Singaporeans are no strangers to the wildlife on our island.

Some animals are better favoured than others, of course. While the adorable otters have become icons on the Kallang river, other animals like the infamous ‘uwu’ birds (Koels) and wild boars are constant sources of aggravation. Our interactions with these animals are a result of living in a manicured city. As land becomes developed and built upon, forested areas shrink and animals increasingly venture into urban areas.

Migrant workers do the very work of developing the fringes of our island. They find themselves in remote areas and so, they naturally also have their own share of these encounters with wildlife.

Khan is one such example. He is an old client at TWC2 and tonight he is dropping by our meal program to say hello to volunteers who have become his friends. Greeting her with the usual “Hi Aunty, how are you,” Khan takes the seat beside Jill Ratnam, one of TWC2’s stalwarts.

Khan is glad to be back in Singapore after his injury in 2021. “Aunty shoe give, money give, and MOM appointment also helping,” he tells me, inviting me to listen in. Since I haven’t met Khan before, I need a bit of background so I look up his case history. What I find makes me chuckle.

Most of the injured workers we come across have had their limbs crushed under heavy machinery, or broken their legs slipping off a ladder, or injured their back under a heavy load. Khan’s bad luck had been of a very different kind.

Under his injury history was a single line: Client got attacked by a wild boar.

“Ya, you know babi?” he asks me, showing me the scar on his forearm as he uses the Malay word for pig or boar.

As it turns out, his old worksite was in a forested area in Chua Chu Kang. A wild boar bit him on the ankle at 2pm in the afternoon while he was at work. He fell over, injuring his left forearm and thumb.

Fast forward to three years later, he is now back in Singapore and employed by one of the biggest construction companies here to work on rebar structures. The work is physically strenuous, but the job is stable and the pay arrives in good time. “Singapore working, money come, so everything good,” he assures us.

I can’t help but notice one thing, however. He is once again living in Choa Chu Kang and working on the upcoming Tengah MRT station. Here’s wishing him better luck with the wild boars (or pythons, or wasps) this time around!