When Not Feeding Is Caring
Wild boars and macaques that associate humans with sources of food, may exhibit increased aggressiveness towards humans in order to obtain food, such as snatching plastic bags or food from opened bags carried by visitors.
Photo credit: Kathleen Yap
You have seen them around – a senior breaking off bits of bread for the pigeons to feast on at the foot of your block, or the dad holding out a piece of banana for the macaque at the reservoir park, to the curiosity of his young child.
Many people who feed wildlife tend to do so out of kindness, with genuine concern that the animals are ‘hungry’ and not getting enough to eat. However, these acts are often performed without accurate knowledge of the detrimental effects they bring.
Singapore’s natural green spaces are home to a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem of flora and fauna. Wildlife have instinctive hunting and foraging skills and Singapore’s variety of native plants allows for a sustainable food source for them.
Did you know that anyone caught feeding wildlife anywhere in Singapore can incur a maximum fine of up to $10,000? The Rock Pigeon, Macaque and Wild Boar are some of the wildlife that human commonly feed.
Photo credit: Bryan Lim, Max Khoo and Kathleen Yap
Hence there is no need for us to feed them. In fact, feeding wildlife can lead to undesirable and serious consequences. Here are three reasons why not feeding is actually caring for these animals.
(1) Unsustainable wildlife population growth
Wildlife population size increases as animals breed in response to abundance of food sources. However, this population growth is unsustainable because the natural habitat area supporting the animals remains the same.
Consequently, the increased competition within and among the different animal species may force some animals to venture out of their natural habitat and into human-occupied areas, including urban areas with roads and more pedestrians, which may hinder human activity and also endanger the animals
(2) A change in wild animals’ natural behaviour
As a result of increased competition, wildlife will have to find new food sources. For example, wild boars are normally shy animals that inhabit dense forests. Feeding them may encourage them to venture out of their natural habitats and into urban areas, putting them in close proximity to humans.
There are other examples of unnatural behaviours induced by feeding such as animals exhibiting increased aggressiveness towards humans in order to obtain food, as the animals learn to associate humans with sources of food. Wild boars and macaques at some of our nature areas have unfortunately learned to snatch plastic bags from visitors or snatch food from opened bags due to this association.
Also, wildlife fed along the roads tend to gather or stay near roads, increasing the chance of roadkill incidents.
(3) Harming the health of local wildlife
The food we give to wildlife such as sweetened pastries or processed food like chips often do not meet their nutritional requirements. These foods may even make animals sick, or susceptible to diseases.
The food we eat and give to wildlife often do not meet their nutritional requirements and can make them sick.
Photo credit: Max Khoo
Need more reasons to say ‘no’ to feeding wildlife?
Leaving food for the wildlife can dirty our surroundings and invite pests. In addition, anyone caught feeding wildlife anywhere in Singapore can incur a maximum fine of up to $10,000.
A Balanced Ecosystem
Singapore is home to a large variety of animal and plant species, which can be found in their natural habitats. Be it dry land tropical rainforests, mangroves or coral ecosystems, there is a rich biodiversity to be found in our City in Nature.
You can help to keep the ecosystems in balance and interact responsibly with nature by:
- Not feeding wildlife
- Keeping food and plastic bags out of sight from wildlife
- Observing wildlife from a safe distance
- Take only photo memories and leave the flora and fauna be
To ensure the well-being of our biodiversity, visitors to our nature parks and reserves should adhere strictly to the opening hours of 7 am to 7 pm. Disturbances to the nocturnal animals’ activities could mean disruptions to their natural behaviour, which can include them venturing outside the nature parks and reserves. This will endanger both their own safety and that of the general public.
Learn how to enjoy nature responsibly by observing some simple practices. In addition to the wildlife in Singapore, learn more about our Urban Biodiversity.
Visit NParksSG, our refreshed YouTube Channel that serves as a one-stop repository for close to 300 video resources. It also provides you a platform for existing and future digital outreach including DIY gardening and related crafts, virtual tours of our green spaces, and livestream events.
Interested to learn about the flora and fauna found in Singapore? Visit NParks Flora & Fauna Web here.
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Text by Felix Siew
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