IN “THE silence of the birds” (Jan 4), wildlife scientist Umesh Srinivasan said that logged forests being converted into oil palm plantations have next to zero value for tropical biodiversity.
In land-scarce Singapore, what little that is left of our pristine primary tropical forests is mainly confined to the catchment areas, nature reserves and some offshore islands. Biodiversity can occur only with minimum human encroachment.
Wildlife can either adapt, move on or perish. Some animals have found new food sources and shelter in our urban environment and some have even flourished.
The most ubiquitous is the mynah bird, which can be seen all around, from parks to hawker centres. Their nightly gathering on roadside trees in large numbers is a constant source of nuisance, with their noise and droppings.
Another is the pigeon. If fed by people who disregard feeding prohibitions, their numbers can explode quickly. Their droppings also transmit diseases.
Cutting down trees or drastically trimming tree canopies to reduce bird roosting is not sustainable as it reduces the amount of shade for pedestrians.
The prey-predator ratio should be restored. In nature, when this delicate balance is maintained, the pool of species preyed upon will not increase beyond the point that it causes depletion of food and water resources.
In Singapore, there seems to be very few indigenous birds of prey to help bring down the population of mynahs and pigeons.
We could emulate the US, where the peregrine falcon was released in various cities to help reduce the pigeon population.
Perhaps, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority could commission a study on which species of birds are most adaptable to living in Singapore’s city area and suburbs.
There could be a breeding and release programme. GPS devices could be attached to the released birds in a way that would not restrict their movements, just like the civet cats on Ubin (“Civets on Ubin get GPS collars”; Jan 23).
If this programme proves successful, we might be able to completely solve the problem caused by the huge population of mynahs and pigeons here.
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