63 hikers warned for trespassing into nature reserve
He is a retiree who loves hiking and has been going for weekend hikes at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve for the past 15 years.
And even though the nature reserve was closed to the public in 2014 for restoration works, the 77-year-old, who wanted to be known as Mr Li X R, has continued to go there every weekend.
Together with his brother, they trespass into the closed-off areas of the reserve to get their weekly dose of exercise.
However, their illegal treks came to an end in April when they were caught by a park ranger and given a verbal warning.
Mr Li told The New Paper: "The repair works at the reserve were taking too long, and there did not seem to be any changes going on, so we decided to go back to climbing the dirt trails.
"I would see about six other hikers every time I go to the dirt trails to hike."
In a statement to The New Paper, National Parks Board (NParks) director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah said that since December last year, 63 hikers have received Notices of Offence for trespassing into restricted areas in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.
Mr Wong said: "Venturing into restricted areas put hikers in danger as the trails are currently undergoing repairs.
"NParks is aware of hikers who access restricted portions of the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and has been taking an active education approach to advise them not to trespass into cordoned areas."
Mr Wong urged hikers to use alternative options such as the MacRitchie trails and said that the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve will be re-opened at the end of this year.
NParks has also put up more signs and has stationed staff to remind the public to keep to designated trails in the nature reserve.
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve was closed in September 2014, before the main route to the summit was partially re-opened last year, with public access allowed on weekends.
However, Mr Li pointed out that the main road was much easier to hike on, unlike the closed-off dirt trails.
"The dirt trails are challenging and it feels like I am exerting myself and really exercising when I hike on it.
"There isn't any other place in Singapore that gives a similar challenge," said Mr Li.
Although some hikers have turned to the restricted areas to get their hiking fix, a few have also opted for the mountain biking trail at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve instead, creating hazards for cyclists as they compete for space on the trails.
Student and avid cyclist Mun Yong Liang said he spots about five non-cyclists on the mountain bike trail during his weekly rides.
The 22-year-old added: "It is a big problem due to the safety risks posed.
"We (the biking community) hope that it will get better when the hiking trails re-open, but I am not optimistic unless there is enforcement."