Wildlife photographer peeks behind the city jungle of Singapore

Nationwide Geographic Photographer Gab Mejia has been to Singapore 4 instances, however it wasn’t till his final journey in April that he witnessed one thing completely sudden. The Manila-based conservation photographer has hiked up distant snow-capped mountains and trekked by means of arid deserts to seize pictures of unique wildlife and breathtaking panorama. But, Singapore was the final place he anticipated to witness nature in its rawness. “The frequent impression folks have of Singapore is that it’s an city jungle,” he says. “However behind all these tall buildings, there are nooks and crannies you possibly can go into, the place you’ll uncover lush vegetation, wildlife, and all of the completely different sorts of bugs and birds.” Mejia began images as a passion when he was 18, however his ardour is rooted in nature. In his images, Mejia strives to seize one thing distinctive in a means that brings out a way of playfulness and magic within the locations he visits. 

Singapore Botanic Gardens

For his first cease in Singapore, Mejia visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site established in 1859. Amidst the well-manicured rainforest, hundreds of tropical crops and orchids bloom, whereas kingfishers, herons, and woodpeckers glided by means of the air with class. That morning, joggers ran on concrete pavements, passing a prehistoric-looking monitor lizard that was swimming within the adjoining lake. For a distinct perspective, Mejia visited the park to catch the dawn. “When the primary gentle hit the canopies of the timber, you can see them flip into orange-reddish hues that basically introduced that magic out of Singapore,” Mejia says.

Bukit Brown Cemetery

Lower than quarter-hour north of Singapore Botanic Gardens, Mejia stumbled on a distinct sort of sudden nature—one steeped within the historical past of Singapore. Greater than 100,000 tombs have been as soon as laid to relaxation on the Bukit Brown Cemetery, which opened on Mount Nice in 1922. The gravestones ranged from humble to ornate, a mirrored image of the varied background of Singapore’s early Chinese language pioneers and immigrants. Throughout Qingming Competition or Tomb-Sweeping Day in April, locals go to these graves, paying their respect to their ancestors with incense, candles, flowers, and meals. And at different instances of the yr, the forest surrounding Bukit Brown is alive with migratory birds and nationally threatened species, together with the white-bellied woodpecker and the changeable hawk-eagle. Amidst the traditional forest, Mejia was stunned to discover a mountain climbing path that led to the “Avatar timber,” named for the 2009 blockbuster film, towering over emerald-green shrubs.

Hampstead Wetlands Park

Within the northeast area of Singapore, Mejia wandered out from the Seletar Aerospace Park, an industrial park which homes hulking hangars and aviation services, and into Hampstead Wetlands Park, an enchanted, serene sanctuary for birds like buffy fish owls, barbets, and bee-eaters, in addition to different wildlife that inhabit the freshwater ecosystem. The inexperienced areas within the industrial property appear to be they’re straight out of a Monet portray, with water lily-blanketed pond, forested trails, and historic colonial homes.

St. John’s Island and Kusu Island

Whereas Singapore is understood worldwide as a vibrant island metropolis, the nation really consists of greater than 60 satellite tv for pc islands and islets, together with St. John’s Island and Kusu Island. As soon as a quarantine zone for early immigrants, St. John’s has been remodeled into a middle for marine science and aquaculture analysis, whereas Kusu Island is residence to 2 sacred non secular websites, the Chinese language Da Bogong Temple and the Malay keramats (shrines for holy figures). A brief boat journey away, these islands are widespread with day-trippers who need to hike the forested trails or chill out within the powdery white-sand seashores. “The water right here is in numerous shades of blue and you actually really feel such as you’re within the tropics,” says Mejia. “And from the islands, you possibly can see a distinct view of the panorama of Singapore.”

Tanjong Rimau Seaside

Simply earlier than nightfall, because the solar slowly dips into the horizon, the sky is awash in a cotton-candy hue and a hidden world beneath the ocean is unveiled. When the tides retreat at Tanjong Rimau seaside within the western tip of Sentosa, sand gobies, clams, and bushy crabs emerge from the sand. Marine creatures thrive simply meters away from a few of the tallest buildings in Singapore. “You may see the coexistence of how Singapore was capable of combine preserving nature alongside fast, upscale improvement,” Mejia says. “This two-way stream merges into a novel panorama known as Singapore.” For a conservation photographer, Mejia was impressed to seize pictures of the concord between nature and folks, particularly in a rustic with a popularity for modernity. “Earlier than my go to to Singapore, I questioned if there was really wildlife right here,” he says. “What I discovered was that there are these distinctive locations that show that Singapore is simply a lot extra.”

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