SINGAPORE – On Monday (Feb 22), a clerk talked of the terrifying moment when she looked out of her window and saw a woman being attacked by a wild boar, one of two assaults that night.
Ms. Tan, who just wanted to be called by her initials, was watching TV at home alone in her flat on Saturday night, when she heard what she thought was a quarrel between lovers going down the lane.
Yet she knew something was wrong when she heard a woman crying in pain and asking for help.
The resident of 308B Punggol Walk, 45, looked out to see the female being bitten on the shoulder. That night, it was one of two boar attacks in the region, suspected to have been carried out by the same beast.Speaking to The Straits Times about the ordeal from her flat yesterday, Ms Tan said: “I heard the lady scream ‘Someone please help me!’ then I realised something was wrong.”
She added: “I didn’t think a wild boar would attack someone so close to the block,” and pointed to the spot between Block 308B, a church and a primary school.
With the help of a neighbor who used Ms Tan’s umbrella to ward it off and a delivery rider who rang his bicycle bell repeatedly to scare it, she called the police and managed to chase the boar away.
Just 20 minutes after the Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) was alerted to the threat, at about 9.30 pm, it got another call about an attack on Block 310A. The SCDF took two persons to Sengkang General Hospital.Despite a 20-man attempt to track it down over the weekend using profile details that suggest it is a solitary female that weights between 40 to 50 kilograms, the boar has not been identified.
In response to questions from the ST, Mr. How Choon Beng, Director of Wildlife Conservation and Outreach at the National Parks Board (NParks), said: “NParks will continue patrolling the area and have put up advisories on what the public should do if they encounter wild boars.”
Since wild boars appear to wander into publicly accessible areas to hunt for sources of human food, which can pose a danger to public safety, they would be caught and removed, he said.
Dr Andie Ang, a research scientist with Mandai Nature who conducts surveys in forests here, said this behaviour by the animals was not natural and could be a result of people feeding them. “When people feed the wild pigs, (they) will be attracted to come out of the forests into urban areas,” said Dr Ang who is also the president of the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore). She added that boar may also be encroaching on urban space due to the loss of their habitat.
Most residents who spoke to the ST were shocked about the attacks but agreed that it was common to encounter wildlife in the Punggol Walk area. Many residents said they frequently come across monkeys, monitor lizards and stray dogs.
But the latest attacks have left some fearful.
A resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Chew, 38, who works in insurance and is five months pregnant, is now more cautious when she walks back alone in the mornings after taking her children to school.
The mother of three youngsters aged five to 10 said: “Previously when we walked out I’ll be playing on my phone, but now my eyes are constantly looking around to make sure there’s nothing around me.”
The new attacks have taken the number of human-related wild boar events to four so far this year – up from three in 2020 as a whole.
Engagement projects to teach the public not to feed animals are among the measures taken by the NParks to manage this dispute.
Mr How said: “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.”
The public was also reminded by NParks that if they find a wild boar, they should stay vigilant and walk away from it slowly. Wild boars with piglets are potentially more risky because they can continue to shield their young and should be left alone. They can keep a reasonable distance and not corner or provoke the animal. Members of the public can contact the Animal Response Centre to track any wild boar encounters at 1800-476-1600.