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Singapore To Eradicate Wild Boar

March 25, 1999

SINGAPORE (AP) _ Singapore will eradicate hundreds of wild boar from a military training island, the Defense Ministry said today, drawing criticism from environmentalists who call the move an overreaction to a virus scare connected to pigs in nearby Malaysia.

``Based on the facts at hand, there are other ways of tackling the situation,″ said Andrew Tay, executive officer of the Nature Society.

The Defense Ministry and agricultural department officials acknowledged it is unlikely the wild boar carry either the Japanese encephalitis or the virus suspected as among the possible causes of 58 deaths in Malaysia and one in Singapore.

The ministry also said the risk to servicemen of catching a virus from the boar was ``negligible.″ However, professional hunters will be hired to kill all the wild boar on the island of Pulau Tekong, where national servicemen train.

``There is still a very small possibility, and we want to be sure,″ Defense Ministry spokeswoman Sukhvinder Kaur said.

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control is conducting tests to find out what has caused the brain inflammation illnesses in Singapore and Malaysia.

Those who died or became ill either lived in pig breeding areas or had prolonged, direct contact with pigs in slaughterhouses or farms.

Soldiers and policemen in Malaysia have killed more than 50,000 pigs since an operation to shoot the animals began, the national news agency reported today.

Nearly 40 of the deaths have occurred since January among farm workers and residents in the Bukit Pelanduk area in Negri Sembilan, about 60 miles southeast of Kuala Lumpur.

Officials in the Bukit Pelandok area have also barred photographers from entering the area. Today, foreign reporters were kept away from a news conference by Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi, who heads a committee of ministers created to handle the epidemic.

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