Hedgehogs at home, with AVA on their tail

Hedgehogs at home, with AVA on their tail

SINGAPORE - Monkeys, salamanders, iguanas and, now, sugar gliders and hedgehogs.

Those are some of the illegally kept animals that have been seized here over the past years.

There is no let-up. According to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), the number of illegal animals seized up to October this year is just 10 shy of last year's total number.

More than 60 animals have been seized up to October. In the face of the holiday season - when people tend to buy more pets - the number is looking to top the 70 of last year.

An AVA spokesman said the numbers represent only animals taken away from people that were already in Singapore, and not from smugglers at the borders. She added that the numbers may vary wildly over the years - only about 10 animals were seized in 2011 - and it is hard to pinpoint a specific cause for the increase this year.

She said: "I don't think our guys will be able to comment on what is a contributing factor."

It is an offence to import or export wildlife without an AVA permit. It is also an offence to possess illegally imported animals. Offenders can be charged under a number of Acts, including the Wild Animals and Birds Act (Waba) and the Endangered Species Act.

AVA seized two sugar gliders and two hedgehogs from an illegal online dealer in June. The person responsible was charged on Nov 26 and fined $1,000 per animal, the maximum under the Waba.

The animals were sent to Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

ethanlou@sph.com.sg


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