Punggol residents shocked after 2 wild boar attacks in a night

Paramedics at the scene of the incident where the wild boar attacked the woman and bit her left leg. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO READER
Paramedics at the scene of the attack at 310A Punggol Walk. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A clerk spoke on Monday (Feb 22) of the horrifying moment she looked out of her window and saw a woman being bitten by a wild boar - one of two attacks on the same night.

Ms Tan, who wished to be known only by her surname, was watching television alone at home in her flat on Saturday night when she heard what she thought was a lovers' quarrel coming from the road below.

But when she heard a woman screaming in pain and calling for help she knew something was amiss.

The 308B Punggol Walk resident, 45, looked out to see the woman being bitten on the leg. It was one of two boar attacks in the area that night, believed to have been by the same animal.

Speaking to The Straits Times about the ordeal from her flat yesterday, Ms Tan said: "I heard the lady scream 'Someone please help me!' then I realised something was wrong."

She added: "I didn't think a wild boar would attack someone so close to the block," and pointed to the spot between Block 308B, a church and a primary school.

She called the police and managed to chase the boar away with the help of a neighbour who used Ms Tan's umbrella to fend it off and a delivery rider who rang his bicycle bell repeatedly to scare it.

Just 20 minutes after the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the attack it received another call about an attack at Block 310A at about 9.30pm. Two people were taken to Sengkang General Hospital by the SCDF.

The boar has not been found, despite a 20-man effort to track it down over the weekend using profile descriptions which indicate it is a lone female that weighs about 40 to 50kg.

Mr How Choon Beng, director of wildlife management and outreach at the National Parks Board (NParks), said in response to queries from the ST: "NParks will continue patrolling the area and have put up advisories on what the public should do if they encounter wild boars."

He added since wild boar tend to stray into publicly accessible areas to look for human food sources, and can be a threat to public safety, they will be trapped and removed.

Dr Andie Ang, a research scientist with Mandai Nature who conducts surveys in forests here, said this behaviour by the animals was not natural and could be a result of people feeding them. "When people feed the wild pigs, (they) will be attracted to come out of the forests into urban areas," said Dr Ang who is also the president of the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore). She added that boar may also be encroaching on urban space due to the loss of their habitat.

Most residents who spoke to the ST were shocked about the attacks but agreed that it was common to encounter wildlife in the Punggol Walk area. Many residents said they frequently come across monkeys, monitor lizards and stray dogs.

A woman was bitten by a wild boar near Blk 308B, Punggol Walk. ST PHOTO: MOHD KHALID BABA

But the latest attacks have left some fearful.

A resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Chew, 38, who works in insurance and is five months pregnant, is now more cautious when she walks back alone in the mornings after taking her children to school.

The mother of three youngsters aged five to 10 said: "Previously when we walked out I'll be playing on my phone, but now my eyes are constantly looking around to make sure there's nothing around me."

More incidents in the last two months than whole of 2020

The latest attacks bring the number of wild boar incidents involving humans to four so far this year - up from three in the whole of 2020.

Among the steps taken by the NParks to manage this conflict are engagement programmes to educate the public not to feed wildlife.

Mr How Choon Beng, director of wildlife management and outreach at the National Parks Board, said: "Intentional feeding or irresponsible discarding of food alters the natural foraging behaviour of wildlife and habituates them to human presence and relying on humans for an easy source of food. This results in wildlife having an increased propensity to approach humans for food and may lead to them venturing into urban areas in search of human sources of food."

NParks also reminded the public that if they encounter a wild boar, they should remain calm and move slowly away from it. They should keep a safe distance and not corner or provoke the animal.

Wild boar with piglets are potentially more dangerous because they may attempt to defend their young and should be left alone. Members of the public may call the Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600 to report any wild boar encounters.

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