Humans not on crocodiles’ menu at Sungei Buloh

Tony O'Dempsey Today Online 16 Dec 13;

The letter, “Assess threat of crocodiles at Sungei Buloh” (Dec 12), cited crocodile attacks in Australia.

While I can understand the concern for public safety, I wish to point out that the crocodiles that have taken up residence at the wetland reserve over the past several years are small in size and number.

We are not on their menu, and the risk to the public remains within acceptable limits. Sensible precautions are, however, necessary.

Visitors should not approach the crocodiles or throw sticks or stones at them and should simply back away if one encounters the animal on a trail.

This also applies to monitor lizards, otters, snakes and monkeys, all of which may be encountered at Sungei Buloh. They are capable of inflicting injury when approached or abused.

We are fortunate to have a wildlife reserve like Sungei Buloh, where the coastal habitat has been restored through good management over the past 20 years, to the extent that native animals such as otters and crocodiles are prepared to make it their home.

I have visited it several times with my grandchildren for several years now and am at ease when it comes to their safety; none of them has been eaten by a crocodile.

Crocs at nature reserve don't pose major threat
Straits Times 17 Dec 13;

AS A birdwatcher, I have been a regular visitor to the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve for well over a decade, and can confirm that the presence of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles there is neither a recent occurrence nor a secret ("Crocodile threat underplayed" by Mr Shawn Low; Forum Online, last Thursday). And at no point have the crocodiles posed a significant threat to visitors.

In fact, prominent signs warning visitors of the potential presence of crocodiles have been in place since well before my first visit to the reserve in 2001, and several more have been put up recently.

Mr Low pointed out that crocodiles have attacked humans in Queensland, Australia. It is important to understand that Sungei Buloh and Queensland are different.

The riverine habitats of Queensland are much larger and more extensive than that of Sungei Buloh, allowing the crocodiles in Queensland to grow to a much larger size and form much larger populations.

In contrast, Sungei Buloh is much smaller, which means that while the crocodiles are able to find sufficient food, their size and population are likely to remain small, thus reducing the risk of attacks.

Most crocodile attacks occur when people are in the water. In Sungei Buloh, the raised gravel paths and boardwalks ensure that visitors are kept well away from the water, thus ensuring their safety.

This is not to say there is entirely no risk. It is important to remember that crocodiles are wild animals and will defend themselves when disturbed or provoked. Visitors to the nature reserve must remain respectful and keep their distance from wild crocodiles, even as they appreciate the animals' beauty in their natural habitat.

David Tan Jian Xiong

Sungei Buloh crocodiles unlikely to be a menace
Ben Lee Today Online 19 Dec 13;

I refer to the letter, “Assess threat of crocodiles at Sungei Buloh” (Dec 12).

Over the last 50 years, many wild animals in Singapore have become extinct, due to rapid urbanisation resulting in human encroachments on nature.

As a wildlife advocate since the ’80s, I have spotted several crocodiles in various parts of Singapore during my nature explorations.

Only some of the sightings were reported in the media.

Most notably, media attention on a crocodile at Pasir Ris led to its capture, due to the danger it might have otherwise posed to picnickers and park-goers.

However, in the case of Sungei Buloh, the park is gazetted as a nature reserve, which means more protection for its flora and fauna, as well as better facilities for the public to enjoy their visits.

The crocodiles there are usually found a safe distance from the walkway. Hence, the chance of an attack is almost negligible.

The small number of crocodiles in the reserve is another reason they are unlikely to be a menace. The warning signs that have been put up help to highlight their presence to the public and reduce danger.

Singapore does not have much wildlife left.

Still, we are perhaps fortunate to be able to see animals such as the Oriental smooth-coated otter, du-gong, slow loris, leopard cat, greater mousedeer, Malayan porcupine, wild boar and the estuarine crocodile (saltwater crocodile).

The re-emergence of crocodiles in recent years is a good sign that our rich biodiversity is attracting various fauna, and not only crocodiles.

I hope the ones in Sungei Buloh will be left alone in the wild for the public to enjoy as a learning session on our bio-heritage.