Best of our wild blogs: 24 Apr 17



One nature’s most spectacular events
The Hantu Bloggers

NUS Civet Research Team’s outreach report card for 1st quarter of 2017
Toddycats!

Featuring some recent additions to the Singapore Checklist
Butterflies of Singapore

Ball Moon Snail (Neverita didyma) @ Chek Jawa
Monday Morgue


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Coming Sembawang Hot Spring redevelopment draws mixed response

Some look forward to the area being spruced up, while others are concerned about its impact on the environment and residents' sense of heritage and belonging.
Rachel Phua Channel NewsAsia 23 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: For Aster Lee, going to the Sembawang Hot Spring was relief of more than one kind.

Ms Lee made her first visit to the hot spring along Gambas Avenue in April together with a group of brisk walkers. It was a place that she had been keen to visit for quite a while, she said.

The 62-year-old retiree said she had also been having knee aches since spraining it last December, but felt some of the pain ease after soaking her legs in the hot water.

At the hot spring, water continuously flows out from the taps, providing visitors with an ample supply of hot water for various uses. When Channel NewsAsia visited the site in April, Ms Lee’s brisk walking group was boiling a basket of eggs in a pail of water.

People were also spotted using the water to do their laundry.

“It was a really good experience. I enjoyed the hot spring water,” Ms Lee said.

Come end-2018, trips to this northern part of Singapore might be a tad different The National Parks Board (NParks) announced that the Sembawang Hot Spring area will soon be turned into a one-hectare park. Development of the park will start at the end of this year and is expected to be completed a year later.

Not that it could not do with a little sprucing up.

“At first, the place looked a little unsightly,” Ms Lee said, adding that she hopes more drainage facilities, toilets and trash bins will be installed during the redevelopment as this could help keep some of the mosquitoes and ants at bay. A drink stall could be also be set up.

Said Ms Lee: "The water can be used to make hard-boiled eggs, (while we enjoy) a kaya toast”.

Another member of her group agreed and gave some creative suggestions of his own.

“They could build a drain, just for your feet to soak in (as you) sit along an embankment,” 57-year-old Yeow Kok Hoong said.

Others Channel NewsAsia spoke to, however, wished the site could remain in its current state.

Mr Teo Lye Hock, 67, another member of the brisk walking group, hopes the place remains free of charge after the revamp, calling it a “poor man’s spa”.

Another visitor, 59-year-old Mdm Pan Hiew Lian said in Mandarin: “I’ve already been coming here for more than 20 years. I don’t want it to be redeveloped because I think it brings a sense of nostalgia. Redevelopment might make it better, but it’ll lose its charm.”

Mdm Pan added that she used to visit the hot spring once a week when she was living close by and though she lives at Bukit Gombak with her husband now, they still visit it twice a month.

Ms Lee and Mr Yeow also said that despite looking forward to the upgrades, the site should still keep its “rustic setting”.

CONCERNS OVER ENVIRONMENT, HERITAGE

Dr Grahame John Henderson Oliver, a senior lecturer at the Nanyang Technological University's Asian School of the Environment, said that the redevelopment is timely as the area is currently very bare, but that feedback should be gathered among residents first.

“I think if you’re going to do any development in Singapore now, you do an environment impact assessment report and publish it."

"People can review that and presumably there’ll be townhall type meetings where people with different vested interests - the local people, the development people - can all discuss and reach an agreement on how it could be,” he said.

However, one historian said modifying the hot spring’s present form could also mean losing a part of Singapore’s heritage. Mr Alex Tan Tiong Hee, the honorary secretary of the Singapore Heritage Society, said the hot spring is one of the few remaining places of interest outside of the city region that serves to highlight Singapore's heritage.

"It’s something that doesn't just cater to the folks living around Yishun or Sembawang, (but it's also a place to show) tourists, our friends, that outside the urban areas we still have landmarks," he said.

Mr Tan added that landmarks such as the hot spring help create, among residents, a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood. Without it, that sense of attachment is reduced.

NParks said that it will appoint a team of consultants to help with the design and implementation of the park. The consultants will also have to give a “comprehensive report on the hydrogeological study of the site”.

