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.

Farewell walk at Tengah forest

As we entered the forest, we were welcomed by convoys of mosquitoes.

Thankfully, the mosquitoes left us alone for the most part as we ventured deeper into the woods, away from the river canal.

We were also greeted by a wide array of flowers, such as daisies, mimosas and morning glories.

Along the way, we saw some other wildlife, such as bees, dragonflies, baya weavers and an eagle.

Since eagles are at the top of food chains, their presence implies that there is a fairly complex ecosystem of plants, herbivores, carnivores and omnivores in the forest.

The impending destruction of Tengah forest would result in a significant loss of biodiversity in this region.

No amount of artificially created “forest” in the upcoming “forest town” would be able to replace or restore the current biodiversity.

In addition, what will happen to the baya weavers’ nests when the forest is cleared for urban development?

Wouldn’t the birds, as well as other animals, experience trauma from being displaced from their natural habitats?

History books have traditionally been written by the victors, and it is perhaps high time that the marginalised wildlife be given a voice and be heard.

At the rate things are going, it is probably not too far-fetched to imagine a dystopian future whereby Singapore will end up in some kind of self-destruction.

It is a stark future where Tengah forest will be gone, only preserved in memories, pictures and videos.

When our grandchildren and great-grandchildren look at the high-res screen showing pictures of the forest, they can only see the surface of things.

No amount of high resolution pixels can enable them to feel the earth or smell the flowers or inhale the fresh air or soak in the healing energy.

Not even virtual reality technology can recreate the actual experience of being in a real forest.

Then they will ask us why they cannot experience the forest first-hand like we once did, and we can only sigh and apologise.

“We tried to conserve the forest, but they will not listen to us. I am sorry….”

Meanwhile, the much hyped “forest town” will have become something like a “forbidden city”, where the land prices will skyrocket out of nowhere.

And only the elites and the “haves” could dwell on a piece of land that was once inhabited by wildlife and visited by nature lovers freely.

Recommended reading

Tengah forest is a significant chunk of real estate for nature, not just people: Nature Society

The big picture by Jason Silva

“There’s a great anecdote about the very first photograph taken of earth from the vantage point of space.

The idea was that this photograph occasioned a profound shift in the understanding of ourselves.

You see, for the first time in human history we could look back at our planet in its entirety and see the big picture.

This provided an ontological awakening, it changed our story, our narrative, it upgraded our self-image and expand our consciousness, new maps for new realities as they say.

Astronauts in orbit call this experience the overview effect.

A boundary-shattering sense of revelation and global interconnectedness where we shake off our petty differences and emerge with a sense of global responsibility, global consciousness, and global citizenship.

Carl sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” film echoed this same idea.

From the vantage point of space, there are no lines dividing nations, no geographic subdivisions, no flags or racial divides or disputed territory.

There is only earth, a single celestial body teaming with life, the womb in which we dwell.

Yet the fact is our historically myopic view, most certainly our limited perspective has resulted in much animosity.

We have all too often organized ourselves into competing hostile tribes subjugating each other for land and resources and misrepresenting the big picture into a story of borders, subdivisions, and dividing lines.

Too much hostility and not enough empathy and compassion.

Cultural differences, religion, tribes, nation, race, these are created expressions and variations that should and could be celebrated.

Instead, they have become symbols that are all too often used to create suffocating boundaries.

They are increasingly ill-conceived to address the challenges of a hyper-connected global world.

As advancements in technology and information enable greater mobility of ideas goods and people, the role of the physical boundary has shifted and due for an upgrade.

Conflicts remain and too many people are restricted access to the increasingly fluid means of migration, transportation, and movement.

Migration has always been a defining factor of the human experience.

Migration has and continues to touch all nations, cultures, and regions, all peoples on the planet.

Migration has been the seed at the heart of thriving societies accelerating the dissemination of knowledge and ideas.

Restricting migration is ultimately like restricting the flow of ideas and much the same way that we don’t tolerate censorship or book-burning we might consider the ways in which restricting the free movement of people can be equally punishing to the idea of human flourishing.

The desire to become a global citizen is human, we all have it and we all share the same goals for safety comfort and prosperity for our families.

Some are fortunate enough to be able to invest in a second residence and citizenship while others are forced to seek asylum for their survival.

Being a global citizen is also about the strong and the wealthy helping the weak and the poor.

As we saw with the global citizen tax initiative, border disputes, conflict zones, armed borders, these are things that persist and need to be addressed.

We need a new story, a new lens with which to address these inconsistencies we need to scale up to unleash a truly global citizenry.

Exchanging ideas, beliefs, goods, and services.

It has been said that empathy rarely extends beyond our line of sight and so perhaps it is by extending our gaze using marvelous new storytelling tools like virtual reality that we can bridge divisions and bring worlds together ushering a form of radical empathy, to see the other as ourselves, where boundaries are dissolved and compassion reigns supreme.

