Monkey on the loose at Segar Road eludes AVA's efforts to catch it

Today Online 20 Apr 17;
SINGAPORE — Efforts to catch a monkey that has been harassing residents at Segar Road have so far been unsuccessful, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) said in a statement Thursday (April 20).

Despite deploying traps and using darts in attempts to tranquilise the monkey, the primate has managed to elude AVA's joint operation with Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).

Describing the monkey's behaviour as "atypical", the Group Director, Animal Management Group at AVA, Ms Jessica Kwok said: "It is not normal for monkeys to approach people, and enter homes.

"The monkey's behaviour is likely to have been altered due to feeding, which has caused it to associate humans with food.

"The presence of food from feeders, which are easily available, may have conditioned the monkey to regularly visit the estate in search of food," Ms Kwok added. Control operations are still ongoing.

Five cases of monkey attacks have been reported in the Segar area so far this week, AVA noted, of which one case happened in early April but was only reported recently.

The Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council is also working with AVA to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees in the estate to reduce the attractiveness of the estate to the monkeys, as trees are natural sources of food and shelter.

In its update, AVA advised the public to stay away from its operations for their own safety.

"Crowds of people may hamper our operations by causing the monkey to be wary and go into hiding," Ms Kwok said.

"Residents in Segar estate are also advised to keep their windows and doors closed as much as possible, especially during the early mornings and late afternoons, when the monkey is known to be more active.

"The public can also make their premises less attractive to monkeys by keeping food out of sight from the monkey and practicing good food refuse management, such as double knotting garbage bags and disposing garbage in bins with secured lids."

On Monday morning, a monkey bit an elderly resident, Mr Tan Leng Choo, when he was lounging at the void deck of Block 472 Segar Road.

In the past six months, there have been 160 instances of wild monkeys attacking people or causing a nuisance in the Segar Road area

In Nov 2016, one monkey was removed from the same estate after control operations.


Segar monkey attacks likely caused by single monkey: AVA
Channel NewsAsia 20 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: Following a spate of attacks by monkeys in Bukit Panjang's Segar area, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) on Thursday (Apr 20) said they are likely to be caused by a single monkey.

In a statement issued to the media, AVA said it is "not normal" for monkeys to approach people and enter homes, and the attacks are "a display of atypical behaviour".

"The monkey’s behaviour is likely to have been altered due to feeding, which has caused it to associate humans with food. The presence of food from feeders, which are easily available, may have conditioned the monkey to regularly visit the estate in search of food," AVA said. It noted that five cases of monkey attacks in the Segar area were reported in the past week. One of these cases occurred in early April, AVA said, but was only reported recently.

AVA added that it is working with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) to remove the monkey in the area, and that various humane methods - such as deploying traps or using darts to tranquilise the primate - will be used. No monkeys were caught in its recent operations exercise, AVA said.

AVA has received about 160 reports of monkey attacks and nuisance in the area since October last year. Most recently, an elderly man was hospitalised after being bitten by a monkey on Monday morning.

AVA WORKING ON MONKEY ISSUES IN SEGAR SINCE OCTOBER 2016

The authority added that it has been working with stakeholders to mitigate the monkey issues since October last year. They have conducted control operations, and a monkey was removed from the area in November 2016.

Additionally, AVA said it has worked with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruit from the trees in the estate, as trees are natural sources of food and shelter for the monkeys.

"We advise the public to keep clear of our operations for their own safety. Crowds of people may hamper our operations by causing the monkey to be wary and go into hiding," the statement said.

AVA also urged residents in Segar to keep their windows and doors closed as much as possible, especially during the early mornings and late afternoons when the monkey is known to be more active.

"The public can also make their premises less attractive to monkeys by keeping food out of sight from the monkey and practicing good food refuse management, such as double knotting garbage bags and disposing garbage in bins with secured lids," AVA said.

"Aggressive monkeys pose a risk to public safety. Monkeys may also carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health," AVA added. "AVA’s priority in managing the wild animal population is to ensure public health and safety is not compromised."

- CNA/dl


Acres, WRS and AVA swing into action but macaques still monkeying around
Lin Yangchen, The Straits Times AsiaOne 21 Apr 17;

A team armed with tranquiliser guns and blowpipes was out yesterday morning to hunt and sedate long-tailed macaques which have harassed and injured Housing Board flat residents in Bukit Panjang.

Over the last four days, five to six personnel from animal welfare group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) were deployed as early as 6am to look for the primates at Segar Road.

Yesterday, the team concentrated its efforts in the vicinity of a large playground flanked by Blocks 465 to 471.

Acres deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal, who was on site, said a monkey appeared but kept moving away because of onlookers who had gathered, making it difficult to get a shot.

As of 12.30pm yesterday, no monkeys had been captured.

A 71-year-old resident of Block 465, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ong, said he saw the officers trying to catch a monkey on Tuesday evening, without success.

"It just climbed higher and higher and disappeared," said Mr Ong.

Housewife Eileen Chew, 67, said a monkey had entered her 14th-storey flat in Block 478. She is worried that more people may get hurt, especially children, if the monkey continues to run around unchecked.

"If they don't catch it, kids will be in trouble," she said.

Read also: 5 reported monkey attacks this week in Segar area, says AVA

Since last October, AVA has received about 160 pieces of feedback on monkey attacks and nuisance in the estate.

It is aware of five reported monkey attacks in the Segar area this week. So far, it has caught one monkey there, in November last year.


