Wildlife crossing in the works for East Coast Expressway

Plans are underway to build a crossing along the East Coast Expressway for tigers, elephants, tapirs and other wild animals.

Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said it was agreed at a Feb 16 meeting with the Wildlife and National Parks Department to open an underpass for wild animals.

“A suitable location for the animal crossing is being identified for the purpose,” she said in reply to a question by Wan Hasan Mohd Ramli (PAS-Dungun).

She said the proposed crossing was in response to recent accidents involving wild animals and livestock which had strayed onto the highway.

“Between Feb 1 last year and Feb 29 this year, a total of 133 accidents involved wild animals and livestock, with one fatality.

“This number represents 12% out of the 1,094 accidents along the highway,” she said.

Although the Malaysian Highway Board has taken steps to fence the area, she said there are cases of the fences being damaged or cut by locals living along the 184km stretch of the expressway.

“Some of the locals cut the fencing to create illegal access to the highway,” she said, adding that cattle and buffaloes were responsible for most of the accidents.

She said steps were being taken to improve monitoring of the highway which included erecting barbwire fencing and installation of CCTVs at high-risk areas.

Che Mohamad Zulkifly Zulkifly Jusoh (BN-Setiu) suggested criminal prosecution against errant livestock breeders who allowed their animals to stray onto the highway.

Rosnah said the jurisdiction to prosecute offenders was with the respective district councils and police.

She accepted a suggestion from Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (BN-Lenggong) that more CCTVs should be set up along the highway as the accidents had resulted in RM27.8mil in losses last year.

Rosnah said recordings from the CCTVs could help identify the culprits responsible for damaging or cutting the highway fencing.

There were recent calls for a wildlife crossing along the express­way after an endangered Malayan tiger was killed on Feb 5 after being struck by a car, near kilometre 321 of the highway at about midnight.

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