Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pasir Ris

Aug 6, 2008
Crocodile 'hunters' on the prowl in Pasir Ris Park
While PUB, NParks seek to trap reptile, nature lovers want one for the album
By Ang Yiying & Kimberly Spykerman

THE hunt is on for the crocodile spotted in the mangrove swamp near the Tampines River canal in Pasir Ris Park.

The reptile, which was more than a metre long, was first spotted in a mangrove swamp two weeks ago by retiree Ong Wee Lee, 70, a park regular.

Three days ago, he caught sight of it again. His daughter snapped a photograph, which made the headlines in the local media during the past two days.

Working jointly to trap the reptile are the PUB, the national water agency, and the National Parks Board.

Several other 'hunters' are on its trail as well: a mix of curious onlookers and nature lovers all eager to shoot it - with their cameras, that is.

Among the people combing the area for signs of the crocodile yesterday were Mr K.C. Wong and his son.

The 53-year-old civil servant said: 'I wanted to see the crocodile in its natural habitat before someone does something to it. After all, Singapore has so little wildlife left.'

Avid photographer J. Zhang, 32, who had been at the park for seven hours since 9.30am, said: 'I just came to complete my Singapore wildlife collection. Anyway, we have to respect nature and enjoy what we have.

'We should have higher tolerance and be aware of the fact that their presence means we have a healthy ecosystem.'

There have been reported sightings of crocodiles in the wild before. In 1996, it was reported that a three-man team had caught two crocodiles at MacRitchie Reservoir.

One man familiar with the reptiles here is Mr Robin Lee, the manager of Long Kuan Hung Crocodile Farm in Kranji.

He said that he had been called several times over the past few years to catch crocodiles in the wild, once by roping the reptile's neck.

Successfully trapping a crocodile requires experience and luck and he cautioned that the public should avoid going near one.

'You just never know about wild animals,' he said.

There are two crocodile farms in Singapore and neither has any escapes to report.

Mr Lee, whose farm has about 8,500 crocodiles which are bred for their skin and meat, said that the ponds are surrounded by high walls and fencing.

Over at the Singapore Crocodile Farm in Serangoon, which also holds educational tours, supervisor Sharon Neo said they have fewer than 100 crocodiles.

They are well-fed and are kept in enclosures high enough to prevent their escape, she added.

According to experts, the crocodile sighted at Pasir Ris Park is likely to be an estuarine crocodile, more commonly known as the saltwater crocodile.

It is more commonly found in the neighbouring countries of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Mr Biswajit Guha, the assistant director of zoology at the Singapore Zoo, said: 'The species can travel in the seas from one island to the next.'

Mr N. Sivasothi, an instructor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore, said that the crocodile could have come from Malaysia or could have been moving around Singapore's north-east.

Experts have advised the public to stay away from crocodiles if they see one.

Mr Sivasothi said: 'They will tend to avoid people and we should do the same.'

The public can call the PUB 24-hour hotline at 1800-284-6600 if they spot crocodiles in rivers or reservoirs.

[Okay, so the water is not clean and they don't want anyone swimming there. But a story about a crocodile is overkill no? Anyway, apparently the water's clean enough for a crocodile. ]

July 30, 2008
Avoid swimming at Pasir Ris beach for a year as water is unclean: NEA
By Shobana Kesava
THE National Environment Agency (NEA) on Wednesday advised the public not to swim at Pasir Ris beach for a year as the water is not clean.

The water there carries a high level of Enterococcus - a bacteria found in faeces.

NEA has put up signposts to warn beach-goers to avoid swimming in the area.

The bacteria levels have not risen over the years, but the water quality at Pasir Ris has been graded 'fair' under new, stringent standards set by the World Health Organisation, said NEA.

In a five-level grading, ranging from very good to very poor, Pasir Ris came out 'fair'.

Of the other six beaches in Singapore where the public can swim, all have 'good' water quality, while Sentosa Island's was rated 'very good'.

Reservoirs here were also measured for two microbes: enterococcus and blue-green algae, which causes algal blooms.

The water quality in these places is considered good enough for water contact activities, such as swimming, except Marina Reservoir, which is still under construction.

Singapore's national water agency, PUB reminded the public that no swimming is allowed in reservoirs.

It also assured the public that all water running through taps in Singapore goes through rigorous cleaning treatments.

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