Why Did The Pangolin Cross The Bridge?

To get to the other side, of course!For the Sunda Pangolins, a critically engaged species, travelling between the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (BTNR) and Central Catchment Nature Reserve (CCNR) in search of food, shelter and mates, can be a perilous endeavour.

From 1994 to 2014, pangolin road kills show up twice a year on average on roads surrounding the nature reserves, which were once a single patch of rainforest that was separated by the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) from 1986. But with Eco-Link@BKE, the number has decreased to zero between April 2014 and October 2015!

Eco-Link@BKE offers Sunda Pangolins safe passage between the nature reserves

The first of its kind in Southeast Asia, Eco-Link@BKE is an hourglass-shaped bridge along the BKE that spans 62 m in length and is 50 m wide at its narrowest point. It is designed with the animal behaviour in mind, to encourage wildlife to use the bridge. With Eco-Link facilitating their movement between nature reserves, animals can expand their habitat and genetic pool, preventing genetic isolation and reducing in-breeding occurrences, thus ensuring a higher chance of survival.

To replicate a natural, dynamic and mature rainforest habitat for the animals crossing Eco-Link, over 3,000 native trees and shrubs and young tropical rainforest plants have been planted.

The animals also help to pollinate and disperse plants species too!

Since planting works at Eco-Link completed in April 2014, a few rare critters have been recorded making the journey across the bridge. This includes the Lesser Mousedeer, a species previously only found in CCNR but was sighted at BTNR earlier this year; it likely used Eco-Link to make the journey across the expressway!

As the vegetation on the bridge grows taller and denser, we can expect more animals to cross the bridge. These include the Banded Leaf Monkey, the Malayan Colugo and other bird species that depend on tall trees and shrubs as cover to move around such as the Babblers, Asian Fairy Bluebirds, and Greater Green Leafbirds.

However, do take note - Eco-Link was not built for human use. Constant and heavy human scents hovering over the bridge will discourage animals from using it, undermining its effectiveness to conserve our native biodiversity. Thus, public access to the bridge is restricted.

Curious to find out more about Eco-Link, why not check out the video here?

Text by Wong Yeang Cherng
Image of Sunda Pangolin by Norman Lim
Video produced by Wong Yeang Cherng and Jasper Ku Wei.

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