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Nature guide calls for more checks along Tree Top Walk

09 June 2007 (CNA)

SINGAPORE: Nature lovers are back on the Tree Top Walk off Upper Thomson - after it was re-opened to the public on Saturday.

It had been closed since Vesak Day (31 May) after a man was killed by a falling tree branch while on the trail that rainy day.

Nature Trekker Volunteer Guide Siva Venthan felt he cheated death on that fateful Vesak Day.

The 52-year old was on his regular trek through the Tree Top Walk, when it started raining heavily.

He immediately sought shelter under the suspension bridge.

It proved to be a wise move, for just minutes away on the boardwalk, a Vietnamese man died instantly - after a falling branch, measuring about 1.5metre long and 20cm thick, hit him on the head.

Nature trekkers say rotten branches can break off any time, not necessarily only during stormy weather.

Therefore even in good weather, there are hidden dangers that nature trekkers must keep a constant look-out for.

"When you're walking along the forest trail, and suddenly, even on normal days, when you suddenly hear a loud cracking sound, straight away you put your hands over your head, and look up! And if you see anything falling directly in front of you, or above you, dive for cover, away from the falling branch," advises Siva.

What bothered Siva was just a couple of days before the fatal accident, a huge tree had fallen on the lower end of the boardwalk - damaging it.

NParks have since replaced the planks.

But Siva was of the view some trees along the popular boardwalk are less than healthy, and more rigorous checks are needed for the rotting branches to be removed.

But trekkers should also learn to protect themselves, for example if it should rain suddenly.

"You see the man-made structure is already there, you can take advantage by going under the bridge. And then if it's stopped raining then you can continue from there. But you still got to have nature sense. Get some guidance," says Siva.

Tips like these are something groups like Nature Trekkers hope to share - especially with first-time visitors to Singapore's tropical rainforests. - CNA/yy

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