Bristling with Fear

I heard a loud shriek from the kitchen.

It was my mum screaming away.

I was a kid then, and in all my childhood years, I have never heard anything like that; up until then, that is.

I almost browned my shorts.

Dad has just come home; quickly plonked a newspaper-wrapped package in the kitchen sink before proceeding to his bedroom to change into home clothes.

Naturally curious, mum opened the package, yelled and almost fainted.

It was a half the hind quarter of a wild boar, it was a huge, black, hairy slab or chunk of some meaty “thing” complete with bristles and hoof, certainly not what she was expecting to see. Yes, what fell into the kitchen sink was an animal part – thick, enormous, obnoxious, a furry hunk, a part of a feral beast! If you think the fella in the picture above is ugly, just imagine the rest of his body!

Anyway, back in those days, wild boar meat was freely available.

My dad and uncles had licenses to own guns and they would hunt.

That was in the 60’s.

New laws came into effect and gun ownership soon became a thing of the past, but one or two places in Singapore still sold wild boar meat. Friends in the F&B business told me that back then, they had their “private” sources of supply. Most wild boar meat, it is believed, was illegally smuggled into Singapore from Malaysia. There were also claims that a small amount of poaching also took place in Singapore itself.

All that is now history as well. It was at least more than ten, maybe 20 years ago when anyone had seen wild boar meat being sold here.

Wild boar meat is not fat, is not gamey, has a great mouth feel and is very tasty. Overseas, in Taiwan, the aborigines there who run eateries have a variety of ways of cooking it – grilled, fried, roasted, barbequed, skewered like satay, etc. Whenever my dad and I visit Taiwan, wild boar meat is a must, in addition to milk fish soup, boiled goose, pig blood soup, mullet roe, and braised minced pork rice. Yes, all the Taiwanese goodies for the traveling gourmand. (Notice I didn’t say “gourmet.”)

The wild boar you see in Singapore today won’t be on your dining table, however.

You are more likely to see swaggering, marauding passels of aggressive, snorting and grunting wild boars at our parks; some have even ventured into train stations and a few have actually attacked and hurt people. Do a search online for videos of wild boar sightings in Singapore and you will freak out! Loads of videos out there.

The negative perceptions associated with the presence of wild animals in our urban environment results in fear – irrational, unfounded fear. Wild animals, in turn, can misinterpret manifestations of human fear as aggression, and that compounds the problem.

Ours is the age of Anthropocene, a modern era characterized by human-dominated landscapes. At the same time, some wild animals thrive in and adapt to human-dominated or urban landscapes. Clashes are inevitable. These animals in our midst are often considered “inconvenient” and “troublesome” and globally, untold numbers have been culled. Human efforts to kill animals simply because they are considered a nuisance are not justified. And them being tasty is also no excuse. Point is: we encroach into their habitats and we kill them when they are seen? Come on!

Education is required and it must be accompanied by attitudinal and behavior change on our part.

A friend shared with me that when she went for a walk at the nature reserves the other day, she came across a child who told his mother he saw a caterpillar, and the mother’s response? She told her kid to “kill it!”

What hogwash!

When retards don’t know enough about all the beautiful creatures bright and small sharing our world, the first instinct is to eliminate them.

All life is sacred and that includes native wildlife species. We must understand them and protect them; they are also essential to the ecosystem and therefore our own well-being.

Caterpillars become butterflies that pollinate!

People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel. – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We cannot be ham-fisted; we need to go the whole hog to awaken public awareness about the animals amongst us. And we must leave no stone unturned to educate the public on how to coexist with these wild animals.

It is inevitable that animal sightings increase during the pandemic as people desert public spaces.

And as I mentioned earlier, even long before that, people’s encroachment into wild animals’ natural homes have destroyed and reduced the size of those habitats.

Yes, we are squeezing them off the planet!

As a result, wild boars seem to be living cheek by jowl with humans!

Other than heightened awareness and aggressive education, humane techniques that emphasize coexistence are more effective at preventing or reducing conflicts as well as wildlife management costs over the long-term.

Coexistence between humans and wildlife is not only possible but advantageous to everyone and contributes to human as well as animal health and well-being.

Evidence that humane coexistence strategies are effective can be found anywhere. Examples of successful coexistence include: coyotes in North America, gray wolves across the Northern Hemisphere, community-based conservation in Montana, urban black bears in Colorado, jaguars in Mexico, and African lions in Kenya.

Ultimately, coexistence with wildlife is essential for all life, humans and animals alike.

From coyotes and wolves in North America to big cats in North America and Africa, we see that coexistence is not only possible, but also essential to life and livelihoods.

The public here needs to be convinced of that and must support that.

Humans are intruders on natural world. We are latecomers. The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth. – David Attenborough

This entry was posted in Eat Drink Men Women. Bookmark the permalink.