In Singapore, there are virtually no natural habitats left to support wildlife, apart from 3,000 hectares of nature reserves. The 164 hectare Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is home to the only primary rainforest remaining. There are some 500 hectares of mangrove wetlands scattered along the coast, most notably at the nature reserve of Sungei Buloh. There are 2,282 known species of plants in Singapore and the Botanic Gardens, an oasis of green near the city centre, is a pleasant place to see much of the island’s indigenous flora.
Save for smaller species such as monkeys, macaques, flying lemurs, squirrels, snakes, bats, monitor lizards and the rare pangolin or anteater, Singapore has lost most of its fauna to urbanisation and deforestation. There are 85 known species of mammals. On rare occasions, usually in less populated and heavily vegetated parts of the island, the odd snake can be spotted, usually non-venomous grass snakes or pythons, although cobras too have been seen.
There are over 142 resident bird species in Singapore. However, more than 180 species can be seen at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve where migratory birds from as far north as Japan come to feed and rest en route to Australia. Singapore’s most common birds are the Javan mynah, house crow, starling and bulbul.
Singapore’s entire coast has been extensively modified through land reclamation, damming and construction. The ecology of the surrounding waters has been subjected to heavy shipping traffic and the silt churned out by land reclamation and regular dredging has literally smothered much of the coral to death. To enjoy what remains of Singapore’s marine life a trip to the southern isles is more promising, as local divers have spotted turtles, nurse sharks, rays, barracudas and even pink dolphins.
In 2001, two plant species, six mammal species, and nine bird species were considered to be in danger of extinction. Endangered species in Singapore include the Ridley’s leaf-nosed bat, Chinese egret, yellow-crested cockatoo, batagur, tigers, and the Singapore roundleaf horseshoe bat.