Thursday, September 03, 2009

Hungry Ghost Festival Wayang

According to our friendly nparks officers on Ubin, we have been informed that the annual chinese wayang performances for Hungry Ghost Festival is going to be on from tonight 3 Sept 2009 (Thursday) to 4 Sept 2009 (Friday).

Update: The performance begins at 7pm. Free boat ride to Pulau Ubin begins at 6.30pm.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Greater Mousedeer Populations on Pulau Ubin

A picture of the lesser mousedeer taken in Singapore at the central catchment by the Annotated Budak. Not exactly the greater mousedeer and not on Ubin but it was in the wilderness of Singapore!

Previously we mentioned mousedeers being sighted on Ubin. NUS biology honors student, Marcus Chua, who has been surveying these mammals for a while now for his honors research thesis, will now be presenting his findings at this upcoming talk on the Greater Mousedeer Populations on Ubin.

Greater Mousedeer Populations on Pulau Ubin.
Talk by Marcus Chua, NUS, Honours Student

The greater mouse deer was recently rediscovered in Pulau Ubin, an island which is one of Singapore's last rural places and a popular recreation area. What led to their rediscovery and comeback? What other mammals can be found on Pulau Ubin? Why are they threatened? Can this little hoofed creature and other medium-sized mammals live alongside man on Pulau Ubin?

The title of his thesis is "Can Medium-sized Mammals Co-exist with Man on Pulau Ubin". And it was his honours research project.

Date : 24 Jul 2009 12:00 pm - 12:45 pm
Venue : Singapore Botanic Gardens,
Botany Centre, Function Hall

Please register at this website
(Click on "Mousedeer Talk" tab)

Editor's Note:
I will not be able to attend this event as I will be giving a talk on the same day. Is anybody interested or willing to write a blog report of this talk for Pulau Ubin Stories? Volunteers would be most appreciated. Feel free to leave a comment. Thank you!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pulau Ubin Stories Workshop, 3 Jul 2009, 7pm

I will be conducting a workshop suitable for nature guides and those of us who frequent Ubin and would like to share more of the island's history and geography with friends and family. This is not a talk but a workshop with activities that would help to enhance public communication. I am still hoping to invite some special guest speakers who are veterans on the island who would hopefully be able to share stories that even I don't know about!

Vacancies are limited. Only 10 spots left! Do register early to avoid being disappointed.

Date: 3 July 2009, Friday
Time: 7.00pm - 9.30pm
Venue: Civil Service College
31 North Buona Vista Road Singapore 275983


November Tan
November is a graduate student in the Department of Geography at NUS as well as an active nature guide on Pulau Ubin amongst others. 3 generations of her family traces their roots back to Pulau Ubin and she traces hers on Pulau Ubin Stories, a blog which archives the stories old and new on Pulau Ubin. She did her undergraduate honors thesis on "Saving Chek Jawa: Social Capital and Networks in Nature Conservation". She has also authored several heritage trails publications for the National Heritage Board. She currently coordinate workshops for nature guides at The Leafmonkey Workshop and writes at the Midnight Monkey Monitor.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Wayang Performance

The multi-tasking troupe master backstage at Ubin in 2007.

Adelle of Nparks sent a message to the Ubin Volunteers recently,

"The red, white and black palette of colours defined their facial features, their colourful costumes fluttered aross the stage with every movement of their body, the veteran performers are singing to the familiar tune with the small backstage band.

The town in Pulau Ubin had come alive with colours, sound, smell and sights during the celebration of "Tua Pek Kong's Birthday.

Celebrations commences today, 8th May and ends 13th May.

Do drop by if you are interested to catch a glimspe of traditional opera performances in Pulau Ubin.

Tradition wayang (8th-10th May) makes way for modernised "Getai" (13th May) on the last day and bumboat rides in and out of Ubin are free in most evenings from 6.30pm on these days.

For more information, just simply drop by Pulau Ubin. =)"

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Greater Mouse Deer sighted in Pulau Ubin

Finally the news is out! There has been greater mouse deers sighted in Pulau Ubin these past year by Biology undergrad Marcus Chua and the Nparks staff and volunteers around the island. What exciting news!

Photo by Arthur Chng taken from WildSingapore News

Greater Mouse Deer sighted in Pulau Ubin
Animal thought to be extinct in Singapore spotted for first time in 80 years
Ang Yiying, Straits Times 26 Mar 09;

SEPARATE sightings of mouse deer here and on Pulau Ubin have brought hope that native wildlife is making a comeback in Singapore.

The Greater Mouse Deer - one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world - was seen on Pulau Ubin during a survey by the National University of Singapore and National Parks Board (NParks) from last September to this month.

This is the first official sighting of the wild Greater Mouse Deer in more than 80 years, confirmed NParks.

The Lesser Mouse Deer, which has a browner coat, against the Greater's more orange colouring, was seen around the Lower Peirce Reservoir boardwalk, near Upper Thomson Road, on March 7.

Book distributor Ron Chan, 62, said he spotted the mouse deer when he was taking a walk with his family.

He said: 'It's a very beautiful animal and its eyes are sparkling black.'

