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Nature Tour to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

10 May 2014

Bukit Timah Nature Reserveis a nature’s gem to Singapore. Despite an area less the 0.2% of Singapore, it has one of the richest and most diverse ecological systems in the world. Almost 40% of Singapore’s flora and fauna can be found in this nature reserve and staff of Setsco got a chance to be taken on a personal tour of this natural heritage. Turning into Hindhede Drive at 6.30am, many of Setsco staffs were pleasantly surprised to find the car park full of visitors; young and old, gearing up for their pre-dawn hike up the highest natural point of Singapore

Organised by Setsco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee, the 24 staffs with their family and friends were chaperoned by Nparks guide, Tan Hang Chong. The cool morning mist blanketed the crowd and gave the forest an ethereal feeling. Hang Chong introduced the nature reserve as an area surrounded by four reservoirs (Upper and Lower Piece Reserviour, MacRitchie Reservoir and Upper Seletar Reservoir) and it is a significant piece of treasure our Singapore’s forefathers including Sir Stamford Raffles preserved for our little red dot.

Standing at 163.63meters, it is Singapore’s largest primary forest and Bukit Timah means Tin Hill in Malay, but it has nothing to do with tin. It is said that name may be derived from the ‘pokok temak’ trees that could be commonly found around the reserve.

Hang Chong pointed to us the many trees that could be found around Singapore before its rapid urbanisation. These trees were soon used to name towns such as Sembawang, Tampines, Seraya and streets such as Angsana , Kenanga and Chempaka Avenue. He also pointed out to us a tree that had many small spherical green fruits growing on its trunk. It was the common yellow stern fig. Hang Chong shared that fig trees are special as it is the first tree recorded in stories from the Bible, Torah & Koran in which Adam & Eve consumed the fruit. Interestingly, Hang Chong brought along dry edible figs for the children to taste and have a look at; this unique fruit which has many seeds inside.

While walking up the forest trail, everyone tried to tread quietly so as not to disturb the insects and animals in the forest. Many of us spotted squirrels, giant insects and birds. While hiking up towards the summit, an audible buzz stood out throughout – it was a loud and incessant buzz from the cicadas. Hang Chong shared with us that they are the loudest insect in the world and are an important food source to birds around Singapore. We also spotted huge spider webs, up to 2 to 4 meters above the forest floor. Against the sunlight we were amazed at the intricate webs and the different dimensional ‘shapes’ the eight-legged critters construct to trap their daily meals.

As we ascended the summit, the last stretch known as the ‘summit path’ was a 200-meter flight of stairs up to the top of the hill. Thankfully the dense canopy of the forest trees provided much shade and respite from the morning sun. As we reached the summit for a short break, we came to appreciate the wonderful natural biodiversity available to us right at our doorstep.

Everyone had a good time with the CSR committee and hope for more of such events that can instill greater love and appreciation for our natural environment.