Malaysia: Normal for animals to cross to Singapore -- Malaysian Nature Society

ZAZALI MUSA The Star 27 Jun 16;

JOHOR BARU: Wild animals in southern Johor are crossing to neighbouring Singapore in search of food and shelter.

Malaysian Nature Society Johor chairman Vincent Chow said the clearing of jungles in the Tanjung Langsat area near Pasir Gudang and Pengerang in Kota Tinggi was the main reason why some of the wildlife had been forced out from their homes and they swam across to Singapore.

“The good news is that they don’t often stay in Singapore for long. After a few days, they cross back to Johor,” Chow said yesterday when he was asked about a Malayan tapir that was seen roaming near the coast of Changi in Singapore.

Lianhe Zaobao, a Singapore newspaper, reported the sighting of the nocturnal animal at about 4.30am on Friday. The image was captured by a reader of the city-state’s Chinese newspaper.

When Singapore’s Animal Con­cerns and Education Society was alerted, the animal had disappeared into the sea.

Chow said rapid development and land reclamation in south Johor had also forced endangered animals to emerge from their habitat.

“Wild animals are sensitive to drastic changes in their natural habitat and instincts will lead them to other places which are similar to their natural habitat,” Chow explained to the media.

Singapore, he added, also reported an increase in the number of hornbills in recent years. The birds flew from Johor to mate and nest in the republic.

He said dugongs from Johor could also be seen around the Che Jawa coastal line in Singapore, which is rich in seagrass – the main diet of the sea cows.

State Wildlife Department director Jamal Nasir Ibrahim said it was normal for wildlife to cross over to Singapore and back to Johor.

“About 20 years ago, an adult elephant swam across the Johor Strait and it was brought back to Johor as requested by the Singapore authorities,” he said.

On the runaway tapir, Jamal believed that it probably thought Singapore was part of its territory.

“It was able to swim with the help of its snout which acted as a snorkel,” he said.

Asked whether the tapir would be returned to Johor if it was captured by the authorities there, he said it was unlikely as the animal was now Singaporean.

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