Wildlife Crossings: High Death Ratios & Solutions

When a developing country decides to use some of its jungles and forests to provide new infrastructure and residential/farm land for its citizens, it usually creates a space for wildlife to cross open spaces to get to the other side. Unfortunately, it appears to not work as it should because the wildlife become easy targets for hunters or get into fatal accident from a vehicle racing through the same open space.


wild deerThis has always been an issue with one recent story of a man who used to get the dead animals for food. In Malaysia, critics in defense of wildlife have come out and publicly decried the wanton disregard for the safety of wildlife.

The beautiful forest reserves in Tasik Kenyir, Malaysia have about 19 mammal species living in the wild. Many researchers have gone to this area to photograph rare or endangered species like the Asian elephant, sun bears, serow, tapirs, and clouded leopards. When a clearing was made by the government in the name of progress and development, these animals began to face extreme difficulty in gaining access to their food sources and mating partners. They also lost part of their shelter and had to learn either to adjust or attempt crossings. There is one glaring crossing that cuts through the master plan of protected forested land: the infamous Kuala Berang highway.

Scientists predict that because of this highway, there will be reduced genetic diversity and problems concerning inbreeding. In short, they fear that these endangered and critically endangered animals and wildlife could be facing extinction within years.

Malaysia is not alone in this kind of scenario. It is happening in many other places in the world. Canada has come up with a solution for wildlife crossing by putting up vegetate overpasses for the animals to cross safely and without detection. The Netherlands has a different solution and decided to build tunnels for their endangered species to cross highways and roads. Both work equally well and other countries should consider investing in the safety of their wildlife.

With the intense clamor from environmentalists and animal conservationists, Malaysia has begun to put viaducts where no human traffic is allowed. These structures are meant for the wildlife exclusively and are terms “eco-viaducts.” Being a recent structure, there is no proof that it is effective in reducing animal fatalities, especially since the viaducts are accessible to poachers.


Reference: Illustrated Encyclopedia of endangered animals.



The Orinoco Crocodiles Finally Find A Home

Two Orinoco crocodiles are currently being moved from Welland in Ontario, Canada to Gladys Porter Zoo in the US as part of an attempt to save the species from becoming extinct.  The critically endangered Orinoco reptiles come from Columbia and Venezuela in South America. They are hunted for their hides which are sold at excruciatingly high prices. Considered the New World crocodiles, the Orinoco crocodiles have, in the past 3 generations, their population declined by as much as 80%.


Around the early 1990s, there were less than 1,500 baby Orinoco crocodiles living in the wild with an educated guess of 250 adults only. This is why there is a sense of desperation in trying to revive the population and bring the numbers up again. It obviously isn’t working because in this day and age, money is apparently more important than saving these reptiles.

It just happened that one enterprising and caring Canadian with a business called Seaway Serpentarium decided to bring in two Orinoco crocodiles to breed. These two were named Suede and Blade.  The owner of the facility, Mr. Karel Fortyn was in the process of planning new facilities for them because they were growing too big when he suddenly passed away.  Blade at the time of the owner’s death weighed about 1,400 lbs and is about 13 feet long. The female crocodile, Suede weighs about 700 lbs and is 11 feet long.

The Canadian Orinoco Crocodile Team worked feverishly with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to find a new home where the crocodiles could live and hopefully breed in peace. Fortunately the Gladys Porter Zoo volunteered to take them in, and this summer began building a new exhibit area for them.

The animals need to be transported before the winter season because of the cold temperatures which could cause a lot of headaches for all parties. Permits were just issues a few days ago, and the process of moving them has begun in earnest.

Americans can now plan their trip to South Texas to see the pair who should be in their new home within a couple of weeks. The problem that must be faced first is how to extract them from their cramp home, crate and secure them without the crocodiles dying from their own acid emissions. This happens when crocodiles get stressed and release acids internally which the body cannot process as quickly. In short, if the move is not done properly and carefully, they could die from internal poisoning.