Woman hurt by wild boar: AVA says boar likely from forested areas in Punggol or Coney Island

The Straits Times understands that the woman suffered from lacerations in the incident which happened near Punggol Secondary School. The wild boar was later found and captured in a nearby executive condominium. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/TORA TORA
Punggol Secondary School principal Benedict Keh said staff and students have been reminded to be vigilant and watchful of their surroundings. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY GOH

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said it has not observed any increased trend of wild boar sightings in Punggol, after a woman was hurt in an encounter with the animal near Punggol Secondary School on Tuesday (Aug 28).

It added that the wild boar likely came from forested areas at the end of Punggol or Coney Island, where the animals are known to be present.

"AVA has been working closely with relevant stakeholders including NParks, Acres, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and NUS, to mitigate encounters with wild boars and ensure public safety," it said on Wednesday, in response to queries from The Straits Times. "Some measures which have been implemented include putting up signages about wildlife crossings at specific locations to warn motorists."

AVA did not provide updated numbers. But it was reported in August 2016 that wild boar sightings in Punggol had doubled to 24 from the previous year.

In the incident on Tuesday afternoon, the woman in her 30s was injured in a wild boar encounter near the school and was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. The school is located a few bus stops away from a forested area which is being cleared for development.

The wild boar was later found in a nearby executive condominium and was captured by staff from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres). It was sedated and relocated.

The school said on Wednesday it is working with the relevant authorities to ensure the safety of its staff and students after the incident. Staff and students have also been reminded to be vigilant and watchful of their surroundings.

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School principal Benedict Keh said that the woman, who is an administrative employee, is now in hospital. He said: "We will render her continued assistance, including giving her the time to recover from her wounds."

Punggol Secondary students who spoke to ST said it is the first time they have heard of such an incident happening near the school.

A Secondary 4 student said that he first heard about the incident when his teacher sent a message to his class' WhatsApp chat group. He said he felt "a bit scared" after hearing about it.

Some students, however, said they became aware of the incident only after reading about it online.

After injuring the school employee, the boar, which weighed about 40kg, fled to a nearby executive condominium, Waterbay.

According to Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao, Mr Yang, a security guard at Waterbay, saw the boar running into the condominium. The 54-year-old had initially mistaken it for a dog. When he realised that it was a boar, he notified the condominium's management.

"I was worried that the wild boar would run rampant in the condo and attack people, so I rushed down to the security room to close the rubbish bay doors remotely to trap it. I then called the police," he said.

The report added that two cleaners were trapped in the rubbish bay with the boar briefly, but escaped via the stairs and side door.

A Waterbay resident, who did not want to be named, told ST that he saw the boar being removed by the authorities.

After injuring the school employee, the boar, which weighed about 40kg, fled to a nearby executive condominium, Waterbay. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY GOH

He said that there had not been much of a commotion, adding that in his two years of living there, he had not heard of such an incident. "It seemed like a one-off incident," he said.

Another resident, who gave her name as Ms Ivy, said that a fellow resident first posted a picture of the boar in their condo's WhatsApp group chat. The clerk, who is in her 40s, wondered how the animal made its way from the school to the condo. She said: "The traffic here is so heavy. How did it cross the road?"

Mr Subaraj Rajathurai, director of Strix Wildlife consultancy, said that many pockets of nature had been removed for housing development in recent years, causing wildlife to lose their habitats and wander around looking for food.

He said: "We have encroached on their homes, where do you expect them to go?"

A barren area where land has been cleared for construction along Punggol Coast Road and New Punggol Road. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY GOH

Asked how a boar could have ended up some distance away from its forest habitat, he said: "Animals in a desperate search for food will wander through areas that used to be their foraging grounds."

Mr Subaraj said that Punggol, with its forested areas being cleared for development, also lacks a "green corridor" which could act as a passageway for animals to move around without coming into contact with humans.

At least two people have been injured in encounters with wild boars in the past two years.

In October 2017, a 44-year-old man was injured when a wild boar attacked him outside a condominium at Hillview Avenue. He suffered cuts and lacerations on both legs.

The next month, police shot a wild boar that was rampaging on a road in Punggol. The injured animal was lying on the road when policemen arrived at the location. When it got up and began charging, the policemen fired their tasers at the boar, but it continued to charge towards them and the public. A policeman had to draw his revolver to fire a shot at it. The boar was later euthanised due to injuries sustained by the shot fired.

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