Wild boars: Public safety a prime concern for NParks

Straits Times Forum 30 Jun 12;

WE REFER to the letter by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society ('Culling wild boars: Explore humane options'; Tuesday).

As recently as 1997, no wild boars were sighted in our nature reserves during extensive surveys.

Now, they can be found all over the reserves and many parts of the island, indicating that their population has grown exponentially.

Based on numerous studies done elsewhere, the upper limit of the natural population in a balanced ecosystem is 100 in the nature reserves, and seven in the Lower Peirce area.

However, in the Lower Peirce area alone, we have observed two herds, adding up to a total of 80 to 100 wild boars. This could double within the year.

Our primary concern with wild boars is public safety.

Although they appear shy, they are wild animals and are unpredictable in behaviour.

Wild boars have already attacked people at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and killed a pet dog in the Chestnut area.

Our staff's vehicle also had a near collision with a large herd of wild boars dashing across Old Upper Thomson Road.

Fatalities have been reported in wild boar attacks in Malaysia.

As the lead agency for biodiversity conservation, we monitor the health of our forests, which are home to a rich variety of flora and fauna.

Active management is required when the rising population of a particular species threatens the ecological balance.

Research by Dr Kalan Ickes and others showed that large populations of wild boars in the Pasoh Forest Reserve in Malaysia have caused extensive negative impact on small animals and flora.

Similar negative impact on our forest has already been documented by our staff in the Lower Peirce area.

Managing the wild boar population is necessary to lower the risk of human-wild boar conflicts and to conserve the integrity of our nature reserves.

We will look into other public suggestions and consult experts before taking action.

Wong Tuan Wah
Director, Conservation
National Parks Board