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5 things about wild boars in Singapore

Published on Jul 29, 2014 4:45 PM
Wild boars searching for food by the side of the Old Upper Thomson Road at night on Jan 16, 2012. About 80 wild boars in the Lower Peirce area have been culled by the authorities since 2012 to improve public safety and reduce damage to the area's vegetation. -- PHOTO: ST FILE 

About 80 wild boars in the Lower Peirce area have been culled by the authorities since 2012 to improve public safety and reduce damage to the area's vegetation.

The National Parks Board (NParks) gave this update recently, and said it is also looking into longer-term measures to manage the boars' population.

Here are 5 things about wild boars in Singapore:

1. Where can you find wild boars here?

Wild boars have been seen across Singapore in recent years, from Choa Chu Kang to Lower Peirce and near Changi, but there are no figures for their total population on the island.

NParks estimated that the agency's culling has reduced the Lower Peirce population to around 30 to 50 boars, down from about 80 to 100 boars in 2012.

2. Why is there a need to cull the boars?

NParks has said that culling the boars is necessary because they reproduce very quickly and can pose a risk to public safety. It pointed to two incidents in June and September 2012 where wild boars attacked people in Pulau Ubin and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, causing minor injuries.

It has also said that the boars damage vegetation in the area, by trampling the undergrowth and eating the seeds of primary forest trees.

But some Lower Peirce residents opposed to the cull said the attacks were isolated incidents, and some also asked whether the attacks may have been provoked, for example by people surrounding the boars to take photographs.

They also wanted NParks to explore other measures such as sterilisation, contraceptives or relocating the boars. NParks said it had studied these options and ruled them out as impractical - contraceptives on the market would require follow-up injections - or would simply transfer the problem elsewhere.

3. How are the boars culled?

After they are captured, vets sedate them with dart guns and euthanise them with drug injections.

4. What happens to the bodies?

They are incinerated. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority has said that the bodies cannot be sold for meat because there are no appropriate facilities here to ensure safe and hygienic processing of the meat.

As such, it may not be safe for consumption as the boars may carry parasites and diseases.

5. Wild boars are not new to Singapore

Wild boars are not new to Singapore. Researchers wrote in 1895 that the boars are "abundant in Singapore", and in 1924 that they can "still be found in certain parts of Singapore".

But they had become uncommon by 1960, and an extensive survey between 1992 and 1997 found no wild boars in the nature reserves here at all. The extinction was thought to be caused by habitat loss and hunting.

Some researchers believe the reappearance of the animals here was due to boars coming here from Malaysia, Pulau Tekong and Pulau Ubin.