SINGAPORE: From 2017 to 2022, the Government received about 2,500 cases of monkey-related feedback each year, on incidents including intrusions, attacks and feeding, said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Monday (Aug 1).
He provided these figures in a written response to parliamentary questions filed by three MPs on the National Parks Board's (NParks) wildlife management strategies, including how to balance respect for wildlife amid Singapore's vision of being a city in nature.
Mr Lee said that NParks, an agency under his National Development Ministry, adopts a community- and science-based approach to managing the population of wildlife in Singapore.
It researches the distribution, behaviour and ecology of animals here, such as otters - which number about 150 in total, spread across 10 otter families, said Mr Lee.
NParks is also studying population trends of long-tailed macaques, a commonly seen monkey species numbering more than 2,000 according to a 2015 census by researchers.
Last month, a viral video captured a troop of these macaques leaving a Housing Board flat in Clementi through a window. NParks said that monkey guarding would be carried out to herd them towards forested areas.
In February this year, a working group for the critically endangered Raffles’ banded langur monkey urged the public to avoid approaching or taunting monkeys, after the emergence of another widely-shared video of a student's attempt to retrieve his belongings from two macaques.
On Monday, Mr Lee said NParks would intervene to address intrusions and attacks by wildlife, to ensure public safety. It partners various animal working groups to develop solutions and measures for wildlife management.
For example, NParks cordons off areas with young otter pups to minimise the likelihood of human-wildlife conflict. Population control measures are also implemented where needed, said Mr Lee, adding that these moves have been effective.
The minister pointed to feeding - whether intentional or through the improper disposal of food waste - as the "most probable root cause of flare-ups in wildlife intrusion".
"Such actions can alter the natural foraging behaviour of wildlife, and cause them to approach and rely on humans for food," he said.
"We have to keep up preventive measures in order to avoid more intense intervention from time to time."
These include replacing or harvesting fruit trees to reduce the availability of food sources at macaque hotspots.
NParks also works to engage the public on proper refuse management and to deter illegal feeding.
It carries out talks, webinars and various initiatives to raise awareness of wildlife management.
"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," said Mr Lee.
Editor's note: The headline of this story has been corrected to say there were 2,500 cases of monkey-related feedback per year, not 2,500 cases of monkey intrusions and attacks.