Rodent-control efforts make a difference at temple

Ms Sim holding a metal cage with cuttlefish bait used to trap rats. The situation has improved from three months ago, though temple staff and volunteers still see "one or two small rats occasionally".
Ms Sim holding a metal cage with cuttlefish bait used to trap rats. The situation has improved from three months ago, though temple staff and volunteers still see "one or two small rats occasionally".ST PHOTO: NG HUIWEN

Three months ago, it was common to see an average of four giant rats a day at the See Thian Foh Combined Temple in Bukit Batok.

Since the authorities carried out an extensive rodent-busting operation at the site, the situation has improved, though staff and volunteers at the temple still see "one or two small rats occasionally".

The temple's administrative clerk, a Ms Ang, 33, said: "Previously, we would see about four or five big rats in the day, hiding among the plants in the temple grounds."

She added that some could even be up to 15cm long.

One 72-year-old volunteer, who gave her name only as Ms Sim, said: "A few rats will still be around, so we continue to put out traps and rat poison. But the situation is much better now than before."

FEWER RODENTS

A few rats will still be around, so we continue to put out traps and rat poison. But the situation is much better now than before. ''

MS SIM, a temple volunteer.

In April, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and Housing Board intensified pest-control efforts after rat activity was reported on vacant state land behind the temple.

The agencies uncovered 20 burrows along a nearby footpath and found food sources to be the primary cause of the infestation. They said the situation was brought under control within five days.

The incident came about a year after more than 230 rats were killed in a hilly area next to Bukit Batok MRT station.

The NEA said that unattended offerings were found on two unauthorised altars behind the temple. The HDB worked with the temple operator to move the altars inside.

People would frequently leave food to feed the stray dogs in the open, which added to the rat problem, Ms Sim said.

However, the practice stopped soon after the authorities were called. A surveillance camera was installed on the vacant land, which is now inspected about twice a month.

When The Sunday Times visited the temple last Friday afternoon, three metal cages with cuttlefish bait were seen at the back of the temple. Ms Sim said that a rat was trapped last Monday, but she was not concerned about the rodent infestation returning.

"We all chip in to keep the temple premises clean and we also throw out the trash every day," she said. "The rats won't have a chance."

Ng Huiwen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 26, 2016, with the headline 'Rodent-control efforts make a difference at temple'. Print Edition | Subscribe