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40 wild boars culled: NParks

SINGAPORE — As the National Parks Board (NParks) continues its culling of wild boars living around Lower Peirce Reservoir, residents are taking steps to fix some of the damage caused by the animals, while others spoke about how they have grown accustomed to their presence.

SINGAPORE — As the National Parks Board (NParks) continues its culling of wild boars living around Lower Peirce Reservoir, residents are taking steps to fix some of the damage caused by the animals, while others spoke about how they have grown accustomed to their presence.

Yesterday, nearly 50 residents from the Kebun Baru area came together for the first time to help restore the grass patches overturned by the pigs as they root for food in the ground.

The NParks, which supplied tools for the initiative, also gave an update on the situation — it has culled 40 wild boars since last year and will continue doing so as “the population of wild boars is still a concern”.

Asked when the culling will stop, Mr Wong Tuan Wah, Director of Conservation at the NParks, said that “the number of wild boars to be removed is dependent on the assessment of the threat to public safety, the impact on the forest and conservation interests”.

As recent as May this year, the agency was still receiving feedback of wild boars colliding with vehicles at Upper Thomson Road. “Damage to the undergrowth also continues to be observed,” Mr Wong added.

The agency could not give an estimate on the current wild boar population in Singapore or within the Lower Peirce area. In June, it said that there were up to 100 wild boars in the Lower Peirce area, based on their observation of “two herds”, and that the ideal number for the area is seven.

The NParks began culling wild boars in the area in August last year after their numbers grew sharply, drawing the ire of conservation and animal rights groups. The culling is limited to a 0.3-sq-km area in the Lower Peirce forest.

Mr Chang Nam Yuen, Chairman of the Kebun Baru Vista Neighbourhood Committee, which organised yesterday’s event, said the wild boar situation has improved, thanks to the NParks’ efforts to manage the population.

Another resident, Mr Robert Liew, agreed, saying that he used to see overturned patches “every other day” but now only sees “a small patch of new holes” each week.

While the residents present noted that the wild boar population has given them some problems, they felt that eliminating the animals completely is not the solution. “We find them quite likeable ... We don’t mind having them around,” said Mr Liew. “We’ve even given one a name. His name is Boris. ”

Retiree Russell Ng, who lives less than 1km from the park, said more research should have been done on what contributed to their upsurge in numbers.

“I haven’t seen any convincing arguments for (the culling) yet ... We can live with animals in our midst,” he said, adding he used to see herds of 20 to 30, but now he only sees one, occasionally.

Retired National University of Singapore professor Lee Seng Luan said he thought it was nice to see the boars and macaques around and that there needs to be a “sustainable number” of them.

The NParks said it has also taken other steps to manage the wild boar population, like removing food sources like oil palm and rubber trees and replacing them with native trees, and working with the community to counter the damage caused by wild boars.

Mr Chang said the organising team hopes to carry out this activity every three months. While residents “can’t do much”, they love the place and want to do something, he added.

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