New opportunities for the public to experience kampung life on Pulau Ubin

NParks media release 3 Dec 16;

Singapore, 3 December 2016 — Members of the public will have new opportunities to experience kampung life, with the establishment of a new fruit tree arboretum and conservation of a Chinese kampung house on Pulau Ubin. These announcements come at the end of a year-long series of activities to “Celebrate Ubin”, and represent NParks’ commitment to further conserve the cultural heritage and rustic character of the island. Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs & National Development, Desmond Lee, together with Grassroots Adviser for East Coast GRC (Siglap), Senior Minister of State for Defence & Foreign Affairs and Mayor of South East District, Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman joined Ngee Ann Polytechnic students to plant fruit trees today to officially open the fruit tree arboretum. At the event, SMS Lee shared updates to species recovery efforts and habitat enhancement projects under The Ubin Project, and launched NParks Community In Nature Biodiversity Watch: BioBlitz @ Ubin – the first 24-hour survey to document biodiversity on the island.

SMS Lee also announced that NParks will be calling a tender in December for the provision and maintenance of a water treatment system at the Ubin Living Lab for educational groups, researchers, community groups and members of the public utilising the space. The tender will also include the installation and maintenance of compact Point-of-Use water treatment systems to be installed at public toilets at Chek Jawa Wetlands, campsites and other areas. These systems are expected to be completed by mid-2018.

New fruit tree arboretum and restored Chinese ‘Kampung’ house

Situated along Jalan Ubin, the fruit tree arboretum on Pulau Ubin will be the first of its kind in Singapore. Named ‘Ubin Fruit Orchard’, the site was previously a fruit orchard belonging to a resident on the island. About one hectare in size, the arboretum will feature fruits commonly planted in kampungs such as rambutan and starfruit. It will also showcase uncommon cultivars of durian and mango. Students from Nanyang Girls’ High prepared interpretive signs and students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic assisted with planting works for the arboretum.

Overlooking the Sensory Trail Ponds, House 363B has been refurbished and conserved as a model of a Chinese kampung house. Built in the 1970s, the house was owned by Mr Chew Teck Seng, who used to operate a provision shop in the village centre known as ‘Teck Seng Provision Shop’. Renamed ‘Teck Seng’s Place’, the house features interpretive signs and specially-curated memorabilia to give visitors a glimpse into life on Pulau Ubin in the 1970s. The house will be open on the 2nd and 4th weekend of the month and public holidays, from 10.00am – 2.00pm.

The Ubin Fruit Orchard and Teck Seng’s Place will be included as highlights of NParks’ new Rustic Reflections Tour, held monthly from next year. Members of the public can visit NParks’ website (https://www.nparks.gov.sg/ubin) for updates on how to register for the guided tour. For more information about Ubin Fruit Orchard and Teck Seng’s Place, please refer to Annex A.

Updates to initiatives under The Ubin Project

A) Species recovery efforts

About 60 students from ITE College East and Republic Polytechnic have partnered NParks to complete works for the bird and bat species recovery programmes. ITE College East students aided in works at Ketam Mountain Bike Park to facilitate species recovery efforts for the Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis) and Baya Weaver (Ploceus philippinus). They built nest boxes for the Blue-throated Bee-eater, and planted Casuarina and Red Gum trees in the area to provide suitable nesting spots for the Baya Weaver. For the bat recovery programme, students from Republic Polytechnic produced three out of six bat box designs, which have since been fabricated into 30 bat boxes and installed across Pulau Ubin. Students from ITE College East also helped to construct five bat boxes. These boxes will provide places for insectivorous bats to roost.

As part of species recovery efforts for the Oriental Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus), two holts have been installed at Jalan Noordin and near the Sensory Trail Ponds to monitor and study otter behaviour. Though the otters have not been observed using the holts yet, a group of 10 were recorded via camera trap in late October 2016 – a notable occurrence as this is the first video record of the species in Singapore.

Monitoring for these species is ongoing, and further results will be shared at a later date.

B) Habitat enhancement

NParks has partnered Ngee Ann Polytechnic students to complete habitat enhancement works at the Sensory Trail Ponds. Formerly used for fish farming, the four ponds have been combined into a single waterbody to provide habitats for biodiversity. The students helped to design and implement the planting plan for fauna such as waterhens, crakes, herons, kingfishers dragonflies and damselflies. Works were completed in November.

For more information about species recovery efforts and habitat enhancement projects, please refer to Annex B.

NParks Community in Nature (CIN) Biodiversity Watch: BioBlitz @ Ubin

From 3 Dec (1200hrs) to 4 Dec (1200hrs), NParks will be conducting Pulau Ubin’s first BioBlitz as part of the NParks Community in Nature (CIN) Biodiversity Watch series. Over 24 hours, members of the public will join naturalists and researchers to document biodiversity found on Pulau Ubin.

