Should wildlife stay or go? Pasir Ris residents to have a say

A woman was attacked by a wild boar at Sungei Api Api park, leaving her with lacerations on her left leg and face. PHOTOS: MADAM YU, ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Should they remain, be controlled, or removed? With boars, chickens and other wildlife living in their midst, residents in Pasir Ris are now being given a say on whether these animals should go, or stay.

A survey posted by Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on Sunday (Nov 22) is seeking the residents' views on what should be done about the wild animals in Pasir Ris, after a wild boar attack in the area last week.

A woman was at Sungei Api Api park last Tuesday when a wild boar charged at her and knocked her down, leaving her with lacerations on her left leg and face.

The woman, a 50-year-old auditor identified by the Shin Min Daily News as Madam Yu, was with her husband in the park off Pasir Ris Drive 3 at around 9.30pm when the attack took place.

In an earlier post on Facebook, Mr Teo, who is an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said on Saturday that his team was looking into the issue in consultation with the National Parks Board and the Ministry of National Development.

"In the meantime, please be on the lookout and take care when you are in that area," he said.

Sunday's Survey on Wild Animals in Pasir Ris Estate asked for the residents' opinions on wild chickens, stray dogs and wild boars specifically, with an additional category for "other wild animals".

Residents were asked to choose from three options on what to do about each group of animals.

The first was to let them continue to roam free, the second, to let them roam free but with controlled numbers, and the final option was to remove or relocate all such animals from the area.

The wild boar had emerged from the foliage near Pasir Ris Drive 3 in Sungei Api Api Park and charged at Madam Yu. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

Pasir Ris residents welcomed the survey but some expressed concern that too much intervention could change the rustic feel of the area.

Healthcare manager Sean Abdullah, 31, a resident of Pasir Ris West for the past 20 years, said that while the survey was important, he hoped it would not result in the removal of all wild animals from the area.

"I really appreciate the wildlife living with us in this town. It is what makes the town unique because of its balance between the greenery and the urban jungle," he said.

Others, like Pasir Ris resident of 14 years Eileen Tan, 48, emphasised individual responsibility in ensuring safe encounters with wild animals.

"We try not to go to the park wearing the clothes we had on when cooking dinner. We've noticed that strong food smells seem to attract the boars' attention," she said.

Ms Tan, a learning facilitator, added: "I hope that the authorities will consider alternatives to the three actions listed. I agree more needs to be done. I don't think any of the listed options are ideal."

In a statement last Friday, NParks said that people who encounter wild boars should remain as calm as possible and move slowly away from the animal.

It also advised the public to avoid feeding wild boars, as this might cause them to associate humans with food providers and therefore approach them.

The last reported incident of a wild boar attack was on Aug 28, 2018, near Punggol Secondary School, when a pregnant woman was left with deep cuts on her right calf.

In October 2018, a woman was bitten by a 3m-long python while searching for her cat in Sembawang Drive.

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