Euthanisation of Yishun Park wild boar based on science: NParks

The boar knocked a woman unconscious at Block 846 Yishun Street 81 on March 19, 2022. PHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS/FACEBOOK, 3C DAILY FRESH BAKERY

SINGAPORE - The National Parks Board (NParks) has reiterated that the culling of a boar involved in an attack at Yishun was based on science, following remarks by the public and animal welfare groups that the move seemed retaliatory.

The boar, which knocked a woman unconscious at Block 846 Yishun Street 81, was euthanised humanely by NParks on March 20.

In an interview last Friday (March 25), Dr Adrian Loo, group director of wildlife management at NParks, told The Straits Times that the boar had to be euthanised for public safety because it had been frequently seen crossing into areas frequented by people.

Dr Loo said: "Yishun Park is quite small and while hunting the boar, we saw it run around and across paths in the park each day and night."

He added that the boar might have also left the park area, given that Yishun Park is surrounded by a densely populated urban environment, and injured residents or caused accidents.

"We don't know if the boar was habituated in the area or if it was expelled from its original home by its herd." 

Boars sometimes get expelled from their herds because of fights over territory, food source or mates.

"Either way, we saw that if we relocated the boar, there was a chance that it might leave the nature reserve and cause similar problems again, so we chose to euthanise it," he added.

Dr Loo also clarified that the boar euthanised by NParks was the same boar that knocked a woman unconscious at the Khatib open-air plaza near Block 844 Yishun Street 81 on March 9.

During the week-long hunt for the boar, NParks tracked the boar's footprints after it escaped into the forest.

After the boar was sighted at a nearby rubbish dump, NParks set up a camera trap near the area and got a live-feed of its activities.

Dr Loo said: "It was the same wild boar and it was in the forest, so we decided to hoard up the area because there was evidence that the boar had gone out and we did not want that to happen again."

NParks eventually trapped the boar on March 20 and sedated it with a dart before euthanising it.

NParks tracking down the boar at Yishun Park on March 10, 2022. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

However, Dr Loo stressed that euthanising the boar was NParks' "last resort", and that there are many upstream measures that have been put in place to minimise something like that from happening again.

For instance, NParks has been slowly removing oil palms - an invasive species in Singapore - from the forests in order to rein in the food supply of wild boars.

As a result, wild boars spend more time foraging and have less time to mate and reproduce.

New strategies, such as sterilisation of wild boars, are being considered as well to reduce human and wildlife conflict, said Dr Loo.

According to Dr Loo, there are currently 200 to 300 wild boars in Singapore's nature reserves and the wild boar population is within the reserves' natural carrying capacity.

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More studies on the wild boar population will therefore have to be done first in order to establish the necessity of sterilisation.

Dr Loo concluded: "Ultimately, we are not there to manage animals and we take on a conservation approach.

"There is a fine balance to be struck but it always has to be informed by science."

Ms Anbarasi Boopal, co-chief executive of local wildlife rescue group Acres, said: "It is positive to hear now about the relocation options and consideration of sterilisation as well."

She added: "We look forward to being able to help wild boars who are stuck or needing rescue and to get approvals from NParks for release."

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