Singapore: Sungei Buloh is their first and only Wetland Reserve

The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve covers an area of 130 hectares, and
is an important stop-over point for migratory birds during the winter
months. The reserve is named after the river which flows through it.
“sungei” means “river”, while “buloh” means bamboo. The area was
discovered by a group of birdwatchers from the then Malayan Nature
Society (Singapore Branch) in 1986.

They subsequently proposed to the
government to conserve the area, and eventually 87 hectares of
wetlands was designated as a nature park in 1989, and officially
opened on 6 Dec 1993 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong. It was
officially gazetted as a nature reserve 0n 1 Jan 2002. Sungei Buloh
Wetland Reserve was also recognised as a site of international
importance for migratory birds with Wetlands International, and was
included into the East Asian Australasian Shorebird Site Network. The
Mangrove Boardwalk starts off at the back mangrove area, and many of
the plants you see here are not true mangrove plants, meaning that
they cannot survive in the brackish water. The blind-your-eyes tree
can often be found growing on mud lobster mounds.

Mud lobsters
(Thalassina sp.) are believed to eat tiny organic particles in the
mud, and as they process the huge amounts of mud and sand to seek
food, the processed mud is piled around their burrows, forming the
little “volcano-like” structures. Mud lobsters play an important role
of bringing nutrient-rich soil to the surface. Many other plants and
animals live in or on mud lobster mounds too, attracted by the
nutrients, and also, higher ground and free lodging (burrow made by
the mud lobster) to get away from the sea water. One of the most
common mangrove tree in Singapore is the bakau putih (Bruguiera
cylindrica). Like the other Bruguiera species, it has exposed kneed

The back mangrove area is also where we can find coastal plants
like the sea hibiscus (Talipariti tiliaceum). The flowers of this tree
start off yellow in colour when they bloom in the morning, then as the
day proceeds, they slowly turn orange by evening time. So what you are
seeing above are a fresh yellow flower, and an orange flower from the
previous day, which will wither and drop off soon. Wherever you go,
it’s quite likely that you will bump into one of the many Malayan
water monitor lizards (Varanus salvator).

This is one of the top
predators in the reserve, and eats almost anything that it can fit
into its mouth, alive or dead. While it has a weak venom, it is not
known to be venomous enough to kill humans, but the bacteria in its
mouth may cause serious infection if it ever manage to set its teeth
on you. You don’t have to be paranoid though. The usual rule of thumb
with wild animals is as long as you leave them alone, they will leave
you alone. So please respect these wild animals and do not disturb

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