Highway to be closed for land crab migration

Taipei--A section of highway in Kenting, in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County, will be closed at certain times over the next four months to allow the safe passage of female land crabs as they migrate from inland areas to the coast to spawn, officials said Tuesday.

Kenting's Shiangchiaowan is an important habitat and spawning ground for land crabs. But ever since the construction of Provincial Highway No. 26 along the shore there, female land crabs have been forced to cross the highway to reach the coast to spawn, and are often crushed by passing vehicles.

To help the crabs cross the road in safety, the Kenting National Park Administration has introduced various measures over the years, including closing certain lanes on the highway at certain times every year.

But the measures have achieved less-than-satisfying results, with the mortality rate of the migrating crabs exceeding 30 percent last year, up from the average of 20 percent in previous years.

As a result, the administration said it is coordinating with the Directorate General of Highways this year to close an entire section of the highway for two hours for the first time to better protect the animals.

From Aug. 6-8 and Sept. 5-7, all vehicles, except for police and fire emergency vehicles and local residents' scooters, will be banned from entering the section of Provincial Highway No. 26 from the 39.5 kilometer-mark to the 41.5-km mark, between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., according to the administration.

Meanwhile, as in past years, the outside lanes of the same highway section will be closed between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., from July 8-10 and Oct.4-6, while the entire highway section will be closed for a period of 120 seconds every 10 minutes during those two hours, the administration said.

According to surveys carried out in 2009 and 2010, at least 40 species of land crab have been recorded in the park, according to information on the administration's website.

The coastal forest of Shiangchiaowan is home to at least 26 species of land crab, making it the most diverse known habitat in the world for the creatures, while the estuary of the Gangkou River, the area between Sihzikou and Choufongbi, and Houwan, also within the park's environs, are also crab hotspots.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council