AVA contractor fined over illegal trap to catch monkeys

The cage that was set up by AVA contractor Jack Pang near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to trap macaques (below).
The cage that was set up by AVA contractor Jack Pang near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to trap macaques (below).PHOTOS: AMANDA TAN, ST FILE
The cage that was set up by AVA contractor Jack Pang near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to trap macaques (below).
The cage that was set up by AVA contractor Jack Pang near the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to trap macaques (below).PHOTOS: AMANDA TAN, ST FILE

He set up cage to trap monkeys about 10m from nature reserve

A government contractor has been fined for illegally setting up a monkey trap outside the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Mr Jack Pang was fined for the offence, the National Parks Board (NParks) and Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

But NParks, which fined him, did not respond to queries by The Straits Times about the fine amount.

The AVA said it had hired Mr Pang for animal control operations after receiving feedback about monkey nuisance and aggression in the Bukit Timah area.

However, in July, he had gone beyond the contracted area and tried to catch a monkey about 10m away from the reserve.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) graduate student Amanda Tan, who was studying a troop of macaques in Bukit Timah, alerted NParks after seeing Mr Pang set up a cage.

"Prior to the illegal trapping incident, the AVA did not receive any complaints regarding Mr Pang," AVA said. It added that it did not hire Mr Pang or his company for the animal control work while NParks was investigating the incident.

Animal welfare groups here and NTU's Ms Tan welcomed the enforcement but asked how AVA ensures that the monkeys caught are from the designated areas.

The contractors are believed to be paid for each animal captured.

The AVA said: "The condition of all animals sent to AVA is checked upon arrival. AVA also conducts surprise inspections on our contractors regularly to ensure compliance."

Separately, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) plans to survey several thousand residents in human-macaque conflict areas, to poll them on their support for culling and to find out more about the problems caused by the creatures.

The study, the first of its kind here, also seeks to find out what residents know about macaque behaviour and why the animals are attracted to certain neighbourhoods.

It is expected to begin later this month and end in the middle of next month, and will cover residences near Upper and Lower Peirce, MacRitchie, Bukit Timah and Bukit Batok. Acres' findings will be shared with AVA, NParks and the MPs of the surveyed areas.

Acres executive director Louis Ng said: "It's very important to find the root of the problem... This way, we can then implement appropriate solutions.

"For all these years, we've just gone on the assumption that culling is the only option, the accepted option."

The study, he said, would gauge residents' support for a range of possible solutions, from culling to "monkey-proofing" rubbish bins, keeping food out of sight and protecting residences with low voltage and non-lethal electric fencing.

In the first half of this year, the AVA culled almost 360 macaques here, about a fifth of the estimated 1,800 population, in response to an increase in monkey-related incidents.

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