Our fragile nature reserves in Singapore

Last Sunday, I took a plunge into the last remaining primary rainforest in Singapore, which I haven’t visited for some time.
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I decided to hike along South View trail, as I didn’t recall having taken it before and I wanted to be far away from the crowd who took the main path to the summit.
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I was rewarded with a view of the surrounding area at a lookout point at South View hut.
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Though the view is mostly covered by the foliage, it is at least better than the view from the summit, which is almost completely covered by trees (not that it’s a bad thing, as the trees are important too).
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As I sat at the South View hut, I read the NParks signboard that says we are guests in this place, and it is our responsibility to conserve our fragile nature reserves both for ourselves and future generations.
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The words are so true, and yet so ironic… because the transport authorities are considering to build an underground MRT train tunnel underneath the Central nature reserve near the reservoirs.
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No words can adequately describe the sense of tranquility and ancient heritage of Bukit Timah nature reserve, which must have retained its original form for millions of years (possibly surviving cycles of sea level rises in between ice ages due to its elevation).
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It is the last stronghold for the native green spaces that are relatively untouched by humans in Singapore.
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Its fragile existence is made all the more pronounced by the fact that one forest after another has fallen prey to development over the years, including Bidadari forest, Lentor-Tagore forest and Tengah forest.
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Even the forest around Poyan area in western Singapore is being cleared for development (as reported by avid Nature explorer M Saniroz AR) – this is being carried out quietly while the mainstream media distracts us with news of all kinds.
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All this talk about climate change mitigation measures might sound impressive, but …
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As long as deforestation continues in our midst, and our wildlife residents continue to experience genocide and displacement, the words ultimately sound hollow, for we are failing in our responsibility to conserve Nature as a nation.

Nature ramble at Mandai forest

Here’s sharing the photos I have taken so far with my iPhone before it got too dark to take good pictures. The nature walk was organised by the Nature Society of Singapore for their members on 24 August 2013.

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The nature walk concluded at the edge of the rainforest and I walked for another 40 minutes or so to the bus stop near the foot of Bukit Timah hill to take a bus and transfer to another bus. Overall the walk was refreshing as it felt good being in Nature, and among the more familiar flora and fauna such as moths and mushrooms I encountered along the way, it was the first time I saw fireflies in this country, so it is quite a rewarding experience.

(The photos of the nature ramble below were taken using Canon PowerShot SD750.)

IRON: A connection between stars and us

Regarding the intriguing quote about our origin, especially the origin of the iron in our blood being from distant stars billions of years ago, I was googling about this to get a better understanding, and came upon this article.

“Here’s an amazing fact for your next cocktail party: Every single atom in your body—the calcium in your bones, the carbon in your genes, the iron in your blood, the gold in your filling—was created in a star billions of years ago. All except atoms of hydrogen and one or two of the next lightest elements. They were formed even earlier, shortly after the Big Bang began 13.7 billion years ago.”

(From “The Star in You“)

The article went on to say that after an ancient star died and exploded into a supernova, dispersing its elements into the surrounding space, the stardust may eventually form a solar system consisting of planets and the sun, such as the solar system we live. The mystery remains as to how the atoms and molecules on our planet eventually become alive as we know it.

“Just how those atoms and molecules that ended up on our planet went from non-living to living remains one of the great unanswered questions in science. But where the elements came from to start with has now been worked out, in broad strokes anyway, to astrophysicists’ widespread satisfaction. It is an amazing story, isn’t it?”

(From “The Star in You“)

Solar System
Solar System (Photo credit: Joe Plocki (turbojoe))

I am also reminded from health articles I read so far that iron is important in our blood as it carries oxygen in the red blood cells. For some reasons, dark green leafy vegetables and beans, among others, contain more of this stardust than other plants. Who would have thought iron in stars can become life sustaining mineral for us?

Perhaps a greater mystery as to what causes iron in stars to become life sustaining minerals in our body is what holds everything in the universe, including the atoms in our body, together. It may take a moment in time or an eternity to appreciate the wonders of this mystery.