During this timeframe, some 30 surveys will be conducted on a variety of fauna including mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. These surveys will be led by about 35 naturalists and researchers from NParks, Nature Society (Singapore), Herpetological Society of Singapore, Entomological Network of Singapore, National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nature @ Seletar Country Club. The data gleaned from this BioBlitz will help set the ground for a comprehensive biodiversity survey of Pulau Ubin next year. The event was also organised to encourage the community to learn more about Pulau Ubin’s natural heritage and contribute to organised research efforts as citizen scientists. For more information about BioBlitz @ Ubin, please refer to Annex C.


Take a trip back in time on new Pulau Ubin tour
Zhaki AbdullahThe Straits Times AsiaOne 4 Dec 16;

Walk through a furnished kampung house complete with a 1970s copy of The Straits Times and mosquito net-covered bed, or stroll through a durian and starfruit orchard.

Visitors to Pulau Ubin can now revisit Singapore's kampung days, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

The Ubin Fruit Orchard and Teck Seng's Place - a refurbished 1970s Chinese kampung house - are some of the attractions on the new Rustic Reflections tour, announced yesterday by the National Parks Board (NParks) at the end of its year-long Celebrate Ubin campaign, which highlighted the island's rich animal and plant life and history.

"The tour is very good... for Singaporeans to experience the heritage of the past," said NParks deputy director for Pulau Ubin Choi Yook Sau.

A 10-minute walk from the jetty, Teck Seng's Place was built in the 1970s by Mr Chew Teck Seng, who owned a provision shop in the island's village centre.Previously known as House 363B, the home has been furnished with items donated by Ubin residents and other members of the public, aimed at evoking earlier times.

Among the items are a Rediffusion radio and a dry food cabinet used to preserve food before refrigerators became common.

The house is open to the public on the second and fourth weekend of each month, and on public holidays, between 10am and 2pm.

It will also be open on the third Saturday of each month as part of the Rustic Reflections tour, which is expected to start next year.

The 1ha orchard will feature around 350 fruit trees from 30 different species, including rambutan and starfruit, once commonly found in kampungs.

Student volunteers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic helped plant some of the trees, while Nanyang Girls' High students produced signs about them.

Ubin resident Chu Yok Choon said the orchard was a good addition that would help educate younger visitors about the island's heritage.

"In the past, almost every house used to have its own garden and fruit trees," said the 71-year-old grassroots leader, who has lived on the island all his life.The tour will also feature stops at a new sensory trail pond, made up of former fish farming ponds redesigned to attract wildlife such as herons and kingfishers, as well as an existing Malay kampung house.

"Through these initiatives, there will be more opportunities for the public to get a glimpse of kampung life on the island, and experience life as it used to be on Ubin," said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development Desmond Lee, who planted a durian tree to mark the orchard's opening.

Later this month, a tender will be called for a water treatment system to be installed and maintained at the Ubin Living Lab, which is used by researchers and visitors, as well as compact water treatment systems for public toilets at the Chek Jawa wetlands and other areas.

The real wildlife of Pulau Ubin
The island is a sanctuary for a wide variety of species. Zhaki Abdullah reports on some of them.
Zhaki Abdullah Straits Times 9 Dec 16;

ORIENTAL SMALL-CLAWED OTTER

Measuring at between 70cm and 100cm, it is the smallest otter species in the world.

These otters feed on crab and molluscs, as well as mudskippers, insects and small fishes.

Unlike most otters, the species spends most of its time on land. In some areas, the otters have been trained by fishermen to drive fish into their nets.

Oriental small-clawed otters are nocturnal, unlike their cousins, the more familiar smooth-coated otters, which are found on the mainland. Thus, they are harder to spot.

BLUE-THROATED BEE-EATER

It is recognisable by its bright blue throat and brilliant blue lower back, rump and tail.

It feeds on insects such as bees, ants and dragonflies, removing the stings of dangerous bugs by rubbing them on a perch before eating them.

The bird was featured on $100 notes here as part of the bird-series currency notes issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore between 1976 and 1984.

RED-WATTLED LAPWING

It is named for the fleshy, wrinkled skin in front of its eyes, known as wattles. It typically makes its nest on the ground, on surfaces with rocks and short grass. Its dull-coloured eggs are camouflaged against these surfaces, protecting them from aerial predators.

In some areas, urbanisation has forced the lapwing to nest on rooftops instead. It feeds on insects, snails and other invertebrates.

BAYA WEAVER

It gets its name from its intricately woven nest, made from strips of leaves and grass, sometimes strengthened with mud or clay.

Typically built in colonies on trees, the nest is recognisable by its distinctive funnel shape and is made by male weavers to attract mates.

When selecting a mate, females judge the nests based on structure and location, preferring those built on branches high above the ground, out of the reach of predators.

ASHY ROUNDLEAF AND LESSER FALSE VAMPIRE BATS

Out of more than a thousand bat species found worldwide, 20 are found in Singapore.

The ashy roundleaf bat is found on Pulau Ubin, while the lesser false vampire bat is found on Pulau Ubin and Pulau Tekong. Unlike vampire bats, found in Central and South America, false vampire bats do not feed on blood. They are, however, carnivorous, feeding primarily on insects, such as grasshoppers and moths, as well as frogs, mice and even smaller bats.

The ashy roundleaf bat also feeds on insects, which it detects using echolocation.

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