As a birdwatcher, I have been a regular visitor to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for well over a decade, and can confirm that the presence of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles there is neither a recent occurrence nor a secret ("Crocodile threat underplayed" by Mr Shawn Low; Forum Online, last Thursday). And at no point have the crocodiles posed a significant threat to visitors.
In fact, prominent signs warning visitors of the potential presence of crocodiles have been in place since well before my first visit to the reserve in 2001, and several more have been put up recently.
Mr Low pointed out that crocodiles have attacked humans in Queensland, Australia. It is important to understand that Sungei Buloh and Queensland are different.
The riverine habitats of Queensland are much larger and more extensive than that of Sungei Buloh, allowing the crocodiles in Queensland to grow to a much larger size and form much larger populations.
In contrast, Sungei Buloh is much smaller, which means that while the crocodiles are able to find sufficient food, their size and population are likely to remain small, thus reducing the risk of attacks.
Most crocodile attacks occur when people are in the water. In Sungei Buloh, the raised gravel paths and boardwalks ensure that visitors are kept well away from the water, thus ensuring their safety.
This is not to say there is entirely no risk. It is important to remember that crocodiles are wild animals and will defend themselves when disturbed or provoked. Visitors to the nature reserve must remain respectful and keep their distance from wild crocodiles, even as they appreciate the animals' beauty in their natural habitat.
David Tan Jian Xiong
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