Monkey menace at Segar Rd a risk to public safety: AVA

Monkey menace at Segar Rd a risk to public safety: AVA
A monkey perched on a ledge of an HDB block in Bukit Panjang. Photo: Raj Nadarajan

Monkey menace at Segar Rd a risk to public safety: AVA

The authority is working with Acres to remove a monkey that is wreaking havoc in the area

SINGAPORE — In the past six months, there have been 160 instances of wild monkeys attacking people or causing a nuisance in the Segar Road area, said the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Describing the situation as a “public safety risk”, the authority said it is working with the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) to remove a monkey that has continued to wreak havoc in the Bukit Panjang estate since November last year, after another monkey was removed.

The update from AVA came after the monkey on the loose bit an elderly resident, Mr Tan Leng Choo, when he was lounging at the void deck of Block 472 Segar Road on Monday morning.

Checks on a Facebook group of residents in Segar Garden show there were posts on the monkey menace in their neighbourhood dating back to last November. Besides photos and videos of the monkeys, there were also photos of injuries residents suffered from attacks by the monkeys.

The cluster of flats face Zhenghua Nature Park, which was recently expanded to provide a larger green space for residents and increase the green buffer for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The park’s 3.8ha extension was officially opened in 2015.

In February, TODAY reported that residents have spotted monkeys appearing on most mornings and evenings, often climbing into homes, presumably in search of food.

Sales executive Ken Soh, 37, who sees the monkey several times a week when he leaves for work in the mornings, said: “We try to be careful after accounts of monkeys attacking. But sometimes, there’s little you can do because monkeys move very fast.”

Madam Janice Tan, 40, who has an eight-year-old daughter, said she was more concerned about children getting hurt.

The AVA told TODAY it had been conducting monkey control operations in the area and managed to remove one monkey in November. It has also worked with the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council to prune trees and harvest fruits from trees in the estate to mitigate the situation.

But it noted that catching monkeys was a challenging task as they are very nimble. “The many high-rise buildings in the area also make it easy for the monkeys to be out of reach by climbing up the blocks,” it said.

The AVA reiterated that its priority in managing the wild animal population is to ensure public health and safety are not compromised.

“For animals that pose significant public health or safety concerns, such as when animals enter premises and destroy property, injure residents or are potential carriers of disease, the AVA will work with the relevant stakeholders to explore removal or relocation options where possible,” it said.

“Monkeys may carry zoonotic diseases that are harmful to public health. Aggressive monkeys are also a risk to public safety.”

To avert encounters with monkeys, the AVA advised the public to keep food items out of sight and practise good refuse management, such as double-knotting garbage bags and throwing garbage in bins with secured lids.

It added: “The public is also advised against feeding monkeys as this alters their natural behaviour and causes them to become reliant on humans for food. As monkeys are attracted to food hand-outs from people, they may grab at plastic bags, or any other food containers that the monkeys have been conditioned to recognise.”