HOW THE HOT SPRING WAS FORMED

According to Dr Olivier, the hot spring’s formation is linked to Bukit Timah Hill.

At 165 metres, the hill is the highest point in Singapore and when rain falls, the rainwater seeps through the granite within the hill.

The rainwater then sinks to about 4.8 kilometres underground, where it gets heated up by the surrounding rocks and mantle to about 160 degrees Celsius and 190 degrees Celsius, he explained.

As more rain falls, the water underground is pushed out through the faults and cracks that connect the ground under Bukit Timah Hill and the Sembawang Hot Spring, he said. The water then cools to 70 degrees Celsius as it reaches the surface.


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Best of our wild blogs: 23 Apr 17



29 April (Sat): FREE Ubin Mangrove tour with R.U.M.!
Restore Ubin Mangroves (R.U.M.) Initiative

Flight of the Whimbrels @ Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve - 16Apr2017
sgbeachbum

Night Walk At Venus Drive (21 Apr 2017)
Beetles@SG BLOG


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Singapore opens 6th nature park, with another new park in the works

Dylan Loh Channel NewsAsia 22 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's sixth nature park, the 75-hectare Windsor Nature Park, was officially opened on Saturday (Apr 22).

Located at Upper Thomson Road, the park is linked to the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. Visitors can walk along the Hanguana Trail – lined with rare native plants – and also see a marsh habitat and several freshwater streams within the park.

At the park's visitor pavilion, the public can also join workshops to learn about Singapore's natural heritage and ongoing conservation efforts.

At the opening ceremony, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee also announced that another new park, the Rifle Range Nature Park, will open by 2020.

Mr Lee said: "Our network of nature parks is part of our commitment towards conserving our natural heritage in this city in a garden, in this biophyllic Singapore. But the nature parks themselves are just one part of the conservation story. What will ensure that our rich biodiversity endures is the attitude of our Singaporeans."

The upcoming Rifle Range Nature Park will cover 67 hectares and will be located at the southern end of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Plans for the park include a sky garden for visitors to experience nature via an elevated walkway, and hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty.


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Malaysia: ‘Protected sun bears still being sold in Kapit’

FATIMAH ZAINAL The Star 23 Apr 17;

KUALA LUMPUR: Growing up in Kapit, Sarawak, Jenny Kong knew just how special her birthplace is.

A three-hour boat ride from Sibu, the small town boasts of a beautiful natural environment.

But a sad practice, she said, is prevailing in Kapit.

There is still the killing and trading of sun bears, which are a protected species, the Kapit native said.

“Their parts such as the bile and nails are all cut up and sold. Have you seen such a thing with your own eyes?” Kong, 21, asked.

“From the time I was a little girl until today, I would see sun bears being sold openly in the markets of Kapit,” she said.

The population of sun bears had dropped by 30% in the last 30 years, she added.

Kong, who is a student at the Institute of Teacher Education Tuanku Bainun Campus, was among six conservationists who spoke on environmental sustainability at the Sembang@WWF programme held at Wisma Kebudayaan Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) here yesterday.

The event was held in conjunction with Earth Day 2017, which was celebrated annually yesterday.

Hundreds of youths got together to learn about the latest climate science and actions that they could take in their communities.

“This year, we dedicate Earth Day to the youths because you are the voice of tomorrow.

“The exposure needs to begin from now, so you will be able to make informed decisions and have the right mindset and right behaviour to build a more sustainable future,” said WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma.

SGM president Michael Kok said together with WWF-Malaysia they wanted to inspire more young people to put in greater effort to promote the agenda.

“A 15-year-old today will be an adult in 2030, the target year for the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.

The half-day event also marked WWF-Malaysia’s partnership with SGM to launch an animation series called When We’re Friends With Nature.


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Indonesia: Mangroves can help develop ecotourism -- Minister

Antara 23 Apr 17;

Demak, C Java (ANTARA News) - Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar stated that mangrove planting, aimed at preventing soil erosion, can also serve as a means to develop ecotourism.

