Rare sambar deer killed in accident on BKE

The deer may have been drawn by the sight of a forested area on the opposite side of the expressway. PHOTO: JUNIOR WILD/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A rare sambar deer was killed in an accident on the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) on Thursday night (Aug 25).

Videos shared on social media show the animal lying motionless in the middle of the expressway, with vehicles passing by.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) tweeted shortly after 9.30pm on Thursday, warning motorists of an accident on the BKE - which separates the Bukit Timah and the Central Catchment nature reserves - towards Woodlands before the exit to the Kranji Expressway.

Mr Muhammad Azhari said he was riding his motorcycle home on the BKE when the incident occurred a few vehicles ahead of him.

"I thought it was a wild boar or stray dog, which are more common roadkill," said the 28-year-old auxiliary police officer, adding that he helped direct traffic around the deer and called LTA's hotline.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said it was aware of the incident. "This is the only incident involving a sambar deer that we know of on an expressway this year," said NParks wildlife management group director Adrian Loo.

Mr Kalai Vanan - the co-chief executive of animal welfare group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) - said its wildlife rescue team received a call about a sambar deer on the BKE at about 10pm that day.

"Unfortunately, the team was stuck handling several other cases. We understand that the public contacted NParks as an alternative and they attended to the case," he said, adding that the area is known for the presence of sambar deer.

"This unfortunate animal likely ventured too near to residential areas by mistake, panicked and tried to cross the expressway. We hope that the motorists involved did not sustain any injuries," Mr Kalai said, adding that more fencing could help prevent such accidents.

The deer may have been drawn by the sight of a forested area on the opposite side of the expressway, said a representative of the Singapore Sambar Deer Group, which monitors the endangered species here.

"It's their natural instinct to dash to the safety of the forest," he said.

He described the dead deer as a very healthy mature adult male weighing approximately 160kg.

He added that he was aware of another instance in December where a sambar deer was injured and subsequently died after making its way to the Senja area of Bukit Panjang.

Listed as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species, there are no more than 20 sambar deer in Singapore.

In June 2018, a wild sambar deer was put down after it suffered severe injuries from wandering onto the BKE near Mandai Road and causing a three-vehicle accident.

There were also two other instances of sambar deer dying after getting hit by vehicles in Mandai Road in February and December that year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.