7 March: KUANTAN About 27 Wildlife Box Culvert (WBC) crossings will be constructed along the 665-kilometer East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) route in an effort to maintain and safeguard Malaysian wildlife and the environment, according to Malaysia Rail Link (MRL).
11 of the 27 WBCs—or fewer than 40 acres—are located in the Kemasul Forest Reserve, which covers more than 2,000 ha.
Hundreds of “camera traps” have been set up, according to Norhasrul Abu Hassan, head of environment at MRL, in order to determine the kinds of animals and their travel routes.
“During the four months we collected data, our cameras captured a variety of animals, from elephants to tapirs.
“This data collecting is crucial because it allows us to pinpoint the locations where we must construct a wide, elevated crossing capable of supporting an elephant herd.
“As compared to other forest restricted territories, we discovered that Kemasul has the most elephants crossing along the planned rail lines (that ECRL is cutting through).
“When all of the WBCs are finished, we’ll run a wildlife enrichment programme in which we’ll plant the right kinds of vegetation to entice animals to utilise the crossings.
“We are also running awareness campaigns among the local people and construction workers to teach them what to do if they come across wild animals like sun bears.
During a media visit to the WBC building site yesterday, he stated, “We are hopeful that our efforts will conserve and preserve Malaysian wildlife.
The initiatives follow the signing of an agreement between China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd (CCCECRL) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ (Perhilitan) in September last year. Under the terms of the agreement, more than RM9 million was set aside for the department’s Wildlife Management Plan, which will monitor the impact of the ECRL alignment on wildlife and its habitats, among other things.
According to Kong Qi, managing director of CCCECRL, the fund’s goal is to collaborate with Perhilitan to further build environmental protections and make sure that eco-friendly measures are followed for the ECRL’s construction.
“Forest regions were avoided and eluded by the rail alignment. We avoid open cutting through wildlife-filled forests and destroying the natural habitats of flora and fauna by tunnelling through forested areas.
“Tunnels with a total length of 15.22km will also be built,” he added. The ECRL must pass through seven forest reserve areas as part of the Northern Alignment.
He noted that the ECRL project will build 58 tunnels, 128 km of viaducts, and roughly 20 wildlife crossings in order to lessen the environmental impact of construction on natural forests, rivers, and water supplies.
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