"We highly support the development of ecotourism, particularly the planting of mangrove seeds," she said after planting mangrove seeds in Morosari coast in Demak, Central Java, on Saturday.

Besides serving as a tourist site, mangrove forests can also be used to boost production to support the economy, she stated.

Moreover, President Joko Widodo himself has stated that Java has beautiful scenery and that mangrove was a good choice to develop ecotourism, she added.

Demak Deputy District Head Joko Sutanto meanwhile noted that the Demak district government was encouraging local people, particularly those who earn their living as farmers and fishermen, to switch to develop tourism sector.

Among the popular tourist sites in Demak are Morosari coast and Syeh Abdullah Mudzakir grave, he remarked.

"The roads leading to the tourist sites will be planned in such way that visitors can reach them easily," he pointed out.

The district government will also build kiosks to sell the products of micro, small, and medium industries, he revealed. (*)


Most Mangrove Forests in Indonesia in Poor Condition
Tempo 23 Apr 17;

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Environment and Forestry minister Siti Nurbaya said that the condition of most mangroves on the coastal areas in Indonesia is not so good.

"52 percent of mangroves are in bad condition, while only 48 percent of them are in good condition," Sity explained while attending mangrove seed plantin in Bedono village, Sayung district, Demak regency, Central Java on Saturday (22/4).

She revealed that the area of mangroves in Indonesia streches up to 3,49 million heactares spread over 257 regencies/cities. However, each year, hundreds of thousands of hectares of the mangroves are in serious decline.

The damage is caused by numerous factors, among others reclamation, pollution, bad cultivation, and climate change.

"In general, the condition of coastal areas is difficult to maintain, but the government gradually keep trying to improve it," Siti added.

In order to preserve coastal areas, Siti said, there is no other way but to share roles to manage natural landscape from the coast up to the mountain peaks.

ANTARA


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Indonesia: Planting mangroves to save W. Kalimantan's beaches from erosion -- WWF

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 22 Apr 17;

Earth Day, which was celebrated globally on April 22, has become a crucial way for World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia to alert various parties about the erosion currently threatening beaches in West Kalimantan.

Data released by WWF Indonesia’s West Kalimantan program shows 193 kilometers of coastal areas in the northern part of the province have suffered damage from erosion and high tides since 2012.

“Mangrove restoration efforts need to be taken to tackle the situation. Apart from protecting the coastal areas, restoring mangroves will make positive impacts on society, ecologically, socially and economically,” WWF Indonesia-Kalimantan's program manager, Albert Tjiu, said in Pontianak on Friday.

Since 2009, WWF Indonesia has worked with its nine partner groups to periodically restore northern coastal areas, 55.25 hectares of land, with mangrove trees. With wider mangrove coverage, various plants and animals can be found in the areas.

“The mangrove areas have begun to become a prime tourism destination that supports the economy of people in their surrounding areas. This is like what has been conducted by Mempawah Mangrove Conservation in Mempawah regency and the conservation group, Surya Perdana Mandiri, in Singkawang City,” said Albert.

This year, he said, mangrove planting conducted by various stakeholders was focused on green-shield areas, such as Gosong Beach in Bengkayang regency and Setapuk Besar and Kuala districts in Singkawang City.

The Environmental Care Community (Kopling) Gosong Beach is holding a three-day camp-out and mangrove planting program from April 21 to 23. About 500 participants of the program will plant about 2,


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Indonesia: Crowds gather to witness Rafflesia flowers bloom

Antara 21 Apr 17;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - Crowds gathered to witness the 15 endemic Rafflesia arnoldii flowers blooming, by opening their six petals completely, at the Bukit Barisan conservation forest in Bengkulu Province, Gilang Ibnu, an environmentalist said here on Thursday (April 20).

"People have packed the area and the nearby Taba Teret Village to see the rare event of the flowers blooming process," Ibnu stated.

He further noted that people who wish to see the flowers blooming will have to drive for around one hour from Bengkulu city to the Taba Teret Village near the forest.

Jeni Rama, one of the visitors, remarked that the flowers usually reveal only five of their petals.

