Going wild in Singapore

MARCH 14 — A wild boar was caught and killed in Singapore a few weeks ago.  

The boar was apparently responsible for two attacks on pedestrians in Punggol in the west of the island in late February. Two women were injured by the animal and it was subsequently located and killed.  

Some local residents welcomed the decision to end the boar's life as of course no one wants to be attacked by a wild animal while walking in their neighbourhood.

Still you have to wonder if killing the animal was the solution? Though we like to say they are attacking us and are in our space, the truth is we are, in fact, in theirs.

Nature is everywhere and whether you are on a bike or in a car or building roads and parks, we are constantly threatening them. 

Surely the protocol should be to establish more spaces for these animals. To have strict reserves and areas away from human contact where more dangerous animals can be relocated to.  

Even the wild boar in question appears to have become habituated to people and was lured out of its natural habitat because people in the area had started feeding it. 

So again people encourage these animals and then demand they be killed when they stop acting like pets and start behaving like the wild things they are.  

It just doesn't seem fair to blame the animals in these cases.

And while wild boars are delicious and aren't on any endangered  species list — given Singapore's tiny land area and the truly insignificant area we have left under natural forest cover — an effort really ought to be made to preserve every beast remaining on the island. Really, I don't think this is over-the-top environmentalism.

As Singaporeans, we have profited from this island immensely and have done so at the expense of the other creatures and plants who reside here. 

While we have built a comfortable city, we have destroyed the habitats of so many creatures. 

Of course the government has recently made a real effort to rehabilitate green space in Singapore by setting aside and reviving mangroves and increasing green cover but the truth is the damage wrought cannot be undone. 

The concrete tarmac, the high rises and homes that cover so much of our country are never going to be home to the leopards, tigers and elephants that lived here a century ago, leave alone the 100s of smaller species we've lost. 

So, I think we owe the animals who have clung on — the otters, the wild boars, the pangolins — real protection. Treating them fairly and not killing them, if at all possible, helps not only keep species alive but also makes us think differently about the environment. 

It’s not about what we can get from Nature but about what we can do for it. We owe the environment a debt and ultimately we need the environment far more than it needs us. 

Sustainability is not a buzz word, it’s a necessity. If we are to maintain the lifestyle we currently enjoy without destroying the planet and ourselves, we need to change behaviours on a fundamental level and each of us has to work to minimise our impact. 

Only a fundamental re-evaluation of our relationship with Nature can help and treating every life — human or animal or plant — as precious would be a good start.  

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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