Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Local Encounters

I remember when I used to hike national parks and wild places in my travels, there was always a thrill of encountering wild animals. (My last hike overseas was something like 15 months ago *gasp*!!) Sure, there would be always a small fragment of fear, but more often than not, excitement prevailed. The feeling was extra acute when I went Alaska - I would fervently wish that I would encounter a bear, knowing full well that the danger was real. But my wildlife encounters were pretty mild - an Ezo deer in Hokkaido Japan, some sort of elk in the Canadian Rockies, a mountain goat in Spain etc.

Well, now that travel would not possible for the year or more, I had to content myself with local hikes and walks in Singapore. Sure, there are unexplored parts of Singapore, but I hated the hot weather conditions and the memories of my army training in our humid jungles didn't exactly leave good impressions. And encountering wild boars seemed not very exciting somehow. But hey, still better than circuit-breaker stuck-at-home right?

So there I was walking along a trail in the Central Catchment area, listening and looking out for birds - a relatively recent interest. "Birding" allowed me to have something additional to do aside from just walking/hiking, and I'm learning something new every week. And suddenly, there was some serious rustling sound ahead of me. I stood stupidly looking at some sort of animal foraging across the vegetation. I happened to have my mobile on-hand and quickly tried to take a video. It... it looked like a ... deer!

That got me really excited. But of course, the rest of my walk was quite uneventful. Until late evening when the light was really dim and I was hurrying along the trail. Again, there was sudden rustling and this time, I activated my mobile quickly, but the animal was quicker, so everything was really blurry. It looked like a hare hopping away. 

Back at home, I scrutinised my videos, and it looked like a *family* of deers. Googling revealed that we have Sambar deers in our forest (though the search results are all sad news of our deers being killed in accidents). In fact, a few days later, there were news reports on the Sambar deer sightings as well (including very nice videos!)

So the following week, I went back again, hoping for another encounter. And guess what? I caught a glimpse again, but yet again, my reaction time was just retarded. So week after week, I went again, hoping to stalk the deer. But alas, it was super uneventful, not even any birds spotted.

My last trip though, did yielded something. I was dejected that it was another uneventful walk and the light was getting really dim. A sudden rustling sound alerted me to something in the shadows - the "hare" from several trips ago but this time though, it didn't bolt. It stayed where it was and I slowly activated my camera(s). It was actually a Lesser Mousedeer!! Unfortunately, the light by then was really low, and I dared not move too much to take out my tripod and torchlight and frighten the mousedeer away. So I took what I could.

There are two kinds of mousedeers in Singapore - the Lesser and the Greater Mousedeer. Looking through the videos, I believe it's the Lesser. This was probably my most exciting encounter reminiscent of my travels, which was so lacking in the past year. Needless to say, photos and videos wise leave alot to be desired but hey, actual travels is still a long way off yah? *snicker* . Hope to capture the Sambar deers next!

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