Many tourists were spotted taking "selfies" with the blooming flowers.

At a different occasion, a coordinator of the provinces rare flower campaigner (KPPL) Sofian Ramadhan pointed out that the forests sustainability remains a key to protect the flowers.

"Beside perpetrators who hunt the flowers, deforestation also threatens the plants existence," Ramadhan noted.

The flowers, which have served as the provinces icon, would continue to bloom for several days.

Rafflesia arnoldii was named after its two founders British botanists Joseph Arnold and Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. It has been dubbed as the worlds largest individual parasitic flower.

The Indonesian government has acknowledged it as a rare national flower (puspa langka), which is protected under the Presidential Decree No. 4 in 1993.

At the provinces conservation forest, at least four flowers, including Rafflesia arnoldii, R. gradutensis, R. hasselti, and R. bengkuluensis have been identified earlier by the scientists.

(Reported by Helti Marini Sipayung/Uu.KR-GNT/INE/KR-BSR/H-YH)


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Indonesia, Malaysia poised to set world Crude Palm Oil price

Andi Abdussalam Antara 23 Apr 17;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Malaysia, the world largest Crude palm oil (CPO) producers hope they will eventually be able to set the worlds reference price for the commodity in future.

"Indonesia and Malaysia are expected to increase collaboration to set the global price and marketing. The most important thing is the price of CPO," Malaysias Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) Chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Samad said in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the worlds number one and number two CPO producer countries with respective production of about 35 million tons and 18 million tons per annum. As they control more than 80 percent of the CPO market in the world, these countries have the potential to control its price too.

Indonesia is predicted to produce about 35 million tons of CPO in 2017, of which about 23 to 25 million tons are for exports. By 2020, Indonesias CPO production is expected to reach 40 million tons.

Indonesia exported 25 million tons of CPO last year -- mainly to India, China, Pakistan, and the Netherlands -- bringing in $17.8 billion in revenue, or about an eighth of the countrys total export proceeds.

So far, the world price of CPO has been determined by the Rotterdam market. According to the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), the price of CPO has continued to fluctuate and touched the lowest level at US$629 per ton at the Rotterdam CPO bourse in 2015 from the previous level of $831 per ton.

However, the price was relatively stable at the end of 2016, at about $670 per ton. Gapki has predicted that the price of the commodity would be at an average of $680 to $690 per ton in 2017, according to Gapki executive director Fadhil Hasan late last year.

Hence, Indonesia and Malaysia should collaborate to place themselves as the world price trend setters of CPO. "What is more important is how Indonesia and Malaysia could decide the highest price in the global market," Samad remarked.

Samad noted that the stable price of CPO will have a positive impact on the palm oil industry, small farmers, and Felda pioneers.

Felda has the worlds largest palm oil plantations, with 811,140 hectares of palm oil trees in the Malaysian peninsula of Sabah and Sarawak. This company also manages palm oil plantations in Indonesia in cooperation with Rajawali Corp.

"The purchase of some stake in Rajawali is a strategic investment. We purchased the shares as our strategic move. However, we cannot reveal what strategies are there," he remarked.

Samad said his company has no plan yet to increase its stake.

"We will concentrate in the future to increase collaboration in deciding the CPO price in the global market," he noted.

He admitted it was not easy to expand plantations in Indonesia. Hence, it prefers to cooperate with Indonesian companies through share ownership participation.

Currently, Indonesia is estimated to have 11.6 million hectares of palm oil plantations. Of this total, some eight percent are managed by state companies, 49 percent by private CPO industries, and 43 percent belong to small farmers. The livelihood of about 16-20 million people depends on upstream and downstream palm oil businesses across Indonesia.

"This is (increasing collaboration) beneficial not only for Felda but also for both countries. This should start with cooperation. About 80 percent of the global CPO production comes from Indonesia and Malaysia," Samad pointed out.

Samad had earlier met Indonesian Minister of Villages, Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration Eko Putro Sandjojo, who is also the investment liaison officer between Indonesia and Malaysia.

At an "Indonesia-Malaysia Business Matching" event, Sandjojo said that Indonesia is imposing a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil plantations. Thus, it is impossible to open up new plantations.

