19 offenders charged for feeding wild boars at Lorong Halus
13 Jan 2021
- Feeding site is within a few kilometres of the Pasir Ris Park wild boar incident
- Feeders likely habituated wild boars to associate humans with food
- “Say no to feeding wildlife” campaign launched to focus on hotspots and leverage youth for outreach
The National Parks Board (NParks) has summoned and brought eight persons to court, for the feeding of wild boars at Lorong Halus, this afternoon. Another 11 persons will be charged over the next two weeks. NParks staff on inspection rounds observed several individuals feeding wild boars with bread or dog food at Lorong Halus between 26 November and 7 December 2020. All the feeding incidents were carried out by groups ranging from one to three persons. Under Section 5A(3) of the Wildlife Act, first-time offenders caught feeding wildlife could be fined up to $5,000, and repeat offenders could be fined up to $10,000. This is the first time that NParks has brought so many individuals to court since the Act came into effect in June last year, signalling an increasingly serious stance towards the feeding of wildlife.
Feeding of wildlife is a public health and safety concern
NParks takes a serious view of the feeding of wildlife. Intentional feeding or irresponsible discarding of food alters the natural foraging behaviour of wildlife and habituates them to human presence and relying on humans for an easy source of food. This results in wildlife having an increased propensity to approach humans for food and may lead to them venturing into urban areas in search of human sources of food. This includes wandering onto roads and posing a potential danger to motorists and to themselves as well as displaying aggressive behaviour towards people they may come across. If wildlife turn aggressive due to constant feeding, they may have to be put down to safeguard public safety.
Increase in enforcement efforts
Last year, amendments were made to the Wild Animals and Birds Act to include stricter penalties for the feeding and releasing of animals in the wild. Renamed the Wildlife Act, it strengthens the protection, preservation and management of wildlife for the purposes of maintain a healthy ecosystem and safeguarding of public safety and health. The Act came into effect on 1 June 2020.
Since then, NParks has identified several feeding hotspots based on the mapping of the wildlife distribution and feedback throughout Singapore. We have taken enforcement action against 62 individuals for wildlife feeding, with more than 20 being taken to court.
Nationwide “Say No to Feeding Wildlife” campaign
NParks has also increased our outreach and education efforts to raise awareness on the detrimental effects of feeding wildlife through the installation of educational signs, standees and posters at feeding hotspots. In addition, the National Environment Agency and Singapore Food Agency are supporting the campaign against wildlife feeding by reaching out to food establishments like hawker centres and coffee shops. We will focus on education on the following areas to reduce the food sources for wildlife like pigeons and mynahs – proper tray return, disposal of waste as well as stall hygiene. As part of the campaign, education efforts and messaging will also include tips for responsible wildlife interaction etiquette. Apart from patrons, food stall vendors and hawkers will also be engaged through this campaign.
Youth under the Youth Stewards for Nature programme have been invited to contribute towards the nationwide campaign. Under the mentorship of NParks, three youth – Karl Png, Tina Liow and Yu Chew Peng - will be leading an outreach project targeting the topic of human-wildlife coexistence, with focus on the message of “no feeding of wildlife”. The youth will set out to understand the general perceptions of the public towards feeding and develop targeted education and outreach initiatives to mitigate the feeding of wildlife and nudge responsible wildlife interaction behavior. Their proposed project outline will include suggestions such as the use of social surveys and outreach to recalcitrant feeders. The project will kickstart on 11 January 2021 with an aim to execute by 3Q 2021.
Adopting a science-based holistic management of wildlife
Wildlife management plays an integral role in promoting human-wildlife coexistence in a City in Nature, where our urban infrastructure is in close proximity with our green spaces. NParks adopts a scientific approach to the management of human-wildlife interaction, outlined by a four-pronged approach: (i) understanding population ecology; (ii) population management; (iii) public education; and (iv) promoting community stewardship.
The population and distribution of wildlife is regulated through a number of factors, including the resources available in the natural environment. Feeding causes an artificial increase in food which may result in an unnatural and unsustainable increase in populations. This action contributes to increased human-wildlife interactions and also upsets the ecological balance. Furthermore, many animals fulfil ecological roles such as pollinators and seed dispersers, and these processes are disrupted when they rely on humans for food instead.
Additionally, feeding wildlife with processed foods can also cause health problems to the animals, as the food is not suitable for them. Wildlife may also lose their natural foraging skills and struggle to survive in their natural environment when there is no readily available food source.
Managing the wild boar population
NParks carries out population surveys and research studies to understand the distribution of wild boars throughout Singapore’s nature areas. Such studies enable us to closely monitor the changes in wild boar populations, and to analyse the habitat and landscape factors that affect wild boar occupancy. The work also identifies areas for conservation and targets spots where there is possibility of high human-wild boar conflict for mitigation and management.
Management options include implementation of animal conflict mitigation measures, habitat modification (eg. removal and replacement of oil palms with native plant species), outreach and engagement programmes to educate the public not to feed wildlife.
Despite these efforts, illegal feeding may lead to situations where wild boars may pose a safety hazard to the public and thus need to be relocated or culled humanely (e.g. in situations where there is overpopulation and incursion of wild boars into urban areas in search of human food).
NParks would like to remind the public that if they encounter a wild boar, they should remain as calm as possible and move slowly away from the animal. Keep a safe distance and do not corner or provoke the animal. If adult wild boars are seen with young piglets, keep a distance and leave them alone, as they are potentially aggressive and may attempt to defend their young. Members of the public may call the Animal Response Centre at 1800-476-1600 to report any wild boar encounters.
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