A 44-year-old man, who suffered cuts and lacerations on both his legs, was taken to the hospital after he was attacked by a Wild Boar near a condominium at 25 Hillview Avenue.
Photos: Jackie Lee, Youmee Chung, Faizal Idroos

Man suffers cuts to legs after Wild Boar attack near Hillview condominium
By Faris Mokhtar, 19th October 2017;

A 44-year-old man was attacked by a Wild Boar (Sus scrofa vittatus) near a condominium at Hillview Avenue, and landed in hospital with cuts and lacerations on both his legs.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the incident on Thursday (Oct 19) at 8.43am and dispatched an ambulance. The man, who was conscious, was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

TODAY understands that he is a resident at Hillview Park condominium.

Residents TODAY spoke to expressed shock that the incident took place considering that Wild Boar sightings in the neighbourhood are very rare, with some saying that the Wild Boar could have wandered out of Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Security guard Faizal Idroos said he had just reached his workplace at Glendale Park condominium — beside Hillview Park condominium — at about 8am when he heard a commotion near the estate’s entrance. He saw a man – dressed casually in shirt and jeans – lying on the pavement and clutching his thighs.

He added that four passers-by already attending to the man, including a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medical doctor as he was making his way to the Ministry of Defence, located just a few minutes away from the condominium. Two police cars arrived at the scene shortly after.

“The man had deep laceration on his left upper thigh but he was calm and conscious. The doctor helped to bandage his thigh,” said Mr Faizal, who has been working at the condominium for less than a month.

Mr Faizal said other passers-by who also attended to the man told him that the Wild Boar later fled and was hit by a bus. He added that the animal had died, possibly of internal injuries, and its carcass was removed by the National Environment Agency.

Resident Jackie Li was making her way to Hillview MRT station when she saw the injured man. As she turned a corner, she witnessed police officers trying to cordon the area where the Wild Boar’s carcass was at.

“I heard that it came out suddenly from nowhere and attacked the man. This is the first time I saw a Wild Boar in my neighbourhood,” said the 32-year-old financial planner.

When contacted, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said Wild Boar sightings in that area are not common, and the animal likely came from nearby forested areas.

The AVA’s spokesman added: “AVA is currently working closely with relevant stakeholders including NParks, ACRES, Wildlife Reserves Singapore and NUS, to mitigate encounters with Wild Boars and ensure public safety. Some possible measures that we are exploring, and intend to implement as soon as possible, include putting up signages about wildlife crossings at specific locations to warn motorists, and erecting barriers to prevent wildlife from encroaching onto roads.”

Following the incident, South West District Mayor and Member of Parliament (Chua Chu Kang) Low Yen Ling wrote on her Facebook page that she has been in touch with the AVA, Land Transport Authority and ACRES: Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore).

“(This is) to ensure that follow up procedures are in place with regards to the animal and also the safety of residents and pedestrians in that area,” she said.

She also advised the public against approaching or provoking the Wild Boars if they encounter them.

Just this year alone, there has been several instances of Wild Boars being sighted in populated areas.

On June 30, a 55-year-old woman was walking her dog in the Upper Thomson area when she was attacked. She needed about 60 stitches for a wound on her right calf.

Earlier that month, a video circulating online showed a herd of Wild Boars milling around a bus interchange in Tuas.

While residents in the Hillview area expressed surprise on hearing such an attack took place, most of them were unfazed by it, describing the incident as an isolated case since they have never encountered any wild boars in the neighbourhood.

Glendale Park is located opposite HillV2 shopping mall and about three minutes away from Hillview MRT station. Most of the buildings around the area are condominiums and the nearest forested area is Dairy Farm Nature Park.

Mr Shentley Tan, who lives in nearby Hillview Heights condominium, said that the attack is not much of a concern, unless more of such animals start to appear in the neighbourhood.

"It’s easy to over-react, and some would call for more of such animals to be culled and so on. But I think it’s just a one-off incident,” said the 52-year-old, who has been living in his condominium since 1998.

IT consultant Ranjith Kumar, 33, who also saw the Wild Boar’s carcass, added: “I am not really concerned about it. But I might be more careful when I bring kids out for a walk in the area.”

The AVA advises the public not to approach, disturb or try to catch Wild Boars. The spokesman said: “The public should keep a safe distance from the Wild Boars and avoid confronting or cornering them. Do not interact with the Wild Boars and keep young children and pets away from them.”

