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Nature Society of Singapore adopts Kranji Reservoir

By Esther Ng, TODAY
16 January 2009

SINGAPORE: First it was Chek Jawa, then Pulau Semakau - now soon, another strip of nature little known to Singaporeans, the Kranji Bund Marshes, will be made more accessible to the public.

The Nature Society of Singapore (NSS) adopted the Kranji Reservoir and the surrounding marshes in November, under the PUB's waterways adoption programme.

The wetlands are the island's last remaining chunk of freshwater marshes, and are home to threatened bird species. Measuring 90 hectares, the Kranji marshes have fallen victim to neglect, urbanisation and poachers over the years.

Now, the NSS hopes to get Singaporeans to treasure the area's rich biodiversity, and is launching its first tour for the public on January 31. The three-hour tour will be held every last Saturday of the month, and will involve a 4-kilometre trek.

The society will conduct a survey of the plant and wildlife in the marshlands. It also plans to rehabilitate an overgrown pond located at the end of Neo Tiew Lane 2.

Said the chairman of the conservation committee, Dr Ho Hua Chew: "The pond is clogged with aquatic vegetation. It's conducive for some birds, like the Purple Swamphen, but not others.

"By removing some of the vegetation and opening up the water surface, we hope to attract the pond's original inhabitants - the Lesser Whistling Duck and the Common Moorhen - and other species of birds and dragonflies to forage or visit here."

Much of the wildlife has been threatened by poaching, which seems to have increased in recent years. "We've encountered illegal angling. We've found monitor lizards, terrapins, the Baya Weavers caught in traps and nets. We try to educate these poachers when we meet them," said Dr Ho.

As there are not enough perching areas for birds, the NSS is considering placing a platform in the middle of the pond or on the shore of the reservoir. Once this is done, the public can expect to see Ospreys, Kingfishers and Perns on these perches.

The management of a nature reserve marks a first in the NSS' 54-year history. "As a non-profit organisation, we are constrained by resources and our focus has been mainly on... conservation studies," said Dr Ho.

"However, the PUB has given us this opportunity to go 'hands-on' for the conservation of biodiversity and we've secured some funding from Bloomberg to help us carry out this project."

The PUB's adoption programme, which aims to transform our waterways and reservoirs into community and recreational spaces, enjoys wide patronage.

Senoko Power, Dunman High School and Waterways Watch Society are some groups that organise clean-ups and educational programmes.

To sign up for the Kranji Bund Marshes tour, email contact@nss.org.sg. - TODAY/fa

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