Sambar deer dashes across Mandai Road in rare sighting

VIDEO: DONN SOH
In a still from a dashcam video sent to The Straits Times by reader Donn Soh, the animal makes a sudden dash across the road in a split-second appearance.
In a still from a dashcam video sent to The Straits Times by reader Donn Soh, the animal makes a sudden dash across the road in a split-second appearance.

The rare sambar deer has resurfaced in Singapore, after a driver spotted the animal along Mandai Road.

In a dashcam video sent to The Straits Times by reader Donn Soh, the animal makes a sudden dash across the road.

The reader's father, Mr Nelson Soh, was on his way to the Mandai Columbarium on Monday to attend a funeral when the sighting occurred at around 12.20pm.

"It suddenly dashed over and I braked, but it was so fast," said Mr Soh, 58, who works as a driver for ride-hailing app Grab.

"It looked like some sort of deer, but it was quite big-sized," he said.

"It's the first time in my life that I've seen such a huge deer in Singapore."

The animal was identified by the Nature Society (Singapore)'s Vertebrate Study Group as a sambar deer, based on its size and fur colour.

While barking deer are found in Singapore, outreach officer Kerry Pereira said they do not reach the same size as the deer in the video and are more reddish in colour.

The sambar deer - also known as sambaur deer - eats leaves, fruits and bugs. Males can grow up to 2m tall including antlers, and weigh up to 260kg, while females are two-thirds the size of males or smaller.

The sambar deer are found in Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, southern China, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They can live up to 20 years in the wild.

In Singapore, they are typically found around MacRitchie nature reserve and Upper Seletar Reservoir.

In 2010, the Vertebrate Study Group estimated that there were fewer than 20 sambar deer in Singapore.

That year, one was hit by a car on the Seletar Expressway.

The last reported sighting was in October last year, when a motorcyclist posted photos on Facebook of what appeared to be two to three sambar deer. The Facebook post is no longer available.

While Mr Soh said he did not feel like he was in a dangerous situation when the incident occurred, he said he wanted to share the video so that people will be aware of animals crossing in the area.

"I wasn't travelling very fast along that stretch of road, but drivers should take care if they pass by the area, especially since there have been a lot of animals rushing across the road recently," said Mr Soh.

Mr Pereira said that when driving along roads flanked by forested areas, the public should drive slowly and be alert to animals crossing.

"This is to avoid any accidents that can not only injure the animal, but also the driver and passengers too," he added.

In response to queries, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore said it has been working with the Land Transport Authority to put up signage to alert motorists to wildlife crossings at areas such as Bukit Timah Expressway, Tuas and Hillview.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'Sambar deer dashes across Mandai Road in rare sighting'. Print Edition | Subscribe