This Safe Crossing Enables the Survival of Endangered Species
The Sunda pangolin’s totter is slightly absurd. With its foreclaws hanging just off the ground, it looks like a miniature T-rex as it ambles along on its hind legs.
The scaly mammal’s formidable foreclaws are built not for walking, but to rip open ant hills and termite nests.
When in danger, it may curl into a ball, relying on its armour of scales to protect its conical head and delicate underbelly.
But that armour is no protection against cars travelling at high speed.
Hunched close to the ground, the pangolin is hard for any driver to spot on the road. If it is caught in the headlights of a vehicle, the shy creature may freeze; and even when fleeing, it can only rev up to a man’s jogging pace.
An average of two a year have been found dead on major roads around the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment nature reserves from 1994 to 2014, the National Parks’ Board (NParks) said. That may not seem a lot – until one realises that the total number of wild Sunda pangolins in Singapore may be just more than 50.
Classified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, it is said to be the most trafficked mammal in the world.
No dead pangolins, however, have been found on major roads near the reserves from April 2014 to October 2015.
NParks believes that instead of trying to cross the highways, they have found a passage of their own: Pangolins have been using the Eco-Link@BKE to travel between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and Central Catchment Nature Reserve.