Best Places to Find Wildlife in Singapore

Read on for places to see wildlife in Singapore that's more than just Bukit Timah or MacRitchie!

Last updated: 16 Mar 2023 - 8 min read

MacRitchie and Bukit Timah might be places in Singapore that you'd first think of when it comes to seeing wildlife. But did you know that aside from these famous forested areas, you can find so much rich wildlife in our backyard.

We spoke to three wildlife photographers and guides to find out more about which are their favourite places in Singapore to see wildlife!

2017 National Geographic Photographer of the Year:
Jayaprakash Bojan

2017 National Geographic Photographer of the Year Jayaprakash Bojan (JP) has called Singapore home for the past 7 years. His favourite place to see wildlife here is actually one of our neighbourhood parks - Pasir Ris Park!

Why is Pasir Ris Park your favourite park?

"After Sungei Buloh, Pasir Ris Park is the only place in Singapore where you can find mangroves. It's the reason why we have so much wildlife here. And combined with the sea and the forested patches, you get a beautiful mix; like a little triangle, making it for a good habitat for a lot of birds and wildlife to live here."

What wildlife do you normally see here?

"Some shorebirds, a few families of white-bellied sea eagles, owls, goshawks and hornbills. Lots of migratory birds like the black bazas that come here every year, and one time even a rare Kingfisher showed up. Oh, and of course, otters!"

A collage of wildlife in Pasir Ris Park. Photos courtesy of @jayaprakash_bojan.

"I’ve been following this loving pair of spotted wood owls for years. They’ve lived in Pasir Ris Park for over a decade and last year (2022) was the third consecutive year they had 2 adorable owlets!"

"There was one fledging season (when young owlets are beginning to fly) in 2021 where the baby fell three times and ACRES had to put them back up on the tree each time. About 100 people were around watching, and the mama and papa owls weren't bothered at all!"

Young owlet stuck on the ground while learning how to fly. Photo courtesy of ACRES.

"I think Singapore is a great story of coexistence for a tiny island. The way the parks are designed to access all these places, for example, these owls. Almost impossible to see them in the wild outside of Singapore!"

Best time to go?

"Early morning (6-9am) and evenings (5-7pm). When I was shooting Residents of The Park, a nature series on wildlife in Singapore, I woke up everyday at 5am to catch the sounds of the animals calling. Hearing them helps me to find them, and from there I can follow them all around the park as they hunt and feed, and get the best shots."

Tips for finding wildlife?

"Go where the wildlife photographers are. All you need to do is find a group of them and see where their cameras are pointed at. And to talk to them and ask them questions! The community of photographers here at Pasir Ris Park are really friendly."

Besides Pasir Ris Park, what other places do you go to?

"As you can tell, I'm definitely biased towards Pasir Ris Park! But other places that I also go to to spot wildlife are Sungei Buloh, Hampstead Wetlands, Kranji Marshes and Dairy Farm Nature Park."

Wildlife Photographer and Videographer:
Terence Szeto

Wildlife photographer and videographer @terence_wildlife

Forested areas away from urban areas have been wildlife photographer Terence Szeto’s favourite spots since he started wildlife photography 6 years ago. While he’s been to places like Borneo to photograph Orangutans and India for tigers, he still enjoys coming back home to shoot in Singapore's forests like the Central Catchment Reserve.

What parks make up the Central Catchment Reserve (CCR)?

"CCR acts as a large green lung right in the centre of Singapore. It covers different reservoirs including MacRitchie, Upper Seletar, Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce; and different nature parks including Windsor, Hindhede, Thomson and Dairy Farm. These reservoirs and parks are all connected, because it's part of one big forest - CCR!"

Why do you like finding wildlife in Singapore?

"Singapore's forests and parks are actually a lot more accessible compared to nature reserves in other countries where you have to bash through jungles.

I usually set aside half a day to go around CCR for a better chance of spotting wildlife. To me, it's incredibly satisfying and rewarding to wait and catch sight of something interesting - like the time I saw the elusive Raffles' Banded Langur with its baby."

What wildlife do you normally see here?

"If you go to nature parks that are less crowded, you'll have a better chance of finding wildlife like colugos, mouse deers, langurs, snakes. Places like MacRitchie or Bukit Timah are harder to spot interesting wildlife, unless you want to see the common animals like monkeys, squirrels, wild boars and monitor lizards."

Best time to go?

"Personally I’m quite lazy to go in the mornings, so I usually go in the late afternoon, around 3-7pm. I can still find wildlife roaming around at this time."

Tips for finding wildlife?

"If you talk to more people, and understand more about our local biodiversity and what their behaviour and habits are, you'll get better in your "wildlife finding skills" - and develop a keener sense of sight and hearing."

Besides CCR, what other places do you go to?

"Sungei Buloh is a famous spot to see migratory birds between September to March, because Singapore is along the migratory bird route thanks to our warm and sunny weather! You'll find birds that come from as far as Mongolia, Russia and China - pretty cool. You can also find snakes here (go after heavy rain!), like cobras, pythons, vipers, whip snakes, tree snakes."

