Liew Jia Xian
THE STAR – Monitor lizards are important cleaners of the environment, for they scavenge carcasses before they can rot and yield harmful pathogens.
But when their habitat is too close to humanity, these reptiles are in danger of becoming roadkill because they tend to lumber languidly across the street.
To get motorists to pay attention to them, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) decided to allow a generous level of creative licence and the campus road planners did that by borrowing Godzilla, the world’s largest, albeit fictitious, lizard.
The ‘Godzilla-crossing’ roadsign now graces the road alongside Tasik Harapan on USM’s campus.
It depicts a clip art image of Godzilla on a zebra-crossing. And confronting Godzilla is what looks like Ultraman (Japanese superhero character that blasts monsters).
The roadsign guarantees that motorists – passing for the first time, especially – will slow to a crawl to get a better look at it, much to the benefit of monitor lizards crossing the road.
About 20 monitor lizards live around Tasik Harapan, said USM School of Biological Sciences wildlife biodiversity and conservation expert Professor Dr Shahrul Anuar Mohd Sah.
“USM students and the monitor lizards have always had a special connection. Some students even refer to the monitor lizards as crocodiles or komodo dragons,” Prof Shahrul said.