Best of our wild blogs: 15 Jun 17

Changi six months after the oil spill
wild shores of singapore

Read more!

Large group of wild boars spotted at Tuas bus terminal

Channel NewsAsia 14 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: Amateur video emerged on social media on Wednesday (Jun 14) showing a large herd of wild boars near the Tuas bus terminal.

Video of the unusual sight was uploaded to the Our Singapore Facebook page at about 9pm.

About 20 boars were seen, with some appearing to be "road hogs", standing on the road in front of the National Transport Workers' Union canteen.

At one point, a man with a trolley walks past a few of the boars toward a van and they follow him calmly to the vehicle.

One feisty boar is seen nipping another, but the man manages to unload his trolley unaccosted.

Wild boars likely being fed, says AVA of sightings at Tuas
Today Online 15 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — The unusually large herd of wild boars spotted outside an eatery in Tuas this week could have been “conditioned” by members of the public who gave them food, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Thursday (June 15).

On Wednesday, in a widely circulated online video, some 20 wild boars could be seen loitering outside the National Transport Workers’ Union canteen at Tuas bus terminal, as if they were expecting to be fed. The canteen’s patrons did not seem perturbed by the unusual sight.

At one point in the video, some of the wild boars were seen following a worker who was pushing a trolley towards his parked van.

In response to queries from TODAY, the AVA said that it is aware of the sighting of the wild animals. “From the video, it appears that the boars may have been conditioned to being fed by people. We strongly urge the public not to feed the boars as this alters their behaviour and may cause them to be reliant on humans for food, which may result in human-animal conflicts.”

AVA said that it is working with the relevant agencies to monitor the situation and explore further measures, if needed.

On Thursday afternoon, a team from the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) was spotted in the area when TODAY visited the place. At the canteen, signs were on display, warning commuters and employees against feeding the wild animals.

Mr Kalai Balakrishnan, 31, deputy chief executive of Acres, said that the wild boars are probably from nearby green spaces, including the western catchment areas, and the large group is “not one of concern” because wild boars do travel in herds.

However, he said: “The availability of easy food, food given by people, might contribute to them breeding even more ... We need to look into why the boars are approaching the depot. Wild animals are shy and the behaviour of the animals in the video points to the high probability that feeding is happening.”

Acres also recommends that people stop the feeding.

This is not the first time wild boars have been observed to be roaming around the area.

Student Alexander Ching, 16, said that he saw one “in the bushes, just before the entrance of the terminal” in January last year.

He suggested building a fence around the terminal to keep the animals away and to prevent the buses from hitting them at night.

A bus driver who gave his name as Mr Lim, 65, said that the wild boars regularly appear there. They are “smart animals”, Mr Lim added, and they steer clear of the buses, so the risk of running into them in an accident is not high.

Mr Mohammed Sadli, 26, a technician, said that the wild boars do not harm or disturb the people there.

Even then, the AVA has advised members of the public to keep a safe distance from the animals due to their unpredictable behaviour, and to avoid trying to catch or provoke them: “Do not interact with the wild boars, and ensure that young children and pets are kept away as they may be curious and approach the boars,” it said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MEGAN NG

AVA monitoring wild boar situation at Tuas bus terminal
Natasha Razak Channel NewsAsia 15 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said it is monitoring the situation at Tuas bus terminal after a video of a large group of boars gathering outside the terminal's canteen surfaced on social media.

In response to queries from Channel NewsAsia, AVA said on Thursday (Jun 15) it is aware of the boar sighting, adding that it will "explore further measures if needed".

The video, which was shared widely on Wednesday night, shows about 20 boars outside the National Transport Workers' Union canteen. Most of them were calm, and left a man unloading a trolley alone.

"From the video, it appears that the boars may have been conditioned to being fed by people," an AVA spokesperson said.

The authority reiterated that members of the public should not feed the boars, as it alters their behaviour and may cause them to be reliant on humans for food, resulting in "human-animal conflicts".

At about 11.50am on Thursday, an SBS Transit staff member was seen putting up a sign outside the canteen, reminding people not to feed wild animals.

AVA also advised the public not to approach or disturb the boars if they come across them.

"The public should keep a safe distance from the wild boars and avoid confronting or cornering them. Do not interact with the wild boars, and ensure that young children and pets are kept away as they may be curious and approach the boars," AVA added.

A secondary school student who was in the area dropped by the bus terminal on Thursday afternoon to see the boars.

"Since I'm a transport enthusiast, my friend and I were here to explore the Tuas West extension. Curiosity sparked after viewing the online video of the boars posted last night and so we decided to come and see if there are any wild boars around," said Beckham Er, 15.

However, when Channel NewsAsia arrived at Tuas bus terminal on Thursday, there were no boars in the area.

Large herd of wild boars spotted exploring Tuas bus interchange
Ariel Pang AsiaOne 15 Jun 17;

It was a sight to behold, as a herd of wild boars were spotted 'hogging' the road near the Tuas bus interchange on Wednesday (Jun 14) evening.

In a video that went viral on social media, about 20 boars were seen loitering along the road near the National Transport Workers' Union canteen, as people in the canteen looked at them.

Some of the boars cautiously approached the canteen, with a few even following after a man as he pushed a trolley towards a parked van to unload goods.

The boars did not appear aggressive, and backed away when the man approached them with his trolley.

Netizens who shared the video on Facebook said the video was taken around 8.50pm.

The boars are understood to show up around the area as often as two to three times a week, reported The Straits Times.

The video has drawn a mix of reactions from netizens.

Some said the video was proof that wild boars are not as hostile and aggressive as many Singaporeans believe them to be, and added that they hoped the authorities would not cull them.

Others noted that the boars were forced into human territory, due to their natural habitats being cleared by urbanisation.

