Mandai eco-link for animals to be ready by end-2019

The future site of the Bird Park in Mandai. By 2023, the relocated park as well as a new Rainforest Park will join the existing trio of attractions in the area - the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari.
The future site of the Bird Park in Mandai. By 2023, the relocated park as well as a new Rainforest Park will join the existing trio of attractions in the area - the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari.ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Bridge among slew of green measures as construction of nature hub gets under way

An elevated wildlife crossing in Mandai will be ready for animals to use by the end of 2019, allowing creatures such as the Sunda pangolin and lesser mouse deer to move between forested areas in the upcoming eco-tourism hub.

The 44m-wide eco-link, which will be 9m above ground and span the width of Mandai Lake Road, is part of developer Mandai Park Holdings' (MPH) plan to facilitate safe crossings for animals. Over the years, there have been reports of animals ending up as roadkill as they attempt to cross Mandai Lake Road.

Yesterday, MPH gave details of the bridge, and announced a slew of other green measures for the area, now that construction for the nature hub is under way. By 2023, a new Rainforest Park and relocated Bird Park will join the existing trio of attractions there - the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari.

The land on which the two new parks will be built is state owned. Secondary forest has, over the past few decades, regenerated there.

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The area also sits right outside the ecologically rich Central Catchment Nature Reserve, forming a rich landscape of wildlife, some of which workers may encounter.

MPH said workers and contractors have to go for biodiversity training sessions to learn what to do should they encounter animals.

Mr Philip Yim, senior vice-president and project lead at Mandai Park Development - an MPH subsidiary leading the development - said a wildlife shepherding plan will be conducted to funnel wildlife away from work sites in Mandai.

He also gave details about the wildlife bridge that MPH had said last year it would build to provide safe passage for animals crossing between fragments of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve on both sides of Mandai Lake Road.

 
 

Similar to the Eco-Link spanning the Bukit Timah Expressway, the Mandai bridge will have native trees that would provide food and cover for native animals.

While work on the bridge is under way, artificial crossing aids such as poles and rope ladders will be put across Mandai Lake Road to help arboreal and gliding animals, like the Malayan colugo and the slender squirrel, get across safely.

MPH said such aids will also be deployed around the nature precinct to help with wildlife connectivity - which is important to ensure that animals can move around to feed and breed, and not get isolated.

Since plans for the area were announced in 2014, environmental groups have expressed concern that development work, noise from visitors and the possibility of escapee species from the parks would threaten native wildlife in the neighbouring nature reserve.

MPH has conducted an environmental impact assessment, the results of which were published in July last year. The wildlife bridge was one suggestion set out in the environmental report.

Another recommendation, which MPH has adopted, was to swop the locations of the new Rainforest Park and Bird Park, so that existing trees do not have to be cleared.

Primate researcher Andie Ang, who studies the critically endangered Raffles' banded langur in Singapore, said it is good the developer has committed to installing rope ladders to help arboreal animals cross Mandai Lake Road.

Dr Ang urged them to do so quickly, especially now that work has started. Rope ladders must be carefully designed so larger animals like monkeys can use them too. The langur, for example, has been spotted in the area.

When asked, MPH said the design of the rope ladders is still being worked out.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 27, 2017, with the headline 'Mandai eco-link for animals to be ready by end-2019'. Print Edition | Subscribe