SINGAPORE: Four people were fined S$2,500 each on Wednesday (Jan 13) for feeding wild boars at Lorong Halus, with a total of 19 people to be charged for the offence over the coming weeks - the largest number since the Wildlife Act came into effect last June.
The location of the feeding site is "within a few kilometres" of a park in Pasir Ris where a wild boar attack took place on Nov 17 last year, said the National Parks Board (NParks).
The 19 individuals were caught feeding the wild boars with bread or dog food between Nov 26 and Dec 7 by NParks staff on inspection rounds. Some were alone, while others were observed in groups of up to three.
NParks summoned and brought the first eight alleged offenders to court on Wednesday, while the remaining 11 will be charged over the next two weeks.
Of the eight charged in court today, Miko Neo Hwee Li, Lee Jun Rong Jovan, Ow Congyang and Soh Cheng Luan were fined S$2,500 each after pleading guilty to their charges.
Balu A/L Bala Raman and Ganga Devi Poobalan will plead guilty in February while Ong Jue Ying and Marcus Sim Jing Wei will return to court next month.
NParks said that the action taken signals an increasingly serious stance on the feeding of wildlife.
"NParks takes a serious view of the feeding of wildlife," the board said in a media release.
"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.”
As a result of this, wildlife may wander onto roads, endangering themselves and creating hazards for motorists, and may also display aggressive behaviour when encountering people. The latter may result in animals being euthanised in order to safeguard public safety, NParks said.
ENFORCEMENT STEPPED UP
June 2020 saw significant changes to the protection, preservation and management of wildlife in Singapore. The then Wild Animals and Birds Act was amended to include harsher penalties for those who feed wild animals or release animals into the wild. It was also renamed the Wildlife Act.
The Act provides stronger protections for wildlife in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem, and protect public health and safety, NParks said.
Since the Act came into effect on Jun 1, 2020, NParks has identified several "feeding hotspots". It has taken enforcement action against 62 people for feeding wildlife and taken more than 20 to court.
Under the Wildlife Act, first-time offenders caught feeding wildlife face fines of up to S$5,000, while repeat offenders may be fined up to S$10,000.
As part of its outreach and education efforts, NParks has launched a "Say No to Feeding Wildlife" campaign, which is supported by the National Environment Agency and the Singapore Food Agency.
Members of the public can report wild boar encounters by calling the NParks Animal Response Centre at 1800-476-1600.
"NParks would like to remind the public that if they encounter a wild boar, they should remain as calm as possible and move slowly away from the animal. Keep a safe distance and do not corner or provoke the animal," the board said.
"If adult wild boars are seen with young piglets, keep a distance and leave them alone, as they are potentially aggressive and may attempt to defend their young.