Mon, Oct 09, 2017 - Page 3 News List

A three-year study has been initiated to protect animals along highways: COA

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

In the past six years, at least 366 protected animals have died after being struck by motor vehicles, the Council of Agriculture said on Friday, adding that it has initiated a three-year study to determine how to protect wild animals along highways.

At least 16 otters, 53 leopard cats, 35 pangolins, 21 civet cats and 241 masked palm civets have been killed, though the actual number might be higher, said Lin Te-en (林德恩), an assistant researcher at the council’s Endemic Species Research Institute.

The number of the nation’s vehicles per square kilometer is the highest in the world, with 596.4 cars and scooters per square kilometer, while the aggregate length of its roads is 43,365km, which only ranks 13th worldwide, Lin said, citing data from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

In 2011, Lin’s dedication to researching wild animals led him to set up a Facebook group called Reptile Road Mortality, whose aim is to stimulate “citizen research” into animal and environmental protection issues and has attracted 13,859 members.

He also launched a Web site, the Taiwan Roadkill Observation Network, in 2012 to foster greater monitoring to prevent rabies, insecticide use and heavy metal pollution.

The group’s members take photographs of animals that they see on roads, record the location and then upload the material to Facebook.

“We hope to gather more data through Facebook about motor vehicle accidents involving animals. Collecting information about killed animals is relatively easy for ordinary people because the animals can no longer hurt them,” Lin said when asked about his motive to set up the Web pages.

While not everyone can handle pictures of dead animals, Lin does not set any special parameters on taking the photos because he hopes to convey the idea that “death is not necessarily a bloody and scary thing,” but can be a good learning opportunity.

If people find dead cats or dogs on roads, they can bury the bodies in appropriate places if possible, or they can contact local animal protection offices, Lin said.

If they find other kinds of dead animals, they can deliver the bodies to the institute in Nantou County’s Jiji Township (集集) for research, he said.

Starting last month, the institute began to collaborate with the Directorate-General of Highways to conduct a three-year study on animal pathways along roads.

The plan first targets the habitats of carnivores along highways in Miaoli, Taichung and Nantou counties, where carnivores, especially leopard cats, were often found, Lin explained.

The institute divided the nation into 1,440 grids and has invited people to claim regions identified by the grids, Lin said, adding that he hopes the research will become more systematic to avoid repetitive reporting by people.

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