Passers-by carefully guide lost pangolin at MRT station near Bukit Timah back to the wild

Not your typical commuter.

Zhangxin Zheng | May 09, 2022, 04:08 AM

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A woman arrived at a MRT station near Bukit Timah much earlier than her friends whom she was meeting on a Thursday morning.

While the early bird catches the worm, this commuter caught a glimpse of a pangolin and ended up helping it back to the wild.

The Good Samaritan, Purnima Kine, shared that it was a "truly fantastical experience" for her and recalled what happened on the morning of April 14.

The actual location where the pangolin was spotted will not be revealed to protect this endangered animal.

Pangolin climbed up the stairs at the MRT station

Purnima told Mothership that she was eating her bread at the stairs when this scaly creature appeared at around 8:50am.

The lone pangolin climbed up the stairs and was just "2 feet away" from her.

Surprised, she used her phone to take photos of the pangolin as it climbed up.

Photo courtesy of Purnima Kine.

Photo courtesy of Purnima Kine.

Purnima was curious about where the pangolin was going, and so she followed it but kept her distance.

"I just want to make sure that it doesn't get hurt in any way," she said.

Pangolins are nocturnal creatures usually active at night.

Purnima said she was perturbed by this pangolin's appearance during broad daylight.

Guiding the pangolin to safety

Subsequently, two other passers-by noticed the pangolin, and like Purnima, they too tailed the creature while thinking about what to do.

Video courtesy of Purnima Kine.

Photo courtesy of Purnima Kine.

At one point, the pangolin went towards the escalator and Purnima had to use her foot to discourage the poor-sighted creature from going in that direction as it is likely to get hurt.

From their tiny eyes, you can guess that these nocturnal creatures don't rely on their sense of sight as much.

Instead, they depend more on their sense of smell and hearing to locate preys in their natural habitats.

Fortunately, the pangolin moved away from the escalator.

The three members of the public also tried to guide the pangolin away from the area where most people were. As much as possible, they kept a distance from the pangolin.

The pangolin eventually crawled towards a ramp that goes down to the street level and went into the bushes.

Photo courtesy of Purnima Kine.

While this was her first time seeing a pangolin up close in real life, Purnima responded to the animal cautiously.

She elaborated on the considerations she had, in the interest of this creature:

"What worries me is that it's a critically endangered species. And I know there's so many protective laws against harming these creatures but at the same time, what do you do when one walks up to you? You know, there's no clear directive written on such things.

So, we knew we had to keep our distance, which we did. We knew that pangolins would curl up if they got really frightened so we tried our best to keep our distance so that he wouldn't get scared of us, but at the same time, managed to walk away from wherever he came from.

And the other thing was if he got down to street level, I just was hoping that he won't go to the actual street because there's such oncoming traffic, but he ended up going into the bushes, which was fine."

Reported the sighting to Pangolin Working Group

Purnima shared with Mothership that the whole incident lasted around 15 to 20 minutes.

Her friends who came at around 9:15am missed seeing the pangolin.

That night, she posted the incident to the Nature Society Facebook group and was asked to inform the Pangolin Working Group about this sighting, which she did.

Formed in 2014, the Pangolin Working Group keeps track of pangolins spotted in Singapore, both alive and dead, so as to understand pangolins' behaviour and the health of pangolin population here.

The Sunda pangolin is critically endangered in Singapore and around the world.

On top of being threatened by rapid urbanisation leading to a loss of their natural habitat, the pangolins are frequently found dead as roadkill in Singapore.

Globally, Sunda pangolins are hunted for their meat and scales.

Their dwindling population is worsened by the species' slow reproduction rate.

If you see a pangolin, you can inform the Pangolin Working Group via this form.

Keep a distance from the pangolin and do not approach, chase or corner it as this may stress the shy animal.

Read more here.

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