"What Felda is doing is to purchase the shares of companies that already have palm oil plantations," the minister explained.

Spokesman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association Tofan Mahdi noted that the reference price of CPO is determined in Rotterdam and the Kuala Lumpur Commodity Exchange.

"However, Indonesia is now attempting to set a global CPO reference price. The concept about it is still being drafted. There is also a Joint Marketing Office that has plantation companies, but it has yet to set a price that can serve as a global reference price," he added.

In the meantime, amid the efforts of CPO producer countries to put their products in the world market, there is a challenge coming from the European Union, through a resolution passed early this month.

The resolution, passed during a European Parliament plenary session, aims to counter the impact of unsustainable palm oil production, such as deforestation and habitat degradation. The resolution cited Southeast Asias role in particular.

Members of the European Parliament advocated that a single certification scheme should be implemented in order to guarantee that only sustainably produced palm oil enters the EU.

In response to this, the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) established by major producers -- Indonesia and Malaysia -- will convey its stance.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution stated that the CPOPC ministers will draft a joint communique. The council will also visit the EU in May to share its perspective as palm oil producers.

"The CPOPC ministers have expressed concern over the resolution of the EU parliament, as it is counterproductive to palm oil producing countries efforts on the sustainable management of resources," Darmin noted.(*)


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Best of our wild blogs: 22 Apr 17



"Through Time And Tide: A Survey of Singapore’s Reefs" by Marcus Ng
wild shores of singapore

Blue-crowned hanging parrots
Life's Indulgences

Leopard cat publication update 2015 to 2017
Through the Eyes of the Leopard Cat

Relooking at the numbers of Singapore's water supply: 3 very interesting deductions (part 2)
Water Quality in Singapore

Relooking at the numbers of Singapore's water supply: 3 very interesting deductions (part 3 - final)
Water Quality in Singapore


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3 dolphins cannot be accounted for

Audrey Tan, The Straits Times AsiaOne 22 Apr 17;

An international marine conservation group probing the living conditions of seven dolphins once housed at Underwater World Singapore (UWS) is asking for more transparency from marine attractions here.

Sea Shepherd visited Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China, three times last month to monitor the five Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins (or pink dolphins) that UWS said were sent there.

However, their investigators saw only four on display: females Eaung and Pann, as well as Pann's two calves, Splish and Splash.

"Further inquiries with Chimelong staff returned different responses," said Ms Jaki Teo, Singapore representative for Sea Shepherd Asia. One worker claimed the fifth dolphin, a female, was kept in an off-site research facility; but another staff said there were only four dolphins left, said Ms Teo.

UWS did not name the dolphins it sent over, but Sea Shepherd believes the fifth was Jumbo, a male.

UWS told The Straits Times its aquatic animals were all relocated to regional facilities by last October. These included the five pink dolphins, three fur seals and five otters that were sent to Chimelong. But UWS would not name the facilities the other animals, including two remaining dolphins, were moved to.

UWS also declined to respond to Sea Shepherd's report on the dolphins. Its spokesman would only say: "All the other aquatic animals also found suitable facilities to be rehoused and were safely transferred out of the UWS to various regional facilities by end October 2016."

Sea Shepherd's Ms Teo called for greater transparency from such parks. They could, for example, publish a list of acquisitions, births, deaths and sales of any animals.

"This will ensure that facilities keep to the highest animal husbandry standards and are accountable for their actions," said Ms Teo, pointing to past cases where animal deaths were swept under the rug until exposed by the media.

For example, when Gracie the dugong died in 2014, there was no announcement until last June, when The New Paper queried UWS after a reporter noticed the dugong had vanished. Similarly, when two manta rays died at Resorts World Sentosa in 2014 - the same year it started a manta ray conservation project - there were no announcements from the park until later that year, following queries from ST.

And UWS admitted that one of its dolphins, Han, was suffering from a "non-contagious form of skin cancer" only after local wildlife group Wildlife Watcher raised questions about its welfare.

