Forum: Protect natural habitats and wildlife will come

A photo of joggers at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on Feb 16, 2020.
A photo of joggers at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve on Feb 16, 2020.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

I am surprised that Forum contributor Lee Chiu San sets great store on the feeding of wildlife by humans in promoting wildlife conservation (Proposed tweaks to wildlife Act need further consideration, March 11).

Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting wild species and their habitats.

When their natural habitats are well protected, wildlife will find sufficient food and nesting possibilities there.

The reintroduction of hornbills in Singapore mentioned by Mr Lee may not have entirely been the result of the setting up of feeding stations.

It is likely that a combination of push-pull factors resulted in their making Singapore their home: The deforestation in neighbouring countries and the increased green spaces in Singapore.

Hornbills were not only found at the Istana with feeding stations, when they resurfaced, but also in many very accessible nature areas around Singapore, including a small patch of secondary forest in Pasir Ris.

Mr Lee might also have noticed the reintroduction of abundant otters and recently, the hundreds of Asian openbill storks all around Singapore feeding from organic food they find in nature.

None of them needed feeding stations.

Mr Lee also distinguishes between public and private property to allow feeding by owners in the latter. Unfortunately, not only will the "desirable wildlife species" come for the food on private property, but rats and pigeons will too.

The feeding of "nuisance species such as monkeys", which Mr Lee agrees should be banned, ironically became a nuisance only because people started feeding them.

Singapore does not have winters. For so long as we maintain a habitat desirable for wildlife, there will be ample feeding and breeding offerings to attract wildlife.

Nature lovers will not need feeding stations, but purely passion and patience to see many varieties of wildlife visiting private and public spaces.

Agnes Sng Hwee Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2020, with the headline 'Protect natural habitats and wildlife will come'. Print Edition | Subscribe