Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chek Jawa, a trove of treasures

We had our first public walk of 2012 at Chek Jawa Boardwalk on 11th February. There were 15 visitors , and they certainly had a wonderful time exploring the Chek Jawa in a smaller group!

We had 4 students from NUS, 3 from NTU (Earthlink), 2 groups of friends, and a family with young children. The NUS students said they are learning about biodiversity in an inter-disciplinary course and decided to make special trip to Chek Jawa to learn more. When they saw the different habitats found in Chek Jawa, the lessons finally sank in that ecosystems and biodiversity have such a tight relationship, that one cannot exist without the other. In their words, they say Chek Jawa made their university lessons come "alive"!

Here's what they wrote:

"Chek Jawa is a trove of treasures, containing the natural heritage of Singapore. Away from the mainland, it is the last recluse from the concrete jungle. Chek Jawa is not to be missed!"

"After coming to Chek Jawa for several times, I still find Chek Jawa beautiful. The flora and fauna I have encountered certainly educate me. Please keep Chek Jawa as it is, so that the next generation can enjoy the beautiful part of Singapore. Thank you for not building HDB flats, resorts, etc."

The NTU students had a slightly different focus. They were keen to learn how to guide in a nature place as they wanted to contribute in this area. So we shared some ideas with them. We hope the Naked Hermit Crabs have given them a glimpse of how they can get started. Nature guiding is not all that difficult; you just need to have the passion for sharing the message that is in your heart, and to be able to find a team of like-minded nature-loving individuals.

From the other 2 groups, here are their drawings:

Y and MG wrote, "Sunny day with fresh air out from urban city. Nice and relax area. Experience of how our forefathers live." That's so right! Chek Jawa is really special to Singaporeans. It is wonderful that the authorities have so far preserved the wild and unkempt that is Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin.

D wrote, "Deb is grateful for Ubin! *keeps me sane...", while G wrote, "Celebrating Nature, Friendship. Keep this place for our future generations."

Talking about future generations, I've got to show you the drawing by our new friend, HY.

HY was clearly excited by all that he saw during the 2-hour outing. He took lots of pictures, saying he'll post on his blog. He asked endless questions with lots of "what is this" and "why like that". He is well-read, knowledgeable, yet thirsting for more information, and he has passion when he speaks. We tried to answer every question that he had, and he too has a message for us. You see, HY is from the future; he is 8 years old and he wants us to keep Chek Jawa and all its natural habitats undeveloped so that he can continue to enjoy them when he grows up!

To end this blog post, I leave you with the photos that we took of Chek Jawa on 11th February 2012.

Ria showing us the Jambu Ayer tree and its splendid pink blooms.

A group shot taken from the Jejawi Tower.

The Blue-spotted mudskipper found in Chek Jawa mangroves.

Nipah palms next to the mangrove boardwalk. Do you know that 'attap chee' (sweet chewy seeds found in a local dessert called 'ice kachang') are from the nipah palm?

Found this next to the boardwalk. Red weaver ants forming a new nest. Observe how the ants pick only the fresh green leaves.

Visitors taking notes! The Outdoor Classroom of  Chek Jawa.

We met a group of young people who were sitting on the boardwalk and observing the fiddler crabs for quite a long time.

The kids asked why there are wave patterns on the sand. How observant!

At the water edge, we knew we could find plenty of mudskippers. And we did!

The tide was quite high (at about 2.5m) and there were lots of fishes 

The coastal forest of Chek Jawa.

Another view of the coastal forest, including the rear beacon of Chek Jawa

View of the southern side of Chek Jawa and the coastal forest.

Hornbill breeding box.

Wild boars are commonly seen in Chek Jawa and Pulau Ubin. For the past few months, we see a sow and her 3 piglets at every one of our public walks.

Read wildshores blog by Ria for an account of the same trip - click here.

Our next walk will be on 10th March (Saturday).

Thanks go out to Ria and Ley Kun, our volunteer guides for February.


  1. Hi, just a note that the coastal forest at Chek Jawa is not a primary forest, although it does have a number of uncommon coastal species.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I've removed the error in the post. There's much to learn about forests and plants. /LK

  2. Take a closer look at the sand the next time you are at the location where the young people were seen sitting. You will find plenty of antlions and their funnel-shaped sand traps. Glad you all love and appreciate Chek Jawa. She is magnificent indeed! Cheers! : )

    1. I certainly will!

      There are lots of Singaporeans who hold Chek Jawa dearly in their hearts. I've had the opportunity of meeting so many of them during our walks! /LK

  3. Chek Jawa's coastal hill forest is primary in nature - a primary forest indeed. Cheers : )

  4. According to "Land Use and Vegetation of Pulau Ubin", there's no primary forest left on Ubin, and much of the original vegetation were cleared by the end of the 19th century. In any case, a primary coastal hill forest will typically have several dipterocarp species. While the dipterocarps have disappeared from Ubin, some can still be found in Changi Village. Chek Jawa previously had a Malay (and later, Chinese) village, and much of the original primary vegetation would have either been cleared by the villagers for building materials, firewood etc and to make way for housing and the planting of crops.