It is not clear where Han and the other remaining dolphin, Speedy, were moved to. "This raises the question of whether they are still alive. This visible absence of culpability in the captive industry is a big problem," said Ms Teo.

The pink dolphin is on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which lists species threatened with extinction. Permits are required before animals on this list are traded.

But the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, which issues them here, declined to specify the number of permits it issued UWS, citing organisational confidentiality. The agency would only say that it worked with UWS to rehome all the aquatic animals to various aquaria overseas.

Sea Shepherd's call for transparency is echoed by other conservation groups, including the Nature Society (Singapore), or NSS, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). NSS marine conservation group chairman Stephen Beng said: "As more ocean theme parks are built, it pressures hunters to acquire endangered or threatened species in already overfished oceans. Transparency will show whether an organisation supports marine life research, conservation and education."

He added that the transfer of UWS' pink dolphins also fuels the debate on the moral acceptability of keeping animals in captivity, especially those with larger ranges and complex social structures such as cetaceans, which includes whales and dolphins.

Ms Aimee Leslie, global cetaceans and marine turtle manager at WWF-International, said: "There is no justification for a lack of transparency in the trade of protected marine species."

Chief executive of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society Louis Ng, who is also an MP for Nee Soon GRC, said: "India has banned the keeping of dolphins in captivity, Switzerland has banned the import of dolphins. Solomon Islands, where Resorts World Sentosa got their dolphins from, has also banned the export. Singapore should also move in this direction."

Related links
Sea Shepherd's full commentary: bit.ly/2nevLZ7


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Why the last of Changi Village’s full-time fishermen refuse to quit

Known for its beaches, nasi lemak, and ferries to Pulau Ubin, this laid-back estate is also where a few diehard fishermen set off each night to earn their catch. On The Red Dot tags along with one.
Desmond Ng and Noreen Mohammad Channel NewsAsia 21 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: It’s 6pm, and Mr Jamalludin Ismaon is out alone on his small fishing boat, having just left the jetty at Changi Village when most of Singapore is starting to wind down.

He has little time to enjoy the glimmering twilight reflection off the sea - soon he will be busy snagging fresh bait, usually sardines, cutting them into bits to bait his hooks, casting his long lines, and reeling in his catch of the day.

This 55-year-old will be out at sea for a good nine hours, and will only return to shore at 3am with his haul of fish such as sea bass, catfish and snappers - if he is lucky. He’ll leave his catch at the mooring area for fellow fishermen to sell in the morning, mostly to restaurants.

Mr Ismaon sets out to sea, with his wife Rose who joins him on occasion.

Then there are days that he returns to shore empty-handed.

Mr Ismaon is among a small group of fishermen in Changi Village – just ten of them – who still insist on this line of work, even though the hours may be long, the work demanding, and the pay meagre.

"This is a very tough job, it’s back-breaking. You have to spend a lot of time at sea. I don’t think many young guys can do this,” he said, adding that many have quit the full-time fishing trade in Changi Village over the years.

And yet, Mr Ismaon willingly took up this work three years ago. “I grew up just in front of the river. I used to fish when it was low tide, for small fish and crabs. We would then barbecue it. That’s how I started to love the sea,” he said.

He was born and raised in Kampong Changi - one of two kampongs in this small 7sq-km estate at the eastern tip of Singapore.

Some believe the name ‘Changi’ was derived from the Chengai tree that used to grow in the district. The area was referred to as Tanjong Changi as early as 1828.

Mr Ismaon, however, has a different take - he believes that it was named by old fishermen from Indonesia and Malaya who used to moor their boats here. “When they put a pole in the river, they tie the boat, that’s the ‘chang ni’,” he told the programme On The Red Dot.

Fishermen from Malaya and Indonesia used to moor their boats here in old days, according to Mr Ismoan.

WHERE TIGERS ONCE ROAMED

The Changi area had a different kind of visitor by sea too, in the early 1900s. Female tigers reportedly swam from Johor and stopped at Pulau Ubin before ending up in Singapore.

They would swim to Fairy Point in Changi Village and give birth in the neighbourhood, according to the National Library Board's Infopedia website.