Elderly man bitten by monkey at Bukit Panjang in stable condition: MP
Wendy Wong Channel NewsAsia 20 Apr 17;

SINGAPORE: The elderly man who was bitten by a wild monkey on Monday (Apr 17) is in stable condition after sustaining "quite a serious wound", Member of Parliament for the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency Liang Eng Hwa said on Thursday.

"He was sent to the hospital and they carried out some surgical operations to mend the wounds," Mr Liang said, adding that the man was remaining in the hospital for observation.

"But we’ll continue to monitor; the last I talked to the family he looked okay," said Mr Liang.

Channel NewsAsia understands from the man’s family that he was discharged from the hospital on Thursday afternoon.

The man's injury is believed to have been inflicted by a monkey who has been reportedly entering homes at the Segar area in Bukit Panjang and attacking residents for months.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) called the monkey situation in the neighbourhood a "public safety risk" on Monday, revealing that it had received about 160 reports of monkey attacks and nuisance in the area since October last year.

A town hall meeting was held on Wednesday night to discuss the situation. It was attended by around 150 residents.

During the meeting, Mr Liang updated residents on the steps taken to catch the monkey and told residents who have sustained injuries by the monkeys to approach him with the medical costs.

"We will look at each case sympathetically, we’ll try to apply the financial assistance schemes to assist them whatever (way) we can," he said.

At the same time, Mr Liang urged residents to keep calm.

"We still have to get on with our lives - if you want to go to the park, want to go for a jog, want to bring our kids to the playground - we should continue doing that, but just take some precautions," he said.

"We don’t want our residents’ lives to be affected by just one lone monkey disturbing us."

MONKEY BEHAVIOUR CONDITIONED BY HUMANS FEEDING THEM: ACRES

Over the last three days, a joint team comprising personnel from Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), Wildlife Reserves Singapore and AVA have been trying to find and tranquillise the aggressive monkey.

When Channel NewsAsia visited the site on Thursday morning, about five to six members of the team were seen patrolling the area as curious residents stopped to watch the operations.

According to ACRES, the plan is to rehabilitate the monkey for relocation when it is caught.

ACRES deputy chief executive Anbarasi Boopal said "aggressive" behaviour by wild monkeys likely stemmed from humans feeding the monkeys.

"Most of the cases that ACRES sees, it always starts with someone feeding the monkeys," she said. "It results in the monkeys seeing humans as sources of food. Whether the person wants to feed it or not, the monkey will still approach looking for food and it results in such unfortunate incidences."

"There have been incidents of harassment of the monkey as well here, so definitely it will result in changing, altering the behaviour of the monkey, thus resulting in such conflict situations," she added.

Ms Boopal advised residents that when confronted by monkeys, they should not to interact with or feed the animals.

"If the monkey does approach the units, we would definitely urge the residents at this point to close the windows and remove any openly displayed food by the windows," she said.

She also advised residents to scare monkeys that enter their units away, for example by using pans to make loud noises.

- CNA/mz


Spike in monkey attacks in Segar Road
Alysha Chandra The New Paper 20 Apr 17;

Monkey attacks in Segar Road have been so frequent in recent weeks that a clinic there has run out of tetanus vaccine.

This month alone, the My Family Clinic at Block 485, Segar Road, saw eight patients who came in with monkey bites and scratches.

The clinic's staff had to place a sign outside the clinic telling patients to inform them upon registration if they have been bitten or scratched by a monkey.

Clinic staff told The New Paper that this was because the clinic had run out of tetanus vaccine and they would have to direct these patients to a hospital or polyclinic, where stocks of the vaccine are available.

Residents at Segar Road have seen a spike in monkey attacks recently. Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Member of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa told TNP that he had received 10 reports of residents being injured by monkeys in the Segar Road area this year.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said it had received about 160 reports on monkey attacks and nuisance in the Segar area since last October.

On Monday, retiree Tan Kim Leng, 77, was bitten on the leg by a monkey and is still warded at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

Yesterday, Mr Tan underwent a second surgery for his wounds.

Mr Liang met residents last night to update them on the situation.

He told the 100 or so residents that for at least 12 hours each day, there will be at least two people on the ground attempting to catch monkeys.

Along with sharing tips on how to respond during an encounter with a monkey, Mr Liang also urged residents to call the AVA hotline if they encounter a monkey and to not crowd around AVA officers trying to shoot the monkeys with darts.

The Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) is working with AVA to dart the animals so as to rehabilitate and relocate them.

An Acres spokesman told TNP that the monkeys at Segar Road might display aggressive behaviour as they have been fed by humans before, causing them to see humans as food sources.

Mr Wong Tuan Wah, group director of conservation at the National Parks Board, told TNP that it has issued Notices of Offence to more than 100 people since 2016 for feeding monkeys.

"Feeding wild monkeys alters their natural behaviour and makes them reliant on humans for food," said Mr Wong.

"This eventually leads the monkeys to display aggressive behaviour, such as grabbing plastic bags and food containers from people."

Infectious disease expert Dr Leong Hoe Nam, of Rophi Clinic at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, told TNP: "While we don't have to worry about rabies in Singapore, monkey bites carry the risk of the usual bite wound infections, as well as herpes B, which has a small risk of causing brain infection.

"Monkey bites and scratches in Singapore are treated with the usual tetanus shot and antibiotics if the wound is deep and dirty."

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