Sunday 24 June 2012

Wild boars hog the limelight

MP holds dialogue on wild boars
Inderjit Singh hears Lower Peirce Reservoir residents' concerns about animals in their neighbourhood
By Cheryl Ong, The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2012

About 40 people living near the Lower Peirce Reservoir met their Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh yesterday to discuss how to curb the wild boar population in their neighbourhood.

And a majority at the closed-door session - about 95 per cent - voted in favour of culling the animals.

Mr Singh, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said he arranged the dialogue after hearing from many residents who had spotted the boars in their neighbourhood. His constituents have also become more concerned after one of the animals attacked two people in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park last Friday.

A five-year-old boy was flung into the air when the boar charged at him, and a Cisco officer was also struck down by the same animal.

The incident came about a week after the National Parks Board (NParks) announced that there was a need to manage the wild boar population here because of the rising numbers.

Mr Singh said numerous residents have told him of wild boar sightings in the past few months. The creatures used to restrict themselves to the forested areas near the reservoir.

'It could be that they have run out of food in their natural environment, and came out to forage.'

He said the NParks estimates that there are 100 wild boars in the area, a third of them roaming residential areas. The MP added that he had asked the authorities to find a humane way to control the animals' population.

'We just want to keep the numbers at a manageable level so that they won't create trouble for my residents,' he added.

A man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Teng and has been living near the Lower Peirce Reservoir for three years, said he has seen the wild boars fewer than 10 times.

'They're harmless. They're just out here looking for food. I think the incident at the park was just unusual. Most of the time they are the ones hit by speeding vehicles,' he said.

Two hurt in wild boar attack in Bishan
Creature believed to be from Lower Peirce charged at guard, boy in park
By Stacey Chia, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2012

A WILD boar believed to be from the Lower Peirce area yesterday wandered into Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, where it charged at a security guard and a boy aged five.

It was later put down with a dart gun.

The guard, Mr Arnold Rodriguese, 36, hurt his right hand.

The unnamed boy, who was butted from behind, fell and landed a metre away, but was not seriously injured, said Mr Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at the National Parks Board (NParks).

He added that a second boar was spotted by NParks staff running back towards the Lower Peirce area.

Mr Rodriguese, who is from security company Certis Cisco, was on duty with two colleagues at the park's Pond Gardens at around 8.30am when he saw the boar.

A Certis Cisco spokesman, responding to questions from The Straits Times via e-mail, said its officers had reported this to NParks and national water agency PUB.

But just as an NParks officer arrived at the scene, the boar charged at Mr Rodriguese, said the Certis Cisco spokesman.

Right after that, the boar headed for the boy, who was near the playground.

The incident comes a week after NParks' announcement about the need to manage the wild boar population here on the back of a rise in its numbers.

A debate then ensued about the wisdom of culling the animals, with animal activist groups such as the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society against it.

The Nature Society and two university professors, backing NParks, said the boars posed a danger to the regeneration of the forests here because of their tendency to eat the seeds of primary forests.

Mr Wong said: 'This morning's incident underscores the urgency of managing the wild boar population. We cannot wait for a more serious incident to happen before taking action.'

He said that yesterday's incident was not an isolated one.

Other human-boar run-ins have been reported, including collisions with vehicles and a pet dog being mauled to death.

As a single female boar can produce four to eight piglets a year, the population of boars in Lower Peirce could double by the end of the year, said NParks.

Mr Wong said NParks was in talks with Wildlife Reserves Singapore, government agencies and nature and animal welfare groups on managing the boar population.

The forested area in Lower Pierce is home to an estimated 100 boars.

Mr Tony O'Dempsey, who chairs the Nature Society's Vertebrate Study Group, said boars are not aggressive by nature, but all wild animals will attack if provoked.

'From the animal's point of view, it may think it is cornered, even though you may not know you are cornering it,' he said.

Mr Ong Say Lin, 25, a biology graduate from the National University of Singapore who studied wild boars, said he was surprised by yesterday's incident.

'Wild boars usually evade people, but in a few rare instances, are quite comfortable with people,' he said.

An NParks spokesman said signs have since been put up around the park reminding the public to stay away from wild boars and not to feed them or use flash photography.

Protecting kids is top priority: Minister
By Matthias Chew, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2012

NATIONAL Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday defended the government policy of rounding up stray dogs and culling wild boars, citing the danger the animals pose to children.

While he welcomes a diversity of animal life in Singapore, the animals must not endanger humans, Mr Khaw wrote in a post on his ministry's blog.

'In a limited space of just over 700 sq km, it is a zero-sum game and we need to prioritise,' he added. 'My priority is towards protecting our babies.'

He also said two wild boars had wandered into the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and charged at a security guard and a child yesterday morning.

His comments follow news reports two weeks ago that some animal lovers are opposed to culling wild boars to curb their population.

They proposed that sterilisation be used instead.

Mr Khaw, in a nod to their sentiments, said: 'We will be as humane as we can, but the need to manage their population remains.'

For this reason, the authorities are also rounding up stray dogs in parks, he wrote.

While some feel strays should be allowed to roam freely in parks, Mr Khaw said residents living near these parks have reported these dogs barking aggressively, howling late at night and chasing park users. 'An accident was waiting to happen,' he said.

He also said that since stray dogs in Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West were rounded up last month, residents there have been 'happier'.

He urged dog-lovers not to feed strays, saying a better way to show compassion is to adopt a stray instead of buying a dog from a pet shop.


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