Meet 
Subaraj

WILDLIFE CONSULTANT, NATURE GUIDE

Many of Singapore’s nature reserves exist due to the efforts of a few individuals like Subaraj Rajathurai: Self-taught naturalist and veteran wildlife consultant. Over the last 35 years, he campaigned peacefully behind the scenes to preserve some of Singapore’s well-loved ecosystems. In 1987, he and three others drafted a proposal to save Sungei Buloh, a mangrove forest in northwest Singapore which was slated for redevelopment by the government. Thanks to their perseverance, the wetland was declared a nature park six years later. In 1992, Subaraj was also part of the research team responsible for saving the 123.8 hectares of forest at Lower Peirce Reservoir.

A lifelong
love for nature

“You can spend five lifetimes exploring nature, and there would still be more to learn," says Subaraj, who fell in love with the rainforest at the age of 18, during a visit to Bukit Timah Reserve. Singapore’s blend of urban landscapes and hidden ecosystems keeps him fighting against rampant urbanization: “In Singapore, you can get from a five-star hotel to a rainforest in 20 minutes.” He believes Singapore is the gateway to Asia, as much as “it is that gateway for nature.”

Subaraj's
stomping grounds

From hiking trails to camping spots that fuelled an eco-conservation campaign, Subaraj invites you to see Singapore through the eyes of a nature lover.

A rescued island sanctuary

Despite having played a part in Chek Jawa’s conservation, Subaraj credits the public for saving the 100-hectare wetlands at the southeastern tip of Pulau Ubin. “Ministers went there, and saw 700 people watching marine life,” he shares. “They couldn’t deny its importance.”

Fuel for conservation

Subaraj has fond memories of Singapore’s well-loved Casuarina Curry, which provided the fuel for one of his wildlife preservation campaigns. “Casuarina’s roti prata (South Indian flat bread) is the best,” he enthuses. “That was our watering hole during our battle for Lower Peirce.”

The outdoor classrooms

An avid educator and self-taught naturalist, Subaraj often conducts eco-tours of Sungei Buloh, an 87-hectare wetland and stopover for migratory birds. “You become responsible for nature the moment you visit it,” he shares. “Sungei Buloh is a wonderful outdoor classroom.”

The Southern Ridges

“The Southern Ridges was a term I coined because I wanted to organise a tour there,” Subaraj shares of the 10-kilometre hiking route and birdwatching haunt. He recommends to start at the National University of Singapore, making your way to Telok Blangah and Mount Faber, and ending at Harbourfront Centre.

A 2-day guide for nature lovers

Subaraj Rajathurai takes us into the untamed areas of Singapore, to experience the ecosystems that he has fought to preserve.