Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wild boar gores dog, sparks fear on Adam Drive

SINGAPORE - The rustle in the brushes got Lhotse bounding towards the wooded area along Adam Drive, off Adam Road.

Minutes later, the three-year-old chocolate labrador, dashed out, whimpering loudly. It had been badly gored in the side and bitten in its neck.

With blood flowing, the dog made a dash home, followed closely behind by the family's maid, Miss Elvie Lacsa.

The incident happened last Saturday at about 5.30pm.

Miss Lacsa, 44, said: "It all happened so fast. As usual, I was taking Lhotse for his walk when we heard a noise in the forest and he ran there," she said.

"A minute later, I heard loud grunts and then (I heard) Lhotse cry loudly. He ran madly home, with blood flowing from his side and neck," she recalled, tears welling up in her eyes.

The Adam Drive area is secluded and not highly populated, so Lhotse is often off-leash on the way home after a walk, she said.

She told The New Paper she almost "collapsed from fear".

Although she did not see what attacked the labrador, she and her employer believe it must have been a wild boar.

Miss Lacsa and others who live in the neighbourhood said they have often seen wild boars roaming there.

Her employer and the owner of Lhotse, Mr Kim Das, 40, took it to James Tan Veterinary Centre in Whitley Road. He said he spent almost $1,000 on its treatment.

"I was told the tusk had taken off a chunk of his flesh and the vet had to suture his side to hold his flesh together before stitches were done. The wound on his neck also had to be stitched," he said.

Concern in Adam Drive 

The incident has caused concern among some of the residents, mainly expatriates, along the 841m-long road. They are concerned about the safety of children and of pets playing in the fields near the forested areas.

The area, about 2km from MacRitchie Reservoir, mainly has black and white bungalows on one side of the road and forest on the other.

Mr Das said he has reported the incident to National Parks Board (NParks) and was told it will be investigating.

"While I appreciate the fact that with urbanisation, the boars are gradually losing their natural habitat, they can be quite a nuisance and pose a threat even to motorists," he said.

A European woman, who declined to be named, said: "This time it is someone's pet dog. Next time it could be someone's child."It was only two months ago that a wild boar, believed to be from the Lower Peirce area, wandered into Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, where it charged at a security guard and a boy.

The five-year-old was hurled about a metre into the air after the animal rammed into his rear, while the Cisco protection officer hurt his hand in the fall. The boar was later put down with a dart gun.

After wild boars attacked people at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and killed a pet dog in the Chestnut area, NParks decided to control their numbers by culling.

It will round them up before vets sedate them with dart guns and euthanise them with drug injections.

Mr Das, who spent his childhood in India, said he used to hunt wild boars with his father and uncles.

He added that he "never knew one to be not menacing".

When wild boars become dangerous

Mr Ong Say Lin, director of Acres Laos, felt the latest incident was an unfortunate one, but said that the boar, being a wild animal, was reacting to what it regarded as a potential predator.

Acres Laos is the Laos branch of a local charity here which works to foster respect and compassion for all animals, to improve the living conditions and welfare of captive animals, and to educate people.

Said Mr Ong: "It is therefore natural for the wild boars to stand on guard against the dog. It was merely acting on its instincts when it charged. But at the same time, the dog should not be running unleashed in the natural reserves."

He felt there should be increased public education and awareness for humans and nature to co-exist.

"People should know the characteristics of the wild animals and how they behave, and react in order to be able to act accordingly in their presence," he said.

He added that while he was studying wild boars as a research student with the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore, he only spotted wild boars twice in eight months.

"Wild boars usually evade people. In the second encounter, I had to stay really still to observe two juvenile boars, but once when they caught my scent, they ran away," he said.

As for Lhotse, it appeared none the worse for the experience and was wagging its tail enthusiastically when The New Paper team visited on Monday evening.

"He is, after all, a very happy, loving fellow and the incident has shown him to be very resilient, too," Mr Das said.

AVA: First case in the area

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said the attack on the dog at Adam Drive was the first wild boar attack case reported in the area.

Its spokesman said the agency is working with the National Parks Board and the Singapore Land Authority to address the wild boar issue there.

AVA is also "increasing surveillance in the vicinity to facilitate capturing of the animal," she said.
If the public should encounter a wild boar, AVA said they should:

Be calm and move away slowly from the animal. Do not approach or even attempt to feed the animal.

Do not provoke or startle the animal or use flash photography to take pictures. Keep a good distance from adult boars with young piglets and leave them alone as they are potentially more dangerous. The adults may attempt to defend their young.

For sightings of wild boars or other animal-related queries, contact AVA at 1800-476-1600.


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