A Bridge Too Far

Phew, I should have taken a taxi!

A bat flew into my apartment the other day. It was weak, seemed very exhausted and soon died.

I guess it came from the nearby forested area, an area being cleared for housing development.

Such deforestation has driven animals out of their natural habitats.

For years, there have been reports of animals – such as the critically endangered Sunda pangolin – wondering into places like Mandai Lake Road and getting run over by cars.

Increased instances of roadkill near our nature reserves have been noted by observant nature watchers. An average of two Sunda pangolins (listed both by the IUCN and in the Singapore Red Data Book as Critically Endangered) were found dead annually on nearby roads between 1994-2014. From 1990 onwards, several species also disappeared from our nature reserves altogether, including the large forest gecko and cream-colored giant squirrel. These animals have not been sighted in Singapore since.

Recently another pangolin, as well as a sambar deer and a leopard cat were killed as a result of Singapore Zoo’s development in the Mandai area.

But in an article published in The Straits Times March 29th, the senior vice president of Mandai Park Development, Philip Yim insisted there had not been an “observable increase in roadkill” since the Mandai Project construction began.

However brilliant minds in the government have been at work for several years now to try to avoid more animals dying on our roads. Good to hear that but are their plans workable?

Animals living in the forests of Mandai will be able to use an overhead bridge of their own by the end of 2019, they declared.

The bridge, the construction of which started in 2013, is among efforts by Mandai Park Holdings – which is developing a nature precinct of five wildlife parks in the area – to minimize the impact on wildlife as the hub is being built. (Confused by all the Mandai names? Me too!)

The hub is expected to be ready by 2023. It will contain a new rainforest park and the bird park, which will be relocated from Jurong, and will be built on two plots in the area.

The elevated wildlife crossing, which will not be open to members of the public, will be 44m wide and at 62m long will span the length of Mandai Lake Road. In theory, it will provide a safe passage for animals crossing between parts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, which straddles both sides of the road.

It is estimated to cost S$16million.

Will it work?

Human and animals crossing together?

For decades now, the government has been brow-beating citizens into silent obedience.

Does it think it can also force animals to use an overhead bridge?

With brilliant minds in charge, I guess one never knows.

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