magazine of the Biological Sciences Society
National University of Singapore
|The Mudskipper, Nov 97|
View from the Summit
More than a Nature Reserve
Postgraduate Sivasothi e-mailed us some
of the quirkier moments he's had at Bukit Timah!
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore. Fri, 24th Oct 97 --- Yesterday, we had a first year prac at Bukit Timah. After that, a bunch of undergrads accompanied Alvin & I back through the catchment forest to MacRitchie (5-8 pm).
There was a bunch of soldiers (I think a company's worth but drilling as sections) all decked out in camo paint, looking very garang, around Upper Pierce.
They were walking in formation, and reacting to sudden bursts of gunfire from the forest by diving to the ground, crawling, charging, amidst the release of smoke grenades, thunderflashes and incessant swearing by their instructors.
Quite a charged-up atmosphere, until a little girl's voice permeated the scene: "Helloo, Mummy, ah? I'll be late for dinner tonight ... ". An undergrad on her hand phone to her mum. Quite an anti-climax for the young men on the ground.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore. Sat, 17th Jan 98 --- A funny thing happened today. I approached South View Hut ahead of my group during 3rd-year Conservation Bio prac in Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in order to take up position for a mini-lecture on plant succession in forests (there was a belukar patch), lightning strike (dead trees abound), keystone species (figs), the problems of reforestation, etc.
Stretched out on the bench, in a passionate embrace with legs entwined, was a couple, quite intent on sucking each others innards out.
Concerned that the appearance of 17-odd curious undergrads should be a gradual one, I kicked the leaf litter in an attempt to warn them. This did not disrupt their dedication, and as I stood next to the fig tree near them, perhaps they came up for air. For they finally deigned to disengage just as the first undergrad appeared around the corner. I was relieved for I initially thought they were disdainful of the interruption and would have carried on. Under such circumstances, I would have been hard-pressed to compete with their performance, for all I had to offer the students were the lowly intricacies of tropical rainforest dynamics. The lad was still stretched out on the bench much like a degenerate roman, with the lady sitting in his midst. They were soon surrounded by the group (a pleasant bunch of undergrads) who feebly attempted to contain their amusement as he struggled to a sitting position.
As I began the lecture with, "there are many things to see here", the faces of the group reflected both sympathy and glee for the predicament of the couple who tried to appear nonchalant (although I think the lady struck a sheepish grin) as I embarked on what must have been a ten-minute lecture. In absolute terms, that is...
Later I discovered that another group had stumbled upon them earlier. After our encounter, the couple apparently called it a day, and abandoned the site, depriving the third group of an entertaining morning. Sadly for them, they appeared at the Visitors Centre just as we were debriefing the gleeful groups of students. As they scampered away from the imagined stares, I guess they were thinking they'd have to go deeper into the forest the next time.
© N Sivasothi, 2001