A massive transformation of consciousness a software upgrade for mankind birthing a new kind. ”

– Jason Silva

Nothing really makes sense

Cycling through Defu industrial estate near Paya Lebar airport wasn’t quite a pleasant experience. The air was polluted, and heavy vehicles passing by stirred up dust. It makes no sense to differentiate human and natural environment because it is all a mess of buildings and industries and vehicles anyway, and the reality can be anywhere in between the two polarities. How can we put up with living in such a pollutive environment in the name of “development”?

I see nothing wrong with being emotive about the loss or disturbance of natural primary rainforest. It is a primal cry from our heart that remains deeply connected to Mother Nature. Materialism, capitalism and consumerism have unfortunately caused many of us to repress our soul and feel disconnected from Nature…

Communicating with stones and crystals

I learn from kids rather than sophisticated and educated adults

Yes, kids who are free from societal programming can teach us much more than sophisticated and educated adults as they are still fresh from (I believe) a higher realm, having arrived on the earthly plane barely a few years ago, and they are naturally intuitive and curious about everything as they explore the new world with wide-opened wonder and awe, and express their innate nature of love uninhibitedly. It is also interesting to learn about how he listened to the crystals to form a crystal grid in which the crystals work together and charge one another to send healing energy to the world. I googled to find out more about listening to crystals speaking, and came across this informative post in a forum that says:

“Native Americans call rocks The Stone People, and also make reference to The Plant People, and The Animal People, etc. The differing vibrational qualities of each thing is the way it “talks.” And the effect of each vibrational quality is what heals us, and what we call, its “medicinal value.” Many people are also familiar with how the Animal People communicate with us (animal spirit guides, totems, power animals, etc.). They teach us by their examples, and show us how to nurture certain qualities they possess, that we also possess within ourselves. This is their communication, how they “talk” to us, and humans have had this dialogue with The Animal People for a very long time. …”




Pandan reservoir 

 What do I see in Pandan reservoir?  
 I see despair. I see hope. 
Unlike most other reservoirs in Singapore, Pandan reservoir isn’t surrounded by trees or forests. It has a gravel track all around, and is surrounded by residential and industrial buildings. 

The atmosphere there is somewhat dismal, despondent and depressing. 

Yet the reservoir seems to serve as a sort of oasis or soul respite for the migrant workers who work in the industrial areas nearby. 

Displacement and migration from their home countries to work in a foreign land in austere conditions isn’t really fun for them. 

Yet there is a sense of brotherhood and camaraderie among the strollers. 

I see despair and I see hope. 

Deconstructing the modern education system 

How is it possible for us to be in an education system and still remain ignorant and detached from the reality of life outside of the societal system? For example, in schools, we learn about the indigenous people in the natural habitats, but how well do we really know and understand the extent of the impact of development on their lives?

Case in point: villagers choking, suffering and dying from the ill effects of haze of forest peat fires in Indonesia in 2015. Do they not have the same rights to live unharmed? In fact, do they need to be registered by the government to be considered citizens or residents having the rights to dwell in the lands where their own ancestors lived?

One reason why I don’t buy wholesale into the education system I was schooled in is because it was mainly designed and formulated through the western colonialist lens. As much as it can be helpful to study ecology through a western perspective, such as learning how to classify regions based on types of climate and vegetation and so on, it is limited when it comes to understanding the nature of the rainforest from the viewpoint of indigenous people who have been living in the rainforest for generations.

When we apply the capitalist, consumerist and materialistic approach to study rainforests, we seem to be fighting a losing battle with the capitalistic economic system over forest conservation.

Ecotourism can easily treat rainforest as just another commodity, as much as ecotourism is needed to raise critical awareness of social and environmental issues.

How do we resolve this dilemma?

For now, there are only questions; no easy answers. One thing I remember Navin, an Eco-Cameron tour guide, said: Nature will recover by herself. Humankind may end up destroying ourselves, but Nature will always recover.

Invasive species management at Dairy Farm Nature Park

Map of Dairy Farm Nature Park


Hairy clidemia (shrub, recognizable by its hairy leaves and stems)


Rubber (tree, recognizable by the milky sap in its stems)


Syngonium (climber, recognizable by its arrowhead leaves)


These invasive plants are removed before they can establish themselves permanently and upset the ecosystem balance in the tropical rainforest.





Continue reading “Invasive species management at Dairy Farm Nature Park”

Thoughts on an introduction to a resource-based economy

Video information

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*This is the 18 min video backup for the live March 21st, TEDx [Portugal] Talk by Peter Joseph called: “An Introduction to a Resource-Based Economy “.

I have checked out Peter Joseph’s video introduction of the resource-based economy. Like what he shared, the current socioeconomic system is flawed in many ways as it results in inequality, starvation, ecological harm and so on because of the self-serving property-based system. I agree that an access-based system that serves to meet the needs of the current world population and future generations while conserving the environment at the same time would be an ideal system worth considering and implementing.

I see this proposed idea of the resource-based system as a natural progression that is in step with the rise in collective evolution of humanity. As people continue to evolve and acknowledge our oneness and interconnectedness, more and more of us are finding that the outdated monetary system is flawed and a new and more equitable system is needed to ensure sustainable use of resources to meet the needs of ourselves and our future generations without further harming our environment.

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