Surge in wild boar numbers threatens nature reserve

Straits Times Forum 22 Jun 12;

THE Central Catchment Nature Reserve serves as a water catchment for the MacRitchie, Lower and Upper Peirce, and Upper Seletar reservoirs ('NParks defends wild boar decision'; last Saturday).

This is one of our vital national taps. So the preservation of the nature reserve is of paramount priority.

The amount of damage, both ecological and environmental, that the wild boars are doing to the Lower Peirce Reservoir Park at the moment is alarming.

As a regular park user, I have noticed the denudation of undergrowth along the boardwalk and its surrounding areas.

Before the wild boar population surged, I could hardly see through the secondary forest which blocked my view of the forest floor. Now, I have a clear view deep into the secondary forest. This is bad news and soon, the bigger trees may suffer from the destructive foraging by wild boars.

We cannot wait for the trees to be denuded before acting because the environmental damage may be irreversible. Currently, there is already some ecological impact in the boardwalk area. The ever present monitor lizards and skinks are becoming a rarer sight. The fairly common large-tailed nightjar that used to roost and nest on the forest floor cannot be found or heard; so too the once irregular appearance of the mousedeer and Malayan colugo (flying lemur).

And once the nature photography buff becomes just as rare, as is the case now, one can be certain that something is not quite right in the natural world.

Some suggest sterilisation, which is clearly not the answer because the current number of wild boars is at a tipping point, even if they do not multiply any more.

Assuming an average lifespan of five years, the timeframe is far too long for such a large population to decline to an ecologically sustainable population size.

Wild boars generally are hosts to a number of parasites like ticks which may eventually be transmitted to pets like dogs when the boars stray into housing estates.

Their guts may have parasitic worms which, through droppings, may leech onto people and pets.

The holes created by the wild boars digging and foraging may eventually end up as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

So, please let the National Parks Board manage this problem in peace.

Goh Juan Hui