Smugglers caught at immigration checkpoint with birds stuffed into toothpaste boxes

Smugglers caught at immigration checkpoint with birds stuffed into toothpaste boxes
One of the hedgehogs seized from an illegal online seller in June 2013. The haul of illegal wild animals included another hedgehog and two sugar gliders.

Three people were caught smuggling popular songbirds into Singapore and one was nabbed trying to hawk wildlife illegally, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Tuesday.

Here is a statement by AVA: 

In Singapore, it is an offence for any person to import and export/re-export any animal without a permit from AVA. It is also an offence for any person to have in possession, or to sell or advertise any wildlife and its parts/products, which have been illegally imported or acquired. Penalties vary according to the regulation applied.

In September 2013, 3 individuals were found by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to have smuggled 6 mata puteh birds (Oriental White Eyes) in toothpaste boxes.

On 26 November, the offenders were charged in court and sentenced under the Animal and Birds Act for the illegal import and for subjecting the birds to unnecessary suffering. The offenders were fined $3,000 per charge each (total fine of $6,000 each).

The seized birds were sent to the Jurong Bird Park for care and custody.

AVA would like to remind the public against bringing live animals or birds into Singapore without a permit from AVA. AVA has strict regulatory requirements for the import of live animals and birds due to animal health reasons. Ornamental birds can only be imported from countries that are free from bird flu. In addition, the birds must be tested to be free from bird flu and must undergo a 21 day pre-export quarantine prior to export to Singapore. These measures are in place to safeguard Singapore from the introduction of animal diseases. Under the Animals and Birds Act, it is an offence to import any live animals/birds without an AVA permit. The offence carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

In June 2013, acting on a tip off on online sales of illegal wildlife, AVA investigated and seized 4 illegal wild animals (2 sugar gliders and 2 hedgehogs) from an individual who had been hawking them online.

On 26 November, the individual was charged in court and was sentenced the maximum fine per charge, $1,000 per animal/bird, under the Wild Animals and Birds Act (total fine of $4,000).

The seized animals, which are not allowed to be kept as pets in Singapore, were sent to Wildlife Reserves Singapore for care and custody.

AVA would like to remind the public not to import or keep wild animals as pets as demand for such animals would fuel illegal wildlife trade. Wild animals are not suitable pets as some may transmit zoonotic diseases to humans and can be a public safety risk if mishandled or if they escape into our dense urban environment. Wild animals that are non-native to Singapore may also be a threat to our biodiversity if released into the environment. Under the Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA), it is an offence to trap, keep or kill wild animals (excluding scheduled species - Crows, mynahs and pigeons), without a license from AVA. The offence carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 and the forfeiture of the animals. The offender may also be charged for animal cruelty if the animal is found injured. The WABA does not cover animals that are listed in the Endangered Species Act.

While AVA continues to ensure that regulatory measures against illegal import, trade or possession of live animals/birds/wildlife are in place and properly enforced, the public can play their part too. Should members of the public have information on such activities, please contact AVA at 6325 7625 to make a report. The public can also contact us via the feedback form available on AVA's website. All information shared with AVA will be kept strictly confidential.

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.