Journey into the heart of Singapore’s sprawling ecological wetland
It was a hot day. Forty-two people, all residents of the Siglap neighbourhood, braved the heat for an outing to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Sunday, 15 May 2016, to join the many nature-lovers who were already there, snapping pictures of their pride and passion – the flora and fauna of Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park.
The trip, organised as part of the activities of the Siglap Community Centre’s Malay Activity Executive Committee (MAEC), comprised neighbourhood briskwalkers of MAEC, fondly known as the “Briskwalk Gang”.
Just like the weekly Sunday briskwalking occasion at the Siglap CC, the group did some 5-minutes of warming up exercises led by our regular exercise leader, Mr Najib Ahmad. Then, the 4-km walk into the wetland began. The trails took us to various points and locations. The first-time visitors in the group were fascinated not only by the extensive mangrove forest but also mangrove wildlife such as monitor lizards, otters, giant mudskippers, tree-climbing crabs, egrets and herons.
Sungei Buloh was first opened as a Nature Park in 1993. Then, in 2002, the park was gazetted as a Nature Reserve and renamed Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, and in the following year, the wetland became Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park.
This place is a haven for nature lovers and other visitors to indulge in the wonders and tranquility of nature. With tele-lens cameras, they flock to capture images of anything that moves – from animals and reptiles to insects and birds.
Our group members weaved through the mangroves along boardwalks (wooden platforms on stilts) over the wet areas, and along pebbled sandy walkways, catching the wonderful sights and always stopping to hear some mystic sounds of the wetland.
As the sun climbed higher, packet lunch and bottled mineral water drinks, provided by the organisers, gave the group an opportunity to rest and take some respite. The results of the entries of the photo-taking contest, sent via WhatsApp and judged by the Chairman of MAEC, Mr Yacob Hussain, and the writer of this article, were announced. Mr Yacob gave away the top three prizes and five consolation prizes.
Ms Sri Zuraida, who is the Assistant Treasurer of MAEC, said that the members enjoyed the trip and learned much from what the wetland offers. “The trip proved to be an exciting experience. It is a good place for family bonding. Here, we come very close to nature, making us admire its beauty, especially plants. I love beautiful plants.”
Talking about the members in the group as well as the benefits of walking in the wetland, she said: “About 75 percent of the people in the group were the regular members of the Briskwalk Gang. The others were new members. Hopefully, they would join our briskwalk activity on Sunday mornings at the Siglap CC. For today, here in the wetland, let us sweat it out to stay healthy.”
Sri added: “Apart from the health benefits, the weekly briskwalk gatherings and the quarterly outings give us opportunities to get to know each other better and make new friends. We want to be a happy family of Siglap.”
The MAEC had organised three outing-cum-exercise sessions for its briskwalkers last year (2015): Changi Point in January, Marina Barrage in April and HortPark in November.
At the end of the day’s excursion in the wetland, Mr Najib told the group: “Today’s trip here is the second outing this year, the previous one being an outing to Coney Island in February. Our next outing will be in September, God-willing, and it will be an outing in the city area.”
By Shaik Kadir
17 May 2016