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Animal sightings alone not enough to gauge impact on their well-being

I read with concern the report, “Cross Island Line site investigations haven’t driven away rare animals from nature reserve, says LTA” (June 9).

Animal sightings alone not enough to gauge impact on their well-being

Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica) mother and juvenile spotted near Sime Trail in a photograph dated Oct 1, 2017.

Darren Chan Keng Leong

I read with concern the report, “Cross Island Line site investigations haven’t driven away rare animals from nature reserve, says LTA” (June 9).

Amid the controversies surrounding the building of the MRT line near the nature reserve, it is timely that the authorities such as the Land Transport Authority and the National Parks Board continue to engage in dialogues with nature groups to mitigate the environmental impact the works have on the animals residing in the nature reserve.

It is important given that some species of animals are critically endangered, and with the drilling of boreholes, this could increase their stress levels and do more harm than good.

The site analysis of the environmental impact needs to be widened to ensure that other areas have not been affected due to the drilling of the boreholes. The area where drilling is done should be restored to its original condition after works have ended.

Sightings of these animals alone do not offer a good gauge, because animal behavioural patterns and movements should be taken into consideration as well, given the noise disturbances in the area.

Keeping track of the number of species sightings should be done along with the monitoring of any changes to their behaviour or physical health. This will provide a more in-depth analysis of whether there is substantial evidence of the scale of the environmental impact.

Another issue is the consideration to run the Cross Island Line through the nature reserve.

Preserving the integrity of the flora and fauna in the reserve should be top priority. It should not be about offering convenience to commuters. It would be better for the line to skirt the nature reserve even if it means increasing travelling time by a little.

I hope that the Government, in attempts to beef up conservation efforts, will study the option more thoroughly and better understand the environmental consequences before proceeding further.

For transparency, it is important that report findings at every phase of the study be made known to the public, and I urge the authorities to take a consultative approach in working together with environmentalists and conservationists to reduce the impact on the nature reserve.

Let us not make decisions for the sake of convenience, but rather decisions that are meaningful and positive for the entire ecosystem we share with other living creatures in the long-term.

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