Calling all animal lovers: Today is World Wildlife Day, a UN observance day which celebrates the rich diversity of flora and fauna on our planet while raising awareness on the need for wildlife conservation.
Singapore may be a concrete jungle, but there’s plenty of thriving wildlife to be found here. Check out these places for a glimpse at wild animals roaming free, but be sure to keep your distance: You wouldn’t like them when they’re angry!
1. Punggol: Wild boars
The epitome of “ugly cute”, wild boars are notorious amongst anyone who’s been through NS (and possibly had their rations stolen by boars).
But these hogs aren’t just found in Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong: In recent years, reports of boar sightings around the country have become increasingly common, with Punggol having the lion’s share.
Wild boars thrive in the forested areas around Punggol, but they tend to wander into residential areas more and more frequently as their habitats are cleared for urban development. These pigs have even disrupted traffic and caused car accidents: Talk about road hogs!
2. Marina Bay: Otters
Somewhat confusingly, the family of otters living here is known as the Bishan otter family, on account of their original territory in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.
In 2015, the Bishan otters chased out the Marina otter family that had been occupying Marina Bay, taking over their territory. (Amusingly, the Marina otters eventually moved into the now-abandoned Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park).
The otters aren’t known to be vicious against humans, but you might catch a glimpse of the two clans clashing as the Marina otters continue their attempts to reclaim their lost territory.
3. Bukit Timah: Monkeys
They may look deceptively cute, but these mischievous primates shouldn’t be taken lightly! Though there are plenty of long-tailed macaques living in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, they have an alarming tendency to wander into urban territory nearby in search of food and fun. Pro tip: Hide your food items, along with anything colourful or shiny if you spot one, or these bandits might make you their next victim!
4. Between St John’s and Lazarus Islands: Dolphins
By far the most beloved marine animal around, these beauties can be spotted gracing the waters around Singapore. Pink dolphins are the most commonly spotted species, though bottlenose dolphins sometimes make an appearance as well.
The dolphins near St John’s and Lazarus Islands are the most well-known: Social media has a field day tracking them whenever they pop up.
5. Bukit Batok: Snakes
Somewhat unnervingly, reticulated pythons seem to enjoy slithering around drains and canals, searching for rats to munch on.
Sometimes, they venture into residential areas in search of food as well. Bukit Batok, in particular, has had its fair share of python sightings over the past few years: 2 separate python sightings there were reported in the news in October 2017, and yet another in April 2018.
Thankfully, these reptiles aren’t venomous, but they can be alarmingly large and may prey on other small animals in lieu of a tasty rat: One python nearly succeeded in feasting on someone’s pet bird!
6. Changi: Dugongs
Pokemon lovers might be interested in this creature: The Pokemon Dewgong is named after them! Also known as “sea cows”, dugongs feed on seagrass and are often mistaken for manatees.
These gentle giants can be spotted grazing on lush seagrass meadows such as the ones near the shore in Changi.
One sure sign of their presence is the feeding trails they leave behind in the form of furrows in the meadow as the dugong chomps its way through the field.
7. Tampines: Red-Breasted Parakeets
As its name suggests, the red-breasted parakeet can be easily identified by the prominent reddish patch on its breast.
With a vibrant green plumage, this small parrot is gorgeous to look at. They seem to be thriving in urban areas, with a sizeable flock spotted near Ngee Ann Secondary School in August 2018. Let’s hope they don’t start chattering with each other when school’s in session!
8. Siglap: Civets
If you smell pandan without any pandan leaves in sight, take a close look around you: There might be a civet nearby!
The Asian palm civet is a sneaky scavenger; you might hear it scuttling around on your roof as it steals from nearby fruit trees, but the scat (ie. pellets of poop) they leave behind will probably be the only proof you have of their presence.
Siglap is a hotbed for civet activity, largely due to the coconut plantations which once covered the region: Back in the day, civets would try to drink the coconut sap as it was being harvested.
9. Everywhere: Monitor lizards
These reptiles are naturally shy and unaggressive unless provoked, but they have an odd tendency to show up in the strangest places. From swimming pools to lift lobbies and even the F1 race track, monitor lizards have no qualms about venturing into urban territory as and when they please!
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.