The Directorate-General of Highways is installing an average speed control system along a section of Highway No. 13 in Miaoli County to prevent leopard cats being killed by traffic.
The system would be ready for use by the end of June, the agency said.
Following a grace period, police would start cracking down on drivers speeding along the section, which passes through Zaociao Township (造橋), it said.
Photo courtesy of Chiu Chih-chang
From March 15, the speed limit on the section was reduced to 50kph at night, from 60kph, the agency said, adding that the average speed control system should further reduce the number of animals killed by vehicles.
The agency said that it has also worked with experts at the Council of Agriculture’s Endemic Species Research Institute and National Chung Hsing University to develop the nation’s first roadkill alert system, which uses artificial intelligence technology, and light and sound sensors.
Since May last year, it has used the alert system to monitor a section of Highway No. 3 in Miaoli’s Jhuolan Township (卓蘭), where leopard cats appear frequently.
Leopard cats are classified as a level 1 endangered species in Taiwan and are active in the hilly areas in Taichung and Nantou and Miaoli counties, the agency said.
Because the natural habitats of leopard cats are sundered by highways, they are often killed by traffic, it added.
The agency said that it has adopted several measures to ensure the safety of the endangered species along highways, including building animal passages and erecting protective netting.
Experts from the institute have also assisted the agency in identifying the best locations to place bulletin boards to remind drivers to slow down, it said.
In other developments, an adult male leopard cat that was severely injured on Highway No. 6 on Jan. 25 was returned to the wild on Wednesday last week after being treated at the institute, the agency said.
The injured leopard cat was found on a cold and rainy night by a driver on a section of the highway near Miaoli City, the agency said, adding that other drivers also stopped their vehicles to help, covering the leopard cat with a towel, holding an umbrella over it and directing the traffic.
The leopard cat was grazed and bruised and had cuts on its mouth and tongue, Miaoli County’s Agriculture Department said, adding that it also had a concussion.
Veterinarians operated and used hyperbaric oxygen therapy to stabilize it, the department said, adding that it was later sent to the institute.
The agency said that it produced a film documenting the leopard cat’s recovery and its return to its natural habitat, which can be viewed at http://a1.pise.pw/QTKKA.
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