Ot­ters safely guided out of Changi Air­port tar­mac

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Ly­dia Lam SCAN TO WATCH

Ot­ters, the furry fish-eat­ing mam­mals that popped up in Bis­han and cap­tured the hearts of many, made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance at Changi Air­port early yes­ter­day morn­ing.

But the fam­ily of 10 on the tar­mac were swiftly spot­ted by the air­port’s sur­veil­lance sys­tem.

The air­port’s air­side safety team were called in and the crea­tures were herded safely out to­wards Changi Beach, said the air­port’s spokesman.

The ot­ters were likely seek­ing shel­ter from heavy rain, vet­eran ot­ter watcher Jef­fery Teo told The Straits Times yes­ter­day.

They did not dis­rupt air­port oper­a­tions, the spokesman said, adding that this was a rare oc­cur­rence on its premises. She also said that “be­sides reg­u­lar wildlife pa­trols, a sur­veil­lance sys­tem is in place to pre­vent and de­tect for­eign ob­ject de­bris, in­clud­ing wildlife”.

Stress­ing that safety is a top pri­or­ity at Changi Air­port, she said flight oper­a­tions are halted tem­po­rar­ily when­ever wildlife is de­tected on the run­way, for the safety team to re­move the an­i­mals.

Mr Teo, who has tracked Sin­ga­pore’s ot­ters for more than five years, said the ot­ters prob­a­bly headed to the air­port as the canals were likely full ow­ing to heavy rain yes­ter­day morn­ing.

“This fam­ily’s home range is from Changi, Pasir Ris Park and up to Coney Is­land,” he said.

The ot­ters caught on the air­port’s cam­era are prob­a­bly from the Pasir Ris fam­ily, which has 11 mem­bers, in­clud­ing a pup pho­tographed re­cently with a wound from a ring of metal wire.

Mr Teo said fel­low ot­ter watch­ers, af­ter view­ing the video, were un­sure whether the in­jured pup was on the tar­mac as well.

Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive of the An­i­mal Con­cerns Re­search and Ed­u­ca­tion So­ci­ety, said it was “highly un­likely” that the ot­ters would ap­pear on the tar­mac at night and dis­rupt flights as they are not noc­tur­nal an­i­mals.

The head of OtterWatch, National Univer­sity of Sin­ga­pore biol- Video shows ot­ters run­ning on tar­mac. http://str.sg/ ot­ter­changi ogy lec­turer N. Si­va­sothi, said ot­ters ex­plore new ar­eas only dur­ing an ex­ploratory phase.

“Likely, Changi Air­port will act on the gaps where the ot­ters squeezed through,” he said. “The ot­ters have other ar­eas to utilise and are not be­ing forced into the air­port.”

PHOTO: FACE­BOOK/ OTTERWATCH

Changi Air­port said the fam­ily of 10 ot­ters seen on the tar­mac yes­ter­day did not dis­rupt oper­a­tions.

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