Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Duality of Pulau Ketam

Whenever we visit the German Girl Shrine near the Ketam Quarry (previously known as Aik Hwa Quarry), we would see an islet off Pulau Ubin with a spread of tall, luscious, mature mangrove plants standing on the islet. That is Pulau Ketam.

Pulau Ketam as seen from Pulau Ubin, in front of Ketam Quarry

I have always known that half the islet of Ketam was administered by National Parks Board and the other half by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA). However, I never knew how to differentiate the two and possibly have only ever seen this particular view of Pulau Ketam. We also joke that "the other side of the island (that you can't see) with no trees probably belonged to AVA".

Joke aside, I had not realize the truth and severity of that statement until I saw this satellite image of Pulau Ketam, taken from Google Earth.

Satellite image of Pulau Ketam. Source: Google Earth

The first ground photo I showed was taken from a site at the extreme north and top of the satellite image. It is not particularly clear in this photo. The cleared area in front of AVA's side of Ketam is the Ubin Resort. Perhaps if one has stayed at Ubin Resort previously, one would have noticed the cleared side of Ketam.

According to the Mr. Budak, during a talk on the Straw-headed bulbul of Ubin by Dr Ho Hua Chew, Head of the NSS Conservation Committee, Dr Ho mentioned:

"Land reclamation is also changing the landscape; for instance, a part of Pulau Ketam (an islet off Ubin) has been cleared of its original mangroves and turned into a landfill for no discernible purpose."

Dr. Ho was emphasizing on the point that these changing landscapes and clearing of forested areas on Ubin is reducing the areas where our wildlife can survive. In following weeks, I will be showing more satellite images of parts of Ubin that has been cleared for recreation. It is rather amazing to see these areas from the air as it gives scale and perspective of its dimension in relation to the rest of the island. We would never have imagined how much area it occupies when we simply cycle past it on the ground or even if we have been within its compound!

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  • Living on the Edge: The Straw-headed Bulbul in Pulau Ubin
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