Interesting sights to catch at Punggol Promenade
Lots of flora and fauna to explore!
Home to scenic sights such as Punggol Beach and popular weekend getaway Coney Island, some may consider Punggol a neighbourhood that offers respite from a tiring week.
In recent years, this former fishing village has transformed itself into a recreational hub. During weekends, many can be spotted cycling or taking a leisurely stroll along the waterways of Punggol.
Here are some interesting sights to keep your eyes peeled for the next time you take a walk along the 2.4 km Nature Walk at Punggol Promenade, that stretches from the middle section of Punggol Point Walk and Riverside Walk.
1. The vomit fruit
With its lumpy, lime-coloured exterior, the Noni plant looks quite ordinary at first glance. The fruit’s smell, however, reveals the truth behind its nickname. Dubbed as ‘the vomit fruit’, it emits a vomit-like odour when it is ripe.
So the next time you come across a ripe Noni plant, make sure to have your mask up. You will be doing your nose a favour.
What might come as a surprise to most, however, would be the Noni plant’s medicinal value, that originates from traditional beliefs.
In the past, it was rumoured to treat ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer. Currently, it is used in the Philippines to treat arthritis by consuming the juice from its leaves.
2. The fan flower
Tolerant of sea spray, you can usually find the Sea Lettuce near the shorelines or in the waters.
While it’s known for having broad, succulent leaves that make for a slippery ‘green carpet’, what most aren’t aware of is the algae’s petite flowers that bloom in an eccentric manner.
With five distinct petals that only open on one side, the Sea Lettuce’s flower resembles an elegant Chinese fan.
Besides this unique characteristic, the Sea Lettuce also makes for a valuable food supplement given its high nutritional value. It’s commonly used as a garnish or in soups such as Miso soup.
3. The invasive alien species
Walk past any pond in the promenade and you will find it being transformed into a haven for Red-eared Sliders. Many of the terrapins can be found congregating above the water in groups of two to five.
As adorable as they might seem, there is a darker side to these reptiles. Categorised under the ‘invasive alien species’ by National Parks Board (NParks), they actually pose a threat to our local wildlife.
Originating from North America, these omnivorous creatures are not considered a native species. Thus, they often compete for resources with other native aquatic life found in the ponds.
Behind every ‘villain’ however, lies a tragic backstory.
Red-eared sliders are the most sought after terrapins in the pet trade. Once they mature (from three months to five years) however, some pet owners struggle to care for them as they double or triple in size. This leads to the terrapins being dumped into public water bodies like ponds and even the sea.
Thus, buyers should think through the long-term aspects of getting such animals and whether they have the capability to care for them.
Even if a situation arises where you would like to give them up, there are Facebook pages such as SGTerrapinsAdoption that provide a space for local owners to put up their terrapins for adoption.
4. The lizard that does push-ups
Often spotted atop trees and bushes, Changeable lizards exert their dominance much more than a common cicak we find in our homes. During the mating season, the male lizards can be found sporting an orange head with a black blotch over the cheeks.
However, their loud appearance is not the only way they make their presence felt. The males also display themselves to females and rivals by doing push ups and head bobs.
Termed as an invasive species, Changeable lizards are more territorial and aggressive than their local counterparts, the Green Crested lizards.
Thus, this makes it harder for the Green Crested lizards to compete with them for resources such as food.
5. The bag snatchers
The wildlife that seems to frequently interact with humans is our local species of monkeys, the Long-Tailed Macaque.
They can be commonly spotted in public areas including university dorms and even in the middle of the highways. So don’t be surprised if you happen to cross paths with them during your stroll at Punggol.
In the event of such an encounter, here are some things to take note of to protect yourself and the macaques.
Firstly, avoid carrying plastic bags during your hikes. This is because the macaques associate even the simple swish sound of plastic with the presence of food and can come after you in search of something to eat..
Next, beware of your facial expressions. They are highly intelligent and perceptive creatures and often interpret glances at them or a smile as threatening and an invitation to fight with them.
Lastly, do not feed wildlife under any given circumstance. What might seem like a kind gesture to you, is often interpreted as a disturbance to the wildlife.
Feeding them reduces their readiness to forage in the forest for food which leads to long-term negative impacts on the flora in the forest as they depend on the animals to disperse their seeds through defecation.
Instead of treating them as objects of our curiosity, we should look at them as a part of our ecosystem and wildlife that deserve to be respected, and make efforts towards doing so.
One way to go about this is to leave behind whatever you might find during walks. Refrain from plucking flowers or fruits that you see along the way. What might seem trivial to you, could be an important source of food or shelter for these animals.
This article is written with inputs from Jena Chao and Soniya Chin, instructors at Outward Bound Singapore.