Source: TODAY

12 farms ordered to stop fish sales in aftermath of oil spill

By Toh Ee Ming, 7th January 2017;

Nine more farms have been told to stop selling fish as a result of the oil spill, although the authorities said on Friday (Jan 6) that no new patches of oil had been spotted and the cleanup progress was going well.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said that the suspension would be in place “until food safety evaluations are complete”. This brings the total number of farms told to stop sales to 12, on top of the three ordered to do so on Thursday.

Some 300 tonnes of oil gushed into the waters off Singapore on Tuesday night, after two ships collided off Pasir Gudang Port in Johor.

The AVA has been visiting coastal fish farms in the East Johor Straits to ascertain and mitigate the situation, and to assist in the cleanup.

Oil-absorbent pads and canvas were given to 25 farmers near the oil spill site to help protect their fish stock, and the authority also collected fish samples for food-safety tests.

Its spokesperson said: “While some farms have reported some fish mortalities of about 250kg, most of the farms in the same area did not report any … There is minimal impact to supply.”

Separately, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) stressed that “good progress” has been made in containing and cleaning up the oil spillage in Singapore’s waters following the collision of container vessels Wan Hai 301 and Gibraltar-registered container vessel APL Denver. No new patches of oil have been spotted along East Johor Straits, and port operations remain unaffected, MPA said.

Cleanup operations are still taking place at various places such as the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, fish farms at Nenas Channel and Noordin beach situated on the northern coastline of Pulau Ubin.

The MPA also deployed oil-spill response vessels, containment booms and spill recovery equipment such as harbour busters, skimmers and absorbent booms and pads.

“MPA and the other government agencies are monitoring the situation closely and will carry out necessary cleanup efforts,” it said.

An 800m stretch of Changi Beach has been closed until further notice due to the oil spill, the National Environment Agency said on Thursday.

The closure is to help facilitate the clean-up of the affected area, the NEA said, and advised the public to avoid the area.

Members of the public who spot any oil patches in Singapore’s waters or coastline may call the MPA’s 24-hour Marine Safety Control Centre at 6325 2488/9.

Source: TODAY

12 farms ordered to stop fish sales in aftermath of oil spill

Authorities embark on clean-up along Singapore coastlines after oil spill

By Alfred Chua, 5th January 2017;

A day after two ships collided in Johor waters, oil patches were found along coastlines in the north-eastern part of Singapore, while an 800m stretch of Changi Beach was closed on Thursday (Jan 5) to clean up the oil spill.

A second fish farm in the affected area also reported fish deaths from the spill, although the authorities said most farms were spared and impact on supply was “minimal”. Nonetheless, some farms have been told to suspend sales, until food safety tests are completed. Apart from Changi Beach, oil patches were also found along the shorelines of Noordin beach at Pulau Ubin, and the beaches at Punggol and Pasir Ris, said the National Environmental Agency (NEA). They were also found off the Cafhi jetty, also at Changi Beach and along the shorelines of Changi Point Ferry Terminal, as well as Changi Sailing Club, said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Thursday evening.

About 300 tonnes of oil gushed into the waters off Singapore on Tuesday night after two ships collided off Pasir Gudang Port in Johor.

When TODAY visited Changi Beach on Thursday afternoon, cleaners were seen clearing up oil-coated sand near Changi jetty, and placing oil-absorbent pads into the water. They had been working there since morning.

There was a distinct stench of oil in the air and a handful of beachgoers could be seen in the area.

Not far from the jetty, bag after bag of sand coated with oil was heaped along the seashore.

The NEA has advised the public to exercise caution when visiting the affected beaches and to avoid the stretches where cleaning work is being carried out.

Clean-up work aside, the authorities on Thursday also stepped up their efforts to contain the oil spill. The MPA increased the number of vessels deployed to clear up the oil patches to 17, from nine the previous day. Its spokesperson said 222 personnel were involved in the clean-up efforts.

The National Parks Board (NParks), which deployed oil-absorbent booms along Pulau Ubin’s north-eastern coast, Pasir Ris Park and Coney Island Park on Wednesday to protect mudflats and mangrove areas, said “the booms have kept the oil out of the biodiversity sensitive sites”.

“We will continue to monitor the impact of the oil spill on marine life and share more details when this is ready,” it added.

