few dead snakes.

Strange green mangrove water
The colour of the water was a strange bright green... What has happened? This definitely is not the natural colour of the mangrove waters that I remembered.

I must say that today was a really strange day, with an exciting and happy start, but the ending is just too depressing.


FH2o said...

The degradation of the natural environment is always a distressing sight - but which unfortunately is more common rather than the exception.

Liana said...

goodness, the water looks terrible!!! seeing these pictures made me depressed too, even though the croc pic is very handsome.

budak said...

wonder if NParks (with the help of Buloh volunteers and mangrove researchers) can label those uncommon /rare plants so that they are left alone by maintenance crews?

If the green stuff killed even the snakes, probably not algal bloom leading to oxygen depletion...

tHE tiDE cHAsER said...

Had suggested to nparks to tag the uncommon plants. Actually, if they find it too much work to label the species, they can just use coloured tags to indicate to the workers to leave them alone. Hopefully Nparks will really do something about it...

Really not sure what's wrong with the water. The colour is just weird, and it doesn't look like an algal bloom to me too. Robert had reported this to the Nparks staff. Hopefully they can find out what's causing the problem.

RK said...

It looks like an algal bloom to me.Did you try disturbing to water to see if some cleared up?If it's not,then it's probably some toxic waste dumped there(?)

neil said...

The popultion is really sad.

But I love the concept of unknown species of frogs. There are 4 native frogs and toads and about the same again of introduced but limited ranged in the UK, so its hard to not be able to identify a frog in the UK once you've learned the few there are!

Talking of UK species Ive finally put up by rockpooling/beachcombing posts on my blog if your interested :)

neil said...

Popultion = pollution
(sorry thats one bad typo!)