Some Punggol residents are squealing in delight at the prospect of more wild boars being seen in the area, while others are alarmed.
Sightings of the animals in Punggol have doubled from last year, according to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).
Across the island, from January to July this year, AVA received 58 instances of wild boar-related feedback compared to 77 for the whole of last year, AVA told The Straits Times on Tuesday.
Housewife Chu Wei Ping “freaked out” when she encountered a wild boar a few months ago in Punggol East Park, where she frequently jogs. “I was afraid it would charge at me, so I moved away quickly,” she said.
But her fears were unfounded, said wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai, 53, who pointed out that the idea of wild boars charging at people is a misconception.
“As long as you don’t get between mums and babies or provoke them, there is no problem,” he said.
Mr Subaraj explained that the rise of wild boar sightings in Punggol is not necessarily linked to their population growth.
It could be due to more recent urban development in the area, such as new homes.
“There is an increase in areas where their habitats have been cleared, making the wild boars more visible. Once they get used to people, they will wander out into the open and will get seen more easily,” he said.
Another contributing factor could be the absence of predators such as big cats and snakes, he said.
Ms Anbarasi Boopal, deputy chief executive at the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, said the recent spike in sightings could be linked to residents who feed the boars.
“(The rise in sightings) is quite recent, so it could be the developments in the area that cause more people to use the place, which may, in turn, lead to people feeding the boars,” she said.
In June, a woman was caught on video feeding about 10 wild boars that inhabit an area around the Lorong Halus Jetty in Pasir Ris. The video raised concerns after it was posted on a Facebook group for cycling enthusiasts.
As for why boar sightings reported to AVA fell in Thomson, Mr Subaraj said it could be that the recent clearing of palm and rubber trees there led to the wild boars wandering off – seeds of palm and rubber trees form part of the boars’ diet.
He also noted that there have been illegal poaching activities in the area, with a number of traps found.
Capturing, displacing or feeding any animal in national parks or nature reserves is an offence, and an offender can be fined up to $50,000, jailed for up to six months or both.
By Rachel Oh and Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 22 August 2016