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The New Paper 9 Jun 04
The much loved babe of Chek Jawa
By Desmond Wong
There was something in the way she smiled and wagged her tail
PRISCILLA, the much-loved wild boar of Pulau Ubin's coastal reserve, Chek Jawa, has died. Her passing touched a group of Chek Jawa volunteers so much that they have even set up memorial web postings. 'May she forever be remembered as the gentle First Lady of Chek Jawa, and may her spirit ring the vesper-bell of hope for Chek Jawa at every sunset,' wrote Joseph Lai on one website.
Mr Mark Lim, a National Parks Board (NParks) ranger, found her body on the beach on May 27 during a routine patrol of the area. He immediately told his supervisor about the sad news.
The NParks rangers and Chek Jawa volunteer guides, who knew Priscilla well, were saddened to hear of her death. 'It is a loss to us, as Priscilla was a friendly wild boar and was a familiar sight at Chek Jawa,' said Mr Lim.
Mr Tom Chong, 25, a guide for the Ubin Volunteer Programme, said Chek Jawa wouldn't be the same without her. 'For me, Priscilla has always been one of the faces of Chek Jawa, a way to connect people to a place,'he said. 'She was more than a mascot, more than a symbol. 'The walks will be that much harder to conduct now that she will no longer be expected to turn up with a smile and a wag of her tail,' he added.
Even those who had only known Priscilla for a short while were touched by her loss. A Chek Jawa volunteer guide-to-be, Ms Yeo-Choo Poh Lian, 39, only encountered Priscilla - also known as Wei Wei - a few times while she was training to become a guide. But the impression the wild boar made on her was unforgettable.
ENJOYED HUMAN COMPANY 'She didn't look very friendly at first, being a wild boar,' said Ms Yeo-Choon. 'But soon, you realised she enjoyed the company of human beings, and she even let you stroke her. Now, she won't coming out to greet visitors any more.'
An NParks spokesman said Priscilla was found with a small festering wound, and blood coming from her nostrils. The cause of her death is not known.
Priscilla made headlines in June last year when it was discovered someone had slashed her with a knife. A rescue party was sent out to find Priscilla and nurse her back to health. Fortunately, the resilient porker made a quick recovery, her welcoming nature intact despite the attack.
Priscilla was warmly disposed towards people due to the fact that she was hand-raised by one Mr Yeo, a former Chek Jawa native, as a piglet after he found her about seven years ago.
Mr N Sivasothi, researcher for the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at NUS, said the wild boar was always on the minds of the volunteers. 'Whenever one of us did not see Priscilla during the day, we would ask amongst ourselves, 'Hey, have you seen her today?',' said Mr Sivasothi.
Priscilla was buried at Chek Jawa, returning to the coastal reservation that was her playground.
Priscilla's obituaries can be seen at www.eart-h.com/text/grain.htm; and at habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/index.php.
There's even a photo gallery in memory of Priscilla at: http://singaporeguiding.com/home/modules.php?name=coppermine&cat=3
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