Meanwhile, fish farmers were on Thursday counting the cost of the damage arising from the oil spill, while the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said more farms in the East Johor Strait have found oil on their nets and premises, due to tide movement.

Two farms have reported fish deaths, amounting to 100 to 250kg across both farms. The AVA said it has issued notices to suspend sales to three farms, and more will be issued if more farms become affected.

When TODAY visited Mr Timothy Ng from 2 Jays Pte Ltd at his farm off the north-western coast of Pulau Ubin, cleaning personnel could be seen working to remove swathes of black oil. This was “the largest such incident” to hit his 12-year-old farm, which is among those hit with a suspension. A visibly-disappointed Mr Ng said he could not do much with his fish stock now, except to put aerators into the fish cages to pump in fresh air. “We cannot feed any fish now, since the food will be contaminated, so for now, we will just have to wait and see,” said Mr Ng, adding that “no more than 10kg” of fish had already died due to the oil spill.

His farm has around 10 tonnes of fish and seafood, and four employees.

Mr Tan Choon Teck, from FC57E Fish Farm, said his entire 3ha farm was covered with oil and cleaning-up works were in progress.

He said in Mandarin: “I’m worried if my fish would die from a lack of fresh air (due to the thick layer of oil). I’m worried also because we cannot feed them,” he said, adding that the AVA had taken a few of his fish for tests.

Source: TODAY

Authorities embark on clean-up along Singapore coastlines after oil spill

Photos: Jaslin Goh

Mass fish deaths at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
Investigations still ongoing, public can continue activities at Kallang River, says PUB
By Marissa Yeo, 21st July 2015;

The public may continue their activities at the Kallang River in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, as authorities investigate what killed some 900 fish there despite normal levels of dissolved oxygen, national water agency PUB said today (July 21).

The dead fish were discovered from last evening and specimens have been sent to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority for examination, said PUB. “Investigations on the case are still ongoing.”

The PUB checked the site after it was alerted at 7.40pm yesterday.

Contractors of the National Environment Agency were activated to remove the dead fish – numbering about 800 to 900 and which were mainly cichlids – and the PUB said clean-up operations were largely completed as of last evening.

Laboratory tests of water samples collected by PUB along the river showed dissolved oxygen levels within the normal range, said the spokesperson. As of this evening, the water quality of the river in the park was normal and live fishes could be seen, she said.

This is not the first time the park has been hit by fish deaths: Last February, about 400 fish died as Singapore underwent a dry spell. The PUB said at the time that the deaths could be because of lower levels of dissolved oxygen due to hot and dry weather.

Although unaffected, some Bishan residents approached today were surprised to find out about the fish deaths.

Ms Koh Lay Bin, who exercises at the park, said: “I didn’t know that there was clearing of the fishes. (Previously), I have seen several fish that died, probably because the water levels were very low; however I will still see some of them swimming.”

Another resident, Mr Patrick Wong, 60, said: “I don’t really see much fishes along river (when I pass by). It may be due to the shallow waters. However, there are more fishes at the bridges because the water levels are slightly deeper.”

Mass fish deaths have been reported elsewhere in Singapore in recent years. In March, wild fish as well as up to 600 tonnes of farmed fish died in the East Johor Strait off Pasir Ris amid an algal bloom. Last year, a plankton bloom cost fish farmers in both the East and West Johor Straits about 500 tonnes of fish.

Source: TODAY

The back of skull and parts of the spine of the Sperm Whale which was found at Jurong Island and moved to Tuas Marine Transfer Station being exposed. Photo: Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Dead Sperm Whale was adult female: Museum
By Neo Chai Chin, 14th July 2015;

The dead Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) that washed up near Jurong Island on Friday (July 10) is an adult female believed to have died a few days before it was discovered, said the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum today (July 14).

Museum staff, who have been cutting up the carcass and taking samples for genetic work in the past few days, are trying to see what is in its gut and determine what killed it, the museum said in an update on its website.

The whale, which is being processed at the Tuas Marine Transfer Station, is 10.6m long and estimated to weigh 8,000 to 10,000kg.

It is the first Sperm Whale recorded in Singapore, and the third recorded in South-east Asia — Sperm Whales were earlier recorded near Sarawak in 1995 and Phang Nga in western Thailand in 2012.

