Spotted at night in Singapore: Colugo or Malayan Flying Lemur

Colobus or Colugo?
 
If someone were to ask me about these two animals ten years ago,
I would say I have heard of the Colobus but not the Colugo.
 
Why is that so?
 
Because I used to read Gerald Durrell’s books on his fascinating wildlife experiences during my teenage years.
 
One of his books is titled “Catch me a Colobus”.
 
Now what is a Colobus?
 
I can’t really remember offhand, except that it must be living somewhere in Africa or South America, but certainly not in Singapore.
 
But if anyone had told me back then that the Colugo lives in Singapore, I would have batted an eyelid.
 
Or many eyelids in fact, for I hadn’t heard of Colugos in my entire life….
 
Until several years ago when I signed up for a free nature walk in Bukit Batok nature park organised by NParks.
 
It was on that fateful day when my volunteer guide Kwa Kee Lang suddenly stopped my group in our tracks in the forest.
 
He pointed towards a tree and told us that a Colugo was on that tree trunk.
 
That was my first acquaintance with an animal I never knew exists on Planet Earth, not to mention in Singapore.
 
I learnt that it is also called the Malayan Flying Lemur.
 
A few nights ago, I encountered this shy nocturnal creature again.
 
It was hanging on a tree in front of my block while I was making my way towards the nature park.
 
From the corner of my eye, I saw its dark shape that resembles a large batlike entity.
 
It is perhaps not unlike some fictional character from a Batman movie.
 
But it is as real as it could get, for I could photograph and record it on video.
 
Shortly after I took the video, it glided away across the road back into the forest…
 
To safety and an unknown abyss whence it came.
 
But one thing occurred to me before it vanished into the darkness.
 
When it was soaring across the road, it flew low enough to be struck by a passing double decker bus.
 
It is fortunate that the road traffic wasn’t really busy at that time.
 
It might have easily ended up as yet another statistic of animal roadkill.
 
That colugo is a picture of our rare and vulnerable wildlife residents that are seldom seen or heard in Singapore.
 
Meanwhile, our trees are routinely being cut down all around the island in the name of development and “progress”.
 
Bukit Batok nature park is one of the very few sanctuaries left for them to take refuge and survive.

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