Chay Hoon, Patricia and I decided to have a quick look at the area today.
There is a walking/cycling trail along the East bank of Sungei Api Api. And it was already well used early in the morning.And an underpass to keep going along the path to the other side of the main road across the Sungei.
The mangroves lining Sungei Api Api were part of a conscious decision by NParks to re- establish the original mangrove habitat there after reclamation at Pasir Ris and works to deepen the Sungei. The restoration of mangroves here was also part of Dr John Yong's effort, 'his dream' he says, to actively replant mangroves, especially endangered species.
The experience in this experiment was not only applied to Sungei Tampines which lies nearby, but also to mangrove restoration at Pulau Semakau!Probably not many ordinary people who drive and walk past the wild mangroves at Sungei Api Api realise just how special they are.Just from the road bridge across Sungei Api Api, we could see so many species of mangroves and mangrove related plants. Of course, lots of Api Api (mostly Avicennia alba), lots of Bakau (Bruguier cylindrica especially). old and tall Yellow-eyed pong pong trees (Cerbera odollam), Sea almond or Ketapang (Terminalia catappa).
We were particularly looking out for special Bruguiera, but most of those we saw in bloom were the very common Bruguiera cylindrica.
There were also lots of Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliceaus) many of which were tall trees. The little Cotton stainer bug (Dysdercus decussatus) eat the seeds of this plant and may sometimes be seen in huge numbers under a leaf.
There were also replanted Dugun (Heritiera sp.) and Mata pelandok (Ardisia elliptica). Both these plants are listed as 'Endangered' in the Red Data book.And the Mata pelandok were all in bloom today! Also called the Seashore ardisia, the plant's Malay name means 'Eye of the mousedeer' which is what the black ripe fruits resemble. But the pretty flowers are like a star, with five pale pink petals. It has a really odd central structure. I have no idea how this structure functions.
The mangroves are of course full of life!
This tiny little caterpillar put up a ferocious posture when I took a closer look at it. At first glance, I thought the little yellow 'bumps' on its body meant that it was already parasitised by a wasp. Parasitic wasps often lay eggs in a living caterpillar. The larval wasps eat the caterpillar and when they pupate, the cocoons are arranged on top of the caterpillar. But a closer look reveals what I first thought were cocoons to be tufts of hairs. Is is a way for the caterpillar to confuse wasps into thinking that it was already parasitised? Hmm. I know so little about terrestrial invertebrates. Sigh.The mangrove forest was ringing with the singing of cicades. I couldn't find one to photograph, but Chay Hoon pointed out the many moults of cicades stuck on the trees. When the winged adult emerges, it leaves behind its old skin in all its perfect detail!
The day got hot and humid all too soon. And in a sunny patch was a male Changeable lizard (Calotes versicolor) with a bright orange head and black cheek patches. The males take on this colouration during the breeding season, or when they just emerged victorious from a battle with rival males.Besides the song of many different mangrove birds, there was also the crowing of cockerels. We had a glimpse of one and it seems to be a real Red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus). These birds have white ear patches and grey legs. Our domesticated chickens are descended from these wild birds. I've also seen the Red jungle fowl on Pulau Ubin as well as Sungei Buloh. It's good to know that this bird is thriving in our parks and reserves.
On the West bank of the Sungei is a little park called Sungei Api Api Park! It runs behind and along some residential landed property.The paths were crowded with people walking their kids and their dogs. As well as cyclists and people heading for Pasir Ris park.The mouth of the Sungei lies in the middle of Pasir Ris Park.From the bridge at the mouth of the Sungei are many lines leading into the water, probably attached to crab traps.There are also floating booms at the mouth of the Sungei. Perhaps to stop the entry and exit of floating trash?Alas, this doesn't seem to have stopped all trash from landing in the mangroves. The Eastern bank of the Sungei near the mouth is covered in trash.Much of it seems to be stuff dumped by shore users: food utensils, food packets and such.
It's a pity more people don't appreciate this delightful and accessible mangrove that was saved from the brink of destruction.
More links to information about Sungei Api Api
- Pasir Ris Park on the Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore
- Mangrove swamps at Pasir Ris are man-made Chan Kay Min Straits Times 24 Jul 01 on ecologyasia.
- Seeding a Dream and five threatened coastal plants about Dr John Yong's efforts for mangrove restoration at Pasir Ris and elsewhere on NatureWatch Vol 6 No 1 Jan-Mar 98
- Paint taints river The New Paper 3 May 07: about pollution at Sungei Api Api