Rifle Range Road to get animal detection system

This follows 1st one in Old Upper Thomson; two studies on public perception of wildlife

A roadway animal detection system will be developed for Rifle Range Road from the first half of next year, making it the second road in Singapore - after Old Upper Thomson Road - to have one.

Making the announcement yesterday, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said the new system will allow the authorities to test it in different road conditions - Old Upper Thomson is a one-way road, while Rifle Range Road is two-way.

He also announced two studies on the public's perception of wildlife that will begin next year, and gave an update on a campaign by the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore) to stop people from feeding monkeys.

He was speaking at a virtual dialogue organised by the institute, where he conversed with Dr Jane Goodall about topics such as nature and youth. The session was moderated by Nature Society (Singapore) president Shawn Lum.

Dr Goodall is a world-famous primatologist known for her work on chimpanzees in Tanzania, where she immersed herself in their habitat, observing them closely.

Highlighting Singapore's science-based approach to wildlife management, Mr Lee said the National Parks Board (NParks) will broaden its species recovery efforts, with 160 species set to come under such efforts by 2030 - up from 120 today.

NParks said the new animal detection system will be deployed at Rifle Range Road as animals have been seen crossing between two forested areas - Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the upcoming Rifle Range Nature Park. It complements other NParks efforts to provide safe connectivity for wildlife in Rifle Range Road, such as canopy rope bridges and culverts.

Plans for the new system follow a similar initiative by NParks and the Land Transport Authority in October 2019. Then, the animal detection system was deployed in Old Upper Thomson Road to assess the reliability of the system in detecting wildlife movements and alerting oncoming road users to reduce the speed of their vehicles.

The system works by using closed-circuit television cameras that are equipped with analytics technology to detect animals and reduce the odds of false triggers.

Upon animal detection, LED signs are lit to alert motorists to the animals' presence.

NParks said the system in Old Upper Thomson Road has shown an accuracy rate of close to 100 per cent and that a number of motorists have been observed slowing down upon seeing the lit sign there.

As for the two studies, Mr Lee said they will guide the development of strategies that manage human-wildlife encounters.

The first, a survey by the institute, will collate public sentiments towards primates in Singapore and macaque management measures, he said. This survey will begin early next year and its results will guide the other study by NParks and the Singapore University of Technology and Design's Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities.

This second study, which will be broader and more in-depth, aims to understand the public's perceptions and experiences regarding wildlife.

It will also shed light on how human-wildlife encounters are experienced here - as intentional or unintentional, for instance.

All common species of urban wildlife in Singapore will be part of the study, which will comprise both quantitative and qualitative assessments such as surveys and interviews. It will begin early next year and be completed by the middle of 2023.

Meanwhile, Mr Lee said the Jane Goodall Institute's No Feeding Campaign - launched in November 2019 with partners from a working group on long-tailed macaques - has reached more than 24,000 people through over 150 outreach and education activities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2021, with the headline 'Rifle Range Road to get animal detection system'. Subscribe