Not one, but three crocs sighted
OUT of the murky waters rose two beady eyes. Then four, then six.
As the sun descended and the tide receded, three saltwater crocodiles had come out to feed.
We were at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Wednesday where, on Nov 20, schoolchildren on a field trip saw one right on the footpath. That crocodile was barely 20m away, with nothing separating it from the children.
The crocodiles that we saw were safely in the water. But a visit to the spot where the children chanced upon the crocodile can be mildly unnerving. The footpath is barely 5m from the water at high tide and one wonders what is stopping crocodiles from slithering onto land more often.
Sungei Buloh is home to an estimated eight crocodiles, though they rarely rear their snouts.
Dr Benoit Goossens, who studies saltwater crocodiles in Sabah, Malaysia, said the one sighted on Nov 20 was basking, a process in which the reptile lies in the sun to regulate its body temperature.
It is a common thing, though crocodiles usually do it closer to water, Dr Goossens said.
He added that a basking crocodile is not dangerous, and the first thing it does when provoked is usually to "jump in the water for safety".
Even if not basking, only females protecting their eggs or crocodiles larger than 4m are dangerous to humans, Dr Goossens said.
And according to Mr Ben Lee, a nature advocate who studies crocodiles, none of the Sungei Buloh crocodiles are that big,
Before our trek began, Mr Lee showed us pictures of the "grandmaster", the largest he had seen, which measured only about 3.7m.
He said the crocodiles are no cause for concern.
In a statement issued by the National Parks Board (NParks), its covering director, Ms Sharon Chan, said that NParks has increased patrols in the area.
"If we spot any crocodiles on public footpaths, we will advise the public to stay away from those areas," she said.
However, not all will listen. We met two wildlife photographers who had spent an entire Sunday camped out on the path where the crocodile first appeared, hoping to catch a glimpse.
One of them, Mr Tan Yong Guan, said: "Don't let the authorities remove the crocodiles. This is the last such place in Singapore."
He added, pointing to one in the water: "Crocodiles are shy creatures. If I talk too loudly, it would run away."