GEORGE TOWN: As part of the Langur Project Penang (LPP) efforts to promote coexistence and reduce roadkill incidents involving wildlife, the organisation have installed two animal bridge crossings in Penang.
Malaysia’s first urban canopy bridge located in Teluk Bahang is known as “Ah Lai’s Crossing” was installed in 2019, while the first residential road canopy bridge at Jalan Lembah Permai in Tanjung Bungah, known as “Numi’s Crossing” was open last week on Tuesday.
“Apart from the two animal bridge crossings, we are planning to install two more around the Penang Unesco Biosphere Reserve residential areas. We have identified a site at Batu Ferringhi while the fourth site has yet to be decided,” said Dr Yap Jo Leen, a wildlife researcher who also heads the LPP, a primate conservation enterprise.
Referring to the increase in dusky langur sightings in urban areas, Yap said it was due to deforestation, habitat loss and the building of settlements near forested areas.
“Dusky langurs have been frequent visitors to Taman Concord, Lembah Permai over the past four to five years, often utilising rooftops and cable wires for movement and feeding on garden plants.
“This has led to some concern among residents about the potential negative impacts. Since February 2023, LPP has been studying the dusky langur groups in Lembah Permai to strategise suitable mitigation measures,” she said.
The bridge location was identified by Yap and her team through a comprehensive study of the behavioural ecology of urban dusky langurs in the area to develop conservation planning strategies
and recommendations .
“In Lembah Permai, at least four groups of dusky langurs live in the same area as the residents. As the township gets bigger, the monkeys have less space, and sometimes they end up crossing paths with humans.”
On the organisation’s involvement in engaging with stakeholders of the “Bridge to Coexist” project at Lembah Permai, dubbed Numi’s Crossing, LPP project executive Lee Joey said: “We were working with the local community and governmental and non-governmental stakeholders in developing science-backed management plans and recommendations for humane and sustainable approaches to mitigate negative human-primate interactions at a national level.
“The bridge crossing at Lembah Permai spans 12m across a 7m road and is 6m high,” she said, adding that the proposal for the bridge was submitted to the Public Works Department before a permit was approved last October.
Numi’s Crossing was constructed in collaboration with Animal Projects and Environmental Education Sdn Bhd, another social enterprise, and with support from Tanjong Bungah state assemblyman Zairil Khir Johari and the Tanjung Bungah Village Community Management Council.
“Numi’s Crossing is named after a young, courageous infant dusky langur with a zig-zag spine on its back and its name means hope and harmony in Tamil.”
To date, LPP has recorded more than 6,000 animals crossing from nine species since 2019 through monitoring devices such as camera traps at “Ah Lai’s Crossing”.