Read one comment: "I see at least one mama boar with her babies in this video...for her to lead her young out so publicly they must be hungry."

According to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), wild boars only attack when they are cornered or threatened. However, it advises members of the public to keep a safe distance from wild boars as they can be unpredictable and dangerous.

AVA said it received 140 pieces of feedback about wild boars last year, up from 80 in 2015 and 30 in 2014, reported ChannelNewsAsia.

Wild boars have been frequently spotted around Singapore. Last year, they made headlines after a boy in Punggol was chased and injured by one. Two motorcyclists were also involved in collisions with wild boars along the Bukit Timah Expressway and the Seletar Expressway.

Read more!

Woman fined for unlicensed pet farming, dog ownership

ALFRED CHUA Today Online 14 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE — A pet-shop owner was fined S$11,000 on Wednesday (June 14) for operating a pet farm without a licence and keeping unlicensed dogs.

Last month, Lin Xiaoqun, 39, a Singapore permanent resident, was charged with operating a farm without a valid pet-farm licence, given that she was breeding puppies for sale at her pet shop.

She also faced charges of owning dogs without a licence — the prosecution proceeded with five charges, and four others were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Lin is the licensee of Ethans Pet Resort, a pet shop located in Farmart Centre at Sungei Tengah near Choa Chu Kang.

On Feb 3, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) conducted an unannounced inspection of her pet shop and found several dog kennels in a room at the back of the premises.

There were 10 adult dogs, including a female Shiba Inu, and four puppies being kept there. These dogs were not part of the pet shop’s official records, which is a list of all the dogs for sale that pet shops have to maintain, as required by the authority. Nine out of the 10 adult dogs were also not licensed.

Upon questioning, Lin admitted to using the 10 adult dogs for the illegal breeding of puppies for sale on the premises.

She also voluntarily surrendered the 10 dogs and four puppies to the officers.

The authority said in its latest statement yesterday that it had worked with its partners to “successfully rehome” all the dogs and puppies.

A pet-farm licence is required to breed dogs for sale. Anyone found guilty of operating an unlicensed pet farm can be fined up to S$10,000 and/or jailed up to 12 months.

All dogs belonging to owners must be licensed by the AVA. Anyone found guilty of keeping unlicensed dogs can be fined up to S$5,000.

Woman fined S$11,000 for keeping farm, 9 dogs without licence
Lianne Chia Channel NewsAsia 14 Jun 17;

SINGAPORE: A 39-year-old woman was fined S$11,000 on Wednesday (Jun 14) for illegally breeding puppies in her pet shop and keeping nine dogs without licences.

Lin Xiaoqun pleaded guilty to one charge of keeping a farm without a licence, and five charges of keeping unlicensed dogs, including a chow chow and shiba inu. Another four charges of keeping unlicensed dogs were taken into consideration in her sentencing.

The dogs were discovered by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in a routine inspection on Feb 3 at Lin’s shop, Ethans Pet Resort, in Sungei Tengah. While the place was licensed as a pet shop, AVA discovered that Lin had also been using the premises to breed puppies, said AVA prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan.

Nine adult dogs that were unlicensed and used for breeding were found in individual kennels behind the pet shop. The dogs were segregated according to their breed, and there were also four puppies below three months of age in an individual kennel.

In asking for the fine, Mr Yap said it was “fortuitous” that the AVA inspectors had chanced upon the dogs, adding that AVA would not be able to check on the welfare of the dogs if they were not licensed.

Lin, who was unrepresented in court, asked the judge for a lighter fine. Speaking through an interpreter, she said she was breeding puppies to sell as her business had “run into difficulties” and she had not been able to sell her dogs, but had to provide food for them. She added that she currently has no income.

Anyone found guilty of operating an unlicensed pet farm can be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to 12 months or both. Those convicted of keeping unlicensed dogs can be fined up to S$5,000.

Read more!

Dams could 'permanently damage Amazon'

Rebecca Morelle BBC News 15 Jun 17;

The Amazon basin could suffer significant and irreversible damage if an extensive dam building programme goes ahead, scientists say.

Currently, 428 hydroelectric dams are planned, with 140 already built or under construction.

Researchers warn that this could affect the dynamics of the complex river system and put thousands of unique species at risk.
The study is published in the journal Nature.

"The world is going to lose the most diverse wetland on the planet," said lead author Prof Edgargo Latrubesse, from the University of Texas at Austin, US.

Cascading problems

The Amazon basin covers more than 6.1 million sq km, and is the largest and most complex river system on the planet.

It has become a key area for hydroelectric dam construction.

But this study suggests that the push for renewable energy along the Amazon's waterways could lead to profound problems.

The international team of researchers who carried out the research is particularly concerned about any disruption to the natural movement of sediment in the rivers.

This sediment provides a vital source of nutrients for wildlife in the Amazon's wetlands. It also affects the way the waterways meander and flow.

“[The sediment is] how the rivers work, how they move, how they regenerate new land, and how they keep refreshing the ecosystems," said Prof Latrubesse.

The Texas researcher said that at present environmental assessments were being carried out for each dam in isolation, looking at their impact on the local area. But he argued a wider approach was needed for the Amazon.

"The problem is nobody is assessing the whole package: the cascade of effects the dams produce on the whole system."

The researchers have highlighted the Madeira, Maranon and Ucayali rivers - all tributaries of the Amazon River - as areas of great concern.

These rivers are home to many unique species, and the scientists say these would be under threat if even a fraction of the planned dams go ahead.

Prof Latrubesse said: “All of these rivers hold huge diversity, with many species that are endemic.

“Thousands of species could be affected, maybe even go extinct.“

The researchers warn that any damage could be irreversible, and they say any risks must be considered before the dams are allowed to go ahead.

Read more!