Animal surveys to start on S'pore's first wildlife bridge

THE greening of Singapore's first wildlife bridge is almost complete, and conservationists are set to begin monitoring the movement of animals early next year.

More than 3,000 native plants, including trees that can grow up to 15m, have been planted on the Eco-Link@Bukit Timah Expressway, to encourage animals to use it to cross the expressway, the National Parks Board (NParks) told The Straits Times.

The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and the Central Catchment area had been separated since the expressway was built in 1986.

The aim of the bridge is to reconnect both areas to help animals including flying squirrels, monitor lizards, palm civets, porcupines and snakes as well as insects to find food, homes and mates. These creatures will also help to pollinate and disperse fauna across the expressway.

Plant species such as the spiny fan palm act as buffers along the bridge's edges to screen out the sight and sounds of the expressway. Trees also create a dense green cover which simulates a natural forest environment.

The bridge design includes features such as a wide hourglass shape that is 50m at its narrowest to encourage wildlife crossings. Structural works for the eco-link, which was announced in 2009, were completed about six months ago.

It is situated about 600m north of Rifle Range Road, between the Pan-Island Expressway and Dairy Farm exits.

Pre-construction ecological surveys were conducted over the past few years at the Bukit Timah and Central Catchment nature reserves.

The project has also involved various government agencies such as the Land Transport Authority and NParks, the non-government Nature Society and Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research and local universities.

Public access to the Eco-Link@BKE will be restricted for a few years to reduce human disturbance. NParks said it is working closely with nature groups to organise guided walks where feasible in future.

NParks director of conservation Wong Tuan Wah thanked volunteers for their help during the pre-construction surveys, adding: "We would also like to invite nature lovers to help us with the post-construction surveys."

To volunteer for the wildlife movement surveys, e-mail fadzleen_arrifin@nparks.gov.sg

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