S'pore photographer captures tranquil shot of macaque grooming wild boar at Pulau Ubin

He initially thought the boar was a log.

Ashley Tan | January 25, 2021, 02:03 PM

In the urban jungle that is Singapore, it's common to see different species of wildlife going about their own ways, foraging, and hunting.

What's rarer to see, however, is wildlife coming together and coexisting peacefully.

Macaque perched atop wild boar

On Jan. 24, Chen Boon Chong headed to Chek Jawa on Pulau Ubin for a bird photography trip.

Chen spotted some wild boars and long-tailed macaques along the path, and proceeded to snap some shots.

Speaking to Mothership, he shared that he realised there were more of the animals further in, around 10 to 15m away.

Chen and his friends initially thought the macaques were resting atop a log and picking on things to eat, until one of his friends remarked that the 'log' was actually a wild boar.

One macaque eventually made its way comfortably closer to the boar's head.

Chen then managed to capture this rather tranquil shot of the boar with the macaque perched on top of its head, bathed in sunlight filtering through the trees.

Photo by Chen Boon Chong

Meanwhile, the boar seems content enough to lie among the leaf litter and let the macaque pick through its coat.

Monkey King and Pigsy?

From the photo, it seems that the macaque was grooming the wild boar, or sieving through its coat for mites or insects to munch on.

Social grooming is an important part of primates' behaviour. Not only does it help to keep individuals in the troop clean, it reinforces social structures and bonds.

Research has also shown that grooming can help to reduce stress and relieve tension as well.

It is uncertain though, if monkeys typically groom other animals.

Recounting the sighting, Chen shared that he thought it was "an excellent metaphor about co-existing and respect".

He added that he had never seen something like this before.

Chen shared the photo on Facebook group Nature Society Singapore, where it garnered quite a few comments at the surprising but heartwarming inter-species interaction.

Some joked about the nature of the animals' relationship, and even compared it to the characters from the famous Chinese novel "Journey to the West".

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Top photo by Chen Boon Chong / FB