Researchers at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum preserve dead wild animals for study
He was waiting for the train at Paya Lebar MRT station when he spotted a "brown patch" on the East-West Line platform in April.
"I nearly stepped on this brown patch on the floor. On closer inspection, I realised it was a bat," said Mr Sean Yap.
The 22-year-old National University of Singapore (NUS) Life Sciences undergraduate was surprised, but quickly tried to salvage the carcass.
He said: "A train had just arrived, so my friend blocked passers-by from stepping on the bat as I used tissue to pick it up and placed it in a piece of bubble wrap.
"I didn't recognise the bat species and it was smaller and more fluffy than the common types in Singapore, so I salvaged it for the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) at NUS," he said.
He has tried to salvage other roadkill for the museum before.
It was indeed a bat not commonly encountered locally, according to Mr Marcus Chua, a museum officer at LKCNHM. There is only one other confirmed record of this species - the Javan pipistrelle - in Singapore.
Mr Yap explained: "The museum is always on the lookout for specimens because they prefer not to kill animals that are still living."
To others, a dead wild animal is a driving obstacle on roads, or a safety hazard. But to researchers at the LKCNHM, it is a potential animal specimen for study.
Mr Chua, 30, said: "In the past, people used to shoot and collect wild animals for studying.
"But as we experienced habitat loss and some species became rarer in Singapore, conservation became the priority. Recognising that, these groups rely mainly on salvaging dead animals for study."
Members of the public who spot roadkill notify the museum, which sends someone down to salvage it.
It is usually officers from the National Parks Board or friends of the museum who report on roadkill.
On average, the museum gets a roadkill sighting once every two months.
They are found anywhere, but especially at the periphery of nature reserves for mammals.
"When they wander out and find a road, they might decide to explore and get hit when a car comes," explains Mr Chua.
He said: "Roadkill specimens are important because every carcass tells a story. Researchers can learn about where the animal came from. It could highlight the population presence at certain locations, or tell us what sort of migratory birds are coming to Singapore."
DNA collected is added to a DNA bank and chemical analysis done on the animal can highlight any environmental pollution.
Roadkill is important to study the wildlife present in Singapore.
Mr Chua elaborated: "There are many animals that are actually present. Even though we may not see them often, they are in our forests."
For example, the leopard cat was thought to be extinct in mainland Singapore, with the last reported sighting in 1968.
But one that was run over by a vehicle along Mandai Road in 2001 showed that the species had survived in Singapore.
"We spread the news about roadkill sightings through word-of-mouth and the museum news channels like its Facebook page," said Mr Chua.
However, getting to the roadkill is always a race against time.
"It is a competition with the National Environment Agency," he said, laughing. "They want to keep the roads clean while we want to get the roadkill."
Those who spot a dead wild animal can inform the museum at 6516-5082 (during office hours) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
They should provide a description or photo of the animal and details about its location, condition and when it was spotted.
"Don't touch the roadkill," said Mr Chua.
If it is along an expressway where traffic is heavy, members of the public should inform the museum of the location, then keep driving.
Roadkill specimens are important because every carcass tells a story.
- Mr Marcus Chua, museum officer at the National University of Singapore's Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum
How specimens are preserved
1 A salvaging officer bags the animal to contain the rotting smell.
2 It is put in an icebox to slow decomposition.
3 The animal is weighed and measured at the office because it might shrink or stretch over time.
4 It is then left in a freezer for at least two weeks to kill pathogens and parasites before any research is done.
5 An autopsy may be conducted to deduce the cause of death.
6 Mammals are typically dry preserved - any part that decomposes is removed. Small animals like bats are preserved whole in alcohol.
7 These are kept in the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which has some 500,000 specimens. The new museum is scheduled to open next year.
Previous roadkill salvages
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Run over by vehicle
Preserved in alcohol
When its gut was dissected by Mr Marcus Chua, he found a rat, bird and lizard inside.
National University of Singapore
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Flew into a window
Not commonly encountered in Singapore
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Killed by vehicle or bicycle
This was reported by NParks. The mouse-deer was missing a leg.