About a week after my first encounter with the smooth-coated otters, I was eager to go see them again. It was a weekend and I headed to Sungei Buloh with anticipation.
Walk and walk I did, but the otters were nowhere in sight. For an hour and a half, I was looking at every nook and cranny. After completing the whole route, I decided to give it one last chance and went to the spot where I last caught sight of the otters. No luck, but I heard yelping on the other side of the mangrove bank at a short distance away. Could it be them?
I did not have a clear view, as the mangrove plants were really getting in the way, but through the leaves, I could see grey figures moving and yelping away incessantly. Quickly finding an opening, I found them. Again!
Crouching at an awkward angle, I did all I could to get some decent shots. It didn’t help that I was using a new lens that did not have image-stabilization. Luckily for me, there were some usable shots.
1. Hi there!
2. This time around, there are four of them!
3. Group huddle
5. Everyone gets fish for dinner
6. Serious eats
7. Ever vigilant
8. Watch it!
9. The dive
10. Enough eating, let’s play!
Smooth-coated otters (Lutrogale perspicillata) are medium sized otters that inhabit coastal areas such as estuaries and mangroves. Their range extends from South East Asia to India.
Although now listed as a vulnerable species, here in Singapore, there have been records of sightings of these otters in a few areas, namely in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Sungei Tampines and Pulau Ubin.
My first sighting of these creatures was at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 5 September 2010. It was a pair of feeding otters. The whole thing was rather unexpected as I was not specifically looking out for them. Here are the pictures (see my Flickr account for larger sizes).
The Plaintain Squirrel is the most common squirrel species in Singapore. They are found in many parks, gardens, mangrove and forested area. In other words, a very versatile species. It is also unfortunately considered a pest by fruit farmers as they have a liking for fruits. Thankfully for them, Singapore does not have many fruit farms (no, there are no orchard in Orchard Road), so they are not hunted down.
Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is one of those ulu (far flung and isolated) areas that I like to frequent, as there is a wide variety of animals and birds that calls it home. It is mainly a mangrove area (hence the Wetland designation). In the past, it housed a series of prawn ponds and fish farms, but now it has been redeveloped into a park with ready made trails for those seeking a dose of nature.
I was covering one of the trails, which overlook Johor Bahru city, Malaysia from across the Johor Straits. In fact, I can probably see the hospital where I was born in from there. Which reminds me, I need to take a picture of it the next time I am there!
Anyway, back to the story. Along this trail there are a few jackfruit trees. I have seen the plantain squirrels guard the unripe fruits before. But on this trip, I was luckier.
What is interesting is the way the squirrel uses its hands. Looks very similar to that of humans, although I cannot be certain whether they actually do have opposable thumbs or not. Not that it matters, as the squirrel clearly had no trouble eating almost half the fruit anyway!