Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wild boar... in Tampines?

"He's dead, that's what's wrong with it!" "No, no, he's uh... he's resting."
Wild boar resting beneath diesel tank, Tampines;
(Photo from Channel 8 news Facebook page)

As a longtime resident of Tampines, I pay very close attention to sightings of wildlife in this part of Singapore. True, we may not be very close to the forests of the Central Nature Reserves, and most of our parks are little manicured gardens nestled amongst the HDB blocks, but we do have much larger patches of vegetation. While these areas are little more than wasteland composed of a mixture of fire-tolerant woodland, scrub and grassland (wildfires are not uncommon occurrences during the drier months), they provide habitats for many species. One such pocket of greenery was recently converted into the Tampines Eco Green.

Still, the thought of a wild boar (Sus scrofa) living here was a big surprise for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Macaques, Conflict and Keyboard Warriors

Sadly, I saw no monkeys
(Photo by John 3000)

About a week ago, someone named Paul Chan wrote in to the Straits Times Forum, in response to reports of several long-tailed macaques attacking visitors to the Forest Walk along the Southern Ridges.

Hort Park (Animal Encounter)
Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis);
(Photo by gamebit)
(The photos in this post feature several macaques that have been encountered by visitors to various parts of the Southern Ridges over the past few years)

Cull monkeys if over-population is the problem (Mirror)

I WAS shocked to read that a search was on for a monkey believed to have attacked three people over the past three weeks ("Attacks spark hunt for monkey"; last Friday).

I was also disappointed with the response of National Parks Board (NParks) officials that the monkey-feeding problem might have reached a tipping point and that sometimes, animals just go crazy. Did NParks do an extensive survey or study to arrive at such conclusions?

Despite many reports of rogue monkeys attacking people and foraging for food at bus stops and households, NParks prefers to pin the blame on human feeding or provocation.

The attack on Hort Park visitor Tang Mae Lynn was apparently due to the monkey pack invading her personal space at the Forest Walk; she carried no food or drink. The problem could be due to monkey over-population or lack of monitoring by NParks officials.

I disagree with NParks about not going after the monkeys because the creatures belong there as much as humans. Does that mean we should silently accept monkey attacks as normal?

It is the job of NParks to ensure monkeys behave where they co-exist with us. NParks has a duty to patrol and monitor the growth of the animal population within the forest boundaries. The animals should be culled if they encroach on human living space and disturb our peace. They should also be punished if they misbehave.

NParks could install closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras along the Forest Walk and areas prone to monkey attacks to check on the culprits while initiating programmes to control such disturbances so that both animals and people can share the limited space on our island in peace.

Paul Chan