“It will be slowly defleshed so its skeleton can be recovered for the museum. Because we are also examining it carefully as a research specimen and due to its immense size, this will be a slow and massive (not to mention very smelly) exercise,” the museum said.

The skeleton, once processed, will be displayed in the museum.

Sperm Whales, classified as a vulnerable species, are the largest carnivores on earth and deep-diving squid eaters. Previous records of large whale carcasses in Singapore have been baleen whale (Mysticeti) species, but scientists have never had a chance to examine them in detail, the museum said.

Museum staff have been racing against time to salvage parts of the Sperm Whale for research since the carcass was pulled to shore last Friday night. In a Facebook post on Sunday, the museum said taxidermists have peeled blubber off the carcass’ back.

It added that so far, plastic food containers and wrappers had been found in the whale’s gut, which serve as a “grim reminder” to reduce and properly dispose of plastic waste.

Another museum here, the National Museum of Singapore, used to house a baleen whale skeleton up until the 1970s. That whale was 13m long and had been stranded in Malacca in 1892. It was put on display from 1907 and later given to Malaysia’s Muzium Negara. The skeleton is now with the Maritime Museum in Labuan, near Sabah.

Source: TODAY

Photos by Ernest Chua/TODAY

Carcass of Sperm Whale found near Jurong Island
By Neo Chai Chin, 10th July 2015;

The carcass of a Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) was discovered this morning (July 10) floating near Jurong Island — the first time the species has been sighted in Singapore.

The person who had discovered it posted about it on social media. When Professor Peter Ng of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum learnt about it, he got his team to track it down and last night, the creature was brought in by a Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) boat.

The dead whale — only the third Sperm Whale recorded in South-east Asian waters — is a notable discovery, and is of scientific and heritage value to Singapore, said Prof Ng. South-east Asian waters are not normally favoured by large whales because of shallow waters; they would normally inhabit the Java Sea, South China Sea and the oceans, he noted.

The whale had multiple lesions on its body, suggesting it could have been hit by a large boat.

The animal would have been beautiful alive, Prof Ng remarked as the carcass arrived at Tuas Marine Transfer Station. The natural history museum engaged a lorry crane to pull it onto land — an exercise that lasted more than two hours — and staff and interns began collecting samples soon after.

“Anything that’s found floating in Singapore waters, the agencies will have to take care of it,” said Prof Ng. “In the water, the MPA has to worry about it because we don’t want boats crashing into it.”

“The National Environment Agency has to be informed because, well, it’s a dead whale. So automatically we sought their help to find out where the whale is and what can be done.”

The carcass would either have floated out of Singapore waters or been removed from the water and incinerated. “But we didn’t want that to happen,” said Prof Ng.

When his team found that the ­rare find was over 10m long and freshly dead, “it’s even more important that we secure the whale for science and for Singapore”, he added.

Ideally, its skeleton would be put on display at the natural history museum “for generations to come” but, last night, Prof Ng said he was only focused on securing the carcass so tissue samples could be taken and its important parts such as muscles are preserved. Over the next few days, the animal will be fussed over by scientists.

It is difficult to tell how long the process of removing its flesh and getting the skeleton out will take “because we’ve never done this before … we’ll do our best”, Prof Ng said.

Source: TODAY

Dead marine life washed up ashore along Pasir Ris Beach. Photo: Robin Choo

The science behind the fish deaths
By Neo Chai Chin, 17th March 2015;

Up to 600 tonnes of fish from 55 farms here have been lost because of an algal bloom in recent weeks. A plankton bloom last year cost 53 farms about 500 tonnes of fish.

Senior Minister of State (National Development) Maliki Osman told Parliament last week that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) will help farmers develop contingency plans to reduce losses in future episodes. The AVA will not impose a minimum production requirement on affected farms this year, he added.

Dr Maliki, who was speaking during the annual session to scrutinise his ministry’s budget, also pointed out the need to better understand the science behind the phenomenon, adding that the AVA is working with various agencies — the National Environment Agency, National Parks Board, water agency PUB and the National University of Singapore’s Tropical Marine Science Institute — to study the relationship between plankton blooms and fish deaths.

This is a timely announcement.

Episodes of plankton bloom have occurred in Singapore since 2009, but there is still a dearth of science — at least in the public domain — on this natural occurrence, leading to unanswered questions.

