Otter nearly hit by car at East Coast Park, motorists and cyclists urged to stay vigilant

An otter crossing a stretch of East Coast Park Service Road just before a car drives by. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/YAGIZANEO PHOTOGRAPHY

SINGAPORE - Motorists and cyclists have been urged to keep a lookout for a pack of otters which have recently made East Coast Park their home.

This comes after one of the creatures narrowly escaped being hit by a car on Sunday (May 8) morning.

It is believed that the otters have made regular crossings along East Coast Park Service Road in recent weeks to get between the sea and their holt at a playground near Fort Road.

A Facebook video by otter-watcher Nick Soo showed an otter scampering across the road just seconds before a sedan drove by.

Mr Soo, who posts regular updates about otter packs around the island such as the famous Bishan 10 group, wrote that the otters use this route when the tide is low, as they cannot reach the entrance to a canal which is said to be at least 2m high.

The stretch of road is especially popular with cyclists on weekends, leading Safe Cycling Task Force president Steven Lim to post an otter advisory on the organisation's Facebook page on Monday morning.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Lim called on authorities to erect warning signs for motorists and cyclists alike to slow down and be aware of otter crossings.

He said: "The frequency of crossings has been increasing in recent days. I hope the authorities can act fast to avoid any accidents.

"For example, if a car jam-brakes when there's an otter on the road, cyclists could be affected too."

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, a joint statement from the Land Transport Authority and NParks said they are aware of the situation and have worked together to put up new signs along East Coast Park Service Road to alert motorists and cyclists to watch out for the otters. Camera traps will also be installed near the holt to monitor otter activities.

A warning sign erected along East Coast Park Service Road. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/NICK SOO

In Parliament on Monday, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said safety is the primary requirement on whether all motorists should stop if an animal is hit.

He also announced that the definition of "animals" under the Road Traffic Act will be reviewed to see if it can be aligned with the definition under the Animals and Birds Act.

Animal welfare groups in Singapore have called for the Government to amend the definition of animals under the Road Traffic Act, so that it includes other animals such as cats, and wild animals which are potential victims of road accidents.

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