Not all wild over sightings of wild boar in Punggol

Rachel Oh and Chew Hui Min MyPaper AsiaOne 22 Aug 16;

People have been seen feeding wild boars in the Lorong Halus area, raising concerns.

Some Punggol residents are squealing in delight at the prospect of more wild boars seen in the area while others are mortified.

Sightings in Punggol have doubled from last year, according to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

Across the island, from January to July this year, it received 58 instances of wild-boar-related feedback compared with 77 for the whole of last year, it told The Straits Times.

But some 24 sightings have been reported in Punggol for the first seven months of the year alone, double the figure from 12 last year.

The numbers tripled in Lorong Halus in Pasir Ris, with 12 incidents from January to July, versus four last year.

However, sightings in other areas of Singapore have gone down, according to the AVA.

Five were sighted in Upper Thomson from January to July, down from 12 last year, and 17 in other parts of Singapore, down from 49 last year.

Housewife Chu Wei Ping encountered a wild boar a few months ago in Punggol East Park where she jogs.

"I was afraid it would charge at me so I just moved away quickly," she said.

But her fears are unfounded, said wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai, 53, adding that the idea of wild boars charging at people is a misconception.

"As long as you don't get between mums and babies or provoke them, there is no problem," he added.

He explained that the rise of wild boar sightings in Punggol is not necessarily linked to their population growth.

"There is an increase in areas where their habitats have been cleared, making the wild boars more visible. Once they get used to people, they'll wander out into the open and will get seen more easily," he said.

Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive at Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said the recent spike in sightings could be linked to residents who feed the boars.

"(The rise in sightings) is quite recent so it could be the developments in the area that cause more people to use the place which may, in turn, lead to people feeding the boars," she noted.

As for why boar sightings reported to AVA fell in Thomson, Mr Subaraj said it could be that the recent clearing of palm and rubber trees there led to the animals wandering away.

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