Nature Conservation and Nature Society (Singapore): 4. Khatib Bongsu

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Earlier posts: 1. Introduction; 2. Sungei Buloh; 3. Kranji Heronry.

Khatib Bongsu is another early conservation proposal (below). The document was completed in 1989 and again it was suggested that it be established as another Nature Reserve. As with other proposals, it came in the midst of the euphoria caused by the Sungei Buloh success.

KhatibBongsu Sept1989

This 20 hectare area comprised degraded riverine and coastal wetland, fish/prawn ponds as well as abandoned fruit orchards and grasslands. Towards the east was the Yishun Housing Estate. Its only merit was the presence of Black-crowned Night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), estimated to number about a thousand (below). This was one of two heronries then known to occur in Singapore, the other being in Kranji

Black-crowned Night-heron (Photo credit: Johnny Wee}
Black-crowned Night-heron (Photo credit: Johnny Wee}

In addition, there were also Purple Herons (Ardea purpurea) and Little Herons (Butorides striatus), although their numbers were much lower. The bird population consisted of 87 species, as listed in the attached checklist.

The proposal was modified in 1993 and the area enlarged to 85 hectares. The number of birds listed in the appendix increased 150 species. In addition this enlarged area was claimed to be a major wader site with up to 10,000 birds visiting during peak migratory periods. The modified document was submitted to government in July 1993.

Straits Times, 21st September 1993
Straits Times, 21st September 1993

In the 1994 Budget speech, Mr Lim Hng Kiang, then Acting Minister for National Development, announced in Parliament that an area of Khateb Bongsu would be conserved LINK (above). The area was then added to the list of 18 areas proposed in the government’s Green Plan (below).

Singapore Green Plan 1993
Page 51, The Singapore Green Plan – Action Programmes, 1993

In May 1996 the Urban Redevelopment Authority announced that it would develop one-third of the 36 hectares Khatib Bongsu nature area, despite appeals by the Nature Society (Singapore) to save the wetland (below).

Straits Times May 10th 1996
Straits Times May 10th 1996

However, Sungei Khateb Bongsu was eventually canalised and the surrounding area reclaimed and developed into a reservoir – see LINK.

YC Wee
Singapore
5th April 2017

Secretary, Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch) 1978-1990; Founding President, Nature Society (Singapore) 1990-1995

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