Specialist Nature Guide:
Dennis Chan

Passionate about wildlife (especially marine life) and a champion of biodiversity in Singapore, licensed specialist nature guide Dennis Chan founded Untamed Paths to provide immersive nature experiences and walks while shedding light on Singapore's unconventional biodiversity. He shares that the best places to find marine life are at intertidal zones, the hidden marine world right in our very backyard beaches!

What are intertidal zones?

"If you're into marine life, going to intertidal zones is probably as close as you can get without having to scuba dive! Intertidal zones basically refer to the area of marine shorelines (e.g. beaches, mangroves) when at high tide, is submerged underwater, and at low tide, when the water recedes back into the sea, exposes the area to be rich of marine life."

Best beaches to spot marine life:

"You can find marine life along Singapore's beaches - Changi beach, Pasir Ris beach, East Coast Park, Sentosa, St John's island and even as far out as Pulau Hantu."

Changi beach intertidal exploration at dusk. Photo for Seek Sophie, courtesy of @marcus_cchow.

What wildlife do you normally see here?

"Crustaceans (e.g. hermit crabs, swimmer crabs), cephalopods (e.g. octopuses, squids, cuttlefishes), bivalves (e.g. clams, mussels), marine snails, sea cucumbers, sea stars, the occasional colourful nudibranch and stingray."

Best time to go? 

"Intertidal zones are dependent on the tides. So it's best to go during low tide, either very early in the morning or evening when the water is 0.4m and below. 3/4am is the best because you'll have a higher chance of seeing shy creatures like octopuses who like to come out when it's dark."

Tips for finding wildlife?

"Ideally, it's best to go on intertidal walks with experienced guides because you'll be able to see and learn way more. It's a lot harder to know what to look out for if you go on your own. Going with a guide also helps to minimise your impact on our shores.

But if you still prefer to explore on your own, here are a few best practices:

  1. Walk slowly and carefully along the beach
  2. Don't touch what you don't know, because some animals get stressed out easily or may be poisonous/venomous
  3. Go with an open mind and without tools; leave the buckets at home.
  4. You can also post your sightings online via Singapore Nature Sightings this to get an ID and learn more about the animal that you saw.

Have fun exploring and learning! There's so much wildlife in Singapore if we take time to look at what’s around us."

Wanna explore Singapore's nature and learn more about wildlife with a guide? Check out these wildlife walks:

Pulau Ubin | Sungei Buloh | Bukit Timah | Bukit Batok | Changi | Pasir Ris | Sentosa

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you find wildlife in Singapore?
Free parks like Pasir Ris park, Bukit Batok nature park, Rifle Range nature park, Botanic Gardens Hampstead Wetlands park, Kranji Marshes. For marine life, go to the intertidal zones at Changi beach, Pasir Ris beach, East Coast Park, Sentosa, St John's island and even Pulau Hantu. Singapore has four nature reserves which include – 1) Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, 2) Central Catchment Nature Reserve (MacRitchie, Upper Seletar, Upper Peirce and Lower Peirce reservoirs; and Windsor, Hindhede, Chestnut, Thomson and Dairy Farm nature parks), 3) Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and 4) Labrador Nature Reserve. If you want to increase your chances of seeing interesting wildlife, we definitely recommend going on a wildlife experience with a guide! Going with a guide can greatly enhance your chances of spotting wildlife because they have expert knowledge about the animals natural habitats, behaviors, and feeding patterns. They also know where and when to find certain species, while also ensuring that you do so in a safe and sustainable way. We have a wide range of guided wildlife walks from cycling trips in Pulau Ubin, Sungei Buloh Wetland Explorations, intertidal walks at Changi beach. We also have Night Nature Walks where you’ll find Singapore’s nocturnal animals in Bukit Batok, Pasir Ris and Sentosa. The links to our wildlife experiences are in our above article. You can also find animals by visiting 5 wildlife parks managed under Mandai Wildlife Reserves Singapore - 1) The Singapore Zoo, 2) The Night Safari, 3) River Wonders (formerly called River Safari), 4) Bird Paradise (set to open in the second quarter of 2023 and replaces Jurong Bird Park) 5) Rainforest Wild Park (set to open in 2024). But this is not strictly wildlife as they are not in the wild. Similar to marine life, you can visit S.E.A Aquarium but that is not strictly wild marine life.
What are the different types of wildlife you can find in Singapore?
If you go to the parks and nature reserves, you’ll likely to see common animals like monkeys, squirrels, wild boars and monitor lizards. If you go to nature parks that are less crowded (not MacRitchie or Bukit Timah), you'll have a better chance of finding wildlife like colugos, mouse deers, Raffles Banded Langurs, snakes. Go to Sungei Buloh for migratory birds during migratory season. Go to Pasir Ris park to see owls and goshawks that have been living there for more than a decade, in trees that are just 3 metres from concrete pathways! If you visit Singapore Zoo which is under Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), you’ll find animals from across the world - lions, Malayan and white tigers, giant pandas, giraffes, elephants, orangutans, rhinos etc. Note that these are not strictly “wildlife” because they are not in the wild. If you want guaranteed sightings, go to any of the wildlife parks under WRS, but if you want to wildlife in their natural habitat and ecosystems, go to any of Singapore’s free nature parks or check out our wildlife experiences in the ‘wildlife walks’ section in the article above.

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