Lensman found guilty of animal cruelty

Lensman found guilty of animal cruelty

He tied a chick to a shrub just so that he could get a better picture of its parents.

For his actions, the photographer - only known as Ah Huat - was found guilty of animal cruelty and fined $500 by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

He was caught when novice wildlife photographer Jaieden Ace Shen, 30, took photos of Ah Huat in the act on Aug 18.

Mr Shen was at Tuas South at that time to take pictures of wild terns (a type of seabird) and their chicks in their natural habitat.

He saw Ah Huat tie one of the chick's legs together before attaching it to the shrub. He recounted that the chick was screaming as it fell repeatedly, while struggling to escape.

Mr Shen posted photos of the act online, which got bird groups and wildlife photographers crying foul over Ah Huat's "cruel" act, calling it "sick".

The New Paper ran a report on this on Aug 24. The AVA investigated and based on testimonials from witnesses and available evidence, found Ah Huat guilty of committing an act of animal cruelty.

He was fined $500 and has paid up.

In an e-mail reply to The New Paper, AVA said it does not condone animal cruelty and "will investigate all leads and take the necessary enforcement action". AVA declined to name him.

When told of the fine, Mr Shen said: "Even though it was a light punishment, I hope the photographer learnt a lesson from this and does not continue to harm (wildlife) anymore in his pursuit of a perfect picture."

Mr Louis Ng, founder and chief executive of the Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (Acres), said it is very encouraging that the community has worked together with AVA to ensure that justice is served in this instance.


"This strong partnership is good news for the animals, and a positive sign that our society recognises the importance of animal welfare.

"ACRES hopes that members of the public will continue to report animal cruelty and also help advocate for an end to animal cruelty in Singapore," he said.

Added Mr Alan Owyong, a committee member of the Bird Group of Nature Society (Singapore): "We are glad that the AVA took action and sent a message that such acts of cruelty will be punished. Respect for nature should always be the mantra here."

A new and tougher animal protection law was passed last month.

Under this legislation, those who commit acts of animal cruelty face a maximum fine of $30,000 or three years' jail, or both.

AVA's spokesman reminded the public who encounter wildlife not to approach, disturb, feed or try to catch them.

To provide feedback on animal cruelty cases, call AVA at 1800-476-1600 or e-mail ava_cawc@ava.gov.sg.

This article was first published on December 12, 2014.
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