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About this book
About this book
Published in association with the National Parks Board of Singapore, this important book combines vivid photographs of marine and terrestrial sites and species with a highly informative and readable text. The book starts with a look at Singapore's wild past: its biogeography from before human occupation up to 19th century changes and finishes with a look at the possible future of wildlife in the country. In between, there are full details on the current flora and fauna to be found in and on Singapore's reefs and rocks, mangroves and mud, lowland and swamp forests, and parks and gardens. A unique feature in each chapter is the 'Guided Tour' which takes readers to specific habitats to explore the trees, birds, plants and animals to be found there. Written by three expert authors, Wild Singapore provides an authoritative and entertaining survey of the wide spectrum of wildlife on the land and in the seas of Singapore.
Customer Reviews (1)
Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
3 Mar 2021
Written for Paperback
The tiny island state of Singapore is astonishingly biodiverse considering its size (712 square kilometres). Many people associate Singapore with its glass and steel high-rise buildings or shopping streets like Orchard Street. But a short cab ride away from the bustling streets are the rainforests of Bukit Timor and the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. I have visited Singapore a few times and I surprise people (even Singaporeans) when I tell them how biodiverse it is and how well the country manages its remaining precious areas of biodiversity. The island nation is a good example of how wildlife can be encouraged to hold on in its remaining natural habitats through enlightened urban planning. This book perfectly captures why Singapore is astonishing for its biodiversity as much as it is for the economic miracle it is.
Singapore has lost around ninety percent of its forests after it was colonised by the British in the 19th century. Nevertheless, Singapore’s biodiversity is remarkable. The facts speak for themselves. Consider some of these statistics of species recorded (including historical records) in Singapore: over 1,500 extant species of vascular plants, 88 mammals, 411 birds, 123 reptiles, 41 freshwater fish, 800 plus marine fish, a staggering 381 butterflies, 1,000 plus moths, 126 dragonflies, 256 corals, 500 plus marine molluscs. This is an impressive tally of species amongst the more popular groups that are of interest to wildlife enthusiasts.
At the time of the visit of the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace to Singapore, tigers were a real threat and in one year 200 deaths of people were recorded. Tigers are no longer present, but you can still see amazing animals such as the Sumatran Flying Dragon, in its parks and gardens whilst another two species of flying lizards are found in its rainforests. Flying snakes and flying geckoes are also found with four species of flying mammals: three squirrels and the Sunda Colugo. The colugos are so unique, the only two species in the world to not only have their own scientific family but are placed in their own scientific order as well.
The book comprises nine chapters with two chapters covering coastal and marine habitats and another on the freshwater swamp forest. Aquatic habitats are a strength of this book and well deserved given how biodiversity-rich they are. Furthermore, the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is one of the best examples I have visited of how to make mangroves accessible on foot to the visiting public. My favourite chapter is the fifth chapter on the ‘Lowland and Coastal Hill Forest’. I hope Singaporeans realise how privileged they are to have biodiverse, dipterocarp rainforests which are so easily accessible. Singapore also has the world-class Singapore Botanic Garden. Anyone with an interest in tropical plants could easily spend several days in it. Furthermore, Singaporeans benefit from active nature organisations (e.g. Nature Society of Singapore) with whom you can go out into the field to learn about the plants and animals. The chapters in the book are interspersed with accounts labelled as a ‘Guided Tour’ which are in the fashion of a nature journal to give an impression of what a visitor can see. These are evocatively written and make me want to hasten my return to Singapore.
Every tropical country should attempt to establish even small patches of rainforests in city centres. A chapter on city living showcases some of the work to make the city greener and more hospitable for nature. Even cities such as London can learn from Singapore and have wild patches of woodland in central parks such as Hyde Park and Regents Park.
The Wild Series by John Beaufoy Publishing is best described as a combination of serious but accessible natural history content with a coffee-table design. The books, typically 208 pages in length, are written by knowledgeable all-round naturalists with extensive field experience. The text is complemented by beautiful photographs and design. They provide a good overview of the natural history of a country and contain practical information which is useful at the trip planning stages. For wildlife enthusiasts, they complement the established practical travel guides by the likes of Bradt, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. For somebody who is a resident of a country or on an organised trip, they are useful for providing context and inspiration. They are large-format books, 210 mm by 260 mm, not designed to be carried in a day pack, but of a size and shape where one may be tempted to take on a trip for evening reading.
Wallace wrote that in 1854 he collected 700 species of beetles in Bukit Timor in an area of less than one square mile. Modern surveys have found even more species although some of the larger species have been lost. Thanks to an ambitious tree-planting programme, Singapore has almost half of the island under vegetation cover, with 298 extant species of butterflies. The facts and figures and entertaining stories in Wild Singapore leave you in no doubt that the natural history of Singapore is rich enough to keep a serious naturalist busy for decades.
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Dr Geoffrey Davison spent all his working life in South-East Asia, as a university lecturer in Malaysia, a conservationist with WWF, and then with the National Parks Board, Singapore. His interests range across ornithology, tropical forest ecology and animal taxonomy. He has written numerous scientific papers as well as books, including the bestselling Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of Malaysia.
Ria Tan is passionate about Singapore's marine life as a writer, photographer and observer. She regularly monitors about 40 seashore locations and, working closely with the National Parks Board, she helps manage teams of volunteers.
Benjamin Lee studied zoology at the National University of Singapore. He has worked at the National Parks Board since 2000 and spent eight years managing the rainforest nature reserves as a senior conservation officer. He currently heads special projects in the Conservation Division