Barriers at 3 sites in Zhenghua Nature Park to keep residents safe from wild boars, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Barriers at 3 sites in Zhenghua Nature Park to keep residents safe from wild boars

Three sites along a 2km stretch at Zhenghua Nature Park will be reinforced with barriers to keep wild boars from intruding into residential areas. This comes after two residents in the Bukit Panjang neighbourhood suffered multiple injuries in separate attacks.

The park is a long linear park sandwiched between the Bukit Panjang estate and nearby greenery. Wild boars use the park as a transit corridor from the forested area in the north at Gali Batu, Chestnut Nature Park and Central Catchment Nature Reserve in the east, as well as Dairy Farm Nature Park in the south.

The three sites selected are along Chestnut Avenue, Bangkit Underpass and under the Gali Batu Flyover.

The locations were chosen because they are key points of connection with the forested areas, said Mr Ryan Lee, group director of wildlife management at the National Parks Board (NParks), during a media visit to the park on Friday.

At the Bangkit Underpass site, work is completed. A 1m-high fence spanning the entire underpass and cattle grids, which are grates with gaps, have been installed. CCTV cameras will be put up to monitor the effectiveness of the measures.

“The design of the fence is based on a few factors – the ability of wild boars to dig underground and jump at a certain height, and the need to maintain connectivity for other smaller mammals such as pangolins, squirrels, civets and reptiles such as snakes,” said Mr Lee.

“So the fences are designed with a combination of either gaps at the bottom for small animals to cross, or cattle grids which will prevent hoofed animals such as wild boars from crossing, but enabling other animals to still traverse between the forested areas,” he added.

Park users and cyclists will continue to have access, he said.

For the Gali Batu Flyover site, a fence 1.8m high and 400m long will be installed from July. It is expected to be completed by the end of August.

At the base of the fence, there will be PVC pipes with a diameter of 30cm to allow smaller mammals and reptiles to pass through.

Mr Lee added that while wild boar piglets may be able to get through the PVC pipes, they do not usually pose a safety threat. They are also likely to turn back and look for their parents instead, he noted.

A combination of fences and cattle grids is also being installed at the site along Chestnut Avenue, with ongoing work expected to be finished by July.

The mix of fences and cattle grids has been proven to be effective at curtailing the movement of wild boars in Pulau Ubin since its introduction in January 2021.

Fences have also been used in areas such as Bukit Timah and Rifle Range nature parks, and NParks will continue to monitor and tailor solutions for specific contexts, said Mr Lee.

Aside from installing barriers, other ways of managing wild boars include culling and discouraging human feeding. Around 50 boars have been culled by NParks within Zhenghua Nature Park since 2019, the majority of which were lone males venturing out of the nature reserves for new foraging territories.

Addressing questions on why sterilisation of wild boars, which some wildlife rescue groups have suggested, will not be effective, Mr Lee said it is because they reproduce too quickly.

“Sterilisation requires time and intensive resourcing before any actual effects can be seen... We will always be playing a catch-up game and it may not be so practical in the local context,” he added.

A pair of wild boars can have up to 32 offspring each year.

Wild boars use Zhenghua Nature Park as a transit corridor. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Mr Liang Eng Hwa, MP for Bukit Panjang, said he is grateful that NParks is putting in place measures to ensure the residents’ safety.

“Bukit Panjang is surrounded by nature reserves and nature parks so, inevitably, we will have wildlife entering into our community spaces... We are committed to working together with NParks to significantly reduce the risk of wild animals entering and minimise risk of injury to our residents,” he added.

He said the condition of the two residents who were injured in the attacks has stabilised, and that the town council will continue to render help.

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