Wanted: escorts to help Taiwan crabs cross the road

Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:55am EDT
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TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - A national park in Taiwan is seeking volunteers to help some 300 land crabs across a busy highway so that they can lay their eggs in the ocean.

Kenting National Park, on the southern tip of Taiwan, is looking for about 20 people to stop drivers from hitting the crabs, the size of a human hand, as they carry up to 200,000 eggs apiece across a coastal highway, conservation researcher Chung Yi-ting said on Tuesday.

Without human escorts, about 10 percent of the crabs would be crushed by cars, he said.

Volunteers will need to patrol a 2 km (1 mile) stretch of road for two hours in the early evening for several days from early August, when the crabs start their annual migration.

"This is when the moon is fullest, bringing the most crabs out," Chung said. "It's also the period of highest density along the road."

Kenting, a summer party town, saw nearly 2 million visitors in the first five months of this year, almost half as much as the same period last year.

Land crabs live in the hills, where they dig holes for groundwater, and then spawn in late summer. They return to land after midnight when traffic is light, needing no escorts.

(Reporting by Ralph Jennings, editing by Miral Fahmy)