5 reported monkey attacks this week in Segar area, says AVA

A monkey, spotted at the Segar area in Bukit Panjang yesterday, has been terrorising residents in the estate by stealing their food and even biting them.
A monkey, spotted at the Segar area in Bukit Panjang yesterday, has been terrorising residents in the estate by stealing their food and even biting them.ST PHOTO: NG WEI KAI

Situation deemed a public safety risk and control operations being conducted

As development continues and housing estates are built adjacent to green belts, the likelihood of wild encounters, such as monkey attacks could go up, say experts.

With nature areas being encroached by urbanisation, it is believed that less space is left for wildlife. The Segar area in Bukit Panjang is one recent example.

Since last October, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) has received about 160 pieces of feedback on monkey attacks and nuisance in the estate.

The agency has deemed the monkey situation a public safety risk, adding that it has been conducting monkey control operations there. It is aware of five reported monkey attacks in the Segar area this week.

Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP Liang Eng Hwa said: "While it is not uncommon for monkeys to appear at the estate, given our proximity to the nature reserve, this recent encounter has been the most serious, with incidents of residents being bitten by the monkey."

The Segar area is near the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

Wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) said such wild encounters "will become inevitable, as the animals will use the green corridors adjacent to housing estates".

Experts noted that "hot spots" for conflicts between wildlife and humans often include areas near large swathes of nature, such as Bukit Timah Hill.

Mr Ben Lee, founder of nature conservation group Nature Trekker, said one problem is that the public may resort to feeding the wild animals.

"The monkeys become reliant," he said. "They may end up becoming aggressive."

In the Segar area, the monkey is so emboldened that it has been entering flats through the windows, stealing food and making a mess in residents' homes. Some people have also been bitten by it.

Acres said in a Facebook post yesterday that the behaviour of the monkey has been altered due to public feeding and harassment.

The Straits Times understands that the public has been feeding and provoking the monkey, such as throwing stuff at it. AVA said it is working with Acres to safely remove the monkey.

However, catching these intelligent creatures can be challenging.

"The many high-rise buildings in the area also make it easy for the monkeys to be out of reach by climbing up the blocks," it said.

The authority has worked with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees in the estate to mitigate the situation.

Meanwhile, AVA advised that residents can make their premises less attractive to monkeys by keeping food items out of sight and practising good refuse management.

•Additional reporting by Ng Wei Kai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline '5 reported monkey attacks this week in Segar area, says AVA'. Print Edition | Subscribe