KUANTAN, March 7 — In an effort to preserve and protect Malaysian wildlife and the environment, Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) said about 27 Wildlife Box Culvert (WBC) crossings will be built along the 665-kilometre East Coast Rail Link’s (ECRL) alignment.

Out of the 27 WBCs, 11 of them are located in Kemasul forest reserve which uses less than 40ha of more than the 2,000ha of land.

MRL's head of environment, Norhasrul Abu Hassan, said they have set up hundreds of "camera traps" in order to identify the types of animals and their route.

"We carried out our data collection for four months and our cameras caught various types of animals ranging from elephants to tapirs.


"This data collection is important as we can identify which areas require us to build a large and elevated crossing where it can bear a herd of elephants walking on it.

"We found out that this area (Kemasul) has the highest number of elephants passing through the proposed rail alignments compared to other forest reserved lands (that ECRL is cutting through).

“We will conduct a wildlife enrichment programme after all of the WBCs are completed, where we will plant the correct type of plants to attract the animals to use the crossings.


"We are also carrying out awareness programmes among construction workers and communities here to educate them on how to act when they encounter wild animals such as sun bears.

"We are hopeful that our efforts will protect and preserve Malaysian wildlife,” he said yesterday during a media visit to the WBC construction site.

The efforts comes after China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd (CCCECRL) signed an agreement with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ (Perhilitan) last September, where a fund of more than RM9 million was allocated for the department’s Wildlife Management Plan targeted to monitor impact on wildlife and their habitats among other things, along key stretches of the ECRL alignment.

CCCECRL Managing Director Kong Qi said the purpose of the fund allocated, is to work with Perhilitan to further establish environmental safeguards and ensure that environmental-friendly initiatives are taken for the construction of the ECRL.

“The rail alignment was designed to avoid and evade forest areas. By tunneling through forest areas, we avoid open cutting across forests full of wildlife and damaging the natural habitats of flora and fauna.

"Tunnels with a total length of 15.22km will also be constructed to reduce deforestation of seven forest reserves areas that the ECRL shall traverse under the Northern Alignment," he said.

He added that in order to mitigate the environmental impact of the construction process on natural forests, rivers and water sources, the ECRL project will install 58 tunnels, 128km of viaducts and about 20 wildlife crossings.