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

 

 

 

The Straits Times: Marine park gets ready for opening

The Straits Times reports that the Marine Life Park Oceanarium’s construction at Resorts World Sentosa is complete, and animals are arriving here daily from overseas. Most sea creatures were caught in the wild and the dolphins are still enclosed at Subic Bay.

Marine park gets ready for opening

THE upcoming Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is on track to open by the end of this year. Construction is complete, and 15 per cent of the park’s animals have already moved in or are now in quarantine in Sungei Tengah.

The 8ha Sentosa park, about the size of 13 football fields, will be one of the world’s largest oceanariums. It will house some 100,000 marine creatures drawn from 800 species. These will include schools of palm-size yellow tang, clownfish, black-tipped reef sharks, puffer fish and small eagle rays.

But the 27 wild-caught dolphins which the park decided to buy and showcase as a key attraction have made more news in the last few years.

A Marine Life Park spokesman yesterday said the dolphins are still in Subic Bay in the Philippines, with no word on when they will arrive.

Meanwhile, marine animals from all over the world, but mainly from South-east Asia’s Coral Triangle, are arriving daily to start their quarantine, either at the park or at the marine aquaculture and research centre in Sungei Tengah. The quarantine ensures they are disease- and parasite-free come opening day. This three-week period also gives the creatures time to get acclimatised to the temperature, salinity and other water conditions.

The 2ha Sungei Tengah facility was completed last year and started operations in February. Marine Life Park did not reveal its cost.

There, rows of tanks large and small are divided into pens by netting, which keeps fish separated by species for easier care.

Some tanks have shelter and hiding spaces. A large pipe, for example, now works as a substitute hole for a moray eel.

The Marine Life Park oceanarium director and chief curator is Mr Craig Sowden, who was with the Sydney Aquarium for 22 years and helped design part of it.

He is backed by about 50 curatorial staff, plus veterinary staff and animal health staff who care for the marine creatures, put them through tests and observe them for infections, skin lesions or unusual behaviour.

The creatures are fed specially imported pellets or frozen squid, fish and prawns.

Most of the creatures were caught in the wild, said Mr Sowden. The park wants its suppliers to guarantee they use only non-destructive methods of capture, he said. “We’ll not purchase anything that’s caught with explosives or cyanide.”

After the park is up and running, the Sungei Tengah facility will be used for breeding research, both for the park and in collaboration with other institutions, he said.

Image from chip__e

The Straits Times: Population of wild boars in Singapore on the rise

The Straits Times today reported on the increase in Singapore’s population of wild boars. An NUS biology student is studying this growth in population. For more information on this study, see http://blog.nus.edu.sg/wildpigs. Also, members of the public are welcomed to submit their sightings to mammal.sivasothi.com.

Population of wild boars in Singapore on the rise

Some spotted even around Kent Ridge; NUS student doing study on their habitat

A year ago, Mr Chang Nam Yuen heard a loud crash in his garden in the middle of the night, accompanied by grunting and groaning.

The commotion was caused by a wild boar which had been injured, perhaps hit by a car, and fallen through a gap in his fence.

The Lower Peirce resident and chairman of the Kebun Baru Neighbourhood Committee, 60, said: ‘We see them every night, as many as a family of 10.’

The wild pig or boar population here appears to be on the rise, say researchers and residents. A 2010 paper in the journal Nature In Singapore put the population at 552.

And the porkers are rooting around in nature reserves and have even crossed expressways.

They were thought to have disappeared from mainland Singapore until about 2000, and had been seen only on offshore islands.

But in the past decade, naturalists and those who live on the fringes of nature reserves have reported more sightings and reckon that the wild pigs swam over from Ubin, Tekong or Peninsular Malaysia.

The animals have even been spotted around Kent Ridge, surprising researchers who previously thought expressways like the Pan-Island Expressway served as natural barriers.

Now, National University of Singapore (NUS) fourth-year biology student Ong Say Lin, 25, is studying the local population of wild swine for his final-year project.

‘They have no natural predators here except for the reticulated python… and poachers,’ he said, suggesting the reason for the booming population.

‘Conservation-wise, they are doing fine,’ he added.

He is trying to estimate where on the mainland wild boars live, whether they are breeding here, and if they are doing any damage to forest ecosystems.

Their digging and rooting can snap saplings, reduce seed dispersal and spread invasive plants, but their dung can also be a food source for dung beetles.

Human-pig conflict is another aspect of Mr Ong’s research.

Kebun Baru’s Mr Chang said residents’ foremost concern was about safety. For instance, they worried about unwittingly provoking an attack by the wild boars in self-defence, and about cars hitting them.

Asked if the research would increase poaching, lecturer N. Sivasothi, one of Mr Ong’s project supervisors, said: ‘I think poachers already know where they are; the poachers are out there, and they are probably more sensitive to the pigs’ presence than we are.’

The findings would be shared with the National Parks Board (NParks), he added.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, director of conservation at NParks, said the agency is aware of the increase of wild pigs and is monitoring the situation.

‘We are concerned because of the potential damage they can do to our forests if their population increases.

‘We are considering options, and the management plan for wild pigs in nature reserves could include culling, as they do not face natural predators in Singapore,’ he said.

He advises the public to keep a safe distance should they encounter wild pigs.

More on the NUS study can be found at http://blog.nus.edu.sg/wildpigs

Members of the public can also submit their sightings at mammal.sivasothi.com

Image taken from Eclectic.Man