NParks to extend barricade to pathway where crocodile was spotted in Sungei Buloh

The crocodile was filmed lying on a pathway in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on Jan 20, 2018. PHOTO: JUDY LIEW

SINGAPORE - The National Parks Board (NParks) will be extending a barricade to a pedestrian pathway where a crocodile was spotted in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve over the weekend.

Mr How Choon Beng, director of Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve at NParks, told The Straits Times that NParks monitors visitor trails daily and has been setting up barricades at sections where crocodiles were seen basking.

This is to prevent crocodiles from climbing onto the visitor trail. NParks will be extending a barricade to the affected pedestrian pathway after a viral video was posted online showing a reportedly 2m-long crocodile on the footpath at the reserve on Saturday (Jan 20),

NParks will also set up a motion-activated camera to help monitor the situation after crocodile sightings were reported on Saturday and Sunday.

Nature watchers were surprised at the sight of a crocodile right smack in the middle of the pathway and had to wait for up to half an hour before it crawled into the bushes.

One of them, Ms Judy Liew, posted a video of the encounter on Nature Society Singapore's Facebook page, creating a hubbub online.

Ms Liew, who works in customer service support, told The Straits Times on Monday that she had gone to Sungei Buloh on Saturday during high tide, at around 1.45pm.

"I didn't expect to see crocodiles around, as usually they will be feeding in the water during high tide," she said.

She had walked about 300m to 500m from the visitor centre into the reserve when she saw a crocodile lying across the footpath.

Ms Liew said the groups of people on either side of the 2m-long crocodile could not cross over, and waited for about half an hour before it darted into the bushes and into the water.

She said the crocodile had appeared in a gap in wooden planks that were put up to fence off the pathway.

"There are wooden planks put up, but there are no wooden planks after the 300m mark. Then after a distance, the planks appear again. Perhaps the National Parks Board (NParks) would like to seal off the gap," she said.

Remote video URL

She said she has seen crocodiles before, as she is an avid nature watcher and has been doing nature photography for about two years.

"I went on Sunday again and saw another crocodile on the pathway, but I don't know whether it's the same one," said Ms Liew. "It was at a blind spot so I was worried that people coming from the other side would not see it."

She said she posted the video to raise public awareness.

"It's to let people know that when you walk into a nature reserve, you are walking into a shared space with nature (and wildlife)," she said. "We have to respect them, be careful, look out for them and watch from a distance."

According to NParks, estuarine or saltwater crocodiles occur naturally in the wild in Singapore, although they are not commonly sighted.

Saltwater crocodiles are one of the largest crocodile species in the world and can grow to more than 5m in length.

They live in brackish and freshwater areas such as coastal areas and wetlands, and are usually "found in the water or at the mudflats away from visitor routes", NParks said.

Those who encounter crocodiles should stay calm and back away, and should not approach, provoke or feed them.

Warning signs and advisory notices are posted at areas where crocodiles are most often seen. The signs advise the public to stay on visitor routes and not venture off the designated paths.

Those who need help should call the Wetland Reserve Information Counter on 6794-1401 immediately.

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