For instance, were the causes of fish deaths in the West Johor Strait off Lim Chu Kang (which occurred two weekends ago) and the East Johor Strait off Pasir Ris (which occurred three weekends ago) different? How have the plankton bloom episodes over the years, and species involved, differed? Is a more sophisticated system of water monitoring needed?

Contributing factors suggested by the public, such as the damming of Punggol Waterway and lack of water flow due to the Causeway, also deserve answers.

WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

The AVA has said preliminary findings point to the Karlodinium veneficum species of algae behind the East Johor Strait bloom. But some nuances in the narrative that farmers who suffered the heaviest losses did not take precautionary measures early enough need fleshing out.

The authority sent an alert to farmers on Feb 16 and 17 informing them of elevated plankton levels and advised them to deploy canvas bags, harvest their fish early to cut losses and transfer stock to unaffected areas.

Farmers said the early warning was good. Many had canvas bags ready to be deployed on their farms, as well as emergency plans such as towing their farms away from the affected areas. But the devil is in the timing and execution of measures.

“It’s quite easy to plan, but difficult to do it … You can put fish in canvas bags for a few days, but you’d have to know a few days beforehand (to do so) and you can’t have so much fish,” one farmer said.

Signs displayed in this episode were also different from last year’s, fish farmers told TODAY. Low dissolved oxygen levels were blamed in last year’s bloom, but it was not a factor this time, going by their own tests, they said. Some professed not to know very much about harmful algal blooms.

Marine expert Lim Po Teen of the University of Malaya said different responses are needed for different algae species. Physical barriers such as canvas bags are futile if they are not set up before the bloom hits, he said.

Some algae species irritate fish gills, causing the gills to be covered with mucus and the fish gasp for air near the water surface and suffocate. For these species, filtration of water and aeration tend to be helpful, said Associate Professor Lim.

But other algae species (most dinoflagellates) produce some form of neurotoxins that directly kill fish and aeration will not help in these situations, he said. “It is crucial to know what we are dealing with. If we cannot confirm what is the cause of fish kills, then we are not ready to manage it.”

Experts also said that while aquaculture in areas with regular harmful algal blooms can be precarious, the negative impact can be mitigated with improved monitoring and predictive capabilities.

The AVA said it routinely surveys water temperature, pH, salinity and dissolved oxygen around farming areas, encourages farmers to notify it of unusual fish or water conditions, and provides early alerts. But it did not say if the routine readings are shared with farmers.

Singapore could look at the monitoring programmes used by the aquaculture industries in New Zealand (done by private research agencies with costs covered by the farmers) and Japan (done by fishery cooperatives and the local government), suggested Assoc Prof Lim.

Some mitigation options suggested in scientific literature include remote sensing to detect chlorophyll-a (a specific form of chlorophyll used in oxygenic photosynthesis) and other algal pigments in the water, said Dr Angela Capper of James Cook University’s College of Marine and Environmental Sciences.

“Molecular approaches are a progressive tool playing a key role in the identification of harmful algal bloom species. Satellite and predictive modelling based on a range of … parameters including climatic conditions and sea-surface temperatures also assist with the implementation of mitigation strategies,” she said.

PSI FOR WATER?

Perhaps, what the authorities have done with air quality data can be replicated for water quality. Pollutant Standards Index readings are publicly available online and air-quality reporting was improved last year. With better and readily available data, farmers with an appetite for more information, and researchers and marine enthusiasts — who have been tirelessly doing shore walks to monitor dead fish — would benefit.

Timely consumer alerts would also inform the public and prevent rumour-mongering during plankton blooms.

The AVA has informed the public that fish samples from affected farms do not contain marine biotoxins and that fish harvested from local farms are safe to eat, but the public should also know causes of the fish deaths, the plankton species identified, whether it is safe to play in waters near affected areas and what developments to expect.

The closed-containment aquaculture systems being developed will be part of the solution, although a farmer said it may be too costly to use for the entire duration of the fish’s life and that the flesh of fish farmed in open waters is better.

The food-fish farming industry, while relatively small, deserves an appropriate injection of research and capital if the commitment is to keep it afloat.

The public ought to be better informed about the food they eat and challenges facing those who supply that food.

On-the-ground efforts of marine enthusiasts ought to be complemented by academic research and findings that are openly shared.

Clearly, we need more science in the public domain to make progress on fish-kill episodes so that when the next plankton or algal bloom occurs in Singapore waters, fish farmers will be better equipped to cope.

Source: TODAY