Love MacRitchie Walk – kampung games and ethical wildlife photography

After a brief foray to explore the Prunus-Petai Trail –part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve – the Love MacRitchie Walk made a return to Venus Loop trail.

The walk, held on 15 March 2014 saw 19 members of the public, including six exuberant youngsters, go on a 2.5-hour jaunt through the regenerated secondary forest under the lead of six Toddycat guides.

Love MacRitchie Walk by Toddycats 15 Mar 2014 Group 1

Participants and guides of Group 1. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

Participants and guides of Group 2. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

Participants and guides of Group 2. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

Right at the start of the trail, the ground was littered with empty rubber seed pods. This was a wonderful opportunity to show the younger participants how  the older generations used to entertain themselves before the age of televisions and mobile devices. The halves of the pods were quickly assembled to resemble a windmill that spun when blown on, giving the kids a glimpse of a simpler time when people had to be more creative in making use of the resources around them.

Rubber seed pod windmill. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

Rubber seed pod windmill. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

The walk proceeded along the trail, with the guides sharing their knowledge on the plants and animals that can be found there, when attention was drawn by excited cries of a young boy. His sharp eyes had spotted a Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis), which brought the rest of the youngsters scrambling to his spot. And true to its name, in the vicinity was also found a Greater racquet-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus), or “hamba kera” (slave of the macaque) in Malay. The drongo earned this moniker due to its habit of following troops of macaques, picking on insects stirred up as they move through the forest canopy.

Long-tailed macaque. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

Long-tailed macaque. Photo by Yang Yi Yong.

A noticeable difference of this walk compared to previous ones was the presence of a large group of photographers camped along the trail, all cameras seemingly pointed on the same subject. At first glance, the attraction seemed to be a Red-legged crake (Rallina fasciata) which was foraging on the ground right in front of the group. A closer look, however, revealed the star attraction to be a Black-backed kingfisher (Ceyx erithaca), a small and rare migrant. It is hoped that these photographers adhere to an ethical code of conduct and not resort to practices such as forcefully posing or baiting animals just to get their “perfect” shot. 

Photographers shooting the Black-backed kingfisher. Photo by Sean Yap.

Photographers shooting the Black-backed kingfisher. Photo by Sean Yap.

Black-backed kingfisher. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

Black-backed kingfisher. Photo by Henrietta Woo.

As the 15 March marked the celebration of World Water Day, the walk was an opportunity to educate the participants on the importance of forests in maintaining good water quality in our reservoirs. This brought home one of the reasons the Central Catchment Nature Reserve should be left undisturbed, and not sacrificed in the line of some unjustifiable development. The next Love MacRitchie Walk at Venus Loop will be held on 29 March 2014 (fully subscribed).

View more photos from this walk at https://www.flickr.com/photos/habitatnews/sets/72157642477618975/

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