Keeping a distance from wildlife too drastic an idea

While nature interest groups generally welcome inclusion and encourage the public to participate in their activities, I am surprised that Mr Neeraj Prabakharan advocated exclusion in his letter (Feeding wild animals does more harm than good; Aug 4).

The late president S R Nathan made wild birds feel at home in the Istana, and ensured that hornbills had adequate food and shelter so that they would breed there.

Heartened by Mr Nathan, private citizens with the means to do so and with support from people involved in the Istana project emulated his example, thereby encouraging hornbills and other desirable birds, once scarce in Singapore, to re-establish themselves.

Yet, Mr Prabakharan supports prohibiting the feeding of wildlife. This will discourage nature lovers from actively attracting songbirds to their gardens.

While he admits that bird-feeding stations are frequently set up to see birds through the winters in temperate countries, he is incorrect to claim that in Singapore there is an abundance of food all year round.

For local songbird species, breeding is dependent on the supply of food. During the dry season mid-year, breeding activity drops off. But if food is provided, breeding continues throughout the year.

His statement that the feeding of wildlife by untrained individuals would often do more harm than good is unsubstantiated and supercilious. Many desirable bird species are quite adaptable as far as diet is concerned.

It is inaccurate for him to claim that what is used in bird feeders is nutritionally inadequate. Very reliable and well-researched products are readily available in Singapore. Pet birds grow, sing and breed on these diets. Wild birds will flourish just as well.

His mention that the feeding of "wild" pigeons caused them to procreate and become pests is irrelevant to the subject of wildlife. The pest pigeons are not truly wild but are domestic stock that has gone feral. I will support steps the authorities take to humanely remove them.

Mr Prabakharan's position that we should keep our distance from wildlife and that nature appreciation can be achieved by visiting parks and nature reserves is too extreme a stand.

Lee Chiu San

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2018, with the headline 'Keeping a distance from wildlife too drastic an idea'. Print Edition | Subscribe