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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.