He alerted a nearby nature photography enthusiast, Mr Arthur Chng, in his 30s, to take a photo of the creature.

The hobby photographer said it was the first time he had seen a mouse deer, and that it was a good sign that Singapore wildlife has not disappeared due to encroaching urbanisation.

NParks said that over the past two years, there have been four sightings of mouse deer around the Lower Peirce Reservoir boardwalk.

Three were of the Lesser Mouse Deer and the other of the Greater Mouse Deer, which could be one of seven such animals that NParks introduced into the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in 1998.

For NUS life sciences undergraduate Marcus Chua, 25, sighting the Greater Mouse Deer on Pulau Ubin was an unexpected discovery.

He was working with NParks and its volunteers on a survey of medium-sized mammals for his final-year project.

He said: 'At first, there was doubt because it was recorded as extinct in Singapore; that was the first time we saw it. When we got a clearer picture (of the mouse deer), we were very excited.'

On Pulau Ubin, the group has chalked up 100 sightings of the Greater Mouse Deer in more than one area, so it was unlikely that these are abandoned or escaped pets. The species is also not known to swim, so the animals there are unlikely to have come from those released in the catchment area.

'We were quite happy that a population thought to be extinct could have recovered, like bouncing back to life,' Mr Chua said.

Ms Celine Low, co-founder of environmental education group Cicada Tree Eco-Place, said one reason the Greater Mouse Deer was seen again on Pulau Ubin could be the decreased human population and activity there.

She said: 'It could be because the last quarry closed in the 1990s and there are fewer workers there and because of relocation of villagers to the mainland.'

Nature Society of Singapore president Shawn Lum said the presence of mouse deer was a good sign for not just native wildlife but also the eco-system. 'They play an important role in the ecology of the forest...It's great news for the long- term stability and regeneration of the rainforest,' he said.

NParks said it is conducting surveys to ascertain the population of these creatures.

Shy and nocturnal creatures
Straits Times 26 Mar 09;

MOUSE deer are native to Singapore and are known to exist in parts of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, the forested area that borders MacRitchie Reservoir, Lower Peirce Reservoir, Upper Peirce Reservoir and Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Mr Biswajit Guha, assistant director of zoology at the Singapore Zoo, said the Greater and Lesser Mouse Deer are fairly common throughout South-east Asia and not severely threatened.

However, in Singapore, the Greater Mouse Deer is thought to be extinct while the Lesser Mouse Deer is said to be critically endangered.

Said Mr Guha: 'The Greater Mouse Deer sports a more orange coat, while the Lesser has a browner coat.'

GREATER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus napu)
# Head-body length: 520mm to 572mm
# Shoulder height: 300mm to 350mm
# Weight: 3.5kg to 4.5kg

LESSER MOUSE DEER (Tragulus kanchil)
# Head-body length: 400mm to 550mm
# Shoulder height: 200mm to 230mm
# Weight: 1.4kg to 2.5 kg

NParks says sightings of mouse deer are rare, especially during the day. It advises the public to keep quiet when encountering such animals, which are shy and nocturnal by nature.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Last Centenarian of Ubin passes away

Click on image for full size

Last Thursday, 8 January 2009, Mr Tan Hai Liang, the oldest man of Ubin, passed away at the age of 102 after sustaining a fall at his ubin home a few days prior.

My mom fondly remembers buying cola from his shop near the island's only school back in the 60s. The family still runs the little provision shop near the island's main town and jetty. His children has also converted the storeroom into a thriving and popular seafood restaurant.

The other centenarian, the former headman of Ubin, Mr Lim Chye Joo, passed away 3 years ago at age 101. He's featured in the photo in the article, on the right of the photo. Mr Tan is on the left.

I visited Mr Tan with Jen Lee from TNP just one year ago for an article on him and not even a year later, he's left us and Ubin with the last of his generation. Rest in Peace "Ah Gong".

Related Reads
Oldest Man on Pulau Ubin, Pulau Ubin Stories, 31 March 2008
Pulau Ubin featured on New Paper, Pulau Ubin Stories, 1 April 2008

Was Mr Tan the last cenetenarian on Ubin? If you know of other cenetenarian (100 year old person) on Ubin, please share with us. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Trail to Chek Jawa closed

Notice of Track Closure for Improvement Works posted at the bike rental shops in the main town area. Photo taken in December 2008

Regular visitors to Pulau Ubin would long have noticed that one of the access roads to Pulau Ubin, an off road trail, has been closed for some time now. This is the trail that passes by the Balai Quarry via the Northeast of the island. For cyclists, this was once a treacherous track. Many accidents, falls and spills had taken place on this trail.

The trail in question, Balai Quarry on the right of photo. Taken in June 2007.

As such, NParks is now conducting large scale maintenance, trim and fill of the trail. Some parts of the trail have been filled up with soil up to 2-3m high! While it is undergoing maintenance, cyclists are strongly advised against using this trail for their own safety! The alternate route to Chek Jawa is via Kampung Melayu through the southeast of the island.

The trail is expected to be reopened in February 2009.

Balai Quarry, June 2007.