She’s preventing wildlife from hitting planes at Changi Airport: ‘There are surprises every day’

You could say Yap Xinli has an affinity for animals – and animal-related jobs. Specifically, wildlife. The 37-year-old is the manager of airside operations planning with Changi Airport Group, where she oversees the wildlife hazard management programme at Singapore Changi Airport.

Her team is responsible for keeping the aerodrome – the area of the airport where flight operations take place – free of wildlife. These include birds, dogs, cats, monitor lizards, snakes, and even otters and bats.

They know the layout of the aerodrome intimately, from where the openings are, to lead wildlife out of the aerodrome, to the fence lines that prevent dogs and cats from straying in.

“A lot of people think I take care of the animals at the airport, such as the Butterfly Garden (at Terminal 3). But I don’t,” said Yap.

For about 12 hours every day, at regular intervals from 6.30am, her team patrols the aerodrome in their vehicle, looking out for wildlife activity – birds like the house crow, Javan myna and various species of swiftlets and swallows are commonly spotted on the runways.

It can be pretty intense – Changi Airport has two runways in use, so there are two teams, one for each runway, patrolling the same 4km stretch throughout the day.

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