Forum: Wild boar population managed in holistic way

We refer to the Forum letters about the wild boar incidents lately (Wildlife important, but protect humans and property too; Option of culling wild boars has been too readily dismissed, both March 1; Interactions with wildlife teach us to tolerate differences, March 5; and Choose more humane solutions other than culling wild boars, March 9).

The National Parks Board (NParks) takes a holistic and science-based approach to managing the wild boar population.

For example, NParks carries out population surveys and research studies to understand the distribution of wild boars throughout Singapore's nature areas.

This lets us closely monitor the changes in wild boar populations, and analyse the habitat and landscape factors that affect wild boar occupancy.

The research helps identify areas for conservation and targets spots with a possibility of high human-wild boar conflict for mitigation and management.

Management options include implementation of conflict mitigation measures, habitat modification, and outreach and engagement programmes to educate the public not to feed wildlife.

Illegal feeding, intentional or otherwise, may lead to wild boars posing a safety hazard to the public and thus needing to be relocated or euthanised humanely.

It alters the natural foraging behaviour of wildlife, habituates them to human presence and makes them rely on humans for an easy source of food.

This may lead to them venturing into urban areas in search of human sources of food.

Human feeding also leads to unnatural population growth which can affect the natural carrying capacity in our forests for wildlife, regardless of habitat loss.

NParks works closely with public agencies, non-governmental organisations and academic institutions to educate the community on wildlife-related issues.

For example, we increased our outreach and education efforts through the islandwide "Say no to feeding wildlife" campaign on the detrimental effects of feeding wildlife.

We have also been working with agencies, including the Singapore Food Agency and National Environment Agency, to conduct outreach at food establishments to reduce food sources for wildlife.

In tandem with our education and outreach efforts, NParks takes enforcement action against recalcitrant feeders under the new Wildlife Act, which came into force on June 1 last year.

Offenders caught feeding wildlife will face up to $5,000 in fines for a first offence, and up to $10,000 for subsequent offences.

As Singapore transforms into a City in Nature, nature is also brought closer to Singaporeans.

While it is necessary to learn how to adapt to nature, NParks and other agencies will also put in measures to ensure that public safety will not be compromised.

NParks will also continue to work with the community to improve how humans and wildlife coexist.

Should members of the public encounter a wild boar, they should remain calm and move away slowly, without provoking it.

We also advise people who see adult boars that are with piglets to keep a distance and leave them alone, as they are potentially aggressive and may attempt to defend their young.

The public can also call the Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600 to report wild boar encounters.

Adrian Loo (Dr)

Group Director, Wildlife Management, National Parks Board