The project so far.

Fortunately, I have been able to get a lot of photographs of the wild pigs with my 30 Reconyx PC900 Hyperfire trail cameras. I shall share some of the more interesting ones here.

Here is a picture of a wild pig sub-adult rubbing itself against a young tree. I have been seeing curious scratch marks on the tree barks surrounding ¬†areas where there are signs of wild pig presence. The scientific literature has also indicated that it is possible to see wild pig fur left against the tree bark when wild pigs rub against them. It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a wild pig scratching a tree with its protruding tusks while rubbing its head against it. Interestingly, I observed that subsequent wild pigs visiting the area clearly took notice of this particular tree, and spent some time sniffing it.

I have also been able to document wild pig digging behaviour in many of my photographs. It is evident that soil gets overturned/loosened, often exposing roots along the forest floors. Sometimes, I even see a whole trail of dug-up soil stretching for at least 10m. A curious observation was also that there seemed to be more of these diggings at the base of palm trees. Are they restoring natural processes to the forest grounds? Or are they causing too much damage to the vegetation?

Walking in the forests of Singapore, you may come across some wallowing sites as well. I deploy some of the cameras at possible wallowing sites, and only about 3 of them turned out to be accurate guesses. Here is a picture of an adult male wallowing in the soil. Each wallowing session lasts for about 5 sec.

I am also able to record down the group demographics of wild pig occurences. I am able to tell how big each group of wild pigs is. The presence of juveniles and (striped) piglets is also important, giving a rough indication of how well the wild pigs are breeding in our forests.

I am in the process of collating all the data right now. Any additional pictures or reports from the public would be much appreciated!

Pig signs.

In my previous post, I touched upon potential wildlife-human conflicts. This post aims to introduce to you typical pig signs that can be found in Singapore’s forests.

Permanent pig wallow at Nee Soon Swamp Forest. (Photograph by Andie Ang)

Permanent pig wallow at Nee Soon Swamp Forest. (Photograph by Andie Ang)

One of the ways to ascertain wild pig presence in the forest is by the presence of pig wallows. Wild pigs exhibit wallowing behaviour, a behavioural adaptation to keep away parasites from their bodies as well as to keep cool. These wallowing sites are usually accompanied by hoof prints typical of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla). They are especially evident in the rainy season.

Wild Boar hoof prints. (Photograph by Ong Say Lin)

Wild Boar hoof prints. (Photograph by Ong Say Lin)

Foraging behaviour of wild pigs also modify the undergrowth layer of the forests. While I can’t be specific yet for mainland Singapore’s population , wild pigs generally dig into the soil to feed on tubers and invertebrates.

The result of rooting behaviour of wild pigs. (Photograph by Ong Say Lin)

The result of rooting behaviour of wild pigs. (Photograph by Ong Say Lin)

*If you do see these signs, first of all, I hope you have a permit to venture off the designated nature park trails! Kindly note that designated trails in our nature parks are implemented in the best interests of out forests’ health. This way, soil compaction and trampling of our flora biodiversity can be minimised.

So really, whats the big deal?

In the recent Biodiversty of Singapore Symposium III held at NUS, there was an amusing trend for some of the speakers to introduce their subjects by imitating curious members of the public. Recently, I had a similar comment from a neighbour when I told her about my project.

“Singapore got Wild Boars, meh?” the middle-aged auntie asked.

Yes! Singapore does indeed have wild pigs in the forests. They have even been sighted more frequently in our urban environment, although usually those that lie adjacent to forest patches. From my ‘About’ page in this blog, you will be able to find more detailed information about their recent recolonization. In addition to that, I will be posting updates on recent sightings of wild pigs here.

So whats the big deal about having wild pigs here? Isn’t it good to have a native species back in our forests?

There are 2 main reasons why this is a concern. 1.) The forests in which the wild pigs live in today are drastically different from what they were many decades back. Forests in Singapore are highly fragmented and tightly packed amongst the urban environment. 2.) Their main natural predators such as the tigers and the leopards have long been extinct. They pretty much get free roam of the forests today.

This will likely mean a higher frequency of wildlife-human occurances in the future, something that we are familiar with in the Long-tailed Macaques (Macaca fascicularis) and Commom Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) situations. Wild pigs are highly intelligent animals and they are relatively much bigger than the aforementioned two animals too. Such wildlife-human conflicts are already happening in other places such as Florida, the UK, Berlin and Hong Kong.

We hope to better understand the situation in Singapore in order to minimise similar wildlife-human conflicts in the future.