Mr Ismaon and his family lived in a kampong house facing the sea, just next to the customs house where his father worked as a customs officer. Their family home, built in the 1960s, is still there today, albeit operating as a restaurant.

“This is the house that I was born in. The structure is still the same. From here, we can see people coming in and out, from Pulau Tekong, Pulau Ubin and Malaysia,” he said.

The house in which Mr Ismaon grew up is the last kampong house still standing in Changi Village today. It's now a restaurant.

Many of the villagers in the kampongs were relocated in the 1970s, when the area was being developed into a housing estate with its first low-rise HDB flats.

Today, new and old residents live in a mix of the HDB flats and old colonial buildings built by the British, who set up an air force base there after World War II.

STRESS IN THE CITY

As for Mr Ismaon, he moved to Tampines and Marine Parade - but he couldn’t get used to the concrete jungle.

I tried to live in the city area but I didn’t feel very peaceful. It was too crowded, there’s no sea, nothing. I didn’t like facing the walls and windows all day.

“I love Changi, it’s very peaceful. There’s nothing to trouble me here,” he said, adding that he used to return to Changi Village every weekend back when he wasn’t yet a fisherman.

Changi Village's signature tranquility and rustic charm.

He’d worked at a golf club and an oyster farm - but the call of the sea was too strong. He started fishing once again in his spare time, before he decided to jump into it full-time, just for the love of it.

These days, the Tampines resident struggles to earn even S$100 a night, which is just enough to cover his expenses such as petrol and fishing license.

“The catch was good in the past. You could earn S$300, S$400 a night with a good tide. But now, you want to earn S$100 or S$200, it’s very, very hard,” he said.

The fish are getting less. It’s not like in the past where we can catch fish anywhere. Now, sometimes we don’t catch any at all.

"But that’s what being a fisherman is all about, we cannot predict these things," he added.

The fish are getting fewer every year.

DANGERS OF THE TRADE

And long-line fishing can be dangerous too.

It involves an 800m-long rope that has more than 180 hooks tied to it, which means it’s easy to snare oneself on the hooks. Fortunately, Mr Ismaon has been careful enough not to.

His wife, Rose, sometimes accompanies him on his fishing trip, helping him operate the boat while he casts his lines.

She said: “I’ll try to make an effort to help him because I know it’s quite dangerous for him to go alone. So if I’m really free, I’ll follow him.”

"It’s quite dangerous for him to go alone. So if I’m really free, I’ll follow him," said his wife Rose.

Like Mr Ismaon, she feels a strong connection to the sea. The couple met on a fishing trip some 18 years ago.

Some of her friends, however, were initially surprised by what her husband did for a living.

They don’t know that there are still people who work as fishermen full-time. They always ask ‘How you survive?’
“But we survive because it’s quite interesting. If we don’t catch fish using longlines, we do prawning too,” she said.

If they catch excess bait, Rose said that she would pickle it or use it to make sambal belacan.

Rose turns any excess bait fish into sambal belacan.

‘I STARTED HERE, MAYBE I’LL END HERE’

No matter how tiring it gets, Mr Ismaon doesn’t intend to quit this trade.

“When I’m here every day, I feel like I’m back in the kampong. I feel like I started here, maybe I will end here,” he said.

It’s how fellow Changi kampong boy, Mr Nirbha Singh, feels too.

Born in the area, he has been operating his textile shop there since 1968 selling clothes, table cloths and carpets – even after the departure of the British airmen and their families in the 1970s hit his business hard.

Born in Changi, Mr Nirbha Singh has been operating his textile shop there since 1968.

Mr Singh still misses the peace and neighbourliness of the good old kampong days. “It was a very friendly kampong,” he said.

“We are like brothers and sisters. At night when we close our shop, we will sit with our friends at a stall for supper.

“Now everybody is busy. After 9.30pm, people are tired, they close their shop, go upstairs, have their meal and sleep. Life was totally different then.”

Watch the full episode on Changi Village here on Toggle. Catch That’s My Backyard - On The Red Dot, on Fridays, 9.30pm on Mediacorp Channel 5.




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