TODAY: Culling of Lower Peirce wild pigs ‘necessary in the short term’

TODAY reported that the Nature Society (Singapore) has come up with long-term measures to reduce culling of wild pigs in the future, even though for the shorter term it recommends culling of significant numbers. The society rejected sterilisation, translocation and erection of barriers are inadequate measures to curb the wild pig population, while starting a survey to see if there is correlation between pig densities and abundance of oil palm in the area.

Culling of Lower Peirce wild pigs ‘necessary in the short term’

SINGAPORE – Even as it recommended that the wild pig population at Lower Peirce needed to be “substantially reduced immediately”, the Nature Society has suggested longer-term measures to minimise future culling.

These include fencing off the oil palm forest at the south-east section of the Lower Peirce forest to deny the pigs access to this food source, the removal of oil palm and a study to determine optimum wild pig populations for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

In the short term, culling is necessary to stop the forest from being denuded and to allow for regeneration.

It would also ensure sufficient resources for other wildlife such as mousedeer, stop native species like insects and the Malayan box terrapin from being preyed on by the pigs, and improve public safety, the society said in its position paper issued last week.

It identified a 0.3-sq-km area in the Lower Peirce forest – close to Upper Thomson Road – as being severely damaged by two families of between 30 and 40 wild pigs, with a new batch of 10 piglets observed last month.

This means a density of 266 pigs a sq km at the site or over seven times the density of Malaysia’s Pasoh forest, where large wild pig populations adversely impact small animals and flora.

Sterilisation will not solve the problem of overpopulation, while erecting barriers to keep the pigs within the forest is impractical and would not address forest degeneration, the society said.

Translocation would only transfer the problem to another area.

The society is involved in a survey to determine if high wild pig densities are correlated to the presence of oil palm in the area.

As a conservation group, it is not qualified to recommend how culling should be carried out, it added.

Debate on the culling of wild pigs started in June, with animal welfare activists against it and the National Parks Board defending its decision.

On June 22, two wild boars wandered into the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and one attacked a security guard and a five-year-old boy.

Image from Savio DSouza

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The Straits Times: No outsiders allowed for boar culling: NParks

The Straits Times reported that the though Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) have requested to be able to witness the euthanising of wild boars in Lower Peirce, the National Parks Board turned it down for safety reasons, assuring that it will be done in a humane way.

No outsiders allowed for boar culling: NParks

THE National Parks Board (NParks) has turned down requests by animal welfare groups to observe the culling of wild boars in the Lower Peirce area.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) told The Straits Times they wanted to be present to ensure the method used is humane.

But NParks said on Monday in response to queries that no outsiders would be allowed to observe the culling for safety reasons.

“The operation will be carried out by a small number of handlers. For safety reasons, and in order not to distract the handlers or animals, we’ll not be allowing anyone else into the area,” said NParks conservation director Wong Tuan Wah.

He said the agency is still working with Wildlife Reserves Singapore on a method to sedate and euthanise the boars. “The animals will be put down in as humane a manner as possible,” he said.

Asked how many boars would be killed and when the culling would take place, an NParks spokesman said there were “no new updates”.

The animal has been in the spotlight since The Straits Times reported in June that NParks was considering ways to cull the population at Lower Peirce. The decision triggered numerous letters to The Straits Times Forum Page, both for and against the culling.

NParks has defended the need to do so, citing the danger posed to people and the damage the boars have caused to the Lower Peirce forest.

In June, a wild boar believed to be from the Lower Peirce area wandered into the nearby Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and charged at a security guard and a five-year-old boy.

NParks estimates that there are 80 to 100 wild boars in the Lower Peirce area, based on its observations of two herds.

Scientific studies on boar population densities in other countries such as Malaysia indicate this number is too high for the 1.5 sq km Lower Peirce area, but some have called for NParks to conduct local studies before culling the animal.

SPCA executive director Corinne Fong said NParks should not exclude outsiders from observing the culling.

“It’s a shame (NParks) is not opening this up to outsiders. That would give the public more assurance that everything will be done properly and humanely,” she said.

Said Acres executive director Louis Ng: “We still don’t support the culling but third parties could help audit the operations and make sure future rounds of culling are done better.”

But Dr Diong Cheong Hoong, who has researched wild pigs in Borneo, Malaysia and Singapore, said sedation and euthanisation is a well-established culling method.

“Having more people will only agitate the boar in the trap more,” he added.

Instead, NParks could share with the groups its culling procedure and the backgrounds of those carrying it out, he said.

NParks has said it may be necessary to cull the boars on a regular basis if the population continues to grow. It has also said it will consider other options such as removing their food source, which includes oil-palm plants, in the Lower Peirce area, though this must be weighed carefully as other animals may rely on the food.

Image from Bering17