Wildlife intrusions: Public outreach and education are key, says MND

·3 min read
Macaques (left) and otters in Singapore.
Macaques (left) and otters in Singapore. (FILE PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — While the National Parks Board (NParks) will intervene to address wildlife intrusions and attacks, public engagement and outreach are also key to its wildlife management approach.

In a Parliamentary written response on Tuesday (2 August) to questions from Members of Parliament on whether there is an overpopulation of animals such as monkeys and otters - leading to several recent cases of intrusions and even attacks on Singapore residents - the Ministry of National Development (MND) said that NParks has been implementing population control measures where needed to ensure public safety.

It said that, since 2017, it received about 2,500 cases of monkey-related feedback annually, including cases of intrusion, feeding and attacks.

NParks is currently conducting a study on population trends of long-tailed macaques, the most common species of monkeys in the city-state. Meanwhile, recent studies have shown that there are around 10 otter families in Singapore, consisting of about 150 otters.

"NParks partners the Otter Working Group and the Long-Tailed Macaque Working Group, which include stakeholders such as agencies, academic experts and members of the nature community, to jointly develop solutions and implement measures for wildlife management," MND said in its written reply.

"This includes monkey guarding to deter troops of monkeys from entering residential areas, which was recently carried out in response to monkey-related feedback in the Clementi area."

NParks will also cordons off areas with young otter pups to minimise the likelihood of human-wildlife conflict.

Educating public on co-existing with wildlife

NParks has also been educating the public to raise awareness on wildlife management and co-existing with wildlife, through school assembly talks, engagement sessions and public webinars.

In addition, it works with stakeholders to develop educational resources to advise the community on how to respond to wildlife sightings. For example, it launched the "Our Wild Neighbours" initiative in April with partners from the nature community to promote co-existence with Singapore’s wildlife.

MND said in its written reply that the most probable root cause of flare-ups in wildlife intrusion is feeding, whether in the form of intentional feeding or improper disposal of food waste.

"Such actions can alter the natural foraging behaviour of wildlife, and cause them to approach and rely on humans for food. We have to keep up preventive measures in order to avoid more intense intervention from time to time," it said.

NParks carries out habitat modification such as replacing or harvesting fruit trees to reduce the availability of food sources at macaque hotspots. It also works closely with other public agencies to engage the community on proper refuse management, and to deter illegal wildlife feeding.

"With some care and vigilance, we can minimise wildlife intrusions – by refraining from feeding wildlife, keeping our residential areas clean, and appreciating wildlife from a safe distance," MND said.

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