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  Kranji Bund Marshes
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Text by Ho Hua Chew
Pictures by Jimmy Chew


The marshes of the world and their related habitats - swamps, bogs and fens - are very curious halfway houses, extraordinary amalgams of land and water.... Most fresh wetlands harbour an extraordinary variety of life, because after all they offer the best of both worlds to plants and animals ... plenty of water and plenty of sunshine
Gerald Durrell




Background
The Kranji Bund Marshes, the most ecologically significant and extensive of the marshes in the Kranji Reservoir environs, is the result of the damming of Sungei Kranji. The old Sungei Kranji was a tidal river with mangrove growing up to the furthest limits of the tidal influence. The damming of the river has, over time, destroyed the tidal and mangrove habitat, which was a Nature Reserve under the colonial government before it was degazetted, resulting in the emergence of extensive freshwater marshes on the flooded land. Traces of the old habitat still survive to this day as can be seen in the clumps of Nipah (Nypa fruticans) growing along the Stagmont Ring shoreline.

The Kranji Bund Marshes lie along the western shore of the Kranji Reservoir, its estimated two km length running parallel to the Kranji PUB Bund. On the landward side, it is bordered by the Kranji Radio Transmitting Station, the Zoo's Farm and the SIMCO Transmitting Station off Neo Tiew Road. The total marshy ground here comes to about 90 ha and is more or less divided into two sectors by the BBC transmission station, which runs in an east-west direction. The northern sector, called the North Kranji Bund Marsh, is estimated to be about 50 ha in size while the southern sector, called the South Kranji Bund Marsh, is estimated to be about 40 ha.

 

A Grey Heron stalking fish
in the shallows of the reservoir;
a typical marshy pool at Kranji


Purple Swamphen
a colourful wetland bird
Picture by Phang Tuck Pew


A Javan Munia feeding
on grass seeds
The Kranji Marshland Habitat
The Kranji Bund Marshes are a different type of habitat from the nearby Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, which is a tidal wetland consisting largely of mangrove and mudflats. It is also different from Chek Jawa, which is a coastal habitat consisting mainly of seagrasses, sand and rocks. Although there are some overlapping conditions and features, the Kranji marshland has its own distinctive ecological elements, processes and wildlife which thrive only in that sort of habitat. It is a freshwater wetland dominated by grasses, sedges, ferns and other plant species that are adapted to a flooded or waterlogged condition, fringing the shoreline and the banks of rivers and streams as well as the edges of the ponds, and are attractive to certain categories of wildlife such as aquatic reptiles, amphibians, rails and herons.

The plant species vary in composition depending on the degree of wetness. In the deep pools, aquatic plants such as Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), Water Spangle (Salvinia molesta), and Water lily (Nymphaea sp.), predominate, while in the shallow pools and streams, the Water Convolvulus (Ipomoea aquatica) and Yellow Burhead (Limnocharis flava), take over.

In soggy places, the vegetation is dominated by ferns such as the Akar Paku (Stenochlaena palustris) and Piai Raya (Acrostichum aureum), aroids such as the Greater Alocasia (Alocasia macrorrhiza) and the Cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta), as well as the Buffalo Grass (Brachiara mutica). In the drier parts constituting the transition to completely dry land, the prevalent vegetation are shrubs such as the Seven Golden Candlesticks (Cassia alata), Sea Hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), Simpoh Air (Dillenia suffruticosa). as well as the grasses like the Panic Grasses (Panicum sp.)

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