Posted On 20 April 2019
Last Updated on 5 August 2020
– Hot on the Sambar Trail #2
Ever since we read all about the wild Sambar Deer roaming freely in Singapore, we knew we had to see them for ourselves. Thus began our hunt for the ever elusive Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor), whose playgrounds are the huge swaths of forest surrounding the reservoirs of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.
Our first unsuccessful attempt at locating these shy creatures brought us on an epic expedition through the Central Catchment Park Connector (Hot on the Sambar Trail #1).
Next, we decided to explore a less trodden trail that would bring us closer to the waters of the Upper Seletar Reservoir. Known to locals as the Fisherman’s Trail, it can be reached from Chestnut Nature Park, via the Northern Trail followed by Gangsa Track.
The hike along Gangsa Track proceeded innocuously enough, with familiar friends meeting us along the way, including the Plantain Squirrel (Callosciurus notatus) in the midst of breakfast…
…the Common Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica), foraging for his breakfast amongst the leaf litter…
…the Pin-striped Tit Babbler (Macronus gularis), greeting us with their incessant high-pitched calls…
…and our good ‘ol pals, the Long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis), monkeying around and having a wild time.
Somewhere along Gangsa Track was the turn-off that we were to take for Fisherman’s Trail. The nondescript trail entrance will be almost impossible to locate, without the help of our trusty map app that has the trail marked out.
From afar, the trail entrance looked like a steep drop off a precipice…
…but on closer inspection, it turned out to be a pretty decent trail…
…that goes on and on through the eerie forest.
There was nothing for us to do but follow the trail as it meandered further and further away from civilization.
At some point, we had to hop across a stream, grateful for our sturdy waterproof boots.
The trees have attempted to take over the trail with their long probing roots, so tearing down these tracks on a bike is an option if you enjoy a vigorous butt massage.
With not a single soul in sight, the only friends we had to accompany us were the butterflies…
…and the skinks, who mostly slinked away shyly when we approached.
Along the side of the trail were tell-tale signs that wild boar had been through here, digging up the soil in search of insects.
Before long, one of the fingers of the Upper Seletar Reservoir appeared before us, granting us a preview of the calm reservoir waters.
From then on, the reservoir became our trusty companion and guide, faithfully staying by our side as we made our way along this beautiful trail.
It seemed only proper to dedicate a few minutes to gawk at the precious reservoir views that opened up before us.
We soon realised that we weren’t the only ones admiring the view. The Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker (Dicaeum cruentatum) appeared and, together, bird and man stood in awe appreciating the scenery.
If anywhere, the dense forest surrounding us is mostly likely where the Sambar Deer would be hiding.
At some point, we thought we heard shuffling sounds coming from the forest foliage that we swore must have been the Sambar Deer. After hanging around and staring hard into the green space for some time, the only thing that appeared in front of us was a stray dog.
Not looking forward to being chased by wild dogs in the middle of nowhere, we made a hasty retreat and tore through the trail, skipping over fallen trees…
…leaping over tree roots…
…and traipsing over gurgling streams…
…before we found our way back onto Gangsa Track…
…and reached the light at the end of the tunnel that led us back to civilization and safety.
Back at the start point of our hike, all we saw was a pile of poop pellets that looked like it could have come from a deer. But that pile wasn’t there when we started our hike! Could it have been left by the Sambar Deer? It will forever remain a mystery.
Even though we didn’t get to see the Sambar Deer – but only the remains of his ruminations – the exhilaration of the hike itself was worth the trip and we’d definitely come back again.